Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Love of My Life

Just from reading the synopsis of The Love of My Life by Louise Douglas, we can tell it's going to be a cathartic tearjerker, good for an ugly-cry and an entire box of tissues. With over half its ratings on Amazon UK coming in at five stars, we have a feeling you won't want to miss out on reading it. Thanks to Bookouture, we have THREE e-books for some lucky readers anywhere in the world!


‘I miss him with every breath and heartbeat. He should have been my happy ending. Instead, he is the sad beginning to my story.’

THE LOVE OF MY LIFE is a beautiful novel that portrays both the innocence of childhood, and the dynamics of love and loss with deftness and sensitivity.

It is, above all, a stunning debut from an author with a unique and
natural narrative voice.

Discover the massive UK No.1 bestseller.

When Olivia and Luca fell in love as teenagers and eloped to London, they broke the hearts of those closest to them. Luca’s parents run Marinella’s restaurant, the colourful hub of life in an otherwise bleak seaside town, and his mother, Angela, has never forgiven Olivia for causing such a rift in her beloved family.

On a freezing January night Olivia’s life is shattered when she learns that Luca has been killed in a car accident. Left with nothing, and gripped by an overwhelming grief, Olivia abandons her job and returns home to where Luca has been buried just to be close to him – even though she knows she will not be welcome.

Facing her past and Luca’s family is not easy. When Olivia meets Luca’s married twin brother, Marc, she discovers a man experiencing a loss almost as painful as her own. Their desolation draws them into an affair which both know has no future, but fills the space where Luca should be. And when it spirals out of control, the consequences are both explosive and cruel…

About the author:
All Louise Douglas ever wanted to be was a published author. When her husband was working away and her sons had reached an age where they didn't need her constant attention anymore she thought to herself 'It's now or never'.

Louise began work on The Love of My Life, sitting at the kitchen table for at least a couple of hours every evening, after work. It took six months to finish the book and a little later she received a phone call from a top Dublin literary agent. The book went on to become a massive bestseller in the UK and is now published in the US and Canada for the first time. Visit Louise at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Advance praise for The Love of My Life:

‘Sad and lovely. I'm now having trouble finding a book good enough to fill the very deep hole she's left.’ ~Milly Johnson

‘It was a joy to read, and I just couldn't put it down. I was desperate to find out what had happened between Olivia and the Felicone's, and the story which led up to this was so detailed and well told, you felt like you were right in the middle of it with Olivia. An amazing debut, and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone. Superb.’ ~Chick Lit Chloe

‘Louise Douglas has written a brilliant book full of raw emotion; she has the skill to really draw the reader into the lives of the characters and take them on a journey with her.’ ~Chicklit Club

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.


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Worldwide. Giveaway ends March 10th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Double Feature Book Review: The Sisterhood of Friendship

By Melissa Amster

The novels I'm reviewing today are both light, fun stories that involve either a woman's relationship with her best friends or her sister. I enjoyed them equally and I adore both of these authors (not only because they're both fans of The Mindy Project), so I'm pleased to share my thoughts on them today. (I also love the covers for both.)

Both synopses courtesy of Amazon.

How Do You Know? by Meredith Schorr

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding toward her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.

When I first got this book, I kept thinking of a song from Enchanted. (Even though they usually say "How does she know?") The story proved to be as enchanting as the movie though. I easily got swept away in the story. Even though Maggie and I are at different places in our lives, I found her easily relatable and sympathetic. I have friends who are in Maggie's situation and think they would enjoy having a character who just "gets" them. I felt a twinge of "survivor guilt" at times, but some of Maggie's friends had lifestyles closer to mine and she still was close with them. Overall, I laughed, smiled, and even cringed sometimes. I still think about it at random times and can't wait until the next installment in Meredith's "Seeking Happily Ever After" series is published. She hasn't disappointed me yet and I know there's more fun in store from her. And no story of Meredith's is complete without casting for a movie:
Maggie: Judy Greer (she's got the look and is just about the same age...her birthday is a week after Maggie's).
Melanie: Ellie Kemper
Amanda: Mila Kunis
Doug: Josh Meyers
Jodie: Amanda Peet
Cheryl: Rachel Weisz
Philip: Robert Downey Jr.

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


Twin Piques by Tracie Banister

Forensic accountant Sloane Tobin and kooky pet psychic Willa may have the same face, but that’s the only thing these identical twins have in common.

