Friday, April 18, 2014

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE by Stephanie Wahlstrom




Title: The Accidental Socialite
Author: Stephanie Wahlstrom
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Genres: Chick Lit, Romantic Comedy
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: From publisher for review
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

Quirky and clumsy twenty-two-year-old Paige Crawford arrives in London on a cold Saturday in January. Just when Paige starts to think that moving thousands of miles away from home with no real plan was a bad idea, Jason Frost appears. Confident and classy, Jason is the complete opposite of Paige and just what she needs in her life, or so she thinks. 

But before their romance has time to blossom, Paige trips and falls into the arms of a mysterious man on a drunken night out. She’s snapped by paparazzi, and newspaper headlines the next day suggest that she’s having an affair with a married footballer. 

Paige finds herself instantly elevated to tabloid celebrity status which isn’t exactly a picnic, particularly when trying to juggle her new job at Fashionista magazine, a catalog of dating disasters and a nagging doubt that she maybe she can’t conquer London after all. 

When a trip back to Canada for Christmas reminds Paige why she left her old life behind, she returns to London with renewed vigor realizing that while jobs, flats and men may come and go, friends in London are forever.




REVIEW

Oh my goodness! I’m guessing the one scene that will stick with me forever when thinking about this book will be the scene almost at the beginning with the transvestite and the vodka bottle. Oh. My. Word. But then again, the encounter with Prince William in a posh nightclub had me in hysterics, so that might actually be the most memorable part of this story. Or no, wait, the advanced pilates class scenario was what really cracked me up! Whichever way, The Accidental Socialite ended up being a laugh a minute.

Paige Crawford, the British tabloids’ new darling, is literally a walking disaster. However sorry I felt for her on all her catastrophic romantic and non-romantic outings, I just...I couldn’t stop laughing! I don’t think that much bad luck can befall a person in real life, which just made it even more entertaining. At the same time my heart also went out to her, because she didn’t bring any of it on herself and she just wants to have fun. OK, maybe some of it is her own fault but geez, give a girl a break!

Oh heavens no, now that stupid Cindy Lauper song is on repeat in my head.

*sigh*

The plot and pacing reminded me a lot of Sophie Kinsella’s writing. It was, in one word: excellent! The only difference is that Paige isn’t as much of a ditzy airheaded protagonist as those Kinsella has in her books. Also Carlos, the gay friend, isn’t the stereotypical gay friend you find in most YA and women’s literature. I felt his character was toned down a lot, but even so he was just adorable. Definitely a memorable character. I also liked Lucinda, the bff Paige made the minute she got to London. I think I liked her mainly because she’s South African and reference was made to “biltong”. I’m a South African, so of course that just tickled me pink.

Paige has four flatmates, and although they’re secondary characters, they all play a small, but significant, role in Paige’s first year in London, with their magnificently varied and peculiar personalities. She lists them as follows (this is her third revised edition):

1. Sleeps with nut jobs on wet crack house mattresses, Gemma
2. Takes suitcases shopping, Philip
3. I’m not gay but I get BJs from dudes, Guillermo
4. Learns English via Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers), Natalie

One of the big plusses for me in this book was that I got to travel to London, Paris, Rome, and Verona, and even spend a weekend at the Oktoberfest in Munich. This book is all about sisters doing it for themselves as Paige experience the high life of a social butterfly while trying her best to get away from the paparazzi. She goes to great parties and events, makes drunken decisions, and meets every Mr Wrong imaginable. The ending was a pleasant surprise, and I applaud Wahlstrom for concluding the story with a positive message to young women about relationships. Remember what I said about sisters doing it for themselves?

Who would enjoy this? Fans of books by Sophie Kinsella, and anyone who loved the book or movie version of The Devil Wears Prada and/or Bridget Jones’s Diary.  This is chick lit at its best! It contains a little profanity and a few hilarious over-eighteen descriptions, but overall The Accidental Socialite is a fun, funny, and one hundred percent unforgettable read!




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ABOUT the AUTHOR


Growing up in Edmonton, Canada, a significant amount of Stephanie’s time was spent making up and acting out stories. She was studying to be an actress when she realized there weren’t any parts for women being written. So, Stephanie wrote herself a short screenplay just to be in it and quickly realized that writing was her true passion. She graduated from the University of Alberta with an English and Sociology degree and she also has a Bachelor of Motion Picture Arts from Red Deer College. She moved to New York on a whim after University and has written a variety of TV shows including an environmentally friendly lifestyle series and a tween magazine style show about celebrities. Stephanie moved to London in 2008 and aside from being obsessed with Eggs Benedict, shoes, Fruit Roll Ups and travelling, she also works in Children’s Television.


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG by Anne Blankman




Title: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1
Author: Anne Blankman
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: From publisher for review
My rating: 4/5

SUMMARY

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.




REVIEW

One thing that is crystal clear right from the start is that tremendous amounts of research, time, and effort went into creating this novel. Most of the ideas Hitler expresses in this book are based on things he said in real life. Certain themes he discussed in speeches early in his career are also touched upon in one of his talks. Most notably, the very apt title of the book is derived from the infamous “Night and Fog” decree of 1941, as well as the famous literary ballad by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Originality is this novel’s forte, and the author deserves a standing ovation for creating such a spectacular work of fiction while staying true to the facts.

I found Gretchen and Daniel’s story terribly hard-hitting because of the true historical background it is set against. The terror of Hitler’s rise to power, and the inevitable horrors suffered by the Jews, remained at the forefront of my mind the entire time I was reading this. At its core, this is a love-story between two people from completely different worlds and opposite political views. Their love just shouldn’t be. Yet, they brave the odds and take impossible risks to be together. I was afraid that the romance element might be the main focus of this story, but surprisingly it wasn’t. Gretchen and Daniel fall in love slowly and gradually, and amazingly the romance is more a sideline to the plot than the main theme. I was incredibly relieved to find that the author balanced the romance with the rest of the happenings in the book instead of using it as a backbone for the novel. The reason I wanted to read Prisoner of Night and Fog in the first place was to experience what it must’ve been like to be a youth during Hitler’s rise to power.

Geli Rauban (Hitler’s half-niece) and Eva Braun (who eventually became Hitler’s mistress) are included in this expertly written tale, and both feature a great deal in Gretchen’s life. Geli’s eventual suicide is also included. What I enjoyed most about this novel is how Gretchen and Daniel’s lives are intertwined with these historical characters and several historical events. The downside for me was that I didn’t really connect with the fictional characters, but the historical figures really stood out for me. For example, Geli is portrayed as lively, friendly, caring, and fun, while Gretchen seemed dull in comparison. The only fictional character that came to life for me – and not in a good way – is Gretchen’s psychopathic brother, Reinhard. He was simply terrifying, and his character added to the suspense in leaps and bounds.

In the first half of the book, Adolf Hitler is a bit of a gray character, meaning he seemed very flat. But a little more than halfway into the story, when the pacing picks up, he comes to life as the well-known narcissistic, hate-filled Fuhrer. Kudos to Blankman for sketching this Austria-born madman in a light where readers have to make up their own minds as to what drove him to do the things he did. The most memorable scene for me near the end was the epic and adrenaline-fueling showdown between Gretchen and Hitler when she confronts him with the truth. The last twenty-five percent or so of the book had me clinging to the edge of my seat.

Overall, this is a terrific read. I strongly advise readers to read the Author’s Note after finishing this excellent read (it contains spoilers), as it is quite insightful as to how she put all of this together. I can’t wait to read the next book, and if it’s as choc-full of historical figures, facts, and events as this first book, it will definitely be at the top of my book wishlist!




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ABOUT the AUTHOR


Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.


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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BOOKS ON MY WISHLIST FOR 2014!




Title: A Time to Dance
Author: Padma Venkatraman
Expected Publication Date: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

SUMMARY

Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.
 
Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.







Title: Starbird Murphy and the World Outside
Author: Karen Finneyfrock
Expected Publication Date: June 12, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile

SUMMARY

In her sixteen years of life, Starbird has never touched a dollar bill. She’s never been in a car. She’s never used a cell phone.   That’s because Starbird has always lived on the Free Family Farm, a commune in the woods of Washington State.   But all that is about to change. When Starbird gets her "Calling" to be a waitress at the Free Family’s restaurant in Seattle, she decides to leave behind the only home she’s ever known.    

Nothing could have prepared Starbird for the World Outside, or for what it would teach her about the Family—and herself.   

From the author of The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door comes this hilarious and poignant story about finding your true calling in life.







Title: The Rain
Author: Virginia Bergin
Expected Publication Date: July 17, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

SUMMARY

One minute sixteen-year-old Ruby Morris is having her first proper snog with Caspar McCloud in a hot tub, and the next she’s being bundled inside the house, dripping wet, cold and in her underwear. Not cool. As she and Caspar shiver in the kitchen, it starts to rain. They turn on the radio to hear panicked voices – ‘It’s in the rain . . . it’s in the rain . . . ' That was two weeks ago, and now Ruby is totally alone. People weren’t prepared for the rain, got caught out in it, didn’t realize that you couldn’t drink water from the taps either. Even a drip of rain would infect your blood, and eat you from the inside out. Ruby knows she has to get to London to find her dad, but she just doesn’t know where to start . . . After rescuing all the neighbourhood dogs, Ruby sets off on a journey that will take her the length of the country – surviving in the only way she knows how.







Title: Push Girl
Authors: Chelsie Hill & Jessica Love
Expected Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

SUMMARY

Kara is a high school junior who's loving life. She's popular, has a great group of friends and an amazing boyfriend, and she's a shoe-in for homecoming queen. Even though her parents can't stop fighting and her ex-boyfriend can't seem to leave her alone, Kara won't let anything get in the way of her perfect year. It's Friday night, and Kara arrives at a party, upset after hearing her parents having another one of their awful fights, and sees another girl with her hands all over her boyfriend. Furious, Kara leaves to take a drive, and, as she's crossing an intersection, a car comes out of nowhere and slams into the driver's side of Kara's car. 

When Kara wakes up, she has no memory of the night before. Where is she? Why are her parents crying? And, most importantly -- why can't she feel her legs? As Kara is forced to adjust to her new life, where her friends aren't who they seemed to be and her once-adoring boyfriend is mysteriously absent, she starts to realize that what matters in life isn't what happens to you -- it's the choices you make and the people you love.

Co-written by "Push Girls" star Chelsie Hill, whose real life closely mirrors Kara's experience, this novel will open the eyes of readers everywhere who have never met someone who lives with paralysis.






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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

GUEST REVIEW: RED HILL by Jamie McGuire




Title: Red Hill
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Genres: NA, Romance, Post-Apocalyptic
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

When the world ends, can love survive?

For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.

When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.

Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?




REVIEW

Red Hill is one of those books that I simply could not put down. As a normal day in the lives of Scarlet, Miranda and Nathan turn into the end of the world as they know it, they all head for what they believe would be safety. For Scarlet, as well as Miranda her sister, and their boyfriends, this means Red Hill ranch. For Nathan it means anywhere he can keep his daughter, Zoe, safe. In the end the fates of all these people entwine.

This book captivated me in a way few books do. Apart from the riveting action and heartbreaking tragedy, the romantic experiences of all the key characters are skillfully woven into the story. As zombie movies and literature are their only reference as to how to deal with a zombie apocalypse, it was interesting to see how they coped with the crisis. Said movies and literature could, however, never prepare them for the reality and true horror of such an outbreak.

The characters in this book are so realistic, they could be people that one meets in everyday life. From determined Scarlet and protective Nathan, to the extremely sensitive Ashley, and Miranda with her strong leadership qualities, these characters found a place in my heart. 

Scarlet, the typical mother, while fearing for her daughters, tries to believe that they will be safe, and protects all the young people fiercely. Nathan, also very protective, lives to see his daughter, Zoe, safe and contented; not an easy task as Zoe does not seem to be a normal child. Miranda is a born leader and takes charge even though she is the younger of the two Hayes girls. When Kevin, the child molester, arrives with a girl, all these people deal with him in an appropriate way. All the time they hope and, in some cases, believe that unexpected survivors will arrive.

A wonderful tale of fear and survival, loss and faith and, ultimately, love, I would recommend Red Hill as a must read. The tender hearted may, however, want to keep the Kleenex close by.




PURCHASE LINKS



ABOUT the AUTHOR


Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, OK. She attended the Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.

Jamie now lives in Enid, OK with her three children and husband Jeff, who is a real, live cowboy. They share their 30 acres with six horses, three dogs, and Rooster the cat.


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Monday, April 14, 2014

RIPPLE EFFECT ROMANCE BLOG TOUR: REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: RIGHTING A WRONG by Rachael Anderson




Title: Righting a Wrong
Series: The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series, #3
Author: Rachael Anderson
Publisher: HEA Publishing
Publication Date: April 7, 2014
Genre: Romance
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: Received review copy for blog tour
My rating: 4/5

SUMMARY

Seven years ago, Cambri Blaine fled her small hometown of Bridger, Colorado after her senior year of high school ended in a fiasco. But now her father needs help, and Cambri has no choice but to return home. So with trepidation, she takes a leave of absence from the landscape architecture firm where she works and heads home, hoping against hope that Jace Sutton is no longer around and that the past can stay where it belongs—in the past.

