Monday, February 24, 2020

Cristina Caboni has an epic story to a book giveaway

Photo courtesy of Goodreads
Today we welcome Cristina Caboni to CLC. She was introduced to us by Kristin Harmel, who speaks highly of her. Her latest novel, The Binder of Lost Stories, was recently translated to English (and has such a gorgeous cover). Thanks to Laura Ceccacci Agency, we have TWO copies to give away (one print, one e-book)!

Cristina Caboni is the international bestselling author of The Secret Ways of Perfume. One of Italy's best-loved authors, she has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. The Binder of Lost Stories is her second novel to be translated into English. When Cristina is not writing, she devotes herself to her family's beekeeping business. She currently lives in the province of Cagliari with her husband and three children. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Cristina online:
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From international bestselling author Cristina Caboni comes an exquisite and engrossing novel of two women, centuries apart, bound by a love of books and a longing for self-discovery.

With her delicate touch, Sofia Bauer restores books to their original splendor. In this art she finds refuge from her crumbling marriage and the feeling that her once-vibrant life is slipping away. Then an antique German edition takes her breath away. Slipped covertly into the endpapers is an intriguing missive, the first part of a secret…from one bookbinder to another.

Two hundred years ago, Clarice von Harmel defied the constraints of family and society to engage in a profession forbidden to women. Within three separate volumes, Clarice bound her own hidden story filled with pain, longing, and love beyond all reason. A confession that now crosses centuries to touch the heart of a stranger.

With the help of book collector Tomaso Leoni, Sofia connects the threads of Clarice’s past, page by page, line by line, town by town. She’s determined to make Clarice’s voice heard. With each new revelation, Clarice is giving Sofia the courage to find her own voice and hope for the future she thought was lost.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What did you learn from writing your debut novel that you applied to The Binder of Lost Stories?
I learnt that feelings are important. Being emotionally involved gives you the chance to get into the story.
I always first envisioned the scenes before putting them on paper. In this world perfumes, sounds, colors and everything that surrounds us are main characters.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
Readers often tell me that reading my stories is like living them, they feel personally involved as if what they read was really happening to them. I think this is one of the best compliments a writer can receive. A book is a magic world and giving the readers the keys to get into it is a great accomplishment.

If The Binder of Lost Stories were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
This is a really witty question because I always think about my characters as actors before starting the writing process, it helps me focus. I look at them and understand what they want. Tomaso Leoni is the epic Tom Hardy, whom I love. For Sofia Bauer, I had Jennifer Lawrence in mind, she’s perfect for the role. Clarice Von Harmel and Christian Philippe are the real-life couple Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.

If we were to go to Cagliari right now, what must-see places would you take us to visit?
The Castle of the city, before anything else. It’s the oldest part of the city built on a hill overlooking the city, it’s where nobles use to live and where the royal palace is still today. Climbing beautiful stairs, you get to an ancient rampart of white marble and from there you can see the city below and the sea touching the coast. The sea in Cagliari is of a deep blue and it melts with the sky on the horizon. Il Poeto is a beach you have to see. A long walk on fine white sand. At night, you can enjoy an astonishing sunset sat at one of the many small local restaurants, that fiery sky frames unforgettable memories.

What sparked your interest in beekeeping and what is your favorite thing about it?
My family has run a beekeeping company for years, beekeeping runs into our veins. Bees are family to me. My great grandmother used to sing for bees, and the bond we share with these insects has always been strong. They make me feel peaceful, the way they take care of flowers, so tireless and calm, so careful to their community’s needs fascinates me, the hive to them is a sacred and precious place.
They taught me how to be patient because there’s a time and a place for everything, and they remind me that nature has to be preserved and protected. That’s what bees do, they don’t waste, they cherish and preserve and that’s what we should do, too.

What is your go to breakfast food?
I usually drink aromatic tea, a few cookies, the evergreen honey on bread, all sided by a chat with my husband before the day gets started.

Thanks to Cristina for visiting with us and to Laura Ceccacci Agency 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 March 1st at midnight EST.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: So Lucky

Today we are featuring So Lucky by Dawn O'Porter. The delicious doughnut on the cover captured our attention, and the synopsis was just the icing on top! Thanks to HarperCollins, we have FIVE copies for some...ahem...lucky readers!

Is anyone’s life as perfect as it looks?

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

But it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

Fearless, frank, and for anyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the bestselling author of The Cows.

Photo by Hailey Simone Porter
Dawn O'Porter
is a broadcaster, novelist, and print journalist who lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, cat Lilu, and dog Potato. Dawn is the critically acclaimed author of The Cows, Paper Aeroplanes and Goose. She is also a highly prolific Tweeter  and manages her own website (currently under construction). Dawn is obsessed with vintage clothing and recently set up her own clothing label, BOB (she also has a bob…).

Visit Dawn online:
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 February 26th at midnight EST.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Sun Down Motel

Today we are pleased to feature Simone St. James's latest novel, The Sun Down Motel. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnĘžt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

Photo by Lauren Perry
Simone St. James is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls, Lost Among the Living, and The Haunting of Maddy Clare. She wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school, and spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time.

Visit Simone online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest

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 February 25th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Book Review: The Neighbours

By Becky Gulc

‘To get up from rock bottom, you’ve got to take the stairs…

Some women have it all. Others are thirty-four and rent a tiny flat alone because they recently found their long-term boyfriend in bed with their boss. Ginny Taylor is certain her life can’t get any worse. But then she meets her downstairs neighbour…

Cassie Frost was once a beloved actress, but after a recent mishap she desperately needs a new publicist. And Ginny is a publicist who desperately needs a job – but can she be persuaded to work for the prickly woman who lives below her floorboards?

Ginny and Cassie are two very different women, but they have more in common than they’d care to imagine (or admit). And when their worlds collide, they realise that sometimes – just sometimes – bad neighbours become good friends…’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

The Neighbours is the debut novel by Nicola Gill and it sounded like the kind of novel I’d be drawn to and enjoy. So what did I think?

Ginny isn’t having a great time of it when we meet her, she finds her boyfriend cheating on her with her boss, cue loss (or good riddance) of the boyfriend and her job in PR, how can she face her boss every day now? With her best friend/flatmate moving abroad too she’s left to face the turmoil pretty much on her own.

Ginny has never really touched base with her famous actress neighbour before, Cassie Frost. But after a damaging stint on reality show I’m a Celebrity…, Cassie is slowly realising she’s not the in-demand actress she once was, what she needs is some good PR, and who better to provide this than her out of work neighbour and newfound kind-of-friend Ginny?

Without a doubt for me, it was the unlikely friendship between Ginny and Cassie that made this novel great. It was a lovely exploration of forming a new friendship later in life, when you’re meant to be in someone’s life when on the face of it you may not have much in common; it’s just fate. These women seem to know what the other wants and needs than they do themselves. Their story was beautiful. It was so funny at times, I loved Cassie; sassy, says it as it is even if she shouldn’t sometimes! And Ginny is a lovely character whom I warmed to instantly.

There are dark times in the novel and I found these very moving and well-written, the struggle to help a friend navigate mental health issues, I felt as helpless as the friend. There is a lot of kindness and warmth from the central, as well as some of the supporting characters, and it was lovely to read.

This is a great debut novel. I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to these two women and I think that says it all. The Neighbours is funny, moving, and full of love and that’s said without even considering the ‘love story’ elements of the novel (which are also strong). Loved it!

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

Visit the stops on Nicola's blog tour:

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Kimmery Martin has the antidote for your book a book giveaway

Today we welcome Kimmery Martin to CLC to celebrate the publication of her sophomore novel, The Antidote For Everything! It sounds like a fascinating story and we look forward to checking it out. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

Kimmery Martin is an emergency medicine doctor-turned novelist whose works of medical fiction have been praised by The Harvard Crimson, Southern Living, The Charlotte Observer and The New York Times, among others. A lifelong literary nerd, she promotes reading, interviews authors, and teaches writing seminars. She’s a frequent speaker at libraries, conferences, and bookstores around the United States. Kimmery completed her medical training at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She lives with her husband and three children in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Bio courtesy of Kimmery's website.)

Visit Kimmery online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest

Georgia Brown’s profession as a urologist requires her to interact with plenty of naked men, but her romantic prospects have fizzled. The most important person in her life is her friend Jonah Tsukada, a funny, empathetic family medicine doctor who works at the same hospital in Charleston, South Carolina and who has become as close as family to her.

Just after Georgia leaves the country for a medical conference, Jonah shares startling news. The hospital is instructing doctors to stop providing medical care for transgender patients. Jonah, a gay man, is the first to be fired when he refuses to abandon his patients. Stunned by the predicament of her closest friend, Georgia’s natural instinct is to fight alongside him. But when her attempts to address the situation result in incalculable harm, both Georgia and Jonah find themselves facing the loss of much more than their careers. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is something you learned from writing The Queen of Hearts that you applied to The Antidote for Everything?
I learned I need an editor! I’d keep writing endlessly if no one reined me in. Also, sometimes my sense of humor is quite stupid.

How are you similar to or different from the main characters of The Antidote?
I think most authors incorporate something of themselves into their protagonists, whether consciously or unconsciously. I did deliberately give both Georgia and Jonah some features you could accuse me of possessing— I’m a bossy science geek, like Georgia, and I gotta admit some of Jonah’s goofiness hits close to home. (And I always have at least one character in my novels who hails from the great state of Kentucky!) But obviously, the more you write a character the more they take on a life of their own. I’m very fond of these two, warts and all.

If The Antidote were made into a movie, who would play the leading roles?
We have a term for this exercise in the writing biz: casturbation. It’s super-fun. Here are my choices:

Georgia the Urologist/Narrator: Jennifer Lawrence is one of my favorite actresses and like me and Georgia, she’s a native Kentuckian. But also maybe a redhead, like Rose Leslie or Emma Stone.

Jonah the Family Medicine Doctor/Best Friend: Godfrey Gao would be sweet! I love his acting.

Mark the Love Interest: Danny Pino or Ryan Reynolds

Darby the Rehab Doctor/Southern Belle: Reese Witherspoon or Kristen Bell

Donovan the Anesthesiologist/Complicated Villain: Paul Bettany. I think it’s mandatory that he play the villain in all movies.

Edwin the Hot Security Guy: Colton Haynes

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
I really liked Booksmart. In a general I am a big fan of Nerd Fiction.

What is the strangest dream you remember having?
For years I had a recurrent dream about a tiny blond brown-eyed girl who bossed me around. I don’t believe in the supernatural but my first child personifies this dream person pretty well, even down to her appearance.

If you could travel through time, would you go to the past or to the future?
No question at all: I’d go to the future. I’m absolutely fascinated by the way technological advances will alter society over the next decades and centuries. We are living on the cusp of the most impactful evolution in human history and I want to know how it turns out.

Thanks to Kimmery for chatting with us and to Berkley 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 February 23rd at midnight EST.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Book Review: From Here to Nashville

By Sara Steven

Rachel Hardy dreams of being a successful country music singer in Nashville’s Music City, four thousand miles away from her lonely life in Dorset.

When Jackson Phillips, an independent record label owner, encourages her band to audition for a nationwide ‘Open Mic’ competition, she decides they have nothing to lose.

But when she starts to fall in love with Jackson, the stakes suddenly get higher and she finds herself with a great big dilemma on her hands. Should she abandon her dream and take the easy way out or should she leave the life she has always known behind and take a gamble on a man who has personal demons of his own?

Follow Rachel and Jackson as they learn to trust in love again and to see whether music really can bring them together. (Synopsis Courtesy of Goodreads)

While I’m not a huge country music fan, Rachel’s story still resonated with me, and I had an enjoyable time while reading about her trials and efforts in attempting to make it big in Nashville. There’s something almost whimsical about her as a character. She injects a never ending drive to go for your dreams, and I felt like I’d been elevated by that spirit. The scenes where Rachel and her band are playing shows, I felt like I was right there with them, part of the action- as a band member, or someone there to watch the show. It was nice to have both perspectives in order to get a better understanding of the band dynamics and how it all works into Rachel’s future goals.

When Jackson enters the picture, there was no doubt in this reader’s mind the kind of attraction and draw Rachel has to him. He seems almost too perfect for paper, so I can understand her hesitancy in believing in him and what he represents. I could also see how scary it was for Rachel to consider completely leaving everything she knows in order to move thousands of miles away and take a chance on something that is unknown. Having been in those shoes before, it’s always a crap shoot. I felt those emotions were really explained well and there was no confusion on how she felt.

Told from both Rachel and Jackson’s perspectives, it was nice to see what each primary character is feeling and thinking, as well as what their motivations are as the story progresses. This becomes even more helpful when Rachel finds herself in a bit of a love triangle situation, one that the reader isn’t at first privy to, unfolding gradually. It lends into her indecision on whether she should move or not, not entirely sure on what the right decision should be.

This is the first book in the From Here to You series, and with two more books in the mix, I’m interested in seeing what’s next for this group of characters!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Julie Stock writes contemporary feel-good romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in February 2015 and her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace in March 2017. Over You (Sam's Story) and Finding You (Jenna's Story), her follow-up novellas to From Here to Nashville were published in 2018, making the From Here to You series complete. She has also published a boxed set of the From Here to You trilogy of books.

The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge was published in August 2019, followed by Bittersweet, a collection of 12 Short Stories for Modern Life in September 2019.

Julie is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and The Society of Authors.

Julie is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.

Visit Julie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway to win a signed paperback copy of From Here to Nashville, a bookmark and a guitar magnet (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within seven days, then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winner's information. This will passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. We are not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Sara and Melissa talk about....Romance!

We recently started a new column series to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about romance, since it's Valentine's Day! We're open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our first post here, in case you missed it last month.

Melissa Amster:

As of last week, my husband and I have been together for 18 years. Our 16-year wedding anniversary is next month. When it comes to romance, we don’t rely on flowers and chocolate. Instead, it’s the little things we share that keep our marriage thriving. The number one most important thing in our relationship is laughter. We engage in humor all the time, whether it’s sending funny articles and videos that we know the other will enjoy, sharing inside jokes, doing impressions, joking about something our kids said or did, etc. We love being able to make each other laugh. It’s a natural high for us. Even when there are tough times or someone is having a bad day, just sprinkling some laughter in is enough to buoy us.

Our wedding...16 years ago!

In the beginning, there were typical romantic gestures, like a special date night surprise, going dancing together, making bubble baths, doing stuff for each other’s birthdays, etc. For a date early in our relationship, my husband took me for a carriage ride around downtown Chicago and then for dinner at Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock building. For our one-year wedding anniversary, he re-created that special date and also gave me a necklace he designed and had a jeweler make. (I still wear it all the time.) I also had surprises in store for him on our anniversary. I planned activities that would remind us of our honeymoon, like going to a restaurant similar to Benihana--prior to us keeping Kosher (there was one at our resort), playing billiards, going dancing, and having drinks at Bahama Breeze (although mine wasn’t alcoholic at that time because I was pregnant with our first child).

Nowadays, we go on dates, but we usually just get dinner and go bowling or to see a movie. (Sometimes we’ll see live theater performances, as well.) However, I planned a surprise activity for his birthday this past winter. We went to an escape room for the first time and it was a lot of fun. It brought back an element of excitement from early in our relationship and we also got some inside jokes out of it. Now that our oldest child can babysit his siblings, we get out a lot more often and even go on double dates with other couples sometimes.

I am in love with my husband and the spark in our relationship is still going strong. I’m thankful for him every day.

Since this is a book blog and we are celebrating Valentine’s Day right now, I wanted to mention a few romantic novels I’ve enjoyed in recent years, as well as one that slipped under the radar a long time ago.

1. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
2. One Day in December by Josie Silver
3. Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
4. The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr
5. Sparing the Heart by Tracy Krimmer
6. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
7. A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber
8. Twin Piques by Tracie Banister

Slipped under the radar:
Room for Love by Andrea Meyer.
It published in 2007. I loved it and I don’t think it got the attention it deserved. (Probably because I didn’t have a book blog back then.)

I would love to hear about your favorite romantic novels. Please share them in the comments section below.

Sara Steven:

I’ll be honest- I’m having a bit of a bah humbug Valentine’s Day holiday this year. Having dealt with health issues since the beginning of the year, and still ensconced within the throes of it, visions of red hearts and pink “I love yous” has taken a back seat to doctor’s appointments and medical exams. It’s funny how quickly a moment or an event can change one’s perspective on things. In researching ideas on how I wanted to approach this month’s topic, I found correspondence between my husband and I circa 2008. This was from before the wedding, before the second child. Before the health issues:

From me, to him:

I love to watch you. I love to watch your habits and the little things you do. Like the way you hold your fork and the 5 seconds it takes you to actually taste food in your mouth, and the facial expression that comes after it. That's a classic Kevin, right there. When you walk away from me or towards me, I love to watch the type of gait you have. It's this self assured step with a little bit of boy mixed in there. It's really cute. I love that you always have to be touching me, in some way, when we are together, whether it's a hand on my back, or entwined in my hand, or when we are on the couch, not even cuddling, our feet have to be touching. You are an AMAZING man baby. Thank you for being the way you are, and thank you for being mine. :)
I love you. Have a good day at work today. :)

And from him, to me:
What I love about YOU, Sara, is that you can send something like this to me, and it's so touching and wonderful that I have no idea how to respond to it. I'm sure there were a few things I did yesterday that you could add to this list, but those things along with all the other things you mentioned here, are all because of you. You are the reason I'm the way I am. This morning I was reflecting on how good I feel and how much more like myself I have been lately. I realized, though, that I'm not like myself at all. I can't say that I'm feeling like I used to so many years ago, because I'm feeling better. Way better. I have all of the same silly playfulness and fun-loving spirit that I used to have, but I also have much more confidence, and resolution, and respect in myself and others. Most of all, though, I have love. I have love that I never knew existed, and cannot live without. I'm complete and happy and healthy and I feel so incredible. I owe that all to you. You are my best friend, my partner, my girlfriend, my lover, my're my everything. As sappy as it sounds, I don't think a word exists for what you mean to me. I think there's just a feeling that exists for it, and I'm so happy that you feel it too, so you know what I'm talking about. I love you Sara. Thank you for completing me.

Our honeymoon, almost 11 years ago!

It’s not that I don’t still feel that way. I hope he does, too. Only, time has progressed us, catapulted us into an entirely different dimension than 2008. Sweet love notes have been replaced by sticky notes, or notes sent through text. Responsibilities have compounded, with moves and new jobs and two children. Our date night for Valentine’s Day this year will be his accompaniment to another doctor’s appointment, this one roughly an hour from where we live, not counting the Phoenix rush hour traffic. We still hold hands, and while we don’t whisper sweet nothings into one another’s ear nearly as much as we used to, I don’t know anyone who can deliver a much-needed joke when I need it, not like my husband can. He’s Wit On Tap. He’s also stepped up, picking up where I’ve had to slack, steering the kids and making dinners and doing as much as he’s able to, to help me out. My visions of red hearts and pink “I love yous” is knowing I have someone in my life who would literally do all he can for me, in order to ensure that I’m healthy and all right because I am that important to him. To me, that’s the real deal, right there. And really, what’s more romantic than that?

Whether you’re in a new, budding relationship, or one that’s seen a few miles, or maybe you’re spending time with your girls on a Galentine’s Day extravaganza, any and all of it- I hope you have a wonderful time spending the 14th of February with the people who mean the most to you.

Your turn! Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section. We look forward to hearing from you.