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Giveaway: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

[ 7 ] March 26, 2015

one plus one book coverI have 1 copy of One Plus One by Jojo Moyes to give away!

Open to US residents only

Check out Jojo’s online book club kit full of recipes, cocktails and even a playlist!

About the book

Jojo Moyes’ New York Times bestselling novel One Plus One is now available in paperback. Like her breakout smash hit Me Before You, One Plus One is a heartwarming tale of family dysfunction and devotion, the power of love, and second chances, told with Moyes’s trademark sensitivity and humor.

Suppose your life sucks—a lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. If you’re Jess Thomas, you do what you always do—make it work.

Jess and her family (including their giant, smelly dog Norman) begin their doomed-from-the-start adventure stranded on the side of the road next to a dilapidated Rolls Royce—sans license, sans insurance—having just been pulled over by the police for a missing headlight. And the unexpected knight in shining armor who rescues them? Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home Jess happens to clean. With big problems of his own, Ed, in perhaps his first ever unselfish act, offers to drive Jess and her dysfunctional brood to the Maths Olympiad and a prize that could turn everything around for Jess’s family.

This unlikely cast of characters is easy to fall for: Nicky, Jess’s stepson, wears mascara, doesn’t fit in at school, but is fiercely protective of Tanzie, Jess’s precocious math prodigy daughter; Jess and Ed are the kind of opposites you love to watch attract; and pungent Norman, the immovable mascot of the back seat, is the best guard dog you’ll ever find drooling on your shoulder.

One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you turn the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Vostok by Steve Alten

[ 2 ] March 26, 2015

vostok book coverPlease join Steve Alten, author of Vostok, as he tours the blogosphere with iRead Book Tours!

Enter to win a copy of the book below – open internationally

Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

Vostok is the second book featuring Zachary Wallace, and large parts of it takes place in Antarctica, below the frozen ice cap, in a liquid lake, Vostok.  Steve Alten appears to like the idea of ancient Miocene predators and other animals hiding in the dark places of the ocean. This isn’t the only series he has dealing with supposedly long extinct species and there is a little cross-over with the others.

I will say that Alten does a pretty poor job when it comes to real science and double checking facts used in the story. I really started taking notice when he converted -25C to -87F in a conversation and no one seemed to notice the huge error (-25C is -13F…).  The next big error was saying that high energy electromagnetic waves (ultraviolet – x-ray, etc.) have longer wavelengths than red and infrared. This is completely backwards and would only take a quick Google search to validate. Then there is a marine biologist grad student discussing evolution with our Dr. Zachary (another marine biologist) and claiming that it is much more likely that whales evolved from large fish like sharks instead of ‘bears like Darwin postulated’ based solely on the similarity of size. There are so many things wrong with this statement that I almost stopped reading the book.

Dr. Zachary Wallace is considered to be the ideal candidate to travel all the way to the other end of the earth to Antarctica, where he will be sent under two miles of ice to explore a lake that has been covered for eons. It is a trip of a lifetime. It is also incredibly dangerous and has a smaller chance of success than everyone realizes.

The first issue is the variety of life they find left over from the Miocene, much of it dangerous to their small three person submarine. When they are coming through the ice they miss their mark and land a long way from anywhere useful to get themselves back. After they arrive at an ‘island’ – one of their objectives on the mission – things start getting strange. Wallace has an encounter that changes his life forever.

This book had more holes in it than a Dan Brown plot, however, despite all the issues I had with the the biology and physics, Alten can still tell a good attention grabbing yarn. Even with its faults, I give this book 3.5 stars. Vostok will definitely be more enjoyable for someone who doesn’t care about the science. A little fact checking can go a long way!

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided by Rebel Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Emaho Tibet! by Simhananda

[ 0 ] March 25, 2015

emaho tibet book coverReviewed by Holly Madison

Emaho Tibet!: Blessings from the Land of the Snows initially caught my eye because I love the Buddhist philosophy, and I have always wanted to see Tibet. More or less, it is a book of photography, with photos from different places that the author journeyed to in his travels through the Land of the Snows.

My favorite photo in the book features a landscape, showing the valley surrounded by all of the mountains. I never pictured Tibet this way, and it gave me a whole new perspective on the land. It was haunting–something out of a dream. So much more than high mountainous desert…. a land that holds memories of beauty and deep spirituality. It was very fitting for what I think the author was trying to achieve in his book.

Each turn of the page shows a new photo, with a phrase or saying that goes along with it; they range from almost humorous to serious and powerful. I found that I really enjoyed reading these, and looked forward to them almost as much as the photos. But I did find that some of these little snippets of wisdom feel very well placed, while others just seem to not quite fit into the image on the page. There was a bit of randomness that made me ask, “Why did the author choose this image and this phrase to go along with it?” I really would have loved to read things that the author had to say (himself) in addition to the occasional quote or phrase, that way I could get a better understanding of the message he was trying to convey with his photographic story.

I loved the photos of the people of Tibet, more than the various statues that were (a bit too often) pictured. I love seeing different people going about their daily lives, with the occasional close up showcasing an elderly person’s wrinkles–each one representing one hardship or another that they have overcome. These photos were the most powerful, and made me really stop and ponder what it must be like to live in a place that is a land of peace surrounded by those who would take away freedom by means of violence and oppression. Somehow these photos were happy and sad at the same time. I found myself happy that life can go on and that Tibet still exists, in one way or another. I also found myself very sad, knowing the history of this beautiful land and its gentle people.

Now for my thoughts on some things that I think would make the book better:

Above all else, this book is a photographic journey. In books of this nature (and price range), I think that the quality of the photographs really needs to be exceptional, and that is not always the case in this book. Don’t get me wrong–many of the photographs are absolutely beautiful, but some are a bit blurry or tilted, or off-center. Things like the tilt problem could easily be perspective cropped in Photoshop to look a lot cleaner and nicer. The blurry photos should be re-taken or replaced with better photos for a more professional appearance.

Most of the quotes in the book are just normal formatted text, then a few actually go along and curve with the photos in an artistic fashion. This could be very successful looking if it was consistent (and all of the photos and text were done this way), but since there is a big mix between “artsy” and “regular”, it just feels odd to me. I think the book would be more successful if only one style was used instead of this strange mix.

Many of the quotes and sayings in this book are profound. I think that they speak volumes on their own, but I would really love to get a sense of the author’s journey through his photographs. I’d love to get some sort of a narrative from him (or his own quotes) as he goes from photo to photo. It would feel like we are being taken on the journey with him while he describes where he is and what is going on around him, rather than just photos that could have been taken anywhere in Tibet. I really feel that this one detail would make the biggest impact on the overall reception of this book.

I feel like this book is wonderful, but could be even more amazing with a few small tweaks. It has the right intention and the right perspective… it just needs a little bit more to push it from where it currently stands into something truly incredible.

Overall I give it 4 stars out of 5, and I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Tibet.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Holly has a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science and owns a small business with her husband selling fleece and hand-spun yarn. When she is not spinning yarn, she does freelance work as a graphic design artist and is highly involved in animal rescue.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Orange Palm and Magnificent Magus Publications. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau

[ 3 ] March 25, 2015

the tapestry book coverPlease join Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Tapestry, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Enter to win one of three signed hardcover copies of The Tapestry by completing the giveaway form below.

Reviewed by Colleen Turner

I think it’s important to first note that The Tapestry is the third book in author Nancy Bilyeau’s Joanna Stafford series. Having not previously read the first two books in the series before tackling The Tapestry, I would definitely advise others interested in the book to start at the beginning of the series. While it’s not completely necessary to do so, there is obviously a lot of backstory and history between the characters that, even with the author doing a very good job of trying to catch up new readers like me, just can’t be fully appreciated or understood when starting at book three. This somewhat diminishes the impact of the shocking turns of events that happen within the pages, which there are quite a few of. This being said, The Tapestry is still a very exciting and immersive dip into the dangerous world of the Tudor court.

When the novel begins our heroine Joanna Stafford is living a peaceful life in the country, weaving tapestries and living as devout a life as she can since Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and ended her life as a novice in the Dominican church. This peace is shattered, however, when she receives a summons to come to court for a possible tapestry commission. As much as she doesn’t want to go, how can she refuse the King? Especially when she needs to prove she can support herself financially in order for her cousin, the head of the Stafford family, to allow her to raise her deceased cousin’s son, Arthur. With dread in her heart, she heads back to the court she hoped to never return to again.

Her trepidation is well founded when someone attacks her as soon as she steps into Whitehall Palace. Unable to leave court without the King’s permission and needing to know who is behind the attack, especially when so many powerful men seem to despise her – most notably Thomas Cromwell, Eustace Chapuys and the Duke of Norfolk – Joanna attempts to quietly find out who wishes her dead. With the help of Thomas Culpepper, gentleman of the King’s privy chamber, and later Constable Geoffrey Scovill, Joanna will use the skills she learned in her training as a spy for the Bishop of Winchester to unravel this mystery and keep herself and those she cares about safe from harm.

This being the Tudor court, Joanna also finds herself in the middle of other mysteries and dreadful occurrences. Her dear friend, Catherine Howard, is being pushed into the King’s bed by her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, a power play that has proven fatal in the past. The man she almost married, Edmund, has disappeared somewhere in Germany and, desperate to find him, she goes on a mission to do so with the help of Constable Scovill, another man she has complicated feelings for. And on top of all this, Joanna finds herself amongst men she cares for who have elicited the help of those that practice dark magic in the hopes of freeing the King from the clutches of Thomas Cromwell, the man many see as responsible for the downfall of the Catholic Church in England. With all of this swirling around her, only an intelligent and resourceful woman like Joanna can hope to come out of it all with her head still on her shoulders and her feet firmly on the ground.

Anyone who enjoys reading novels set in the Tudor court will already be familiar with some of the more widespread issues being discussed – the religious upheavals, the constant shifts in allegiances between the King and his favored courtiers, the horrifying fates of Henry VIII’s wives – as well as the well-known characters populating the pages. Even without knowing Joanna’s backstory or her previous interactions with the other characters, anyone familiar with the court will already know the fates of some of the characters and will enjoy seeing them unfold from Joanna’s unique perspective. I would not recommend anyone unfamiliar with the Tudors to tackle The Tapestry without first reading the previous books in the series as there are a lot of characters and situations going on and, without knowing the actual history, it’s easy to get lost within the tangled web.

Having finished The Tapestry I’m very intrigued to go back and read the first two books in the series to see how we get to the actions in this book and to prepare for any future books in the series. This series seems a very well written and worthwhile addition to the wonderful world that is Tudor fiction.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, and their dogs Oliver and Cleopatra. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship. You can find more of her reviews on her blog.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Touchstone. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

The Tapestry

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Review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

[ 4 ] March 24, 2015

golden son book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Golden Son takes place a few years after Red Rising, and Darrow has matured some more. He is at the end of his training, winning his last battle and then his life starts to unravel. The matriarch of the Bellona family holds a grudge like none other and she intends to have her revenge–she literally wants his heart on a platter.

Darrow has his first major set back and he doesn’t really know how to recover from it. On top of that his sponsor, Augustus, isn’t very forgiving of those who let him down. One of Darrow’s faults is his lack of politicking skills. This is a serious shortcoming when dealing with a race brought up on extreme Machiavellian tendencies. And Darrow often registers a back stabbing threat after the knife has plunged home.

What saves our hero more often than not is his friends. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know whether to embrace them or set them up to die with the rest of the gold leadership. It’s his internal vacillation that keeps his friends at arms length. They never really know what he’s thinking or feeling and this alienates them, often at very inopportune times. It is a lesson Darrow needs to learn over and over. Often a little too late. Everytime he seems to be about to complete an important goal, his ego seems to get in the way and ruin everything.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I gave it 4.5 stars. I gave Red Rising 5 stars, partly because it was fresh and exciting, but also because it was a complete book. The series could have ended there and it still would have been good. Golden Son ends on a cliffhanger and the last book will be needed to achieve some resolution. Pierce Brown also seems to be taking a few notes from George R.R. Martin and Robin Hobb. No one is safe and they must all go through life crushing experiences.

This book, while still full of action, also had a lot of politicking and mind games, most of which our hero wasn’t really equipped to handle. Overall, good book and great series. Can’t wait for the last one!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Del Rey. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Giveaway: The Longest Ride Movie Prize Pack

[ 36 ] March 24, 2015

the longest ride banner

To celebrate the release of The Longest Ride (in theaters April 10th), I have some prizes to give away! Check out the movie’s official website to learn more.

One lucky reader will receive a $25 Visa gift card to see the film in theaters, a tote bag & copy of the book (movie tie-in cover)! Open to US residents only

 

Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, The Longest Ride centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia, a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, The Longest Ride explores the challenges and infinite rewards of enduring love.

Starring: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, and Alan Alda. Directed by: George Tillman, Jr.

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