Friday, May 17, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Where She Went by/from Kelly Simmons (e-book via NetGalley)
Love-Lines by Sheri Langer from Absolute Entertainment (e-book)
The Nine by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg from SheWrites Press
Beside Herself by Elizabeth LaBan from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne from Gallery Books
The Elegant Out by/from Elizabeth Bartasius (e-book)
Donna Has Left the Building by Susan Jane Gilman from Grand Central Publishing (e-book via NetGalley)
That's What Frenemies Are For by Sophie Littlefield and Lauren Gershell from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)
The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister from Putnam (e-book via NetGalley)

Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty from William Morrow
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter from William Morrow
The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons from Harper

The Understudy by Sophie Hannah, Clare Mackintosh, B.A. Paris, and Holly Brown from MPRM Communications

Dying to Meet You by Rich Amooi from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
I Can't Tell You Why by Elaine Robertson North from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
Squared Away by Alicia Dill from Mindbuck Media (e-book)
To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)

Book Review: Love is Like a Soufflé

By Sara Steven

Zoey is Dalton’s sister and Adrian’s friend, with whom her Aunt Vic would really like to see her get married. At barely thirty, she has started her own catering company with Sally, her best friend, who rather likes Dalton. She never listens to advice from Fran, her mother, or from Nana, her beloved grandmother, because she would rather come home at night and confide in Sushi, her cat.

But otherwise Zoey’s life is fairly simple. Even more so when she meets Matthew Ziegler, the most influential food critic in New York. An utterly unbearable guy who seems set on putting her food to the test, right down to the smallest details… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Zoey has had a long-term friendship with Adrian, so it seems the two should ultimately end up together. Yet Matthew quickly becomes a contender, throwing Zoey into a twisted love triangle that she can’t find her way out of, no matter how hard she tries. Adrian could quite possibly find himself within the arms of a beautiful model. Or, is that Dalton’s destiny? Sally is in the picture, too, but will it be Dalton or Adrian?

The premise of Love is Like a Soufflé plays out like a romantic “Whodunit”, where the reader bounces from character to character, trying to figure out who is going to end up with who! I really appreciated the unexpected match-ups, and the chemistry between all of the characters, particularly Zoey and Adrian, and Zoey and Matthew. There were moments where I wanted to see her end up with someone she’d known for most of her life, yet newfound passions within a new relationship made for an exciting turn of events. It was a lot of fun to read.

I also appreciated the friendship dynamic between Zoey and Sally. For better or worse, the two women stick together through some tough situations, and while it’s not always graceful, it’s always real. Initially, it felt as though there was a lot of room for growth within this relationship, the need to speak up and speak with honesty. I liked seeing the changes that cause a definite cause and effect for them both.

There were also plenty of revelations where Zoey’s family is concerned. The contentions felt between daughter, mother, and grandmother. Each person adds their own unique piece to this funky dysfunctionally functional family, with all of the love interests only adding extra spice to the pot. An acerbic, funny, "soufflé of a read"!

Thanks to Sassy Fiction for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Christine Nolfi sees the silver lining

We're pleased to welcome Christine Nolfi back to CLC today to feature her latest novel, The Season of Silver Linings. She's here to tell us more about herself and what she has going on this summer!

Award-winning author Christine Nolfi’s debut Treasure Me is a Next Generation Indie Awards finalist. The Midwest Book Review lists the books in the Liberty Series as “highly recommended” and her novels have enjoyed bestseller status.

Sweet Lake and The Comfort of Secrets are 2018 International Book Award finalists, Women’s Lit and Cross Genre respectively; The Comfort of Secrets is the 2018 Reader’s Choice Gold Medal winner, Cross Genre. The third book in the series, The Season of Silver Linings is the 2018 International Book Award finalist in Cross Genre Fiction, Reader’s Choice Gold Medal winner in Women’s Fiction, and American Book Fest Best Book Award finalist in Women’s Lit.

Christine’s next release with Lake Union Publishing, The Road She Left Behind, is now available for pre-order and will be released on June 11, 2019. 

Visit Christine online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

She can’t change what’s come before. But letting go could bring healing—and the rare love that comes once in a lifetime.

When Ohio pastry chef Jada Brooks and her two best friends restored the glorious Wayfair Inn, it was a boon to Sweet Lake—and to their own lives. Now Linnie and Cat are focused on private matters: one engaged, the other swept up in newlywed bliss. Jada has also begun looking to the future by dating widower Philip Kettering and forging a sudden, sweet bond with his six-year-old daughter.

But the past isn’t finished with Jada. When a curious guest checks into the Wayfair, her delving questions stir Jada’s guilt about the heartbreaking events that scarred the town seven years ago. The risks Jada must take by revealing the truth will test every assumption she’s made about the meaning of family and the magic of enduring love. 

“An enchanting, impossible-to-put down novel that explores the truth of family. This heartwarming story nourishes the soul, and reminds us that love is what keeps hope alive.”
USA Today Bestselling author Bette Lee Crosby

“Christine Nolfi joins the illustrious tribe of women’s fiction writers that have portrayed the powers and value of female friendships with grace, charm, and talent. This third book in her Sweet Lake series digs deeper into the heartbreak of protected secrets and the power of love. Guaranteed to delight both new readers and fans.”
—Peggy Lampman, bestselling author of The Promise Kitchen

What is a favorite compliment you have received for your books?
There’s nothing better than hearing from a reader who couldn’t put the book down. An “unputdownable” read is always high praise! For The Season of Silver Linings, I also received lots of mail from readers who fell in love with the characters—especially Fancy, with her little girl femininity. And many readers want to sign up to become a Sweet Lake Siren!

What is next for you?
Lake Union will release my standalone novel The Road She Left Behind on June 11th. The sheer volume of five-star reviews popping up on Goodreads, BookBub, and NetGalley have been heartwarming.

If you could give The Season of Silver Linings a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?
That’s a tough question. Unlike many authors, I don’t create a film version of my works-in-progress as I write. Before penning the first draft, I do spend months writing journal entries, first person, from each main character’s perspective. This process always turns up interesting facts about a character.

What has been a silver lining for you recently?
How to choose? The pre-release buzz around The Road She Left Behind has been fabulous. The Sweet Lake series books continue to delight readers. My middle daughter will wed in August, and my oldest son just got engaged. Lately it seems my world is rimmed with a silver lining.

If you could take us on a tour of the town where you currently live, what are some of the must-see locations?
I now live in the fabulous tourism capital of Charleston, South Carolina. When you come to visit, we must lounge at the beach, tour one of the remaining plantations in the Deep South, enjoy the wonderful shopping on King Street, and gain five pounds each as we sample the delectable food in Charleston’s many acclaimed restaurants!

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
Lately, hubby and I have been on a Netflix binge. We recently watched The King’s Speech—probably for the third time. If your only familiarity with Geoffrey Rush’s work is in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you must catch his award-winning performance in The King’s Speech.

Thanks to Suzy Approved Book Tours for facilitating this interview and including us on Christine's blog tour!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Book Review: Acts of Infidelity

By Jami Deise

Although “I’ll have what she’s having” is the most-quoted line from the movie When Harry Met Sally, Sally’s exchange with her best friend Marie over Marie’s married lover Arthur is also often recited: “I don’t think he’s ever going to leave her.” “No one thinks he’s going to leave her!” Luckily for Marie, she meets Jess and moves in with him mere months later; Arthur is never mentioned again. Other women aren’t so lucky. Ask an older single woman about her life, chances are a married man strung her along for years, sucking up her time and energy with vague promises until it was too late to meet someone else.

In Acts of Infidelity, Swedish writer Ester Nilsson sets herself down that unlucky path. When actor Olof Sten is cast in a play she wrote, Ester immediately becomes smitten through their banter and chemistry. The two begin an affair, and Ester convinces herself that Olof is just about to leave his wife Ebba, despite all the signs to the contrary.

Written by Stockholm author Lena Andersson and translated by Saskia Vogel, Acts of Infidelity is told in third person, but readers have an up-close and personal look at the mental acrobatics Ester goes through to convince herself that Olof loves her. It’s painful to watch, as Olof treats Ester casually and cruelly, only to wheel her back in with attention and affection just as she seems to come to her senses. It’s a game that continues for years.

Although the novel lacks a firm three-act structure, the reader is compelled to keep turning pages by wondering when the hell Ester is going to wise up. Near the end, though, I did start to get a little bored – and I imagined Ester’s poor friends feeling the same way, having to listen to the same stories for years and watch as Ester ignored their advice again and again.

With the book’s Swedish characters and author, I read it looking for the difference between Swedish and American values and attitudes about infidelity, but I found none. Ester and Olof easily could be transferred to New York, and their story would be the same. The dialogue would be different, though – all the characters spoke in long, extremely detailed and complex paragraphs that sounded forced to my American ears.

All women, at one time or another, have had a friend like Ester or have been Ester ourselves – even unmarried men like to play games to keep women at a distance. If you have a friend caught in this trap, give her a copy of Acts of Infidelity. The spark of recognition may ignite the fire she needs to leave.

Thanks to Other Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Also by Lena Andersson:

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding

Today we're celebrating the publication of My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding by Wendy Wax. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

A wedding dress passed down through generations unravels the tangled threads of three women's lives in a novel of friendship, family, and forgiveness from the USA Today bestselling author of Ten Beach Road.

Prized and stored away for safekeeping, the timeless ivory wedding dress, with its scooped neck and cleverly fitted bodice, sits gently folded in its box, whispering of Happily Ever Afters. To Kendra, Brianna, and Lauren it's a reminder of what could have been, the promise of a fairy tale, and a friendship torn apart. But as Kendra knows firsthand: it wasn't the dress's fault.

Once closer than sisters, Lauren and Bree have grown up and grown apart, allowing broken promises and unfulfilled dreams to destroy their friendship. A successful author, Lauren returns home to the Outer Banks, fiancé in tow, to claim the dress she never thought she'd wear. While Bree, a bookstore owner, grapples with the realities of life after you marry the handsome prince. As the former best friends wrestle with their uncertain futures, they are both certain of one thing: some betrayals can never be forgiven.

Now on the eve of her daughter Lauren's wedding, Kendra struggles with a secret she's kept for far too long. And vows to make sure the dress will finally bring Lauren and Bree back together--knowing they'll need each other to survive the coming storm.

Wendy Wax, a former broadcaster, is the author of fifteen novels and two novellas, including Best Beach Ever, One Good Thing, Sunshine Beach, A Week at the Lake, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey, The House on Mermaid Point, Ocean Beach, and Ten Beach Road. The mother of two grown sons, she left the suburbs of Atlanta for an in town high-rise where she and her husband are happily downsized.

Visit Wendy 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

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Giveaway ends May 20th at midnight EST.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mary Kay Andrews has her toes in the a book giveaway

We welcome Mary Kay Andrews to CLC today to talk about her latest novel, Sunset Beach. Thanks to Tandem Literary, we have one copy to give away!

Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels including THE WEEKENDERS, BEACH TOWN, LADIES’ NIGHT, SUMMER RENTAL, DEEP DISH and HISSY FIT.

A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, she received a B.A. in journalism from The University of Georgia. After a 14-year career working as a reporter at newspapers including The Savannah Morning News, The Marietta Journal and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she spent the final ten years of her career, she left journalism in 1991 to write fiction.

Her first novel, EVERY CROOKED NANNY, was published in 1992 by HarperCollins Publishers. She went on to write ten critically acclaimed mysteries under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. In 2002, she assumed the pen name Mary Kay Andrews with the publication of SAVANNAH BLUES. In 2006, HISSY FIT became her first New York Times bestseller, followed by eleven more New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers. To date, her novels have been published in German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, Hungarian, Dutch, Czech and Japanese.

She is married to her high school sweetheart, Tom Trocheck, with whom she has a 40-year (and counting) collaboration yielding two grown children, two adorable grandchildren and countless memorable kitchen experiences. She and her family divide their time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, where they cook up new recipes in two restored beach homes, The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide, both named after fictional places in Mary Kay’s novels. In between cooking and plotting her next novel, Mary Kay is an intrepid treasure hunter whose favorite pastime is junking and fixing up old houses.

Visit Mary Kay online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest

Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist.

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews' signature wit, heart, and charm. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

How is Drue similar to or different from you? 
Drue's so different from me in so many ways. She's prickly and distrustful and has intimacy issues, along with a wide stubborn streak. And she's an athlete! Which I'm not. But in other ways we're alike, strong, resilient and resourceful. We both hate any kind of injustice and tend to root for the underdog.

What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of writing Sunset Beach
Figuring out the puzzle behind the intertwining mysteries was definitely a challenge, as was gaining an understanding of personal injury law and making it relatable to my readers. The rewarding part was writing a story set in my hometown and creating a character like Drue, who is capable of change. I also really enjoyed writing the 1970's-set scenes.

If Sunset Beach were made into a movie, who would play the lead roles? 
Maybe Michelle Rodriguez for Drue. For Brice, John Slattery, for Jonah, Will Arnett

What are some must-have items in your beach bag? 
Sunblock and sunglasses. A thermos of icy drinks. Glossy magazines. My smart phone so I can scroll social media and listen to my beach playlist on Pandora or Spotify.

What is the funniest thing you have seen or heard recently? 
It's a tie between Randy Rainbow's hilarious parody songs and @PoochofNYC on Instagram, which showcases an adorable dog named Agador all dressed up and all about town.

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
Season five of Bosch on Amazon.

Thanks to Mary Kay for visiting with us and Tandem Literary for sharing her book with our readers.

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 May 19th at midnight EST.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Book Review: Only Ever Her

By Jami Deise

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s novel When We Were Worthy was one of my favorite books of 2017 (reviewed here), about the ramifications in a small Georgia town when a high school outcast causes a crash that kills a carload of cheerleaders. With its specific setting, strong character work, and ultimately uplifting message, the novel left me in tears. While Whalen’s follow-up, Only Ever Her, has many of these same elements, ultimately it is not as impactful as the earlier novel.

When Annie Taft was three years old, she was the only witness to her mother’s murder, and her testimony sent Cordell Lewis to prison for life. Now, twenty years later and two weeks before her wedding, Lewis’s lawyer writes Annie to say there’s evidence that Lewis did not kill Annie’s mother, and to ask for Annie’s support in reopening the case.

Four days before the wedding, Annie disappears.

With this set-up, I was expecting a strong mystery tying together past and present. Instead, Only Ever Her concentrates on the interior lives of certain people in the small South Carolina town where Annie’s mother was murdered and where she was raised: her Aunt Faye, who raised her and has romantic secrets of her own; her secret “best friend” Kenny, a town outcast; former high school rival turned newspaper reporter Laurel; and her cousin Clary, raised like a sister to Annie and who has a secret in her past as well.

While I enjoyed the setting and character work – the story reminded me somewhat of Steel Magnolias, and Annie is just as loved by the town as Shelby was – I did expect more mystery with my mystery, and a stronger connection between Annie’s mother’s murder to Annie’s disappearance. Instead, most folks were consumed with their own secrets or wondering about Annie’s fiancé Scott and her best friend Tracy.

Only Ever Her is a good story for fans of small sleepy southern towns. But for those who prefer tight, plot-driven mysteries, they may be left wanting.

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen: