Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Royally Roma by Teri Wilson

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
Royally Roma by Teri Wilson

From USA Today:
In this charming, modern retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, a royal prince tries to escape his hectic and rigid life and ends up leading a young graduate student on a chase through the Eternal City.

Julia Costa is too busy trying to complete her PhD while also holding down a full-time job as a private tour guide in Rome to keep up with celebrity gossip. So when she crosses paths with a real, actual prince, she mistakes him for a client and takes him on a daylong tour of the city.

Intrigued by the idea of spending time with someone who obviously has no idea who he is, and delighted at the prospect of a day free of royal obligations, Niccolo La Torre, Crown Prince of Lazaretto, acts on impulse and assumes the role of Julia’s client. He swears to himself that he’ll return to his royal duties after only half a day…but he’s having the time of his life.

Until Julia presents him with the bill. Since he snuck out of the hotel without so much as a dime, he tries to escape, only to discover that she won’t let him out of her sight until he can pay her back. She’s determined to get her money…and perhaps more from the handsome stranger she’s fallen for.
I love Teri Wilson (her P&P retelling is one of my favorites!) and I'm super excited for her new series! Royally Roma is scheduled to be released on March 27, 2017, and I can't wait!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

This & That: Movie Edition #2

This & That – Movie Edition!!

This and That” is a feature created by Megan @ Reading Books Likes a Boss and borrowed here with permission. Megan created this feature and I owe this post to her brilliance.  Not only should you check out her blog, generally, but her This & That recommendations are utterly perfect! Megan created this feature to showcase books that either sound similar or have similar themes, and thus I am recommending that you read the "that book" because you are a a fan of the “this book.” 

About the Media:

Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods
Fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Jenny Han will fall in love with this heartfelt and humor-laced debut following one girl’s race to find the guy of her cosmic dreams.

When zodiac-obsessed teen Wilamena Carlisle discovers a planetary alignment that won’t repeat for a decade, she’s forced to tackle her greatest astrological fear: The Fifth House—relationships and love. 

But when Wil falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the astrology chart, she must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her dead mother’s legacy and the very system she’s faithfully followed through a lifetime of unfailing belief.  

Lucky Seven
Before Amy Myer's mother died when Amy was 7, she planned out the little girl's life on a timeline, including the fact that Amy would marry her 7th boyfriend. When Amy falls in love with #6, she's thrown into a tailspin, because all of her mother's advice had worked perfectly. Now she must decide whether to follow her mother's advice and wait for #7, or follow her own heart.

The Why:

Summer of Supernovas has been one of my favorite debuts this year -- quirky and fun, it's such a great YA read!  In the book, Wil is obsessed with finding a true love that matches the zodiac chart/birthday her mom prepared before she died.  This premise immediately reminded me of Lucky Seven because in this movie, Amy is obsessed with following her mom's timeline (that she wrote for her before she died) for who she should marry.  Both of these are interesting because the heroines both have such an obsession with these pieces of the past as each relates to who they should fall in love with.  They are both fun, funny and romantic so I definitely recommend and think you will love the book if you liked the movie and vice versa!

So, what do you think?  Have you read Summer of Supernovas or seen Lucky Seven?  Isn't this a fun pairing?! 
Do you have a favorite This & That pairing?  Let me know!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

Blurb from Goodreads:
New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history—and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society—the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal—private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?

In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.
My Review:
This was well-written if a bit meandering.  I didn't love it, necessarily, but it was interesting and, as an attorney, I instantly and wholeheartedly appreciated that this story was approached from the lawyer's perspective.  The discussion and story told regarding the law and the pleadings and a bit of the legal minutiae was definitely fascinating to me.  But make no mistake, this was also a bit flowery even though it was supposed to be about hard science. Instead, it was really about the personalities of invention -- the visionary (Tesla), the craftsman (Westinghouse) and the salesman (Edison) and how all of these personalities and motivations came together to spark electricity in this country.  I appreciated the angle of Westinghouse's attorney, Paul, and that even he saw villainy in his client and in Edison.  I can't be sure how entirely accurate this work is in terms of relationships and conversations because it feels highly fictionalized but the electricity discussion and the legal documents make sense and felt authentic.  The author of this book has written other historical fiction with success and wrote the screenplay for The Imitation Game (which I loved) so I will definitely be interested to see what topic he tackles next. 

Anyone who likes historical fiction and finds the Edison/Tesla/Westinghouse rivalry interesting will certainly love this one.  If you don't know much about the rivalry, it will be an education that also entertains! The Last Days of Night came out earlier this month on August 16, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
Even a true story is fiction, Paul knew.  It is the comforting tool we use to organize the chaotic world around us into something comprehensible.  It is the cognitive machine that separates the wheat of emotion from the chaff of sensation.  The real world is overfull with incidents, brimming over with occurrences.  In our stories, we disregard most of them until clear reason and motivation emerge.  Every story is an invention, a technological device not unlike the very one that on that morning had seared a man's skin from his bones.  A good story could be put to no less dangerous a purpose.   

Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

Blurb from Goodreads:
Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…
My Review:
This was really sweet and, honestly, had it just been a bit more straightforward about discovery and first love, I probably would have rated it higher.  The problem was that the conflict in this was centered around the possibility of outing someone against their will; I can't even imagine such an awful fate let alone in high school.  It was so painful to imagine this and the character more of or less responsible for this got on my serious SHIT list pretty quickly.  I just felt so overwhelmed with empathy. which I know is a something real that happens but it was so hard to read.  All that being said, I love love loved Gideon and Kyle-- their friendship just felt so real, so genuine and I wanted to wrap them both up in a blanket of comfort so neither would have to ever deal with anything bad.  I felt so protective of them both! 

This is definitely a fun YA version of the boy next door trope -- Kyle and Gideon were such amazing friends without giving more away and this book was, ultimately, a really sweet read.  Been Here All Along comes out next week on August 30, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
He chews his lip, and all I can think about is kissing him.  It's been building up inside of me for months, and I just know I need to get it out of my system.  I need to go for it.  I want to sig next to him on the couch, and I want our knees to touch.  I want to remember that everything that happened last night and everything we said was real.   
I put my hand on the back of his neck and pull him close, standing on my tiptoes to press my lips to his.  It's quick and dry and maybe not the most romantic or centered kiss that has ever passed between two people.   
But it's our first, and I immediately know that I don't want it to be our last.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: Insidious (FBI Thriller #20) by Catherine Coulter

Blurb from Goodreads:
Insidious is the twentieth thriller in #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter's FBI series. FBI agents Savich and Sherlock must discover who is trying to murder Venus Rasmussen, a powerful, wealthy society icon. They soon find out that the danger may be closer than expected.

Venus Rasmussen, a powerful woman who runs the international conglomerate Rasmussen Industries, believes someone is poisoning her. After Savich and Sherlock visit with her, someone attempts to shoot her in broad daylight. Who’s trying to kill her and why? A member of her rapacious family, or her grandson who’s been missing for ten years and suddenly reappears? Savich and Sherlock must peel away the layers to uncover the incredible truth about who would target Venus.

Meanwhile, Special Agent Cam Wittier leaves Washington for Los Angeles to work with local Detective Daniel Montoya to lead the hunt for the Starlet Slasher, a serial killer who has cut the throats of five young actresses. When a sixth young actress is murdered, Cam comes to realize the truth might be closer than she’d ever want to believe.

With breakneck speed and unexpected twists and turns, Coulter’s Insidious will leave you breathless until the shocking conclusion.
My Review:
After 20 books, I am officially breaking up with this series.  While this 20th book, Insidious, was better than book 19, either the books have changed or I have changed and that magic that made me look forward to the latest book in this series every summer is gone.  I think the series has gone on too long such that it is no longer is fresh and new (kind of running out of ideas).  Specifically as to this book, what I really noticed was that all of the law enforcement characters in the book (of which there are a lot -- cops, FBI agents, etc.) had the same exact voice -- the same sense of humor, the same timing.  I honestly could barely distinguish a vast majority of the characters in the book.  Also, and I noticed this in book 19 as well, the romance is virtually nil.  While the suspense has always driven the plot of the books in this series, there was always the great relationship of Savich and Sherlock as well as a revolving potential romance depending on the second story line.  In this one, there was just nothing.  I was really bored while reading this and I think it's time to move on.  I will still cherish the first 15-16 books of this series and I already want to re-read a few of my favorites but this will no longer be an auto/pre-buy for me, and that is definitely sad.
Insidious came out earlier this month on August 9, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Confectioner's Tale by Laura Madeleine

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
The Confectioner's Tale by Laura Madeleine

From Goodreads:
What secrets are hiding in the heart of Paris?

At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner's daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.

But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.

Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words 'Forgive me'. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

Take a moment to savour an evocative, bittersweet love story that echoes through the decades – perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Victoria Hislop. 
Paris and confections?! Count me in! The Confectioner's Tale is scheduled to be released on September 20, 2016, and I really want to read this one!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

Review: She's Got a Way (Echo Lake #3) by Maggie McGinnis

Blurb from Goodreads:
Gabriela O’Brien is devoted to the girls at Briarwood Academy—even when their bad behavior earns them an entire summer at a remote campground in Echo Lake, Vermont. When the headmaster assigns Gabi to be their chaperone, how can she refuse? A long, hot summer with neither indoor plumbing nor wireless access might be just what she needs to get her own life in order…right?

Before Briarwood took over Camp Echo, Luke Magellan spent years there helping troubled boys. When four spoiled rich girls and their seemingly uptight den mother show up for the summer, it’s hard to hide his amusement as he watches them tackle the great outdoors. But it’s even tougher to resist the passion he sees in Gabi—especially when he learns about her past, and sees how much she cares about her students. Is this destined to be just a grownup version of a summer-camp romance—or can they find enough in common to build a love for all seasons?
My Review:
This is just one of those books that will not be memorable to me -- it was fine for a contemporary romance but nothing special. And the first half (before the romance really kicked in) was pretty boring.  Gabi was a bit self-righteous and I found myself rolling my eyes a few times.  That said, the setting is kind of fun -- set at a summer camp except it's not being run as a camp in this book, really.  Instead, Gabi is somehow forced (she's the dorm mom for a prestigious boarding school) to chaperone four 'problem' girls to this camp for the summer instead of going on her planned vacation.  This was the first red flag to me -- she had a planned flight and just has to drop it to chaperone these girls?  Very weird.  When they arrive, there are no facilities (bathrooms or campsites) and, yet, these four 16 year old girls are supposed to build bathrooms, campsites, etc. with no experience.  The scenario really did not seem realistic especially for a snooty boarding school.  We soon learn how awful the boarding school really is but the backgrounds of both Gabi and Luke (the on site "handyman") are really glossed over. Of course, they fall for each other even though this is made to seem like the absolute worst thing possible for both of them (again, why?).  I was more or less skimming by the end and not sure I will read more by this author but you may have better luck.
She's Got A Way comes out later this month on August 30, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
I don't slum, Luke. I don't fall for people based on their economic level or their resumes.  I most certainly don't kiss people I wouldn't want to see the next morning.  And I have never done the hookup thing. Ever.  I don't. I won't. I kissed you because I like. I kissed you because you looked so flipping gorgeous sitting there in the moonlight that I couldn't resist kissing you.  And I kept kissing you because I liked it.  I liked you.  It had nothing to do with vulnerability or fear or any of the other things you threw at me.  

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Dead Joker (A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel 5) by Anne Holt

Blurb from Goodreads:
Chief Public Prosecutor Sigurd Halvorsrud’s wife is found dead in front of the fireplace in the family living room. The cause of death: she has been brutally decapitated. Her husband, who witnessed the grisly murder and is himself covered in blood, immediately falls under suspicion, though he claims his wife’s killer was Ståle Salvesen, a man he’d prosecuted years before. Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is called in to lead the investigation with her old colleague, Billy T. Despite the circumstantial evidence, Hanne is unconvinced of Sigurd Halvorsrud’s guilt—that is, until a witness says he saw Ståle Salvesen commit suicide by jumping off a bridge days before the murder took place. Then a journalist at one of Oslo's largest newspapers is found beheaded. What links these two horrifically violent crimes?

The demanding investigation soon clashes with a terrible crisis in Hanne’s personal life. Cecilie, the woman she has lived with for almost twenty years, has fallen seriously ill and doesn’t have much time to live.

With a savage killer on the loose, Hanne must ask herself: Is the truth worth chasing at all costs? 
My Review:
Well if you are familiar with this series (which you don't necessarily have to be to read this -- it can be read as a standalone but I would recommend starting from the beginning), then there will definitely be more than a few surprises for the characters in this book!  Hanne is her usual compulsive, introspective and a bit selfish/dense self but she does surprise a bit with doing a few things out of character.  They mystery was interesting but I did feel a bit deflated in how it was figured out because I was expecting a bit more of a cover-up.  Still, this is a great example of the genre and you will love it if you like a Scandinavian setting and police procedural murder mysteries!

I will definitely continue this series -- I like this genre and Hanne Wilhelmsen is such an interesting character.  You can read my review of book 4 in this series, HEREDead Joker came out last month on July 26, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
Lawyers were a waste of space.  He had always known that. Usually he laughed at them, these gowned, snotty-nosed, self-important and omniscient knights at the court of Lady Justice.  They could never control themselves.  As soon as they got a whiff of something resembling a setback, they pounced.  Rather than lose face.  Whatever the cost. Get even. Fire away. Show off.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Review: Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1) by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton

Blurb from Goodreads:
Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.
My Review:
This was pretty bad.  Admittedly, it's been a long time since I read anything by Janet Evanovich.  I used to read the Stephanie Plum series but probably stopped reading it about eight books and many years ago.  This book reminds me of why I stopped reading that series -- it's these characters that are supposed to be over the top funny but just aren't.  They are almost so eccentric/quirky/weird for the sake of being all of these things but it just feels inauthentic. However, I decided to give this a chance because it was billed as romantic suspense and you know I'm a sucker for that genre.  So the thing is that I did like Riley for most of the book but I didn't like the story and, again, the rest of the characters, especially the secondary characters, just felt so freaking phony.  I understand this is the set-up for a series so we are not really to the romance yet but the suspense was . . . as suspenseful as a Stephanie Plum novel (i.e. really not suspenseful).  I'm not sure who this author is writing for -- you may really like this if you're a Stephanie Plum fan because the writing is similar and there are similar "funny" characters but, for me, it just fell flat.

Curious Minds came out earlier this week on August 16, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
The three greatest contributions the United States made to world culture are jazz, rock and roll, and ranch dressing.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

So, You Want to Go to . . . New Orleans!

So, You Want to Go to is a new feature on my blog in which I discuss a destination that I love.  I'm going to tell you about books set there that will give you a feeling for the destination and make you immediately want to visit (and maybe even give you a playlist).  Please let me know about your favorite books that take place in the featured location!

Today I am all about New Orleans! If you've ever been, you know there is nowhere quite like it in the U.S.  It's a city that ignites all of your senses -- from the beautiful architecture to the succulent food and the sultry music, you can never be bored in New Orleans.  Below are some of the many books set in New Orleans, some of which are all-time favorites for me!

My favorite thing to do in New Orleans is just walk (which is why I like late fall or early spring for weather) -- there is so much to see and explore.  I love all the different neighborhoods and you could honestly spend days there and never see the same thing.  My #1 recommendation is that you must go on a Save Our Cemeteries tour!  New Orleans playlist below:

Have you read any of these? Have you been to New Orleans?
Do you have a favorite book set there?
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