Wednesday, December 30, 2015

10 Heart Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary
David Levithan

Page Count: 211

Release Date: January 4th, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straux, & Giroux (MacMillan)
Source: Purchased
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

A love story told in dictionary entries. 

basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.


How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.
ineffable, adj.
These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary to represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.

It's been a long time since I've encountered a book that's moved me as much as The Lover's Dictionary has. I knew from page 1 that I'd end up treasuring it, mainly because I've anticipated it for so long and finally just sat down and picked it up—which I'm not sure why I didn't do sooner, since it's such a short read. Being a frequent retweeter from the book's Twitter page, I had high expectations with this one, and honestly, every single one of them were met.

Writing this review is proving to be difficult because The Lover's Dictionary's format and plot layout are both quite unusual. The obvious novelty of this story is that it's not narrated traditionally with chapters, but rather through individual dictionary entries, in second person by an unnamed protagonist to his lover. The whammy is that these little vignettes are arranged alphabetically, not chronologically—as dictionaries tend to be organized—so the lovers' story is non-linear, and is rather told in sporadic moments with which anyone who's been in love will be able to relate: frustration, butterflies, doubt, insecurity, optimism about the future, exasperation, elation. Each entry is its own story, spare on words but regardless extremely high-impact.

This non-chronological sequence of events is far from confusing or difficult to read, however; somehow, Levithan still makes it work because the story itself does not require a definitive beginning or end. All we know is that there is a couple, there is a conflict, and there is no clean resolution—because in real life, there hardly ever is. That's what I think makes it so potent; its implications regarding the ineffability of love are so relatable, so real.

The plot itself isn't necessarily a sweeping romance, nor a particularly profound love story—that's not why I love this book. In fact, the dictionary entries, while beautifully crafted, are vague and often unsettling, but each of them packs a strong punch. I was sucked in immediately because the main problem is introduced so early on, but it's only unraveled as you read further down the alphabet. The inevitable doom of the relationship's tragedy is always hanging in the air, impending, and the distressing feeling that it probably won't have a tidy tucked-away ending will constantly stick with you. You'll either be enchanted by Levithan's interpretation of each word, or find yourself relating to each on a near-spiritual level; there isn't a single page that I didn't like in this novel.

Pros


Touching, breathtaking // Relatable in the subtlest aspects that everyone notices in relationships, but don't necessarily always put to words // Portrays love beautifully, humanly // Unusual concept of book structure, but I found it clever and very absorbing // Conveys a realistic view of a romance, as deep and exhausting as it may be—they don't always "end" like they do in books and movies // A very quick read, since each "chapter" is composed of one dictionary entry (1-2 pages each)

Cons


Not a problem with the book itself, but with my inability to express with words how great it is: my review and the back cover synopsis do not do it justice!

Love

juxtaposition, n.
It scares me how hard it is to remember life before you. I can't even make the comparisons anymore, because my memories of that time have all the depth of a photograph. It seems foolish to play games of better and worse. It's simply a matter of is and is no longer.

Verdict


Remarkable in ways that my own words fail to sufficiently articulate, The Lover's Dictionary is a comforting, candid, and devastating characterization of love, and the parallel irony to ever be able to adequately write about it. If I don't have you convinced, check out the corresponding Twitter page for a more succinct preview of what the book is like. David Levithan has an extensive fan base for valid reason; his grasp on the written word is adept, his understanding of the human tendency to fall in love with flaws is painfully accurate, and when his dictionary entries are pieced together, the end result is simultaneously witty and evocative. This is the kind of book I wish I could write: a subtle masterpiece and a hefty accomplishment Americanflag

10 hearts: I'm speechless; this book is an extraordinarily amazingly wonderfully fantastically marvelous masterpiece. Drop everything and go buy yourself a copy now! (x)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Top 8 Writers Who Influenced Me Most by Libbie Hawker, Author of Daughter of Sand and Stone + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Daughter of Sand and Stone
Libbie Hawker

When Zenobia takes control of her own fate, will the gods punish her audacity?

Zenobia, the proud daughter of a Syrian sheikh, refuses to marry against her will. She won’t submit to a lifetime of subservience. When her father dies, she sets out on her own, pursuing the power she believes to be her birthright, dreaming of the Roman Empire’s downfall and her ascendance to the throne.

Defying her family, Zenobia arranges her own marriage to the most influential man in the city of Palmyra. But their union is anything but peaceful—his other wife begrudges the marriage and the birth of Zenobia’s son, and Zenobia finds herself ever more drawn to her guardsman, Zabdas. As war breaks out, she’s faced with terrible choices.

From the decadent halls of Rome to the golden sands of Egypt, Zenobia fights for power, for love, and for her son. But will her hubris draw the wrath of the gods? Will she learn a “woman’s place,” or can she finally stake her claim as Empress of the East?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

3 Heart Review: All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder

All We Have Is Now
Lisa Schroeder

Page Count: 272

Release Date: July 28th 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Lisa Schroeder and CBB Book Promotions!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

What do you do with your last day on earth?

There are twenty-seven hours and fifteen minutes left until a meteor strikes North America, and, for Emerson and everyone else who didn't leave, the world will end. But Emerson's world already ended when she ran away from home last year. Since then she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.

The city's quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them that he has been granting people's wishes. He gave his car away so a woman could take her son to see the ocean for the first time, and he gives Emerson and Vince all the money he has in his wallet.

Suddenly this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in twenty-seven hours—maybe even their own.
"Pay it forward, if you can. Look for those who have wishes or regrets."
Panic rises up, and Emerson realizes she doesn't want to be here. She starts to run, heading back the way they came.
She remembers Vince's words. "I just want it to be easy."
There is nothing easy about this, she realizes. Not a single thing.

The biggest disappointment about this book was that it actually sounded inspirational and intriguing in its sci-fi backdrop. An impending apocalypse combined with a mission from a stranger to spend the last day on Earth performing random acts of kindness—excellent. Add to that a developing "romance" between two teenage outcasts who've been surviving on the streets and only have each other—I really thought this story could have gone somewhere.

Unfortunately, it was subpar in pretty much every literary criteria. The cheesy and uneventful character interactions, story line, and so-called "inspirational" message actually had me wondering how exactly this could sit well with any reader. Unless you are a 10-year-old who has never experienced real-life conflict involving family, friends, and romantic love, I'm confident you'd read this and feel the same way. I cringed at a lot of the dialogue, and got really, really exasperated by the time I finished the last page.

Schroeder's writing itself is not incredibly flawed, but that's a pretty basic statement because it isn't profound or particularly thoughtful either. Her prose lacks an engaging element that I'd associate with a pre-apocalyptic and/or teen-oriented novel, and I feel the randomly interspersed pages of verse are unseasoned, as well. Most writers can get away with underdeveloped prose, but in poetry, the quality of writing shows. And I was shown how poor it was all throughout the book.

The worst part is the stilted and superbly unrealistic/cringe-worthy dialogue scenes. And before you try to argue that it's sci-fi, it isn't supposed to be realistic—that's not what I mean. Obviously "end of the world" stories aren't meant to be realistic contemporary fiction, but they should still immerse a reader into the fictional setting. All We Have Is Now failed miserable at doing this overall.

Emerson and Vince are supposedly each other's "one and only" (although not initially in a romantic way), but their dialogue is stiff and gives me secondhand embarrassment:
"Where'd you learn to dance anyway?" Emerson teases. "A cute girl teach you?"
His eyes turn cold and he stares straight ahead. "No. Nothing like that. If you have to know, it was my mom."
Not only are Vince and Emerson poorly portrayed, but they're also VERY difficult to like and relate to, mostly because I found a lot of their characteristics to be inconsistent. For instance, Vince is the smooth-talking "cool" black guy whom Emerson doesn't realize she's in love with, but he has strange bouts of emotional outbursts, and can be really pushy and obnoxious. Emerson is the troubled runaway who is afraid to reconcile with her estranged family, but she's prude, whiny, equally as unnecessarily emotional, and just plain stupid at times. I'm not saying that to be offensive; she seriously reads like a one-dimensional cartoon character:
"Don't do that," Emerson says through gritted teeth. "Don't insult my intelligence, Mr. Say-One-Thing-and-Do-Another."
"Wait. Are you, like, mad right now?" Kat asks [and] holds out her hands as if to say, What's the big deal? (....lol) "But why?"
Vince crosses his arms. "I'd actually like to know the answer to that question, too."
"You guys left me out here while you did who-knows-what in that bed that isn't even yours," Emerson yells. "I mean, gross! And rude." (..LOL!)
Vince steps forward, tries to touch her, but she steps back. "Girl, come on. You know it wasn't like that."
This one just cracks me up. Every time a character speaks, you think that's the punchline but it just keeps getting better and better.

I could have gotten over the unpleasant characters (maybe) but what bothered me even more was the story itself. Yes, it starts off as a provocative Mitch Albom-esque plot, but turns into something I became weary of immediately. The ending takes a 180° turn and (if you can't guess it already), here's a quick spoiler to get off my chest: SPOILER START (highlight the white text to view): The conclusion isn't dark and wish-welcoming like the synopsis suggests. In fact, the apocalypse turns out to be a government hoax to teach US citizens a lesson to appreciate what they have (WTF!) and everything returns to normal the next day. No end of the world, no lives lost, no deep, dark, revealing, or even remotely inspirational matter. Just a bunch of psychological effing-up. Literally that's what we encounter about 80% of the way in, and then there's a bunch of happy endings (yaaaayy) and a ridiculous last chapter. :SPOILER END. A better writer COULD have even made this ending jaw-dropping or uplifting in some sort of way, but Schroeder accomplished neither. The construction of the conclusion itself was poor, with very unlikely conflict resolutions that occur in a couple pages (that happens in real life?!) and a rushed, cheesy, and very unbelievable ending.

I didn't see it coming because I refused to even believe that the author would take a turn like that... it was completely out of the realm of possibility... and then it happened -_-

Pros


Appropriate for younger YA or middle-grade audiences (very clean "romance," and even the darker themes are portrayed lightly with a definite resolution) // Inspiring message about appreciating what you have // Extremely easy to read and flows well

Cons


Pretty much everything else: Stylized and very basic, unimpressive writing // Numerous unsuccessful attempts to be profound and engaging // Character interactions, action scenes, and overall plot (especially the ending) are difficult to believe // The verse portions don't have ANY effect on me; I could have gotten the same thing out of this book without them // The budding "romance" (romance in quotations throughout this entire review because I don't really even consider it one) between Vince and Emerson just doesn't make sense // Emerson is unlikable, unrelatable (typically characters are one or the other), shallowly written, talks in a ridiculous, childish way, has random inappropriate mood swings etc. etc. etc. // Vince is just as bad: tremendously cheesy, unbelievable, has similar weird mood swings (I know they're teenagers and all but c'mon...) // The worst ending/conclusion plot twist ever

Love

The best kind of days are the ones that make you feel like you are living inside a kaleidoscope, twirling and swirling with dazzling joy.

Verdict


Unfortunately All We Have Is Now has very few redeeming qualities; it was unimpressive and quite cringe-worthy in almost every way. The characters are neither endearing nor enduring, the plot-line is very quick to resolve and painfully anticlimactic, and the ending just sealed the deal, leaving me dumbfounded (and NOT in a good way!). I feel like my standards have gotten much higher since when I first started reviewing, because I probably would have given this a decent 2.5-star rating previously; now, however, I'm just getting tired of tolerating stilted action and unintentional character flaws. While the suggested readership audience is ages 12-18, I would recommend it more for ages 10-14—if you even decide to pick this book up—because of its unrealistically optimistic plot and empty characters (maybe middle schoolers won't notice). My opinion may not sit well with Lisa Schroeder readers, as I know she has a large YA fan base, but I simply didn't like this book, even though it was a quick-paced and uncomplicated read Americanflag

3 hearts: Not a fan; I don't recommend this book (x)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop 2015 (Open internationally!)

The Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Bookhounds, works like this: each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another. For followers, it means lots of chances to win free books. For blogs hosting giveaways, it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win! The Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop is scheduled from December 21st at 12:00 AM until December 31st at 11:59 PM (your time).


The Prizes


One lucky US follower will win a print copy set of all three books in the Mrs. Frugalicious series by Linda Joffe Hull.


This prize is provided by Roger Charlie Publicity, so it is restricted to US residents only. 

Here's a little bit about the books you could win!


Eternally 21
Mrs. Frugalicious Shopping Mysteries #1


Coupon-clipping Mrs. Frugalicious gets more than she bargained for

After Mr. Frank “Finance” Michaels loses the family’s financial nest egg in a Ponzi scheme, his wife Maddie does whatever she can to help keep up the appearance that everything is financially fine. When she starts a bargain hunter’s blog under the alias Mrs. Frugalicious, her website becomes a viral hit with a growing “frugarmy” of budget advice seekers.

While Maddie is researching “frugasm”-worthy deals on holiday shopping for teens, Eternally 21 store manager Laila DeSimone mistakenly accuses her of shoplifting. Then her day goes from bad to worse when Laila expires on the floor. Since Laila was a universally disliked manager, the murder suspect list is longer than Maddie’s bargain spreadsheet. But when evidence points to Maddie as the prime suspect, she must track down the real culprit. Can she uncover the truth before police throw away her get-out-of-jail-free coupon for good?
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Books-a-Million | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | Publisher



A bad deal for Mrs. Frugalicious

When Maddie Michaels, AKA Mrs. Frugalicious, is invited to take a local news crew with her on a Black Friday shopping expedition, she’s excited to show viewers at home how to score the season’s best savings. Despite a negative comment from Contrary Claire—the sole naysayer in her growing Frugarmy—Maddie is hopeful her first TV appearance will be a bargain-savvy success. 

But Black Friday eve takes a bleak turn when a shopper is crushed beneath a pallet of toasters. After learning that the victim could be Contrary Claire, it becomes clear that Claire has made more than one enemy. Maddie finds herself dealing once again with a murder investigation. Will she catch the killer before someone else is slashed like a sale price?


Sweetheart Deal
Mrs. Frugalicious Shopping Mysteries #3

Now the star of her own reality show, The Family Frugalicious, Maddie Michaels heads south of the border with her family to cover bargain destination weddings at a swank, but budget friendly, Mexican resort. Things get a little too real when timeshare sales manager Alejandro Espinoza makes a play for Maddie one evening and ends up floating dead in the pool the next. Was it an accident or a preplanned part of the Mrs. Frugalicious storyline?

When the show’s producers extend the trip so Maddie, her all-but-ex Frank, and the kids can investigate—not to mention get enough footage for a two-part, Emmy-worthy episode—Mrs. Frugalicious fears she’s in way more agua caliente than she ever bargained for.
If you live outside of the States, don't despair!

I'm hosting ANOTHER giveaway for this amazing set of eBooks, open to anywhere in the world:

That's two winners total! Woohoo!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo Giveaway! (US only)

The Violinist of Venice
Alyssa Palombo

Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

Adriana's father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice's patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana's marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana's own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.

Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana's life, Alyssa Palombo's The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Violinist of Venice—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
Do you play any instruments? If not, which would you like to learn to play most?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Alyssa and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends December 31st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Big Bang by Linda Joffe Hull Giveaway! (US only)

The Big Bang
Linda Joffe Hull

At Melody Mountain Ranch, the local residents are too busy with home shopping parties, Fundamentalism-Light, and each other’s business to notice their superficially well-constructed houses are literally rotting beneath them. Secret affairs, teen witchcraft, and a power-hungry homeowner’s board have their personal lives deconstructing even faster.

On Wonderland Valley Way, blonde, beautiful, interior decorator Hope Jordan is desperate for a baby. As Hope struggles through the letdown of several unsuccessful fertility treatments, her neighbors Will Pierce-Cohn, a stay-at-home dad and community activist, Frank Griffin, a minister-cum-homeowner’s board president, and Tim Trautman, a soon-to-be father of five, jockey for her attentions.

When Hope inadvertently eats hash-laced brownies at the playground ribbon-cutting gala/Memorial Weekend poolside potluck she falls into the arms of one of her three wanna-be paramours. Maybe all three—she wakes up with only fleeting memories of the evening and what may or may not have transpired. When she discovers she’s pregnant and tries to piece together what happened, with whom, and what to do about it, the homes on her cul-de-sac begin to crack and sink. Hope and her neighbors appear to be stuck in a hell of their own making.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Big Bang—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What's something about yourself that would surprise most people if they knew? 
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Linda and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Mine would be that I used to play rugby in high school. I'm a small Asian girl and do not look even remotely as buff/athletic as you'd imagine a contact rugby player to be, so that surprises everyone!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Roger Charlie and Tyrus Books!
Giveaway ends December 28th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Friday, December 11, 2015

6 Heart Review: Exquisite Corpse by Pénélope Bagieu

Exquisite Corpse
Pénélope Bagieu, translated by Alexis Siegel

Page Count: 124

Release Date: May 5th 2015 (Hardcover)
Publisher: First Second Books (MacMillan)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, First Second!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Zoe isn't exactly the intellectual type, which is why she doesn't recognize world-famous author Thomas Rocher when she stumbles into his apartment... and into his life.

It's also why she doesn't know that Rocher is supposed to be dead. Turns out, Rocher faked his death years ago to escape his critics, and has been making a killing releasing his new work as "lost manuscripts," in cahoots with his editor/ex-wife Agathe. Neither of them would have invited a crass party girl like Zoe into their literary conspiracy of two, but now that she's there anyway...

Zoe doesn't know Balzac from Batman, but she's going to have to wise up fast... because she's sitting on the literary scandal of the century!
Dying to be an author...

Graphic novels are always a pleasure to read, considering how rare a format they are in adult literature. Bagieu's debut is short and sweet, its cartoony, colorful illustrations being the biggest standout—everything is fashionable, yet minimalistic... think Lancôme ads (but more corrupt).

Zoe is a self-proclaimed non-intellectual, working various part-time jobs to make ends meet and totally reveling in, and simultaneously jaded with the bachelorette life. When she unintentionally stumbles into the apartment of Thomas Rocher, her unschooled lifestyle provides her no way of knowing he's the most critically acclaimed author of the 21st century. And that he "died" years ago, but is more successful dead than alive with all his "posthumous" work's publication. What a marvelous, quirky, almost fantastical plot we have to work with; I applaud Bagieu on the originality and that touch of just-crazy-enough-to-be-cute.

Disappointingly, the execution isn't as sharp. The book was very easy to get through due to its short length and simplistic structure, but I didn't find any of the writing compelling or absorbing. I'm positive (or positively hoping) that there was some tone and humor lost in translation with this book. The style was indeed unexquisite, rather blunt than beautiful—I just wasn't impressed. It was also full of run-on sentences that just tilted everything slightly off, but that's pretty typical of most French translated literature.

Zoe's entanglement in the deceit that Rocher and his ex-wife are committing is comical in a literary sense, but it's nothing that stood out as witty or clever. There's a huge plot twist at the end that I won't give away, but again, this wasn't anything that shocked me or drew me in. The book is only novella-length at 124 pages, but it's much, much less if you don't count the illustrations; I suppose undeveloped characters and a flat plot-line just come with the territory.

I feel I'd recommend this book solely on the basis of its wonderful and unique drawings, which Bagieu also did herself. The full-color pictures may convince you to pick this one up, but be prepared for a pretty underwhelming short story that isn't as exciting as the synopsis makes it out to be.

Pros


A very quick read; both short in length and in text since the graphics take up a lot of the pages // Easy to navigate; pleasant, simple, yet completely eye-catching illustrations // Quirky fairy-tale ending

Cons


A pretty passing read... not particularly memorable or noteworthy about it // The plot is too straightforward, without much emotional or suspenseful resonance to it

Verdict


Simple in narrative and easy to read, Exquisite Corpse is a book I enjoyed due to its cartoony and eccentric elements. This is definitely an adult's version of a picture book, with more mature themes of sex and deviousness running through it—at least PG-13 status, despite its frivolous, glitzily colorful drawings. Pénélope Bagieu's debut is among the easier and quicker graphic novels to read, although the short length and limited text space do result in underdeveloped story quality. As far as bande dessinées are concerned, Exquisite Corpse retains that slightly vintage Euro vibe that's classic to the genre, but still makes an offbeat splash in the scene, as it's totally minimalistic, sexy, and debauch—just as the Parisians do best Americanflag

6 hearts: Decent for a first read, but I'm not going back; this book is decidedly average (whatever that means!) (x)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind by Anne Charnock Giveaway! (US only)

Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind
Anne Charnock

History is storytelling. But some stories remain untold.

In fifteenth-century Italy, Paolo Uccello recognizes the artistic talent of his young daughter, Antonia, and teaches her how to create a masterpiece. The girl composes a painting of her mother and inadvertently sparks an enduring mystery.

In the present day, a copyist painter receives a commission from a wealthy Chinese businessman to duplicate a Paolo Uccello painting. Together, the painter and his teenage daughter visit China, and in doing so they begin their escape from a tragic family past.

In the twenty-second century, a painting is discovered that’s rumored to be the work of Paolo Uccello’s daughter. This reawakens an art historian’s dream of elevating Antonia Uccello, an artist ignored by history because of her gender.

Stories untold. Secrets uncovered. But maybe some mysteries should remain shrouded.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What little-known historical event should everyone know about?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Anne and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Wunderkind PR!
Giveaway ends December 23rd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Restoration of Otto Laird by Nigel Packer Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Restoration of Otto Laird
Nigel Packer

Retired architect Otto Laird is living a peaceful, if slightly bemused, existence in Switzerland with his second wife, Anika. Once renowned for his radical designs, Otto now spends his days communing with nature and writing eccentric letters to old friends (which he doesn't mail). But Otto's comfortable life is rudely interrupted when he learns that his most significant and revolutionary building, Marlowe House, a 1960s tower block estate in South London is set to be demolished.

Otto is outraged. Determined to do everything in his power to save the building, he reluctantly agrees to take part in a television documentary, which will mean returning to London for the first time in twenty-five years to live for a week in Marlowe House. Once Otto becomes reacquainted with the city he called home for most of his life, his memories begin to come alive. And as he mines his past and considers life moving forward—for himself and his building—Otto embarks on a remarkable journey that will change everything he ever thought he knew.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Restoration of Otto Laird—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What is the most beautiful piece of architecture you've ever witnessed in-person?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Nigel and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

In high school, I had the privilege of touring Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, which is a house that has a waterfall running through it! Absolutely stunning and a mastermind creation that you couldn't see or even hear of anywhere else.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends December 21st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Médicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Médicis Daughter
Sophie Perinot

Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot's intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Médicis Daughter—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
Who is your favorite Disney princess (or prince, if you don't have one!) and why?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Sophie and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends December 18th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!