Friday, May 24, 2019

Book Review: Surviving the Holidays: Hell-I-Daze

By Sara Steven

The Holidays. They follow us year round, and sometimes these cherished days can be wonderful, but let's face it--sometimes they are just brutal! Whether it's New Year's or Valentine's, Fourth of July or even birthdays, we all gotta do what we gotta do to survive them all! Miss OMG walks us through the year and lightens the load with her hysterical anecdotes that are sure leaving you laughing out loud! Miss OMG has been writing for decades as journalist, (Michele Giacomini), and in more recent years as a "bloggist." In this book, she celebrates the humor of life's year-round celebrations. From pointing out the madness of the holidays, to crappy gift-giving, Miss OMG shares her thoughts on surviving the holidays that will leave you laughing and turning the pages to discover what crazy story she shares next… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

While the book’s title might lead you to believe that it’s a story focused primarily around the potential turbulent times of the winter holidays, Surviving the Holidays: Hell-I-Daze is actually a hilarious play-by-play of all the crazy antics and misfires that can happen with every single holiday and the days all around it, all year long! Broken up in monthly fashion, Miss OMG gives it to us straight, with horrifically insane yoga experiences, family dysfunctions and her own blunders, all in the name of trying her best.

I could relate with a lot of what Miss OMG points out, the feelings and thoughts that I keep to myself when it comes to the craziness that crops up when trying to plan something that appeals to my entire family. When she talks about how things were done in the past (a good example of this is her take on Easter egg hunts) it reminded me of simpler times, when all that was required were egg baskets and eggs. Now, there are huge events planned, bunny costumes worn by weary parents, special eggs for various children based on their age, and their interests. There is frustration to the voice of Miss OMG, yet an understanding that she will go to great lengths to do what needs to be done, all in the name of family. Many parents can identify with that.

There are several moments of comedic humor, so many events and planning and slip ups and mishaps, it felt like reading something a good friend of mine who I don’t mind being open and honest with, when it comes to my own frustrations with parenting, might have written in order to soothe and calm the inner voices that make me wonder, “Am I doing this right?” Miss OMG responds with a , “Yes. You’ve got this,” even if the outcomes are often times less than perfection. She shows us that, in the end, we all survive and come out of it okay.

Thanks to Miss OMG for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Tracie Banister just keeps swimming...plus a special giveaway

We're excited to have Tracie Banister back at CLC today to talk about her latest novel, In the Swim of Things. Melissa A is currently devouring this novel and she knows you all will enjoy it too! Tracie has a special giveaway going on in conjunction with her release blitz! See the end of this post for more details.

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O'Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play she penned. (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she also starred in and tried to direct the production.)

Tracie’s dreams of authorial success were put on the back burner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a "real" job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. She is the proud winner of the 2017 Independent Press Award (Romantic Comedy) and a Bronze Medal in the 2017 Readers’ Favorite Awards (Chick Lit).

In the Swim of Things is Tracie’s sixth novel and thanks to this book, she can now check another occupation off her fantasy list. She has no doubt that writing about a mermaid is much easier than actually being one!

Visit Tracie online:
Author Newsletter – The Banister Buzz
Blog
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Goodreads


A sexy, sun-soaked tale about a tail-wearing girl who makes a lot of waves—perfect for fans of Lauren Layne, Meghan Quinn, and Christina Lauren.

Ocean-loving Kyra Goodwin had to give up her dream of becoming the female Jacques Cousteau in order to take care of her father and brother, but being a mermaid at the Cape Cod Aquarium is pretty fintastic as far as alternative careers go.


Of course, life as a half-fish/half-woman isn’t all sunken treasure and Ariel twirls. Kyra has to deal with perpetually pruney fingers, eyes irritated by saltwater, and bratty kids on the daily, plus her glam alter ego can make dating really weird. (So many men have pervy siren-of-the-sea fantasies!) When she meets hunky surfer Cade, and he’s into her without knowing what she does for a living, Kyra thinks she’s finally won the romance lottery.


Unfortunately, Kyra’s plans for a carefree summer of catching waves with her new boyfriend run aground when Sea Star Beach, a place that holds great sentimental value for her, is taken over by a big-city developer who wants to build an exclusive resort. Kyra’s crusade to save her beloved beach threatens both her job and her relationship with Cade as does her growing closeness with her irresistibly broody merwrangler, Declan, whose precocious daughter is intent on playing matchmaker.


When a new family drama arises just as Kyra receives an offer that would turn her greatest desire into reality, she’s torn. Will she do what’s expected of her, or dive in and follow her heart?


When you’re a writer, you never know when inspiration might strike. A couple of years ago I was watching House Hunters International and saw a story about a woman who was relocating from the US to New Zealand. She was a professional mermaid, so there were several shots of her swimming in her tail. I’ve always loved mermaids and was fascinated to learn that you could actually make a career out of being one! Thus, the seed was planted for me to write a story about a woman who worked as a mermaid at an aquarium.

Photo credit: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park website

Research is my jam, and I do a lot of it before I start writing a story so that I can get into the right head space. So, I went on a deep dive into the history of mermaid performers, going all the way back to 1947 when Weeki Wachee Springs opened in Florida and featured beautiful mermaids who could do amazing underwater tricks. The Weeki Wachee Mermaids became a huge tourist attraction, even luring actors like Elvis Presley and Esther Williams to stop by for a visit! The mermaids, who came from all over the world to try out for a coveted spot in the pod, became celebrities in their own right, performing in sold-out shows and being treated like queens wherever they went.

Photo credit: Coney Island USA website

Seven decades later, the Weeki Wachee Mermaids are still going strong and their popularity has spawned similar shows all over America, as well as a thriving mer-culture that includes conventions (MerMagicCon, Mer-Mania), the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade, and a whole cottage industry of mermaid-themed products. I watched some very informative vlogs done by a variety of professional mermaids to get the scoop on what it’s like to live the life of a siren-of-the-sea and you’ll find those tidbits scattered throughout In the Swim of Things.

One of my favorite things to research for this book was how mermaids achieve their look, using everything from cleverly-applied makeup and glittery nail art to hand-decorated bras that complement their tails. How they get in and out of those tails is another secret I include in the book. For now, I will tease that it’s quite a time-consuming ordeal!

Photo credit: Instagram accounts @spejldame @twi_star @_stephsnails_

I hope you’ll enjoy Kyra’s watery adventures in In the Swim of Things. Purchase the book during my Release Blitz (May 15th-31st) and you can enter to win a prize pack that any mermaid fan is sure to love!

RELEASE BLITZ GIVEAWAY:

Purchase a copy of In the Swim of Things (only $1.99 for Kindle!) during the Release Blitz (May 15th - May 31st, 2019) and you could win an incredible prize pack inspired by the book’s mermaid heroine and its beachy setting in Cape Cod. People who purchased In the Swim of Things during the pre-order period are also eligible for the giveaway!

Paperback version can be purchased here.


This prize pack includes:

"You’ve Mermaid My Day" Pedestal Candle Holder

3-Wick Salted Ocean Air Candle

Mermaid Squad Gift Set, inc. Travel-Sized At The Beach Ultra Shea Body Cream & Shower Gel & Beautiful Day PocketBac Hand Sanitizer

Mermaid Stemless Wine Glass with Inscription “It’s Okay to Drink
Like a Fish If You’re a Mermaid”

Mermaid Tribe Sea Glass Necklace by Lita Sea Glass Jewelry (seafoam-colored
sea glass on 18” sterling silver chain)

Mermaid Key Chain/Purse Charm (antique gold mermaid pendant with
stunning beads and a sassy tassel)

Bath & Body Works Shea-Infused Mermaid Socks

Mermaids in Paradise: An Artist’s Coloring Book

Crayola Colored Pencils (36 premium quality pencils)

To enter this giveaway, e-mail Tracie Banister at traciebanister at gmail dot com with your proof of purchase. Entries will be accepted until 11:59PM Eastern US time on Friday, May 31st when a winner will be selected via random drawing. This is an international giveaway, so anyone who buys In the Swim of Things within the allotted time frame is eligible to win. Good luck!


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Go-to-Gay: Man's (and Woman's) Best Friend

We're so glad to have our Go-to-Gay, Keith Stewart, back at CLC this month. He and our Chick Lit Cheerleader have something in common besides being funny and writing entertaining posts....they both love dogs! Keith is here today to talk about his dogs and share some special memories of them.

Take it away, Keith!







Dog Days


“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

I have always been a dog person. I grew up with dogs who lived inside the house with us and dogs who lived out in the yard. There was Freddie, Mack, Ginger, Tiny, Wynonna, Biggun’, H.D., and Spiegel. Some of them were with me for years, some only for months. All of them gave me love and companionship no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the situations.

As an adult, I have had three dogs. Cole, the Cocker Spaniel, came with Andy when we got together. After Cole passed, we adopted Dudley from the humane society, then Duke a few months later.

For 12 years, D & D ruled our homes and our hearts. Duke was a massive, 150-pound Chocolate Lab. Dudley was a svelte 70-pound “Heinz 57” mixed breed of unknown origin. People were always taken aback when they met these two ginormous house pets who thought of themselves as lap dogs.

Last month, we unexpectedly lost both our boys—one to cancer, the other to old age ailments—within a week of each other. To say we are devastated is an understatement. The grief is real and raw. The instant loneliness when walking in the front door to an empty house is overwhelming at times.


We have spent the past few weeks remembering good and funny times we spent with them. Like the time we left them in our sun room for a few hours while we went to a football game. I was teaching several accounting classes at a local college at the time, and had given tests the previous week. I had four large stacks of papers to grade on the table in the sun room. When we came home, it looked as if it had snowed inside. The stacks of papers were shredded into confetti. Nothing was salvageable or readable or gradable. Duke blamed Dudley. Dudley blamed Duke. All my students immediately loved them since I had no choice but to give them all an A for that test and move on to the next.

Reading always helps me feel better, so I have started looking for books that have dogs featured in them to help me with the grief. I thought I would share a few with you, and hopefully, you can share some with me that I may like to read this summer. Here is a few I found so far:

Southernmost by Silas House













The Summer Cottage by Viola Shipman (our former Go-to-Gay)













Stay by Allie Larkin













Dog Songs by Mary Oliver













Dog Years by Mark Doty













How have you dealt with losing a pet? Any books you can recommend? Thanks in advance from this Dog Dad.

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.

Book Review: The Trouble with Rose

By Becky Gulc

‘A missing sister. A broken heart. A whole lot of trouble…

Rilla is getting married. Except she isn't. She's running away – from her confused fiancé Simon, her big mad family, and the memories nipping at her heels.

Her sister Rose would know what to do in such times of crisis.

But the trouble is, Rose is the crisis. She disappeared years ago, and Rilla's heart went missing too.

Where is Rose? And who is Rilla without Rose?

If she's to rescue some happiness out of all this chaos, she needs to find out.’ (Synopsis courtesy of  HarperCollins UK.)

The synopsis of this The Trouble with Rose intrigued me, and I looked forward to discovering what happened to Rose. I thought the opening chapters were strong and comical at times, such as the wedding where no one ended up getting married, the subsequent interrogations by Rilla’s GIF (Greater Indian Family). However, I was left wondering when we’d find out more about Rose. She features through Rilla’s memories, but I kept anticipating a build up to a search that was a little slow to come. I was beyond halfway through the novel when this aspect of the story really moved along and this frustrated me a bit. I never felt like giving up on the novel though, there were plenty of good points. I loved learning about Rilla’s family, they could certainly make you feel claustrophobic at times and whilst she has a difficult relationship with her parents there is plenty of laughter and lightness to be found, particularly through the scenes with her flatmate, her ‘sister’ and a scene-stealing cat.

I loved the last third of the novel in particular. This is where we the search for Rose begins and we learn what has happened to her all those years ago. This was where I felt I understood Rilla the most; I bonded with her as a character, I could understand her somewhat abrupt manner. I felt for her; this is a woman who has been carrying around a lot of anger, guilt and frustration for so long, I just wanted the family to talk to one another. It was very moving at times, yet the balance is right as it maintains those comical moments through to the end. This is a great debut and I’m glad I stuck with it.

Thanks to HarperCollins UK for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

At home with Jamie Brenner...plus a book giveaway

We're thrilled to have Jamie Brenner back at CLC today to celebrate the recent publication of her latest novel, Drawing Home. Melissa A really enjoyed this novel and will be reviewing soon. Jamie has one signed copy to share with a lucky reader!

Jamie Brenner grew up in suburban Philadelphia on a steady diet of Norma Klein, Judy Blume, and Judith Krantz novels (more on that here). After studying literature at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Jamie moved to New York City where she started her career at HarperCollins Publishers, then later Barnes&Noble.com and Vogue.com before returning to books and becoming an author. Her novel The Forever Summer is a national bestseller. People Magazine says of her latest novel, Drawing Home, “the pages practically turn themselves.” Jamie lives in New York City and spends her summers visiting the beach towns that inspire her novels. (Bio courtesy of Jamie's website.)

Visit Jamie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Synopsis:
Summer has started in idyllic Sag Harbor, and for Emma Mapson that means greeting guests at the front desk of The American Hotel. But when one of the town's most famous residents, artist Henry Wyatt, dies suddenly, Emma learns he has mysteriously left his waterfront home - a self-designed masterpiece filled with his work - to her teenage daughter, Penny.

Back in Manhattan, legendary art patron Bea Winstead's grief at her lifelong friend and former business partner Henry's passing turns to outrage at the news of his shocking bequest. How did these unknown locals get their hands on the estate? Bea, with her devoted assistant Kyle in tow, descends on Sag Harbor determined to reclaim the house and preserve Henry's legacy.

While Emma fights to defend her daughter's inheritance, Bea discovers that Henry left a treasure trove of sketches scattered around town. With Penny's reluctant help, Bea pieces them together to find a story hidden in plain sight: an illustration of their shared history with an unexpected twist that will change all of their lives.

Drawn together in their battle for the house, Emma and Bea are forced to confront the past while facing a future that challenges everything they believe about love, fate, and family. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What were the most rewarding and challenging aspects of writing Drawing Home?
The most rewarding part was getting to know the people of Sag Harbor – the head of the historical society, the librarians, the owner of the book store, the owner of the water taxi. I made a lot of new friends. The most difficult part was just typical novel-writing challenges of getting the story to all come together in a satisfying way. I always have an idea in my head that makes perfect sense but having it unfold over 400 pages is a different matter entirely!

Which artists inspired the characters of Penny and Henry?
Henry was loosely based on the work of artist Donald Judd, but the story about the estate was based on the events surrounding the estate of late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham (Here’s the original article that inspired it.)

Penny is based loosely on my own daughter who has struggled with anxiety and OCD. Writing Penny was a way to work through some of what I was going through as a mother.

If Drawing Home were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Emma Stone as Emma, one of the Hemsworth brothers as Kyle, and Maggie Smith as Bea.

What are you looking forward to most this summer?
I visit some of the same book stores every summer and it’s like seeing old friends after a year apart. I am really looking forward to these visits!

What is the funniest thing you've seen or heard recently?
Someone in Sag Harbor posted a “Lost cat found” poster with info like: not friendly, etc – with a photo of a ferret on the street. It was so funny!

If we were to visit you in the town where you live, what are some must-see places you would take us to visit?
New York City is always best off the beaten path. I always tell people who have never been here that you should skip Times Square and head to the West Village of the Lower East Side to really experience New York City.

Thanks to Jamie 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 May 28th at midnight EST.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Elegant Elizabeth Bartasius...plus a book giveaway

Today we welcome Elizabeth Bartasius to CLC. Melissa A met her through a friend and took an interest in her novel, The Elegant Out, which was recently published. Thanks to She Writes Press, we have three print copies and an e-book for some lucky readers!

Elizabeth Bartasius is the best-selling author of the debut novel, The Elegant Out, praised by Kirkus Reviews as “…a riveting tale of maturing womanhood and an insightful peek into the creative process.” She lives in the Caribbean with her husband. Connect with her and access her private creative gallery at her website and visit her on Facebook.

Synopsis:
After escaping an abusive relationship, Elizabeth finds herself struggling with immense feelings of inadequacy. Stuck in a small-town, eight to five job, she dreams of characters and plot lines—when she’s not thinking about babies. She wants another. Gabe, her love, does not. When her writing coach praises her talent and encourages her to write, Elizabeth dives in, resolved to pursue her dream of publishing once again and put her ideas about pregnancy on the back burner. But then everyone around her, from her cousin to the couple-that-never-would, starts announcing their own pregnancies, and her baby obsession comes rushing back—accompanied by a deep depression.

Frustrated with Gabe’s refusal to give her another child—as well as his questioning of her motives—Elizabeth finds herself considering a separation. Writing, meanwhile, becomes a tool for beating herself up over her inability to find her voice. Ultimately, she must face an abusive past to answer a complex question: Is having babies the answer, or simply a distraction from her immense feelings of inadequacy and fear—an elegant out? If she fails to uncover her truth, Elizabeth fears she might remain strangled, her voice squelched forever.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


What were the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of writing The Elegant Out?

Originally, this book began as a letter to my best friend. It was wonderful to connect with her over and over again in the scenes. She’d remark that we hadn’t talked in weeks, and I was always thinking, “Didn’t we just connect this morning?”

Overall, I feel proud of the work I created, of the raw-ness, of the beauty in what I like to call my pearl sentences. How many times do we start a big project like writing a book, and then ditch it? This one, I actually finished.

One reader described the story as “The War of Art as a Novel.” It was a war, a constant trick to get myself to sit down and write. When it was time to write the last chapter I was sick in bed, and didn’t want to face the book at all. But I had only one week before the New Year. No way, did I want to enter yet another year not having completed that book. So, I brought my laptop into bed with me. I’d write, then fall asleep. Write, then sleep, until it was done! On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I celebrated the completed work.

How is Elizabeth from your novel similar to or different from you?
Well, for one, I am older and a published author. ☺

Being on this side of the journey now, brings a confidence and evolution that the protagonist just couldn’t access. Yes, Elizabeth from the novel is based on me, but she is only a very small part of me. Yes, I went through many of her emotional struggles and overcame those hurdles, but I don’t recognize her much when I read the book now.

If you could cast a movie version of The Elegant Out, who would play the lead roles?
Emily Blunt as Elizabeth.
Chris Hemwsorth as Gabe, thank you very much.
Anne Hathaway as Maureeeeeeen.
Maggi Smith as Granny.
And the voice of the Monkey Muse will be Benedict Cumberbatch.
Yes, please, let’s have that! ;-)

If we were to visit you right now, what are some must-see things you would take us to visit?
Great! Come visit the islands.

Buck Island: Captain Carl’s sailboat cruise to snorkel at Buck Island Reef National Monument. We will be on the lookout for trunkfish, blue tang, trumpet fish, large brain coral and much more. If we are lucky we’ll spot a squad of squid. Then, Captain Carl will sail us to the other side of the island and set anchor for a picnic on the beach, a short 20 minutes walk to the stunning views at the island’s peak, and some always-loved playtime in a postcard-perfect location.

Rainforest: On another day, we’ll take the meandering drive through the ‘rainforest’, where we will stop at the side of the road for lunch at Merryn’s Nidulari gypsy food truck. It’s pure farm-to-table, made-from-scratch deliciousness!! Bellies full, we’ll continue down the hill to Rainbow Beach where we can nap under a sea grape tree to the sound the sea, then refresh ourselves in the calm, turquoise water when we wake.

Bioluminescent Bay: We have one of only 7 bioluminescent bays in the world. It’s magic! The local see-through kayak company will take us out for a lovely evening ride. Once the sky is dark, and we enter the bay, you will see millions of teensy tiny organisms all lighting up like stars as your boat skims through the water agitating the little guys and forcing their bright glow. And there are some jellyfish in the water too, the size of tennis balls. Yep, they glow too. Pretty special place.

What is the strangest thing in your purse/handbag at the moment?
There is nothing in my handbag right now. Like Marie Kondo told me to do in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I only put in my purse the items I need when I leave the house, then empty it when I return home.

When I do leave the house, I usually only carry around my cell phone (which holds the driver’s license & credit cards) a small journal with a black fine-point sharpie to write with, and a shawl, in case I get a little chilly.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
Transfer by Apple Gidley. It’s the second in a series of historical fiction set on the island of St. Croix. Beautifully written. Wonderful characters. Intriguing backdrop. A great snuggle-up-in-bed and escape to another time. I just loved it!

Thanks to Elizabeth for chatting with us and She Writes Press 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 May 27th at midnight EST.


Friday, May 17, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Where She Went by/from Kelly Simmons (e-book via NetGalley)
Love-Lines by Sheri Langer from Absolute Entertainment (e-book)
The Nine by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg from SheWrites Press
Beside Herself by Elizabeth LaBan from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne from Gallery Books
The Elegant Out by/from Elizabeth Bartasius (e-book)
Donna Has Left the Building by Susan Jane Gilman from Grand Central Publishing (e-book via NetGalley)
That's What Frenemies Are For by Sophie Littlefield and Lauren Gershell from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)
The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister from Putnam (e-book via NetGalley)

Amy:
Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty from William Morrow
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter from William Morrow
The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons from Harper

Jami:
The Understudy by Sophie Hannah, Clare Mackintosh, B.A. Paris, and Holly Brown from MPRM Communications

Sara:
Dying to Meet You by Rich Amooi from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
I Can't Tell You Why by Elaine Robertson North from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
Squared Away by Alicia Dill from Mindbuck Media (e-book)
To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)

Book Review: Love is Like a Soufflé

By Sara Steven

Zoey is Dalton’s sister and Adrian’s friend, with whom her Aunt Vic would really like to see her get married. At barely thirty, she has started her own catering company with Sally, her best friend, who rather likes Dalton. She never listens to advice from Fran, her mother, or from Nana, her beloved grandmother, because she would rather come home at night and confide in Sushi, her cat.

But otherwise Zoey’s life is fairly simple. Even more so when she meets Matthew Ziegler, the most influential food critic in New York. An utterly unbearable guy who seems set on putting her food to the test, right down to the smallest details… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Zoey has had a long-term friendship with Adrian, so it seems the two should ultimately end up together. Yet Matthew quickly becomes a contender, throwing Zoey into a twisted love triangle that she can’t find her way out of, no matter how hard she tries. Adrian could quite possibly find himself within the arms of a beautiful model. Or, is that Dalton’s destiny? Sally is in the picture, too, but will it be Dalton or Adrian?

The premise of Love is Like a Soufflé plays out like a romantic “Whodunit”, where the reader bounces from character to character, trying to figure out who is going to end up with who! I really appreciated the unexpected match-ups, and the chemistry between all of the characters, particularly Zoey and Adrian, and Zoey and Matthew. There were moments where I wanted to see her end up with someone she’d known for most of her life, yet newfound passions within a new relationship made for an exciting turn of events. It was a lot of fun to read.

I also appreciated the friendship dynamic between Zoey and Sally. For better or worse, the two women stick together through some tough situations, and while it’s not always graceful, it’s always real. Initially, it felt as though there was a lot of room for growth within this relationship, the need to speak up and speak with honesty. I liked seeing the changes that cause a definite cause and effect for them both.

There were also plenty of revelations where Zoey’s family is concerned. The contentions felt between daughter, mother, and grandmother. Each person adds their own unique piece to this funky dysfunctionally functional family, with all of the love interests only adding extra spice to the pot. An acerbic, funny, "soufflé of a read"!

Thanks to Sassy Fiction for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Christine Nolfi sees the silver lining

We're pleased to welcome Christine Nolfi back to CLC today to feature her latest novel, The Season of Silver Linings. She's here to tell us more about herself and what she has going on this summer!

Award-winning author Christine Nolfi’s debut Treasure Me is a Next Generation Indie Awards finalist. The Midwest Book Review lists the books in the Liberty Series as “highly recommended” and her novels have enjoyed bestseller status.

Sweet Lake and The Comfort of Secrets are 2018 International Book Award finalists, Women’s Lit and Cross Genre respectively; The Comfort of Secrets is the 2018 Reader’s Choice Gold Medal winner, Cross Genre. The third book in the series, The Season of Silver Linings is the 2018 International Book Award finalist in Cross Genre Fiction, Reader’s Choice Gold Medal winner in Women’s Fiction, and American Book Fest Best Book Award finalist in Women’s Lit.

Christine’s next release with Lake Union Publishing, The Road She Left Behind, is now available for pre-order and will be released on June 11, 2019. 

Visit Christine online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
She can’t change what’s come before. But letting go could bring healing—and the rare love that comes once in a lifetime.

When Ohio pastry chef Jada Brooks and her two best friends restored the glorious Wayfair Inn, it was a boon to Sweet Lake—and to their own lives. Now Linnie and Cat are focused on private matters: one engaged, the other swept up in newlywed bliss. Jada has also begun looking to the future by dating widower Philip Kettering and forging a sudden, sweet bond with his six-year-old daughter.

But the past isn’t finished with Jada. When a curious guest checks into the Wayfair, her delving questions stir Jada’s guilt about the heartbreaking events that scarred the town seven years ago. The risks Jada must take by revealing the truth will test every assumption she’s made about the meaning of family and the magic of enduring love. 


“An enchanting, impossible-to-put down novel that explores the truth of family. This heartwarming story nourishes the soul, and reminds us that love is what keeps hope alive.”
USA Today Bestselling author Bette Lee Crosby

“Christine Nolfi joins the illustrious tribe of women’s fiction writers that have portrayed the powers and value of female friendships with grace, charm, and talent. This third book in her Sweet Lake series digs deeper into the heartbreak of protected secrets and the power of love. Guaranteed to delight both new readers and fans.”
—Peggy Lampman, bestselling author of The Promise Kitchen

What is a favorite compliment you have received for your books?
There’s nothing better than hearing from a reader who couldn’t put the book down. An “unputdownable” read is always high praise! For The Season of Silver Linings, I also received lots of mail from readers who fell in love with the characters—especially Fancy, with her little girl femininity. And many readers want to sign up to become a Sweet Lake Siren!

What is next for you?
Lake Union will release my standalone novel The Road She Left Behind on June 11th. The sheer volume of five-star reviews popping up on Goodreads, BookBub, and NetGalley have been heartwarming.

If you could give The Season of Silver Linings a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?
That’s a tough question. Unlike many authors, I don’t create a film version of my works-in-progress as I write. Before penning the first draft, I do spend months writing journal entries, first person, from each main character’s perspective. This process always turns up interesting facts about a character.

What has been a silver lining for you recently?
How to choose? The pre-release buzz around The Road She Left Behind has been fabulous. The Sweet Lake series books continue to delight readers. My middle daughter will wed in August, and my oldest son just got engaged. Lately it seems my world is rimmed with a silver lining.

If you could take us on a tour of the town where you currently live, what are some of the must-see locations?
I now live in the fabulous tourism capital of Charleston, South Carolina. When you come to visit, we must lounge at the beach, tour one of the remaining plantations in the Deep South, enjoy the wonderful shopping on King Street, and gain five pounds each as we sample the delectable food in Charleston’s many acclaimed restaurants!

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
Lately, hubby and I have been on a Netflix binge. We recently watched The King’s Speech—probably for the third time. If your only familiarity with Geoffrey Rush’s work is in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you must catch his award-winning performance in The King’s Speech.

Thanks to Suzy Approved Book Tours for facilitating this interview and including us on Christine's blog tour!


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Book Review: Acts of Infidelity

By Jami Deise

Although “I’ll have what she’s having” is the most-quoted line from the movie When Harry Met Sally, Sally’s exchange with her best friend Marie over Marie’s married lover Arthur is also often recited: “I don’t think he’s ever going to leave her.” “No one thinks he’s going to leave her!” Luckily for Marie, she meets Jess and moves in with him mere months later; Arthur is never mentioned again. Other women aren’t so lucky. Ask an older single woman about her life, chances are a married man strung her along for years, sucking up her time and energy with vague promises until it was too late to meet someone else.

In Acts of Infidelity, Swedish writer Ester Nilsson sets herself down that unlucky path. When actor Olof Sten is cast in a play she wrote, Ester immediately becomes smitten through their banter and chemistry. The two begin an affair, and Ester convinces herself that Olof is just about to leave his wife Ebba, despite all the signs to the contrary.

Written by Stockholm author Lena Andersson and translated by Saskia Vogel, Acts of Infidelity is told in third person, but readers have an up-close and personal look at the mental acrobatics Ester goes through to convince herself that Olof loves her. It’s painful to watch, as Olof treats Ester casually and cruelly, only to wheel her back in with attention and affection just as she seems to come to her senses. It’s a game that continues for years.

Although the novel lacks a firm three-act structure, the reader is compelled to keep turning pages by wondering when the hell Ester is going to wise up. Near the end, though, I did start to get a little bored – and I imagined Ester’s poor friends feeling the same way, having to listen to the same stories for years and watch as Ester ignored their advice again and again.

With the book’s Swedish characters and author, I read it looking for the difference between Swedish and American values and attitudes about infidelity, but I found none. Ester and Olof easily could be transferred to New York, and their story would be the same. The dialogue would be different, though – all the characters spoke in long, extremely detailed and complex paragraphs that sounded forced to my American ears.

All women, at one time or another, have had a friend like Ester or have been Ester ourselves – even unmarried men like to play games to keep women at a distance. If you have a friend caught in this trap, give her a copy of Acts of Infidelity. The spark of recognition may ignite the fire she needs to leave.

Thanks to Other Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Also by Lena Andersson:

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding

Today we're celebrating the publication of My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding by Wendy Wax. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

Synopsis:
A wedding dress passed down through generations unravels the tangled threads of three women's lives in a novel of friendship, family, and forgiveness from the USA Today bestselling author of Ten Beach Road.

Prized and stored away for safekeeping, the timeless ivory wedding dress, with its scooped neck and cleverly fitted bodice, sits gently folded in its box, whispering of Happily Ever Afters. To Kendra, Brianna, and Lauren it's a reminder of what could have been, the promise of a fairy tale, and a friendship torn apart. But as Kendra knows firsthand: it wasn't the dress's fault.

Once closer than sisters, Lauren and Bree have grown up and grown apart, allowing broken promises and unfulfilled dreams to destroy their friendship. A successful author, Lauren returns home to the Outer Banks, fiancé in tow, to claim the dress she never thought she'd wear. While Bree, a bookstore owner, grapples with the realities of life after you marry the handsome prince. As the former best friends wrestle with their uncertain futures, they are both certain of one thing: some betrayals can never be forgiven.

Now on the eve of her daughter Lauren's wedding, Kendra struggles with a secret she's kept for far too long. And vows to make sure the dress will finally bring Lauren and Bree back together--knowing they'll need each other to survive the coming storm.

Wendy Wax, a former broadcaster, is the author of fifteen novels and two novellas, including Best Beach Ever, One Good Thing, Sunshine Beach, A Week at the Lake, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey, The House on Mermaid Point, Ocean Beach, and Ten Beach Road. The mother of two grown sons, she left the suburbs of Atlanta for an in town high-rise where she and her husband are happily downsized.

Visit Wendy 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 May 20th at midnight EST.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mary Kay Andrews has her toes in the sand...plus a book giveaway

We welcome Mary Kay Andrews to CLC today to talk about her latest novel, Sunset Beach. Thanks to Tandem Literary, we have one copy to give away!

Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels including THE WEEKENDERS, BEACH TOWN, LADIES’ NIGHT, SUMMER RENTAL, DEEP DISH and HISSY FIT.

A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, she received a B.A. in journalism from The University of Georgia. After a 14-year career working as a reporter at newspapers including The Savannah Morning News, The Marietta Journal and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she spent the final ten years of her career, she left journalism in 1991 to write fiction.

Her first novel, EVERY CROOKED NANNY, was published in 1992 by HarperCollins Publishers. She went on to write ten critically acclaimed mysteries under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. In 2002, she assumed the pen name Mary Kay Andrews with the publication of SAVANNAH BLUES. In 2006, HISSY FIT became her first New York Times bestseller, followed by eleven more New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers. To date, her novels have been published in German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, Hungarian, Dutch, Czech and Japanese.

She is married to her high school sweetheart, Tom Trocheck, with whom she has a 40-year (and counting) collaboration yielding two grown children, two adorable grandchildren and countless memorable kitchen experiences. She and her family divide their time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, where they cook up new recipes in two restored beach homes, The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide, both named after fictional places in Mary Kay’s novels. In between cooking and plotting her next novel, Mary Kay is an intrepid treasure hunter whose favorite pastime is junking and fixing up old houses.

Visit Mary Kay online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest



Synopsis:
Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist.

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.


It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.


With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.


Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews' signature wit, heart, and charm. (Courtesy of Amazon.)


How is Drue similar to or different from you? 
Drue's so different from me in so many ways. She's prickly and distrustful and has intimacy issues, along with a wide stubborn streak. And she's an athlete! Which I'm not. But in other ways we're alike, strong, resilient and resourceful. We both hate any kind of injustice and tend to root for the underdog.

What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of writing Sunset Beach
Figuring out the puzzle behind the intertwining mysteries was definitely a challenge, as was gaining an understanding of personal injury law and making it relatable to my readers. The rewarding part was writing a story set in my hometown and creating a character like Drue, who is capable of change. I also really enjoyed writing the 1970's-set scenes.

If Sunset Beach were made into a movie, who would play the lead roles? 
Maybe Michelle Rodriguez for Drue. For Brice, John Slattery, for Jonah, Will Arnett

What are some must-have items in your beach bag? 
Sunblock and sunglasses. A thermos of icy drinks. Glossy magazines. My smart phone so I can scroll social media and listen to my beach playlist on Pandora or Spotify.

What is the funniest thing you have seen or heard recently? 
It's a tie between Randy Rainbow's hilarious parody songs and @PoochofNYC on Instagram, which showcases an adorable dog named Agador all dressed up and all about town.

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
Season five of Bosch on Amazon.

Thanks to Mary Kay for visiting with us and Tandem Literary 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 May 19th at midnight EST.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Book Review: Only Ever Her

By Jami Deise

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s novel When We Were Worthy was one of my favorite books of 2017 (reviewed here), about the ramifications in a small Georgia town when a high school outcast causes a crash that kills a carload of cheerleaders. With its specific setting, strong character work, and ultimately uplifting message, the novel left me in tears. While Whalen’s follow-up, Only Ever Her, has many of these same elements, ultimately it is not as impactful as the earlier novel.

When Annie Taft was three years old, she was the only witness to her mother’s murder, and her testimony sent Cordell Lewis to prison for life. Now, twenty years later and two weeks before her wedding, Lewis’s lawyer writes Annie to say there’s evidence that Lewis did not kill Annie’s mother, and to ask for Annie’s support in reopening the case.

Four days before the wedding, Annie disappears.

With this set-up, I was expecting a strong mystery tying together past and present. Instead, Only Ever Her concentrates on the interior lives of certain people in the small South Carolina town where Annie’s mother was murdered and where she was raised: her Aunt Faye, who raised her and has romantic secrets of her own; her secret “best friend” Kenny, a town outcast; former high school rival turned newspaper reporter Laurel; and her cousin Clary, raised like a sister to Annie and who has a secret in her past as well.

While I enjoyed the setting and character work – the story reminded me somewhat of Steel Magnolias, and Annie is just as loved by the town as Shelby was – I did expect more mystery with my mystery, and a stronger connection between Annie’s mother’s murder to Annie’s disappearance. Instead, most folks were consumed with their own secrets or wondering about Annie’s fiancé Scott and her best friend Tracy.

Only Ever Her is a good story for fans of small sleepy southern towns. But for those who prefer tight, plot-driven mysteries, they may be left wanting.

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen:

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Kristy Woodson Harvey's slice of paradise...plus a book giveaway


We're pleased to have Kristy Woodson Harvey back at CLC today to feature her third novel in the Peachtree Bluff Series, The Southern Side of Paradise. Melissa A. has met Kristy in the past and can attest that she is as sweet and charming in person as she is on "screen." Kristy has a special prize to share with one lucky reader....all THREE novels in her Peachtree Bluff series!

Kristy is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism and holds a master’s in English from East Carolina University, with a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Southern Living, Traditional Home, Parade, USA Today, Domino, Our State and O. Henry. She has been seen in Women’s Health, The Washington Post, US News and World Report, The Huffington Post, USA Today’s Happy Every After, Marie Claire’s The Fix, Woman’s World, Readers’ Digest and North Carolina Bookwatch, among others. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and six-year-old son where she is working on her next novel. Visit Kristy at her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Synopsis:

**Contains SPOILERS for previous novels in the series.**


With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.

When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


Who do you identify with the most in your Peachtree Bluff series? 
Hmmmm… That’s an interesting question because in this series I really don’t feel like any of the characters are “me.” I do relate to Emerson having a bit of a life crisis because when I was 25 I was really searching for my passion and my purpose. (Although, I like to think I was a little more together than she was while I was doing it! Haha!) I think most people go through that at some point. Weirdly, I related a lot to Ansley because, although she is my mom’s age not mine, I have very much spent the past few years in a situation where I was taking care of a (much!) younger generation and an older one, and I could relate to that feeling of being torn sometimes between your responsibilities.

What is one piece of advice you'd like to share with aspiring novelists? 
Be yourself and write for yourself first. Whenever I try to write for other people that’s when I find things going off the rails. You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time in life, and you can’t do it in writing either!

If you could cast the Peachtree Bluff series as a TV series, who would star in the lead roles?
I don’t know about all of them, but I think Sarah Drew would be a terrific Sloane. I can picture Jamie King being an amazing Caroline. And someone told me Diane Lane should be Ansley a while ago, and now that’s all I can think about! Not surprisingly, when this topic comes up readers are most excited about casting Jack!

What is your go-to breakfast item?
I’m a smoothie girl through and through. I throw in a couple handfuls of frozen blueberries, frozen cauliflower, a half banana, a couple handfuls of spinach, unsweet cashew milk, unsweet cocoa powder and greens powder and blend. It is so delicious and I look forward to it!

What are you looking forward to most this summer? 
Long days on the beach with my son and husband. I live at the beach so when I’m gone on tour, usually for 4-6 weeks, I daydream about coming home and reading and relaxing for long hours with my toes in the sand!

Who is your current celebrity crush? 
Well, I know who my celebrity girl-crush is, if that counts. Reese Witherspoon, for sure. I love how she continuously reinvents herself and has managed to stay supremely relevant in a career where so many people seem to come and go. And she has a book club!!!

Thanks to Kristy 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 May 14th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Spring Into Style Hop




It’s springtime! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and it’s time for everyone to get their pretty on with the help of Chick Lit Chat HQ, which is hosting another fantastic Facebook hop.

So, mark your calendars and Spring into Style! Starting Monday, May 6th and continuing through Sunday, May 12th, 50+ amazing and talented Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy authors will be celebrating International Chick Lit Month along with tons of fabulous books featuring sassy, stylish heroines you are guaranteed to love!

Every author will have an exclusive giveaway* on their own Facebook pages, including books, swag, gift cards, and/or beauty, fashion, and wellness-related items. And, of course, there will be a MASSIVE GRAND PRIZE* up for grabs on the hop
pagea $250 e-gift card to FabFitFun, which is a popular seasonal subscription box beloved by trendsetters and celebrities alike. We’re not stopping there either, because there will also be THREE Runner Up Prizessix-month subscriptions to Allure’s Beauty Box, which comes every month.


Join the fun over at our Facebook event page, where you can hobnob with your favorite authors, meet some new ones, and win some incredible prizes. We’ll see you there!


*The Grand Prize giveaway is open to participants in the US, UK, and Canada. The Runner-Up Prizes are open to those in the US only. The individual author giveaways are open internationally.

Spring 2019 FabFitFun Box

Recent Allure Beauty Box


Schedule:

Monday, May 6th
Tracie Banister (Host)
https://www.facebook.com/tracie.banister
Whitney Dineen

Tuesday, May 7th
Maggie Aldrich


Wednesday, May 8th  (Jayne Denker – Host)
Susan Hatler
Jennie Marts
Cassandra O’Leary

Thursday, May 9th
Glynis Astie (Host)
https://www.facebook.com/glynisastieauthor/


Friday, May 10th  
Stella Bixby
Stacey Wiedower
https://www.facebook.com/StaceyWiedower.author

Saturday, May 11th
Anne John-Ligali