Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Release Day: DEFENDING TAYLOR by Miranda Kenneally!

Woo hoo!! 

Happy Book Birthday to Miranda Kenneally!
Today's the release day for DEFENDING TAYLOR!
 



Defending Taylor
By Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Praise for Defending Taylor

“I can’t quite put my finger on what is so enthralling about Kenneally’s newest novel, but it totally sucked me in. I loved that Kenneally didn’t go with an easy, traditional happy-go-lucky ending. I also enjoyed the flawed nature of the characters, which made them feel more relatable. This is a great summer read and my favorite novel by Kenneally so far!”
RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

Summary:

There are no mistakes in love.
Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?
Buy Links (The Defending Taylor e-book includes an exclusive bonus story with Jordan and Henry from Catching Jordan!) : Amazon | Apple | B&N | BooksAMillion | !ndigo | Indiebound

About the Author:
Growing up in Tennessee, MIRANDA KENNEALLY dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband. Visit mirandakenneally.com

Social Media Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram


Excerpt from Defending Taylor:
I now understand culture shock: it’s me experiencing Hundred Oaks High for the first time.
A lot of kids go here. Five hundred? A thousand? There are so many I can’t tell. At St. Andrew’s, there were only forty kids in my entire class. We lived on a calm, sprawling, green campus. Walking down the halls of Hundred Oaks feels like last-­minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall.
Two guys wearing football jerseys are throwing a ball back and forth. It whizzes by my ear. A suspender-­clad male teacher is hanging a poster for the science fair, while a couple is making out against the wall next to the fire alarm. If they move another inch, they’ll set off the sprinklers. At St. Andrew’s, kissing in the hall was an über no-­no. We snuck under the staircase or went out into the woods. Ben and I did that all the time.
Thinking of him makes me stop moving. I shut my eyes. Dating Ben was stupid. Going into the woods with him was stupid. Thinking about what happened makes me so mad, I want to rip that newly hung science fair poster off the wall and tear it apart.
A boy shoves past me, slamming my arm with his backpack. That’s what I get for loitering in the middle of the hallway with my eyes closed. He looks me up and down. “You coming to Rutledge Falls this afternoon?”
“What?”
“Paul Simmons challenged Nolan Chase to a fight. Rutledge Falls. Three o’clock. Don’t tell the cops.”
A fight? Where the hell am I? Westeros?
A girl bumps into my side. “Watch it!” Flashing me a dirty look, she disappears into a classroom with a group of friends, chattering away.
Seeing those girls together reminds me of my best friends, Steph and Madison. Right now, they’re probably gossiping before trig starts. I miss Steph’s cool British accent and Madison’s cheerful laugh.
I take a deep, rattled breath. And then another. I feel trapped, like the time I got locked in my grandpa’s garage and no one found me for an hour and I banged on the windows until my fists turned purple from bruises.
I can’t believe I had to leave my school. My home.
All because I made one stupid decision.
I check my schedule. My first class is calculus 1, the most advanced math course Hundred Oaks offers. Just a week ago, I was taking an advanced calculus quiz at the University of the South. St. Andrew’s is one of the best prep schools in the country, and they offer seniors the opportunity to take courses at the university, which is up the road. Even though I was still in high school, the professors treated me just like a college kid. I was only in the course for two weeks, but still. It was insanely difficult. The truth is, unlike everybody else in my family, I hate math. I have to work at it harder than anything else in my life.
But if I didn’t take college calc, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get into an Ivy League school. I need to go to a top-tier school because that’s what people in my family do. My father attended Yale, and my sister Jenna is there now. According to Dad, my brother Oliver—­Jenna’s twin—­is a traitor for going to Princeton, but I think Dad respects him for having the balls to make his own decision.
Me?
When Dad called me into his home office last night, he barely looked at me as he pored over my new schedule. The silence was killing me.
“I don’t know how Yale will still consider me if I’m not taking all AP courses,” I said. “Hundred Oaks only offers AP chemistry.”
Dad sighed, took off his glasses, and set down my schedule. “I’m incredibly disappointed in you, Taylor.”
I looked him straight in the eyes. His quiet restraint worried me. I’d never seen him so upset.
But I was upset too. He rarely had time to call me when I was away at school, but he could spare a few minutes to comment on my one screwup? After how hard I’ve always worked?
Over the years, I’ve done hours of homework every night. I had a 4.2 GPA at St. Andrew’s. A 1520 SAT score. I was on track to be valedictorian. I was captain of the soccer team and on the debate team. I did everything I could to show Yale that I worked hard. That I am a unique individual. Because that’s what Yale wants.
But my one misstep has muddied my glowing record.
Dad ended our conversation with a death knell.
“Tee, I gave you all the tools you needed to succeed,” he said. “I’ve paid for your private school education since first grade, and you squandered it by getting kicked out.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, my face burning. “I’m going to keep working hard at Hundred Oaks though.”
“You’re damn right you will.”
My father had me so flustered, I wasn’t thinking straight when I said, “Maybe Yale will still take me because of who I am.”
“You mean because of who I am.” Dad rubbed his eyes. “I’ve always taught you kids the importance of integrity, and the minute you got into trouble, instead of owning it, you called me to bail you out. And now you’re doing it again. Using my name to try to get ahead.”
I hung my head. “I’m sorry, Dad.”
“I love you more than anything, but you have to take responsibility for what you did. You’ll have to figure college out on your own.”
“What does that mean?” I asked slowly.
“It means I’m not lifting a finger. I won’t be calling the alumni association or the school president to put in a good word for you.”
“But didn’t you do that for Jenna and Oliver?” I blurted.
He put his glasses back on. “You need to own up, Tee.”
So here I am, glancing around the unfamiliar halls of Hundred Oaks. The school is neat and orderly, but it doesn’t look completely clean, like no matter how hard you scrub, it still looks old. At least it’s not juvie.
I step into my math class, which is already filled with kids. I choose an empty seat at a wobbly wooden desk and stare out the window at the sunny, seventy-­degree September day. I bet at St. Andrew’s, my world politics teacher is telling my friends, “Gather your books. It’s a beautiful day out. Let’s have class in one of the gardens.”
I check out the problem set on the whiteboard. I could do this level of math years ago…
My former guidance counselor told me that colleges look for trends in our GPA and activities over four years of high school. So that means when colleges see my application, they will see:
      I’m taking easier classes;
      I’m no longer doing debate;
      I’ve lost my soccer captainship this year; and
      I was expelled.
I have never simply given up when calculus got a lot tougher or an opponent ran faster than me on the soccer field. So I refuse to believe my entire future is over because of one mistake.
I just need to figure out how to move forward.


