blog tour

Review and Blog Tour: One True Loves

onetrueloves Happy June, everyone!  I’m so thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for One True Loves, the latest book from Taylor Jenkins Reid. Last year I read (and adored!) Maybe in Another Life, and I reviewed that here.  So thank you, Atria, for giving me the chance to read One True Loves!

Stick around after my review: there’s a link to a giveaway at the end of this post!

Emma Blair lives a cozy life in Massachusetts. She works at her family’s bookstore and she has a wonderful fiance named Sam. One night when she is sitting down to dinner with Sam and her parents she gets a phone call she could not have expected to get in a million years. On the other end of the line, she hears the voice of her first love and her husband, Jesse Lerner. He tells her he is coming home.

Three years prior, on the eve of their first wedding anniversary, Emma said goodbye to Jesse before he boarded a helicopter on an assignment. The helicopter went down, leaving no survivors, as the authorities and family were lead to believe.

But somehow, Jesse survived all of this time. Jesse, who Emma grieved for, is coming back home, and he wants to pick up their marriage where they left off.

Emma, who mourned and suffered and drastically altered the circumstances of her life, is a new person, promised to another man.

“Do you ever get over loss? Or do you just find a box within yourself, big enough to hold it? Do you just stuff it in there, push it down, and snap the lid on it? Do you just work, every day, to keep the box shut?”

What follows is a intricate story about relationships, choices, and personal identity. Emma is not only caught between two men; she’s caught between the life she had built for herself before Jesse’s accident, and the life she is building for herself now.

When Emma was married to Jesse, the two lived in California and traveled the world extensively – together as well as separately – and they were always up for a new experience.

Emma’s life with Sam is rooted in their Massachusetts hometown. It is a calm and cozy life, full of domesticity, and owning cats, and having dinners at home. Both of Emma’s lives are appealing for their own reasons.

The supporting cast of characters – Emma’s parents and sister, Marie – are complicated in their own way, but fiercely dedicated to the rest of the family. Scenes between Emma and her sister are especially poignant.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is a master of tugging on the heartstrings. If you’re looking for a book to make you swoon and/or cry this summer, I highly recommend picking up One True Loves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She is the author of Forever, Interrupted, After I Do and Maybe In Another Life. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit. You can follow her on Twitter @TJenkinsReid.

ONE TRUE LOVES by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Atria/Washington Square Press Paperback | ISBN: 9781476776903 | On sale: June 7, 2016 | 352 pages | $16.00

eBook: Atria/Washington Square Press | ISBN: 9781476776910 | On sale: June 7, 2016 | 352 pages | $11.99

RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY:

2 COMPLETE SETS OF SIGNED TJR BOOKS

5 SIGNED COPIES OF ONE TRUE LOVES

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway HERE.

Thanks to Atria Books for supplying me with an advanced e-copy for review purposes!

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

A Botched First Date: A Blog Tour Stop by Scott Wilbanks

(Editor’s Note: I’m so pleased to share that BiblioSmiles is a blog tour stop for Scott Wilbanks, the author of The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster. Gabriele was given a copy via NetGalley, and Scott Wilbanks is here to promote the book with a personal essay.)

9781492612469-PR I wonder how many writers can claim a botched first date as the inspiration for their debut novel? And if they could, how many would actually have the cheek to admit it? As Stephen King said, “Fiction is a lie, but good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” So here goes…

It had all begun so charmingly, really.

I’d lived in the Castro district of San Francisco for a good ten years up until that fateful moment, and can say with a good degree of certainty that our paths had never crossed until that peculiar weekend when I’d spied him at my regular neighborhood haunts five times.

The first of our encounters was so vivid that it even found its way into Lemoncholy‘s pages.

The cars crawled. A hummingbird inched forward like a slow-motion sequence in a National Geographic special, its wings undulating in the exquisite fashion of a Japanese fan dancer. A dog floated upward in the park across the street, a look of pure joy frozen on its face, eyes focused on a Frisbee hovering inches from eager jaws and spinning so slowly that you could read the word Wham-O on it. Then, whoosh… time repaired itself and Christian was walking all too quickly past the face with the secret smile.

Okay, so I just gave away two secrets right there. Christian—Annie’s best friend, a young man burdened with a debilitating stutter—is based on me. And, as the excerpt reveals, I do love my melodrama.

But getting back to those mysterious encounters. As the narrative indicates, I quickly dubbed the object of my fascination “the face,” and by the fifth encounter (at the gym), one that involved my tank top and a joke about “third cousins, twice removed” that earned me a laugh, I had his phone number.

We met for coffee—a calculated decision on my part—what with dinner showing too much commitment, and drinks at the local pub showing too little class.  In my opinion, coffee for a first date is the equivalent of the third bear’s porridge. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, it puts everybody at ease, and is j-u-s-t right.

Truth be told, I’d thought everything was going swimmingly, that is until my date made it clear that it wasn’t by rocking back in his chair to declare, “I think we are destined to be great friends.”

Great… friends.

Not the comment you’d expect when you’re picking colors for a picket fence.—I might have been jumping the gun a wee bit, but who hasn’t? I’d even come up with a name for the dog the two of us would surely be adopting. Sneeze.  I’d already decided that we’d name him Sneeze.

Thirty minutes and a cataclysmic decline into tragically boring conversation later, I found myself driving home—fenceless, dogless (sad face emoji)—and with my tail tucked firmly between my legs when it occurred to me that things are only inevitable when you accept them as such. By the time I’d pulled into my drive, I’d concocted a pair of characters in my head—Annabelle Aster, a modern day San Francisco eccentric with a penchant for Victorian clothes, and Elsbeth Grundy, a cantankerous, old schoolmarm living in turn-of-the-century wheat field —pen pals who write one another between contemporary San Francisco and Victorian Kansas, depositing their correspondences in a brass letterbox that stands in some common magical ground between the two.

I ran upstairs, whipped up a letter from Annie to Elsbeth in which she asked for advice regarding her love-struck friend—me—and promptly emailed it to my date. I know, right?

The following day, I received a call. Amidst the laughter in the background, I was slowly beginning to grasp that my email had made the rounds at my failed date’s office and was a bit of a hit. More were demanded.

“Sadly, I cannot,” I said.

“Why’s that?”

Wait for it now…  (This part is positively diabolical.)  “Elsbeth hasn’t written back,” I responded, as if nothing could be more obvious.

Within the hour, there was an email in my inbox with Elsbeth’s name in the subject line. And while he’d certainly gotten into the spirit of things, I must admit that Elsbeth’s grammar was shockingly poor for a schoolmarm.

These letters became a regular thing, and ultimately formed the core around which I built the plot of my book.

And what my date’s prognostication, you might ask? We did become the best of friends. After all, how could we not? He’d inspired Edmond, the character in Lemoncholy who coaxes Christian’s secret to the surface, curing him of his stutter.

Sadly, my friend passed away two years ago, though I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s rolling his eyes at this little piece of drollery from Heaven.

About the Book:

Annabelle Aster has discovered a curious thing behind her home in San Francisco–a letterbox perched atop a picket fence. The note inside is blunt—trespass is dealt with at the business end of a shotgun in these parts!—spurring some lively correspondence between the Bay Area orphan and her new neighbor, a feisty widow living in nineteenth-century Kansas.

The source of mischief is an antique door Annie installed at the rear of her house. The man who made the door—a famed Victorian illusionist—died under mysterious circumstances.

Annie and her new neighbor, with the help of friends and strangers alike, must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen…and somehow already did.

Scott Wilbanks graduated summa cum laude from The University of Oklahoma and went on to garner several national titles in the sport of gymnastics. Scott’s husband, Mike, is a New Zealander by birth, and the two split their time between the two countries while Scott is at work on his next standalone novel. Visit Scott’s website at scottbwilbanks.com.

Review and Blog Tour: Racing the Sun

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Karina Halle’s new novel, Racing the Sun, set to release on July 28th from Atria Books!

racingthesun RACING THE SUN

Karina Halle

From the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky comes a new adult novel about a young woman who becomes a nanny in Capri and falls for her charges’ bad-boy brother.

When I’m traveling, I feel like the secret to my life, to myself, to really becoming, is one step ahead. It’s in the next destination, the next town I get lost in, the next stranger I talk to. It’s always next but never here . . . 

After six months of backpacking and soul-searching across the world, Amber MacLean is flat broke. There are worse places for a twentysomething to be stuck than the Amalfi Coast, but the only way she can earn enough money for a plane ticket home to California is to teach English to two of the brattiest children she has ever met.

It doesn’t help that the children are under the care of their brooding older brother, ex-motorcycle racer Desiderio Larosa. Darkly handsome and oh-so-mysterious, the young master of the crumbling villa tests Amber’s patience and will at every turn—not to mention her hormones.

When her position turns into a full-time nanny gig, Amber grows dangerously closer to the enigmatic recluse. But can she give up the certainty of home for someone whose closely guarded heart feels a world apart from her own?

My Review:

Karina Halle’s Racing the Sun is a lush and atmospheric romance, not just between two people but between those people and the place they live. The island of Capri is a character in and of itself; it shifts and changes and reflects the moods of the characters as the story progresses. Halle has done her research well – I could see each detail of the island clearly, from its crowded docks to its winding streets. I could smell the hot citrus and the salty sea air, and the scent of garlic wafting out of a restaurant window. I could feel the sun, sometimes oppressive and sometimes sweet. Having traveled to Capri myself last October, Halle’s writing made me ache for the island. She got everything right.

Amber MacLean is an intriguing narrator, and I found her voice to be breezy and oftentimes very funny. Her sarcasm – and her internal monologue about Derio’s hotness – had me laughing on the subway during my morning commute. Amber, like so many twentysomethings, wants to “find herself.” Her wanderings have taken her to Capri, where she accepts a job as a tutor for Desiderio’s twin siblings, Annabella and Alfonso. The task proves harder than it sounds. Annabella and Alfonso clearly affected by their parents’ tragic deaths, are moody and quick to upset. Desiderio (Derio) is short with Amber and prone to dark moods and drinking binges. And Felisa, the no-nonsense nanny, has up and quit.

But Amber can get through anything in two months, right? She just needs to get through two months of working for the Larosas in their villa so she can save up enough money for a plane ticket home, and then she’ll figure out what to do next. But as Amber spends more time with the reclusive Larosa family, she finds herself questioning what the next step in her life should be.

The relationship that blossoms between Amber and Derio is electric and exciting. Halle does an excellent job of drawing these two individuals together and giving us reason as readers to root for them. Derio is tragic and complex, and his physical description does not disappoint. Amber’s giddiness over Derio’s good looks is infectious.

Racing the Sun is not just a sweet summery romance, however. This is a story about broken people, yearning to connect with one another. This is a story about new beginnings, and acceptance, and beauty in all of its forms.

This is my first read by Karina Halle, and I already have plans to read some more of this author’s work. But first, I’ll probably give Racing the Sun another read, because I can’t leave these characters just yet.

(I received an e-galley from Atria Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Pre-Order:

Amazon’s Kindle Store | Apple iBookstore | Barnes & Noble| Blio | Books-a-Million | Google ebookstore | Kobo

ENTER TO WIN!

Atria Indie Authors and Karina Halle are giving away: (1) grand prize of a $50 AMEX Gift Card + 1 signed copy of RACING THE SUN and 1 copy of WHERE SEA MEETS SKY….PLUS: (6) Runner Up Prizes of 1 signed copy of RACING THE SUN. Enter to win here!

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

Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

maybeinanotherlifeAs fate would have it (hardy har), I was selected to read and review an advanced copy of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe in Another Life back in April. The book released but a few days ago, on July 7th, and I’ve been thinking about it for months. Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of the acclaimed Forever, Interrupted, which is set to be adapted into a movie starring Dakota Johnson.  I was so excited to read Maybe in Another Life after participating in the cover reveal months ago. The premise really stood out to me as unique and exciting:

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college, but on the heels of a disastrous breakup, she has finally returned to her hometown of Los Angeles. To celebrate her first night back, her best friend, Gabby, takes Hannah out to a bar—where she meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

It’s just past midnight when Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. Ethan quickly offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay.
Hannah hesitates.
What happens if she leaves with Gabby?
What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into surprisingly different stories with far-reaching consequences for Hannah and the people around her, raising questions like: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?
Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

This is my first time reading anything by this author, and now I’d like to make up for lost time! Reid’s writing style is breezy, almost effortless.  The voice she chose for Hannah was chatty and very fun, but don’t let that make you think the storyline is all syrupy, cinnamon bun-sweetness. Hannah – in both storylines – deals with major life changes, heartbreak, and turmoil. Through everything, she must learn to love and appreciate herself.

Hannah Martin is a likable main character. Certainly she has downfalls; she’s always searched for “perfection,” and because of this she hasn’t accomplished much.  She can never settle on anything.  Though she may be searching for perfection, she’s certainly not perfect herself. It was great to see a narrator in women’s fiction who is not gorgeous in an otherworldly way or particularly poised. Sometimes she is clumsy. Sometimes she just wants to throw her hair up in a bun and wear sweatpants.  And that’s okay! I found myself rooting for Hannah Martin from the get-go in both of her storylines.

There are two storylines at play here.  When Hannah returns home to Los Angeles, she goes out for the night with her best friend, Gabby.  When she’s at the bar, she runs into her old flame (and potential love of her life), Ethan.  In one storyline, Hannah chooses to stay out with Ethan. In another storyline, Hannah calls it a night and heads home with Gabby and her husband, Mark.

And that’s where the alternating chapters begin.

There’s no chapter headings or anything, so if you’re like me and you read bits and pieces on-the-go, you may have to backtrack every once in a while to remember which storyline you’re reading. Most of the story elements repeat in one way or another between the storylines, and it was incredible to see how Reid weaved the same events, and even some of the same lines, into two totally different plots with different outcomes.

The major characters are the same throughout the storylines, but their roles, and what they mean to Hannah and her growth as a character, changes. Gabby, her best friend, is a consistent presence in both storylines, and I’m so happy about that.  Gabby is a strong and funny friend who cares for Hannah an incredible amount. To see how the two friends help each other and how they lean on each other under very different circumstances made me realize the importance of true friends. Gabby’s character made me appreciate the own strong presences in my life, and I’m thankful for the reminder.

Is there a storyline I preferred more?  I had a soft spot for a certain night nurse named Henry, who wore navy blue scrubs…

But I’ll leave it at that. I wouldn’t want to ruin anything. Go out and pick up a copy of Maybe in Another Life. It’s just the sort of book you’ll want to read sprawled out on the grass in the sun, or lounging by the pool.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She is the author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit. You can follow her on Twitter @TJenkinsReid.

ORDER:

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MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Atria Books/Washington Square Press Paperback | 352 pages | ISBN: 9781476776880 | July 7, 2015 | $16.00

eBook: Atria Books/Washington Square Press | 352 pages | ISBN: 9781476776897 | July 7, 2015 | $11.99

And hey: let me know which storyline you liked better!

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

Spotlight: Begin Again by Brittney Mulliner

[Editor’s Note: I’m happy to share that BiblioSmiles is taking part in the blog tour for Brittney Mulliner’s Begin Again. Be sure to read about the book below, enter the giveaway, and visit the other great blogs that are participating!]

Begin Again Book Cover

Escaping her past, Aubrey Tate moves to Southern California for a fresh start with her older brother, Brandon. Starting over at a new school seems easy with her cousin, Mckayla, and her two best friends at her side, but handling the new guys is another matter. Aubrey ends up in the middle of three rivals that each want her to themselves. Mike claims her first and declare himself her friend and protector. Luke is the school heartthrob that stops Aubrey in her tracks, speechless. Gage is the mysterious, dark outsider that Aubrey can be herself around. How will she navigate her new life while she’s still haunted by her past?

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 Excerpt:

“I don’t have a boyfriend. At least not anymore… We had an incident at my family’s Christmas party and I have sworn off men.”
“Now that’s not fair, new girl! Don’t let some dirt bag ruin all of our chances. A girl like you shouldn’t be allowed to swear off the rest of us.”
I didn’t have the nerve to ask him what he meant by ‘a girl like me’ so I ignored it. “You find me a good guy, Mike, someone honest and loyal and I will consider changing my mind.”
“Done. You and I are going out on Friday.”
I laughed despite his straight face. “Mighty sure of yourself. Are you positive you are the best choice as the representative for all men?”
“Trust me Aubrey, I’m a true gentleman. And this doesn’t have to mean anything. I just want to show you how a girl like you deserves to be treated. Any loser who has a chance with you and ruins it should be committed.”

Begin Again

Tour Schedule

Brittney

Author Brittney Mulliner

Brittney had been an avid reader since she can remember. Her parents’ form of punishment for her growing up was taking away her books and making her go outside to play. She was born and raised in Southern California, with a brief hiatus in Arizona. She loves the beach, exercising, sleeping in, and cookies. She is an obsessive dog lover, although her affection currently has no outlet. Something that she is planning on remedying soon. She currently lives in Utah while she and her husband finish college.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest

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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/29/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Cover Reveal: Rise by Karina Bliss

Hello, bookworms! I’m happy to announce that BiblioSmiles is taking part in the cover reveal for the adult contemporary romance, Rise, by Karina Bliss. Check out the great cover, read the synopsis, and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Rise-KarinaBliss-1600x2400

Rise

Adult Contemporary Rockstar Romance

Release: January 28, 2015

“You have the ability to make controversial characters sympathetic. Maybe I just want to be understood.”

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes. So bad boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir. Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions – manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic, morally ambiguous.

In short, everything she sought in a biography subject. When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.

Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed-devil is only too willing to stoke. She’d thought self-control was in her DNA, after all she grew up a minister’s daughter. She thought wrong.

Outside your comfort zone is the only place worth living…

Zander Freedman has been an outlier – many would say an outcast – for most of his life. But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the break-up of his band to the fall-out on his reputation. His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph – if his golden voice holds out. Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz; Elizabeth’s integrity the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats.

All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not make him think.

Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out. And certainly not to fall in love for the first time in his life.

Turns out he is scared of something – being known.

Rise – a redemption story of a rock star going straight(er) through the love of a good(ish) woman

Check out the book’s page on Goodreads here.

 

About the Author

New Zealander Karina Bliss’s debut, Mr Imperfect, won a Romantic Book of the Year award in Australia, the first of eleven books published through Harlequin SuperRomance. Her most recent release, A Prior Engagement, was a Desert Island Keeper at likesbooks.com. Her next release, Rise, is a single title, self-published contemporary which continues the story of Zander Freedman, who first appeared as a villain inKarina’s bestselling title, What the Librarian Did – a book that made DearAuthor’s Best of the Year list in 2010.Two of Karina’s books have also featured in Sizzling Book Chats at SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.

Find out more at www.karinabliss.com

 

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