Thursday, December 14, 2017

Spotlight: Adventures in Blind Dating...plus a book giveaway

We're excited to feature the Adventures in Blind Dating series by Christine S. Feldman. To celebrate, Christine has THREE e-books of The Heavenly Bites Novella Collection to give away, in honor of this time of year!

It Happened One Night

Who has time for dating these days? Certainly not struggling entrepreneur Paisley Jameson, who has way too much on her plate to pay any real attention to her shriveling social life. And not mechanic Joe Spencer either, who has a lot on his mind with both the family business and family in general. But neither can say no to the beloved mutual acquaintance who wants to set them both up on a blind date.

Which is too bad, because they both kind of wish they had said no when they show up for the dinner date and realize they've met before--and not under happy circumstances.

But fate seems determined to prove that they're not so wrong for each other after all, because in spite of the intentions of both Paisley and Joe to nip this whole unfortunate blind date thing in the bud and go their separate ways, events transpire to keep them together for an evening involving muggers, foot-chases, and even a high-speed trip to the ER--

And that's all before dessert.

Dating: it's not for wimps…



Center Stage

When financially-strapped actor J.J. McKinney responds to an unusual Help Wanted ad on the bulletin board outside his theater class, he has no idea that he’s in for an evening of improv like no other: posing as the hitherto fabricated boyfriend of one Erika Mills for the duration of a single family reunion. But hey, a job is a job, and if it will help get J.J. back in the good graces of his landlord, he’s completely on board. After all, how bad can one family reunion possibly be?

Enter Erika Mills: only child of one meddling mother, reluctant darling of several devoted yet squabbling aunts and uncles who are sure they know what’s best for her even if none of them can agree on what that is, and beloved grandchild of the tiny white-haired family matriarch who might just be more imp than invalid when it comes to managing family matters in spite of appearances to the contrary.

Throw in a suspicious cousin, an obnoxious ex-boyfriend who is determined to erase that whole “ex” thing from Erika’s vocabulary, and a rash deathbed promise that turned out to be less deathbed and more just a bad case of indigestion, and you get the reunion from hell—at least until the sparks begin to fly for real.

It ain’t Off-Broadway, but it still might turn out to be the role of a lifetime...



The Fix-Up Mix-Up

When the two biggest self-proclaimed matchmakers in town throw down and call each other out, Jenna Owens feels obliged to step in and broker the peace any way she can. After all, one is her mother and the other is her best friend, and quite frankly all of this arguing is giving her a headache. So when they propose a three-week long “match-off” to see who can find the perfect match for the most widely-acknowledged practitioner of social ineptness in the neighborhood, Jenna is just happy that they’ve found a solution—until she realizes that they’re talking about her.

Oops.

Ryan Caldwell isn’t exactly thrilled that the two matchmakers have decided to use his bar and grill as the setting for their little social experiment and appoint him the official neutral third-party, but he has to admit that it’s certainly entertaining—especially when he gets a load of the unlikely candidates that come marching through his doors to woo the reluctant Jenna. If this is matchmaking, he wants no part of it, confirmed bachelor that he is.

Except that somehow intervening in one bad date escalates to the outright rescue of Jenna from another, and from there—well...

So much for staying neutral.



A former kindergarten teacher, Christine S. Feldman writes both novels and feature-length screenplays, and, to her great delight, she has placed in screenwriting competitions on both coasts—and has even won a couple of them. In 2012 one of her screenplays was featured as a staged reading in New York City at the Gotham Screen International Film Festival, and later that same year she signed her first publishing contract. When she is not writing, she is puttering around in her garden with her beagle, ballroom dancing with her husband, or doing research for her next project. Visit Christine at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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 19th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Book Review: Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances

By Sara Steven

A year after she separated from her husband, Gianni, on Christmas Day, Chloe’s heart is still in pieces as she unpacks the decorations for her first ever festive holiday alone. That is, until the phone rings…

It seems Gianni’s new seaside restaurant is in trouble and Chloe must go to Appledore to save the business – and him. Equally famous for his experimental culinary extravaganzas and his explosive temper, Gianni has been really stirring up a sensation with the locals – and not in a good way!

As pans fly and the temperature in the kitchen rises, Chloe’s calming influence and magic touch might just get critics back on side in time to save the restaurant from sinking like a sad soufflĂ©. But will it be enough to save their marriage? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

There are quite a few eccentric characters that have emerged from Sue Watson’s novels, and Gianni can easily be added to the list. He’s brash and he’s bold, loud and obnoxious. His hot-tempered manner sprinkled with egotism reminded me a little of Gordon Ramsey to the hilt, and you’ve got to wonder if Gianni is really that way in “real life”, or if it’s partially for show. If it’s what he thinks his audience would prefer, or if it goes even deeper than that.

It seems only one woman can tame the wild beast of Gianni, and that would be Chloe. She doesn’t put up with his antics, in fact she’ll often add fuel to his already enraged fire, which makes for a smoldering, deep relationship between the two. There are so many layers to the both of them, and we get to see everything unravel, inch by inch, answering the question of, why? Why couldn’t they make it?

The answer is deep, and tragic. Human. What I’ve always appreciated is Watson's ability to create characters who are real and experience real emotion, and handle everything in a way that any flawed human would. It’s messy and intense, but that’s usually the way it goes when we’re trying to deal. Thrown in there are moments of comedy and humor, the icebreakers that we all need in order to get on and get through this life.

And of course, there is food. This wouldn’t be a Watson read without it. It’s funny that this go around intermixes a blend of deliciousness, with a few odd delicacies that Gianni whips up, only adding to his character and the tone of this story. No one in Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances is perfect, but I can tell you, that’s one of the things I loved the most. It’s perfect in its imperfections, and the perfect holiday read for this time of year.

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

More holiday fun from Sue Watson:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Linda Bradley warms up our winter...plus a book giveaway

Interview by Tracey Meyers

We're pleased to have Linda Bradley here today. We featured her Montana Bound series last year and she now has a holiday story to go along with it, A Montana Bound Christmas. Linda has two e-books to share with some lucky readers! It's something you can read in front of a fireplace while sipping hot cocoa. (Or at least it will evoke that feeling!)

Linda Bradley’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her women’s fiction highlights characters that peel away outer layers of life to discover the heart of their dreams with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Her writing integrates humor found in everyday situations, as well as touching moments that make readers connect with her characters.

Linda has an Associates Degree in Interior Design and a Master’s Degree in Reading and Language Arts with undergraduate work in Elementary Education and Fine Arts. She wrote and illustrated a children’s book titled, The Hunter for her Master’s Degree. Linda is a member of RWA, as well as the Greater Detroit Chapter of RWA and the Capital City Writers Association in Lansing, Michigan. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. (Bio courtesy of Linda's website.)


Synopsis:
Chloe and John McIntyre await Maggie Abernathy's arrival at the 617 Ranch, but snowfall has halted flights from Michigan to Montana. While Maggie and her mother, Glad prepare for their delayed departure, eight-year-old Chloe prepares for disappointment. Anticipating Maggie's absence on Christmas morning, Chloe invites her Hollywood mother to the ranch hoping to fill the void. Brook's unexpected acceptance, raises the stakes for John who wants his first Christmas with Maggie to be perfect. With a few unexpected twists and turns, along with a missing dog, this cast of misfits manages to band together in true Montana Bound fashion to celebrate the holiday season.

"What fun! From the first chapter to the last, this story is a like a warm hug. Linda Bradley weaves the different worlds of each of the characters together in a rich tapestry that mirrors the story line itself. This could easily become a beloved holiday movie classic, if it were given the chance. Maggie, John, and Chloe will feel as much like family to you as they do to each other. Open a wonderful gift of the holidays, when you open A Montana Bound Christmas." 
~Annette Rochelle Aben, Amazon.Com Best Selling Author


In your bio you mentioned that part of your inspiration for your writing comes from your life. What is an example of a life experience you used in your writing?
In March 2013, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. It was a wake-up call. The kind that smacks you in the face. I’d been writing, working two jobs, and raising two teenage boys. Right then I realized I needed to buckle down to achieve a dream. I’d been working on several writing projects, but my intuition nagged at me to begin something new. So, I did. I put everything aside and began writing The Montana Bound Series. The story line lingered in the back of my brain with a clutter of other ideas. After seven weeks of radiation treatment, I decided it was time to get myself organized, connect with my characters, and get published. In doing so, I gave my heroine breast cancer. Writing about her journey helped me forge through my own. Four years and four books later, I’m still writing about Maggie Abernathy and her merry band of misfits. With that said, I’m healthy and still writing!

What part of writing do you find the easiest and the hardest?
New characters and story lines manifest themselves easily. The hardest part is trying not to entertain them all simultaneously.

How has your writing evolved over the years?
I’ve been writing all my life. Even as a grade school student, I wrote and entered my work in contests. The progression has been naturally nurtured with the beat of time. I believe my characters have become richer and the flow of words stronger.

What is your favorite part about the winter?
The best part of winter is eating chili on a cold day after shoveling snow and Christmas lights.

A six-year child asks you if Santa Claus is real. What do you tell them?
“Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus.” (Then I have to explain who Virginia is.)

What is your New Year's Eve tradition?
Staying home with my husband, eating in, watching television together, and a midnight kiss to celebrate the New Year.

Thanks to Linda for visiting with us and 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 December 17th at midnight EST.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Book Review: A Little Bit Wicked

By Melissa Amster

I was recently looking for an interesting audio book, so I went back to searching for celebrity memoirs. Then I came upon Kristin Chenoweth's book, A Little Bit Wicked, and decided to give it a whirl. I'm SO glad I did!

There's something extra special about listening to a celebrity read their memoir. Since Kristin is so much fun to listen to, this definitely enhanced my enjoyment. She talks about everything she can fit into her 40 years of a life well-lived. (This book came out in 2009, so she was about the same age as I am now at that point in time. Her birthday is even close to mine!) Her stories go from growing up in Oklahoma as the adopted child of two loving parents to performing in beauty pageants to her first Broadway audition to on-and-off dating Aaron Sorkin (writer of The West Wing) and all things in-between. Of course, she talks about playing Galinda in Wicked from the days of workshops through the musical's Tony nomination. And she shares bits and pieces of her experiences on TV shows, such as The West Wing, Pushing Daisies, and the huge (HUGE!) hit sitcom, Kristin. She shares about her faith and how it has helped her overcome obstacles and triumph. She talks about her awkward and embarrassing moments and even points out that she doesn't get special treatment just because she's famous. She's just so kind and gracious about everything, even when she shouldn't have to be! And if you're hungry, she has recipes for "Hum Dum Diddy" and her "cursed" cookies. (You'll see....or hear!)

I really loved everything about this memoir and now I want to see all the shows Kristin has been in, even if I wasn't interested before. Like The Music Man. I am not a fan of that musical, but I'd be interested to see the TV movie starring Kristin and Matthew Broderick. And I really want to watch Pushing Daisies now. (She sings with Ellen "Audrey" Greene!) I may also consider binge-watching The West Wing, but maybe in a few years.

Kristin is truly a delight to listen to. The audio book is short and the print version is 256 pages. Easy read that you're guaranteed to breeze through because you also won't be able to get enough of her! I felt a real connection to her throughout and hope she will write another memoir detailing what she's been up to since she finished this one! I felt like I was sitting across from her at lunch listening to her share all her stories. The only thing I should "warn" readers about in advance is that there is not a linear or chronological progression. Kristin jumps back and forth in time throughout, which may feel a bit confusing. She also goes off on tangents a lot. Another "warning" is that Kristin will have you laughing throughout her book, so don't drink anything you're not prepared to choke on when she throws out one of her zingers.

I hope I can one day meet Kristin in person so I can tell her how much I enjoyed her book and how great I think she is (if I don't get tongue-tied).

Friday, December 8, 2017

Book Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan...plus a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

For Harriet, a professional dog walker who feels she understands canines better than humans, she’s decided to conquer her shyness and other challenges she faces by doing one thing that frightens her, every single day. This includes online dating and talking with people she ordinarily would shy away from, and included on that list is ER doc Ethan, a man who is suddenly thrust into her world when she least expects it while handling a last-minute dog walking job. She’s dealing with anxiety, and he has a load of baggage, too, stemming from what he’s seen in the ER, the fact that he can’t give way to emotion, for fear of what that would do to him. The moments where Harriet feels she can actually open up to Ethan, are the moments where he closes himself off to her and everything else around him, and the rare times he shows compassion, she’s wounded. It makes for a very interesting dynamic with this couple.

I felt as though Moonlight Over Manhattan was a labor of love, showcasing how imperfect life can be, even for two people who want nothing more than to be loved, to be happy. Even when Harriet and Ethan begin to feel as though they might be good for one another, stumbling blocks, the past, the present, even the future stands in the way. How true to life. And, as with every book in this series, there is serious evolution of character. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst, but it’s always nice to see the characters in a Sarah Morgan novel change by leaps and bounds. It was nice to see that with Harriet, in particular.

This was a great read for the holidays. As part of the synopsis on Goodreads states: “She’ll risk everything for her own Christmas miracle.” This made me wonder if, while Harriet risks everything, will Ethan step up and give just as much, or will he revert to old patterns, and protect his heart? There is an element of hope, of yearning that felt very much like the wishes and wants during the holidays, because at what better time will all your dreams come true, than the holidays?

So far, I’ve loved every single book in the "From Manhattan With Love" series, but there was something extra special about this one. Being given the opportunity to live inside the mind of someone who struggles with shyness and a touch of social anxiety, like Harriet does, felt like a chance to open up within my own life, my own struggles. While I don’t think many people would describe me as shy, I’ve been edging towards that within the last several years, and I can tell I’m becoming more of an introvert. It was nice relating with someone else who deals with that, too.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book in exchange for an honest review. Visit the other stops on the blog tour.

Enter the giveaway being hosted by TLC Book Tours:

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Check out the other books in the series!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Spotlight and Giveaway: Christmas in London

With the holidays right around the corner, what better way to get in the mood than with Anita Hughes' latest novel, Christmas in London?!? Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have TWO copies to give away!

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren't hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day, so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the host was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge's. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show's beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew's in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.


Anita Hughes is the author of Monarch Beach, Market Street, Lake Como, French Coast, Rome in Love, Island in the Sea, Santorini Sunsets, Emerald Coast, and Christmas in Paris. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California where she is at work on her next novel.

Visit Anita online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter 


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.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Book Review: The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even

By Becky Gulc

Anna Bell has written some fantastic novels which I’ve enjoyed over the last few years, with her most recent release being The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even. Here is the synopsis:

‘When Lexi's sport-mad boyfriend Will skips her friend's wedding to watch football - after pretending to have food poisoning - it might just be the final whistle for their relationship.

But fed up of just getting mad, Lexi decides to even the score. And, when a couple of lost tickets and an 'accidentally' broken television lead to them spending extra time together, she's delighted to realise that revenge might be the best thing that's happened to their relationship.

And if her clever acts of sabotage prove to be a popular subject for her blog, what harm can that do? It's not as if he'll ever find out . . .’ (Courtesy of Amazon UK.)

Well suffice to say, this is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. Anna’s books just keep getting better and better in my opinion. Anna’s writing takes me back in a way to when I first started reading ‘chick lit’ many years ago; it reminds me why I love it, and she definitely has a way of making it contemporary and fresh whilst being quite traditional too.

Whilst the synopsis outlines a revenge plot by Lexi, it’s played out in a lighthearted way and she’s a very likable character. As readers, we feel her struggle between wanting to make the relationship work and accepting Will is just maybe not the one for her; after all, she’s never his priority in life, is she? When Lexi learns that Will went to watch a football match (whilst claiming to be ill) instead of attending her best friend’s wedding, her writing class provides the perfect opportunity to let her feelings flow on the matter. As well as being a cathartic experience for Lexi, it’s the catalyst for a chain of events to get revenge on Will. But will revenge be sweet?

I read this book very quickly (on holiday, perfect holiday read!) as I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. It was funny and yet also moving at times. As a reader you were left challenging your perceptions of Will throughout. With only Lexi’s viewpoint to go on, we are limited to what we know of Will’s side of the story. I certainly thought the story was going one way which I was wrong about, but I was ever so happy this was the case.

The supporting characters are great: Lexi’s best friend Cara, Lexi’s parents, the couple in Barbados; all vivid and added so much fun to the story. A fantastic read and I really hope there is a follow-up. More please Anna!

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

More by Anna Bell: