Friday, November 21, 2014

Blog Tour and Giveaway: While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

Title: While Beauty Slept
Author: Elizabeth Blackwell
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Putnam
Publish Date: February 20, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told. Those of humble birth suffer their heartbreaks and celebrate their triumphs unnoticed by the bards, leaving no trace in the fables of their time....
And so begins Elise Dalriss's story

When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a tale about a beautiful princess awakened by a handsome prince, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered - and she is the only one left who knows the truth of what happened so many years ago.

As the memories start to unfold, Elise is plunged back in to the magnificent world behind the opulent palace walls. Fleeing a hardscrabble existence and personal tragedy, she builds a new life for herself as a servant to the royal family and quickly rises within the castle hierarchy. As Elise proves herself a loyal confidante, she is drawn into the lives of an extraordinary cast of women: a beautiful queen who wakes each morning with tears on her pillow, an elderly spinster who in heartache shuts herself away, a princess who yearns to be free, and the ambitious and frightening sister who cannot accept the fact that she will never rule. Elise has guarded their secrets - and her own - for a lifetime. While Beauty Sleeps is her story."

My Two Cents:

"While Beauty Slept" is a wholly original fairytale retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Oh guys, I love a good fairytale retelling. I love seeing an old favorite story turned on its head into something new and fantastic. This book is definitely one of those. The story is told from the perspective of Elise, a servant in the household of the Queen and the King, who are fighting for their reign. Not all is happy in this world. The Queen seems to be potentially barren and it is imperative that she provide an heir for the kingdom or she and the King could lose their grip on the kingdom. The Queen starts conspiring with and consulting with Millicent (who you will of course remember as the witchy woman from the Sleeping Beauty fairytale). Action ensues.

This book has a historical feel but obviously there is a fantasy-type bend to the story with it being a fairytale. I loved the world that the author created. This is a world where who you know and who you are affiliated with can change your life. All of the matches between the different characters really pulled me in. When the Queen finally has a daughter, Millicent will do anything to get her hands (and her influence) on Rose, the now heir to the kingdom. We see how Millicent tries to work her own influence to get what she wants when it comes to Rose.

I loved that the story was told from the point of view of Elise. Although she is a servant, she is intimately involved in caring and protecting Rose, a job which she takes very seriously. Elise is a study in how a person who on the surface may seem of little consequence can save the day. Overall, I really enjoyed this story!


Want to win a copy of While Beauty Slept? Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below (U.S. only)!

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Follow the Rest of the Tour: 

November 3
The Novel Life—review
November 4
Living Read Girl—review
Debbie’s Book Bag—review + giveaway
November 7
A Dream Within a Dream—review + giveaway
Books in the Burbs—spotlight + giveaway
Melissa’s Eclecitc Bookshelf—spotlight + giveaway
November 10
Midlife at the Oasis—review + giveaway
November 11
Red Carpet Crash—spotlight + giveaway
November 12
Bookish Things & More—review + giveaway
Teddy Rose Book Reviews—spotlight + giveaway
November 13
Grown Up Book Reviews—review + giveaway
November 14
My Friend Amy—spotlight + giveaway
November 14
To Read or Not to Read—review + giveway
Taking Time for Mommy—review + giveaway
November 17
CrazedMind—review + giveaway
November 18
Fresh Fiction—spotlight
November 19
Jean BookNerd—spotlight + giveaway
November 20
Cheryl’s Book Nook—review + giveaway
November 21
A Bookish Affair—review + giveaway
The Mod Podge Bookshelf—spotlight + giveaway
November 24
5 Minutes for Books—review + giveaway
November 27
Silver’s Reviews—review + giveaway
November 28
My 5 Monkeys—review

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Giveaway: If I Stay

Gayle Forman's fantastic "If I Stay" is coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD. I'm watching my copy tonight (I am sooooo excited)!

Release Information:



Experience more meaningful moments with the Blu-ray™ + DVD + Digital HD™ Combo, including an original music montage, free song download from the Soundtrack,
and a three-part immersive making-of experience featuring interviews with
the cast and author/executive producer Gayle Forman!

LOS ANGELES, CA (October 7, 2014) Live for love and music this holiday season with the ultimate
If I Stay fan experience on the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Combo and DVD November 18 from
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Based on
The New York Times best-selling young adult novel by Gayle Forman, director R.J. Cutler’s If I Stay is a must-have gift for fans and young adults alike this holiday season.

“Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley shine” (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune) in this romantic film based on the best-selling novel. Seventeen-year-old Mia Hall (Moretz) thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam (Blackley). But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate. Also starring are Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard as Mia’s parents, Kat and Denny, and Stacy Keach as Gramps.  Rounding out the main cast are Jakob Davies as Mia’s little brother, Liana Liberato as her best friend, Gabrielle Rose as Grandma, and Aisha Hinds as Nurse Ramirez. New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’
If I Stay hit theaters August 22, 2014.

R.J. Cutler directed the film from a screenplay by Shauna Cross based on Forman’s novel. If I Stay was produced by Alison Greenspan, with Denise Di Novi, Forman and Brad Van Arragon serving as executive producers.

Fans of the beloved book can see the story come to life like never before with compelling bonus features and deleted scenes. Celebrate the film’s music with an original “Never Coming Down” music video,
“I Never Wanted to Go” music montage, a free download of the song “Mind” from the soundtrack courtesy of WaterTower Music and music commentary by R.J. Cutler on songs from the movie. Then, dive deeper into the making-of the film with “Beyond the Page,” a three-part book, author and cast introspective.

If I Stay Blu-ray Exclusive Special Features
  • “I Never Wanted To Go” Music Montage
  • Beyond The Page featuring interviews with the cast, crew and Author Gayle Forman
    • The Love of Music
    • Adapting IF I STAY
    • An Out of Body Experience

If I Stay Blu-ray and DVD Special Features
  • “Never Coming Down” Music Video
  • Free download from the If I Stay Soundtrack of the song “Mind” courtesy of WaterTower Music
  • Deleted Scenes Commentary by R.J. Cutler and Alison Greenspan
    • Bookstore
    • Hospital Chapel
  • Audio Commentary by R.J. Cutler and Alison Greenspan
  • Music Commentary by R.J. Cutler
    • “Who Needs You”
    • “Until We Get There”
    • “I Want What You Have”
    • “All of Me”
    • “Promise”
    • “Never Coming Down”
    • “Halo”
    • “I Will be There”
    • “Mind”
    • “Morning”
    • “I Never Wanted To Go”
    • “Karen Revisited”
    • “Today”
    • “Heart Like Yours”
    • “Heal” (If I Stay Version)
    • “Suite No. 1 in G Major for Solo Cello, BWV 1007: Prelude”
    • “Cello Concerto in a Minor, Op. 33”
    • “Sonata in B Minor for Solo Cello, Op.”
  • Image Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

If I Stay Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Combo  
Street Date:        November 18, 2014
Prebook Date:        October 15, 2014
Screen Format:        Widescreen 16.9 (2.40:1)
Audio:            English 5.1 DTS-HD-MA/Spanish 5.1 DD/French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles:        English / French / Spanish
U.S. Rating:        PG-13
Total Run Time:        171 minutes
Closed Captioned:    Yes

If I Stay DVD
Street Date:        November 18, 2014
Prebook Date:        October 15, 2014
Screen Format:        Widescreen 16.9 (2.40:1)
Audio:            English 5.1 Dolby Digital/Spanish 2.0 Surround DD/French 2.0 Surround DD
Subtitles:        English / French / Spanish
U.S. Rating:        PG-13
Total Run Time:        123 minutes
Closed Captioned:    Yes


Want to win your own copy of the "If I Stay" Blu-ray and a copy of the book so you can compare and contrast your favorite moments? Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below (U.S./ Canada only).

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Review: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

Title: The Signature of All Things
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publish Date: October 14, 2013
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life."

My Two Cents:

"The Signature of All Things" is a sweeping historical-fiction novel that takes place in the 18th and 19th centuries, a time of great change in the scientific world. At its center is an absolutely fascinating character, Alma, who grows up in a world where her parents get her engaged in science at a very early age. She is never excluded from conversations because she is female and that creates a great sense of her being able to do whatever she wants. The characters and historical detail definitely made this book for me!

Alma is such an interesting character. Because this book takes place over such a long period of time, you really get to know Alma well and she just keeps getting more and more fascinating throughout the book. She is ahead of her time in a lot of ways and it was really awesome to read about how supportive her parents and family were of that fact. Alma becomes a noted botanist but because she is a woman, she has to do things like be published under pseudonyms and hide who she really is. Alma is whip smart and she knows it. She definitely regrets that as a woman, she doesn't have nearly the amount of opportunities that a man would have in pursuing and even speaking publically about her scientific work. She comes off as callous or haughty sometimes and I really enjoyed reading about her. This book has so much more to it though besides Alma's scientific pursuits. This book is also about family and unrequited love

This book is also good for armchair travelers. Parts of the book take place in Philadelphia, Tahiti, and the Netherlands mainly but there are other places too. Because Alma is such a fantastic character, you definitely enjoy traveling with her. Gilbert was definitely able to bring these places to life for me. Alma's time in the Netherlands and Tahiti stood out for me in particular!

I listened to this book on audiobook and while it took me awhile to get through it (the length is something like 24 hours), it was a great book to listen to. I must tell you that the narration was really fantastic. The narrator is British actress, Juliet Stevenson, who has been in a ton of different movies and tv shows. Her voice is so captivating!

Overall, historical fiction lovers will love this saga!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

I am very excited to announce some giveaway winners today!

Highland Hunger:
Denise D.

The Ripper's Wife:
Kerry A.

Floats the Dark Shadow:
Dee S.

Here and Again:
Kim K.

Bonnie H.

Night of a Thousand Stars:
Raquel M.

The Moonlight Palace:
Carl S.

Come Dancing:
Jeffrey T.

Don't forget to enter The Tiger Queens giveaway!

Review: Faint Promise of Rain by Anjali Mitter Duva

Title: Faint Promise of Rain
Author: Anjali Mitter Duva
Format: Paperback
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publish Date: October 7, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "It is 1554 in the desert of Rajasthan, and a new Mughal emperor is expanding his territory. On a rare night of rain, a daughter, Adhira, is born to a family of Hindu temple dancers. Fearing a bleak future, her father—against his wife and sons’ protests—puts his faith in tradition and in his last child for each to save the other: he insists Adhira “marry” the temple deity and give herself to a wealthy patron. But after one terrible evening, she makes a bold choice that carries her family’s story and their dance to a startling new beginning. Told from the perspective of this exquisite dancer and filled with the sounds, sights and flavors of the Indian desert, Faint Promise of Rain is the story of a family and a girl caught between art, duty, and fear in a changing world."

My Two Cents:

"Faint Promise of Rain" takes place in 16th century India. It is a time of great change in the country with a new ruler coming to power. The story follows Adhira, a young woman born into a family of dancers who tell epic stories and myths through their dances. The exotic setting combined with a fascinating main character makes for a great story.

I loved reading about Adhira and her close knit family. This book shows a lot of the changes that the family goes through as their country is changing around them. I loved reading about how they coped with everything. Adhira's family are all Hindu temple dancers and as Adhira finds out after she is tied to a wealthy patron, their lives are not always their own. I was not really familiar with the lives of these temple dancers before reading this book so I really ate up all of the detail that the author provided.

The description of the time and place that Adhira's family lives in really made this book stand out for me. I love reading about India but I did not know much about the time in which this book takes place. The author provides a lot of great description in a relatively small amount of space that really pulled me into the story! Overall, if you're looking for a good pick for historical fiction lovers, this might fit!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publish Date: February 5, 2013
Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From "Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner."

My Two Cents:

"Scarlet" is the second book in the fabulous Lunar Chronicles series from Marissa Meyer. I really love this series and you will too if you're looking for something off the beaten path, sci-fi-ish, and filled with fabulous and memorable characters. One thing that I loved about "Cinder," the first book in the series, and "Scarlet" is that both books are so original. The storyline is really interesting and imaginative! "Scarlet" is a sci-fi retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Yes, I know that sounds a little odd but really, it is fantastic. You are going to be very lost with "Scarlet" if you don't read "Cinder" first. This book is not a stand-alone.

First off, the characters in this book continue to be outstanding. Meyer gives us a new heroine in Scarlet, a French girl who just wants to save her grandmother who has disappeared and left a mystery in her wake. You also have the reappearance of some other favorites from "Cinder" so you get to see how things turn out for some of those characters that you enjoyed so much in the first book. I really liked how each character was so unique and really had their own voice. These characters really felt three-dimensional to me.

The other excellent feature of this series is the world-building. Meyer built a great foundation in "Cinder" but things get even more complicated (in a wonderful way) in "Scarlet." Meyer goes into a lot more detail as to what is happening in the war between Earth and the Moon. You also get really good descriptions as to what its like where the characters are living. I liked that Meyer focused on both creating really good characters and creating a truly fascinating world for them to "play" in. I know that I am most definitely excited for the future books in this series!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Blog Tour: Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes

Title: Stillwater Rising
Author: Steena Holmes
Format: ARC
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: November 11, 2014
Source: BookSparks Book Tour

What's the Story?:

From "After losing her son in an elementary school shooting that devastates the tight-knit community of Stillwater Bay, Jennifer Crowne finds herself unable to settle back into her role of perfect stay-at-home mom and committee organizer. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mayor Charlotte Stone, struggles to keep the town together, and Charlotte s husband, the school principal, may not be the hero everyone thinks him to be.

As they try to heal from this irrevocable trauma, Jenn and Charlotte find themselves at a crossroads within the town and within their friendship. For Jenn, broken and grieving, there is no going back, and she demands that the school be closed so that she can bury the past. Yet Charlotte is equally desperate to hold the town together, fighting the school closure and helping the shooter s mother regain her place in the community. Jenn and Charlotte s relationship is put to the ultimate test as each weighs her own interests against the bonds of their friendship."

My Two Cents:

In "Stillwater Rising," the small town at the center of the book has just suffered an unspeakable event, a school shooting. The main characters in the book are at the center of the event. There is Charlotte, the mayor, trying to pull the community together. There is Jennifer, the mother of one of the children who was shot. Finally, there is Julia, the mother of the child who shot the other child. Each of these women adds a very different perspective to this book, which is truly its strength.

I loved that the author chose to include the perspective of all three of these different women. They are coming at this event and its aftermath from very different places. They each have their own fears, heartbreaks, and anger. The author really does a good job of creating a very unique and separate point of view and personality for each woman. It was fascinating to me to watch how these characters interact with each other. There is a ton of emotion in this book and it definitely made me think.

Overall, I liked the writing of this book. The juxtaposition between the various characters engaged me almost from the very first page. This book is the first in a planned series and while this book ended a little abruptly, I am hoping that the rest of the story continues in the next story about this town. If you're looking for a book that really packs a punch, this would be a great pick!

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