Friday, January 18, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Gown by Jennifer Robson from William Morrow (Enter to win a copy!)
Summer Hours by Amy Mason Doan from Harlequin (e-book via NetGalley)
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Trophy Life by Lea Geller from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
The Key to Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway from Graydon House (e-book via NetGalley)
Midnight at the Wandering Vineyard by Jamie Raintree from Graydon House (e-book via NetGalley)
Me for You by Lolly Winston from Touchstone (e-book via NetGalley)
Our Life in a Day by Jamie Fewery from Orion (e-book via NetGalley)

Sara:
Last Minute by/from Libby Kirsch (e-book)
Love is Like a Soufflé by Elie Grimes from Sassy Fiction (e-book)
The Right of Way by/from L.B. Lewis (e-book)
One S’more Summer, S’more to Lose, and Love You S’more by Beth Merlin from Kelley and Hall (e-books)

Jami:
Acts of Infidelity by Lena Andersson from Other Press (e-book)

Jami and Tracey:
Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell from Grove (e-book via Netgalley)

Book Review: Hope to Fall

By Sara Steven

Malachy Shevlin, pub owner and thirty-nine year old orphan, believed he was destined to wander through life alone. Just a man and his canine companion, Padraig. Until unexpected news has him leaving behind his home in Dublin and hopping on a plane to America.

When Malachy suddenly finds himself with a woman he didn't know he wanted and a family he never knew he had, he begins to feel something he didn't think possible. Hope.

But is it too late for the grumpy Irishman to have everything he's ever desired? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

One of my favorite book series continues on, with its latest installment proving that the best things come in fours! Malachy’s story was a bit of a surprise, eloquently written and masterfully portrayed. Given his past experiences and what he ends up finding when he reaches America, it was written honestly, no over-the-top overly emotional or melodramatic moments. His reactions and emotions fit perfectly into his character, which made me feel closer to him and want to know more about his story.

Kingsley has a lovely way of creating characters who have flaws you fall in love with. Malachy is all thought, little emotion. He doesn’t want to become invested into anything that equates to an attachment, a defense mechanism he’s cultivated since childhood. You feel for him, yet you yearn for him to grow out of who he is, and the best thing of all? We get to see that, as a reader. But, there are plenty of highs and lows while he’s working on identifying who he really is, where he comes from, and whether forming connections is really worth it, or not.

There is a love story here, not only in the romantic sense, but in the familial sense, too. Having come from a past where I’m not on the best of terms with some of my own family members, living or not, it was a relatable experience, making it easy for me to understand the walls that Malachy has built up around his life, his heart. This makes it harder for him to come terms with his future, and where he ultimately belongs.

I enjoyed Malachy, the romance that blooms in his life, the unexpected shift in his world, one he never saw coming. I also appreciated getting to catch up with so many of my favorite characters from the other books in this series, even Daisies and Devin makes an appearance or two. Malachy is a much-needed voice in the town of River Canyon, the missing puzzle piece that makes the picture whole.

Thanks to Kelsey Kingsley for the book in exchange for an honest review. Hope to Fall can be purchased here.

More by Kelsey Kingsley (Kinney Brothers series):

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Once is not enough for Lori Handeland

We welcome Lori Handeland to CLC today, and we're excited to feature her first women's fiction novel, Just Once. She's here to tell us more about it, as well as some other fun facts about herself.

Lori Handeland is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than 60 published works of fiction to her credit. Her novels, novellas, and short stories span genres from paranormal and urban fantasy to historical romance. After a quarter-century of success and accolades, she began a new chapter in her career. Marking her women’s fiction debut, Just Once (Severn House, January 2019) is a richly layered novel about two women who love the same man, how their lives intertwine, and their journeys of loss, grief, sacrifice, and forgiveness.

Lori sold her first novel, a western historical romance, in 1993. In the 26 years since then, she has written eleven novels in the popular Nightcreature series, five installments in the Phoenix Chronicles, six works of contemporary romance about the Luchettis, a duet of Shakespeare Undead novels, and many more books. Her fiction has won critical acclaim and coveted awards, including two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Paranormal Romance (Blue Moon) and Best Long Contemporary Category Romance (The Mommy Quest), a Romantic Times Award for Best Harlequin Superromance (A Soldier’s Quest), and a National Reader’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal (Hunter’s Moon).

Lori lives in Southern Wisconsin with her husband. In between writing and reading, she enjoys long walks with their rescue mutt, Arnold, and occasional visits from her two grown sons and her perfectly adorable grandson. (Bio adapted from Lori's website.)

Visit Lori online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter



Synopsis:
Imagine having 24 years of your life abruptly erased—by the only man you’ve ever loved. That’s the chilling reality for two women with nothing in common except their intimate connection to Charley Blackwell. His first wife, and “ex” for nearly a quarter century, Frankie Sicari has finally gotten over the pain of Charley’s betrayal and made peace with growing old alone. Over their 23 years of marriage, his second wife, Hannah, has gotten used to Charley’s globe-trotting lifestyle as a photojournalist and his demons.

Life for both women takes a tailspin when Charley returns home from a National Geographic shoot in Africa—not to the D.C. apartment he shares with Hannah but to the house in Milwaukee he shared with Frankie before their divorce. More disturbing, Charley thinks it’s 1989, the last happy year of his and Frankie’s marriage, and has no memory at all of Hannah—a woman he thinks is “cuckoo” for claiming to be his wife.

Driven by three indelible characters, Just Once is a richly layered and deeply affecting novel about sacrifice, grief, forgiveness, and love. 

How did you decide to foray into writing women's fiction, after writing so many paranormal, urban fantasy, and historical romance novels?
It was because I'd written so many novels that I ended up writing Just Once. I'd never believed in writer's block, wouldn't let myself because I had so many stories in my head and, thankfully, contracts to write them.

Then my life went ka-boom. An only child of a now-single mother, when she had serious health issues and multiple surgeries, she needed me and of course I was there. I was also writing back-to-back trilogies for two publishers. I got 'er done, but I gave myself a bad case of fried author brain.

My agent asked me: "What book would you write if you only had one book left to write?"

The idea for Just Once had been swirling in my head for a long time. I'd tried to write it but gotten nowhere. But this time, when words were failing me in romance, they came to me for this book and brought back my love of writing and my need to write. Just Once has been a blessing in many ways.

What is a favorite compliment you've received on your writing?
Some of my favorite compliments are when readers tell me my characters are so real they feel like they know them. (Even the vampires and the werewolves!) Then an author knows she's really done her job.

If Just Once were optioned for film, who would you cast in the leading roles?
I'm thinking Michael Keaton or Dennis Quaid for Charley, Diane Lane or Rene Russo for Frankie and Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Aniston for Hannah.

If we were to visit you in the town where you live, what would be the first thing you would take us to see or do?
Depending upon the time of year, we'd take in a Brewers game, a Bucks game or a Packers game. Not only are the stadiums/arenas works of art but you get to meet tons of people and eat great Wisconsin food--like cheese curds and custard.

What song is currently stuck in your head?
"Bohemian Rhapsody."  I watched the Golden Globes, was thrilled when the movie and Rami Malik won because I loved them both, and now "I see a little silhouetta of a man, scaramouche, scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?"

You're welcome.

If you were to empty your purse right now, what is the strangest thing you would find?
Matchbox cars. I always kept a few in my purse when my boys were small to settle them down. Then, when they were grown, my friends were having grandchildren and they came in handy a few times. Now that I have a grandson of my own, I may as well leave them there.

Thanks to Lori for chatting with us and to Jennifer Musico for arranging the interview.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Go-to-Gay: Back to the beginning

We welcome Go-to-Gay Keith Stewart back to CLC today to help us kick off 2019. He has some insight into resolutions and some fun cultural facts to share with everyone. Happy reading!

GOOD INTENTIONS, BAD FOLLOW-THROUGH

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s festivities. I am a sucker for the chance to reflect and renew, to start over, to become a better person. But then, I am also pragmatic. I know how hard it is a person in his forties to change anything about himself, no matter what the reason. What usually happens—it happened again this year—is that on December 30th and 31st, I sit around and contemplate the year that just passed, and then decide on some goals to shoot for in the next three hundred sixty-five days.

Inevitably, I always choose the same thorns that poke me every day of every year. I want to get in shape. I want to make all my writing deadlines. I want to send birthday cards to my friends and family. I want to lose weight.

I don’t have to tell you what happens by the second week of January, do I? I didn’t think so. In case you aren’t sure, I just ate a piece of fried chicken while finishing this post that was due to the editor last week. Sigh. Good intentions, bad follow-through. This year, I decided to look around the globe to see if I could find some other tradition for starting a new year that I could sign up for and keep my promise for longer than ten days. Let’s go!



There is a small town in Peru that hosts the Takanakuy Festival for the new year. During this festival, villagers who have grudges against each other face off in the boxing ring for an actual fist fight which is overseen by local policemen. After the fight is finished, the participants forgive and forget past grievances and start fresh for the year.

While this has its advantages—there is no long-term commitment, you are in and out in one round—it also has many disadvantages, especially for me. I am not really a fighter. Just between us, I am delicate. One good punch on the arm and I would be down for at least a day. Also, I would never forgive the person. I would carry a bigger a grudge than I had going into the rumble. So, I am moving on from Peru.

In Denmark, people save up old, unused plates and crockery throughout the year. Then on New Year’s Eve, they run amok and hurl them at the front doors of people they love. Apparently, waking up to a front porch full of broken glass on the first day of January is a sure sign that you are well-received in Copenhagen.



While that sounds fairly tempting, I don’t ever recall having spare dishes throughout the year to use for this project. Also, the sound of glass shattering is one of my least favorite noises in the world, and I think that hearing dishware chucked against your front door all night would make you think you were living in a real-life “Purge” moment. Sorry, Denmark, I can’t play.

There is a Spanish tradition of stuffing twelve grapes into your mouth as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. If you can fit all twelve in there by the time the countdown is done, you will have success and good fortune throughout the coming year.



OK. Now we are getting somewhere. This is a challenge that has my name written all over it. I have been told my many people I have a big mouth. I think sticking twelve juicy grapes in it would be a breeze. The payoff is good fortune for a year? I’m in!

But wait, we have one more stop on our search.

What’s that, France? You have an easier and more delicious way to ensure good health, wealth, and luck? Eating PANCAKES?!



Leave it to the French to know just how to do it just right. These people know how to live! That settles it. If y’all need me, I’ll be sitting here in a café, with a giant stack of luck-producing goodness and enjoying my 2019!

Bonne année mes amis!

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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Gown

We're pleased to introduce The Gown by Jennifer Robson. It was recently published and is receiving rave reviews. Thanks to William Morrow, we have one copy to give away!

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and Holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

“Marvelous and moving, a vivid portrait of female self-reliance in a world racked by the cost of war.”
—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

“Robson has managed to craft a story that is personal and universal, timely and timeless.”
— Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale

Photo by Natalie Brown
Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and #1 Toronto Globe & Mail bestselling author of Somewhere in France and Goodnight from London. She holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from Saint Antony’s College, University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and young children.

With The Gown, Jennifer drew from her academic background, as well as from two years of research, including interviews with the last surviving seamstress who worked on Elizabeth’s gown, Betty Foster, and visits with the master embroiders at Hand & Lock, a bespoke hand embroidery atelier in London. At Hand & Lock, Robson reconstructed one of the distinctive star flower motifs from Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Visit Jennifer 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 January 22nd at midnight EST.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: Sophie Last Seen

In Marlene Adelstein’s debut novel, Sophie Last Seen, it is six years after the disappearance of ten year-old Sophie from a shopping mall. Her mother, Jesse, is living in a self-destructive limbo as any sense of closure eludes her. Jesse is observed by her daughter’s best friend, Star, who carries her own secrets about that day. These two wounded souls come together to follow clues left by Sophie in her birding journals hoping to be led to Sophie or answers to her disappearance.


This inspiring tale of one woman’s journey in search of the truth about her missing daughter weaves together themes of forgiveness, romance, and acceptance.

Perfect for book clubs, Sophie Last Seen has elements of The Deep End of the Ocean and The Lovely Bones.

"A mother’s psyche edges toward madness as she tries to solve the puzzle of her daughter’s disappearance. A gripping tale of heartbreak and eternal hope."
—Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

About The Author:
After twenty-three years in New York City, working as a film development executive for top Hollywood producers, Marlene Adelstein began earning her living as a freelance editor working on novels and memoirs.

When she’s not reading other people’s manuscripts or writing her own, Marlene can be found walking local trails with her dog. She is partial to chocolate labs and in particular hers, a good-natured girl named Honey, who is never more than a few feet behind her. Comfortable and energized in a big city but preferring to make her home in a small town filled with other writers and artists, Marlene lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley where she loves to listen to the noise of the birds.

Visit Marlene online:
Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Thanks to Suzy Approved Book Tours for including us on Marlene's blog tour. They are giving away one copy of SOPHIE LAST SEEN to a lucky reader! 

Visit all the stops on the tour.


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

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Giveaway ends January 21st at midnight EST.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Review: There's Something About a Cowboy


By Sara Steven

Amy Weaver is tired of her dad meddling in her love life. Fed up, she hires an actor to play the part of her fake cowboy fiancé when she goes home for her grandpa’s ninetieth birthday. Sure, Luke Jenkins has got looks, charm, and muscular legs, but this is business, pure and simple. Things are fine and dandy until she finds out he’s a real cowboy, not an actor. Now, she’s stuck between a rock and his chiseled jawline, falling faster than a sack of horseshoes. How the heck is Amy supposed to ignore the sparks between them and stick to her rule of not dating cowboys? All bets are off. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

This was my first experience with a Rich Amooi read, and after reading There's Something About A Cowboy, it won’t be my last! Amooi created characters who are strong and well defined, with quick witted banter that flowed easily between Amy and her potential love interest, Luke. I appreciated that there’d been a deck slightly stacked against them, like with Amy and her age, (she’s in her forties, he’s younger) and the family contention she has, particularly with her father (he wouldn’t want Amy to end up with someone like Luke, not ever). You get the feeling that Amy chose Luke in assisting her with this fraudulent relationship, because in her mind, he will never be more to her than a hired hand. Not to mention her failed relationships with cowboys in the past.

Luke can do no wrong. Give him any job or task, and he rose to the challenge, every single time. I think if there were any complaints that could be made against Cowboy, it would be my need to see him be a bit more fallible. However, there’s something about him that makes you yearn for that type of commitment and dedication in your own life, that there will be someone out there for me who would do anything and everything they can to hold on to me, no matter what the odds are. Luke was that type of man, which makes it even harder for Amy to keep that divide between a business relationship, vs. a personal one.

While Cowboy will appeal to anyone in mostly all of the age demographics, I felt it was targeted more towards those in the slightly older crowd, like me. It was nice to see a strong, sexy female protagonist who isn’t in her twenties, someone I could identify with, could relate to. That it’s possible to still be viable and desirable to someone, even when that someone might be in a different age bracket. I think a person can be much more than the year they were born in, and it’s something Amy has to work on, in order to choose the right path for her, and whether that path includes Luke or not. Either way, it’s not so much on whether she has to rely or depend on Luke, because she can take care of herself. The real question is, is he someone she feels she won’t be able to live without?

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review and for including us on Rich Amooi's blog tour.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon AU * Amazon CA

Author Bio:
Fun, Quirky Romantic Comedies from a Guy's Perspective. Rich Amooi is a former radio personality who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after. Visit Rich on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.




Visit the other stops on the tour:

More by Rich Amooi:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Jenni Keer's hopes and dreams have come true!



We're pleased to have Jenni Keer at CLC today and feature her debut novel, The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker.

Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women's fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.

Visit Jenni online:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
Meet Lucy, aged 25, and Brenda, aged 79. Neighbours and unlikely friends.

Lucy Baker is not your usual 25-year-old. She is more at home reading and knitting in her cluttered little flat than going out partying and socialising.


79-year-old Brenda is full of wise and wonderful advice, but when she’s diagnosed with dementia her life begins to change. Before her memories slip away for ever, Brenda is desperate to fulfil one last wish – to see Lucy happy.


Gifting Lucy the locket that helped Brenda find her own true love, she hopes to push her reticent neighbour in the right direction. But is Lucy Baker ready for the opportunities and heartbreaks of the real world? It’s about time she put her knitting needles aside and found out…


The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker will be the most charming, heart-warming and feel-good novel you will read this year, perfect for fans of Ruth Hogan and Gail Honeyman.


Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Hello, and thank you so much for inviting me to take part in your Q&A session. These questions had me scratching my head so much I was forced to enlist the help of my family with some of them. Thank you for making us all think. Here goes…

What is your usual writing routine?
If it is one of my weekday writing days, I usher my four teenage boys out the door for the school bus, collapse in a little puddle, and drink a couple of strong coffees to get me going. Then I sit down to the laptop and write until they return, starving hungry and boisterous, at about quarter past four. I have a virtual office buddy, Clare Marchant, and we check in throughout the day with our word counts or pages edited. I usually put my phone on silent, so I’m not disturbed by social media pings in between times, and I try to stretch my legs and refocus my eyes, so I’m not too sedentary. If you peer through the living room curtains at lunchtime, you’ll occasionally see me practising some clumsy yoga moves.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to future writers?
There are lots of things I’ve learned on this journey, but I suppose the best advice (and I’ve repeated this in another blog tour post) is to be realistic. It is highly unlikely the first full-length novel you write will get published (unless you are the wonderful Cecilia Ahern) so as soon as you’ve finished your first masterpiece, tout it around by all means - send it to agents, pitch it to publishers - but start writing book 2. The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker was my fourth completed novel. I always anticipated this publishing journey would take me several years and it took seven. Unless you are super talented/well-connected/extremely lucky you will get rejections, people will criticise your work and you will sometimes wonder if it’s all worth it. Listen carefully to feedback. If you have chosen your beta readers well, they will have good advice to offer - however hard it might be to take. Personally, I’m disappointed when the feedback is all positive. I want to improve and I want to know how. And do remember, when you get that long-awaited publishing deal, that the financial reward is unlikely to be life-changing. Don’t write for fame and fortune. Write because it’s the only thing you want to do.

If The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
I love this question. All my characters are quite distinctive in my own head and don’t really look like anyone else but someone like Billie Whitelaw would make an amazing Brenda, and my fourteen year old son (who has read my book) and I both thought Kirsten Bell would make a passable Lucy. Interestingly, we came up with her name independently. George is trickier. Perhaps Chris Hemsworth for the sheer bulk of the man, but he would have to dye his hair darker and put on some spectacles. Oh yes, the more I think about that, the more it works… *wanders off into a little daydream*

What is your most unique trait?
I had to ask my family this one. Answers from the teens ranged from “giving birth to four fabulous children” to “dancing like you just don’t care” – both totally valid. But I think my husband’s answer was the winner. He said it was my self-belief. I felt a bit teary when he said that, but then he’s watched me struggle with this writing lark for so long, determined that I would get published eventually, that I’ll go with that answer.

What is one item you can't live without?
Haha. When I read this one out EVERY single person in the room shouted, “your phone”. I guess it’s true. I probably rely on it too much but my entire life is on there. Not only social media (great in moderation) but also I use it for the news, the weather, our family calendar, as a camera, for emails (particularly back and forth from the publisher), my "To Do" list, my radio (I often listen to music when I write), my TV (as I have to fight five other people in this house for access to the big one), my alarm clock, my torch, my research tool (Google is my friend), for reading Kindle books, for shopping, banking, as a calculator and very, very occasionally as a phone… I wish I had a more profound answer but I would genuinely be lost without it.

What is something you'd outsource if you could?
I was going to say the housework, without hesitation, but I outsource that already TO MY CHILDREN! I’m a firm believer in teaching kids independence and after the first few years of doing everything for them, it’s payback time. We have a household job chart and they get asked to do all sorts of jobs; like paint the outside of the house, unblock u-bends, remove stains from laundry, cook, mow the lawn, the list goes on and on. I don’t think I’d be doing my job as a parent if I sent them into the world not knowing how to polish a pair of shoes. They’ve been so amazingly supportive of my writing and, even though I have to nag sometimes, they do pull their weight. This is not to say we live in an immaculate house because we really don’t. We live in a family home, cluttered with cats and school bags, with an overflowing laundry bin and endless washing-up. But we muddle through. So, I guess my next biggest time-suck is taxiing them around (sometimes up to nine journeys a day) and so I’d like to outsource this please. If someone could set up a taxi firm next door to ferry about four socially active teenagers, that would be great.

Thanks for having me over. I loved your questions and I love that readers know a bit more about me now and how I tick.
Jenni x

Thanks to Jenni for chatting with us and to Rachel's Random Resources for including us on Jenni's tour.

Giveaway: The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker goodies (UK Only, as part of a blog tour)
Prize contains - Thornton's fudge, a Nu notebook, a Hopes and Dreams bookmark and a set of five "Scratbag" blank greetings cards designed by Jenni Keer

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

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Visit the other stops on Jenni's tour:

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review and Giveaway: In Dog We Trust

By Melissa Amster

When Jocelyn Hillier is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry in Black Dog Bay and never expected to be living the pampered life of a seasonal resident in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges: The dogs (although lovable) are more high-maintenance than any Hollywood diva, the man she wants to marry breaks her heart, and she’s confronted at every turn by her late benefactor’s estranged son, Liam, who thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance left to the dogs.

Jocelyn has worked too hard to back down without a fight, and she’s determined to keep her new fur family together. As she strives to uphold the “Best in Show” standards her pack requires, Jocelyn finds love, family, and forgiveness in the most unexpected places.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I have read all of Beth Kendrick's Black Dog Bay novels and was excited to see a new one being published. I really enjoyed In Dog We Trust. It was a sweet story about a woman's relationship with dogs. I had such a fun time reading it and revisiting Black Dog Bay. Some characters from previous novels make an appearance, so it's best to read the books in order. It was easy to visualize people, places, and dogs. There were some humorous moments, as well. This is one of my favorites from the series!

My only concerns were that some parts felt predictable and the ending wrapped up a bit too neatly. However, it was good, fun chick lit overall. I hope Beth will continue writing novels about the residents of Black Dog Bay. I will definitely keep reading them!

Movie casting suggestions:
Jocelyn: Nina Dobrev
Bree: Victoria Cartagena
Chris: Jeremy Irvine
Liam: Corey Sevier
Lois: Allison Janney
Rachel: Ashley Judd

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

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

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Giveaway ends January 13th at midnight EST.

More by Beth Kendrick:


More from Beth's Black Dog Bay series:

Monday, January 7, 2019

Excerpt from Wildflower Park: Build Me Up Buttercup

Wildflower Park: Build Me Up Buttercup by Bella Osborne

Life’s not always a walk in the park…Escape the everyday with Part One of a brand-new four-part serial from the author of Coming Home to Ottercombe Bay.

Anna thought she’d found The One… until he broke off their engagement exactly one year before their wedding day. Now faced with a different type of countdown, Anna moves into her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park, hoping that a bit of greenery and a fresh start will do her the world of good.

With a little help from her good friend Sophie, a no-nonsense rescue cat and an attractive new work colleague, Anna is doing well moving on with her life… until her ex fiancé is hired into her team at work. But that proves to be the least of her worries, because she’s been swept off her feet by someone she really shouldn't be falling for…

As much as she needs a new beginning, can Anna overcome her the difficulties in her past that prevent her from moving forward?

Excerpt:
‘Come in,’ said Roberta. ‘Ah, Anna. You took your time.’ Anna ignored her. Roberta was an odd sort and it was best not to challenge her. ‘I’d like you to meet Hudson Jones.’ What sort of name was that?

The person sitting with their back to the door stood up and turned around. Anna noticed he was rather tall and slim in his trendy suit, good-looking in an obvious way, and unnervingly familiar. When she saw one of his eyes was swollen it all clicked into place.

‘Hudson, this is Anna Strickland, our lead PM.’

‘You?’ said Hudson, blinking with his good eye, which she noticed was a beautiful shade of blue.

She gave a nervous laugh and extended her hand. ‘Yes, it’s me. Lovely to meet you. Again.’ She gave a little nod with the last word but had no idea why.

‘Oh, you already know each other. That should speed things up. Hudson has some excellent suggestions for project team structure, operational integration and . . .’ Roberta was checking her notes.

‘Project approach,’ said Hudson, sounding confident.

‘That’s terrific,’ said Anna, thinking the opposite. ‘I’ll walk you through what I already have in place.’

Hudson didn’t look pleased. They had both quickly picked up on the other’s frostiness.

‘Anna will bring you up to speed. I have a very important meeting to go to,’ said Roberta, squeezing her ample form from behind the largest desk the company could provide.

‘I think we’re all in that meeting,’ said Anna, giving her printed calendar a quick check.

‘Then I’ll follow you,’ said Hudson. ‘From a safe distance,’ he added for Anna’s benefit.

Bella Osborne has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel.

In 2016, her debut novel, It Started At Sunset Cottage, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award.

Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Her novels are often serialised in four parts ahead of the full book publication.

Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping). (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

For more about Bella, visit her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thanks to Avon for including us on Bella's tour. Visit all the other stops:


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Erin Gordon kicks off 2019....plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

The word "beshert" means "meant to be" in Hebrew. It is a word that I have taken to heart and used many times. It's the reason I met my husband, after all! So when I learned that Beshert was the title of Erin Gordon's latest novel, I knew we had to feature it. We are pleased to have Erin here as our very first interview of 2019. She is giving away three e-copies and one print copy of Beshert to some lucky readers!

Erin Gordon is a Bay Area native who graduated from UC Berkeley and Loyola Law School. After practicing law for three years, she earned a master’s in journalism at Stanford University and worked several years as a newspaper beat reporter covering law firms. Erin then spent more than 20 years as a freelance legal affairs journalist, all the while dreaming of becoming a novelist.

She’s written six novels (three ended up in the proverbial drawer!) and is at work on her next book. When not writing, Gordon enjoys knitting, going for long walks in San Francisco, doing yoga, and spending time in Lake Tahoe with her family.

Erin lives in San Francisco with her husband and teenage children. (Bio courtesy of Erin's website.)

Visit Erin online: 
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
On a bus in Tel Aviv shortly before Shabbat, Chelsea, a tourist from Colorado, is about to make a grave error. Noam, a local on his way home from work, spots what’s happening. Though he helps avert the disaster she’s set in motion, their lives are forever altered.

Recovering from a trauma back home, Chelsea has traveled to Israel hoping to restore her shaken faith. A scientist and a proud secular Israeli, Noam is working through his own traumas, which include a dead girlfriend and a phobia he’s ashamed to face. Though Chelsea and Noam hail from opposite sides of the globe, they find something in each other they’ve never experienced before. But how can an atheist Jew from Tel Aviv and a Christian from Colorado Springs create a life?

Hitting the sweet spot between novelty and familiarity, Beshert will appeal to fans of Emily Giffin and Sarah Jio. With a novel premise and a vivid Middle Eastern setting, the story is told from two perspectives and explores what happens when your core identity is challenged.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)


What is something you learned from writing your previous novels that you applied to Beshert?
I’ve written six novels but three ended up in the proverbial drawer. The failed stories, I discovered, lacked tension. So in outlining BESHERT, I wrote at the bottom of each scene, “The tension in this scene is _____.” If there wasn’t inherent tension, I either changed or ditched the scene. As a result, I’m really proud of BESHERT’s pacing and I’m using that same technique as I outline my new novel.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
Nothing thrills me more than when readers say, “I couldn’t put your book down” because that’s exactly what I say about books I love. With my new novel, BESHERT, it makes my day when readers tell me, “I never thought I’d want to visit Israel but now I do” because I worked hard to create an evocative setting, to make Israel almost a character in the story.

If you could cast the movie version of Beshert, who would play the lead characters?
Ooohh, I love this question. Elle Fanning has Chelsea’s look and would be great at conveying her lack of worldliness. If Zac Efron is willing to dye his hair black, he’d definitely capture Noam’s sexiness and sweetness.

What is a mantra you'd like to focus on for 2019?
Even before you asked, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. In recent months, I’ve come to realize how much in my life is driven by fear. So I’m considering a theme for 2019 – something like the Year to Challenge Fear.

What is your oldest piece of clothing?
A pair of Ann Taylor boots I splurged on in college. They’re sort of elegant cowboy-ish boots that are super uncomfortable, especially now that my feet are a size and a half bigger after having two babies. I haven’t even worn the boots in more than a decade but I just can’t part with them because I spent what was then an absolute fortune to me.

What is something new you've tried doing recently?
Two things – one mundane, one aspirational. First, I’ve started using a Rocketbook, a reusable notebook, as I work on my new novel and I’m kind of loving it. You can upload the handwritten pages and then wipe them clean to use again. Second, I’ve been looking for opportunities to respond to situations with empathy rather than judgment and I’m seeing the world differently now.

Thanks to Erin 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 January 8th at midnight EST.




Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Book Review: Last Call

By Sara Steven

Unfazed after finding a body behind the dumpster of her bar, Janet Black is ready for business as usual until police start eyeing her boyfriend as the possible killer. When the victim's teetotaling daughter decides to take up residence in the corner booth until the murderer is caught, Janet is forced to get involved.

She'd rather be dealing with unruly customers, but instead Janet reluctantly mounts her own investigation to find out if the dead man's complicated past could have anything to do with his death, whether an unreliable employee's absence is mere coincidence, and why police are purposefully feeding her bad information about the case.

Janet's sharp tongue and coarse personality make her the guilty pleasure heroine you've always wanted... (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I completely agree! Having learned about Janet through the Stella Reynolds Mystery Series, I couldn’t wait to read Last Call: A Janet Black Mystery. She truly is a stand-out character, and I couldn’t imagine not reading about her own adventures, considering the natural talent and ability she has for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. And, the natural ability she has for solving crimes.

Much like in the Stella series, there are a plethora of twists and turns within this mystery, yet the “who dun it” factor has been elevated, making it harder to determine who the true criminal is. It makes for an enjoyable read, suspenseful. I had a difficult time not reading on to see if any of my hunches were correct. Mixed in are the unforgettable characters who really make this novel pop. Kirsch has a knack for blending in the best and worst personalities, in order to really bring on the friction and chaotic elements necessary for a good murder mystery. You find yourself unsure of where the lines are drawn, who’s innocent, who’s guilty, who you want to support because they’re good, vs. evil. Janet is a mixture of all of that, proving that the characters who are the most flawed are the most fun. And have the most fun!

Last Call has an edgier vibe to it, much like it’s protagonist. The bar Janet runs and manages reminds me of the type of hole in the wall bars I’d frequent on occasion when I lived in the Midwest. The type of bar where you’ve heard about it through word of mouth, an experience. It’s an extension of who Janet really is- rough around the edges, minimalist, far from gaudy, yet honest, open, and willing to take anyone in, no matter where you come from. I’m hopeful that this won’t be the one and only mystery for Janet to solve, and we'll see more from her in the near future.

Thanks to Libby Kirsch for the book in exchange for an honest review.


More by Libby Kirsch: