Friday, December 9, 2016

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Forever is the Worst Long Time by
Camille Pagan from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable from St. Martin's Press
Unexpected Love by Kristy Krysczak from BookSparks
Found by Emily Brett from BookSparks
In the Heart of Texas by
Ginger McKnight-Chavers from BookSparks

Size Matters by Cathryn Novak from BookSparks
Hindsight by Mindy Tarquini from BookSparks
Multiple Listings by Tracy McMillan (paperback) from Gallery
I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi from
St. Martin's Press
A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery from Tandem Literary
Luellen & Lucy by/from Dee DeTarsio
(e-book)
Perfect Strangers by Dani Atkins from
Simon & Schuster UK (e-book)


Melissa A and Sara:
Don't Mean a Thing by Renee Conoulty from KEPR (e-book)
Out of Play by Joy Norstrom from
HCL Book Tours

Tracey:
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by
Amy Schumer from Gallery

Book Review: You'll Grow Out of It

By Sara Steven

I’ve spent most of my teen years/adult life feeling as though I don’t quite measure up when it comes to modern femininity. I was the tomboy who carried a man’s wallet in the butt pocket of her Levi’s, never quite grasping the concept of makeup. How to wear it. Where to put it. Still haven’t, I’m afraid. I feel most comfortable in the quintessential jeans and t-shirt combo, complete with Chuck Taylor's on my feet.

In Jessi Klein’s You’ll Grow Out of It, we read about Jessi’s experiences as a tomboy, growing up without her own knowledge of modern femininity. Complete with uni-brow and a package of big-bottomed discount underwear that would never, ever show its face at a Victoria’s Secret, Jessi gives us insight into what it’s like going from an ugly duckling to swan, although she doesn’t feel she’s anywhere close to being a swan. In fact, there’s a whole chapter devoted to the difference between “Poodles” and “Wolves”, and how some women are destined to be the sexiest things on the planet, while others are built more for the girl-next-door.

Even though Jessi and I live totally different lifestyles, I felt her stories on relationships, health, extracurricular activities (in or out of the bedroom), and life in general were relatable. She has a voice that speaks up about the issues no one else would usually feel comfortable talking about, the stuff we tend to put a filter on. It’s a refreshing take on the highs and lows of being a woman.

No matter if you’re in or out of the spotlight, you’re still subject to criticism, whether it’s from others or handed out internally. While I feel I’ve adopted a few feminine traits and necessities as I’ve matured, and Jessie has, as well, I get the feeling that no matter what, she’ll never truly feel as though she’s a Poodle, and in the end, she’s totally fine with that. I am, too.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing  for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The "secret" to Julieann Dove's success

We're happy to have Julieann Dove at CLC today, thanks to HCL Book Tours. Her latest novel, The Secret He Keeps, is now available to purchase for your Kindle!


Julieann Dove lives in Virginia, yet longs to live everywhere else. It doesn’t come as a surprise that along with her gypsy soul, comes an active imagination. That’s why she loves to write and invent worlds and people, so that she can formulate their happily ever after. Hobbies include cooking new recipes, sewing, and spending time with her cute boyfriend/husband and five fabulous children. Vacations happen in Nantucket or the Carolina beaches—anywhere there is inspiration for her next book. One day she hopes to travel to Italy, drive one of those little cars around the countryside, and speak the language fluently!




Synopsis:

Dr. Rachel Miller has no recollection of what happened that night she climbed in the car with her husband and he drove recklessly into a tree. She has no clue as to why she survived and he didn’t. Nor does she understand why strangers are coming up to her on the street and telling her things she can’t recall about a life that seems so long ago. But Dane Stone knows.

Dane Stone is Rachel’s business partner…and her deceased husband’s best friend. He knows about the notes, the hotel receipt, and the reason she got in the car that night. It’s for her protection that he keeps the secret, but inside he’s dying to tell her.

In one sentence, what was road to publishing like?
The road to publishing was one with potholes, speed bumps, uphills, and a whole lot of twists and turns.

Which authors have inspired you?
Debbie Macomber is the author that has most inspired me. Her story of stardom was so pitted with let downs, sacrifices, and faith, that I learned never to give up. When I began writing and querying agents, I wrote to Debbie and told her of my aspirations. She had her assistant to send me a package of tips, her personal story, and words of wisdom. After my first book, “Waking Amy” was published, I mailed a signed copy to Debbie. She handwrote me a card, thanking me, and encouraging me to keep up the good work. She’s a class act!

Do you base characters on yourself?
I write pieces of me in all my books. I mention characters liking the same drink, food, and having hang-ups that I do. In my book A Reason to Stay, I write my heroine based on myself. Elise Newton cannot commit to a guy. It was forever until I could commit to someone. Incidentally, I dedicated that book to my husband—the one I finally committed to!

If The Secret He Keeps were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
I have all my character inspirations pinned on boards in Pinterest. For Rachel, I would have Rachel McAdams play her. Dane Stone would be Josh Lucas, and Scott Miller would be played by Mark Ruffalo. Hubba, hubba!!

Melissa A: I saw you included Judy Greer, which is a funny coincidence since I just read her memoir!

What is your favorite thing to eat and/or drink during the winter holidays?
During our family Christmas party, my brother makes Gingerbread martinis. The. Best. Ever. My eyes actually roll to the back of my head, they are so tasty. I need to check into having these little treats more often!

What is your favorite winter holiday tradition?
My favorite holiday tradition is Christmas morning. All of my little munchkin’s come into my bedroom, not being able to wait any longer than seven o’clock, and pile around me, begging me to come see what Santa’s brought. They take turns opening gifts then we eat a breakfast casserole before everyone disappears to play with their new toys.

Visit all the Stops:

Kristin's Novel Cafe - Promo/Excerpt
Kelee Morris - Promo/Author Q&A/Excerpt
Book Lover in Florida - Promo/Guest Post
He Said Books or Me - Guest Post
Authors & Readers Book Corner  - Book Excerpt
Hello...Chick Lit - Book Excerpt/Guest Post



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December Reader Spotlight: Susieqlaw

We're doing a new series at the blog for readers to do either guest posts or interviews. One reader will be featured each month, and if it's a theme month, that will be the focus. 

Our guest today is one we know pretty well. She's a regular at CLC, but also a bit of a mystery. Since we respect her privacy, we have no idea what she looks like. She also doesn't wish to share her real name or location with anyone, but you can only be so safe online these days, so her privacy wishes are respected once again! Anyway, Susieqlaw is really sweet and we enjoy checking out her blog to see her latest book recommendations. Visit Susieqlaw at Twitter and Instagram.

Susieqlaw is an avid reader and writer. She learned to read at an early age and spent serious time at the library...eventually organizing all the books in the house with library cards guided by the Dewey Decimal system. Next, in elementary school, she started a family newsletter.

Susieqlaw went on to contribute to poetry publications, to contribute to life writing pieces. and to contribute to non fiction publications mainly concerning US relations in the Middle East.

Susieqlaw's favorite book so far this year is The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. Susieqlaw's favorite show this year (no spoilers) has been the return of The Gilmore Girls. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, writing, exercising, playing the piano, singing, drawing, and painting.

Susieqlaw just received the best compliment from her piano professor yesterday who called her "a positive light in a crazy world."

What book were you hesitant to pick up but then loved once you read it? 
Goodnight June by Sarah Jio.

What does the term "chick lit" mean to you?
Chick lit means fiction reading materials that are lighter than a suspense or thriller. Chick lit contains at least one main character but more often more than one character. Humor and relationships are included. Chick lit is one of my favorite genres.

What are the next three books in your TBR pile? 
Always by Sarah Jio, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, and Falling by Jane Green. I am currently reading Hungry Heart by JenniferWeiner and love it so far.

What is your favorite song to listen to during the winter holidays? 
"The Peace Carol" by John Denver and performed with The Muppets. Also, I love "All is Well" and "Joy to the World."

What is the best holiday gift you have ever received?
My uncle gave me this huge teddy bear when I was eight. Best gift ever!

What is your favorite treat that only comes out during the winter holidays? 
Diet Sierra Mist CRANBERRY, Joy tea by Tazo, so many!

Book Review and Giveaway: All the Breaking Waves

By Melissa Amster

After a harrowing accident tore her family apart, Molly Brennan fled from the man she loved and the tragic mistake she made.

Twelve years later, Molly has created a new life for herself and her eight-year-old daughter, Cassie. The art history professor crafts jewelry as unique and weathered as the surf-tumbled sea glass she collects, while raising her daughter in a safe and loving environment—something Molly never had. But when Cassie is plagued by horrific visions and debilitating nightmares, Molly is forced to return to the one place she swore she’d never move back to—home to Pacific Grove.

A riveting exploration of love, secrets, and motherhood,
All the Breaking Waves is the poignant story of a woman who discovers she must confront her past, let go of her guilt, and summon everything in her power to save her daughter. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)


I fell in love with Kerry Lonsdale's debut, Everything We Keep, this past summer, so I knew I had to read All the Breaking Waves as soon as possible. Kerry has once again proven her strong and captivating storytelling prowess.

This time around, Kerry has written a powerful story about mother and daughter relationships. The power in this case is psychic, more often than not. The story begins with Cassie's night terror involving her best friend and then escalates from that point onward, prompting Molly to re-visit her childhood home, as well as the horrible memories it evokes. She has to find a way to make things from her past right again, even with some other complications arising.

Everything was easy to visualize and I could practically smell the rain in the air or taste Nana Mary's cooking. Molly's flashbacks built up the story a lot and it was interesting to piece everything together from her past. The dialogue and interactions between characters felt genuine and honest.

After Everything We Keep, I was hoping for more of a shocking twist from this novel. However, there were some surprises in store that kept me on my toes. And maybe you will be shocked by some of them.

Overall, this was a very impressive novel that was hard to put down, and I look forward to reading more by Kerry in 2017!

My dream movie cast:
Molly: Emily Van Camp
Cassie: Bella Lotz
Nana: Tyne Daly
Owen: Jay Hernandez
Phoebe: Alexandra Daddario

Thanks to Kerry Lonsdale for the book in exchange for an honest review. She has one copy for a lucky reader!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends December 12th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Renee Conoulty swings onto the chick lit scene...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to have Renee Conoulty at CLC today to feature her debut novel, Don't Mean a Thing, which is now available through Kindred Ink Press. Melissa A knows her from some chick lit groups on Facebook and she's a real sweetheart!

Renee Conoulty is an Australian Air Force wife and mother of two. When she’s not devouring books, reviewing and blogging on HeySaidRenee, or writing her own stories, Renee can be found swing dancing. Or possibly napping. She tweets about reading and reviewing at @HeySaidRenee and about writing, military life and dancing @ReneeConoulty, but hasn’t created a handle for nap talk yet. You can also find her at Facebook.

Sign up for Renee’s monthly newsletter for her highlights on blogging, reading, writing and life.



Synopsis of Don't Mean a Thing:

What if you finally took the lead, but life refused to follow?

Thirty-year-old introvert, Macie Harman, has finally found a career she is passionate about, and after months of training, she’s begun her new job in the Royal Australian Air Force. Leaving behind her family, friends, and the life she knew, Macie has travelled to the other side of the country where the only person she knows is Rachael, the extroverted girl she went through basic training with. Everywhere Macie goes, Rachael is there too.


While looking for a way to widen her circle of friends in her new town, Macie discovers a local swing dancing class. The jazz music captures her heart, and Matt, the sexy swing dancer, sweeps her off her feet. Matt has claimed the tropical Northern Territory as home and has no plans to leave. He loves his teaching career with its predictable routine and has a great bunch of friends. All he wants now is the right girl to make his house a home.


Military life is tougher than Macie expected, and not everyone can deal with the inevitable separations and last minute changes. Is this exciting but unpredictable life something Macie wants to fight for, or could she give it up and put down roots with Matt?


What was most challenging thing about writing Don't Mean a Thing?
The most challenging thing for me was finding the time to write. I couldn’t concentrate with the kids running around and I worked during the day. I’m not a morning person, so I opted to stay up a bit later each night, after everyone went to bed, so I could write in a quiet house.

How did you decide to write chick lit?
I decided to write the book I wanted to read and I’d been reading lots of chick lit. My natural writing voice fits well with chick lit too.

In one sentence, share a piece of advice to future writers.
Finish the first draft before you start to edit and if you find you need to make a major change (like deciding to switch the whole book from 3rd person to 1st person halfway through the first draft like I did) make a few notes to yourself then keep writing as if you’ve already made the changes.

If you could cast Don't Mean a Thing as a movie, who would you choose for the lead characters?
While I was writing, I used pictures of Alana de la Garza and Theo James for inspiration for Macie and Matt but if it was turned into a movie, they would have to be Aussie actors. I think Phoebe Tonkin would be great for Macie and Liam Hemsworth for Matt.

What is your favorite winter holiday movie?
I adore Love Actually. One of my friends gave me the DVD for Christmas one year when she found out I hadn’t seen it and now I watch it every year.

Since you live in Australia, what is it like to have the winter holidays during summer months?
It’s always seemed a bit strange to sing about sleigh bells and snow while sweat is trickling down your back so here’s an Aussie carol to give you a giggle – Six White Boomers. (Boomers is a nickname for kangaroos – we have nicknames for everything)

Thanks to Renee for visiting with us and to KEPR Tours for coordinating the interview and hosting some special giveaways as part of Renee's tour. Check out the schedule here and visit the other stops!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Book Review: The Christmas Cake Cafe

By Sara Steven

As the Prosecco chills and Bing Crosby croons, Jen Barker just knows that her long-term boyfriend is about to propose. But instead of a diamond ring nestled in her champagne flute, Jen finds cold flat rejection. Her once perfect life and dreams of a husband and family seem even further from reach.

A working holiday to the Swiss Alps with her younger sister Jody might not be the Christmas Jen had it mind, but it offers her the chance to recharge her batteries and recover from heartbreak.

When Jen meets handsome ski instructor Jon Zutter her hopes for a happy-ever-after seem within her grasp again. Jon is kind and gorgeous and as they bond over Sachetorte at the picturesque Cake Café, Jen thinks he might just be her perfect man. But a relationship with him comes with a catch – and there are some things even cake can’t fix.

As the snow falls and Christmas approaches, could this be the place that restores Jen Barker’s faith in love? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I always feel as though I can relate with the characters Sue creates. In The Christmas Cake Café, Jen Barker is yet another character I identify with. Having been in a position where I’ve had my own heart broken, the rug pulled out from under me without any sort of head’s up beforehand, I felt like I was sitting right there at the table in the restaurant, with Jen and her boyfriend. The man she’s been involved with for several years, hoping he’ll want to take their relationship to the next level. Crushed when he decides that spending a life with Jen isn’t at all what he has in mind. How can someone recover from that sort of rejection?

When she’s offered the opportunity to travel to the Swiss Alps with her younger sister, at first she’s totally against it. For so long, Jen has had her entire life mapped out for her. There’s security in that. Taking a leave of absence and traveling to a place she’s never been to before sounds ludicrous! Yet, deep down, there’s an adventurous spirit lurking inside her. One she hasn’t confronted for several years.

Which brings her to her temporary job in the Swiss Alps, at a sweet little cafe near the slopes. It’s almost too easy to run into Jon, who often stops in to see her. And when she’s not attempting to spend every spare moment with him, she’s forming a new bond with her sister, and new friendships with her sister’s friends, something Jen hasn’t been part of in a very long time. It’s not like her to hang out with girlfriends.

The closer she gets to Jon, the better she feels, yet she can sense there’s something lurking beneath the surface. He’s trying very hard to keep a secret from her. Having been in a relationship before with hidden secrets, this is the last thing Jen wants, and when she is finally privy to Jon’s secret, she’s not sure their newfound relationship can survive.

This was such a beautiful story about coming to terms with the things you hope for that never come to fruition, and accepting the things that don’t come wrapped in perfect little Christmas packages. Jen has to find herself again, trusting that there is real love out there. She has to open herself up to the possibility of it. I also appreciated the strong currents of sisterhood and friendship, a wonderful theme that I’ve witnessed often while reading a Sue Watson novel. She has a wonderful way of reminding you of your own hopes and dreams, appreciating the love and faith we all draw closer to this time of year.

Thanks to Bookouture for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Sue Watson: