Wednesday, April 24, 2019

My Third Blogoversary & Giveaway!

It's a little hard to believe, but my blog is turning three years old today!  It went by so fast.  I'm the type of person who has lots of dreams and ideas, but never really makes them happen, so I'm so glad I took a chance and started this blog.  I've had a lot of fun and met so many new and wonderful people.

The blog has gone through many changes in three years - the look of it (it will never be perfect for me, but I think I've gotten it to a clean, stream-lined look), how I review books, new features.  It's also fun to look at how much my life has changed in the same time - our extended family has grown, we bought a house, I've changed jobs.  No matter what has happened, though, my love of books has only grown!

As a thank you to everyone who has supported me, I'm hosting a giveaway for a book of your choice worth up to $20.00 from The Book Depository, as long as it ships free to your country.  The giveaway will be open until May 4, 2019, and the winner will be notified by email, with three days to respond.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you and good luck!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: My First Ten Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is the first ten books we reviewed.  Gonna be honest, I considered not joining in this week because it can be kind of cringe-worthy to look back on my early posts, but it's also fun to relive the journey and see what I was reading three years ago!

The first book I reviewed on this blog was Code Name Verity!

Have you read any of these?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Review: The Au Pair

The Au Pair
Emma Rous
Published January 8, 2019
Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her. - from Goodreads
When Seraphine finds a photo taken the day she and her twin brother were born that shows only one baby, she begins to suspect that something isn't right.  As a twin myself, I have been looking forward to this one for awhile; unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.

The book started out with so much promise: I thought the writing was good.  It flowed nicely and never felt over-dramatic or flowery.  I liked the setting of the estate of Summerbourne; I could really tell how much the characters loved the home, especially Seraphine. It had a bit of a gothic feel, which I always enjoy.

The story moves between the past, narrated by au pair Laura, who was there the day that Seraphine and her twin Danny were born, and the present, narrated by Seraphine.  Both women are a bit melancholy, unsure of where their lives are headed.  Normally, I appreciate a dual timeline story, but here I was often confused; I don't know if it's because the timelines are so close together or what, but I had to keep reminding myself who was who and at what age.

The premise of the story, the missing twin and the mother who killed herself the day they were born, was intriguing, but I kind of guessed early on what the twist might be.  Although I didn't get it completely right, I was pretty close.  The plot relied entirely too much on coincidences and total suspension of disbelief.  When the mystery was finally solved, it was very convoluted; I felt like the author had to really spell it out so the reader could understand it.  And it hinged on one person acting completely out of character, or at least it seemed that way to me.

3 stars

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Beholder

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Beholder
Anna Bright
Expected publication date: June 4, 2019
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending. - from Goodreads
I almost don't even care what this book is about because I'm so obsessed with the cover - but, I'm interested in Selah's journey!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Book Haul #4

I feel like I'm always saying that I don't really buy too many books anymore, yet here I am with book haul #4!  However, since these were all purchased with gift cards saved up from Christmas and my birthday, I don't feel too badly, since I didn't actually spend any of my own money on them!  I'm really excited about these historical fiction and nonfiction books, and even though I've read Pride & Prejudice, I couldn't resist that beautiful cover at B&N!

Have you read any of these?

Friday, April 12, 2019

Backlist Nonfiction Mini-Reviews: The Foodie Edition

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson (2016)

Thank you to Emma at Words and Peace for the recommendation!

Craig Carlson fell in love with Paris at a young age, and after pursuing a career as a screenwriter, he decided to switch paths and open an American-style diner in Paris, serving up the types of dishes that he felt were the only things missing from his beloved city.

This memoir is a perfect reminder that with enough persistence and determination, you can make practically any dream come true.  Craig Carlson had never worked in a restaurant or owned a business, yet his dream was to open a restaurant - in Paris, no less, and a diner, a concept which didn't even exist there.  I think he was very honest with the myriad of problems he faced - from raising money, to getting a loan, to finding a space, to dealing with terrible employees.  It's hard enough opening a business in your own country, let alone one where you don't know how the banking system or employment laws work.  Craig pretty much had to learn everything the hard way!

I enjoyed Craig's writing - it's down-to-earth and very relatable.  I think at times he could be a bit melodramatic, and it seemed that for all the problems he had, he also had many "lucky breaks" - it was kind of amazing how many times the exact thing he needed showed up at the exact moment he needed it.  But, his love for his dream and business always shone through, as well as his love for France.  If I ever make it to Paris, I will definitely check out his diner!  4 stars

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (2013)

In this graphic novel/memoir, Lucy Knisley takes readers on a journey through her lifelong love of food.

I didn't realize that this book was basically going to be a comic.  I thought it was going to be a regular memoir with some illustrations, but the graphic novel approach worked here.  The stories were simply told, and the pictures added fun context.  As someone who has a lot of beloved memories that revolve around food, I really identified with Lucy.  I loved reading about her helping her parents in the kitchen as a child and trips that helped open up her eyes to foreign cuisines.  She also passes along some of her favorite recipes.

I think this could be a good book to read with children, although the chapter about a Mexican vacation had some elements that may not be appropriate for young ears/eyes.  4 stars

Thank you to Stacked for the recommendation during last year's Nonfiction November!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Star-Crossed

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Minnie Darke
Expected publication date: May 1, 2019
Sometimes even destiny needs a little bit of help.

When childhood sweethearts Justine (Sagittarius and serious skeptic) and Nick (Aquarius and true believer) bump into each other as adults, a life-changing love affair seems inevitable. To Justine, anyway. Especially when she learns Nick is an astrological devotee, whose decisions are guided by the stars, and more specifically, by the horoscopes in his favorite magazine.  The same magazine Justine happens to write for. As Nick continues to not fall headlong in love with her, Justine decides to take Nick’s horoscope, and Fate itself, into her own hands. But, of course, Nick is not the only Aquarius making important life choices according to what is written in the stars.

Charting the ripple effects of Justine’s astrological meddling, STAR-CROSSED is a delicious, intelligent, and affecting love story about friendship, chance, and how we all navigate the kinds of choices that are hard to face alone. - from Goodreads
I think this just sounds adorable, and it's an interesting look at free will versus destiny in relationships.