Friday, June 30, 2017

Reviews at Amazon-June 2017

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!



Melissa A:



Thursday, June 29, 2017

A piece of Lisa Daily's mind

Introduction and interview 
by Tracey Meyers

I don't read a lot of articles about dating tips (but perhaps I should) so it's not a surprise that I wasn't aware of today's Chick Lit Central guest, love guru Lisa Daily. Women across the age spectrum flock to Lisa's Dream Girl Academy at the Learning Annex in New York City. She is the author of eight books including her recent novel, Single-Minded. Please give a warm CLC welcome to Lisa Daily!

Visit Lisa online:

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads

Alex has planned and executed her life with laser focus since she first met her future husband at the play-doh table on the first day of kindergarten. They have a terrific life, a gorgeous house on the bay, and fantastic careers they love. There’s only one problem: Alex’s husband Michael is gay, a fact he neglected to mention in the 23 years since they first met.

Now, Alex’s perfectly planned life has completely fallen apart, her biological clock is starting to feel like the timer on a nuclear device, and she finds herself drooling over her completely-dreamy-but-definitely-off-limits client, a star chef opening a hot new restaurant. Armed with dating guidance from her oddball collection of advisers—including her gay ex-husband, a foul-mouthed political consultant, a perkily masochistic yogi, and a pot-smoking octogenarian—Alex navigates the booby-trapped world of modern dating, in her search for a second chance at love.

How have your personal experiences with dating influenced your novels?
Well, I definitely have an endless collection of dating stories, that's for sure. Not just my own, but all those gems I've heard over the years as a dating expert, which generally fall into the categories of: We just clicked and it was magic; People are very, very weird; and Dating/Sex horror stories.

In Single-Minded, Alex is a woman who's married to her childhood sweetheart and suddenly he's out of the closet. Here he's been lying to her for their entire lives, and she has this perfectly planned existence (great husband, fab career, amazing house) and it's just blown to smithereens in an instant. And what she realizes is that she's a full grown adult who's never really been on a date.

Like most humans, she wants love and partnership. But she's this sort of list-making, methodical, this is not how I planned things type and she's bound and determined to get to her version of happily ever after as quickly as possible, and so she starts dating like she's on a mission. And I think we've all experienced that to some extent, or had a friend who has.

With this book in particular, my personal experiences were very intertwined with Single-Minded. I went through a divorce just before I started writing the book and so I was in this dark, sad place at the exact same time Alex was. (Although I think some of the funniest scenes happen when she's just pissed as she can be.)

And then, a couple of years had passed and suddenly I was falling in love at the same time Alex was falling in love, and all those incredibly strong feelings you have when you're first falling for someone, getting to know them, seeing how you fit together -- my own emotions were very much on the surface the entire time I was writing Single-Minded, and it made it so much more vivid for me.

And also, brand new, falling in love sex is pretty freaking awesome.

When you start a novel do you know how it's going to end or does the ending just come morph as you write the story?
I definitely know how it's going to end before I start writing. I'm a "plotter" (which is a writer-y term meaning I outline my books ahead of time, versus being a "pantser", who is an author who just sits down and lets the characters drive the story) and so I have a very good idea where I'm going before I start.

I generally start thinking about "What's the worst thing that could happen here?"

Then, I write a rough outline of how the various scenes will play out (Meet cute at the divorce party! Weirdest date imaginable! Disaster at the fundraiser!) and then let the characters and/or the situation take me from there. I tend to see scenes play out in my head like a movie, and sometimes that leads to some really funny scenes that you wouldn't necessarily be able to outline. When start, I have a basic idea of how the characters connect to each other, what the storyline is, and how it will all play out in the end, but a lot of the really hilarious, laugh-so-hard-you-snort-strawberry-dacquiri-out-of-your-nose moments in my books happen on the fly as I'm writing.

That's the my favorite part of writing, actually -- the really goofy, funny, human stuff that just bubbles up.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to write a book?
Read a ton, write as much as you can, get your work critiqued by people who are a lot better than you are. I worked as an advertising copywriter before I started writing books. My first boss, Tommy Thompson, was one of the most talented writers I've ever known. He was also a completely brutal editor. I bawled in my office the first time (and, okay, a bunch of other times) he critiqued my work -- but my writing improved more in that year I worked under him than at any other time in my life.

Don't join a critique group filled with other unpublished writers -- you'll often get more bad advice than good.

People will tell you what a tough business publishing is (and it can be) -- but I always think that even if there's only a 1 in 100,000 chance you'll get published, somebody has to be the "1" and it might as well be you.

As a dating guru, what is the question about dating you get asked most frequently?
Good question! The most common question I get is, "How can I tell if my boyfriend/husband is cheating on me?" My answer is that if you're asking that particular question in the first place, there's a very good chance they are. Generally you can trust your gut on that one.

Favorite summer outfit: I live near Siesta Key Beach in Florida, so my favorite summer outfit is basically my favorite year-round outfit. I love flowy, feminine cotton dresses with flip-flops or funky wedges (or bare feet!) if I'm just hanging around with friends or at the beach; and dresses with fancy, fancy shoes if I'm going out downtown or doing TV.

Top Three Favorite Movies:
I love Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, Drew Barrymore in Music & Lyrics, and anything by Nora Ephron -- particularly Sleepless in Seattle.

Thanks to Lisa for chatting with us and to For the Love of Chick Lit for including us in Lisa's tour.

Visit all the stops on the tour:

June 27th

For the Love of Chick Lit - Spotlight Post
Novelgossip - Book Review

June 28th

Kristin's Novel Cafe - Book Excerpt
The Belgian Reviewer - Author Q&A

June 29th

Chick Lit Central - Author Q&A
Monique McDonell-Author - Book Excerpt

June 30th

Living Life with Joy - Guest Post
Judging more than just the Cover - Author Q&A

July 1st

Book Lover in Florida - Book Excerpt

July 2nd

One Book At A Time - Book Excerpt
He Said Books or Me - Guest Post

July 3rd

Reading To Unwind - Book Review

July 4th

ItaPixie's Book Corner - Book Review

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Review: The Child

By Jami Deise

Last year, I reviewed Fiona Barton’s debut novel, The Widow, about the wife of a dead man who had been suspected in the disappearance of a child. The novel was received with great fanfare, but I thought it had some flaws. Still, I ended the review with: "Despite its shortcomings, I enjoyed The Widow, and I’m hoping this book is the first in a string of many by Fiona Barton. There’s nothing more enjoyable for a reader than watching a writer grow and mature with each book, and I am confident Barton will follow that path."

I’m happy to report that while some authors hit a sophomore slump with their follow-up books, Barton hits a home run with The Child, which also revolves around a missing tot. When the skeleton of a baby is unearthed during a home demolition in the London suburb of Woolwich, reporter Kate Waters sees it as an opportunity to regain some of the luster she earned reporting on Jean Taylor in Barton’s previous book. When the news hits the press, Angela wonders if the skeleton could be her daughter Alice, kidnapped out of her bassinet in the hospital the day she was born. The news also shakes up Emma, who grew up in Woolwich and has been struggling with mental illness since her teenage years.

Like The Widow, Kate is the heart of the book, but unlike The Widow, in The Child, Kate actually has a heart. In my review of The Widow, I wrote about Kate: "But I got no sense of who Kate was as a person beyond her reporter role. I’m not even sure whether she had a family."

Barton remedies this nicely, by giving Kate a family and concerns about a college-age son, but nothing so distracting that they divert the focus from the mystery. The Widow had paired her with detective Bob Sparkes, a well-rounded, sympathetic man who doesn’t receive point-of-view treatment in this book. Now Kate is paired with Joe, fresh out of college and learning to be a reporter. Kate’s issues with dealing with the click-bait obsession taking over journalism, as well as being saddled with Joe, also help round out her character. And she remains an excellent reporter, someone who quickly earns trust from her subjects, who end up happily sharing their burdens and secrets with her. If Kate hadn’t become a reporter, she would have made a great psychologist. And although she wasn’t thrilled to be saddled with Joe, she ends up being a great teacher for him as well.

But she is a reporter, and like the best ones, she recognizes when a story is more like an iceberg, promising so much more underneath the surface. And although what unfolds is predictable to those of us who gobble up female-driven suspense like potato chips, Barton still engages readers with mesmerizing characters. Emma and Angela are just as compelling as Kate, and even though Barton continues her Widow habit of adding POVs, this time she does not give away the game.

The Widow takes place in 2012, with references to the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics. When I finished the book, I realized that by placing it in the not-too-distant past and generalizing other details, she subtly obscures a major clue that would have helped readers figure out the final twist. It wasn’t until I was near the end when I realized where the book was leading – and even then I fingered the wrong person.

Two books in, Barton continues the theme that all it takes for an evil man to flourish is for a woman to defend him over the people he hurts. Her Kate is well-positioned to take on the role of a crusader, never doubting the voices of women who’ve been victimized. Last year I looked forward to more books by Barton. This year, my fingers are crossed that Kate Waters is the star of a lengthy series.

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review. Enter to win a copy from Confessions of a Bookaholic!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The truth about Mary a book giveaway

Photo by Sarah Jastre
Interview by Tracey Meyers

We're pleased to have Mary Kubica back at CLC to celebrate the pub day of her fourth novel, Every Last Lie (reviewed here). Thanks to Park Row Books, we have one copy to give away!

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of four novels, her three previous being THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, and DON’T YOU CRY. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children, where she enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter. Her first novel THE GOOD GIRL was an Indie Next pick in August of 2014, received a Strand Critics Nomination for Best First Novel and was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards in Debut Goodreads Author and in Mystery & Thriller for 2014. Mary has been described as “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune) and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times).

She is currently working on her next novel.

Visit Mary online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Clara Solberg's world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick's death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara's investigation and Nick's last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is the greatest difference in your routine when you’re writing a book?
I’m currently between books or, rather, waiting to receive edits on my fifth novel, and so there’s a bit of a lull in my life – which I certainly don’t mind. If gives me time to do the many tasks that get put off when I’m in the middle of writing, mostly home repairs, cleaning out closets and drawers, that type of thing. When I’m knee deep in a novel, I have a single focus: finishing the book, and so those tasks that aren’t of necessity get set aside.

When you look at your most current novel and your first novel, what difference do you see in your writing?
I don’t know that I see any difference in the writing itself, but my process has certainly evolved over the past four years. If anything, I’d say that the writing is perhaps a bit more brave and that I don’t shy away from difficult subject matter as I may have in the past.

Of all the characters you’ve created, which was the most challenging for you to cultivate?
Quinn in Don’t You Cry, because she was na├»ve in a way that thankfully I’m not, and the mistakes she makes throughout are plentiful. It was hard to make her character authentic and not let my own good sense weigh in when she made poor choices on the page.

The greatest misconception about me is:
That I’m dark and edgy like my books. Readers tend to be surprised when they meet me at book events, and see that I’m quite friendly and kind.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
I’ve been told that I look a bit like Sarah Wayne Callies, so I’ll go with that. She’s lovely, so I take that as a great compliment, and if she wants to bring Wentworth Miller along, even better!

Favorite quote: "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"

Thanks to Mary for chatting with us and to Park Row Books for sharing her book with our readers. Every Last Lie is also part of BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge of 2017!

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 July 2nd at midnight EST

Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway: The Right Side

By Jami Deise

Women’s fiction is filled with heartwarming tales of women who love dogs and the dogs that improve their lives. These uplifting tales showcase hounds who find their owners love, who heal their owners’ broken hearts, and who help their owners renovate homes. It’s light fiction for those who sport “Who Rescued Who?” bumper stickers on the back of their Subarus.

The Right Side is not one of those books.

For starters, author Spencer Quinn has created a heroine – LeeAnne Hogan – who is so tough, she is almost unbelievable. Recovering in Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital after an attack in Afghanistan leaves her scarred and missing her right eye, LeeAnne pushes away everyone who tries to help her. From flashbacks to her life before the army, it’s obvious that this bravado isn’t an act. LeeAnne is not the warm, emotional type who usually stars in women’s fiction. I was not surprised to learn the author is male.

LeeAnne bonds somewhat with her roommate, Marci, whose leg was blown off by an IED and who worries about the eight-year-old daughter she left behind. After Marci dies suddenly in the middle of the night from a blood clot, LeeAnne takes off, driving aimlessly around the country while she avoids her mother, her commanding officer, and her psychiatrist.

Because of this structure, the first part of the book seems aimless as well. LeeAnne leaves without a destination, and most of the book deals with LeeAnne’s memories of growing up and of serving in Afghanistan. While author Quinn has created an in-depth, realistic portrait of a woman with PTSD (so realistic it seems that everyone who served in a combat zone should have it), without a destination for LeeAnne, the reader doesn’t know what to expect.

Secondly, the aforementioned dog doesn’t show up till the halfway mark. And LeeAnne, unlike the protagonists in most dog-lover fiction, isn’t immediately enthralled. In fact, there are times when she’s downright cruel, which is understandable for a woman with PTSD, but may leave some readers upset at certain scenes.

Because the Amazon write-up notes that LeeAnne becomes involved in the search for Marci’s missing daughter, I’ll mention it here, although it violates my usual rule about spoilers, which is not to talk about anything that happens after the book’s halfway mark. With the missing daughter, the book becomes more of a mystery. Similarly, the real story behind LeeAnne’s injury is questioned.

The Right Side is longer than it needs to be, with much of the padding in the first half of the book. Once LeeAnne becomes involved in the search for Marci’s daughter, things start to happen at a fast pace. Still, the book is neither truly women’s fiction nor a mystery. “Military fiction” does not currently seem to be a genre of its own, but it should be, and that’s how I’d describe The Right Side. Military service—the people who are attracted to it, the people who are forever changed by it—is the spine that connects our country from the Revolutionary War to today, and these stories are specific and meaningful. With fewer and fewer American families having a member who serves, military fiction like The Right Side plays an important role in making sure these stories are told.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book in exchange for an honest review. They are having a tour-wide giveaway ending on July 16th. Visit the other participating blogs.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
City Mouse by Stacey Lender from Thoughts on This 'n That (giveaway)
I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places (paperback) by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella from St. Martin's Press
The Lost Letter and The Hours Count by/from Jillian Cantor (won both from A Novel Bee)
A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang from Lake Union
The Diplomat's Daughter by Karin Tanabe from Washington Square Press
No Easy Target by Iris Johansen from St. Martin's Press
When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen from Lake Union
Doubt and Proof by C.E. Tobisman from BookSparks
Last Seen by J.L. Doucette from BookSparks
Little Gray Dress by/from Aimee Brown

Melissa A and Sara:
A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl from Viking (e-book via NetGalley)
The Eleventh Hour by/from April Marie Libs (e-book)

Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan from Harlequin (e-book via NetGalley)
The Party by Robyn Harding from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)

Book Review: All that a special giveaway

By Melissa Amster

A has-been country music star. A divorced dad from a small town. Almost a decade of bottled up passion...

Country-music star, Dory Walker, never wanted to come back to the small town of Sycamore Bay. But after her fairy-tale life is flipped upside down, and her marriage becomes a casualty, she has no choice.

Harris Malone is a man with few commitments. He keeps a low profile most days while he cares for his young daughter and helps run his dad’s hardware store.

But when he and Dory run into each other at the local gas station, all either can think about is the searing kiss they shared many years ago.

Can a woman who only wants to rekindle her career and a man who enjoys a no-strings-attached lifestyle find everlasting love? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Tracy Krimmer has easily become one of my go-to chick lit authors. I enjoy everything she writes, as her novels are genuine and feature flawed, yet lovable characters. When I heard that All that Glitters was about a country singer, I didn't even have to read the synopsis to know I'd want to delve right in! (I just went to Nashville recently, so I'm a bit more into country than I already was, as a result).

This novel drew me in right away and didn't let go. Dory basically hit rock bottom and was the victim of a country song (she lost her spouse, house, job, etc.) Back in the town she thought she left for good, she has to make amends with her grandma and best friend, as well as find a way to start over. "Complicating" things is Harris, the guy responsible for the most memorable kiss of her life. He also has new responsibilities and challenges in his life. I like that the story is partially told from his perspective, as I am used to Tracy just writing from the main character's point-of-view. From one of Tracy's previous novels, I chose Kellan as my book boyfriend. Well, Harris blows him out of the water. (And I don't even care that I'm 15 years older!)

The story carried a lot of surprises and kept me guessing. Some parts felt easier to predict, but others were a complete shock. I felt like Dory was constantly looking to escape, but I hope she'll find a way to stay put. I guess we'll find out more in the next book.

The only thing that didn't work so well for me was Laura. I liked her as a person, but she seemed way too mature for the age of seven. She seemed closer to being ten years old. I also don't reconcile the name Laura with that of a child of a Millenial. It seemed more popular for children in the seventies and eighties and I attribute it to women close to my age. (I'm even surprised when kids are named Melissa these days!) In any case, this did not take away from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, I adored All that Glitters. It was a nice escape from everyday drama and am excited to read the next book in Tracy's new series!

My dream movie cast:
Dory: AJ Michalka
Tammy: Shailene Woodley
Mandy: Sarah Hyland
Harris: Emory Cohen
Grandma: Kathy Bates

Thanks to Lola's Blog Tours for the book in exchange for an honest review. There is a tour-wide giveaway for the book blitz of All That Glitters. One winner will win a $10 Amazon gift card! Visit the other stops on the tour.

For a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter below:

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

BookSparks #SRC2017 June Novels

Today the spotlight is on the June books for BookSparks' Summer Reading Challenge of 2017. We already featured The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and will be featuring Every Last Lie next week. All synopses are courtesy of Amazon.

The Rules of Half by Jenna Patrick

If Will Fletcher’s severe bipolar disorder isn’t proof he shouldn’t be a parent, his infant daughter’s grave is. Once a happily married, successful veterinarian, he now lives with his sister and thrives as the small-town crazy of Half Moon Hollow. But when a fifteen-year-old orphan claims she’s his daughter, Will is forced back into the role he fears most: fatherhood.

Her biological dad isn’t the hero Regan Whitmer hoped for, but he’s better than her abusive stepfather back in Chicago. Still haunted by her mother’s suicide and the rebellious past she fears led to it, Regan is desperate for a stable home and a normal family—things Will can’t offer. Can she ride the highs and lows of his illness to find a new definition of family?

The Half-Life of Remorse by Grant Jarrett

When two vagrants meet on the streets of Muncie, Indiana, they are both unaware that their paths crossed years before. Chic, crude and uneducated, is convinced that Sam is nothing more than a harmless lunatic, and Sam, emotionally scarred and psychologically traumatized by events long past, regards Chic as just another denizen of the street. But Chic has spent his adult life trying to purge his soul of the brutal crime he committed as a teenager―the same botched burglary that resulted in the deaths of Sam’s wife and son. Meanwhile, Sam’s daughter Claire is still unable to give up hope that her father might someday reappear.

When these three lives converge, the puzzle of the past gradually falls together, but redemption commands a high price, and what is revealed will test the limits of love and challenge the human capacity for forgiveness.

Proof by C.E. Tobisman

In this gripping sequel to C.E. Tobisman’s legal thriller Doubt, techie turned attorney Caroline Auden struggles to move on with her life after her last case nearly destroyed her career.

Still haunted by the betrayal that forced her to leave a prestigious law firm, Caroline Auden struggles to keep her fledgling practice afloat—and her paranoia in check. When her grandmother dies, she mourns losing the only constant in her life. But grief soon turns to suspicion when she discovers her grandmother left her entire estate—including a valuable antique watch, the family’s sole heirloom—to a charity called Oasis Care. On the surface, Oasis helps society’s outcasts, like Caroline’s alcoholic, homeless uncle. But as she digs deeper, Caroline uncovers a sinister plot that sends her running for her life on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles.

Plunged into a world of addicts and broken souls and operating without a phone or a computer, Caroline finds sanctuary with her uncle and a ragtag group of outcasts while building evidence for her case. As she sifts through the shadowy world of the Goliath nonprofit, Caroline is also forced to confront her own dark shadows, casting doubt on her ability—and her sanity.

**Enter to win Doubt and Proof from Thoughts on This 'n That!**

Last Seen by J.L. Doucette

Psychologist and police consultant Dr. Pepper Hunt, struggling to deal with the murder of her husband, leaves the private practice they shared and relocates to Wyoming. There, in the stark landscape of the high desert, there is nothing to remind her of everything she lost and left behind. Then her new patient, Kimi Benally, goes missing in a Wyoming blizzard after her last therapy session—making Pepper the last person to see her. She knows the secrets Kimi shared in therapy hold clues to her mysterious disappearance, and she joins forces with Detective Beau Antelope to try to discover what’s happened to her. But as she follows the trail of Kimi’s obsession with the past, Pepper begins to fear the worst for her missing patient—and her own haunted memories surface.

The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder

Paul and Alice’s half-sister Eloise is getting married! In London! There will be fancy hotels, dinners at “it” restaurants and a reception at a country estate complete with tea lights and embroidered cloth napkins.

They couldn’t hate it more.

The People We Hate at the Wedding is the story of a less than perfect family. Donna, the clan’s mother, is now a widow living in the Chicago suburbs with a penchant for the occasional joint and more than one glass of wine with her best friend while watching House Hunters International. Alice is in her thirties, single, smart, beautiful, stuck in a dead-end job where she is mired in a rather predictable, though enjoyable, affair with her married boss. Her brother Paul lives in Philadelphia with his older, handsomer, tenured track professor boyfriend who’s recently been saying things like “monogamy is an oppressive heteronormative construct,” while eyeing undergrads. And then there’s Eloise. Perfect, gorgeous, cultured Eloise. The product of Donna’s first marriage to a dashing Frenchman, Eloise has spent her school years at the best private boarding schools, her winter holidays in St. John and a post-college life cushioned by a fat, endless trust fund. To top it off, she’s infuriatingly kind and decent.

As this estranged clan gathers together, and Eloise's walk down the aisle approaches, Grant Ginder brings to vivid, hilarious life the power of family, and the complicated ways we hate the ones we love the most in the most bitingly funny, slyly witty and surprisingly tender novel you’ll read this year.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Chick Lit Cheerleader: Hot Diggity Dog!

Chick Lit Cheerleader, Jen Tucker, is here today to talk about her dogs. Well, mostly about Henry, and what happens when he has to wear a cone.

Take it away, Jen!

The Cone of Shame

Henry and Jack
I love my dogs, Jack and Henry, yet that wasn’t always the case. Both adopted at the age of two, these golden lugs were naughty hooligans when they arrived at our door. For you dog lovers, think of the most sneaky, messy, underhanded thing your dog as done. Got it in your mind? OK, now triple that and you’ll understand why it took me awhile to fall in love with these two because that was their method of operation every day, all day long, for a very long time. You look at their sweet, greying faces now and have a hard time believing it, I know. Don’t be fooled.

For many of us, summer time means allergy season. Henry, the chubby fur ball who doesn’t take great selfies, is not immune. He takes doggie antihistamine and gets a heaping portion of oil on his food each morning to combat scratching. Yet there’s something in the country air, the grass, the beds he sneakily lays on when we’re not home, that turns an innocent little itch into full-fledged digging. Hot spots appear, and what comes after hot spots? You guessed it, the Cone of Shame.

My Life As a Dog, by Henry Tucker
Isn’t this the saddest dog, of all dogs, that were ever dogs? So sad, in fact, that he can’t look you in the eye, or at the camera. The shame is too much to bear. Nobody puts Henry in a corner. He does that all by himself. Now that you’ve witnessed this heartbreaking yet hilarious picture, I want you to now move onto another type of mental imagery. Henry is only upset for a possible five minutes once the cone is on. Now picture a Henry for whom the cone of shame isn’t so shameful after all.

I’m convinced this cone has superpowers for my canine. Just as one, magical crow feather gave Dumbo the confidence to fly, I am here to say the cone seems to give our Hanky Boy an assertiveness he lacks when not wearing it. You’d think it would do the opposite, right?

Henry has learned some mad skills while wearing that thing. He’s learned to use it to open doors that are ajar, something he refuses to do un-coned. Don’t most dogs nudge open doors with their nose? Not mine. He’s also learned scraping the cone against the wall, as he paces the hallway at night, will wake Mike up to let him in the bedroom if the door’s closed. No one should wake a sleeping Mike Tucker. It’s not pretty. Just ask his fraternity roommates if you don’t believe me.

Something more insidious happens, however. Henry becomes a cone bully. I’m not kidding. He barrels through the room like a bull dozer and is unconcerned about those in his way. You know what hurts worse than a plastic cut on your ankle? Nothing. Nothing hurts worse than a deep, sheering, plastic cut on your ankle bone. And I’ve birthed three children, broken a toe, and winced over plenty of stitches and staples!

Bowling his way over anyone and anything in his path, he’ll get to that bread crumb on the floor, by God, and if you’re in his way, move! He will take you out, and take no prisoners. You’re really taking your life into your hands being near him when he’s coned. A dog on a mission, to not let anyone, or any cone, get in the way of the hunt. Henry is a cone bully like no other.

Once the cone comes off, and the fur settles, it’s reminiscent of the moments following Superman taking a telephone booth spin back to Clark Kent. Hank is once again a mild-mannered guy who is afraid of his shadow, pouts if his brother grabs the tennis ball before he does, and is the idyllic, yet timid, person’s best friend. There’s something about that cone though… If one could bottle the determination and confidence it gives Henry, would they? Good thing that confidence comes from within ourselves, rather than from wearing a bulky, WMD such as Henry’s cone.

Jack, my other sweet pup, would be a Cool Hand Luke type of cone bearer. His cone language would be Hakuna Matata, man. No worries. It’s good to be me!

Jack living the dream

Enjoy your summer!


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.

Spotlight and Excerpt: The Bronte Book Club for Hopeless Romantics

Quaint Lewis Cove is home to the charming three-story Victorian manor known as the Alice Wilshire Lending Library and its plucky librarian Peg Turner: the current hostess of the weekly Bronte Book Club, better known as the 'Hopeless Romantics' of all ages. Nurse Annette has been too busy working for love; mechanic Tim has missed the boat somewhere in his past; art student Sophie comes off as too unique, while tech geek C.J. has fallen—hopelessly—for the too-cool-to-care Llourdes.

With her vacation plans indefinitely on hold for the summer, Peg has decided to transform the 'Hopeless Romantics' into hopeful ones. But while she's trying to help her fellow readers find romance, she's avoiding her matchmaker friend Caroline's latest blind date—only to see her best friend Cam, the ruggedly-cute-but-sometimes-curmudgeonly coffee shop owner fixed up instead. And that's something Peg isn't sure she likes.

Questions about love and last chances on her mind, and way too many books piled on her desk, will Peg succeed in finding romantic hope for anyone, including herself?

Laura Briggs is the author of several women’s fiction and chick lit novels, with themes that range from wedding planning to modern Jane Austen. Even though she tends to write stories with a romance theme, as a reader she has a soft spot for mysteries, including those by Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart. She also enjoys books by Jane Austen, Anne Tyler, Amy Tan, and too many others to name. In her free time, she likes to experiment with new recipes and tries to landscape her yard (a never-ending project).

Visit Laura online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter

Amazon US (Kindle)
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"Evening everybody!" Caroline breezed into the coffee shop in her usual manner. She pulled off her summer scarf and dropped her shopping bags on the floor as she sat down at our table. "Did you see the repair work they're doing on the highway? I had to cut across Ocean Lane in Valencia to get here from the city."

Next to Stacy — and Cam — Caroline was my oldest friend in Lewis Cove. We had known each other in college; now she worked as a realtor with an office closer to the metropolis than town, and believed firmly that one's social life should never slow down, no matter the time of day or the fatigue one might be feeling.

"Just a cup of black coffee for me, and a low-cal snack," she said to Cam. "What's with the book?" Her gaze fell on the copy of Jane Eyre.

"It's mine," I said. "I'm trying to recruit new members for the book club."

"Was that tonight?" said Caroline. "Is that why you said 'no' to going out with Greg's friend tonight?" Greg was Caroline's current boyfriend — his friend was a blind date setup I had been stealthily avoiding for two weeks.

"A date?" said Cam. "You're dating again?" He looked at me.

"For the record, I was never not dating," I clarified. "I just haven't met anybody with whom the interest is mutual. Not in awhile, anyway."

"To qualify as 'dating,' you have to go out with them," said Caroline. "Not just say you're going to do it sometime, then keep giving them excuses for why you're not available."

"Those aren't excuses, Caroline, those are reasons," I said. "Friday nights, I'm always at the book club. I'm the librarian, I have to be there to unlock the door and let them in."

"So? Get them to meet somewhere else. They can meet in Cam's coffee shop. Lots of atmosphere and great beverages."

"The music will drive them out," said Cam, placing a low-fat granola bar in front of her. "I'm instituting an 'all rock and roll, all the time' policy come Monday."

I hid my smile for this answer. "Besides, I like the club," I continued. "I like being part of their meetings."

"The Hopeless Romantics?" said Caroline. "There's a reason why it has that nickname, Paige. They're people who can't find the right person because they're too picky, or because they're too blind to see the right person when it's right in front of them. You are not hopeless — and you're definitely not a fully-fledged romantic."

"I have a romantic streak," I said. "And it's mean to call them hopeless just because they have a lot of free time and no romantic ties. They're just trying to spend an evening with people they have something in common with. That's the whole point of the club — an exchange of mutual ideas on literature."

"Will you exchange mutual ideas with Greg's friend next week?" she asked me.

"Maybe," I said. "I'll call him. We'll find an evening we're both free." From behind the counter, Cam coughed noisily. I wondered if he had tried a bite of the low-fat granola bars he kept on hand for calorie-conscious customers.

Caroline leaned forward and lowered her voice. "Speaking of dating," she said, "I have the perfect person for Cam." She glanced to the side, making sure he was busy with a new customer.

Did I mention Caroline is an obsessive matchmaker, too?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beach Book Giveaway!

The official first day of summer is almost here and we have some books to get you in the mood!

Without any further ado, we present...

BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT by Mary Alice Monroe
Thanks to Gallery Books, we have one copy to give away!

BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT is the story of two strangers and the power of the places we call home. 

Cara Rutledge, 50, and Heather Wyatt, 26, are at two very different stages of their lives. Cara rents her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather for the summer to paint birds for postage stamps. Yet Heather’s anxiety keeps her indoors with her caged canaries. Once at the beach the shore birds – and a man who rescues them – lure Heather outside. As the summer progresses and Heather’s confidence begins to blossom, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy. Cara wants only to return home to her beach house where she’d felt safe – but Heather refuses to budge from her sanctuary. Can the two women come together to help each other and share the healing power of the beach house?

Like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, two women of different generations rediscover their common bonds, strengths, and how much they truly have to live for – so at summer’s end they, too, can take flight.

Photo by Mic Smith
Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 20 novels, including: A Lowcountry Wedding; A Lowcountry Christmas; The Summer’s End; Summer Wind; The Summer Girls; Last Light Over Carolina; Time is a River; The Beach House; and Beach House Memories. She has received numerous awards, including the Award for Writing from the South Carolina Center for the Book, the RT Lifetime Achievement, and Florida Author of Distinction Award. Monroe is an active conservationist and lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit Mary Alice at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks to HarperCollins, we have one copy to give away!

THE BEACH AT PAINTER’S COVE tells the story of the Whitaker family’s Connecticut mansion, Muses by the Sea. The extravagant home has always been a haven for artists, a hotbed of creativity and the occasional scandal. Art patrons for generations, the Whitakers supported strangers and their artistic pursuits while slowly draining the life from each other. Now, after being estranged for years, four generations of Whitaker women find themselves once again at The Muses.

Noble’s ability to create vibrant and engaging characters is on full display in this novel. There is Leo, the Whitaker matriarch, living amidst art and junk in the mansion she can’t let go of in her old age; Fae, Leo’s sister-in-law and the town eccentric who has taken great pains to keep a secret buried in her past; Leo’s daughter Jillian, the jet-sitting actress who has run out of money and men to support her; Jillian’s daughter Issy, a successful museum exhibit designer who travels the world but remains loyal to her family; and Issy’s niece, 12-year-old Steph, who desperately needs to come out of her shell and just might after her discoveries at the Muses.

As Issy marshals the family together to restore the mansion and catalogue the massive art collection, a surprising thing happens. Despite storms and moonlight dancing, diva attacks and cat fights, trips to the beach and flights of fancy, these four generations of erratic, dramatic women may just find a way to save the Muses and reunite their family.

Photo by Gary Brown
Shelley Noble is a former professional dancer and choreographer. She most recently worked on the films, Mona Lisa Smile and The Game Plan. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Liberty States Fiction Writers. Visit Shelley at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks to Random House, we have one copy to give away!

Memorial Day weekend means that seasonal visitors have descended on the glamorous island of Nantucket. For year-round resident Darcy Cotterill, it means late-night stargazing in the backyard of the beautiful house she grew up in and inherited from her beloved grandmother. It’s also Darcy’s chance to hit the beach and meet her new summertime neighbors. But the last person the thirty-year-old librarian expects to see staying next door is her ex-husband, Boyz, along with his wife, Autumn, and stepdaughter, Willow.

Darcy must also navigate the highs and lows of a new romantic relationship with local carpenter Nash Forester even as she becomes smitten with handsome vacationer Clive Rush, a musicologist in town to write a book and visit family. And she finds herself pulled into the concerns of Boyz, Autumn, a charming elderly neighbor, and an at-risk teen.

As the season nears its end, Darcy must decide her next move: retreating to the comforts of her steady and secure island life, or risking it all for a chance at true happiness.

Photo by Katie Kaizer
Nancy Thayer is the author of twenty-three novels, including Summer House, The Hot Flash Club, Beachcombers, Heat Wave, Summer Breeze, and Island Girls. Nancy has a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She was a Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. She has lived on Nantucket Island year-round for twenty-eight years with her husband Charley Walters. Her daughter is the novelist Samantha Wilde. Visit Nancy 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 June 26th at midnight EST.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Spotlight and Giveaway: Mary Kay Andrews' Beach House Cookbook

Just in time for summer, we are featuring The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews. Don't read this on an empty stomach, or you may be tempted to cook everything at once! 

Thanks to Tandem Literary, we have one copy to give away!

Perennial New York Times bestselling novelist Mary Kay Andrews brings to your kitchen a cookbook full of her favorite recipes. Presented with the breezy air that have made Mary Kay Andrews’ novels a summertime favorite, THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK is sure to find a place at your kitchen table. From an early spring dinner of cherry balsamic pork medallions and bacon-kissed green beans, to Fourth of July buttermilk-brined fried chicken, to her New Year’s Day Open House menu of charcoal-grilled oysters, home-cured gravlax, grits n’ greens casserole, and lemon cream cheese pound cake, this cookbook will supply ideas for menus and recipes designed to put you in a permanently carefree coastal state of mind all year long.

Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels, including The Weekenders, Beach Town, Save the Date, Ladies' Night, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former features writer for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she finds an outlet for her passion for cooking, entertaining, and decorating with vintage finds at the homes she shares in Atlanta and Tybee Island, Georgia, with her husband, Tom, and their two grown children, Katie and Andy, as well as grandchildren Molly and Griffin. THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK is her first cookbook.

Visit Mary Kay online:
Website * Facebook * Instagram * 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 June 25th at midnight EST.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spotlight: One Last First Date

Title: One Last First Date
Series: Cozy Cottage Cafe Series
Author: Kate O’Keeffe
Release Date: June 1st, 2017
Tour Dates: June 11th – 16th, 2017
Genre: Chick Lit

Cassie Dunhill is sick of dating. It’s been ten years and it’s time, time to find The One. It’s either that or buy a fetching habit and veil and abandon the whole thing. But Cassie believes in love, and she’s not ready to give up yet.

Cassie and her best friends make a pact that the next date they go on will be their One Last First Date. The pressure is on to find Mr. Right, and Cassie’s the first to find him: Parker Hamilton. He’s good-looking, smart, cultured—and a doctor. Despite his obvious credentials, Cassie’s not taking any chances. She’s vetted Parker so thoroughly she could offer some pointers to the CIA. He passes with flying colors.

Things get complicated when Will Jordan, her irritating work colleague, muscles in on her dream job and her love life. Will is a typical guy, complete with nicknames for everyone, even Cassie. His good looks and relaxed and easy nature can be distracting. But Cassie can do without that kind of distraction right now, no matter how good Will looks with his shirt off.

In the end, is there only One Last First Date?

Order your copy!

AmazonUS | AmazonUK | AmazonAU | AmazonCA

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Spotlight and Giveaway: Good Karma

We're pleased to feature Christina Kelly's debut novel, Good Karma, today at CLC. Thanks to HarperCollins, we have FIVE copies to give away!

After almost forty years in New Jersey, Catherine, Ralph, and their beloved Boston Terrier Karma are hitting the road, relocating to a gorgeous, serene island off the coast of Savannah where Catherine can work on her backhand and Ralph can hit the links daily. Upon their arrival in the Seven Oaks gated community, though, it becomes apparent that Catherine and Ralph’s visions of retirement couldn’t be more different. As the pair drifts further apart and she senses that their marriage at risk, Catherine meets recent widower Fred at the dog park. United by their dogs, they embark upon a friendship that could be something more—until she discovers that he’s not quite what he seems. As she sorts out fact from fiction and sees what sorts of secrets might be hiding behind Seven Oaks’ picket fences, she’ll have to make a decision affecting her future happiness and her chance at new love.

“Christina Kelly’s charming debut novel examines the heart of a long-married woman who, uprooted from the familiar, finds herself foundering, but finally flourishing in her new Savannah home, with a well-deserved second chance at love.”

— Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of The Weekenders and Beach Town

Good Karma is a fast-paced, funny, great good fortune of a novel that has it all: a love story, a mystery, eccentrics, adorable dogs, and even an alligator. Christina Kelly has a talent for touching our hearts even as she has us falling off the sofa with laughter.”

— Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets in Summer

Christina Kelly is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and an occasional contributor to the New York Times crossword section. A native of New York, she now lives with her husband in Savannah. Visit Christina on 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 June 20th at midnight EST.