Friday, June 29, 2018

What's in the Mail

Melissa A:
Consumed by J.R. Ward from Gallery
The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen from Kathleen Carter Communications
I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella from St. Martin's Press
The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg from HarperCollins
The Songbird by Marcia Willet from Thomas Dunne
Christmas at the Chalet by Anita Hughes from St. Martin's Press
The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner from Random House
The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely from St. Martin's Press

Trouble Brewing by Suzanne Baltsar from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
Aloha Love by Susan Murphy from Karan & Co (e-book via NetGalley)
Ms. Medicine by/from Olivia Arquette (e-book)
All You Need Is Love by/from Melissa Baldwin (e-book)

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones from Busy Bee PR (e-book via NetGalley)
The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Campaign Widows by Aimee Agresti from Graydon House (e-book via NetGalley)

Reviews at Amazon-May/June 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:




Thursday, June 28, 2018

Amy Mason Doan is having a great a book giveaway

We welcome Amy Mason Doan to CLC for the first time, to celebrate the recent publication of her debut novel, The Summer List (reviewed here). Thanks to Kathleen Carter Communications, we have one copy to give away!

Amy Mason Doan grew up in Danville, California and now lives in Portland, Oregon. She’s written for The Oregonian, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, Forbes, The Orange County Register, and other publications. Amy has an M.A. in Journalism from Stanford University and a B.A. in English from U.C. Berkeley. Fun fact: She got to meet Judy Blume at a movie premiere after winning a contest. Visit Amy at her website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (Bio courtesy of Amy's website.)

Laura and Casey were once inseparable: as they floated on their backs in the sunlit lake, as they dreamed about the future under starry skies, and as they teamed up for the wild scavenger hunts in their small California lakeside town. Until one summer night, when a shocking betrayal sent Laura running through the pines, down the dock, and into a new life, leaving Casey and a first love in her wake.

But the past is impossible to escape, and now, after seventeen years away, Laura is pulled home and into a reunion with Casey she can’t resist—one last scavenger hunt. With a twist: this time, the list of clues leads to the settings of their most cherished summer memories. From glistening Jade Cove to the vintage skating rink, each step they take becomes a bittersweet reminder of the friendship they once shared. But just as the game brings Laura and Casey back together, the clues unravel a stunning secret that threatens to tear them apart…

Mesmerizing and unforgettable, Amy Mason Doan’s The Summer List is about losing and recapturing the person who understands you best—and the unbreakable bonds of girlhood. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is the inspiration behind The Summer List?
I’d been loosely plotting a story about two former best friends reuniting in their lakeside hometown, but for a long time I didn’t have much more than some images in my head and a few rough scenes. Then, three summers ago, I was camping by the Oregon coast with my family and a bunch of kids on a scavenger hunt ran up and asked me for a Graham Cracker. They were tearing around from campfire to campfire, so excited and caught up in this simple game.

The two ideas collided. I thought that a novel about two 30something women reuniting for a scavenger hunt could be poignant and funny, especially if the items on their scavenger hunt list forced them to revisit their shared past. When I got home, I started writing at a furious pace, and the story came together layer by layer.

In one sentence, what was road to publishing like?
The run-up to publication is equal parts thrilling and terrifying, but now that the book is out in the world it’s mostly thrilling.

What is one piece of advice you'd like to share with aspiring novelists?
Use a program like Freedom or Self-Control to disable the Internet when you’re writing.

How long is your longest friendship and are you still close with this friend?
More than 30 years. My grade-school friend Andrea and I lost touch when she moved away from our hometown, Danville, Calif., before middle school. We recently rediscovered each other on Facebook, and were shocked to realize we’d both relocated to Portland, Ore. We’d been living 20 blocks away from each other for years without knowing it. We’ve since gotten together in person, and she hasn’t changed a bit. She’s just as hilarious and warm as she was back in Greenbrook Elementary.

Since your book mostly took place in the 90's, what is your favorite thing about that era?
The music. I loved creating the playlist for THE SUMMER LIST. It has most of my favorites—R.E.M., The Breeders, Sheryl Crow, Queen Latifah, Alanis Morrissette, Pearl Jam, The Cranberries, Mazzy Starr.

Who was your first (non-celebrity) crush when you were growing up? 
I had a big crush on my best friend’s college-aged cousin, who was staying with her for the summer. I think everybody in town had a crush on him. He’s a celebrity now, but he wasn’t when I met him in my teens!

Thanks to Amy for visiting with us and to Kathleen Carter Communications 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 July 4th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Spotlight and Giveaway: California Summer

We are pleased to feature Anita Hughes' latest novel, California Summer. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have TWO copies to share with some lucky readers!

Ben and Rosie are Hollywood's newest director/producer dream team. After hitting it big at Sundance, it seems that their ten years of love and hard work are finally paying off. Rosie is happy making independent films, but Ben wants the A-List celebrity package: a house in Beverly Hills, fancy cars in the driveway, and his name on the biggest blockbusters. He's willing to do anything, even sleep with the most famous producer in town, to get them.

Rosie is devastated by Ben's affair, and she decides to take a break from show business. She accepts her best friend's invitation to spend the summer at her parents' estate in Montecito. It's far away from L.A., the perfect place to start over.

In Montecito, Rosie meets a colorful cast of characters including Rachel, who owns a chocolate shop, and Josh, a handsome local who splits his time between surfing and classic cars. Suddenly Rosie has new friends and a new purpose. She opens a fish taco store in the village with her secret college recipe. Everyone is buzzing about Rosie's tacos, including Colby, the "it" teen heartthrob who writes a Billboard hit song about Rosie following her dreams. The store is an instant sensation, but Rosie knows that success comes with a price, and the price might be losing love again.

"Anita Hughes is a master at sweeping the reader away to an exotic location! In CALIFORNIA SUMMER, Hughes takes us behind the gates to the manicured lawns, exquisite gardens, and mansions of Hollywood royalty to experience a second chance at a career and love. The perfect beach read!"
~Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House Reunion

"A tender and triumphant look at what happens when life falls apart and you are left to rediscover the world through an entirely different lens than the one you imagined: new friends, new passions, new roads. Anita Hughes crafts a winning heroine you absolutely root for, and CALIFORNIA SUMMER made my heart sing."
~Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of Between Me and You

Photo by Sheri Geoffreys
Anita Hughes is the author of Monarch Beach, Market Street, Lake Como, French Coast, Rome in Love, Island in the Sea, Santorini Sunsets, Christmas in Paris, White Sand, Blue Sea, Emerald Coast, and Christmas in London. She attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel. For more information about Anita and her books, visit her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and 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 July 2nd at midnight EST.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Spotlight and Giveaway: All We Ever Wanted

We're excited to feature Emily Giffin's latest novel, All We Ever Wanted, which publishes today. Thanks to Random House, we have THREE copies to give away!

Check out Melissa A's review.

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton.

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Photo by Emmanuelle Choussy
Emily Giffin is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After practicing litigation at a Manhattan firm for several years, she moved to London to write full time. The author of eight New York Times bestselling novels, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love The One You're With, Heart of the Matter, Where We Belong, The One & Only, and First Comes Love. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three young children. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Emily online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * 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 July 1st at midnight EST.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Book Review: What My Sister Knew

By Jami Deise

With psychological thrillers being all the rage, most of them try to distinguish themselves with twists that readers can’t see coming. Reading, then, becomes more about trying to guess the twist than really losing oneself in the novel. Nina Laurin’s latest thriller, What My Sister Knew, seems designed for this game.

Fifteen years ago, when they were just 13 years old, Andrea’s twin brother Eli set their house on fire, killing their mother and stepfather and badly burning Andrea in the process. Afterward, Eli went to a psychiatric prison for juveniles while Andrea was adopted by a rich family. Now Eli is back, and seems determined to ruin Andrea’s life.

What My Sister Knew offers a strong, gripping plot, but character work seems to lag in service of its twists. Andrea works at a shelter for teens but seems just as messed up as any runaway. She alienates her fiancé, her co-workers, and her adoptive family. Despite the captivating plot, Andrea just isn’t a protagonist that readers will root for.

The book follows a non-linear structure, as present-day Andrea reels from Eli’s deeds while 13-year-old Andrea copes with a new school, bullies, and a twin brother who is both protector and tormentor. As a teenager, Andrea seems younger than her years, and her inability to cope with schoolmates or Eli (she often threats to “tell” on him) makes her more annoying rather than sympathetic.

The writing, however, flows effortlessly and professionally, making it an easy choice to read to the end. There were twists I had guessed; twists I hadn’t, and a very well-written climax.

What My Sister Knew might not be my first choice among this year’s overflowing crop of thrillers, but it’s a quick, tight read. Some nights, that’s all you need.

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

Book Review: Heaven Adjacent

By Sara Steven

Roseanna Chaldecott spent her life as a high-powered lawyer in Manhattan. But when her best friend and law partner dies suddenly, something snaps. Unsure of her future, Roseanna heads upstate on one tank of gas and with no plans to return.

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Roseanna discovers the perfect hideout in a ramshackle farm. Its seventy-six acres are rich with possibilities and full of surprises, including a mother and daughter squatting on the property. Although company is the last thing Roseanna wants, she reluctantly lets them stay.

Roseanna and the young girl begin sculpting junk found around the farm into zoo animals, drawing more newcomers—including her estranged son, Lance. He pleads with Roseanna to return to the city, but she’s finally discovered where she belongs. It may not provide the solitude she originally sought, but her heart has found room for much more. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Reading through Roseanna’s experiences made me want to unplug. To walk away from the things we feel so attached to, the lifestyle we feel we can’t survive without. I can remember a time when my life wasn’t dictated by emails or social media, the ding of a notification on my cell phone. When waiting for a loved one’s letter was the highlight of my day, or hearing someone’s voice over a tinny phone line filled my soul with love and appreciation.

But it’s never easy. I really appreciate how honest and real Roseanna is, in her quest to let go of her attachments and go in peace. While she’s trying to find a new norm, we discover that she’s also finding a new norm within her psyche. There are struggles and gains to be made when you’re trying find out who you really are without society’s views on that, without your own ideas and opinions that are now changing and evolving. It was beautifully told and masterfully woven in, so the changes we see in Roseanna are subtle and raw and we feel as though we’re going through those changes with her. That, her quest has given us a new perspective on how we’re living our own lives.

There was so much I could identify with. Roseanna’s need to be. Her relationships, particularly the dynamic with her son. The need to be left alone, but not really. The search for balance in an otherwise chaotic world, and how, even in its most simplistic form, life can still throw wrenches into plans, since ultimately, it really is all relative. And, that the people who enter your world, the ones you would have never counted on, end up becoming the people you count on the most, changing your life in ways you'd never imagined, in the best and worst ways possible.

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity  for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase Heaven Adjacent here.

More by Catherine Ryan Hyde:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Maddie Dawson's novel is the perfect match for a book giveaway

We're glad to have Maddie Dawson back at CLC today to talk about her latest novel, Matchmaking for Beginners. It sounds like a fun story and we love the cover! TLC Book Tours has one copy for a lucky reader!

Maddie Dawson grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers. Her various careers as a substitute English teacher, department-store clerk, medical-records typist, waitress, cat sitter, wedding-invitation-company receptionist, nanny, day care worker, electrocardiogram technician, and Taco Bell taco maker were made bearable by thinking up stories as she worked. Today she lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of five previous novels: The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness, The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal

Visit Maddie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.

When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.

And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.

What is the inspiration behind Matchmaking for Beginners?
This is my seventh novel, and to be perfectly honest, I can’t really pinpoint how or when the inspiration for a new book first flies into my head! It’s like suddenly I wake up knowing a teeny tiny detail—perhaps a character’s name and two tidbits about her situation—and then the rest sort of unfolds over time. I ask her to tell me the story, and she does--haltingly, at first, and then with more certainty as we get to know each other.

In the case of Matchmaking for Beginners, the first thing I knew was that there would an older woman who was a matchmaker and who had a bit of a magic—a wise person who wasn’t afraid of taking risks and manipulating things to her liking. Her name was Blix, and she sailed into my head like she belonged there. She was delightful company, always urging me to be brave and to tell the story the way I wanted it told. And then Marnie showed up, somebody wanting to NOT be brave, to simply be ordinary, except that her life was turning out to be anything but ordinary. Once those two were onstage, I was just along for the ride. They dictated the story whenever they felt like it. (Often when I was in a sound sleep they woke me up so I could get up and type for them—I know! Very selfish of them, but they knew they were in charge.) Gradually the novel came into being, and it became a novel about I magic, and love, and trusting that the life you’re meant for is right there for you when you open your eyes to it.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone wanting to become an author?
This is going to sound like silly, obvious advice, but you’d be surprised how many would-be authors don’t follow it. If you want to become an author, you have to write. A LOT. As in, every day. Write badly. Write gloriously badly! Make yourself a schedule and stick to it. Write on the backs of envelopes, in notebooks, when you have fifteen minutes to wait for somebody. Write when you wake up, and before you go to sleep. Don’t get upset when it doesn’t sound like you want it to. It won’t for such a long time. You’d be shocked to hear how many drafts actual published and successful authors go through before the words sound like they just tumbled out onto the page in perfect order. Take risks. Try out new ways of expressing yourself. Let the crazy come into your writing. Take things out that don’t work. Try it all again. Learn to stay in your chair. That’s the hardest part: staying with it when it doesn’t feel like it’s coming along. Oh, and also read! But only read what you love. Your brain will thank you and the good words you’re reading will imprint there and through some kind of magic, will affect your own brain waves and the way you think about your work.

If you could cast Matchmaking for Beginners as a movie, who would play the lead roles?
This question! WOW. It’s so much fun to think about, and yet I am so bad at playing the casting game. So I asked a bunch of people…and the general consensus was that Lily Tomlin would be a fascinating Blix…and perhaps Shailene Woodley for Marnie. Maybe Channing Tatum for Patrick. Chris Hemsworth for Noah.

What is something you are looking forward to this summer?
Every year our extended family goes to Cape Cod for a week. All of us pile into one house, and we cook lobsters and eat raw oysters (I know, not really wise, but we HAVE TO), and we go to the beach and boogie-board in the stunningly cold water, swim in the pond, eat ice cream every night, take bike rides, play mini-golf. We’ve been doing this for nearly thirty years now, and each year it seems we find more fun there. The best part for me is the early morning walk on the beach with my husband when everyone else is sleeping.

If you could take us on a tour of your town, where would we go first?
The Town Green! I’m a New England transplant, so I’m charmed by the town squares (called “greens”) here in Connecticut, which are gorgeous parks. In my town, Guilford, the green is surrounded by shops, little restaurants, benches, coffee places, bookstores, art galleries, the library…you name it. I go walking there every morning and buy a peach iced tea from the coffee shop, stop in at the library to say hi to my friends the librarians, and then walk down to the town dock, where there are people kayaking and sailing and eating clams and lobsters at the Lobster Pound. It’s a wonderful little town to live in!

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
Seriously? Just one? Okay, let’s see. The last book I read that made me laugh out loud was Husbands and Other Sharp Objects by Marilyn Simon Rothstein. Such a delight! But can I also mention a book that took me on a wild ride of twists and turns? The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie. But there are also so many others I’d love to mention…books I go back to again and again for inspiration.

Thanks to Maddie for chatting with us and to TLC Book Tours for sharing her book with our readers. Check out the other stops on Maddie's tour.

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

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Giveaway ends June 26th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Spotlight: Rainy Day Friends

Following the USA Today bestseller, Lost and Found Sisters, comes Rainy Day Friends, Jill Shalvis’ moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship.

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person? Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan. Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Green changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Buy Rainy Day Friends here:
Amazon * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million * iBooks * GooglePlay

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

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Camille Perri is pleased to meet a book giveaway

We're pleased to have Camille Perri back at CLC to celebrate the publication of her sophomore novel, When Katie Met Cassidy. Prior to Camille's first visit to CLC, Melissa A got to meet her in person and can attest to how warm and friendly she is. Melissa also enjoyed her debut, The Assistants, and is excited to read this new one (and cast it...see below). Putnam is sharing THREE copies of Camille's latest novel with some lucky readers!

Camille Perri has worked as a books editor for Cosmopolitan and Esquire. She has also been a ghostwriter of young adult novels and a reference librarian. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from New York University and a master of library science degree from Queens College. (Courtesy of Penguin Random House.)

Visit Camille on Twitter and Instagram.

When it comes to Cassidy, Katie can't think straight.

Katie Daniels, a twenty-eight-year-old Kentucky transplant with a strong set of traditional values, has just been dumped by her fiancé when she finds herself seated across a negotiating table from native New Yorker Cassidy Price, a sexy, self-assured woman wearing a man's suit. At first neither of them knows what to make of the other, but soon their undeniable connection will bring into question everything each of them thought they knew about sex and love.

When Katie Met Cassidy is a romantic comedy about gender and sexuality, and the importance of figuring out who we are in order to go after what we truly want. It's also a portrait of a high-drama subculture where barrooms may as well be bedrooms, and loyal friends fill in the spaces absent families leave behind. Katie's glimpse into this wild yet fiercely tight-knit community begins to alter not only how she sees the larger world, but also where exactly she fits in. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you've received about your writing?
I’m not sure that it was even a compliment; it was technically a question. A well-respected screenwriter/director who was interested in adapting my novel The Assistants to film asked me, “Did you always know you were funny?” This was not something I had ever considered. I blurted out a “No,” followed by a “Well, I’m not sure.” I really had to think about it. If given a do-over I would reply with a way more confident, “Why, yes. Thank you.” That’s probably how a man would have replied, right?

Did you learn anything new from writing When Katie Met Cassidy?
I learned that second novels aren’t easier to write just because you’ve done it once before. One would think that would be the case, but instead I was crippled by anxiety for much of the time I was writing this book. I was afraid I would let people down or disappoint some readers who enjoyed my last book. But so far people have been responding to WKMC with generosity and enthusiasm. So I guess I learned I could write another novel once I got out of my own way!

If you could cast the movie version of When Katie Met Cassidy, who would star in the lead roles?
Ooh. I’m sorry but there is no way I can answer this question. I feel strongly that every reader is entitled to their own mental image of these characters based on how I presented them in words. It’s also far more interesting to me to hear other people’s suggestions on this. Please @ me!

What empowers you the most?
I feel most empowered when I achieve a healthy balance to my day—when I get good work done, but my whole day isn’t only about work. A day when in addition to writing I also go out for some fresh air, exercise, eat well, and enjoy the company of a friend. That’s a perfect day for me and one that leaves me feeling wholly self-actualized.

What TV show reminds you the most of your own life?
I’m going to have to go with Younger. Not because it’s so realistic to the world of publishing and book media, but because it’s a show that reminds me of what I thought such a life would look like if I ever achieved it. It’s always good to remember the shine and sparkle of your dreams before they become a slightly less effervescent reality.

What is the funniest fortune you ever received from a fortune cookie?
“Only listen to fortune cookie, disregard all other fortune telling units.” I have to give a shout out to my friend Joanna Greenberg for this answer. She’s an art teacher and artist with the most wonderful collection of fortune cookie fortunes, all digitally archived. Without her I would have been lost on this question.

Thanks to Camille for visiting with us and to Putnam 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 June 24th at midnight EST.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Review: Missing Pieces

By Becky Gulc

‘What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?

All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.

Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.

That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?

A devastating mistake, a lifetime of consequences. How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

What a debut novel! Whilst I wouldn’t necessarily pick up a book about loss and grief, I’m so pleased I was sent this book for review. It manages to be difficult to read for its raw and continued portrayal of grief but captivating and even hopeful at the same time.

The early chapters cover how the Sadler family are coping with the recent loss of their daughter and sister Phoebe. We don’t know what happened exactly, what we do know is they’re all coping very differently. Linda as the mum is really struggling, to the point at which she can almost no longer cope with life generally, never mind as a mother to her remaining child Esme and the child she is expecting. Tom as the father is trying his best to get back to a new sense of normal, but can his wife be part of this new normal or is he inadvertently trying to escape/distract from truly acknowledging life as it is? Life becomes destructive for both parents in very different ways. I very much felt for them all, particularly Esme.

The narrative worked for me, with the first half of the novel being set in the months after losing Phoebe, and the second half set twenty-something years later. Despite the synopsis, I forgot there would be a shift in time and the first half certainly has you on the edge of your seat as it draws to a close. I was pleased we got to see how life was treating Esme as a grown up, whether she’d been able to put the past behind her. The dynamic between Bea, her sister, and dad was interesting to explore in the second half and it offered hope in what was a very sad situation. We finally learn what happened to Phoebe.

Missing Pieces is a very well written novel, so moving and unapologetic in its exploration of grief. With a clever shift in the narrative it adds so much more to the story. I’d definitely read more by Laura Pearson.

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

Visit all the stops on the tour:

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: Always With You

By Sara Steven

A secret kept for more than twenty years. A daughter intent on finding the truth…

In 1994, twenty-one-year-old Evelyn Taylor left England to backpack around Australia. When she stopped off in the dusty outback town of Kununurra, she never expected to fall in love with the place - and the people. But Joe Sullivan captured her heart, and when her fun-filled year in Australia came to an end, saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing she’d ever done.

In 2017, Evelyn’s daughter, Libby, embarks on her own Australian adventure. Grief-stricken following her mother’s death, she’s determined to find the father she never met.

Little does she know that digging up the past will be more complicated than she ever imagined. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Initially, Always With You feels as though it’s a story focused primarily on loss. The loss Libby feels after losing her mother, the loss she feels at not knowing who her father is. The loss Evelyn experiences when she has to say goodbye to the love of her life. But what this story really does, is catapult these characters and its readers into an adventure, a soul-searching adventure into the unknown while trying hard to find one’s self within that journey. It’s a parallel experience for both Evelyn, and Libby.

I really loved the way we get to see Evelyn’s experiences, as well as her daughter’s. While they feel similar, the motivation behind it is world’s apart. Evelyn wants to explore a life unknown, and Libby wants to walk in her mother’s footsteps, not knowing that ultimately she really is living her own existence. I felt the relationships between the characters were true to life, particularly when Libby is in search of her father. When she has to confront the man she is convinced she’s linked to, I could really feel the struggle within her, the struggle within him, it wasn’t forced or shallowly written. There were plenty of deep, touching moments that reached right into your chest and pulled hard on the heartstrings.

I fall for stories that have a “coming home” or reunion vein to them, when we get the opportunity to go back and see what changes have occurred, how people have evolved, how the scenery has changed. Having the chance to see it all through Evelyn’s eyes, first, then over twenty years later, the sometimes small and subtle, or very distinct changes that Libby witnesses was really such a unique experience, and really spoke to my nostalgic spirit. The give and take between Evelyn’s strengths and witnesses, and Libby’s, too, was the perfect balance for their story, a balance that touched me deeply and stirred my psyche.

Thanks to Hannah Ellis for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Hannah Ellis:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Charlotte Nash takes us on an armchair a book giveaway

Photo by Jen Dainer
We're pleased to welcome Charlotte Nash to CLC this week, as her latest novel, The Paris Wedding, published in the US this week! Thanks to HarperCollins, we have THREE books to give away!

Charlotte Nash was born in historic Lincoln, England and grew up in the sunny Redland Shire of Brisbane. Obsessed with horses and riding, she began stealing her mother’s Jilly Cooper novels at the age of thirteen, and has been enthusiastic for romance ever since. Always a little unconventional, she took a meandering path to writing through careers in engineering and medicine, including stints building rockets and as an industrial accident investigator. Now she writes romantic stories, and moonlights as a creative writing PhD student, studying how narratives engage the brain. She lives in a cozy Brisbane cottage with her husband and son, and a small flock of lovable chooks. Visit Charlotte at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s been ages since Rachael West has seen the man she once believed she couldn’t live without. Receiving his wedding invitation was bittersweet—she was oddly touched he’s asked her, but knows that facing him on this day would be the hardest thing she’s ever done.

But her friends and family convince her to attend. After all, it’s an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris! Surely she can get through that one day, and discover all the delights of that magical city the remainder of the time.

So Rachael leaves her small town, setting off for the City of Lights with her best friend, two feuding neighbors, and a suitcase full of home-sewn couture in tow. She’s determined to let Paris work its magic—and it does by way of a handsome photojournalist. And before her adventure is over, Rachael will be faced with yet another choice. But this time, hers isn’t the only happiness at risk...

Which authors have inspired you?
Oh, so many. Jilly Cooper, because she was my first introduction to this type of genre, and wrote such big, bolshy, fun characters who had struggles that seemed so lifelike. Diana Gabaldon, because, you know, Jamie Fraser in a kilt (and jokes aside, the incredible freshness of Cross-stitch (now Outlander) when it first came out). More recently, Liane Moriarty, because she has such a keen ability to observe her characters and use just the right words, and JoJo Moyes for the same reason, and because I think she captures a truth about people that's hard to do.

What is something unique about your writing style?
This is a difficult question for an author to answer about themselves … people tell me that I write the landscapes and settings in a memorable way. I've always thought that people are so tied in to the places they live – either in a comfortable way, or as a point of friction – that rendering those places through their eyes is a critical part of forming the character and their stories. Besides that, I find some unconventionalities and cross-genre interests of mine sneak into my contemporary stories …

If The Paris Wedding were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Rachael West (our heroine) needs that wholesome, naïve quality, but also the capacity for great sacrifice and transformation. I'd be keen for Katherine Langford (from 13 Reasons Why) – she looks like she could convince us she came from a farm, but hold her own in a fashionable crowd.

Sammy (her best friend) is more street-smart, but an incurable romantic. A strong, supportive type but who tends to hold her own problems very close to her chest. I like Haley Lu Richardson or someone like her, even though she's younger than Sammy.

Matthew Grant (the man Rachael never got over) is an up-and-coming star physician, but straddling the uncomfortable territory between his roots and his new world. Someone like an older version of Tom Holland, who has that boyish quality but can still carry authority. Or Callum Turner, who's about the right age, look, and presence.

Antonio Ferranti (the dashing Italian-American photojournalist) needs an older actor with a rugged quality. Perhaps Justin Baldoni – his Ted talk about redefining masculinity showed such a great capacity for comfort with himself, but a critical eye for how the world is. Perfect for Antonio.

Where is your favorite place to spend money?
At my local café mostly! However, about once a year I go on a 'spree' of buying vintage fashion online (mostly eBay). I know which designers I like and my sizes and I go a little crazy buying too many boots and coats. I comfort myself that it's recycling (as well as a bargain).

What is your favorite thing to do at an amusement park or carnival?
Eat dagwood dogs. I think in America that's called a corn dog? (hot dog sausage on a stick covered with batter and deep fried). I'm a sucker for the food carts.

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
At the cinema: Avengers: Infinity War. It's so surprising. On my home screen … I'll admit that I re-watch The Devil Wears Prada and Midnight in Paris over and over. They are so brilliantly structured and entertaining and funny, and yet have deeper things to say. I never tire of them. I'll stop there, otherwise I'll be recommending a whole shopping list!

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 June 19th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway: Little Big Love

By Jami Deise

Even while the body-positivity campaign has gained traction, overweight and obese people are one of the few groups left that everyone feels free to shame and discriminate against. Although in the developed world, heavier people outnumber appropriately sized folks by nearly a third, they are still blamed for being lazy, undisciplined, unkept. Fashion designers won’t create for them. Employers freely discriminate against them. And yet, more and more research shows that folks with a higher body weight than recommended have multiple decks stacked against them, when it comes to stress hormones, gut bacteria, and even viruses that wring every calorie out of every bite taken. That old advice about just eating less and exercising more is outdated and nearly worthless.

U.K. author Katy Regan’s U.S. debut, Little Big Love, shows how emotional upheaval and the stress of poverty can contribute to weight issues. Two of its three first-person protagonists are overweight, the third is an alcoholic in recovery. Ten-year-old Zac Hutchinson wants nothing more than for his father to attend his 11th birthday party. But that’s difficult, as the man took off before he was born. At least that’s what Zac’s mother, 30-year-old Juliet, has always told him. But Juliet has her secrets, as does Juliet’s father, Mick. And Zac’s quest to find his father might reveal these secrets and shatter everyone’s world once and for all.

With her plans for the future derailed by early pregnancy, Juliet and Zac live on an estate (public housing) in the small English fishing village where she grew up and where her parents still reside. She has a job in a sandwich shop that pays her in cash because otherwise she’d lose her benefits; she doesn’t have a car. The one bright spot in Juliet’s life is her overwhelming love for Zac; a love so enormous she can’t see that her son is struggling with his own weight issues until Zac’s school lets her know he’s being bullied for it.

While Zac’s search for his father provides the backbone of the novel, I was more drawn in by the specificity of the voices of the three main characters, especially Zac’s, which always seems like a 10-year-old boy’s. Without ever judging her characters, Regan describes how the stress of poverty, bullying, and secrets can lead to comfort eating and weight gain. The supporting cast, such as Zac’s best friend Teagan and Juliet’s mother, are also specific and real.

If I had one criticism, it was that the book felt overly long. With three protagonists and the dual narrative of Zac and Juliet’s weight issues along with Zac’s search for his father, the pacing never drags, but there were times I wanted more action. And with its contemporary setting, it shouldn’t take that long to find a man with a distinctive name. Another relative is found on Facebook; no one ever does a Google search for Zac’s father.

Still, it’s the character work that will hook readers, and it’s the character work that will result in tears by the end of the book. Katy Regan’s U.S. debut will have readers looking up her U.K. offerings.

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 June 18th at midnight EST.

More by Katy Regan:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A look at Karma Brown's a book giveaway

Photo by Jenna Davis
We're thrilled to have Karma Brown back at CLC to celebrate the publication of her fourth novel, The Life Lucy Knew. We've been fans of her writing ever since her debut, Come Away With Me, landed a spot on Melissa A's 2015 favorites list. Karma has one copy of her latest novel to share with a lucky reader!

Karma has always loved the written word. As a kid she could usually be found with her face buried in a book, or writing stories about ice-skating elephants. Now that she’s (mostly) grown up, she’s a bestselling author.

A National Magazine Award winning journalist, Karma has been published in a variety of publications, including SELF, Redbook, Today’s Parent, Best Health, Canadian Living and Chatelaine.

Karma lives just outside Toronto, Canada with her husband, daughter, and a labradoodle named Fred. When not crafting copy or mulling plot lines, she is typically running or working on her downward dog, hanging out with her family, making a mess in the kitchen and checking items off her bucket list. Karma is currently wearing down her laptop’s keyboard writing her next novel.

Visit Karma online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

One woman is about to discover everything she believes—knows—to be true about her life…isn’t.

After hitting her head, Lucy Sparks awakens in the hospital to a shocking revelation: the man she’s known and loved for years—the man she recently married—is not actually her husband. In fact, they haven’t even spoken since their breakup four years earlier. The happily-ever-after she remembers in vivid detail—right down to the dress she wore to their wedding—is only one example of what her doctors call a false memory: recollections Lucy’s mind made up to fill in the blanks from the coma.

Her psychologist explains the condition as honest lying, because while Lucy’s memories are false, they still feel incredibly real. Now she has no idea which memories she can trust—a devastating experience not only for Lucy, but also for her family, friends and especially her devoted boyfriend, Matt, whom Lucy remembers merely as a work colleague.

When the life Lucy believes she had slams against the reality she’s been living for the past four years, she must make a difficult choice about which life she wants to lead, and who she really is.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a memorable compliment you've received for any of your books?
I’ve received many memorable, amazing compliments over the past few years and books, which has been so lovely! However, the one that sticks with me is also the most recent: at a library event a couple of weeks ago I met a woman my age whose husband died suddenly a few years back. She told me her coworkers had been suggesting she read my debut, COME AWAY WITH ME, and while it took her a few tries to open the book, once she read it she said the story resonated deeply and was a great comfort to her. There is nothing better than readers reaching out to tell you how your words, characters and stories have impacted them.

What is a piece of reader feedback you've used while writing The Life Lucy Knew?
I received a letter once—typed out on fancy stationary--from a woman who was upset with me because of a certain word I’d used in my sophomore book, THE CHOICES WE MAKE. I’m not sure what the word was (she never repeated it), but she was quite offended by it apparently. She closed the letter saying that as a writer I must have an excellent grasp of language and therefore, she added, “…you can do better.” I had a chuckle, wondering what the word was (I have some idea), and wrote her back to let her know I would most certainly think of her while writing future books. And you know what? While writing LUCY I would pause before using a curse word, asking myself if I really needed it or if a less dramatic word would do. Sometimes the curse word had to stay, but other times I found the character actually could get by with something a tad less, well, offensive.

If you could cast The Life Lucy Knew as a movie, who would play the lead roles?
I am terrible at this game, because I honestly don’t have crystal clear physical pictures of my characters, as strange as that may sound. However, if I were casting the book to movie, I could imagine Cobie Smulders as Lucy, Matt Bomer as Daniel, and Anders Holm as Matt.

Which piece of clothing have you owned the longest?
I have a jean jacket from when I was five years old—my parents were hippies, I was raised in the 1970s, and so the jacket is awesome and retro and covered in smiley face buttons and my mom’s hand-sewn patches—that I passed down to my daughter. She’s outgrown it now, but it hangs in her closet, ready to pass to her child many, many years from now.

What is your favorite way to escape?
Reading! Or going for a run or hike or doing a yoga class or walking a shell-laden beach. So, books and exercise, basically. I am happiest and most centered when I’m moving my body outside, or curled up in front of a fire with a coffee and a great book.

Which TV show are you currently binge watching?
We are a Netflix-only house, so I’ve binge watched a lot of programs in the past couple of years. We’ve been re-watching THE OFFICE and THE MINDY PROJECT—two shows guaranteed to make me laugh—and recently finished the first season of MINDHUNTER, which is about the early FBI profiling of serial killers in the 1970s. It was dark and disturbing and highly addictive!

Thanks to Karma for visiting with us and sharing her book with our readers!

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

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Giveaway ends June 17th at midnight EST.