Thursday, January 31, 2019

Sally Thorne is 100 percent a book giveaway

We welcome Sally Thorne to CLC today during the publication week for her sophomore novel, 99 Percent Mine. We've been hearing some good buzz about this novel and are excited to check it out. William Morrow has one copy for a lucky reader!

Sally Thorne is the USA Today-bestselling author of The Hating Game. She spends her days climbing into fictional worlds of her own creation. She lives in Canberra, Australia with her husband in a house filled with vintage toys, too many cushions, a haunted dollhouse and the world’s sweetest pug.

Praise for Sally's debut:

"An addictive, dazzling debut. THE HATING GAME is bursting at the seams with love (and hate) and heart."
—Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling author of My Favorite Half-Night Stand

"A brilliant, biting, hilarious new voice. THE HATING GAME will take the rom-com world by storm. One of the best I’ve read, ever."
—Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck With That

"It was hard to believe this was a debut novel, as it was well-written and polished."
—Melissa Amster (from CLC review)

Visit Sally online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits—he’s been with the same perfect girl for years and Darcy will never be that girl. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and her brother inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

What is something you learned from writing The Hating Game that you used toward 99 Percent Mine?
It was a lesson that took a long time for me to learn, but it was to just let go of expectations and enjoy myself. I was surprised by the success of THE HATING GAME- it was my first book and I didn’t even write it with the intention to publish.

When I began my second book, I had a big personal crisis of self-doubt and crippling writer’s block. I’d never had to follow up anything before, and I’d never had anyone wanting to read my writing. Lots of people were asking me when my next book was coming out. I admit I froze up for a long time and really doubted I could do it. I had a bad case of Second Book Syndrome.

Slowly, as I found my story and my confidence, I found myself enjoying writing again. It was a relief, because writing had become nothing but stressful. I realized that what readers respond to the most is authenticity, and I should be completely myself, and write what I like best.

What I like best is: sexual tension, lifelong love, primal animalistic attraction, tall guys with muscles, intense staring and pizza. The result is 99 PERCENT MINE, and I hope readers enjoy it. It’s different from my first book, because I’m a different person now, but I think of it as THE HATING GAME’s sexy, rebellious older sister.

Why did you decide to write rom coms?
It’s my favorite genre to read, and I like making people feel good. All I ever want to do is write books that bring comfort to the reader, and they want to reread their favorite parts when they’ve had a bad day.

If 99 Percent Mine were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
I’d convince the singer Halsey to try her hand at acting, because she’d be an amazing Darcy Barrett. They both have the same tough-girl vibe that hides an inner fragility. Darcy’s twin brother Jamie is too handsome for his own good- maybe Alex Pettyfer could play him. The actor to play Tom Valeska is a little harder for me to decide on, but I’d be happy with Armie Hammer.

What is one word that will be your guiding force in 2019?

Who is your current celebrity crush?
My boy crush is Dylan Wang, who plays Dao Ming Si in Meteor Garden. My girl crush is Lisa Eldridge, makeup artist and beauty guru.

What is the last book you read that you'd recommend?
My favorite rom-com book of 2018 was Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren. It’s pee-your-pants funny, with so much emotion and energy. It recharged my heart.

Thanks to Sally for chatting with us and to William Morrow 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 February 5th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway: I Owe You One

By Melissa Amster

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” And since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will?

It’s simply not in Fixie’s nature to say no to people. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, she not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, an investment manager, scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

But then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life, and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. As always, she wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. No sooner has Seb agreed than the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

As much as I adore Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series, I also love her stand-alone novels. There are always new characters to meet and some interesting situations that she puts them in. This time around, I enjoyed meeting Fixie and her family.

I Owe You One is a delightful story from start to finish. I had such a great time reading it. There were some great laugh-out-loud moments. Fixie had a huge problem to solve and I wasn't sure of the direction the situation would go. However, I was pleased with the end result. I learned a lot about running a family business and the parts about helping the store boost their sales were interesting. I could see myself shopping at Farr's if I lived in the UK. I could easily picture people, places, and things throughout the story.

This novel is another winner from Sophie Kinsella and I'm excited for whatever she comes up with next!

Movie casting ideas:
Fixie: Daisy Ridley
Nicole: Candice King
Jake: Jason Ralph
Ryan: Billy Magnussen
Seb: Tom Cullen
Briony: Serinda Swan
Hannah: Eleanor Tomlinson

Thanks to The Dial Press 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 February 4th at midnight EST.

More by Sophie Kinsella:

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Lose yourself in Pam Jenoff's latest novel....and we have one to give away!

We're so pleased to have Pam Jenoff at CLC today to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, The Lost Girls of Paris (reviewed by Melissa A). Pam is really sweet and genuine. Melissa A has met her in person twice and both times were memorable. She is here today to talk about her latest novel and share some other fun information about herself. Thanks to Pam, one lucky reader has a chance to win The Lost Girls of Paris!

At book signing in July, 2017
Pam Jenoff was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England.

Upon receiving her master’s in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. The position provided a unique opportunity to witness and participate in operations at the most senior levels of government, including helping the families of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims secure their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, observing recovery efforts at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing and attending ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II at sites such as Bastogne and Corregidor.

Following her work at the Pentagon, Pam moved to the State Department. In 1996 she was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. It was during this period that Pam developed her expertise in Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. Working on matters such as preservation of Auschwitz and the restitution of Jewish property in Poland, Pam developed close relations with the surviving Jewish community. Pam left the Foreign Service in 1998 to attend law school and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for several years as a labor and employment attorney both at a firm and in-house in Philadelphia and now teaches law school at Rutgers.

Pam is the author of The Kommandant's Girl, which was an international bestseller and nominated for a Quill award, as well as The Winter Guest, The Diplomat's Wife, The Ambassador’s Daughter, Almost Home, A Hidden Affair, The Things We Cherished, and most recently, The Orphan's Tale. She also authored a short story in the anthology Grand Central: Original Postwar Stories of Love and Reunion. Pam lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children. (Bio adapted from Pam's website.)

Visit Pam online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

1946, Manhattan

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is something interesting you learned while doing research for The Lost Girls of Paris?
I was struck by the scope and magnitude of the missions undertaken by the women who served Britain’s Special Operations Executive, without recognition or acclaim. Also, I was surprised by the ways in which the girls may have been betrayed.

With which character in The Lost Girls of Paris do you feel the most connected?
I connect with each of the women different. I identify with Grace and the way she is trying to reinvent herself and figure out what comes next. I relate to Eleanor and the ways in which she doesn’t quite fit in with her world (I do now; but I have felt that way in the past.) And I understand Marie’s struggles to overcome her fears and her struggles to do what is right for her daughter and herself.

If The Lost Girls of Paris were made into a movie, who would play the leading roles?
So the great news is that The Lost Girls of Paris has been optioned for film and may well be made into a movie. The bad news is I am terrible at hypothetical casting. I have always wanted to shoehorn Bradley Cooper into something, but that’s as far as it goes. So please write to me with your casting suggestions.

What was your favorite book when you were growing up?
Too many to name! I read the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace, All of A Kind Family, Judy Blume, Beverly Clearly, Paula Danziger, the works! Young adult is still my favorite category of books. Adult authors are popular but kids authors are deities! I would write them myself but I don’t have the voice.

What is the most unusual or bizarre thing that has happened to you while on a book tour?
I am going to cheat here and talk about the most unusual thing that is going to happen: I am going to Key West to visit Judy Blume’s bookstore on my book tour! When my family and I were on vacation last summer, we walked into her bookstore and met her and it was one of the greatest moments of my life. She was so incredibly nice and invited me to come back on book tour. I can’t wait!

What is your favorite comfort food?
Whole wheat pasta with green pesto. I discovered it when I was in grad school in England and pretty much subsisted on it for most of my twenties. Now it is an occasional treat.

Thanks to Pam 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 February 3rd at midnight EST.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Book Review: The Suspect

By Jami Deise

While “fake news” has only recently become a battle cry, reporters’ reputations have been on a downhill slide for years. Once one of the most trusted professions, journalists are now viewed with the same skepticism as used-car salesmen. Voters on both sides of the aisle, as well as people who pay little attention to politics, have been inundated for decades by the Jerry Springers, Geraldo Riveras, celebrity paparazzi, and other “reporters” who seem more interested in ratings and attention than actual facts. As a former public relations executive who holds a journalism degree, I view these developments with dismay. Almost all of the reporters I worked with strove to get at the truth and reflect all sides of a story. Still, when some journalists profess to be telling the truth on one hand, and then in court claim to be providing entertainment that no one should take seriously, it’s easy to become cynical about the entire profession and everyone in it.

Reporter Kate Waters has become British author Fiona Barton’s alter ego, and the writer’s third book has placed her protagonist squarely in the crosshairs. While Kate reported on the story in Barton’s debut The Widow (review) and in her follow-up The Child (review), in The Suspect the tables are turned when, halfway through the novel, Kate becomes part of the story.

The novel kicks off with the disappearance of two eighteen-year-old British girls in Thailand. As Kate follows the story, interviewing parents and pursuing leads, she’s at her best – empathizing with the parents, teaching her underling Joe, and resuming her strong working relationship with detective Bob Sparkes. She’s a reporter at the top of her game, breaking stories while never breaking the trust she’s built up, and her rivals envy her. But when Kate’s son Jake becomes a suspect in the case, suddenly Kate is thrust into the spotlight, and she receives a fun house mirror look at herself and her profession. It might not be “fake news,” but Kate is forced to outwit her rival reporters in order to protect her son and her career. When she sees through their facades, she’s forced to confront her own deceptions.

To be honest, while I figured out the plot twists of the mystery fairly easily, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book one iota. I love Kate, and watching her personal and professional lives collide in this book made the mystery take a back seat. While Kate is not the only point-of-view character, she is clearly the star of the book, and the character development Barton has done with her protagonist and those closest to her – Joe and Bob – promise that future books will be even more compelling.

In my review of The Child, I wrote, “Two books in, Barton continues the theme that all it takes for an evil man to flourish is for a woman to defend him over the people he hurts. Her Kate is well-positioned to take on the role of a crusader, never doubting the voices of women who’ve been victimized.”

Rather than becoming a crusader, though, Kate is forced to make compromises when it’s her own child at risk. Barton continues her theme, but is Kate poised to become a woman who defends an evil man? I can’t wait to see what the next book entails.

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

Friday, January 25, 2019

Book Review: The RiverCliffe Legacy

By Sara Steven

Three years after her divorce, Risa Armitage is still trying to get back on her feet. Living in the basement of her mother’s brownstone with three kids, one bathroom and no cross ventilation is not her—or her three kids’—ideal.

When the family of the father that she never knew leaves her a surprise inheritance, RiverCliffe, Risa knows her prayers have been answered. She plans a quick trip up to the Hudson Valley to check out the inn and the surrounding farm before figuring out what to do with her newfound wealth.

But when the long weekend results in a summer retreat, and Risa begins to realize there’s more to RiverCliffe than just a source of income. Her kids are each finding a place to fit in, and she’s finding the local sheriff has a lot more going for him that just keeping the peace. Then there’s the crazy story about all the Cliffe women from the past, and the graveyard right next door…

As Risa learns more about the history of RiverCliffe, and the father who abandoned her, the more she realizes her future is not just determined by who she is now. With humor, warmth, a little help from the beyond, she learns that to move forward means to accept her place among a line of women all blessed—or cursed—with the RiverCliffe Legacy. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

There was a lot of transition in The RiverCliffe Legacy. While Rita is trying to find balance for herself, you also get to see what all the changes and turbulence has done to her children, through their actions and their interactions. Even with the potential upgrade of going from living with their grandmother, to living at RiverCliffe, the children have to adjust and find a new way of understanding, giving semblance to this familial dynamic as best they can. This extends to everyone, even the employees, and all of the characters feed off one another, lending into who they are and why they choose to behave the way they do.

There was a perfectly written love triangle for Risa, and it was really hard to determine who you would like for her to end up with, even if they both seem like they could potentially be less than ideal. Who you fall for isn’t always practical, and I felt this was expertly portrayed. One man fulfills her in a more attuned way, while the other, spiritually. But in the end, Risa’s biggest hurdle will be trying to decide on whether she can live with someone, or if she’s better off without, relying more on herself.

Out of everything, though, I loved Risa’s legacy the most. While learning about her failed marriage, her failed familial relationships and the new relationships she forges at RiverCliffe, we learn so much more about who Risa is and the magical ambiance that surrounds her. One of my favorite plot lines ever would be the history behind the Legacy, how the women past and present are all a part of it, and how, even through death they are all connected to one another. Bottom line, it was the ultimate homage to sisterhood, and well worth the five stars I’ve given The RiverCliffe Legacy.

Thanks to Dee Ernst for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Dee Ernst:

Thursday, January 24, 2019

L.B. Lewis is thoroughly a book giveaway

We're pleased to have L.B. Lewis visiting today to talk about her series, A Modern Trilogy,  a realistic fiction series that Readers’ Favorite calls “well-written and thought-provoking.” She has a set of all three e-books to give away to a lucky reader!

Melissa A found L.B. on Twitter, while doing a search on 90 Day Fiance tweets. L.B. posted about how one of her books was perfect for fans of the show and it was like a match made in literary heaven!

L.B. Lewis writes about modern culture, including paying off student loan debt, looking for love, and finding the perfect job. Her debut novel, and first book of the series, THE RIGHT OF WAY, took her ten years to finish. It received five-star reviews from The Manhattan Book review and Readers’ Favorite. A MINOR DETOUR, the second book in the series, reached #12 in the Amazon Kindle Store and was called “a thoroughly entertaining read” by The Wishing Shelf Awards. ONE WAY HOME rounds out the trilogy and was released late 2018.

Aside from writing, L. B. loves palm trees, cooking, traveling, and laughing. She wrote her first poem at age three while swinging on a swing in Cleveland, Ohio. Visit L.B. at her website and on Twitter, Goodreads, and YouTube.

The Right of Way:
After graduating with her MBA, adulting proves wildly more difficult than Sierra Wellington had ever imagined. She is on a serious quest to pay off her student loan debt and takes the first job offer to come her way. From dysfunctional jobs that take her from Washington, D.C. to Houston to San Francisco, Sierra remains optimistic that she can achieve financial stability by working hard. But when she meets a handsome entrepreneur in San Francisco, Sierra begins to realize the power to control her life is in her own hands.

A Minor Detour:
Sierra Wellington is a millennial at a crossroads after she leaves San Francisco to take a job at a startup in Madrid. In her minor detour to Europe, Sierra attempts to establish a career, pay off her student loans and find romance. But, after the startup job and its founder leave her less than fulfilled, she wonders why she got her MBA in the first place. With more travel as a means of self-discovery and a quest for romance, a series of events leaves her stranded in France with only her backpack. Her adventure takes an unexpected turn as what happens next is what she'd been waiting for all along.

One Way Home:
After leaving the south of France, Sierra is ready for romance in Paris. When her expectations prove to be a far cry from reality, she questions if true love really does exist. It's only then does she get the surprise of her life, but unsure if it is destiny or just a coincidence.

With a one-way ticket home to Detroit to attend her sister's graduation party she must face her past to understand where to go next. Serendipitously, she is met by opportunities that clearly show her the path to her true home and live a life she had always dreamed about. New adult fiction and third in the series, A Modern Trilogy. American woman author.

**Synopses courtesy of Amazon**

What was the inspiration behind A Modern Trilogy?
I was at a job that was supposed to be my dream job and I hated it. I started writing during this time and finished The Right Of Way (Book One) after ten years of working gradually on it. I was inspired to tell the story that wasn’t common in TV shows and movies that involved how life really is when you have loans to pay, are struggling to figure out your career path and trying to date all at the same time. It was important for me to write as authentically as possible and develop characters that weren’t afraid to show their flaws.

I also have been very inspired by Madame Bovary, the Bridget Jones series and The Count of Monte Cristo, a few of my favorite books.

In one sentence, describe your journey to publishing.
My journey to publishing is like discovering the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow where I’m able to share the richness of life and art in the written form for everyone to enjoy.

If you could cast the characters from A Modern Trilogy as a movie or TV series, who would you choose for the leading roles?
That’s a good question! Since I’m a self-published, indie author I would like to give a few roles to talented, rising actors who resonant with the story and characters. I would also be interested in Javier Bardem play Cristian because he is such a versatile actor that could capture the complexity of Cristian brilliantly. Also, I’ve always been a fan of Taye Diggs and would like him to play Ismael.

What is something you are looking forward to in 2019?
As one of my New Year’s Resolutions I’m looking forward to publishing more content related to culture and lifestyle. I just published a book review of Life with Picasso on Medium and am excited to write more this year.

I’m also enthusiastic about organizing new events in 2019 including writing workshops, happy hours, and panel discussions with great sponsors in San Francisco and other cities to be announced. Events have been a great way for me to build community and connect with new readers.

What surprises you most about adulting?
A lot of us were brought up to believe there was an equation for happiness and that if you did everything “right” i.e. got a good education and a good job, you’d be happy.

What has surprised me is how many people who have done everything “right” are miserable. And, more surprising, they give up on their dreams.

What TV show are you currently binge watching?
I’m a true romantic that loves traveling and 90 Day Fiancé has been one of my all-time favorites! First Dates, Un Dîner Presque Parfait, and Golden Girls are also shows that I really like.

Thanks to L.B. Lewis for visiting with us and sharing her books 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 29th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Book Review: Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

By Melissa Amster

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Some of the bloggers I follow regularly were recommending Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, so I decided to check it out for myself, just to see what the fuss was all about. People seem to know my tastes really well because I absolutely loved it! I had such a fun time reading it and laughed and smiled throughout. I found out after I finished reading this that Christina Lauren is really two authors working together. Mind? Blown! I had no idea, as the writing is so fluid throughout.

I could easily connect with Hazel, as she reminded me of myself in some ways. I'm not as quirky, but I do tend to say embarrassing or inappropriate things sometimes and I could relate to the level of cringey-ness she must have been feeling. She also has good taste in names for her pets. Her dog shares a name with a cat I once had. I also really liked Josh and enjoyed seeing his perspective in this story. The dialogue is great and keeps the story flowing nicely.

The story had a similar feel to When Harry Met Sally. It once again poses the question: Can men and women really be friends without sex getting in the way? Speaking of which, the bedroom scenes were on fire! I like my romantic stories to be steamy, so I enjoyed that aspect.

While it tied up a bit too neatly at the end, I enjoyed the journey to that point. There wasn't an intense conflict, but I was almost worried that there would be. There are still some up and down moments and plenty of little surprises.

I miss both characters now that I'm done reading this novel. I hope there will be a sequel. (A girl can dream!) I recommend picking this one up for a fun and light read. I'll be checking out more of Christina Lauren's novels in the near future!

Dream movie cast:
Josh: Rene Gube
Hazel: Vanessa Marano
Emily: Melise
Sasha: Emer Kenny
Jones: Tom Brittney
Hazel's mom: Kristin Chenoweth

More by Christina Lauren:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Lovely Lynda Cohen a book giveaway

We are thrilled to have Lynda Cohen Loigman back at CLC today to celebrate the publication of her sophomore novel, The Wartime Sisters. Melissa A loved this novel and is excited for you all to check it out. Check out her review! Lynda has one copy to give away, along with copy of her debut, The Two-Family House.

Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a law degree from Columbia Law School. Lynda practiced trusts and estates law in New York City for eight years before moving out of the city to raise her two children with her husband. She wrote The Two-Family House while she was a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. The Two-Family House was chosen by Goodreads as the best book of the month for March 2016 and was a nominee for the Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards in Historical Fiction. (Adapted from Lynda's website.)

Visit Lynda online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII. While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

"A stirring tale of loyalty, betrayal, and the consequences of long-buried secrets.”
—Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of The Edge of Lost and Sold on a Monday

What is something you learned from writing The Two-Family House that you applied to The Wartime Sisters?
So many things! Writing The Two-Family House and seeing the story make its way from my laptop to readers was a tremendous education – not only about writing, but the publishing process as well. In terms of the writing itself, I’m hoping to improve with every book going forward. I’m hoping to write better characters, more relatable moments, and to focus in on my voice. I’m trying to push myself so that I can match my writing to my ambition. By that I mean that I have a lot of ideas for stories in my head – ideas that will involve a lot of work and time, and that I’m not sure I’m a good enough writer to pull off. But I really want to make each book a broader achievement than the last. In many ways, The Two-Family House was a very small story. It involved one family, one house, and one setting. With The Wartime Sisters, I tried to expand the world of my narrative. I dug deeply into my research, and I think the result is a more complex story.

In terms of one specific lesson I learned, publishing my first book taught me about the danger of confusing readers. People say not to read reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but I honestly read as many as I can – good or bad, I find them incredibly helpful. With The Two-Family House, the most consistent criticism came from readers who said they figured out the “secret” right away. I had always assumed the secret wasn’t a secret at all, and that readers would guess it just from the book jacket. But somehow, that wasn’t what several readers thought. They assumed the big secret was exactly that, and that making it obvious was a flaw in the story. As I wrote The Wartime Sisters, I tried to be very careful to reveal information to the reader in a much more controlled way in order to avoid that kind of confusion a second time.

What is a favorite compliment you've received on your writing?
One of the best things about writing The Two-Family House was receiving emails from readers. People wrote to tell me how the book brought back memories of their own childhood, how the characters reminded them of their own relatives, and how they could see themselves and their families in the pages. I found those comments to be particularly moving because it meant that the story truly resonated with them. Knowing that people connected to my characters was incredibly special.

If you could cast The Wartime Sisters as a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
I just finished watching the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, so it won’t surprise you to hear that I would love to see Rachel Brosnahan as Millie. She’s been a redhead before, and I think she’d be fantastic. Elisabeth Moss (from The Handmaid’s Tale) would be a perfect Ruth because she’s able to go to a very somber and serious place with her acting. I’d love to see Michelle Williams as Lillian, Broadway star Lindsay Mendez as Arietta, and Kate Bosworth as Grace. Darren Criss would make a wonderful Lenny, and I’d pick Max Irons for Arthur.

What is a new year's resolution you try to stick to every year?
Aside from diet and fitness goals, I always promise myself that I’ll be more present with the people I love and try to worry less. I’m still working on all of that!

What music are you currently listening to on repeat?
I love musicals, so whenever I’m in my car, I usually tune in to the Sirius radio Broadway channel. If you had asked me this question in 2016, when The Two-Family House was first published, I would have said the Hamilton Broadway album. If you had asked me a year later, I would have said the soundtrack for Dear Evan Hansen. Since then, I haven’t found a new musical that has held my attention in quite the same way. I’ve gone back to a lot of older musical albums – ones I haven’t listened to for a long time. I can’t say I’m listening to anything on repeat, but whenever I need creative inspiration, I always go back to the music from Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday In The Park With George. The songs are all about the artistic process. My favorite is called “Putting It Together.”

What is your favorite day of the week?
Nothing beats Sunday mornings. If I’m lucky, somebody else gets up to walk the puppy, and I get a few extra minutes to read in bed. There is always a lot of coffee and I don’t get out of my pajamas until the afternoon.

Thanks to Lynda for visiting with us and sharing her books 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 27th at midnight EST.

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)

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)

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

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!


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 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 and the 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.