Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spotlight and Giveaway: Every Breath

We're celebrating the publication week of Nicholas Sparks' latest novel, Every Breath. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing, we have one copy to give away!

Get swept up in #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks's epic romance across decades and continents--from North Carolina to Zimbabwe--a heartbreaking love story in the tradition of his beloved classic, The Notebook.

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she's been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family's cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother's early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.

Illuminating life's heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, EVERY BREATH explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties--while asking the question, How long can a dream survive?

Photo by James Quantz, Jr.
With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world's most beloved storytellers. His novels include fourteen #1 New York Times bestsellers, and all of his books, including Three Weeks with My Brother, the memoir he wrote with his brother, Micah, have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than fifty languages. Eleven of Nicholas Sparks's novels -- The Choice, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Safe Haven, The Lucky One, The Last Song, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, and Message in a Bottle--have been adapted into major motion pictures.

Visit Nicholas online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * 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 October 23rd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Book Review: Pictures in the Sky

By Sara Steven

She gave up on romance years ago. He’s going through the motions. Their lives change forever when he makes contact out of the blue.

With her daughter leaving the nest, Michelle Cameron would rather spend her time with good friends, a glass of fizzy and a box set, than with another idiot bloke chipping away at her self-esteem. But when childhood friend Daniel Helmsley gets back in touch, the years roll away on a tide of laughter and friendship, which soon gives way to another roller coaster of love, excitement and panic. Can Michelle let herself trust again? What if Dan is just another idiot bloke, disillusioned with the present and nostalgic for the past? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Michelle was an interesting character to delve into. In her youth, she’d made mistakes where relationships are concerned, which has lent into her being on guard and very protective of her heart. And while she’s obviously evolved from the young single mother of her past into the middle-aged woman of her present, there is a lot of baggage and leftover fear, at times giving the reader the impression that she is still very much that young single mother of her youth, still finding her way in life. When pitted against an obstacle, we discover just how hard it is for her to handle anything even remotely confrontational, a fact that she is well aware of. This lack of confrontation bleeds into her newfound relationship with Daniel.

There is a lot of baggage tied to Daniel, another fact Michelle is well aware of, but it’s hard to avoid the obvious chemistry the two of them have, not to mention the foundation of friendship that exists for them. I appreciated getting to read her take on the relationship, the fumbling and bumblings that can often happen when you’re just starting out and getting to know someone, even when it’s someone you’ve been friends with since childhood. Taking their relationship to the next level presents a whole new set of problems and concerns, and we’re in Michelle’s head the entire time, going through her emotions with her.

Another dynamic worth mentioning is the one between Michelle and her daughter, Sara. There is a special bond between the two of them, magnified by how young Michelle had been when she’d become a mother, the “it’s just us against the world” mentality they shared as they both tried to navigate the single mother and fatherless child waters. At times, it feels as though Sara is the parent, and then in the same breath, she’s a petulant child, and seeing how Michelle reacts to this only adds to the layers of who she is and why she is the way she is.

I liked the paralleling dynamics between what Michelle is going through in her personal life, and the outside influences and physical challenges, like training for a race with Daniel. Much of her inner struggles are reflective in the physical ones, and all the while you want to root for a nice, easy, simple outcome for her, but much like life, nothing is ever so nice, easy, or simple.

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review. Pictures in the Sky can be purchased here. (Only 99 cents for Kindle!)

Amanda Paull is a writer of humorous romantic fiction. She lives in the North East of England with her husband and works in the public sector. The inspiration for her stories comes from real life, which she tries to show the funnier side of by embellishing to the hilt. Visit Amanda at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit all the stops on Amanda's tour!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bette Lee Crosby's extraordinary a book giveaway

We're pleased to have Bette Lee Crosby visiting today to celebrate the publication of her latest novel,  A Year of Extraordinary Moments. The hearing loss aspect of this novel stands out to Melissa A, as she has experience with raising children who have hearing loss. It sounds like it will be a great novel and Bette has one signed copy for a lucky reader!

