Monday, January 22, 2018

Book Review: How Not to be a Bride

By Sara Steven

**May contain spoilers for Bad Bridesmaid, but can be read as a stand-alone**

One of my favorite novels from Portia Macintosh is Bad Bridesmaid (reviewed here). Mia Valentina is a character that sticks with you, so I was thrilled to discover that her story continues on in How Not to be a Bride!

We discover that Mia has chosen to to leave her life behind in sunny California, and start a new one with her gorgeous man, Leo, in Kent. And while that’s all well and good, it also means living closer to her family, who have always caused a lot of contention and chaos in her world. I felt pretty annoyed by them in the past, and it seems as though they’ve calmed down just a touch, but they’re still meddling and at times, downright obnoxious, which makes for some really great tumultuous relationships and scenes between all involved. Even through all of that, I could still feel the love that’s there, just beneath the surface, and I imagine it’s wanting to make sure Mia makes the right choices and lives the best life possible, that propels this family to try their damndest to keep her on the straight and narrow.

With that comes the realization that Mia has given up so much of herself to stay in Kent. I feel as though Portia did a wonderful job of showcasing what it’s like when someone makes such a drastic change in their life. I could really relate and identify with what Mia is going through, and I imagine most of us can, because so many of us have been where she is, where we go a different route in life in order to make everyone else happy. In doing so, I felt as though she lost some of what makes her sparkle, and it’s so beautifully laid out in great detail. This lends into a lot of contention with Leo, who doesn’t seem to understand the sacrifices Mia has made for him and really, everyone else.

So, the question becomes, should Mia continue to sacrifice and quelch who she is, or should she bring back some of the sass and sparkle that makes her who she is, and at what cost? Will it damage what she has with Leo? As always, the prospective is always honest and real, and I felt like Mia is a flawed, believable character, along with the others who are in her circle. I could see a lot of growth within her, a maturing that helped make her a lot more relatable.

While this novel can be read as a stand alone just fine, I highly suggest reading Bad Bridesmaid, too. It was nice catching up with the entire cast of eclectic characters who ultimately make Mia who she is, even when she least suspects it.

Thanks to Portia Macintosh for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Portia Macintosh:

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Eliza Gordon is in the mood for a book giveaway

A few months ago, we had an author named Peggy here. Now it's Eliza's turn. (Hopefully we'll find an Angelica soon to complete the trio! #HamilNerd fun...) 

We welcome Eliza Gordon to CLC to talk about romance with us in honor of the upcoming publication of her latest novel, Dear Dwayne, With Love. If the cover doesn't give you a sugar rush, perhaps what's inside will sweeten up your day! The icing on top of this treat is that Eliza is giving away an audio book, two e-books, and a signed paperback version with a bookmark and pen.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Eliza Gordon (a.k.a. Jennifer Sommersby) has lived up and down the West Coast of the United States, but since 2002, home has been a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia. Despite the occasional cougar and bear sightings in her neighborhood, there’s no place she’d rather rest her webbed feet (except maybe Scotland).

When not lost in a writing project, Eliza is a copy editor, mom, wife, and bibliophile, and the proud parent of one very spoiled tuxedo cat. Eliza writes stories to help you believe in happily ever after; Jennifer Sommersby, her other self, writes young-adult fiction. Both personalities are represented by Daniel Lazar at Writers House. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.) 

Visit Eliza online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Wannabe actress Dani Steele’s résumé resembles a cautionary tale on how not to be famous. She’s pushing thirty and stuck in a dead-end insurance job, and her relationship status is holding at uncommitted. With unbearably perfect sisters and a mother who won’t let her forget it, Dani has two go-tos for consolation: maple scones and a blog in which she pours her heart out to her celebrity idol. He’s the man her father never was, no boyfriend will ever be—and not so impossible a dream as one might think. When Dani learns that he’s planning a fund-raising event where the winning amateur athlete gets a walk-on in his new film, she decides to trade pastries and self-doubt for running shoes and a sexy British trainer with adorable knees.

But when Dani’s plot takes an unexpected twist, she realizes that her happy ending might have to be improvised—and that proving herself to her idol isn’t half as important as proving something to herself.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

Favorite romantic movie: 
Who can pick just one? I think I'd have to say Leap Year with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, the 2005 Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen, The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, and (don't laugh), P.S. I Love You with Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (yes, bad Irish accent and all). I watch these over and over again. They make me happy.

Favorite romance novel or author: 
I'd have to say Jojo Moyes because I love the way she paints characters. Me Before You was a real heartbreaker but the follow-up, After You, is terrific. I liked it better, to be honest. Another of her books, called One Plus One, is among my favorite books ever too. I don't read a lot of pure romance novels -- I prefer character-driven stories with elements of romance in them -- so I can't forget to mention Marian Keyes and Cecelia Ahern. These women are my writerly role models.

TV show characters you are shipping:
Hmmm, Brienne of Tarth and Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones. Also, Carrie Mathison and Peter Quinn from Homeland but yeah ... season six ... never mind, just in case.

Most memorable date: 
My first date ever -- it was with a rebellious, spiky-haired, leather-jacket-wearing, brown-eyed boy named Tony. We went to see The Princess Bride and then we sneaked into his dad's church where Tony played the piano for me as I fell asleep on a pew. It was magical and perfect ... and then the next day, Tony realized I was a nerd and that one of the hot, popular girls liked him so that was the end of my fantasy. (I've used this date in one of my books, actually. It was that awesome.)

Do you consider yourself a romantic person? 
This is a tough question. I'm not very romantic, actually, not in real life. Lack of imagination, perhaps? Sadly, I'm pretty cynical, which is a weird demeanor for someone who writes romantic stories. But I try to temper my cynicism with the dreamier side I think a lot of us have. That's why I love movies so much, and why writing books is such a suitable occupation for me; I can live in a fantasy world where people are falling in love, and I can make it as messy or as perfect as I want. Real life is both messy and perfect, which is why my stories are never billed as a straight-up romance. More aptly, I write comedies or real-people stories with brushstrokes of romance to keep things interesting.

Best movie kiss: 
I love, love, love the Lord of the Rings movies, so at the end of Return of the King, when Aragorn sees Arwen again -- that is a kiss for the ages. Here's this man who possesses mythical powers, who has survived what should've killed him a hundred times over, who is the newly crowned king but is also a humble servant of his friends and subjects, and he sees Arwen after thinking she has died ... When he kisses her and tucks his head against her, you can see that he is a man desperately in love, that no crown or kingdom will ever come between him and this elf-woman. It's a perfect kiss, perfectly delivered by actors Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler.

Thanks to Eliza 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 January 23rd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Book Review: Totlandia Book a special giveaway

By Melissa Amster

**Synopsis contains SPOILERS. This is the last book in an eight-part episodic series. Each book completes a story arc, but it includes a series cliffhanger that connects Books 1-4; And then Books 5-8.**

The final book of the series is filled with surprising conclusions for the Pacific Heights parents you’ve come to love—and the one you love to hate:

Stress from the club and motherhood puts Lorna into a tailspin that threatens her life. Will Matthew make the right choice for her and their children?

Jade’s past puts her career and her marriage to Reggie in jeopardy;

And in the hope of salvaging her friendship with Jillian, Ally makes a decision that will affect their lives forever. But can it also save her relationship with Brady?

Finally: when Art’s funeral fails to end Bettina’s personal purgatory in San Francisco’s social circles, her new puts her back on top—but her successes come at a high price: the love and acceptance of those she loves most.

Welcome to Totlandia's summer of love, lust, temptation, and redemption. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

The wild ride has, sadly, come to an end. However, the last book is filled with some interesting surprises and wraps up the series nicely. As you may already know, I was completely hooked on Totlandia from book one. Each book is just the right length...not too long, not too short. They all packed a satisfying punch and quenched my thirst for gossip, scandal, revenge, steamy bedroom action, etc. There was an underlying theme of friendship throughout, as well. I even felt a kinship with the main characters. That includes Bettina, believe it or not!

