Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reviews at Amazon--November 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!

Sara's review

Melissa A:



'80s vs '90s with CLC!

This was such a fun theme that some of us decided to share our lists!

Favorite things about the '80s

Melissa A:

Movies: Soooo many to name...Back to the Future, Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Moving Violations, The Princess Bride, Sing!, Annie, Sixteen Candles, Spaceballs, Little Shop of Horrors, Lucas, Overboard, etc.

V.C. Andrews novels: Some may have originated in the '70s, but I started reading them in the late '80s and couldn't get enough.

Full House: It started in the '80s and went through part of the '90s. I loved having a show where there was a character around my age through whom I could live vicariously. And Uncle Jesse was definitely eye candy!

Music: Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Wham, Billy Joel, Toto, Debbie Gibson, and, of course, New Kids on the Block!

Cabbage Patch Kids: My sister and I had a bunch of them and we would play house.

Melissa S:

Punky Brewster: I used to love this show and couldn't wait for it to come on every week. My favorite part about it was her bedroom! It was so cool and different.

John Hughes movies: Who didn't dream of being a character in one of his movies? The breakfast club always made me excited to be a teenager and get to high school.

Garbage Pail Kids: I had so much fun collecting these when I was in grade school. We would trade them with friends for the ones we still needed and line them all up and laugh at the silly (and gross) names and pictures.

Croonchy Stars cereal: I always loved the Swedish chef from the Muppets and when this cinnamon cereal came out, I would always beg my mom to get it for us!

Herself the Elf doll: I had the record that went along with this whimsical little doll. She was always my favorite and I still say that if I were to have a little girl, her room would be decorated in a Herself the Elf theme.


Soap operas: The 1980s were the heyday of ABC soaps. Ryan’s Hope, All My Children, One Life to Live, Edge of the Night, and of course record-breaking General Hospital made it hard to leave your house in the afternoon for most of the decade.

Teen movies: Thanks to John Hughes, the '80s were best known for high-school based gems like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Some Kind of Wonderful. Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High also came out in this decade. With no movies like these since, even today’s teenagers can quote Ferris Bueller as well as their parents can.

Madonna-inspired fashion: I couldn’t pull it off, but I admired those who could!

The Washington Redskins: They were in three Super Bowls and won two of them.

Dirty Dancing: My all-time favorite movie. No one puts Baby in a corner. Not even Emily Gilmore.

Favorite things about the '90s

Melissa A:

RENT! Need I say more? "When you're living in America, at the end of the millenium..."

Friends: No matter how much I loved TV in the '90s, Friends was an icon!

Music: Nirvana, Alanis Morissette, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Jewel, Counting Crows, No Doubt, Green Day, Natalie Imbruglia, Collective Soul, Jill Sobule, Better than Ezra, 10,000 Maniacs, Live, Barenaked Ladies, etc. Check out my blog series about the fabulous music from this decade.

Disney animated films: Since teen movies didn't start up again until I was in college, I had Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King to keep me entertained when I was in high school (and a bit beyond). I also love Hercules and I somewhat count The Little Mermaid since I didn't see it until it came out on VHS in 1990. (These two movies are similar in a lot of ways.)

Bridget Jones's Diary: My introduction to chick lit. I was laughing out loud and getting looks from people when I read it.

Melissa S:

Beverly Hills 90210: My friends and I watched this religiously every Wednesday night and would order pizza and sodas while awaiting the drama that was sure to unfold.

Michael Jordan: Growing up in Chicago, almost everyone was obsessed with him. Enough said.

Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill: This album came out when I was in high school and epitomized the 1990's teenage angst every girl has felt at least once in high school.

Gameboy: I loved playing Tetris on my Gameboy after school.

Christopher Pike's "Remember Me" trilogy: These books drew me in and I couldn't wait to start the next one in the series.


AOL: Don’t laugh, but I still have my AOL email address. AOL helped change the internet from something only wonks and professionals used, to the consumer-driven service it is today. I met some of my best friends for the first time online, and keep in touch with everyone I know that way. Those free computer discs will forever have a place in my heart.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards: The retro-looking baseball field opened in 1992 and quickly became a model for every new baseball stadium since. Plus they have crab-topped pretzels.

Y2K mania: Who could forget the fun of living in a year where everyone thought society was going to collapse due to a few lines of computer code that were too short?

If you have about 20 minutes, take a trip back...

The Clinton Administration: Eight years of peace and prosperity, headed by a self-indulgent baby boomer, the wife who’d married beneath her, and the Vice President married to the woman who invented warning labels for record albums. Oh for the days when the biggest thing we had to worry about in politics was a stained blue dress. (Here is our reviewer Denise's post about it.)

Harry Potter: I read mostly adult fiction, but no series has captured my attention the way Harry Potter did-- especially the first three books, which were released in the '90s.

What are some of YOUR favorite things from the '80s and '90s? Did anything on this list stand out to you?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Review: Our Song

By Melissa Amster

What would you do if your husband was the love of somebody else's life? And when faced with an agonising decision, could you put the past behind you and do the right thing?

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they've never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally's ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever.
(Synopsis adapted from Amazon.)

I instantly became a fan of Dani Atkins’ writing after reading Fractured a few years ago. Her words flow beautifully, making her stories feel realistic and easy to visualize.

Some of my favorite parts of Our Song were the courtship scenes. They made me reminisce about when my husband and I first met and fell in love. Dani really captured the excitement and anticipation of those moments and allowed me to feel the way her characters did. I was able to get into their heads even better as a result. Some parts of the story were very emotional in other ways and the characters’ feelings jumped right off the page, making me teary-eyed at times. It was all very heartfelt, honest, and gripping. While a bit lengthy at over 500 pages, the story went fast, as it was hard to put down. I found myself breezing through it when I had a chance to sit down and really spend time with the characters. I also liked that most of the story took place during the winter holidays, as it really got me in the mood for the month ahead.

Being an avid reader comes with some consequences, and one of those is being able to predict what will happen in any given novel. I love when a writer throws me off my game and manages to surprise me. However, with this novel, I found myself being right about what was going to happen on more than one occasion and I wasn’t always happy that the prediction came true. Some of this could also be due to foreshadowing. If you aren’t into making predictions and just want to go with the flow, then you have nothing to worry about. There are plenty of game changers and you might still be more surprised than I was.

Our Song is a testament to love, heartbreak, and friendship. Definitely have some tissues handy. I would enjoy a sequel to see what happens next for the characters. In the meantime, I’m glad to know that Dani has another novel coming out soon.

Dream movie cast:
Ally: Susannah Fielding
David: Joshua Sasse
Charlotte: Sarah Gadon
Joe: Chris O’Dowd
Max: William Moseley

Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: I Am the Ocean

By Sara Steven

Samita Sarkar thought she was destined to spend her entire life running.

Never giving herself a moment’s rest, she studied hard and graduated from university with top grades, and then promptly began a tireless job search. But although she thought that she had done everything by the book, life still hadn’t given her any answers. She knew that God had a plan, but what was it?

Stricken with anxiety while facing midsummer heat and sizable life decisions, the thrifty twenty-something Canadian—who had never before travelled for travel’s sake—purchased a discount bus ticket for what she thought would be a few weeks of reprieve in The United States. Embarking on her journey with nothing but a small suitcase, a broken handbag, a killer manicure and a copy of "The Bhagavad Gita," Samita would spend her days wandering streets and beaches, and her nights in jostling buses or on cramped couches. Marvelling at the beauty around her, Samita finally discovered what the world has to offer to those who stop running, while learning lessons that would set the course of the rest of her life. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I Am the Ocean was a beautifully written novel; a chronicle illustrating the trials and tribulations that can come from a physical and spiritual journey. While I’ve barely stepped foot outside of the country I’m from, the adventure Samita takes us on made me yearn for travel, to embark on my own journey through places I’ve never been, to learn from cultures dissimilar to my own, yet in so many ways, exist in the same vein.

Through it all, she never loses focus on her spirituality. Not even when she’s tempted to. There are many roadblocks along the way, but Samita knows she’s going to be okay, regardless of the rough road ahead of her. She shares her own insights with the other adventurers who are out exploring, the ones who are complete strangers, but feel like kindred spirits. I was amazed at the level of trust she exudes. I don’t know if I could ever feel comfortable sleeping on someone’s couch who I’d only interacted with through online transactions, or share space with a plethora of other females who I’d only met that same day, but I think that’s part of the message here. That maybe it’s okay to rely on human compassion and kindness, even in the strangest of circumstances.

There was a time, years ago, when looking for an adventure wasn’t so out of the ordinary. I’m thinking of the ‘60s/’70s, when those seeking adventure would hitchhike their way across the country in search of enlightenment, in double slugbug VW’s, or out of commission school buses. Samita’s story reminded me of those days, a time where life was a little simpler, and we weren’t so encumbered with the heavy burdens life often throws our way. I really appreciate her views and the free-spirit she has, grounded within her spiritual beliefs.

Thanks to Samita Sarkar for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Book Review: The Taste of Air

By Jami Deise

Children find it impossible to see their parents as anything other than parents. They cannot envision – and usually do not care – who they were before their children were born; what their interests are outside of the family, or even the lives they might want to lead after the children have grown. Even grown-up children struggle with this, as evidenced every time a bewildered widower introduces his children to his new partner and watches her get the cold shoulder. In Gail Cleare’s The Taste of Air, two adult sisters are faced with this realization. But rather than learning about an early first marriage or former career, Nell Williams and her sister Bridget learn their widowed mother has a completely secret second life.

Happily married Nell believes her mother Mary is firmly ensconced in a retirement village in Massachusetts. But when she gets a call that her mother has been hospitalized, it’s a Vermont hospital that’s calling. Nell is stunned to learn that Mary has had a secret cottage for decades, not to mention a clandestine relationship with the neighbor whose wife died under mysterious circumstances. As Nell works to learn the truth about her mother’s life, Mary struggles to live and Bridget deals with her own marital problems. The narrative moves back and forward in time as Mary – and later, Bridget’s – secrets come home to roost.

I read The Taste of Air while at the bedside of my own dying father-in-law, so the hospital scenes were especially poignant, meaningful and accurate to me. Cleare’s voice and plotting style reminded me a lot of Danielle Steel’s. I am not a Danielle Steel fan, but she has millions of readers who love her voice and coincidental plot points, so Cleare should benefit from the comparison. Her descriptions of Vermont were particularly evocative. I’ve never lusted after lakeside cottages or fresh maple syrup, but Cleare’s picturesque storytelling had me considering a trip north.

Even if this type of story isn’t your cup of tea, Cleare’s tale – and my own recent experience – is an important reminder to have a frank talk with your aging parents about their financial and health status. You may end up in a situation where you will be asked to make medical decisions for them. Know their wishes before this happens. It’s unlikely that your widowed mother has a secret life in Vermont, but it is likely that you’ll be called on to help her during her golden years.

Thanks to Red Adept Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Book Review: Where am I Now?

By Sara Steven

A former child actor best known for her starring roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and out of place: as the only kid on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, a Valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and a grown-up the world still remembers as a little girl. Tackling everything from what she learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to discovering in adolescence that she was no longer “cute” enough for Hollywood, these essays chart her journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. They also illuminate universal struggles, like navigating love and loss, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Candid, insightful, moving, and hilarious, Where Am I Now? introduces Mara Wilson as a brilliant new chronicler of the experience that is growing up female. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

I was eager to read this debut novel, for many reasons. After recognizing Mara from some of my favorite movies, I wanted to discover who she really is. Most of us only know her as the adorable little girl on screen. I also wanted to know what it was like for her, living the life of a child celebrity, the sort of impression it made on her. If she harbored the same sort of passions, interests or concerns that I did, and still do, as an adult. Most of us want to know if we can identify and relate with a celebrity.

Mara is as down to earth as any one of us, even after she'd been thrust into the spotlight at such a tender age. The people she chooses to surrounds herself with and those who give her immense support are a testament to her never becoming bigger than herself. Remaining humble, even with the incredible opportunity she'd been given. And it shows. So much of what she has to say gives thanks to those who helped her, guided her into becoming the person she is today. Whether that’s parental guidance, friends, teachers, even those who weren’t the best influences ended up becoming some of the best teachers for her. Something to learn and grown from.

I appreciate how incredibly candid she is. In all honesty, I didn’t expect that. Maybe because I still envision her as the little girl from Matilda, or the baby sister in Mrs. Doubtfire. We often have this ideal image of someone, especially when it’s someone who’s had a certain persona that’s been presented to the general public. It’s apparent just how much she's grown up, a uniquely talented and brilliant individual. Her own person.

While Mara provides plenty of background stories related to the movies and television shows she’d been part of, a lot of what she talks about relates to her own personal struggles and moments of clarity. Having felt as though she’s a square peg amidst a sea of circles, it’s in finding her own path in life and gaining personal acceptance that makes Where Am I Now? so inspirational. So many of us can identify with her struggles, an aid in finding our own voice, when sometimes it might feel as though it’s too difficult a task.

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

**Mara is featured in this book trailer (not for her own book though).**

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Go-to-Gay: Waxing (on and off) Nostalgic

This post really needs no introduction from us. Keith, take it away!

Oh, 1980s and 1990s, how I miss thee! I was born in 1970, so by the time I was ready to be a real kid, let alone a teenager, the '80s were my jam. Life changed so fast in the 1990s the decade could be split into three distinct eras for me: college, first marriage, coming out of the closet.

There are so many things I miss about these decades narrowing down a list of five items from each is HARD, but my editor wouldn’t allow my “1,000 things I Miss About the '80s and '90s” post, so I narrowed my choices down to a more reasonable post-sized register.

Let’s start with the 1980s

Generra Clothing Hypercolor Shirts

This space-age, totally rad, and unbelievably cool clothing technology rocked my core when it was introduced. The shirts would actually change color based on your body heat. It was tie-dye for the modern age. It was like nothing I had ever seen, and I had to have one.

CBS Special Presentation Announcement

When this fast paced, 10-second jewel of percussion and horns came blaring into your living room from the television, you knew you were in for a treat. Most likely, the Wizard of Oz or A Charlie Brown holiday special was getting ready to air. And the thing was, THIS WAS THE ONLY TIME YOU COULD SEE IT. It was only aired once a year. You couldn’t just buy it at the local TG & Y (or whatever store your town had pre-Walmart). I remember always having to have had my bath and be in my pajamas before that lead-in came on so I could be sure to enjoy all of the special, which in the case of The Wizard of Oz always ran past my bedtime.

The Trapper Keeper

Quite possibly, the best organizing tool ever invented. I would have never made it through school without a Trapper Keeper. In fact, I could use one right now. Are these still made?!

Plaque Indicator Tablets

These ingenious torture devices were always the true test of your tooth brushing ability. I am pretty sure dentists slipped these pink tablets to parents while we unsuspecting kids were still in the examination chair. In case you’ve forgotten, you would chew the tablet, then spit it out. The pink would cling to the parts of your teeth that had not been properly brushed and were still plaque-ridden. I hated it then, but now, I would love to have some.

Mix Tapes

I can’t tell you how many countless hours I spent listening to my local radio station in hopes of catching that one song that I needed to complete the mix tape I was making. If you have done this, you also know the horror of the cassette tape running out of room in the middle of the recording and having to start waiting all over again. Thankfully, I called the radio station so often to request songs in the 80’s, my favorite DJ, the Lizard, would often throw the song in question back on the turntable fairly soon as a favor to me. Loyalty matters, kids.

Now, moving on the 90’s. A different decade, a different time.

Computer Labs

No one had his own computer back in the early 90’s. If you had a project or paper due for a class in college, there was only one place to go: the computer lab. There you would sit and insert your ginormous floppy discs and do your work. The best part of the lab was the diversity of the people there. It was like a real-life Breakfast Club. There was always a jock who was basically trying to get someone else to do his paper for him. There was the nerd who did her campus work-study as the computer lab attendant, and would help you insert your floppy into the drive while rolling her eyes. It didn’t matter what category of student you fell into, you eventually ended up in the computer lab the day before your deadline.

Blue’s Clues

OK, give me this one. I know some of you are parents who probably had to watch this show over and over and over and over. I don’t have kids. I do have nieces and nephews who grew up with Blue and Steve, and I LOVED to watch the show with them. I just loved everything about it. Steve was so cute and funny. He should have never left the show. I don’t want to know what he is doing now, but I am sure I would be disappointed. I just want my fond memories of good, curious Blue and cute, adorable Steve.


Was there anything more exciting or more frustrating than the noise of trying to connect to America Online through your telephone line? And once you finally connected, WOW! You could chat with people from all over the world. You could look up anything that you wanted and have the answers immediately. Mind. Blown.

I will also admit that my main email account is still an AOL account. Don’t judge me. I am happy with it.

Meg Ryan Movies

I loved Meg Ryan movies so hard. OK, technically When Harry Met Sally came out in 1989, but then followed Sleepless in Seattle, Joe Versus the Volcano, Prelude to a Kiss, You’ve Got Mail.... The list goes on and on. She was my 1990’s sweetheart.

Alt-Angsty Rock

I’m the first to tell you that I am a pop music kinda guy. I don’t care. I like it. BUT, some 90’s artists tapped into something deep inside me that needed released. When I get in certain moods today, I still go to Alanis Morrisette, The Verve, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Bens Fold Five, and R.E.M. I mean, sometimes you just have to let out that demon.

What have I missed? What do you miss most about the two decades that shaped so much of our lives? Let me know!

Keith Stewart is the author of Bernadette Peters Hates Me – True Tales of a Delusional Man. A native of Appalachia, he splits his time between his hometown of Hyden and nearby Lexington, Kentucky. His blog is . You can find him on Twitter at @Shiglyogly and Facebook at @AMSCOT (A Strong Man’s Cup of Tea). He is a regular contributor to and the He lives with his husband, Andy, and their two dogs, Duke and Dudley.

Book Review: The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane

By Becky Gulc

Ellen Berry, a new name but not a new author. Ellen is actually one of my favourite authors, Fiona Gibson. She decided to use the new pen name for her new set of three novels set on Rosemary Lane. With this change I expected there to be a shift in not necessarily writing style but the type of novel I would be reading. Would it still have Fiona’s great characters, charm and humour or would it be darker? The cover was as appealing as ever and is definitely one that catches my eye. So what is the book about?

‘In the beginning…

Kitty Cartwright always solved her problems in the kitchen. Her cookbooks were her life, and there wasn’t an issue that ‘Cooking with Aspic’ couldn’t fix. Her only wish was that she had a book entitled ‘Rustling Up Dinner When Your Husband Has Left You’.

Forty years later…

On Rosemary Lane, Della Cartwright plans to open a very special little bookshop. Not knowing what to do with the hundreds of cookbooks she inherited from her mother, she now wants to share their recipes with the world – and no amount of aspic will stand in her way. But with her family convinced it’s a hare-brained scheme, Della starts to wonder if she’s made a terrible decision...’ (Courtesy of  Fiona Gibson's website.)

Fiona’s books always get me hooked pretty quickly. I care about the characters right away, and this novel is no different. Della is a lovely, warm character; she has recently lost her mother and her only child is about to leave the nest of home for university. There’s a lot of change going on for Della, and she is either going to crumble or embrace it and we are with her every step of the way.

I was pleased to see this novel still has great characters who are well developed, ones we can all relate to. Fiona also ‘does’ family so well; it’s a real strength of her writing, I think. Once again, I loved reading about Della’s relationships with her daughter, siblings and late mother who although passed away was a great character in the novel herself. I could really picture what she was like, helped of course by the memories Della shares with the reader, often spurred on by the cookbooks her mother had collected over the years and some secrets they contain.

There have been a fair number of books concerning characters setting up new businesses that I’ve read over the past few years and rightly or wrongly there can be a bit of a feeling you’re going to be reading the same story again. This isn’t the case here. In actual fact the bulk of the book doesn’t concern opening the bookshop, but more-so explores Della’s relationships with her husband, daughter, late mother, and siblings. When the bookshop as a business is discussed, it’s in an interesting way and I will be keen to read the subsequent novels set on Rosemary Lane to try and find out how Della and her new business are getting along.

As someone from and living in Yorkshire, I naturally adored the setting of Burley Bridge and Rosemary Lane, itself. I felt at home in this lovely quaint location and could picture all the little shops and characters so well. I felt the introduction of other characters on Rosemary Lane towards the end of the novel worked well in terms of making me want to read the next novel.

As someone who also has quite a few cookbooks and enjoys cooking something different now and again I really enjoyed the ‘foodie’ aspect of the novel, I often went to sleep feeling hungry after reading this!

This was another fantastic book by Fiona/Ellen and I’ll definitely be reading The Bakery/The Bistro on Rosemary Lane when these are released.

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: In the Blue Hour

By Denise Keliuotis

Sometimes, an end is not only an end; it is also a beginning.

When Elise Brooks’ husband Michael dies in a car accident, Elise finds herself in the place occupied by so many sudden widows: a place of disorientation and disbelief, one of sadness and uncertainty. Complicated emotions for anyone, indeed, yet Elise’s grief is further muddied by nagging memories of a disturbing dream and the feeling that her deceased husband is trying to send her a message she simply cannot comprehend.

Rather than curl into a ball and surrender, Elise sets out on a journey to decipher her husband’s murky message. In the Blue Hour follows the path of Elise Brooks as she ignores the skeptics who surround her and instead heeds the words of a tarot card reader who advises her to visit an address printed on a business card Elise found in her husband’s pocket after his death. Tom, Elise’s friend and a skeptic at heart, joins Elise on her journey, which includes a stop at a haunted bed and breakfast in Arkansas and a visit with a conjure woman in Tennessee.

By exploring her husband’s death, by literally chasing the fleeting glimpses that appear just outside her line of sight, Elise rediscovers her true self and reconnects with her heritage. Elise realizes her darkest fears and faces them head on, transforming herself in a way she didn’t believe possible – or necessary – before her husband’s death.

Much of the beauty of In the Blue Hour flows from author Elizabeth Hall’s writing, which is simultaneously crisp yet colorful. The novel easily transports the reader into Elise’s world and its continually changing settings, as Hall paints vivid images, complete with sight, sound, and smell. Hall’s words carry emotion without ever being overwrought, and she gracefully unfolds Elise before the reader like a flower opening to bloom. Hall writes:

Her worst fear, the thing she dreaded most, was to go on living – trying to figure out how to negotiate a world that didn’t have Michael in it. She did not want to learn how to go on without him. . . . She did not want to absorb yet another loss in her life. All these months, she’d been lost in the icy wasteland of grief, unable to move, unable to think, unable to plan. Frozen, paralyzed with no interest in trying to figure out her own future.

It wasn’t dying she feared – it was living.

In the Blue Hour explores both the often documented, tangible components of surviving a great loss while blending in the more ethereal elements sometimes sought when coping with death: signs, symbols, and dreams. The novel traverses the world of tarot card readers and voodoo witch doctors and psychics and does so in a way that leaves the reader to decide for herself what, if anything, to believe. As such, the title of this novel is quite fitting, as the “blue hour” is the time of day when the sun rests below the horizon, causing indirect sunlight to take on a blue hue. The significance of this time of lies in the fact that the blue light appears twice per day, making it impossible to know whether it is dawn or dusk. And for Elise Brooks, the blue hour just may be a little of both.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book in exchange for an honest review, and for the copy for one lucky reader! Check out the rest of Elizabeth Hall's tour stops.

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 November 27th at midnight EST.

Friday, November 18, 2016

What's in the a book giveaway

Melissa A:

The Other Sister by Dianne Dixon from Sourcebooks (Enter to win a copy)

Wake-Up Call by/from Amy Avanzino

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella from Random House (e-book via NetGalley)

The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner from Little, Brown (e-book via Netgalley)

The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)

Skipping Midnight by/from Laura Kenyon


Beyond the Lens by/from Hannah Ellis


The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt from Penguin (e-book via NetGalley)


The Slow Waltz of Turtles by Katherine Pancol from Viking (e-book via Netgalley)

What could be in YOUR mail:

A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe--TWO print copies!

A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas in this timeless story of family bonds.

As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family strains darken the holidays.

Then Taylor’s service dog arrives—a large black Labrador/Great Dane named Thor. His brother even got the dog! When Miller goes out on Christmas Eve with his father’s axe, determined to get his family the tree they can't afford, he takes the dog for company—but accidentally winds up lost in the wild forest. The splintered family must come together to rediscover their strengths, family bond, and the true meaning of Christmas.

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 November 22nd at midnight EST.

Book Review: Out of Practice

By Jami Deise

(Spoiler warning for first three books in the "Breakup Doctor" series)

There’s a saying about how the best guests leave early enough that the hosts still want them to stay. This is also true for book series. There’s nothing more disheartening for a fan than a writer who insists on squeezing every last drop out of a protagonist. Luckily, author Phoebe Fox seems to know this instinctively. Her latest book, Out of Practice, is the fourth and final book in her "Breakup Doctor" series. And unlike Marc Antony, we come to both praise Brook Ogden and to bury her.

While Fox’s first book in the series, The Breakup Doctor, was laugh-out-loud funny as level-headed Brook turned into a deranged stalker after being dumped, Fox has steadily moved away from that type of humor as Brook’s level-headedness returned and her dilemmas became universal. In her last book, Heart Conditions, Brook’s ex-fiance became her manager, and helped raise her profile in social media, television, radio and events. Even though Michael isn’t in this book, his actions come back to haunt Brook. Just ask Kim Kardashian – celebrity attracts the haters, and in Brook’s case, it’s a high school romantic rival who uses her TV show to poke fun of Brook. Later, a new client whom Brook bonded with turns out to be a newspaper reporter, and the expose she publishes makes Brook look like little more than a manicurist. As Brook is a licensed therapist but not a PhD (in other words, the Breakup Doctor isn’t really a doctor), these criticisms cut her to the quick. Still mourning the (off-screen) death of her father and worried about her mother’s memory lapses, Brook finds herself doubting the career she’s worked so hard to build. She isn’t really even a doctor…who the hell is she to advise people about their break-ups?

Brook’s insecurities are common enough that they have their own name: Imposter Syndrome. It grabs hold of Brook so tightly, she can’t recognize it. Canceling on her clients, Brook uses her mother’s problems as an excuse to hide away, and even puts off planning her wedding to true-love Ben.

Although the humor in this book is much lighter (mostly around Brook’s best friend and sister-in-law, Sasha, juggling work and motherhood), Fox repeats the juxtaposition of the first book – that of a therapist who falls prey to issues of her own. While Out of Practice doesn’t reach Prince of Tides territory, most of the scenes are dramatic and many are frankly sad. Still, the book moves at Fox’s usual strong, steady clip, and she doesn’t dwell on misery.

One of Fox’s biggest strengths is her ability to create strong, recognizable characters. Brook’s mother has always stood out, and here, Fox makes her strongest case yet for “like mother, like daughter.” As much as Brook misses her father, she handles her emotions in the same way her mother does. Brook never talks about what drove her initial decision to become a therapist, but perhaps her quest to understand her emotionally distant mother factored into it.

Unfortunately, we’ll never find out, unless Fox changes her mind about ending the series. All four books have been entertaining, but what’s most impressive is that Fox published them in just over two years – along with her other writing responsibilities. (I am still working on the same book I started two years ago.) I’m confident that Fox’s next foray into fiction will be just as enjoyable. Phoebe, if you’re looking for another series idea, might I suggest “The Book Doctor” – a fun-loving writer struggles to finish her own novel while reviewing, editing and coaching other writers. I’m available for consults!

Thanks to Phoebe Fox for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Spotlight: Unexpected Love

As a young woman living in the wondrous city of New York, Inez Champlain has always aspired to be like Carrie from Sex and the City, sans the tulle skirts and poor financial decisions, of course. Inez has it all: great friends, her dream job as a notable beauty writer, a studio loft on the Upper East Side, and no messy romantic drama to get in the way. But life takes a surprising turn when she meets Jason. When Inez catches the eye of the charming and handsome Jason Parkson, he fearlessly introduces himself the moment he sees her. 

Romance is the last thing on Inez’s mind, but there is something about Jason she can’t resist, and before long she’s hooked . . . that is, until she is introduced to his brother, Jimmy, and the two share an instant connection she can’t quite understand. Inez wants to get along with Jimmy, but there is no denying the feelings growing between them. 

Her mind and heart are at odds—will she stay with the man she thinks she loves? Or surrender to a more precarious yet alluring fate? When the unexpected happens and Inez is pulled away from New York, the balance of her life shifts yet again. Soon, Inez is caught up in a web of confusion and heartache, trying to do the right thing. Could the love she never set out to find cost her everything she cares about?

Kristy Kryszczak is the author of Unexpected Love, a debut novel about one woman’s journey navigating through life in her thirties and the complicated romances she gets pulled into along the way. A onetime actor and beauty publicist in New York City, Kristy relocated to Naples, Florida, to enjoy all that the Gulf Coast has to o er. When she isn’t creating captivating fictional love triangles, Kristy is busy working in the field of public relations and blogging about adventures in fitness and wellness, the writing lifestyle, and keeping a bit of gumption alive in oneself. She is also a new dog mom to her cockapoo, Maisy Mae, and enjoys cooking and hosting meals for family and friends. Visit Kristy at her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Unexpected Love is part of BookSparks' 2016 Fall Reading Challenge.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Review: A Drakenfall Christmas

By Sara Steven

In the spring, Mark and Maisy fell in love in the story "Upstairs, Downstairs … and the Lift in Between." Months later, the magic of Drakenfall is still in the air, and spiced with cinnamon and mistletoe as Mark and Maisy welcome guests and get involved in kerfuffles with staff as they celebrate their first Drakenfall Christmas together.

In an uncharacteristic turn, unflappable house manager Glynis Ferry seems to be getting her duster ruffled every time she catches sight of Shaun Fletcher, the new head groomsman. And Pippa Taylor, a whirling dervish of a domestic, works below stairs to make the magic happen for everyone else, but will there ever be enough magic left over for her? There will if most worthy valet Kafi Cholo has anything to say about it, as he tries to spin holiday magic every which way. But his best laid plans always seem to go awry, even with Maisy helping out as his faithful sidekick.

But what about his grandest of schemes, set to take flight at the Drakenfall Christmas Ball? He's depending on guest Jamie Tovell, who's depending on guest Lea Sinclair. And even if everything goes off without a hitch, will the secret Maisy's been hiding from Mark all season pop up at the most inopportune moment to set everything asunder? It's a Drakenfall Christmas … topsy turvy, but generously sprinkled with laughter and lavishly frosted with romance. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The holiday season will always represent a time of simplistic comfort, for me. A time to set aside our differences, to share in the love and laughter with those who mean the most, like friends and loved ones. While reading A Drakenfall Christmas, I felt as though I was catapulted back into a simpler time, magical and beautiful, which couldn’t come at a better time, considering everything going on right now in the world around us. I let my worries go while I fell in step with Mark and Maisy, proprietors who go above and beyond to ensure a wonderful time at Drakenfall, making me yearn for the opportunity to visit a place like it.

I enjoyed the budding romances between all of the characters. Geralyn has this unique way of creating tension between love interests, so you’re not quite certain at times whether they’ll end up together, or not. Even when you want them to, or not. It makes for an exciting read. A great example of this would be the sparks that fly between Jamie and Lea. Or the totally potentially inappropriate feelings (or so she thinks) Glynnis has for Shaun. And who does Pippa really have a crush on?

The snark factor doesn’t go unnoticed, either. There are a few nosy, irritating characters who are put in their place a few times, a real treat. Most of us can identify with the need to quiet someone when they’re being annoying, but we never really feel we have the chance or privilege to do it. While immersed within those particular scenes, I laughed out loud, living vicariously through those moments. If only I can replicate that in the real world! Maybe someday, I’ll be able to find a place like Drakenfall, a much-needed respite from chaos. Until then, I’m content to read about it through the eyes of the wonderful characters Geralyn has created, characters who stick with you, forever.

FYI: I read the story, "Upstairs, Downstairs... and the Lift in Between", giving backstory into the relationship between Mark and Maisy. While Drakenfall stands well alone, "Upstairs, Downstairs" is well worth the read, and can be found in Love in an Elevator: A Romantic Comedy Anthology.

Thanks to Hello...Chick Lit for the book in exchange for an honest review. Check out all the stops on Geralyn's blog tour.

November 13th
Novelgossip - Book Review
Hello...Chick Lit - Book Review

November 14th
November 15th
Steamy Book Momma - Book Promo Post
Hea Romances With A Little Kick - Book Excerpt

November 16th
Living Life With Joy - Author Guest Post

November 17th
ItaPixie's Book Corner - Book Review/Excerpt
Jena Books - Book Review

November 18th
Rae Reads - Book Review

November 19th
Book Lover in Florida - Book Review
Clarissa Reads It All - Book Review

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tracy Krimmer's Decadent a book giveaway

We're glad to have Tracy Krimmer back at CLC today. This time, she's talking about our theme topic, '80s vs '90s. Her latest book, Lipstick & Lattes recently came out on Kindle and we're excited to read it, given how much we enjoy her other novels!

To celebrate her visit, Tracy has TWO e-books of Dating For Decades (reviewed here) to give away, since this is a "decades" post.

Visit Tracy at her websiteblogFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Whitney only needs two things to survive -- a steaming cup of coffee and the opportunity to create art with makeup. But until her big break comes along, she's stuck selling makeup at the mall.

While out at a nightclub dancing her cares away, Whitney catches a fleeting glance of a man she's convinced is Prince Charming himself, but she misses her chance to talk to him. How will she find him now? Taking a wild chance, she places an online ad and her dreams come true when he appears.

Only fairy tales aren't what they seem. As Whitney struggles to deal with the vast amount of changes in her life, her Prince is up against some losses in his, widening the gap between them. The only answer to their problems lies right in front of their faces. Can they figure it out before it's too late? 
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

I love the '80s and '90s—does anyone remember those shows on VH-1, or is it only me? Melissa has asked me to name five of my top things from the '80s and five from the '90s. Only five! There is no way to narrow this down. I’ll give you five, but trust me...there are a ton more!

Five Favorites from the '80s

1. New Kids on the Block – I was seven years old when they exploded onto the scene and Joey stole my heart. I never got to see them live. My cool, young aunt took all my cousins, but my mom said I was too young. I’m still mad about that.

2. The tire jungle gym—When I was a kid, we didn’t have these outrageous play sets at school. We either hid in the tires in the big tire gym, used the swings, or sat on the big, green box in the middle of the playground.

3. Making up dances—When my friend Josie came over, we would always make up dances in the basement. I was a horrible dancer, but we passed so much time choreographing, and at times, pretending we were in a music video.

4. Charm Necklaces—These were awesome. Bright colored gems, like roller skates, guitars, or whistles filled your chainlink necklace.

5. Double Dare—This was the coolest show ever. Families competed against other families in a question like format and then were challenged in a messy obstacle course.

Five Favorites from the '90s

1. Scholastic Book Fair—Once I was reading novels, I didn’t stop. When the book fair came to my school, I found every reason to go multiple times a day and after school.

2. Recording from the radio—Back when iTunes or Spotify didn’t exist, we were forced to sit in front of our boombox and press record when the DJ played our favorite song. The worst part was when the DJ talked during the song, ruining it!

3. Fitness TV—When my brother started high school, I was in seventh grade. When he attended summer school before his freshman year, I spent two hours watching fitness shows and exercising. I miss swimsuits with tights and leg warmers!

4. Jerry Springer—We all loved to watch this train wreck unfold. It’s probably a tie with Springer and The Ricki Lake Show. I rushed home from school to watch these.

Watch at your own risk:

5. Texting, or as it was back then, notes. After writing a note to a friend you would fold it into a weird triangle format that you could easily shove into your pocket or a locker.

This is a short list of everything. Some honorable mentions combining the '80s and '90s: Chinese Jump Rope, Cat’s Cradle, Trapper Keepers, cheesy scary movies, Swan’s Crossing, corded phones.

Thanks to Tracy for chatting about the decades with us and for sharing Dating for Decades 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 November 21st at midnight EST.