Sunday, 20 May 2018

Dating the Prince - Alina Snow (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

Date of Reading: 05/05/2018
Author: Alina Snow
Publisher: Pink Ink Press
Place: United States
Year: May 8, 2018
Rating: 4.5/5

(This review is part of the blog tour hosted by I Am A Reader)

About the book:

Small-town girl, Katie O’Connor has always dreamed of seeing her name in lights. Check the box for fame, a movie deal, the perfect leading role that comes with a gorgeous leading man! Katie moved to Hollywood, elbows her way into auditions, lives on a shoestring budget—whatever is required to land a deal, she throws her heart into… until she’s involved in a royal kidnapping.

As the future king, Prince Alexander refuses to rule from an ivory tower. Duty-bound, he intends to relate to his future subjects, regardless of their walk of life. Before his coronation, he needs a foolproof plan to outrun his security team and go temporarily AWOL. While visiting L.A., all it takes is a soundstage collision and Alex is blindsided by a headstrong woman who is simply irresistible. So much so, he calls in a favour in order to secure her help … as his pretend girlfriend.

Their worlds are oceans apart, but their immediate attraction is impossible to put aside, especially their nonstop banter. Miffed at being wrangled into a situation that might blow up in her face, Katie comes up with her own plan. If The Prince is serious about walking the walk of the common folk, she’s only too happy to oblige as his pretend girlfriend. Through an ice storm, a road trip, kitchen duty, and a Texas pig race, Alex captures the hearts of the locals as well as Ms. O’Connor’s.

What starts out as a deal Katie can’t refuse becomes the acting role of a lifetime… letting Prince Alexander go without a fight.

A delightfully funny retelling of The Prince and The Pauper that romance readers of all ages will enjoy. On a two-week 1,500-mile road trip, Katie and Alex discover the end of the road might just be the beginning of their ‘Happy Ever After’ together.

My Review:

       Absolutely LOVED it! This is an unforgettable romantic comedy that stole my sleep. Katie and Prince Alexander make a charming pair building a mature relationship even with the sizzling physical attraction. Kind of reminds me why I like clean romances. 
        As a die-hard 'Prince & Me' movie series fan, I jumped at the chance of reviewing it. Even with the cuties on the cover, I was not able to shake the actors of the movie from my mind. It almost felt like reliving the movie with a different setting; there are a lot of parallels in the storyline. That could be the reason I was really warming up towards Jeffrey, the private secretary. He resembled Soren so much (even in the dialogues) that Ben Miller's image was at the forefront whenever Jeffrey comes to the fray.
       I must applaud Alina Snow's courage in presenting Alex as the British Crown Prince. I was expecting an unknown prince from some unexplored country (like 'Princess Diaries'), but this is so much better. We know its fiction, so what is the harm in taking a bit of liberty?
       I was a bit confused at the beginning with the language, but once you get the hang of it ... this is a non-stop joy ride. There are no digressions or unnecessary evil plots to drag the story. The ending was a bit rushed, still, I would not want to change anything about this book. All in all, this is a nice, quick, relaxing read, that makes you wish for more ...

Meet the author:

A southern gal at heart. Alina is a librarian who adores her job. She has a degree in anthropology from Vanderbilt and loves writing offbeat romantic comedy. To refuel, Alina sings karaoke, bakes sweet treats, and can be found at the Y, kickboxing. She lives in Knoxville with her husband and Callie, their doxie mix.


Ends 5/31/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This Giveaway is organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader

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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Pete & Daisy - Tani Hanes (Blog Tour and Giveaway)

Date of Reading: 09/05/2018
Author: Tani Hanes
Publication Date: 14 May 2018
Rating: 3.5/5

(This review is part of the blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours)

About the book (Goodreads):

Daisy is a fun-loving college student at prestigious Columbia University, in New York City, who finds herself pregnant and alone. Pete is an exchange student from Italy with a chronic case of poverty. She needs a baby-daddy, he needs a place to live, so they decide to help each other out by engaging in the time-honoured device used by people in need the world over: a marriage of convenience. She’s beautiful and smart, he’s a gorgeous and talented musician, surely they can live together as husband and wife for one academic year? In a one-bedroom on the Upper West Side? With her old-fashioned granny living on the first floor, Pete and Daisy move into a tiny, rooftop apartment, ready to be roommates, husband and wife in name only, for nine months. 
Real life has a way of getting in the way, though, of messing with the best-laid plans... 

My Review:

       As you must have guessed from the amazing cover, this is a cute and sweet romance revolving around a sexy redhead and an Italian hottie. Set in a cosy New York apartment, it takes us through the nine months of Daisy's pregnancy and shows the gradual growth of a partnership replacing the awkwardness of their situation.

       Tani reverses the usual scenario -- of a bad boy not looking for a marriage, eventually 'trapped' by a virtuous girl. Meet Daisy, she loves one night stands and unabashedly shows the world that a girl likes having fun just like any other boys. Sure, we encounter many Daisys, but none of them manages to go beyond the role of the supporting friend. Why? Because it is natural for a man to sow some wild oats, but for a girl, this is equal to being a slut. Daisy is not immune to society's censure and she vocalises her protest many times in the novel.
      Pete, on the other hand, is the male Cinderella -- caring, loving and responsible. He is a musician which is super sexy. The story proceeds through the little things of their daily life and we will eventually get to know every nook and corner of the apartment. The author has done a wonderful job in picturing the passing of the seasons, all the while retaining a feeling of the spring.
      It won't be prudent to finish this review without pointing out some things that bothered me. There were too many sex scenes which were completely unnecessary. This is a gripping story on its own, so I don't think there is a need for such cheap marketing tactics. Then there is the confusion that arises from the two names: Marguerite and Daisy. Daisy is the nickname that Pete uses but, in many places, she introduces herself as Daisy (for instance, the first meeting with Michelle). 
      That being said, let me assure you, this won't spoil the fun in any way. All in all, this is a perfect read for rainy days. So what are you waiting for? Curl up on your couch with the Kindle, and you won't be disappointed.

Meet the author:

My name is Tani Hanes, and I am a 51-year-old substitute teacher. I'm from central California and am a recent transplant to New York City. The most important things to know about me are that I'm punctual, I love grammar and sushi, and I'm very intolerant of intolerance. The least important things to know about me are that I like to knit and I couldn't spell "acoustic" for 40 years. I've wanted to write since I was ten, and I finally did it. If you want to write, don't wait as long as I did, it's pointless and very frustrating!


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Monday, 7 May 2018

A Strangeness in My Mind - Orhan Pamuk

Date of Reading: 03/05/2018
Author: Orhan Pamuk
Translated by: Ekin Oklap
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Place: New York
Year: 2015
Rating: 4/5

About the book:

A Strangeness in My Mind is a novel Orhan Pamuk has worked on for six years. It is the story of boza seller Mevlut, the woman to whom he wrote three years' worth of love letters, and their life in Istanbul.

In the four decades between 1969 and 2012, Mevlut works a number of different jobs on the streets of Istanbul, from selling yoghurt and cooked rice, to guarding a car park. He observes many different kinds of people thronging the streets, he watches most of the city get demolished and re-built, and he sees migrants from Anatolia making a fortune; at the same time, he witnesses all of the transformative moments, political clashes, and military coups that shape the country. He always wonders what it is that separates him from everyone else - the source of that strangeness in his mind. But he never stops selling boza during winter evenings and trying to understand who his beloved really is.

What matters more in love: what we wish for, or what our fate has in store? Do our choices dictate whether we will be happy or not, or are these things determined by forces beyond our control?

A Strangeness in My Mind tries to answer these questions while portraying the tensions between urban life and family life, and the fury and helplessness of women inside their homes. 

My Review:
       I am still undecided as to whether I liked this or not, probably because it took a long time to complete. The book is bulky for sure (around 600 pages), but I was never a slow reader. Well, some books are to be chewed and digested and safe to say this one belongs to that Baconian category.
        Like a  gifted painter, Pamuk takes extreme pains to portray the growth and change of not only the characters but also the background or setting in this case. Spanning from 1968 to 2012, it covers a large chunk of Turkish history focusing on Istanbul. Hard to say which was given prominence, Istanbul or Mevlut.
        I was more into the story of Mevlut than to Istanbul and so the whole book appeared to follow the pattern of an ECG reading -- there will be a spike, then a recess and again a spike in interest. There are only a handful of characters, but each of them shows evolvement and represent a specific aspect of the city. Mevlut, as the boza seller, embodies the old days of the city when alcohol was not freely available. It brings a nostalgia which I am sure everyone can associate with in spite of their country of origin. No choco bar can replace the feelings of those old ice cream sellers who used to come to our neighbourhood with their ding dong bells.
       So four stars for I won't be forgetting this story anytime soon. The narration is unique with other characters intervening to give their version of the story. Obviously, the core of the novel revolves around the strangeness that haunts Mevlut. Whom has he loved - Samiha to whom he wrote for three years or Rayiha who got all the letters and whom he married? I am happy that the novel ends with Mevlut's answer instead of leaving it to the mercy of readers.


       Mevlut comes to Istanbul at the age of twelve from his poor village to continue his studies and also to help his father in selling boza and yoghurt. Unlike his father, his brother and sons (Mevlut's cousins - Korkut and Suleyman) have managed to secure a well to do home and a grocery shop. Brothers are not really on good terms but Mevlut was always welcomed by the family.
       He passes secondary school but soon loses interest in studies. He flunked classes and spent most of his time as a street vendor with his friend, Ferhat. Meanwhile, Korkut gets married to Vediha, the beautiful daughter of Abdurrahman Efendi. It is here Mevlut first meets Samiha, the youngest sister of the bride and falls head over heels in love. But he mistakes her name to be Rayiha who was the not so pretty second sister. The crooked Suleyman does nothing to correct his cousin as he wants to marry Samiha himself. He encourages Mevlut in his pursuit of love.
        Mevlut joins his compulsory military service and in these three years, he writes letters to Rayiha praising her beautiful eyes. They were promptly delivered to the second sister by Suleyman. Mevlut's father dies in between.
       As he didn't have enough money to pay the bride price, he elopes with Rayiha with the help of Suleyman. On the way, he realises that this is not the girl he has seen at the wedding. But Rayiha has come with him leaving everything behind. So without informing her anything about the mix-up, they get married. The marriage proves to be a happy one with two daughters, Fatma and Fevziye.
       Suleyman tries to marry Samiha but she runs away with Ferhat whom she had met on Mevlut's wedding. Though they loved each other, back-breaking work life and lack of children gradually creates a void. Ferhat has managed to complete his studies and he procures a job as an Electrical Inspector. Suleyman, meanwhile, has stopped the thoughts of revenge and started seeing a singer, Mahinur Meryem (Melahat). When she gets pregnant, he marries her.
        Mevlut hops from job to job. He has tried his hand in selling ice cream and rice, became the manager of a restaurant and even started a boza shop with Ferhat. But they never manage to make money that is more than enough. All through this, he kept selling boza in the evening.
        When Rayiha gets pregnant for the third time, she tries to abort it herself and consequently bleeds to death. Mevlut was heartbroken. Suleyman has tried to put a wedge between them before by informing Rayiha about the true nature of the letters, but in spite of her doubts, their family was always stable and happy.
       For some time, Mevlut works as an assistant to Ferhat in the Electrical Company. But then Ferhat gets murdered while trying to uncover an electrical robbery in a club and Mevlut is dismissed from the job. He joins as the manager of the club for migrants started by Korkut and Suleyman.
       Fatma was good at her studies and she eventually goes to university. She marries a boy whom she met there. Fevziye, on the other hand, had none of her sister's academic abilities and she elopes with a driver. Finally, with both daughters married, Mevlut is left alone. Suleyman encourages him to marry Samiha who also shares the same plight. Mevlut finally reveals the truth about his love letters to Samiha and they get married.
        The home that he stayed with his father is sold for the construction of apartments and finally, all three cousins start living in the same building. But novel ends with Mevlut and Samiha's decision to move to another flat which was owned by Ferhat. That evening while selling boza he finally solves the puzzled that haunted him always and proclaims, "I have loved Rayiha more than anything in this world".

Something to ponder . . .

"In a city, you can be alone in a crowd, and in fact what makes the city a city is that it lets you hide the strangeness in your mind inside its teeming multitudes" - 117

Orhan Pamuk
"... everytime he shouted 'Boo-zaa', he could feel the paintings in his mind emerging from his mouth like speech bubbles in a comic book before dissolving into the weary streets like clouds. Every word was an object, and every object was a picture" - 381

"... walking around the city at night made him feel as if he were wandering around inside his own head" - 597

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Take a Chance on Me - Kaylee Baldwin

Date of Reading: 28/04/2018
Author: Kaylee Baldwin
Year of Publication: 2018
From: I Am A Reader in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4/5

About the book:

Madelyn Stewart knows how to have fun, no matter what her ex-husband claims, but between working two jobs and taking care of her five-year-old son, opportunities for fun are few and far between. So when she is given tickets to take her son to see a live taping of the MyHeartChannel show Take a Chance, they go, even though it means she’ll have to stay up all night to turn in her latest article on time. To her shock, the daredevil star, Chance Risk, is none other than Graham Sawyer, the quiet accounting major she’d dated in college—someone she’d cowardly broken up with by note and hoped to never see again. When she makes a major mistake in her article, she has to swallow her embarrassment and reach out to Chance for an exclusive or risk losing her job. 

Chance Risk doesn’t talk to reporters. Not after the way he’s seen them destroy his brother’s marriage and career. But Take a Chance is starting to lose viewers, he’s desperate. Despite his better judgement, when Madelyn reaches out, he can’t resist the opening to figure out why she broke his heart eight years before. His only condition: she has to come to three filming locations with him and his crew to get a real sense of what the show is about. 

Swept up in adventure, they start to feel the chemistry from college rekindling. But the reason Madelyn left eight years before still looms between them. If Chance can’t convince Madelyn to take a chance on love, she’ll walk away again. This time forever. 

My Review:

       I was entranced by Baldwin's writing style from the start; honestly, I do love novels with lots of dialogues. Apart from that, this is a quick, fun clean romance that leaves you with a happy glow once finished.
        Madelyn is not a typical heroine you can easily associate with. She is fiercely independent and to me, it looked a lot like false pride. But there is no way of hating her, she is too lovely at the same time. Chance, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. He is caring, protective (but not possessive) and every girl's dream come true. Unsurprisingly, I was completely against Madelyn for breaking his heart in the past. 
        But like all other love stories, this one too ends well. Isn't that what matters the most? It is cute how they reconcile their respective stations. Oh, I almost forgot! We can't help but love Oliver, Madelyn's kid. True, this is not a movie and we can't see him for real. All the same, once we put down the book, thanks to Baldwin's writing, we feel they are all part of us.

Meet the author:

A glamorous day in the life of Kaylee Baldwin includes: chasing after her four children, checking for a new season of Serial, writing her latest book, binge-watching reality cooking shows, hanging out with her husband, and reading in every spare second she can find. She graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in English lit and currently lives in southern Arizona with her family. 

Her books include the Whitney Finalist Meg’s Melody, Hearts in Peril, a story in the Timeless Romance Anthology: California Dreamin’ which was recently translated into Norwegian, and Take a Chance on Me. You can follow her on Instagram @KayleeBaldwin1 (Courtesy: Amazon Kaylee Baldwin page)

Monday, 30 April 2018

P. S. I Love You - Jo Noelle

Date of Reading: 25/04/2018
Author: Jo Noelle
From: The author through I am a Reader in lieu of an honest review
My Rating: 3.5/5

About the book:

Cora Rey wanted a fresh start in life, but being thrown back in time to 1850 isn’t how she expected to do that. She discovers that Victorian England isn’t the pleasant social whirl Jane Austen led her to believe, but when in Rome—or in this case Twickenham . . . She’s determined to have the vacation of a lifetime, especially in the company of a certain duke.
Simon Tuttle never expected to become the Duke of Hertfordshire, never wanted it, but now he is, and eligible women seeking a title consider him the next trophy to be taken in the marriage mart. A union of convenience is the most he hopes for due to the shame-filled secret he bears—until he meets Cora. Now, he imagines that a love match could be possible after all. Hiding his secret from society has been easy—hiding it from Cora proves impossible. Can Cora love a man like him despite learning the truth?

My Review:
        I love time travels. Not that I have done any, but a girl can always dream. Just imagine meeting Jane Austen or Gregor Mendel for that matter (poor chap!) and telling them they are going to be quite famous after death. Awesome! Obviously, on the dark side, we could end up in a realm like that of the 'Outlander' which I am not so looking forward to.
        So if you are like me, then this a definite pick to have in your TBR shelf. A kick-ass heroine (quite literally), a beautiful romance, a lot of fun and a bit of adventure -- that is what Jo Noelle offers. We will love Cora from the start. I was quite envious of her self-defense tactics; a damsel not in need of a man to protect her is quite rare even in our times.
        On the other hand, some things could have been better. The story lacks a powerful villain capricious enough to make a crack in the relationship. Crossing over time periods is taken rather lightly (which is relaxing considering the agony I used to undergo on watching 'Flash'), but shouldn't there be a counter reaction to every action? But apart from this tiny weeny problem, we have a bunch of lovable characters and a stress-free reading.

Meet the author:
Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids. She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains. 
Oh, and by the way, she's two people--Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team. We write sweet romance stories with contemporary, paranormal, fantasy or time-travel twists. (Courtesy: Goodreads)

Thursday, 19 April 2018

It Ends with Us - Colleen Hoover

Date of Reading: 08/04/2018
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Atria
Place: New York
Year: 2016
Rating: 4.5/5

About the book:

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up — she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

My Review:

        I am not that much into triangle love stories. If the heroine makes a decision that I don't approve, I know that I am going to hate her forever. But this is not about triangle love even though we get that impression from the description. No . . . this is far more than a simple love story.
         The love triangle is not going to trouble you the least here (that was something new for me 😊). It doesn't matter who Lily chooses to be with because we feel a complete kinship with her to trust her enough in this. She is strong, dependable and admirable. Trust me, it takes a lot of courage to do what she has done in the end.
        There were times I felt this can't be real. Surely this should not be happening in real lives. But I have witnessed how two of my friends have gone through abusive relationships and how hard it can be. And the author's note at the end just proves how autobiographical it is.
       If you are a married couple or in a relationship, this is a must-read for you. If you are neither, then read to get a profound insight into human behaviour. Nothing is ever simple as we think from the outside. 
        And don't forget to reserve some free time before starting. This will blow you out thoroughly and so expect to get fired from work for lack of focus. Mull over it for some time. You are hereby warned, readers. And I strongly suggest you to not read the summary below unless you need to know the story beforehand for any research/project works.


       Lily Bloom met Ryle Kincaid on one of the rooftop terraces in Boston. She had just buried her father, gave the worst eulogy ever and needed a quiet place to think and relax. Ryle reached there for a similar reason -- to escape a bad day in the hospital. They shared naked truths about each other since both never believed to meet each other again. Lily hated her father who used to beat her mother. But his apologies after the fights made her stay. Her first love was a homeless guy named Atlas who was beaten up by her father. She works in a company but what she would like to do is open a floral shop.
        Ryle is studying to be a neurosurgeon and lives with his sister and her wealthy husband. He hates relationships but indulges in one night stands. He would like one night with Lily but sadly she in the quest for her true love.
        With the inheritance of her father, Lily starts a flower shop. Her path crosses with Ryle's again when his sister Allysa joins as an assistant as she is bored to be at home all the time. She soon becomes Lily's best friend and Ryle can't stop thinking about her. He finally chucks his fear of relationships and starts dating her.
       On one of her dinners with her mother, she meets Atlas in the new restaurant. She mistakes him for a waiter, though he was the owner. Seeing her happy with Ryle, he tells that he too is dating someone. Lily had always loved Atlas. She even came to Boston because it was their dream city. He had promised to come back to her once he returned from military service. But now that chapter is closed and she begins to think of a life with Ryle.

        Ryle is quite passionate about his career, but he also cares for Lily deeply. But there are times when he is consumed by anger and on one such occasion he pushed Lily hard, hurting her. He immediately apologises claiming it as an accident. Lily is taken back to the memories of her father but Ryle's efforts comfort her. But Atlas warns her against being like her mother and gives her his number in case of an emergency.
       Ryle and Lily get married in Vegas, and Allyssa is found pregnant bringing in more happiness. Ryle accidentally finds the number of Atlas hidden inside the mobile cover and suspects an affair. His anger goes out of hand and Lily is pushed down the stairs. With Allysa's persuasion, Ryle explains the reason behind his sudden bouts of temper. He had accidentally shot his elder brother at the age of five. After that, it was never easy for him to control his emotions. He promises to keep away from her when such scenarios arise and Lily's heart surges with compassion.
        Her shop is nominated for the best new shops in Boston. Atlas' restaurant - Bib's - also makes to the list and newspaper article explains how the name which is short for 'Best in Boston' is inspired by a girl. Ryle notices that Lily has attached to the fridge a magnet which says the same thing. Suspicious again, he reads Lily's old journals and finds that it has been given by Atlas.
       He unleashes his anger and tries to rape her this time. In between, he regains his normal behaviour but Lily was hurt. She calls Atlas in secret and escapes to his house. To give her some space to think Ryle goes to England for three months and she returns to their apartment. She finds herself pregnant and Allysa supports her decision to be away from Ryle.
        Upon his return, Ryle tries to get back her affections but Lily was firm. After the birth of their girl child, she asks for a divorce. She doesn't want her daughter to hate her father as Lily did. She meets Atlas again to begin her life anew.

Something to ponder . . .

"There is no such thing as bad people. We're all just people who sometimes do bad things".  - 14

"Maybe love isn't something that comes full circle. It just ebbs and flows, in and out, just like the people in our lives." - 191

"When you experience it firsthand, it isn't so easy to hate the person who mistreats you when most of the time they're your godsend." - 293

Colleen Hoover
"Cycles exist because they are excruciating to break. It takes an astronomical amount of pain and courage to disrupt a familiar pattern. Sometimes it seems easier to just keep running in the same familiar circles, rather than facing the fear of jumping and possibly not landing on your feet." - 309
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