Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Book Review: When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen

Pages: 384
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Other Books By Author: Bright Young Things,
Luxe, Rumors, Envy, and Splendor
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is delighted by her friend’s sudden rise to prominence, especially since it means Fiona is free to pursue Anders herself. But when Emmeline risks everything for one final fling with Anders, Fiona feels completely betrayed.  As the summer turns to fall, the city is at a tipping point: friendships are tested, hearts are broken, and the tiniest spark might set everything ablaze. Sweeping, soapy, and romantic, this is a story about an epic love triangle—one that will literally set the city ablaze, and change the lives of three childhood friends forever."



Emmeline's family rose through the ranks and now are in "high society" in Chicago. The year is 1871 and since Emmeline needs a lady's maid, she employs her best friend, Fiona. After all. Fiona's family definitely needs the money.  Fiona and Emmeline grew up with Anders, whom both girls still have feelings for.  This is problematic as Emmeline is engaged to Freddy, the son of a wealthy banker.  Emmeline has it all, but why can't she stop thinking about Anders? Anders isn't in Emmeline's social circles anymore; in fact, he is boxing in a bad section of Chicago, which pretty much makes him the opposite of a possible suitor.  Since Emmeline is engaged, shouldn't this mean Fiona is free to pursue him or is Emmeline not quite ready to let go of her former life?   When We Caught Fire is a soapy and romantic YA historical novel that fans of romance will savor.  

I had issues with a lot of the characters in When We Caught Fire. They were not very likable.  While I could feel for Fiona at times more than Emmeline and was definitely rooting for her, I just couldn't connect with her.  She felt very much like a cookie-cutter of a character.  Then you've got Emmeline who is the stereotypical rich friend whom only thinks of herself and acts like a brat.  I found it unbelievable that both girls would still be pining over their childhood friend, Anders.  I will worn you there is, obviously, an epic love triangle in this novel.

What works for me regarding When We Caught Fire is the compelling time period and setting. Godbersen does a wonderful job bringing Chicago in the 1800s to life.  I loved her descriptions of the parties, the furniture, the clothing, and even the town of Chicago itself.  Readers can tell that Godbersen put a fair amount of research into it, not to mention the Great Fire of 1871. Obviously that aspect of the story had me glued to the pages.

The ending of When We Caught Fire a little melodramatic, but I will admit that it kept me on the edge of my seat.  While I prefer Godbersen's Luxe series over this novel, I think fans will still appreciate this historical tale, especially if you like your historical fiction with a strong side of romance.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Stacking the Shelves and Giveaway Winner (84)


Book Tour and Giveaway: There's an Elephant in my Bathtub by Connie Bowman
Can't Wait Wednesday: Forget You Know Me
Blog Tour/Book Review: The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher 





Next week, I hope to share my thoughts on Anna Godbersen's When We Caught Fire. It's a YA historical read that I had high hopes for, but ultimately, was an ok read for me.  I also plan on sharing my thoughts on The Address by Fiona Davis, which was a compelling historical novel about The Dakota, an infamous apartment building in NYC.  






Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway - NetGalley and Tor Teen








 Tony's Wife by Adriana Trigiani




The winner of the ARC of Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes goes to 

Vanessa

Congrats! I hope you enjoy the book!

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting! This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Blog Tour and Giveaway for There's an Elephant in My Bathtub


Most toddlers and preschoolers love animals (as do my own kids), so when the chance came up to share There's an Elephant in My Bathtub by Connie Bowman, I knew I had to take it.  The picture book takes us through various places within the house where real animals are hiding! There's a gorilla in the kitchen and a lion on the sofa are just two examples.  It was a lot of fun and what child doesn't imagine this very own scenario within their own house?

The best part of There's an Elephant in My Bathtub is the fact that the father calmly deals with each animal and guess where he sends them? To YOUR room! This delighted my kids and a lot of giggling ensued.  

The ending is heartwarming and it made us smile, so of course my children asked to read it again and again.   There's an Elephant in My Bathtub is the perfect bedtime tale that definitely inspires a lot of snuggling at the end of a long day, especially with your child's favorite stuffed animals.  

If you have a child in your life that is an animal lover definitely give There's an Elephant in My Bathtub a try this holiday season.  It would make the perfect gift paired with a cuddly stuffed animal.  Also, be sure to check out this fun video showcasing the book along with some Broadway stars.




Learn More About the Book:



Publisher’s Synopsis: When a loving father finds an elephant in his bathtub one morning he decides to take matters into his own hands. As he travels from room to room he discovers more animals making themselves quite at home. What’s a Dad to do? When his son arrives home from school he’s in for quite a surprise. Dad has gathered all of the animals together in his  son’s room for quite a safari party! At the end of the story we find that Dad has a wonderful imagination and has created a sweet story out of his son’s animals left around the house.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Belle Isle Books | December 10, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1947860261
You can find the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.





I have partnered with Connie Bowman and The Children's Book Review to share this incredible giveaway.  There will be ten winners!  One winner will receive an autographed copy of There's an Elephant in My Bathtub and a menagerie of stuffed animals, as featured on the prize image.  Nine other winners will receive autographed copies of There's an Elephant in my Bathtub.  

Giveaway begins December 1, 2018, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 31, 2018, at 11:59 P.M. PST. Giveaway open to residents of Canada and the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Connie Bowman is responsible for prize fulfillment.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday: Forget You Know Me

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser
Pub. Date: February 5, 2019



Goodreads says, "In her engrossing new novel, Forget You Know Me, Jessica Strawser takes readers deep into an intimate friendship between two women. When one witnesses a shocking incident that should never have been caught on camera, the secrets and lies it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.  Molly and Liza have always been close in a way that people envy. Even after Molly married Daniel, both considered Liza an honorary member of their family. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit—in the friendship and the marriage.   When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat over wine after the kids are in bed. But when Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child, a man in a mask enters, throwing Liza into a panic—then her screen goes black.   When Liza finally reaches Molly, her reply is icy and terse, insisting everything is fine. Liza is still convinced something is wrong, that her friend is in danger. But after an all-night drive to help her ends in a brutal confrontation, Liza is sure their friendship is over—completely unaware that she’s about to have a near miss of her own. And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.   But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.  Forget You Know Me exposes the wounds of people who’ve grown apart, against their will. Best friends, separated by miles. Spouses, hardened by neglect. A mother, isolated by pain. The man in the mask will change things for them all.  But who was he?  And will he be back?"

Whoa! Doesn't this synopsis sound like an edge-of-your-seat read? I am so curious about this one. What do you guys think?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Blog Tour: The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

Pages: 384
Genre: Middle Grade
Pub. Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Random House 
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars





Goodreads says, "The Christmasaurus is a story about a boy named William Trundle, and a dinosaur, the Christmasaurus. It's about how they meet one Christmas Eve and have a magical adventure. It's about friendship and families, sleigh bells and Santa, singing elves and flying reindeer, music and magic. It's about discovering your heart's true desire, and learning that the impossible might just be possible."









William Trundle is a ten year old dinosaur fanatic.  He absolutely loves them; in fact, it's the one thing that truly brings him joy and it's the one thing he really wants for Christmas even though he knows dinosaurs are extinct.  William leads a normal life with his dad, who loves all things Christmas, but William is a little bit different than the other kids. He is confined to a wheelchair due to an accident when he was a young child.  So oftentimes at school, he gets bullied by Brenda Payne, the meanest girl in school.  Meanwhile at the North Pole, Santa's elves find an egg from long ago that just so happens to be a dinosaur egg and it hatches! Santa knows about William's dinosaur wishes and creates an amazing dinosaur toy that looks just like the dinosaur that hatched at the North Pole.  While packing up the sleigh, the real dinosaur jumps aboard and the rest that ensues is a grand adventure for William and the dinosaur.  The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher is an adorable Christmas story, especially for children that love all things dinosaurs as well as feel-good holiday tales.  

William is the type of character that you root for from the beginning in The Christmasaurus.  Williams back story is a sad one, but his relationship with his dad is great and definitely makes up for some of the heartache he endured.  He and his dad make a great team and it was heartwarming to see as oftentimes relationship with parents, at least in many middle grade novels, are not so great.  Also, I hated how Brenda Payne was mean to William; it broke my heart, but as the story unfolds, the readers find out why Brenda acts the way she does. 

The Christmasaurus is such a fun Christmas adventure! I read this story aloud to my son (another dinosaur fanatic) and he absolutely loved it.  Between all the fun Christmas aspects of the story and the focus on dinosaurs, he was in heaven.  Plus, there is an antagonist that my son loved to hate.  

The author, Tom Fletcher, is a song-writer and that really shows through in The Christmasaurus Santa's elves spoke with a lot of rhyming and singing. The "songs" that were included in the story were delightful and a lot of fun.  Some of the elves' jokes made my son laugh-out-loud. 

If you are looking for a heartwarming tale to share with your child this holiday season, check out The Christmasaurus.  It is filled with dinosaurs, friendship, forgiveness, and a major does of holiday magic.  


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Stacking the Shelves (83)


Book Review: Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Dreadful Fairy Book by Jon Etters



Next week I am part of two blog tours, which is exciting! I will be reviewing The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher and it was so darn cute. I absolutely loved reading it with my son. I can't wait to share my thoughts on it. I'll also be sharing my thoughts on the children's picture book,  The Elephant in my Bathtub, which was adorable.  There's a great giveaway with that post too, so keep your eye out for it.  





 

Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton - Thanks to Blink YA 
All is Fair by Dee Garretson - Thanks to Swoon and NetGalley 



Montauk by Nicola Harrison  - Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins







Tigers in Red Weather by Lisa Klaussmann 


Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting! This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Review: Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Pages: 400
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Freeform
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother's "society" might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father's identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn't expect to find is friendship, but as she's drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn't the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother's glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer's search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.  Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off."

Sawyer's grandmother, Lillian Taft, shows up out of the blue and makes Sawyer and offer she can't refuse.   Sawyer could earn a ton of money and all she would have to do is participate in the debutante season down south where her mother is from.  This obviously doesn't sound like a normal family dynamic as Sawyer's mom has been estranged from her grandmother for years.  So, yeah, she needs the money, but there is something else she might find out that is equally important.....the identity of her father.  While down south, Sawyer realizes maybe things aren't as dire as her mother portrayed them to be.  Maybe the people aren't entirely bad as she definitely starts to enjoy spending time with her cousin, Lily.  The more she spends time with the debutantes, the more she uncovers dark secrets that hide behind a perfectly made up face and flawless social graces. Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Little White Lies is a fun romp through southern well-to-do society that isn't quite as it seems.

Sawyer is a mechanic and down to earth girl when her grandmother swoops in and offers her half a million dollars to be a debutante. She is obviously the total opposite of a traditional debutante or at least what Sawyer thinks they should be.  I appreciated her fish-out-of-water story and was rooting for her from he beginning, especially when it came to her finding out who her biological father is.

My favorite aspect of Little White Lies is the southern setting, the debutantes, and the southern culture. I liked following along as Sawyer navigated the dangerous seas of the south and learning how to play their games as she goes.  I also appreciated her reconnecting with her family and especially her cousin, Lily. 

There's a mystery in the center of this novel's core and I won't give too much away, but it involves a major scandal, a blog, and a missing girl. So, as you can see, there's a lot going on in Little White Lies as it's not just about an aspiring debutante trying to mend things with her estranged family. 

Despite the story's slow start, I thought it was fun, especially if you like a mystery with a lot of secrets, drama, and a southern setting.  I think fans of Pretty Little Liars will enjoy this book. Also, be sure to check out my giveaway to win your own ARC of Little White Lies.


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