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?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review: The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renée Ahdieh

Source: Purchased an ebook for myself.
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Number of Pages: 404 (Hardcover)


Description from Goodreads:
One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.
Wow.

I haven't felt this way about a book in a while. I've definitely loved a lot of books in the last little bit, but this book stunned me. I was actually sad when I finished it...not because of the story (although, I was a little emotional from the story itself :P), but because it was over. I just didn't want it to end. I mulled over it for an entire day after I finished, and I still felt that way. I loved the characters and the world-building was breathtaking!!! In fact, the entire book blew me away.

My immediate reaction to THE WRATH & THE DAWN, was a vicious NEED to get my hands on the sequel. This is the kind of book that you finish, and become desperate for more. Part of me is sad that I've taken so long to finally read it, but most of me is actually ecstatic because it means that I didn't have to spend months and months, agonizing and waiting for the sequel, THE ROSE & THE DAGGER.

So, I just spent the past couple of paragraphs raving over this book, and now you're probably wondering what was so great about it. Well, I'll tell you. Most importantly, the characters were AMAZING! I absolutely adored Shazi (Shahrzad). She was fierce, proud, feisty, confident, and always spoke her mind! She's the kind of butt-kicking heroine that might not be extremely physically strong, but is incredibly smart, and knows exactly where her strengths lie. She was admirably honest, and despite her pride, she was willing to change and to admit when she was wrong. Along with Shazi, there was Khalid. While he may have had the whole stereotypical broody character trait that's common among YA leads, he was so much more than that. I'm not going to go into too much detail about Khalid because I don't want to spoil anything, but I loved his character. He's complex, and underneath the harsh facade is a gentle soul and it becomes clearer and clearer to Shazi that there's a lot to Khalid's story that both she and his kingdom don't know. Along with Shazi and Khalid, there are also quite a few fabulous secondary characters...I especially loved Despina! :)

Along with some absolutely AMAZING characters, THE WRATH & THE DAWN is packed full of luxurious descriptions and vibrant world-building. The outfits, the buildings, the settings...everything is described in dynamic and colourful ways and the imagery jumps right off the page! The lush descriptions fascinated me, and kept me completely glued to the page. The story itself was mysterious, and had a bit of anticipation always stirring beneath the surface. The multiple POVs create a sense of foreboding and anticipation, but enough is kept from the reader to keep it all a mystery, which I absolutely loved!! It added an urgency to the story that I really enjoyed.

My fangirling has been out-of-control in this review, so to recap: I loved the characters, the world-building, the underlying mystery, and the pace! I also loved how various stories from A Thousand and One Nights worked their way into the story. And the romance in THE WRATH & THE DAWN absolutely rocked my world!!! I ship Shazi and Khalid so freaking much...and I totally turned into a giggling, blushing fangirl whenever the two of them were alone. ;P

Overall, I thought THE WRATH & THE DAWN was absolutely amazing! The characters and descriptions were wonderful⎯they left me absolutely desperate for more! And the romance! I freaking LOVED the romance! I can't wait to read the sequel, THE ROSE & THE DAGGER.



 I read THE WRATH AND THE DAWN with Jen from The Book Nook, and Moriah from Feel Your Books. They're also posting their reviews today, so make sure to go see what they have to say about THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, too! And, stay tuned! We're also planning to share a read-a-long related post where we each think of a question about the book that we all get to answer...I'm super excited to share that with you all!

Have you read THE WRATH & THE DAWN?

If you have, what did you think?

If you haven't, does it sound like a book you'd enjoy?