I can't say too much as to not spoil anything, but if you're into a story with a telenovela feel or you just want something sexy and snarky (yes, a book series about motherhood has some NC-17 material...what else do you expect from Josie Brown?!?), give this series a try. You can take a break between books, or just devour them all at once; whatever works for your reading schedule! They're addictive though!

I hope Josie will revisit the moms of Pacific Heights in the future, maybe for a reunion series, or even a longer book that tells us where they are now. I have a feeling their stories are not over!

Thanks to Josie for the book in exchange for an honest review. She has TWO sets of the first four e-books (known as The Onesies) for some lucky readers!

My reviews for The Onesies:
Book 1: Fall
Book 2: Winter
Book 3: Spring
Book 4: Summer

My reviews for The Twosies:
Book 5: Fall
Book 6: Winter
Book 7: Spring

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 January 22nd at midnight EST.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Carole Matthews writes a love a book giveaway

We welcome Carole Matthews back to CLC today. Her latest novel, Million Love Songs, recently published and we thought it would be a great fit in our Romance month. Becky and Melissa A have read and enjoyed many of Carole's novels, so we're glad to introduce you to the fabulous woman behind the writing.

Not only is Carole a writer of romantic comedy, but she is also a drinker of champagne, baker of cakes, and eater of chocolate. She lives in the Costa del Milton Keynes with her dearly beloved, Lovely Kev, in a minimalist home with no carpets, curtains or ornaments. Carole likes walking, dancing, Zumba, movies and watching rubbish telly. You can find Carole at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thanks to Sphere, we have one copy of Million Love Songs for a lucky reader!

After splitting up with her cheating ex, Ruby Brown is ready for a change. She's single again for the first time in years and she's going to dive into this brave new world with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. The last thing she's looking for is a serious relationship.

Mason represents everything Ruby wants right now: he's charming, smooth and perfect for some no-strings-attached fun, and yet Ruby can't help feel that something is missing. Joe on the other hand is kind and attentive, but he comes with the sort of baggage Ruby wants to avoid: an annoyingly attractive ex-wife and two teenage children.

And though Ruby thinks she knows what she wants, is it what she needs to be truly happy?
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

Favorite celebrity couple: 
I’m not big on the celebrity thing, but we have a very inspirational young couple in the UK, Tom and Giovanna Fletcher. Tom is from the band McFly and is a very talented musician and writer of children’s books. Giovanna is a successful novelist. They both work really hard as parents to small children while being very down-to-earth about their success. I follow their social media posts which are always uplifting.

Most romantic gesture that happened to you: 
Lovely Kev went down on one knee and proposed to me in Summer 2017 while we were on a walk by our favourite lake, Buttermere, in the Lake District in England. We’ve had a whirlwind 17-year romance, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it was still very romantic.

Most romantic song: 
Give the title of my latest book, I should perhaps choose "A Million Love Songs" by Take That which is a totally gorgeous song. But I also love "The Man Who Can’t be Moved" by The Script. It makes me cry every time I hear it. My hero, Danny, in The Cake Shop in the Garden and Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights is somewhat inspired by lead singer of the band, Danny O’Donaghue.

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word "romance"? 
Two people in love.

Most memorable Valentine's Day: 
I’m hoping it will be the one that’s coming! At vast expense we’ve booked to have a romantic dinner in the Great Hall at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter Studios. Though I have to say it’s usually the little romantic things that make Valentine’s day – a cup of tea in bed, a long walk, a cosy lunch. It’s always lovely to have something to cheer up February.

How did you meet your significant other? 
Lovely Kev was my scuba-diving instructor – something I’ve been able to use for my latest book, Million Love Songs. Lots of excellent comedy material in being underwater in a wetsuit – not so much romance though

Thanks to Carole for visiting with us and to Sphere 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

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Giveaway ends January 21st at midnight EST

Monday, January 15, 2018

Book Review: One Way Ticket

By Sara Steven

Sabrina Monroe is poised and ready for her future as Mrs. Todd Edward Blakely. Everything seems perfect, but on the big day, suddenly she's not so sure. Her nicely mapped out life ahead of her, she finds herself in her own movie scene as the runaway bride, climbing out of the bathroom window. All she can think is escape.

Addison Bloom needs a life makeover. She's travelled the world to find love--and failed. On her way back from yet another friend's wedding, she starts to feel ill at the mere thought of seeing another veil that's not hers. Should she go back home and marry her former sweetheart, or stick it out looking for love in her new home?

Sabrina and Addison are both on the run, wanting to escape to a new life. As the two strangers talk at an airport, discovering they have the same job at opposite ends of the country, a crazy idea unfolds--one which might provide the answers they've both been looking for. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

What a unique and refreshing twist on living vicariously through someone else’s experiences! At first I wondered, just as much as the characters had, how their ideas and brainstorming would unfold. Where would it take them, and ultimately, where would it lead? Then I found myself very much engrossed and invested in what Sabrina and Addison discover during their crazy journey, wanting to find out how they’d tackle the next hurdle, the next adventure, or should I say, misadventure.

I liked having insight into both Sabrina and Addison’s experiences. Written in alternating points of view allowed for that. It also gave me a better idea of who each character is, deep down, and how that relates to everything going on around them. It also allowed me to see the bigger picture, the background of where this story takes place, on opposite ends of the country; plenty of sunshine in Orlando, plenty of sea air in San Francisco, well described for both cities. I felt as though those two locations really added another layer to who these women are, and what makes them tick.

Fate has a way of bringing two people together, that ordinarily would never have entered into one another’s lives, as is the case for Sabrina and Addison. I think the thing I respected the most about this friendship, is their ability to lean on one another, even when faced with such an odd situation that usually would never present itself. This relationship may not span several years, but for what it’s worth, what they’ve been through has brought them together in such a way, that they’ve formed an impenetrable tie that sees them through, something I’m sure most of us strive for in our own friendships.

Thanks to Melissa Baldwin and Kate O'Keeffe for the book in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase the book here. (Only 99 cents for Kindle!) 

Visit all the stops on the blog tour with Karan & Co.

Friday, January 12, 2018

What's in the a giveaway

Melissa A:
I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around by Ann Garvin from Tall Poppy Writers
The Truth About Thea by Amy Impellizieri from Tall Poppy Writers
Talk to the Paw by Melinda Metz from Kensington (e-book via NetGalley)
The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan from Graydon House (e-book via NetGalley)
Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin from Grand Central Publishing (e-book via NetGalley)
The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash from William Morrow

Hot Mess by Emily Belden from HarperCollins (e-book via NetGalley)
The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
The Missing Wife by Sheila O'Flanagan from Grand Central Publishing (e-book via NetGalley)
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams from BookPerk
Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren from Leo PR (e-book via NetGalley)

What could be in YOUR mail?

The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White. Thanks to Amazon Publishing, we have one copy to give away!

“This is an eye-opening and realistic exploration of mental illness—a topic that greatly deserves to be front and center.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things

Metal artist Katie Mack is living a lie. Nine years ago she ran away from her family in Raleigh, North Carolina, consumed by the irrational fear that she would harm Maisie, her newborn daughter. Over time she’s come to grips with the mental illness that nearly destroyed her, and now funnels her pain into her art. Despite longing for Maisie, Katie honors an agreement with the husband she left behind—to change her name and never return.

But when she and Maisie accidentally reunite, Katie can’t ignore the familiarity of her child’s compulsive behavior. Worse, Maisie worries obsessively about bad things happening to her pregnant stepmom. Katie has the power to help, but can she reconnect with the family she abandoned?

To protect Maisie, Katie must face the fears that drove her from home, accept the possibility of love, and risk exposing her heart-wrenching secret.

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 January 17th at midnight EST.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Talking about marriage with Sarah and a book giveaway

Photo by Bill Miles
L to R: Sarah and Greer
We're pleased to have Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks at CLC today to feature their joint debut, The Wife Between Us (reviewed here). Thanks to St. Martin's Press (who did some amazing build-up for this novel), we have TWO copies for some lucky readers!

Sarah Pekkanen has been a regular visitor to CLC since her debut, The Opposite of Me, came out in 2010. She is the internationally and USA Today bestselling author of seven previous novels. A former investigative journalist and feature writer, she has published work in The Washington Post, USA Today, and many others. She is the mother of three sons and lives just outside Washington, D.C.

Greer Hendricks spent over two decades as an editor at Simon & Schuster. Prior to her tenure in publishing, she worked at Allure magazine and obtained her Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. Greer lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children. THE WIFE BETWEEN US is her first novel. 

They're both here to dish on our January theme...Romance!

Visit Sarah online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Visit Greer online:
WebsiteFacebook * Twitter * Instagram

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Favorite celebrity couple:
Sarah: Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. I read an interview a while back in which they talked about the importance of kindness in their relationship, and I’ve always been impressed by the emphasis they place on that value.
Greer: Barack and Michelle Obama. They still seem completely in love and as if they manage to have an intellectual, playful and romantic relationship.

Favorite romance novel (or author, if you can't pick just one book):
S: I adore Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. It’s an epic love story, gorgeously told.
G: While technically Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot isn’t a romance, I love the idea that you can reclaim a seemingly lost romantic relationship.

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word "romance"?
S: My mind goes not to a glitzy event with champagne and diamonds, but to a more intimate and meaningful setting - some of the most romantic nights I’ve experienced are quiet evenings in front of a fireplace.
G: When you’ve been married for almost 20 years and have two teenagers, romantic moments are often stolen ones. Some of my most romantic moments with my husband involve taking our dogs for a long walk or our weekend boozy brunches.

Most memorable Valentine's Day:
Sarah: I’d like to think it’s still ahead of me!
Greer: When I was six months pregnant with my first child, my husband surprised me with a bubble bath filled with rose petals and chocolate covered strawberries.

Best movie or TV show kiss:
Sarah: Jim and Pam on The Office - I can’t believe it took those two that long to get together!
Greer: Debra Winger and Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman. That last scene when he picks her up in the factory always makes me cry.

Who is your book boyfriend?
Sarah: I just re-read Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger and have a book crush on the mysterious Jake (this could be because I have a little weakness for dark-haired guys with tattoos)!
Greer: I’m actually beginning to fall in love with one of the characters in the new book Sarah and I are working on. But I won’t say more for fear of giving anything away.

Thanks to Sarah and Greer for visiting with us and to St. Martin's Press for sharing their 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 January 16th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January and February 2018 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 January and February. 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.

 (Mini teasers/synopses are all courtesy of Amazon.)


Happiness for Humans 
by P.Z. Reizin (January 9th)

When Tom and Jen, two lonely people, are brought together by an intriguing email, they have no idea their mysterious benefactor is an artificial intelligence who has decided to play Cupid. 

*Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the giveaway copy.

This Love Story Will Self Destruct by Leslie Cohen (January 23rd)

With an acerbic edge and heartwarming humor, debut novelist Leslie Cohen takes us on a tour of what life looks like when it doesn’t go according to plan, and explores the complexity, chaos, and comedy in finding a relationship built to last.

*Thanks to Gallery for the giveaway copy.

Talk to the Paw 
by Melinda Metz (January 30th)

Inspired by the true story of a Portland, Oregon, cat who stole from his neighbors—and stole America’s heart...

*Thanks to Kensington for the giveaway copy.
The Girlfriend 
by Michelle Frances (January 30th)

The Girlfriend is a taut and wickedly twisted debut psychological thriller—a novel of subtle sabotage, retaliation, jealousy and fear, which pivots on an unforgivable lie, and examines the mother–son–daughter-in-law relationship in a chilling new light.

*Thanks to Kensington for the giveaway copy.


As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner (February 6th)

From the acclaimed author of 
Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.

*Thanks to Berkley for the giveaway copy.

By the Book 
by Julia Sonneborn (February 6th)

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic, Persuasion.

*Thanks to Gallery for the giveaway copy.

Dreaming in Chocolate 
by Susan Bishop Crispell (February 6th)

Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell is a heartwarming story of love, hot chocolate, and one little girl’s wish for her mother.

*Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the giveaway copy.

Next Year in Havana 
by Chanel Cleeton (February 6th)

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

*Thanks to Berkley 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

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Giveaway ends February 7th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Love is in the air for Allison Winn a book giveaway

Photo by Kat Tuohy
Allison Winn Scotch was one of the first authors we featured at CLC back in the summer of 2010. Today, she's celebrating the publication her seventh and latest novel, Between Me and You (reviewed here), and we are thrilled to have her here to kick off our first theme month of 2018. She's helping us revisit the theme of "Romance" and her book is a perfect fit. Thanks to Kathleen Carter Communications, we have THREE copies to give away!

Here are some fun facts about Allison, for your reading enjoyment:

In addition to fiction, she primarily focuses on celebrity interviews and profiles, which indulge her pop culture obsession and give her an excuse to read junky magazines and watch lots of TV.

When she is not planted in front of the computer, Allison is hiking, running (at least she was before breaking her leg last year, so now she's trying to go running), doing yoga, reading, serving as an Uber service for her kids, or hanging out with her family and their pooches, Pele and Paco.

Allison moved to Los Angeles in 2012 and loves it. She often writes about dysfunctional parents (but hers are really awesome). She's always, always listening to music and is on the lookout for bands or songs that will resonate with her writing.

Visit Allison online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

When their paths first cross, Ben Livingston is a fledgling screenwriter on the brink of success; Tatum Connelly is a struggling actress tending bar in a New York City dive. They fall in love, they marry, they become parents, and they think only of the future. But as the years go by, Tatum’s stardom rises while Ben’s fades. In a marriage that bears the fallout of ambition and fame, Ben and Tatum are at a crossroads. Now all they can do is think back…

A life of passion, joy, tragedy, and loss—once shared—becomes one as shifting and unpredictable as a memory. As the pieces of their past come together, as they explore the ways love can bend and break, Ben and Tatum come to see how it all went wrong—and wonder what they can do now to make it all right. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Favorite romantic movie:
Love, Actually! I didn’t even have to think about this one. ☺ We watch it every year around the holidays, and honestly, it delights me so much every time. The kiss at the end! The proposal in broken Portuguese! The flash cards (which admittedly could be a little creepy). Anyway. I love it.

Romantic gesture that happened to you:
I don’t know if this is a standard answer, but here it is: a few years ago, I was in a very bad ski accident. I couldn’t walk or drive or do anything for three months. It was harrowing, and one of my biggest concerns (beyond the physical recovery) was how my family would function without me. Well, my husband, who had often left the bulk of the family stuff (for lack of a better word) to me, totally stepped it up and took care of me and the entire household in ways that really demonstrated what deep love and long-term marriage are. Have I had spontaneous romantic moments throughout my life? Sure. But this was the ultimate sign of partnership and devotion.

Most romantic song:
Oh, I have so many! I am a music junkie. Ok, I’m going to offer two. My daughter just said “Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks because I learned it on the guitar and surprised my husband with it at our wedding (he didn’t know I could even play). So that is for sure a good one. But for this book, I also have to say “Between Me and You” by Brandon Flowers. I listened to the song on repeat while writing it – thus the title – and it is all about the highs and lows of love and all the ways – metaphorically – you stay together. I have listened to it a thousand times by now, and it still cuts right to my heart every time.

TV show characters you are shipping:
I’m deep into Riverdale right now, so I gotta say Jughead and Betty!

Favorite marriage proposal that you witnessed (okay if it's your own):
Wait, is this a common thing? I honestly can’t even think of a marriage proposal that I’ve witnessed! (Other than mine!) What am I missing out on? I feel like there is a big romantic section of my life that I have gone without!! Ok, on my 2018 list: see more marriage proposals!

How did you meet your significant other?
Ha, this is a funny story. We met at the gym. Really! I saw him on the treadmill and thought he was super-cute. We used to play eye hockey all the time, and I was determined to meet him. Thus…I went to the gym SEVENTEEN days in a row in an attempt to run into him and screw up the nerve to talk to him. (Yes, I can see how this makes me sound crazy, but we got married, so….???)
Anyway, I finally was so sick of working out that I walked up to him one day at the water fountain and said, “Hey, did you go to Penn?” He was wearing, literally, head to toe Columbia gear (his alma mater), and it was clear (to everyone) that he had not, in fact, gone to Penn. ☺ But it was just an opening line!!! Anyway, he was so flustered that he just no and walked off. (Not a huge A-game, right?)
A few weeks later, I waved to him again (listen, I really thought he was very cute), and he came over and started talking to me. He STILL didn’t ask me out after forty-five minutes, and I was sick of it, so I handed him my card and said, “you should really call me sometime,” and then he stood there slack-jawed, while I finally got on the Stairmaster. (That’s what we did back then.) And then, thank the sweet lord, he finally did call the next day! I thought it would be a fun little fling, and eighteen years later, here we are. ☺

Thanks to Allison for visiting with us and to Kathleen Carter Communications for sharing her book with our readers.

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Giveaway ends January 14th at midnight EST.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Book Review: Just Between Us

By Jami Deise

Things are not as they seem is the standard mystery plot. Today’s suspense authors have added a caveat to that description: People are not as they seem. Nothing is as it seems in suspense writer Rebecca Drake’s fourth novel, Just Between Us.

Despite its romantic-sounding title, it’s not romance that is central to the novel’s plot, but friendship. And technically, the title should be Just Among Us, as there are four friends and four (first person) points of view in the book. Heather, Julie, Alison, and Sarah become friends through their pre-school aged children. It’s a mostly superficial friendship until Alison spies bruises on Heather’s wrist. Then the women band together to try to protect Heather and encourage her to leave her wealthy surgeon husband. Things don’t exactly go as planned.

Just Between Us is an interesting combination of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and Lois Duncan’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. While Drake doesn’t have the prose chops of Moriarty, the plot turns are roller-coaster worthy. And although I figured out a few of the twists, I envied Drake for coming up with them.

I did have two minor quibbles with the novel: One, the voices for the four characters are way too similar for first-person narration. Rather than distinguishing her characters through the uniqueness of their internal monologues, Drake uses job status and personal foibles. Except for Heather’s chapters, I had to keep reminding myself who was who. Two, the first few pages drag on for far too long, as Alison goes through paragraphs of “what if’s.” That’s a little troubling because many readers decide whether to continue with the book based on those pages, and I was a little tempted to put it down after the tenth or twentieth “what if.”

But I’m very glad I kept going, as the novel soon became a page-turner. Occasionally funny, sometimes unbelievable, Drake exposes the danger of becoming too friendly with people before getting to really know them.

Just Between Us was my first introduction to Drake. I’m impressed enough to look up and read her back list.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Rebecca Drake:

Friday, January 5, 2018

Book Review: Miss Mary’s Book of Dreams

By Becky Gulc

A book set in my hometown of York! Yay! I have to say this was a very good reason to pick up this novel for me. But it’s not all about the setting... Here is the synopsis:

‘Ella runs Happily Ever After, a bookshop nestled in the cobbled streets of York.

She's a wife, a mother and a successful novelist. But something is missing . . .

One day a strange girl comes into Ella's shop. Bryony is shy and unsure, and Ella feels a strange connection to her.

With the help of one very special book - and a little touch of magic - can these women help each other find the fairy tale endings they've been searching for?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

So there have certainly been a lot of novels about people running bookshops in the past year, and I’ve read a few of them but Miss Mary's Book of Dreams certainly offers something unique.

I found it took a while to get going; it was lacking the ‘touch of magic’ I’d been promised. It certainly wasn’t a book I was quickly engaged in, but one that slowly built, and it was worth it. In actual fact, the slow build-up was key for engaging with Ella as a character (a busy mother, running a business and trying to write her second novel whilst battling mental health issues), and the lovely bookshop which was so vivid in my mind and almost a character in itself. This build-up was also important in retrospect to making the plot believable, I was convinced!

The characters are wonderful, Ella’s small family, Bryony, the eccentric wider family, the dastardly Selina. I loved the instant and mysterious connection between Ella and Bryony and how the realisation of this connection slowly panned out keeping me engaged throughout.

I’ve seen it mentioned on the Amazon page that this book is perfect for those who enjoyed Chocolat, and I definitely agree with this. It’s not ‘chick lit’ in a traditional way but it’s a lovely, uplifting and different read.

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

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Review: The Wrong Side of Twenty-Five

By Sara Steven

With news feeds full of perfect pouts, hot-dog legs and the self-proclaimed hashtag-blessed, it’s hard not to feel inadequate. How has everyone figured out how to live their best life except you?

That’s what Kylie wants to know. She thought she would spend her twenty-fifth birthday having a mini-break not a mini-breakdown. After an evening of finger-food and snide remarks, Kylie decides that things must change. Naturally, Alexa disagrees. She doesn’t think anything needs to change and is quite happy plodding on with her best friend by her side.

So, when everything changes for the better for Alexa, while it’s going from bad to worse for Kylie; will it tear them apart? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I can’t speak for the life experience of all twenty-somethings, but I felt as though Kylie and Alexa really showcased what women in that age bracket go through, at least from my own viewpoint. I can recall not feeling as though I was where I wanted to be at twenty-five, that I wasn’t as successful or accomplished as I felt I should have been. That there were a lot of expectations and pressure put upon me to “grow up” and “prepare for the future”. I’m not even sure if I was quite ready to be a proper adult at that age, a struggle these two young women deal with constantly.

The two personalities are like night and day, with Kylie and her need to reject stability at all cost, and Alexa and her desperate need for order and balance. It’s why their friendship works so well, leaning on one another, Kylie allowing Alexa to let loose a bit and enjoy life, and Alexa literally picking up the pieces of Kylie’s fragmented existence. And when there is too large of a shift in the delicate balance that has supported this relationship for so long, it forces both women to face up to who they are not as friends, but as individuals.

While there are plenty of romantic nuances within The Wrong Side of Twenty-Five, what I appreciated most about this novel is showcasing the inner strength and ability both main characters discover from within. It’s a process, and one they have to come to on their own, and not from outside influences like family, or friends, love interests, society. It can be hard to really go for the life you want to live, even if it means it displeases others, and it was nice to see those interactions, the struggle that segues into that sort of growth and change. Ultimately, we want to see our characters end up with the man they’ve been pining for, or finally stand up to a bully who has plagued them for most of their lives, or discover they can truly find happiness within their deep-desired passions, but it’s in the pot holes and rock-bottom experiences where real growth can begin, and I found those experiences in Twenty-Five to be real and more than relatable for all women, no matter what age bracket you reside in.

Thanks to HCL Author Services for the book in exchange for an honest review. Visit the other stops on the tour!

Tour Schedule:

Thursday, December 28th 
ItaPixiesBookCorner - Book Review
Steamy Book Momma - Book Excerpt
BookLoverWormBlog - Book Review

Friday, December 29th

Saturday, December 30th
Book Lover in Florida - Spotlight Post
Sweet Little Pretties - Book Review

Sunday, December 31st 
Jena Books - Spotlight Post
Inked Book Dragon - Book Review

Monday, January 1st
Sparkles at Midnight - Book Review
Reviews by Crystal - Spotlight Post

Tuesday, January 2nd
NovelGossip - Author Guest Post

Wednesday, January 3rd
Living Life with Joy - Book Review

Thursday, January 4th
He Said Books or Me - Author Guest Post