Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Book Review: The Perfect Moment

By Becky Gulc

‘Is there ever a perfect moment to begin again in life?

Ever since tragedy threw her life into turmoil, Laura has taken refuge in her waitressing job at Valentino’s restaurant in Glasgow’s leafy Fairhill. Serving lattes and lunch specials means she’s too busy to think about all she lost or the dreams she was forced to abandon. So when her beloved boss announces she’s selling the business, Laura is devastated. Hatching a plan to set her up with the local pub owner, Laura hopes the two of them will make a connection that might just change her mind.

Recovering from betrayal and heartbreak, Bruce is also in hiding from the world and working in his uncle’s pub while he wonders how to restart his life. When Laura asks for help with her matchmaking scheme, he finds himself unable to refuse. She has a smile he can’t resist, no matter how much he wants to.

But as their plan is set in motion, the matchmakers begin falling for each other. Yet Laura thinks she’s happy with her dull boyfriend and Bruce won’t risk another broken heart. As the future of Valentino’s hangs in the balance, can these two lost and lonely people find the perfect moment to start their lives again together?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

This is a lovely debut novel by Alix Kelso. Whilst it’s not particularly exciting in terms of plot, I loved its simplicity and the focus on the characters whom I adored. The writing is excellent and seamless. I was drawn in from the very beginning and I found it hard to put down; utterly charming. I was reminded of authors such as Lucy Dillon when I read this (just missing a dog!) which to me is a great thing.

Laura and Bruce’s stories both pulled me in; they are both very warm characters that have been through difficult times. Whilst the focus is on them, there is also Natalie and Keith, whom I equally adored. I was so pleased to read we’ll have the opportunity to continue reading their stories in future Fairhill novels, as there was definitely more to explore with these lovely older characters.

I found this novel to be romantic, hopeful, and just an all-around feel-good read. The pace was just right and it just all felt refreshingly ‘grown-up’ in the interactions between the different characters. Normally you’re left berating at least one character in a novel, particularly exes or when a love interest gets the wrong end of the stick; this novel was quite refreshing in this respect. I loved it and can’t wait to read more.

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

Purchase links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Alix Kelso is the author of the Fairhill novel series. She’s happiest with her nose in a book and has been known to lash out dangerously if disturbed while reading. Having previously worked as a shop assistant, waitress, hospital cleaner and dishwasher, she eventually became a university lecturer. Although she loved the academic world of teaching and researching and helping her students, she always enjoyed writing stories in her spare time and finally decided to pursue her dream of publishing a novel and becoming a full time writer.

She lives in her home city of Glasgow with her husband and their rescue lurcher, Maggie. She enjoys pottering in the kitchen, walking in Glasgow’s many lovely parks, and is a firm believer in the therapeutic benefits of a long lunch with a big glass of wine.

Visit Alix online:
WebsiteFacebook * Twitter * Instagram

Visit all the stops on Alix's tour:

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Kimberly Belle is dear to a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Kimberly Belle to CLC today. Melissa A read The Marriage Lie and Three Days Missing and enjoyed how suspenseful both novels were. Her latest novel, Dear Wife, is publishing next week and we're excited to read it!  Kimberly has one signed copy for a lucky reader!

Kimberly Belle is the international bestselling author of five novels of suspense. Her third, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller and has been translated into ten languages. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Kimberly worked in marketing and nonprofit fundraising before turning to writing fiction. She lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and currently divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Kimberly online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning—one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What did you learn from writing your previous novels that you applied to Dear Wife?
It’s funny. Every time I sit down to write another novel, I think I know how to do this thing, and then the story is so different from my previous novels that it requires me to come up with a whole new way to tackle the story. A new structure, maybe, or a new way to present a plot twist so that my readers don’t know what’s coming around every corner. I don’t want any of my stories to feel predictable.

But I also learn with every novel—how to build a plot and create realistic characters and keep amping up the suspense—and I apply all my skills to each new novel. That’s why it takes me a good six to eight months to write that first draft, because I’m using old skills and learning new ones at the same time. Those first few books, you don’t know what you don’t know, but now that I’ve got six books under my belt, it’s easier to see when you’ve taken a wrong turn. It makes the writing harder and easier at the same time.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I love and adore any reader who tells me they lost sleep because they couldn’t put my book down. That’s about the best thing you can say to a writer, that their story kept them from daily life because they were glued to the pages. But Booklist recently compared me to two authors I really admire, Gilly Macmillan and Alafair Burke, and that was a great compliment, as well.

If Dear Wife were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
These questions are always so hard, but I’d love to see someone like Jennifer Garner play Beth. She’s strong and talented and she could play the heck out of an angry abused woman taking back her power. As for the male roles, Miles Teller would make a great Jeffrey, and Chris Pine would be perfect as Marcus. A girl can dream!

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
Younger. It’s hilarious and so, so smart, and I love all the publishing references. Season six has just begun, but while I wait for the next installment, I’m rewatching the earlier seasons.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
I don’t know if it’s funny, but this past winter my husband and I were on vacation in the Caribbean, and one night at dinner, I look across the room and straight into the eyes of Bono. He’s instantly recognizable, of course, though no one but me and my husband seemed to notice him at all. It was late, the restaurant had turned into a nightclub, and people were many drinks in at that point, so he was just hanging out incognito. So I did what any fangirl would do and posted about it immediately on Twitter. A couple days later we ran into him again, at another bar but this time in the middle of the day, during Carnival celebrations. He was wearing one of those Hamburglar masks, flying under the radar yet again. I told my husband and all of Twitter it was destiny.

What is your favorite summertime beverage?
Long live rosé season, preferably French rosé. But I’ve also recently discovered Aperol Spritzes: 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts aperol, and 1 part soda water. Drink them over ice and from a big red wine glass—refreshing and delicious!

Thanks to Kimberly for chatting with us and 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 June 23rd at midnight EST.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Spotlight: The Summer Guests

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life. 

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author),
The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.

Excerpted from an interview with Gallery Books:

What inspired you to write THE SUMMER GUESTS?
I live on the coast in South Carolina, and I've had to evacuate my home more times than I can remember in the last twenty years ahead of a threatening hurricane. And every time I evacuate, it comes with worry and stress. The last time I had to evacuate was ahead of Hurricane Irma in 2017. I was working on THE SUMMER GUESTS at the time, but wasn't far along in the writing. I was still trying to figure out exactly what the novel would be about. I fled up north to a friend's horse farm in Tryon, North Carolina. There I was taking shelter with other people who also fled their homes in Florida. They brought their horses, their dogs, even a baby. We were all there together, safe, but worried about what would happen. Strangers quickly became friends. We shared stories and bonded. And I remember in one particular moment, with the weather forecast showing the hurricane's ominous path on the television, we turned up Motown music, and danced, sipped wine, and talked and laughed for hours. This fast friendship eased the worries in our bones, and I realized, This is part of the story. To me, it felt like the 1980's film The Big Chill, but with horses, and rescue dogs!

Do you have a favorite character from THE SUMMER GUESTS?
It's hard to choose a favorite character. They each play such an important role in the story line. I can't choose just one. But, I love when readers tell me their favorite characters and why. So, send me a note on social media or through my website.

As fans wait for your next book, can you recommend some of your own favorite authors?

Oh, there are so many great writers! Right now, some books on my bookshelf include Signe Pike of The Lost Queen, Patti Callahan Henry's The Favorite Daughter and her other hit novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis. And Mary Kay Andrews' new novel Sunset Beach. I greatly admire each of these authors and their body of work.

What’s next for you? / What are you currently working on?
For the moment, I'm on a wild book tour. So, not much writing happening when you're rushing from city to city. But, I will have my first children's chapter book published in 2020, titled THE ISLAND, for middle grade readers. And I'm toying with the idea of a full return to the beach for my next novel. We'll see. For now, I'm so happy to share my new book, THE SUMMER GUESTS, with readers.

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit Mary Alice at her website and on Facebook.

Friday, June 14, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Poison Garden by A.J. Banner from Kathleen Carter Communications
Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald from Random House (e-book via NetGalley)
All the Flowers in Paris by Sarah Jio from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)
Extracurricular by/from Josie Brown (e-book)
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, won from Reading with Robin
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes from Pamela Dorman Books
The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair from Minotaur Books
A Beach Wish by Shelley Noble from William Morrow
The Nobodies by Liza Palmer from Flatiron (e-book via NetGalley)
Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer from Ballantine
Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum from St. Martin's Press
Friend Zone by/from Camilla Isley (e-book)
The Perfect Date by Evelyn Lozada from St. Martin's Press

The Me I Used to Be by Jennifer Ryan from HarperCollins

Too Close by Natalie Daniels from HarperCollins (e-book)
Skint Estate by Cash Carraway from Ebury Press

Book Review: To the Stars and Back

By Sara Steven

When Hollywood’s sexiest bachelor meets the girl next door, their relationship doesn’t follow the script…

On-screen, Christian Slade is America’s favorite heartthrob. Off-screen, letting romance into his life isn’t as easy. The women he dates all seem to want a piece of his glamorous life rather than his heart, and trust doesn’t come easy for him.

Then along comes Lana. A beautiful rocket scientist who’s also sweet, smart, sexy, and has absolutely no idea who he is. But what will happen when she finds out?

Will their worlds prove too far apart or could love really be like in the movies? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The primary characters in To The Stars and Back are refreshing! It’s not everyday the female lead is revered more for her high intelligence, than her beauty. Or, when a male actor hasn’t let the fame of his celebrity go to his head. It was nice to see that dynamic between Lana and Christian, a genuine respect that goes beyond the physical.

I also appreciated the honesty in Lana’s actions, where Christian’s celebrity is concerned. Many of us can only imagine what it would be like to know someone famous, to be thrust out into the limelight when least expected, and those emotions were eloquently portrayed for Lana. To go from a quiet, peaceful existence, to one where paparazzi become the status quo, it can be scary and surreal, at best.

Looking at it from the other perspective, Christian’s famed captivity was captured beautifully. In order to meet up with Lana and attempt to live a somewhat normal life, he has to dress a certain way and wear hats in order to protect his identity, and hers, too. Someone always wants a piece of him, whether in autograph form, or beyond. I could feel the frustration and at times, acceptance of the the way he’s chosen to live, and how hard it was to impose that on Lana. A struggle between doing what’s best for her, and for them, as a couple.

Much of Stars deals with the inner workings of going against the grain and following what the heart wants, but it was also encouraging to see two characters who know who they are and what they want from the very beginning. While Lana did not want to lose Christian, she wasn’t afraid to speak up and let him know how overwhelming the celebrity lifestyle had become for her, and Christian, while taking a much longer route to get to speaking his own true feelings to Lana, he does it, even after the rough experiences he’d had in the past. Two strong leads, within a fun, exciting read!

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

Camilla Isley is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad.

She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Visit Camilla online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram
Pinterest * Goodreads * Bookbub

Giveaway to Win a To The Stars and Back Tote Bag 
(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 winners’ 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. I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

Today we're featuring Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim. We've been hearing good things about this novel and we're excited to tell you more about it. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

After her mother’s refusal to support her chosen career as a chef, Natalie Tan leaves behind the limitations of life on her small street in China Town to strike out on her own. After years abroad filled with unwavering estrangement from her mother and the tight-knit community she left behind, Natalie is shaken when she learns of her mother’s sudden death. Reeling in the throes of grief and regret, Natalie must journey back home to get her mother’s affairs in order.

Natalie is shocked to find that over the last seven years, her once vibrant neighborhood has faded, with businesses failing and families forced to move out. But during a mystical encounter with the local tea shop owner who tells Natalie her fortune, her destiny becomes clear: she must revive her family’s closed-down restaurant to save the neighborhood. As Natalie rebuilds her connections with the community, she begins to forgive those she felt wronged by over the years, as well as herself—and she may even find new love along the way.

Photo by Shelley Smith
Roselle Lim is a Filipino-Chinese writer who came to Canada from the Phillipines as a young teen and learned English by watching wrestling shows on television. She has a degree in Humanities and History from York University. Visit Roselle at her website and on 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 June 18th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: Mrs. Everything

Jennifer Weiner's latest novel, Mrs. Everything, published yesterday. We're excited to tell you more about this book, which Melissa A loved. "Mrs. Everything is a powerful story that I think women (and possibly even men) of all ages will appreciate." (See her review). Thanks to Atria, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950's to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

Watch Jennifer describe Mrs. Everything in five seconds

Jennifer explains why she wrote Mrs. Everything

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and her memoir, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia.

Visit Jennifer online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * New York Times

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 June 17th at midnight EST.