Friday, October 21, 2016

Spooktacular Giveaway HOP

Spooktacular Giveaway HOP
Oct 22-31, 2016
hosted by Bookhounds
details and complete list (here)

GET vampires!

Vampire Academy
(Vampire Academy #1)
by Richelle Mead
-Vampires, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies . . .

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires - the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever...

(Vampire Academy #2)
by Richelle Mead
-Vampires, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Shadow Kiss
(Vampire Academy #3)
by Richelle Mead
-Vampires, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

WIN these three books!

Open to all.

Offer ends: October 31, 2016

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. READ and comment on one of my Happy Release posts (here).

2. LEAVE a comment here with your email.

NOW, hop-along to these other sites for more goodies…

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Happy Release: Outward Blonde by Trish Cook

Outward Blonde
by Trish Cook
Release date: October 18, 2016
Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Goodreads

Teen socialite Lizzie Finklestein has all the qualities of a trainwreck in the making. With a physically absent father, an emotionally absent mother, and an addiction to shopping and hard partying she can’t seem to shake, Lizzie is on a certain path to destruction. Rock bottom finally comes when one of her public drunken escapades gets caught on camera and shared with gossip sites.

Lizzie’s parents decide it’s time for a change of scenery. They have her whisked away from her Manhattan penthouse apartment in the middle of the night and dropped at Camp Smiley, a gritty wilderness survival program for troubled teens deep in the Rocky Mountains. Surrounded by a motley crew of campers all facing their own demons, she’s convinced she has nothing in common with these misfits.

Lizzie must learn to survive in the harsh conditions of the outdoors, including how to dig her own toilet and build a fire by rubbing two sticks together. Lizzie feels that she’s only left with two options: get with the program, or get out of there.


“You’re not going to believe this, Jem!” I say when my best friend finally picks up FaceTime. Her cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead are slathered in one of those masks she uses whenever she thinks she might be getting a zit. Which never actually happens. That girl is flawless.

“Try me.” Her lips are barely moving, which means the mask must be almost dry, which means she’s probably more interested in peeling than talking right now. That will change once she hears my news.

“Guess who I just matched with on Tinder?”

Jem’s mouth moves the tiniest bit downward, her attempt at a frown. She looks just like my mom after a fresh Botoxing: incapable of any facial expression. “Using an app to find a boy is kind of pathetic, don’t you think?” she asks.

“Jem, Jem, Jem. You didn’t say the magic word. A girl like me deserves a real man, not some immature boy.”

“Well, what you’re going to get on Tinder is a real creeper, Lizzie,” she warns. “And I like partying with you too much to let you be found all over the city in a bunch of different garbage bags. Not to mention, I’d be such shit at giving you a eulogy. One, because I hate public speaking, and two, I wouldn’t be able to bring up any of our best times together without giving the adults at your funeral a coronary. So no.”

“You haven’t even seen who it is yet. Pretty sure you’ll think he’s worth the risk.”

Jem closes her eyes and puts a hand over her heart, adopting a sweet little voice that’s nothing like her loud normal one.

“What I’ll miss most about my BFF Lizzie Finklestein is sneaking out with her on school nights, using our never-fail fakes to get into all the best bars, doing body shots until we puke, and making out with random college guys who have no idea we’re still in high school. I’ll never forget the time we ‘borrowed’ her mother’s Benz and almost ran over a group of Japanese tourists in Times Square. . . .”

I hold my hand up in front of the computer screen. And in my hand is my phone, which still has the picture of Hot Tinder Man on it.

“What . . . the . . . FUCK?” Jem is impossible to impress and I’m pretty sure I’ve finally done it.

“I know, right?” The only thing standing between me and this guy at the moment is my mom, who doesn’t take her Ambien until right before she goes to bed. When she zonks out, I’m sneaking out.

“It’s not really him,” Jem says. “You do know that, don’t you?”

“Everyone knows he’s on Tinder,” I tell her. “And that he likes his girls younger. We’re perfect for each other. It’s, like, fate.”

“Oh, please.” Jem peels off an inch-wide strip of mask starting at her chin and ending at her hairline and shakes it at the screen. “It’s an old, bald, smelly, fat creeper pretending to be him so he can rape and dismember you.”

“Dismember. Good SAT word, Jem. Mrs. Lemelson would be so proud,” I say, invoking our prudish, perma-single English teacher. “But I guarantee you it’s really him. If you don’t believe it, come to the Standard with me and see for yourself.”

Jem’s peeling like crazy now. “It’s not him, and that fat smelly old creeper is going to throw you into the Hudson once he dismembers you. Do you really want to be shark bait?”

“I thought you said he was going to leave me in garbage bags all over the city?” I tease. “Besides, I’m pretty sure there are no sharks in the Hudson. And if you were really that worried, you’d be my wingman.”

Jem strips off the final bit of mask. Her face is a gorgeous deep caramel again, except for the smallest pink dot you’ve ever seen on the side of her nose. It’s probably from the colored pens we used in art class today. She points to the supposed “zit.”

“I can’t be seen in public like this. Activate your Find My Friends app so I’ll at least be able to tell the cops where some of your body parts are.”

I shrug. “Okay, but you’re missing out. Because I’m pretty sure James Franco would be up for a threesome. Just think of the pictures we’d get pretending we were going to go through with it—”

“Fake Franco, you mean,” Jem interrupts me.

“He’s the real deal,” I tell my friend, and click the Face-Time screen down before she can try to convince me some more he’s not who he says he is. Or worse, decide to come along and initiate a threesome for real (which she knows I’d never participate in, leaving her with James Franco all to herself, and she’s smoking hot so who could blame him, so, like, no way).

There’s a knock at my door. My mom peeks her head inside my cavernous room. She peers first at my king-sized canopy bed, which is currently covered in pillows of every shape and size but not me. Then she glances over to my dog’s bed where Poochie—my adorable googly-eyed Shih Tzu with a crooked underbite—is fast asleep. She’s twitching and smiling and probably dreaming about bully sticks, her favorite treat. Whoever decided dried bull dick might be a good dog snack is a certified psycho, but Poochie is obsessed with it so I guess I’ll have to keep buying it.

Finally, Mom realizes I’m sitting on my white leather chaise by the window, like always. My laptop is on my lap, like always. And I’m not doing my homework, like always. Mom has on a silky nightgown and robe. That must mean it’s Ambien time.

“You almost ready for bed?” Her eyes are glassy and she’s a bit wobbly—both sure signs the medicine is already taking effect.

“Yeah! Don’t you like my pajamas?” I gesture at my crop top and miniskirt. I hide my high heels under a throw so she’s less likely to realize the outfit screams “going out” and not “going nighty-night.”

Mom ignores my clothing and stares straight at my forehead, where a subtle, stubborn swath of acne has been camped out since sixth grade. If Jem had my skin issues, she’d never go out again. Luckily there’s such a thing as cover-up or neither would I. “Did you remember to put on your prescription face lotion?”

Figures that even when she can barely focus, all she can see is my flaws. I don’t reply. She won’t remember my answer in the morning or that she ever asked anyhow.

Mom mumbles goodnight and shuffles down the long hall of our penthouse apartment. It takes her forever to get there. As a little kid, I used to hate the yawning distance between us. Instead of staying tucked in, I’d make a break for it every night, jumping as far from the mattress as possible and sprinting away to be with her and my dad. Warm and safe between them was the only place I could ever get a decent night’s sleep. After all, Ursula the Sea Witch didn’t live under THEIR bed.

So good thing I’m not a little kid who’s scared of an evil fictional octopus anymore (mostly), since that kind of comfort isn’t even an option now that my parents are divorced, Dad went to live out his save-the-world dreams in Africa, and Mom decided she prefers being in a medicated coma to snuggling.

Even better is that I actually like how far away they are from me these days. Especially at night. Because you do the math: divorced dad living in another country + mom’s room being
down an endless hall + her having an anxiety disorder that requires daily doses of Klonopin x Ambien = me being able to do whatever and whoever I want to, whenever I want to. Which, tonight, is none other than James Franco.

About the author:
Trish Cook is the author of four YA novels: So Lyrical, Overnight Sensation, Notes from the Blender, and A Really Awesome Mess. Her personal essays have appeared in Graze Literary Magazine and Spittoon, and she is currently completing her memoir, tentatively titled Bret Michaels at the Symphony. When she's not writing, Trish is a runner, rower, music and pop culture fanatic.

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @trixcook

* Excerpt courtesy of Sunshine Sachs

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - 10.15.16

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!



The Secret Lives of Rock Stars
by Suzanne Lazear
-Urban Fantasy, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> Curious to read this music and urban fantasy mix.

=====> Book Passage, San Francisco, hosted a visit from author, Eowyn Ivey, to release her latest, To The Bright Edge of the World. It is in epistolary form with the illustrations and a map of the Alaska described in the story. Some inspiration is from Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.

To The Bright Edge of the World
by Eowyn Ivey
-Historical, Fantasy
Amazon | Goodreads

For Review:

Love Connection
(First Comes Love #1)
by Camilla Isley
-Romantic Comedy, Chick Lit
Amazon | Goodreads -giveaway ends Dec 6

Secrets in the Snow
by Michaela MacColl
-Historical, Jane Austen theme, YA
courtesy of Chronicle Books -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

Other things book-related:

Coming soon...

A Week in Paris
a virtual book event
October 23-28, 2016

=====> I will be spotlighting books from one of my favorite places in the world, Paris ;-)

AND watched: on DVD

Seven Samurai (1954)
Shichinin no samurai (original title)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Screenplay: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Starring: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura
-Action, Adventure, Drama, Japan | imdb | my rating: 5

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

=====> Loved how the band was hand-picked and put together along with the bonding. Epic battle scenes.

Magnificent Seven (1960)
Director: John Sturges
Screenplay: William Roberts
Starring: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson
-Action, Adventure, Western | imdb | my rating: 5

An oppressed Mexican peasant village hires seven gunfighters to help defend their homes.

=====> American version of Seven Samurai. Embodies a classic western. Yul Brynner steals the show.

Return of the Magnificent Seven (1966)
Return of the Seven (original title)
Director: Burt Kennedy
Writer: Larry Cohen
Starring: Yul Brynner, Robert Fuller, Julián Mateos
-Action, Western | imdb | my rating: 4

Three survivors of the initial Magnificent Seven outfit, Chico, Chris and Vin, recruit four new members in order to re-form the outfit and defend a few Mexican villages from attacks by vicious bandits.

=====> The story continues with a new bunch headed again by Yul Brynner's character, Chris. Again, I enjoyed the process of getting new members and learning about their mad fighting skills.

AND watched: in theatre

Magnificent Seven (2016)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Screenplay: Richard Wenk, Nic Pizzolatto
Based on screenplay by: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke
-Action, Adventure, Western | imdb | my rating: 4

Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

=====> American version of Seven Samurai with its own twist. Loved the cast.

Soulmate (2016)
Director: Kwok Cheung Tsang
Writers: Wing-Sum Lam, Yuan Li, Nan Wu, Yimeng Xu
Starring: Chengshan Li, Sichun Ma, Dongyu Zhou
-Drama, China | imdb | my rating: 5

Two women who have been close friends since adolescence must cope with the changes that maturity brings.

=====> Gives interesting perspectives on soulmates. The love relationships tugs at the heart.

I Belonged to You (2016)
Director: Yibai Zhang
Writer: Jiajia Zhang
Based on short story series by: Jiajia Zhang
Starring: Chao Deng, Crystal Zhang, Baihe Bai
-Drama, China | imdb | my rating: 5

A recently dumped radio host finds a new perspective on love when a young intern begins to work with him on his show.

=====> Another film that tugs at the heart. Need tissues with this one. Loved the various location shots around Chongqing and Yading Daocheng in China.

=====> The Mill Valley Film Festival hosted an onstage conversation with Ewan McGregor, a screening of AMERICAN PASTORAL, and presented Ewan with an MVFF Award in recognition of his auspicious directorial debut. Fangirl moment: It was a thrill to be at this event :-)

American Pastoral (2016)
Director: Ewan McGregor
Screenplay: John Romano
Based on novel by: Philip Roth
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Connelly
-Drama | imdb | my rating: 5

In 1968, a hardworking man, who's been a staple in his quaint community for years, watches his seemingly perfect middle class life fall apart as his daughter's new radical political affiliation threatens to destroy their family.

=====> Sad but beautifully made film of an American dream that comes true and then what comes after.

Currently flipping through: from the library

by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
-Graphic Novel, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> Heard about this one from Sophia Rose of the Delighted Reader. The premise of a story told through pictures, text messages, various media clippings, etc. pulled me in.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Friday, October 14, 2016

When It Rained at Hembry Castle by Meredith Allard

When It Rained at Hembry Castle
by Meredith Allard

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @copperfield101

Just released: January 28, 2016
Publisher: Copperfield Press
Genre: Historical
Paperback: 464 pages
Rating: 4

The Hembry Castle Chronicles series:
When It Rained at Hembry Castle
book 2 - tba

First sentence(s):
The mourners lined the village roads as far as the castle, their umbrellas pointed like black wreaths at the crying sky.

From Meredith Allard, author of the bestselling Loving Husband Trilogy, comes When It Rained at Hembry Castle, a lush historical novel set in Victorian England.

Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, it's the story of an aristocratic family, secrets that dare not be told, and the wonder of falling in love.When the 8th Earl of Staton dies, his eldest son, the unreliable Richard, inherits the title and the family's home--Hembry Castle.

The Earl's niece, the American-born Daphne Meriwether, is intrigued by Edward Ellis, a rising author with a first-hand knowledge of Hembry Castle--from the servants' hall. And Edward, though captivated by the lovely Daphne, has his own hurdles he must overcome.

Can Richard come to terms with his title before bringing ruin on his family?

Will Edward and Daphne find their way to each other despite the obstacles of life at Hembry Castle?

When It Rained at Hembry Castle is a page-turning, romantic novel with vivid characters and an engrossing story that will keep you guessing until the end.

My two-bits:

Mellow drama with a stately Downton Abbey-ish air.

A gentle push and pull of English etiquette and American ways along with changing times comes through in this story.

This is one of those stories that grabs you for its setting and daily living situations.

Definitely, something to sit down with in a comfy chair and cup of tea.


* review copy courtesy of author

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Smoke by Dan Vyleta

by Dan Vyleta
Narrator: Allan Corduner

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @danvyleta

Release date: May 2016
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Victorian England
Hardback: 448 pages
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
"Thomas, Thomas! Wake up!"
The first thing he does upon waking is to search his nightshirt, his bedding for soiling. He does this quickly, mechanically, still more than half asleep: runs a palm over his skin feeling for the telltale grit of Soot.

Welcome to a Victorian England unlike any other you have experienced before. Here, wicked thoughts (both harmless and hate-filled) appear in the air as telltale wisps of Smoke.

Young Thomas Argyle, a son of aristocracy, has been sent to an elite boarding school. Here he will be purged of Wickedness, for the wealthy do not Smoke. When he resists a sadistic headboy's temptations to Smoke, a much larger struggle beyond the school walls is revealed. Shortly thereafter, on a trip to London, Thomas and his best friend witness events that make them begin to question everything they have been taught about Smoke.

And thus the adventure begins... You will travel by coach to a grand estate where secrets lurk in attic rooms and hidden laboratories; where young love blossoms; and where a tumultuous relationship between a mother and her children is the crucible in which powerful passions are kindled, and dangerous deeds must be snuffed out in a desperate race against time.


My two-bits:

The focus in this story revolved around uncovering the mystery of the title, smoke. Set in a gritty Victorian England along with stuffy boarding school scenes, the colorful characters in this story tell the tale from their perspectives.

The world building rather than the mystery in this story captured my attention most.

I prefer this cover...


* part of Audiobook Challenge

Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu