Monday, November 11, 2019

Epic Journeys: 245 Life-Changing Adventures by National Geographic

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

From rafting the Zambezi River’s 23 stomach-flipping rapids to hiking the Inca trail and sailing from island to island in Greece, the travel experts at National Geographic reveal the world’s best adventures in this stunning–and practical–treasury.

From navigating the class-five rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon to sandboarding the slopes of a volcano in Nicaragua to dogsledding in the Arctic, this beautiful and comprehensive book offers trips of a lifetime for explorers and adrenaline junkies alike. Filled with more than 300 vivid photographs, this inspirational guide reveals over 225 of the planet’s best destinations for hikers, skiers, divers, rafters, and more. You’ll also find everything you need to know for the ultimate epic journey: what to see, when to go, and what to do. Combining adventure with cultural experiences–for example, a safari through Madagascar or visiting the ruins of Buddhist temples after sea kayaking the warm waters of Vietnam–this one-of-a-kind collection, complemented by top ten lists and adventurer essays covering everything from the best hiking trails to the top wildlife parks, will lead you to new heights of exploration.

my thoughts:

If you have a bucket list chock full of travel destinations to visit, then this book is for you. National Geographic's latest tome is all about Epic Journeys.  Yep, 245 Life-Changing Adventures to be exact.  How awesome does that sound?  Plus, you know when it comes to National Geographic they are going to provide it all - photos, itineraries, and top ten lists.  And, did I mention the photos. Oh my, they are beyond amazing! Just flipping through this fantastic travel book, you can't help but get lost in the photos and imagine the adventures you would go on when visiting these places.  I'm taking about photos of hiking in Bolivia, water rafting in Thailand, and biking around the Transylvanian Alps - how exciting and thrilling does that sound? Along with all the brilliant photos are fascinating essays about the places by some of National Geographic's legendary explorers - so, you just know you are going to be in for quite a treat reading what they have to say about these beautiful destinations. 

Epic Journeys is the perfect book to inspire you to pack your bags and head off on an epic adventure.  You can't help but jot down new additions to your ever-growing bucket list.  Plus, the book itself makes for a fun a way to wile away the afternoon. I'm serious, just looking through the photos and reading the essays and lists, you can't help but get caught up in the extraordinary beauty that makes up this world we live in.  It is just brilliant.  And, did I mention that this book will settle nicely on your coffee table - ready to be picked up and thumbed through whenever your eye happens to rest upon it. I'm thinking it would make the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one who's been bitten by the travel bug - they would just LOVE this book to bits.  How could they not? 

I'm happy to recommend Epic Journeys to fans of National Geographic's awesome travel books and to anyone looking for their next great adventure read - you are going to truly LOVE this book!!
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Bride of Northanger: A Jane Austen Variation by Diana Birchall

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A happier heroine than Catherine Morland does not exist in England, for she is about to marry her beloved, the handsome, witty Henry Tilney. The night before the wedding, Henry reluctantly tells Catherine and her horrified parents a secret he has dreaded to share – that there is a terrible curse on his family and their home, Northanger Abbey. Henry is a clergyman, educated and rational, and after her year’s engagement Catherine is no longer the silly young girl who delighted in reading “horrid novels”; she has improved in both reading and rationality. This sensible young couple cannot believe curses are real…until a murder at the Abbey triggers events as horrid and Gothic as Jane Austen ever parodied – events that shake the young Tilneys’ certainties, but never their love for each other…

my thoughts:

A sequel to Northanger Abbey - say what?! Yep, Diana Birchall has written a sequel to Austen's fantastic Gothic-inspired novel.  At the time, Gothic novels were all the rage, so Austen decided to have a bit of fun and create a satire of the genre.  And let me just say, how happy are we that she did so? Northanger Abbey is truly one of her best works.  Luckily for us, The Bride of Northanger picks up right where Austen left off and brings us back to Catherine and Henry.  The couple is happily engaged and looking forward to their future together.  Except, on the night before the wedding, Henry reveals some rather disturbing news...his family is cursed. Ack! Or it should be, ahhh! Only, Catherine is no longer interested in superstitious nonsense, and dismisses Henry's revelation.  However, she soon begins to wonder about the curse when some rather spooky things begin to happen (along with a murder!).  Yep, looks like Catherine and Henry have quite a lot to deal with on their return to Northanger Abbey.  And, that is all I will write about the story.  You just have to experience it for yourself - its a Gothic romance at its very best!

Birchall has done a wonderful job of breathing life into these beloved characters.  Her writing is spot on - the vivid details, the history, and the Gothic nature of it all - oh, my!  She easily blends mystery and romance with a bit of creepiness to create the perfect combination of Austen/Birchall.  I'm serious, this story seamlessly follows Austen's - its uncanny and I love it!  The Bride of Northanger is a must-read for fans of Birchall and fans of Austen - you will fall in love with this book!!


Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

If Only I Could Tell You: A Novel by Hannah Beckerman

about book:

“I loved it (even though it made me cry).”—Jojo Moyes

For fans of This Is Us comes a story of a family divided and the secret that can possibly unite them – a life-affirming novel with a twist will break your heart and an ending that will put it together again. 

 A secret between two sisters.

A lifetime of lies unraveling.

Can one broken family find their way back to each other?

Audrey’s dream as a mother had been for her daughters, Jess and Lily, to be as close as only sisters can be. But now, as adults, they no longer speak to each other, and Audrey’s two teenage granddaughters have never met. Audrey just can’t help feeling like she’s been dealt more than her fair share as she’s watched her family come undone over the years, and she has no idea how to fix her family as she wonders if they will ever be whole again.

If only Audrey had known three decades ago that a secret could have the power to split her family in two, and yet, also keep them linked. And when hostilities threaten to spiral out of control, a devastating choice that was made so many years ago is about to be revealed, testing this family once and for all.

Once the truth is revealed, will it be enough to put her family back together again or break them apart forever?

“Utterly compelling and completely heartbreaking. I couldn’t put it down.” — Ruth Hogan

“Totally engrossing, achingly sad and so perceptive about the corrosive legacy of family secrets.”—Kate Eberlen, author of Miss You

my thoughts:

Talk about a family drama that will feel like a punch to the gut. I'm serious. This book is the very epitome of heart-wrenching. You won't be able to read it without crying. Each chapter just gets more and more emotional. Its heartbreaking to the nth degree.  And yet, its so addictive. You can't help but keep reading. You get ensnared by the premise: Jess and Lily are sisters.  One day, Lily goes into a forbidden room and when Jess wants to enter it, she physically prevents her. After that incident, the sister no longer talk to one another. Flash forward, both sisters are now mother's to teen-aged daughters of their own. Their mother, Audrey, is very ill and decides to go live with one of them. Her wish is to have her family back together. Except, maybe your family's secrets are too BIG to make your wish come true.  And, that is all I will write about the story. Pretty crazy, right? A forbidden room with something that causes a huge rift between two sisters - what was in that room?! You can't help but wonder, right? I know I did until I found out midway through the story. And the story itself, so much sadness. Oh, how my heart broke again and again. 

Beckerman has written a terrific story about the complexities of family, friendship, love, loss, and grief.  She also touches on topics like suicide, miscarriages, and cancer.  Its heavy stuff and quite frankly, you can't help but feel the sadness dripping off the pages.  This is such a moving story, your heart strings will be plucked over and over again. I just loved it. The writing was fantastic and the characters were unforgettable. I would happily recommend If Only I Could Tell You to fans of Hannah Beckerman and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this story to bits.

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: If Only I Could Tell You
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Finding Christmas: A Novel by Karen Schaler

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

With all the glittering decorations, twinkling lights, snow angels, gingerbread men and mistletoe, Christmas is Emmie’s first love.

This year, she can’t wait to share her favorite Christmas traditions with her boyfriend, Grant. She thinks he’s “the one.” So when Grant’s hectic work schedule has him more “Bah Humbug” than “Ho, Ho, Ho,” Emmie creates a holiday-themed scavenger hunt to help him find his Christmas spirit. At the end of the journey, Grant will arrive at the charming town of Christmas Point where she’s planned a romantic weekend filled with holiday activities.

But Emmie’s plan backfires when a mix-up has the wrong guy following her clues! Sam, a best-selling mystery writer, thinks Emmie’s clever Christmas riddles are from his agent, who is trying to help him get over his epic writer’s block.

When he arrives at Christmas Point and finds the stunned Emmie, he immediately feels she’s someone special, but she can’t see beyond the fact that the wrong guy has shown up. Inspired by the small, charming town, Sam decides to stay and convinces Emmie to join him in a little holiday fun while she waits for Grant.

When Grant finally shows up, Emmie is disappointed to discover he’s not enjoying the activities she planned and can’t help wonder if he’s really the one for her. She also can’t get Sam out of her mind and all the great times they had together. With Christmas coming fast, Emmie will need the magic of the season to help steer her in the direction of true love…

my thoughts:

Fall is here and you know what that means...Christmas is right around the corner. Woo hoo! I'm so excited for the upcoming holiday season that I'm already jotting down my list of Christmas treats that I plan on baking. And, I've already figured out the Thanksgiving menu. I am ahead of schedule for once and I love it. So, I figured it was time for a bookish treat.  Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to review Karen Schaler's latest novel, Finding Christmas. Talk about a must-read for me. The title alone beckons me to pick up a copy, but that book cover screams at me to "Read me!" ASAP.  I mean seriously, a gazebo lit up with a beautiful Christmas tree smack dab in the center, how could I not want to read a book with that cover? Plus, I absolutely LOVED Schaler's last book, Christmas Camp.  So, I just knew that I was in for a holiday treat with Finding Christmas.  And let me just say, Schaler did not disappoint. Her newest novel is chock full of holiday cheer, romance, and a bit of drama; all of which I happily gobbled up. In fact, it reminded me of Hallmark's Christmas movies (my FAVORITE holiday movies), which I just loved.

So, what's the story about? Well, Emmie LOVES Christmas.  And, she loves Grant, her boyfriend.  She thinks he may just be "the one."  So, she decides to cheer him up (he's bogged down with work) and create a holiday themed scavenger hunt that will lead him to a charming little town named Christmas Point, for a romantic weekend.  Except, things don't exactly work out as Emmie planned. You see, another man winds up following the scavenger hunt and meeting Emmie in Christmas Point.  Yep, Sam thought the hunt was for him and he's pleasantly surprised when he meets Emmie. She's not happy.  So, Sam tries to get Emmie to join in on some holiday fun while they are in town.  Of course, sparks do fly, but Emmie believes her hear to lie with Grant. However, when Grant finally does show up in town, Emmie realizes that he may not be "the one" after all.  And, that is all I will write about this delicious treat of a read.

I would most definitely recommend Finding Christmas to fans of Schaler's work and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book! The writing is fantastic and the characters are fun, relatable, and unforgettable.  This is one book that will delight you and fill you with some Christmas cheer.  Definitely, check it out.  

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Finding Christmas
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!