Friday, July 28, 2017

Guest Book Review: Lost and Found Sisters

By Shana Javery

They say life can change in an instant…

After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.'s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she's looking for a missing piece she can't find?

The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.

On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn't quite fit in right away, she can't help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.

As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there's another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn't a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she's searched so long for.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Lost and Found Sisters was the first book I’ve read by Jill Shalvis, despite the fact that I’ve got one of her books sitting by my bedside. So, I had no idea that Ms. Shalvis was so adept at weaving humorous tales. I chuckled A LOT throughout this book. Given the title of the book I don’t think I’m giving too much away when I tell you that this book is about two sisters who discover the existence of one another through an unfortunate turn of events. Thirty year old Quinn struggles with the decision of whether or not to become the legal guardian of her fifteen year old sister Tilly, while Tilly battles her adolescent demons and waivers between hating her newfound sister and worrying that Quinn will desert her and return to Los Angeles. Which reminds me, this story takes place in Wildstone, a small, cowboy town just north of LA. The small town descriptions are priceless, at least to this city girl. And what’s a book without a sexy leading man? Enter Mick, the ruggedly, good-looking character who begins an on-again, off-again relationship with Quinn. Poor Quinn…commitment phobe extraordinaire. Anyway, this was a quick, fun read thanks to Ms. Shalvis’ ability to catch and keep my attention the entire time. Treat yourself and read this book when you’ve got a chance.

Thanks to William Morrow for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Shana Javery is an attorney mediator with a background in employment law. She is thrilled to have renewed her lifelong love of reading over the past few years. Recently, Shana even had the chance to edit a friend's book, something which she thoroughly enjoyed. Shana resides in Plano, Texas with her husband and the family dog Smoochy. Shana's renewed interest in reading is partly due to her empty nest, something she doesn't enjoy as much as others might.

More by Jill Shalvis:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tess Woods' travel takeaways...plus a book giveaway

We're thrilled to have Tess Woods back at CLC to feature her sophomore novel, Beautiful Messy Love. Melissa A enjoyed Love at First Flight (reviewed here) and is excited to see what Tess has up her sleeve for us this time. Tess is here to finish off shopping month for us and she has one e-book to give away!

Tess Woods is a physiotherapist who lives in Perth, Australia, with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over them all. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of granny-ish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea and tending to the veggie patch. She’s also moderately obsessed with the TV series Nashville and taking Buzzfeed quizzes. Visit Tess at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Synopsis:
What happens when love and loyalty collide? Two couples must deal with the consequences of their messy love not just for themselves but for those who depend on them. For lovers of passionate romance in the vein of Nicolas Sparks.

When football star Nick Harding hobbles into the Black Salt Cafe the morning after the night before, he is served by Anna, a waitress with haunted-looking eyes and no interest in footballers famous or otherwise. Nick is instantly drawn to this exotic, intelligent girl. But a relationship between them risks shame for her conservative refugee family and backlash for Nick that could ruin his career.


Meanwhile, Nick's sister, Lily, is struggling to finish her medical degree. When she meets Toby, it seems that for the first time she is following her heart, not the expectations of others. Yet what starts out as a passionate affair with a man who has just buried his wife slips quickly into dangerous dependency. 


Through attraction, breakups, triumphs and tragedies, these two couples learn just how much their beautiful messy love might cost. A
West Side Story for the modern day.


Where did you enjoy shopping most when you were a kid/teen?
Without question at bookshops. I would spend hours in bookshops – whether it was looking up new releases or going to second hand bookshops and picking up classics.

Last item you purchased online:
I do ALL my shopping online, I don’t have time to shop in person so I online shop almost every day – for groceries, everything I need for the house, my kids, gifts, you name it, I online shop it. Today I bought mermaid dollies for two special little toddlers in Melbourne, I designed a set of bibs that said “Buy one” and “Get one free” for my cousin’s twin babies and I bought my daughter Lara three pairs of leggings from Black Milk Clothing which is one of my favourite Australian labels. She had worn her old ones out so these are the ones we’re looking forward to getting in the mail next week for her- I especially love the Daily Prophet Harry Potter design!

Least favorite thing to shop for.
Pet worming tablets. Honestly is there anything more miserable to spend money on than pet worming tablets?

Most amusing purchase:
I buy a lot of jokey gifts for friends. So we’re often in stitches at my day job in the physiotherapy clinic when my purchases arrive. I particularly love this “Happy Man” bottle stopper we bought for a few friends at Christmas.

What store that no longer exists would you like to bring back?
The DVD store that was across the road from my house. It’s now a personal training studio. I don’t want exercise equipment I will NEVER use across the road, I want Hollywood at my fingertips dammit!

Do you like to purchase souvenirs when you travel? If so, what do you usually get?
Haha, ah yes. My husband will attest to the fact that I like to buy many, many souvenirs when we travel. Sadly for him the things I want tend to be heavy – as in wooden wall plaques from France, woollen full size blankets from Scotland, trestle table tablecloths from Italy – if it’s big and inconvenient, you can guarantee I will want it! Here’s a glimpse inside our world when we travel, we’re only a family of four, but hubby has to hire min-buses when we travel to accommodate my souvenir-ing ☺



Thanks to Tess for chatting 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 August 1st at midnight EST.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book Review: G*d-Shaped Hole

By Sara Steven

When Beatrice Jordan meets the unpredictable Jacob Grace, the two wild souls become instant allies. Together they discover an escape in each other's creativity and insecurities, while running from secrets they cannot seem to shake – or a fate that could throw them to the ground . . .

This 15th Anniversary reissue of Tiffanie DeBartolo's classic love story introduces a new audience of dreamers to a quintessentially real and raw vision of spirit, and inspires everyone to live ― and love ― as vividly as possible. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Fifteen years ago, I was a twenty-three year old young adult living on my own in an apartment I could barely afford, working a full-time job in property management, a part-time job as a bartender who would also run the Nebraska Big Red Keno machine when customers asked for it. I had a different voice then, a completely different outlook on life than I do now. Reading G*d-Shaped Hole reminded me of that girl I used to be. The one who struggled to make it but reveled in it. The one who, as Jacob would put it, had been “seeking a friend for the end of the world”.

Beatrice didn’t know what to expect when she met Jacob for the first time. The unusual circumstances which brought them together only compounds it, yet she’s drawn to him in a way she can’t explain. He feels the same way, catapulting them into coupledom. Kirkus cites G*d-Shaped as “this generation’s Love Story”, and I can see why. The two main characters, the love they have for one another burns so brightly, it made me yearn for my more youthful days, when expressing my feelings and the severity of those feelings, even when they drove me insane, had been totally acceptable. Sadly, though, like Love Story, there’s also a lot of tragedy involved within this story, only making me cling more to the two doomed lovers.

Tiffanie DeBartolo has done a fantastic job of taking us along on Beatrice’s experiences, of seeing the world through those young woman’s eyes, really digging into who Beatrice is as a character. Sometimes, I feel like the voice of a protagonist doesn’t match up to the persona of who the person is supposed to be. That did not happen here. I felt like there was no mistaking who any of DeBartolo’s characters are. I knew them inside and out, like they were real-life individuals, which made me want to read on and find out what would happen for everyone involved.

G*d-Shaped had originally been released in the spring of 2002, and while I didn’t have the chance to read it then, I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to read it now. I appreciate the reflections it allowed me to have within my own life, and while I’m no longer a young adult with that youthful voice, she’s still inside me, somewhere.

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

More by Tiffanie DeBartolo:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Heading to the mall with Jayne Denker

Introduction by Melissa Amster

Jayne Denker and I have many entertainment interests in common: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin, Younger, The Bold Type, and, of course, Hamilton! When I heard she had a novel coming out this summer, I knew we had to feature her at CLC. That novel is Your New Best Friend and it's now available for 99 cents on Kindle! She's here to celebrate her pub day and talk about shopping.


Jayne has worked as an editor and proofreader. After becoming a stay-at-home mom, she started writing romantic comedy novels. Your New Best Friend is her sixth! She lives in a small village in western New York with her husband, son, and a very sweet senior-citizen basement cat. When she's not hard at work on another novel (or, rather, when she should be hard at work on another novel), she can usually be found frittering away stupid amounts of time online. (Another thing we have in common.)

Visit Jayne at her website, Facebook, and Twitter. She may become your new best friend!


Synopsis
Jane Austen’s Emma made a habit of meddling in other people’s lives, but Melanie Abbott has turned it into a cottage industry.

As “modern American royalty” living in Abbott’s Bay, Massachusetts, a town founded by her ancestor, Melanie Abbott feels it’s her right—even her duty—to employ her uncanny knack for knowing exactly what everyone needs to improve their lives. She eagerly shares her wisdom and insight with her friends and neighbors . . . whether they ask for it or not. If only Conn Garvey, her dearest friend, agreed with her.


Connacht Garvey has been keeping an eye on Melanie since they were kids. A bit older, far more level-headed, and infinitely patient, Conn feels it's his duty to pull Melanie back from whatever cliff’s edge she’s about to wander off. Conn thinks Melanie is egotistical, self-centered, irritating, infuriating, relentless, ridiculous . . . and irresistible. Not that Conn’s confessed to that last one. Yet.


When Melanie impulsively starts up a new advice-giving business, it’s an instant hit. Conn doesn’t approve, as usual, which is too bad, because Melanie’s convinced he needs her VIP package. (Of advice!) His coffeehouse is showing signs of financial trouble, plus his toxic ex is suddenly sniffing around, acting like she’s having second thoughts about their breakup. Will their friendship be blown to bits because of Melanie’s meddling . . . or will it become something more? (Courtesy of Amazon.)


Tell us about a time you experienced buyer's remorse:
I’ve bought quite a few things that I’ve regretted, I admit. Let’s just say the clothes in the clearance section of the Sundance Catalog are there for a reason, mmmkay? Most recently...probably the fidget spinner I bought my son. He had bought his first one on a class trip to Canada, but it broke, and he was experiencing fidget withdrawal (I swear it’s a thing—I’ve witnessed it!) When I saw a bunch sitting on the counter of a respectable store that shall remain nameless, selling for $4, I bought him one. It lasted a week before it fell to pieces. One. Week. Lesson learned about stress fractures in plastic when it’s up against spinning metal bearings. Science!!

What store that no longer exists would you like to bring back?
I miss the old-fashioned, independently owned, local department stores. My hometown used to have a teeming downtown with three major department stores—two inside one of the oldest malls in the country (since torn down) and one across the street. The freestanding one, which dated back to the turn of the 20th century, was called Sibley’s. It was fabulous. Several floors of clothes, jewelry and accessories, household goods, toys, etc., plus a lunch counter and a bakery. There was a large clock high up on a pillar on the main floor, near the escalators, and people would say “Meet me under the clock at Sibley’s” when they needed to find each other in the heaving mass of people during a weekday lunch hour or on a busy Saturday. At Christmas, it was like something out of a fairy tale—or a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie! The whole store was decorated, the toy department was insane, and there was a long, darkened hallway, with lit-up holiday dioramas on either side, that you’d walk down to see Santa. And after you sat on Santa’s lap, you’d get a gold kazoo shaped like a trombone. Ah, parental migraines.

Would you consider yourself a shopaholic?
Not really. It’s not a recreational activity for me—I don’t go shopping if I don’t have something specific I need to buy. Although that might be more of a reflection on my financial state than my interest in recreational shopping!

What is something you purchase on a regular basis (excluding stuff you need)?
Oh, you know a writer is going to say books, right?! From browsing bookstores to one-clicking on Amazon, I cannot resist a good story. I also have a bad habit of buying blank notebooks and pens—definitely stuff I don’t need, but I neeeed, you know? And I love antiques and decorative household items.

Favorite splurge purchase?
Aside from books, I don’t tend to splurge on much. I don’t have a well-developed designer gene (my wallet thanks me), so designer clothes, shoes, and handbags and such can float right past me and I’d never notice. I do, however, have a weakness for graphic tees, movies (I like to buy digital versions of my comfort-flicks on iTunes so I can watch them dozens of times without having to root around for the DVD), earrings, and beads-with-which-to-make jewelry. I mean, I always swear I’ll find the time to get crafty, but I hardly ever do, so the beads sit in nice compartmented storage boxes, taunting me.

What would be your main character's favorite place to shop?
Unlike me, Melanie loves to shop—for herself, for others, doesn’t matter. She feels it’s her mission in life to help people discover their personal style—clothes, household décor, you name it. She frequents the cute, trendy, unique boutiques in her hometown of Abbott’s Bay, Massachusetts, on the North Shore, both as a way of finding unusual items and stimulating the local economy (very important to her), but she also likes to travel to Boston and New York City for the absolute latest fashions.

Thanks to Jayne for visiting with us today!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Book Review: Amanda Wakes Up

By Jami Deise

In 1987, James L. Brooks released what some call his best romantic comedy ever, the Holly Hunter vehicle Broadcast News. The love triangle featured producer Jane Craig, who’s torn between field reporter Aaron (Albert Brooks) and pretty-boy anchor Tom (William Hurt). Refreshing because Jane ultimately chooses herself and her journalistic ethics over either man, the film is also an inside look at one of the major issues in broadcast journalism at the time—hiring attractive people as anchors over more intelligent, less pretty people. (It was rumored that William Hurt’s character was based on Peter Jennings.) One of the most iconic scenes in the film is when Jane feeds Tom questions through an earpiece, making it seem that he’s conversant on the foreign crisis he’s reporting on.

A lot’s happened in journalism in the past thirty years. Broadcasting has become narrowcasting, as viewers follow only the news sources that reflect their particular world views. Teenagers make up stories about politicians and watch them go viral; politicians cry “fake news” whenever news breaks that makes them look bad. Journalists receive death threats. With the stakes so high, is it still possible to set a romantic comedy in this world?

CNN co-host Alisyn Camerota certainly thinks so. Her debut novel, Amanda Wakes Up, is Broadcast News for the reality-TV presidential era. And while her heroine, Amanda Gallo, is more Bridget Jones than Jane Craig, the political environment she’s thrust into is very serious.

After stringer Amanda reports on a hostage situation in her bikini, her profile explodes and she’s hired by Benji Diggs, the millionaire who owns FAIR News. (DC insiders may wonder if Camerota deliberately uses the same name as one of the most anti-immigrant groups there is, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.) FAIR runs a morning show, Wake Up America, and Benji promises Amanda that he wants to air both sides of the issues. But Amanda, raised by a liberal mother who’s supporting the country’s first female presidential candidate, Virginia Wynn, seems to be the only one who cares about the other side. Former actor Victor Fluke is running on a pro-business, anti-immigrant platform (“They’re American’ts!”) and Wake Up America is the only show where he can speak unchallenged. With a co-anchor, Rob, who seems more interested in his looks and his celebrity friends, and producers fresh out of college, Amanda is out of her league and can’t challenge bad statistics about gun control and abortion. As Fluke and Wake Up America become more and more prominent, Amanda’s liberal friends and her boyfriend Charlie accuse her of helping Fluke’s campaign, and Amanda begins to see them as close-minded when it comes to Fluke’s supporters. Depending on which questions she asks that morning, she’s attacked by conservatives or liberals as being against or for Fluke. At the same time, there’s whispers of scandals around Fluke’s past, and Amanda would love to report on them…if only Benji would let her.

Although Camerota swears she did not have a crystal ball, Wynn and Fluke do seem to be modeled on Clinton and Trump, and some of the events in the book (violence at Fluke rallies, for instance) are eerily prescient. Although the presidential campaign provides a timeline for the book, it does not dominate it. Rather, Camerota artfully demonstrates the hollowness behind news coverage; executives (Les Moonves, anyone?) who were more interested in their ratings than examining the damage that was being done to the country. Amanda herself, who was hired because she looked good in a bikini, may actually be the Tom in this case rather than the Jane. She’s too uninformed to hold her own in a debate with Fluke, blaming producers for not giving her enough information when Fluke badmouths Planned Parenthood. (Reporters who cover abortion issues are well-versed in the research provided by the Guttmacher Institute; Amanda seems to have never heard of them.) She naively believes that Fluke supporters are good people because they are nice to her, never wondering what their attitudes might be if she weren’t the reporter making Fluke look good. Amanda tries earnestly to live out the promise Benji made when he hired her, to see and report on both sides, never realizing that in some cases, there is really only one.

Camerota seems torn between whether she’s writing chick lit or a satire. That may be the result of decisions made at the editor or publisher level, though. While there were several plot points that had me cheering on Amanda, ultimately the book’s ending feels forced. It’s a reminder that while truth may be stranger than fiction, fiction is often happier. (And, as Amanda tells her mother, so are conservatives.) Still, the book works until the last few pages. And even if Camerota set out to write a satire, unfortunately events transpired to make Amanda Wakes Up too close to reality to be called an exaggeration. In fact, with a Twitter-happy President under investigation for colluding with Russia, real life has become the satire.

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

What's in the mail...plus a giveaway

Melissa A:
I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella from St. Martin's Press
The Address by Fiona Davis from Goldberg McDuffie
The Captain's Daughter by Meg Mitchell Moore from BookSparks
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak from Penguin Random House
The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms (paperback) from St. Martin's Press
Wish You Were Here by Renée Carlino from Atria
Look Behind You by Iris and Roy Johansen from St. Martin's Press
The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder from Macmillan Audio (won from Goodreads)
Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg from BookSparks
A Work of Art by Micayla Lally from BookSparks
American Family by Catherine Marshall-Smith from BookSparks
The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor from BookSparks



Sara:
Holly Freakin' Hughes by/from Kelsey Kingsley (e-book)
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley from Simon and Schuster





What could be in YOUR mail:

I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places and I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

Since Melissa A just celebrated her birthday, she wants to share these summer treats with a lucky reader!

The New York Times bestselling mother-daughter team returns with a new collection in the series that Oprah Magazine calls the "Perfect Summer Must-Read," of funny and relatable true stories in the everyday lives of modern women. Lisa and Francesca give their multigenerational take on a variety of topics, from the terrors of Tinder to the indignities of the gym, and from fleece as formalwear to playing the lotto as financial planning, sounding like two girlfriends you've known your whole life. As with all mothers and daughters, Lisa and Francesca sometimes joke, sometimes fight, but always love their way through life's best and worst moments. You'll laugh along with them, and when you finish, you will want to share the fun with your mother, daughter, or best friend.

So join Lisa and Francesca as they travel from the beach to the city to the suburbs and all the places in between, exasperating, supporting, and enjoying each other along the way.
(Courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.)


The bestselling and “perennially hilarious” mother-daughter team is back with a new collection of stories from their real lives, guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. Join Lisa and Francesca as they regret drunk-shopping online, try smell-dating, and explore the freedom of a hiatus from men - a Guyatus. They offer a fresh and funny take on the triumphs and facepalm moments of modern life, showing that when it comes to navigating the crazy world we live in, you’re always your own best lifeguard. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

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 July 26th at midnight EST.

Book Review: Crimes Against a Book Club

By Melissa Amster

Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.

Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.

Hilarious, intelligent, and warm, Crimes Against a Book Club is a delightful look at the lengths women will go to fend for their families and for one another.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Crimes Against a Book Club is one of those books I was recommending before I even finished, as I was that confident it was a winner the whole way through. And I was right!

The premise is creative and the dialogue and characters are humorous throughout. I love how the characters played off of each other. Everyone and everything was easy to visualize without needing an overwhelming amount of detail.

It's basically Odd Mom Out meets Breaking Bad. It also reminded me of some books I read. The "criminal" aspect reminded me of The Assistants by Camille Perri and the parts where you feel bad for women you're not supposed to like reminded me of The J.A.P. Chronicles by Isabel Rose. Even with all these comparisons, the story is fun, fresh, and celebrates friendship.

There was nothing I didn't like about this book and it's going on my 2017 favorites list. Definitely pick it up for a dose of fun and entertainment. I'm impressed that it is a debut and look forward to more from Kathy Cooperman!

Dream movie cast:
Sarah: Christina Hendricks (I had her cast in this role from the moment I started the book.)
Annie: Linda Cardellini
Valerie: Mira Sorvino
Kim: Catherine Bell
Chloe: Joanna Cassidy (perhaps the Odd Mom Out connection made me think of her, but she'd be so perfect in this role!)
Natalie: Rachael Harris
Priscilla: Kristin Chenoweth
Dawn: Heather Graham