By Titles

Book Review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

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Title: Confessions of a Domestic Failure
Author: Bunmi Laditan
ISBN: 9780990592808
Publisher: Mira Books

Synopsis:

From the creator of The Honest Toddler comes a fiction debut sure to be a must-read for moms everywhere

There are good moms and bad moms—and then there are hot-mess moms. Introducing Ashley Keller, career girl turned stay-at-home mom who’s trying to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic and Instagram-impressive mommies but failing miserably.

When Ashley gets the opportunity to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog-empire maven she idolizes, she jumps at the chance to become the perfect mom she’s always wanted to be. But will she fly high or flop?

With her razor-sharp wit and knack for finding the funny in everything, Bunmi Laditan creates a character as flawed and lovable as Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood while hilariously lambasting the societal pressures placed upon every new mother. At its heart, Ashley’s story reminds moms that there’s no way to be perfect, but many ways to be great.

My Review: (more…)

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Book Review: Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

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Title: Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
Author: Lauren Graham
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN:978-0-425-28519-0

Synopsis:

In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

Review:

I listened to the audio version of this book before receiving a physical copy from the publisher.  Even though having Lauren Graham narrates the book makes it 10 times better, I suggest readers don’t be lazy like me and skip all the photos.  She does tell reader when to look at them.  P.s. she really does talk really fast.

I was hoping there is more about her and Alexis Bledel or Scott Patterson.  However, the person from Gilmore Girls she talks about the most is Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator.  Since Amy is more like a backstage staff, so I do not feel as connected.  I have not had the chance to watch Parenthood yet, so nothing much to say about that section.  Still, it is nice to read about how actors think more their works.  Also there is a lot of spoilers, so watch the shows before reading this book.

3.5 out of 5 stars
Received a free copy from LibraryThing Early Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

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Title: The Music Shop
Author: Rachel Joyce
ISBN: 9780813996685
Publisher: Random House

Synopsis:

“An unforgettable story of music, loss and hope. Fans of High Fidelity, meet your next quirky love story.”—People

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE TIMES (UK)

It is 1988. On a dead-end street in a run-down suburb there is a music shop that stands small and brightly lit, jam-packed with records of every kind. Like a beacon, the shop attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift; Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with just the piece of music they need. Then, one day, into his shop comes a beautiful young woman, Ilse Brauchmann, who asks Frank to teach her about music. Terrified of real closeness, Frank feels compelled to turn and run, yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems, and Frank has old wounds that threaten to reopen, as well as a past it seems he will never leave behind. Can a man who is so in tune with other people’s needs be so incapable of connecting with the one person who might save him? The journey that these two quirky, wonderful characters make in order to overcome their emotional baggage speaks to the healing power of music—and love—in this poignant, ultimately joyful work of fiction

My Review:

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Book Review: The Secret Lives of Royals by Shalini Dua

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Title: The Secret Lives of Royals
Author: Shalini Dua
ISBN: 9781732077706

Synopsis:

Olivia can’t take it anymore. She’s had enough of the big city and it’s lack of fulfilling her dreams. Then, just when she’s about to give up and move home, out of the blue, she is offered her dream job. Olivia is suspicious but that could just be the New York in her. She decides not to pull at threads. Despite her best efforts to remain blissfully oblivious, the secret to her life upgrade is soon uncovered when she finds herself invited to be part of a secret society.

Olivia learns that there is a thin curtain separating our world from theirs. Just beneath the surface, an entirely different one exists. One that is controlled by those of Royal lineage. The chosen ones, the Royals, hold the fate of the world in their hands. Will Olivia be able to bear the weight of the crown?

Confessions of a Shopaholic meets The Adjustment Bureau, this contemporary fairytale is both relatable and aspirational. Taking a look at the current balance of media and power with a healthy dose of humor, fashion, food and wanderlust.

Review:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was only less than a month ago, the book came in a perfect time for my royal withdrawal.   I really like the concept of this book, a secret circle for the modern royalties.  It is a fun and easy read.  There is also a love triangle that might or might not involve a prophecy.   The competition is quite fair, that would make readers wonder til the end.

There are some minor con that I have to mention.  I hope the copy I got is not final version of the book.  There are many typos in the beginning.  =(  Also, the title for people in the Circle are weird.  Not everyone can be prince or princess, maybe a a lady or duke.  There are some questions that have not been answered.  Will there be a second book?

#TeamAlex

3 out of 5 stars
Received a complimentary copy from BookSparks Pop-Up Tour in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review, Interview, and Giveaway: Paris Ever After by K.S.R. Burns

 

Paris Ever After

Paris Ever After

(women’s fiction)

Release date: May 1st, 2018
at Velvet Morning Press

ASIN: B079H32ND3
260 pages

 

SYNOPSIS:

Can Amy’s rocky start in Paris turn into a happy ever after?

Amy didn’t realize how stale her life was until she jetted off to Paris without telling a soul—not even her husband—and had the adventure of a lifetime. Now as she tries to establish herself in the City of Light, she finds that despite a fun (and quirky) group of friends and the ability to indulge in French pastries whenever she wants, reinventing her life is much harder than she imagined.

Then on Amy’s thirtieth birthday, two unexpected visitors leave her wondering if she will soon be saying au revoir to Paris and the new life she’s struggled to build. Her estranged husband, Will, shows up—but is he interested in reconciliation or separation? And a young woman who arrives on Amy’s doorstep unleashes chaos that could push Amy out into the street.

As Amy’s Parisian dream starts to fall apart, she must decide: return to the stability of Will and Phoenix (if that’s even still an option) or forge her way forward in Paris? Amid secrets and surprises, set in enchanting gardens, cozy cafés, and glittering Parisian streets, Amy must choose between two very different worlds. And each has a claim on her heart.

NB: The author’s previous book, The Paris Effect, featured here on France Book Tours, was just optioned for Film & TV!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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K. S. R. Burns
is the author of the Amazon bestseller,
THE PARIS EFFECT, its upcoming standalone sequel PARIS EVER AFTER, and THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF WORKING GIRL:
Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use.  She has lived and worked in four countries and 22 cities, including Paris.  No longer a wanderer, Burns now resides in the Pacific Northwest, where in addition to novels she writes a weekly career advice column for she Seattle Times.

Visit her website.
Follow her on Facebook, Twitter
Subscribe to her newsletter
Buy the book: Amazon | Kobo | iTunes | Nook

Author Interview:

Why did you choose Paris as the main setting for The Paris Effect and Paris Ever After?
Well, they say write what you know—so because I lived in Paris for a number of years it seemed natural to set my books there. Also, writing about Paris is a way to “be” in Paris, even when you are somewhere else entirely!

Can you use one word to describe the places you called home: Paris, Arizona, Virginia, Washington DC, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and Washington State? 
Other than the fact that all these places are located on Planet Earth, they have very little in common, don’t you think? So I guess that one word could only be “terrestrial.”
(Sorry, I meant one word per city)

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? 
I’d live in Paris during the winter and Seattle during the summer. That would be the best of both worlds, weather-wise. And fun-wise.

What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Get ready, because this is an odd one: I LOVE In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden. She’s a fantastic writer and it’s a wonderful book.

How did you select the names of your characters?
I named my main character “Amy” because it reminds me of “aimer,” the French verb for love. I chose “William” for her husband because I wanted the contrast of a short name versus a longer name. I chose the name “Kat” because it’s a sharp sound, and this character has a sharpness about her. Margaret is named after a lovely English lady I met while hiking the Cotswold Way in southwestern England. She was charming and gracious and welcoming (and just slightly loony), like Amy’s Margaret.

What was the hardest scene to write?
In The Paris Effect, the hardest scene by far was the adventure in the illegal portion of the catacombs. It’s a scary place that I haven’t ever visited (you could not pay me to go  own there, though I have visited the tourist portion). In Paris Ever After it was, of course, the sex scene!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
A writing friend who works on screenplays introduced me to the concept of “unifying filmic devices.” Basically, this is just a repeating image. Often they’re symbols, but they don’t have to be. I liked the idea, so in Paris Ever After I sprinkled around mentions of flowers. In The Paris Effect, it was puzzles (jigsaw, crossword). No one seems to have noticed or, if they have, they haven’t told me!

When developing characters do you already know who they are before you
begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
My characters reveal themselves slowly. Sometimes they surprise me. I may start by basing them on a person I’ve met (like Margaret), but they quickly evolve off into other directions.

Can you describe the mundane details of your writing process: Do you write every day?/ How many hours per day or section?  Do you use outline or draft?  If you do, on paper or computer?
Sadly, my life is not very organized or scheduled. I write whenever and wherever I can. My only halfway interesting quirk is that I always write my first drafts in longhand, on scrap paper. This way I’m not wasting paper with my bad first drafts. I hate to waste paper.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would say don’t waste energy trying to be “original.” There are no new stories in this old world (though there are perhaps new ways of doing old things). The only thing that’s really new is you! So give your writing something of yourself.

When you wrote The Paris Effect, did you have the sequel(s) planned out?  Is
there another one after Paris Ever After?
When I finished The Paris Effect I never had the intention of writing a sequel. I felt done. But then readers kept asking me, What happens next? So I started to wonder, and voilà, a new book was born.

What are you working on?  Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am thinking about a new book and making notes. But it’s in that fragile, delicate stage where I’m afraid to talk about it. Stay tuned…..

My Review:

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Book Review: A Promise Given by Michelle Cox

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Title: A Promise Given
Author: Michelle Cox
Series: Henrietta and Inspector Howard #3
Publisher: She Writes Press
ISBN: 978-1-63152-373-1

Synopsis:

A delightful romp through the English countryside and back.

Anxious to be married, Henrietta and Clive push forward with their wedding plans despite their family differences, made worse now by Oldrich Exley’s attempts to control the Von Harmons. When the long-awaited wedding day arrives, there is more unfolding than just Clive and Henrietta’s vows of love. Stanley and Elsie’s relationship is sorely tested by the presence of the dashing Lieutenant Harrison Barnes-Smith and by Henrietta’s friend Rose—a situation that grows increasingly dark and confused as time goes on.

As Clive and Henrietta begin their honeymoon at Castle Linley, the Howards’ ancestral estate in England, they encounter a whole new host of characters, including the eccentric Lord and Lady Linley and Clive’s mysterious cousin, Wallace. When a man is murdered in the village on the night of a house party at the Castle, Wallace comes under suspicion—and Clive and Henrietta are reluctantly drawn into the case, despite Clive’s anxiety at involving his new bride and Henrietta’s distracting news from home.

Delicately attempting to work together for the first time, Clive and Henrietta set out to prove Wallace’s innocence, uncovering as they do so some rather shocking truths that will shake the Linley name and estate forever.

My Review:

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Book Review: How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas

About the Author:

Camille Bordas is the author of two previous novels in French, Les treize desserts and Partie commune. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker. Born in France and raised in Mexico City and Paris, she now lives in Chicago.

My Review:

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Book Review: Room for Two by Sydney Landon

9780399587405

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Keeping It Hot comes the continuation of the sexy and humorous Breakfast in Bed series featuring handsome hotel moguls.

When Asher Jackson, the playboy co-owner of the Oceanix Hotel Chain, meets Dana Anders, manager of the gourmet coffee shop within the Oceanix Resort, he longs to strike up a good rapport with her. But to his surprise, his typical charm immediately fails him and he can’t help but provoke her with sarcastic remarks at every turn.

Even though Dana can give as good as she gets, she’s confused by Asher’s hostility toward her–especially when she harbors a secret attraction toward him. When she finds herself with unexpected bills to pay, Dana strikes up a deal. For a reasonable fee, the financially strapped Dana will pose as Asher’s girlfriend to drive away bitter women who are making his life miserable. Asher hasn’t engaged in a serious relationship since his heart was broken five years previously, so he thinks playing husband to a fake wife won’t be a problem. But as the relationship continues he’s no longer quite so certain. And as the line between false animosity and real attraction becomes blurred, Dana begins to realize that the one thing she wants is what she’s pretending to already have.

My Review:

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Audio Book Review: Virtually Perfect by Paige Roberts

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Title: Virtually Perfect
Author: Paige Roberts
Narrator: Marguerite Gavin
Length: 9.40 Hours (unabridged)
ISBN: 9781538438039
Publisher: Blackstone Audio

Synopsis:

Not so long ago, Lizzie Glass had a successful TV show, a cookbook deal, and a social diary crammed with parties and events. But fame doesn’t stay fresh for long. Her show fizzles, her magazine column is canceled, and Lizzie’s only option is a summer job as personal chef to the Silvesters, a wealthy and eccentric family.

Their beach house is a lavish, beautifully decorated palace on the Jersey Shore, and Lizzie gets to work catering to Kathryn and Jim Silvester’s fashionably restrictive diets. But it’s their
twentysomething daughter who presents Lizzie with her biggest challenge—professionally and personally. A self-proclaimed “wellness warrior,” Zoe Silvester has a hugely popular website and app that promotes healthy living and organic, unprocessed foods. Yet Lizzie soon realizes that the Clean Life site has a dirty little secret. In fact, Zoe’s entire online persona is based on a dangerous hoax that runs deep and will damage lives. Exposing Zoe won’t just jeopardize Lizzie’s job and a promising new relationship—it may expose the cracks in her own past.

Sharply observed, witty, and thoughtful, Paige Roberts’ debut novel is a compelling look at one woman’s journey toward reinventing herself—and seeing through the facade of others—to discover the imperfect but sometimes wonderful truth.

My Review:

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Audio Book Review: The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein

Author: Tal M. Klein

Narrator:Matthew Mercer

Length: 8 hours 42 minutes

Publisher: Audible Studios

Released: Jul. 25, 2017

Genre: Tecnothriller

It’s the year 2147. Ad

vancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure… Arrival… Delight!

Joel Byram, our smartass protagonist, is an everyday twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980’s new wave—an extremely obscure genre, and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting.

Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.

Tal M. Klein was born in Israel, grew up in New York, and currently lives in Detroit with his wife and two daughters. When she was five years old, his daughter Iris wrote a book called I’m a Bunch of Dinosaurs that went on to become one of the most successful children’s book projects on Kickstarter ―something that Tal explained to Iris by telling her, “your book made lots of kids happy.” Iris then asked Tal, “Daddy, why don’t you write a book that makes lots of grownups happy?” Tal mulled this over for a few years, and eventually wrote his first book, The Punch Escrow. It won the Inkshares Geek & Sundry Hard Science Fiction publishing contest, and is the first book published on the Geek & Sundry imprint.

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Narrator Bio

Matthew Christopher Miller, known professionally as Matthew Mercer or Matt Mercer, is an American voice actor involved in English dubs of Japanese anime as well as cartoons, films and video games. In anime shows, he voiced Levi in Attack on Titan, Kiritsugu Emiya in Fate/Zero, Kanji Tatsumi for episodes 13-26 in Persona 4: The Animation and Trafalgar Law in the Funimation dub of One Piece. In video games, he voices Leon S. Kennedy in the Resident Evil series, Jack Cooper in Titanfall 2, Chrom in Fire Emblem Awakening, McCree in Overwatch, MacCready in Fallout 4 and Yusuke Kitagawa in Persona 5. In addition to voice-over, Mercer has developed some live-action web series including a Nintendo character parody called “There Will Be Brawl” and the famous Geek & Sundry and Alpha Dungeons & Dragons gaming session show “Critical Role.” The Punch Escrow is his first audiobook.

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Q&A with Author Tal M. Klein
  • How did you select your narrator, Matthew Mercer?

I always knew I wanted Matt Mercer to narrate my book, the hard part was getting him to agree to do it. Between Critical Role and his various Nerdist responsibilities, he’s also an incredibly prolific voice actor. Recording an audiobook is a serious time commitment! There was also the challenge of getting Audible to agree to having Matt do the book because he’d never done an audiobook before. Ultimately I got lucky in that Matt read my book, liked it, agreed to do the audiobook, and Audible was easily convinced to sign off once they heard his voice acting reel. The rest is history!

  • How closely did you work with Matthew before and during the recording process? Did you give him any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?

Matt is a consumate professional. We did one session on pronounciation, but everything else was entirely in his court. I wanted him to make my book is canvas. He did an outstanding job.

  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

The Inkshares community is incredibly supportive, so they are owed a lot of credit, but my wife deserves the lion’s share. She was my rock throughout the writing process and the book would have never gotten finished without her support and enthusiasm.

  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?

I love audiobooks, though I tend to prefer listening to nonfiction. One of the reasons I was so particular about choosing Matt Mercer to do my book is because I knew he would give each chracter a unique voice. I feel like many fiction audiobooks lose me when they are narrated in monotone.

  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

Nothing beats Matt Mercer singing Karma Chameleon. That alone is worth the price of admission in my humble opinion.

  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

I think the two experiences are distinctly different. As I mentioned, I rarely listen to fiction audiobooks, but when I do it’s usually after I’ve already read the book.

  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?

A bottle of expensive bubbly with my family and friends!

Oct. 4th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Brian’s Book Blog

Oct. 5th:
Buried Under Books
Lomeraniel
Lilly’s Book World

Oct. 6th:
It’s Novel to Me
Macarons & Paperbacks
The Bookworm Lodge

Oct. 7th:
Book Stacks Amber
Here’s to Happy Endings

Oct. 8th:
Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm
Bookwormerz

Oct. 9th:
Canadian Book Addict
Audio Spy

Oct. 10th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Bound 4 Escape

(more…)