How she can read the hearts and minds of animals has always been a mystery to Willa, and her rotten luck with men is equally baffling. Although she’s been looking for “The One” for what feels like forever (A teenage marriage to a French mime and dating a guy named Spider seemed like good ideas at the time!), optimistic Willa refuses to give up on love. When she meets Brody, the handsome rose expert hired to save her grandmother’s garden, she’s instantly smitten, but why does he keep sending her mixed signals? Does he return her feelings, or is their attraction all in her fanciful head?

Unlike her twin, Sloane has zero interest in romance. Her passion is her job, where she uses her gift for numbers to take down slimy embezzlers and asset-hiding spouses. When she’s assigned two high profile cases, Sloane feels confident the promotion she’s been angling for is within her grasp. But will her plan to climb the corporate ladder be thwarted by difficult clients, her co-worker-with-benefits, or – most surprisingly of all – her own sister? And how’s she supposed to stay focused on the drama at work when her childhood friend, Gav, moves in next door and the spark between them becomes impossible to ignore?

To get what they both want, can Willa and Sloane band together and rely on each other’s strengths? Or will their differences drive them apart once and for all?


This was my first Tracie Banister novel and I definitely want to read her others now. She has an easygoing banter throughout the story. She incorporates humor really well and also makes you really frustrated for situations that happened to her characters. I loved the ways Sloane and Willa interact with each other and the supporting characters. You can definitely see the contrasts in their personalities throughout. I felt an affinity toward both characters and can't decide which is my favorite. Tracie's use of dialogue, plot, and creativity makes her a strong writer and one to watch. She just knows what she wants from the story and runs with it. I also love how she incorporates pop culture, including her love for The Princess Bride. The only thing I wished for was that the "evil" characters were at the receiving end of their karma. We don't really know what comes of their wicked ways and it would have been fun to see them taken down. However, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story at all. I even bought it for a friend recently when she was having a rough week. It's such a great pick-me-up! And since Tracie was asking for casting choices in her book club last week on Facebook, it's only fair that I share mine.

Willa/Sloane: Tatiana Maslany (Since she is already used to playing different versions of herself, I feel she can pull this off well. I could easily see her as both characters.)
Brody: Channing Tatum
Gav: Steve Talley (after seeing him on Hindsight, he made me forget about casting Ryan Gosling in this role)

Thanks to Tracie Banister for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Meredith Schorr:

More by Tracie Banister:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stacey Ballis' books are always a treat...plus a giveaway

It is always a pleasure to have Stacey Ballis at CLC. I've read and enjoyed all of her books and am currently reading her latest, Recipe for Disaster. So far, so good. (Why am I not surprised?) Stacey and I have the Chicagoland Jewish girl connection and I enjoy seeing references to either topic in her novels. Adding to that is her ability to write about food so that it practically jumps off the page into my mouth. If you're a dog lover, you'll notice that she includes dogs in most of her books, as well. There's usually a cute one on the cover. Today, she is here to talk about books and reading, to go along with our March theme. Thanks to Penguin Random House, we have TWO copies of Recipe for Disaster for some lucky US readers! And speaking of recipes...she recently came out with her own book of recipes from her most recent novels, along with 40 others created just for this book. Check out Big Delicious Life with 150 recipes for less than $4.00 on Kindle!

You can always find Stacey at her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Synopsis of Recipe for Disaster:
To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a mess—her shirts are stained, her fingernails stubby, her language colorful. But, despite her flaws, Anneke’s life is close to perfect. She has a beautiful historic house to restore and a loving fiancĂ© who cooks like a dream.

Until Anneke’s charmed existence falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband in one terrible day. In need of a new start, she packs up her disgruntled schnauzer and moves into her half-finished home, where she throws her pent-up frustration—and what little savings she has—into finishing the renovation.

But at the first step into the house’s overhaul, Anneke is sidetracked when she discovers a mysterious leather-bound book, long hidden away, filled with tempting recipes and steamy secrets from Gemma Ditmore-Smythe, the cook for the house’s original owners. Slowly, with the help of some delicious food and Gemma’s life lessons, Anneke begins to realize that, just like a flawless recipe, she’s been waiting for the right ingredients to cook up a perfect life all along…(Courtesy of Amazon.)

Which authors have inspired your writing?
Shakespeare, Colette, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, MFK Fisher, Anne LaMott, Jen Lancaster, Nick Hornby, Stephen King. Elinor Lipman, Lorrie Moore, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Laurie Notaro

How does being an author affect your reading choices and/or experience?
Being an author affects my reading choices merely by connecting me with other authors, since I love to support my friends by reading their work! My experiences now do tend to have a little aspect of a tiny note taker on my shoulder, who pays attention to details of life that might make for good material or inspiration.

Which book were you hesitant to read, but then completely devoured?
The Hunger Games Trilogy… I tend to shy away from YA, its just not my bag, but a few people I trust said I would love it and I consumed all three books in one weekend!

Which book are you looking forward to reading this year?
Sara Gruen’s At the Water’s Edge, Mirian Toews All My Puny Sorrows, Jason Schmidt’s A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me, Amelia Morris’s Bon Appetempt, TC Boyle’s The Harder They Come, Toni Morrisson’s God Bless the Child, Jane Smiley’s Early Warning, and of course, all the new releases from my friends, especially: Jen Lancaster’s I Regret Nothing, Sarah Pekkanen Things You Won’t Say, and Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke The Status of All Things.

If Recipe for Disaster was made into an audio book, which celebrity would you want to narrate it?
Melissa McCarthy. Who I would also like to direct and star in the movie version of every book I’ve ever written.

Which book do you think everyone must read at least once in their lives?
Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird…not just for writers, it really explores what it means to live life and approach your work as an artistic process.

Thanks to Stacey for visiting with us and to Penguin Random House for sharing her latest novel with our readers. 

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

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US only. Giveaway ends March 8th at midnight EST.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lisa Jewell is a real "gem"...plus a chance to have your name in a book

We're pleased to have Lisa Jewell here to kick off our "Books and Reading" theme for March. Becky has reviewed some of her books for us and they all sound great! 

You can find her at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

This week, Lisa is offering fans the opportunity to have their name appear in a forthcoming novel. She is one of 69 bestselling authors including involved in the "Get in Character" eBay auction, an annual fundraiser organised by CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. The highest bidders for each author buy the opportunity to have a character named after them in their next book, and immortality in print. The auction runs until 8pm GMT Sunday, March 8th.

For more information about "Get in Character," visit www.clicsargent.org.uk/getincharacter or to make a bid visit http://stores.ebay.co.uk/clic-sargent-get-in-character.

Her upcoming novel (in the US, already out in the UK) is The Third WifeIt will be available in June.

Synopsis: In the early hours of a summer morning, a young woman steps into the path of an oncoming bus. A tragic accident? Or suicide?

At the center of this puzzle is Adrian Wolfe, a successful architect and grief-stricken widower, who, a year after his third wife’s death, begins to investigate the cause. As Adrian looks back on their brief but seemingly happy marriage, disturbing secrets begin to surface. The divorces from his two previous wives had been amicable, or so it seemed; his children, all five of them, were resilient as ever, or so he thought. But something, or someone, must have pushed Maya over the edge…

With psychological nuance that gets into the heart of its characters, The Third Wife is a gripping story about a man seeking the truth behind his seemingly perfect marriage and the broken pieces left behind. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Have you ever had a song inspire any of your scenes/characters/stories, and if so, what song and why?
My second novel, thirtynothing, was almost entirely inspired by "Disco 2000" by Pulp. It was in my head a lot before I started the book and I loved the premise of the lyrics; a reunion of school sweethearts. I also loved the feel of the song too, the nostalgic bittersweetness of it, which I definitely incorporated into the tone of my novel.

Which book character (yours or someone else's) is your ideal best friend?
This is an issue I think about quite often; how some people read books to find friends and kinship and then feel disappointed when it's not there. I tend to read books for the stories and the believable characters and don't care whether I like the people or not! But if I had to spend a night in the pub with a fictional character it would most probably be one of Liane Moriarty's women, they're all so earthy and likeable.

Which book would make a great TV series?
All of mine! All of mine! You did mean mine, didn't you?

Which book (of any you've read over time) do you think didn't get as much attention as it should have?
Oh, countless. But in terms of an author who has written a number of amazing books that have all been criminally overlooked, I would have to say Tamar Cohen. I would urge anyone who enjoys edgy, compelling women's fiction with slightly nutty narrators on the edge of nervous breakdowns behaving abominably to purchase her entire oeuvre immediately. She is fantastic.

If you could only have one book with you on an island, which would it be?
It would be a huge cookbook with lots of pictures and lots of words, maybe one of Nigella's.

What is your favourite book that you had to read for school?
I know I adored Cider With Rosie, but can't actually remember anything about it thirty years later. Maybe I should read it again!

Thanks to Lisa for visiting today and for being one of the authors offering the chance for someone to have their name in her book.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: Don’t Tell the Brides-to-Be

By Becky Gulc

Last year, I really enjoyed reading Don’t Tell the Boss, the second book in the ‘Don’t Tell the…’ series by Anna Bell (reviewed here). So when approached, I jumped at the chance of reviewing the next book in the series, Don’t Tell the Brides-to-Be. Here is the synopsis:

‘Things are looking up for Penny Robinson. She's kicked her gambling addiction and even started her own business: Princess on a Shoestring, an all-inclusive service for brides-to-be looking to pinch pennies on their big day.

Between family rows and wardrobe calamities, wedding planning is no piece of cake... but Penny's got it all under control. That is, until a rival planner decides to take her down - one hard-won bride at a time.

Now Penny must fight to save her reputation and her livelihood before it’s too late. But when a romantic weekend away has some unexpected consequences, Penny's expectations for her career are brought back down to earth with a bump.’ (Courtesy of Amazon UK.)

Penny is just beginning her new business as a budget wedding planner. She’s confident, enthusiastic and willing to work hard to make this succeed, but when she meets a rival ‘luxury’ wedding planner, someone is clearly determined to hinder Penny’s business in a whole range of ways. Can Penny overcome the many obstacles thrown in her way? And just how much is too much for Penny when secret surprises and past addictions present their own issues for our lead character?

Penny is just as lovely as I found her to be in the previous novel, she’s a wonderful character to spend time with, key for when the book is her narrative alone. When the rival planner starts to make trouble, I was rooting for Penny all the way. There were some great twists in this story, just when you think this rival planner can’t do any more, here comes something else.

There were some very comical moments in the novel, generally centred around when Penny was getting involved in taste testing and hen do’s whilst trying to hide quite a big secret from the brides-to-be. There are also some very moving scenes, heart-warming and emotional, in particular around the scenes involving Nanny Violet, Penny’s husband’s Nan.

Once again I enjoyed reading a novel where the central character is already loved up and happily married. I knew I didn’t have to worry about this pair and that’s quite refreshing. This is a novel about a strong woman trying to make her passion a career and the ups and downs that come with that, and the day to day issues that affect family life.

Even though this book is part of a series, you don’t need to have read either of the previous two books to enjoy it. I still haven’t read the first book (Don’t Tell the Groom) but I’m very intrigued to based on the references to Penny’s own wedding build-up and her gambling addiction in the subsequent novels. I also want to go back and spend time with some of the key characters from this novel such as Penny’s husband’s Nanny Violet.

Once again I found this to be an engaging and warm read, I enjoy Anna’s style of writing (including the use of tweets at the start of chapters), I like spending time with Penny and the supporting characters. I’m looking forward to Anna’s next book already. I would definitely recommend this series.

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

More by Anna Bell:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: Kingston’s Project

By Melissa Patafio

I was utterly surprised in so many ways by this book. It’s not that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it, I just could not have foreseen just how MUCH I would love it. Carrie Beckort is an amazing emerging author and one to keep an eye out for. She gives many a run for their money. I said I would write an honest review, and here it is.

Not only is Kingston’s Project a wonderful story, but it is full of mystery, romance, and emotion. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book, I thought maybe I would enjoy it and it would be a “feel-good” story, but it was so much more than that. It took me longer to read than I would have liked because of my schedule, but it in no way disappointed. Once I started it, I literally wanted to read it day and night until I knew what the ending was.

The story is about a May/December “love story”, but not in the way you would expect. It isn’t necessarily a romance of love and attraction, but more about the positive light and friendship that two people at different crossroads can bring to one another. The relationship is one of mutual respect and genuine care for one another. The main characters are both so different but manage to teach each other many valuable lessons throughout the book.

Our heroine, Sarah, has literally been through hell, and when she gets the chance to leave it all behind and start over, she does just that. Elijah Kingston is a man that has pretty much made his life as charming as he is and takes Sarah under his wing by offering her the opportunity of a lifetime. The story takes us from Sarah’s lonely and sad home in Indiana to the beautiful mountain scenery of Colorado. What Sarah has to face in order to make this journey is devastating and what she encounters once there, is enough of a distraction to start her healing process. The two then navigate the frightening and unknown together and the result is a story that will leave you thinking about it long after you finish the book.

I laughed, I cried, and I never wanted it to end. This is one of those rare books that really pulls you in and makes you question your own life and the way you live it. While reading this story I constantly heard in my head, "Songbird," by Eva Cassidy. If the book were ever made into a movie, that should be the theme song. All in all, Kingston’s Project was fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone looking for the next great read. Thanks for asking me to review this Carrie, I am honored and also forever changed by your amazing story.

Thanks to Carrie Beckort for the book in exchange for an honest review. Check out Kingston's Promise, as well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Highlights from 2014

By Melissa Amster

My book review queue has been huge lately and I've been neglecting to share my thoughts on some books I read in 2014 and enjoyed. I am sharing some mini-reviews and hope you will check these books out sometime soon.

All synopses adapted from Amazon.

Damsels in Distress by Laura Kenyon

After watching her fairy tale go up in flames, Belle is finally starting over. With a baby on the way, a business to run, and a new love interest she just can't shake, things are finally looking up. That is, until she learns her independence might revive broken curses the world over.  Meanwhile, Dawn still longs for the life she had three centuries earlier, so when the childhood sweetheart she believed to be dead resurfaces, she must suddenly choose between the past she once wanted and the present she never knew she did. As both women struggle between love and obligation, they fail to see a great danger brewing in the capital. One that could change everything forever.

I enjoyed Desperately Ever After back in 2013 (see review) and thought that this book picked up nicely where the previous one left off. It was equally compelling and full of vivid description. There were a lot of new twists that I never saw coming. I'm excited for the final book in this trilogy and hope Laura will have it published soon! My only concerns were that there was almost too much visualization at times and the political stuff got confusing (but politics is always confusing for me anyway). It's an enjoyable read that got me into the mood for Into the Woods this past winter. I have some more casting ideas (the other ones are in my DEA review).
Snow: Michelle Trachtenberg
Angus: Alan Rickman
Dr. Frolick: Peter Dinklage


Binds That Tie by Kate Moretti

Love ties. Murder binds. Maggie never felt as though she belonged until Chris Stevens showed her what true happiness meant. Ten years into their marriage, miscarriages and infidelities have scarred them both. Despite their perfect-couple image, Maggie can’t look at Chris with anything but resentment. When a charismatic stranger offers the opportunity for a little harmless flirtation, she jumps into the game. But charm soon turns to malice, and a deadly split-second decision forces Maggie and Chris onto a dangerous path fraught with secrets, lies, and guilt. With no one else to turn to—no one she dares trust—Maggie will ultimately learn just how binding marital ties can be.

I occasionally enjoy a good psych thriller, and Binds That Tie definitely kept me on my toes. Kate Moretti once again proves her strong flair for storytelling, but this has more of an intense edge than her previous novel, Thought I Knew You (reviewed here). I liked all the little surprises Kate threw in to throw her readers off guard, but thought she could have had less flashbacks, as some of them took away from the story a bit. Fans of Gone Girl will enjoy this novel, and if it ever gets movie rights, I have the following ideas in mind.

Maggie: Kate Bosworth
Chris: Charlie Hunnam
Jake: Brandon Routh
Miranda: Laura Prepon

The Story of Us by Dani Atkins

Emma Marshall can't wait to marry her childhood sweetheart, Richard. But then a tragic accident changes everything, and introduces a stranger, Jack, into her life. Gorgeous and mysterious, Jack is like no-one Emma has met before. But Richard is the man she loves...

Two different men. Two different destinies. How will Emma end her story?

I loved Fractured a.k.a. Then and Always (reviewed here), so I jumped at the chance to read The Story of Us. It was a sweet story with a nice balance between conflict and contentment. I found the people and scenery easy to visualize. There was even an element of suspense. I think I was just expecting a shocking twist after reading Fractured and being blown away. However, there were some surprises in store and Dani kept me guessing the whole time. It's definitely a story you can cozy up to on a winter's day. And I can't leave it un-casted!

Emma: Karen Gillan
Richard: Kristian Bruun
Jack: Jeremy Jordan (maybe because I just saw The Last Five Years and he plays a hot author in that too)

Thanks to Laura Kenyon, Red Adept Publishing, and Head of Zeus for the books in exchange for honest reviews.