Bette Lee Crosby is the USA Today bestselling author of nineteen novels, including the first Magnolia Grove novel, The Summer of New Beginnings. She has been the recipient of the Royal Palm Literary Award, Reviewer’s Choice Award, FAPA President’s Book Award, International Book Award, and Next Generation Indie Award, among many others. Her 2016 novel, Baby Girl, was named Best Chick Lit of the Year by Huffington Post. She laughingly admits to being a night owl and a workaholic, claiming that her guilty pleasure is late-night chats with fans and friends on Facebook and Goodreads. To learn more about Bette Lee Crosby’s work, visit her at her website. You can also find Bette on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Tracy Briggs has finally gotten her act together. She’s focusing on her own life and helping her hearing-impaired son learn to talk. With her sister married and exploring a new career, Tracy has begun to run the family’s magazine business and feels her life is pretty much perfect. That is, until her son’s deadbeat dad shows up in Magnolia Grove asking for a second chance.

Now that her son is getting the help he needs and a promising new romance with his teacher is in bloom, Tracy wants to keep her life just as it is. But her ex isn’t taking no for an answer. And when a spirited elderly woman enters Tracy’s life in an unexpected way, she’ll have to work harder than ever to keep her new life on track.

Torn between the past she knows and the uncertain future, Tracy must decide what is best for both her and her son, learning along the way that ordinary choices can bring extraordinary possibilities. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you received for one of your previous novels?
To understand the significance of this compliment, you have to know how it happened. The novel Baby Girl was based on a true story that one of my fans shared with me. When she first approached me about writing her story—one of a birth mother who gives up her baby, but never forgets—I told her that I only write fiction. She said that was okay. She told me her story and I wrote it almost as it was – fictionalizing only a very few parts. At the time I wrote the book, the daughter she had given up was 18 years old and while the birth mother knew where she was, etc., they had never spoken. When the book was released she sent her daughter a copy of it and said “This is our story”.

After reading the story of what her mother went through and how much she ached to hold on to her child, the girl contacted her mom, and the day they met for coffee, her mom took a picture of them together and sent it to me. She said, “This is the happiest day of my life. Thank you for making it happen.”

When one of my books is so powerful it can change a person’s life, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

What inspired you to include a child with hearing loss in A Year of Extraordinary Moments and how much research did you have to do on the subject?
When I conceived the idea for the story, I knew Tracy had to have a huge obstacle to overcome and just having a baby wouldn’t be enough to open her eyes and force her into changing her life. Children and dogs bring out the best in us, because they are vulnerable and cannot fend for themselves, so it brings out the hero hidden in all of us. I considered using autism as Lucas’s problem, but there was not heartwarming solution to that so I began researching hearing problems. And, yes, I did a ton of research. I interviewed a ENT doctor at length, and I did a lot of research on the internet. There were two whole days when I watched videos of toddlers having their cochlear implant sound turned on for the first time, and as I sat there crying happy tears, I knew that was where I wanted to go with Lucas’s story.

Also, I fell in love with Gabriel. There is something about a hero who is flawed and rises above it, that absolutely touches my heart.

If you could cast A Year of Extraordinary Moments as a movie, who would play the lead roles?
My first choice would have been a young Sandra Bullock, but since she’s too mature for the part, it would have to be Kristen Stewart. Kristen has the same less-than-perfect, but 100% likable shagginess that Tracy has.

I would tag Ryan Gosling to play Gabriel. He has such a warm and friendly face. Gabriel is a man with such compassion and inner strength, and I think Ryan Gosling with his warm eyes and inviting smile could pull that off easily.

I would definitely have Meryl Streep play Alice DeLuca. She does a vulnerable but strong woman beautifully.

What has been a recent extraordinary moment for you?
A few weeks ago, my novel The Twelfth Child hit the USA Today Bestseller list and that was extremely exciting. I hadn’t expected it and didn’t find out until Friday (The list comes out on Thursday) when my hubby came and told me about it.
This is my third novel to make this prestigious list, and Spare Change has been there three times, but it never grows old. Each time is as thrilling as the first time.

What is your favorite autumn beverage?
In October and early November, I love pumpkin latte; but once we move past Thanksgiving, I turn to mulled wine—it puts me in a holiday mood.

What is something that motivates you?
Reading a really great book. Once where there is no meaningless filler, where every word counts and I truly care about what happens to the protagonist. When I read a book that well-written it makes me want to sit down at the computer and write one just as powerful.

I am also inspired by life stories – friends, neighbors, fans, even things I hear on the news—when I hear about someone who has in some way stepped out of the box, I want to write that story, or a story along that line. Often when I hear a story that happened one way, my impulse is always to think but what if happened with this other twist. I love the road not taken ideas.

Thanks to Bette Lee Crosby for visiting 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 October 21st at midnight EST.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Book Review: Miss You

By Becky Gulc

‘Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven't met properly yet. And perhaps they never will...

Today is the first day of the rest of your life is the motto on a plate in the kitchen at home, and Tess can't get it out of her head, even though she's in Florence for a final, idyllic holiday before university. Her life is about to change forever - but not in the way she expects.

Gus and his parents are also on holiday in Florence. Their lives have already changed suddenly and dramatically. Gus tries to be a dutiful son, but longs to escape and discover what sort of person he is going to be.

For one day, the paths of an eighteen-year-old girl and boy criss-cross before they each return to England.

Over the course of the next sixteen years, life and love will offer them very different challenges. Separated by distance and fate, there's no way the two of them are ever going to meet each other properly . . . or is there?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

For some reason that I can’t explain, this book was sitting on my review shelf way too long before it was finally, and carefully, selected as one of my holiday reads. It was suggested that if I enjoyed One Day (I loved it), I’d love Miss You too. That’s quite a promise, isn’t it? I was a little skeptical about this and wondered if it would offer something different. Well, to sum it up, this is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. To me, perfection.

I fell for both Tess and Gus straight away. The narrative follows them both equally over the years and both were equally endearing, with a touch of sadness and vulnerability to both of them that makes you root for them to get together, somehow. These characters are loyal; they are tackling their own demons and just get on with life, even if it means putting themselves second.

But this novel is different as they only meet very briefly in the beginning, and even that is fleeting and seemingly insignificant to each of them at the time. So I found it fascinating just to see each of their lives evolve, with it being clearly obvious to the reader how perfect they could be for one another. It could have frustrated me, but it didn’t. It was beautifully written, warm and organic.

Another thing I loved about this novel was that it wasn’t predictable. The ending was beautiful and heart-rendering. Just a forewarning that some difficult subjects are covered in the novel including cancer and bereavement. I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough and can’t wait to read more from Kate Eberlen.

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Christmas at the Chalet by Anita Hughes from St. Martin's Press
Otherwise Engaged by Lindsey Palmer from Skyhorse Publishing (e-book via NetGalley)
Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser from St. Martin's Press
Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks from Grand Central Publishing
The Secret We Lost by/from Linda Smolkin (e-book)
Christmas Joy by Nancy Naigle from St. Martin's Press
The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
The Adults by Caroline Hulse from Random House (e-book via NetGalley)
Bonjour Girl by/from Isabelle LaFleche
The Object of Your Affections by Falguni Kothari from Kathleen Carter Communications
All that Matters by/from Tracy Krimmer (e-book)

The Unscripted Life of Lizzy Dillinger by Marianne Hansen from Lola's Blog Tours (e-book)
A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Erin Cole's story of hope a book giveaway

How often do you meet someone and think that they have their life together and everything must have come so easy to them when they were growing up? You might think that by looking at Erin Cole, but you would be wrong in assuming her childhood was perfect. She tells us as much in her powerful memoir, The Size of Everything, which she co-wrote with Jenna McCarthy. She's here to tell us more about her book and has THREE copies to give away!

Erin Cole is a designer and author who has been dressing discriminating brides around the world for over 20 years. With her high-fashion style and exquisite taste, the designer’s passion lies in the finest of details. Today, Erin Cole is celebrated in the bridal market for her stunning gowns, couture veils, and one-of-a-kind tiaras, hairpins, flowers, sashes, brooches, and necklaces. The Erin Cole collection can be found in over 175 stores around the globe. (Bio courtesy of Erin's website.)

Visit Erin online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest

As the face of her eponymous couture bridal business, Erin Cole radiates refined elegance. But the designer’s glamorous lifestyle and sweeping success belie a childhood marked by profound dysfunction.

Raised on a steady diet of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and death, no one would have expected Cole to go on to become a force in the fashion world. As a child, she often had no access to food; other times she was force-fed until she vomited. At home and at school, she was beaten, bullied and belittled. Her alcoholic parents alternately abused and ignored her. By the age of sixteen, she was living on her own.

The Size of Everything is Cole’s moving story and so much more. Equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, it’s a love letter to her surviving siblings, a how-not-to-parent manual, a testament to the power of positivity, and proof that where you come from doesn’t have to determine where you can go. Above all, The Size of Everything offers a powerful message of hope to anyone who believes that impossibly rocky beginnings can’t have a happy ending. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

How did you go from designing bridal gowns to writing a memoir?
For the longest time, I kept my past a secret even from my closest friends. It wasn’t because I was ashamed, I just didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. But my story was always gnawing at me from the inside; it was as if it wanted to be told. I figured if I could help one person who was suffering as I had suffered, it would be worth it. My career—along with my sense of humor I believe—is what saved me. Having a creative outlet and being surrounded by supportive women was and is so important to me. Something tells me that if I had decided to pursue accounting or data storage, I wouldn’t have wound up writing a memoir.

What is something new you learned about yourself while writing The Size of Everything?
Where do I start? I learned that it can be incredibly scary—and also wonderfully liberating—to revisit your past. I discovered that despite how often or how fully my parents betrayed me, I still want to protect them, even posthumously. I learned that people will call you brave for sharing your story, even when not sharing it would have been the harder option. And most of all, I learned that your friends can be everything that your family wasn’t, and that while you can’t go back and re-write the beginning of your story, you can always change the ending.

If a movie were made about The Size of Everything, which actor would portray you?
My co-author says all the time it’s a tossup between Demi Moore and Sandra Bullock. Maybe we can get them to duke it out?

What is your favorite thing about October?
I love all the seasons, but by the end of any one of them, I’m ready for the next. October is amazing because it means boots and sweaters and soups and stews and it’s almost time to break out the holiday decorations. Warm food and fuzzy blankets just make you feel safe and cozy. What’s better than that?

If you could design a bridal gown for your favorite book or movie character, who would you choose and what would the gown look like?
Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. She'd be spectacular in a clean, elegant gown with just a touch of shimmer. Of course, you could put Julia Roberts in a grain sack and she’d be stunning.

What is something your friends would say is "so you"?
I guess because of my upbringing, to me food is love. If you come to my house, I don’t make one appetizer; I make six. And then I put out a cheese platter for you to nibble on while I’m cooking. I will feed you until you can barely walk, and then I’ll send you home with a doggy bag. It’s because I love you!

Thanks to Erin for visiting 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 October 16th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Book Review: The Lies We Told

By Jami Deise

There’s something especially chilling about the evil kid genre. Whether she’s featured in a movie or a book, The Bad Seed (both the original and the new Lifetime version) is born this way, which makes her incorrigible, inexplicable, and destined for horrible things. A few months ago, Atlantic magazine even featured an article about treating child psychopaths, implying that it’s not an uncommon concern.

In British author Camilla Way’s latest thriller, The Lies We Told, Beth knows there’s something very wrong with her daughter Hannah. In Cambridgeshire in 1986, she tries to make her husband Doug see that Hannah’s pranks are more than mere childish games.

In London in 2017, Clara’s boyfriend Luke has disappeared… and as the days pass, it’s clear that this is no lad’s adventure he’s fallen into. As Hannah grows up and Beth begins to fear her more and more, Clara’s timeline takes more time: The days pass, the investigation grows deeper, and Clara begins to wonder whether she knew her boyfriend at all. While the two separate mysteries develop, the question in the reader’s mind—how will these two storylines converge?—takes a while to answer, but when Way does answer the question, the revelation is a satisfying, if predictable one.

The writing in this thriller is strong, and the characters are very well-developed. Beth and Clara are both third-person point-of-view protagonists, and they are such different women that the reader never gets too comfortable in a single storyline. Way pulls no punches with her plot points, and there’s never a feeling of safety in the prose.

It doesn’t require a spoiler alert to say that Hannah is the psychopath in question, and her deficits drive the story. But most criminals are not psychopaths, and readers should not be lulled into a false sense of security because Way points a finger so quickly in the narrative.

The Lies We Told starts with a bang and gets better and better with each chapter. Although this is Way’s fourth book, it’s the first one I’ve read, and I’ll be going over her backlist to catch the ones I’ve missed.

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

More by Camilla Way: