Friday, September 28, 2018

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle from Flatiron
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn from HarperCollins (won from Goodreads)
The Last of the Stanfields by Marc Levy from Amazon Crossing
In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick from Berkley
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis-Graves from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne from William Morrow (e-book via Edelweiss)

Sara:
One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk from HarperCollins
Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle from St. Martin's Press (e-book)

Becky:
Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan from Sphere

Book Review: Watch the Girls

By Jami Deise

The words “noir” and “reality TV” aren’t terms that usually describe the same project, but they are accurate adjectives for Watch the Girls, a thriller credited to Jennifer Wolfe, which is an appropriate pen name for a writer who has YA projects under the name Jennifer Bosworth. Watch the Girls will appeal to readers who like their Karin Slaughter combined with David Lynch, with a dash of Ghost Hunters to shake things up.

The book’s hard-bitten detective is Liv (formerly Olivia) Hendricks, a former teen star ("The Hills Have PIs") who quit the business after a car accident left holes in her memory about how her younger sister Miranda vanished. Now in her 30s, the hard-drinking, sexually promiscuous Liv ekes out a living on reality TV, playing a version of Daphne on a Scooby-Doo inspired series while another younger sister, Gemma, shines in the spotlight. After a drunken interview goes viral, Liv gets fired, and fan support inspires to start her own, crowd-funded investigation series. She’s quickly hired by a reclusive director, who wants her to solve a series of disappearances in a town where his cult hit "The Girl and the Wolf" was filmed. Ironically, the director wanted a teenage Olivia to star in this film, but after her manager-mother turned it down, he went with his 18-year-old niece, who recently became one of the disappeared.

The thriller has many elements that seem as if they wouldn’t go well together – the noir type of storytelling, social media, the former child star protagonist, the small-town wooded setting, fan culture—but Wolfe merges them flawlessly. In scenes where Liv reads tweets directed to her in a creepy old cabin decked out in homage to the film, nothing seems out of place. There are references to Shirley Jackson, Grimm fairy tales, The Hills Have Eyes, and more. Liv is the first-person glue that holds everything together, and while she’s deeply damaged, she’s not as hard-bitten as a male protagonist might have been. Men in this role usually have the heartbreak of a single woman to blame for their drinking and cynicism; Liv has been let down by everyone important to her, especially her mother and surviving sister, Gemma, who used Liv’s tragedy to propel her own fame. Still, Liv is naรฏve enough to take everyone at face value—even strangers who contact her through Twitter—which is why she was unable to unmask the rather obvious villain.

Wolfe weaves together back story and present-day mystery so seamlessly that nothing that happens in the book is a coincidence—a rare feat, even in this genre. My only criticism is a personal one—some of the violence and sex were a bit too graphic for me, especially when the wolves come into play. But I tend to be more squeamish than the average thriller reader—I skim through Slaughter’s scenes of violence, and I never read past The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because of the graphic rape scenes in the first book of the series.

Although Wolfe resolves most of the plot threads in Watch the Girls, there are unsolved mysteries big enough that Wolfe may be planning a series around Liv, or at least a sequel. If she does, there should be a ready-made fan base waiting for it. They might even be wearing wolf masks.

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

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Excerpt: Hot Winter Nights

About Hot Winter Nights (a standalone Heartbreaker Bay novel)

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

Purchase links:
Amazon * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million * iBooks * GooglePlay

Photo by ZR Studios
About the Author:
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:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram
Pinterest * Tumblr * Goodreads

Excerpt:

It took Lucas Knight longer than it should have to realize he had a
woman in his bed, but to be fair, he had a bitch of a hangover.
Even worse than that, last night was a blur, prompting him
to take quick stock.
One, there was a bundle of sweet, soft curves against him.
Two, his head was currently threatening to secede from the
United States Of Lucas.
And three, his side hurt like … well, like he’d been shot.
It’d been two weeks since he’d gotten caught in some crossfire
on the job and he hadn’t yet been cleared for more than light duty –
something he’d obviously managed to ignore last night given that
he was palming a nice, warm, feminine ass.
Think, man.
Straining his brain, he remembered taking a pain med before going to
O’Riley’s Pub to meet up with some friends. A client had been there,
someone he’d recently helped save from a multi-million dollar corporate
espionage. The guy had ordered shots to toast to Lucas and…shit.
Knowing better than to mix pain meds and alcohol, he’d hesitated, but
everyone had been waiting on him, glasses hoisted in the air.
Thinking just one shot couldn’t hurt anything, he’d knocked back the drink.
Clearly, he’d been wrong and it’d been enough to mess him up big time,
something he hadn’t been in years, not since his brother Josh had
been killed.
Shoving that away for another time – or never -- Lucas cracked open
one eye, but when his retina was stabbed by a streak of sunlight
glaring in through the window, he immediately slammed it shut it
again. Taking a deep breath, he told himself to suck it up and opened
both eyes this time, learning wo additional facts.
He was naked and completely uncovered. And the woman snugged up at
his side was rolled up in his comforter like a burrito.
What. The. Hell.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Book Review: Trouble Brewing

By Sara Steven

After working long hours brewing in her garage, Piper is determined to prove herself—and to ignore the chemistry she has with Blake Reed, owner of Minnesota’s newest gastropub who is going to stock four of her brews. She wants her craft beer to stand on its own merits and knows that the tight-knit male-dominated brewer community will assume the worst if she starts anything with one of her vendors. No way she’ll risk everything she’s invested in her budding business on a guy who might not stick—no matter how charmingly handsome and funny he is, right?

And Blake has a conflict of his own—his haughty family wants him to ditch the gastropub and support his father’s political campaign. Well, that, and the fact that he knows Piper’s snark and sass is the perfect blend of crisp and refreshing for him. So Blake and Piper make a pact: she’ll go out with him if, and only if, two additional pubs start carrying her beer. Sticking to the pact proves harder than either of them expected—especially since the attraction is off the charts between quirky, independent Piper and smart, charming Blake.

Then Piper gets a once-in-a-lifetime offer that could launch her company to the next level—and take her away from Blake. Are she and Blake just drunk in love, or do they have something real that’s worth risking her dreams for? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

There is a fighting spirit within Piper, an entrepreneur who wants to do it all, and do it all on her own. I appreciated that drive within her, even in the moments that begin to feel a bit like self sabotage. Coming from a background of having a really hard time asking for and receiving help, I could relate and identify with Piper in that way, although she takes it to higher extremes where her craft beer is concerned.

She doesn’t want anyone or anything to reroute her from her dreams, and that includes Blake. She had no inclination of the chemistry they’d have, a new type of hurdle that presents itself in strange and beautiful ways, and she senses that it’s going to come down to having one or the other, because she isn’t sure she can have both her passion and the man she’s falling hard for.

Piper’s story is a unique one. I didn’t know much about the brewing industry before reading Trouble Brewing, and I found it interesting, the various processes and behind the scenes views we get from her perspective, a woman in a male-dominated field, trying to break into the brewer community. I felt I learned a lot more about her through her interactions with Blake, and with the friendships she forms through the process of standing on her own two feet, one ale at a time.

Sometimes, we discover what’s really most important to us, through the hurdles and obstacles that are thrown our way, when we least expect it. That was presented to us time and time again within Piper’s story, ultimately discovering what is really worth fighting for.

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Kate Moretti chills us to the bone....plus a book giveaway

We're glad to have Kate Moretti back at CLC today. Her latest novel, In Her Bones, was published a few weeks ago. She has THREE copies for some lucky readers (either print for US or e-book worldwide)! In the past, Kate has answered theme questions for us. This time, she's talking about her writing, along with some other fun topics.

Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of four novels and a novella, including Thought I Knew You, While You Were Gone, Binds That Tie, The Vanishing Year, and Blackbird Season. Her first novel, Thought I Knew You, was a New York Times bestseller. The Vanishing Year was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery/Thriller category for 2016 and was called "chillingly satisfying" (Publisher's Weekly) with "superb" closing twists (New York Times Book Review).

​Kate has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for twenty years as a scientist and enjoys traveling and cooking. She lives in Pennsylvania in an old farmhouse with her husband, two children and no known ghosts. Her lifelong dream is to find a secret passageway. (Courtesy of Kate's website.)

Visit Kate online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.

Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is, until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.

Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her.

Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


What is a favorite compliment you received on any of your books? I love when someone tells me they stayed up all night reading it. I strive for that "can't put it down" quality -- mostly because it's the thing I most value as a reader -- so to know when I've hit it is a true fist-pump moment for me.

What is a piece of constructive reader feedback that you've received for In Her Bones
So, I haven't had any real constructive feedback yet. I mean, of course, there are people who don't like it. They've criticized Edie Beckett because she is, of course, a bit difficult to like. Some readers don't enjoy that -- which is totally fine!! I think it's just early days for IHB. I read one review a long time ago that said it's a bit slow in the beginning and that rings true with me. It's a lot to set up! I think I could have started the story a bit differently. I learn something new with each book!

What inspired you to go from writing women's fiction (i.e. Thought I Knew You) to psychological thrillers? THOUGHT I KNEW YOU was my debut and it came straight from my heart, based on where I was in life at the time I wrote it. I had new babies, I was embroiled in that very all-consuming stage where life is babies, and home, and marriage, and very little else. But truly, I've always read thrillers and mysteries and I knew it would probably be my only women's fiction story. My true writer self is a suspense writer, hands down!

If you could cast In Her Bones as a movie, who would play the lead roles? 
I have a Pinterest board! I like Margot Robbie for Edie and Joe Manganiello for Tim, Jeff Bridges for Gil Brandt. Sharon Stone for Lilith Wade. I always cast my characters as I write them. It's a cheat for getting the hair and eye color right!

What is your favorite thing to eat in autumn?
I make THEEEE BEST butternut squash soup. It has only 5 ingredients! Butternut squash, Cream cheese, chicken broth, Marjoram, and cayenne pepper. I make it and freeze it in batches (without the cream cheese) so I can have it all season long whenever I feel like it. Absolutely my favorite thing Fall, Winter, even spring.

What is the last TV series you binge-watched? 
I watched a few episodes of Killing Eve and FELL IN LOVE with the female assassin. She was like my Edie Beckett times a million. So brilliant. And I adore Shameless.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
It didn't happen to me but the funniest story I've heard recently was during Corinne O'Flynn's IWOTY acceptance speech at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold conference. She talked about her inspiration to write and her WHY (why she writes) and being inspired by her mom who was an avid scrabble player. Every time I think of this story I crack up laughing. One night, they'd played just a bit too long....Click here and listen to the whole speech to be truly inspired BUT skip to 7 minutes to hear the funniest story I've heard in a LONG time.

Thanks to Kate 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 October 2nd at midnight EST.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Book Review: Famous Last Words

By Jami Deise

As an avid Twitter user, I sometimes get tweets like this: Morena Baccarin Compares Kissing Ryan Reynolds to ‘Kissing a Giant Latex Condom’. Now that I’ve read former People magazine reporter Sara Hammel’s latest, Famous Last Words, I have a much greater understanding of everything that went into turning one or two salacious quotes into a Twitter-worthy story. (Spoiler alert: It was Ryan’s costume, not the actor himself, that was the problem.)

Ever since she was a child, Augusta Noble has worshipped celebrities. When she was overweight and lonely, they provided comfort from the classmates who bullied her. Now an adult, she uses them to hide from the fact that she could be a murderer.

A hard news reporter, Augusta quits her reporting job and becomes the London stringer for CelebLife, a People-type magazine that only prints the best about the celebrities it covers, after the traumatic event. Pursuing stars for quotes such as the Morena Baccarin line above, Augusta finds that some celebrities are nice and others are mean. Having once told her mother that it would take 107 celebrity encounters to make up for not having a lot of friends, Augusta works toward that number while dealing with the shaky fortunes of print journalism in the twenty-first century. At the same time, police are hounding her to remember exactly what happened that night at her best friend Caroline’s apartment that left someone dead. And there’s a possible romance with a member of the British aristocracy.

There’s a lot going on in this book, including multiple time lines and locations, and there were times I got confused. Hammel has a strong narrative voice, and her characterization of Augusta is multi-faceted and generous. Strangely enough, I would have appreciated more time in the past with Augusta and the mystery of Caroline than chasing after real-life stars. Undoubtedly, many of the tidbits Hammel drops as Augusta flits from red carpet to after-party are based on the author’s real-life encounters. But save for the dirt about the Beckhams and Princess Kate, nothing she reveals would surprise anyone who has ever stood in a check-out line at the grocery store.

Although this is Hammel’s second book, she may be better known for the scathing public letter she wrote when resigning from People magazine after a 14-year career. (That letter is also available on Amazon, as a Kindle document entitled Red Carpet Regrets.) The question of whether the public really needs weekly musings on the contents of Jennifer Aniston’s womb notwithstanding, underlying Hammel’s career and Famous Last Words is a very real crisis in journalism. As talented, seasoned reporters are pushed aside for struggling freelancers and established newspapers are bought by organizations in order to silence their voices, folks who strive to tell the real stories may become an endangered species. And then none of us will be able to difference between tabloid news, “fake news,” and what is really going on.

Thanks to Jed Hammel (Sara's brother) for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Paige Roberts is in the house...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Paige Roberts to CLC today. We featured her debut, Virtually Perfect, last year. Melissa A really enjoyed it (see her review) and is excited to read her latest, The Last House on Sycamore Street. Paige is here today to talk about her novel and thanks to Kensington, we have one print copy to give away!

Paige Roberts is a former journalist who has written for publications such as McSweeney’s, Culinate, and Smithsonian.com. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children, as well as an ever-expanding collection of cookbooks. Visit Paige at her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Synopsis:
When Amy Kravitz opts to leave Washington, D.C., behind in favor of a less stressful life in the Philadelphia suburbs, she has a certain kind of house in mind. And on a charming street in a family-friendly neighborhood, she and her husband Rob find it. It’s a perfect brick colonial with plenty of space, a beautiful yard, and great schools nearby. The sellers, Julian and Grace Durant, are eager to make a deal. In an unexpected bonus, the Durants’ young son, Ethan, strikes up a friendship with Amy and Rob’s introverted four-year-old, Noah.

Soon, Amy is unpacking boxes in her new home and arranging play dates for Noah and Ethan. But as weeks go by, Amy suspects something isn’t quite right. Julian’s mail keeps arriving at their old address, and Amy can hardly miss the “Final Notice” stamped on the envelopes in big, red letters. Behind the laid-back veneer projected by the Durants, Amy senses lives reeling out of control. But how much does Grace know, how much is she choosing to ignore—and is there more at stake in Amy speaking up or in staying silent? (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is something you learned about yourself between writing Virtually Perfect and The Last House on Sycamore Street?
The one thing I noticed had changed with writing The Last House on Sycamore Street is that I had a lot more trouble keeping the outside world from creeping in. I think most people would agree 2017 was a pretty turbulent year, and there were times I felt my writing got very dark, which reflected the news cycle and my engagement with it. Some days I could feel my mood leaking onto the page in a way it hadn't with Virtually Perfect.

What was the inspiration behind The Last House on Sycamore Street?
A few things. I'd been reading a lot about the opioid crisis around the time I was coming up with the idea for a second book, and I also happened to pick up Sam Quinones' Dreamland, an excellent book about the origins of the epidemic. It got me thinking about the people ensnared by the crisis, directly and indirectly. I also happened to be moving around the time I started writing the book, so I was thinking a lot about owning a home that once belonged to someone else. What would it be like to befriend the seller? Would that be awkward? What makes a "home"?

If The Last House on Sycamore Street were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
I'm terrible at this kind of question! Maybe Ellie Kemper for Amy and Olivia Munn for Grace. For the men...I have no idea. Like I said, I'm terrible at this kind of question!

What is your favorite thing about autumn?
Apple picking! And by default...apple cider donuts. There is an orchard near where I live where you can go apple picking and then buy hot apple cider donuts afterward at a store on the premises. They are HEAVEN.

What is the last movie you saw that you'd recommend?
To give you a sense of the life I lead at the moment: the last movie I saw in the theater was The Incredibles 2. And before that...I can't remember (both because my brain is mush and also because it has been that long). But I actually really enjoyed The Incredibles 2! I'm much better at TV recommendations.

Where was the last place you traveled and what was your favorite thing to do or see there?
I just got back from a week in Avalon, NJ with my family (location of Virtually Perfect!). I'm actually not a huge beach person, but there is something about being by the ocean that is very relaxing. There are many fun things to do in Avalon, but I particularly love getting ice cream from Sundae Best. My favorite flavor is It's All Good -- vanilla ice cream with peanut butter swirl and chocolate covered pretzels. YUM.

Thanks to Paige for chatting with us and to Kensington 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 September 26th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Chick Lit Cheerleader: The Big Move

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I received some amazing news at the beginning of the summer. Our Chick Lit Cheerleader, Jen Tucker, was going to be moving to Maryland! Instead of being almost 10 hours away, she would only be about ONE hour away. Since that time, we've had her and her lovely family over for a barbecue and she and her husband got to see my son's Bar Mitzvah service. I know we'll be getting together again in the near future and I'm looking forward to any time we get to hang out. Jen is here today to tell us all about moving halfway across the country and what the adjustment has been like so far.

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, or Indiana for that matter…

On July 21 at 10:00PM, two-thirds of my spawn and I landed on a turbulent and rain-soaked Saturday night at Baltimore Washington International Airport. It rained non-stop for the following week, too. And I wondered what the heck were we thinking when we agreed this Maryland trek was the best “next step” for our family.

My husband, Mike, accepted a position with a company in Maryland. There would be no communing because, well, we lived in Indiana and he’d be way late for dinner every night. Indiana…where all three of my children were born. Where my middle son attends college. Where my parents and many of my BFFs live. Where I knew the backroad shortcuts to Starbucks to beat out the morning school busses. Where I always found Annie’s gluten free mac & chees on my Wal-Mart’s shelves. Where my bank, post office, drycleaner and favorite resale shop employees all greeted me by name when I walked into their respective establishments. Where I perpetually sat in my favorite row during 8:30AM Sunday morning church service whispering with my friend, Jill. Who is actually lunatic enough to leave behind all of those things and more? Obviously, friends, that’s rhetorical.