GIVEAWAY

Enter to win 1 of 2 Copies of Defending Taylor
Runs July 1-July 30 (US & Canada only)





I'm a HUGE Miranda Kenneally fan and I love her Hundred Oaks series, so her release days always get me super excited! Any other Miranda fans out there?

And what did you think of that excerpt?
 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: DINNER WITH EDWARD by Isabel Vincent

Source: Received an ARC through work. All opinions are my own.
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Number of Pages: 224 (Hardcover)


Description from Goodreads:
“I loved every moment of this book . . . Everyone deserves their own Edward--and everyone deserves to read this book.” —Susannah Cahalan, bestselling author of Brain on Fire

When Isabel meets Edward, both are at a crossroads: he wants to follow his late wife to the grave, and she is ready to give up on love. Thinking she is merely helping Edward’s daughter--who lives far away and has asked her to check in on her nonagenarian dad in New York--Isabel has no idea that the man in the kitchen baking the sublime roast chicken and light-as-air apricot soufflé will end up changing her life.

As Edward and Isabel meet weekly for the glorious dinners that Edward prepares, he shares so much more than his recipes for apple galette or the perfect martini, or even his tips for deboning poultry. Edward is teaching Isabel the luxury of slowing down and taking the time to think through everything she does, to deconstruct her own life, cutting it back to the bone and examining the guts, no matter how messy that proves to be.

Dinner with Edward is a book about love and nourishment, and about how dinner with a friend can, in the words of M. F. K. Fisher, “sustain us against the hungers of the world.”

“A rare, beautifully crafted memoir that leaves you exhilarated and wanting to live this way. Edward is a marvel of resilience and dignity, and Vincent shows us that the ceremony of food is really a metaphor for love. The key is to live your life generously.” —Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin’s Daughter

“Isabel Vincent delves deeply into matters of the kitchen and the heart with equal and unabashed passion . . . Rich with description of meals savored, losses grieved, and moments cherished, it’s at once tender, revealing, and utterly enchanting!” —*Gail Simmons, judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and author of Talking with My Mouth Full  

“One of the most stylish and emotional works of nonfiction I have ever read. I savored every page.” —Bob Colacello, author Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up

“Although the food (I am partial to the roast chicken, lovingly described) is excellent, it is the charming and effortlessly wise company that makes this sweet read
a charming way to pass a day.” —George Hodgman, New York Times bestselling author of Bettyville

“Delightfully combining the warm-heartedness of Tuesdays with Morrie with the sensual splendor of Julie and Julia. This is a memoir to treasure.” Booklist, starred review

I rarely read nonfiction, but sometimes I can't resist a great sounding story. Usually I go for travel narratives, but I loved the sound of DINNER WITH EDWARD and couldn't resist giving it a shot. I ended up absolutely adoring DINNER WITH EDWARD, and it actually blew me away how much I loved it!!!

I loved reading about how Isabel's life changed during the time she spent getting to know Edward and I also thought that it was wonderful getting to know Edward through Isabel's narrative. He imparted so much wisdom and even reading about his amazing cooking skills made me marvel...I can't even imagine how scrumptious everything he made tasted!!!

The writing was fabulous, and the story itself was inspiring and uplifting. I may not be able to fully relate to all of Isabel's struggles because I simply haven't experienced all that she has yet, but I still loved reading about her dinners with Edward and I found both her commentary and Edward's advice to be extremely encouraging.
 

I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for more nonfiction after reading DINNER WITH EDWARD! I've been missing out! I think that this is the perfect nonfiction title to appeal to readers who like inspiring stories, but don't necessarily regularly read nonfiction, and I wholeheartedly recommend it! 



What do you think?

Does DINNER WITH EDWARD sound like something you'd enjoy?

And when was the last time you read a book in a genre you don't normally read that surprised you?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: UNDONE by Katey Wolfe (a.k.a. Kelley Armstrong)

Source: Received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: June 21, 2016


Description from Goodreads:
 Microbiology student Jess Devereaux is a girl with a plan — shake loose from her stalker ex, gain independence from her over-controlling family and, most important for her immediate happiness, seduce her sexy shooting instructor into the wild, no-strings-attached fling she’s been dreaming of.

Gun-club owner Declan Cavanagh is a guy with a plan — do whatever it takes to gain custody of his young half-brother from his violent stepfather, even if it means making cash fast in the bloody cage matches he thought he’d left behind. And he’s been doing some dreaming of his own about sweet, smart, sultry Jess.

When Jess finds herself in danger, Declan decides what she really needs is a bodyguard. Jess is determined to put aside her seduction plan and treat him like the professional he is. Which is not what Declan wants at all.

REVIEW

When I saw that Kelley Armstrong had posted that she was going to be releasing UNDONE, her first contemporary book in the New Adult genre, I jumped at the chance to read it. I'm a huge Kelley fan and I'm always interested in seeing what she comes up with next, and I was extremely happy and satisfied with UNDONE

UNDONE is a little bit different from Kelley's previous books. She's written it under the penname "Katey Wolfe" so that fans won't be surprised that it's so different than her other books. It's her first contemporary, her first new adult, and definitely the most explicit of her books. While her other books have sex, and quite a few of them have even more sex than UNDONE does, UNDONE is a lot more detailed...there's definitely no fade-to-black or vague detail here. It may be a little different than her other books, but I think Kelley has done a splendid job. I was completely wrapped up in Jess and Declan's story, and I was one-hundred percent invested in their relationship...loved it!

Even though the genre is different, there are still parts of UNDONE that make it quintessentially a Kelley book. If you're a Kelley Armstrong fan, you've likely come to love her strong, snarky and smart female leads, so you'll definitely enjoy Jess. She's as smart as they come, and while she is relatively naive in some ways, she is definitely prepared to take care of herself. She does tend to underestimate herself a bit, but she's quick to learn and to admit she's wrong, and I really loved her as a character. Kelley also writes some of the sexiest leading men, too, and Declan is no exception. He's strong, yet sweet and determined to protect Jess...he's also incredibly sexy. ;) One of the best parts...these two actually communicate about things!! They might overreact at times, but they actually use their heads...and their words, which is something I absolutely LOVE to see in romances! :D

The story itself is super fast-paced, and I didn't want to put down, so I just flew right through it. It's a pretty dramatic story with a stalker ex-boyfriend, cage-fighting, and a bit of mystery all thrown in, but the budding romance is really what's at the centre of the story, and I definitely loved every moment of it! 


I'd recommend UNDONE to contemporary fans who like their romances with a bit of heat, and I really do think that Kelley Armstrong fans will love it...just don't expect werewolves or other paranormal bits because you won't find them here. :P



What do you think?
Does UNDONE sound like a book you'd like?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Blog Tour Review: THE RULE BOOK by Jennifer Blackwood


THE RULE BOOK
by: Jennifer Blackwood
Rule Breakers #1
Publication Date: May 9, 2016
Genre: Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Entangled Embrace


Synopsis:

Starr Media Second-Assistant Survival Guide

1. Don't call your hot boss the antichrist to his face.

2. Don't stare at hot boss's, um, package or his full sleeve of tattoos. (No. Really. Stop!)

3. Don't get on the malicious first assistant's bad side.

4. Don't forget to memorize the 300-page employee manual.

5. If you value your cashmere, steer clear of boss’s dog.

6. Boss’s dimples are lust-inducing. Do. Not. Give. In.

7. “The elevator ate your clothes” is not a valid excuse for showing up to important meetings half dressed.

8. Don't break seven of the rules within the first week of employment if you, ya know, are in dire need of money to support your sick mom.

9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the boss. See rule eight about sick mom.

10. Never forget the rules.


ABOUT JENNIFER BLACKWOOK

Jennifer Blackwood is an English teacher and contemporary romance author. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. When not chasing after her toddler, you can find her binging on episodes of Gilmore Girls and Supernatural, and locking herself in her office to write.

MY REVIEW

Holy crappola! This book had me SUPER smitten!! I may have stayed up reading when I should've gone to bed because I had to work in the morning. I may have been thinking about this book ALL day at work until I had the chance to get back to reading it when I got on the bus...and I may have most definitely gotten completely wrapped up in this story!

The characters were AMAZING! I absolutely loved Lainey! She was so strong and stood up for herself, and I loved that she basically had no verbal filter, it was hilarious! I also really related to her. She's about the same age as me, and she's starting to pursue her career after getting her degree, so I clicked with her INSTANTLY! And Brogan...oh my goodness, Brrrroooooggggaaannnn....*dreamy sigh* I think I seriously fell in love with him. He was so freaking sexy, so nice...and totally emotionally unavailable, but still soooo hot, and tattoos, dimples, a dog...seriously, I'm in love. ;)

The setting of this book, and the whole boss/assistant thing had me thinking that THE RULE BOOK might be similar to BEAUTIFUL BASTARD by Christina Lauren. It definitely had those two aspects in common and the two leads also had AMAZING chemistry, but that was where the comparisons stopped. THE RULE BOOK was one-of-a-kind, and the characters were so fantastic....seriously, loved them to bits!! Their banter, the sexual tension, their dynamics, and just every single moment between them had me absolutely consumed! I laughed, I blushed, I cried, I grinned like a buffoon, and I may have even smirked a few times! This story just completely got to me, and I really loved it. It was the perfect contemporary romance for me...and the ending had me as happy as can be!

I'd recommend this one to fans of contemporary romance, especially if you like the whole boss/assistant/forbidden-romance type story and if you love dynamic characters with amazing chemistry!
It's definitely a new contemporary romance favourite of mine!! :D


GIVEAWAYS


GRAND PRIZE (US Only)


GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY (Open Worldwide)


 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the rest of the blog tour for THE RULE BOOK, here: Tour Schedule
 



Thoughts?
Do you think you'd enjoy THE RULE BOOK?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Jen, Moriah, and Ambur's Excellent Read-a-long Adventures: THE WRATH & THE DAWN!

Hi everyone! 

Welcome to the first installment of Jen, Moriah, and Ambur's Excellent Read-a-long Adventures!! This post is all about THE WRATH & THE DAWN!

Last week, Jen from The Book-Nook, Moriah from Feel Your Books, and I all posted our reviews for THE WRATH & THE DAWN by Renée Adhieh after we buddy read it together. 

You can find our reviews here: Jen | Moriah | Ambur

This week, we all came up with a question related to the book and we're posting our answers today!

We're planning to read the sequel, The Rose & The Dagger, together too, and we'll be doing another special "Read-a-long Adventure" type post for that one, too!!! For each buddy read we're going to mix up what type of post it is though. This time it's questions, but the possibilities are absolutely endless. ;)

Now...onto the questions!



Jen's Question: You're stranded on an island for one month. One of these characters can be your partner and help you find food/water/resources. Who do you pick?

Image from http://leonmarinus.com.
As much as I would LOVE to spend some up-close and personal time with Khalid, I'd pick Shazi! She's smart, and I think the two of us could totally come up with a fantastic survival...and rescue plan! I can totally picture us creating a shelter, hunting/foraging for some food...taking some time to relax on the beach, and then plotting our way off the island. We'd also take turns to tell each other stories at night. She'd be a much better companion that Tom Hanks had in Castaway...sorry Wilson. :P



Moriah's Question: What would a dish named after a character from this book look, taste, and smell like? Be as detailed as you wish.

I'm going to create a dish for Khalid...and rather than a main dish, I'm totally going with dessert. :P haha

I was originally going to name it something super elaborate because he has almost as long of a title as Daenerys Targaryen, but I decided to go with something short and sweet instead. Khalid's dish would be called "Tiger Eyes" (for his own eyes if it isn't super obvious :P haha), and it would be spicy with a hidden burst of sweetness in the centre. I don't think it would be something that they would eat in the book, but I know I'd love to eat it! I'd make it a cupcake with a chai-like flavour full of cinnamon and nutmeg, and it would have quince chutney in the centre. The combination of the colours of the cupcake and the quince chutney would also be designed to look like tiger strips, and it would smell similar to a delicious chai tea! I think the combo of spicy with a dash of sweet also represents how Khalid's character is revealed in the story...plus, Shazi lovessss quince chutney! ;)



My Question: If the characters of THE WRATH AND THE DAWN went to Hogwarts, which houses do you think they'd be sorted into? Sort as many characters as you like, but Khalid and Shahrzad are a must! ;)

If you've followed my blog for a while, you might notice that I tend to want to sort everyone from absolutely every book into Hogwarts houses, so I'm sure this question doesn't surprise you. :P haha

Now, onto the sorting!!!

SHAHRZAD

Shazi is one of those characters that could end up in multiple houses, but I think she's best suited for Ravenclaw or Slytherin. I think her strongest power is her mind, and since both of these houses are perfect for people who have cunning, are good at strategy, and are intelligent, I think she'd fit in well with either! Her motives at the beginning of the book are driven by grief and she's longing for revenge...but she isn't stuck on the one path. I think if I have to pick one, I'm going with RAVENCLAW though because above everything, when pressed, Shazi goes with the solution that will logically give her the best outcome every time.

KHALID

Oooh, Khalid is tough!! He's a bit hard to peg, but I think I'd put him in GRYFFINDOR. I think he's incredibly brave, and he's sacrificed a lot for his kingdom. Even though his people may not understand what he does and they definitely resent him, Khalid has always done what was in their best interest...despite how it makes him look. So, I would define him by his bravery, and when I think brave, I always think Gryffindor!

DESPINA

Well...you meet Despina pretty early in the story, and I think her upfront nature, clear sense of cunning, and drive make her extremely well-suited for SLYTHERIN! It also doesn't hurt that she's pretty secretive, yet very upfront about spying. :P I think she'd be Slytherin and she'd wear the Slytherin colours with an immense amount of pride!

JALAL

Now, this choice is going to make it seem like I just wanted a character to fit in each house, and maybe subconsciously I did...but I also think it's the best fit for him! I think Jalal fits in HUFFLEPUFF! His light-hearted nature, ever-present smile, and desire to help Khalid find happiness make him well suited for my house. He's incredibly loyal, and he always has the best interests of others at heart.



BONUS: If THE WRATH & DAWN was adapted into a movie, who would you cast as Shahrzad and Khalid?

I love the idea of dream casts...but I must admit, I'm not very good at them. I feel like The Wrath & The Dawn could be an AMAZING film, but I'd like it to be authentic and to use actors that actually fit the ethnicity of the characters. It would be amazing to start seeing some of these incredible books coming out of the diverse YA movement become movies where they stick true to the characters. I've chosen two actors that I found by searching through Bollywood actors. They're a little older than the characters, but they fit how I picture them for the most part!

SHAHRZAD

Image from http://photogallery.navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/.
She's 31 now, so I don't think she'd be playing Shazi if they really did make a movie, but I think she looks so much like how I picture her. She has such a lively spirit that comes through even in photos, and I think that's exactly what Shazi has. She's beautiful, vibrant, full-of-life, and the kind of person that you just can't take your eyes off of...just like Shazi!

KHALID

Image from http://www.dnaindia.com.
Again, Arjun is probably too old to play Khalid if they did make a movie since he's also 31, but he definitely captures the look that I was trying to find for Khalid. He's not overly buff, but he's lean. He also has fantastic hair, a great broody face, and a hidden smile that lights up his whole face. I think he's also handsome enough that you couldn't blame Shazi for feeling attracted to him even before she gets to know him. :P



Wow! I had a lot of fun coming up with my answers for this post, and I hope you enjoyed reading my answers. Make sure to let me know your reaction in the comment or if you have suggestion for future read-a-long posts, I'd love to hear them!

 Don't forget to check out Jen's and Moriah's Buddy Read/Read-a-long posts, too! 
 
So, what did you think?
Did you enjoy the first installment of our read-a-long adventures?
Agree/Disagree with my answers?
Do you have your own dream cast for a movie of THE WRATH & THE DAWN?