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Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Title: Girlboss
Author: Sophia Amoruso
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Portfolio
Publish Date: May 6, 2014
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "At seventeen, Sophia Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery. Now, at twenty-nine, she is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer that draws A-list publicity and rabid fans for its leading-edge fashion and provocative online persona. Her story is extraordinary—and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS.

This aspirational book doesn’t patronize young women the way many business experts do. Amoruso shows readers how to channel their passion and hard work, while keeping their insecurities from getting in the way. She offers straight talk about making your voice heard and doing meaningful work.

She’s proof that you can be a huge success without giving up your spirit of adventure or distinctive style. As she writes, "I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool. Then let’s do this.”"

My Two Cents:

"#GIRLBOSS" is a memoir of sorts by Sophia Amoruso, who is the CEO and founder of Nasty Gal. Nasty Gal, for those of you who are not familiar, is a online retailer that sells vintage clothes and is hugely successful. Told by Amoruso herself, the story is partially the story of how she got to where she is all prior to the age of 30 (super impressive, no?). It's also it meant to be a book to encourage other young women to go for what they want even if it seems like it's not reachable.

I found the book to be really inspiring. I always like reading about success stories of those who are no too much older than I am. The book is written in a fairly informal way and to some degree, it feels as if one of your friends is giving you some heart-to-heart business advice. I liked that style for this particular book because it made it feel a little bit friendlier to me. There is a lot of good advice in this book; however, there is also some advice that does feel a little bit like the same old, same old. That being said, sometimes it really is the same old, same old that will get you to the place that you want to be. Overall, I thought those was a pretty good read especially for those who want some advice but aren't necessarily into delving into more traditional business literature.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: Operation Massacre by Rodolfo Walsh

Title: Operation Massacre
Author: Rodolfo Walsh
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Publish Date: 1957
Source: Borrowed

What's the Story?:

From "1956. Argentina has just lost its charismatic president Juán Perón in a military coup, and terror reigns across the land. June 1956: eighteen people are reported dead in a failed Peronist uprising. December 1956: sometime journalist, crime fiction writer, studiedly unpoliticized chess aficionado Rodolfo Walsh learns by chance that one of the executed civilians from a separate, secret execution in June, is alive. He hears that there may be more than one survivor and believes this unbelievable story on the spot. And right there, the monumental classic Operation Massacre is born.

Walsh made it his mission to find not only the survivors but widows, orphans, political refugees, fugitives, alleged informers, and anonymous heroes, in order to determine what happened that night, sending him on a journey that took over the rest of his life.

Originally published in 1957, Operation Massacre thoroughly and breathlessly recounts the night of the execution and its fallout."

My Two Cents: 

"Operation Massacre" takes place during a very dark time in Argentina's history. It is the 1950s and the political establishment has been upended. Charismatic President Juan Peron lost the presidency during a coup. The Peronistas try to stage an uprising, which fails, and journalist, Rodolfo Walsh is at the center of it trying to find out what happened. Walsh uses his skills as a journalist in order to shed some light on what happened during and after the uprising and how it affected the entire country. This is an unflinching true-life account of a country in chaos.

One of my majors in college was International Studies with a focus in Latin America. I am still endlessly fascinated about this area of the world and I am sort of surprised that I didn't come across this book earlier in my studies. I was very happy to be able to borrow it from a friend. It was really interesting to read about this event from a more on-the-ground approach than you would get from a standard history book. Walsh is a very driven individual and really wants to shed light on what happened. He draws on a lot of interviews and first hand accounts of people who were there and witnessed both the uprising and the fallout. I really liked that he focused so heavily on the accounts of people who were actually there and who actually witnessed

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" in the way that it was told. It is a gripping story that pulled me in right from the beginning. I love learning history through books like this one as they get you right into the heart of the issue.

The history behind how this book was published is fascinating as well. This was originally published as magazine articles as the magazine was the only one brave enough to publish these stories (this would have been an incredibly controversial work during that time period). It's really fantastic that Walsh's work got published at all as the magazine editor could have just as easily said no for his own protection!

If you're interested in history and especially if you are interested in politics or South America, this is most definitely a worthwhile read!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#HNS2015 : Almost There!

Today, I am winging my way out to Denver, CO for the 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference. I attended in 2013 and had so much fun. I think you can probably tell from my blog that I read pretty eclectically but my very favorite genre is historical fiction. This conference is truly a treat for me! It is so exciting to be around so many people who love the genre just as much as I do.

I am especially excited this year because I will be on a panel discussing Trends in Historical Women's Fiction with authors Kate Quinn and Eliza Knight as well as literary agent, Kevan Lyon. It's going to be a blast!

Unfortunately, you missed your opportunity to sign up for the conference (it's totally full!!!) but if you happen to be in the Denver area, this year the author signings are free and open to the public. Over 130 authors will be there to sign books from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 27th.


 I can't wait to tell you all about the conference when I get back!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Title: Blackberry Winter
Author: Sarah Jio
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Plume
Publish Date: September 1, 2012
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator's.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways..."

My Two Cents:

I had really been wanting to read something by Sarah Jio for awhile. All of her books have sounded so good to me and I really wanted to see what they were all about. I came across "Blackberry Winter" at the library and when I read what the story was about, I knew I had to read it. I can tell you I was not disappointed!

"Blackberry Winter" is the story of two women in two different times. There is Vera, a woman in the 1930s who is struggling to care for her young son and to make ends meet. There is Claire, a woman in present day Seattle who is struggling to make her marriage work after tragedy strikes. Claire is a reporter and finds herself following a lead about a cold case involving the disappearance of a child.

Time split books can be hit or miss for me. In the case of this book, it worked really well. There were so many different surprises throughout this book and real connections between the women that it just worked really well. Jio gives you just enough about the connection between the women to keep you reading just. one. more. page (this book was really hard to put down because of that)! The way that she was able to connect everything at the very end was thoroughly delicious.

I also really liked both of the characters in this book and found them equally interesting. I felt for both of the characters. Both are dealing with very different situations but both situations center on children and what it means to be a parent. Both of the characters felt really real to me. Vera was so interesting to me. She is out on her own during a time when it was really difficult for a woman to make her own way. Claire is dealing with her problems by throwing herself into her work. She eventually realizes that she has to deal with her problems and she can't hide any longer!

I know that this is not the last time I read a book by Sarah Jio!


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Odds and Ends: Two Months Gone

When I was still pregnant, I had a lot of people tell me that once the girls were here, time would go by with warp speed. I believed them but I guess I didn't think about just how quickly it would feel like time was going. As of last week, we now have two very sweet two month olds. I am lucky enough to still be home with them but much too quickly those days and hours seem to be winnowing away as well.

Every day they seem to be changing. They are reacting a little bit more to things. They finally started smiling last week and it melts my heart every single time.

Whenever anyone asks about our girls, it feels like they want us to be frantic and crazed. With two little ones, I am definitely busy but these girls are amazingly good. It's as if they know that preserving Mom's nerves is a good thing. They're just really content little babies. They eat. They sleep. They are healthy. We have them on a good schedule. I feel like I've been knocking on every piece of wood that I happen upon because I know how lucky we are and I know that it could all turn around in an instant! Even the somewhat frustrating days are still pretty good.

If so much has changed in two months, where in the world are we going to be in three months???

Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Junkie Promotions Spotlight: Keep Dancing by Leslie Wells

02_Keep Dancing Cover Publication Date: February 5, 2015 Percambio Press Formats: Print & ebook 256 pages
Series: Come Dancing, Book Two Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult/Chick Lit
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Julia is a young book editor on the rise. Jack is a British rock star at the pinnacle of his fame.
Can they both get what they want—if what they need threatens to tear them apart?
It’s January, 1982. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Nash has just moved in with her boyfriend, rock and roll guitarist extraordinaire Jack Kipling. Their connection sizzles as Jack takes her to England to meet his mother, and then to a private Caribbean island for a sensual post-holiday retreat.
But back in New York, they hit a turbulent patch. Career-focused Julia is in the running for a new job, while Jack’s life becomes even more chaotic with an upcoming thirty-city tour. Although free-spirited Jack enjoys his partying lifestyle, he craves more support on the home front. But Julia doesn’t know if she can ever be a domestic goddess—or if her wild boyfriend can ever be domesticated.
On tour, Julia experiences private jets, mind-blowing concerts, shocking hotel room antics, and screaming headlines. Back home, she has to decide if their relationship can withstand the ravages of fame and conflicting interests—not to mention a suave bestselling author who seems to like more than her grammar sense.
Emotionally poignant, hilarious and steamy, Keep Dancing will delight brand-new readers as a stand-alone novel, and also serves as the perfect follow-up to Come Dancing.

Praise for Keep Dancing

“Set in the 80s and dripping with the excesses this time period excelled at, Julia and Jack have reached a point in their relationship where the hard work begins. Julia is working towards her own stardom, while Jack continues to play in the world that made him. As external forces do their best to force this unusual couple apart, Jack and Julia will need to decide if they should keep dancing or find new partners. Emotionally plump with laughter, love, and heartbreak…” —Smexy Book Reviews “HOT”—“In book two of the Jack and Julia series, Wells once again titles chapters after hit songs, and finds even more ways to describe the excitement surrounding New York City as she did in the debut…” —Romance Times "This is a 5 star series, and I recommend this as a wonderfully fun yet angsty read. I loved the chemistry between Jack and Julia and their crazy bad communication skills (they didn’t have cell phones, after all). The breakups were worth it, if only just so they could make up!" -Cindy Becker, The Book Enthusiast

Praise for the first novel about Jack and Julia: Come Dancing, an Amazon Bestseller and Apple iBooks Breakout Book

“Wells builds an emotionally poignant love story, abounding with romance and humor.” —Smexy Book Reviews
“Sometimes a book like this comes along and takes me out of the niche reading that I tend to find myself in.... I am in love… So very sex + the city.” —Must Read Books or Die
“It reads like a very, very good romantic comedy movie.” —Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks
“Once you start, you are completely unable to put it down.” —Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews
“Like a well-oiled machine or a well-tuned guitar, Julia and friends work their way into your heart.” —Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
“Hot, sexy, and combustible.” —Blushing Divas Book Reviews
“Come Dancing is brimming with both humor and heart.” —Flashlight Commentary
“It's a fun romp, and the sparkling characters definitely made it worth the read.” —A Bookish Affair
“I enjoyed reading Come Dancing! It had a good story, fascinating characters, and a charming vibe.” —Julie Anne, Teacups & Book Love

Keep Dancing Available at

About the Author

03_Leslie Wells Credit © Leslie WellsLeslie Wells left her small Southern town in 1979 for graduate school in Manhattan, after which she got her first job in book publishing. She has edited forty-eight New York Times bestsellers in her over thirty-year career, including thirteen number one New York Times bestsellers. Leslie has worked with numerous internationally known authors, musicians, actors, actresses, television and radio personalities, athletes, and coaches. She lives on Long Island, New York.

Author Links

Keep Dancing Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, May 1 Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Saturday, May 2 Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Monday, May 4 Review at Red Hot Books
Thursday, May 7 Guest Post at I Heart Reading
Friday, May 8 Spotlight at Rainy Day Reviews
Monday, May 11 Review at Tea Cups and Book Love
Tuesday, May 12 Review at Room With Books
Wednesday, May 13 Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing
Friday, May 15 Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, May 20 Review & Guest Post at Must Read Books or Die
Thursday, May 21 Spotlight at Romance Junkies Blog
Monday, June 1 Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict Spotlight at Genre Queen
Tuesday, June 2 Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, June 3 Review at Shelly's Book Shelves
Thursday, June 4 Review at SOS Aloha
Friday, June 5 Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Monday, June 8 Review at The Danish Bookaholic
Tuesday, June 9 Review & Excerpt at Reading in Pajamas
Wednesday, June 10 Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, June 18 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Monday, June 22 Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Wednesday, June 24 Guest Post at Brooke Blogs
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Exciting Giveaway!

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

Title: Hello, I Love You
Author: Katie M. Stout
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: June 9, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write?"

My Two Cents:

In "Hello I Love You," Grace just wants to run away from her family. Her father is a big time record executive and her brother is a troubled musician. To top it all off, Grace is trying to run away from her ex-boyfriend, who seems to have his eyes on every other girl in all of Tennessee. When Grace starts going to boarding school in South Korea, she doesn't speak a lick of Korean. She is in an entirely different world and she doesn't understand the culture so when she meets KPOP star, Jason, she has no idea who he is but she falls for him very quickly (it's insta-love with a slight twist). As it is a story about growing up and finding your way and an unknown world.

I like this story mostly for the setting. I always like reading books that are set in places that are new to me or that I have an interest in. South Korea is utterly fascinating to me so I was excited for it. I thought that the setting would play a little more of a role in the book. It really doesn't except for the fact that Grace seems to hate it. Throughout this book, Grace is definitely going through culture shock and so she seems to be very judgemental of South Korea and never really seems to want to get to know the country. It was very frustrating for me because there were a lot of cases were some of the things that she said made me think that she was sort of being a stereotypical ugly American and she never really got past that, which had me wondering what role the setting truly played. I kept waiting for her to begin to grow or change but it doesn't happen. It was very frustrating!

I did like the love story between Grace and Jason. At first they really don't care for each other but Grace is attracted to him. I didn't care for that insta-love in this book but the way that the characters didn't get together right away sort of made up for it. The real part of the story that appealed to me was the part about what was going on with Jason and what was going on with Grace's family. This definitely added a little bit more depth to this book!

This book was a mixed bag for me. I like the setting and I understand that to some degree a person is not always going to like going into other countries. But it didn't quite work for me to have the main character be so unresponsive and so dismissive to the setting. It almost made the setting feel like it was merely there so this love story could have an exotic locale. I wanted to like this book more!

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