Friday, August 18, 2017

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

Melissa A:
Virtually Perfect by Paige Roberts from Kensington (e-book via NetGalley)
Hope at Christmas by Nancy Naigle from St. Martin's Press
P.S. From Paris by Marc Levy from Amazon Crossing
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang from BookSparks
The Leavers by Lisa Ko from BookSparks
Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka from BookSparks
Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige from BookSparks
Jack with a Twist by/from Brenda Janowitz (e-book)
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land from Flatiron
Living the Dream by Lauren Berry from Henry Holt
Class Mom by Laurie Gelman from Henry Holt


Melissa A and Sara:
Kindred Spirits by/from Whitney Dineen
(e-book)

Jami:
I'm the One Who Got Away by Andrea Jarrell from Sparkpoint Studio (e-book via NetGalley)
The Week I Ruined My Life by Caroline Grace-Cassidy from Trafalgar Square Publishing

What could be in YOUR (e-)mail:

Jack with a Twist
by Brenda Janowitz...now available for Kindle!

Thanks to Brenda, we have THREE e-books for some lucky readers.

PLANNING A WEDDING CAN BE A TRYING EXPERIENCE....

A little pre-wedding anxiety is normal for every bride, and Manhattan attorney Brooke Miller isn't worried. She's got the loving support of the world's greatest guy, so planning her nuptials should be a piece of cake.

But that was yesterday.

Today, Brooke's landed her first big case and has just discovered that the opposing attorney is none other than her fiancé, Jack. But that's okay. These two professionals aren't going to let a little courtroom sparring get their legal briefs in a bunch.… Right? Wrong! Now Jack's pulling every dirty trick in the law books, and Brooke's starting to suspect that maybe he isn't the man she thought he was. Warring with her fiancé at work and at home, Brooke realizes that she'll have to choose between the case of her life, or actually having a life.
(Synopsis 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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway ends August 23rd at midnight EST.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

BookSparks #SRC2017 August novels










Today the spotlight is on the August books for BookSparks' Summer Reading Challenge of 2017.  All synopses are courtesy of Amazon.

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

A fresh new voice emerges with the arrival of Sour Heart, establishing Jenny Zhang as a frank and subversive interpreter of the immigrant experience in America. Her stories cut across generations and continents, moving from the fraught halls of a public school in Flushing, Queens, to the tumultuous streets of Shanghai, China, during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. In the absence of grown-ups, latchkey kids experiment on each other until one day the experiments turn violent; an overbearing mother abandons her artistic aspirations to come to America but relives her glory days through karaoke; and a shy loner struggles to master English so she can speak to God.

Narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled imperiled lives as artists back home only to struggle to stay afloat—dumpster diving for food and scamming Atlantic City casino buses to make a buck—these seven stories showcase Zhang’s compassion, moral courage, and a perverse sense of humor reminiscent of Portnoy’s Complaint. A darkly funny and intimate rendering of girlhood, Sour Heart examines what it means to belong to a family, to find your home, leave it, reject it, and return again.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.

Told from the perspective of both Daniel—as he grows into a directionless young man—and Polly, Ko’s novel gives us one of fiction’s most singular mothers. Loving and selfish, determined and frightened, Polly is forced to make one heartwrenching choice after another.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

WHO ARE YOU WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid--her true home--with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything . . . including Snow's return to the world she once knew.

This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Review: The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land

By Sara Steven

When Sophie Bennett moves from a quiet sleepy suburb of Toronto to glitzy west London, she doesn’t know where she has landed: Venus or Mars. Her three-year-old daughter Kaya attends Cherry Blossoms, the most exclusive nursery in London, where Sophie finds herself adrift in a sea of Alpha Mums. These mothers are glamorous, gorgeous, competitive and super rich, especially Kelly, the blonde, beautiful and bitchy class rep.

Struggling to fit in and feeling increasingly isolated, Sophie starts The Beta Mum, an anonymous blog describing her struggles with the Alpha Mums. But when her blog goes viral, she risks ruining everything for herself and her daughter. How long will it be until they discover her true identity? Is her marriage strong enough to survive one of her follower’s advances? And will she ever fit in with the Alpha Mums? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

I could totally relate to Sophie. While I've never made a move to London, and I don’t find myself surrounded by semi-famous, glamorous mothers, I feel as though I’m still trying to find my niche after moving to Arizona, particularly when it comes to making new friends. And just like Sophie, I’m not quite sure how to fit myself inside the close-knit groups of women that stand outside the school doors, either dropping off or picking up their children. I had this idea that friendships would get easier the older I got. Boy, was I wrong!

It’s even harder when you don’t have a good support system. Sophie moved away from hers, in an effort to support her husband’s budding career. And it seems as though no matter how hard she tries, or how many play dates she attempts to make through an Alpha Mum’s personal assistant, she just can’t catch a break. She feels like she can live with the rejection, but when it begins to affect her daughter’s well-being, it gets to be a little too much.

I found the Beta Mum blog enjoyable, and funny. An open, honest letter to others who might be struggling, offering up a candid look into what it’s like to feel overlooked. But in the process of finding her voice and gaining ground in her life, Sophie notices so many other areas in her world begin to unravel. Can she find a balance between being who she yearns to be, and trying to become something she’s not?

There were moments where I cringed right along with Sophie, particularly when everything begins to crumble around her. And, I appreciated the often hidden perspective in The Beta Mum that can come from seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, then being forced to see the honesty and realism of what’s really happening. Often, those who portray a certain image in an attempt to gain approval, are usually the ones whose lives are far from the visual they want us all to see. And while I’ll continue to be friendly and not shy away from any potential friendships that may come my way from the Beta Moms in my world, I’ve been focusing more on appreciating the friendships I already have with the amazing mom friends who make up my own support system, whether near or far.

Thanks to Isabella Davidson for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stacey Ballis' impact on our lives...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Joe Mazza/Bravelux
Interview by Tracey Meyers

We're pleased to have Stacey Ballis at CLC to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, How to Change a Life (reviewed here). Stacey is practically a fixture here, as we have had her for a few visits over the past years and Melissa A has read all her books, listing her previous novel, Wedding Girl, as a 2016 favorite.

Stacey Ballis is the author of ten foodie novels, including Inappropriate Men, Room for Improvement, Off the Menu, Out to Lunch, and Recipe for Disaster. Her first cookbook, Big Delicious Life is out now in a digital edition. She is also a contributing author to the anthologies Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, and Living Jewishly. Her non fiction cooking pieces can be read at ExtraCrispy.com and Bake From Scratch Magazine.

Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy of How to Change a Life to give away!

Visit Stacey online:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest


Synopsis:
Eloise is happy with her life as a successful private chef. She has her clients, her corgi, and a recipe for the world’s most perfect chocolate cream pie. What more could she need? But when her long-lost trio of high school friends reunites, Eloise realizes how lonely she really is.

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa revamp their senior-class assignment and dare one another to create a list of things to accomplish by the time they each turn forty in a few months. Control freak Lynne has to get a dog, Teresa has to spice up her marriage, and Eloise has to start dating again.

Enter Shawn, a hunky ex-athlete and the first man Eloise could see herself falling for. Suddenly forty doesn’t seem so lonely—until a chance encounter threatens the budding romance and reveals the true colors of her friends. Will the bucket listers make it to forty still speaking to one another? Or do some friendships come with an expiration date?
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


Which author has had the greatest influence on your writing?
This is a very hard question. I like to think I’m inspired in my writing of female relationships from Jane Austen, my food writing from MFK Fisher, my humor from Oscar Wilde, my romantic relationships from Shakespeare.

What's your work space like?
I have an office that is like my secret hidey hole. I upholstered the walls in moss green velvet with padding, so it is very loud proofed. I have a full sized daybed full of pillows, and tend to write sitting on that…I have an antique hospital rolling bed table that holds my laptop when I write sitting there. I also have a gorgeous antique desk from 1835, but I tend not to work on that for my novels, it is more of a note writing desk. There is a large built-in bookcase facing the daybed, with the books that inspire me, and a television.

Do you listen to music, podcast, etc. when you write or do you need complete silence?
I sometimes leave the tv on for background noise, or I listen to music. I don’t really like to write in silence, I find it unsettling!

My favorite book of all time is:
Eloise by Kay Thompson

Besides your phone, what must you have with you at all times?
Kleenex.

What is your favorite life hack?
Hmmm. Most of mine have to do with cooking. I love using two plates to trap cherry tomatoes so I can slice them all in half quickly by just sliding a serrated knife between the plates! So much faster than one at a time.

Thanks to Stacey for visiting with us and to Berkley for sharing her book with our readers.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway ends August 20th at midnight EST

Monday, August 14, 2017

Spotlight: Seasons of Summer

Melissa Baldwin recently published the fourth and final novella in her "Seasons of Summer" series. Each e-novella is 99 cents, and they can be enjoyed all at once instead of waiting for each season to happen.

Fall Into Magic

After a devastating breakup in the middle of her summer vacation, Summer Peters knows she needs something to distract her. What better than the arrival of fall, Halloween, and a new client? Though she assumes that Alexander Williams will be a hands-off client, she is surprised to find him very down-to-earth. She’s immediately drawn to him, much to the dismay of his overprotective assistant. When it becomes obvious that he feels the same, she begins to wonder if their meeting was meant to be.

Just when she thinks she could be ready to move on with her life, her ex-boyfriend Jake returns for a second chance. She’s in for even more of a surprise when she learns her nosy, meddling neighbor is actually a psychic pushing to reveal details of her future.

Summer doesn’t know which way to turn as she feels like she’s being pulled in different directions. Between Alexander, his assistant, and her ex-boyfriend, she fears she may not be ready to move on after all. She considers turning to her neighbor for advice but the fear of knowing exactly what the future holds is more frightening than not knowing.


Winter Can Wait

Following a fabulous fall, Summer Peters is not looking forward to the frigid winter. Much to her dismay, she knows this winter is a time for many changes in her life, including moving on from the heartache of the past.

Her professional life is flourishing, especially after her company is hired to decorate a trendy New York City restaurant. Summer sees this as a fantastic opportunity to build her clientele. However, she doesn’t anticipate the few surprises she encounters along the way, some of which could threaten her future.

Although her relationship with superman-lookalike Alexander Williams seems almost perfect, she finds it more and more difficult to compete for his time with his possessive personal assistant. To make matters worse, she doesn’t expect the return of Helena, his supermodel ex-wife who many say is his soul mate.

On the big opening night of the restaurant, she’s faced with making yet another difficult decision. She knows it’s time to take her life in the right direction; although in order to do this, she may need to let go again.


To Spring with Love

Summer Peters is thrilled to be done with the frigid winter. Spring is in the air, and she’s ready for a fresh new start. Her career is thriving, she’s searching for a new place to live, and she’s finally ready to take her relationship with Alexander Williams to the next level.

What she doesn’t expect is to be blindsided by Alexander’s assistant, Melanie, who seems to be up to her old tricks, even stooping as low as dating Summer’s ex-boyfriend, Jake. Once again, Summer is faced with the dilemma of having to share Alexander with a woman who’s out to destroy their relationship.

To add to these challenges, she receives devastating news from her best friend, Angie. At a critical time when she may need her best friend the most, she learns Angie may not be there for her. She quickly realizes that she may need to lean on someone she never expected during this time of change.

Return to Summer

Summertime has arrived and things aren’t only heating up outside for Summer Peters. After a rocky spring, Summer thinks she’s finally moved on from the heartache of last year. She’s found a new place to live, her company has new clients, and her relationship with Alexander Williams is going strong, despite the desperate attempts by others to sabotage it.

Just when Summer thinks everything is finally falling into place, she receives another crushing blow, and this time it could even affect her business. Summer knows it’s finally time to put a stop to the one thing that threatens her happiness, even though it requires a difficult decision in order to do this. Will this season bring her everything she’s always wanted or will history repeat itself?

Find out how Summer’s one-year journey ends in this final installment of the "Seasons of Summer" Novella Series.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Guest Book Review: Best Friend for Hire

By Shana Javery

I’m not one to give away the story line in a review. I read just enough of the book description to get the gist of the story. Sometimes I don’t read more than one or two lines. I like to be surprised! For that reason, I’ve opted not to attach the Goodreads synopsis because it gives away too much in my opinion. So, I will tell you a few things about the premise of the book. Jessie DeSalvo, a born and bred Jersey girl, thinks she’s about to get her dream promotion but instead she gets escorted out the door at her beloved job! From that moment on, Jessie fervently tries to figure out what she can do to make a living and pay her bills. She basically stumbles into the idea that everyone needs a friend to help them out and in that moment her business plan is created! That also explains the book title: Best Friend for Hire. As someone who has done the self-employment route for years, I really related to this story and Jessie’s journey. When reading the book I was reminded of something one of my first clients ever told me: self-employment should really be referred to as self-UNemployment! Ah, those peaks and valleys!

So, the reader gets to see what Jessie does to find clients and gets to know those clients through the incredible wit of the heroine of this story. Jessie is HYSTERICAL! I laughed A LOT while reading this book because her sarcasm jumps off the page. My favorite part? Getting to know Jessie’s Italian-American family! What a riot! Basically, if you want to read a book that will make you smile while reading, Best Friend for Hire should be on your to-be-read list. I’d read anything else by author Mary Carlomagno because I truly love her writing style!

Thanks to Laura Rossi Public Relations 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.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Spotlight: A Mother Like Mine....plus a book giveaway

Welcome to England’s beautiful Lake District, where a reluctant reunion forges a new bond between a daughter and her wayward mother….

Abby Rhodes is just starting to get her life on track. After her fiancé’s unexpected death, she returned with her young son to the small village where she grew up and threw herself into helping her ailing grandmother run the town’s beach café. Then one evening, her mother, Laura, shows up in Hartley-by-the-Sea and announces her plan to stay. After twenty years away, she now wants to focus on the future—and has no intention, it seems, of revisiting the painful past.

Laura Rhodes has made a lot of mistakes, and many of them concern her daughter. But as Abby gets little glimpses into her mother’s life, she begins to realize there are depths to Laura she never knew. Slowly, Abby and Laura start making tentative steps toward each other, only to have life become even more complicated when an unexpected tragedy arises. Together, the two women will discover truths both sad and surprising that draw them closer to a new understanding of what it means to truly forgive someone you love.


Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, including the Hartley-by-the-Sea novels Rainy Day Sisters and Now and Then Friends, and more recently, the Willoughby Close series. A former New Yorker, she now lives in Wales with her husband five children. She also writes as Katharine Swartz.

Visit Kate online:
Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including us on Kate's tour and sharing copies of her previous novels from the Hartley-by-the-Sea series with a lucky reader! Visit the other stops on Kate's tour for more chances to win! Purchase A Mother Like Mine here.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway ends August 15th at midnight EST.