Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Reviews at Amazon-January/February 2018

We're posting some reviews at our Amazon account, as either they've been sitting in queue for a while and deserve their time in the sun, fall under our featuring policy, or they're new reads that we couldn't wait to post at the blog. You can check them out at the links below. Hope we can help you find your next favorite book!

Melissa A:

Review (Goodreads)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: The French Girl

By Jami Deise

Six friends/lovers in an isolated country farmhouse. A body. A French-speaking detective. It sounds like an Agatha Christie, but The French Girl is London writer Lexie Elliott’s debut novel. And while Elliott is no Christie, her ability to create character and atmosphere hint at promising things to come.

The French girl in question, Severine, has been missing for ten years, and the novel kicks off when her body is found, stuffed in a filled-in well at the French country home where Kate Channing, her boyfriend, her best friend, and others were staying when she disappeared. Severine had lived next door, coming over every day in her black bikini and sandals to use the pool. And now that her body has been found, she’s moved in with Kate, dangling those sandals and staring judgmentally while Kate tries to live her life. As Kate has just opened a legal headhunting firm, it’s not the best time to be embroiled in a murder investigation. Further complications ensue by the return of a lover and a friend: Kate’s ex, Seb, who dumped her right after the week in question has returned to London with his wife; his cousin Tom has returned without his now ex-fiancee. Tom had been with Kate’s best friend Lara during the week in question. Fellow lawyer Caro, who grew up with Seb and Tom, were also at the farmhouse; its owner, Theo, died in Iraq.

So who killed Severine? Her haunting of Kate immediately points the finger at her, and Elliott’s reserved writing style does not acquit the first-person protagonist, either. Kate has a chip on her shoulder; of her friends, she was the only one not raised in luxury, and the reasons behind her decision not to practice law are never explored. Still, she’s not unlikeable, and her struggles to get her business off the ground ring true.

The actions unfold much like a Christie novel—once the time of death is pinpointed, it’s obvious that the killer has to be one of the six friends. It would be easiest to blame it on Theo, unable to defend himself from the grave, but no one seems willing to actually do that. The sexual dynamics among Kate, Seb, his wife, Lara, Tom, and spoiled rich girl Caro also come into play. Did Severine sleep with any of the men, and could that be the motive for her death? The French detective, Modan, doesn’t have a mustache to twirl like Hercule Poirot (who was Belgian, not French, as he often pointed out), but he does have the famous detective’s penchant for always turning up and dropping minor French words into complex English sentences.

Christie invented the unreliable narrator, in her groundbreaking book The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It’s not too far-fetched to think that Elliott may have imitated the famous author here, too. Without revealing too much, Elliott plays by the rules she established, and as such, her ending doesn’t provide the mixture of surprise and inevitability that a good murder mystery delivers. Still, the denouement definitely belongs in this cynical century, and not in Dame Agatha’s.

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

Friday, February 23, 2018

Guest Book Review: Brooklyn in Love

By Shana Javery

On an island where finding love can be just as hard as finding a dinner reservation on a Friday night, Amy Thomas never imagined a family would fit into her lifestyle. So when Amy finds herself turning forty, moving to Brooklyn, and making way for a baby with a new man in her life, she realizes that starting over may be her biggest opportunity yet.

But how do you balance staying out all night dancing with staying up all night soothing a baby? Can a lifelong city girl trade in spontaneity for domesticity? Set amid the backdrop of Brooklyn and Manhattan's foodie scenes, Amy sets out to make her second act even sweeter than the first.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

So...I agreed to read Brooklyn in Love without knowing anything other than the title. Small confession: I apparently didn’t even read that carefully because I missed the subtitle which is a huge clue to the subject of the book: “A Delicious Memoir of Food, Family, and Finding Yourself.” I sure wish I’d noticed that from the start. The author Amy Thomas is an “uber foodie” (if such a phrase exists.) I’ve only been to Manhattan a few times and the Bronx for a Yankees game. After reading this book, however, I will be adding Brooklyn to the list and taking Ms. Thomas’ list of restaurants in my pocket. Her extensive knowledge of restaurants, famous chefs, and food in general is truly mind-blowing. I am not a foodie but I love wining and dining. As I read this book I actually felt a little stupid for being so stuck in my ways and avoiding the unknown when dining. Yep, I’ve made a New Year’s resolution in February-to be more adventurous in the future. You know, maybe skip the filet mignon and move out of my comfort zone.

As for the family part of this book, it was nice to read along as the author shared her experience of falling in love. I couldn’t relate to her fear of giving up her single life but I eventually figured out that when I got married in the mid-twenties I didn’t have the fears Ms. Thomas did as a 40 year-old. In fact, as I write this review it has just dawned on me that I was more willing to take a risk on love than trying an unusual dish!

I think my favorite part of this novel is the last phrase of the book’s subtitle: finding yourself. That’s the storyline I found most heartwarming. Who can resist the joy of reading a story where the main character figures out who she really is?

In summary, if you are a foodie you need to read this book. (Buy it-so you can keep it as a reference.) And if you just enjoy a good love story then find some time to read this lovely memoir.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for the book in exchange for an honest review and for including us on the blog tour.

Shana Javery is an attorney mediator with a background in employment law. She is thrilled to have renewed her lifelong love of reading over the past few years. Shana & her husband reside in Plano, Texas. She is grateful to all the fabulous authors out there who unknowingly have eased her heartache from becoming a recent empty nester.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

We enjoy seeing Camille Pagá 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

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 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.

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 You can find him on Twitter at @Shiglyogly and Facebook at @AMSCOT (A Strong Man’s Cup of Tea). He is a regular contributor to and the He lives with his husband, Andy, and their two dogs, Duke and Dudley.

Tracy Krimmer is our "Galentine" 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

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

For a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter below:

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It's no surprise that we love Sophie 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

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