Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Spotlight and Giveaway: Her Name is Rose

Today we're featuring Her Name is Rose by Christine Breen. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have TWO copies for some lucky readers!

When Irish gardener Iris Bowen could not conceive a child, she turned to an Irish adoption agency. There she found a young American exchange student who wanted the best for her infant daughter, but had one request: that the child be named Rose. Now, Rose has grown and is stepping out on her own at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Although a gifted violinist, she questions her talent as she struggles to meet the impossible demands of her brilliant but harsh teacher. Meanwhile, Iris has yet to fulfill her late husband’s last request that she find Rose’s birth mother, so that if anything happened to Iris, Rose would not be left alone in the world. However, when Iris receives some worrisome results on a breast scan, her husband’s words become hauntingly urgent. Without telling her daughter, she embarks on a voyage to find Rose’s birth mother with surprising results.

Since searches for a birth mother are usually initiated by the adopted child, Iris finds herself in a unique situation. With no records available to her and only a twenty-year-old envelope with a faded address to guide her, Iris begins a journey into the past that takes her to Boston and back to the west of Ireland, with surprising results for herself and for Rose and the others whom their lives touch. Iris discovers just how connected the world can be and how the world can feel much smaller thanks to love and music. 

Written in lyrical prose that brings the music within its pages to life, HER NAME IS ROSE is a gorgeous and intimate debut novel about the bond between a mother and daughter, and what happens when life does not play out the way you expect.

"An emotional story that tenderly explores the depth of a mother's love. You will root for her characters as they lift you up with their compassion and goodness."
—Diane Chamberlain author of The Silent Sister

Christine Breen was born in New York and educated in Boston and Dublin, where she received an MA in Irish Literature. She is an artist, homeopath, and garden designer whose columns on travel, gardening and health have appeared in newspapers and magazines in Ireland and America. She currently lives in Kiltumper, Ireland with her husband, the novelist Niall Williams, in the cottage where her grandfather was born. HER NAME IS ROSE is her first novel. Visit Christine at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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

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Giveaway ends September 5th at midnight EST.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: American Babe

By Sara Steven

Babe Walker cracks me up. While I’m not certain as to the tolerance level I’d maintain if I’d ever meet her in person, I can tell you that reading about her adventures, or more appropriately, mis-adventures, makes me laugh and leaves me wanting more.

In American Babe: A White Girl Problems Book, Babe is given an invitation to her grandfather’s birthday party. The only catch: It’s in Maryland, miles away from the lifestyle she’s used to in L.A. Is Maryland even a real place? Traipsing through unfashionable societies and meeting individuals who eat carbs, of all things, these experiences make Babe want to cringe, but she feels as though this is the right thing to do. Or so people tell her. Should reconnecting with family be this difficult?

The silver lining is her cousin Knox, a young boy who seems to have been created from the same cloth that Babe is draped in. He’s stylish, he’s sophisticated, he knows how to create food palates that utilize raw cooking methods sans the carbs. It’s like a match made in heaven, and in discovering her family, Babe finds out what it truly means to love someone, unconditionally. So much so, she decides it’s best to kidnap Knox and take him on the trip of a lifetime! We’ll see how well that goes over.

I’ve read White Girl Problems, another Babe Walker phenomenon (reviewed here), and while I enjoyed both books immensely, I have to admit it was nice to see Babe grow a little, and gain some maturity. Well, maturity for her. It’s a definite learning curve. She has no problems telling it like it is, unfiltered and as tactless as ever, but we wouldn’t want Babe any other way. That’s what makes her such a delight. In theory.

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

What's in the mail

Melissa A:

Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner from Atria (e-book via NetGalley)

The Secret Ingredients of Wishes by
Susan Bishop Crispell from Thomas Dunne

Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave by Jill Kargman from Ballantine

Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell from Berkley

Who's that Girl? by Mhairi McFarlaine from HarperCollins


The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan from HarperCollins


Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson from Viking (e-book via NetGalley)


The Real Liddy James by Ann-Marie Casey from Putnam (e-book via NetGalley)

Book Review: My Everything

By Becky Gulc

‘On the day Hannah is finally going to tell her husband she's leaving him, he has a stroke . . . and life changes in an instant.

Tom's only 32. Now he can't walk or cut up his own food, let alone use his phone or take her in his arms. And Hannah's trapped. She knows she has to care for her husband, the very same man she was ready to walk away from.

But with the time and fresh perspective he's been given, Tom re-evaluates his life, and becomes determined to save his marriage. Can he once again become the man his wife fell in love with, or has he left it too late?’
(Courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.)

I was intrigued by the concept of My Everything. Hannah has made the difficult decision to leave her husband and go and follow her dream of teaching in Tanzania. Yet just as she’s about to do so, Tom has a stroke. Hannah’s secret plans are then shelved and she feels more trapped than she perhaps ever has felt before. Can a truly horrific event and feeling compelled to stay with someone when you wanted to leave ever lead to anything other than resentment? I was interested to follow their stories and see.

The narrative of the story worked really well, switching between the present and key moments in the pair’s relationship from the past. I particularly enjoyed the chapters giving us insight into their past, lots of lovely moments and memories of their relationship building. Their relationships with key family members are also explored, with some difficult events covered.

What I would say is that I found it was certainly a book that grew in strength for me as it progressed, I only really warmed to the characters when, as a reader, I understood more about the history, about why Hannah was unhappy, as well as learnt of Tom’s perspective in it all. It took me a while to get into the book because I didn’t feel any warmth towards Hannah to begin with, as we were slowly introduced to their back-story, but looking back I appreciated this build-up. As a reader I didn’t feel Hannah fall in love with Tom even in the beginning, but I did feel Tom fall for Hannah, so I guess he had my loyalties until later on in the novel when I came to feel equally fond of both characters.

I enjoyed seeing the characters evolve, and their relationship evolve throughout the novel. The stroke itself and its impact was covered extremely well without being a depressing novel or overly medical in the descriptions. It’s very moving at times and a thought-provoking read. Overall I’d say this a great debut novel from Katie.

Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Katie Marsh:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

We're fans of Liberty Kontranowski...plus a special giveaway

Today Liberty Kontranowski is here to talk about her debut novel, All Access, which is the first in her Fangirl series. To celebrate, she's giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to a lucky reader!

Liberty Kontranowski is a romantic women’s fiction author who adores all things lovey-dovey with a pinch (or more) of hubba-hubba. When she’s not at the keyboard, she’s taxiing around her three boys, knocking back craft beers with the hubs, blogging, fangirling, and dreaming up more fake people. She also spends an inordinate amount of time drinking coffee and dreaming of the day she can bid adieu to far-too-wintry Michigan and move to a place where she can write with her toes in the sand.

Liberty loves to hear from her readers (and otherwise cool people) so give her a yell. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and through her blog.

Every fangirl has a fantasy . . . what happens when that “if only” dream comes true?

Though she’s a single mom wedged firmly into thirty-something territory, author Kallie Reagan’s devotion to rock star Niles Russell knows no bounds. To pay homage to her muse, Kallie writes a smokin’ hot novel featuring a hero who looks and acts an awful lot like Niles — and a heroine who may or may not have a smattering of herself thrown in for fun.

When Niles learns about the book and surprise-texts Kallie, the two deliciously complicated creatives become fast friends . . . and so much more. But trying to define a relationship that’s laced with closeted skeletons, half-truths, and constant question marks proves harder than making it big. If they’re going to progress from Fangirl Infatuation to The Real Deal, these two need to give each other All Access to the most important place of all: their hearts.

How do you define the genre, "Chick Lit"?
The Chick Lit genre has become quite fluid over its lifetime, which is both exciting and encouraging. So I think there’s lots of wiggle room as far as definitions go. That said, I’d classify Chick Lit as any story that women (and men, if they want!) can learn from, escape with, or fall into. These stories might include serious subject matter, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. And the best part? They almost always guarantee you’ll have a really great time!

What is it about writing that brings you the most satisfaction?
The act of writing is my therapy. It helps me make sense of the world through a creative person’s eyes. (Which is, in my opinion, a much different approach to life than that of a non-creative.) Writing keeps my imagination busy and allows me to funnel my creativity toward something productive. Plus, I can make those “big dreams” of mine come true . . . by flinging them into a fictional person’s life!

Bonus benefit? After publication, writing nets a whole new type of satisfaction: resonating with readers! By far, reader feedback has been the coolest part of being published. There’s nothing more incredible than hearing how your writing has affected (or inspired) someone else. I swear I’ll never get used to that. :)

Which authors have influenced your writing?
I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but no other authors have really influenced my writing. Don’t get me wrong — there are a ton of amazing Chick Lit, women’s fiction, and RomCom authors that I admire, but I’ve always kind of done my own thing. Every writer has his or her own voice, approach, style, nuances. That authenticity is what makes you stand out. So, I try to tune into my own “Higher Author Chick” and challenge/influence myself that way. The hope is, of course, that pushing myself will help me improve with each story, and ultimately connect with more and more readers.

After loved ones and friends, what three things could you not live without?
Sunshine (!), coffee (!!), and my computer (of course)!

One thing I’m too afraid to do is:
Drive on highways. I loathe this about myself, but somewhere along the line I developed a tremendous fear of driving on highways and now I simply can’t do it. (I can be a passenger, but I can’t actually drive.) When you read ALL ACCESS, you’ll notice that’s a trait I passed on to poor Kallie. Except she can do it . . . she just doesn’t like to!

If you could bottle up one thing from the summer to carry with you throughout the year, what would it be?
Warm temperatures! I am an island girl trapped in a Michigander’s life and, no lie, I am counting down the years until I can shove out and relocate to somewhere warm. Only 11 more years to go! ;-)

Thank you so much for having me! This was a ton of fun and I love being able to chat with the incredible CLC Community! If you read ALL ACCESS, thank you in advance. I hope you love the few hours of pure escapism!

Thanks to Liberty for visiting with us and sharing a gift card with our readers. Thanks to Chick Lit Plus for arranging the interview.

~Interview by Tracey Meyers

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 30th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: Tailored for Trouble

By Sara Steven

Taylor Reed is trying hard to recover after being fired, all for speaking her mind and delivering the truth to a less-than-caring CEO. She knows she should have bit the bullet, but the man in question was well-known for his treatment of fellow female employees, often crossing the line with his harassment. She can see a silver lining to her situation, though. Maybe she can create an executive training program, something to assist those in high ranking positions to be better bosses to their employees. It’s sound in theory, but launching it off the ground is a cumbersome prospect, especially when her first client is none other than the less-than-caring CEO who fired her in the first place!

Bennett Wade has a reputation that precedes him. Women want to sidle up to him, and men want to be him. Unless you work for Bennett. Then, all bets are off. It’s about the dollar signs and how much he can acquire, so when he discovers Taylor was let go due to his own actions, it’s not about making amends, but figuring out a way to become part of her program, a great idea that she’ll have no way of launching off the ground without his influence. It always boils down to, “what’s in it for him”, but in this case, he’s getting way more than he could have ever bargained for.

Tailored For Trouble is a cleverly-written novel that takes us on a romantic roller coaster, the kind that leaves you breathless in anticipation. There’s much to discover for both characters, the inner workings of a couple who are nothing short of explosive! Will Taylor ever be able to find what really makes Bennett tick, and can Bennett let go of the safety net he’s built around his heart, to let Taylor in? It's hard to anticipate from one page to the next, how their story will turn out. I also found "Tailored" to be full of surprises of the, ahem, provocative sort, as well. What starts out innocently enough streamlines into a steamy experience that made me blush, but totally in a good way. Well worth the read!

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cathy Kelly has all her sisters with her...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to feature Cathy Kelly today, who is here to talk about her latest novel, Between Sisters, which was published earlier this month. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing, we have TWO copies to give away.

Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of copies of her books in print. A #1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, she is one of Ireland's best-loved storytellers. She lives with her husband, their young twin sons, and three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. Visit Cathy at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Meet the women of Delaney Gardens, a bustling suburban village in the outer reaches of Dublin. There's Cassie, who's spent her married life doing everything right for her children, husband, and mother-in-law, yet feels so exhausted that "wine o'clock" comes a littler earlier each afternoon. There's her sister Coco, who runs a vintage dress shop, but has avoided the complications of romantic commitment. Watching over them is their grandmother Pearl, who, despite caring deeply for her family, is contending with a long-buried secret. And then there's Elsa, the polished face of daytime TV, who's triumphed over demons before, but is now facing her toughest battle yet. At every crossroad these women face, readers are taken deeper into the heart of what it means to be a family.

Which authors have inspired you?
Too many to mention, almost. I read a bit the same as I breathe, like many of you. I read the cereal packet in desperation if nothing else is there. Among the thousands of writers I love are Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Maya Angelou, and Colette. I will think of ten more as soon as I get up from this chair.

What is one piece of advice you could offer to aspiring novelists?
Trust in yourself and BE yourself. I have mentored a lot of writers and it's so easy to think your own voice is not good enough and try to channel someone else. Honestly, the authenticity of your own voice is what makes it work.

Describe your writing in three words.
Warm, wise, hopeful.

If you could cast Between Sisters as a movie, which actors would you choose for the lead roles?
I love Reese Witherspoon so can she be Coco, because she would be funny and convinced of her own hopelessness as her. For Cassie . . . that's tougher. I can see Jennifer Aniston being Cassie as she plays a harried woman so well, and Cassie, despite having all she ever wanted - a family - is harried because she's a working mom trying to hold it all together.

What is your theme song?
My theme song is definitely one my own sister, Lucy - in whose house in London I am currently staying - and I consider OUR song: Sister Sledge's "We Are Family."

What is the last restaurant you ate at and what did you eat there?
We have just come back from seeing the Georgia O'Keefe exhibition at London's Tate Modern - I am a huge fan of O'Keefe and adore her work - and we had coffee (short skinny cappuccino for me) and a nutty bar. I am a slave to the carb! They have a fancy restaurant too but this was sort of afternoon tea and a chance to rest our feet!

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 28th at midnight EST.