Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Viscountess of Vice by Jenny Holiday

Happy Wednesday everyone! Are you ready for another bookish spotlight? We have a tasty Historical Romance in store for you today. Jenny Holiday and Viscountess of Vice are center stage.

Secrets and lies, scandals and spies.

All Lady Catharine, Viscountess Cranbrook, wants is a little excitement. Bored of playing the role of the ton’s favorite slightly scandalous widow, she jumps at the chance to go undercover as a courtesan to help with an espionage mission. After all, beneath her outrageously low bodice beats the heart of a patriot.

Social reformer James Burnham is conducting a study of vice in England’s capital. Driven by his own secrets, he is methodical, intelligent—and wickedly handsome. Catharine is the last sort of woman the upstanding James should want. But want her he does, though she stands for everything he opposes.

When Catharine and James are forced to band together to advance their causes, they’ll be drawn into a web of secrets and lies that endangers their lives—and their hearts.

Now, please enjoy an interview with Jenny Holiday, herself! And don't forget to add Viscountess of Vice to your reading list. Buy links are below.

Find this on: 

1) Hi Jenny, and thank you for being in the spotlight today! If you don't mind, I thought we'd start with a Lightning Round! Please fill in the blank spaces below:

* My favorite place to read is in bed, no matter what time of day.
* I can't live without Zevia cherry cola to eat/drink while I write.
* One book I'd absolutely recommend right now is anything in Kate Meader’s Hot in Chicago series.
* I think my spirit animal is probably a cat? (At least that’s what a Buzzfeed quiz once told me, and I do enjoy lazing around in bed—see question 1!)
* One fun fact about me is I can remember long strings of numbers freakishly well. I remember all my account numbers and library card numbers, past and present.

2) I read in your biography that you were lucky enough to have a children's librarian for a mom. Were there any books that she shared with you that still stick in your mind today? Did you have a favorite that you read and re-read?

Oh my gosh, my mom was so amazing. She took us to the public library every week, and we checked out stacks and stacks of books. I can remember her having a showdown with the librarian at my elementary school because that librarian had rules about having to be a certain age before you were allowed to check out chapter books. She was limiting me to picture books, and I wanted chapter books. Oooh, my mom got so mad! Librarian throw-down! My mom never regulated what my sister and I read—if we thought we were ready for it, that was good enough for her. And she never imposed her taste. My sister went through a little Sweet Valley High phase (I was a little too old for SVH, otherwise I’m sure I would have, too). My mom hated those books, but she grinned and said nothing.

In the summers, I used to climb a willow tree in our back yard to read. I had rigged up a pulley system by tying a bunch of jump ropes together and hooking them through the handles of a cloth bag. I would use that to haul the books up. Then my mom would make appearances and put snacks in the bag, and I would haul those up too! And we used to do this thing called “Friday Night Read-A-Thon,” where we would each take our books and sit in her bed and read them and eat junk food. I have continued that tradition with my son.

Okay, sorry, I got off topic there. It is just that my mom rocked so much! (Still does.) She turned me on to tons of books as a kid. There was a writer called William Sleater whom I loved but never would have discovered on my own. Also John Christopher’s Tripods series. I am not a big re-reader in general, but the one from my childhood that I have reread a handful of times into adulthood is Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen. Oh the sweet romance between Jane and Stan!

3) If you had to choose one character that you've created to go on a lavish vacation with, who would you choose and why?

Probably I should pick one of the dashing millionaire heroes from my 49th Floor series, but I would totally go with Rose Verma, who is the heroine of one of them (The Engagement Game). She is sassy, brassy, and a ton of fun, and I think she’d make an excellent travel companion.

4) What's your favorite part about writing Romance?

I love romance as a reader so much. Lots of people talk about romance novels as escapism, which doesn’t offend me or anything, but I read romances because I think love is the greatest thing. It’s “the” thing. I mean, what we are all going to think about on our deathbeds? How much we worked? How much money we made? Of course not. We’re going to think about the love we had in our life. To me, there is nothing better than reading stories about love. So to then be able to write some of those stories? To maybe contribute in a small way to making other people happy with this crap I made up out of my brain? That is the greatest feeling!

5) Finally, and thank you again for all the wonderful answers, what would you say to readers out there looking to pick up your books?

Thank you for reading! I hope you like them! If you do, I hope you leave a review somewhere! If you don’t, I hope you keep quiet! (No, I’m kidding about that last part. I’m delighted to receive any honest review.)

Jenny Holiday started writing at age nine when her fourth grade teacher gave her a notebook and told her to start writing stories. That first batch featured mass murderers on the loose, alien invasions, and hauntings. From then on, she was always writing, often in her diary, where she liked to decorate declarations of existential angst with nail polish teardrops. Later, she channeled her penchant for scribbling into a more useful format, picking up a PhD in geography and then working in PR. Eventually, she figured out that happy endings were more fun than alien invasions. You can follow her on twitter at @jennyholi sand @TropeHeroine or visit her on the web at

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Book Review: An Italian Adventure by Gaia M. Amman

Media Type: Ebook 
Title: An Italian Adventure
Author: Gaia B. Amman
Publisher: Kukui Publishing
Pages: Paperback; 381
Release Date: November 1, 2015
Source: Author / Xpresso Book Tours
Content Screening: Mild Language

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who like stories with lots of character growth and life lessons.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
A humorous coming of age tale of friendship, sisterhood, and family drama set against the gorgeous backdrop of northern Italy.
Recommended for fans of Jandy Nelson, John Green, Neil Gaiman and Sherman Alexie

Italy, the late 80s. Leda is a bookish tomboy whose life is turned upside down by shady Nico, who just moved north from Sicily. Their unlikely friendship will evolve through a whirlwind of adventures leaving both kids transformed. Ultimately, Leda will discover that adults aren't always right, marking the end of childhood and the beginning of everything else.

Recommended for ages 13 and above. Some swearwords, mostly in Italian.

The book is the first in a series following the same characters throughout their life.

Ah, to be young again. When I first met Leda, the protagonist of An Italian Adventure, I instantly took a liking to her. Leda, or Lee as she prefers to be called, struggles with the age old problem that faces all tomboys at some point in their lives. The point where being "one of the guys" no longer holds the easy sway that it once did. That time in the life of a girl where boys become interesting in a different way, and all those feelings get mixed up in your brain. The time when, out of the blue, one of your friends starts to feel like more than just a friend. I went through this same thing when I was around Leda's age! And so, she and I became fast friends.

The biggest draw to this story for me, besides Leda's character of course, was the setting. Italy in the late 80's came to life on these pages. I was smitten with the carefree way that children bounded off to go play with no prior plans. Climbing trees, racing bikes, getting up to all types of mischief that happened well away from the eyes of their parents. As someone who never experienced that, I was enchanted by their freedom. So much growth was allowed to happen. So many lessons learned. It was a great look into the way that our experiences shape us.

I also very much liked the dynamic of Leda's family, since it was so realistic. Her mother and father weren't perfect. Viola, the older sister, made poor decisions at times and exhibited teenage emotions. In fact, every piece of Leda's family made sense to me. I liked that Gaia wasn't afraid to touch on the idea that families can be whole, and show love, without always being perfectly shiny on the outside. It was refreshing to see a family that had some flaws, and some cracks, and still held it together just the same.

So why the three star rating? Honestly, the way An Italian Adventure is actually written was the culprit. I believe that the aim was to look at the world through the eyes of Leda, a day at a time. Almost as if she was penning it all down in a diary. The downside to this was that it felt very choppy. There wasn't a ton of narrative flow between one section of thoughts, and the next. Sometimes Leda's thoughts were just so jumbled that I had a hard time getting through them. That's not to say that wouldn't be entirely accurate. Still, it made it more difficult to fully immerse myself in the book.

Overall, I'd say this is a solid read. If you like stories that are full of growth and life lessons, with a smattering of humor, this is definitely for you.

Follow the tour!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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