Month: April 2015

Author Interview: Adi Alsaid

Author Photo- Official I’m really pleased to share my interview with author Adi Alsaid, whose debut novel, Let’s Get Lost, received quite a bit of attention last year. School Library Journal had this to say about Let’s Get Lost: “Reminiscent of John Green’s Paper Towns (Dutton, 2008) and road trip novels that feature a teen paving the way to adulthood, Alsaid’s debut is a gem among contemporary YA novels.”

Alsaid’s second novel, Never Always Sometimes, is set to release on August 4th, and it’s already promising to be another gem: it’s received a starred review from Kirkus! I’m so thrilled that Alsaid took some time out of his schedule to answer some questions for you BiblioSmiles readers!

Q: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your second novel, Never Always Sometimes! What can readers expect from this new book? Let’s make it interesting – give us a Twitter-worthy answer! 140 characters or less.

Thank you! I’m so excited for the upcoming months leading up to the release, and of course the months after.

Readers can expect Dave and Julia to stumble. To feel their way out into the mostly unknown world and to either laugh, or to bang their shins painfully into furniture.

letsgetlost Q: You’ve received a lot of praise for your first novel, Let’s Get Lost (and with good reason!). Can fans expect to see any similarities in the story or the storytelling?

Thanks! I think fans of LGL will enjoy the character-driven aspects of the book, as well as the mix of humor, adventure, romance, and the occasional emotional moment. It’s a different kind of story, though, much more focused on these two characters rather than LGL’s epic, sprawling scope. Since my love of perspective shifts hasn’t gone away, readers can expect at least one of those to take place.

Q: How did the idea for Never Always Sometimes come to you? Did you know starting out how the novel would end, or did that come along as the novel progressed?

That’s a hard moment to pinpoint, but I think what drew me to this story was the always-conscious struggle as a teen between who you are and how you fit in to those around you. I wanted to zoom in on these best friends who’d been in their little happy world of two and see what happened when they left it, and when they discovered that those around them weren’t exactly what they’d imagined, that their relationship to each other might not have been what they’d thought.

The whole book was outlined from the start, but there were a good amount of changes throughout. One main change happened in the ending from the outline to when I actually wrote it, because it no longer made sense for the way the characters had come to life (which is always slightly different than how I envision when outlining).

neveralwayssometimes Q: What’s your writing routine like? Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring writers / procrastinators (ahem… like myself) who want to get their novels written?

On a day-to-day scale, I usually wake up and head straight to a coffee shop for a two to three hour session in the morning. Then I take a break for lunch and to coach basketball or any other number of activities (reading, watching a movie, long walks on what I imagine are beaches but can’t possibly be, since Mexico City has none), and I have another evening/night session for a couple of hours, either at another coffee shop or at home.

The specifics change depending on what project I’m working on, what my deadline looks like, what draft I’m on, etc. On a first draft, I try to do at least a thousand words a day, no exceptions, and I don’t stop until I reach that goal. I’ve definitely had to increase that on deadline, to something closer to 2,500 words a day.

Q: Never Always Sometimes introduces the idea of the high school cliche. What’s one cliche you’re guilty of?

I was definitely a shy kid cliché, getting crushes on girls and professing my love in handwritten letters or in imagined scenarios while lying in bed or in emails feverishly sent to confidante friends late at night.

Q: Why are you drawn to writing YA? Why do you think the young adult novel is so popular today?

I think the coming-of-age story has always been one of my favorite plot lines, and the YA coming-of-age tale is probably the best, since that’s when most of us experience our first major coming-of-age. Your teenage years are so formative, because you’re experiencing so many things for the first time. Independence, romance, broadening horizons. I think people like to be harkened back to their teenage years for a variety of reasons, either to relive the good parts, or maybe reimagine how it could have all happened. But it’s interesting to read about because we do (or at least I do) constantly think back to who we were then, to our experiences, and how they shaped us.

And two questions I like to ask in all my interviews:

Q: What’s one book you wish you could read again for the first time?

The collected Calvin & Hobbes.

Q: If you could have a meal with a fictional character, who would you choose and why?  (I can see on Twitter/Instagram you’re a bit of a foodie – so I look forward to your answer!)

Ah, this question was so hard to answer. I wanted a character that could share my love of food, maybe someone who could teach me a few things. After a few days of brainstorming, and maybe because I just reread it, I would choose Emilienne from The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. Mostly because I’ve been meaning to learn how to bake, but also because I’d love to be in that unique Seattle world she and her family inhabit.

Thanks again for having me!

Thank you for visiting! Be sure to follow along with Adi Alsaid on social media for contests, updates, and some yummy food photos: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Check out his blog here.

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.


Critters in Literature: Bears

We’ve talked about turtles, elephants, and rabbits. What’s next on our literary zoo tour? Bears. Bears are pretty cool. One day I was about to go to work, and right before I stepped outside, a black bear just casually meandered through my yard, before moving on without a second thought. You want to stay away from grizzly bears though.

Luckily, most bears in literature seem to be the friendly sort, more likely to appear in children’s books than chasing us down in the woods. They tend not to be the “wanting to kill you” sort. That said, let’s look at some of literature’s best bears.

darkmaterialsIorek Byrnison from His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
I’m sorry, but have you ever ridden a magnificent polar bear through the arctic tundra before? Iorek is no mere transportation device; he is an intelligent, ferocious character who follows a strict code of conduct and never breaks a promise. He is proud and selfless, and proves to be a loyal friend to the main character Lyra Belacqua, on her quest.

Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Though perhaps not officially a bear, because he’s ‘stuffed with fluff’, Winnie the Pooh is perhaps is best known bear in all literature. He leads the pack of fellow animals in the Hundred Acre Wood, who have to deal with his frequent quests for honey, or as he says, ‘hunny’. There’s a great book called the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, which connects all of the characters to different principles of Tao!

paddingtonPaddington Bear by Michael Bond
This guy just got himself a movie! Paddington immigrated to London with just his old hat, iconic duffle coat, and a well-loved suitcase. He was adopted by the human family, the Browns, and has all sorts of adventures, hopefully ending in him eating one of his favorite marmalade sandwiches.

Baloo from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
This sleepy bear teaches the human boy Mowgli how to survive in the jungle. And can’t you just hear the Disney version singing about the bare necessities

corduroyCorduroy by Don Freeman
Corduroy is a teddybear who lives in a department store. A little girl wants to buy him, but her mother says no, because Corduroy is missing a button and she doesn’t have the money. When all the customers have gone home for the night, Corduroy braves leaving his shelf to find his button. The department store is a scary new world for the fluffy bear, but it’s worth it if it leads to a home.

Did I mention your favorite bear? I know I missed some, but so many are bears from picture books! The Berenstain Bears, Little Bear… And then there are the bears in other fiction, like Smokey the Bear, Yogi Bear, Fozzie Bear. Hmm, should we really be teaching kids that grizzly bears are soft and cuddly? Didn’t Goldilocks getting eaten teach them anything? (Or, wait, my ending of the fairytale could be wrong.)

Do you have a favorite bear from literature? Or a critter that you’d like us to feature? Let us know!

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at Brilliant Buckets.

Review: Black Iris by Leah Raeder

blackirisIt’s easy to wax poetic about a favorite author or book. That’s even more true today, when showing your approval of something is as easy as clicking “Like” or posting relevant GIFs of swoony faces or crying Tobey Maguire.

But if there is a 2015 new adult novel that deserves all the hype and GIFs and five-star ratings, it’s Black Iris by Leah Raeder. Black Iris, set to release on April 28th, is a welcomed departure from a more conventional new adult story. It’s no secret I loved Raeder’s debut novel, Unteachable (I wrote about the book being my “book soul mate” here), but Raeder has really branched out with this unique second novel. You can tell right away – a book with a dedication page that reads “To all the girls I’ve loved” is sure to be an emotional roller coaster. And not in the weepy Nicholas Sparks’ way, either.

The protagonist – and self-proclaimed unreliable narrator – of Black Iris is Laney Keating. She wants you to understand something right off the bat:

I am not the heroine of this story.

And I’m not trying to be cute. It’s the truth. I’m diagnosed borderline and seriously fucked-up. I hold grudges. I bottle my hate until it ferments into poison, and then I get high off the fumes. I’m completely dysfunctional and that’s the way I like it, so don’t expect a character arc where I finally find Redemption, Growth, and Change, or learn How to Forgive Myself and Others.

Laney Keating feels a darkness inside of her, planted at birth by her mother. She struggles with this darkness, but she loves it, too. She describes her actions in violent terms: she bites, she draws blood. She is fierce, and unapologetic, and I became addicted to her manner of storytelling.

Laney befriends two enchanting figures: strong, serious Armin and flirtatious, temperamental Blythe – and the three of them enter into an intense friendship. Bonds are formed, lines are crossed, and all along, Laney nurses her desire for revenge against the people who have harmed her. When Armin and Blythe, loyal and both a little bit in love with her, offer to help her carry out her plans, it alters their relationships and their lives forever.

Girls love each other like animals. There is something ferocious and unself-conscious about it. We don’t guard ourselves like we do with boys. No one trains us to shield our hearts from each other. With girls, it’s total vulnerability from the beginning. Our skin is bare and soft. We love with claws and teeth and the blood is just proof of how much. It’s feral.

And it’s relentless.

Black Iris is actually one of the first books I’ve read that centrally focuses on a girl/girl relationship, and it’s certainly one of the first new adult books that I’ve come across. I thought the connection between Laney and Blythe was perfect. Throughout the novel Laney struggles with her identity – sexual and otherwise – and I am so glad to see that there are books entering the mainstream that tackle these themes. Leah Raeder wrote a great post on her blog about sexuality in Black Iris, so I’ll let her do the talking here. I know the new adult market (which is, let’s face it, new) is still just starting to see diversity in its characters and topics – but I know with books like Black Iris and authors like Leah Raeder, things are finally getting interesting – and it’s beautiful and inspiring and very, very cool. But I don’t just want to praise the relationships in the story for being “different” from other new adult relationships – the author makes the connections between people so intriguing and intoxicating, it’s easy to understand the attraction. I found myself falling for Armin and Blythe along with Laney. They are physically beautiful; Leah Raeder describes bodies in such a stunning way. They are intelligent, and their dialogue is razor-sharp.

Black Iris woke me up as a reader and forced me to focus and think and feel, and I struggled along with Laney on her journey. It was an intense, emotional reading experience, and it took me a long time to process my feelings. I’d say that’s the mark of a good book, wouldn’t you?

On a final note: if you’re looking for a book with dreamy landscapes and startling, colorful imagery: Black Iris is totally for you. You may think that the sky’s been described in just about every way it can be described, but here’s Leah Raeder, shaking things up again. And thank goodness for that.

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.

14 Times We Liked the Movie Better

“The book was waaay better,” he said, pushing his glasses up his nose with his index finger.

We have all been that person. Many, many times. So it may be our unpopular opinion to share with you these handful of times that the contributors of BiblioSmiles truly preferred the film iteration of some seriously classic novels. Credit goes to Editor Danielle Villano, Ed Collins, Andrew Marinaccio, Samantha Yellin, and Kim Whitehead. Bonus points for guessing who wrote what.

pnpPride and Prejudice (2005) vs. Pride and Prejudice (1813)

This declaration will probably get a lot of hate because “Jane Austen is literary canon,” but if given the choice between reading the book again or watching the movie, gravitating towards the 2005 adaptation by Joe Wright is much more appealing. This atmospheric movie starring Keira Knightley as the headstrong Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as the vain Mr. Darcy has all of the emotionally-charged scenes and beautiful English countryside of Austen’s 1813 novel, but it only takes two hours and fifteen minutes to get through.

wizardThe Wizard of Oz (1939) vs. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

Did you know this was a book? If you’re reading this blog, you might, but it’s not totally common knowledge. Major differences between the two include the Ruby Slippers originally being silver shoes, the movie turning the story into a dream, and just far fewer complicated characters and plot lines than in the long and sometimes confusing novel. Originally titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, author L. Frank Baum was literally bullied into writing 13 sequels by his adoring, if demanding, young fans. Trust me, it shows. The movies made this adventure into a consumable fantasy and also made the right decision to stop at one.

fightclubFight Club (1999) vs. Fight Club (1996)

Oh man. I mean, the obvious mention here is that even Fight Club’s author, Chuck Palahniuk, has famously tipped his hat to David Fincher’s film being better. Admittedly, I watched the movie well before I read the book. I don’t think I read the book until freshman year of college, and by then I’d already fallen in love with the film and added Edward Norton to my list of “people I will leave my future husband for.” But the book suffers from a lack of visual clues that the movie lays out brilliantly, and the dark grittiness of the film just isn’t there in the book, or at least isn’t there as strongly. I love the movie, but I really just sorta liked the book.

gonewithwindGone with the Wind (1939) vs. Gone with the Wind (1936) 

The movie version of Gone with the Wind is just as sweeping and epic as Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. However, the chemistry between the saucy Scarlett O’Hara (played by Vivien Leigh) and the debonair Rhett Butler (played by Clark Gable) does its best work on the screen. They smolder as Atlanta burns behind them.

neverletmeNever Let Me Go (2010) vs. Never Let Me Go (2005) 

The film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s beloved novel drew many criticisms for the changes it made. The film version was less concerned with the central mystery of the novel and instead was a character study with subtle science fiction elements, becoming more drama than science fiction.

shiningThe Shining (1980) vs. The Shining (1977)

While Stephen King was disappointed in Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel, stating that Kubrick overlooked the novel’s major themes, Stanley Kubrick’s movie version of The Shining is now seen as one of the best horror movies of all time. While it was hard to make a decision between the book and the movie, the effectiveness of the method acting by the actors involved (against their will? Maybe…) makes for a spooky watch that will stay with you forever.

clockworkA Clockwork Orange (1971) vs. A Clockwork Orange (1962) 

A perfect storm of Stanley Kubrick’s direction, Malcolm McDowell’s performance, and impeccable art design soared this film ahead of the Anthony Burgess novel. The film also gets props for eschewing the novels relatively happy epilogue.

jawsJaws (1975) vs. Jaws (1974)

This Spielberg classic, based on the Peter Benchley novel, has inspired a fear of the ocean in many a movie-goer. While the novel was given mixed reviews based on its lacking characterization, the movie remains memorable for its iconic lines, suspenseful theme music, and, of course – its frightening shark.

lotrLord of the Rings (2001) vs. Lord of the Rings (1954)

And now for the world’s most unpopular opinion: I like the movies better. It’s close, but it’s there. Before you ask, these books were the first “grown-up” books I ever read. And I have read them since then; repeatedly, actually. But nothing beats sitting down and watching the Beacons of Gondor get lit on a huge screen. I do love the books. I find the form, style and poeticism fascinating. Tolkien was an amazing writer, and I appreciate everything he and his peers have done for a genre that is a huge part of my life. But if you hold a gun to my head and make me choose between reading another song and watching Legolas showboat at Helm’s Deep…that face is going to win, every time. In all seriousness, I like the books. But the spectacle of the movies is just too much for me to pass up.

notebookThe Notebook (2004) vs. The Notebook (1966)

As far as Nicholas Sparks adaptations go, it doesn’t get much better than the movie that won Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss. Sparks’ debut novel, written in 1996, was reviewed positively but called “an epic of treacle” by Kirkus. While Sparks churns out novels (and, in turn, the movies keep coming), it’s this sugary-sweet, romantic movie that withstands the test of time.

girlwiththedragonThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) vs. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / Män som hatar kvinnor or, Men Who Hate Women (2005)

David Fincher’s 2011 film starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig breathes highly-stylized life into the late Stieg Larsson’s Swedish crime novel. Rooney Mara’s portrayal of the hardened Lisbeth Salander received critical acclaim.

bladerunnerBlade Runner (1982) vs. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

This one I feel bad about, because in all fairness, Blade Runner is almost (almost) unrecognizable from the book it came from. And here’s where I get a little uncertain: I really, really liked Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? But I just have to like the film more. It’s in no small part to the casting, Harrison Ford makes an amazing Deckard, Rutger Hauer has an amazing screen presence. But the decision to move the film away from discussing Mercerism and more into “he’s gotta retire these androids” really helped with following along. I was never really in love with the ending of the book, but the ambiguity (depending on who you talk to) of the film’s ending hits all the right chords for me.

apocolypseApocalypse Now (1979) vs. Heart of Darkness (1899)

While not a straight-forward adaptation, Apocalypse Now is heavily inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Conrad’s novella, a frame story set in Central Africa, tells a powerful story but distances the reader. Francis Ford Coppola’s film updates the story by bringing the action into the Vietnam War, and there’s nothing more powerful than Marlon Brando’s whispered “The horror, the horror.” In 2000, the film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

225278id1g_HP7_27x40_1Sheet.inddHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) vs. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)

Deathly Hallows was a meditative and dreadful beginning, as well as a lesson for young readers on how a series can change to reveal new insights on familiar characters. On film, the wilderness feels more aimless with murky wide-angle shots of Swinley Forest and gray Welsh beaches to match the trios’ growing pains. It was also a chance for the three leads to express their characters in a reflective, less magical way, finishing what Alfonso Cuaron’s adaptation of The Prisoner of Azkaban started. Part 1 turned the series into a proper British drama without diluting the source material’s whimsy. Plus it features a dance montage set to “O Children,” securing the mood with a little help from the true Dark Lord.

[Readers: Do you agree with us?  Did we make you angry? Can the movie EVER be better than the book, or do we have it all wrong? What other books/movies should make the list?  Let us know in the comments below… or, better yet, write us a post! Read about submitting to BiblioSmiles here.]

What Would Orphan Black Read?

The third season of Orphan Black premieres tomorrow, and if you’re anything like the BiblioSmiles team, you can’t wait! We’re story-addicts here, and Orphan Black has it all.

Orphan Black is a sci-fi thriller BBC America series that follows streetwise hustler Sarah Manning, who witnesses a woman’s suicide at a train station. Except the woman happens to look just like her, and Sarah decides to steal her identity. From there, it’s all action, adventure, romance, and crazy plot twists that will make you personally feel like you’ve just dropped over the edge of a roller coaster. And clones. Lots of clones.

All of the clones are acted by the same phenomenal actress, the lovely Tatiana Maslany. She makes you forget you’re watching one actress – each of the characters are incredibly different and nuanced.

To get into character, Tatiana listens to a music playlist she’s made for each clone. Because we’re all about the books here, I decided to try to figure out what each of the clones would read! (Beware, there are spoilers of clones for both seasons.)

(One more time, for good measure: SPOILER ALERT.)

sarahmanningSarah Manning
When the series starts, Sarah is a punk rock grifter, with heavy eye makeup and a penchant for stealing (her ex-boyfriend’s drugs, a dead woman’s identity, you know). But Sarah has her own moral compass that she’s determined to follow, even if the paths it leads her down seem murky to the rest of us. Sarah would enjoy reading books with her daughter, or books on some of her favorite bands.

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
High Fidelity by Nicholas Hornby
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

allisonAllison Hendrix
Imagine Sarah’s surprise at seeing herself as a soccer mom. But Alison’s more than that. She’s pretty handy with a gun, really kills it with musical theater, and will do anything for her kids. While Allison would like to seem like the type to read whatever’s on Oprah’s bookclub list, I think she might end up being drawn to some butt-kicking books as well.

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

cosimaCosima Niehaus
Known as the “geeky science monkey”, Cosima’s silly, talks with her hands, and has a bit of a hippie vibe (she did go to Berkeley, after all). She’s earning her PhD in Experimental Evolutionary Developmental Biology, which means she’s way too smart. Cosima would enjoy books about math (she’s got a Fibonacci Sequence tattoo), science, and probably a good Bob Marley biography.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott
Evolution and the Science of Creation by Bill Nye
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot 

rachelRachel Duncan
The “proclone,” Rachel is the only one who grew up knowing she was a clone, amid the scientists who created her. She has a cold, cutthroat personality and stops at nothing to get what she wants. Rachel would likely enjoy strategic or philosophical books that helped her get an edge on those around her, though she might have a soft spot for the science books her parents had when she was a child. 

The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Mind Games by Kiersten White
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

bethElizabeth Childs
Beth was a cop, and was headstrong and a bit foul-mouthed. But she also had a lot of ghosts haunting her and tried to keep up a strong demeanor. Beth would likely pick books that had action, strong language, and maybe kicked the butts of some of her own demons. 

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stiegg Larsson 

This Ukrainian-born clone is a deadly killer who you just want to cuddle and pat on the head. Despite being trained in lethal combat and weaponry, she really wants to hang out with her ‘sestra’ and eat as much food as is put in front of her. Helena would likely enjoy books she could read with Kira or books about people meeting unpleasant but well-deserved ends. 

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 

jenniferJennifer Fitzsimmons
Jennifer was a high school teacher and swim coach, beloved by her boyfriend and students. She had a cheerful personality, full of hope and optimism. There’s not a lot to go on, but we can imagine Jennifer’s young personality and working with teens gave her a soft spot for YA and whimsical stories. 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume

tonyTony Sawicki
Closest in personality to Sarah, Tony’s got a mouth sure to land him in trouble, and a criminal record that proves it probably has. Tony might like books with cool, strong heroes that outwit authority and always get away, or vagabonds that drift around. 

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Catch Me if You Can by Frank W. Abagnale

katjaKatja Obinger
Known really only as the German, the most that can be deduced about Katja was that she was into fashion and had a good deal of money (her hotel was pretty swank). When Sarah tries to imitate her, she portrays her as a snooty, rock-and-roll party girl. Based on Sarah’s impression, Katja may have liked books about fashion, culture, and the party life. 

The Devil Wears Prada by Laura Weisberger
Little Girl Lost by Drew Barrymore
Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

felixBonus! Felix Dawkins
Felix is Sarah’s (and thus all the other clones’) adoptive brother. He’s cheeky, artistic, and absolutely fabulous. Despite his distaste for suburbia, he becomes besties with Allison. Felix would probably enjoy books from other counterculture artists, and certainly anything with some guy romance. 

Wall and Piece by Banksy
The Andy Warhol Diaries by Andy Warhol, with Pat Hackett
Boy Meets Boy by David Leviathan 

Do you watch Orphan Black? Who is your favorite clone? Or if you have any ideas to what your favorite TV characters would read, write us a post!

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at Brilliant Buckets.

Book Blitz: Beautiful Secret

Beautiful-SecretI’m excited that BiblioSmiles it taking part in the “Book Blitz” for Beautiful Secret, which is scheduled for a release date of tomorrow, April 14th. The newest book in The Beautiful Series by best-selling duo Christina Lauren, Beautiful Secret is sure to be a fan-pleaser.



New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Christina Lauren’s Beautiful and Wild Seasons series hook up in Beautiful Secret for an erotic intercontinental romp that celebrates the best of both worlds!

When Ruby Miller’s boss announces he’s sending her on an extended business trip to New York City, she’s shocked. As one of the best and brightest young engineers in London, she knows she’s professionally up to the task. The part that’s throwing her is where she’ll be spending a month up close and personal working alongside—and staying in a hotel with—Niall Stella, her firm’s top urban planning executive and The Hottest Man Alive. Despite her ongoing crush, Ruby is certain Niall barely knows she’s alive…until their flirty overnight flight makes him sit up and take notice.

Not one for letting loose and breaking rules, recently divorced Niall would describe himself as hopeless when it comes to women. But even he knows outgoing California-girl Ruby is a breath of fresh air. Once she makes it her mission to help the sexy Brit loosen his tie, there’s no turning back. Thousands of miles from London, it’s easy for the lovers to play pretend. But when the trip is over, will the relationship they’ve built up fall down?

And now, you lucky bookworms can swoon over an exclusive excerpt of Beautiful Secret!


A silence fell over the table as everyone turned to watch Ruby leave the bar and head upstairs to bed. She had been utterly charming throughout dinner, and the group had groaned in unison when she’d excused herself because of our early morning. I, too, had been quite sad to see her go.

“Well, well.”

I looked up to see my brother’s smug expression.

“Now that we’re alone,” Will began, “I think we can all agree to drop any pretense that we’re not ruined for civilized conversation, yes?” Each of them nodded in agreement and beside me, his glass now refilled, Will raised his tumbler to take a small swallow of scotch. “I also think we can all agree Bennett will be an important consultant on this case.”

Max snickered.

“The conference?” I asked, confused.

“It’s an all-too-common predicament,” Bennett added dryly. “Knockout intern. Boss in denial. I’ll draft up a step-by-step plan of containment.”

I blinked, swallowing thickly as I realized what they meant. “She’s not my intern. I have absolutely no say in her career.” I shook my head, frustrated because it was exactly the wrong thing to say. “I’m not . . . that is to say, she’s not interested. Nor I.”

All four men laughed.

“Niall,” Will said, leaning his elbows on his knees. “She nearly dropped her drink in your lap when George asked if she was interested in anyone.”

“Was going to say the same thing,” Bennett said.

“And something tells me she’d be first to volunteer to clean it up,” Will added.

“Well, maybe that’s because she’s interested in someone who works with us at R-C.”

“Yeah. You.” Max lifted his glass and finished the last of the amber liquid.

“Sincerely,” I said, fighting a smile. “She’s a fantastic girl, but she’s certainly not a romantic option for me.”

Tilting his head, Bennett asked, “What color are her eyes?”

Green, I didn’t say. I shook my head as if I didn’t know.

“What was she wearing?” Will asked.

A blue dress that hit just above her knee, I didn’t say. A delicate gold chain around her neck and a ring on her right ring finger that I had to resist asking her about until George bulldozed in and asked about a boyfriend.

I rolled my eyes, and my brother laughed again, this time pointing his drink at me. “Blokes don’t notice these things unless they’re interested.”

“Or George,” Will added, and George reached over to grab the back of his neck and try to pull him in for a kiss.

“Well, it’s apparent I needn’t think on this any further,” I said. “You’ve all decided for me.”

“It’s what we do,” Will said, adjusting the skewed collar of his shirt as he settled back into his chair. “It’s a sickness, we know.”

“I thought we’d lost that muscle, honestly,” George said.

“It’s a relief to know we still have it in us. The ladies will be so proud.” Max rapped his knuckles on the table as he made to stand. “Alas, I’d best be off. New routine: Sara gets the baby to sleep; I do the midnight bottle feeding.”

“Finally taking a bottle from you then? Guess you smell like a woman, too,” I said to Max, reminding him of the little dig he’d thrown my way on my last visit.

Max laughed and patted me on the back, and we all stood, a silent agreement in place that we were ready to call it a night. I watched my brother gather his things and say his goodbyes, feeling the same mix of pride and longing for what he was headed home to: a wife, a daughter. A proper home.

“Kiss the girls for me,” I requested as he made his way out of the bar. He waved a hand, retreating, and then disappeared from view.

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Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

“You’re so beautiful,” said Alice. “I’m afraid of looking at you and not knowing who you are.”

Alice Howland is one of the cleverest people around. She’s a Harvard professor who lectures on cognition and language. She’s in the best shape of her life, running five miles a day. She’s raised three children to adulthood, and while her daughter Lydia tends to give her trouble, she’s still pretty proud of all of them. She’s got her life together. Only just turning 50, she’s looking forward to life continuing to be smooth sailing.

Except lately, she’s been forgetting little things. And getting lost, even when she’s just a few blocks from home.

The doctor has a diagnosis–Alice has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. And like that, her perfect life vanishes. How can she teach at Harvard when she forgets her notes? Travel to lectures when she gets disoriented even finding the bathroom in her own house?

In Still Alice, we’re plunged into this confusing, hostile new world right along with Alice. We watch the people around her try to be strong for her, and she tries to use her clever mind to combat the disease. She uses her phone as a backup memory of sorts, pursues experimental treatment drugs, and makes a secret contingency plan she keeps hidden from her family.

As the readers, sometimes we catch Alice forgetting something she shouldn’t. And sometimes she forgets things that catch us by surprise later on it the book. It was hard to watch her deteriorate, a prisoner in her own mind, as she struggled to recognize her home, read papers she had once written, and remember her daughter. At the same time, we’re cheering her on against a battle we know there’s no winning.

It’s frustrating for us too. Because we’re in Alice’s head. We know she’s still brilliant. She’s not addled or demented. She has fallen down a rabbit hole into a terrible, terrifying wonderland that she can’t escape. This book is haunting, scary, and disorienting all at once. It was a book I felt I needed to go through, to know what it’s like. My heart goes out to those who have had to deal with this horrible disease. This book changed the way I look at Alzheimer’s.

By the end of the book, I miss Alice. I felt like I mourned her deteriorating mind along with her family. I wanted to give them hugs as they came to terms with their mother, wife, and friend turning into a stranger. Despite it all, Alice still has a beautiful mind and is a beautiful person by the end of the book. But she’s not the same person.

Oh, and one more thing! Julianne Moore just won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Alice in the movie adaptation. So of course, for the whole book, I was imagining Julianne Moore. Which is just fine with me.

This book is lovely, profound, and heartbreaking. If you ever want insight into Alzheimer’s from the side of the victim, this book will let you experience it in a way you won’t forget.

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at Brilliant Buckets.