Monday, October 15, 2018

Book Review: Miss You

By Becky Gulc

‘Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven't met properly yet. And perhaps they never will...

Today is the first day of the rest of your life is the motto on a plate in the kitchen at home, and Tess can't get it out of her head, even though she's in Florence for a final, idyllic holiday before university. Her life is about to change forever - but not in the way she expects.

Gus and his parents are also on holiday in Florence. Their lives have already changed suddenly and dramatically. Gus tries to be a dutiful son, but longs to escape and discover what sort of person he is going to be.

For one day, the paths of an eighteen-year-old girl and boy criss-cross before they each return to England.

Over the course of the next sixteen years, life and love will offer them very different challenges. Separated by distance and fate, there's no way the two of them are ever going to meet each other properly . . . or is there?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

For some reason that I can’t explain, this book was sitting on my review shelf way too long before it was finally, and carefully, selected as one of my holiday reads. It was suggested that if I enjoyed One Day (I loved it), I’d love Miss You too. That’s quite a promise, isn’t it? I was a little skeptical about this and wondered if it would offer something different. Well, to sum it up, this is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. To me, perfection.

I fell for both Tess and Gus straight away. The narrative follows them both equally over the years and both were equally endearing, with a touch of sadness and vulnerability to both of them that makes you root for them to get together, somehow. These characters are loyal; they are tackling their own demons and just get on with life, even if it means putting themselves second.

But this novel is different as they only meet very briefly in the beginning, and even that is fleeting and seemingly insignificant to each of them at the time. So I found it fascinating just to see each of their lives evolve, with it being clearly obvious to the reader how perfect they could be for one another. It could have frustrated me, but it didn’t. It was beautifully written, warm and organic.

Another thing I loved about this novel was that it wasn’t predictable. The ending was beautiful and heart-rendering. Just a forewarning that some difficult subjects are covered in the novel including cancer and bereavement. I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough and can’t wait to read more from Kate Eberlen.

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Christmas at the Chalet by Anita Hughes from St. Martin's Press
Otherwise Engaged by Lindsey Palmer from Skyhorse Publishing (e-book via NetGalley)
Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser from St. Martin's Press
Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks from Grand Central Publishing
The Secret We Lost by/from Linda Smolkin (e-book)
Christmas Joy by Nancy Naigle from St. Martin's Press
The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
The Adults by Caroline Hulse from Random House (e-book via NetGalley)
Bonjour Girl by/from Isabelle LaFleche
The Object of Your Affections by Falguni Kothari from Kathleen Carter Communications
All that Matters by/from Tracy Krimmer (e-book)

Sara:
The Unscripted Life of Lizzy Dillinger by Marianne Hansen from Lola's Blog Tours (e-book)
A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Erin Cole's story of hope ...plus a book giveaway

How often do you meet someone and think that they have their life together and everything must have come so easy to them when they were growing up? You might think that by looking at Erin Cole, but you would be wrong in assuming her childhood was perfect. She tells us as much in her powerful memoir, The Size of Everything, which she co-wrote with Jenna McCarthy. She's here to tell us more about her book and has THREE copies to give away!


Erin Cole is a designer and author who has been dressing discriminating brides around the world for over 20 years. With her high-fashion style and exquisite taste, the designer’s passion lies in the finest of details. Today, Erin Cole is celebrated in the bridal market for her stunning gowns, couture veils, and one-of-a-kind tiaras, hairpins, flowers, sashes, brooches, and necklaces. The Erin Cole collection can be found in over 175 stores around the globe. (Bio courtesy of Erin's website.)

Visit Erin online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest


Synopsis:
As the face of her eponymous couture bridal business, Erin Cole radiates refined elegance. But the designer’s glamorous lifestyle and sweeping success belie a childhood marked by profound dysfunction.

Raised on a steady diet of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and death, no one would have expected Cole to go on to become a force in the fashion world. As a child, she often had no access to food; other times she was force-fed until she vomited. At home and at school, she was beaten, bullied and belittled. Her alcoholic parents alternately abused and ignored her. By the age of sixteen, she was living on her own.

The Size of Everything is Cole’s moving story and so much more. Equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, it’s a love letter to her surviving siblings, a how-not-to-parent manual, a testament to the power of positivity, and proof that where you come from doesn’t have to determine where you can go. Above all, The Size of Everything offers a powerful message of hope to anyone who believes that impossibly rocky beginnings can’t have a happy ending. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

How did you go from designing bridal gowns to writing a memoir?
For the longest time, I kept my past a secret even from my closest friends. It wasn’t because I was ashamed, I just didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. But my story was always gnawing at me from the inside; it was as if it wanted to be told. I figured if I could help one person who was suffering as I had suffered, it would be worth it. My career—along with my sense of humor I believe—is what saved me. Having a creative outlet and being surrounded by supportive women was and is so important to me. Something tells me that if I had decided to pursue accounting or data storage, I wouldn’t have wound up writing a memoir.

What is something new you learned about yourself while writing The Size of Everything?
Where do I start? I learned that it can be incredibly scary—and also wonderfully liberating—to revisit your past. I discovered that despite how often or how fully my parents betrayed me, I still want to protect them, even posthumously. I learned that people will call you brave for sharing your story, even when not sharing it would have been the harder option. And most of all, I learned that your friends can be everything that your family wasn’t, and that while you can’t go back and re-write the beginning of your story, you can always change the ending.

If a movie were made about The Size of Everything, which actor would portray you?
My co-author says all the time it’s a tossup between Demi Moore and Sandra Bullock. Maybe we can get them to duke it out?

What is your favorite thing about October?
I love all the seasons, but by the end of any one of them, I’m ready for the next. October is amazing because it means boots and sweaters and soups and stews and it’s almost time to break out the holiday decorations. Warm food and fuzzy blankets just make you feel safe and cozy. What’s better than that?


If you could design a bridal gown for your favorite book or movie character, who would you choose and what would the gown look like?
Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. She'd be spectacular in a clean, elegant gown with just a touch of shimmer. Of course, you could put Julia Roberts in a grain sack and she’d be stunning.

What is something your friends would say is "so you"?
I guess because of my upbringing, to me food is love. If you come to my house, I don’t make one appetizer; I make six. And then I put out a cheese platter for you to nibble on while I’m cooking. I will feed you until you can barely walk, and then I’ll send you home with a doggy bag. It’s because I love you!

Thanks to Erin for visiting us and 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 October 16th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Book Review: The Lies We Told

By Jami Deise

There’s something especially chilling about the evil kid genre. Whether she’s featured in a movie or a book, The Bad Seed (both the original and the new Lifetime version) is born this way, which makes her incorrigible, inexplicable, and destined for horrible things. A few months ago, Atlantic magazine even featured an article about treating child psychopaths, implying that it’s not an uncommon concern.

In British author Camilla Way’s latest thriller, The Lies We Told, Beth knows there’s something very wrong with her daughter Hannah. In Cambridgeshire in 1986, she tries to make her husband Doug see that Hannah’s pranks are more than mere childish games.

In London in 2017, Clara’s boyfriend Luke has disappeared… and as the days pass, it’s clear that this is no lad’s adventure he’s fallen into. As Hannah grows up and Beth begins to fear her more and more, Clara’s timeline takes more time: The days pass, the investigation grows deeper, and Clara begins to wonder whether she knew her boyfriend at all. While the two separate mysteries develop, the question in the reader’s mind—how will these two storylines converge?—takes a while to answer, but when Way does answer the question, the revelation is a satisfying, if predictable one.

The writing in this thriller is strong, and the characters are very well-developed. Beth and Clara are both third-person point-of-view protagonists, and they are such different women that the reader never gets too comfortable in a single storyline. Way pulls no punches with her plot points, and there’s never a feeling of safety in the prose.

It doesn’t require a spoiler alert to say that Hannah is the psychopath in question, and her deficits drive the story. But most criminals are not psychopaths, and readers should not be lulled into a false sense of security because Way points a finger so quickly in the narrative.

The Lies We Told starts with a bang and gets better and better with each chapter. Although this is Way’s fourth book, it’s the first one I’ve read, and I’ll be going over her backlist to catch the ones I’ve missed.

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

More by Camilla Way:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Heather Frimmer's prescription for good reading...plus a book giveaway

We are thrilled to have Heather Frimmer here to celebrate the publication of her debut novel, Bedside Manners. Melissa A read the book and enjoyed it (reviewed here). She also connected with Heather on social media and learned that they share a love for musical theater. She's here today to talk about her novel and some other fun topics. Thanks to Suzy Approved Book Tours, we have one copy to give away!

Heather Frimmer is a physician by day, specializing in diagnostic radiology and breast imaging, and an avid reader and writer at all other times. A published book reviewer across multiple websites, including Books, Ink and Booktrib, and a member of the Westport Writers’ Workshop, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and two sons.

Visit Heather online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
As Joyce Novak’s daughter, Marnie, completes medical school and looks ahead to a surgical internship, her wedding, and a future filled with promise, a breast cancer diagnosis throws Joyce’s own future into doubt. Always the caregiver, Joyce feels uncomfortable in the patient role, especially with her husband and daughter. As she progresses through a daunting treatment regimen including a biopsy, lumpectomy, and radiation, she distracts herself by planning Marnie’s wedding.

When the sudden death of a young heroin addict in Marnie’s care forces Marnie to come face-to-face with mortality and her professional inadequacies, she also realizes she must strike a new balance between her identity as a doctor and her role as a supportive daughter. At the same time, she struggles with the stark differences between her fiancé’s family background and her own and comes to understand the importance of being with someone who shares her values and experiences.

Amid this profound soul-searching, both Joyce and Marnie’s futures change in ways they never would have expected.

Which authors or books inspired you to become a writer?
Lisa Genova, the author of Still Alice and Every Note Played, along with several other wonderful novels, has been my major inspiration. I love how she uses her expertise as a neuroscientist to explore the details of a specific neurologic disease, its emotional ramifications and the ways the disease impacts everyone in the patient’s sphere. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite—her books are all that good. I also admire Jennifer Weiner’s writing—I read her novels the day they release. The way she can make a story compulsively readable and hilarious while still addressing serious topics is incredible.

Who do you relate to more in Bedside Manners: Joyce or Marnie?
I almost feel like I am part of the Novak family after spending so much time with them over the past few years. Marnie is similar to me in a lot of ways and some of her experiences during medical training are based on things either I or my friends encountered on the wards. Joyce’s character was inspired by many different patients I’ve interacted with over the years. Though I didn’t do it on purpose, she also has a lot in common with my own mother. The creative powers of the subconscious can be scary.

If you could cast Bedside Manners as a movie, who would play the lead roles?
Marnie would be played by Emmy Rossum. I think she’s one of the most talented actresses working today. Her performance as Fiona Gallagher on Shameless is truly masterful. Barbara Hershey could play Joyce. She’s about the right age and could look the part. The two actresses also look like they could be related. I hate when family members on TV shows/movies look like there’s no way they could possibly share genetic material.

What is something about you that would surprise us?
I was a competitive figure skater up until ninth grade. The insanity of that world makes an appearance in my novel in progress, a family drama about a neurosurgeon who makes the questionable choice to operate on his sister-in-law. It’s a complex story of addiction, love and survival on the operating table. The surgeon’s teenage daughter is on a figure skating team.

What new TV series do you plan to watch this fall?
I am definitely going to watch the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I love the creative story and gorgeous sets and costumes. The final season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend drops in October and I can’t wait. The show is hilarious and irreverent and the tongue-in-cheek nods to Broadway are right up my alley.

Since your book is focused on medical situations, what is the strangest injury you've ever experienced (or seen someone you know experience)?
I have been very lucky to be relatively healthy so far. But I do have a mild case of psoriatic arthritis (similar to rheumatoid arthritis). On a family trip to Disney World a few years ago, my right knee blew up to five times its normal size and my husband had to push me around the park in a wheelchair. My sons were thrilled they were allowed to bypass the lines with their very own personal FASTPASS!

Thanks to Heather for visiting with us and Suzy Approved Book Tours for sharing her book with our readers. Visit the other stops on Heather's tour.

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 14th at midnight EST.


Monday, October 8, 2018

Book Review: Relatively Normal

By Sara Steven

Successful New York City event planner, Catriona Masterton, has been on a mission to keep her new fiancé from meeting her family. This Thanksgiving, she's flat out of luck when orderly and regimented Ethan Crenshaw declares he will meet the Masterton Clan.

It's not that Cat's ashamed of her eccentric family, but how does one explain a mother with a kitchen gadget fetish, a father whose best friends are taxidermied field mice, and a super stoner man-child brother who lives in the basement? That doesn't even include the fiercely-proud Scottish grandmother with a proclivity for profanity.

Just when the visit couldn't get much worse, Cat is thrown a large curve ball when her ex-boyfriend and his family show up for Thanksgiving dinner. She's torn between the order and predictability Ethan and her life in New York City represent, while her family and the Midwest pull her in a different direction. Will Cat make it out of her hometown in one piece or is she willing to embrace the chaos? Mishaps, mayhem, and confusion ensue in this laugh-out-loud tale of familial pandemonium.
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I always find a piece of myself within a Whitney Dineen novel. The characters, the eclectic and eccentric situations, they speak to me on a relative level. And speaking of relative. While reading through and becoming a part of Cat’s experiences in Relatively Normal, I couldn’t get over how much I could identify with her. I’ve been in those shoes before, having dealt with my own cautious, meticulous love interest and offbeat, peculiar family. Feeling as though I had to come up with a balance between the two polar opposites. It’s not easy.

Adding to this chaotic adventure is the ex-boyfriend, a man Cat swore she’d never see again. I really loved the emotional layers his presence brings about, a tug of war within her that only intensifies the feeling she has of not really knowing where she belongs. We get the impression that she’s done everything she can to try and distance herself from the type of life she led growing up, yet none of us can forget who we are, or where we come from.

Dineen has this special way of showcasing the emotion, while keeping her own unique comedic spin on things. Putting various characters in a room who are so completely different, giving them the leeway needed to do what they want to. From Grandma’s tell-it-like-it-is personality to Dad’s penchant for taxidermied mice and spitting pistachio shells (one of the best scenes, hands down), to the supposed normalcy of her fiancee’s family, it gives off a thrilling unpredictability to what might happen next at any given moment. And the undercurrent with all of it are lessons in tolerance. There were a lot of scenes in Normal that really showcase what it means to be a lot more accepting of others, even if they’re different or not your own idea of what’s “normal”, because, really. What is normal? It’s a refreshing take on better appreciating the people and past that has helped shape who we become in the present. Even if that means potentially dodging spittooned pistachio shells!

Thanks to Whitney Dineen for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Whitney Dineen:

Friday, October 5, 2018

Book Review: My Sisters And Me

By Becky Gulc

Meet Rae, Emmy and Noelle. They are three sisters who are tasked with renovating their childhood home for their mum Willow. Following the death of her husband/their father around a year ago it’s not somewhere Willow Lake spends a lot of time, preferring to spend her time travelling, and so came the idea of doing their home up as a holiday let. The problem is the sisters, the family, were never really welcomed in Maplewood. They were treated as dirt and the sisters never really knew why. So the thought of returning for a period of three months isn’t one that’s exactly appealing to the sisters, particularly Emmy and Noelle who have unfinished business in Maplewood. Unless they are going to stay indoors for three months can they avoid their past, the people who made their lives hell? Or will they find everyone has moved on or grown up after a decade or so? You’ll have to read this to find out!

I have LOVED Lisa Dickenson’s Christmas novels so I was excited to read another novel by her. My Sisters and Me was an enjoyable read although I didn’t love it quite as much as the Christmas novels if I’m honest but the bar has been set very high before!

The sense of place throughout the novel was fantastic. Maplewood came to life for me, as did the house (in the woods), which felt important given the focus of the story. This grew in strength throughout, and I particularly loved the last third of the novel for this. The three sisters are all quite different and I enjoyed getting to know each of them individually in their day-to-day lives before they head back to Maplewood. What I struggled with at times was empathy towards the sisters; sometimes their fears of returning to Maplewood and how they acted seemed a tad repetitive and immature given the time lapse. I felt more empathetic once as a reader I learnt more about how they’d been treated in the past (and why) by various characters that were still local.

I thought the novel picked up greatly in the build up to the Halloween party and its aftermath. There were some very funny scenes involving the local mayor. I also enjoyed how the sister’s ‘endings’ were not predictable. What this novel does well is self-awareness, being proud of who you are and where you come from and sisterhood, a definite feel-good book.

I am already looking forward to Lisa’s next novel and would happily re-join this family again; I would love to read more about Willow! If you haven’t heard of her before I would definitely recommend checking out her books for fun lighthearted reads.

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

More by Lisa Dickenson:

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Diane Chamberlain wrote the book of our dreams...plus a book giveaway

Photo by John Pagliuca
We are thrilled to have Diane Chamberlain visiting us today. Melissa A started reading her books this year and plans to check out the ones published in previous years. Today we're featuring The Dream Daughter (published on October 2nd), which Melissa has added to her 2018 favorites list (see her review). Diane is here to talk about this incredible novel and St. Martin's Press has one copy to give away!

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today, and Sunday Times bestselling author of 26 novels published in more than twenty languages. Some of her most popular books include The Stolen Marriage, Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane's background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.

Diane received her bachelor's and master's degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel.

Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her Sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She's currently at work on her next novel. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Diane online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest

Synopsis:
When Carly Sears, a young woman widowed by the Vietnam war, receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970, and she is told that nothing can be done to help her child. But her brother-in-law, a physicist with a mysterious past, tells her that perhaps there is a way to save her baby. What he suggests is something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Carly has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage she never knew existed. Something that will mean an unimaginable leap of faith on Carly's part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

The Dream Daughter is a rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother's quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you received on one of your most recent novels?
The Dream Daughter has received many early reader reviews that have touched my heart, but one of my favorites is this: “Reading The Dream Daughter has made me love my daughters even more.”

The Dream Daughter is told in a different style than your previous novels. What inspired this change of pace?
I’d had this idea in my mind for a long time and finally got the guts (and the go-ahead from my editor) to write it. In my previous career as a hospital social worker, I saw many newborn babies who didn’t survive because they were born too early or too sick to be saved. Today’s medical advances could have saved many of those children. What if a pregnant woman carrying a sick baby in 1970 could travel to 2001 for treatment that might save that child’s life? That’s the question I ask in The Dream Daughter.

If you could cast The Dream Daughter as a movie, who would play Carly and Hunter?
I would love to see either Shailene Woodley or Lily James as Carly. Lily really impressed me in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I love Shailene’s girl-next-door quality. As for Hunter, he’s a bit older, a bit wiser, a bit more mysterious. Perhaps Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling?

What is your favorite thing to do in October? Any fall traditions?
Nearly every October I go on book tour, which I love because I get to meet so many of my readers.
When I’m not on the road, I love walking my dog surrounded by the delicious scent of fallen leaves.

What is your go-to meal for breakfast?
I alternate between granola with blueberries, oatmeal with blueberries, and gluten free waffles with blueberries. I like blueberries, can you tell?

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
I am nearly finished with Pam Jenoff’s latest, The Lost Girls of Paris. She is an awesome author and I can always trust her to deliver an amazing story. This book is no exception.

Thanks to Diane for chatting with us and to 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 October 9th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

#BloomBlogWeek Giveaway


We are doing a special post today as part of Blogger Appreciation Week with Tall Poppy Writers.

For those of you who are regular readers, you can skip ahead to the giveaway. :)

For those of you who are new here, welcome to Chick Lit Central, established by Melissa Amster in May 2010. It was originally a group on Facebook to talk to other fans of chick lit, but then some bloggers inspired her to start a blog and voila, here we are! Sarah Pekkanen was the first author to send us a book to review and then Melissa connected with some of her favorite authors. Eventually, other authors found the blog and some have been coming back every time they have a new book. On most weekdays, we share author interviews, guest posts, excerpts, spotlights, etc. along with giveaways (like the one below). We also have two awesome columnists: The Go-to-Gay and The Chick Lit Cheerleader. Overall, we have a great team, including three review associates.

Visit us online:
Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway: Two books to one winner, courtesy of the authors of each.

Family Trees by Kerstin March (reviewed by Sara)
How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (reviewed by Melissa A)



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 4th at midnight EST.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Book Review: The Girl Made of Clay

By Sara Steven

After Sara’s father, famous sculptor Thomas “TR” Harlow, is badly injured in a fire, she’s suddenly forced to care for a man who is more of a stranger than a parent. Once known as his muse, Sara long ago lost her father to his desire to live the celebrity life.

Now TR’s abrasive and unpredictable presence in her home is reopening old wounds—and causing the rift in her already-strained marriage to deepen. As her young son begins bonding with the grandfather he never knew, Sara must decide if she can find it within herself to forgive the man who broke her heart all those years ago. Will she walk away from a chance to rebuild what was lost, or will she find, by bringing her father back to health, that healing can come in many forms? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Coming from a past with my own parental contention, I could really identify with Sara and the way she feels about her father, TR. She hasn’t heard from him in several years, and then suddenly, she’s the one he calls on in his time of need. There is the obligation to be a good daughter and do the right thing, but what is the right thing, in this situation?

Meier has done a fine job of allowing her readers to experience what Sara and TR are feeling, giving us the perspective from both characters. By writing in both points of view, we’re able to go deeper into what has made TR the way he is, and why there is a break in the relationship he has with his daughter. It also allows for Sara to showcase her emotions and how she’s really feeling when trying to balance the new entity in her life, and the struggles she faces with her husband.

There was a twist to this story that I didn’t see coming, relating to the past and what TR has really been up to, only adding to the rift. It also adds another layer to the trouble in Sara’s marriage, down to the choices she needs to make in order to have harmony in her life. And, thrown into the mix of it all is the potential relationship her son could have with his estranged grandfather, a relationship she fears, but if she keeps them apart, won’t that mean repeating patterns from her own childhood?

There are a lot of emotional moments in The Girl Made of Clay; pivotal points in various relationships that are several layers deep. It blends together into a complex mix of beautifully flawed characters and less-than-ideal situations, the makings of a wonderful read.

Thanks to Nicole Meier for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Pumpkins & Pages Hop


Fall is so pretty, but aside from Halloween, there isn't much going on. If only there were something to tie together all the great elements of the season--the rich colors, the pumpkins (and pumpkin spice lattes!), wearing sweaters, walking through crunching leaves, curling up by the fire with a good book ...OH, HOLD UP! There is something going on!



Chick Lit Chat HQ is continuing its tradition of hosting killer hops for Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy fans with our all-new PUMPKINS AND PAGES FACEBOOK HOP to get this season started right! From October 1st through the 7th, more than 50 Chick Lit and RomCom authors are banding together to bring you are most awesome event yet! Along with individual author prizes, we'll be giving away grand prizes of a beautiful fall wreath by Twoinspireyou valued at $160* and THREE gift bags full of pumpkin-scented goodies from Bath & Body Works. PSLs, chunky sweaters, and crunchy leaves ain't got nothing on this week-long party, so don your scarf and mittens and head on over to Facebook and join the CLC HQ events group to hang with authors and readers, find your next great fireside read, and enter to win all sorts of fabulous prizes! See you there!


*The Grand Prize fall wreath giveaway is open to US residents only. However, all of the individual author giveaways and the grab bag giveaways are open internationally.

Friday, September 28, 2018

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle from Flatiron
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn from HarperCollins (won from Goodreads)
The Last of the Stanfields by Marc Levy from Amazon Crossing
In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick from Berkley
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis-Graves from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne from William Morrow (e-book via Edelweiss)

Sara:
One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk from HarperCollins
Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle from St. Martin's Press (e-book)

Becky:
Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan from Sphere

Book Review: Watch the Girls

By Jami Deise

The words “noir” and “reality TV” aren’t terms that usually describe the same project, but they are accurate adjectives for Watch the Girls, a thriller credited to Jennifer Wolfe, which is an appropriate pen name for a writer who has YA projects under the name Jennifer Bosworth. Watch the Girls will appeal to readers who like their Karin Slaughter combined with David Lynch, with a dash of Ghost Hunters to shake things up.

The book’s hard-bitten detective is Liv (formerly Olivia) Hendricks, a former teen star ("The Hills Have PIs") who quit the business after a car accident left holes in her memory about how her younger sister Miranda vanished. Now in her 30s, the hard-drinking, sexually promiscuous Liv ekes out a living on reality TV, playing a version of Daphne on a Scooby-Doo inspired series while another younger sister, Gemma, shines in the spotlight. After a drunken interview goes viral, Liv gets fired, and fan support inspires to start her own, crowd-funded investigation series. She’s quickly hired by a reclusive director, who wants her to solve a series of disappearances in a town where his cult hit "The Girl and the Wolf" was filmed. Ironically, the director wanted a teenage Olivia to star in this film, but after her manager-mother turned it down, he went with his 18-year-old niece, who recently became one of the disappeared.

The thriller has many elements that seem as if they wouldn’t go well together – the noir type of storytelling, social media, the former child star protagonist, the small-town wooded setting, fan culture—but Wolfe merges them flawlessly. In scenes where Liv reads tweets directed to her in a creepy old cabin decked out in homage to the film, nothing seems out of place. There are references to Shirley Jackson, Grimm fairy tales, The Hills Have Eyes, and more. Liv is the first-person glue that holds everything together, and while she’s deeply damaged, she’s not as hard-bitten as a male protagonist might have been. Men in this role usually have the heartbreak of a single woman to blame for their drinking and cynicism; Liv has been let down by everyone important to her, especially her mother and surviving sister, Gemma, who used Liv’s tragedy to propel her own fame. Still, Liv is naïve enough to take everyone at face value—even strangers who contact her through Twitter—which is why she was unable to unmask the rather obvious villain.

Wolfe weaves together back story and present-day mystery so seamlessly that nothing that happens in the book is a coincidence—a rare feat, even in this genre. My only criticism is a personal one—some of the violence and sex were a bit too graphic for me, especially when the wolves come into play. But I tend to be more squeamish than the average thriller reader—I skim through Slaughter’s scenes of violence, and I never read past The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because of the graphic rape scenes in the first book of the series.

Although Wolfe resolves most of the plot threads in Watch the Girls, there are unsolved mysteries big enough that Wolfe may be planning a series around Liv, or at least a sequel. If she does, there should be a ready-made fan base waiting for it. They might even be wearing wolf masks.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Excerpt: Hot Winter Nights

About Hot Winter Nights (a standalone Heartbreaker Bay novel)

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

Purchase links:
Amazon * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million * iBooks * GooglePlay

Photo by ZR Studios
About the Author:
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Connect with Jill:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram
Pinterest * Tumblr * Goodreads

Excerpt:

It took Lucas Knight longer than it should have to realize he had a
woman in his bed, but to be fair, he had a bitch of a hangover.
Even worse than that, last night was a blur, prompting him
to take quick stock.
One, there was a bundle of sweet, soft curves against him.
Two, his head was currently threatening to secede from the
United States Of Lucas.
And three, his side hurt like … well, like he’d been shot.
It’d been two weeks since he’d gotten caught in some crossfire
on the job and he hadn’t yet been cleared for more than light duty –
something he’d obviously managed to ignore last night given that
he was palming a nice, warm, feminine ass.
Think, man.
Straining his brain, he remembered taking a pain med before going to
O’Riley’s Pub to meet up with some friends. A client had been there,
someone he’d recently helped save from a multi-million dollar corporate
espionage. The guy had ordered shots to toast to Lucas and…shit.
Knowing better than to mix pain meds and alcohol, he’d hesitated, but
everyone had been waiting on him, glasses hoisted in the air.
Thinking just one shot couldn’t hurt anything, he’d knocked back the drink.
Clearly, he’d been wrong and it’d been enough to mess him up big time,
something he hadn’t been in years, not since his brother Josh had
been killed.
Shoving that away for another time – or never -- Lucas cracked open
one eye, but when his retina was stabbed by a streak of sunlight
glaring in through the window, he immediately slammed it shut it
again. Taking a deep breath, he told himself to suck it up and opened
both eyes this time, learning wo additional facts.
He was naked and completely uncovered. And the woman snugged up at
his side was rolled up in his comforter like a burrito.
What. The. Hell.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Book Review: Trouble Brewing

By Sara Steven

After working long hours brewing in her garage, Piper is determined to prove herself—and to ignore the chemistry she has with Blake Reed, owner of Minnesota’s newest gastropub who is going to stock four of her brews. She wants her craft beer to stand on its own merits and knows that the tight-knit male-dominated brewer community will assume the worst if she starts anything with one of her vendors. No way she’ll risk everything she’s invested in her budding business on a guy who might not stick—no matter how charmingly handsome and funny he is, right?

And Blake has a conflict of his own—his haughty family wants him to ditch the gastropub and support his father’s political campaign. Well, that, and the fact that he knows Piper’s snark and sass is the perfect blend of crisp and refreshing for him. So Blake and Piper make a pact: she’ll go out with him if, and only if, two additional pubs start carrying her beer. Sticking to the pact proves harder than either of them expected—especially since the attraction is off the charts between quirky, independent Piper and smart, charming Blake.

Then Piper gets a once-in-a-lifetime offer that could launch her company to the next level—and take her away from Blake. Are she and Blake just drunk in love, or do they have something real that’s worth risking her dreams for? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

There is a fighting spirit within Piper, an entrepreneur who wants to do it all, and do it all on her own. I appreciated that drive within her, even in the moments that begin to feel a bit like self sabotage. Coming from a background of having a really hard time asking for and receiving help, I could relate and identify with Piper in that way, although she takes it to higher extremes where her craft beer is concerned.

She doesn’t want anyone or anything to reroute her from her dreams, and that includes Blake. She had no inclination of the chemistry they’d have, a new type of hurdle that presents itself in strange and beautiful ways, and she senses that it’s going to come down to having one or the other, because she isn’t sure she can have both her passion and the man she’s falling hard for.

Piper’s story is a unique one. I didn’t know much about the brewing industry before reading Trouble Brewing, and I found it interesting, the various processes and behind the scenes views we get from her perspective, a woman in a male-dominated field, trying to break into the brewer community. I felt I learned a lot more about her through her interactions with Blake, and with the friendships she forms through the process of standing on her own two feet, one ale at a time.

Sometimes, we discover what’s really most important to us, through the hurdles and obstacles that are thrown our way, when we least expect it. That was presented to us time and time again within Piper’s story, ultimately discovering what is really worth fighting for.

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Kate Moretti chills us to the bone....plus a book giveaway

We're glad to have Kate Moretti back at CLC today. Her latest novel, In Her Bones, was published a few weeks ago. She has THREE copies for some lucky readers (either print for US or e-book worldwide)! In the past, Kate has answered theme questions for us. This time, she's talking about her writing, along with some other fun topics.

Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of four novels and a novella, including Thought I Knew You, While You Were Gone, Binds That Tie, The Vanishing Year, and Blackbird Season. Her first novel, Thought I Knew You, was a New York Times bestseller. The Vanishing Year was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery/Thriller category for 2016 and was called "chillingly satisfying" (Publisher's Weekly) with "superb" closing twists (New York Times Book Review).

​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. (Courtesy of Kate's website.)

Visit Kate online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.

Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is, until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.

Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her.

Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


What is a favorite compliment you received on any of your books? I love when someone tells me they stayed up all night reading it. I strive for that "can't put it down" quality -- mostly because it's the thing I most value as a reader -- so to know when I've hit it is a true fist-pump moment for me.

What is a piece of constructive reader feedback that you've received for In Her Bones
So, I haven't had any real constructive feedback yet. I mean, of course, there are people who don't like it. They've criticized Edie Beckett because she is, of course, a bit difficult to like. Some readers don't enjoy that -- which is totally fine!! I think it's just early days for IHB. I read one review a long time ago that said it's a bit slow in the beginning and that rings true with me. It's a lot to set up! I think I could have started the story a bit differently. I learn something new with each book!

What inspired you to go from writing women's fiction (i.e. Thought I Knew You) to psychological thrillers? THOUGHT I KNEW YOU was my debut and it came straight from my heart, based on where I was in life at the time I wrote it. I had new babies, I was embroiled in that very all-consuming stage where life is babies, and home, and marriage, and very little else. But truly, I've always read thrillers and mysteries and I knew it would probably be my only women's fiction story. My true writer self is a suspense writer, hands down!

If you could cast In Her Bones as a movie, who would play the lead roles? 
I have a Pinterest board! I like Margot Robbie for Edie and Joe Manganiello for Tim, Jeff Bridges for Gil Brandt. Sharon Stone for Lilith Wade. I always cast my characters as I write them. It's a cheat for getting the hair and eye color right!

What is your favorite thing to eat in autumn?
I make THEEEE BEST butternut squash soup. It has only 5 ingredients! Butternut squash, Cream cheese, chicken broth, Marjoram, and cayenne pepper. I make it and freeze it in batches (without the cream cheese) so I can have it all season long whenever I feel like it. Absolutely my favorite thing Fall, Winter, even spring.

What is the last TV series you binge-watched? 
I watched a few episodes of Killing Eve and FELL IN LOVE with the female assassin. She was like my Edie Beckett times a million. So brilliant. And I adore Shameless.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
It didn't happen to me but the funniest story I've heard recently was during Corinne O'Flynn's IWOTY acceptance speech at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold conference. She talked about her inspiration to write and her WHY (why she writes) and being inspired by her mom who was an avid scrabble player. Every time I think of this story I crack up laughing. One night, they'd played just a bit too long....Click here and listen to the whole speech to be truly inspired BUT skip to 7 minutes to hear the funniest story I've heard in a LONG time.

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 2nd at midnight EST.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Book Review: Famous Last Words

By Jami Deise

As an avid Twitter user, I sometimes get tweets like this: Morena Baccarin Compares Kissing Ryan Reynolds to ‘Kissing a Giant Latex Condom’. Now that I’ve read former People magazine reporter Sara Hammel’s latest, Famous Last Words, I have a much greater understanding of everything that went into turning one or two salacious quotes into a Twitter-worthy story. (Spoiler alert: It was Ryan’s costume, not the actor himself, that was the problem.)

Ever since she was a child, Augusta Noble has worshipped celebrities. When she was overweight and lonely, they provided comfort from the classmates who bullied her. Now an adult, she uses them to hide from the fact that she could be a murderer.

A hard news reporter, Augusta quits her reporting job and becomes the London stringer for CelebLife, a People-type magazine that only prints the best about the celebrities it covers, after the traumatic event. Pursuing stars for quotes such as the Morena Baccarin line above, Augusta finds that some celebrities are nice and others are mean. Having once told her mother that it would take 107 celebrity encounters to make up for not having a lot of friends, Augusta works toward that number while dealing with the shaky fortunes of print journalism in the twenty-first century. At the same time, police are hounding her to remember exactly what happened that night at her best friend Caroline’s apartment that left someone dead. And there’s a possible romance with a member of the British aristocracy.

There’s a lot going on in this book, including multiple time lines and locations, and there were times I got confused. Hammel has a strong narrative voice, and her characterization of Augusta is multi-faceted and generous. Strangely enough, I would have appreciated more time in the past with Augusta and the mystery of Caroline than chasing after real-life stars. Undoubtedly, many of the tidbits Hammel drops as Augusta flits from red carpet to after-party are based on the author’s real-life encounters. But save for the dirt about the Beckhams and Princess Kate, nothing she reveals would surprise anyone who has ever stood in a check-out line at the grocery store.

Although this is Hammel’s second book, she may be better known for the scathing public letter she wrote when resigning from People magazine after a 14-year career. (That letter is also available on Amazon, as a Kindle document entitled Red Carpet Regrets.) The question of whether the public really needs weekly musings on the contents of Jennifer Aniston’s womb notwithstanding, underlying Hammel’s career and Famous Last Words is a very real crisis in journalism. As talented, seasoned reporters are pushed aside for struggling freelancers and established newspapers are bought by organizations in order to silence their voices, folks who strive to tell the real stories may become an endangered species. And then none of us will be able to difference between tabloid news, “fake news,” and what is really going on.

Thanks to Jed Hammel (Sara's brother) for the book in exchange for an honest review.