Friday, April 12, 2024

What's in the (e)mail...plus a book giveaway

Melissa:
Winnie Nash Is Not Your Sunshine by Nicole Melleby from Algonquin (NetGalley)
The Nightmare Before Kissmas by Sara Raasch from Tor (NetGalley)
The Backtrack by Erin La Rosa from Harlequin (NetGalley)
And Now There's Zelda by Carolyn Clarke from Black Rose Writing (NetGalley)
The Villain Edit by Laurie Devore from Avon (NetGalley)
By Any Other Name by Jodi Picoult from Random House (print)
Hate Follow by Erin Quinn-Kong from William Morrow (NetGalley)
Dear Eliza by Andrea J. Stein from Girl Friday Productions (NetGalley)
Every Beautiful Mile by Ashley Manley from Victory Editing (NetGalley)
The Greatest Lie of All by Jillian Cantor from Harlequin (NetGalley)
Love, Julie by Jamie Anderson from BooksGoSocial (NetGalley)

Sara:
Scandalous Women by Gill Paul from William Morrow (NetGalley)

Jami:
The Stranger at the Wedding by A. E. Gauntlett from Henry Holt (NetGalley)

Allyson:
Out on a Limb by Hannah Bonam-Young from Random House

Melissa S:
Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner from St. Martin's Press (print)
Can't Help Falling in Love by Sophie Sullivan from St. Martin's Press (print)




What could be in YOUR mail:

Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth 

Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy (along with a signed bookplate) to give away! Melissa gave this thriller five stars, as evidenced by her review.

Synopsis:
For as long as they can remember, Jessica, Norah, and Alicia have been told how lucky they are. As young girls they were rescued from family tragedies and raised by a loving foster mother, Miss Fairchild, on an idyllic farming estate and given an elusive second chance at a happy family life.

But their childhood wasn’t the fairy tale everyone thinks it was. Miss Fairchild had rules. Miss Fairchild could be unpredictable. And Miss Fairchild was never, ever to be crossed. In a moment of desperation, the three broke away from Miss Fairchild and thought they were free. Even though they never saw her again, she was always somewhere in the shadows of their minds. When a body is discovered under the home they grew up in, the foster sisters find themselves thrust into the spotlight as key witnesses. Or are they prime suspects?

A thrilling page-turner of sisterhood, secrets, love, and murder by New York Times bestselling author Sally Hepworth. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Sally Hepworth's Darling Girls is the kind of story that grabs you hard and doesn't let go. Easily one of the best books I've read all year. An absolute page-turner from first word to last... A superb and haunting mystery."
— New York Times bestselling author Jane Harper

"Sally Hepworth writes characters you love."
— Liane Moriarty, bestselling author of Apples Never Fall

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

Giveaway ends April 17th at midnight EST.

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Book Review: Begin Again

By Jami Denison

“Bad idea, Eve. Put the apple down and let’s pretend this never happened.” As the first human, Adam was probably also the first person to wonder how his life would have turned out if he’d zigged instead of zagged—in his case, yanking the apple from Eve’s hand and continuing to live out life in the Garden of Eden. Would his son Cain have turned out murderous if they had stayed away from that tree? 


“What if” plots have been popular in all sorts of media, from the movie Sliding Doors to the bestselling The Midnight Library. Now British romcom author Helly Acton has put her own stamp on this story with Begin Again.

Celebrity gossip columnist Frankie McKenzie is brilliant at writing click-bait headlines, but in managing her own life, not so much. Stuck at the same job for twelve years, watching her friends couple up and have children and buy real estate, Frankie feels that life is passing her by in a series of bad dates and Netflix marathons. After she runs out on a blind date (even though it was going pretty well), Frankie manages to kill herself by slipping on a greasy kebab and landing on her head. She finds herself in a way station where she has the choice of visiting every turning point in her life for 24 hours and seeing if things would have turned out better if she’d chosen differently. If she likes her new life better, she can keep it. But for a person who shies away from decisions, can Frankie make the most important decision of all?

Begin Again is basically a funny version of The Midnight Library, with a predictable and formulaic plot. While Frankie is not the same sad sack that Midnight Library’s Nora was, her challenge is the same: to figure out which version of her life leads to love, happiness, and success. Books like these always remind me a bit of The Wizard of Oz, specifically Glinda telling Dorothy that she had the power all along. And Frankie, who has friends who love her and an interesting job, has power that she doesn’t recognize. While she lacks self-confidence, she’s funny and loyal. Her problem isn’t that she didn’t marry her college boyfriend, it’s that she doesn’t believe in herself. 

The message in these types of books is clear: Wherever you go, there you are. It may take death and some kind of divine intercession for book characters to realize this, but we readers don’t have those options. Reading books like Begin Again serve as this reminder: You can’t change your past, but you can change your future. Just find the yellow brick road and start walking. 

Thanks to William Morrow for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Helly Acton:

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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Spotlight and Giveaway: Christa Comes Out of Her Shell

Abbi Waxman's latest novel, Christa Comes Out of Her Shell, is now available. We're excited to feature it here today! It stars a showstopping STEM heroine and explores modern themes like the effects of social media, the meaning of personal identity, and the complex family ties that affect us no matter how far away we try to get from them. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away! You can also enter to win an ebook over at Goodreads (US only, ends April 15th).

After the chaos of her adolescence, Christa Liddle is content to stay isolated, both figuratively and literally. She has the job of her dreams studying sea snails in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a profession that keeps her far away from people and her past. But with one fateful phone call, her tranquil existence is thrown into chaos. Her once-famous father—long thought dead after a plane crash—is alive, and he wants to make amends. Christa is forced to abandon her snails (for now), and head home.

The unexpected reunion not only puts Christa’s life into a frenzy, but it catches the attention of the world, putting her and her entire family under the spotlight. As if that weren’t enough, Christa meets up with an old childhood friend and sparks fly. Maybe they can be together… after all the buzz surrounding her father dies down. But when her father’s story starts to form cracks, things start to feel much too complicated for a woman who’s been trying for years to avoid losing control.

With everything falling apart around her, Christa fears she will lose herself, her potential relationship, and—most importantly—her beloved sea snails.

“Abbi Waxman has done it again! I laughed out loud, I swooned, I … unexpectedly learned a lot about snails? (And they’re awesome, by the way). I live for Abbi’s awkward, lovable-yet-socially-anxious heroines, and Christa Liddle is hands-down my new favorite.”
—Colleen Oakley, USA Today bestselling author of The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise

"If I could go on vacation inside Abbi Waxman's books, the utterly charming Christa Comes Out of Her Shell would be the centerpiece of my itinerary. Waxman's witty voice, complex and oh-so-loveable characters, and knack for writing romance that's both swoony and sexy absolutely shine in this hilarious, tender story about family, fame, and marine mollusks. I'll definitely be screaming about this one to anyone who will listen!"
—Sarah Adler, author of Mrs. Nash's Ashes

Photo by Leanna Creel
Abbi Waxman, the USA Today bestselling author, is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband.

Visit Abbi online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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

Giveaway ends April 16th at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Book Review: An Enchanting Case of Spirits

 
By Allyson Bales

Alyssa Mann isn’t adventurous, not since her husband died and she found herself the single mom of a teenage daughter. But there’s no way to avoid celebrating the big 4-0, so when her best friends drag her out for drinks and a tarot reading, she throws caution to the wind and decides to see what the spirits have to say. It’s all fun and games, until she wakes up the next morning with a wicked hangover—and a ghost perched on the edge of her bed.

Sheer panic sends her running to get help from Nick West, the (very attractive) detective who lives next door. When he finds no one inside, Alyssa has to accept that she really did see a ghost. As the dearly departed keep appearing, Alyssa and her friends do their best to learn how to control her newfound power. Trading insults with ghosts, tracking down family heirlooms, and getting closer to the skeptical but helpful Nick is more fun than Alyssa imagined. But when looking into one ghost’s past reveals unexpected—and unwelcome—facts about Alyssa’s late husband’s death, she discovers she just may be in over her head. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Do you love strong women with supportive friends? 

Do you love tarot cards and ghost stories? 

Do you love romantic interests that are quiet, kind, and reliable? 

If your answer is yes to any of these questions I think this needs to be your next read! 

When I read this synopsis I knew I really wanted to read this story immediately. I turned forty recently and could definitely relate to Alyssa. I too am not adventurous but more thoughtful and often in my head. I loved meeting Alyssa. She’s struggling with the loss of her husband. I have been reading so much about grief lately and her character relatable demonstrates how one has to keep going with that heart break. I have always really been into mediums and tarot cards and love that she wakes up to a ghost in her room! 

I’m not sure if you can relate but sometimes I’ll wake in the middle of the night thinking that a shadow in my room is a ghost. I’ll get a little freaked out but soothe myself back to sleep only to find it was my jacket or pile of books shaped like a ghost in the morning. I don’t even know what I would do if I could speak to ghosts. I’d like to think I wouldn’t be freaked out (eventually) and help them just like Alyssa. 

I love Alyssa’s ability to be brave and all the ways she works to help the ghosts she meets. She becomes an amateur sleuth and I really enjoyed that premise of the book. It reminds me a bit of Jesse Q. Sutanto's style in the book Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers.  Alyssa and her friends are quirky and sometimes funny and definitely not always aware of what they are doing and those are my favorite kind of mystery solvers.  The group of women supporting Alyssa remind me a lot of my own best friends and her neighbor Nick really captured my heart. 

Finding peace and moving on after loss is never easy.  I love the dynamic of Alyssa and Nick and how things blossom between them. I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll just say that I can’t wait for you to meet him.

This was a very impressive debut. I am so hopeful it will be a series! I loved the writing, the characters, and the whole vibe of the story! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this one! 

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase An Enchanting Case of Spirits here.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Carter Wilson takes us on a suspenseful search...

Today we are pleased to welcome Carter Wilson to CLC. His latest thriller, The Father She Went to Find, released last week and it sounds really suspenseful! 

Carter Wilson is the USA Today bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed, standalone psychological thrillers. He is an ITW Thriller Award finalist, a five-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, and his works have been optioned for television and film. Carter lives outside of Boulder, Colorado. Dynamic and compelling, he now hosts his own podcast, Making It Up, interviewing authors like S.A. Cosby, Daniel Handler, Stuart Turton, Xio Axelrod, and Julie Clark to talk shop and riff an original story live. The result is a charming, authentic peek into the writing process.

Visit Carter online:
Website * Facebook * Instagram * TikTok

Synopsis:
Penny has never met anyone smarter than her. That’s par for the course when you’re a savant—one of less than one hundred in the world. But despite her photographic memory and super-powered intellect, there’s one mystery Penny’s never been able to solve: why did her father leave when she was in a coma at age seven, and where is he now?

On Penny’s twenty-first birthday, she receives a card in the mail from him, just as she has every year since he left. But this birthday card is different. For the first time ever, there’s a return address. And a goodbye.

Penny doesn’t know the world beyond her mother’s house and the special school she’s attended since her unusual abilities revealed themselves, but the mystery of her father’s disappearance becomes her new obsession. For the first time ever she decides to leave home, to break free of everything that has kept her safe, and use her gifts to answer the questions that have always eluded her. What Penny doesn’t realize is she might not be able to outsmart a world far more complicated and dangerous than she’d ever imagined… (Courtesy of Carter's website.)

"Buckle up. Watch out. And don't try to predict anything! The supremely talented Carter Wilson has crafted a uniquely unpredictable and absolutely immersive story starring one of the most fascinating characters you'll ever meet. A Beautiful Mind takes a life-and-death road trip in this battle of wits, maze of psychological suspense, and heartbreaking family drama. I was riveted to every page."
—Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today bestselling author of One Wrong Word

"In his latest page-turning and deeply psychological novel, Carter Wilson has deftly crafted one of the most compelling and unique characters you'll read this year! I was glued to every word. 
—Wendy Walker, Bestselling author of What Remains

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing? 
You kept me up all night.

What have you learned from writing your previous novels that you applied to The Father She Went to Find
Trust my instinct and find the voice that comes naturally.

What is one thing you would tell the debut novelist version of yourself? 
Be really, really patient. This is a tough industry and success comes slowly (if at all).

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend? 
American Fiction. I loved it.

If we were to visit you, what are some places you would take us to see? 
Well, my life is pretty boring so you’d definitely see the dog park I take my Golden twice per day. But Boulder is beautiful, so if you’re up for a hike we’d go check out the Flatirons.

What is the last thing you had a really good laugh about? 
Me driving my car nearly off a ravine right before I had to moderate a writing panel.

Thanks to Carter for visiting with us and to Kaye Publicity for facilitating the interview.

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Monday, April 8, 2024

Book Review: Nowhere to Hide

By Sara Steven

Duncan Stone is one of the country's most eligible and handsome bachelors, and he wants to take me, Callie Parker, on a date. At first I am surprised and flattered, the envy of my friends. Then when our whirlwind romance escalates and he asks me to move in with him, it's like a dream come true. But as I get to really know my new boyfriend, my fairytale turns into a nightmare. Duncan is no Prince Charming. He is the Devil. Isolated from my friends and family, watched day and night, a prisoner in my own life, I know if I am going to survive, I need to escape. 

When a chance encounter with an old friend throws me a lifeline, I realise this is my live or die moment, and I find a hiding place deep in the Norfolk countryside. I'm supposed to feel safe here, so why do I hear footsteps outside my hideaway late at night, and sense that someone is watching me? Is it paranoia, or has Duncan managed to find me?

Or perhaps the danger is closer to home than I realise. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Nowhere to Hide kept me on the edge the entire time I read it! It took two days for me to finish it, and that’s only because I had to take a break to, you know, take care of the regular responsibilities I have–and to attempt to get some sleep, even though my brain was in continual motion after delving into Callie’s situation. I didn’t want to let her go. 

Callie’s friends would describe her as someone who is full of confidence and is self-assured. But the woman who finds herself alone and penniless, with nothing to her name other than the continual fear she feels when it comes to Duncan, is a far cry from the woman she used to be. The author did an excellent job of showing the gradual decline that Callie goes through while she is essentially held captive by Duncan. The slow progression of isolation, not allowing Callie to have any outside relationships with anyone other than him, along with the constant monitoring by way of cameras and Duncan’s personal henchman, all contribute to the degradation and emptiness she feels.

Callie knows she has to escape in order to survive. But escaping could cost her the freedom she craves and maybe even more–it could cost her the very life she’s trying to save. There were so many twists and turns within this book, the kind that creep up unexpectedly yet ultimately end up making the most sense. Will Callie be safe? Can she trust the people who want to be within her inner circle, or are they not to be trusted, either? It’s hard to know who to lean on or who to believe. The paranoia Callie feels rubbed off on me. I wasn’t sure what Duncan was capable of.

I cannot stand Duncan. I ordinarily wouldn’t have such a strong reaction to fictional characters, but he really brought out the worst in me. Whenever the story is told from his perspective, I wanted to tell him where to go–and to never come back. It was helpful to have flashbacks for Callie, from the then to the now, so I could gain a better understanding on how she found herself in this predicament, and why where she is at any given moment within the story is so important. It was also super clever to show the readers how she was able to escape Duncan. Given everything she goes through and how difficult he makes it for her to escape, the behind-the-scenes explanation helped to better show how that all makes sense and how it ties into the events that happen later in the future. 

Nowhere to Hide is a pure thriller ride. It was truly terrifying and worth every second of the experience. A definite five-star read!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Keri Beevis is the internationally bestselling author of several psychological thrillers and romantic suspense mysteries, including the very successful Dying to Tell, published by Bloodhound. She sets many of her books in the county of Norfolk, where she was born and still lives and which provides much of her inspiration.

Visit Keri online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Visit all the stops on Keri's blog tour:

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Friday, April 5, 2024

Book Review: Molten Death

By Melissa Smoot

Retired caterer Valerie Corbin and her wife Kristen have come to the Big Island of Hawai'i to treat themselves to a well-earned tropical vacation. After the recent loss of her brother, Valerie is in sore need of a distraction from her troubles and is looking forward to enjoying the delicious food and vibrant culture the state has to offer.

Early one morning, the couple and their friend - tattooed local boy, Isaac - set out to see an active lava flow, and Valerie is mesmerized by the shape-shifting mass of orange and red creeping over the field of black rock. Spying a boot in the distance, she strides off alone, pondering how it could have gotten there, only to realize to her horror that the boot is still attached to a leg - a leg which is slowly being engulfed by the hot lava.

Valerie's convinced a murder has been committed - but as she's the only witness to the now-vanished corpse, who's going to believe her?

Determined to prove what she saw, and get justice for the unknown victim, Valerie launches her own investigation. But, thrown into a Hawaiian culture far from the luaus and tiki bars of glossy tourist magazines, she soon begins to fear she may be the next one to end up entombed in shiny black rock . . . (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Molten Death was a great read. I really enjoyed the setting on the Big Island of Hawaii and how descriptive Karst is. It felt like I was completely transported to the Island and on vacation with the two main characters, Valerie and Kristen. Hawaii has always been a very special place for my family and we have spent a lot of time there over the years. I still remember my first trip there at four years old. 

The mystery of the body in the lava had me hooked from the beginning. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened and if Valerie and Kristen would ever get to the bottom of it. The story took me on so many turns that I was often finding myself playing detective to try and figure it out. 

As an indigenous person myself, I truly appreciated the way Karst wove the cultural and historical relevance of the islands, as well as the local languages and customs into the book. It felt much more genuine and authentic, and I even learned a few things. 

Considering the tropical location, Molten Death would be a perfect beach or pool read. The mystery leaves you guessing until the very last chapter, and I really enjoyed this book.

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

More by Leslie Karst:
Dying for a Taste (part of the Sally Solari Mysteries)
Justice is Served

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