Thursday, October 30, 2014

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: Us by David Nicholls

Title: Us    
Author: David Nicholls     
Published: September 2014, Harper   
Format: ARC Paperback, 416 pages   
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours  

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his New York Times bestseller one day to a compellingly human, deftly humorous new novel about what holds marriages and families together--and what happens when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen-year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells Douglas that she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn't be worse. Hoping to encourage her son's artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world's greatest works of art as a family, and she can't bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best, anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and may even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas's endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learning how to get closer to a son who's always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls's gifted hands, Douglas's odyssey brings Europe--from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafes of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona--to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

We were asked to share this video that author David Nicholls put together about the book:

My thoughts: This is the first book that I've read by David Nicholls. I was fortunate to get an advanced copy of this book at BEA this past spring and then when I saw that TLC Book Tours was doing a blog tour for the book, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of it. 

I really enjoyed this book. I found myself identifying with both Douglas and Connie at different times throughout the book. Marriage is not easy - even a good marriage, which I like to think I have, and I found myself reflecting on my own marriage and the courting period my husband and I had as Douglas reflected on his early days with Connie. How I could appreciate those long dinners and the constant holding of hands! And how quickly once the newness of the couple wears off, so, too, do all those charming small gestures. 

I could feel Douglas's love for Connie dripping off the pages. He desperately wanted to save his marriage and win her back, and thinks the vacation will help him out, but he tries so hard that he only ends up making things worse time and time again. Adding his already tenuous relationship with son Albie to the mix doesn't help. But, having Douglas as the narrator really helps you understand him and even sympathize with him in a way that had he just been a regular character would have had him seen as completely off-putting. He just wants to be seen as a hero to both his wife and son and yet is often seen as anything but by the two of them.

I was also entranced with the writing in this book. I felt that many times I was right there with Douglas and Connie as they traveled across Europe. The descriptions of the villages and the museums and artwork were so vivid. Even the passages where they were on-board the trains - I felt as if I was traveling with them.

This is a funny, heartwarming and even heartbreaking look at love, marriage and even family. I was captivated with the writing and will definitely be going back and reading more of David Nicholls' work.

About the author: David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway. Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Authors Links: 
Website   |   Facebook

To see who else is participating in David Nicholl's Us tour, click here 

I ended up with two copies of this amazing book which means that you, my readers, benefit! I am giving away  one copy of Us. The only catch is that the giveaway book is an advanced reading copy (an ARC).

To enter…
  • Leave a comment below & be sure to include your email address.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
  • You MUST include email address or entry will be invalid.
  • I will contact winner at the conclusion of the giveaway & they will have 2 days to respond or I will pick a new winner.
This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends November 6th.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: The Whispers: A Whispers Story by Lisa Unger

Title: The Whispers: A Whispers Story  
Author: Lisa Unger     
Series: The Whispers, #1      
Published: October 2014, Simon & Schuster  
Format: ARC e-book, 66 pages    
Source: Netgalley  

Eloise Montgomery discovers her amazing gift in the wake of tragedy in this first of three captivating stories that make up an e-novella from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.

It's a day like any other for Eloise Montgomery--until tragedy strikes. While she is recovering from a horrible accident that takes the lives of her husband and oldest daughter, and as she works to help her younger daughter move forward, Eloise experiences her first psychic vision. Though she struggles to understand her newfound gifts, Eloise finds a way use them to save lost women and girls--for whom her help may be the only way out…

My thoughts: I am a huge fan of Lisa Unger's books. She writes amazing psychological thrillers that leave you desperate for more! This is the first of a three-series novella trilogy and what's interesting is that it is sort of a prequel to one of her earlier works, Fragile, which was the very first book I read by her.

The Whispers introduces us to Eloise Montgomery who plays a critical role in both Fragile and Darkness, My Old Friend (both of which are excellent!!!). I enjoyed getting to know more about Eloise and how she came to have her "gift." We get a little background on Eloise prior to her having the gift and the event that led to her having it. This gift allows her to hear "whispers" or psychic visions of girls who need help.

I readily admit that I am not a huge fan of the whole paranormal genre, but for some reason, the little bit of paranormal that's used here just works. Having it coupled as a means of dealing with a major loss makes it that much more acceptable to me. After all, people have many different coping mechanisms to tragedies. And, Eloise herself is quite suspicious of this gift, so she's not willing to capitalize on it.

I am looking forward to continuing with this trilogy and getting to know more about Eloise and her gift. My only complaint so far is that these novellas are so short - you no sooner get into them and you are at the end. It's a very fast-paced story that you will absolutely read in one sitting!

Books in this series:
  1. The Whispers
  2. The Burning Girl - due out Nov 25, 2014
  3. The Three Sisters - due out Jan 5, 2015

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in October 24

  #BookBlogWalkers is hosted by Felicia @ The Geeky Bloggers Book Blog

This past week was not the is insane right now with our data deadline approaching at the end of the month. I've unfortunately been spending very long days at my computer and have only had time to take the dogs for quick walks - thank goodness, though, for the dogs because that is about the only think getting me moving right now!!! I at least got 30 minutes total of walking in each day, but not more much than that. Hopefully this coming week is the last of this crazy schedule.
Here's how my week went:  

Oct 18:  rest
Oct 19:  rest
Oct 20:  30 minutes
Oct 21:  30 minutes

Oct 22:  30 minutes
Oct 23:  30 minutes

Oct 24:  30 minutes 
How did your week go?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blog Tour & Review: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner

Title: The Tudor Vendetta   
Author: C.W. Gortner   
Series: The Spymaster Chronicles, #3 
Published: October 2014, St. Martin's Griffin  
Format: Paperback, 304 pages  
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours  

Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.

My thoughts: This is the third and final book in C.W. Gortner's Spymaster Chronicles series and it was another exciting read. I love all things Tudor and have read many books set during this time. Because of that, I find that I can really appreciate the historical aspects of the story without getting bogged down by who's who or what was going on. I can focus on and really enjoy the mystery that Gortner has created.

This book picks up four years after the previous one, The Tudor Conspiracy, ends. Summoned home from exile now that Queen Mary is dead and Elizabeth has been named her successor, he is given a new assignment. But, true to form, Elizabeth only gives Brendan some of the details, leaving out quite a bit for him to figure out himself. Elizabeth has too much experience to trust anyone with too much information. He is asked to find out what happened to Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, but ends up finding so much more.

I loved the setting and descriptions of Vaughan Hall - it was eerie and mysterious and the fog only seemed to enhance that. Even the inhabitants of the manor were strange and secretive. This all combined to create quite a sinister atmosphere, perfect for creating that mysterious element. 

What really strikes me with this book, and even the series as a whole, is how well C.W. Gortner is able to blend fiction with fact. He takes one or two events from history and then plays around with the rumors and scandals that were hinted at during the time, weaving a fun, yet interesting tale. This isn't the first time I've read about one of these supposed rumors, so maybe it wasn't really a rumor after all? 

I'm quite saddened that this is the last time we will go on an adventure with Brendan Prescott, but he did give us some great adventures. And who knows? While the ending seemed to tie up loose ends, doesn't an author have every right to revisit those characters he loves? So, maybe this is just the end for now...

Books in this series:
  1. The Tudor Secret
  2. The Tudor Conspiracy
  3. The Tudor Vendetta

The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner is on tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Be sure to check out the other tour stops to read more reviews, guest posts and some giveaway opportunities. Be sure to follow all the twitter activity, too at #TudorVendettaBlogTour and #HistoricalMystery.

***There is also a tour wide giveaway and the winner will be selected by the tour coordinator.  The giveaway is for a complete set of the Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy (see list of books above)!!!

Here are the rules:
  • Open to residents of the USA
  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
  • Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
The Rafflecopter giveaway can be found here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little (audio)

Title: Dear Daughter    
Author: Elizabeth Little   
Narrator: Tony Daniels & Bonnie Dennison  
Published: July 2014, Penguin Audio 
Length: 10 hours  
Source: Publisher  

Former "It Girl" Janie Jenkins is acerbic, whip smart, and fresh out of prison. Ten years ago, at the height of her glamour and fame, she was incarcerated for the murder of her mother, a philanthropist best known for her string of rich husbands. Now, released on a technicality, Janie chops off her trademark hair, determined to chase down the one lead she has about her mother's killer. The only problem? Janie doesn't know if she's the one she's looking for.

In an isolated South Dakota town whose secrets rival Janie's own, with the unwitting help of the locals, she pieces together a shocking picture of her mother's supposedly pristine past. On the run from the press, the police, and possibly even a murderer, Janie is forced to choose between the anonymity she craves and the truth she so desperately needs.

My thoughts: Lately, I've found myself gravitating towards thrillers. So, of course when I was given the opportunity to review Elizabeth Little's debut novel, Dear Daughter, I jumped at it, especially since it was in audio form.

I loved that Janie/Rebecca is not the most likeable character - in fact, most of the time she is downright obnoxious. She's self-absorbed, snarky and sassy, yet she's also very clever and quite hysterical at times. But, there's just something about her that had me rooting for her throughout the book. Did she or did she not kill her mother? And why does she not remember that night this incident took place? These are the questions that kept me hooked on the book - I needed to find out what really happened.

I will say that I did have a hard time keeping all the characters straight - who was who and who was related to who. Being that I was listening to the book, it was hard to go back to find out that information. I did find myself re-listening to certain parts just to make sure I understood the connections. 

The ending of the book is a bit open-ended. There is closure as to what happened, but we are left not really knowing what will happen next. In fact, I listened to the last part two times just to be sure I hadn't missed anything. Does that mean that Elizabeth Little plans to follow this book up with a sequel? Or are we to fill in the blanks ourselves?

I really enjoyed this debut novel and can't wait to see what comes next for Elizabeth Little. Despite me not loving the main character, I can't seem to stop thinking about her...that must say something about the writing!

Audio Thoughts: I thought both narrators did a great job with this book. Bonnie Dennison did all the story-telling and Tony Daniels did all the emails, court transcripts, TMZ reports, blog posts, etc that prefaced each chapter. Having separate narrators for these really helped set them apart. Bonnie was fantastic as Janie/Rebecca - she was really able to embody the perfect obnoxious, manipulative character that Janie/Rebecca was. Both of these narrators were new to me and I will definitely be checking out what else they have narrated.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Sunday Post #45 (10.19.14)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. I'm also going to link this up with Sheila's It's Monday post over at Book Journey

Despite how busy and crazy this week turned out to be, I ended up finishing a lot of books. It helped that some were short books plus I had quite a lot of time in the car when I had to drive down to my sister's in Delaware to babysit at the last minute - thank goodness for audio!!!  The only bad part of finishing so many books in one week is that now I have that many reviews to write...oh the never-ending cycle!

Have a great week everyone!!! 
Last week on the Blog:              
* Review: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr
* Review: Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
* Review: A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer  
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in October 17

Books Read:          

* Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand (review book)   
* Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult (mine)
* Close to Home by Lisa Jackson (review audio book)   
* Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult (mine)
* Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs (library audio book)  

 Currently Reading:            
* The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner (review book)
* The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain (review e-book)              
* The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes (review book/audio book)

Books Up Next:                  
* Us by David Nicholls (review book)
* The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey (review audio book)

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
* Review: Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs
* Review: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner
* Review: Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer
Book Haul:     
For Review:
* The Look of Love by Sarah Jio (publisher)
From Library:
* Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs (audio book)

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in October 17

  #BookBlogWalkers is hosted by Felicia @ The Geeky Bloggers Book Blog

Another crazy week with an even crazier weekend, which is why this post is going up so late. One of these days life will slow down and get back to normal!
Here's how my week went:  

Oct 11:  rest
Oct 12:  rest
Oct 13:  30 minutes
Oct 14:  30 minutes

Oct 15:  30 minutes
Oct 16:  30 minutes

Oct 17:  30 minutes 
How did your week go?


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