Thursday, February 22, 2018

We enjoy seeing Camille Pagán...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Myra Klarman
We welcome Camille Pagán to the CLC stage today to talk about her latest novel, Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties. Thanks to Kathleen Carter Communications, we have TWO copies to give away!

Camille Pagán is the author of three other novels: Forever is the Worst Long Time, The Art of Forgetting, and the #1 Amazon Kindle bestseller Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, which was recently optioned for film. A journalist and former health editor, Pagán’s work has appeared in Forbes, O: The Oprah Magazine, Parade, Real Simple, Time, WebMD, and many other publications and websites.

When Camille is not at her computer, you’ll find her with her nose in a book, running after her two kids and their nutty dog, or planning her next trip (most likely to Puerto Rico, where her husband was born and raised). After nearly a decade in Brooklyn and a stint in Chicago, Camille and her family live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Visit Camille online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
At fifty-three, Maggie Harris has a good marriage and two mostly happy children. Perpetually anxious, she’s also accumulated a list of semi-reasonable fears: falling air conditioners, the IRS, identity theft, skydiving, and airbag recalls. But never once did Maggie worry that her husband of nearly thirty years would leave her.

On the day Adam walks out the door, everything that makes Maggie secure goes with him. Only then does she realize that while she’s been busy caring for everyone else, she’s become invisible to the world—and to herself.

Maggie cautiously begins to rebuild her life with a trip to Rome, a new career, and even a rebound romance. But when a fresh crisis strikes and an uncertain future looms, she must decide: How much will she risk to remain the woman she’s just become?


What was your inspiration for Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties?
Like most of my novels, this book was inspired by an everyday experience. I was standing in Whole Foods when a college-aged man bumped into me. He was busy talking to the friend he was shopping with and glanced up at me with a look that said he had just looked right through me. Then he continued on his way. Maybe he was simply rude—but the encounter made me think about how women, in particular, often become invisible to those around them as they get older. (I believe this is changing—but I still see it happen more than I’d like.)

In that moment, the idea for Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties was born: I realized I wanted to write a book about a woman who feels like she’s become invisible to the world—and maybe even herself—and finds the courage to be seen again on her own terms.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with someone writing their first novel?
Write the novel you want to read. I let that advice guide me when I was writing my first novel, The Art of Forgetting—and I’ve continued to follow it for every novel I’ve written since. If you don’t like what you’re writing, you can’t expect anyone else to! When I’m not sitting down to my computer excited about what I’m about to create, I’m working on the wrong book. (This has happened a few times.)

If Woman were to become a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
I love this question! Maura Tierney comes to mind—she’s so expressive in The Affair. Since Woman is humorous, I’d also be happy to see an actress with comedic chops—like Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston, or Taraji P. Henson—play Maggie. I can see Edward Norton or Eric Bana playing Maggie’s husband Adam. Dame Judi Dench is my ideal Jean—I have no doubt she could pull off a southern accent—and Chiwetel Ejiofor would be an amazing Charlie.

What, in your opinion, is the best thing about being in your thirties?
Your thirties are when you stop caring quite so much what other people think and do what’s right for you. And if you’re lucky, you still have many years ahead of you, so it can feel less intimidating to make a change if you’re heading in the wrong direction. It’s a refreshing time of life.

What is your most unique trait?
My husband is better suited to answer this than I am, so I asked him. He said, “Your sense of humor and your sheer doggedness.” (Technically that’s two traits, but the man does know me better than anyone.)

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It’s such a wonderful and unexpected story—I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know.

Thanks to Camille for chatting with us and to Kathleen Carter 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 February 27th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Review: Adirondack Audacity

By Sara Steven

From hiking boots to high heels.... Ellen McCauley's misguided adventures begin as a nature counselor at the posh Camp High Point in the Adirondacks. With a social life sorely lacking in romance, the last thing she expects is the beguiling spell of Vicente Rienz, aloof, arrogant and dangerously handsome. She despises him on sight until the sparks between them ignite into a passion that spins out of control thwarted by a curse born out of Adirondack legend. How does a nature-loving girl end up wearing four-inch stilettos and designer dresses on the coast of California more than three thousand miles from home? Ellen's adventures crisscross the country on a hilarious journey coming back full circle to the mountains in search of love. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of the Adirondack Mountains before reading this novel. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a west coast girl, and I’ve rarely traveled past the Midwest region. Smolarek has done a wonderful job of incorporating incredible scenes that make me feel as though I’m right there with Ellen, and the scenery becomes another important character that plays a big part in the deep undertones to Adirondack Audacity. It made me want to step foot in Ellen’s shoes, to experience and witness what she’s seeing, what she’s feeling.

What encompasses her world is her relationship with Vicente. I wasn’t sure at first what role he would play. But, as is often the case, what you see isn’t always what you get when it comes to the deep layers of a person. I appreciated the dynamic between Ellen and Vicente, the child-like wonder when they’re young, the beginnings of a relationship that ultimately felt reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. We get to see that, and more, as Ellen’s experiences span decades long, with a few twists and surprises along the way, some of which I could anticipate and see coming.

Was I disappointed in that? No, not really. I waited for those big reveals, the moments that built up and felt right and that I knew had to come from all the pivotal experiences that brought Ellen back to square one. I could identify with the girl she’d been and the woman she becomes, even more relatable to me the older she gets. While I went at a slower pace during the first half of the novel, things really picked up and moved quickly in the second half, very much mimicking what Ellen experiences and goes through in her own life.

This is the first in the Adirondack for Ladies series, and I’m looking forward to reading Volume 2, Audacity on the Water. I want to find out what happens next for Ellen, and I’m hopeful there will be more incredible Adirondack scenes that make me feel as though I’m right there, experiencing the great outdoors with her.

Thanks to L.R. Smolarek for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cynthia Swanson, Super Sleuth....plus a book giveaway

We're glad to have Cynthia Swanson back at CLC to celebrate the recent publication of her latest novel, The Glass Forest. She has TWO copies for some lucky readers!

Cynthia Swanson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Bookseller, which is soon to be a motion picture starring Julia Roberts. An Indie Next selection and the winner of the 2016 WILLA Award for Historical Fiction, The Bookseller is being translated into more than a dozen languages. It was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award and the MPIBA Reading the West Award. Cynthia lives with her family in Denver, Colorado. Her other major interest outside of writing is home design, as she was originally an architecture major in college. Visit Cynthia at her website and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Synopsis:
In the autumn of 1960, Angie Glass is living an idyllic life in her Wisconsin hometown. At twenty-one, she’s married to charming, handsome Paul, and has just given birth to a baby boy. But one phone call changes her life forever.

When Paul’s niece, Ruby, reports that her father, Henry, has committed suicide, and that her mother, Silja, is missing, Angie and Paul drop everything and fly to the small upstate town of Stonekill, New York to be by Ruby’s side.

Angie thinks they’re coming to the rescue of Paul’s grief-stricken young niece, but Ruby is a composed and enigmatic seventeen-year-old who resists Angie’s attempts to nurture her. As Angie learns more about the complicated Glass family, staying in Henry and Silja’s eerie and ultra-modern house on the edge of the woods, she begins to question the very fabric of her own marriage.

Through Silja’s flashbacks, Angie’s discovery of astonishing truths, and Ruby’s strategic dissection of her parents’ state of affairs, a story of love, secrets, and ultimate betrayal is revealed.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


What was the inspiration behind The Glass Forest?
I thought about The Glass Forest for a long time before I started writing it – in fact, I had the idea for The Glass Forest long before I started writing my debut, The Bookseller. What I thought about was what it might be like to occupy the home of someone who had abruptly gone missing. The story grew from that seed, with the particulars coming to me over a number of years.

Do you base any of your characters on yourself or someone you know?
I personally relate to elements in each of the three main female characters. I’m fairly driven but also a romantic at heart, as is Silja. Like Angie, I’m generally optimistic and I’m fiercely loyal to those I love. Ruby has trouble fitting in until she finds the right place for her—an experience I also had as a teen and young adult.

If The Glass Forest were to become a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
For Angie, I’d cast Emma Watson – she’d be the perfect girl-next-door type. For Silja, I would cast Reese Witherspoon – she’s so versatile and lovely, and I think she would do justice to Silja, who changes and grows over the years. For Ruby, I’d cast Morgan Saylor, who played Dana Brody, the daughter character on Homeland – she has a contemplative quality that I think would be perfect for Ruby.

For Paul and Henry, it would be difficult, since they look exactly alike. Maybe one leading man to play both roles…? Now that would be a Hollywood feat!

Where would you like to travel, and why?
South Korea – partly because of the Olympics and partly because my family has a connection to this beautiful and remarkable country. I’ve been there once, but it was a whirlwind trip and I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked. My husband and kids want to go there, too. We talk about it a lot – we’ll see if we can make it a reality someday.

Tell us the funniest thing that has happened to you recently.
Not funny as much as charming: at a recent event for The Glass Forest, a 13-year-old boy raised his hand about five times. And he had excellent questions! He wanted to know about the writing process and what inspires my work. Our exchanges were the highlight of my evening.

Which TV show were you too young to appreciate in the past, but would totally watch if it were around now?
Perry Mason, so I could be an amateur sleuth like some of my characters are!

Thanks to Cynthia for chatting with 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 February 25th at midnight EST.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Review: The Queen of Hearts

By Jami Deise

I’ve been a huge fan of medical TV shows since I first heard those whirring helicopter blades signifying a new episode of M*A*S*H. I gave up on General Hospital when it turned into a mob drama, but I still plan my Thursdays around a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy. As far as books go, though, I’d rather read medical non-fiction than fiction. The few times I’ve violated this rule, I’ve been unable to suspend my disbelief that a whiny, nervous, romance-obsessed protagonist could be a doctor. Organic chemistry tends to weed out the flighty ones.

Kimmery Martin’s debut novel, The Queen of Hearts, doesn’t suffer from this shortcoming. A doctor of emergency medicine, she’s able to communicate medical information as naturally and succinctly as she narrates action and creates character. In an early scene, her two protagonists, Emma and Zadie, are forced to perform an emergency tracheotomy poolside, and Martin forwards the drama while explaining the procedure in a clear, thorough manner. (She also makes it obvious that it’s much more complicated than Hawkeye Pierce led Father Mulcahey to believe.) This combination of medical detail and personal drama is a winner.

Structurally, the narrative alternates between Emma and Zadie’s first-person points-of-view from their past as medical students and best friends to their present as trauma surgeon and pediatric cardiologist, respectively. The novel begins humorously, as Zadie tries to balance the needs of her four children and banker husband with her career. The drama kicks off when Zadie’s ex-boyfriend Nick, who was her chief resident when she was a lowly third-year medical student, joins Emma’s surgical practice. As the tension builds in the past (Nick and Zadie’s relationship is supposed to be secret), in the present Emma fights to save the life of the child of rich friends of Zadie’s. Mistakes in both time lines converge.

In its best sections, Queen reminded me a lot of the best of Grey’s Anatomy. I always thought the relationship between Meredith and Christina was the show’s core, so reading about another friendship between female doctors was enjoyable. But the novel has some issues with tone, and by the end, I’m not sure Martin was completely in control of her narrative or her characters. The conclusion didn’t sit well with me; I felt Martin had created a psychopath and no one recognized it.

However, most of the book was an enjoyable blend of realistic medical situations and character drama. Zadie was especially likeable and believable. While I’d read any book that Martin writes after this, I’d encourage her to consider following up The Queen of Hearts with a psychological thriller.

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review: The Wedding Date

By Sara Steven

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend...

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other...

They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I always appreciate an original beginning to a story, and you really can’t get much more original than having two individuals trapped inside an elevator, a delightfully unlikely pairing.

For Drew, it’s been a rocky road where serious relationships are concerned. I got the impression that a lot of it is self-inflicted. He has a hard time solidifying himself into a relationship, due to his own fears and baggage. And for Alexa, as self-assured as she portrays herself to be, there are some insecurities that lie deep within her. At times, it comes out when she’s with Drew, when she’s surrounded by his past. I really liked the honesty within their relationship. In the beginning, we all harbor rose-colored glasses for the person we fall head over heels for, yet as time goes on, the glasses slowly fade away, revealing who we really are.

It was interesting to see the dynamics between Drew and Alexa, when they’re faced with a long-distance relationship, when they try hard to convince themselves that there isn’t more beyond the fun time they’d had at the wedding. And it was great to see the way secondary characters are working behind the scenes to allow for the all important eye openers that make this couple tick. Just like reality, sometimes you can’t really see something for what it is, when you’re too close to the situation. Sometimes, you need an outside influence who’s looking in.

Can a long-distance relationship that began in a very unconventional way survive? And, is it worth it? Those were the two questions I asked myself while I experienced the ebb and flow with this romance, engaged and completely invested from the first page to the last.

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review. The Wedding Date can be purchased here.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: The Last Day

By Jami Deise

One of the many joys of reading fiction is the opportunity to question characters’ decisions and life choices. For instance, if your estranged husband asked to move back in with his new girlfriend, who is about half your age, what would you say?

I’m pretty sure the vast majority of women would say “hell, no.” But in English writer Claire Dyer’s third novel, The Last Day, Vita doesn’t feel she has a choice. After all, Boyd is still legally her husband, he owns half of the house she lives in in the exburbs of London, and ostensibly they are still on good terms. So Boyd and Honey move into the spare room in Vita’s two-bed, one bath home. But it’s one thing to be on good terms with an estranged husband who lives across town, and it’s another to be on good terms with the estranged husband who’s across the hall with his new girlfriend. Especially when that new girlfriend is beautiful, trusting, and has a lifetime full of secrets.

The Last Day is told from three points of view – Boyd’s, Honey’s, and Vita’s—although only Vita’s is in first person. As such, Vita is the character readers will identify with the most, and Honey comes across as a bit of an idiot, despite her dark past. With its complicated relationships and domestic setting, it would be easy to mistake this book as women’s fiction. But it’s a psychological thriller. Unfortunately, the three main characters don’t know they’re in one, so they are all much too trusting.

The book has a slow pace, much more fitting for the women’s fiction genre than the thriller, but the voice was strong. Its solid premise reeled me in. But Dyer is a little too on-the-nose with the thriller clues, and readers will want the main characters to catch up. They never do. Along with the too-slow pacing, I also had an issue with the ending. The villain does not cause the climax—in fact, it hinges upon a coincidence—and then the villain fesses up rather than moving in for the kill. The result is a women’s fiction type ending rather than the explosive one that the thriller genre requires.

Still, the characters are intriguing, and the slow pace delivers the simmering build that many readers enjoy. While the ending is a bit of a let-down, the heart of the book is worthwhile.

Thanks to The Dome Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Claire Dyer:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Go-to-Gay: My Funny Valentine

L to R: Keith and Andy
Our Go-to-Gay, Keith Stewart, is here to help us celebrate Valentine's Day! He has a predicament this year, but we think he resolved it pretty well. We hope his idea goes over well with Andy and that Keith gets a special Valentine's Day surprise, as well.

Take it away, Go-to-Gay!

Valentine’s Day is a stressful holiday for me. After being with the same person for 17 years now, I am all out of original gift ideas.
It was a good run.


I have done well over the years. It was so easy in the beginning. I can remember the first few VDs when just a romantic dinner and a card was enough.
When love is new, romantic gifts are great. Rubbing oils, sexy underwear, satin sheets. Those are really the years a couple appreciates Valentine’s Day.
Then, there were the spa years—massages, facials, mani/pedis, and day passes.
Tickets to shows and concerts and other events were also good years.
Even shifting into the staying home and cooking a nice meal year worked out well.
But this year, I have hit the wall. I am blank. I’m tapped out.
The bloom is off the Valentine’s Day rose.



We are both dieting, so chocolate or candy is out the question. The thought of sexy underwear on either one of us at this point makes us both guffaw. We already eat out most of our meals these days. So where does that leave me? In V-Day Wasteland.



The only idea I could come up with that wasn’t totally lame, and if I’m being honest, it’s still a little lame, was a homemade game of Valentine’s Day Trivia. Andy is a trivia buff, so I figure this would be fun for him.
I am not sure how the scoring will go or what the winner will get. That is still to be determined. We could always go adventurous and make it a strip trivia game, or we could take a shot of whiskey after each wrong answer. Odds are we will end up arguing over the legitimacy of some of the answers and call it night, but after 17 years, what more can you expect?
I thought I would share with you a few of the Valentine’s Day trivia facts I scoured the internet to find, just in case you find yourself in the same predicament as I am in today.

Valentine’s Day Trivia
• Who created the first Valentine’s Day box of candy?
o Cadburys

• Who receives the most Valentine’s Day cards?
o Teachers (followed by children, mothers, then wives)

• What state produces the most roses?
o California

• Statistically, a woman who purchases flowers on Valentine’s Day is most likely buying for whom?
o Herself

• How many Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year?
o One Billion

• Who is Cupid’s mother?
o Venus, the goddess of love

• What year was the first Valentine’s Day card sent?
o 1415

• On average, how many wedding proposals are given on Valentine’s Day?
o 220,000

• How much does the average man spend on Valentine’s Day?
o $130

• How many roses will be sent during Valentine’s Day?
o 110 Million



Pretty cool trivia, huh?! OK, I admit the game may not go over gangbusters. I’ll probably throw in a bottle of bourbon just in case.

What are YOU doing this Valentine’s Day?


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

Tracy Krimmer is our "Galentine"....plus a special giveaway

Interview by Tracey Meyers

Happy pub day to Tracy Krimmer for her latest novel, Something Just Like This. It is available on Kindle for $2.99 through February 15th. Welcome to our tour stop during Tracy's book blitz, which is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from February 14 - 15. Read on for more information about the book, a teaser image and a giveaway for an Amazon gift card! See the tour schedule here. To celebrate her pub day, Tracy is doing a Q&A with us!

Tracy Krimmer loves coffee, popcorn, Drew Barrymore, and the movie Saving Silverman. She enjoys reading great books (of course) and writing realistic characters for you to enjoy. When she listens to music she prefers the 80s and 90s music she grew up on. In a typical day you’ll find her writing at one of her favorite spots--on the couch, at the kitchen table, or at her favorite hometown coffee shop.

Connect with Tracy online:
Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Instagram


Synopsis:
Love? Second chances? That crap is for romantics, not realists like Juliette. She has a bad attitude about love and an even worse one when it comes to second chances. And she may dress like an elf for a few weeks out of the year, but that doesn’t mean she loves Christmas.

Stability? Purpose? Landon is surfing a pleasant wave of both until he's fired. Devastating news from his sister certainly doesn’t help. At least he has the holidays to look forward to.

When Landon shows up at the mall and Juliette prevents a disaster, he can’t stop thinking about that sweet elf. Juliette doesn’t believe in the spirit of Christmas, but she can’t help but wonder why Landon was in her line that day. Could Landon deserve one of those second chances she's so unwilling to give?


Of all the characters you’ve developed which is your favorite and your least favorite?
This is a difficult question because I've enjoyed all my characters. My favorites are actually Francie from my short story Early Bird Special and Candy from my other short story, Candy Christmas. I loved Francie's focus on planning because I'm a huge planner myself. Candy encompasses all the awkwardness that comes along with being shy. She's so relatable to me. I don't have a least favorite. Writing Violet in Ugly Beautiful Girl may have been the most difficult because a lot of her character is based upon similar experiences I had in school. Sure, they were fictional, but there was some truth in them. Writing her was reliving a chapter of my life I had closed.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A little bit of both, I think. I'm a reader, so I write what I want to read. Toni Morrison said, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” So that's what I do!

What does literary success look like to you?
This definition is different for every author, and I think a very personal one. For me, there are many ways to measure success. The other day someone told me how much Ugly Beautiful Girl meant to her and changed the way she saw herself, realizing how beautiful she really is. That is what success is. Touching someone's heart like that means the world.

Favorite meal:
This may sound easy, but give me a plate full of spaghetti and meatballs, and I'm happy. I don't make meatballs much at home, but I do love eating them. In fact, have you ever had Porcupine Meatballs? Those are fantastic, and you can eat them on their own. It's basically a meatball with rice, onion, celery salt, pepper, and garlic salt and served with tomato sauce. Yum! I should make those soon!

Which store could you max-out your credit card in?
Target. No question. And then I'd have to stop at Starbucks on the way out.

What is your most recent binge watch?
Probably the latest season of Fuller House. That's the latest show I've watched multiple episodes in a row. Otherwise, I've been watching Rules of Engagement before bed. I fall asleep to it. I'm in search of a fun show to binge-watch. Have any suggestions?


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Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Something Just Like This. One winner will win a $10 Amazon Gift card!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It's no surprise that we love Sophie Kinsella...plus a book giveaway

We're excited to have Sophie Kinsella here to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, Surprise Me (reviewed here). For a fun Q&A twist, we asked her questions about surprises. We enjoyed reading her answers and we hope you will too. Thanks to Random House, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

Sophie Kinsella is a writer and former financial journalist. She is the number one bestselling author of Can You Keep a Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, Twenties Girl, I’ve Got Your Number, Wedding Night and My Not So Perfect Life, the hugely popular Shopaholic novels, the Young Adult novel Finding Audrey, and the children's novel Fairy Mom and Me. She lives in London with her husband and family. She is also the author of several bestselling novels under the name of Madeleine Wickham. Visit Sophie at her website and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


Synopsis:
After ten years together, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, and beautiful twin girls, and they communicate so seamlessly they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years . . . and panic sets in.

They decide to bring surprises into their marriage to keep it fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me—from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to sexy photo shoots—mishaps arise, with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, surprises turn to shocking truths. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all.

With a colorful cast of eccentric characters, razor-sharp observations, and her signature wit and charm, Sophie Kinsella presents a humorous yet moving portrait of a marriage—its intricacies, comforts, and complications. Surprise Me reveals that hidden layers in a close relationship are often yet to be discovered. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Tell us about a time someone surprised you.
My husband once surprised me by buying me a ring that had belonged to Agatha Christie. I am a massive Agatha Christie fan, so to own something that was once hers is incredibly special. He went off secretly to an auction and bid for it, then presented it to me. I was absolutely blown away.

Tell us about a time you surprised someone.
I once threw my husband a surprise party. I gathered a whole load of friends and we had a private screening of Brief Encounter which is one of his favourite films. I’m pretty sure he knew I was planning something - but he certainly didn’t expect that!

Which movie surprised you the most (without mentioning spoilers)?
Anyone who loves surprises has to watch The Usual Suspects. I won’t say any more than that! I was recently really surprised by the Lego Batman Movie. I went along with my children, thinking it was very much a film for them - but I loved it myself!

What is something you'd like to be surprised with?
I’d love to wake up with a fully formed book plot in my brain. Still waiting for that one…!

Have you ever experienced/received a surprise you didn't want?
The worst example I know of a surprise going wrong was actually a friend of mine whose husband organised her a surprise baby shower. She arrived home with no contact lenses in and her hair scraped back anyhow - to discover all her friends waiting. She really wished she’d been given at least a little warning!

Thanks to Sophie for chatting with us and to Random House for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends February 19th at midnight EST.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sweet Treats and Yummy Reads Blog Hop


Are you excited about Valentine's Day? The authors at Chick Lit Chat HQ are, and we know quite a bit about romance, not to mention gorgeous guys and swoonworthy storylines, which is why we've put together a fun-filled event that celebrates all these wonderful things.

That's right, book lovers, it's time for the Sweet Treats & Yummy Reads Hop! Starting February 12th, 40+ Chick Lit and RomCom authors will be throwing a fabulous, Valentine-themed bash on Facebook and each of them will be offering a GIVEAWAY--books, gift cards, author swag, and lots of other wonderful prizes will be up for grabs!

But wait, there's more! You know we have the "yummy reads" covered (this group is nothing if not crazy talented), but what about the "sweet treats?" Hold on to your hats, peeps, because CLC HQ has outdone itself this time. We'll be giving away not one, not two, but THREE Grand Prizes for this hop and each of those lucky winners will receive a 6-pack of Wicked Good Cupcakes!* And the best news of all? You get to choose your own sinfully delicious flavors. (Commence happy dance now.)






So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the Sweet Treats & Yummy Reads Hop on Facebook and join the group page where you can meet and chat with fellow readers, as well as some of the most popular authors in your favorite genres, plus find the lists of participating authors and enter to win one of the Grand Prizes. We look forward to seeing you there!

*Wicked Good Cupcakes only ships to destinations in the United States, so the Grand Prize portion of this hop will not be open to international entrants. However, the 40+ individual author giveaways will be open internationally.


Blog Hop Schedule:

Monday, Feb. 12th
(9AM E.S.T)
Hilary Grossman
Laura Heffernan
Cat Lavoie

(11 AM E.S.T.)
Tracie Banister
Lindsay Detwiler
Jenny Gardiner
Beth Labonte
Diane Michaels
Meredith Schorr


(1PM E.S.T.)
Melissa Baldwin
Aimee Brown
Laura Chapman
Angie Ellington
Becky Monson

(3PM E.S.T.)
Rich Amooi
Jayne Denker
Monique McDonell
Tess Thompson
Barbara Valentin

Tuesday, Feb. 13th
(9AM E.S.T)
Laura Kenyon
Michelle Jo Quinn
Natalina Reis
Carol Maloney Scott
Delancey Stewart

(11 AM E.S.T.)
Isabella Louise Anderson
K.J. Farnham
Tracy Krimmer
Holly Tierney-Bedord
Stacey Wiedower

(1PM E.S.T.)
Glynis Astie
Whitney Dineen
Jennie Marts
Melanie Summers
Joslyn Westbrook


(3PM E.S.T.)
Christina Boyd
Renee Conoulty
Amy Gettinger
Karin Gillespie
Heidi Renee Mason
Cassandra O’Leary


Book Review and Giveaway: The Great Alone

By Melissa Amster

Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.


Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska—a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

It's been three years since Kristin Hannah's previous novel, The Nightingale, came out. Three long years of waiting to see what she'd come up with next. I can assure you that The Great Alone was definitely worth the wait. I have one word for it: Epic.

I really didn't know what to expect from this novel. Truth be told, the concept of homesteading in Alaska was not what drew me to it as much as Kristin Hannah being the writer and the fact that a teenage girl was the narrator. However, I learned a lot of new things, including what an ulu is. (There's this funny video online that mentions it and I had no idea what they meant until now.) Even though I've never been to Alaska, it was easy to visualize through Kristin's writing. I can't imagine being in Leni's shoes (or Cora's for that matter), but I got some understanding about what Alaska really meant to them.

As a fair warning, there are some parts that are more disturbing and may be potential triggers to anyone who has experienced domestic violence. When Kristin writes about survival, she makes it raw and gritty. (If you read The Nightingale, then you know what she is capable of.)

Overall, The Great Alone is an incredibly powerful story that I can't stop thinking about or recommending.

I heard that there will be a movie sometime in the future. Hollywood, look no further...
Ernt: Jason Momoa
Cora: Evan Rachel Wood
Leni (teen): Ellie Darcey-Alden
Matthew (teen): Logan Shroyer
Tom: Eric Dane
Marge: Leslie Jones (She has the right personality for the role.)

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have TWO copies to give away!


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


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway ends February 18th at midnight EST.

More by Kristin Hannah:

Friday, February 9, 2018

What's in the mail...plus a giveaway

Melissa A:
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin from Berkley
Lady Be Good by Amber Brock from Crown

Jami:
Little Big Love by Katy Regan from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)

Sara:
Always With You by/from Hannah Ellis (e-book)




What could be in YOUR mail?

Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser
We have two copies to give away, thanks to St. Martin's Press!

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach―just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

As the suspenseful events unfold through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Jessica Strawser's Almost Missed You is a page turning story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

See Melissa A's review.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway ends February 14th at midnight EST

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dina Silver's writing is pure gold...plus a book giveaway

Interview by Tracey Meyers

We are thrilled to have Dina Silver back at CLC today. Melissa A loved her latest novel, No Time to Blink (reviewed here). Lucky for you, Dina has TWO signed paperbacks to give away!

Dina Silver is an author, a wine drinker, a lover of cheese fries, and an excellent parallel parker.

She is the author of five other books: The Unimaginable, Kat Fight, Finding Bliss, Whisper if You Need Me, and One Pink Line, which was chosen as a 2012 Top Title by IndieReader and was a finalist in their 2012 Discovery Awards.

Dina lives with her husband, son, and twenty-pound tabby cat in suburban Chicago where she also works as a realtor. When she's not writing books or selling homes, she's likely watching Netflix or wandering the aisles of her local grocery trying to decide what to make for dinner.

Visit Dina online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
Catherine Clarke defied her family’s expectations when she married Gabriel, a handsome Lebanese businessman. After moving to Gabriel’s homeland and welcoming a baby daughter, Catherine knew she had to acclimate herself to the strange new world. Yet both her husband and her surroundings became more volatile and threatening than she could have ever imagined.

When Gabriel forbids her to return to the States, Catherine devises a plan to deceive him, but she vastly underestimates how far he will go to punish her. And after her daughter, Ann Marie, is abducted and taken deep into the mountains of Beirut—protected by family, culture, and law—the only thing on Catherine’s side is the fierceness of a mother’s love. She’s prepared to move heaven and earth to find her child.

Told from alternating points of view—that of a daughter whose past is a mystery and of a mother with painful secrets to share—this profoundly moving story of impossible risks will resonate with anyone whose love has no boundaries.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


Do your books have connections between them or do they stand on their own?
They all stand on their own, with a small exception. One Pink Line and Finding Bliss have crossover characters. Chloe, the protagonist in Finding Bliss, is a small character in One Pink Line. She was a friend of Grace’s, and so readers get a glimpse of Grace and her mom Sydney in the future.

How do you develop your characters?
I almost always have a real person in mind when I develop my characters. And while it may not be someone I know personally, I like to draw from experience. It could be anyone from a friend or family member, to someone I’ve met at the store or my son’s school. It’s fun to take actual mannerisms and put them on paper. Once I have my “subject,” I usually make a list of everything from their physical attributes to their eating habits.

What is one of your writing quirks?
I save my work constantly! Almost after every sentence or so. I’m doing it right now! I do it so often I don’t even realize it sometimes. I lost some writing once, because my computer froze and Word quit out on me, and I was devastated. Now I’m a complete spaz about saving whatever document I’m working on.

Describe your dream home?
Santa Barbara, California, overlooking the ocean. A sprawling ranch with a huge, partially covered outdoor patio, where the outside living space feels like a natural extension of the interior. And a hoard of cats running around.

Do you believe in ghosts?
Not really.

What makes you smile?
Cat memes.




Thanks to Dina for chatting 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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway ends February 13th at midnight EST.