Friday, May 27, 2016

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell from Penguin Random House
Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty from Flatiron
Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen from Doubleday (won in a Chatterbox giveaway, swag included)
The Gallery of Lost Species by Nina Berkhout from Thomas Dunne

Gridley Girls by Meredith First from SparkPress (e-book via NetGalley)
The One that Got Away by Leigh Himes from Hachette
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell from Knopf
Shining Sea by Mimi Cross from Skyscape
The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier from BookSparks
Pen and Palate by Lucy Madison and
Tram Nguyen from Grand Central
The Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner from St. Martin's Press
Appetite by Sheila Grinell  from BookSparks
Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond from Skyscape
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult from Random House
A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray from Berkley
A Dangerous Age by Kelly Killoren Bensimon from Gallery
The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes,
won from TLC Readers

Amy and Melissa A:
Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester
The Last Treasure by Erika Marks
Untethered by Julie Lawson Timmer
Results May Vary by Bethany Chase

All are from Penguin Random House

Forever Beach by Shelley Noble from HarperCollins
The Island House by Nancy Thayer from Ballantine
Sunshine Beach by Wendy Wax from Berkley
The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor from HarperCollins

Melissa S:
Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand from Hachette

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews from St. Martin's Press

Monsters by Liz Kay from Putnam
(e-book via NetGalley)

Would like to meet... by Polly James from Avon
The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick from Harvil Secker
Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher from Penguin
The Beekeeper's Secret by Josephine Moon from Allen & Unwin

Girl on a Plane by Cassandra O'Leary from Harper Collins
The Postcard by Fern Britton from Harper Collins

Book Review: The Big Interview

By Sara Steven

*SPOILER WARNING: May contain information about The Big Lead (reviewed here). Read that one's FREE on Kindle for a limited time."

TV reporter Stella Reynolds signs with a new station, excited to move to a bigger city for a better job. When she arrives in Bristol, Virginia, though, she finds a sexist, mean boss, unfriendly coworkers, and a town in love with a sport she’s never even watched—NASCAR!

Before she can unpack her bags, Stella is drawn into an investigation when a driver is killed in a fiery wreck on the track.

Experts call his death a tragedy, but Stella has insider information that the accident is anything but.

With a slippery ex-fiancee, an angry father, and a nosy neighbor, you’ll be laughing on one page and gasping on the next. If all goes according to plan, the facts will be revealed during an epic live Big Interview. But when does anything ever go according to plan? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

The Stella Reynolds series just keeps getting better and better!

As much as I enjoyed The Big Lead, the first in this series, The Big Interview was a smidge faster where the pace is concerned, and I loved how there were quite a few suspects on the line, this time, which made me question who the culprit was at every turn, keeping me on the edge of my seat for most of the book!

Stella is still a strong and vocal female lead, not putting up with any malarkey from anyone, especially not the new co-workers she finds herself having to contend with on a near daily basis. It almost makes her miss the Bozeman, Montana crew, the people she’d befriended and worked with before moving to Virginia. Working in Bozeman had proved difficult, because the technology and electronics were way behind the times, making her job difficult. But she’d take that any day over her arrogant boss!

She also finds herself at the center of the most unusual situations, where her love life is concerned. Somehow, it becomes interlaced with all the drama that crops up from the driver’s death, but when it comes to Stella, we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Libby Kirsch is a phenomenal writer, creating the best scenes and characters, the kind you can’t help but feel invested in and continually want to know more about. I’m really hoping for a third installment to the Stella Reynolds series, and I can’t wait to see what life has in store for her next!

Thanks to Libby Kirsch for the book in exchange for an honest review. And thanks to HCL Book Tours for including us on their tour schedule. Check out the other stops.

May 23rd
Steamy Book Momma - - Promo
Book Lover Worm  - -Review
Living Life With Joy - - Author Q&A
May 24th
Judging More Than Just The Cover - - Author Q&A
The Belgian Reviewer - - Review
Hello Beautiful Book Blog - - Excerpt
May 25th
One Book at a Time - - Promo
Book Lover in Florida - - Review
Hello...Chick Lit - - Review
May 26th
The Bookworm Lodge - -  Promo
Fervently Curious - - Review
May 27th
Love Sex and Other Dirty Words - - Author Post
vvb32 reads - - Book Review

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Summer Escape

In honor of Regression Month, Lily Graham is sharing an excerpt from her novel The Summer Escape. She has an e-book to share with one lucky reader, as well! 

Fairytales and Heroines

This tale from Ria Laburinthos’ childhood is actually the prologue within
The Summer Escape, which I thought absolutely fit your theme of regression as it is really takes her back to the time in her life when she is happiest, with her beloved Yaya, who tells her about how she got her name and why she was named after one of the most tragic, yet bravest heroines in history.

Her hands were like old parchment: brown, mottled and thin; yet to my five-year-old eyes they were capable of anything, magic not least among them. Today, they were a domestic symphony rolling out the dough; the flour, like fairy dust, sprinkled on the long, flat marble. Her arms were strong and wiry, and as she kneaded she beguiled me with stories from far away. Stories that conjured wisps of sun-drenched olive groves, plum-coloured wine sipped out of short glasses on cobbled sea-front tavernas, honey drizzled over thick, creamy-white Greek yoghurt, and wild, pink-tinged peaches warm from the sun.
‘Yew kno’ the story of how yew got your name?’ asked Yaya in her heavy Cretan accent. Flour smudged on her soft, brown cheek as she peered down at me, a smile edging the corner of her mouth.
I grinned my gap-toothed grin, perched on the counter, legs swinging, and clutching my latest and most cherished possession, a collection of fairy tales.
‘You named me, Yaya,’ I said. My name was collateral damage from my Greek heritage: I was doomed to walk through life with the rather foreign-sounding name of Ariadne.
‘Yes-a, but do yew kno’ who I named yew after?’ asked Yaya, holding up the index finger on her left hand, which curved ever so slightly at the tip, as if she would lift each vowel along with it in her lyrical burr.
I shook my head, espresso-eyes wide.
‘I named yew after one of the most famous princesses of all-a time, eh… the one who suffered the most-e,’ she said, with a sense of pride about the latter. ‘Unlike these silly princesses from your fairy book.’
My mouth formed an ‘o’ of surprise, my feet paused mid-swing.
‘Why I do this, eh?’ she asked.
I shrugged. She was a bit mad. This wasn’t exactly news. I loved her anyway and maybe a little because of it.
‘Well meli mou, the goddess Ariadne suffered most terribly, and it was her bravery and courage, not her beauty, that made her a hero, which I think-e is what really makes a hero, a hero, no?’
I supposed so. I liked the idea of the girl being the hero, though.
Yaya continued. ‘She was the daughter of a king; a mad Cretan king ’ho ordered a young man named Theseus to enter a maze and kill a wild, monstrous beast that had killed many people before. Knowing that this young man was facing certain death, Ariadne helped ’im escape and they fell in love. Together they fled the kingdom, Ariadne believing that she ’ad found a love that would last-e forever. Only, it wasn’t to be.’
‘Why? What happened?’
‘He left her. He left her sleeping in a cave one-a night, so they say, and he run away.’
I gasped. That was not how the story was supposed to go. ‘What happened to her?’
Yaya looked at me with her beetle-black eyes. ‘Well, there are many different stories, and everyone tells different ones. But for me, the story my own yaya told me is still the best-e. After Theseus left her, Ariadne sank-e into despair, barely able to keep going. Feeling sorry for the woman who had sacrificed everything for this man, Dionysus, a god ’ho knew all about suffering, rescued her, though there are many who would say that in the end, she rescued him too. You see, meli mou, life is never what we think it will be; it’s not always like these stories,’ she said, tapping the green cover, leaving behind a faint film of flour. ‘It can be filled with joy or misfortune, but mostly it’s a mixture like this dough. A real hero is like the bread – rising after it has been beaten.’

Lily Graham has been telling stories since she was a child, starting with her imaginary rabbit, Stephanus, and their adventures in the enchanted peach tree in her garden, which she envisioned as a magical portal to Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree. She's never really got out of the habit of making things up, and still thinks of Stephanus rather fondly.

Her first two novels were Amazon bestsellers, and are being re-published by Bookouture, starting with The Summer Escape, which is out today. (Happy pub day!)

She lives with her husband and her English bulldog, Fudge, and brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.

Visit Lily:
Website/ Blog

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Worldwide. Ends May 31st at midnight EST.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chick Lit Cheerleader: BFFs!

We get Jen two months in a row, as there are some changes ahead. She's here today to talk about her best friend and the fun they had as kids. I'm sure we can all relate!

Friends 'Til the End

If April showers bring May flowers, then I guess it’s still the month of April in Indiana. I’m not sure what the skies look like in your neck of the woods lately, but mine are dreary. I mean March-like grey days, perpetual raindrops falling; overwhelming icky-ness hovers in the air. C’mon summer, where art thou? I’ll tell you where summer is. It’s waiting to announce its arrival on May 20 at 3:30 PM. The last school bell will ring here enticing children and teachers alike to croon the Alice Cooper anthem, School’s Out For Summer. My children’s anticipation for no more pencils and no more books started churning my grey matter as I recalled my own summer vacations. I wanted to share one with you that rose above the others. Mostly because it was the summer I discovered I wanted to be Olivia Newton John; hot pants, hair, red heels, and all.

In 1978, with first grade officially under my belt, I became a Mud Rat. A proud moment for my parents as you can imagine. I joined the swim team at Centennial Beach in Naperville, Illinois where my inner fish could be released. Backstroke, freestyle, relays, Marco Polo—you name it, I loved it. During one early morning drive to practice, a thermos my mom had filled with coffee spilled onto my hand when our chocolate tinted Pontiac LeMans took a corner a little sharper than usual. This left me with second degree burns on my left hand and provided the important sympathy card I cashed in the rest of the summer. I procured it to see Grease in the theater four times, frequent visits to Grandma Gert’s candy shop, and racked up a nice stash of new Barbie dolls.

My best friend, Nancy, lived across the street from me. She loved Bonnie Bell lip gloss and Shawn Cassidy as much as I did. We played hopscotch, ate mac and cheese Mug-O-Lunches, jumped rope until sundown, and caught fireflies after dusk. A lanky blond who pinned her bangs back with barettes, Nancy was the youngest of three in her family. Her older brothers loved KISS, Farrah Fawcett, and torturing us until we tattled or screamed. Both effective ways to catch a break from them when we’d had enough. Being an only child, this concept of torturing siblings for sport was foreign to me.

We’re Capricorn sisters yet I relished being nine days older than Nancy. Being more mature time wise was a big deal when you were seven-years-old. We had our secret jokes, loved collecting Grease movie cards, and couldn’t get enough Fun Dip from the concession stand at her brother’s baseball games.

I remember those times as magical. Cutoff jean shorts and Charlie’s Angels T-shirts. Mosquito bites and pink tinted noses from long days of playing outside. Kool Aid drinking until we could drink no more. Endless summer days without a care in the world, except for parking in front of the TV in time to watch Happy Days.

A year later, when the moving van pulled away from our home overflowing with my family’s belongings, I remember thinking Connecticut was too far away. Too far to drive. Too far to comprehend. Too far from Nancy.

Yet here we are, years later, still the best of friends. We lost touch yet found out we were both attending the same university as undergrads. Years later, we both resided in Indianapolis. Not everyone has the chance to keep their childhood BFF in their life. I know how lucky I am. And as the years tick by, summers seem to breeze through at lightning speed, don’t you think?

As we ready ourselves for the dog days ahead, I encourage you to reflect on some of those precious times. The experiences, great and not so great, that were a part of your childhood. I’m just thankful I can remember them. I have a difficult enough time figuring out why I walk all the way upstairs in my home. The task I was taking on seems to escape me the minute I reach the top of the stairs.

Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of SaltIn September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at TwitterFacebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.

Book Review: After the Final Dandelion

By Sara Steven

**SPOILER ALERT: This is part of a series and may contain spoilers to the previous novels.**

Every time I read one of the books from the "Dandelion" series, I always feel as though I’m reconnecting with old friends. It’s the friend who you can go months, or even years, without, yet when you get together, you pick up right where you left off.

Renee Lockhart and Eva Merida are like that, for me. This go around, we find Renee busily preparing for her nuptials, to Ben. In true Dandelion fashion, and true to Renee’s character, there’s no easy way to the alter, especially when the wedding is one that will be televised in front of thousands of people. While she has her own ideas for how she’d like the big day to go, it seems the people involved in making the day come to fruition aren’t on the same page.

For Eva, she’s been given the chance of a lifetime with a job opportunity in Hollywood. Only, it’s away from Brian, the man who she feels is the love of her life. It would be nice if he’d express any interest in her future, give his input on how he feels about the potential job offer, but he’s not, and when a former flame turns up in Hollywood, it has Eva questioning her relationship with Brian.

I very much enjoyed After the Final Dandelion. Everything has come full circle for this group of characters, even amidst the chaos and turbulence. I also appreciate the binding friendship between Renee and Eva, who have their own past and against all odds, have made their friendship work. It truly feels like a family, which is why it’s so easy to pick right back up, even given the distance.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true "Dandelion" story, without a little hilarity from its resident goofball, Renee. Mishaps follow this girl around nearly everywhere she goes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, and neither would she. I appreciate how in touch she is with herself, accepting the fact that she’s not an overly girly-girl, she appreciates the simple things in life, and she doesn’t want to conform. A girl after my own heart.

There’s a possibility that there will be one more installment to this series, Dandelion Sprouts. I really hope that book will come to fruition. It would be nice to reconnect with my old friends, again.

Thanks to Brooke Williams for the book in exchange for an honest review.

See Sara's other reviews from this series:
Accept this Dandelion
Dandelions on the Road

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Weekenders

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews published last week and thanks to Tandem Literary, we have a copy for one lucky reader!

Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends--and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.

Told with Mary Kay Andrews’ trademark blend of humor and warmth, and with characters and a setting that you can’t help but fall for, The Weekenders is the perfect summer escape.

Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Beach Town, Save the Date, Ladies' Night,Christmas Bliss, Spring Fever, and Summer Rental, all from St. Martin's Press, as well as The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish,Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues, all HarperPerennial. A former journalist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she divides her time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, Georgia.
Visit Mary Kay at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and 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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends May 30th at midnight EST.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Bookstar Giveaway!

We’ve teamed up with BookStar to offer you an exciting giveaway! You could win an Amazon gift card plus three ebooks: Frosted Cowboy by Charlene Ross, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl by Vicki Lesage and Sugar and Other Luxuries by Everly Scott.

Enter via the Rafflecopter below (or at this link), where you can sign up to receive BookStar’s awesome Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction and Romance ebook deals and also visit Chick Lit Central on Facebook. And be sure to share with your friends to get more entries!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open Worldwide. Giveaway ends May 30th at midnight EST.