Friday, April 3, 2020

Book Review: Extracurricular (Book 3)...plus a special giveaway

By Melissa Amster

**Synopsis contains spoilers for the series**

Check out my reviews for book one and book two.

In the third and final installment of the Extracurricular series:

A tragic death catalyzes a power play for control of Ashbury Academy’s trustee board. Daniel’s covert actions, however, have Audrey questioning his vow to protect Lavinia’s legacy at the school.

The arrests resulting in the FBI’s investigation into Miranda’s college admissions fraud bring tragedy to some of the families involved, and unexpected opportunities to others.

Can Ashbury Academy survive this scandal?

An even bigger question:

Will Audrey’s marriage—and her family—fall apart after her long-held secret is finally revealed? (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Extracurricular (Book 3) is equally enjoyable as the first two books in the series. The story went places I wasn't expecting. I enjoyed watching the events and misunderstandings unfold. I wish certain people in real life received consequences the way some characters in this series did.

The politics of the school board was confusing to follow, along with certain ways money was being handled. However, that did not take away from my enjoyment at all.

I love this series and wish it would continue, perhaps into a generation where Charly and Chuck are adults and we see what's happening in their lives down the road. All three novels are such easy and quick reads, as well as delightfully entertaining. This series is also a great distraction from everything going on right now.

Josie Brown is a pro at writing scandalous stories, which I knew ever since I started reading her novels. I look forward to reading whatever she comes up with next (hopefully another series)!

Binge-worthy TV series casting ideas:
Audrey (present): Rachael Leigh Cook
Egan (present): Henry Cavill (can be aged like on This Is Us)
Lavinia (present): Tina Fey (aging rule applies here too)
SallyAnne: Ginnifer Goodwin
Lionel: Matt Czuchry
Miranda: Emily Swallow
Charly: Mackenzie Foy
Chuck: Lino Facioli
Fawn: Belle Shouse
Daniel: Brandon Routh
Bliss: A.J. Cook
Tallulah: Lake Bell

Thanks to Josie Brown for the book in exchange for an honest review. She has TWO e-book sets of the three-book series to give away!

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 April 7th at midnight EST.

More by Josie Brown:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Amy Sue Nathan's virtual beach vacation...plus a book giveaway

We're thrilled to have Amy Sue Nathan back at CLC today to talk about her latest novel, The Last Bathing Beauty, which published this week. It looks great and we can't wait to check it out. Amy has one copy for a lucky reader!

Amy Sue Nathan is the author of Left to Chance, The Glass Wives, and The Good Neighbor, published between 2013 and 2017 by St. Martin’s Press.

Amy has been blogging since 2006, and launched the Women’s Fiction Writers blog in March 2011.She teaches writing workshops and freelances as a fiction editor and writing coach and is trained in the Story Genius method.

Her stories and essays have appeared in print and online in over two dozen publications such as The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent, Writer’s Digest, Huffington Post, and online in New York Times and Washington Post blogs.

Amy was born and raised in Philadelphia and is a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism. She moved back there after twenty-six years away, and is the proud mom of two grown children and a willing servant to one rescued grey cat named Riggins aka Good Boy. In addition to being a writer and book coach, she is a former-vegetarian, not-so-secret crafter, chocolate enthusiast, and lipstick collector. (Bio adapted from Amy's website.)

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


Synopsis:
A former beauty queen faces the secrets of her past—for herself and the sake of her family’s future—in a heartfelt novel about fate, choices, and second chances.

Everything seemed possible in the summer of 1951. Back then Betty Stern was an eighteen-year-old knockout working at her grandparents’ lakeside resort. The “Catskills of the Midwest” was the perfect place for Betty to prepare for bigger things. She’d head to college in New York City. Her career as a fashion editor would flourish. But first, she’d enjoy a wondrous last summer at the beach falling deeply in love with an irresistible college boy and competing in the annual Miss South Haven pageant. On the precipice of a well-planned life, Betty’s future was limitless.

Decades later, the choices of that long-ago season still reverberate for Betty, now known as Boop. Especially when her granddaughter comes to her with a dilemma that echoes Boop’s memories of first love, broken hearts, and faraway dreams. It’s time to finally face the past—for the sake of her family and her own happiness. Maybe in reconciling the life she once imagined with the life she’s lived, Boop will discover it’s never too late for a second chance.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
My favorite compliments are always when a reader says she wishes she could be friends with the characters in the novel or meet them for coffee.

What inspired you to take a historical angle with The Last Bathing Beauty, when your previous novels have been more contemporary?
I learned about the history of South Haven and was compelled to bring it to life on the page. The Catskills of the Midwest. (Picture Dirty Dancing + The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Lake Michigan) How could I not?

How is Betty similar to or different from you?
This is my first novel not extracted at all from any corner of my life, so Betty isn’t like me—unless you want to count the fact that she likes lipstick and so do I.

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
I watched the WWII documentary The Ghost Army, which includes my great-uncle – my grandmother’s younger brother—who just passed away three weeks shy of his one hundredth birthday.

What is one of your self-care habits?
Every morning I jot down five things I’m grateful for. Sometimes (rarely) it’s deep, mostly it’s right to the point and simple with things like hot coffee, a sweet cat, and cable TV.

What is your favorite hobby or sport?
Does listening to audiobooks count? Even though reading is part of my jobs as an author and writing coach, listening to an audiobook or podcast is a favorite pastime. I used to be crazy for crafts, but after downsizing 3 1/2 years ago, I don't have the space.

Regarding sports--I don't play any at all and I'm not a sports enthusiast unless the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, or Flyers are playing for a national championship--and then I buy all the gear. When my kids were young I was rampant supporter of their teams of course, and now that they are working professionals (they are 28 and 24) I'm still their biggest fan.

Thanks to Amy 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 April 7th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Book Review: The Move

By Sara Steven

When Lexi Blake was twelve years old, a fortune teller gave her the following cryptic message:

In your thirtieth year, once the dog jumps over you, your life will change in the most unexpected ways.

Lexi is thirty now and the following unexpected things have occurred:

•While walking through Central Park enjoying a beautiful fall day, Lexi eats dirt when a careless dog owner throws a frisbee at her head. A dog jumps over her.

•Lexi gets a promotion that pays less than her current job.

•Her crush announces that he’s engaged.

•Her apartment turns condo and she can’t afford the down payment.

In order to escape her bad luck, she takes a vacation to visit a good friend in Creek Water, Missouri. But as it turns out, fate has a lot more in store for Lexi Blake. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Having read The Event, the first book in the Creek Water series, I highly anticipated reading the second installment and learning more about the additional characters within this small, idyllic town. And of course, I had just as much fun if not more so, in Lexi and her unconventional journey in finding where she belongs.

I appreciated the metaphysical nuances that dot Lexi’s world, even when she least expects it and at times, doesn’t want to. From the fortune teller to some of the townspeople, it added an element of mystery and intrigue, while also developing a deeper connection for Lexi with her family, and the past. At first, hearing about a life change that stems from a dog jump would seem silly, but Lexi soon learns that so much begins to unfold with that one strange event, and it was nice as a reader to live vicariously through her actions, to go from knowing only one way of living to completely re-rolling everything. She goes from being a die-hard New Yorker to an extended stay with a friend in Creek Water, a far cry from what she’s used to. There is this sense of wiping the slate clean and beginning again, a refreshing experience.

Lexi’s potential love interest, Beau, is the epitome of a Byronic hero. At times she doesn’t know whether to love him or hate him, and isn’t even sure of what he thinks of her or what he wants of her. It doesn’t help that he seems to be taken, or maybe he isn’t? His mixed signals have her going all over the place, and this type of contention only seems to add fuel to the potential couple and is a nice added layer for the reader, in trying to suss out what the outcome will be. Will they, or won’t they?

The biggest storyline here, though, is the one that is a classic Dineen favorite: the story of family. From Lexi and her family, to the original characters we first discovered in The Event, all of the dynamics better project a theme that begs us all to appreciate the little things, the simple, easy life, the people who support us and love us, even if at times they drive us completely crazy. It slows down the incredibly fast-paced experience so many of us can relate to, letting us take a pause and a breather and enjoy our discoveries. While The Move could easily be read as a standalone, I'm looking forward to reading the third book in this series next. Another fantastic, five-star read!

Thanks to Whitney Dineen for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Whitney Dineen:

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Reviews at Amazon - February/March 2020

We're posting some reviews at our Amazon accounts, as either they've been sitting in queue for a while and deserve their time in the sun, fall under our featuring policy, or they're new reads that we couldn't wait to post at the blog. You can check them out at the links below. Hope we can help you find your next favorite book!


Melissa A:

Review
Review 
Review 

Review 
Review 
Review 

Review
Review 
Review 

Review (Goodreads)
Review

Review 
Review (Goodreads)








Leslie Hooton has a transformative story...plus a book giveaway

Today we welcome debut author Leslie Hooton to CLC to celebrate the recent publication of Before Anyone Else. Thanks to Turner Publishing, we have one copy to give away!

Leslie Hooton has earned a B.A. and M.A. from Auburn University and J.D. from Samford University. She has been accepted to the Sewanee Writer's Conference, and has studied with Alice McDermott, Jill McCorkle, and Richard Bausch. Growing up in a small Alabama town, think, To Kill A Mockingbird, Leslie became intrigued by people. Everyone had their own unique stories. Visit Leslie at her website and on Instagram.


Synopsis:
As a designer of upscale restaurants, 30-year-old Bailey Ann Edgeworth can go into an empty space and immediately see what it would take to transform it into a beautiful and memorable spot. She learns transforming her own life is another proposition entirely. It can get messy and it doesn’t always go according to a neat blueprint. Bailey’s brother, Henry, and his best friend Griffin are stars in the restaurant field. They are known as the “Color Wheel Boys” because of their renowned Buckhead restaurants Vert, Blanc, and Noir. Bailey is determined to chart her own course; to not be forever known as Hank’s daughter, Henry’s sister, or “whatever” she is to Griffin.

Bailey’s dreams propel her to New York where her vision garners accolades and fame. After a perceived rejection by Griffin, she rushes into an impetuous marriage with an enigmatic English chef. Their combined charisma and desire lift them to the top of the culinary world. Just when she seems on the verge of having it all, a shocking betrayal throws Bailey's world into chaos. She begins a spectacular downfall complete with secretive drug use, shady associates, and her career in turmoil. Just what are the secret ingredients to transforming food, a dilapidated building, and one’s own life into something extraordinary?

Before Anyone Else examines the complicated relationship between love and ambition and explores how our earliest relationships and experience, shape us into who we ultimately become. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

"The romantic debut we have been waiting for"–Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis


In one sentence, what was your journey to publishing like?
It was a circuitous 25 year journey ending with publication in the middle of a pandemic. Need I say more?

What was the inspiration behind Before Anyone Else?
My love of design and my love of eating out plus tasty cocktails combined with my fascination with transformation both in rooms and in people.

If Before Anyone Else were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
For Griffin: Ryan Reynolds or Justin Hartley from This Is Us
For Elliot: Matt Czuchry from the Resident and Gilmore Girls
For Bailey: Saoirse Ronan or Emma Stone

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
Zoeys Extraordinary Playlist

What is your favorite quote and where is it from?
"Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom" - Marcel Proust

What is your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
In the summertime, key lime pie. In the winter months, warm carrot cake. Why limit yourself to only one? That’s just like limiting yourself to one pair of shoes.

Thanks to Leslie for chatting with us and to Turner Publishing 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 April 6th at midnight EST.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Magnolia Sisters

Today we are pleased to feature The Magnolia Sisters by Michelle Major. Doesn't the cover look enticing? We hope you'll fall under Magnolia's spell. Thanks to Kaye Publicity, we have one copy to give away!

An inheritance brought her to Magnolia, but love just might keep her there…

Avery Keller arrives in Magnolia, North Carolina, with one aim: collect her inheritance and quickly put the quirky town in her rearview mirror. But the father who didn’t acknowledge her when he was alive has left Avery a mess to sort through—along with two half sisters she’s never met and a gorgeous single dad living next door. Soon her plan to keep this colorful, close-knit community at a distance gets complicated….

Grayson Atwell has rescued plenty of people in his firefighting career. His work and his little girl, Violet, are his entire world and there’s no time for anything—or anyone—else. But the vulnerability beneath Avery’s prickly fa├žade brings out a fiercely protective side of him. Despite her protests, Gray can see that Avery’s falling under Magnolia’s spell—just like he’s falling for her. Now the only question is: How can he convince her to give them both a chance at forever?

Michelle Major grew up in Ohio but dreamed of living in the mountains. Soon after graduating with a degree in Journalism, she pointed her car west and settled in Colorado. Her life and house are filled with one great husband, two beautiful kids, a few furry pets and several well-behaved reptiles. She’s grateful to have found her passion writing stories with happy endings. Michelle loves to hear from her readers.

Visit Michelle 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 April 5th at midnight EST.

Friday, March 27, 2020

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Find Layla by Meg Elison from Skyscape
Two Like Me and You by/from Chad Alan Gibbs
The Day I Disappeared by Brandi Reeds from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
Eliza Starts a Rumor by Jane L. Rosen from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
What it Seems by Emily Bleeker from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
Good Boy by Jennifer Finney Boylan from Celadon
With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt from Algonquin (e-book via NetGalley)
The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan from Wunderkind PR
The Essence of Perfection by Nita Brooks from Kensington (e-book via NetGalley)
ImPerfectly Happy by Sharina Harris from Kensington (e-book via NetGalley)

Jami:
The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)

Sara:
Make You Mine by Fabiola Francisco from BareNaked Words (e-book)