Tuesday, January 29, 2013

review: between you and me by emma mclaughlin & nicola kraus

With little introduction Between You and Me plunges right in to the world of a pop singer who rose to fame as a child.  For reasons that are never made clear, Kelsey’s assistant (and cousin) calls their estranged cousin claiming the family wants to see Logan.  Logan quickly discovers that was not the case, Delia is fired, and Logan somehow ends up as Kelsey’s new assistant even though she has a job in New York and Logan’s parents hate Kelsey’s parents.  It’s all a big confusing mess at the beginning, especially since the reason for the estrangement isn’t revealed for a long time.

Between You and Me is clearly based on Britney Spears’s life, but the authors did very little to develop any of the characters.  The romances are lackluster and the outrageous behavior actually becomes mundane.  The story definitely has potential, but the writing is weak and the plot is underwhelming despite its craziness.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Atria Books.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

author guest post: roberta gately

Although I reviewed Roberta Gately's The Bracelet back in November, the story has stuck with me.  So I'm thrilled to bring you a guest post from the author of such an enthralling novel.

By Roberta Gately,
Author of The Bracelet

Though my most recent novel, The Bracelet, is, at its core, a story about human trafficking, I did not set out to tackle such a gritty topic. And, despite my aid worker background, I knew little about the hideous business of trafficking. What I did hope to accomplish was to capture the harsh life of so many women around the world, and I wanted to use my own experience with refugees as a starting point, for those facts are startling enough.

At any given time in the world, there are over forty two million refugees and displaced struggling to survive, to eke out just one more day. And even under ideal conditions, the life of a refugee is one of deprivation and loss where every single decision of daily life is controlled by someone else. What to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, where to live, how much water is allotted, how many blankets, and how large your tent are all chosen by someone else.

When I decided my casualty would be a refugee who'd been a victim more than once in her life, the natural choice was for her to have been a trafficking victim. As I began to research the business of trafficking, I was stunned by the global reach and the insidious transactions that have allowed trafficking to remain under the world's radar. And it is that secretive nature of trafficking that has allowed it to prosper and grow right under our not so watchful eyes.

I knew that I wanted to expose the miseries of trafficking, and The Bracelet allowed me to tell the stories of victims through the eyes of an American nurse, a young woman with whom we can all relate. I know too that trafficking is a difficult subject, but it is a reality for so many, and turning away will only allow it to flourish, and place so many more at risk.

The first step in eradicating the misery is recognizing the reality, and it is my hope that The Bracelet will serve as that first step.

© 2013 Roberta Gately, author of The Bracelet

Author Bio
Roberta Gately, author of The Bracelet, has served as a nurse and humanitarian aid worker in war zones ranging from Afghanistan to Africa, about which she wrote a series of articles for the BBC World News Online. She is also the author of the novel Lipstick in Afghanistan.
For more information please visit http://robertagately.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

review: grace grows by shelle sumners

Oh. My.  Grace Grows was amazing.  I know it’s only January, but I’m pretty sure Shelle Sumners’s debut will be one of the best books I read this year.  It’s the incredibly touching (I cried a lot) story of a nearing 30 woman who has a very easy relationship with her live-in boyfriend.  Steven travels frequently, so Grace doesn’t see him very much and she’s happy with that despite her friends and family’s reservations that she’s not head over heels for him.  Grace likely would’ve been content with that had she not met her neighbor’s dog walker—an up and coming charmingly attractive musician who starts writing songs about her.  Tyler encourages Grace to go for more even though her life is superficially perfect, but Grace always holds back until she finally has a breakthrough and her entire life changes.  Grace and Tyler were written so well that I felt their every emotion (hence the tears).  I wanted their story to never end, but when it did, it was perfect.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Friday, January 18, 2013

giveaway: this is how i save my life

Want to check out Amy Scher's This Is How I Save My Life for yourself?  Thanks to BookSparks PR you can.  One US resident will win.

Description of the book:
"A fiery young woman with a debilitating and misdiagnosed disease travels to a tiny clinic in India for a controversial embryonic stem cell treatment. On the journey to save her miserably failing body, she finds a world of cultural mayhem, radical medical treatment, and most importantly, a piece of her life that she never even knew she was searching for.

This Is How I Save My Life takes readers on a heartwarming and often hilarious journey as Amy grasps at her last hope for health. Why do some people heal from emotional or physical issues, while others don't? Through extensive research and her own recovery experience, Amy finds the most important piece for her own healing-the impact of unprocessed negative emotions on our physical bodies.

This powerful and uplifting story of sheer determination is for anyone who believes in-or doubts-the existence of miracles and the infinite power of self-healing."

The rules: Enter by leaving a comment to this post with your email (if I can't contact you, you can't win). You can gain additional entries by leaving separate comments letting me know that you're a follower (one extra each for the blog and Twitter) or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on February 2. Winner will be selected at random and must have a mailing address in the US.

review: this is how i save my life by amy scher

This Is How I Save My Life details the drastic measure Amy Scher took in an attempt to cure herself from what was likely Lyme disease.  Scher tried many treatments in the United States, but found nothing worked.  As she writes in this blog-turned-memoir, Scher decides to travel with her parents to India in order to have embryonic stem cell treatment.  Although an interesting story, the fact that the blog posts were simply turned into a book means there's much repetition to Scher's stream of consciousness writing; some editing would've tightened things up and made the story more compelling.  Furthermore, there's never really any sense of who Scher is other than someone who is often bewildered by India.  Her naïveté is the only thing that really comes through as she marvels at the prices of things and seems not to know that the Billabong shirt being sold is either a knockoff or stolen from the factory.  Scher's writing was never impassioned enough to evoke the emotions that should go along with such a tale.
Review copy provided by BookSparks PR.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

review: ali's pretty little lies by sara shepard

This post contains affiliate links.

Spoiler Warning: This review reveals information from the first eight books of the Pretty Little Liars series.

Rarely do I enjoy the TV or movie version of a book as much as I relished the book itself.  The Pretty Little Liars series is an exception; I love both the books and the TV show.  (Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the show loosely based on Sara Shepard’s The Lying Game series).  In regards to Shepard’s books, the Jamaica storyline in the Pretty Little Liars series seemed to take things a little off track, but the latest book is fantastic.  Ali’s Pretty Little Lies goes back to the beginning with Shepard explaining how Courtney took Ali’s place and befriended the girls.  A lot of questions get answered, but there’s a new mystery that gets added at the end.  It’s intriguing enough to make me want to reread the first eight books to see if I can figure it out on my own.

If you’ve read Ali’s Pretty Little Lies, who do you think the unnamed person is at the end of chapter 33?  I’m debating between Mona and Nick.
Personal copy