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


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wanderlust Wednesday #2

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.

Last week, we traveled to Paris with Anna and the French Kiss, and this week we're traveling to Italy with Pippa and Wish You Were Italian.

I honestly didn't expect to love this book as much as I did. It sounded cute and fluffy, and it was, but it was also so much more than that. Kristin Rae did an amazing job of making me feel like I was right there with Pippa on her Italian adventure. I could see everything clearly, taste the gelato, feel Pippa's awe and excitement as she saw the Colosseum for the first time.

I've always had a passing interest in Italy. Whenever I watch a movie or TV show set there, I swoon over the sights and think how nice it would be to visit there one day, but it's never been high on my list. After reading Wish You Were Italian, it got bumped up a bit on my bucket list. Then, a couple weeks ago, my childhood best friend and I talked about doing some traveling together next year, and her top two places are Greece and Rome. Ever since then, I've been thinking more and more about it. Even though it's not high on my list, I still want to go, and I think an epic adventure with a friend would be amazing. We haven't decided yet where we're going or what we're doing, but the more I think about it, the more Rome appeals to me. The Trevi Fountain...the Colosseum...the Spanish Steps...the Pantheon...St. Peter's Basillica. Plus, pizza, pasta, and gelato, oh my! All those elegant people, all the gorgeous scenery, all that history, and all that food? Yeah, it's definitely moving up my list. ;-)

For now, I will continue to gush about Wish You Were Italian, and watch movies set in Italy, like When in Rome, Sabrina Goes to Rome (does anyone remember that movie? It was a TV movie spin off of Sabrina the Teenage Witch), Letters to Juliet, and Under the Tuscan Sun. Also, I think I need to see Roman Holiday? I've been wanting to watch some classic movies, and this would kill two birds with one stone. Any other movie recommendations? I'm okay with living vicariously until I get to have adventures myself.


{Add Wish You Were Italian on GoodReads || Buy on Amazon}



  
Have you read Wish You Were Italian? Have you ever been to Rome, or anywhere else in Italy? Have you read any books set in Italy that are must reads?
 
 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Relaunch Blitz: Snapshots by Patricia Lynne

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Welcome to the SNAPSHOTS relaunch blitz!


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Add to your Goodreads shelf
Buy on Amazon | Smashwords
It's said the eyes are the windows to the soul, but that's a lie. They are snapshots of a time yet to come–the future of the person to which they belong.

Cyclop Blaine stands out in a crowd with his pale skin and mismatched eyes, but it’s his ability to see the future that really sets him apart. The unusual gift makes him an invaluable asset to Tyler, his adoptive father and leader of the Victory Street Gang. It also means Cyclop must hide what he can do from others. Once, a man he knew only as Master controlled him, using him for experiments. Cyclop has no desire to return to that life.

But he may have no choice. A man claiming ownership over him haunts his dreams and waking moments, leaving him no choice but to go back to the past he thought he had escaped. Cyclop must face this man, along with his past, if he wants to reveal his own future.

About the Author

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Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. But some stories are meant to be told and this one chose her. Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Follow Patricia on Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Author Blog

  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wanderlust + Remembering to Enjoy the Little Moments





I have a major case of wanderlust. This is no secret; if you know me at all, you’ll know I’m always talking about wanting to go here or there. I’ve done a fair bit of traveling - I’ve seen quite a bit of Canada and the States, and I went to France when I was 17. I know I’m lucky, and feel blessed to have done that much traveling. But…all those trips were a long time ago, and I just want to go somewhere NOW.


I’d pack a bag and be out of here tomorrow if I could. Part of it is a desire to escape the monotony of my every day life, and part of it is because there’s so much I want to see and do. It may sound ridiculous, but I feel these adventures, these far-flung places calling to my soul, and it’s becoming as loud as a siren call. 

Most of my friends are married and/or have kids, so they can’t take off for a couple weeks on an adventure. My childhood best friend, K, is recently single, and since I just found this out (we’re horrible at keeping in touch), my travel-bug-fueled brain started spinning with ideas…what if we could travel together? We’ve been friends for 25 years, but never traveled farther than a winter festival 3 hours away when we were in our teens.

I mentioned it to her, and she said she’d love to. *insert me doing a Snoopy-like happy dance* We talked about it via email at first, and then in person this past Monday when we spent the day together on the beach. The only real issue is money, which has always been one of the main things preventing me from traveling. I’m determined it’s going to happen, though. Even though our top destination choices differ (mine are Ireland, England, and Scotland, hers are Greece and Italy), we’re willing to compromise and we’re each interested in each other’s top choices. Basically if I get to go SOMEWHERE on my list, even if it’s not in my top 3, I’ll be happy.

In the 10 or so hours we spent together, we talked non-stop about a lot of things…depression, anxiety, feeling stuck, work, travel, friends, love. Our lives and personalities are very similar, and we both admitted to feeling very stuck lately. I said I know travel won’t solve that problem, but it feels like a step. Something different, something new, something amazing. I’ve been restless, and I hate this feeling of being stuck and unhappy, and having nothing to look forward to because every day is the same.

I’ve always been incredibly grateful for everything I have, and I take pleasure in small things, but I know I need to do that even more - find the positive in every situation - or I’m going to drive myself crazy. I want to travel, and I’m going to make it happen, but until it does happen, I need to find adventures in every day things. Find more things to smile and laugh about, small wonders that take my breath away.

Some of my favourite recent moments:
~Going to the movies with my sister
~Sitting in my city’s rose garden for a couple hours, looking at the flowers, and reading.
~Going for lunch with my mum to our favourite restaurant
~A day at the beach with an old friend, talking and laughing and being silly
~Swimming in Lake Ontario (this is an accomplishment for me because I’m afraid of open water, and we went out pretty far)
~Having a PVR for the first time ever and being able to record things when I’m not home, or tape movies I want to watch later
~Discovering that eating healthier makes me feel better about myself
~When my 4-year-old nephew (aka my best buddy) told me I look ‘handsome’ after he played with my hair
~Actually having more than a few dollars in my bank account for once (even though it’s not much and won’t last long, it’s still a good feeling!)

So, yes, I have a wicked case of wanderlust. I’d be willing to max out my credit card and deal with even more debt if it meant leaving tomorrow. But since I can’t leave tomorrow, or next week, or probably even this year, I’m going to train my brain to think it’s happening. I’m going to look forward to it and plan for it, but I’m also going to make sure to enjoy little moments, little accomplishments, and focus on things that make me happy, rather than all the crap that seems to pile up. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so maybe the reason I haven’t traveled yet is because it’s not the right time, it wouldn’t have been with the right person, and when it does happen, it’ll be EPIC. 



  
Do you have wanderlust? Where do you want to go most? What do you want to see? Where have you been? Who would you love to travel with? What are some small moments you’ve enjoyed lately?
Are you on Pinterest? Feel free to check out my Wanderlust, Places to Go/Things to Do, and Wishlist boards and dream with me. ;-)
 
 

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?
 

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