If only life worked that way.

Jace never expected to see Cambri again. After she walked out of his life without a backward glance, he was left with no choice but to try to forget her and move on. But now that Cambri is back and looking more beautiful and sophisticated than ever, some of those old feelings resurface, and Jace instinctively knows, for the sake of his heart, that he needs to avoid her at all costs.

If only it were that easy. 




REVIEW

Righting a Wrong is yet another wonderful addition to the Ripple Effect Romance compilation. Following a similar pattern to the previous two novellas, Home Matters and Silver Linings, this quick read explores Jace and Cambri’s search for love, forgiveness, and happiness. What I’m loving most about the format of this series is that with each new instalment we already have a feel for the main character (from the previous novella), and the reader is introduced to the main role player of the next story. As with its predecessors, Righting a Wrong features well-rounded characters and a strong plot with clean romance that will set your heart a-flutter. I’ve never read any of Rachael Anderson’s books before, but this short story was a great way to introduce her writing to me. I am now a fan!




EXCERPT

Her father eyed her hand with disdain. “I feel fine. I don’t need a bunch of medication to mess that all up.”

    “No medication, no breakfast.” Cambri wriggled her palm.

    “What’s for breakfast?”

    Her eyebrow lifted. “I can tell you it’s not the fatted calf.”

    Although he harrumphed, a twinkle of humor appeared. “I almost forgot how cheeky you could be.”

    “And I almost forgot how ornery you could be.”

    He rolled his eyes, but grudgingly accepted the pills, swallowing them with a sip of water. Then he settled back against his pillow. “I always have sausage, eggs, and hash browns on Saturdays.”

    “Believe it or not, I remember.” Cambri retrieved a breakfast tray from the kitchen and set it on his lap, mentally preparing herself for what would come.

    “What’s that supposed to be?” Her father stared at the food in disgust.

    “Oatmeal, whole wheat toast, and freshly squeezed OJ,” said Cambri smoothly. “Try it. You might like it.”

   “Why isn’t there butter on this toast? Where’s my sausage and hash browns?”

   “Your heart doesn’t want bacon and hash browns. It wants oatmeal.”

   “Bullwinkle.”


PURCHASE LINKS



ABOUT the AUTHOR

A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.



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Ends on 28 April 2014



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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

BOOKS ON MY WISHLIST FOR 2014!




Title: The Iron Trial
Series: Magisterium, #1
Authors: Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
Expected Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Doubleday Children’s Books

SUMMARY

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.







Title: Coin Heist
Author: Elisa Ludwig
Expected Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Adaptive Studios

SUMMARY

The last place you’d expect to find a team of criminals is at a prestigious Philadelphia prep school. But on a class trip to the U.S. Mint – which prints a million new coins every 30 minutes – an overlooked security flaw becomes far too tempting for a small group of students to ignore.

United by dire circumstances, these unlikely allies – the slacker, the nerd, the athlete, and the "perfect" student – band together to attempt the impossible: rob the U.S. Mint. The diverse crew is forced to confront their true beliefs about each other and themselves as they do the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Elisa Ludwig's Coin Heist is a fun, suspenseful, and compelling thriller, told from the revolving perspectives of four teens, each with their own motive for committing a crime that could change all of their lives for the better—if they can pull it off.






  
Title: The Good Sister
Author: Jamie Kain
Expected Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

SUMMARY

The Kinsey sisters live in an unconventional world. Their parents are former flower-children who still don’t believe in rules. Their small, Northern California town is filled with free spirits and damaged souls seeking refuge from the real world. Without the anchor of authority, the three girls are adrift and have only each other to rely on.

Rachel is wild. Asha is lost. Sarah, the good sister, is the glue that holds them together. But the forces of a mysterious fate have taken Sarah’s life in a sudden and puzzling accident, sending her already fractured family into a tailspin of grief and confusion. Asha has questions. Rachel has secrets. And Sarah, waking up in the afterlife, must piece together how she got there.







Title: Sway
Author: Kat Spears
Expected Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

SUMMARY

High school senior Jesse Alderman, or Sway as he's known, could sell hell to a bishop.  He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs.  It's all business with Jesse.  He has few close friends and he never lets emotions get in the way.

But when Ken, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things.  While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget's younger brother who's belligerent and self-pitying after spending a lifetime dealing with cerebral palsy.  Suddenly Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him.  The tinman really does have a heart after all. 

A Cyrano De Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor. His observations about the world around him are untempered by empathy or compassion--until Bridget's presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel SOMEthing, again.






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