Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Five (9)



So, I was all about the "Friday Five" during the summertime and I posted my Friday favorites religiously, but now that fall is upon us, I will be posting my "Friday Five" a little bit more sporadically.   Let me know what you think!

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1.  Yankee Candle - My name is Christina and I am obsessed with Yankee Candles. My current favorite is one of their new scents, Apple Spice. It smells like fall, apple cider and apple donuts all wrapped into one delicious package. It smells like I have been slaving away in the kitchen all day baking apple dumplings. Amazing


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2.  Fall TV Shows- So, what TV shows are you guys watching this fall? I have my usual favorites set for recording on my DVR (Scandal, Nashville, Parenthood, and Reign) but what new shows are you going to watch? Gotham looks pretty darn good and How To Get Away With Murder. Any other TV shows catch your eye?


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3. Vivino, A New-To-Me Wine App- There's this new wine app called Vivino that I really love. It gives you lists of wines that they recommend regarding price range, types, etc, and you can take a picture of a bottle of wine and it will give you reviews, what to pair it with, and how much it retails for. It's seriously cool and I highly recommend it if you like a good glass of wine. Also, if you are like me and sort of get overwhelmed in a wine store, this app will give you some inspiration and guidance.


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4.  The Killing on Netflix- Guys, my husband and I stumbled upon this show on Netflix when we were on vacation and I remembered Leanna at Daisy Chain Book Reviews raving about it, so I knew I had to at least check it out because we like all the same things, except I am sort of a baby about scary shows. Well, The Killing is awesome and it wasn't too "scary" for me. It's probably one of the best crime dramas I've come across. Have you guys seen it?



5.  Amy Dunne From Gone Girl and Her Pinterest Page - I am finally reading Gone Girl. Yes, finally. Cue the applause. Like any good bookworm, I knew I had to read it before the movie came out.  I am so excited to share the Pinterest page for Amy Dunne, the character who goes missing in the story. What a cool idea, right?  Below is the write-up for Amy Dunne's Pinterest page. Go check it out!
"Amy Dunne is missing. Her Pinterest page has been found. Gone Girl's Amy Dunne has a Pinterest account you can explore. In the upcoming movie thriller Gone Girl directed by David Fincher, ‘Amazing Amy’ Dunne (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing and all eyes are on her husband Nick (Ben Affleck.) Everyone is wondering ‘Did Nick kill his wife?’ As evidence mounts and speculation rises, Amy’s past is coming into focus on Pinterest. What was she like? What were her interests? Did she leave any clues? Explore for yourself at http://bit.ly/AmyDunne  
Keep your eye out for an awesome Gone Girl giveaway here on the blog next week. I am so excited to see the Gone Girl movie which hits theaters October 3rd. Did you guys see the movie trailer yet?



Happy Friday and thanks for visiting,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Made For You by Melissa Marr

Pages: 368
Genre: YA Fantasy/Psych. Thriller
Pub. Date: September 16, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
Other Novels by Author: Wicked Lovely
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva. For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling."
Eva lives in a small southern town; she is practically royalty as she is an heiress and set to inherit her family's successful winery.  At first glance, it appears Eva lives the perfect life. She is popular, good looking, has great friends and a boyfriend, Robert, whom everyone loves. However, one night when she is walking home (from being stood up by Robert!) a car swerves and hits her.  She nearly dies and is left with broken bones as well as scars all over her face.  While she is in the hospital, she comes to discover something else she acquired from the accident: the chilling ability to foresee people's deaths. When other young girls start dying in her sleepy town, she knows that her accident wasn't an "accident" at all. In fact, someone is out to get her and her friends and they have a message for her. One thing Eva knows is that she must stop the killer.  Melissa Marr's Made For You is an edge-of-your-seat read and a psychological thriller that had me desperately trying to figure out who the killer is.

Although I didn't connect completely with Eva, there was no doubt I felt for her after all she has been through.  I was really interested in her newly acquired ability to foresee people's deaths and it becomes blatantly apparent that the murderer is out there looking for her friends when she starts to get chilling visions of their untimely deaths by just touching their bare skin.  Regarding Eva's friends, I especially enjoyed her relationship with best friend Grace as she seemed like a true friend to Eva.  They definitely had each other's backs. Then there's Nate, Eva's long-lost friend from childhood, whom she reconnects with at the hospital.  I wasn't completely on board with the way they quickly reconnected, but nonetheless, I really enjoyed their budding relationship, especially because Eva's boyfriend, Robert, isn't the type of boyfriend Eva deserves.  Needless to say, Made For You includes a cast of characters, all have their flaws, but are equally compelling, especially Judge.


Judge is the killer and Marr provides us with chapters from his point of view, which were especially spine-chilling. He is obsessed with Eva and it was one of those things where I knew it would freak me out, but I just couldn't.stop.reading. He is obviously a sociopath and he also justifies his behavior by saying he speaks to God, it's God's will, etc. Creepy! Also, he tries to communicate with Eva through flowers and then other violent and disturbing gestures.  Judge was a captivating villain and I was dying to figure out his true identity as the story progressed. Readers will find out who the killer is before Eva does, which only increased my anxiety in Made For You.


I have been all about psychological thrillers this year and Made For You is one I recommend for fans of the genre.  Although it wasn't perfect, I still think fans of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting will enjoy this one.  Made For You is part murder mystery and part psychological thriller with a touch of fantasy in that Eva possesses supernatural powers.  This would be a perfect book to curl up with on a cold night this fall….just make sure you have a flashlight with you, especially if you are like me and are easily spooked!


Thanks to HarperCollins, I am hosting a giveaway for Made For You to one lucky reader and I am sponsoring a giveaway as well since I have an extra copy; therefore, there will be TWO winners! The giveaway is limited to US readers, the deadline is September 29th, and please refer to my giveaway rules.  Good luck!


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bargaining

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

The Bargaining by Carly Anne West
Pub. Date: February 17, 2015


Goodreads says, "The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house. Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer. But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future…"
Carver House--an old house filled with antique furniture and a "chilling past" is definitely right up my alley. I can be a bit of a baby when it comes to scary reads, but I love the sound of this one. Perhaps I won't read it at night though!  What do you guys think?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Giveaway: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

One thing I love more than anything about this time of year is how cozy it feels to curl up with a hot cup of coffee and a great historical read. I've had my eye on Madame Picasso by Anne Girard, which just came out this August. Want to learn more about this novel and why it has captured my eye?  Here's what it's about:




"Novelist Anne Girard brings to life the mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time. When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world. A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can't help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso's life.  With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century."



I love the setting of early twentieth century Paris. It sort of reminds me a bit of one of my favorite movies Midnight in Paris. There were such captivating people people living in Paris during that time….Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and more. 

You can read an excerpt of Madame Picasso here if interested or check out Anne Girard's official website and Facebook page to learn more. 

I am excited to give away two copies of Madame Picasso to two lucky US readers, thanks to Harlequin's generosity.  The deadline is September 26th and please refer to my giveaway rules.  Good luck! 




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Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Pages: 448
Genre: YA Fantasy/Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: July 8, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown. Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust. But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive."
Kelsea lives in a very unsettled world where her mother, the queen, placed her in exile as a child for her protection. She grew up with foster parents that not only kept her safe, but also trained her to be the next queen and in turn, Kelsea grew up living a sheltered life without many friends.  After her mother dies and once Kelsea comes of age, she needs to go to back to the castle to rule.  The Queen's Guard accompanies her on the dangerous adventure back to the castle, as many people want to see her dead, including the current ruler in her absence….her uncle.  The more Kelsea learns about the state of her kingdom, the more horrified she has become. Her uncle has let the kingdom become corrupt and the citizens are living in constant fear of the evil Red Queen thanks to the path of destruction she left behind.  Kelsea must not only right her uncle's wrongs, but also decide whom to trust in this new and unpredictable world.  Erika Johansen's debut, The Queen of the Tearling, is an entertaining high fantasy that was quite the adventure.

The setting of The Queen of Tearling is a bit confusing. It's a "new world" that possesses many characteristics of medieval times, but also makes references to technology. I was a bit confused by this and I wish Johansen gave us more background on the setting and spent some more effort in the world building department.  However, the more I read this novel, the more I was reminded a bit of high fantasies that I enjoyed in the past, such as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series and even Martin's Game of Thrones.  Like these other fictional worlds, Johansen's also includes some magical elements, which I thought was a nice touch.

Kelsea is a captivating heroine who has a very difficult task of not only safely becoming queen, but also righting several wrongs imposed by her corrupt uncle.  One of her first tasks in The Queen of the Tearling involves breaking a treaty with the neighboring Mortmense, which is ruled by the Red Queen. Breaking this treaty will ultimately put her kingdom in grave danger. I was constantly on the edge of my seat wondering what the Red Queen was going to do next.  Johansen did a good job creating such an evil villain that I found repugnant and loved to hate.

There's a ton of adventure in The Queen of the Tearling. If you love your high fantasies to be heavy on the adventure and light on the romance, then this novel is for you.  I wish there was some more romance, but that didn't deter me from enjoying Kelsea's journey.  

I can see why Emma Watson would want to both star in and produce The Queen of the Tearling movie. It has the potential to delight fans of this genre and I know I'm going to keep my eye out for book two in the series, which I believe comes out next year.


Friday, September 12, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You Giveaway


Guys, there are so many awesome books coming to the big screen! One I am especially looking forward to is This Is Where I Leave You, based on Jonathan Tropper's novel, and it comes out in theaters September 19th. It looks hilarious and I can't wait to see it!  Here is what it's about:
"When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide—driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves."

Have you seen the trailer yet? It has me laughing out loud. Let me know your thoughts.



I am a huge fan of Tina Fey (local Delco girl! Woo hoo!), Jason Bateman, Connie Britton and Dax Shepard, so I definitely want to see this film.  Also, I think it's so cool that Warner Bros. Pictures is putting together a book club for readers to discuss the book and win fun prizes as well.  

It’s always fun to read the book before the movie, right? Join Warner Bros. Pictures’ #TIWILY book discussion on the film’s Facebook page each Wednesday, and take part in the conversation for a chance to win signed movie posters and a trip to the premiere in Hollywood!

To learn more about This Is Where I Leave You, check out the official website and the Facebook page.   Also, check out the video about turning the book into a movie and hear from Jonathan Tropper's perspective.
Thanks to Warner Bros. Pictures, I am hosting a giveaway for a $25 dollar Visa gift card to see the movie in theaters and a copy of the book with the movie tie-in cover.  The giveaway is open to US readers only and the deadline is September 19th.  Be sure to check my giveaway rules.  Good luck and Happy Friday!

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Pages: 288
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: September 9, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
Other Novels by Author: Paranormalcy 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him. Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray."
Jessamin is an "island rat," because she grew up on the island of Melie, which in turn puts her on a the low end of the social hierarchy totem pole amongst her Albion boarding school peers.  Unlike her peers, Jessamin must work in order to attend boarding school and doesn't really fit in.  She meets Finn, an Albion royal, who introduces her to the world of nobility as well as the world of magic.  The problem is that Finn has an enemy in the powerful Lord Downpike and he targets Jessamin since she is Finn's romantic interest.  Before she knows it, Jessamin finds herself thoroughly involved in this dangerous world and not only does she worry about Finn's safety, but her own as well.  Kiersten White's Illusions of Fate is a fun ride involving nobility, magic, strict etiquette, fabulous balls and of course, there's a touch of danger.

Jessa is a fabulous heroine. I loved that she is a non-conformist and has to work hard to get what she wants; things are definitely not handed to her.  She could be stubborn at times, but I liked that about her, if you know what I mean.  Her adorable relationship with Finn grew on me as I continued with Illusions of Fate. Although he has a bit of the insta-love going on, it was still a sweet romance.

One of my favorite aspects of Illusions of Fate was the setting. Although White didn't do as much world-building as I would have hoped, I still was completely absorbed in Jessa's world. It reminded me a bit of Victorian England (which I love!) in that it had strict rules, beautiful dresses, balls, and nobility as well as the drastic differences between the working class and the wealthy.  White ties in magic very well and the creepy birds, or the familiars, are a nice touch and one that kept me flipping the pages.

White includes a lot of action in Illusions of Fate as well as her trademark humor, which I saw a lot of in her other novel, Paranormalcy. There is one secondary character, Eleanor, that had me laughing out loud repeatedly due to her hilarious one-liners.  Also, this novel reminded me a bit of Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, so if you like your fantasy novels to have a historical feel, a brave heroine, and an adorable romance, check out Illusions of Fate this fall.

Thanks to HarperTeen, I am hosting a giveaway for one copy of Illusions of Fate to one lucky US reader. The deadline is Sepetmber 22nd and please refer to my giveaway rules.  Good luck!

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