Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Book Review: A Breath After Drowning

By Jami Deise

When I was in college, minoring in psychology and volunteering at the campus help line, I was told that many people entered the psychology profession because they were trying to figure out their own messed-up pasts. I wasn’t messed up enough apparently; I never finished the training at the help line. But I was reminded of the experience and the advice while reading A Breath After Drowning, Alice Blanchard’s latest psychological thriller. Her heroine, child psychiatrist Kate Wolfe, had a childhood that practically required that she go into the profession.

When Kate was ten, her mother committed suicide. A few years later, her younger sister was murdered; the next-door neighbor was arrested, convicted by his niece’s testimony, and given the death penalty. Now as the execution date draws near, Kate’s latest patient ends up being tied to the murderer. When his niece takes back her testimony, Kate begins to doubt for the first time that the right man was arrested for the crime.

I had a little trouble getting into the story at first; the voice was a bit too unsophisticated for the genre and the narrative read a bit more like chick lit than a psychological thriller. But I liked the premise, so I kept reading, and after a few chapters the voice took on a more appropriate tone.

The story unfolds somewhat predictably, but books in this genre follow a predictable structure, and most readers expect this. Blanchard offers a few solid possibilities for the killer and commits a few nice sleights of hand. While the ultimate bad guy does not come out of left field, the climax is extremely well-written.

If your reading pile of psychological thrillers is getting low, A Breath After Drowning is a fine choice for your list.

Thanks to Titan Books for the book in exchange for an honest review. Visit all the stops on Alice's blog tour.



Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Meredith Schorr gives us a book "Hangover"...plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

If it hasn't been made clear enough already, I am a huge fan of Meredith Schorr's writing. Numerous novels of hers have been listed as my annual favorites, including Blogger Girl AND Novelista Girl (links are to my reviews). Her latest novel, Bridal Girl (reviewed here), is the third in this series. While it can be read as a stand-alone, it contains spoilers for the previous two novels. And you will definitely want to read those! Meredith also has a YA prequel for this series, Kim vs. the Mean Girl (link is my review). To celebrate her latest publication, Meredith has one print copy of Bridal Girl to give away! She is also sharing FIVE e-books of Kim vs. the Mean Girl with some lucky readers.

A born-and-bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing smart, sassy romantic comedy and humorous women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hardworking trademark paralegal and her still-single (but looking) status. Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan, an avid runner, and an unashamed television addict. To learn more, visit Meredith at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


Synopsis (may contain spoilers for previous two novels):
Sassy book blogger-turned-author, Kim Long, thought her life couldn't get any pinker when she received a two-book publishing deal and a marriage proposal in the same night.

If only she could drown out the conflicting opinions of her overzealous bridal party.


If only everyone would adore her first book--or she'd take her fiancé's advice and stop reading reviews.



If only her fiancé's past would remain there rather than threaten their future.


The pressure is on and the clock is ticking. Will Kim ever write "The End" on her sophomore novel? And will she and her fiancé make it down the aisle to say those two precious words: "I do?"


Put on your reading glasses, fill your champagne flute, and prepare to laugh with (and sometimes at) Kim as she rewrites her happy ending until it's worthy of five pink champagne flutes. (Adapted from Amazon.)


Bridal Girl is my eighth novel and my first book where a main character gets married. (Disclaimer: I’m not confirming that a character actually goes through with getting married in Bridal Girl—no spoilers—but it’s no secret that Kim Long and her fiancé are at least in the throes of planning their wedding in the book.) Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been married, and while I’ve played bridesmaid and Maid of Honor several times, I was either too young or lived too far away to take on a significant role in the wedding planning. Writing a book centered on a wedding was both a provocative change of pace and terrifying because I was not “writing what I know.”

While my experience writing about weddings is new, like most fans of romantic comedy, I have a long history of watching them play out on the big screen. The kind folks at Chick Lit Central asked me to list my top five romantic movies where a wedding takes center stage. You might not agree with my choices, and there was much internal debate before I narrowed them down, but here’s where I landed:

1. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
2. My Best Friend’s Wedding
3. Bridesmaids
4. Father of the Bride
5. The Hangover

I chose these over so many other great films because I watch them each time they are on television as opposed to other movies I enjoyed once or twice, but have less desire to watch again and again. And why is this? Because they are hilarious as well as sappy. Who doesn’t enjoy a film where you laugh as much as you cry? (Disclaimer 2: I can’t remember any “sappy” parts of The Hangover, but it doesn’t matter because a) I ugly-laughed from minute one through the closing credits and b) Bradley Cooper is delicious.) Seriously, folks: “Put some Windex on it,” really bad karaoke, “Don’t forget to fasten your condom,” Mike Tyson and a tiger, embarrassing loss of bowel control. It doesn’t get much funnier than this.

In closing, like my taste in movies, I favor my romantic novels with a super-sized serving of laughter. I set out to write Bridal Girl with this intention and hope I succeeded.

Thanks to Meredith for sharing her favorite wedding movies with us and for sharing her books 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 April 29th at midnight EST.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Review: The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay

By Becky Gulc

‘Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village, her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But nothing is straightforward about this legacy. While the identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, he - or she - has left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it. 

Rosa makes up her mind to give it a go: to put everything she has into getting the shop up and running again in the small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay. But can she do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed - and who among the following will work secretly to see her fail?

There is a handsome rugby player, a sexy plumber, a charlatan reporter and a selection of meddling locals. Add in a hit and run incident and the disappearance of a valuable engraved necklace – and what you get is a journey of self-discovery and unpredictable events.

With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, will slowly unravel the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and also bring her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.’
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK).

With a gorgeously enticing cover, featuring the quaint Devon seaside location of ‘Cockleberry Bay’ and one of the book’s best characters, the Daschund ‘Hot’ I was hopeful this would be a book I would enjoy.

I’ll admit that when I first started reading this book I wasn’t too sure about Rosa, she didn’t seem that likable to begin with, quite brash and rude. Thankfully, she quickly won me over and I began to appreciate her flaws and all, she has so many great qualities too. She has had a tough upbringing, was brought up in a care and has no family to call her own; she’s a tough cookie who keeps people at a distance. Rosa is also kind, witty, determined, a great dog-Mum to Hot and can flirt for England. When she mysteriously inherits the shop I was eager for her to succeed, but in a tight knit community will this be straightforward?

I felt truly transported to Cockleberry Bay, the location was very vivid in my mind. The various focal points from the pubs to Seaview Cottage and the shop itself, all felt so real. There is a great mix of characters in the novel, these are aplenty, and all offered something to the story, made the community seem real and none of them felt shoe-horned in for no reason. I enjoyed how some characters surprised me too, often I can preempt which ones will turn out to be not as they seem, but this wasn’t the case here and that kept it interesting. Queenie, in particular, was a great spiritual character that I loved popping up here and there. My only very slight criticism would be that there were too many male characters beginning with a J, so I had to keep reminding myself who was who.

There are also two strands to the story that keep you guessing too, regarding who the mysterious benefactor is, and who is responsible for a hit-and-run incident. I didn’t guess either outcome, which is testament to great writing. Rosa’s love-life is also quite busy and I found that quite refreshing for a lead character. I experienced a range of emotions whilst reading this novel, it made me laugh, it had me intrigued, it made me tense and want to shout at some characters whilst hug others.

I seem to have read a lot of books about people inheriting shops, cafes etc in the past couple of years but actually, I think Rosa as a character offered something so different I never even thought about comparing it with these other books. It is genuinely pleasantly distinctive. I would love to see Nicola write another story set in Cockleberry Bay, as it was a wonderful set of characters.

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase the book here.

Visit the other stops on Nicola's blog tour.


More by Nicola May:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Guest Book Review: Baby Girl

By Shana Javery

When young Cheryl Ann leaves home, she thinks her path is straight…until she’s forced to make a choice she could never have imagined. The man in her life makes it clear: either pick your baby or pick me, he says. Suddenly, Cheryl finds herself at a crossroads. She makes a decision that will change her life forever, and that decision causes a chain of events that will lead Cheryl to a completely unexpected place.


Baby Girl is a mother’s story. It’s about the greatest sacrifice a mother can make when she wants only the best for her child. It’s about falling in and out of love, of losing and finding one’s self. It’s about the perilous journey from passionate young love to happy true love and understanding the differences between the two.

Baby Girl is a book that readers won’t want to miss because it’s a story they won’t forget. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Note from the Author:
This book is based on a true story…a story that is heartbreaking at times but will leave readers with a better understanding of what a woman will do to protect her child. When I first heard this birth mother’s story I was touched by it, so much so that I needed to know more. When I knew more, I knew I needed to write my novel. The result is Baby Girl.

Normally, I don’t like to include book descriptions with my review. In this case, however, I love the Goodreads description. And I also love the note from the author. If only I’d known this book was based on a true story! (Yes, I didn’t read any of the above before starting the book.) The only thing I can add to everything above is that I really enjoyed this book. Before I started this book I learned that it was the fourth book in a series. I was told that the book could stand alone, and It most certainly did! (Now I also look forward to reading the first three books in the series.)

I’m so glad that I read this novel because I loved every page. The author’s writing style was so effortless. I felt like she was sitting by my side and telling me a story. I fell in love with the main character Cheryl Ann. Knowing that her story is true just blows my mind. What a resilient woman. I felt every heartache that she experienced and I didn’t want to put the book down. You will be swept up in Cheryl Ann’s journey as you cheer for her to triumph. I encourage you to grab a cup of tea (you’ll see why when you read the book) or a glass of wine (my personal favorite) and treat yourself to a few hours reading this very special book.

Thanks to Bette Lee Crosby for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Shana Javery is an attorney mediator with a background in employment law. She is thrilled to have renewed her lifelong love of reading over the past few years. 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. 

More by Bette Lee Crosby:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Nikki LeClair's brag-able life...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to feature Nikki LeClair today and feature her latest novel, Reuniting Reality. As part of her blog tour, you can enter to win an Amazon gift card or a signed copy of this novel!



Nikki LeClair lives in Canada with her loving husband and their two rambunctious children. When she isn’t ordering her children to behave or begging her Border Terrier to listen to her, she sits behind her lap-top plotting out the next adventure of her new characters. She’s a fan of a good glass of Pinot Noir, and can’t live without her favorite Tea blends.

She enjoys hearing from readers and fans of her work.

Visit Nikki online:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Promo Signup || Nikki LeClair – Reuniting Reality (Blog Tour 4/16-4/22)Synopsis:
Starring opposite her best friend in hit reality TV show Daughter of Famous Mothers, Julie Duncan was riding high, clouded with adoring fans and cozily married to an ambitious plastic surgeon. One day, everything changed. Betrayed by not only her husband, but someone she completely trusted, Julie disappeared from that life and left it all behind.

Four years later, Julie’s life is far from brag-able. Living with her sister and scraping by doing D-list gigs, Julie is given an opportunity to fix her pathetic life. The only catch? Spending a week on camera with the people who destroyed her life. 

So what’s a girl to do when her back is against the wall? 
✓ Create a new, improved version of herself—a version that has moved on and let go the trials of the past. 
✓ Invent a hopping new social life and a hot Olympian boyfriend. 
✓ Beg forgiveness from her former best friend.
Simple enough until her fake new boyfriend suddenly shows up, her former best friend gives the cold shoulder, her ex-husband is as shady as ever, and butterflies she thought had died long ago begin to flutter alive. 

Will Julie be able to keep up her ruse? Or will the cameras catch something she won’t ever be able to escape?

Which authors have inspired you?
Definitely Sophie Kinsella. When I was about thirteen, Confessions of a Shopaholic was the first chick lit I ever read, so her impact on me was pretty major. Helen Fielding is another. Janet Evanovich. Gillian Flynn, A.J. Finn, and Oscar Wilde. I've worn out three copies of Dorian Grey in the last decade.

Why did you decide to write Chick Lit?
I love things that make me laugh. That make me feel life can be humorous, it's suppose to not be taken so seriously. I think that's why I love to write chick lit. It can be light, funny, quirk, and romantic. Often times a good chick lit leaves you in a positive mood and I think people need that. Not everything has to be so heavy all of the time. Life's not meant to be that way.

If Reuniting Reality were made into a movie, who would you cast as the lead characters?
Funny enough, before I even begin writing, sometimes I'll cast the characters in my head. I picture them as an actor I saw recently or even someone I've come across in my life. For Reuniting Reality, I had casted Charlie Cox as Declan, Kathy Najimy as castmate supermom Brooke, Jason Priestley as Jule's brother Finley, and Julian McMahon as Jule's ex-husband Adam. Funny enough, I don't know who would play Jules herself, or her best friend Reagan.

What is your most unique trait?
Does thriving in chaos count? If so, that's it. I can find anything in a mess. A mess I created, or someone else has created. Like a sixth sense. My work space is a mess, but I write better that way. If not, then its discipline. Especially when it comes to writing, or working out, or working towards
a goal but that took years to get a grip on. Sometimes I still lose it.

What piece of clothing have you owned the longest?
My communion gown. From the mid 90's. It's got puff sleeves and a high neck and Anne of Avonlea would just love it.

What TV series reminds you the most of your life?
Oh man, this is hard as I watch a lot of TV...but I'd have to go with Parks and Recreation. Only because people have compared me to Ann on the show, and I once worked for a small county. Sometimes I feel like Ron though.

Thanks to Nikki for visiting with us and to Karan and Co for sharing this giveaway with our readers. Visit the other stops on Nikki's tour.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book Review: Those Other Women

UK cover
By Becky Gulc

‘Poppy's world has been tipped sideways: the husband who never wanted children has betrayed her with her broody best friend.

At least Annalise is on her side. Her new friend is determined to celebrate their freedom from kids, so together they create a Facebook group to meet up with like-minded women, and perhaps vent just a little about smug mummies' privileges at work.

Meanwhile their colleague Frankie would love a night out, away from her darlings - she's not had one this decade and she's heartily sick of being judged by women at the office as well as stay-at-home mums.

Then Poppy and Annalise's group takes on a life of its own and frustrated members start confronting mums like Frankie in the real world. Cafes become battlegrounds, playgrounds become warzones and offices have never been so divided.

A rivalry that was once harmless fun is spiralling out of control.

Because one of their members is a wolf in sheep's clothing. And she has an agenda of her own.’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

Those Other Women was completely refreshing, modern and engaging from the very beginning.
US print cover
Based on the title alone, I assumed this book would be about fidelity and to be honest, I wondered if I would have read this type of book numerous times before. I was so pleasantly surprised to have it all wrong.

Whilst yes Poppy experiences infidelity, and yes it knocks her for six, the plot doesn’t reside on this for long before the real gist of the story begins. As a new friend/colleague, Annalise has a huge impact on Poppy and she doesn’t let her dwell on what’s happened to her. The pair share a contentment at being non-mothers, and a shared distaste of ‘smug mummies’ who they feel are getting away with and monopolizing everything. Soon this dynamic duo are setting up their own members only Facebook group, NOP, an alternative to MOP, a popular local mum’s Facebook group. Whilst it was maybe innocently set up as a small local online community for those not intending on having children, just to discuss what’s going on locally and connect with like-minded people, it is surely never going to stay this innocent and simple is it? No.

I enjoyed the premise of these Facebook groups as a basis for a novel. I use Facebook, I know these kinds of groups, and the good points and bad points were cleverly written. Whilst our main characters are team NOP, I thought the writing worked well in terms of making me empathize with both groups. And whilst these non-mums and mums often can’t see each other’s viewpoints, I could always see both sides to a story. That felt so important as a reader, as you need to bond with the characters regardless of your own personal circumstances. It helped that it was often supporting characters that were a bit more extreme in their viewpoints, although our main characters also made some poor and hasty decisions at times.

US Kindle cover
The pace worked well for me and I was kept interested throughout, not only in finding out if and how the conflict between NOP and MOP (which becomes very much offline as well as online) would be resolved, but finding out more about our characters; particularly Annalise, as someone we knew little about. A further core character, Frankie, is also not introduced properly to the reader until around the half-way mark, I thought this shift in narrative worked and kept it interesting. There’s a lot going on with the social media groups as a consistent core.

Whilst I thought the big reveal of the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ could have been more shocking, by this point I knew it wasn’t going to be a real surprising reveal. This didn’t matter overall as there was lots going on elsewhere to keep tensions and intrigue high. I would definitely read more by this author, a great read!

Thanks to Penguin Random House UK for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Nicola Moriarty:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Release Blitz: On the Road to Love





 

Promo Signup || Melissa Baldwin – On the Road to Love (Release Blitz 4/17)On the Road to Love by Melissa Baldwin
Published by Gemma Halliday Publishing on April 17, 2018
Genres: Romantic Comedy





From bestselling romantic comedy author Melissa Baldwin comes the road trip of a lifetime! 
Successful Manhattan accountant Stacy Brown is shocked when her almost perfect life unexpectedly crumbles around her. Blindsided by her husband when he serves her with divorce papers and tossed aside by the women she considered her best friends, devastation and depression hit her hard. But when her mother sends her an old photograph of her and two childhood friends, Candace and Olivia, it fuels a desire in Stacy to find that person she once was. What starts as a chance to reconnect turns into an unforgettable road trip back to her childhood home and an encounter with a man from her past.
Gavin Kingsley, son of Stacy's old piano teacher and former annoying boy next door, sparks something in Stacy that she hasn't felt in a long time…maybe never? Despite her hesitation to jump into a relationship, Stacy can't help being drawn to him as she and her girlfriends take a journey of self-discovery, laughs, tears, and hysterical moments. 
Can returning to her past give Stacy everything she's been searching for in her future?
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About Melissa Baldwin

Melissa Baldwin is an avid runner, planner obsessed, and has always had a love for writing. She is a wife, mother, and avid journal keeper who took her creativity to the next level by fulfilling her dream with her debut novel, An Event to Remember…or Forget. Melissa writes about charming, ambitious, and real women and is now a published author of ten Romantic Comedy novels and novellas.

When she isn’t deep in the writing zone, this multi-tasking master organizer is busy spending time with her family, chauffeuring her daughter, traveling, running, indulging in fitness, and taking a Disney Cruise every now and then.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway: Can't Help Myself

By Jami Deise

When I reviewed Flying at Night, I began the review by mentioning my addiction to advice columnists like Carolyn Hax at the Washington Post. Even before that review was published, Chick Lit Central was pitched a memoir by Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein. Kismet! I had to have it.

Goldstein begins Can’t Help Myself by referencing her Maryland childhood and affinity for Hax, so right away I knew her memoir was a good choice. Goldstein and Hax have similar credentials for the advice-giving profession—both are journalists who took up the mantle based on their ways with words rather than any kind of therapeutic background. Goldstein pitched the column as a web-based feature to drive more traffic to the Globe’s site and generate user comments; it was so successful that it found life in the paper’s dead tree version. Goldstein solicits user feedback after every question she answers, further investing participants in the site. (Hax has her own Greek chorus as well.)

The book is a great mix of Goldstein’s personal life and the questions that she receives and answers, along with her followers’ responses as well. As the memoir begins, she is reeling from a break-up she didn’t see coming and looking for a way to broaden her impact at the paper. She starts the column, and right away it becomes more successful than she or the paper had anticipated. At the same time, her personal life remains rocky. As she writes about her personal challenges in the memoir, she runs letters from folks in similar situations, along with her response and the advice her followers offered.

Goldstein addresses the reader directly, and is very upfront about what she sees as her personal shortcomings. (Although I think the desire to stay in and binge-watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an asset, not a liability.) As her home life gets more complicated, her column becomes more circumspect. While I thought there was a little too much about her sister’s love life, overall Can’t Help Myself is a quick read with a charming narrator.

Can’t Help Myself should be a big hit among readers of Goldstein’s "Love Letters" column. But now that she turned the spotlight on herself, readers might ask for more and more personal details. I imagine followers writing in, offering to set her up with old friends or at least borrow some DVDs to binge on. I hope Goldstein keeps her fans updated.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing 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

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Giveaway ends April 22nd at midnight EST.

More by Meredith Goldstein:

Friday, April 13, 2018

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

Melissa A:
Rush by Lisa Patton + swag from St. Martin's Press
You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac from Viking
The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon from Thoughts on This 'n That (won giveaway)
My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley from Flatiron Books
Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb from Lake Union
When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica from Harlequin (e-book via NetGalley)
The Not So Perfect Mother by Kerry Fisher from Bookouture (e-book via NetGalley)

Jami and Melissa A:
Can't Help Myself by Meredith Goldstein from Grand Central Publishing (Jami got an e-book via NetGalley. Melissa A got a print copy.)

Jami:
Dreams of Falling by Karen White from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)


Becky:
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland from Zaffre
Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson from Ipso Books

Sara:
Audacity on the Water by/from L.R. Smolarek (e-book)



What could be in YOUR mail:

A Lady's Guide to Selling Out by Sally Franson

Random House has THREE copies to give away!

A brilliant young woman navigates a tricky twenty-first-century career—and the trickier question of who she wants to be—in this savagely wise debut novel for fans of Younger, The Bold Type, and The Devil Wears Prada.

Casey Pendergast is losing her way. Once a book-loving English major, Casey lands a job at a top ad agency that highly values her ability to tell a good story. Her best friend thinks she’s a sellout, but Casey tells herself that she’s just paying the bills—and she can’t help that she has champagne taste.

When her hard-to-please boss assigns her to a top-secret campaign that pairs literary authors with corporations hungry for upmarket cachet, Casey is both excited and skeptical. But as she crisscrosses America, wooing her former idols, she’s shocked at how quickly they compromise their integrity: A short-story writer leaves academia to craft campaigns for a plus-size clothing chain, a reclusive nature writer signs away her life’s work to a manufacturer of granola bars.

When she falls in love with one of her authors, Casey can no longer ignore her own nagging doubts about the human cost of her success. By the time the year’s biggest book festival rolls around in Las Vegas, it will take every ounce of Casey’s moxie to undo the damage—and, hopefully, save her own soul.

Told in an unforgettable voice, with razor-sharp observations about everything from feminism to pop culture to social media, A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out is the story of a young woman untangling the contradictions of our era and trying to escape the rat race—by any means necessary. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)


“Truly beautifully observed, A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out is a gorgeous treat. Sally Franson’s voice is addictive: whip-smart, biting, and clever. I kept pausing to reread parts of it with a huge smile on my face.”
—Jane Green, author of The Sunshine Sisters

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 April 18th at midnight EST.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Spotlight: A Home at Honeysuckle Farm


A family secret
One shocking argument and ten-year-old Alice Parker’s world was turned upside down. Her peaceful life at Honeysuckle Farm in the quiet rural village of Brook Bridge swapped for the bustling metropolis of New York City. Alice’s life was changed forever…

A second chance
Now, thirteen years later, Alice’s American dream is over. With her life in tatters, there is only one place Alice wants to be… home at Honeysuckle Farm. So, when Alice learns her beloved Grandie is ill, she knows this is her last chance to heal the family rift.

A forever home?
But secrets still swirl in Brook Bridge, and Alice is no closer to discovering the truth. And for some reason her new friendship with local heartthrob Sam Reid seems to be making the locals tense.

Sick of the lies Alice knows it’s time to lay the past to rest once and for all. But could the truth ruin her hopes of ever calling Honeysuckle Farm home again?

Purchase A Home at Honeysuckle Farm:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty's Countryside Dream, Lizzie's Christmas Escape, Evie's Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream and A Home at Honeysuckle Farm. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA & Australia.

Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being as well as Literary Editor for www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk bringing you all the latest news and reviews from the book world.

She loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website, Twitter, and her Facebook page.

Visit the other stops on Christie's blog tour:




Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: Love and Other Words

By Sara Steven

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly teen friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco reading books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I’m not always a big fan of alternating timelines, but it worked well for Love and Other Words. The first description that comes to mind when describing the relationship between Macy and Elliot is slow burn. It’s a slow burn from their first meeting when they’re children, to the numerous times they’ve met as friends, to the black and white borders that they feel they might be able to blend together, all gray areas, into the space that divides them when they’re adults. It’s all a slow burn, captured wonderfully between the Then and Now.

It was such a unique concept, to have these two characters begin a special bond through the usage of words. It only made their connection feel deeper, made me feel even more invested in who they are and the relationship I want them to have, and when there is agony, I felt it even more because of their words. And I really appreciated the viewpoints through the years. The voice used for Macy and Elliot felt true to life, and I could see them growing up page by page, giving me a much better sense for the adults they turn out to be, and why they feel the way they do, why things happened they way they have. There are moments of frustration on my end, where I want Macy to relent some, where I want Elliot to fight harder, but it’s beyond who they are at any given moment. It was the right thing to do, and right for who the characters are.

There are supreme highs, and severe lows, the kind that make you feel sucker punched, and it made this novel all the more worth the read. It’s that slow burn combined with everything else that really keeps you hanging on until the last word.

Thanks to Leo PR for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Christina Lauren:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cat Lavoie is not messing around...plus a special giveaway

We're glad to have Cat Lavoie back at CLC today to celebrate the recent publication of her latest novel, Messing with Matilda. In honor of this, she has a $25 Amazon gift card to give away as part of her blog tour!

Cat Lavoie is a chick lit writer from Montreal, Canada. She loves writing fun and quirky romantic comedies and is the author of BREAKING THE RULES, ZOEY & THE MOMENT OF ZEN, PERI IN PROGRESS and MESSING WITH MATILDA.

A fan of all things feline, Cat loves cats and hopes to someday have a house full of them in order to officially become a crazy cat lady. (But one or two cats will do for now.)

If she isn’t reading or writing, Cat enjoys listening to podcasts (mostly comedy and true crime) and watching way too much TV. She fell in love with London many years ago and hopes to go back one day. Cat is currently at work on her next novel.

To connect with Cat and find out more about her books, visit CatLavoie.com and follow @CatLavoieBooks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Synopsis:
As a professional organizer in New York City, Matilda Hart wages war against chaos and clutter on a daily basis for her clients—and she vows to never let it invade her own well-ordered world.

But when her boyfriend decides to deviate from the path she’s been planning for them, Matilda's perfectly structured life begins to crumble. She reluctantly finds herself back in the tiny hometown she fled a lifetime ago—determined to lay low and avoid running into anyone she used to know. So why is she reconnecting with her former best friend and putting up with the bridezilla antics of Amber, her high school nemesis?

When Matilda is tasked with keeping the bride-to-be’s heartbroken ex away from the ceremony, she discovers she has history with the man who’s trying to sabotage the wedding. Matilda quickly realizes that teaming up with cute and quirky—but hopelessly devoted—Silas Flynn could be mutually beneficial. He needs help wooing the woman he considers the love of his life and Matilda can't pass up the chance to finally get back at the meanest of the mean girls by assisting Silas in his attempts to disrupt her wedding.

Will everything go according to plan for this mismatched pair? Or will working so closely together make uptight Matilda and laid-back Silas lose sight of their common goal?

One thing's for sure—things are about to get messy.

What is a memorable compliment you received about one of your books?
I love hearing from readers and I’m so appreciative when they take the time to contact me and tell me they enjoyed something I wrote. A few years back, a reader emailed me to say she’d burst out laughing on the bus while reading my second novel, Zoey & the Moment of Zen. I love to make people laugh so it made me really happy to know I’d brightened up someone’s commute.

What is one piece of advice you'd like to share with an aspiring novelist?
Keep writing. Even when it feels like you’ll never reach “the end,” or you have no idea what’s going to happen once you reach “the end,” keep writing and things will eventually fall into place.

If you could cast Messing with Matilda as a film, who would play the lead roles?
Such a fun question! My dream cast would be...
Matilda: Jenna Coleman
Silas: Johnny Flynn
Evie: Krysten Ritter
Amy: Sarah Hyland
Amber: Anna Camp

What is one item you can't live without?
I feel like a bit of a cliché, but I’m going to say my phone. I’d be lost without it—especially since I don’t know anyone’s phone number by heart. And I always have access to my books and my work-in-progress with the Kindle and Scrivener apps.

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
I’m more of a TV addict than a movie buff, but I recently saw Paddington 2 and adored it. I’m a huge fan of Paddington Bear (I named one of my recently-adopted cats after him) and I love London, so that movie had me grinning from ear to ear.

Where is your favorite place to spend money?
I love trying out new makeup and skincare products, so Sephora is my go-to place when I feel like treating myself.

Thanks to Cat for chatting with us and sharing a gift card with our readers. Thanks to Karan & Co for including us in Cat's blog tour. Visit all the stops here. For more fun, sign up for the CatChats email newsletter

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Review: Flying at Night

By Jami Deise

I’m a huge fan of advice columns like Carolyn Hax’s and Amy Dickinson’s. One question that seems to come up a lot is a dilemma that seems specific to the “sandwich generation.” A reader writes in that a parent was abusive growing up. Now he’s old and sick and alone. What does the adult child owe to this parent? The professional advice-givers tell these writers to put their own emotional well-being first. Will caring for this parent trigger painful memories? Or will leaving her to the mercy of the system cause unbearable guilt?

This is the dilemma that faces Piper, one of three protagonists in Rebecca L. Brown’s debut novel, Flying at Night. Piper’s father Lance, nicknamed the Silver Eagle, is a narcissistic airline pilot whose wife and children were never good enough for him. But after a heart attack leaves him brain damaged, Piper’s mother Judy walks out on him, leaving him to the mercy of a sub-par nursing home. At the same time, Piper’s nine-year-old son Fred is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, as his difficulty in forming relationships begins to impact him in school. Even so, Piper moves Lance into her home and tries to juggle his therapy appointments with Fred’s needs, while her husband Isaac works 24/7. Gradually, Fred and Lance form their own relationship, a development that reminded me of the Harrison Ford movie Regarding Henry.

Brown tells the story through three first-person points-of-view: Piper’s, Fred’s, and Lance’s. Lance’s is particularly poignant, as the first few chapters take place before his heart attack. He is a confident man who loves his life, although he’s completely oblivious to the pain he’s caused his family. After the heart attack, his voice is very similar to Fred’s.

I did have some issues with the writing – Brown has trouble at times keeping Piper’s voice at a higher level than Fred’s and Lance’s. Piper is also written as a bit oblivious herself, blindsided by her son’s diagnosis (and unable to see his similarities to Isaac). I also found myself questioning the circumstances of Lance’s brain injury, as he is originally declared brain dead before regaining consciousness after being taken off life support.

But Brown is a debut novelist, and such weaknesses are understandable. (And isn’t this what editors are for?) She’s not Jodi Picoult, but Flying at Night will definitely appeal to Picoult fans, as well as readers who are not looking for fiction to escape reality, but to explain it.

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

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Spotlight and Giveaway: A Nantucket Wedding

A Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer was published this week. To celebrate, Random House has THREE copies for some lucky readers!

Wedding bells are ringing, a family is reunited, and new love is blooming—for better or worse—in this captivating novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Island House and Secrets in Summer.

A few years after losing her beloved husband, Alison is doing something she never thought she would do again: getting married. While placing the finishing touches on her summer nuptials, Alison is anxious to introduce her fiancé, David, to her grown daughters: Felicity, a worried married mother of two, and Jane, also married but focused on her career. The sisters have a somewhat distant relationship and Alison hopes that the wedding and the weeks leading up to the ceremony will give the siblings a chance to reconnect, as well as meet and get to know David’s grown children.

As the summer progresses, it is anything but smooth sailing. Felicity stumbles upon a terrible secret that could shatter her carefully cultivated world. Jane finds herself under the spell of her soon-to-be stepbrother, Ethan, who is as charming as he is mysterious. And even Alison is surprised (and slightly alarmed) by her new blended family. Revelations, intrigue, resentments—as the Big Day approaches, will the promise of bliss be a bust?

Against the gorgeous backdrop of the sunswept island of Nantucket, Nancy Thayer sets the stage for a walk down the aisle no one will ever forget.


Photo by Katie Kaizer
Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of A Nantucket Wedding, Secrets in Summer, The Island House, The Guest Cottage, An Island Christmas, Nantucket Sisters, A Nantucket Christmas, Island Girls, Summer Breeze, Heat Wave, Beachcombers, Summer House, Moon Shell Beach, and The Hot Flash Club. She lives on Nantucket. Visit Nancy at her website and on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.




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 April 10th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Book Review: The Last Suppers

By Sara Steven

Many children have grown up in the shadow of Louisiana’s Greenmount State Penitentiary. Most of them—sons and daughters of corrections officers and staff—left the place as soon as they could. Yet Ginny Polk chose to come back to work as a prison cook. She knows the harsh reality of life within those walls—the cries of men being beaten, the lines of shuffling inmates chained together. Yet she has never seen them as monsters, not even the ones sentenced to execution. That’s why, among her duties, Ginny has taken on a special responsibility: preparing their last meals.

Pot roast or red beans and rice, coconut cake with seven-minute frosting or pork neck stew . . . whatever the men ask for Ginny prepares, even meeting with their heartbroken relatives to get each recipe just right. It’s her way of honoring their humanity, showing some compassion in their final hours. The prison board frowns upon the ritual, as does Roscoe Simms, Greenmount’s Warden. Her daddy’s best friend before he was murdered, Roscoe has always watched out for Ginny, and their friendship has evolved into something deep and unexpected. But when Ginny stumbles upon information about the man executed for killing her father, it leads to a series of dark and painful revelations.

Truth, justice, mercy—none of these are as simple as Ginny once believed. And the most shocking crimes may not be the ones committed out of anger or greed, but the sacrifices we make for love. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

The Last Suppers was by far one of the most unique love stories I’ve ever read, set in a time and place that isn’t mentioned often. It felt as though there were a lot of mountains for Ginny and Roscoe, with their occupations, their past. Even the age difference between them feels like a huge hurdle. I appreciated the difficulty of all of it. It’s too easy to have two people fall for one another who seem destined from the stars. It’s quite another to put two people together who have so much going against them, yet they still try hard to fight the odds.

And why are the odds stacked against them? I felt as though who they are as individuals and coupled together shouldn’t be much of anyone else’s business, but it’s the nostalgia of Greenmount, deep Southern roots intertwining with every single character involved, creating who they are, not letting anyone go. It has a way of shaping motivations, of becoming the deciding factor in how the future presents itself, and it does that for Ginny and Roscoe. It’s as though their lives aren’t really their own.

I enjoyed the dysfunctional functionality of this couple, but the stories of the death row inmates at Greenmount are what really cemented me to this novel. I have always had this, “right and wrong” mentality to the way I view an issue, yet seeing the world through Ginny’s eyes opened me up. Their lives are told in such a way that it’s hard not to see them as human, just as Ginny does. There is no sugar coating of what they’ve done. It’s easy to see why they are perceived as monsters, but Ginny brings to light the men they were before they were monsters. The men who have families, traditions, last meals that are often tied to a significant memory that they want to take with them to the grave. To witness the interactions between Ginny and the families, or the death row occupants, it made my stomach twist in knots. Not so much over the finality of their lives, but at who’d they’d been, and ultimately, who Ginny and Roscoe and everyone else involved had been, before the crimes.

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Good Liar

Today we're celebrating the publication of Catherine McKenzie's latest novel, The Good Liar (reviewed here). Kathleen Carter Communications has TWO copies to give away!

In internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed novelist Catherine McKenzie’s riveting and thought-provoking new novel, THE GOOD LIAR (Lake Union Publishing), the lives of three women are forever altered by a national tragedy—and by the choices made in its wake.

A year ago, Cecily Grayson became the poster child for a horrifying explosion that ripped a Chicago building apart. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend, Kaitlyn, inside. While she watched, a photographer snapped a photo of her—a photo that would become one of the enduring images from that day.

Franny Maycombe, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building. As the anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that horrifying morning become dangerous triggers. 

A thousand miles away in Montreal, a third woman, Kate Ring, is working as a nanny for a wealthy family. Haunted by the anniversary of the Chicago explosion, Kate fights to keep her past from catching up with her. 

All three women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?

“A riveting story that revolves around the aftermath of a national tragedy: three women, three separate yet deftly intertwined lives. I adored the look at the story behind the story, the background lives of the women we so often see in the news. The twists are shocking, the characters are well drawn but unpredictable, and the conclusion is as poignant as it is surprising. THE GOOD LIAR is thrilling, captivating, and not to be missed!”
—Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year and The Blackbird Season

“Lines will be crossed and secrets revealed when tragedy intersects three women in THE GOOD LIAR, a guilty pleasure you won’t be able to put down until the very last page. A must read!”
—Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, authors of The Good Widow

“In her latest, Catherine McKenzie continues to prove she’s a master at crafting psychological thrillers. In THE GOOD LIAR, we follow three women—Cecily, Kate, and Franny—in the aftermath of a horrific tragedy through their web of lies, secrets, and deceit. The story is layered with superb twists and expert pacing, deftly building in suspense until its stunner of an ending. A compulsive read that kept me guessing!”
—Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Everything We Left Behind
and Everything We Keep


Photo by Jason Trott
Catherine McKenzie, a graduate of McGill University, practices law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels Spin, Arranged, Forgotten, and Hidden are all international bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages. Hidden was an Amazon #1 bestseller and a Digital Book World bestseller. Her fifth novel, Smoke, was an Amazon bestseller, a Goodreads Best Book for October 2015, and an Amazon Top 100 Book of 2015. Her sixth novel, Fractured,
was a Goodreads Best Book for October and Fall 2016, a Buzzfeed Big Book of Fall 2016, and made numerous other Best Book lists including those for Real Simple, Redbook, PopSugar, and Read It Forward.

Visit Catherine online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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 April 9th at midnight EST.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway: Other People's Houses

By Jami Deise

It’s generally not a good sign when a book starts with a detailed list of characters and a map. It signals a cast so lengthy that readers are going to have trouble following who’s who, and who is related to whom. Indeed, when I first opened Abbi Waxman’s latest novel, Other People’s Houses, and saw a long list of people and the aforementioned map, I shuddered. I have enough trouble keeping track of real people, much less fictional ones. And it did take me awhile to remember who was who. Not only was the cast lengthy, but Waxman chose to write the novel in omniscient point-of-view, which has fallen out of favor. (It’s hard to distinguish from “head-hopping.”) Still, I read on, and several chapters in, I was hooked.

Even with its multiple viewpoints, Other People’s Houses is mostly Frances’s story. She’s married to Michael; they have three children but no sex, and she is mom to the entire street. The story kicks off when she walks in on Anne having sex with a man who isn’t Anne’s husband, Charlie. Now Frances is stuck with a burdensome secret, and Anne knows she has to break off the affair before it blows up in her face. Also living on the street are Bill and his son Lucas (his wife Julie is on a mysterious work trip), and Iris and Sara and their son Wyatt.

Anne’s affair is the spine of the story, but everyone has something going on. Even the elementary-school aged children get scenes of their own. At first, I found this annoying, but then it became necessary for the story. Anne’s affair affects everyone, even other people’s children. Still, even in Anne’s point of view, Waxman never gets to the heart of why she cheated. Frances is the heart of the story, and the character most easy to identify with. She’s given up her career to take care of her husband, children, and house, and gained thirty pounds in the process. She’s lost her identity, sexuality, and sense of self in service to others and the image of ideal motherhood. Anne and Iris, who each have multiple chapters in their points-of-view, remain at an emotional arm’s length.

At times, the novel is funnier than the storylines, and several scenes and lines had me laughing out loud. Other times, I teared up at the characters’ pain, especially the children’s. Waxman and her characters make several cutting observations that had me highlighting my Kindle.

Other People’s Houses will remind readers of Liane Moriarty’s work, albeit without murders, and Moriarty’s fans will enjoy the book. Set in an upscale suburb of Los Angeles, Frances and her neighbors have first-world problems, but so do Moriarty’s. Waxman might not be lucky enough to have HBO commission a series starring Reese Witherspoon, but if she is, I would certainly be watching.

If nothing else, the book is an important reminder to never cheat with someone who doesn’t have as much to lose. And to make sure your phone isn’t hooked to any other devices before texting secrets.

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy 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

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Giveaway ends April 8th at midnight EST.