July 21, 2015

Racing the Sun - Karina Halle (+ Giveaway)

Racing the Sun book cover
Racing the Sun by Karina Halle
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Source/Format: NetGalley (Thanks!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

It’s time for twenty-four-year-old Amber MacLean to face the music. After a frivolous six months of backpacking through New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia, she finds herself broke on the Mediterranean without enough money for a plane ticket home to California. There are worse places to be stuck than the gorgeous coastline of southern Italy, but the only job she manages to secure involves teaching English to two of the brattiest children she’s ever met. It doesn’t help that the children are under the care of their brooding older brother, Italian ex-motorcycle racer Desiderio Larosa. Darkly handsome and oh-so-mysterious, Derio tests Amber’s patience and will at every turn—not to mention her hormones. But when her position as teacher turns into one as full-time nanny at the crumbling old villa, Amber finds herself growing closer to the enigmatic recluse and soon has to choose between the safety of her life back in the States and the uncertainty of Derio’s closely guarded heart.

Of all the Karina Halle novels I’ve read (four to date, this one included), Racing the Sun is easily my favorite. It has achieved just the right mix of a sweet romance, individual character growth and strong relationships (romantic or otherwise), with a dash of dramatic circumstances to up the stakes. The novel also demonstrates yet again Halle’s ability to transport the reader to the setting of her choice, and this time, we’re visiting Italy – specifically the island of Capri. I was invested in the story from the very first page, easily falling in love with Amber (who I already had a soft spot for after reading Where Sea Meets Sky) and with Derio and his siblings Annabella and Alfonso. 

Amber was so easy for me to relate to, mostly because I went through a very similar quarter life crisis. She had ticked off all the boxes, and done everything right – but she wasn’t getting anywhere she wanted in her career or life. Heck, she couldn’t even figure out what her end goal was! So, she does something I wish I had gotten to do at her age – embarks on a trip to various exotic locations, not only to see the sights but also to find some clarity. Her journey from one location to the next comes to an end when she finds herself broke and in desperate need of a job in Positano, Italy; her emotional journey is just getting started when she’s hired as an English tutor for Annabella and Alfonso on the island of Capri. 

In spite of her lack of communication skills in Italian and any experience with children, Amber does rise up to the challenge. She gives so completely of herself, not only teaching the children English but reaching out to them in a way that draws them out of their grief and anger over losing their parents. She does the same for Derio, who has become withdrawn and brittle and angry, coaxing him back into a realm where hope is possible and life is meant to be embraced. In their own way, these three also change Amber. Derio helps her gain confidence in who she is and what she brings to the table, with his constant compliments and steady love. Annabella and Alfonso bring out a maternal side, a sense of responsibility and love and concern, combined with teasing and playfulness too. It is incredible to see how these four manage to change each other’s lives, challenging and shaping a new outlook on life and love. 

The plot is very simple really, but Halle’s words paint a picture of a glorious, passionate summer that changes Amber’s life. Many readers, myself included, have experienced a similar season – one where life throws you a curveball that winds up being the best redirection you could have ever experienced. Halle captures that so perfectly with Amber’s experience, and it doesn’t hurt that she throws in a vividly detailed portrait of Capri and a sweet romance to root for either. 

Racing the Sun is, without a doubt, one of my favorite new adult novels I’ve ever read. It not only gives me a chance to learn a little bit more about a place I’m dying to visit, but it also happens to be an extremely compelling tale. It’s an exploration of one girl’s quarter life crisis as she learns what she wants out of this life, and what she’s capable of; it’s also a love letter – to love, to life and to a summer in Italy. I definitely recommend checking out Racing the Sun; it’s certainly one heck of a summer read.

As part of this blog tour, my readers will get the opportunity to enter a giveaway! Atria Indie Authors + Karina Halle are giving away (1) grand prize of a $50 AMEX gift card + 1 signed copy of Racing the Sun + 1 copy of Where Sea Meets Sky, plus (6) runner up prizes of 1 signed copy of Racing the Sun. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below!


  1. Danielle @ Love at First PageJuly 21, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    Lovely review! The fact that this is your favorite of her books is high praise! I really enjoy her writing, though sometimes her plots/characters aren't for me. I will check this one out tho!

  2. Danielle @ Love at First PageJuly 21, 2015 at 7:46 AM

    I hope you love Storm Siren/Siren's Fury - it's one of my new favorite series and totally underrated in my opinion. :)

  3. Yeah, I tend to only review those I request or get from pubs. All the books I read for fun or bought to read I don't usually unless I have strong feelings for it, haha. EVERYONE always asks me how I have time to read being a mother of 3 kids and in med school. That's like the #1 question. I love all the posts and articles you included.

  4. Shelumiel Gueco DSJuly 23, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    Thank you for sharing, Alexa! Wow. I feel so honored! :) And yaaay you, you went to Taylor's concert! Aaaaahh, I want to see her perform again!

  5. Yes, this is definitely my favorite of her novels! I think it has the best plot, characters and settings of the ones I've read :) I hope you give it a shot!

  6. I really liked your post! It's often something I think about, especially because I've been thinking about changing up my blog content. And yes, it was AWESOME. I hope she comes to the Philippines again because her 1989 tour is AMAZING.

  7. I started my blog as a way of keeping track of what I'd read and what I thought of it, so I tend to review EVERYTHING - books I buy, books I receive as gifts, books I borrow, books for review. But I have shifted into doing more mini-reviews!

    I think, honestly, reading is something you make time for if you love it, no matter what your circumstances. So high fives all around to all of us busy ladies who still manage to read!

  8. I'm really excited to read them! First of all, the covers look FABULOUS. And second, the story sounds amazing! I remember reading your review and being super intrigued.


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