Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reviews at Amazon--August 2016

We're posting some reviews at our Amazon account, as either they've been sitting in queue for a while and deserve their time in the sun, fall under our new 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!


Review (at Goodreads)


Sara's Review
Sara's Review
Jami's Review

Spotlight and Giveaway: I'm Still Here (Je Suis La)

We're excited to feature Clélie Avit's debut novel I'm Still Here (Je Suis La), which is a modern take on Sleeping Beauty. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing, we have TWO copies to give away!

Elsa has been in a coma for five months. With all hope of reviving her gone, her family and doctors are having to face the devastating fact that it might be time to turn off her life support... They don't realise that in the past few weeks Elsa has regained partial consciousness; she knows where she is and can hear everyone talking around her bed, but she has no way of telling them she's there.

Thibault is in the same hospital visiting his brother, a drunk driver responsible for the deaths of two teenage girls. Thibault's emotions are in turmoil and, needing a retreat, he finds his way into Elsa's room. Seeing her lying there so peacefully, he finds it hard to believe she is not just sleeping.

Thibault begins to visit Elsa regularly. As he learns more about her through her family and friends, he begins to realise that he is developing feelings for her. And when he talks to her, he can't help feeling that she can hear his every word...

For Elsa, his visits are like a breath of fresh air. Here is finally someone who speaks to her as if she is a real life person. Who makes her laugh. And who gives her something to fight for...

And so begins a love story that might just save both their lives…

"A viscerally moving love story. I'M STILL HERE beautifully shows how the steady, quiet power of the heart can sustain anyone who takes on impossible odds."
— Sarah Pekkanen, Internationally bestselling author of 
The Perfect Neighbors

"Magnifique! With charming characters, a unique premise and a delightful, fresh voice, Clélie Avit's debut novel will have you cheering for life and love while you hungrily turn its pages. I'M STILL HERE (Je Suis Là) is a gift, and Clélie Avit is a writer to watch."
— Julie Lawson Timmer, author of Five Days Left and Untethered

Clélie Avit was born and raised in the Auvergne region of France. She works as a physics and chemistry teacher, while also teaching dance. Avit received the Prix Nouveau Talent for I'm Still Here (Je Suis La), her first novel. Visit Clélie at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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 September 6th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Spotlight and Giveaway: Her Name is Rose

Today we're featuring Her Name is Rose by Christine Breen. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have TWO copies for some lucky readers!

When Irish gardener Iris Bowen could not conceive a child, she turned to an Irish adoption agency. There she found a young American exchange student who wanted the best for her infant daughter, but had one request: that the child be named Rose. Now, Rose has grown and is stepping out on her own at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Although a gifted violinist, she questions her talent as she struggles to meet the impossible demands of her brilliant but harsh teacher. Meanwhile, Iris has yet to fulfill her late husband’s last request that she find Rose’s birth mother, so that if anything happened to Iris, Rose would not be left alone in the world. However, when Iris receives some worrisome results on a breast scan, her husband’s words become hauntingly urgent. Without telling her daughter, she embarks on a voyage to find Rose’s birth mother with surprising results.

Since searches for a birth mother are usually initiated by the adopted child, Iris finds herself in a unique situation. With no records available to her and only a twenty-year-old envelope with a faded address to guide her, Iris begins a journey into the past that takes her to Boston and back to the west of Ireland, with surprising results for herself and for Rose and the others whom their lives touch. Iris discovers just how connected the world can be and how the world can feel much smaller thanks to love and music. 

Written in lyrical prose that brings the music within its pages to life, HER NAME IS ROSE is a gorgeous and intimate debut novel about the bond between a mother and daughter, and what happens when life does not play out the way you expect.

"An emotional story that tenderly explores the depth of a mother's love. You will root for her characters as they lift you up with their compassion and goodness."
—Diane Chamberlain author of The Silent Sister

Christine Breen was born in New York and educated in Boston and Dublin, where she received an MA in Irish Literature. She is an artist, homeopath, and garden designer whose columns on travel, gardening and health have appeared in newspapers and magazines in Ireland and America. She currently lives in Kiltumper, Ireland with her husband, the novelist Niall Williams, in the cottage where her grandfather was born. HER NAME IS ROSE is her first novel. Visit Christine at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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

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Giveaway ends September 5th at midnight EST.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: American Babe

By Sara Steven

Babe Walker cracks me up. While I’m not certain as to the tolerance level I’d maintain if I’d ever meet her in person, I can tell you that reading about her adventures, or more appropriately, mis-adventures, makes me laugh and leaves me wanting more.

In American Babe: A White Girl Problems Book, Babe is given an invitation to her grandfather’s birthday party. The only catch: It’s in Maryland, miles away from the lifestyle she’s used to in L.A. Is Maryland even a real place? Traipsing through unfashionable societies and meeting individuals who eat carbs, of all things, these experiences make Babe want to cringe, but she feels as though this is the right thing to do. Or so people tell her. Should reconnecting with family be this difficult?

The silver lining is her cousin Knox, a young boy who seems to have been created from the same cloth that Babe is draped in. He’s stylish, he’s sophisticated, he knows how to create food palates that utilize raw cooking methods sans the carbs. It’s like a match made in heaven, and in discovering her family, Babe finds out what it truly means to love someone, unconditionally. So much so, she decides it’s best to kidnap Knox and take him on the trip of a lifetime! We’ll see how well that goes over.

I’ve read White Girl Problems, another Babe Walker phenomenon (reviewed here), and while I enjoyed both books immensely, I have to admit it was nice to see Babe grow a little, and gain some maturity. Well, maturity for her. It’s a definite learning curve. She has no problems telling it like it is, unfiltered and as tactless as ever, but we wouldn’t want Babe any other way. That’s what makes her such a delight. In theory.

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

What's in the mail

Melissa A:

Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner from Atria (e-book via NetGalley)

The Secret Ingredients of Wishes by
Susan Bishop Crispell from Thomas Dunne

Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave by Jill Kargman from Ballantine

Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell from Berkley

Who's that Girl? by Mhairi McFarlaine from HarperCollins


The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan from HarperCollins


Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson from Viking (e-book via NetGalley)


The Real Liddy James by Ann-Marie Casey from Putnam (e-book via NetGalley)

Book Review: My Everything

By Becky Gulc

‘On the day Hannah is finally going to tell her husband she's leaving him, he has a stroke . . . and life changes in an instant.

Tom's only 32. Now he can't walk or cut up his own food, let alone use his phone or take her in his arms. And Hannah's trapped. She knows she has to care for her husband, the very same man she was ready to walk away from.

But with the time and fresh perspective he's been given, Tom re-evaluates his life, and becomes determined to save his marriage. Can he once again become the man his wife fell in love with, or has he left it too late?’
(Courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.)

I was intrigued by the concept of My Everything. Hannah has made the difficult decision to leave her husband and go and follow her dream of teaching in Tanzania. Yet just as she’s about to do so, Tom has a stroke. Hannah’s secret plans are then shelved and she feels more trapped than she perhaps ever has felt before. Can a truly horrific event and feeling compelled to stay with someone when you wanted to leave ever lead to anything other than resentment? I was interested to follow their stories and see.

The narrative of the story worked really well, switching between the present and key moments in the pair’s relationship from the past. I particularly enjoyed the chapters giving us insight into their past, lots of lovely moments and memories of their relationship building. Their relationships with key family members are also explored, with some difficult events covered.

What I would say is that I found it was certainly a book that grew in strength for me as it progressed, I only really warmed to the characters when, as a reader, I understood more about the history, about why Hannah was unhappy, as well as learnt of Tom’s perspective in it all. It took me a while to get into the book because I didn’t feel any warmth towards Hannah to begin with, as we were slowly introduced to their back-story, but looking back I appreciated this build-up. As a reader I didn’t feel Hannah fall in love with Tom even in the beginning, but I did feel Tom fall for Hannah, so I guess he had my loyalties until later on in the novel when I came to feel equally fond of both characters.

I enjoyed seeing the characters evolve, and their relationship evolve throughout the novel. The stroke itself and its impact was covered extremely well without being a depressing novel or overly medical in the descriptions. It’s very moving at times and a thought-provoking read. Overall I’d say this a great debut novel from Katie.

Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Katie Marsh:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

We're fans of Liberty a special giveaway

Today Liberty Kontranowski is here to talk about her debut novel, All Access, which is the first in her Fangirl series. To celebrate, she's giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to a lucky reader!

Liberty Kontranowski is a romantic women’s fiction author who adores all things lovey-dovey with a pinch (or more) of hubba-hubba. When she’s not at the keyboard, she’s taxiing around her three boys, knocking back craft beers with the hubs, blogging, fangirling, and dreaming up more fake people. She also spends an inordinate amount of time drinking coffee and dreaming of the day she can bid adieu to far-too-wintry Michigan and move to a place where she can write with her toes in the sand.

Liberty loves to hear from her readers (and otherwise cool people) so give her a yell. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and through her blog.

Every fangirl has a fantasy . . . what happens when that “if only” dream comes true?

Though she’s a single mom wedged firmly into thirty-something territory, author Kallie Reagan’s devotion to rock star Niles Russell knows no bounds. To pay homage to her muse, Kallie writes a smokin’ hot novel featuring a hero who looks and acts an awful lot like Niles — and a heroine who may or may not have a smattering of herself thrown in for fun.

When Niles learns about the book and surprise-texts Kallie, the two deliciously complicated creatives become fast friends . . . and so much more. But trying to define a relationship that’s laced with closeted skeletons, half-truths, and constant question marks proves harder than making it big. If they’re going to progress from Fangirl Infatuation to The Real Deal, these two need to give each other All Access to the most important place of all: their hearts.

How do you define the genre, "Chick Lit"?
The Chick Lit genre has become quite fluid over its lifetime, which is both exciting and encouraging. So I think there’s lots of wiggle room as far as definitions go. That said, I’d classify Chick Lit as any story that women (and men, if they want!) can learn from, escape with, or fall into. These stories might include serious subject matter, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. And the best part? They almost always guarantee you’ll have a really great time!

What is it about writing that brings you the most satisfaction?
The act of writing is my therapy. It helps me make sense of the world through a creative person’s eyes. (Which is, in my opinion, a much different approach to life than that of a non-creative.) Writing keeps my imagination busy and allows me to funnel my creativity toward something productive. Plus, I can make those “big dreams” of mine come true . . . by flinging them into a fictional person’s life!

Bonus benefit? After publication, writing nets a whole new type of satisfaction: resonating with readers! By far, reader feedback has been the coolest part of being published. There’s nothing more incredible than hearing how your writing has affected (or inspired) someone else. I swear I’ll never get used to that. :)

Which authors have influenced your writing?
I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but no other authors have really influenced my writing. Don’t get me wrong — there are a ton of amazing Chick Lit, women’s fiction, and RomCom authors that I admire, but I’ve always kind of done my own thing. Every writer has his or her own voice, approach, style, nuances. That authenticity is what makes you stand out. So, I try to tune into my own “Higher Author Chick” and challenge/influence myself that way. The hope is, of course, that pushing myself will help me improve with each story, and ultimately connect with more and more readers.

After loved ones and friends, what three things could you not live without?
Sunshine (!), coffee (!!), and my computer (of course)!

One thing I’m too afraid to do is:
Drive on highways. I loathe this about myself, but somewhere along the line I developed a tremendous fear of driving on highways and now I simply can’t do it. (I can be a passenger, but I can’t actually drive.) When you read ALL ACCESS, you’ll notice that’s a trait I passed on to poor Kallie. Except she can do it . . . she just doesn’t like to!

If you could bottle up one thing from the summer to carry with you throughout the year, what would it be?
Warm temperatures! I am an island girl trapped in a Michigander’s life and, no lie, I am counting down the years until I can shove out and relocate to somewhere warm. Only 11 more years to go! ;-)

Thank you so much for having me! This was a ton of fun and I love being able to chat with the incredible CLC Community! If you read ALL ACCESS, thank you in advance. I hope you love the few hours of pure escapism!

Thanks to Liberty for visiting with us and sharing a gift card with our readers. Thanks to Chick Lit Plus for arranging the interview.

~Interview by Tracey Meyers

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 August 30th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: Tailored for Trouble

By Sara Steven

Taylor Reed is trying hard to recover after being fired, all for speaking her mind and delivering the truth to a less-than-caring CEO. She knows she should have bit the bullet, but the man in question was well-known for his treatment of fellow female employees, often crossing the line with his harassment. She can see a silver lining to her situation, though. Maybe she can create an executive training program, something to assist those in high ranking positions to be better bosses to their employees. It’s sound in theory, but launching it off the ground is a cumbersome prospect, especially when her first client is none other than the less-than-caring CEO who fired her in the first place!

Bennett Wade has a reputation that precedes him. Women want to sidle up to him, and men want to be him. Unless you work for Bennett. Then, all bets are off. It’s about the dollar signs and how much he can acquire, so when he discovers Taylor was let go due to his own actions, it’s not about making amends, but figuring out a way to become part of her program, a great idea that she’ll have no way of launching off the ground without his influence. It always boils down to, “what’s in it for him”, but in this case, he’s getting way more than he could have ever bargained for.

Tailored For Trouble is a cleverly-written novel that takes us on a romantic roller coaster, the kind that leaves you breathless in anticipation. There’s much to discover for both characters, the inner workings of a couple who are nothing short of explosive! Will Taylor ever be able to find what really makes Bennett tick, and can Bennett let go of the safety net he’s built around his heart, to let Taylor in? It's hard to anticipate from one page to the next, how their story will turn out. I also found "Tailored" to be full of surprises of the, ahem, provocative sort, as well. What starts out innocently enough streamlines into a steamy experience that made me blush, but totally in a good way. Well worth the read!

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cathy Kelly has all her sisters with a book giveaway

We're pleased to feature Cathy Kelly today, who is here to talk about her latest novel, Between Sisters, which was published earlier this month. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing, we have TWO copies to give away.

Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of copies of her books in print. A #1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, she is one of Ireland's best-loved storytellers. She lives with her husband, their young twin sons, and three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. Visit Cathy at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Meet the women of Delaney Gardens, a bustling suburban village in the outer reaches of Dublin. There's Cassie, who's spent her married life doing everything right for her children, husband, and mother-in-law, yet feels so exhausted that "wine o'clock" comes a littler earlier each afternoon. There's her sister Coco, who runs a vintage dress shop, but has avoided the complications of romantic commitment. Watching over them is their grandmother Pearl, who, despite caring deeply for her family, is contending with a long-buried secret. And then there's Elsa, the polished face of daytime TV, who's triumphed over demons before, but is now facing her toughest battle yet. At every crossroad these women face, readers are taken deeper into the heart of what it means to be a family.

Which authors have inspired you?
Too many to mention, almost. I read a bit the same as I breathe, like many of you. I read the cereal packet in desperation if nothing else is there. Among the thousands of writers I love are Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Maya Angelou, and Colette. I will think of ten more as soon as I get up from this chair.

What is one piece of advice you could offer to aspiring novelists?
Trust in yourself and BE yourself. I have mentored a lot of writers and it's so easy to think your own voice is not good enough and try to channel someone else. Honestly, the authenticity of your own voice is what makes it work.

Describe your writing in three words.
Warm, wise, hopeful.

If you could cast Between Sisters as a movie, which actors would you choose for the lead roles?
I love Reese Witherspoon so can she be Coco, because she would be funny and convinced of her own hopelessness as her. For Cassie . . . that's tougher. I can see Jennifer Aniston being Cassie as she plays a harried woman so well, and Cassie, despite having all she ever wanted - a family - is harried because she's a working mom trying to hold it all together.

What is your theme song?
My theme song is definitely one my own sister, Lucy - in whose house in London I am currently staying - and I consider OUR song: Sister Sledge's "We Are Family."

What is the last restaurant you ate at and what did you eat there?
We have just come back from seeing the Georgia O'Keefe exhibition at London's Tate Modern - I am a huge fan of O'Keefe and adore her work - and we had coffee (short skinny cappuccino for me) and a nutty bar. I am a slave to the carb! They have a fancy restaurant too but this was sort of afternoon tea and a chance to rest our feet!

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 August 28th at midnight EST.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: Monsters-A Love Story

By Jami Deise

The Cinderella story is as old as, well, Cinderella. (Some sources put the first Cinderella story as early as the first century, about a Greek slave girl who becomes an Egyptian queen.) Beyond the Disney tale of the mistreated stepdaughter whose fairy godmother helps her attract a prince, a Cinderella story encompasses any tale of an underdog who becomes a champion. The movie Working Girl is as much a Cinderella story for Melanie Griffith’s success in the boardroom as her winning the love of Harrison Ford. And of course, any time a small college goes far during basketball’s March Madness, it is dubbed “This season’s Cinderella story.”

The appeal of these stories isn’t just winning the prince, the championship, or the promotion. It’s that the Cinderella character is an appealing underdog. Would we root for Cinderella to win the heart of the prince if she’d been one of the evil stepsisters instead? Of course not.

And yet, that’s the tactic author Liz Kay – a poet making her fiction debut – uses in Monsters: A Love Story. Her protagonist, poet Stacey Lane, is a Cinderella twice over, in work and in love. Yet she’s a horrible person, both due to her personality and because some of Kay’s choices for the character’s situation. This is a very bold choice for a narrative that’s based on a trope almost always used for romance, romantic comedy, and inspirational stories. But it’s not like Kay doesn’t warn us – it’s right there in the title, and in the book’s promotional blurb. Will this negative take on a common structure work for readers of women’s fiction, to whom this book will undoubtedly be marketed? The jury is still out on that.

Stacey Lane’s husband Michael died eight months before the book starts, leaving her with two young sons in Omaha, Nebraska. Right away this is a set up for extreme sympathy from the reader, but Michael was such a careful planner, he left an estate so substantial that Stacey will never have to work a day in her life. And rather than being overwhelmed with single motherhood, Stacey’s sister Jenny literally moved down the street from her and is available at a moment’s notice to take her kids any time Stacey has a last-minute trip to LA. (As you’ll see, this happens a lot.) Rather than being grateful for these circumstances, Stacey takes them for granted.

Cinderella moment #1 happens when Stacey gets an email from a huge Hollywood producer that he’s interested in turning her poem/novella, “Monsters in the Afterlife” into a book. “Monsters” is a modern-day retelling of Frankenstein; in Lane’s version, the monster is a female built to the specifications of society’s demanding expectations for women. (This is not an original idea – see The Stepford Wives or even the Anthony Michael Hall 1980s masterpiece Weird Science.) Even though Stacey doesn’t have an agent (and strangely, not one calls her even after the news hits the trades), she manages to obtain a deal which not only garners her hundreds of thousands of dollars that she doesn’t need when she sells the rights, but producer/movie star Tommy DeMarco wants to keep her on the movie, even though he’s already hired a well-known screenwriter to turn her poem into a script. Again, rather than being grateful or awed or even momentarily stunned by this amazing turn her life has taken, Stacey immediately goes into full-fledged bitch mode, holding fast to her concept of the project and acting condescendingly toward Tommy. (In Kay’s defense, a lot of novelists who sell the screen rights to their books act this way. However, it would have been interesting to read a few pages from the fictional book to see if Stacey’s possessiveness is justified. All we have is Lane’s word that it is the most amazing, beautiful, forthright, inspiring, stunning poem/story ever written; Homer be damned.)

Naturally, in Cinderella moment #2, Tommy becomes completely enamored of Stacey, and she sleeps with him the first night they meet, relatively new widowhood notwithstanding. As the novel – and work on the movie – progresses, Tommy continues to pursue Stacey, although the reasons behind his attraction are never fully expounded. (Then again, the book is written solely from Stacey’s first-person point-of-view, so Kay is limited in this respect.) Tommy seems to be based on Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor/producer who has both blockbusters and serious work on his resume, and is just as well-known for his pursuit of pretty young women as his acting roles. Stacey has no trouble sleeping with him, but she’s careful to keep a wall around her emotions; after all, she is well aware of Tommy’s promiscuous reputation. This secrecy extends to Jenny as well as Tommy’s sullen 15-year-old daughter Sadie, a cutter/anorexic who for some unfathomable reason becomes strongly attached to Stacey from practically the moment they meet.

The book unfolds over a couple of years, as the movie goes from concept to script to shooting to premiere and afterward. And Stacey, rather than becoming more sympathetic, becomes even more insufferable. She appears to be developing a serious drinking problem. She’s dismissive to the point of cruelty to Michael’s mother, a woman who has lost her child and therefore should be cut some slack – especially as Stacey is a mother herself. She lies to Jenny and to the star of the movie, Sarah -- Kate Winslet to Tommy’s Leo -- who inexplicably wants to be Stacey’s best friend. She’s condescending toward the other parents on her son’s baseball team. And she strings along a nice man while she continues to answer Tommy’s booty calls, lying to him about the true nature of their relationship. As for Tommy, even though the book is titled Monsters, not Monster, he never appears any worse than one would expect from a Hollywood superstar.

I’ve written before about the preoccupation in fiction over the likable female protagonist, and this book seems like a giant middle finger from author Liz Kay to the publishing Powers that Be who insist that female characters be everyone’s best friend or little sister. For this alone, I applaud her. It’s an even bigger feat that she was able to attract a traditional publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, to this vision. (Strangely enough, though, their pre-release reviews are calling the book a comedy. I didn’t find a single sentence funny.) However, I have to admit, I need a reason to root for a protagonist. I don’t need to like her, but the fact that Stacey was never an underdog, that she’s a snob who rarely mourns her dead husband nor appreciates the amazing opportunity she’s been given, made me want to see her fall on her face rather than succeed. A reader should root for the protagonist to either achieve her goals or learn a lesson through trying; the antagonist is the one we want to fail.

Does this mean I wouldn’t recommend the book? Absolutely not. Women’s fiction fans should definitely take the time to read it and weigh in on the whole “likable protagonist” debate. Monsters: A Love Story, which combines a structurally perfect Cinderella story with a truly horrible Cinderella, is the perfect novel to jump start this debate. As for me, though, I’m starting to think that these “likeability” evangelists in publishing may have a point.

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Guest Book Review: Sweet Breath of Memory

By Caryn Strean

Years ago I read a novel called Friendship Bread by Darien Gee, about several women coming together in a small town where their new friendship helps heal them from their pasts and allows them to grow into stronger women. As I read Sweet Breath of Memory, I was reminded often of this book and its similarities.

Ariella Cohen’s novel tells the story of Cate Saunders, a newcomer to Amberley, Massachusetts, who needs a fresh start. Having just lost her husband to war in Iraq, she is eager to find a job and a home. Immediately upon arriving, she is welcomed by the town’s mayor, Sheila, who also runs the town’s Italian bakery. Sheila soon introduces Cate to her best friends, diner owner Gaby and mechanic MaryLou.

As Cate soon discovers, each woman in town has a background they’ve been keeping a secret, including the woman who used to live in Cate’s new apartment. Her diary entries keep appearing, leading Cate and her friends to some troubling discoveries about the past.

For me, reading stories of friendship amongst women can be as comforting as a cup of tea. My only struggle with this novel was how Cohen tried to balance many women’s backgrounds at once. Each character had a lot on their plate and had a significant backstory. I thought she took on too much at once instead of just focusing on one or even two characters.

These characters are thoroughly drawn out, with each woman having qualities Cate attaches to. Cohen manages to balance the atrocities of war with a heartwarming small town tale, where secrets shared lead to friendships Cate never could have expected.

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

Caryn Strean is a mom by day and reader by night. Asking her to name her favorite book is like asking her to choose a favorite child. Her friends call her The Book Whisperer. Caryn can be reached on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kerry Lonsdale has written a a book giveaway

We're excited to have Kerry Lonsdale here today. Melissa A read her debut novel, Everything We Keep, last month and promptly added it to her 2016 favorites list. Check out her review. Thankfully, Kerry has a sequel in the works, as well as a standalone novel coming out this winter. If you haven't gotten your hands on this one yet, TLC Book Tours has a copy to give away! There are also other chances to win throughout Kerry's blog tour.

Kerry Lonsdale believes life is more exciting with twists and turns, which may be why she enjoys dropping her characters into unexpected scenarios and foreign settings. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and is a founder of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, an online community of authors located across the globe. She resides in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an aging golden retriever who’s convinced she’s still a puppy. Visit Kerry at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.

A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like for you?
How about one word? Bumpy. For 99% of us, the ride isn’t smooth and the off-ramps enticing an exit are plenty. The key (in my case) was to keep moving forward, even when the rejections had me burning fumes. The journey was so worth it though.

What was your inspiration for writing Everything We Keep?
Revealing that would give away a key plot point in the story. ;) Let’s just say I saw a TV show where a character had a condition that fascinated me. Intrigued, I started researching and well…the real-life case scenarios I came across were, to be cliché, stranger than fiction. They sparked the foundation of Everything We Keep.

Are any of your characters based on yourself?
Oh gosh, no! I’m not at all interesting. But the people around me are.

If you could cast Everything We Keep as a movie, who would play the lead characters?
This is a tough one. I’ll pick the top three characters. Thinking of current possibilities, I’d have to say:
Aimee Tierney: Alexandra Daddario or Alexis Bledel. (I waffle between these two. It’s the all about the eyes. ;) )
James Donato: Matt Bomer
Ian Collins: Scott Eastwood

What is the strangest movie that has ever made you cry?
I am a sap. I get teary over commercials, cartoons, you name it. It doesn’t take much for a movie to make me “happy” cry. Strangest movie off the top of my head? Blended, with Adam Sandler.

Where is your favorite place to spend money?
DSW. Shoes, baby. It’s all about the shoes.

Thanks to Kerry for chatting with us and TLC Book Tours 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 24th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Chick Lit Cheerleader: "Mac" a special giveaway

When I was a kid, my family and I would go to Barefoot Bay in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for a long weekend with some family friends. My sister and I would spend our days swimming in the pool or lake (or going tubing when we got older) and our nights doing fun activities with other kids our age or going to shows with our parents. There was also shuffleboard! For meals, we'd eat in a big dining hall while being served by waitstaff. I don't think a night would go by where someone in our group of family friends wouldn't spill their drink. It became a running joke after a while.

Today, Chick Lit Cheerleader Jen Tucker is taking us to her favorite vacation spot and she even has a special giveaway to go along with it.

We'll leave her to it....

No Cars Allowed

“You can’t drive on the island, Mike. No cars allowed. I’m dead-serious!”

It was early October in 1998. Our son, Wil, was two-years-old and my ever expanding waistline was the result of waiting for our newest Tucker addition, Ryan. My parents wanted to whisk us away to Mackinac Island for a long weekend. My husband, Mike, had never been.

Mackinac is one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve been ferry hopping over to the island since I was a toddler with ringlets. Although, back then, you rode on the slowest boat, of all boats, that were ever boats and were seasick upon disembarkation. Today’s steady and speedy ferries make the trip more palatable to those who are queasy. The voyage only taking minutes rather than hours. Was that wrong? Should I have said “palatable” and “queasy” in the same sentence? Sorry about that.

Grand Hotel
Exploring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (UP) was the summer makeup of my childhood. Being the child of Michiganders—Kalamazoo for my mom, Battle Creek for my dad—I have fond memories of the picturesque cities and dreamy towns that dot the state’s glove shaped map. I’ve dipped my toes into the waters of all the Great Lakes. I’ve also failed miserably to learn the art of skipping stones across those same waters. What my grandfather saw as my only epic fail in life—God rest his soul.


I was explaining to Mike what visiting the island was like. The fact no cars occupied the island—mind blowing, I know. He has a “look” he shoots my way when he thinks I’m acting a little bit crazy-ridiculous; what I’m saying makes zero sense to him. Wrinkled brow. Squinty eyes. There might be a little Elvis lip curl in there accompanied by the word, “What!?” when he really can’t comprehend what I’m saying.

“What!?” he snarled.
See? Told you he’d say that.
“No cars? Ever!?” he asked defiantly. “I find it hard to believe no cars have ever been on the island, Jen.”
I pondered that challenge. “The movie, Somewhere in Time, was filmed there and Christopher Reeve drove his car up to the Grand Hotel, yet that’s not the day-to-day action on the island. Horses, bicycles, and your feet—only modes of transportation.” He didn’t seem sold. For a guy who hiked the Grand Canyon, he seemed like a stick in the mud about this whole idea an island that could shun Henry Ford’s invention. Then, I gave him my best sales pitch:
“Every other store on the island is a fudge or ice cream shop, so it’s basically paradise.”
“Hmm…And the other shops?” he asked.
“Aren’t fudge or ice cream shops,” I snickered.


And we’ve been returning as often as possible for fudge and ice cream with our children ever since. And, yes, there is a lot more to behold on the island than just a sugar rush. The sweet cottages and immense homes that line the bluff. The historic fort and the informative carriage rides. The butterfly gardens and hiking paths that wind through the woods. The tourists who’ve never seen so many horses and lilacs in their lives yet risk it all just to take a selfie in the middle of Main Street. Not the best plan for a picture op where cyclists and horses can’t always come to an immediate halt.

This is one of my happy places. One that fills decades of memories for me that I love sharing with my children and I want to share that island magic with you, too!

My new children’s book, A Visit to Mackinac Island was released on August 1st. Jennifer Powell, an über talented paper crafter, and Mackinac Island aficionado, illustrated the book which takes place on our beloved island—besides names, loving Mackinac and its surrounding cities is something we have in common. I’m packing up to hit the road on tour with Jennifer in northern Michigan and thought I’d bring home some Island for one lucky winner! An autographed copy of our new children’s book, a DVD of Somewhere in Time (the movie filmed on Mackinac), some decadent fudge made on the island, and maybe some other goodies Jennifer and I pick up along the way—you never know. All you have to do to enter is share with me a memory of the island if you’ve ever visited, or tell me about a place you visited as a child that you’d love to spend time again. (Sign up through the Rafflecopter for your entry to count.) Good luck!


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.

Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of SaltIn September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at TwitterFacebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.

Nicole Evelina's kind of town

We're pleased to have Nicole Evelina at CLC today to talk about the setting of her latest novel, Been Searching For You. It takes place in a city that is near and dear to the hearts of Melissa A, Melissa S, and Tracey.

Nicole Evelina is an award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Been Searching for You, a romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Find her here:
Annabeth is a hopeless romantic who believes in soul mates. In fact, she’s been writing to hers each year on her birthday since she was 16.

Now, at 34, she’s still holding out hope of finding Mr. Right even though he’d be fighting an uphill battle to gain her trust, thanks to a traumatic experience years before that’s left her unable to commit.

When Annabeth meets a handsome literature professor named Alex on her 34th birthday, she thinks her quest may finally be at an end. Things don’t quite go as planned, so Annabeth resolves to do everything she can over the next year to find the unknown recipient of her letters. But blind dates, Meetup events and online singles sites have nothing on what fate has in store for her when a co-worker unexpectedly quits and Annabeth finds herself working in close quarters with both Alex and her long ago ex, Nick. Fighting her attraction to one and loathing for the other, Annabeth is forced to face all of her old insecurities while keeping an eye on a scheming frienemy who may derail her hopes and dreams.

Written in the tradition of Bridget Jones’ Diary, Kim Gruenfelder’s A Total Waste of Makeup, and Melissa Pimental’s Love By The Book, it shows that love on the sweet side can exist for the modern girl, if only she’s willing to trust herself and search hard enough.

A Romantic Comedy in an “Interesting” Setting

When the plot of my new romantic comedy, Been Searching for You, plopped itself in my head a few years ago, I didn’t have to think twice where I was going to set it. It had to be Chicago. It’s my favorite city in the country, I’ve been there many times, and it’s not too far from where I live now, so plot-specific research wouldn’t be a problem.

When my agent at the time started to send the book out to publishers, an interesting thing happened. We started getting responses that Chicago was an “interesting” choice for a setting, and they weren’t saying it in a positive way. What the heck? Why should it matter? The only thing we could come up with is that it isn’t the traditional settings of New York City/Manhattan or small town America, both of which are very popular in romance novels.

But here’s the thing – besides my own predilection, I chose Chicago specifically because it isn’t either of these places. As someone in the prime demographic for romantic comedies who can’t afford to live in New York, I find it frustrating that so many are set there. All that says to me is I somehow missed out on something in life since that’s obviously where all the young women are, or at least I feel like I’m being told that’s where I should be. New York is used as a setting so often it’s becoming cliché, plus it’s not realistic or relatable to most of the target audience. As for small towns, again, not all readers live in one of those and there are so many out there (fictional and real) that you can’t twirl your earbuds in a bookstore without hitting one. (Plus, small towns give me panic attacks – true story – so I don’t know that I could set one there.)

To me, Chicago was the perfect compromise. It’s cosmopolitan enough to have the glamour of New York, yet small enough to be relatable no matter where you live. Demographically, it’s a young city, so it’s a logical place for two never-marrieds to fall in love. There are a multitude of cultural options so my characters would never lack for things to do, plus there are the lake, beaches and parks to add variety. I knew my hero was going to be a literature professor, and with the Chicago area being home to more than 119 colleges and universities, I had plenty of places to employ him. In the end, the city of Chicago became almost a character and the novel became my love letter to my future home town, much like Lost in Translation was Sofia Coppola’s ode to Tokyo.

Now when people ask “Why Chicago?” I think, “Why not? After all, it worked for While You Were Sleeping!”

Thanks to Nicole for sharing a taste of Chicago with us and H.C.L. for including us on Nicole's blog tour. Visit the other stops:

August 14th
Sylv all About Books and Films - Excerpt
Hello Chick Lit - Author Guest Post
August 15th
Pretty Little Book Reviews - Promo Post
Novelgossip - Excerpt
August 16th
August 17th
August 18th
Steamy Book Momma - Promo Post
He Said Books or Me - Author Guest Post
August 19th
ItaPixie's Book Corner - Review/Excerpt
August 20th
Jena Books - Review

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review: The Amicable Divorce

By Sara Steven

Already dealing with a suspended driver's license, despised job, and looming thirtieth birthday, Vanessa Collins doesn't think much more can go wrong...until her husband Brian announces he's filing for divorce.

Acting on her thrice-divorced sister's advice, Vanessa steals Brian's financial documents. She's determined to either escape her marriage with a six-figure settlement or day trade her way into retirement. But Vanessa ends up with something she never bargained for, and now her entire future may be in jeopardy unless she can figure out what's going on before it's too late.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Vanessa is one of those characters you can’t help but feel sympathy for. Life is passing her by, while she is content on working for an employer she despises, married to a man who has lost interest, and there are no hobbies or other extracurricular activities she enjoys or engages in. It’s as though she wants to settle for mediocrity, not feeling as though she’s able to achieve anything else in her short thirty years on earth.

After her husband Brian pulls the trigger on their impending divorce, a domino effect begins. There are plenty of hidden secrets Vanessa never knew Brian was capable of. Soon, she’s being followed, threatened. There are documents within Vanessa’s possession that has put her life in grave danger. What sort of connection does Brian have to the documents? When he’s not at his day job, what else is going on behind the scenes?

The Amicable Divorce was such a fun read, and sprinkled within the pages are bits of mystery that will keep you guessing. I was trying to figure out the motive and the reasoning behind Brian leaving his wife, never knowing there would be an undercurrent of danger. I really enjoyed getting inside Vanessa’s head, because she’s just a funny, wonderful person. Very real and down to earth. She’s far from perfect, which elicits a lot of crazy situations and comic relief. Will Vanessa find a way to save the day, and her marriage, in one fell swoop? And more importantly, will she ever realize she’s capable of so much more than mediocre?

Thanks to Marla Bradeen for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Marla Bradeen: