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


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.

Cover Reveal: The Shadow by Sylvain Reynard

Here at BiblioSmiles, I’m happy to announce that we were one of the blogs asked to share the cover reveal for the highly-anticipated sequel to Sylvain Reynard’s The RavenThe Shadow!

I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a huge fan of Sylvain Reynard’s work, so I’m happy to have the opportunity to reveal this new cover and share a synopsis of The Shadow, which releases on February 2, 2016.

The Shadow

New York Times bestselling author Sylvain Reynard presents the hotly

anticipated, intoxicating follow-up to The Raven

Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising

justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced

with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the

demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at

stake than Raven’s heart…

A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he

uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi

Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he

finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.

As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret,
or risk exposing his greatest weakness…

Add The Shadow on Goodreads.

Barnes and Noble, Amazon, IndieBound, Book Depository

Will you be reading The Shadow? It’s definitely going on my “To Read” list on Goodreads! The cover alone is enough to sell me (that jawline!), but with a plot like that? How could I resist?

Review: Accabadora by Michela Murgia

Accabadora is a book worth savoring. This English-language debut by Michela Murgia was published by Counterpoint Press in 2012. In the opening pages, the reader is presented with a glossary of Italian terms. I learned that aranzada is softened orange peel with honey, almonds and sugar. I learned that capigliette are pastries filled with almonds and lemon. The words themselves are worth mulling over, and the descriptions that follow are delicious. This is how I felt about the majority of Accabadora. Even in the descriptions of death and decay, there was something beautiful there.

At the heart of this novel is Bonaria Urrai, the Accabadora of a small village. Accabadora is another term that I learned in my reading, and it was worth doing some more research on it since the position has such a heavy weight. An Accabadora is a highly-respected woman of a town who assists in the death of ailing, suffering villagers. (You can read more about it here under the Accabadora sub-heading in this very interesting article by Andrew Collins.)

Bonaria, the respected older woman, takes on the young Maria Listru as a “soul child,” another beautiful term explained in the opening passages of the book. Bonaria raises Maria as her own, and teaches her the sewing trade. Despite her unspoken position in village society as a “midwife of death,” Bonaria is a warm maternal figure for Maria, and the two are very faithful and gentle towards each other.

As readers, we follow Maria in a coming-of-age tale that is, at some moments, painful. A scene during her sister’s wedding, where we can begin to see Maria blossom into a young woman, ends in a shameful discovery. Throughout her childhood, Maria remains in the dark about her tzia‘s (aunt’s) position as the Accabadora. When the secret finally comes to the surface, Maria makes the decision to go out into the world on her own, leaving her past behind her.

“Never say: I shall not drink from this water. You could find yourself in the water without having any idea how you got there.”

These are the words that Bonaria Urrai says to Maria in an emotional confrontation scene. It is a message that rings true to all: fate has a way of finding us, no matter how far we may run. As readers, we can only ask the question: when?

Accabadora is a book that kept me thinking. Although the concept of the Accabadora and the Sardinian village lifestyle were foreign to me, the major themes of the book are universal. Fate and responsibility – do the two go hand-in-hand?

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles. You can read more about her here. Tweet @daniellevillano.