Friday, September 29, 2017

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber from Ballantine
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin from Algonquin Books (e-book via NetGalley)
Beautiful Messy Love by/from Tess Woods
The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain from St. Martin's Press

Watch Me by Jody Gehrman from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Invisible Women by Sarah Long from Zaffre (e-book via NetGalley)

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan from Sphere
Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews from Sphere

Reviews at Amazon--August/September 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:




Review (Goodreads)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Around the world with Kate a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Kate Moretti back to CLC to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, The Blackbird Season. She's here to finish our "Around the World" theme month and has one e-book to share with a lucky reader!

Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of three previous novels and a novella, including Thought I Knew You (New York Times bestseller), While You Were Gone, Binds That Tie, and The Vanishing Year (Goodreads Choice Award nominee--Mystery/Thriller category for 2016).

​Kate has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for twenty years as a scientist and enjoys traveling and cooking. She lives in Pennsylvania in an old farmhouse with her husband, two children and no known ghosts. Her lifelong dream is to find a secret passageway.

Visit Kate online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alecia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Countries you've visited:
When I was eighteen, my family took my sister and I to France and Belgium. I still remember St. Malo as the loveliest place I’ve ever been in my life. We stayed in an hold house and I had a bed with a canopy and windows you could open like Cinderella every morning. Then after college, I backpacked a small chunk of Eastern and Western Europe: UK, Greece, Italy, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands. After I was married, my husband and I honeymooned in Italy and went back again a few years later with his family. I love traveling and now that my children are getting older, I can’t wait to start showing them the world, to see it through their eyes.

Favorite book that takes place in a different country:
My favorite book of all time is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, which takes place at Manderly, set in the English countryside, based on Cornwall. I’ve never been to Cornwall, but the picture I have in my head is of foggy, spooky moors, dense woods, a character in itself. One day!

Which languages do you speak fluently?
Sadly, only English. I’ve taken Spanish and German in various high school and college courses and tried to learn Italian before one of our trips, but I don’t think I have a knack for picking it up. My husband actually did a lot of translating on our trip, I think being immersed in Italian brought out his natural language skills!

Favorite celebrity from a different country:
I’m a complete Anglophile so I’ll have to say Colin Firth or Keira Knightly. I adore Kate Winslet and Emma Watson, too. Oh, then there’s Idris Elba. And I’ll always love Hugh Grant. Ok, I can’t pick a favorite.

Something you own from a different country:
When I was in Venice I bought an oil painting off a Venice street like a complete tourist and I don’t even care. It’s so beautiful and it hangs in my dining room. The image is the street I was standing on when I bought it. I think it was a hundred dollars, and I still feel like I got a bargain.

Closest friend from a different country:
You know, it’s funny. When you have kids elementary school age, your world becomes very small, almost insular (it’s a topic I’m exploring in my next book!). I’m lucky that I have writing, which forces me into the huge, wide world. Because of social media, I’ve made writer pals in Canada, Australia, the UK, South America. I wouldn’t say I have a close friend that lives in another country at the moment, but I always feel like I have connections and acquaintances from all over the world. It’s truly amazing!

Thanks to Kate for visiting with us and 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 October 3rd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Review: A Hundred Thousand Worlds

By Sara Steven

Valerie Torrey took her son, Alex, and fled Los Angeles six years ago—leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her co-star husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart. Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way.

As they travel west, encountering superheroes, monsters, time travelers, and robots, Val and Alex are drawn into the orbit of the comic-con regulars, from a hapless twenty-something illustrator to a brilliant corporate comics writer struggling with her industry's old-school ways to a group of cosplay women who provide a chorus of knowing commentary. For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

There are a plethora of reasons why A Hundred Thousand Worlds spoke to me. One of the biggest would have to be the multitude of references that touch that inner geek inside of me. The one who could sense that a lot of the characters in Worlds might be loosely based on actual comic books and television shows I grew up on. Even Valerie’s sci-fi show, the character she played reminded me a lot of Dana Scully from The X-Files. It’s little touches like that,that drew me closer to everything going on, which at times felt chaotic, exciting and full of people. Much like comic-con.

And there’s Valerie and Alex, the mother and son duo who have been inseparable. A mother myself, it was hard not to feel for their situation. All she’s wanted to do is protect him, and in doing so, she made some pretty bad choices that are now coming back to haunt her. As the reunion with Alex’s estranged father draws near, I could literally feel the tension and gut-wrenching pain Valerie goes through. It’s written in such a way that isn’t over the top with flowery descriptions or grandiose. It’s realistic and simplistic, placing me right beside her, wanting desperately to hold her hand and tell her that all will be okay.

Alex often gives his own child-like perspective of what’s going on around him, and in doing so, the reader can discover the parallels that seamlessly blend together from one character to the next. Alex is precocious and wise beyond his years, which made sense in this setting. While he’s relied on his mother for most of his life, she’s relied on him, too. It’s also interesting that his own passions are heavily influenced by her own experiences, and he soon discovers that the inner workings of what he’s written, a comic, clearly becomes the story of his life. Such an interesting way to project a character’s inner struggle, which really is the theme here. Growing up is hard, and facing change can at times be an even harder situation to face, no matter how old you are. Sometimes, all you really want is a superhero to save the day.

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Spotlight and Giveaway: Virtually Perfect

Today, we celebrate the publication of Paige Roberts' debut novel, Virtually Perfect! Paige has one copy to share with a lucky reader.

Not so long ago, Lizzie Glass had a successful TV show, a cookbook deal, and a social diary crammed with parties and events. But fame doesn’t stay fresh for long. Her show fizzles, her magazine column is canceled, and Lizzie’s only option is a summer job as personal chef to the Silvesters, a wealthy and eccentric family.

Their beach house is a lavish, beautifully decorated palace on the Jersey Shore, and Lizzie gets to work catering to Kathryn and Jim Silvester’s fashionably restrictive diets. But it’s their twenty-something daughter who presents Lizzie with her biggest challenge—professionally and personally. A self-proclaimed “wellness warrior,” Zoe Silvester has a hugely popular website and app that promotes healthy living and organic, unprocessed foods. Yet Lizzie soon realizes that "The Clean Life" site has a dirty little secret. In fact, Zoe’s entire online persona is based on a dangerous hoax that runs deep and will damage lives. Exposing Zoe won’t just jeopardize Lizzie’s job and a promising new relationship—it may expose the cracks in her own past.

Sharply observed, witty, and thoughtful, Paige Roberts’ debut novel is a compelling look at one woman’s journey toward reinventing herself—and seeing through the façade of others—to discover the imperfect but sometimes wonderful truth.

Paige Roberts is a former journalist who has written for publications such as McSweeney’s, Culinate, and She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children, as well as an ever-expanding collection of cookbooks. Visit Paige 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 October 1st at midnight EST.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Spotlight: The Sweet a special giveaway

In Italy, the best attractions are always off the beaten path . . .

Mamie Weber doesn’t know why she survived that terrible car accident five years ago. Physically, she has only a slight reminder—but emotionally, the pain is still fresh. Deep down she knows her husband would have wanted her to embrace life again. Now she has an opportunity to do just that, spending two weeks in Tuscany reviewing a tour company for her employer’s popular travel guide series. The warmth of the sun, the centuries-old art, a villa on the Umbrian border—it could be just the adventure she needs.

But with adventure comes the unexpected . . . like discovering that her entire tour group is made up of aging ex-hippies reminiscing about their Woodstock days. Or finding herself drawn to the guide, Julian, who is secretly haunted by a tragedy of his own, and seems to disapprove any time she tries something remotely risky—like an impromptu scooter ride with a local man.

As they explore the hilltop towns of Tuscany, Mamie knows that when this blissful excursion is over, she’ll have to return to reality. But when you let yourself wander, life can take some interesting detours . . .

Sharon Struth believes you’re never too old to pursue a dream. The Hourglass, her debut novel, is a finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Awards for Best first Book, and her Blue Moon Lake Novels include the bestseller, Share the Moon.

When she’s not working, she and her husband happily sip their way through the scenic towns of the Connecticut Wine Trail, travel the world, and enjoy spending time with their precious pets and two grown daughters. She writes from the friendliest place she’s ever lived, Bethel, Connecticut. For more information, including where to find her published essays, please visit or visit her blog, Musings from the Middle Ages & More.

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including us in Sharon's tour. 

Enter to win a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card!

Visit the other stops here
Purchase the book here.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: I’m the One Who Got Away

By Jami Deise

The problem with the “writer in jeopardy” type of memoir is that the reader knows the ending before picking up the book. Obviously the writer survived… and did well enough to write his or her story, find a publisher and/or an agent, and get that story out there. The attraction of these books is not the “what” of the ending but the “how” of the middle.

By titling her memoir I’m The One Who Got Away, writer Andrea Jarrell leaves no doubt about how her book ends. At only 176 pages, the book’s prose is stunning, but the structure is weak. Jarrell begins with a bang: Her neighbor has been murdered. Reflecting on the woman’s killer—Jarrell believes she was probably hiding from an abusive partner—leads Jarrell to digress to her mother’s life with her father, and later Jarrell’s own issues with men.

With the explosive beginning, I was expecting Jarrell to circle back to her neighbor and use the woman’s death as the spine of the story. This did not happen. In fact, most chapters do not build on each other, but seem like specific, isolated anecdotes rather than part of a single narrative. I wasn’t surprised to read that some of the chapters had been published as essays, including the New York Times’ Modern Love column. Because of this, Jarrell seems less like the driver of her own life than a passenger, watching the decisions of other people (her parents, her lovers) and recording how their actions affect her.

Still, the prose is exquisite, and that kept me reading even while I was frustrated by everything that Jarrell left out of her story. With its relatively short length, it’s a nice diversion for readers more interested in word choice and description over a beginning, middle, and end.

Thanks to SparkPoint Studio for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Go-to-Gay: Far away festivities

If you give a Go-To-Gay a topic, he will then take it and run with it, making us laugh along the way. He does that once again with our "Around the World" theme.

Take it away, Keith!

La la la la la - It goes around the world

I love to travel. I am usually up for most any adventure offered up to me. “Travel the world,” is my most used answer when asked what I would do if I won the lottery.

Ideally, that sounds great. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that. Imagine how many “likes,” “hearts,” and “retweets” you would get for a picture of yourself standing on the steps of the Taj Mahal (not really sure if the TM has steps, I’m just assuming). I would also be one of those people who take a picture of themselves “holding up” the leaning tower of Pisa. Yes, I am that guy. DON’T JUDGE.

Realistically, I don’t think I would actually want to go everywhere around the world, because let’s face it, I am a wuss. I am a spoiled, entitled American. I admit it. I don’t care. If your culture is shockingly different than mine, I probably would prefer learning about it online or from an informative documentary. For instance, I MUST HAVE a modern toilet that is attached to working plumbing. I MUST HAVE food that is something other than insects or parts of animals I normally don’t eat. I would PREFER to visit places that have good toilet paper readily available, access to full bars and modern kitchens, and some air conditioning.

That being said, there is a great big world out there that I haven’t seen. Places that I would go and want to go and, hopefully, will go. While thinking about this post, I decided to make a list of the places and things I wanted to see most. Then, I found even better stuff. There are some tremendous festivals out there if you just look hard enough. I now have a list of the ones I want to attend at some point. Here is part of that list:

Keith’s Festivals “I Must Attend List”

The Baby Jumping Festival – Spain

The origin of this festival dates back to the early 1600’s. It is held early during the feast of Corpus Christi. The gist is this: all parents who have had babies during the year since the previous festival, bring their children out and lay them down on pillows in the public street. Then men dressed as devils make their way through the crowd and whip bystanders with switches before running down the street jumping over the babies. This hurdling somehow blesses the babies and forgives them for man’s “original sin.” To add to the intrigue of this festival, the Pope and the Vatican have been trying to stop it for years, but these rebel-Catholics won’t stop. This takes places every June in the town of Castrillo de Murcia.

Lopburi Monkey Banquet – Thailand

I have never been, but apparently Thailand has thousands of monkeys that hang out at its temples and in its streets. Hungry monkeys. During most the year, these monkeys are a nuisance, and people must be careful not to have their lunch or snacks stolen by a sneaky simian citizen. But come November, the people of Lopburi, Thailand, celebrate these quirky fellas, and treat them to a massive food banquet. It’s basically an all-you-can-eat for monkeys only. Each year, over 800 pounds of bananas, apples, ice cream, and other monkey favorites are devoured at the festival. This is to say thanks for the good luck and fortune the monkeys bring to the people of the town each year. The guests of honor are also known to have quite the food fights while feasting as well. This takes place the last Sunday in November in Lopburi.

World Toe Wrestling Championships – England

The story goes that tired of England always losing at all international sports, George Burgess invented this sport in hopes that his home country would dominate. George apparently had lots of faith in the strong toes of the British people. As fate would have it, though, a dang Canadian soon came along and out-toed all the home players and took the crowd. Honestly, the colonists ruin everything (Are Canadians considered colonists? I’m not really sure, and I am on a deadline, so throw me a bone here.)

But from the ashes of Burgess’ dashed global toe domination, came the sport of toe wrestling. There is even an official Federation. THAT MEANS IT IS REAL. There is even a starting chant that is done before each match: “One, two, three, four, I declare a toe war,” or some variation of that. Each year, the world championships are held in Ashbourne, and while not an official festival, there are plenty toe-related festivities centered around the competition.

That’s the top three from my new list. How about you? Where in the world would you like to go? Are there any festivals that you know of I should add to my itinerary? Please let me know in the comments below. Let’s create a Chick Lit Central Must See Festival List!

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

Guest Book Review: Mr. Right Swipe

By Shana Javery

Rae Wallace would rather drown in a vat of pinot greezh and be eaten by her own beagle than make another trip down the aisle--even if it is her best friend's wedding. She's too busy molding the minds of first graders and polishing that ol' novel in the drawer to waste time on any man, unless it's Jason Segel.

But when her be-fris stage an intervention, Rae is forced to give in. After all, they've hatched a plan to help her find love the 21st century way: online. She's skeptical of this electronic chlamydia catcher, but she's out to prove she hasn't been too picky with men.

However, when a familiar fella's profile pops up--the dangerously hot substitute teacher from work --Rae swipes herself right into a new problem...(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

As I started to read this book I really thought I was too old for it. I mean, what do I know about dating in the 21st century??? I’ve been married for 25 years! But within a few chapters I was hooked!

The main character, Rae, tells the story of her experience with one of those dating apps that certainly wasn’t around when I dated. Her dating adventures with the men with whom she “matches” are humorous. No matter how long you’ve been out of the dating scene, there’s a lot to make you laugh in this book. And if you ARE currently dating…well, Rae can read your mind! I enjoyed this book all the way to the last page. It was just a feel-good, make you laugh kind of book. The only challenge I had was figuring out some of the acronyms in this book. LOL? No problem. LMAO? I got it. After that…I’m a little lost. Thank goodness for context clues! Two of the best parts of this book are the relationship that Rae has with her two best girlfriends, one of whom is about to tie the knot.

The other thing is her hysterical hashtags, which pop up throughout the book and made me chuckle constantly. (Even LOL!) Bottom line? Want something light and fun that will put you in a good mood? Grab a copy of Mr. Right Swipe, pour yourself a glass of wine…or two...and treat yourself to this light-hearted book.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing 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.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kaira Rouda's wonderful a book giveaway

Today, Kaira Rouda is here to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, Best Day Ever! She's answering our questions for our Around the World theme and we think you'll enjoy what she has to say. Thanks to Graydon House, two lucky readers are about to have their best day ever, when they win copies of this book.

Kaira Rouda is a USA Today bestselling author. My books have won several Indie Excellence Awards, USA Book Awards, the Reader’s Choice Awards and honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest International Book Awards. Her previous novels include ALL THE DIFFERENCE, HERE, HOME, HOPE, IN THE MIRROR, and THE GOODBYE YEAR. Her modern romance novels are set on beaches, including the Indigo Island series and the Laguna Beach series. Kaira lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. Visit her at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he's promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Countries you'd like to visit:
Anywhere I haven’t been yet - but specifically, Vietnam and Thailand are at the top of my list. Also, Croatia. And, well there are so many places to see in this beautiful world.

Favorite foreign food:
Indian Food, specifically papadum, dark lentils, and sag paneer. Yum.

Favorite foreign film or movie that takes place in a different country:
Life is Beautiful (Italy, poignant) and Love Actually (England, heart-warming)

Something that interests or fascinates you about another part of the world:
I love listening to people speak different languages. I particularly love listening to French being spoken, especially if I’m sitting in a beautiful cafe in Paris.

Something you own from a different country:
We live in such a connected world, we are all surrounded by things from other countries. I’m writing this as I look up and see three beautiful African fertility dolls I found in South Africa.

Closest friend from a different country:
I’m blessed to have friends who are here in the states from all over the world. We live in a wonderful, historically inclusive and welcoming country. It’s what makes our country great. Unless you are a Native American Indigenous person, you’ve come here from a different country at some point.

Thanks to Kaira for visiting and to Graydon House 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 September 24th at midnight EST.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: The Big Weekend

By Sara Steven

**Synopsis may contain spoilers for The Big Lead (review), The Big Interview (review), and The Big Overnight (review)**

Columbus police make a quick arrest in a murder, but when a tip comes in from someone who knows more about the case than detectives, it’s clear to TV reporter Stella Reynolds that the woman behind bars didn’t pull the trigger.

With lowlifes stealing the headlines, why is Stella’s boss only concerned with her hair? He insists a makeover will help her career, but she knows that a visit to the salon will only get in the way of solving the murder. Or will it? With the real suspect determined to stay hidden, maybe a makeover contest is the perfect cover for catching a killer. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

There’s just something about Stella!

I really love how Libby Kirsch has created this fantastic butt-kicking protagonist. She reminds me of a modern-day Nancy Drew, not letting anything stop her until she finds the answer, and believe me, there are a lot of hurdles that are constantly thrown at her. Whether it’s from love interests, coworkers, or potential bad guys, she works doubly hard to do all she can to get to the truth, no matter the cost.

It’s empowering, really. Stella works to prove herself and do the best work she can at her broadcasting job, even when it might mean losing those closest to her. There are people in her life who are not on board with her tenacious personality, unable to understand what drives her. There are girl power undertones throughout this whole book, and in the other books in the Stella Reynolds Mystery Series, enough to make you feel motivated and inspired within your own life.

I’ve read every book in this series, and while I love them all, I feel like this particular installment, book four, has a few more twists and turns in it that are far from expected. There were moments where I’d been certain I knew “who done it”, yet I’d get thrown off the trail and would get booted back to square one. I think that’s a testament to how great this story really is. It’s a lot more fun when you’re discovering the secrets right along with Stella, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next book, which will focus on Stella’s nutty friend, Janet. It will be interesting to see what sort of situations she’ll find herself in!

Thanks to Libby Kirsch for the book in exchange for an honest review. This book can be purchased here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate from Linda's Book Obsession (won from a giveaway)
Where the Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine from St. Martin's Press
Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser from St. Martin's Press
The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner from Berkley
What Remains True by/from Janis Thomas (e-book via NetGalley)
Present, Not Perfect by Aimee Chase from St. Martin's Press
Life By Design by Miranda Hersey from St. Martin's Press

The Way We Were and Never Let You Go by Sinead Moriarty received from Kim at Bookture (e-books)
Stray Magic by/from Jackie Bouchard (e-book)
How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson from HarperCollins UK (e-book via NetGalley)

Is This It Then? by/from Victoria Oliver (e-book)

Book Review: When We Were Worthy

By Jami Deise

It happens nearly every year somewhere in this country, often around prom or graduation. A car filled with teenagers—usually drinking—slams into a tree, or a ditch, or another car. Many die, including some who were just unfortunate bystanders. The recriminations last for months, if not years, and go way beyond the driver. Who provided the alcohol? The car? Who is ultimately to blame?

The details are a little different in Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s novel When We Were Worthy, but the aftermath is the same. In tiny Worthy, Georgia, three cheerleaders going to celebrate after a football game are mowed down by a classmate racing down a dirt road. As cheerleaders, the girls—Mary Claire, Brynne, and Keary—are high-school royalty. The boy who hit them didn’t even play sports. The battle lines are clearly drawn. But the real villains in this small town may not have been involved in the accident at all.

The story is told through the points-of-view of four characters: Darcy, whose son Graham was driving the car and who’d been mourning the death of her marriage to philandering Tommy; Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with the three other girls and knows more than she’s saying; Ava, a substitute teacher who thought—wrongly—that her biggest secret was safe with Keary’s death; and Marglyn, Mary Claire’s mother, whose grief is compounded with guilt because she was helping out another teenage girl that night rather than watching Mary Claire cheer.

With all these voices—and all the characters related to them—I had trouble remembering which woman was starring in what story. Each chapter is named after a character, which was helpful because before going on to the next chapter, I’d focus on the name and remind myself of her situation. It was hard work to keep everyone straight.

That’s really my only quibble with the book, which started off strong and got better as the story progressed. The mystery that’s only hinted at in the opening pages becomes clearer, and the characters’ dilemmas more poignant by the middle of the book. Some characters who seem dubious are revealed to be innocent; characters who originally seemed minor turn out to be important. Leah, in particular, ends up being the heart of the book and the key to mystery.

While I was drawn to When We Were Worthy due to its plot, what moved me the most was the writer’s seamless segue into theme. This isn’t just a book about teenagers who do something stupid and the physical and emotional wreckage they leave behind. It’s about hope and forgiveness after the worst kinds of losses. By the end, I was reading with tears running down my face and getting strange looks by people next to me on the treadmill.

Although this is Whalen’s seventh novel, I’d never heard of her before receiving the pitch for this book. I’ll definitely be checking out her back list.

Thanks to Lake Union for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Eva Woods' foreign a book giveaway

Photo by Jamie Drew
We're pleased to have Eva Woods at CLC today to feature her latest novel, Something Like Happy (How to Be Happy in UK). Today, she's here to talk about her foreign travels as part of our "Around the World" theme. Thanks to Little Bird Publicity, we have one copy to give away!

Eva was born in Northern Ireland in the early eighties, and now lives in London with her musician boyfriend, where she spends a lot of time dodging urban foxes and tutting at people who are too slow on escalators. She likes to think of herself as being a cross between Jessica Fletcher (only slightly younger), Carrie Bradshaw (only with fewer shoes), and Sylvia Plath (only more....alive). Eva writes crime fiction as Claire McGowan. Aside from writing novels, she teaches creative writing workshops. She enjoys travelling, reading, and drinking far too much tea.

Visit Eva online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she'd once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn't want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it's that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie's convinced it's impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there's still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly's about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

Countries you've visited?
I think it’s close to 40 – this year I went to Peru and also Denmark for the first time.

Favorite foreign cuisine?
That’s a tough one – either Japanese or French.

Favorite foreign film or movie that takes place in a different country?
I’m a big fan of Battle Royale, though it scares me a bit, too.

Something that interests or fascinates you about another part of the world?
I love the café culture in Paris. I have dream of going to live there for a while and just writing in cafes, soaking up the atmosphere, and working on my books.

Favorite item from a different country that you can't get in your own country?
I’m very upset that we can’t get all the flavors of M&Ms in the UK. It makes no sense!

Which languages do you speak fluently?
French, and also some Chinese and Spanish.

Thanks to Eva for chatting with us and to Little Bird Publicity for sharing her book with our readers.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends September 19th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September and October Book Giveaway

Every two months, we're featuring EIGHT books we're interested in checking out. (We know there are many, many more, but we're just highlighting a few that haven't received their time in the spotlight yet.) Here are the books we've chosen for September and October. There is one copy of each book available to give away and we will choose FOUR winners to each receive TWO books at random.

See our previous bi-monthly posts for some other great reads you might have missed.

We've been doing this now for a year and hope to keep it going a while longer. This time around, we're going to share a teaser or mini-synopsis of each book. (All courtesy of Amazon.)


Worst Date Ever by Melodie Campbell (September 5th)

Jennie has been a widow for two years. Her twelve-year-old son thinks it's about time she started dating, and so does her best friend, Angela. So with Angela's help, Jennie signs up to an online dating site. Within hours, she has several dates lined up for the week. Surely there will be one Prince Charming in the bunch. And if not, it's only one date, right? How bad could it be?

*Thanks to Orca for the giveaway copy.

The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas (September 5th)

One woman's journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.

*Thanks to Berkley for the giveaway copy.

The Copenhagen Affair by Amulya Malladi (September 26th)

Set in the capital city of the world’s happiest country, a comedy of manners about depression, the pressures of marriage, and the possibility of falling in love again, from the bestselling author of
A House for Happy Mothers.

*Thanks to Goldberg McDuffie for the giveaway copy.

The Comfort Food Diairies by Emily Nunn (September 26th)

In the tradition of Elizabeth Gilbert and Ruth Reichl, former New Yorker editor Emily Nunn chronicles her journey to heal old wounds and find comfort in the face of loss through travel, home-cooked food, and the company of friends and family.

*Thanks to Atria for the giveaway copy.


Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree (October 3rd)

A stirring debut rife with intoxicating family secrets and dazzling insights into our most basic desires, Perfectly Undone offers an intimate, uncensored exploration of forgiveness and fidelity, in all its forms, as a young doctor struggles with her sister's death—and the role she played in it—while her own picture-perfect relationship and promising career unravel around her.

*Thanks to Graydon House for the giveaway copy.

The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison (October 10th)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Clique series comes a novel about the importance of friendship, and, of course, the pleasure of a dirty book.

*Thanks to Gallery for the giveaway copy.

A Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones (October 19th)

Katie is thirty-two, single, and works in advertising. She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to...wherever she’s supposed to be. And whoever she’s supposed to be with.

*Thanks to Helen Jones for the giveaway copy.

Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades (October 31st)

She’s blossomed from a wealthy surgeon’s beautiful daughter to elegant socialite to being the top fashion stylist in the country. And Nora Mackenzie is only days away from marrying into one of New York’s richest, most powerful families. But her fairy tale rise is rooted in an incredible deception—one scandal away from turning her perfect world to ashes...

*Thanks to Kensington for the giveaway copy.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends October 9th at midnight EST.