Friday, October 9, 2015

What's in the mail

Melissa A:

Too Many Cooks by Dana Bate from Kensington (Enter to win a copy!)

Bliss by Shay Mitchell and Michaela Blaney from St. Martin's Press

Falling Into Ever After by/from
Tracy Krimmer (e-book anthology)

Say Yes to the Death by Susan McBride from Witness Impulse

My Fat Dad by Dawn Lerman from Berkley

Winter Street and Winter Stroll
by Elin Hilderbrand from Little, Brown

I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable from Thomas Dunne Books

The Gift of a Charm by Melissa Hill from
St. Martin's Press

Somewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany from Atria

Twain's End by Lynn Cullen from Gallery

Totlandia: Book 5: The Twosies-Fall by/from
Josie Brown (e-book)

The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas by/from Carole Matthews (e-book)

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella from Penguin Random House


The Two-Family House by
Lynda Cohen-Loigman from St. Martin's Press


The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster from Penguin Random House


Queen of the Universe by Geralyn Corcillo (e-book)


The Witch's Market by/from Mingmei Yip

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman from St. Martin's Press


I Wish For You by/from Camilla Isley (e-book)

Guarded by/from Angela Correll (e-book)

Book Review and Giveaway: The Knockoff

By Melissa Patafio

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza is one of the greatest books I've read in a while. Some have compared it to The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, and while it does have a similar "feel" to it, the story holds its own.

As the editor of Glossy magazine, Imogen Tate is grappling with the fact that as she is getting older and becoming somewhat of a "dinosaur" in the magazine world, the new generation is younger, hipper, and more technologically advanced. How can she compete?

This book takes us through the trials and tribulations of being an aging woman in the fashion world, the pros and cons of maternity leave, the stress of being a working mother, and mostly the feeling of being 'left behind' in the workplace.

I supremely enjoyed this book and not because I'm a working mother trying to juggle it all (I'm not), but because I'm a woman in an industry made up mostly of men, a "boys club" if you will. For anyone that has felt their head hit the glass ceiling and has been afraid that their gender may hinder their success, this is definitely a story you can relate to. If you haven't felt any of those things, you will still love the writing and the story and be able to connect with many of the characters. I would recommend The Knockoff to anyone that enjoys a story that has wit, emotion, and realistic scenarios and characters. I laughed a lot when reading it and I also felt Imogen's fears and anxiety.

If you haven't yet read this story, you might want to move it to the top of your list...I couldn't put it down!

Thanks to Doubleday for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have TWO copies for some lucky US 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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US only. Giveaway ends October 14th at midnight EST.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Carolyn Ridder Aspenson honors her a book giveaway

We're pleased to introduce you to Carolyn Ridder Aspenson today. Thanks to Booktrope, we have TWO e-book sets of her Angela Panther cozy mysteries for some lucky readers anywhere in the world!

Booktrope Editions and AmazonEncore author (and editor) Carolyn Ridder Aspenson is the bestselling author of the cozy mystery Angela Panther Series: Unfinished Business, Unbreakable Bonds, and Uncharted Territory. She also wrote The Inn At Laurel Creek, a contemporary romance novella; Santa's Gift: A Cumming Christmas Novella; and 8 To Lose The Weight, a life style eating program. Carolyn is a freelance writer and editor living in Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit her at her websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

On Writing

Motivation comes in all shapes and sizes and in a variety of ways. Grief is like motivation. The two don’t manifest the same in everyone and we all experience them in our own unique ways. It’s rare too, for motivation and grief to be mutually exclusive, but it does happen.

For me the two joined forces in an unusual way, my grief gently nudging my motivation…nudging me to do something that mattered.

A few years ago I experienced what I call a double whammy of devastation. My mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and passed in four months, and ten months after her passing, I lost my father to COPD.

A definite double whammy of devastation.

The months following my father’s death were a constant roller coaster of emotions. Some days were okay and others were brutal, the loss stabbing my heart until I couldn’t breathe. I stuffed my face with food to mask the grief, but all that did was pack on the pounds, the grief still present, still the biggest part of me.

Nine months and forty additional pounds after my father died, I looked in the mirror and motivation stared back at me for the first time since my mother died.

I wanted to be happy, and I knew my parents would want that, too. Above that, I wanted to do something to honor my parents, to make them proud, to give them life again.

I set out to lose the weight, working hard at exercising and eating right, but that wasn’t enough. Yes, that made me feel better and the pounds melted off, but I needed something more, something to make me feel as if I’d done something for my mom and dad, something to show them to the world. And that’s how my first book, Unfinished Business An Angela Panther Novel, came to be.

The book is a fictionalized account of the months after my mother died. Much of it is true, but the most important part of the story, the part where the main character’s mother comes back as a ghost, is not. The ghost though, is very much my mother, and very much like my mother would have done, she helps her daughter through some very important life changes leading up to another tragic loss.

I hadn’t intended to keep the story going, but my characters, maybe with a little ghostly push from my parents, had more to say, so I’ve continued the story with two more novels, Unbreakable Bonds An Angela Panther Mystery and Uncharted Territory An Angela Panther Mystery. I’m also writing a novella that’s currently running every month in InD’tale Magazine called Unbinding Love An Angela Panther Mystery Novella and have another Angela book in the works.

My writing has been a grief counselor of sorts, helping me work through my loss, and giving me a chance to showcase my parents to the world. It’s healed my heart in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and I suspect my mom and dad are cheering me on from above, and knowing them, bragging about me, too.

Thanks to Carolyn for sharing her parents with us and to Booktrope for sharing Angela Panther 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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Worldwide. Giveaway ends October 13th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Suzie Tullett has a way with words

We're glad to have Suzie Tullett back at CLC today. She's here to talk about her latest novel, The Trouble with Words, and reflect on some of her favorite moments in the story.

Suzie Tullett is an author of contemporary humorous fiction and romantic comedy. As well as The Trouble with Words, her novels include Going Underground and Little White Lies and Butterflies, which was short-listed for The Guardian's 2013 Not the Booker Prize. She has a Masters Degree in Television and Radio Scriptwriting and worked as a scriptwriter before becoming a full-time novelist. And when she's not tapping away on the computer creating her own literary masterpiece, she usually has her head in someone else's.

Visit Suzie at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Setting the Scene

Releasing a new book is both nerve-racking and exciting for any author. We get caught up in a whirlwind of preparations as we go through edits, plan blog tours, attend book events and undertake interviews.

It’s during these interviews that we discuss our characters, what inspired us to write our books in the first place and we talk to a host of lovely people about settings and themes. It’s all interesting stuff and being an avid reader, myself, I love to hear the story behind the story when it comes to new novels coming out.

Naturally, some questions are harder to answer than others. And being interviewed about The Trouble with Words, the one question that forced me to really think about what I’d written related to any favourite scene I might have.

Of course, there’s lots comedy to choose from, like the time Dan has to deal with the aftermath of his mother’s arrest. I don’t know about you, but any scene that has the ability to make me laugh out loud will always come out on top.

However, there are other pages filled with touching and even heart-wrenching moments, also firm favourites but in a different kind of way. Such as when Annabel, a young widow, discusses her desire to become a mother even though the odds are stacked against her. Or the time Dan’s mother drops to her hands and knees in a desperate attempt to locate the pill she’s just dropped. That scene actually made me cry, probably because I’m a mother of sons myself.

Then there are those internal reflections in the book that we’ve all experienced – scenes I adore because I can instantly relate to what the character concerned is going through. Take the following scene. Again, I don’t know about you, but I’ve often cleaned my house to within an inch of its life thanks to some argument or other I’ve had. All the while wishing I’d said this or said that. And the very next time I see them I’ll… I won’t explain what Dan has done to Annabel or why, that would be giving too much away. But I’m sure as far as her feelings go, like me, you’ve been there, done that, and worn the T-shirt!

Exclusive excerpt:
Annabel sat by the till and placed her elbow on the counter; she propped her chin in her hand and sighed. It was one of those days, one of those weeks even.

She stared at the phone and willed it to ring. With all the births, deaths, and marriages taking place, let alone the engagements, the leaving dos and the just for the heck of its, someone somewhere must want a bunch of flowers. Of course they did. Just not from her it seemed. She gazed out of the window at all the passers-by, acknowledging there’d been a distinct lack of customers coming through the door. Annabel hated times like these. They weren’t just bad for business, they gave her the head space to think, whether she wanted to or not.

The one thing she most certainly didn’t want to consider was her situation with Dan, a desire her brain adamantly refused to acknowledge. Images of the man popped into her head at every given opportunity. Pictures of him having a good laugh at her expense, while she just sat there waiting for him to turn up. She felt almost as annoyed with herself. From what Katy had said about him being a player, she should have known he’d pull a stunt like that.

While glancing around the room, she tried to conjure up another job to help keep her murderous thoughts at bay. It was a struggle. Having spent the last couple of days tidying the stock room, checking the inventory, and giving the shop a good old clean, there didn’t seem to be any more chores left. She tried to look on the bright side and supposed that Dan had done her a favour. These were all jobs that had needed doing anyway and he had provided her with the required motivation to get stuck in. She frowned, wondering who she was trying to kid. The man hadn’t done her a favour at all. He’d made a complete fool of her.

She reached over the counter and pulled a rose out of its container. After running her fingers along its velvety petals, she put it to her nose hoping its scent would be enough to soothe her. On this occasion though, it seemed even her beloved flowers couldn’t help and, she began to imagine what she was going to say, or better still do, to Dan the very next time she clapped eyes on him.

Thanks to Suzie for sharing her thoughts with us and Safkhet Publishing for coordinating this post. Visit Suzie at all the stops on her blog tour.

Buy Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon EU

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Review: You Look Like that Girl

By Sara Steven

When I was a teenager, I received a lot of comments regarding the striking resemblance I bore to Lisa Jakub. Friends and relatives just couldn’t get over how much we looked alike. I’d go so far as to say she’s my celebrity doppelganger. When I found out she was working on her debut novel, I knew I wanted to get to know the girl who’d appeared to be a lot like me, yet had lived an entirely different lifestyle and had vastly different experiences than I had. I wanted to learn more about the girl who’d decided at the age of 22 to end her acting career and take the road less traveled, for her. I was incredibly intrigued!

You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up takes us through Lisa’s journey. She was discovered at the age of four, an age where most children are focused on preschool, not the camera. She quickly cemented herself as a quick-witted professional, talented and admired by the numerous big-name celebrities she’s worked with. I love the way Lisa describes her celebrity encounters. This isn’t a trashy tell-all. She writes with class and dignity, even when she references someone she didn’t particularly care for. She’s appreciative, regardless of the circumstances.

Even though Lisa and I are worlds apart where life experiences are concerned, I feel as though she’s very relatable. So many of us have been through circumstances where we feel lost, not sure of what we should do or which direction we should go in, in order to seek out happiness. The feeling of doing what’s best based on what others expect of us, not wanting to let anyone down. It’s a tough place to be in, no matter the occupation.

I was always impressed with Lisa as an actress, but I’m even more impressed with her as a writer. Lisa is so honest and very candid on what she’s been through. It's led her to the person she is today. I felt like I was getting a glimpse behind-the-scenes of what it’s really like when your life is under a microscope. It’s not easy. If you feel like you’re in a place where you want to seek out your own happiness, take a cue from Lisa, and check out You Look Like That Girl.

Thanks to Midpoint Trade for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Book Review: Heads or Tails

By Jami Deise

What kind of woman doesn’t want children?

Even in 2015, with the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 approaches $250,000, married couples – women in particular – are assumed to have something wrong with them if they don’t want kids. Or they’re called selfish or immature. If a young woman says she plans to remain childless, often she’ll get a waggling finger in her face and a warning: Just wait; your friends will start having kids and then you’ll change your mind.

Women who don’t want children are not frequent characters in women’s fiction. With the genre centering around relationships, most female protagonists either have children, want children, are thwarted in their desire to have children, or are looking for the man who will father them. Even Bridget Jones, the personification of 1990s chick lit hedonism, was a mother by the time the current decade rolled around. In women’s fiction, for a woman to not want children, it can’t just be a minor character trait, like left-handedness or a fondness for Jaguar convertibles. It is the trait that defines her. In Baby Proof, Emily Giffin managed to get an entire novel out of it.

The current volley in the what kind of woman contest is Leslie A. Gordon’s Heads or Tails. A terrific follow-up to the author’s absorbing Cheer, Gordon once again (albeit indirectly) explores the consequences for a child when the mother gets into emotionally sticky territory. In this novel, though, the protagonist isn’t the mother, but the woman who declared that children were not for her.

San Francisco marrieds Hillary and Jesse love their jobs, their sports teams, and their new hobby of training for a triathlon. One thing they do not love is children. Early on, they agreed having kids was not for them. But when Hillary’s best friend Margot develops severe post-partum depression and can’t care for her baby daughter Gretchen, Hillary is really the only one who can. Margot, a high-powered executive who conceived Gretchen via sperm donation and IVF, is the only child of Jean, a widowed older woman with severe Parkinson’s disease. Hillary flies out to New York City expecting to feed the baby while Margot takes a shower and thinking she’ll still have time for a run or two around Central Park. Instead, so wiped out from depression she’s barely conscious, Margot grabs Hillary and begs, “Take my baby.” Jean agrees – Hillary is the closest thing to family they’ve got. And Gretchen needs family, not a 24-hour nanny. With the only other choice being Child Protective Services, Hillary packs up the baby and flies her back to San Francisco – a harrowing flight that emphasizes to Hillary that she’s not cut out for this mom stuff. And back at home isn’t any less harrowing, as Jesse whines that Hillary “never asked him,” and that Margot is her friend, not his.

Gordon really hits it out of the park in the pages that detail Hillary’s early efforts at taking care of Gretchen. Although my son is 21, those scenes brought back very clear memories of the first diaper change, the first bath, struggling with the car seat – all those things that eventually get easier with time but initially seem so overwhelming. And it’s even more so for Hillary, who is trying to keep Jesse pacified at the same time. As Hillary finds herself falling for Gretchen and losing patience with Jesse, a mysterious neighbor – Abe – and his cute dog catch her eye … and maybe more.

It’s also to Gordon’s credit that Hillary remains just as sympathetic even while she’s contemplating adultery. She’s a very well-drawn character, who never delves into self-pity even while her husband pouts and the days she thought she’d be taking care of Gretchen turn into weeks. And that’s why I found it frustrating that Gordon fell into the “what kind of woman” trap. She gives Hillary an elaborate back story to explain why she didn’t want children, and Jesse as well has a tragedy in his past to explain his reluctance to pro-create. In fact, the only real flaw I found in the writing is that Gordon spends several pages in the beginning of the book telling Hillary’s back story and explaining her connection to Margot and Jean that presumably prompted her to agree to take Gretchen. The implication is that it’s so unusual for people not to want to have children, that something must have gone terribly wrong during their childhood to create this abnormality. (And I’m not just picking on Gordon here. Giffin does the same thing in Baby Proof.)

Why is this back story gymnastics even necessary? Why can’t women with terrific childhoods and trauma-free backgrounds not want children without being labeled selfish or short-sighted? Personally, I know many women – most of them single, but some of them married – normal, happy women with strong relationships with their mothers and nothing traumatic in their pasts who didn’t want to have children and perfectly happy with their child-free lives. (I also know several women who wanted to have kids, and did have them, despite messed-up childhoods and fraught relationships with their mothers. But that’s beside the point.) Yet this societal message of “something has to be wrong with a woman who doesn’t want children” goes so deep that supposedly readers won’t like a female character if she doesn’t have a good reason for not wanting them.

Heads or Tails is a terrific book, and it would have been just as good if Hillary had had a wonderful childhood. As more and more women these days are making the choice to go child-free, I hope the “what kind of woman” question is regulated to historical fiction.

Thanks to Leslie A. Gordon for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Melissa Baldwin takes the a special giveaway

Melissa Baldwin visited us in April to talk about her first two novels. She's back today to feature her third novel, See You Soon Broadway, by talking about her favorite Broadway musicals! She also has a $25 Amazon gift card for a lucky reader anywhere in the world! You could buy this book AND a Broadway soundtrack if you wanted...
(When Melissa A saw the title of this novel, she knew we had to feature the book in this way. In fact, she's listening to the Hamilton cast recording--which is phenomenal, by the way--while preparing this post.)

Visit Melissa Baldwin at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

In honor of my newly released novel, See You Soon Broadway, I would like to share my Top Five favorite Broadway shows. This was harder than I thought…

1.) Annie- Yes, I know this is old school but I have loved this show since I was a little girl and watched it with my grandma. I have since introduced it to my daughter and she is now as obsessed as I was. :)
2.) Mamma Mia- Every time I hear "Dancing Queen," I feel the need to break out into dance (but who doesn’t? :)). I absolutely love this show. The music, the location, the fun, everything about it brings a smile to my face.
3.) Wicked- This show definitely lived up to all the hype. The soundtrack is fantastic and it is my go to music while I’m cleaning my house.
4.) Rent- Ok, so I know this one is kind of depressing but again the music is fantastic and that’s why we are supposed to love musicals, right? (At least it’s not as depressing as Les Miserables.)
5.) The Phantom of Opera- Classic! I think I adore this one so much because it was my grandma’s favorite. The haunting music still gives me chills.

Honorable Mentions: As I said this was harder than I thought so I have to give a shout out to a few more! The Sound of Music, Jersey Boys, and The Lion King.
I have to stop now or the list will go on! :)

Synopsis of See You Soon Broadway:
Maris Forrester has a wonderful life with an amazing boyfriend and a fulfilling job. She’s happy and content . . . or so she thinks. Maris has always had huge dreams of being on Broadway. Ever since her very first performance as a child, she has envisioned herself on the stage under the shining lights. Now she has to decide whether she should to give up her wonderful life to chase those dreams. When her parents announce they are moving, she comes across a long-lost family treasure. She doesn’t realize that this treasure may hold the key to her future and to all her dreams coming true. And if that wasn’t sign enough, a mysterious stranger throws another wrench in the mix at a dazzling rooftop party benefiting the Arts. These could be signs of things to come. But will she remain content in her perfect world, or will she step into the unknown world she has always dreamed of?

Thanks to Melissa for sharing her favorite Broadway shows with us and for sharing an Amazon gift card 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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Worldwide. Giveaway ends October 7th at midnight EST.