~What's Happening at Ramblings of a Daydreamer~
*Link up your July reviews for the 2014 HFRC


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wanderlust Wednesday #1

Wanderlust Wednesday combines my love of books with my love of/desire to travel. I've had a wicked case of wanderlust lately, and I've been reading a lot of travel books, so I thought a new blog feature that combines travel and books would be fun! This is going to be a weekly feature; if anyone would like to join in, let me know and I'll set up a Linky so we can visit each other's posts.

For Week #1 I'm going to spotlight an old/all-time favourite: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I've read this book twice - first in 2011 and again last year. I love this book so much. It's cute and funny and romantic and IT'S SET IN PARIS. I really connected to Anna and saw a lot of myself in her. I went to France when I was 17, so it was exciting to recognize a lot of the places in the book.

When reading a 'destination book', I love it when a city has so much life and personality that it's like a character itself.  It's rare that an author actually pulls it off, but Perkins did it with finesse. She made Paris come alive on the pages, and I felt like I was right there with Anna, falling in love with the city...and a super cute boy. ;-) Also, my head is full of random facts, so I loved that Perkins threaded in interesting little tidbits about the city. It made me connect with the setting and the story even more.

I've been itching to go back to Paris, but since it doesn't look like it'll happen anytime soon, I'm thinking another reread of Anna is in order. 


{Add Anna and the French Kiss on GoodReads || Buy on Amazon}
~A couple years ago, I wrote a letter to my 17-year-old self before I left for France - you can check it out here~


  
Have you read Anna and the French Kiss? Do you love it as much as I do? Have you ever been to Paris? Read any books set in Paris that are must reads?
 
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman


Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Published: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
389 pages (e-ARC)
Genre: Young adult historic fiction
Acquired this book: From the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead. 
 
I was excited about Prisoner of Night and Fog from the moment I saw the cover and title. Both were so evocative, they immediately piqued my interest. Throw in the fact I love historic fiction, and I had high hopes. Anne Blankman didn’t disappoint; she wrote a compelling debut full of mystery and romance.

Right from the first page, we’re thrown into 1930s Munich, Germany, where Hitler is rising through the ranks, and Jews are seen as little more than a problem that needs to be eliminated. Gretchen has grown up believing everything Hitler, her adopted uncle, says about white supremacy and how Jews are sub-human…until she’s put into a situation where she sees that Jews aren’t the monsters she’s been lead to believe; they’re flesh and blood humans, just like her.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is alternately fascinating and horrifying. At first, Hitler is portrayed as the kind uncle, someone Gretchen can count on, believe in, and respect. He’s generous and funny and eloquent. He’s always been there for Gretchen and her family, and she has no reason not to trust him. Then she slowly starts to see the darker side of him, and that side made my skin crawl.

Hitler wasn’t the only evil presence in this book. Among his like-minded associates and minions was Gretchen’s brother Reinhart, a violent, sadistic underling who was willing to do whatever Hitler ordered, and he took pleasure in it. His disturbing presence made me shudder in disgust more than once, and added to the horror and violence of this book.

Blankman did a fantastic job of creating a rich setting. I was completely immersed in 1930s Munich, from the description of the people to the clothes to the cars to the city itself.

Prisoner of Night and Fog wasn’t all darkness and horror though. Gretchen was a great character, very smart and independent. When Daniel came along and started making Gretchen question her beliefs, I liked her even more, and I fell hard for Daniel. The romance was a great addition to the book; it was slow and sweet, and I loved that Daniel was such a huge part of Gretchen’s growth. Their friendship, and then the romance that blossomed between them, was one of my favourite aspects of the book.

The last quarter or so of Prisoner of Night and Fog was so action-packed and suspenseful, it left me breathless. I couldn’t read the pages fast enough, and my heart was racing with fear for Gretchen and Daniel. It’s been a long time since I was that drawn into a book, but I felt like I was right there with Gretchen and Daniel fighting for my life. I would have been satisfied with the ending, but I’m thrilled that this is the first book in a series and we’ll get to see more of these characters.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is a thrilling, gripping debut from Anne Blankman. It shows the darker side of life in Germany in the 1930s, but despite the historic setting, the story was easy to connect with because the characters were so real. This is a must-read for lovers of historic fiction, or people interested in Hitler/Nazi Germany. If you don’t read YA, don’t let that stop you from reading this book; I think it has wide appeal, and my 74-year-old mother, who read and loved it, would agree! I would love to see this book turned into a movie.


  
Have you read Prisoner of Night and Fog? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you enjoy historic fiction? Have you read any other books that take place in 1930s Germany?
 
 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

~Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt~

 
16th - 19th July 2014



Welcome to the Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt! This event runs from TODAY until midnight on SUNDAY (July 19th). To enter to win FORTY signed paperbacks by a wide range of authors PLUS $30 worth of Amazon Gift Cards, simply hop around ALL participating stops, collect all of the highlighted numbers, add them together, and then go enter the requested details along with your calculated answer in the ENTRY FORM. You can find more information on how the stop works HERE. All stops will direct you to the next place to hop across to. And don’t worry if you get lost, because the entire list of participating authors can be found HERE.


~My Top 5 Most Anticipated Summer Reads of 2014~

I, like a gazillion other people, have been anxiously awaiting the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After, the final book in the Anna and the French Kiss companion series. Anna and the French Kiss is one of my favourite books of all time, and I loved the second book, Lola and the Boy Next Door, too. I can't wait to have Isla in my hot little hands next month!
{Add Isla and the Happily Ever After on GoodReads || Preorder on Amazon}

This one is technically a reread for me. I read it a year or two before I started blogging and loved it. Even though I own all 5 books in the series, I've only read the first, so I wanted to reread the first and then read the entire series at once. I've been saying that for the last three summers, but it's definitely going to happen this summer!
{Add Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants on GoodReads || Buy on Amazon}

I've been wanting to read this trilogy for ages, and I own all three books. I've heard nothing but great things about this series, and it seems like the perfect beach read. 
{Add The Summer I Turned Pretty on GoodReads || Buy on Amazon}

How adorable is that cover? This one seems like another perfect beach read. 
{Add Pulled Under on GoodReads || Buy on Amazon}

Road trip book! I love road trip books so much, and it's been awhile since I read one. Let's Get Lost seems like it's going to encompass everything I love most about road trip books: a physical journey, an emotional journey, friendship, and romance. I can't wait!
{Add Let's Get Lost on GoodReads || Preorder on Amazon}

So, those are 5 of my most anticipated reads for summer 2014. What are some of yours?

  

To celebrate Traci Andrighetti’s New Orleans-based cozy mystery, Limoncello Yellow, she’s offering up this gorgeous antique silver fleur-de-lis cross necklace with a blue glass bead and three small clear Swarovski crystals. Isn’t it amazing? I’m actually really jealous of the lucky person who wins this. Traci was generous enough to offer this giveaway INTERNATIONALLY, so anyone can enter!


{Add Limoncello Yellow on GoodReads || Buy on Amazon}

FYI: Jennifer Comeaux is giving away some of my Angel Island (Waiting for the Storm and After the Storm) swag. Be sure to check it out!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Ok, ready to continue hunting? There's one more thing you need from me, and that's my super special lucky number. Ready?

My number:
---> 13 <---


The next stop on the hunt: Kristi Strong 



Or, if you have all of your numbers and are ready to enter, then hop across to the Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt Entry Form.


Happy hunting!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen


Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
Series: Standalone
Published: July 8th, 2014
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
368 pages (eARC)
Genre: Fantasy/fairytale retelling/romance/historic fiction
Acquired this book: From the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Book Depository || Chapters/Indigo}

"Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It's my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy."

Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.

With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen is a beautifully and romantically written adult fairy tale.


I’ve always loved Peter Pan and anything even remotely related to Neverland. I love the idea of a magical place where children go when they don’t want to grow up. I never thought I’d be able to accept anything where Pan was made out to be the villain, until this past season of Once Upon a Time. They took the legend of Peter Pan and turned it on its head in the most amazing, sinister, heartbreaking way, and I loved it. That, and Captain Killian Hook from OUAT, made me even more interested in all things Neverland. I jumped at the chance to read Alias Hook, a story that seemed to turn Neverland and its inhabitants into characters that were familiar in one way but also completely new.

I loved Alias Hook from the first few pages. Beautifully written, compelling, and completely captivating, this book - and Captain James Benjamin Hookbridge - stole my heart in a completely unexpected way. Narrated by Hook himself, the well-known ‘villain’ of Neverland, we get to see his side of things. I was surprised by his patience and kindness, his humour and intelligence. I never thought I’d be even remotely okay with Peter Pan being portrayed as a villain, but Jensen wrote this book in a way that made it completely plausible. I sympathized with Hook at every turn, and desperately wanted him to find a way to defeat that horrible, insolent, spoiled little brat Pan. (Side note: Don’t get me wrong; I still love Peter Pan in general, but I was able to separate my lifelong view of him as a capricious, harmless youngster for the sake of this particular story).

Throughout the book, I felt like I was right there with Hook. I would imagine writing a story set in Neverland would be pretty daunting, but Jensen did a fantastic job. The setting was lush, and the characters leapt of the pages. I loved that so many different aspects of the original story were worked into the book and had their own unique spin - the mermaids, the fairies, the Indians, Hook’s crew. This book made me laugh, made my heart ache, made me swoon, and it even made me cry. It was sexy in ways I didn’t expect, and I loved that.

Alias Hook is a fairytale for adults. It’s for those of us who never stopped believing in magic, and maybe even still indulge in a game of make-believe from time to time. I fell head over heels in love with Hook, and I never wanted his story to end. This book touched me deeply, and got its hooks firmly in my heart (heh heh, sorry I had to!). If you enjoy fantasy, romance, adventure, and magic, Alias Hook is a must read.

 
Have you read Alias Hook? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you like the legend of Peter Pan? How do you feel about the idea of Peter being portrayed as a villain and Hook being portrayed as a hero and a romantic lead? Have you ever fantasized about visiting Neverland?
 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Historic Fiction Reading Challenge ~ July Review LinkUp


If you haven't signed up for the 2014 Historic Fiction Reading Challenge, it's not too late. You can sign up here.

Happy July, historic fiction lovers! How are you doing with the Historic Fiction Reading Challenge so far? How about your other 2014 challenges?

If you'd like to check out fellow participants' reviews, you can see all the January reviews here, the February reviews here, the March reviews here, the April reviews here, and the May reviews here, and June reviews here.



Here's a refresher of how this works:

  • You read as many (or as few) historic fiction books as you want during the month of July
  • Post your review on your blog (or GoodReads, Amazon, etc if you don't have a blog) between July 1st and 31st
  • Post a direct link to your review in the Linky below
  • If you didn't have a chance/forgot to link up your reviews from previous months, you can link them up in July. No double posting of reviews though please.


No giveaway again this month. Sorry guys! I honestly just can't afford it. If you'd like to be a sponsor (or know a blogger/author who might like to be a sponsor), please contact me. 

Reminders: 

  • If you're on Twitter, you can use the hashtag #2014HFRC to update your progress or when you share your reviews. I'll randomly retweet tweets that use the hashtag.
  • You don't have to post the challenge button on your sidebar, but if you'd like to, you can grab the code in my right sidebar.
  • If you're interested in becoming a sponsor for the Historic Fiction Reading Challenge by donating books, ebooks, swag, gift cards, etc., please contact me at irishstar_83(at)hotmail(dot)com. If you're an author, I'll spotlight your book for the month and include your website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.; if you're a blogger, I'll spotlight your blog and other social media. All sponsors are listed on the 2014 Historic Fiction Reading Challenge page, which will stay up all year.

 

How many historic fiction books did you read in June? Which was your favourite? What do you plan to read in July?
 
{Facebook || Twitter || GoodReads || Instagram || Pinterest || YouTube || Author blog}



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review: A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke


A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke 
Series: Standalone
Published: July 8th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
350 pages (ARC)
Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction/mystery
Acquired this book: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Book Depository || Chapters/Indigo}

Eva has only been married for eight months when her husband, Jackson, is swept to his death while fishing. Weighed down by confusion and sorrow, Eva decides to take leave of her midwifery practice in London and visit Jackson’s estranged family in Tasmania with the hope of grieving together.

Instead, she discovers that the man she loved so deeply is not the man she thought she knew. Jackson’s father and brother reveal a dark past, exposing the lies her marriage was built upon. As Eva struggles to come to terms with the depth of Jackson’s deception, she must also confront her growing attraction to Jackson’s brother, Saul, who offers her intimacy, passion, and answers to her most troubling questions.

Will Eva be able to move forward in life, or will she be caught up in a romance with Saul, haunted by her husband’s past? Threading together beautiful, wild settings and suspenseful twists, A Single Breath is a gripping tale of secrets, betrayal, and new beginnings.


 

Lucy Clarke’s debut novel, Swimming at Night, was one of my favourite reads of 2013. From the moment I finished reading it, I was eager for Lucy’s next book, and I was excited when I found out about A Single Breath. Lucy has a knack for writing stories that are beautiful, haunting, and memorable.

I was a bit wary when I discovered this book was told in third person present tense, something I’m not normally a fan of at all. I usually find it jarring, and I end up feeling separate from the story, sort of like an outsider looking in. That being said, Lucy Clarke is such a fantastic storyteller, I never found myself outside the story. A Single Breath captivated me within the first page, and I felt like I was right there with Eva as she went on her emotional and physical journey.

I really liked Eva. I found it easy to relate to and sympathize with her. She loved her husband very much and was happy with her life, but when Jackson died and the truth about his past started unraveling, I really felt her confusion, hurt, and anger. It was alternately heartbreaking and inspiring watching her grieve for Jackson. With each new revelation about his past, I wished I were there to hug her. I loved the roles her best friend, Callie, and Jackson’s brother, Saul, played in the story. They were both good to and for her, and I thought they were strong secondary characters. 

A Single Breath isn’t a mystery novel, but there’s a mystery woven throughout the story. I found myself constantly wondering what was going to happen and what the next shocking revelation would be. There were little hints throughout, and even when I figured out a couple things, there was part of me that was still shocked when the truth actually came out. 

A Single Breath is another must read from Lucy Clarke. Set against a beautiful Tasmanian backdrop, this is a story with a lot of real, deep emotion, a quiet romance, and memorable characters. I’m excited to see what Lucy Clarke comes up with next. 

 


{Read my review of Swimming at Night}


 
Have you read A Single Breath? What did you think? If you haven't read it, is it on your TBR list?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stacking the Shelves June 28th

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Happy Saturday, book lovers! I hope you've all had a great week. Read anything good lately? 

Here are the books I've acquired in the last two weeks.


FOR REVIEW:
 
Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson {GoodReads}
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas {GoodReads}
The Spiritglass Charade by Colleen Gleason {GoodReads
Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid {GoodReads}
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith {GoodReads}
Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano {GoodReads}

BOUGHT:
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick {GoodReads}
North Side Story: U2 in Dublin 1978-1983 by Niall Stokes {GoodReads}*
Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler {GoodReads}
I See London by Chanel Cleeton {GoodReads}

*I renewed my subscription to U2.com and the book was this year's subscriber gift.  

A big thank-you to Simon & Schuster Canada, Little, Brown Books, Chronicle Books, and Harlequin Teen for the review books


~*GIVEAWAYS*~
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/2014/05/blue-sky-days-relaunch-blitz-for.html
This weekend is the 20th anniversary of my dad's death from leukemia. Until Monday, half the proceeds from all sales of my novel BLUE SKY DAYS will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society in his honour. I also have a huge sponsor-run giveaway for 3 $20 cash prizes. Who doesn't love winning cash? You could be $20 richer next week! ;-) You can check out the promotion and the giveaway HERE

I'm also giving away an ebook of AS YOU TURN AWAY by Molli Moran, as well as some gorgeous swag. You can enter that giveaway HERE.


How was your week? Did you get any new books? Have you read any good ones that you'd recommend? Tell me in the comments below or post a link to your Stacking the Shelves/Book Haul/In My Mailbox/Showcase Sunday, etc. Happy reading! <3
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