Category Archives: Giveaways

Spotlight & Giveaway: Scent of Butterflies by Dora Levy Mossanen

Scent of ButterfliesLength: 282 pages

Publication: January 7th, 2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Source: TLC Book Tours

What it’s about:

Such audacity she has, Soraya, a woman who dares to break free of the diamond-studded leash of her culture. A woman who refuses to accept the devastating betrayal her husband has perpetrated. A woman who refuses to forgive her best friend.

Soraya turns her back on Iran, fleeing to America to plot her intricate revenge. The Shah has fallen, her country is in turmoil, her marriage has crumbled, and she is unraveling. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive streak that explodes in the heated world of Los Angeles.

Yet the secret Soraya discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of unexpected events that will leave the reader breathless.

 Giveaway:

I’m giving away one copy of Scent of Butterflies to a lucky reader (U.S. or Canada only, sorry). To enter, just leave a comment with your name and email address. Good luck!

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to be part of this tour.

tlc book tours

 

Review and Giveaway: The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli

!cid_D2CD86F1-CF55-4754-8115-F582DDD817F4Format: Print galley

Length:  320 pages

Publication: February 10, 2015 by St. Martin’s Press

Source: TLC Book Tours

What it’s about: 

On a small, unnamed coral atoll in the South Pacific, a group of troubled dreamers must face the possibility that the hopes they’ve labored after so single-mindedly might not lead them to the happiness they feel they were promised. Ann and Richard, an aspiring, Los Angeles power couple, are already sensing the cracks in their version of the American dream when their life unexpectedly implodes, leading them to brashly run away from home to a Robinson Crusoe idyll. Dex Cooper, lead singer of the rock band, Prospero, is facing his own slide from greatness, experimenting with artistic asceticism while accompanied by his sexy, young, and increasingly entrepreneurial muse, Wende. Loren, the French owner of the resort sauvage, has made his own Gauguin-like retreat from the world years before, only to find that the modern world has become impossible to disconnect from. Titi, descendent of Tahitian royalty, worker, and eventual inheritor of the resort, must fashion a vision of the island’s future that includes its indigenous people, while her partner, Cooked, is torn between anarchy and lust. By turns funny and tragic, The Last Good Paradise explores our modern, complex and often, self-contradictory discontents, crafting an exhilirating story about our need to connect in an increasingly networked but isolating world.

What I thought:

I like stories that take a group of very different people and throw them together in a controlled situation, particularly one in which they are out of their element. In this kind of situation, you never know exactly what to expect, and it tends to bring out the best and the worst in people while removing social barriers.

When I first read the description of The Last Good Paradise, that was the kind of story I was expecting. However, I found that the remote tropical setting was used more as a device for the writer, Soli, to express philosophical musings on human nature. The point of view used was too distant for me to gain any kind of sympathy for the characters and their antics were too often concerned with sex for my tastes.

Although The Last Good Paradise wasn’t exactly the style of book that I enjoy, it’s a well-written and entertaining novel that should appeal to readers who appreciate a humorous novel with a dose of philosophy.

!cid_9B68F6B2-4064-49B2-B7B9-741D0B92F23CAbout the author:

Tatjana Soli is a novelist and short story writer. Her bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, winner of the James Tait Black Prize, was a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the LA Times Book Award among other honors. Her stories have appeared in Boulevard, The Sun, StoryQuarterly, Confrontation, Gulf Coast, Other Voices, Third Coast, Sonora Review, and North Dakota Quarterly. Her work has been twice listed in the 100 Distinguished Stories in Best American Short Stories. She lives with her husband in Southern California.

Giveaway:

I’m giving away one copy of The Last Good Paradise to a lucky reader (U.S. or Canada only, sorry). To enter, just leave a comment with your name and email address. Good luck!

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to share my review.

Tatjana Soli’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, February 2nd: Books on the Table
Tuesday, February 3rd: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, February 4th: Too Fond
Thursday, February 5th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Monday, February 9th: Caribousmom
Monday, February 9th: BookNAround
Tuesday, February 10th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, February 10th: The Feminist Texican Reads
Wednesday, February 11th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, February 12th: Writing Whimsy
Monday, February 16th: The Well Read Redhead
Monday, February 16th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, February 17th: Lit and Life
Tuesday, February 17th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, February 18th: Reader’s Oasis
Thursday, February 19th: Book Dilettante
Friday, February 20th: Olduvai Reads
Monday, February 23rd: 5 Minutes for Books
Monday, February 23rd: Suko’s Notebook
Tuesday, February 24th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, February 25th: nomadreader

tlc book tours

Review and Giveaway: A Matter of Mercy by Lynne Hugo

a-matter-of-mercyFormat: Print galley

Length: 278 pages

Publication: August 1st, 2014 by Blank Slate Press

Source: TLC Book Tours

Synopsis:  Caroline Marcum thought she’d escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns, reluctantly, to care for her dying mother. Ridley Neal put his past-and his prison term-behind him to return home to take over his father’s oyster and clam beds. Casual acquaintances long ago, when a nor’easter hits the coast, Rid and Caroline’s lives intersect once again. When Rid and two other sea farmers are sued by the wealthy owners of vacation homes who want to shut them down, and Caroline accidentally meets the person she most wronged, they each must learn to trust-and love.

What I thought:

What struck me most as I was reading this book was the way Hugo is able to capture a setting that is foreign to me and yet have it feel easily recognizable. I know next to nothing about Cape Cod as I’ve never been, but the characters that populate A Matter of Mercy seem to fit perfectly in this world. Through reading about and getting to know Rid, Caroline, and the other inhabitants of Wellfleet, I was able to empathize with them and their problems.

I felt anxious alongside Rid as he works with the natural elements to harvest his oysters and quahogs (my new vocabulary word of the week), wanting nothing more than to honor his father’s legacy and live out a productive life by the sea. I grieved with Caroline as she says goodbye to her mother and struggles to make some connection to the hometown she left behind. There are larger issues at stake in the lawsuit that forms the backbone of the plot and former crimes that come back to haunt, but the real struggles in the book are deeply personal and have more to do with the characters’ personal redemption than public legal battles.

Hugo’s writing is a pleasure to read. She portrays her characters and their world in a way that is believable and engaging. I came to care about these people, even if their lack of communication skills and frequent false assumptions were frustrating to witness. To be honest, I was surprised that Rid and Caroline ever managed to work things out given the awkwardness of their early interactions. I’m not sure that I completely bought the idea of a romance between them, but they are two people who come together out of need and I suppose there are worse foundations on which to build a relationship.

A Matter of Mercy gives readers a view of life in a Cape Cod fishing town and characters who are faced with personal challenges. The way the characters respond to those challenges brings out both their best and their worst qualities, but ultimately the choices they make bring them closer together and help them to become more true to themselves.

About the author:

Lynne-Hugo

Lynne Hugo is an American author whose roots are in the northeast. A National Endowment For The Arts Fellowship recipient, she has also received repeat individual artists grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Her publications include five novels, one volume of creative non-fiction, two books of poetry and a children’s book. She lives with her husband, the Vice President for Academic Affairs of a liberal arts college, in the Midwest. They have two grown children, three grandchildren, and a yellow Labrador retriever.

For more information on Lynne Hugo please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Giveaway:

I’m giving away one copy of A Matter of Mercy to a lucky reader (U.S. or Canada only, sorry). To enter, just leave a comment with your name and email address. Good luck!

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to share my review.

 Lynne Hugo’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 5th: Life is Story
Thursday, January 8th: Bibliophiliac
Tuesday, January 13th: Bookchickdi
Thursday, January 15th: Book Chatter
Monday, January 19th: Too Fond
Wednesday, January 28th: Suko’s Notebook
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Review and Giveaway: The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde

language-of-hoofbeatsFormat: Print galley

Length: 334 pages

Publication: 12/9/2014 by Lake Union Publishing

Source: TLC Book Tours

Synopsis:  From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of the heartbreak and healing power of family. New to a small town, Jackie and Paula envision a quiet life for their kids: a young adopted son and two teenage foster children, including the troubled Star. However, they quickly butt heads with their neighbor, Clementine, who disapproves of their lifestyle and is incensed when Star befriends her spirited horse, Comet. Haunted by past tragedy and unable to properly care for Comet, Clem nevertheless resents the bond Star soon shares with the horse. When Star disappears with Comet, the neighbors are thrown together–far too close together. But as the search for the pair wears on, both families must learn to put aside their animosity and confront the choices they’ve made and the scars they carry. Plumbing the depths of regret and forgiveness, The Language of Hoofbeats explores the strange alchemy that transforms a group of people into a family.

What I thought:

This book was just what I needed this week. Although I had never read any of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s fiction, I had seen (and enjoyed) the film version of Pay It Forward. As in that story, The Language of Hoofbeats features characters who feel true to life. They are complicated and often damaged but ultimately just trying to connect with those around them in a way that is meaningful.

The chapters in the book are alternately narrated by Jackie and Clementine, each of whom has a distinctive voice and a point of view which brings something to the telling of the story, making it richer and more complete. I liked Hyde’s writing style and the diverse, interesting characters she creates here–from a lesbian couple and their foster children to the closed-minded neighbor with her neglected horse . They each have something to teach the other, and Hyde lets them tell their story in a way that doesn’t feel forced or hokey, as it could have in the hands of a less capable writer.

Reading The Language of Hoofbeats was like relaxing into a warm bath. It’s a comforting, feel-good read that left me wanting to read more by the same author. Recommended.

!cid_BE8827A0-59A9-4795-BAA9-FCE4E6BBCABFAbout the author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 24 published and forthcoming books.

Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List. Jumpstart the World was chosen as a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards, received a third place Rainbow Award for Young Adult/Coming of Age Fiction and a tie for first place in Bisexual/Transgender Fiction. Love in the Present Tense enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the national bestseller list, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards.

Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries.

For more information on Catherine Ryan Hyde please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway:

I’m giving away one copy of The Language of Hoofbeats to a lucky reader (U.S. or Canada only, sorry). To enter, just leave a comment with your name and email address. Good luck!

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to share my review.

tlc book tours

Review and Giveaway: Fog Island Mountains by Michelle Bailat-Jones

fog-island-mountainsFormat: Print galley

Length: 171 pages

Publisher: Tantor Media

Source: TLC Book Tours

SynopsisWhat if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone s greatest mistake? Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer’s typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec’s diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow. Her willful avoidance of the truth leads her to commit a grave infidelity, and only when Alec is suspected of checking himself out of the hospital to commit a quiet suicide does Kanae come home to face what it will mean to lose her husband. Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi’s oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own. A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition, Fog Island Mountains is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.

What I thought:

As you may know, I have a strong interest in Asian cultures and Japanese culture in particular. Fog Island Mountains is rooted in the tradition of Japanese folktales known as kitsune. While I wasn’t familiar with this type of story before reading the book, I did my research to try to better understand what Bailat-Jones was going for with this modern re-interpretation. Basically, a kitsune is a fox, and these folktales center on a fox character which has magical abilities and can assume a human form. They can be either good or bad, but their most common characteristic is their wisdom.

For me, knowing something about kitsune gave this book a depth and resonance that it might not have had otherwise. When I started the book I was a bit confused by the style of narration, as it’s told from the point of view of an omniscient narrator who often refers to herself in the plural. The identity of the narrator became clearer as the book progressed, but she remains a somewhat mysterious character and represents the book’s link to the kitsune tradition.

The central characters, Alec and his wife Kanae, are dealing with a personal crisis at the same time as a strong typhoon is brewing over their island. The outer turmoil of the weather reflects the inner turmoil of the characters, a tried but true technique for establishing an atmospheric setting. (Get it? Weather? Atmospheric? Okay, moving on.) There are several minor characters who also play a part in the story and whose presence impact Alec and Kanae as they try to come to terms with their situation.

The mountains and the natural elements surrounding them also feature strongly in the book, representing the characters’ shifts between escape and surrender. This in conjunction with the author’s lyrical writing and the unique narrative style creates a reading experience that feels like a retreat into a separate, self-contained world–my favorite kind of reading.

All in all, I really enjoyed Fog Island Mountains and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys literary fiction with a focus on Japanese culture. It’s a short book that could easily be read in one or two sittings to maximize the reader’s immersive experience.

michelle-bailat-jonesAbout the author:

Michelle Bailat-Jones is a writer and translator. Her début novel Fog Island Mountains (Tantor 2014) won the 2013 Christopher Doheny Award from the Center for Fiction and Audible. She has also translated Charles Ferdinand Ramuz’s 1927 Swiss classic Beauty on Earth (Onesuch Press, 2013). She is the Reviews Editor at the web journal Necessary Fiction, and her fiction, poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in a number of journals, including The Kenyon Review, The Rumpus, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Quarterly Conversation, PANK, Spolia Mag, Two Serious Ladies, and The Atticus Review. She lives in Switzerland.

Giveaway:

I’m giving away one copy of Fog Island Mountains to a lucky reader (U.S. or Canada only, sorry). To enter, just leave a comment with your name and email address. Good luck!

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to share my review.

tlc book tours

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

literarybloghopAfter having hand counted the ballots and used the trusty random number generator at Random.org, I can officially announce that the winner of the Literary Blog Hop Giveaway is….

Jennifer from The Relentless Reader!

Congrats, Jennifer! I’ll be sending you an email to get your mailing address and to confirm your choice of prize as being The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I hope that you’ll enjoy this amazing book as much as I did.

the-thing-around-your-neck

Literary Blog Hop Giveaway

literarybloghopBonjour and welcome to Too Fond! It’s here–the weekend of the Literary Blog Hop! This will be my fourth time taking part in this Hop.

The Literary Blog Hop is hosted by Leeswammes. Between June 21st (that’s today!) and June 25th, you can hop to almost 40 different book blogs, all offering one or more giveaways of books or bookish items. All books will be literary (non)fiction or something close to that. Follow the links at the bottom of this post to find the other participating blogs.

My Giveaway:

For my giveaway, I’m offering a choice of one of my favorite books of the year (so far) from The Book Depository. Your choices include:

  1. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
  2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  3. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  4. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

To enter, please read the rules and then leave a comment.

The Rules:

  1. Anyone can enter. You do not need to have a blog.
  2. You need a post-office recognized address anywhere in the world that The Book Depository delivers.
  3. You do not have to be a follower or become a follower, although if you like my blog I hope you will! Check out my follower buttons over on the right.
  4. Enter by leaving a comment with your email address and the book you would choose if you win the giveaway (you can always change your mind later).
  5. You can enter the giveaway until Wednesday, June 25th. I will close the giveaway at 11:59 p.m. on the 25th and will no longer accept entries posted after that time.
  6. Note that double or invalid entries will be removed.
  7. I will notify the winner by email. The winner will need to answer my email within 3 days, or I’ll announce a new winner.
  8. I will order the book of your choice from The Book Depository and have it sent to the address you provide.
  9. That’s it! Good luck and thanks for playing.

Linky List:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. The Misfortune of Knowing
  3. Bibliosue
  4. Too Fond
  5. Under a Gray Sky
  6. Read Her Like an Open Book (US)
  7. My Devotional Thoughts
  8. WildmooBooks
  9. Guiltless Reading
  10. Fourth Street Review
  11. Nishita’s Rants and Raves
  12. Word by Word
  13. Words And Peace (US)
  14. Ciska’s Book Chest
  15. Falling Letters
  16. Roof Beam Reader
  17. Readerbuzz
  18. The Relentless Reader (US)
  19. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  20. Daily Mayo (US)
  1. The Emerald City Book Review (US)
  2. A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
  3. Lost Generation Reader
  4. Booklover Book Reviews
  5. Bay State Reader’s Advisory
  6. River City Reading (US)
  7. Books Speak Volumes
  8. Words for Worms
  9. Wensend
  10. Bibliophile’s Retreat
  11. Readers’ Oasis
  12. The Book Musings
  13. My Book Retreat (N. Am.)
  14. Books on the Table (US)