Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Review: The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land

By Sara Steven

When Sophie Bennett moves from a quiet sleepy suburb of Toronto to glitzy west London, she doesn’t know where she has landed: Venus or Mars. Her three-year-old daughter Kaya attends Cherry Blossoms, the most exclusive nursery in London, where Sophie finds herself adrift in a sea of Alpha Mums. These mothers are glamorous, gorgeous, competitive and super rich, especially Kelly, the blonde, beautiful and bitchy class rep.

Struggling to fit in and feeling increasingly isolated, Sophie starts The Beta Mum, an anonymous blog describing her struggles with the Alpha Mums. But when her blog goes viral, she risks ruining everything for herself and her daughter. How long will it be until they discover her true identity? Is her marriage strong enough to survive one of her follower’s advances? And will she ever fit in with the Alpha Mums? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

I could totally relate to Sophie. While I've never made a move to London, and I don’t find myself surrounded by semi-famous, glamorous mothers, I feel as though I’m still trying to find my niche after moving to Arizona, particularly when it comes to making new friends. And just like Sophie, I’m not quite sure how to fit myself inside the close-knit groups of women that stand outside the school doors, either dropping off or picking up their children. I had this idea that friendships would get easier the older I got. Boy, was I wrong!

It’s even harder when you don’t have a good support system. Sophie moved away from hers, in an effort to support her husband’s budding career. And it seems as though no matter how hard she tries, or how many play dates she attempts to make through an Alpha Mum’s personal assistant, she just can’t catch a break. She feels like she can live with the rejection, but when it begins to affect her daughter’s well-being, it gets to be a little too much.

I found the Beta Mum blog enjoyable, and funny. An open, honest letter to others who might be struggling, offering up a candid look into what it’s like to feel overlooked. But in the process of finding her voice and gaining ground in her life, Sophie notices so many other areas in her world begin to unravel. Can she find a balance between being who she yearns to be, and trying to become something she’s not?

There were moments where I cringed right along with Sophie, particularly when everything begins to crumble around her. And, I appreciated the often hidden perspective in The Beta Mum that can come from seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, then being forced to see the honesty and realism of what’s really happening. Often, those who portray a certain image in an attempt to gain approval, are usually the ones whose lives are far from the visual they want us all to see. And while I’ll continue to be friendly and not shy away from any potential friendships that may come my way from the Beta Moms in my world, I’ve been focusing more on appreciating the friendships I already have with the amazing mom friends who make up my own support system, whether near or far.

Thanks to Isabella Davidson for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stacey Ballis' impact on our a book giveaway

Photo by Joe Mazza/Bravelux
Interview by Tracey Meyers

We're pleased to have Stacey Ballis at CLC to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, How to Change a Life (reviewed here). Stacey is practically a fixture here, as we have had her for a few visits over the past years and Melissa A has read all her books, listing her previous novel, Wedding Girl, as a 2016 favorite.

Stacey Ballis is the author of ten foodie novels, including Inappropriate Men, Room for Improvement, Off the Menu, Out to Lunch, and Recipe for Disaster. Her first cookbook, Big Delicious Life is out now in a digital edition. She is also a contributing author to the anthologies Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, and Living Jewishly. Her non fiction cooking pieces can be read at and Bake From Scratch Magazine.

Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy of How to Change a Life to give away!

Visit Stacey online:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest

Eloise is happy with her life as a successful private chef. She has her clients, her corgi, and a recipe for the world’s most perfect chocolate cream pie. What more could she need? But when her long-lost trio of high school friends reunites, Eloise realizes how lonely she really is.

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa revamp their senior-class assignment and dare one another to create a list of things to accomplish by the time they each turn forty in a few months. Control freak Lynne has to get a dog, Teresa has to spice up her marriage, and Eloise has to start dating again.

Enter Shawn, a hunky ex-athlete and the first man Eloise could see herself falling for. Suddenly forty doesn’t seem so lonely—until a chance encounter threatens the budding romance and reveals the true colors of her friends. Will the bucket listers make it to forty still speaking to one another? Or do some friendships come with an expiration date?
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

Which author has had the greatest influence on your writing?
This is a very hard question. I like to think I’m inspired in my writing of female relationships from Jane Austen, my food writing from MFK Fisher, my humor from Oscar Wilde, my romantic relationships from Shakespeare.

What's your work space like?
I have an office that is like my secret hidey hole. I upholstered the walls in moss green velvet with padding, so it is very loud proofed. I have a full sized daybed full of pillows, and tend to write sitting on that…I have an antique hospital rolling bed table that holds my laptop when I write sitting there. I also have a gorgeous antique desk from 1835, but I tend not to work on that for my novels, it is more of a note writing desk. There is a large built-in bookcase facing the daybed, with the books that inspire me, and a television.

Do you listen to music, podcast, etc. when you write or do you need complete silence?
I sometimes leave the tv on for background noise, or I listen to music. I don’t really like to write in silence, I find it unsettling!

My favorite book of all time is:
Eloise by Kay Thompson

Besides your phone, what must you have with you at all times?

What is your favorite life hack?
Hmmm. Most of mine have to do with cooking. I love using two plates to trap cherry tomatoes so I can slice them all in half quickly by just sliding a serrated knife between the plates! So much faster than one at a time.

Thanks to Stacey for visiting with us and to Berkley for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends August 20th at midnight EST

Monday, August 14, 2017

Spotlight: Seasons of Summer

Melissa Baldwin recently published the fourth and final novella in her "Seasons of Summer" series. Each e-novella is 99 cents, and they can be enjoyed all at once instead of waiting for each season to happen.

Fall Into Magic

After a devastating breakup in the middle of her summer vacation, Summer Peters knows she needs something to distract her. What better than the arrival of fall, Halloween, and a new client? Though she assumes that Alexander Williams will be a hands-off client, she is surprised to find him very down-to-earth. She’s immediately drawn to him, much to the dismay of his overprotective assistant. When it becomes obvious that he feels the same, she begins to wonder if their meeting was meant to be.

Just when she thinks she could be ready to move on with her life, her ex-boyfriend Jake returns for a second chance. She’s in for even more of a surprise when she learns her nosy, meddling neighbor is actually a psychic pushing to reveal details of her future.

Summer doesn’t know which way to turn as she feels like she’s being pulled in different directions. Between Alexander, his assistant, and her ex-boyfriend, she fears she may not be ready to move on after all. She considers turning to her neighbor for advice but the fear of knowing exactly what the future holds is more frightening than not knowing.

Winter Can Wait

Following a fabulous fall, Summer Peters is not looking forward to the frigid winter. Much to her dismay, she knows this winter is a time for many changes in her life, including moving on from the heartache of the past.

Her professional life is flourishing, especially after her company is hired to decorate a trendy New York City restaurant. Summer sees this as a fantastic opportunity to build her clientele. However, she doesn’t anticipate the few surprises she encounters along the way, some of which could threaten her future.

Although her relationship with superman-lookalike Alexander Williams seems almost perfect, she finds it more and more difficult to compete for his time with his possessive personal assistant. To make matters worse, she doesn’t expect the return of Helena, his supermodel ex-wife who many say is his soul mate.

On the big opening night of the restaurant, she’s faced with making yet another difficult decision. She knows it’s time to take her life in the right direction; although in order to do this, she may need to let go again.

To Spring with Love

Summer Peters is thrilled to be done with the frigid winter. Spring is in the air, and she’s ready for a fresh new start. Her career is thriving, she’s searching for a new place to live, and she’s finally ready to take her relationship with Alexander Williams to the next level.

What she doesn’t expect is to be blindsided by Alexander’s assistant, Melanie, who seems to be up to her old tricks, even stooping as low as dating Summer’s ex-boyfriend, Jake. Once again, Summer is faced with the dilemma of having to share Alexander with a woman who’s out to destroy their relationship.

To add to these challenges, she receives devastating news from her best friend, Angie. At a critical time when she may need her best friend the most, she learns Angie may not be there for her. She quickly realizes that she may need to lean on someone she never expected during this time of change.

Return to Summer

Summertime has arrived and things aren’t only heating up outside for Summer Peters. After a rocky spring, Summer thinks she’s finally moved on from the heartache of last year. She’s found a new place to live, her company has new clients, and her relationship with Alexander Williams is going strong, despite the desperate attempts by others to sabotage it.

Just when Summer thinks everything is finally falling into place, she receives another crushing blow, and this time it could even affect her business. Summer knows it’s finally time to put a stop to the one thing that threatens her happiness, even though it requires a difficult decision in order to do this. Will this season bring her everything she’s always wanted or will history repeat itself?

Find out how Summer’s one-year journey ends in this final installment of the "Seasons of Summer" Novella Series.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Guest Book Review: Best Friend for Hire

By Shana Javery

I’m not one to give away the story line in a review. I read just enough of the book description to get the gist of the story. Sometimes I don’t read more than one or two lines. I like to be surprised! For that reason, I’ve opted not to attach the Goodreads synopsis because it gives away too much in my opinion. So, I will tell you a few things about the premise of the book. Jessie DeSalvo, a born and bred Jersey girl, thinks she’s about to get her dream promotion but instead she gets escorted out the door at her beloved job! From that moment on, Jessie fervently tries to figure out what she can do to make a living and pay her bills. She basically stumbles into the idea that everyone needs a friend to help them out and in that moment her business plan is created! That also explains the book title: Best Friend for Hire. As someone who has done the self-employment route for years, I really related to this story and Jessie’s journey. When reading the book I was reminded of something one of my first clients ever told me: self-employment should really be referred to as self-UNemployment! Ah, those peaks and valleys!

So, the reader gets to see what Jessie does to find clients and gets to know those clients through the incredible wit of the heroine of this story. Jessie is HYSTERICAL! I laughed A LOT while reading this book because her sarcasm jumps off the page. My favorite part? Getting to know Jessie’s Italian-American family! What a riot! Basically, if you want to read a book that will make you smile while reading, Best Friend for Hire should be on your to-be-read list. I’d read anything else by author Mary Carlomagno because I truly love her writing style!

Thanks to Laura Rossi Public Relations for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Shana Javery is an attorney mediator with a background in employment law. She is thrilled to have renewed her lifelong love of reading over the past few years. Recently, Shana even had the chance to edit a friend's book, something which she thoroughly enjoyed. Shana resides in Plano, Texas with her husband and the family dog Smoochy. Shana's renewed interest in reading is partly due to her empty nest, something she doesn't enjoy as much as others might.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Spotlight: A Mother Like a book giveaway

Welcome to England’s beautiful Lake District, where a reluctant reunion forges a new bond between a daughter and her wayward mother….

Abby Rhodes is just starting to get her life on track. After her fiancé’s unexpected death, she returned with her young son to the small village where she grew up and threw herself into helping her ailing grandmother run the town’s beach café. Then one evening, her mother, Laura, shows up in Hartley-by-the-Sea and announces her plan to stay. After twenty years away, she now wants to focus on the future—and has no intention, it seems, of revisiting the painful past.

Laura Rhodes has made a lot of mistakes, and many of them concern her daughter. But as Abby gets little glimpses into her mother’s life, she begins to realize there are depths to Laura she never knew. Slowly, Abby and Laura start making tentative steps toward each other, only to have life become even more complicated when an unexpected tragedy arises. Together, the two women will discover truths both sad and surprising that draw them closer to a new understanding of what it means to truly forgive someone you love.

Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, including the Hartley-by-the-Sea novels Rainy Day Sisters and Now and Then Friends, and more recently, the Willoughby Close series. A former New Yorker, she now lives in Wales with her husband five children. She also writes as Katharine Swartz.

Visit Kate online:
Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including us on Kate's tour and sharing copies of her previous novels from the Hartley-by-the-Sea series with a lucky reader! Visit the other stops on Kate's tour for more chances to win! Purchase A Mother Like Mine here.

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

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Giveaway ends August 15th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review: Ella's Ice Cream Summer

By Sara Steven

Life hasn’t always been easy for single mum Ella, but she has just hit an all-time low; she’s jobless, loveless, very nearly homeless and, to make matters worse, now the owner of a pocket-sized pooch with a better wardrobe than her.

Packing her bags (and a bigger one for the dog), Ella sets off for the seaside town of Appledore in Devon to re-live the magical summers of her youth and claim her portion of the family ice-cream business: a clapped-out ice-cream van and a complicated mess of secrets.

There she meets gorgeous and free-spirited solicitor, Ben, who sees things differently: with a little bit of TLC he has a plan to get the van – and Ella – back up and running in no time. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

One of the biggest things I’ve always appreciated about Sue Watson’s novels, is the way she manages to always write characters I can completely identify with. Even if my current situation doesn’t parallel, it never matters, because I’ve been there. I’ve felt as though I’ve hit rock-bottom, just as Ella has. I’ve been on the brink of a complete and total change in my life, where the future is full of uncertainties, and it’s what has me drawn to characters just like Ella. You want to see what her outcome will be, good or bad.

Another thing I appreciate: forward motion. Even through the fear, Ella sets out to try her hand at finding her own niche within the realm of her family’s ice cream business. She has no clue what she’s doing, other than the few recipes she can remember from her youth, but she tries her hand at it, anyway. There’s no stagnation for any of Watson’s characters, even the secondary ones. Everything moved at a nice pace, blending beautifully with the other story line that’s intricately woven into Ella’s chance at starting over again. A story line full of skeletons in the closet.

Ella made me feel as though life really is too short. That it’s okay to go for your dreams, no matter the opinions of others. To listen to that inner voice that guides you, drowning out the negativity that often crops up when embarking on something unknown. Ella's Ice Cream Summer is a motivational read for anyone who needs a pick-me up, or needs to be reminded that passions can exist for anyone, no matter their age or status in life.

And, as always, this wouldn’t be a Watson novel without a delicious dose of food! Ice cream is one of my favorite desserts, and I couldn’t get through reading this without a fix from Dairy Queen and Coldstone. I’d love to discover a place that has unique flavors, the kind that Ella offers- and there’s even an ice cream recipe mentioned in the book. Certainly something I can easily make with my boys, possibly the start of our own special ice cream tradition.

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

More by Sue Watson:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Erika Raskin delivers her a book giveaway

Photo by Eden Raskin Jenkins
We're pleased to introduce Erika Raskin today. Her sophomore novel, Best Intentions, comes out in one week from today. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have TWO copies to give away!

Erika's debut, Close, was called “a page-turner of significance.” She has done essays for print and radio and is currently working on a novel-in-stories.

Erika grew up in Washington, D.C., the daughter of a novelist and human rights activist. She has been with her husband since they started dating when she was 18. They have three children, two sons-in-law, a grandboy and many siblings, nieces and nephews. When everyone gets together, they turn touch football, gin rummy and ping-pong into blood sports.

Visit Erika at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Marti Trailor—social worker on hold, mother of three, wife of a successful obstetrician, daughter of a Congressman—is ready to go back to work. She’s thrilled when the perfect opportunity falls in her lap. The catch? The job is at her husband's hospital and he seems not to share her enthusiasm. Undeterred, she takes the position counseling vulnerable young women as they prepare to give birth.

Marti quickly begins to feel like she is making a difference in the lives of her clients. Soon, though, she finds herself caught up in the dark side of the medical center—with its long hours, overworked doctors and entrenched practices. When she witnesses something she can't unsee, Marti, who has always done her best to keep a low-profile, finds herself thrust under a dangerous spotlight with all of Richmond, Virginia watching.

In her captivating domestic suspense novel Best Intentions, Erika Raskin weaves together high stakes hospital politics, the pressures of family life, and the consequences of trying to do the right thing, particularly in a city with a history as fraught as Richmond's. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What was most challenging thing about writing Best Intentions? Most rewarding?
The many years before I actually got it right were hard creatively. The book went through iteration after iteration (I started it during the dark ages, when printer paper had perforated edges) and I kept going back and forth between thinking:

If at first you don't succeed (etc., etc.)


Insanity is repeating the same thing again and again, expecting different results.

That said, finally having it out from my computer into the world is a wonderful thing.

What is your favorite compliment that you've received about your writing?
That my dialogue is really natural. (I attribute this to being a compulsive eavesdropper.)

What piece of constructive feedback from readers have you used towards writing Best Intentions?
“Start out with the dead body on the first page.”

Do you base any of your characters on yourself?
Marti and I share a characteristic or two. She’s a tad younger though.

If Best Intentions were to become a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Not that I’ve spent any time thinking about it...but, Rachel McAdams as Marti, Elizabeth Banks as Colby, Bradley Cooper as Elliot. And a Hemsworth would do nicely as Win.

What was your favorite thing about growing up in Washington, D.C.?
It was a company town sort of place, which made it interesting.

What empowers you the most?
Family, nature, television.

Thanks to Erika for visiting with us and St. Martin's Press for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends August 13th at midnight EST.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Book Review: The Arrangement

By Melissa Amster

Lucy and Owen, ambitious, thoroughly-therapized New Yorkers, have taken the plunge, trading in their crazy life in a cramped apartment for Beekman, a bucolic Hudson Valley exurb. They've got a two hundred year-old house, an autistic son obsessed with the Titanic, and 17 chickens, at last count. It's the kind of paradise where stay-at-home moms team up to cook the school's "hot lunch," dads grill grass-fed burgers, and, as Lucy observes, "chopping kale has become a certain kind of American housewife's version of chopping wood."

When friends at a wine-soaked dinner party reveal they've made their marriage open, sensible Lucy balks. There's a part of her, though-the part that worries she's become too comfortable being invisible-that's intrigued. Why not try a short marital experiment? Six months, clear ground rules, zero questions asked. When an affair with a man in the city begins to seem more enticing than the happily-ever-after she's known for the past nine years, Lucy must decide what truly makes her happy-"real life," or the "experiment?"
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I had been hearing a lot of buzz about The Arrangement, and finally decided to give it a whirl after Nicole Waggoner (author of Center Ring and The Act) told me I just had to read it.

I went into this novel not really knowing what to expect, and it continuously surprised me. It was funny in a dry humor kind of way. There were some really amusing moments, as well. Sarah Dunn's writing is tight and the story flows nicely without ever getting stale. She explores an interesting and thought provoking concept. Not something I would personally try, but it was fun to be a vicarious onlooker. While there are some bedroom action scenes, marriage, relationships, and parenting are truly at the core of this novel.

The one thing that didn't really work for me was giving Gordon and Kelly a side story. (Or even Rowan and Susan for that matter.) There was only one part where something Gordon did had an effect on Lucy and Owen's lives. It seemed random to have their story in there otherwise, especially when Gordon wasn't so likable to begin with. However, their drama eventually grew on me and I did want to see how it would unfold.

Overall, it was an entertaining read and I'm glad Nicole (and everyone else) recommended it. If you're looking for something fresh and different, pick this one up!

Dream movie cast:
Owen: Reid Scott
Lucy: Lake Bell
Ben: Peter Hermann
Gordon: Tim Matheson
Kelly: Alice Eve
Sunny: Jae Suh Park
Izzy: Kaitlin Olson

More by Sarah Dunn:

Friday, August 4, 2017

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr from Henery Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber from Ballantine
The Wardrobe Mistress by Meghan Masterson from St. Martin's Press
The Breakdown by B.A. Paris + bag from Thoughts on This 'n That (won in giveaway)
The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
The Wife Between Us by Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks from St. Martin's Press
Left to Chance by Amy Sue Nathan from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Blind Item by Kevin Dickson and Jack Ketsoyan from Imprint (e-book via NetGalley)

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen from Amazon Publishing  (e-book via NetGalley)
All the Little Children by Jo Furniss from Kaye Publicity (e-book via NetGalley)
Grannie Panties are Under Rated by Gayle Erickson from Mile High Publishing House (e-book)

The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns from Kaye Publicity (e-book via NetGalley)
The Happiness In Between by/from Grace Greene (e-book)

Excerpt: The Summer of Second Chances

Lottie is about to discover that even when you think you’ve lost everything, hope and romance can be just around the corner . . .

It takes time to build your life. To get into a long-term (OK, a bit boring) relationship. To find a job (you don’t completely hate). Lottie might not be thrilled with the life she’s put together, but it’s the one she’s got.

So when in the course of one terrible evening, it all comes crashing down around her, Lottie has a choice: give herself over to grief at being broke, single and completely lacking in prospects.

Or, brick by brick, build herself a new life. And this time, with a little help from friends, a crumbling cottage in Devon and a handsome stranger, maybe she can make it the one she always wanted.

The Summer of Second Chances is an irresistibly funny read about never giving up, whatever the world throws at you. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Jane Costello and Christie Barlow. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

From Chapter Two:

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It really wasn’t.
Nine years ago I’d finished my English Masters degree and taken a sort of late gap year working for the local paper as gofer while I wrote my ‘bestselling novel’. I had been filling in for someone one lunch hour, selling advertising space, and Ian had come into the office to place an ad for his company; Lovell Kitchens. He had amused me so much that I had agreed to go for dinner with him that evening. He’d then charmed me into meeting for a picnic the following day, then into a relationship, and after six months much to his mother’s annoyance I moved in with him.
By the time that happened, my gap year had become two years and looked as though it was turning into a career choice. Ten years older than me, Ian had seemed handsome, sophisticated, funny and charismatic. We had wanted the same things, we enjoyed similar tastes, and he had made me laugh back then. I’d been very lucky. When my university friends started complaining about trying to save a deposit for their first house, I just walked into one.
Ian worked hard, the years had been good to us, and we had a lovely home. Five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a fabulous hand-built kitchen with every possible gadget, and a wood-panelled study for Ian. I’d discovered a talent for interior décor and had brought new style and colour to the house, all paid for by Ian’s generous hand. Even in the middle of winter the half-acre of manicured gardens were neat and attractive, mostly thanks to the attention of our gardener. Much to Susan’s disgust we’d never married but we enjoyed our lives together. Ian was a generous host and I was a good cook. We’d had some marvellous parties when we first met.
In the past couple of years I suppose we’d just got a bit out of practice, with Ian away so much on business. And for want of something else to do, I’d recently gone back to part-time work. Not for the money, but because I was bored. There are only so many times you can decorate a house and move the furniture round.
We’d made lots of friends who included us in their busy circle of golf, fussy dinner parties and meaningless celebrations. Most of the men were more Ian’s age than mine, and many were involved in property development or building, but I was cultivating a group of my own too. Younger second wives and girlfriends keen to shop and have fun and go on spa breaks. Spa breaks! Wouldn’t that be nice now? And best of all, Jess had moved into our village, a sparky high-maintenance blonde with a taste for heels and spray tans and a laugh like Barbara Windsor. We’d instantly recognised a kindred spirit in each other even if I could never rival her for glamour. She was married to Greg, a meaty-looking man, and last year they had returned from several years living in Spain and bought The Grange, the biggest house for miles. Ian had nearly had kittens with his excitement.
After I was sure that Bryn was staying indoors, I found my handbag, took my cigarettes out to the garden and lit one. Always one to conform, I knew I shouldn’t smoke in someone else’s house; not that it would have mattered under the circumstances.
I felt giddy for a moment; perhaps it was the nicotine. I went to brush some dead leaves off one of the garden chairs near the back door and sat down. It wasn’t fair, none of this was my fault, was it? And yet here I was, on my own, miles from anywhere, looking into a future that was uncertain to say the least.
I shook myself; self-pity had no place here, I was going to have to buck up my ideas. I couldn’t treat having a job as an antidote to boredom any longer. I couldn’t rely on Ian’s seemingly bottomless wallet or acquaintances that had bought me flowers and sent cards when it all happened but now shied away from me in case my bad fortune rubbed off on them.
I walked down to the end of the garden through the thick, neglected grass and tried to see if there was anything apart from rubbish and weeds. A bank of nettles had taken over one of the borders. Something else that I think was honeysuckle was curling bare tendrils around a dirty and unpainted wooden lattice. It was a mess. Perhaps I could do something out here when I had a moment? Perhaps there was more under the rich red soil than was apparent. I went back into the house and picked up all the junk mail that had stacked behind the front door. Nothing to do with pizza delivery or takeaway menus, I noticed. Leaflets about hedge cutting, the local parish magazine, details of refuse collection, a flyer from the local feed merchant telling me about special offers on hen coops and wire netting. Perhaps I would have some chickens.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Aimee Brown is the new girl in town and she has a special giveaway

:Introduction and interview by Melissa Amster

We're excited to feature Aimee Brown at CLC today. A while back, we revealed the cover of her debut novel, Little Gray Dress. Today, she's here as part of her blog tour, to tell us what makes her tick. She also has a special prize package from her tour.

I met Aimee about two years ago, after reading a blog post she wrote about author etiquette. Since then, we've exchanged blogging woes and wrote some posts together. So I'm really happy for her to realize her dream of becoming a published author! And she definitely practices what she preaches, in terms of etiquette. Not only does she blog and write novels, but she also runs blog tours for authors. We've participated in many of them and she handles everything professionally, with a pleasant demeanor. She always has in mind the best interests of the authors she represents.

Aimee Brown is a writer and an avid reader. She’s currently studying for her Bachelor’s degree in English Writing. She spends much of her time writing, doing homework, raising three teenagers, binge watching shows on Netflix and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house. She’s fluent in sarcasm and has been known to utter profanities like she’s competing for a medal. She's working on her second novel now.
Aimee grew up in Oregon but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and far too many pets.

She would love to hear your thoughts on Little Gray Dress! If you’d like to chat with her she’s very active on social media. You can find her at any of the networks below. Stop by and say hello!

Facebook | Twitter Instagram | Pinterest | Website/Blog | 
GoodReads | Amazon Page | Newsletter

Emi Harrison has avoided her ex-fiance, Jack Cabot, for nearly two years. Her twin brother Evan’s wedding is about to end that streak.

From bad bridesmaid’s dresses, a hyperactive sister-in-law, a mean girl with even meaner secrets, and too much to drink, nothing seems to go right for Emi, except when she’s wearing her little gray dress.

When she speed-walks into Liam Jaxon’s bar, things get more complicated. He’s gorgeous, southern, and has no past with Emi. He may be exactly what she needs to prove for the last time that she doesn’t need or want Jack!

Her favorite little gray dress has made an appearance at nearly every major event in Emi’s adult life. Will it make another when she least expects it?

Book trailer:

What inspired you to write Little Gray Dress?
I adore weddings, and I love fast moving chick lit stories. There was no specific moment where I knew Little Gray Dress would be born, I just kind of started writing. After about chapter five, the characters really took over and thankfully I hadn’t outlined the story all out cause, I’m not sure it would have gone in the direction I would have expected.

As a blogger and now a writer, what is one rule you have for yourself when working with other book bloggers?
To be as personable, polite, timely and gracious as possible. As you and I both know book bloggers sometimes have to deal with less than thankful authors and that really makes the whole process miserable. If I’ve learned anything as a book blogger it’s that rude, entitled behavior will get you nothing faster than you ever thought possible. Bloggers are people, they talk, and they deserve to be treated as an important part of the publishing world because they are!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone who wants to write a novel?
It’d probably be the two things I struggle with the most. One being, to just allow yourself to write badly for the first draft. It doesn’t matter how much it sucks, you’re the only one who’s going to see it. It’s SO much easier to perfect something that’s written than to write something perfectly from the first sentence.
The second thing is to let your mind wander. You don’t have to be an expert on a city or environment to write about it. That’s what Google is for. If you wanna write that happy-go-lucky crystal ball reading super sleuth, then do it. Research when you need to and ‘fix’ things later. Allow your imagination to go wild. Anything can happen in a book. If it couldn’t then the whole world of Harry Potter wouldn’t be quite as popular as it is.

If Little Gray Dress were to become a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
I love this question, mostly because I’ve thought about this and decided on my characters long ago, plus, who wouldn’t want their book to be a movie?!
As Emi- I’d cast Ashley Benson. I feel like she’s very much Emi’s personality type and could really pull off some of the ridiculous things Emi seems to get herself into.
As Jack- I’d cast Henry Cavill. Not only does he fit the part of tall, dark and handsome, like Jack but, his whole aura just screams his character to me.
As Liam- I’d choose Josh Duhamel. Actually, I wrote Liam’s entire character based off of Josh. I just can’t picture anyone else in that spot except for him.

Who is your celebrity girlcrush?
Ha! I don’t know that I’ve ever truly given this much thought. I love Kristen Bell (who doesn’t…) Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Bullock, and Jennifer Garner. But then again I also love Chelsea Handler and the fact that she says whatever she wants. I also totally admire people like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Attorney General Sally Yates for standing up for what was truly right even though there was a backlash.
I think I admire so many people that use their fame for good. I love seeing a celebrity speak up about the turmoil America is in right now or feed hungry families and adopt stray pets. So many of them are such inspirations at a time when the world really needs exactly that.

Which TV show(s) are you currently binge watching?
I’m not a HUGE TV watcher but I did just recently finish Pretty Little Liars. Needless to say, just like the rest of the world, I was terribly disappointed in the last few seasons and the series finale was no exception.
The show could have been absolutely incredible had the writer not insisted on following the trends of the world. Once she messed up the third reveal of A… there was no fixing it. There were no answers to the hundreds of plot holes, or to all the things she promised we’d get answers too. It really was a disappointing way to end 6 years of my time I’d had invested into the show.
Otherwise, I watch a lot of Netflix and Hulu. I love Raising Hope, Friends, Seinfeld, The Good Place (is it even still on? Or did Hulu lose the rights?), Superstore, Rules of Engagement and so many more.
I’m really excited for the new season of Will & Grace. It’s got me all hopeful that some of the other shows of the 90’s and early 2000’s will resurrect and reunite for another few seasons.

Aimee has the cutest giveaway for the tour - open worldwide.

Included is a 'create' coffee cup, some dark & handsome K-cup pods, a cute Life is Short, Eat Cake wall art, some tiny macaroons, and a Little Gray Dress bookmark and postcard!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit the other stops on Aimee's tour:

Weds – August 2nd
Blog on the Run – Book Review/Author Guest Post after 2nd
Books and Photographs – Book Review
Judging More Than Just the Cover – Book Review/Author Interview
Nicole Evelina – Book Review/Guest Post

The Novel Girl Reads – Book Review/Excerpt/Author Q&A

Thurs – August 3rd
NovelGossip – Book Review
Hey Said Renee – Author Guest Post
Romantic Reads and Such – Book Excerpt

Steamy Book Mama – Book Review

Fri – August 4th
BrizzleLass Books – Book Review
O.D. Book Reviews – Book Excerpt

He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post
Corinne Desjardins – Book Spotlight
Where Dragons Recide – Book Review/Author Q&A

Sat – August 5th
JenaBooks – Book Review – Spotlight Post
Got Books, Babe? – Author Guest Post
The Writing Garnet – Book Review

Sun – August 6th
I Read Novels – Book Review
It's my Life – Book Excerpt

RaeReads – Book Review
Kelee Morris – Author Guest Post
GrassMonster – Book Review

Mon – August 7th
Living Life with Joy – Book Review/Giveaway/Author Q&A
The Belgian Reviewer – Author Guest Post
Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt

Haddie’s Heaven – Spotlight Post
Books in my Opinion – Book Review

Literature Goals – Book Review/Excerpt/Author Q&A

Tue – August 8th
Reading to Unwind – Book Review
Kristin's Novel Café – Book Excerpt & Giveaway/Book Review
Key of Dee – Author Guest Post
FrankyBrown – Book Excerpt

Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog – Book Reviews

Weds – August 9th
Ink, Maps and Macarons – Giveaway/Author Q&A
Heartalefix – Book Review
Tea Party Princess – Author Guest Post/(possible) Review

One Book at a Time – Book Excerpt/Spotlight
TrashyBibloBlog – Book Review/Excerpt

Thurs – August 10th
ItaPixie’s Book Corner – Book Review/Excerpt
Rosa Temple Writes – Author Guest Post
Life at 17 – Spotlight Post

Daily Waffle – Book Excerpt/Author Q&A
Written by Deb - Guest Post

Fri – August 11th
Pretty Little Book Reviews – Book Review
Sparkly Word – Book Review

Books and Readers – Book Review/Excerpt/Giveaway/Guest Post
Ali the Dragon Slayer – Book Review

Rambling Lisa's Book Reviews – Book Review/Book Excerpt

Sat – August 12th
Life of a Simple Reader – Book Review/Excerpt
KD Reads – Book Review/Giveaway/Guest Post
D.K. Hamilton – Book Review/Author Q&A
20CC Reviews – Book Review

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book Review: One Wrong Turn

By Sara Steven

The words “I’m her husband” roll off Clay Connors’s tongue, but with his estranged wife lying in a coma—and no assurance that she’ll awaken—he knows he’s perilously close to losing everything. A singular, terrifying accident has left Jess Connors suspended between life and death. Now Clay is reunited with the family he hasn’t seen for two years, including the daughters he left behind.

Clay should have been there for his family. He never should have stayed away so long. The alcohol that took over his life destroyed everything but a shred of his self-preservation. Sober and haunted, Clay revisits the memory of love, marriage, and how his life unraveled. He hopes that by trying to reconnect with the daughter who blames him and the daughter who barely knew him, he can find a light of hope in this darkest hour. As his family faces its most grueling, emotional test yet, Clay must summon the courage to make right what was wrong—and find forgiveness from his harshest judge: himself. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

One Wrong Turn is a story focused on a family dealing with tragedy, yet there are a lot of damaging waves threatening to pull everyone inside its undercurrent. Jess, wife and mother, has had a near-fatal car accident. Her two daughters are left without guidance because their father, Clay, hasn’t been around for two whole years. He’s been struggling with alcoholism, something he’s tried hard to keep hidden from everyone, especially his children. It was a lot easier to stay away, to keep away from the triggers that have caused so much strife within his family.

When he returns home, he’s met with strong resistance from many sides, only adding to his pressure and anxiety. He’s pulled in several directions, wanting to do everything it takes to help his wife recover, while at the same time tending to the needs of his daughters. I could feel just how hard it was for Clay to keep it all together, while he wants nothing more than to let himself fall apart, even just once.

Having lived through my own experiences of knowing people who work on managing their addictions, I thought Deanna Lynn Sletten captured the essence of Clay well. His viewpoint is to take life a day at a time, a moment at a time, in order to make it through. It isn’t always easy, and it can often be a life that is hard to understand for those who aren’t familiar with it. I also thought she portrayed the struggle Clay’s children go through while trying to forgive their father, perfectly. His younger daughter is easier to win over, but the eldest can remember the moments where he wasn’t around when they needed him the most.

I also appreciated the strong support system Clay finds while trying to also become a support system for his family. I felt it was a nice way to parallel the various relationships that are forming or re-forming, and the flashbacks we are privy to of the life he had with Jess leading up to recent events was a nice touch. It showcased the importance of never giving up or giving in, even when it feels as though there might be no other options.

Thanks to Deanna Lynn Sletten for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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