Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dani Atkins is a dream come true...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Hannah Couzens
We're excited to have Dani Atkins back at CLC today. Her latest novel, A Million Dreams, published last week. Melissa A really enjoyed it and will be reviewing soon. Head of Zeus has THREE copies for some lucky readers in the UK. And so everyone else isn't left out, we will choose a winner to receive one of Dani's previous novels. 

Dani was born and brought up in Cockfosters- a small London suburb at the end of the Piccadilly Tube Line.

This served her well for commuting into the city, where from the age of 18 she worked in a succession of secretarial positions in companies as diverse as a BMW car dealership to the BBC. Dani spent her two hour commute avidly reading and dreamed that one day she would become an author herself.

When her two children grew up and left home, Dani set about turning this dream into reality and devoted her time to writing. She now lives in a rural Hertfordshire cottage with her husband, a soppy border collie dog and a haughty Siamese cat. (Bio courtesy of Goodreads.)

Visit Dani on Facebook and Twitter.


Synopsis:
Beth Brandon always dreamed of owning a florist, but today the bouquets of peonies and bright spring flowers are failing to calm her nerves. Because today, Beth has a life-changing decision to share with her husband.

Izzy Vaughan thought she and her husband would stay together forever, but sometime last year, their love began to fade. They both find such joy in their young son Noah – but is he enough to keep them together?

Eight years ago, something happened to these two women. Something that is about to bring them together in a way no-one thought possible...

Thought-provoking, emotional and uplifting, this is a gripping love story for fans of Jojo Moyes and Amanda Prowse.
(Courtesy of Goodreads.)


What was your inspiration for writing A Million Dreams?
The inspiration for A Million Dreams first came to me after I heard about a couple in America and the incredible series of events that thrust them into the limelight ten years ago. To identify them will give away too much of the plot, so all I’ll say is that their story fascinated me and acted like a starting pistol in my head, firing off a question that I simply couldn’t ignore... ‘I wonder what would happen if...?’

Which character could you relate to more: Izzy or Beth?
Usually when writing I’ll develop a fondness for one particular character, they are the person who I relate to more than any other in the story. Luckily characters in your books aren’t like your children, so it’s perfectly okay to have a favourite! However with A Million Dreams I related to both Izzy and Beth. I wanted good things to happen for both of them. I wanted each of them to get exactly what they wanted. But for one to win, the other had to lose, and it was difficult to be cruel to a character who’d already found a place in my heart.

If A Million Dreams were made into a movie, what are some songs that would be on the soundtrack?
"You and Me Against the World" by Helen Reddy – an oldie, but the words fit the theme of the book so perfectly. In fact I just played it to check if it should be included in the list, and it made me cry.
The second song is a little more recent, but just as moving, "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman.
Both of them would be on my chosen soundtrack.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
I discovered a great new series when visiting my daughter in Australia last year. It is an American show called Younger, and comes from the creator of Sex and the City. It is set in a New York publishing house, so lots to relate to if you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes. When I came back home I was really disappointed when I couldn’t find it on any of our UK channels, but happily it has just popped up on Comedy Central. That’s my Monday evenings sorted for the foreseeable future.

What is the strangest thing currently residing in your purse/handbag?
My handbag is the size of most people’s carry-on luggage, so it’s full of a great many bizarre items, most of which I deem as absolutely essential and not strange at all. However others might find the miniature retractable steel tape measure a little odd, as well as a first aid kit so extensive I could probably perform an emergency appendectomy if you asked me to.

What is the last dream you vividly remember?
Last night I dreamed that as a birthday surprise my adult son and daughter performed a complicated dance routine that I had to judge. As they weren’t very good, Dream-Me sadly had to give them a Craig Revel Horwood-worthy critique. I think Strictly must be playing on my mind!

Thanks to Dani for visiting with us and to Head of Zeus for sharing her latest novel 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 UK giveaway here and the worldwide giveaway here

UK giveaway:
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Giveaways end November 24th at midnight EST.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Book Review: The Huntress

By Melissa Amster

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family . . . secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Truthfully, I was hesitant to read The Huntress at first. I liked The Alice Network so much (see my review) and was worried the bar was set too high and that everything Kate Quinn wrote afterward would fall short. However, I didn't have anything to worry about, as I enjoyed this novel even more than its predecessor. And there's a little cameo from Alice to enjoy, as well! (Ironically, I just realized that I was also hesitant to read Alice at first. Two hits out of the park and Kate has sold me on anything she writes going forward!)

I liked all of the characters in this novel. They each had many layers and were so interesting to get to know better. Even the one I wasn't supposed to like came off as likable. The story was so interesting and it was neat to see how the stories came together as they started unfolding and moving through time. The detailed descriptions made it easy to visualize what was happening, as well as the characters and settings, but they did not take away from the narrative, of which there was plenty. There were some humorous moments, as well as heartbreaking ones. I found myself stepping away from my TV and computer at night so I could find out what would happen next in the story.

Even with a story this great, I still have a few criticisms. I felt it went heavy on symbolism, especially with mentioning "rusalkas" all the time. There was also a lot of foreshadowing that was unnecessary. The synopsis had a level of foreshadowing, as well. I also had a hard time understanding some of the flight terminology during Nina's chapters and it got confusing. The book is 530 pages long, which is a lot for me when it comes to having a lot of books in my TBR and so little time. Thankfully, it held my attention throughout and I felt like I was breezing through it after a while.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Huntress and I can't wait for my friends to read it so I can discuss it with them, as well as with the friends who already have read it!

For Hollywood's consideration (because this would be an amazing movie, of course):
Nina: Tatiana Maslany (I swear this role was written with Helena from Orphan Black in mind. "Sestra.")
Ian: Jamie Demetriou
Jordan: Lili Reinhart
Tony: Noah Centineo
Anneliese: Dominique McElligott
Yelena: Stacy Martin

Friday, November 15, 2019

A [good] friend date with Kate...plus a book giveaway

Today we are featuring Kate O'Keeffe's High Tea series, which is part of the Cozy Cottage Café series. Kate has one set of all three e-books for a lucky reader!

Kate O'Keeffe is a bestselling author of fun, feel-good chick lit and romantic comedies. She lives and loves in beautiful Hawke's Bay, New Zealand with her family, two scruffy dogs, and a cat who thinks he's a scruffy dog too. He's not: he's a cat. When she's not penning her latest story, Kate can be found hiking up hills (slowly), traveling to different countries around the globe, and eating chocolate. A lot of it.

Kate has written the Amazon bestselling Cozy Cottage Café series, the popular chick lit stories, the Wellywood Romantic Comedy series, as well as some stand-alone titles, including Manhattan Cinderella, The Right GuyOne Way Ticket, coauthored with chick lit author Melissa Baldwin, and the fun holiday novella, I'm Scheming of a White Christmas. (Bio adapted from Kate's website.)

Visit Kate online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

High Tea, Book 1 - No More Bad Dates

Three friends form the No More Bad Dates Pact: stop dating the wrong guys and start dating the right ones - weirdos and jerks need not apply.

Twenty-five-year-old Sophie McCarthy's career is virtually nonexistent, her family expects her to "do something important" with her life, and she's totally sick of dating the wrong guys: the self-absorbed, the arrogant, the borderline criminally insane.

After she's unceremoniously dumped during the vows at her boss's wedding, she and her two equally disappointed-in-love best friends agree to help each other find decent guys to date. Together, they form the No More Bad Dates Pact: stop dating the wrong guys and start dating the right ones--weirdos and jerks need not apply.

When Sophie's roommate Jason Christie--a.k.a. doctor-in-training and serial nurse-dater--joins the pact, he vows to weed out the bad ones for her. But with his rejection of every guy Sophie meets, she begins to wonder if he's got an ulterior motive. And anyway, why does she always have so much more fun with Jason than with the guys she's actually trying to date?

While desperately seeking her "happy for now," could Sophie stumble into her "happily ever after?"



High Tea, Book 2 - No More Terrible Dates

Twenty-five-year-old personal assistant Darcy Evans likes to be in control of her life. But there's one thing she can't get a handle on: men.

Sick of terrible dates, she makes a pact with her friends to only date good guys. But it's tough out there. From the liars and cheats to the positively weird, where's a modern day hero when you want one?

Then, when her boss buys an art gallery, Darcy's forced to work with photographer Alex Walsh. He's a blast from her past and definitely not hero material. Ridiculously handsome and charming, he's all those distracting things Darcy doesn't need, especially when she can't forgive him for what happened back in high school.

With Darcy holding out for a hero, will she miss the perfect man right under her nose?

High Tea, Book 3 - No More Horrible Dates

What do you do when you want to find your happily ever after, but you're stuck in a fake relationship with the last guy you'd ever want to date?

Twenty-five-year-old Erin Andrews has got a problem. She works for the country's most successful rugby team but a bitter past tells her all pro sports players are self-satisfied, arrogant jerks. There's no way on this sweet Earth she'd date one. That's why she agrees to a pact with her best friends to find good guys to date, and for her that definitely does not include guys like the "Wild Boy of Rugby," Nick Zachary.

So, when Nick is in desperate need of a reputation rehab, the big bosses turn to her as the nice, ordinary girl who can get his image back on track. For Erin, being that girl is the last thing she would ever want to do. That is until she realizes just how much being Nick's high profile fake girlfriend can do for her dream of becoming a fashion designer.

But playing this game of make-believe begins to feel real, and Erin wonders if the "Wild Boy of Rugby" could be her happily ever after…

Thanks to Kate for sharing her books 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 November 20th at midnight EST.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Book Review: Roping Your Heart




Roping Your Heart (Love in Everton, book two)
by Fabiola Francisco

**NOW LIVE**


Will be available FREE in KU



By Sara Steven

Lia Montgomery has been my best friend since we were kids, but when she moves back to our hometown, we can’t ignore the chemistry between us. And I’ve come up with a plan to make her mine.

First on the list? Make her my roommate.

It seems like a great idea at the time, but one look at her in those little pajama shorts and a thin tee shirt, and all I want to do is throw her over my shoulder, caveman style.

Screw the plan.

A simple dare changes everything between us. But when I’m challenged to do the one thing that could tear us apart forever, I realize there’s more at risk than just my heart. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Another scorcher! Having read the first book in the Love in Everton series, Write You a Love Song (reviewed here), I eagerly anticipated Lia and Axel’s story. Fabiola Francisco did not disappoint! Axel is the epitome of manliness, but with a softer side that becomes more evident when he’s around Lia, his childhood best friend. The build-up between them feels like a slow burn, considering that neither wants to ruin their friendship in pursuit of crossing any lines, even though deep down, they’ve entertained the idea for years.

I could appreciate Lia’s independence, too. After moving back to Everton, she wants to make roots on her own terms, and even after she moves into Axel’s home, she welcomes having her own space within it. She has a mind of her own and is not afraid to express it, a quality Axel loves. But when it comes to proving who he really is in the town, the last thing he wants is to receive any sort of push back from Lia. One of the things he loves most about her becomes a problem, making him question his own integrity.

There are plenty of hot moments in Roping Your Heart, a vast range between the sensual heat and angry emotions that can spill from both characters given the circumstances. The one thing both Lia and Axel worry about the most is destroying the friendship they’ve had nearly their entire lives, and it’s always in the forefront, especially when Axel is faced with his challenge, a huge threat that stands between the happiness they both know they deserve. It’s the hot moments that kept this reader on her toes, wanting to see what would happen next.

While Roping Your Heart is the second in the Love in Everton series, it can be read as a stand-alone, considering there are plenty of scenes that bring back the two primary characters from the first novel. Having said that, though, I highly recommend reading Write You a Love Song too, capturing more of that five-star heat that Francisco writes so well! I can’t wait to read the next installment, which looks to be out soon.

Thanks to Bare Naked Words for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Meet the Author:

Fabiola Francisco is a contemporary romance author from South Florida. Writing as been a part of her life since she was a teenager. Even at that age, she dreamed of happy endings with emotional twists. Her novels include Perfectly Imperfect, The Restoring Series, Sweet on You Duet, and Red Lights, Black Hearts.  

Her passion for books and writing has inspired her to write her own stories. She writes novels readers could relate to and grow with. She’s currently working on writing more stories that connect with readers on a deeper.

Fabiola also loves expressing herself through art and spending time in nature. In her spare time, she loves to cuddle with a good book and a glass of wine.

Visit Fabiola online:

Sign up for Fabiola's newsletter.








Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Book Review: Ten Things My Husband Hated



By Sara Steven

Maggie Moone is happily divorced.

And with her talent for fixing things, she’s perfectly content with her mundane life in the sleepy English village of Saffron Sweeting. That is, until one humiliating March evening when she learns everyone else assumes she’d love to mend her broken marriage.

Determined to prove them wrong, Maggie and her friends concoct a list of ten ways to assert her independence and live large. But her mission to move on leads to unexpected encounters, and Maggie soon finds herself mixing business with pleasure. Is the attractive young Irishman just another item on her list, or is he something more?

Before long, unresolved issues from her past begin to clash, and Maggie is forced to wonder if antagonising her ex-husband was such a stellar idea.

No sooner does she begin to understand what’s important to her, than she stands to lose everything that truly matters.
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The synopsis starts off as stating that Maggie Moone is happily divorced. I think there is a lot of truth to that, but I also think that Maggie is still attempting to rediscover who she is, trying to disentangle herself from her ex. It’s hard when you’ve been married to someone for so long, and know so much about them. There are plenty of moments where Maggie compares and contrasts her life to what it had been, based on the way he’d wanted things to be, his likes and dislikes. There is speculation that she wants to mend her marriage and get back with the ex, leading her and her friends in creating a list in breaking her ties with him.

I thought that was a clever and unique way to help Maggie move on with her life. The list not only helps in enabling her to find who she really is again, but it also provides a way to boost her confidence. I also appreciated that Maggie doesn’t fit standard female stereotypes, that her passions lie in fixing things that are broken, not in calling a handyman to do it for her but doing it all on her own. I think there was a subtle message there, a parallel to what she’s dealing with in her own life. In fixing other people’s problems, she’s fixing her own as well.

I had a hard time tolerating the ex. It’s more than obvious why these two didn’t work out. It’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when they might have been happy together, but much like in real life, sometimes we find ourselves in a relationship that is a toxic one, often too late. I liked seeing the gradual shifts in power between them, and it left me wondering what Maggie would do or not do, particularly when there is a potential love interest thrown into the mix. There are bits of chaos, and she has to make some tough decisions- right from wrong, what’s right for her versus what’s right for those around her. The list at times becomes not only her strength, but also a hindrance, leaving her confused and unsure of what to do.

This is my first venture into the Saffron Sweeting series, and I really enjoyed Maggie’s story and the rocky road she takes in re-discovering herself. Where was a book like this when I had gone through my own divorce, with the concept of a list to get me through those tough times? While Ten Things is part of a series, it can certainly be read as a stand-alone, but I think I’d like to get to know the other books and characters of Saffron Sweeting, too!

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

Purchase Ten Things My Husband Hated.

British by birth, Pauline Wiles is now a contented resident of California, although she admits to occasional yearnings for afternoon tea and historic homes.

Her debut novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, reached the quarter final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Three further books set in the same village are now available, along with a collection of short stories and Indie With Ease, a self-help guide for other self-published authors.

When not writing, Pauline can be found pondering how many miles she has to run to justify an extra piece of cake. She’s also fond of daydreaming about flying herself and a reader to London for tea.

Visit Pauline online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter

Visit the other stops on Pauline's tour (click on the picture to enlarge it):



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Rosey Lee’s beautiful family drama....plus a special giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Rosey Lee to CLC today. She's here to talk about her Beautiful, Complicated Family series and she has a special prize for a lucky reader as part of her blog tour.

Rosey Lee writes uplifting fiction stories about family and friendship. A native of the Westbank of New Orleans, Louisiana, Rosey is a fan of good food and a good time. As a child, she dreamed of a career in writing, fashion design, and acting. She uses the pen name Rosey Lee as she pursues her passion for writing. Her alter ego is a physician who has dedicated her career to individual and community-based approaches to health equity. She enjoys cooking, flower arranging, listening to live music, and occasional bursts of fanatical bargain shopping.

Rosey’s flash fiction has appeared in Necessary FictionBending GenresBarren MagazineTurnpike Magazine, The Wellington Street Review, and elsewhere. Her work has also been nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net anthology. Connect with Rosey at her website and on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 1 and Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 2 explore the connections that can hold people together or tear them apart. The stories in this collection capture struggles that are common in today’s families—secrets, mother-daughter conflicts, coping with aging family members, and a more subtle question of what makes a family. The issues will seem familiar to you, but there are unexpected twists when you least expect them. The relatable characters and endings may pull at your heartstrings, so don’t be surprised if you laugh or cry along the way. Like most families, the relationships in this uplifting collection consist of intricate elements. Sometimes things get messy, but it’s always beautiful. Each volume contains five flash fiction stories (very short stories of 1000 words or less each). Read each story in about 5 minutes and get Volume 2 of the collection for free using a link within Volume 1.

Purchase Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 1:

Jelena

I write about the relationships women have with their families–the ups, the downs, and everything in between. Whether it’s a family that a character was born into or one she cultivated over time, families can provide endless material for a writer. The families in my newly released Beautiful, Complicated Family series deal with secrets and mother-daughter conflicts, cope with aging family members and death, and grapple with a more subtle question of what makes a family.

Similar to real life, it’s not unusual for the women in my stories to be the center of their families. Frequently, women hold families together. But that also means that we could be responsible for tearing them apart. There’s lots of drama in my stories, and things get messy for my characters. But my stories are uplifting because my characters work through complicated family issues and grow through them. Through forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion, the characters have an opportunity to emerge stronger if they can find ways to grow together.

“Blossom in the Snow” is one of my favorite stories in the collection. I stumbled upon the inspiration for it while on Twitter one day. Someone posted a quote by Alice M. Sawim, and I was deeply touched by it.

“Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go;
it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.”

I’m from New Orleans, and I live in Atlanta. Though I spent a few years living in New England, I’d never heard of a flower that blossoms in the snow. I struggled to understand how such a thing could exist. Then I began to wonder how that might translate into a human quality and what it would look like as a character interacted with her family. Answering this question helped me to select the setting for my story, the somber circumstance encountered by the main character, as well as her personality, backstory, and family dilemma.

I don’t want to spoil the story, so I won’t reveal much about the plot here. But I will tell you that most of the answers are based on a 15 to 20-foot tall, vase-shaped shrub called a Jelena witch hazel. The plant is striking, particularly against a winter landscape. It has woody branches topped by
bright, coppery blossoms with petals that look like spiders. The massive shrubs are frequently planted next to sidewalks so that passersby can enjoy their sweet fragrance. Also, an extract from the bark and leaves of witch hazel plants has been used in the cosmetics industry for the astringent also called witch hazel.

Are you curious about the story yet? I hope so. You can download Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 1 for free from several ebook retailers. You can also subscribe to my website or use the link in Volume 1 to get Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 2 for free.

Thanks to Rosey for visiting with us and for hosting a giveaway!

Giveaway: The prize for my blog tour reader giveaway is a Kindle (If winner is outside the US: $50 in books from Book Depository).

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Visit all the stops on Rosey's tour (click the picture to enlarge it):


Friday, November 8, 2019

Book Review: Bride Squad Runaway

By Sara Steven

Ava O'Hara seems to have it all . . . She has a great job, a long-term relationship and the promise of a wedding on the horizon. But her fiancé has other plans, and Ava's not part of them.

On the big day itself, she's forced to flee the ruins of her best life. Ava needs help, and fast. Who knew that a trio of old friends, two roguish strangers in an ice-cream van and one handsome French man would turn out to be the best emergency bride squad ever?
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Old friends and new friends and the jerks in between; a large factor to the premise surrounding Bride Squad Runaway!

As indicated in the synopsis, Ava has a life that most people would look at as a charmed existence. But as is usually the case, what something looks like on the surface almost always is not true to form. The great job hasn’t fulfilled her deep-rooted passions, her long-term relationship hasn’t, either- and while she’s continually trying to find her way, she’s often making compromises in order to appease everyone else. Ava finds herself in a gigantic colossal rut, figuring it’s easier to move with the tide than to fight against it.

When there is no change, a change is made for you. Suddenly, Ava is in a situation where she’s losing everything she worked so hard for, bringing her front and center to the one real question she’s had a hard time coming to grips with: Is it worth it? The job, the man, the steps she’s taking in her life… if she can’t do what she really wants to do, if she can’t entertain the thought of actually being with someone who brings sparks of joy to her life- what’s the point?

Cue the girlfriends! Two women who were once such an intricate part of her world, yet with time and distance, it feels like those relationships, much like the rest of her, are hanging on by a thin thread. We get to see the gradual slip and slide that can happen to even the best-of-intentioned friendships, but there is a chance for repair, and both women act like mirrors that replicate the varying sides to who Ava is. To add even more fun to this chaotic “coming home” experience, is the added bonus of the two strangers in an ice-cream van! I had a lot of fun getting to learn more about the roguish men who prove that you should never judge a book by its cover. While Ava deals with the jerk who becomes a stumbling road block to her happiness, watching this oddball group of people come together for her aid was a lot of fun to witness!

There were plenty of laughs and fun moments to Bride Squad, but there were plenty of serious ones, too. Changes that age us and stage us, life experiences that aren’t always pleasant, some that can feel downright damaging. I appreciated those particular moments, too, because it brought out an element of honesty to the level of fun. There has to be bad with the good, but it’s how you deal with it that makes all the difference. And of course, if we can’t have Paris, there’s always Ava’s French man that garners in at a close second!

Thanks to Black & White Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Caroline Grace-Cassidy: