TLC Book Tour Review: Early Decision by Lacy Crawford

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Click on the book cover for synopsis.

My Review:

As a mom of a freshman in college, I can still remember all the preparation it took and time spent to fill out college applications, scholarships, and visiting campuses.  During that time, a friend mentioned hiring a person to fill out the applications for their son.  It was a lot of money, and I thought it was a bit crazy.

Well, apparently, that is the norm!! This book moved at a great pace and highlights different families and the challenges they face, along with the “college whisperer” to make sure the student has the best opportunity to go to the best university.  This book isn’t a “how-to”, rather it shows the extents families will go for their child to remain a legacy in the family, the pressures the students face, and the way it can potentially bring a family closer, or break them further apart.  I found it most interesting the relationships and family dynamics that Anne sees, as she spends more time with her students and family secrets are exposed and the pressures each one faces.

It’s not a depressing book by any means, but it’s a somber look at what families expect from their children, even when their child may have a different idea of what they want for their future.  I love how Anne is able to bring out the best in each of the students she works with and the trust she works hard at establishing.

Anne has her own share of struggles and a relationship that is long distance, which puts pressure on her work and her own goals.  Anne is a young woman, who didn’t set out to be a college coach.  She taught at school and helped her students with their college essays, which slowly morphed into her coaching other kids because of the huge success she had with her former students.

About a year ago, I read the book, Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska.  Reading Lacy Crawford’s book made me think of the students from Accelerated, and I pictured them and their parents as the ones seeking help from Anne.  I know…these books have nothing to do with the other, but I could see a natural extension of it all.

Overall, I loved this book! Again, there aren’t any huge secrets that are revealed in the book.  However, I loved the essays because it showed what each student was thinking, their writing ability, and how Anne was able to pull more from her students when she read the essays.  I loved this book and any parent who has dealt with college admissions, has a child in school, or is simply a reader who loves books about family secrets, family relationships, and the pressure of today’s society, will all enjoy this fantastic read!

excellent cupcake 5

*This book was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

About Lacy Crawford

For fifteen years Lacy Crawford served as a highly discreet independent college admissions counselor to the children of powerful clients in cities such as New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London. Her “day jobs” included serving as senior editor of Narrative magazine and director of the Burberry Foundation. Educated at Princeton and the University of Chicago, Crawford lives in California with her husband and two children.

Connect with Lacy Crawford through her website or Twitter.

Lacy’s  Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 26th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, August 27th: Back Porchervations

Thursday, August 28th: Man of La Book

Monday, September 1st: Alison’s Book Marks

Tuesday, September 2nd: The Ludic Reader

Wednesday, September 3rd: cakes, tea and dreams

Thursday, September 4th: Staircase Wit

Monday, September 8th: Carpe Libros

Wednesday, September 10th: The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, September 11th: missris

Monday, September 15th: Mrs. Mommy Booknerd

Tuesday, September 16th: Shall Write

Wednesday, September 17th: Book Journey

Thursday, September 18th: Bibliotica

Thursday, September 25th: Books in the Burbs

Friday, September 26th: The Things You Can Read

HFVBT Book Tour Review: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

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My Review:

This is by far the best Historical fiction novel I have read this year! Anne Girard is a masterful storyteller, weaving in a beautiful storyline where there are blanks in history about the relationship between Eva Gouel and Pablo Picasso.  We all know who Pablo Picasso is, his many relationships with women (who often became his muse), and the incredible artwork he created.  However, not much is known about the one woman who helped shaped his career, taught him love and forgiveness, and who he never painted a complete portrait of.  Even that portrait was never shown to the public, until after his death, which was found amongst many of his own personal belongings.

In the early 1900’s, Picasso was working his way up the ladder to become one of the world’s best artists.  However, during that time, he was really just starting out and with a few a paintings and a huge dream, he sets off to Paris.  Eva is a young girl, pushed by her parents to marry the fellow neighbor.  Determined to have a better life and make something of herself, she also sets off to Paris.  Eva starts out as a seamstress at the famous Moulin Rouge, where anyone that is important, will show up to see the performances.  It is there that Eva meets Picasso.

Through a test of their relationship and devotion, both Eva and Picasso set out to create their “Eden”.  Anne Girard introduces us to other fantastic artists and poets, who all seem to conjugate at Gertrude Steins home for exquisite parties.  It the place to be for artists to talk, debate, and reignite fires for their works.  While Eva wasn’t the first Madame Picasso, nor the last, she certainly is the one who left the biggest imprint on his life and art.

For the first half of the book, readers will catch a glimpse of their own personal challenges, the start of their relationship, and how they soon become partners, in every way.  The second half of the book goes very fast.  I kept sensing this impending doom, almost like a Romeo and Juliet sequence of sorts, and I kept finding myself holding my breath! I stayed up well past 3 am, because I had to know the fate of their relationship, and wept at the end of the book.  Then, like any other historical fiction fan, I googled Eva Gouel and was shocked to see that so little is known about her, which makes Anne Girard even that much more of a genius and incredible writer!

This is a phenomenal book, one that history buffs will devour in a day or two.  It’s a book that will stay with you for days afterward, and deserves the attention and merit that books like, Call Me Zelda, Z is for Zelda, and The Paris Wife received.  My only request is that someone now write a book about Gertrude Stein and her beloved partner, Alice!

If you have time, I highly recommend you visit Anne’s page.  She has an excerpt of the book, some background information on an interview she did with a friend of Pablo’s, and other interesting information! This is such an incredible book, that I even bought my own copy!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided by the author and HFVBT for review, in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author03_Anne Girard

Anne Girard was born with writing in her blood. The daughter of a hard-driving Chicago newsman, she has always had the same passion for storytelling that fueled his lifelong career. She hand-wrote her first novel (admittedly, not a very good one) at the age of fourteen, and never stopped imagining characters and their stories. Writing only ever took a backseat to her love of reading.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from UCLA and a Master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a chance meeting with the acclaimed author, Irving Stone, sharply focused her ambition onto telling great stories from history with detailed research. “Live where your characters lived, see the things they saw,” he said, “only then can you truly bring them to life for your readers.” Anne took that advice to heart. After Stone’s encouragement twenty years ago, she sold her first novel. When she is not traveling the world researching her stories, Anne and her family make their home in Southern California. When she is not traveling or writing, she is reading fiction.

Anne also writes historical fiction under the name Diane Haeger. For more information, visit www.dianehaeger.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Madame Picasso Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, August 26
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, August 28
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, August 29
Review at Scandalous Women
Review at Curling Up by the Fire

Monday, September 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 2
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 3
Spotlight at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, September 4
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 5
Review at To Read or Not to Read

Monday, September 8
Review at Book of Secrets
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, September 11
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, September 12
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Monday, September 15
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Tuesday, September 16
Review at She is Too Fond of Books

Wednesday, September 17
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 18
Review at One Book of a Time

Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, September 23
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at The Librarian Fatale

Wednesday, September 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Thursday, September 25
Review at Kincavel Korner

Friday, September 26
Interview at Kincavel Korner

Winner Revealed!

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Drum Roll Please……

Thomas M. was randomly selected to win this amazing giveaway!

A huge thanks to Brittany and Warner Bros. for giving Books in the Burbs an opportunity to host this!

Don’t forget, there is still another giveaway going on!

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Happy Friday!

Getting Organized

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Yesterday was my first Twitter chat with Bloggiesta!  It was quite helpful to know that many other bloggers have the same issues I have!  Yes, we are all a little bit crazy…about blogging and books!

I learned the best way for me to keep track of my blogging is to simply write it down.  I have tried every online program, used my iphone, my ipad, and still, I can’t keep track of it all.  I’m just old fashioned…I prefer the paper calendar!  Yep, I bought a huge one, the one I actually used to use when I counseled clients.  It’s the one that has time slots, per day.  It helps me to stay focused, has not only my blogging tasks, but my family meal plans and appointments for my kids, hubby, and myself.  So far, it’s worked.  My family is happy to have home cooked meals, and I feel more productive.

I am learning to navigate myself through social media.  Honestly, it’s all overwhelming and so redundant.  It’s like having 5 different phone providers: they all work the same way, just through different networks.  Same thing with Twitter, FB, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, etc.  The worst part- I feel like I’m missing out if I don’t belong to every single one!!! Yeah, I’m OCD and I overanalyze everything!!!  It’s all a learning process and I’m definitely looking at deleting some of them.  I hope you won’t be disappointed.  I just don’t want everything to be so redundant and I certainly want stay true to my blog: so blogging is my bigger priority than being a part of so many social media sites.  It’s a work in process, of course.  Any suggestions? Let me know!

I also liked the idea of incorporating other non-bookish memes on my blog, but not anything that would cause any of you to simply click “delete” when you see my post pop up! So, I ‘d love some ideas from you!

If you haven’t already, go to my sidebar and click on the book covers for book giveaways I’m hosting.

 

The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar

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Click on book cover for synopsis.

My Review:

This is a psychological thriller, that is definitely a mystery and can drive the protagonist mad! Will and Hannah are married, and have been unable to have a baby.  After countless IVF’s and other fertility treatments, they decide adoption is their best option to expanding their family.  What is typical for couples: rather than grieve their inability to have a biological child, they immediately venture into the world of adoption, without even talking about where they are as a couple.  As a result, Will is a bit put off by the huge move they make into the country, which will make his commute 4 hours!!  I know….I wouldn’t do it either!

However, after a failed adoption attempt, Hannah is determined to make sure everything is perfect and feels having a house (rather their apartment) will increase their chances to having a child.  Sadly, Will is really distant (literally), upset about the move, and missed the “old” Hannah.  Hannah is hyper-focused on fixing up their new home, which needs a lot of work.  Due to heavy snows (think “The Shining”), Hannah is left alone in a desolate area, where she has to fix the house and repair many things, too! Will, on the other hand, is stranded at work.  Really, though, he is connecting with an office mate, and making great music.

With lots of strange happenings, and people who reminded me of the town in “Children of the Corn”, Hannah has to solve the mysteries happening in and around her home.  She has strange neighbors, who all have their own agenda, and a “ghost” who has an agenda, too.

I enjoyed the book and storyline, but found myself so frustrated for Hannah.  I always tell people that if an author can make me detest an unlikeable character, then she did her job…and Louise Millar certainly nails this one! I found Will to be uncaring, very self-centered, and selfish.  Understanding he was dealing with the failed adoption in his own way, he still made me so angry! I really wanted a different ending for Hannah because of how brave and strong she is.  However, it is their dream to have a family and their relationship can overcome.  I would have liked the book to have been longer, so that we could see how Hannah and Will deal with their relationship and come together to decide how to move forward.  Nonetheless, it’s a fast past paced novel, lots of mysteries to uncover, and a great book that kept me up late at night because I was determined to know how it all ends!

great cupcake rating 4*This book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley.  No forms of compensation were given.

 

It’s All About Bloggiesta!

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This is the first time I’ve been invite to participated in Bloggiesta!! I am so excited, because it’s about bloggers getting together, supporting one another, and getting some work done on our blogs that we’ve put on the back burner for awhile.

Bloggiesta will actually run from September 18-21, so that means that I will be doing lots of blogging, working, and reading!

My List of Things to Complete:

1.  Create a couple more Memes for my blog.

2.  Clean out my emails of past book tours I’ve already completed.

3.  Visit more blogs and comment on their fantastic posts!

4.  Add on my Review page, why I don’t link books to retailer sites.

5.  Add any reviews I haven’t already listed on Goodreads and LibraryThing

6.  Read more!

So, that’s my HUGE to-do list!  But, I’m ready for my challenges up ahead!  I hope you will stop by and visit often, encourage me, and join in on the conversations happening here and at the other participating blogs!!

I’m ready for Bloggiesta! Ole’!!

Monday Madness!

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mondaymadness

 

How is your Monday so far? If you are like me, it’s usually my busiest day, with errands and to-do lists to complete.  This is why I love Monday Madness.  It’s a place to check in and pause for a moment.  Below, I have links to blogs hosting giveaways!  I know I am not alone in thinking this, but as a blogger, the best part of blogging is giving away free books! Book bloggers tend to be the most giving and most helpful community I’ve belonged to, and the friendliest!

Giveaway

I currently have 2 book giveaways happening right now!!  So, be sure and check these out!

 

 

Other Giveaways:

http://girlslovetoread.com/2014/09/win-the-lost-boys-the-lost-girl-by-lilian-carmine/

http://www.bibliophiliaplease.com/2014/09/blog-tour-review-giveaway-dark-aemilia.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BibliophiliaPlease+%28Bibliophilia%2C+Please%29

http://nblo.gs/ZWzjR

http://melissaseclecticbookshelf.com/3rd-blogoversary-extravaganza-giveaways-including-boxes-of-books-signed-arcs-and-gift-cards/

http://whatsarahread.com/2014/09/10/mini-review-giveaway-fangirl-by-rainbow-rowell/

http://www.iamareader.com/2014/08/queen-someday-stolen-empire-novel-sherry-d-ficklin-trailer-giveaway.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IAmAReaderNotAWriter+%28I+Am+A+Reader%2C+Not+A+Writer%29

*Bloggers: Is your giveaway not posted? Please send me the link to your giveaway and I will post it on Monday Madness Meme each week!  Please email me at: booksintheburbs(at)gmail(dot)com.