Saturday, August 27, 2016

In My Arms Tonight by Sasha Clinton Giveaway (US only)

In My Arms Tonight
Sasha Clinton

What if you can’t help but hurt the person you love?

Kat Cullen has it all—a staff writer position at the New York Times, beauty, independence—until she finds herself alone on the subway at night with a rapist. Saved by Alex Summer, a democratic candidate running for mayor of New York, she develops an unexpected friendship with him.

Alex’s chaotic past is the kind of juicy scoop every political reporter dreams of—which is why he keeps it hidden. But as he starts falling in love with Kat, he opens up to her about his darkest secrets. What he doesn’t know is that Kat already knows all about him, and she’s on an assignment to expose his history.

Caught between truth, love, and ambition, two people must figure out the politics of the heart.
Buy the book from: Amazon

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one $10 Amazon gift card AND one print copy of In My Arms Tonight—that's two winners total. Yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What qualities do you look for in the heroine and hero of a romance novel?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Sasha and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

In a romance heroine, I look for the ability to not take herself too seriously (overly self-conscious and neurotic characters kill me), as well as general tact and grace. In a hero, I love humor and courage (they need to be willing to slay dragons and whatnot heh).

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Sasha Clinton!!
Giveaway ends September 10th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

6 Heart Review: Behind Closed Doors by by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors
B.A. Paris

Page Count: 304

Release Date: August 9th, 2016 (hardcover edition)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (MacMillan)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Wunderkind PR!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?
Jack and Grace Angel are the perfect couple, but from a keen eye's perspective, there are little things that are peppered throughout their marriage that raise many red flags, like Grace not even having her own cell phone (or email address), Jack's propensity to accompany Grace everywhere (including up to the door of the ladies' room), and Grace's eerily immaculate and calm exterior.

Sadly, in the book, no one sees this as particularly odd or toxic, which may reflect how domestic abuse manifests in the real world; despite actual cries for help, it may go unnoticed, or not taken seriously.

Behind Closed Doors takes a somber real-world matter and spins it into a hysterical, drama-filled novel that is narrated in alternating timelines: The Past—the first glimpses of Jack's private battery against Grace—and The Present—the buildup of Grace's plan to end it all.

Maybe I'm just desensitized to thrillers having read some very effed-up ones before, but overall I felt this book fell short of my expectations. After all, the back cover says in large red print: "Makes Gone Girl Seem Like a Fairy Tale," so I expected just that: something bigger and bolder and scarier than Gone Girl. Spoiler alert: Behind Closed Doors doesn't really measure up to Gone Girl at all. To me, it reads like a book-version of an over-the-top Lifetime movie. It revolves around an issue that shouldn't be taken lightly, but Grace's first-person narrative is pretty hard to take seriously, and all the "riveting" twists are quite predictable.

Are there parts that are extremely disturbing and sad? Yes. Jack is a venomous character with no chance of redemption at all, and it was hard to swallow some of his terrible actions. However, to me this was another extremely unrealistic point; characters, especially in real life, are rarely one-dimensional and I would have liked to see some conflict within his character, or maybe a dilemma between his thoughts/feelings and actions, but there was none of that. He's the big bad villain in this story, and nothing more. Grace's determination to free herself of this marital prison and plot her revenge against her husband is the almost impossible, excruciating journey readers are taken along on.

But did these disturbing scenes really keep me at the edge of my seat? I think that's the true indication of a good thriller, but unfortunately, Behind Closed Doors didn't do it for me. The so-called "scary" storyline is painfully obvious, and there is no mind-blowing twist like Gone Girl had. Grace's situation is more frustrating than suspenseful. As a reader, I felt bad for her and wanted to help her out of such a helpless situation, but I wasn't necessarily reveling in the psychological abuse.

While British author B.A. Paris's writing style is appropriately falsely cheery, it isn't wonderfully skilled. The book focuses on plain detail with no integral purpose (like paragraphs of what was served for dinner, what Grace is wearing, how long commute takes, etc.), and while the structural choice of jumbling up the past and present chapters is interesting, it can get quite confusing and seemed unnecessary.

Content-wise, Behind Closed Doors is definitely an anxiety attack kind of story: it's more the threat of death and violence that's scary about Jack's abuse, rather than the actual blood and gore itself. It doesn't really fit in the horror genre, so if you're the squeamish type, you'll be able to get through this one. But if you're easily disturbed by exaggerated threats and targeted psychological abuse, you may want to stay away.

Pros


Fast-paced, not difficult to read // Interesting timeline shifts that aren't too confusing // Original, convoluted storyline; props to B.A. Paris for creating the ultimate evil character

Cons


Writing style and narration is elementary, at best.. nothing special // Grace is an irritating character, although I do sympathize with her // There are multiple twists and turns throughout, but most of it, while pretty horrific, is barely shocking // Overall plot is too obvious; you don't have to do much guesswork based off the vague synopsis // All of the characters are flat and underdeveloped; none of them seem realistic or complex (including the main characters, Grace and Jack) // Doesn't really compare to Gone Girl, despite the rave reviews

Verdict


Behind Closed Doors is a lofty attempt at an intense psychological thriller, but reads more like a Lifetime drama about extreme emotional abuse than anything else. Part of my critique stems from the hype surrounding this novel; it isn't at all a bland read, but it's hardly "2016's answer to Gone Girl" (Women's Health), which is exactly what I was anticipating. If it had been marketed as a domestic showpiece rather than a psychological thriller that supposedly trumps Gone Girl (to reiterate: it doesn't), I may have enjoyed it more Americanflag

6 hearts: Decent for a first read, but I'm not going back; this book is decidedly average (whatever that means!) (x)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Vanishing Time by Katharine Britton Giveaway (US only)

Vanishing Time
Katharine Britton

Cama Truesdale’s ex-husband and young son leave Boston for a "boys only" fishing trip in South Carolina’s Low Country. In the early morning hours, Cama is jolted awake by a phone call. There’s been a fire on board the boat. Her ex-husband is dead. Her son is missing and presumed dead.

As she sets off for South Carolina, Cama's belief that her son Tate is alive is unwavering. But her frantic search soon stirs up painful memories that send her reeling back to her childhood and the mysterious car crash that killed her Gullah mother and white father. As the clock ticks down, exhausted, haunted by dreams, and stymied by the police and local community, she enters a world in which she must rely on instinct over fact, and where no one and nothing is what it seems—not even the boundary between the living and the dead.

Vanishing Time is about how grief can shape reality and the power of a mother’s love.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away two signed print copies of Vanishing Time—that's two winners total. Yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Choose one: Characterization, Setting, or Plot. Which do you value most in a novel and why?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Katharine and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I value well-written, realistic, and lovable characters the most. It all boils down to this: a novel with a boring storyline and setting but excellent characterization can still be one of my favorites, but it almost never works the other way around.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Katharine Britton!!
Giveaway ends September 5th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Fire Brand by Diana Palmer + Giveaway (US/Can only)

Fire Brand
Diana Palmer

He’ll risk his whole heart to save her from the past

Gaby Cane was always a bit afraid of her attraction to Bowie McCayde. Even when she was fifteen and Bowie’s family took her in, she had sensed his simmering resentment. Now ten years later, she’s an aspiring journalist who can hold her own with any man professionally, the dark shadows of years gone by far behind her. Then Bowie strides back into her life—only this time, he needs her, and the pull of loyalty to his family is too strong to ignore.

When Bowie asked Gaby to help save his family’s Arizona ranch, he never expected the girl he once knew to return transformed into a stunning, successful woman. As they work together, Bowie is shocked to find that her innocence and beauty stir a hunger he can’t deny. But the rogue rancher can sense something holding her back, and he’s determined to uncover the terrible secret Gaby is fighting to keep hidden...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Close Encounters of the Furred Kind by Tom Cox Giveaway (US/Can only)

Close Encounters of the Furred Kind
Tom Cox

Close Encounters of the Furred Kind is the follow-up to the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller The Good, The Bad, and the Furry. Like The Good, The Bad, and the Furry, it tells the story of Tom Cox's life with his charismatic cats—The Bear, Shipley, Ralph, and recent recruit Roscoe.

Close Encounters of the Furred Kind begins with a long, emotional goodbye to Norfolk, and continues with another amazing new lease on life for The Bear, the Benjamin Button of the cat world, among the bluebells and verdant hedgerows of Devon. Readers who became attached to The Bear's magical, owlish persona during his previous adventures will become more so here as he proves, once again, that he's a cat with endless secrets and significantly more than nine lives.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of Close Encounters of the Furred Kind—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Regardless of whether or not you own pets, do you consider yourself a cat person or a dog person? Why?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Tom and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Although I used to love cats as a kid, I'm highly allergic (found out the hard way: allergy attacks) and can't live with them :( No problem with dogs though—I have a puppy of my own and love him to bits!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends August 30th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Legacy by Hannah Fielding Giveaway (Open Internationally!)

Legacy (Andalucían Nights #3)
Hannah Fielding

A troubled young journalist finds her loyalties tested when love and desire unearth dark secrets from the past.

Spring, 2010. When Luna Ward, a science journalist from New York, travels halfway across the world to work undercover at an alternative health clinic in Cadiz, her ordered life is thrown into turmoil.

The doctor she is to investigate, the controversial Rodrigo Rueda de Calderon, is not what she expected. With his wild gypsy looks and devilish sense of humor, he is intent upon drawing her to him. But how can she surrender to a passion that threatens all reason; and how could he ever learn to trust her when he discovers her true identity? Then Luna finds that Ruy is carrying a corrosive secret of his own...

Luna’s native Spanish blood begins to fire in this land of exotic legends, flamboyant gypsies and seductive flamenco guitars, as dazzling Cadiz weaves its own magic on her heart. Can Luna and Ruy’s love survive their families’ legacy of feuding and tragedy, and rise like the phoenix from the ashes of the past?

Legacy is a story of truth, dreams and desire. But in a world of secrets you need to be careful what you wish for...
Buy the book from: Amazon | The Book DepositoryKobo

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Legacy—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
How much should a person be shaped by their family legacy? Is it more important to honor your family's past, or build your own future individualistically?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Hannah and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Hannah Fielding!
Giveaway ends August 28th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally—woohoo! That means anyone in the world can enter, provided you have a verifiable mailing address.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Interview with Catherine Lanigan, Author of Sophie's Path + Fear of Falling Giveaway (Open Internationally!)

I'd like to welcome Catherine Lanigan to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Sophie's Path from Harlequin Heartwarming!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Catherine! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Catherine Lanigan is the international bestselling and award-winning author of forty published titles in both fiction and non-fiction, including the novelizations of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, as well as her Angel Watch trilogy of real stories of angelic intervention in human life.

Currently, she has published five novels in the Shores of Indian Lake series for Harlequin Heartwarming: Love Shadows, Heart’s Desire, A Fine Year for Love, Katia’s Promise and Fear of Falling. Sophie’s Path was published this past July.


It's my pleasure! It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which just hit shelves in paperback earlier this month:

Her choice. His consequences.

Nurse Sophie Mattuchi has seen a lot of angry patients in the ER, but no one’s ever rattled her like Jack Carter. He has no right to blame her for his friend’s death. Sophie did everything she could.

Didn’t she?

Yet his accusations sting, and that sets off all kinds of internal alarms. She’s never cared this much about any man’s opinion of her. But Jack is different. He stirs up feelings. Strong feelings. Guilt. Anger. Attraction. Curiosity. Sympathy. Sophie’s definitely not interested in Jack, but even if she was, he’d never forgive her for the decision she made that night in the hospital.

Would he?

What was the inspiration for the plot of Sophie's Path?

The Shores of Indian Lake series took well over a year for me to create the town, the anchor characters and the original plot lines of the first half dozen books. In truth, I hope to write two dozen of these stories set in Indian Lake before I’m done. The town is my Glocca Morra; the mythical Irish town in "Finnian’s Rainbow." It is set in northwestern Indiana very near Lake Michigan and is surrounded by verdant farmland as well as Amish communities. I wanted that lush, abundant and pastoral kind of feeling that I always get when reading Jane Austin. Though my series for Heartwarming is not "Inspirational," I still wanted that waft of divine essence in the land, itself. For many who live in Indian Lake, it is a walk back in time, with an active historical preservation society that seldom allows a house to be torn down, but instead, the buildings must be renovated and preserved. I spent a great deal of time creating maps of the town layout, the buildings and the architectural essence of the town. I wanted its history deeper than a Norman Rockwell painting, yet still with that kind of nostalgia; while at the same time, the romantic characters are all dealing with contemporary, real, even harsh life-issues. I knew from the beginning I wanted to have one, if not two books dealing with drug gangs and drug addicts, which are prevalent in so many towns, cities and hamlets. (This issue is at the heart of Sophie’s Path.) Eventually, the city council and politicians will be crucial in these stories as they deal with the issue of lack of tax money to pay for education, street repairs, cleaning Indian Lake, and increasing the police and fire forces.

My anchor character is Mrs. Beabots. She is elegant, feisty, stylish, creative, intelligent and in her early 80’s. She is the voice of wisdom and common sense at one time or another for every couple going through their "whirlwind, rollercoaster" relationships. She owns a large Victorian home where she rents out the third floor old ballroom as an apartment to many of the heroines as they transition from one life to another. Though Mrs. Beabots is wealthy and doesn’t need the rent money, she likes having the girls around her. Mrs. Beabots is blessed with beauty, brains, and high energy. She feels a sense of responsibility to her community and donates her time and her sugar pies to charities. She makes it her business to know people, help them, but never gossips. She can keep a secret because all of her past before moving to Indian Lake in the mid-1960’s is a very well-kept secret—and will remain a secret until the last book in the series. Mrs. Beabot’s Secrets will answer all the questions about her that the characters ask in each book in the series.


How much of your real life is in the book?

After living the bulk of my life in big cities with choking traffic, I have moved back to my hometown in Indiana and yes, I find a lot of inspiration in my real life for my characters. My plots, however, are devised from my imagination and my fictional characters. I am one of those writers who gives a bit of free reign to their characters and when I’m creating my proposals, I let them tell me their story. Their dialogue is also their own. Sometimes, I can’t believe what comes out of their mouths!

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out the first line of Sophie's Path, a behind-the-scenes look at how the character Sophie came about, and the story to Catherine's publishing journey. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of Sophie's Path, so you don't want to miss that either!