Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Kimberly Belle is dear to us...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Kimberly Belle to CLC today. Melissa A read The Marriage Lie and Three Days Missing and enjoyed how suspenseful both novels were. Her latest novel, Dear Wife, is publishing next week and we're excited to read it!  Kimberly has one signed copy for a lucky reader!

Kimberly Belle is the international bestselling author of five novels of suspense. Her third, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller and has been translated into ten languages. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Kimberly worked in marketing and nonprofit fundraising before turning to writing fiction. She lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and currently divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Kimberly online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning—one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


What did you learn from writing your previous novels that you applied to Dear Wife?
It’s funny. Every time I sit down to write another novel, I think I know how to do this thing, and then the story is so different from my previous novels that it requires me to come up with a whole new way to tackle the story. A new structure, maybe, or a new way to present a plot twist so that my readers don’t know what’s coming around every corner. I don’t want any of my stories to feel predictable.

But I also learn with every novel—how to build a plot and create realistic characters and keep amping up the suspense—and I apply all my skills to each new novel. That’s why it takes me a good six to eight months to write that first draft, because I’m using old skills and learning new ones at the same time. Those first few books, you don’t know what you don’t know, but now that I’ve got six books under my belt, it’s easier to see when you’ve taken a wrong turn. It makes the writing harder and easier at the same time.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I love and adore any reader who tells me they lost sleep because they couldn’t put my book down. That’s about the best thing you can say to a writer, that their story kept them from daily life because they were glued to the pages. But Booklist recently compared me to two authors I really admire, Gilly Macmillan and Alafair Burke, and that was a great compliment, as well.

If Dear Wife were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
These questions are always so hard, but I’d love to see someone like Jennifer Garner play Beth. She’s strong and talented and she could play the heck out of an angry abused woman taking back her power. As for the male roles, Miles Teller would make a great Jeffrey, and Chris Pine would be perfect as Marcus. A girl can dream!

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
Younger. It’s hilarious and so, so smart, and I love all the publishing references. Season six has just begun, but while I wait for the next installment, I’m rewatching the earlier seasons.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
I don’t know if it’s funny, but this past winter my husband and I were on vacation in the Caribbean, and one night at dinner, I look across the room and straight into the eyes of Bono. He’s instantly recognizable, of course, though no one but me and my husband seemed to notice him at all. It was late, the restaurant had turned into a nightclub, and people were many drinks in at that point, so he was just hanging out incognito. So I did what any fangirl would do and posted about it immediately on Twitter. A couple days later we ran into him again, at another bar but this time in the middle of the day, during Carnival celebrations. He was wearing one of those Hamburglar masks, flying under the radar yet again. I told my husband and all of Twitter it was destiny.

What is your favorite summertime beverage?
Long live rosé season, preferably French rosé. But I’ve also recently discovered Aperol Spritzes: 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts aperol, and 1 part soda water. Drink them over ice and from a big red wine glass—refreshing and delicious!

Thanks to Kimberly for chatting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends June 23rd at midnight EST.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Spotlight: The Summer Guests

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life. 

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author),
The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.


Excerpted from an interview with Gallery Books:

What inspired you to write THE SUMMER GUESTS?
I live on the coast in South Carolina, and I've had to evacuate my home more times than I can remember in the last twenty years ahead of a threatening hurricane. And every time I evacuate, it comes with worry and stress. The last time I had to evacuate was ahead of Hurricane Irma in 2017. I was working on THE SUMMER GUESTS at the time, but wasn't far along in the writing. I was still trying to figure out exactly what the novel would be about. I fled up north to a friend's horse farm in Tryon, North Carolina. There I was taking shelter with other people who also fled their homes in Florida. They brought their horses, their dogs, even a baby. We were all there together, safe, but worried about what would happen. Strangers quickly became friends. We shared stories and bonded. And I remember in one particular moment, with the weather forecast showing the hurricane's ominous path on the television, we turned up Motown music, and danced, sipped wine, and talked and laughed for hours. This fast friendship eased the worries in our bones, and I realized, This is part of the story. To me, it felt like the 1980's film The Big Chill, but with horses, and rescue dogs!

Do you have a favorite character from THE SUMMER GUESTS?
It's hard to choose a favorite character. They each play such an important role in the story line. I can't choose just one. But, I love when readers tell me their favorite characters and why. So, send me a note on social media or through my website.

As fans wait for your next book, can you recommend some of your own favorite authors?

Oh, there are so many great writers! Right now, some books on my bookshelf include Signe Pike of The Lost Queen, Patti Callahan Henry's The Favorite Daughter and her other hit novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis. And Mary Kay Andrews' new novel Sunset Beach. I greatly admire each of these authors and their body of work.

What’s next for you? / What are you currently working on?
For the moment, I'm on a wild book tour. So, not much writing happening when you're rushing from city to city. But, I will have my first children's chapter book published in 2020, titled THE ISLAND, for middle grade readers. And I'm toying with the idea of a full return to the beach for my next novel. We'll see. For now, I'm so happy to share my new book, THE SUMMER GUESTS, with readers.


Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit Mary Alice at her website and on Facebook.


Friday, June 14, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Poison Garden by A.J. Banner from Kathleen Carter Communications
Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald from Random House (e-book via NetGalley)
All the Flowers in Paris by Sarah Jio from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)
Extracurricular by/from Josie Brown (e-book)
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, won from Reading with Robin
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes from Pamela Dorman Books
The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair from Minotaur Books
A Beach Wish by Shelley Noble from William Morrow
The Nobodies by Liza Palmer from Flatiron (e-book via NetGalley)
Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer from Ballantine
Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum from St. Martin's Press
Friend Zone by/from Camilla Isley (e-book)
The Perfect Date by Evelyn Lozada from St. Martin's Press


Amy:
The Me I Used to Be by Jennifer Ryan from HarperCollins

Jami:
Too Close by Natalie Daniels from HarperCollins (e-book)
Skint Estate by Cash Carraway from Ebury Press

Book Review: To the Stars and Back




By Sara Steven

When Hollywood’s sexiest bachelor meets the girl next door, their relationship doesn’t follow the script…

On-screen, Christian Slade is America’s favorite heartthrob. Off-screen, letting romance into his life isn’t as easy. The women he dates all seem to want a piece of his glamorous life rather than his heart, and trust doesn’t come easy for him.

Then along comes Lana. A beautiful rocket scientist who’s also sweet, smart, sexy, and has absolutely no idea who he is. But what will happen when she finds out?

Will their worlds prove too far apart or could love really be like in the movies? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The primary characters in To The Stars and Back are refreshing! It’s not everyday the female lead is revered more for her high intelligence, than her beauty. Or, when a male actor hasn’t let the fame of his celebrity go to his head. It was nice to see that dynamic between Lana and Christian, a genuine respect that goes beyond the physical.

I also appreciated the honesty in Lana’s actions, where Christian’s celebrity is concerned. Many of us can only imagine what it would be like to know someone famous, to be thrust out into the limelight when least expected, and those emotions were eloquently portrayed for Lana. To go from a quiet, peaceful existence, to one where paparazzi become the status quo, it can be scary and surreal, at best.

Looking at it from the other perspective, Christian’s famed captivity was captured beautifully. In order to meet up with Lana and attempt to live a somewhat normal life, he has to dress a certain way and wear hats in order to protect his identity, and hers, too. Someone always wants a piece of him, whether in autograph form, or beyond. I could feel the frustration and at times, acceptance of the the way he’s chosen to live, and how hard it was to impose that on Lana. A struggle between doing what’s best for her, and for them, as a couple.

Much of Stars deals with the inner workings of going against the grain and following what the heart wants, but it was also encouraging to see two characters who know who they are and what they want from the very beginning. While Lana did not want to lose Christian, she wasn’t afraid to speak up and let him know how overwhelming the celebrity lifestyle had become for her, and Christian, while taking a much longer route to get to speaking his own true feelings to Lana, he does it, even after the rough experiences he’d had in the past. Two strong leads, within a fun, exciting read!

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

Camilla Isley is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad.

She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

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


Giveaway to Win a To The Stars and Back Tote Bag 
(Open to UK Only)

*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 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 organizer and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

Today we're featuring Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim. We've been hearing good things about this novel and we're excited to tell you more about it. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

After her mother’s refusal to support her chosen career as a chef, Natalie Tan leaves behind the limitations of life on her small street in China Town to strike out on her own. After years abroad filled with unwavering estrangement from her mother and the tight-knit community she left behind, Natalie is shaken when she learns of her mother’s sudden death. Reeling in the throes of grief and regret, Natalie must journey back home to get her mother’s affairs in order.

Natalie is shocked to find that over the last seven years, her once vibrant neighborhood has faded, with businesses failing and families forced to move out. But during a mystical encounter with the local tea shop owner who tells Natalie her fortune, her destiny becomes clear: she must revive her family’s closed-down restaurant to save the neighborhood. As Natalie rebuilds her connections with the community, she begins to forgive those she felt wronged by over the years, as well as herself—and she may even find new love along the way.


Photo by Shelley Smith
Roselle Lim is a Filipino-Chinese writer who came to Canada from the Phillipines as a young teen and learned English by watching wrestling shows on television. She has a degree in Humanities and History from York University. Visit Roselle at her website and on Twitter and Instagram.





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

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Giveaway ends June 18th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: Mrs. Everything

Jennifer Weiner's latest novel, Mrs. Everything, published yesterday. We're excited to tell you more about this book, which Melissa A loved. "Mrs. Everything is a powerful story that I think women (and possibly even men) of all ages will appreciate." (See her review). Thanks to Atria, we have one copy for a lucky reader!


From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950's to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

Watch Jennifer describe Mrs. Everything in five seconds

Jennifer explains why she wrote Mrs. Everything

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and her memoir, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia.

Visit Jennifer online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * New York Times

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 June 17th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

An hour with Amy Mason Doan...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Amy Mason Doan back to CLC to celebrate the recent publication of her sophomore novel, Summer Hours. Melissa A really enjoyed this novel and will be reviewing it this summer. Amy has a signed and personalized copy to give away!

Amy Mason Doan grew up in Danville, California and now lives in Portland, Oregon.

She’s written for The Oregonian, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, Forbes, The Orange County Register and other publications. Amy has an M.A. in Journalism from Stanford University and a B.A. in English from U.C. Berkeley. Her debut novel, The Summer List, published in 2018. Check out Melissa A's review. (Adapted from Amy's website.)

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


Synopsis:
Becc was the good girl. A dedicated student. Aspiring reporter. Always where she was supposed to be. Until a secret affair with the charming Cal one summer in college cost her everything she held dear: her journalism dreams; her relationship with her best friend, Eric; and her carefully imagined future.

Now, Becc’s past is back front and center as she travels up the scenic California coast to a wedding—with a man she hasn’t seen in a decade. As each mile flies by, Becc can’t help but feel the thrilling push and pull of memories, from infinite nights at beach bonfires and lavish boat parties to secret movie sessions. But the man beside her is not so eager to re-create history. And as the events of that heartbreaking summer come into view, Becc must decide if those dazzling hours they once shared are worth fighting for or if they’re lost forever.

Set in the mid ’90s and 2008, Amy Mason Doan’s Summer Hours is a warmly told novel about the idealism of youth, the seductive power of nostalgia and what happens when you realize you haven’t become the person you’d always promised to be. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What did you learn from writing The Summer List that you applied to Summer Hours?
I trust myself more now. I don’t need to see the word count climbing to reassure myself that the story has ignited; sometimes I make more progress on the plot by lying in my hammock with my eyes closed, visualizing scenes in my head, than I do by sitting at the keyboard.

For example, as I was drafting SUMMER HOURS, I could suddenly see my main character, Becc, driving up Pacific Coast Highway with this massive wedding present wedged between herself and the man in the passenger seat. It’s like a wall, which works perfectly because at the beginning of the novel they’re barely speaking. That mental image gave me the idea to withhold the identity of Becc’s traveling companion at first. I then worked out the road trip scenes in my head—identifying the funny moments, the tender ones, the sexy ones—for weeks before writing them down.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
That they Kon-Mari’d their bookshelf and THE SUMMER LIST and SUMMER HOURS were two of 20 books they kept because they want to read them over and over. And it wasn’t even a friend!

I’m also happy when anyone says my books made them feel something—made them laugh or cry, or reminded them of a friend who had drifted. As a reader, I give up on a book after 50 pages if it doesn’t make me feel anything.

If Summer Hours were made into a movie, who would star in the lead roles?
Becc – Kaitlyn Dever (I’m obsessed with the movie Booksmart!)
Eric – Timothy Chalamet
Cal – Armie Hammer
Serra – Cierra Ramirez
Maggie – Cara Delevingne
Mrs. Haggermaker – Frances Sternhagen

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
Abby Fabiaschi’s I LIKED MY LIFE. It’s heartbreaking but incredibly warm and funny, and the premise—a mother who’s committed suicide watches over her family and helps them heal—is somehow immediately convincing. It’s a beautiful book that I missed when it came out in 2017 because I was in my writing cave.

What is the strangest thing currently residing in your purse/handbag?
A cookbook called His Turn to Cook from 1983. I bought it at Goodwill to include in a giveaway I’m doing for the SUMMER HOURS launch party—a totebag full of prizes related to the novel. In SUMMER HOURS, aspiring journalist Becc gets stuck writing the totally sexist “women’s column” of the newspaper, and has to test recipes like “Igloo Meatloaf” and “Fudgy Lovin’.” I found the most dated, ridiculous cookbook I could. The recipes are for things like “Beef Alamo” and “Venison Stew,” and the pictures feature lots of fishing tackle and boar’s head skewers.

What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?
Kayak in Lost Lake with my family.

Thanks to Amy for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends June 16th at midnight EST.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Book Review: The Ice Cream Parlour





By Sara Steven

Giovanna Tonioli is a successful stockbroker with a famous sports star boyfriend, but things aren't as sweet as they seem. When life in the city of Bath goes from Vanilla to Rocky Road, she takes herself off to Italy for an 'Eat Pray Love' style tour of all things gelateria. What she doesn't expect to find on her travels is one smooth, hot dollop of temptation that she just can't shake.

How will her spiteful twin sister react when Giovanna returns to open a rival ice cream parlour? Will Natalia get her just desserts? Or will things become even stickier? All's fair in love, war and ice cream. Isn't it?
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

In the beginning, it feels as though Giovanna is a modern day Cinderella, trying to make her way in spite of her family. The noted black sheep, there’s constant struggle within her to do her very best for her family, yet distant herself. Thrown into the scenario is her lothario boyfriend, a man she is madly in love with, but doesn’t give her the respect she deserves. With so much discord, it’s no wonder she chooses to leave behind the mess and chaos and embark on a soul-searching, taste testing journey in Italy, a place where she attempts to find herself.

I’m a self-professed lover of all things ice cream, but I was blown away by the wide range of flavors and creations that Giovanna indulges in. I’d never heard of so many of the flavors and textures and even the colors that are presented, an important vein that pumps life blood into The Ice Cream Parlour. With a background for delectables, there is obvious passion, and it shows in every bite that Giovanna takes. Her reputation and pride are on the line, in opening up her own parlour, but where the lines blur are in the motivations behind it. Are those motives pure, or is it a way to stick it to those who have hurt her?

There’s a large part of the novel that feels a little like the French movie He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not. Initially, the story is shown from only one perspective, like in the case of Giovanna. This enables us to side completely with her. Yet midway through, there’s a unique rewind into the past, now showcasing the perspective from a completely new vantage point, turning the reader’s ideas and opinions completely on its head. Who’s side are we on, now? It got me thinking on how past hurts, even when they’re from long ago and deep seeded, can often have a larger influence on the choices made today and how ultimately, there really isn’t a clear-cut wrong or right answer when family is involved.

The backdrop is steeped in Italian landscape, an almost cinematographic view through internal dialogue. While I’ve never been, I felt like I was right there with Giovanna while she traveled to Tuscany, Lake Como, Milan, and more. Even the experiences she has in Bath made me want to venture out to the UK. An undercurrent plot to all of this is an interesting twist to the story, the kind of dealings her family has been involved in since she was a child, always lurking in the dark, coming to fruition when she least expects it, but more than expects it. With so many distinctive events going on, The Ice Cream Parlour proved to be a delightful read!

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


Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury's ley lines however, she's unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, gelato, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life's 'rules'. The Ice Cream Parlour is her fourth novel.

Visit Isabella online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Book Review: Dying to Meet You




By Sara Steven


Liz Parker doesn’t like surprises, but winning the lottery isn’t something she would complain about. Before she has time to think about how to spend her new fortune, she’s hit with an even bigger shock than unexpected wealth. She has three months to live unless she finds a one-in-a-million bone marrow donor.

While her medical team scrambles to locate her miracle, Liz throws together a bucket list, charters a private jet, and takes off to see the world. The journey of a lifetime holds even more surprises, including the hunky pilot she’s falling for at the most inconvenient time.

Will Liz die before she can realize her happily-ever-after, or will the universe come through for her one more time? Find out in this humorous tale of true love and adventure! (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I really appreciated the unique story line to Dying to Meet You; it’s not often you find novels referencing what life might be like for someone who wins the lottery, or what it would be like to find out shortly afterward that there isn’t much time to enjoy it, given a three months to live life sentence. Liz is the antithesis of her windfall, a humble, down to earth personality, so the reader feels even more for the circumstances Liz finds herself in. I wanted her to succeed and survive.

The hunky pilot (Adam) has his own baggage. He’s had a lot thrown at him in recent years, which plays nicely with who Liz is as a person, and often the two bring out the best and the worst in one another, providing the perfect blend of push and pull, a much-desired experience for two potential romantic characters. While we’re thrust into the time of our lives, living vicariously through Liz’s experiences, we’re also given a look into a budding romance that has a lot of unintended strings attached, and it was the perfect paralleling situation to Liz’s health concerns.

I’m a big fan of character development and evolvement. How have they changed? There is major transformation for Liz and Adam, a slow development that takes place gradually, which neither could fathom or expect. Who they were at the start of Dying is not who they are at the end of it, and it makes perfect sense considering what both have gone through, on personal levels as well as together.

I’ve read another Amooi novel (There’s Something About A Cowboy, reviewed here), and much like with Cowboy, I appreciate that his characters don’t have to be millennials in order to find romance and fall in love. Liz and Adam are older, and are still desirable. They don’t have it all together, which is something most of us at any age can relate to. There were a lot of motivational messages, too, in living life now, vs. waiting for a better time to do it, because ultimately, there really isn’t a better time. The best time is NOW. Given the unique story, the well-written characters and the inspiring missive, Dying to Meet You is a clear-cut five star read!

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

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

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 online:
WebsiteFacebook * Twitter * Goodreads


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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Double Feature Thursday...plus a book giveaway!

We're pleased to feature two novels that have been published within the past week: The Friends We Keep by Jane Green and I'll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie. We love both authors and their novels and we are excited to share their latest with you today. Thanks to Berkley and Kathleen Carter Communications, we have one set of both novels for a lucky reader!

Evvie, Maggie, and Topher have known each other since university. Their friendship was something they swore would last forever. Now years have passed, the friends have drifted apart, and none of them ever found the lives they wanted - the lives they dreamed of when they were young and everything seemed possible.

Evvie starved herself to become a supermodel but derailed her career by sleeping with a married man.

Maggie married Ben, the boy she fell in love with at university, never imagining the heartbreak his drinking would cause.

Topher became a successful actor but the shame of a childhood secret shut him off from real intimacy.

By their thirtieth reunion, these old friends have lost touch with each other and with the people they dreamed of becoming. Together again, they have a second chance at happiness... until a dark secret is revealed that changes everything.

The Friends We Keep is about how despite disappointments we've had or mistakes we've made, it's never too late to find a place to call home.


Photo credit: Jerri Graham
A former journalist in the UK and a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York, Jane Green has written many novels (including Jemima J, The Beach House, Falling, and, most recently, The Sunshine Sisters), most of which have been New York Times bestsellers, and one cookbook, Good Taste. Her novels are published in more than twenty-five languages, and she has over ten million books in print worldwide. She lives with her husband and a small army of children and animals.

Visit Jane online:
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Summer camp is a special place where the memories and friendships made last a lifetime. For the MacAllister siblings—Ryan, Margaux, Mary, Liddie, and Kate—all they’d like to do is forget about Camp Macaw, the summer camp their parents ran for decades. Twenty years ago, Amanda Holmes was found bludgeoned in a rowboat at the camp. No one was ever charged with the crime. But, each one of the siblings is holding a piece of the truth about that night.


Now, after their parents’ unexpected deaths, the MacAllisters are reunited to discuss the will and decide what to do with the prime real estate the camp occupies. They expect some debate, but what they don’t anticipate is the will stipulating that in order to settle the estate, they must unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda all those years ago. If they can’t agree on what happened, they lose the power to decide the camp’s fate. Can they work together to discover the truth, or will their secrets finally tear the family apart?


Photo credit: Jason Trott
Born and raised in Montreal, Catherine McKenzie graduated 2nd in her class from McGill Law, and is a partner in the leading litigation boutique in Montreal. Along with her human rights work, Catherine represents large corporations such as McDonald’s Canada and Wayfair in class actions and is regularly called on to present at conferences on various topics.

Her novels Spin, Arranged, Forgotten, Hidden, Smoke, and Fractured are all international bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages. Hidden was an Amazon #1 bestseller and a Digital Book World bestseller. Smoke, was an Amazon bestseller, a Goodreads Best Book for October 2015, and an Amazon Top 100 Book of 2015. Fractured was a Goodreads Best Book for October and Fall 2016, a Buzzfeed Big Book of Fall 2016, and made numerous other Best Book lists. Most recently, her novel The Good Liar was an instant Globe and Mail and a Toronto Star bestseller, a Goodreads Best Book of April, 2018 (Suspense & Thrillers), and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Her ninth novel, I'll Never Tell, has just been named one of the 36 Big Mysteries & Thrillers of 2019. She’s a regular contributor to Writer Unboxed.

Visit Catherine 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 June 11th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Book Review: Home for June

By Melissa Amster


Practical and hard-working event planner Hannah Delaney has only ever known life on her family's chicken farm in Tarrin's Bay. Needing a fresh start, she has finally made the decision to move to the city. But just when her mind's made up, her past comes back to town - Luca Antonescu, her secret high school crush.

Grieving the loss of his mother, Luca is back in Tarrin's Bay after years away working as a chef. He's finally ready to settle down and open his own restaurant in his parents' honour. When he runs into his old friend, Hannah's event management skills seem like the perfect fit for his restaurant's launch.

But as they work together to set up the new business, secrets are uncovered and long ago feelings resurface. Luca soon realises that he wants more with Hannah. But the woman he wants to share it with has other plans. Will Hannah follow through with her move to the city, or will she realise that everything she's ever wanted is back home in the town of new beginnings?
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I have been enjoying Juliet Madison's Tarrin's Bay series ever since I picked up The January Wish. I just wish she didn't wait so long between "months." Thankfully, each story has different characters and plots (so we're not left hanging between books) and sometimes will feature characters from previous stories. Since Tarrin's Bay is a small town, there were a lot of cameos in her latest installment from the series, Home for June.

The novels in the Tarrin's Bay series are comfort reads. They are sweet stories that deal with various emotions the characters are going through in a given situation. I enjoyed getting to know Hannah and Luca and hearing both of their perspectives. I was rooting for them to get together the entire time and was frustrated when something got in the way of their chances. I enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspect of setting up a new restaurant. It sounded like a neat place that I would totally check out if it were real (and I was in Australia). It was amusing to read this as an American, as I kept expecting June to have hot weather. In Australia, it's on the verge of winter!

The only concerns for me were that the story felt a little slow in parts, such as when the characters were dwelling on why they couldn't make things work for a relationship. Also, some aspects felt too good to be true. While it is fiction, I felt like there should have been more obstacles involved.

I enjoyed this story overall and am looking forward to the next installment in the series. Especially since it will take place during my birthday month!

Movie casting suggestions:
Hannah: Abbie Cornish
Luca: Luke Arnold

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

More by Juliet Madison:

More in the Tarrin's Bay series:

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Lisa Barr is truly unbreakable...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Lisa Barr to CLC and celebrate the publication of her latest novel, The Unbreakables! Melissa A loved this novel and will be reviewing soon. All she can say for now is that you'll need a glass of red wine for some parts. (Lisa recommended this to her and it was warranted!) Lisa is a delightful person, just based on some e-mail exchanges. We hope you will enjoy getting to know her. She has one copy of The Unbreakables for a lucky reader!

Lisa Barr is the award-winning author of THE UNBREAKABLES (Harper) and the historical thriller FUGITIVE COLORS, a suspenseful tale of stolen art, love, lust, deception, and revenge on the eve of World War II. The novel won the Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY) gold medal for "Best Literary Fiction 2014" and first prize at the Hollywood Film Festival (Opus Magnum Discovery Award). In addition, Lisa has served as an editor for The Jerusalem Post, managing editor of Today’s Chicago Woman, managing editor of Moment magazine, and an editor/reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. 

Among the highlights of her career, Lisa covered the famous handshake between the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and President Bill Clinton at the White House. Lisa is also the creator and editor of the popular parenting blog, GIRLilla Warfare. She has been featured on Good Morning America, Today, Fox & Friends, and the Australia morning news show Sunrise for her work as an author, journalist, and blogger. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and three daughters (aka Drama Central).

Visit Lisa online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
The worst birthday ever might just be the gift of a lifetime…

It’s Sophie Bloom’s forty-second birthday, and she’s ready for a night of celebration with Gabe, her longtime, devoted husband, and her two besties and their spouses. Dinner is served with a side of delicious gossip, including which North Grove residents were caught with their pants down on Ashley Madison after the secret on-line dating site for married and committed couples was hacked. Thirty-two million cheaters worldwide have been exposed…including Sophie’s “perfect” husband. To add insult to injury, she learns Gabe is the top cheater in their town.

Humiliated and directionless, Sophie jumps into the unknown and flees to France to meet up with her teenage daughter who is studying abroad and nursing her own heartbreak. After a brief visit to Paris, Sophie heads out to the artist enclave of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. There, for the first time in a long time, Sophie acknowledges her own desires—not her husband’s, not her daughter’s—and rediscovers her essence with painful honesty and humor, reawakening both her sensuality and ambitions as a sculptor.

As she sheds her past and travels the obstacle-filled off beaten path, Sophie Bloom is determined to blossom. Allowing her true self to emerge in the postcard beauty of Provence, Sophie must decide what is broken forever...and what it means to be truly unbreakable.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


What is the inspiration behind The Unbreakables?
It was July 2015, and a story broke about Ashley Madison, a web site for married cheaters. Their motto was “Life is short. Have an affair.” (I’m not joking). Hackers made good on a threat that if the infidelity site didn’t shut down they would reveal the estimated 32 million names of its users. And so there I was with a small group of friends, having dinner, and reading off the list of Ashley Madison cheaters in our community together (Awful, right? Not my proudest moment). I was shocked—neighbors, high school friends, acquaintances, etc. were on this exposed list of cheaters from the hacked site. It was the train wreck that you knew you should just look away, but simply couldn't. The story began to form in my mind …

How are you and Sophie similar to or different from each other?
Sophie Bloom is all heart and fiercely loyal to those she loves. I, too, love and protect those who are close to me like a Mama Bear. Like Sophie, I’ve had the same best friends since high school and earlier. She also tends to put everyone before herself – especially her husband’s and her daughter’s needs trump her own. Me too (but I'm working on it). But unlike Sophie, who is afraid of her own creative powers until she decides to set herself free, my creativity has always been my escape, my breath, and the one thing I've never given up. In fact, writing has “saved” me in my toughest moments. Sophie has been with one man her whole life until everything falls apart, and later she experiences a sensual awakening. Let’s just say that I’ve had my share of experiences in the past, but I love being married and I’m very committed. I had a tough divorce, but got it right the second-time around. So will Sophie …

If The Unbreakables were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
So this is funny … in my head and in my iPhone notes, Sophie is played by Linda Cardellini and her husband Gabe, is played by James Marsden. Then just last week I delved into my newest Netflix binge, Dead to Me…and who are the leads? Yes, you got it! I screamed at the TV: NOOOOO, they’re mine. What is Reese going to say now when she makes my movie?

If we were to visit you right now, what would we go to see in Chicago?
If you visited me this second, you would find yourself at my favorite little café called That Little French Guy in Highland Park, Illinois. The croissants are to-die-for – I actually dream about them. If you visit me later on in the day, we would be doing Hot Yoga together at Core Power, then at night we’d go for drinks at our local haunt, Bobby’s. If you want to do something cultural – then we’d flee Suburbia like bats out of hell, and I would take you to the Art Institute’s Modern Art wing – my absolute fave.

What TV show are you currently binge watching?
I am a major BINGE watcher with my hubby. Just finished Dead to Me, as you now know. We also love VEEP, Goliath, Better Things, and Billions. I think I’m the very last person in America to say this … but we just STARTED Game of Thrones. It wasn’t my thing… but now it’s become my thing.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently? 
So I was in New York this week on Book Biz. I was wearing a nice dress meeting a wonderful podcaster for an interview. In her lovely home office, she has floor-to-ceiling authentic football helmets from every NFL team. My eyes popped when I saw the Chicago Bears helmet high up on the shelf. Of course, I had to put it on and get a picture for my husband and my brothers. Did I mention that in college I was the quarterback for my sorority (for the record: we never won a game). Anyway, her husband walks in with a football at that moment, tosses it, and I throw a lamo spiral back at him (in their gorgeous home – what was I thinking?). My publicist eyed me with an “are you kidding me” look on her face. It was funny, and definitely one interview I will always remember, and I’ve got the pic to prove it.

Thanks to Lisa for putting a smile on our faces and for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends June 10th at midnight EST.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Spotlight: The Dinner in the Sky



After a shocking confrontation with an unexpected encounter, Constance tries to piece her life back together and is on a mission to finally move on.

The thought of having her friends near is comforting as they take time out of their busy online lives and meet up at their favourite place, A Cupful of Dreams Café. Everyone seems happy enough until cracks begin to show and all is not as good as it seems. Constance tries desperately to keep positive as there’s so much to look forward to: shopping for posh frocks, dinner at The Shard and a movie premiere.

As things start to look rosy, a few odd tweets begin to pop up from nowhere. At first, they seem innocent, but as the weeks go by and premier night draws near, not only do the tweets increase but they become more obnoxious.

By the time Constance and her chums arrive on the red carpet, she’s determined to work out who the troll could be and to keep them from spoiling her evening. However as Constance soon learns, the troll wants to destroy far more than that!

Breathtaking views of London.

Posh frocks and Paparazzi

But there’s definitely trouble in the air …

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK 
Amazon US

Media Links:
Book Trailer
Spotify playlist of the whole series


Anne John-Ligali is a writer and founder of Books and Authors UK, a website that features author interviews, cover reveals, blog posts, features and reviews. She loves all things books, going to book events and meeting other book worms. She has written her first series and is currently writing her first novel.

When Anne is not writing she is likely to be playing with her kids, going for walks in the park, watching Netflix or thinking up more stories. Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London she studies graphic design at the University of Arts and held a number of IT jobs in the city. Anne continues to write romantic comedies, women’s fiction, and has the desire to write a non-fiction book and a few children’s books.

Visit Anne online:
WebsiteFacebook * Twitter * Instagram

Anne’s Book Blog Links (Books and Authors UK):
Books and Authors UK * Facebook * Twitter