Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Reviews at Amazon--September/October 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!


Sara:

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Melissa A:


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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Review: A Christmas Date



By Sara Steven

Even Little Miss Grinch, Nikki, a successful and independent woman, must face her bachelorette status at the most horrible time of the year.

December is her personal version of holly-jolly hell: a merry torture made of couples kissing at every corner, forced vacation days, and an inescapable family reunion.

And when her baby sister announces she’s engaged—to Paul, the man Nikki is secretly in love with—and that he’s spending the holidays with them, Christmas starts looking bluer than ever.

Nikki can’t possibly survive an entire week trapped home as the family’s spinster. But she has no time to meet men or to try the newest dating app, she’s too busy working as a video producer for an advertising agency.

So what’s a girl to do?

Nikki has the perfect solution: to hire a fake boyfriend.

Luckily, her job gives her access to an endless catalog of gorgeous actors to choose from.

But Nikki will soon discover that keeping business and pleasure from mixing isn’t so easy, and that she might not be immune to a little mistletoe magic. Especially not when she picked out the perfect man as her Christmas date... (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Oh, this really was a fun read. Reminiscent of the movie The Wedding Date, but with a unique twist in its approach, I found myself thoroughly engrossed inside the mind of Nikki. There is a stoic way she views the world, not letting her guard down for even a second. Expressing the way she feels or having anything to do with emotional situations doesn’t appear to be her strong suit, particularly when it comes to Paul and the crush she’s had on him for several years. Throw in the fact that her sister is Paul’s love interest, and it makes for some incredibly awkward and cringe-worthy moments.

You can’t fault her for concocting a scheme to try and survive another holiday with her family. They don’t let up when it comes to where she’s at in her life, romantically. And, showing up single and watching her sister canoodle with the man of her dreams isn’t an option. There was enough resistance from the actor she hires that made this feel like it could be doable. Not to mention the pressure Nikki places on herself while she’s doing her best to ensure that they look like a couple. It made a situation that appears surreal end up grounded and realistic, along with the responses and reactions from Nikki’s family. No one can believe that she’d partner with the man she brings home for the holidays, and even she has moments of doubt.

This felt like an awakening for Nikki, not only in matters of the heart, but in her own personal acceptance. She’d placed herself in various categories, ones where she’d never be “that” kind of woman, or never be someone who could be considered desirable or sexy. For her, it was always about the practicalities, and with this experiment, she’s been allowed the opportunity to let it all go. I appreciated her transformation, the eye-opening revelations that crop up when she least expects it, lending into the charm and cadence of this Christmas story. I'm looking forward to venturing into the other two novels in the First Comes Love series, as I'm sure they'll be just as much fun to read.

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

Purchase Links
Amazon US  *Amazon UK * Amazon Geo-linked
iBooks * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * Google Play

Author Bio:
Camilla Isley is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad. She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Visit Camilla online: 
Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads
Bookbub * Instagram * Pinterest

Visit the other stops on Camilla's tour:


Monday, October 29, 2018

Book Review: The Alice Network

By Melissa Amster

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth...no matter where it leads. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I will admit that I was hesitant to read The Alice Network for a while. Perhaps it was the length or I just wasn't in the mood for another war-themed novel. However, some of my reader friends, including the Book Sage, encouraged me to give it a go. When I got my copy, I added it to my TBR pile right away and when I finally got around to picking it up, I found that I had trouble putting it down!

Both Charlie and Eve's narratives are enthralling and kept me on my toes. I appreciated their different perspectives, based on their situations. It turns out that 54 year-old Eve was just as fascinating as 22 year-old Eve. It took me slightly longer to warm to Charlie, but she easily won me over after a few of her chapters. I liked how the women eventually started working as a team for the greater good. Toss in Finn, and they made quite an interesting team. Lili and Eve were also a great team during WWI. I could see why Eve was so fascinated by Lili and how she evolved as a result of Lili's mentorship.

There are so many twists, turns, and surprises throughout the story. It gripped me and didn't let go, even after I turned the last page. It was interesting to learn from the author notes how much was based on fact and what was fictionalized. Even as the novel is giving a history lesson, it feels like a fun way to learn something new. My only minor complaint is that it went on a bit long, at 500 pages. However, there's a lot to pack in and the story moved quickly for the most part.

I've been recommending The Alice Network while I was reading it and would definitely encourage others not to wait any longer than I did to get started!

Movie casting suggestions (because if this made it into Reese's book club, there's a good chance it will be optioned for film):
Eve (1915): Florence Pugh
Eve (1947): Gina McKee
Charlie: Alexis G. Zall
Finn: Rafi Gavron
Lili: Mélanie Laurent
René: Matthias Schoenaerts

See how Kate Quinn would cast her novel.

Friday, October 26, 2018

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Beautiful Strangers by Camille DiMaio from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
The Summer Cottage by Viola Shipman from Graydon House (e-book via NetGalley)
Christmas at the Cat Café by Melissa Daley from St. Martin's Press
The World Breaks Everyone by/from Lauren Clark
I'll Never Tell by/from Catherine McKenzie (e-book via NetGalley)
Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner from Little, Brown  (e-book via NetGalley)
The Very Principled Maggie Mayfield by Kathy Cooperman from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
Just Once by Lori Handeland from Severn House (e-book via NetGalley)
The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda from Harlequin (e-book via NetGalley)

Amy:
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen from St. Martin's Press

Sara:
Hello, Stranger: My Life on the Autism Spectrum by Barbara Moran from KiCam Projects (e-book)
Bagging Alice by/from Laura Barnard (e-book)

Jami:
The Liar's Room by Simon Lelic from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Game of Pies by/from Heather Wardell (e-book)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Say "bonjour" to Isabelle Laflèche...plus a book giveaway

We're so glad to have Isabelle Laflèche back at CLC today to talk about her latest novel, Bonjour Girl. We enjoyed her J'adore series and are excited to see what she has in store for Clementine this time around. Isabelle has THREE copies for some lucky readers!

Isabelle Laflèche worked for more than ten years as a corporate attorney in New York City, Montreal, and Toronto before pursuing her passion for writing. Her debut novel J’adore New York is published by Harper Collins CA, along with its sequel J’adore Paris. Her best selling books have now been translated into five languages. She also recently published a guide book to Paris, written during her stay in the city of light while researching her novel J'adore Paris. In addition to being hard at work on her next books, she is a former writer on culture, literature, and fashion for the Quebec fashion magazine Clin d’oeil. She lives in Montreal, Canada. (Courtesy of Isabelle's website.)

Visit Isabelle online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest


Synopsis:
Dating, fashion, and drama: Clementine never has a dull day at the Parsons School of Design.

When Clementine Liu arrives in New York City to study at the Parsons School of Design, she knows that she’s found her place. It isn’t long before she meets her fashionista soulmate, the loud and charismatic Jake, and Jonathan, a dreamy fashion photographer who turns her world upside down.

Between schoolwork and glitzy fashion shows, Clementine launches a blog, Bonjour Girl, and her wit, originality, and flair quickly catapult the site to cult status. Unfortunately, this comes with a price: Clementine is faced with online abuse and public humiliation. In the midst of all the drama, she finds out that a classmate is not what she seems, and Clementine has to find a way to save both her reputation and Jake’s fashion collection.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


What is something new you learned while writing Bonjour Girl?

We live in a world where diversity is lacking in the fashion and beauty industries, as well as in the media. It's important that we see a more accurate portrayal of different types of people and not just a one size fits all model of beauty. Also, I learned that the way some young people disrespect each other online is not only disturbing but alienating and can be very harmful to their self-esteem. We need to encourage and cultivate greater self-respect.

What is something about Clementine that reminds you of yourself?
She's curious, sensitive, creative, loves vintage fashion, has overcome challenges but keeps a positive outlook and is determined. Oh, and she loves pink. I'm not sure if that's actually in the book or not but the book cover speaks for itself!

If Bonjour Girl were made into a movie, who would star in the lead roles?

I would love to see a real fashion blogger play Clementine. Perhaps Susie Lau of Susie Bubble or Leaf Greener, a blogger from Shanghai. Jake could be played by Jonah Hill and Jonathan by Penn Badgley.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
Attending a spiritual workshop in an ashram and reading a text taht said that novel writing and reading can be be bad for the soul! I laughed out loud!

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
I read the Jenny Han trilogy To All the Boys I've loved before which I really.... loved! I also read Rise Sister Rise by Rebecca Campbell, a great book about connecting to your divine, inner self.

If we were to visit you in Montreal, what is something you would want us to check out?
The Museum of Fine Arts, the cool vintage shops, the great restaurants and the AMAZING Jazz Festival!

Thanks to Isabelle for chatting with us and sharing her book with our readers!

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

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Giveaway ends October 30th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Go-to-Gay AND Chick Lit Cheerleader: Spicing up your fall



Jen and Keith are back today for a "he said, she said" of epic proportions. They have quite a controversial topic to discuss, so brace yourselves for the biggest debate of the season...whether to use pumpkin spice or not! Even if this doesn't answer your burning questions or you haven't changed your mind about it one way or the other, Jen and Keith will definitely make you laugh!

Pumpkin Spice – Love it or Leave it?

Jen Tucker: When Melissa asked Keith and I to combine our Wonder Twin power rings for this month’s column, we kicked around two very different ideas. It’s been a difficult time for so many, friends. As humor writers, Keith and I attempt to look for silver linings and hilarity (usually at our own expense) in formidable situations. Our first idea was just that: to enlist some of our favorite humorists to share with all of us what they do to keep humor alive in tough times. Would we offend? Too soon? Too much? Much needed? We weren’t sure and that’s why we decided to go with idea behind curtain number two, because we both strongly believed we should do what we do best right now—make people laugh.

Keith Stewart: SO, I have been a total and complete slacker this month, not that it is different from any other month, except now instead of keeping only Melissa waiting for my work, our cheerleader Jen has been waiting for me, too! Thankfully, Jen carries me when I refuse to sit and write until two weeks after the deadline.

So, without further ado, here’s our seasonal and timely contribution…

Pumpkin Spice – Love it or Leave it?
What Should Always be Pumpkin Spice & What Should Never Be

Jen’s Never List
      *Astronauts—I don’t want aliens thinking we all smell like the fall foliage brooms for sale at Cracker Barrel. (Keith: I agree. Although I am not sure what astronauts should smell like. Old Spice for men? Patchouli for women?)
*Laundry Detergent—I like to smell like sterile bleach or April fresh on laundry day. (Keith: Again, I agree. Nothing beats Tide or Gain. All day, every day.)
*Gasoline—Just no… (Keith: I could sort of go for scented gas. Maybe.)
*The Property Brothers—I want Drew and Jonathan to smell like work site handymen who make the world a better place with their charm and overall handsomeness. (Keith: I would take the Property Brothers however they smelled.)
*Scotch Tape—If only Scotch tape smelled like scotch. Or tequila. Or just Happy Hour in general. (Keith: Seasonally flavored office supplies would not offend me.)   
*Odor Eaters—Gross! (Keith: Agree. I don’t think sweaty feet and PS would mix well, which also makes me rethink the astronauts.)
*Toilet Paper—I can get behind Poo-Pourri but not the Squatty Potty. (Keith: Agree. Nothing scented needs to go there. However, I am the proud owner of a Squatty Potty.)
*Drew Brees’ Pass Record Jersey (BOILER UP!)—Drew, a fellow descendant from my Cradle of Quarterback alma mater, and his professional wardrobe should just smell like good clean fun. (Keith: I don’t know what this means. I don’t keep up with the foosball.) [Jen rolls her eyes and means it with love.]
*Chalk—Hello, pica is real, so let’s not entice our brothers and sisters to stumble by scenting it!) (Keith: I would sort of like to see this just to see kids down on the ground sniffing the sidewalk. Obvious I don’t have kids?)
*Couch Cushions—Have you seen My Strange Addiction? Please see above. (Keith: Agree. Couch cushions already have it rough, no need making it seasonally rougher.)
*Polaroid Pictures—Can you imagine the mob that would ensue by waving your developing photo in the air? They’ll come for you, Keith. (Keith: Is this still a thing? Jen, are you still taking Polaroid pictures? I bet your phone has a camera. Check it out.) Keith, I am so disappointed, but I love you anyway…



Jen’s Always List

Pumpkin Pie – the end! I mean this with love, but I don’t get the enthusiasm for spicing things up pumpkin style. What do pumpkin spice coffee addicts do in the off-season? Do they score it in dark alleys instead of showing up to Easter egg hunts and Passover dinner? (Keith: Jennifer Marie Elizabeth Marsha Tucker! I AM APPALLED! SO much more needs added to this list!)

Keith: Since Jen covered the Never list so well, I am sticking to the ALWAYS list.

Keith’s Always Pumpkin Spice List

*Coffee—call me a basic white girl if you want, but that sweet nectar calls my name. I love it and think coffee should be this flavor all the time (except for the Holidays when mocha peppermint comes out). [Jen: Don’t drink coffee, I drink tea, my dear. Me and Sting that is, but not together. Although that would be so fetch!]
*Hand Soap—I enjoy having my hands smell nice and seasonally pleasing. (Jen: Dial antibacterial 24/7, otherwise, how do you really know you’ve killed 99.9% of germs?)
*Lotion—see hand soap above. (Jen: OK, you got me. As long as the lotion isn’t an all-day scent because it would ruin chowing down a good hamburger.)
*Car Air Fresheners (Jen: I just can’t even…)
*Stamps—scratch and sniff stamps are needed. (Jen: I, like, totally collected smelly stickers in the 1980s!)
*Kale—I may eat the dang stuff then. (Jen: This is the part where I invite Keith to dinner and pumpkin spice the snot out of his kale salad!)
*Actual Pumpkins—have you smelled a raw pumpkin? It’s bad, people. Bad. (Jen: I concur!)

So, what do you think? Agree with Jen or Keith? What else do you think should always or never been Pumpkin Spice? Let us know in the comments.

Have a great Halloween and Fall! And take Keith’s advice, have a PS Latte, pronto!

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

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.

Book Review: Go to My Grave

By Jami Deise

Agatha Christie was the first mystery writer I loved, and she set me on the path of following female authors who wrote mysteries featuring female protagonists. Of course Ms. Marple was a lot older than Kinsey Millhone or Tess Monaghan, but it generally didn’t take her as long to figure out who the killer was as it took those young whippersnappers. But that wasn’t the reason I preferred her to Hercule Poirot. It was because Ms. Marple was always getting invited to those wonderful weekend parties at some rich friend’s seaside or country estate. She had a lot of friends; there were a lot of parties, and sure someone usually died but there was tea and lovely strolls in the garden or by the sea, so what’s a dead body or two in exchange for all that?

Author Catriona McPherson, who won an Agatha award for her mystery Quiet Neighbors, must have been similarly inspired by Ms. Marple, because her current mystery, Go to My Grave, takes place at one of those British seaside houses. Six cousins and two spouses have rented out the Breakers bed and breakfast to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sasha and his wife, Kim. But not until the group arrives at the Breakers do they realize it’s the same place where this same group (minus the spouses) celebrated Sasha’s 16th birthday. No parents were in attendance, but two local girls – Carmen and her sister Lynsey—were there. And something happened at that party, something that someone is determined to make Sasha remember through practical jokes, mean gags, and more sinister tricks.

The story is actually narrated by Donna, who co-owns the home with her mother, who is off-site at a wedding convention. This party is the first event at the Breakers, and Donna is overwhelmed and nervous. When things start to go wrong—the cousins fight; Sasha is a creep—she doesn’t know how to handle it.

In alternating chapters, the story gives readers Carmen’s point of view in 1991. Initially excited about being summoned to the party – she’s only had a glimpse of Sasha at the beach, and her mother is the cleaning lady at the home Sasha’s parents have rented for the weekend—she soon realizes that these teenagers view her and Lynsey as a joke. But at 14 and 12, Carmen and Lynsey still lack the maturity to leave before things go terribly wrong.

I enjoyed the book, but I had some issues with it. With Donna being the first-person narrator, I found it hard to keep track of all the cousins – there were so many of them, and she was meeting them for the first time and could only tell the reader her impressions, without any back story. And none of the cousins were likable – I was eager for them to start dying. Unfortunately, that took a while. With the inter-cutting between Carmen’s story and present day, the pacing wasn’t as quick as most mystery writers prefer.

But the bigger issue is that McPherson, unlike Christie, shows all her cards to the reader. I found it relatively easy to deduce who was behind everything (although the “how” was rather unbelievable). However, figuring out “who done it” and being right are definitely part of what makes the mystery genre so enjoyable. But the best ones are the ones that leaves you surprised at the end… the ones that make you go back and reread the book so you can see the clues you missed.

The writing in Go to My Grave is very good, and excellent in the 1991 sections narrated by Carmen. And with #MeToo taking up more and more space in the national conversation, the book illustrates once again why some girls keep quiet—as well as the type of person who covers up this behavior rather than punishing it.

Thanks to Minotaur for the book in exchange for an honest review. Visit all the stops on the tour.



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Release Blitz and Excerpt: All that Matters

All That Matters banner


This is my stop during the book blitz for All That Matters by Tracy Krimmer. This book blitz is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 23 till 24 October. See the tour schedule here.


All That MattersAll That Matters (All That #3)

By Tracy Krimmer

Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Women’s Fiction

Age category: Adult

Release Date: October 22, 2018







Synopsis:

Dory Walker finally has both feet on the ground and looks forward to one thing only--becoming Mrs. Harris Malone. Her wedding is coming up, and she's put her music career behind her for good so she can focus on what's important in her life. Family comes first.

Harris Malone is getting used to his young daughter living over an hour away but now faces a new challenge--unemployment. With a wedding in a few months, he's in need of money, and he’s not sure how he’s going to find it.

But as Dory and Harris plan their happy future together, a trail of lies follows them. From secrets to hidden truths, every aspect of their relationship will be tested. Will they say "I do," or will a web of deceit force them into saying "I don’t?”
You can find All That Matters on Goodreads

You can buy All That Matters here:
Amazon * B&N * Kobo * iTunes * All vendors link
Excerpt:

“How are you doing?” I rubbed Harris’s arm, knowing the day had to be bittersweet for him. He didn’t desire to take over the store as his dad had originally planned so it almost came as a blessing when Randy was forced to sell due to his debts. Still, Harris had spent the better part of almost a year mentally preparing for the takeover that now wouldn’t happen.

“Okay. I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, though. I came here to work almost every day for more than a decade. What am I supposed to do with myself?”

As much as I wanted to, I didn’t have an answer to his question. I had a better idea than anyone what it meant to feel lost, and only over the past month and a half had I finally found myself. I thought I ached for a music career again but as I spent more time on stage, backstage, and on the tour bus I realized my life belonged in Sycamore Bay. My cosmetology degree was being put to good use at Lila’s salon, and now with another stylist, Zoe, added to the payroll, business boomed. I made decent money in hourly and tips and my health didn’t suffer because of it. In fact, I couldn’t even recall the last time my endometriosis flared up.

“Give it time, Harris. You’ll figure all of that out.”

“Yeah, maybe.” He touched his hand to my chin and tipped my face so I stared into his chestnut eyes. Wiping a stray brown hair away from my face and tucking it behind my ear, he added, “but we have a wedding to plan. I don’t want to cut corners anywhere. You deserve your dream wedding.”

How did I get so lucky as to be with a man like Harris? “I’m marrying you. That is my dream.” It had been for years. I crushed on him through all of high school and once we shared a kiss I thought that was it. It wasn’t though, and we went our separate ways. We’d found each other again, and I planned never to let him go.

He pressed his lips to mine and for a moment I forgot we were at the store. My knees weakened and my heart rate increased. He did that to me every single time.

“I see you two are still together.”

We turned our heads and my throat dropped into my stomach when Mandy Glab stood in front of us, a half of a smile on her face. After six months in prison, I hadn’t expected her beauty to overwhelm me. Before being sent away on vandalism charges—of Malone Hardware nonetheless—I’d never seen her without makeup, always looking perfect with every outline of her lipstick and stroke of her eyeshadow. Today wasn’t any different. Her hair was longer now, and her skin was its natural tone, not the slightly bronzed look she borrowed from a bottle.

“What are you doing here?” Harris pulled me to him as if not doing so would cause me harm. “Part of your release is that you not step foot in this store—and it’s still Malone Hardware for another few hours—and you aren’t within five hundred yards of my father. Do I need to contact your parole officer?”

Barely out from behind bars and already she violated her parole. Mandy did whatever she wanted. That was a fact the entire community of Sycamore Bay knew.

All That Series Book Trailer

You can watch the book trailer for the All That series here on Youtube:




First book in this series

All That Glitters

“A has-been country music star. A divorced dad from a small town. Almost a decade of bottled up passion...”

Links for All That Glitters:
Goodreads * Amazon * B&N
Kobo * iTunes * All vendors link

Second book in this series

All That Doesn't

“Can the bond between Dory and Harris survive these turbulent times?”

Links for All That Doesn’t:
Goodreads * Amazon * B&N
Kobo * iTunes * All vendors


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

You can find and contact Tracy here:
Website * Twitter * Facebook * Reader Group * Goodreads
Amazon * Bookbub * Instagram * Pinterest * Newsletter

Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of All That Matters. One winner will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

For a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter below:

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Book Review: All You Need is Love

By Sara Steven

CJ Evans has worked hard to overcome many of the devastating challenges that life has thrown at her, and she has come a long way. Despite the aftermath of her broken engagement and the strained relationship with her mother, she has recently mended lost friendships and has become a successful entrepreneur of a business she is truly passionate about. But could all of this progress be lost when her mother presents her with a blindside she never would have expected?

CJ realizes she can no longer avoid her past, and she must finally face the heartbreak, inadequacy, and unresolved events to continue to move forward. This includes embarking on a new career path and opening her heart to a love she’s always been hoping for.

CJ’s journey is one of growth, trust, and taking risks. And in the end she may realize that to be truly happy—all you need is love. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Having read the first book in the "Love In The City" series, (On the Road to Love, reviewed here), I was excited to learn more about CJ. She was an integral character in the first book, but I didn’t know much about her backstory or what had ultimately made her the tough and at times formidable person she is. We learn that there have been a lot of unfortunate events she’s had to deal with, and sprinkled in are tense relationships with family members and even with the friendships she has recently mended. It makes for a character who has a very hard time with allowing herself to be vulnerable, or to let others get too close.

As noted by the synopsis, CJ's mother puts her into a very awkward situation, with nearly every moment bordering on cringe-worthy. While I’m sure there are people in real life who have had to go through something similar, I still can’t imagine anything like that happening. I’m not sure how I would be able to handle it. It seemed the more time that would pass for CJ, the more awkward it would get, which meant an enjoyable, tense-riddled read that proved hard to put down. I wanted to see how she’d handle every second of it.

While the title of the book insinuates that all we need is love, I felt that CJ discovered a lot more while attempting to find herself and what she really wants out of life. The woman who has put up as many barricades as possible in order to protect herself, ventures out and ends up doing a lot that pushes her outside comfortable limits. There are moments of achievements and failures, the highs and lows that can come from putting yourself out there, and it was really nice to see and witness, this character grow and change. While working hard to get what she wants, CJ discovers that it’s getting what you need that is the biggest achievement of all.

Thanks to Melissa Baldwin for the book in exchange for an honest review. All You Need is Love can be purchased here.

More by Melissa Baldwin:

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spotlight and Giveaway: Every Breath

We're celebrating the publication week of Nicholas Sparks' latest novel, Every Breath. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing, we have one copy to give away!


Synopsis:
Get swept up in #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks's epic romance across decades and continents--from North Carolina to Zimbabwe--a heartbreaking love story in the tradition of his beloved classic, The Notebook.

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she's been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family's cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother's early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.

Illuminating life's heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, EVERY BREATH explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties--while asking the question, How long can a dream survive?

Photo by James Quantz, Jr.
With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world's most beloved storytellers. His novels include fourteen #1 New York Times bestsellers, and all of his books, including Three Weeks with My Brother, the memoir he wrote with his brother, Micah, have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than fifty languages. Eleven of Nicholas Sparks's novels -- The Choice, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Safe Haven, The Lucky One, The Last Song, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, and Message in a Bottle--have been adapted into major motion pictures.

Visit Nicholas online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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

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Giveaway ends October 23rd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Book Review: Pictures in the Sky




By Sara Steven

She gave up on romance years ago. He’s going through the motions. Their lives change forever when he makes contact out of the blue.

With her daughter leaving the nest, Michelle Cameron would rather spend her time with good friends, a glass of fizzy and a box set, than with another idiot bloke chipping away at her self-esteem. But when childhood friend Daniel Helmsley gets back in touch, the years roll away on a tide of laughter and friendship, which soon gives way to another roller coaster of love, excitement and panic. Can Michelle let herself trust again? What if Dan is just another idiot bloke, disillusioned with the present and nostalgic for the past? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Michelle was an interesting character to delve into. In her youth, she’d made mistakes where relationships are concerned, which has lent into her being on guard and very protective of her heart. And while she’s obviously evolved from the young single mother of her past into the middle-aged woman of her present, there is a lot of baggage and leftover fear, at times giving the reader the impression that she is still very much that young single mother of her youth, still finding her way in life. When pitted against an obstacle, we discover just how hard it is for her to handle anything even remotely confrontational, a fact that she is well aware of. This lack of confrontation bleeds into her newfound relationship with Daniel.

There is a lot of baggage tied to Daniel, another fact Michelle is well aware of, but it’s hard to avoid the obvious chemistry the two of them have, not to mention the foundation of friendship that exists for them. I appreciated getting to read her take on the relationship, the fumbling and bumblings that can often happen when you’re just starting out and getting to know someone, even when it’s someone you’ve been friends with since childhood. Taking their relationship to the next level presents a whole new set of problems and concerns, and we’re in Michelle’s head the entire time, going through her emotions with her.

Another dynamic worth mentioning is the one between Michelle and her daughter, Sara. There is a special bond between the two of them, magnified by how young Michelle had been when she’d become a mother, the “it’s just us against the world” mentality they shared as they both tried to navigate the single mother and fatherless child waters. At times, it feels as though Sara is the parent, and then in the same breath, she’s a petulant child, and seeing how Michelle reacts to this only adds to the layers of who she is and why she is the way she is.

I liked the paralleling dynamics between what Michelle is going through in her personal life, and the outside influences and physical challenges, like training for a race with Daniel. Much of her inner struggles are reflective in the physical ones, and all the while you want to root for a nice, easy, simple outcome for her, but much like life, nothing is ever so nice, easy, or simple.

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review. Pictures in the Sky can be purchased here. (Only 99 cents for Kindle!)

Amanda Paull is a writer of humorous romantic fiction. She lives in the North East of England with her husband and works in the public sector. The inspiration for her stories comes from real life, which she tries to show the funnier side of by embellishing to the hilt. Visit Amanda at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.




Visit all the stops on Amanda's tour!




Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bette Lee Crosby's extraordinary year...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to have Bette Lee Crosby visiting today to celebrate the publication of her latest novel,  A Year of Extraordinary Moments. The hearing loss aspect of this novel stands out to Melissa A, as she has experience with raising children who have hearing loss. It sounds like it will be a great novel and Bette has one signed copy for a lucky reader!


Bette Lee Crosby is the USA Today bestselling author of nineteen novels, including the first Magnolia Grove novel, The Summer of New Beginnings. She has been the recipient of the Royal Palm Literary Award, Reviewer’s Choice Award, FAPA President’s Book Award, International Book Award, and Next Generation Indie Award, among many others. Her 2016 novel, Baby Girl, was named Best Chick Lit of the Year by Huffington Post. She laughingly admits to being a night owl and a workaholic, claiming that her guilty pleasure is late-night chats with fans and friends on Facebook and Goodreads. To learn more about Bette Lee Crosby’s work, visit her at her website. You can also find Bette on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.


Synopsis:
Tracy Briggs has finally gotten her act together. She’s focusing on her own life and helping her hearing-impaired son learn to talk. With her sister married and exploring a new career, Tracy has begun to run the family’s magazine business and feels her life is pretty much perfect. That is, until her son’s deadbeat dad shows up in Magnolia Grove asking for a second chance.

Now that her son is getting the help he needs and a promising new romance with his teacher is in bloom, Tracy wants to keep her life just as it is. But her ex isn’t taking no for an answer. And when a spirited elderly woman enters Tracy’s life in an unexpected way, she’ll have to work harder than ever to keep her new life on track.

Torn between the past she knows and the uncertain future, Tracy must decide what is best for both her and her son, learning along the way that ordinary choices can bring extraordinary possibilities. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you received for one of your previous novels?
To understand the significance of this compliment, you have to know how it happened. The novel Baby Girl was based on a true story that one of my fans shared with me. When she first approached me about writing her story—one of a birth mother who gives up her baby, but never forgets—I told her that I only write fiction. She said that was okay. She told me her story and I wrote it almost as it was – fictionalizing only a very few parts. At the time I wrote the book, the daughter she had given up was 18 years old and while the birth mother knew where she was, etc., they had never spoken. When the book was released she sent her daughter a copy of it and said “This is our story”.

After reading the story of what her mother went through and how much she ached to hold on to her child, the girl contacted her mom, and the day they met for coffee, her mom took a picture of them together and sent it to me. She said, “This is the happiest day of my life. Thank you for making it happen.”

When one of my books is so powerful it can change a person’s life, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

What inspired you to include a child with hearing loss in A Year of Extraordinary Moments and how much research did you have to do on the subject?
When I conceived the idea for the story, I knew Tracy had to have a huge obstacle to overcome and just having a baby wouldn’t be enough to open her eyes and force her into changing her life. Children and dogs bring out the best in us, because they are vulnerable and cannot fend for themselves, so it brings out the hero hidden in all of us. I considered using autism as Lucas’s problem, but there was not heartwarming solution to that so I began researching hearing problems. And, yes, I did a ton of research. I interviewed a ENT doctor at length, and I did a lot of research on the internet. There were two whole days when I watched videos of toddlers having their cochlear implant sound turned on for the first time, and as I sat there crying happy tears, I knew that was where I wanted to go with Lucas’s story.

Also, I fell in love with Gabriel. There is something about a hero who is flawed and rises above it, that absolutely touches my heart.

If you could cast A Year of Extraordinary Moments as a movie, who would play the lead roles?
My first choice would have been a young Sandra Bullock, but since she’s too mature for the part, it would have to be Kristen Stewart. Kristen has the same less-than-perfect, but 100% likable shagginess that Tracy has.

I would tag Ryan Gosling to play Gabriel. He has such a warm and friendly face. Gabriel is a man with such compassion and inner strength, and I think Ryan Gosling with his warm eyes and inviting smile could pull that off easily.

I would definitely have Meryl Streep play Alice DeLuca. She does a vulnerable but strong woman beautifully.

What has been a recent extraordinary moment for you?
A few weeks ago, my novel The Twelfth Child hit the USA Today Bestseller list and that was extremely exciting. I hadn’t expected it and didn’t find out until Friday (The list comes out on Thursday) when my hubby came and told me about it.
This is my third novel to make this prestigious list, and Spare Change has been there three times, but it never grows old. Each time is as thrilling as the first time.

What is your favorite autumn beverage?
In October and early November, I love pumpkin latte; but once we move past Thanksgiving, I turn to mulled wine—it puts me in a holiday mood.

What is something that motivates you?
Reading a really great book. Once where there is no meaningless filler, where every word counts and I truly care about what happens to the protagonist. When I read a book that well-written it makes me want to sit down at the computer and write one just as powerful.

I am also inspired by life stories – friends, neighbors, fans, even things I hear on the news—when I hear about someone who has in some way stepped out of the box, I want to write that story, or a story along that line. Often when I hear a story that happened one way, my impulse is always to think but what if happened with this other twist. I love the road not taken ideas.

Thanks to Bette Lee Crosby for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends October 21st at midnight EST.