There’s something about picking up stakes and challenging life on your own terms. That’s not something many of us ever have the chance to do and even when presented with the opportunity, many don’t take it. It’s not for everyone; to be uncomfortable yet also be OK at the same time. To forgo the familiar and boldly discover new places, friendships, and experiences. It’s all about attitude—it’s what YOU make of it. And although I lightheartedly questioned our sanity the waterlogged night Mike picked us up at the airport, this was my new stomping ground and I was thrilled to make it my own…once it stopped raining.

Now, don’t ask me about my shortcuts around town just yet. I’m still getting used to Maryland drivers who feel speed limits are merely laughable suggestions to lollygaggers. You don’t want to know how my forehead wrinkles when my Wal-Mart is constantly sold out of gluten free mac & cheese no matter what day of the week, or varied time, I shop. My best friend, Nancy, set me straight when I complained that tampons here cost ten dollars—TEN DOLLARS—a box.

“Order them on Amazon!” was her way to tell me to quit whining, and at the same time questioning why I wasn’t already doing so. Look who just caught up to more perks of her Prime Membership—me.

When people aren’t behind the wheel (seriously, tailgaters, and you know I’m right), I think Maryland is filled with some of the friendliest folks that rival Midwesterners. Not only do some areas near our home feel somewhat rural like my former hometown of West Lafayette, the cornfields here are framed by mountains and green valleys. It can’t get more picturesque than that. And I’m getting to know my local businesses here too! Like the checkout clerk at the liquor store (we’re besties) because I can’t buy wine at Aldi’s in Maryland due to state laws. The horror…

Here’s the best part. Not only did I take all the love and friendships with me when we relocated, I have several people in my life I’m now closer to geographically. My childhood friend, Mary, lives just outside DC. She’s like my sister and we’ve made her a key to our house, so she can come home anytime she wants. I’m 50 minutes away CLC’s very own Melissa Amster! Mike and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend her son’s bar mitvah last month. It meant the world to us to be a part of such a momentous occasion. She’s so close, I can reach out and hug her, and her sweet family, whenever I want. My friend who’s more like a cousin, Paul, and his wife live in Annapolis. With the exception of my parents Paul has known me longer than anyone, and the thought of being just miles away, compared to hours away, is a total bonus. Paul’s reaction when he learned we were moving: “It’ll be so great to be close to our family again.”

Maryland, I’m falling a little more in love with you each day. My house is transforming into home with each room painted and another box unpacked. Seeing my husband love his job, our daughter thrive amid a massive tween life change, and our oldest making his way around the city reinforces that this was the perfect next step for our family come rain or shine. Ryan’s Thanksgiving flight is booked and his bed waiting for him when he returns home. See? Only six weeks in and I’m already calling Maryland home. I think I’m becoming comfortable here, and we’re absolutely OK.

Jen and her lovely family


***

Close to a year ago, I took a hiatus from writing to tend to some personal family matters. My mind and heart were not in the right place to be here with you as I wished to be; as you deserved as a community. Yet, here I am, again, and it feels so good! Just like Sade sings about brand new shoes but I’m thinking it’s more comparable to those comfy slippers you yearn for after a long day. I want to take a moment to thank our fearless and fantastic phenom (alliteration is like riding a bike for me), Melissa Amster, for not only being so understanding but also one of the most caring and kind kindreds a gal could have on the planet. Melly, you’re amazeballs. A big hug to Keith Stewart as well. There’s a reason he’s not only CLC’s Go-To-Gay but he’s also been mine for the past two-ish years. I love you, Boo. To the entire CLC family—because that’s what we are whether you’re an author, reviewer, reader or all of the above—it’s good to be home.

Peace, love, and books,
Jen

Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of SaltIn September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at TwitterFacebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Review: Last Chance to Fall

By Sara Steven

I’ve often found that reading subsequent books in a series, while good, can’t hold a candle to that very first one. I’m like this with sequels and prequels, too. It’s not that I don’t find them enjoyable, but I hold a special place in my heart for the initial read that hooked me.

That’s not the case with the Kinney Brothers book series. The experience, the characters, all of it, it just keeps getting better and better, and what better example than Sean Kinney? He’s my favorite brother, and that’s hard to say, considering the other two- Patrick in One Night to Fall (reviewed here), and Ryan in To Fall for Winter (reviewed here). All three are incredible characters, but there’s something special about Sean. It could be his vulnerability, the fact that he felt real. The fact that he is full of mannerisms that wouldn’t ordinarily be considered girl candy. But he more than is.

Even Lindsey Molloy can see it. After dealing with a bad break-up, she meets Sean under strange and unusual circumstances, the kind that she’d ordinarily shy away from. They’re both similar in personalities, wanting to stay protected within their security blankets of routine and regularity. But Lindsey has been rattled, in her past and in the present, the kind of rattled that provokes her into asking Sean, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

And they try to figure that out, as best they can, within a small window of time that feels even smaller depending on the moment. It was nice to see both Sean and Lindsey work hard at breaking out of their shells, the added bonus of Sean’s brothers getting thrown into the mix of it all, and the additional characters that made the other books in this series come to life and add more of a landscape and solidity to who Sean is and what he’s really about.

There are plenty of moments in my life where I feel a lot like Sean, that it’s easier to stay within the comforts of my routine, not to extend myself outside of that fragile box. But his experiences and the relationship he forms with Lindsey filled me with the need to live to the fullest, even if that means tripping and falling and failing. That’s what it’s all about, in the end. The moments where you try and fail and learn something from it, and often times, it turns out just fine in the end, anyway.

While Last Chance to Fall can easily be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading all three books in the Kinney Brothers series. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that will leave you wondering on which brother is YOUR personal favorite, but I can tell you, it won’t be an easy choice. As for this girl? I will forever remain on Team Sean.

Thanks to Kelsey Kingsley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Book Review: A Little Bird Told Me

By Becky Gulc

‘Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?

In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.

As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…

Twelve years later Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.

And atone for the part she played in it.’(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

A Little Bird Told Me is one of those books that I’ve had to leave a few days after finishing to decide how I felt about it. My conclusion? This is an atmospheric ‘classic’ feeling novel that I’m sure will stay with me. It’s wonderfully written, engaging, unnerving at times, but well-balanced.

The narrative worked so well, switching between the present and past, cementing interest in the very beginning (half evil?) and building slowly until an unpredictable clever conclusion. I loved how I was kept guessing, but what I’d been trying to guess wasn’t right!

I loved the dynamic between Robyn and her brother Kit. There’s such a strong bond there which is often played out, yet Robyn doesn’t divulge everything to him and this was frustrating at times, particularly in the ‘present day’ story, but it made for interesting consequences. The childhood narrative also made for a very interesting read; the naivety, loyalty, protectiveness, fear and hope all executed well. How this evolved into their adult stories was also gripping.

I thought this was a wonderful debut novel and Marianne is certainly an author to watch. I won’t shake this one off easily, and that’s not altogether a bad thing. A fantastic read; if you’re looking for something a bit deeper and darker, this may well be for you.

Thanks to Agora Books for the novel in exchange for an honest review. Visit all the stops on the blog tour. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Dinner List

We are excited to feature The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle, which published on Tuesday. Thanks to Flatiron Books, we have one copy to give away!

“We’ve been waiting for an hour.” That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.”

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends with in her utterly captivating novel, THE DINNER LIST, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.

When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, THE DINNER LIST is a romance for our times. Bon appetit. 
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives between NYC and LA. Serle co-developed the television adaptation of her YA book entitled Famous in Love, for Freeform and Warner Brothers Television. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California. Visit Rebecca at her website and on 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 September 19th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Book Review: The Exes’ Revenge

By Jami Deise

I read a lot of domestic thrillers and watch a fair amount of crime TV. One thing I’ve learned from those two media is never marry a cop. If you do, he will become abusive and since he’s buddies with everyone on the force, he can beat you up without worrying he’ll get arrested.

Sadly, no one gave this advice to the women of Jo Jakeman’s debut thriller, The Exes’ Revenge. Protagonist Imogene (the current estranged wife), veterinarian Ruby (the first wife), and former foster child Naomi (the live-in girlfriend) all have their own horror stories when it comes to dealing with the man they have in common, Philip. But Imogene has the most to lose—Philip torments their son, Alistair, and when he threatens to kick her out of the house and sue for custody of Philip, Imogene knows she has to do something drastic.

Since the book starts with the three women at Philip’s funeral, the reader knows Imogene will be successful. This narrative choice dissipates the tension of the conflict between Philip and his women, instead leaving open the questions of who was responsible for the accident years ago that killed Imogene’s baby; what happened to Ruby’s dogs, and where is Naomi’s mother. As the three work together to keep Philip contained, Imogene wonders if she can really trust the women who came before and after her.

Philip is a cartoon villain, and as such, some of the moments that should be scary come across as comical, while others are genuinely frightening. The cat-and-mouse antics between Philip and his women are the best part of the book, as Philip continues to escape impossible situations and constantly ups the ante. I also enjoyed seeing the three women bond and learn to trust each other.

Knowing that Philip ends up in a coffin, though, keeps the reader from believing that the women were in any real jeopardy. Honestly, the ending is a bit of a let-down, with fate stepping in and secrets revealed that were not surprising. But it’s a quick-paced, engaging read, even if it’s more about the how than the why.

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

Friday, September 7, 2018

Book Review: The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club

By Sara Steven

From the author of Sweet Hollow Women comes a new novel about friendship, surprises, and the secrets that hide in the shadows of even the most ordinary-seeming lives.

It's been five years since the idyllic oceanside town of Port Elspeth was rocked by tragedy. Shortly after their high school graduation, Evangeline Maddingly, daughter of one of the town's wealthiest old-money families, and Oliver Prescott, son of one of the town's wealthiest new-money families, were found dead in an isolated cabin in the woods outside of town. The circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths are murky at best, thanks in large part to a coroner with connections to the town's founding families and a sweeping effort from those in power to shut down any negative publicity that could harm the reputation of their pristine community.

Five years later, a small group of strangers gather to create jewelry for one of Port Elspeth's many fundraisers. Before long, friendships are forming and old secrets are being revealed. Along with solving the mystery of how to make a perfect pair of chandelier earrings or cabochon necklace, these unlikely friends find themselves at the heart of solving the murders that took place half a decade earlier. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Port Elspeth and its inhabitants- what a delightful read! From the get go, we’re hooked on the backstory of Evangeline, with a beautifully blended transition into the present time and the eclectic residents who form an unlikely friendship based on jewelry making and fundraisers. It sounds innocent enough, until you delve deeper into the lives of each one, quickly discovering that nothing is as it seems, and nearly everyone has a story to tell from the dark recesses of their skeleton-filled closets.

The characters are such an important part to the story. It was hard not to enjoy each and every one, even the ones who are pleasantly obnoxious. Told from various perspectives, it helped in solidifying what’s really going on, even when a character was adamant on not allowing others a glimpse into their world, the reader has that ability, allowing us to better understand why someone might be the way they’re written.

Even with that, I thought for sure I knew who’d committed the murders, so certain until the final chapters. Then there were moments where I’d hop around from suspect to suspect, and once I’d hit on the revelation, I had a feeling of total understanding. It was a really nice way to incorporate a “whodunit” moment.

I appreciated so many elements to The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club; the friendships, the chaos and drama, the relationships that go sour or discover newfound beginnings, the mystery that surrounds an idyllic town that looks perfect, but is far from. There really is something for everyone at Port Elspeth, which is why it was more than deserving of the five stars I’ve given it.

Thanks to Lola's Blog Tours for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Holly Tierney-Bedord:


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Introducing Jennifer Klepper...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to have Jennifer Klepper at CLC today to talk about her debut novel, Unbroken Threads. Thanks to Suzy Approved Book Tours, we have one copy for a lucky reader! Visit the other stops on Jennifer's tour for more chances to win.

A Midwest native, Jennifer made stops in Dallas, Charlottesville, and Boston before settling for good in Maryland. While she has an appreciation for the expansive beauty of the plains states, she hopes never to live landlocked again.

Jennifer attended Southern Methodist University and the University of Virginia School of Law, her law degree guiding her through the worlds of corporate law, tech startups, and court advocacy for foster children. She is an ardent consumer of podcasts and books that challenge her with compelling and unfamiliar topics. When she’s not writing, she’s crossing things off a never-ending to-do list and hoping to catch that next sunset. Jennifer lives near Annapolis with her husband and two kids.

Visit Jennifer online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram



Synopsis:
Jessica Donnelly’s life is beginning to unravel. When the attorney turned stay-at-home mom tentatively volunteers to represent Amina Hamid, a woman seeking asylum, Jessica must learn an unfamiliar area of the law. Soon, rising opposition to Muslim immigration and unexpected prejudices put her relationships on shaky ground.

Amina fled Syria with little more than memories that now fight against the images splashed on the news. Seeking a secure future and freedom from guilt and grief, she must learn to trust others amidst the reality of fear and hate.

To find stability, Jessica and Amina will both need to harness their own strengths, which may lie in connections that transcend generations, cultures, and continents.

"A terrific debut, and so very timely. With smart writing and compassion, Klepper offers us a look into the hearts of two women: a Syrian immigrant hoping to find a home in the USA, and the volunteer lawyer whose work brings a second chance at life not only to her client, but to herself as well."
~Julie Lawson Timmer, Mrs. Saint and the Defectives

In one sentence, tell us what the road to publishing was like for you.
The road to publishing was all about learning new skills that are unrelated to writing--like marketing, branding, and website development--and building relationships with other writers who are at all stages of the publishing process.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to an aspiring novelist?
Find a supportive group of writers and engage with them. The mutual support, commiseration, information sharing, and friendships are invaluable. For me, it’s been one of the most rewarding parts of this whole publishing experience.

If Unbroken Threads were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Jessica: Michelle Monaghan. Monaghan happens to be from Iowa, just like the character.
Amina: Nazanin Boniadi. So much grace. I loved her in Homeland.
Danny: Matthew McConaughey. I could watch McConaughey in anything. Or nothing :)

What do you look forward to most in the fall?
Tall black boots, jeans, my Barbour jacket, and Nebraska football.

What was the last book you read that you would recommend?
So many! My last fun audio book was Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties, by Camille Pagรกn. I rarely read books that make me laugh out loud, but this one did (in public, no less).

Who is your biggest role model?
My author role model is Jodi Picoult. She takes on tough issues and she handles them with grace and humility. I admire her strength of conviction and her ability to publish outstanding and meaningful books year after year.

Thanks to Jennifer for chatting with us and to Suzy Approved Book Tours for sharing Unbroken Threads 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 September 12th at midnight EST.





Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Spotlight: I Give You My Heart + giveaway for UK




๐—” ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜€. ๐—” ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ฒ-๐˜€๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ. ๐—” ๐—น๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜„๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜.

Alice Richards looked forward to watching the seeds of love she and her husband planted bloom and grow well into their old age. But her plans for the future shrivel up and die when she learns she has an inoperable brain tumour.

Determined that she won’t die in vain, she decides to become an organ donor. With a few precious months left, Alice begins documenting her fairytale romance—from their first meeting to the children they dreamed of having. She’ll pass on every detail to her heart’s next owner… along with careful instructions to send her husband reminders of her undying love. Before her time runs out, Alice must find the perfect candidate to guide her husband through unimaginable grief and hold the memory of their love in her heart.

I Give You My Heart is an emotional romantic fiction novel with an uplifting message. If you like strong-willed women, undying love stories, and honest portrayals of coping with a terminal illness, then you’ll love SarahJane Ford’s heart-warming epic.

An unmissable love story full of warmth, beauty and with a huge, beating heart. Perfect for fans of Cecilia Ahern’s P.S. I Love You and Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

SarahJane Ford is the debut author of I Give You My Heart which was published on September 1st 2018.

SarahJane was born in Scotland but grew up in the Cheshire countryside, which is home to her. After a few years living in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, where she went to secondary school, she has now settled back in Cheshire in a quirky flat surrounded by trees, birds and rolling fields.

A marketing professional since finishing her formal education SarahJane is delighted to be following her writing dream. She still works part-time as a Marketing Manager, whilst furiously penning her second novel.

Harboring an adventurous spirit, SarahJane loves to travel, be surrounded by the wilderness or be riding Cornish waves.

SarahJane loves to read (ideally by the sea!). She was raised on the greatest love stories, which is where her romantic soul comes from. She is in love with love...Mr Darcy's brooding looks in Pride and Prejudice; Julia Roberts and Richard Gere's arresting chemistry in Runaway Bride; the intensely emotional Titanic; going weak at the knees for Danny Zuko in Grease; Cecilia Ahern's heartbreaking P.S. I Love You and Patrick Swayze's mega moves in Dirty Dancing.

Visit SarahJane at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway to win signed hardback of I Give You My Heart with a personalized message (UK Only, per blog tour)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Visit all the stops on the tour:


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway: When the Lights Go Out

By Melissa Amster

Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

 I've been a fan of Mary Kubica's writing ever since reading Pretty Baby in 2015. With When the Lights Go Out, Mary delivers a suspenseful and haunting story that I can't stop thinking about.

I like how Mary shifted between two perspectives, one in the not-so-distant past and one in the present. I had no idea what to expect from this novel and was definitely surprised. I was so nervous for Jessie and Eden the entire time and kept guessing what was going to happen for both of them. I also like that the story took place in Chicago, as most of Mary's novels do. Having lived in the area for most of my life, it was easy to visualize some of the city locations that were mentioned.

My only concern is that after all the build-up, the ending felt a bit anticlimactic. However, I didn't see it coming either.

This novel will give you the chills during what is looking like an unseasonably warm autumn.

Suggestions for Hollywood's consideration:
Jessie: Chloรซ Grace Moretz
Miranda: Aly Michalka
Mrs. Geissler: Fionnula Flanagan

Thanks to Park Row for the book in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks also to Mary Kubica for sharing one copy with a lucky reader.

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 September 11th at midnight EST.

More by Mary Kubica: