Friday, June 28, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Crescendo by Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell from Thomas Nelson (e-book via NetGalley)
You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor from Pamela Dorman
Vox by Christina Dalcher from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul from William Morrow
This is Not How It Ends by Rochelle B. Weinstein from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
The Love Solution by Ashley Croft from Avon UK (e-book via NetGalley)
The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger from Bloomsbury
Love and Other Battles by/from Tess Woods

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn from Goodreads (e-book)
Crashing the A-List by Summer Heacock from Mira

Say You'll Love Me Again by/from Kiki Archer (e-book)

Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff from Meryl Moss Media

Reviews at Amazon--May/June 2019

We're posting some reviews at our Amazon accounts, as either they've been sitting in queue for a while and deserve their time in the sun, fall under our featuring policy, or they're new reads that we couldn't wait to post at the blog. You can check them out at the links below. Hope we can help you find your next favorite book!



Melissa A:





Thursday, June 27, 2019

Susan Jane Gilman is in the a book giveaway

We're excited to have Susan Jane Gilman at CLC today to talk about her latest novel, Donna Has Left the Building, and share a funny story with us. Melissa A loved her previous novel, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street (reviewed here)and is excited to check this one out too. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing, we have TWO copies to give away!

Susan Jane Gilman is the bestselling author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, Kiss My Tiara, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, and the novel, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. She has provided commentary for NPR and written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Ms. Magazine, among others. 

Visit Susan online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Donna Koczynski is a failed punk rocker, recovering alcoholic, and suburban mother of two teenagers whose relatively peaceful existence suddenly detonates when she comes home early from a sales conference in Vegas to find the surprise of a lifetime. 

Suddenly realizing that life can be more than the rut of middle-aged motherhood, she sets off on an impulsive quest to reclaim everything she believes she sacrificed since her wild youth: Friendship, great love, and art. But as she flees her family and drives across the U.S. on what she calls an "emotional scavenger hunt"(and others might call a midlife crisis), nothing will turn out as she imagines.

When her trip ultimately deposits her on faraway shores, making sacrifices of a wholly different kind, Donna begins to redefine what it means to be brave -- and what matters in the end. Irresistibly funny, sharply-observed, and surprisingly moving, DONNA HAS LEFT THE BUILDING spins an unforgettable tale about how to make every day count as a wife, a mother, and a woman.

What were the biggest rewards from and challenges with writing Donna Has Left the Building?
I’d been dying to write a funny, female anti-hero that I haven’t seen in books before: a 45-year-old former punk rocker, now a recovering alcoholic, married to a dentist with two teenaged children, who is in the throes of a modern, midlife crisis – wondering how she’d jettisoned all the coolest, edgiest, wildest parts of herself over time. I wanted her not to be simply a victim of middle age – with the requisite cheating husband – but to blow up her life herself as well. She doesn’t merely go on a pilgrimage of “self discovery” or to find a new love. She does what so many men do: She hits the road and behaves very badly. Oh, she makes some terrible decisions! And once she does spiral down the rabbit hole and come out the other end, she finds herself halfway around the globe embroiled in a world crisis. She finds she’s not obsolete. But she wakes up to much more than herself. She finds a sense of place, purpose, hope, responsibility. She truly grows up.

It’s a hopeful, funny story for anxious times.

I haven’t seen this exact story in a novel before, so it was tremendously rewarding to write something that takes lots of expected tropes and turns them on their heads. The challenge, of course, was the same thing: How do you take familiar stories and turn them inside-out?” How do you defy expectations in a way that feels organic? How do you find the humor in serious places?

How are you similar to or different from Donna?
I confess: I am a bit of a smart-ass, and Donna and I are of the same generation, so I’m dealing with all that hormonal “fun” of perimenopause – which no one talks about because it’s so damn uncool. The only images we have of women in this stage of life are of pathetic granny-ish women fanning themselves and sweating in floral blouses. But like Donna, I’m stomping around (in a red leather jacket half the time) listening to 80’s music and New Wave, appalled that I’m actually aging. I honestly thought I’d be exempt! It’s puberty in reserve, as Donna says.

As an American living in Europe at the moment, I’ve had “front row seats” to the refugee crisis there. It’s felt a lot like the USA did right after Hurricane Katrina: you see families drowning and no one coming to help, so you instinctively think “What can I do?” I’ve been doing some volunteer work at a camp in downtown Athens, Greece. That inspired part of the novel – and some of what I observed colored Donna’s own, very different trajectory.

But beyond that, hell, I grew up in New York City. I can barely drive. Donna’s a solid Midwesterner with two teenagers…Our similarities begin and end with mood swings and music.

If Donna Has Left the Building were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
The beauty about Donna is that she can be played by actresses who are adept at both comedy and drama, like Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon, Frances McDormand...Melissa McCarthy would be a fabulously inspired choice.

For Donna’s dentist husband, I could see Kevin James. For her former best friend, Tracee Ellis Ross. For Zack, Bradley Cooper.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
A couple of weeks ago, I’m riding the NYC subway, and I’m sitting beside a mother whose 4-year-old son is spinning around like a gyroscope. When the train stops abruptly between stations, he jumps up and down excitedly.

“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! The train stopped! The train stopped! Why did the train stop? Why did the train stop, Mommy?”

She gives him a drowning look, and I realize he’s been asking her questions all morning and she is just SPENT.

I say to the little boy gently, “The train stopped because there’s traffic in the tunnel. So the train has to wait on the tracks for the red light to change.”

The boy regards me curiously. “But why are there tracks?”

“For the wheels to run on,” I say.

“But why are there wheels?”

“When wheels spin around, they can propel things forward,” I say, “like a train, or a car, or a bicycle.”

Quickly a game develops: Curiosity Tennis, with him serving up questions, and me answering them back.

“Why is the train moving now? Why is it going outside? Why are there houses? Why do houses have walls?”

His mother looks me apologetically. “You don’t have to do this,” she whispers.

“Would you believe I actually like it?” I say.

I explain to the boy why there are houses— and walls—and trees.

Finally, he asks:
“Why do you know everything?”

“Because, I always listen to my mother,” I say.

At this, the whole train cracks up.

Across the aisle, a woman with a baby carriage grins: “In four years, can I hire you to come back to talk to my kid?”

Exiting the subway, I walk out onto the sun-filled street—feeling infused with goodwill—and almost get hit by a bicycle.

What is your theme song?
I am generally a big-hearted mush-ball – and I absolutely hate when women call ourselves “bitches” -- but I do love The Rolling Stones’ song “Bitch.” First, I’m a huge Rolling Stones fan, and second, that song more than any other can still get me going in the morning. So: “Bitch.” (For the record, when my sweet husband was picking out a song to be his specific ringtone for me, he chose Aretha’s “RESPECT.” But I will not claim that one for myself EVER.)

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
I’m halfway through Polly Rosenwaike’s short story collection, Look How Happy I’m Making You, which I’m really liking. But the last novel I just finished that I can rave about is Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk. And for nonfiction? For the past five years, I cannot shut up about Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns. Genius.

Thanks to Susan for visiting with us and to Grand Central Publishing 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 July 2nd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Book Review: Emily, Gone

By Sara Steven

When a music festival rolls through the sleepy town of Hesterville, Georgia, the Dixon family’s lives are forever changed. On the final night, a storm muffles the sound of the blaring music, and Rachel tucks her baby into bed before falling into a deep sleep. So deep, she doesn’t hear the kitchen door opening. When she and her husband wake up in the morning, the crib is empty. Emily is gone.

Vicki Robart is one of the thousands at the festival, but she’s not feeling the music. She’s feeling the emptiness over the loss of her own baby several months before. When she leaves the festival and is faced with an opportunity to fill that void, she is driven to an act of desperation that will forever bind the lives of three women.

When the truth of what actually happened that fateful night is finally exposed, shattering the lives they’ve built, will they be able to pick up the pieces to put their families back together again? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Emily, Gone had me riveted. Absolutely riveted. From the beginning to the end. And it takes skill to create a protagonistic character who can be identified with, conjuring up feelings of sadness and understanding, as with Vicki. While she has chosen to do an unspeakable, horrific thing, I felt I could understand what had driven her to that madness. It doesn’t make it right, but it made the situation sympathetic.

Having children of my own, my heart hurt for Rachel’s situation, in losing her only child. Bette Lee Crosby created this perfect tragic scenario, well described and honest, in what it must be like to go through something that fills dark days and moments, divided only by the brief fleeting moments of potential hope. The ripple effect of one poor decision has completely destroyed so many lives, in more ways than one, and it was depicted so well.

There is a sleepy slope of time spread out over the pages, beginning with 1971, slowly progressing forward, much like I imagine the markings of time to be in “real life”, where time stands more still when there is bleakness surrounding the moments. The flavor of the various decades provided a nice added backdrop to how much things change, even when no one wants it to. And, how many times we have to change with it, or we’ll get left behind in the moments we can never return to. That was felt so strongly with Rachel.

While I felt the ending was buttoned up a little too nicely, and did feel a little predictable, the rest of the story blended well into the finale, opening up new questions and potential possibilities for how the women in this story will move forward and deal. It’s the story within the stories of the various women’s lives that really make Emily, Gone much deserving of the five stars I’ve given it.

Thanks to Bette Lee Crosby for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Bette Lee Crosby:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Bethany Chase's lake a book giveaway

Photo by A. Pachence
We're glad to have Bethany Chase back at CLC today. Her latest novel, One Night at the Lake, published last week. Melissa A was very impressed with Bethany's previous novels and looks forward to reading this one soon. Thanks to Ballantine, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

A native of Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains, Bethany Chase headed to Williams College for an English degree and somehow came out the other side an interior designer. The craftsmanship and creativity that surround her in the design world are a continual inspiration for her novels, which include USA Today Bestseller The One That Got Away and Results May Vary. She lives with her husband and son in New Jersey. (Bio adapted from Amazon.)

Visit Bethany online:
Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

A tragedy on a hot summer night at a lake house forever alters the lives of two best friends—and the man they both love. But the truth isn’t as simple as it appears in this intricate novel of love, friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Leah has been waiting for this moment a long time: Her boyfriend, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s home on Seneca Lake for a week of lazy summer bliss, boating, and barbecue. The couple have been together four years, and Leah is convinced that Ollie is finally going to pop the question. Leah can’t wait to share the joyous news with her best friend, June, who is joining them on their getaway, and whose presence will make everything feel more real.

Seven years later, the moment June has been dreading has finally arrived: Her fiancé, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s lake house. But this is not an ordinary visit to an ordinary place; it is a house haunted by June’s long-buried memories of her lost friend Leah—and the connection that appears to remain between Leah and the man for whom June’s love is as deep as her grief.

Alternating between the two women’s vibrant voices, One Night at the Lake is an emotional novel that explores a complex tangle of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, all driving toward one question: Can love overcome what happened on that hot summer night? (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
That my characters are fleshed-out and believable. I work hard to create characters with distinct personalities, so it’s always really gratifying when a reader feels that I’ve succeeded.

Who do you relate to more in One Night at the Lake, Leah or June?
Personality-wise, June. I tend to be more quiet and observant than blunt and outgoing.

If you could cast One Night at the Lake as a movie, who would play the lead roles?
Claudia Kim as June, Tom Mison as Ollie, Jenna Coleman as Leah.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
Most recent binge was season two of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
Last night while I was putting my 12-month-old son into his PJs, he farted, looked surprised for a second, and then cracked up. This is obviously the beginning of a long, long love affair with farts.

What are you looking forward to most this summer?
My annual long weekend getaway with my best girlfriends... we go to visit our friend who lives on the St Lawrence River, and spend four days stuffing our faces, lying on the dock in the sun, and playing cards on the deck. It’s heaven.

Thanks to Bethany for chatting with us and to Ballantine 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 30th at midnight EST.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Book Review: Bring Me Sunshine

By Becky Gulc

‘Charlotte Bold is nothing like her name - she is shy and timid and just wants a quiet life. When her job doing the traffic news on the radio in London is relocated to Sunshine FM in Mumbles, she jumps at the chance for a new start in Wales.

But when she arrives she discovers that she's not there to do the travel news - she's there to front the graveyard evening show. And she's not sure she can do it.

Thrust into the limelight, she must find her voice and a way to cope. And soon she realises that she's not the only person who finds life hard - out there her listeners are lonely too. And her show is the one keeping them going.

Can Charlotte seize the day and make the most of her new home? And will she be able to breathe new life into the tiny radio station too...?’
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

This is exactly the kind of book I would be drawn to based on its cover and description and it didn’t disappoint. This is a great book about trying to start over somewhere new whilst still being tied emotionally to somewhere old. I enjoyed how quickly we relocate the story to Wales as Charlotte faces the unexpected news that she’ll be fronting a radio show for the first time – Charlotte isn’t someone who jumps at the opportunity, in fact she runs away! Can Charlotte overcome her nerves and find her voice or is it just not meant to be?

I certainly enjoyed the setting; a part of Wales I’ve never visited, but a sense of place came across strongly. There’s also a strong community feel to it and a wide-range of characters. I admit sometimes I forgot who was who amongst the smaller supporting characters. There are three main narratives throughout the book. There's Charlotte, who is a lovely character just trying to make her way in life but struggling somewhat with leaving her boyfriend in London, or is she just trying to convince herself of this? Then there’s Tina, Charlotte’s new colleague. Tina is mysterious and keeps her cards close to her chest, she’s certainly hiding something and we see how that unravels.

My favourite character by far was Delme, the radio station’s health and safety guy, who provides the third narrative. He’s such a unique character; warm and funny, yet facing his own demons, over-eating as compensation for a family situation he can’t bear to face. I just loved him and was championing him all the way.

Bring Me Sunshine is a fantastic book which provides light and shade, but thankfully much more light than shade; a great balance for a summer read. This is the first novel I’ve read by Laura, but it won’t be my last.

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

Purchase Bring Me Sunshine:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Friday, June 21, 2019

Book Review: Mine

By Jami Deise

When the Glenn Close/Michael Douglas thriller Fatal Attraction came out, I was in college, and word was that this movie and the AIDS crisis would stop cheating husbands forever. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. Ironically, I saw the movie with a friend whose boyfriend was dealing with a stalker of his own. At least, that’s what my friend thought. She didn’t know that I knew the stalker in question – and the "stalker," who was actually a nice, normal gal herself, told me that she was in love with a guy with a mentally unstable girlfriend, and he was just waiting for the right moment to break it off so they could be together in the open. I figured out pretty easily that he was lying to both of them, that he wasn’t worth it. I lost track of that little love triangle. I hope my friends eventually came to their senses.

I hadn’t thought about that episode in years, but reading Courtney Cole’s latest offering, Mine, brought it all back. Mine is about two women involved with the same man: Tessa has been married to Ethan for over twenty years and has three children with him; Lindsay is his 26-year-old mistress. When Tessa discovers Lindsay’s existence via an old iPad of Ethan’s, she lures her rival to her Florida beach mansion in the middle of a hurricane and tricks her to handcuffing herself to the bed.

What follows is a fast-paced page turner between both points of view, as the women fight over who has the stronger claim to Ethan. As the hurricane rages and the power goes out, Lindsay’s story also includes flashbacks to the beginning and progression of her relationship with Ethan. As Lindsay taunts Tessa with Ethan’s claims that Tessa cared only about her career and her children, Tessa wonders who the bigger liar is: Ethan or Lindsay? And does she bear responsibility for Ethan seeking attention elsewhere?

Clocking in at about two hours, Mine reads like a movie, and could easily be adapted into one. Although as a beach resident of Florida I had some quibbles with the hurricane details (rich people like Ethan and Tessa don’t have manual hurricane shutters, for instance), overall I was hooked. Both women are fully three-dimensional, emotional, and empathetic as victims of a man’s self-centeredness. The ending, while not a complete wrap-up, is fulfilling.

Just in time for the summer, Mine will make a great beach read. But its message is appropriate for any season: If you only have half a man, he’s not worth any fraction of you.

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

More by Courtney Cole:

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Excerpt: The Perfect Date

When a single mom ends up playing an unwilling fake girlfriend to a charming playboy baseball player, love suddenly turns everything upside down in this fun, heartwarming multicultural romance.

Angel Gomez has never lived by the book. A Bronx-based unwed mother by the time she was sixteen, Angel’s personal mission has always been to show the world that a Puerto Rican girl is not to be messed with—especially by a man. The only thing that matters to Angel, now, is providing for her son and earning enough tips at the club to complete her nursing degree along the way. Love is nowhere on her agenda.

Caleb “The Duke” Lewis is a star pitcher for the Bronx Bolts whose romantic escapades make delicious fodder for gossip columns. But lately he’s been trying to keep a lower profile—so much so that when he meets Angel, first while she’s in her nurse uniform and the next time behind the bar, she has no idea who Duke is, fails to fall for his obvious charm, and ends up throwing a drink in his face! She is the perfect woman for fool the tabloids into thinking he’s finally settling down. But what begins as a charade soon has Duke and Angel hurtling into a full-blown romance that rocks each of their worlds and begs the question: Is this the real deal—or are some love stories just too good to be true?

The Perfect Date can be purchased here.


Chapter One

Angel Gomez hissed under her breath.
Claro. Of course. If she was going to get a paper cut, it would be from the page illustrating the male reproductive system. The twenty-three-year-old sucked at the thin line of blood on the web of her hand, squinting hard at the flayed cojones in her anatomy textbook.
As a nursing student, Angel knew the male anatomy— from the bulb to the external urinary meatus—but her ability to reel off the Latin names of penis parts seemed to scare the living, breathing version away.
Not that I want a man, she reminded herself, her inner voice stern. Focus, girl.
Dark spirals of hair popped free from her ponytail as she bent closer to her textbook. Concentration was elusive. She closed the window next to her with a shriek of metal on metal, shutting out the gray February breeze and the number 4 train running on the elevated tracks down Jerome Avenue. She tilted her head, listened.
What is that? Breathing. It was gaspy, heavy breathing, coming from the depths of the worn corduroy couch behind her. Angel twisted in her chair.
“Jose,” she said, too loudly, knocking pages of lecture notes off her makeshift desk on the radiator.
“Mama, I’m fine,” the seven-year-old boy muttered. He turned up the live radio stream coming from the decrepit laptop and avoided her eyes.
“Go get your inhaler. Now.”
“Just a minute. The Duke is about to pitch.”
Faintly, she could hear Suzyn Waldman, longtime announcer for the Bronx Bolts, adding color to a local charity game. “He’s winding up and . . . another beauty, right over the plate . . . Ohh no, the batter’s hit a hard foul right into the dugout.” The announcer clucked, but then, “What’s this? The Duke seems to want off the mound.”
“No!” Jose yelled at the computer, as if it could hear his complaint.
“His ankle may still be giving him problems.”
“Jose! What’d I tell you?”
Jose’s face shone with perspiration as he stomped past her, wheezing down the hall to his room. That beautiful pouty face, she thought. His bronze complexion, a shade darker than hers, was the perfect blend of her and his father. Jose’s dad was long gone, however—the high school quarterback had disappeared when he found out his fifteen-year-old girlfriend was pregnant, but not before slapping her around, yelling, “That ain’t my kid.” Angel had shoved him into the hallway, slammed the door in his face. She didn’t want him. She didn’t need him.
Two years after Jose was born, her mother died. Angel was seventeen. She almost buckled from the pressure of the responsibility to care for another, tiny human. She had no safety net. His dark eyes, staring up at her with such adoration . . . She’d shoved steel into her spine, stood up straight, and vowed her boy would be safe, happy, and healthy on her watch.
And she was doing it.
In a few more weeks, she’d be done with nursing school and would take her final boards. She survived by putting her head down and pushing through, focused on getting them out of this decrepit apartment building filled with dust and screeching train brakes. She kept the rest of the world’s bullshit at arm’s length.

From The Perfect Date. Copyright © 2019 by Evelyn Lozada and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Griffin.

Evelyn Lozada is a high-profile American-Latina reality television personality, entrepreneur, author and philanthropist. She is best known for her role on VH1’s hit series Basketball Wives (2010-present), OWN’s hit series Livin’ Lozada (2015), author of the first installment of the book series: The Wives Association: Inner Circle (2012) and creator of Healthy Boricua (A Puerto Rican Lifestyle Guide to Healthy Living). Evelyn has become a national trendsetter, a “go to” fitness export, jewelry designer, fashion and beauty maven, social media royalty and a stimulating voice and proactive supporter of causes that effect women and girls through the Evelyn Lozada Foundation. Evelyn is a Bronx native, mother of two (Shaniece Hairston and Carl Leo Crawford) that currently resides in Los Angeles.

Holly Lörincz is a successful collaborative writer and owner of Lörincz Literary Services. She is an award-winning novelist (Smart Mouth, The Everything Girl) and co-author (best-selling Crown Heights and How to Survive a Day in Prison) living in Oregon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Chick Lit Cheerleader: JenJen2 the M(ax)

Introduction by Melissa Amster

A few weeks ago, my family and I met up again with our Chick Lit Cheerleader and her fabulous husband. This time around, we introduced them to laser tag. Jen is here today to tell us all about her experience!

Tag, You’re It!

I have a life list. Others might call it a Bucket List. The idea of having a Bucket List gives me heart palpitations—for reals. Hurry up and do this stuff before you croak, because, why? It’s on your Bucket List and when you kick the bucket, there goes your list. Having a Life List is easier on my ears and psyche. If I have an opportunity to complete some of my to-dos while I’m on this side of the sod, awesome. If not? Bygones.

One of the coolest things about living in Merryland (or “Maryland” for those who wouldn’t want to live in “Merryland,” which is no one I know of), is living near those I hold near and dear. Melissa Amster, our fearless leader and my editor here at Chick Lit Central, lives a Maryland hop, skip and jump away from us. This means lots of occasions to do awesome things with Melissa and her family. Our latest adventure?

Laser tag.

With Melissa and her family
Wasn’t something on my Life List, radar, or top million things to do on a Sunday. But let me tell you. Add this adventure immediately to your conquered experiences! Do not pass go, do not collect $100, just do it right this hot second—trust me.

Choosing a laser assassin name was more challenging than I thought it would be. Thankfully, Melissa’s seventh grader, E, was on it and ready to help me select a dandy. E and I are buddies, book buddies, and ridiculous joke-telling buddies. This is because of his depth of maturity and my lack thereof. “You go by Jen-Jen, so I think you should be…” he highlighted his words in the air like Spielberg uses his hands to frame a scene, “Jen-Jen 2 the max!”

Anything with my name, a number like the cool kids use, and the word “max” was a winner. The hilarity came from seeing that only part of the word “max” made the game and scorecard: the letter M. This was not lost on me, or E, and we came up with variations.

Jen-Jen 2 the Mmm…
Jen-Jen 2 the Millionth Power
Jen-Jen 2 the Money
And so on.

I had no idea what to expect. Most of my experience with lasers stems from being a Star Trek nerd and watching the 1980s comedy classic Real Genius umpteen times. I didn’t beam anyone aboard the ship’s bridge and I definitely didn’t contribute to an enormous amount of Jiffy Pop exploding in anyone’s home. I had mad skills, though.

At hiding.

That’s right, while others lasered up the joint, I didn’t. And I finished top of the heap by crouching in the dark like a coward and I’m OK with that.

And if you look at my scorecard at the bottom of this post, you’ll notice that not only did this more cloak, not so much dagger strategy serve me well, I finished fourth. That’s right, number four, baby! Top Five, honey, but I didn’t place fifth. Take note of the name, YukYuk who came in at number five. That would be my beloved, Mike.

I. beat. him!

It doesn’t matter that my Hit Ratio was a paltry 3.83%. What matters is I finished way ahead of my husband (in my mind) and that in the battle of the White Walkers versus the Night King, I was the last to turn into an ice zombie, friends. Well, that and the fact that Melissa’s daughter, Little M, was sneaky enough to make her way behind Mike in the dark and unloaded her lasers on him until he wised up and she was discovered.

I had a blast. Doing something that wasn’t even a blip on my “fun” radar; not on my Life List. I imagined running around in the dark to be something I’d rather do while catching fireflies or taking in the moon at its fullest when beachside. One my dear friends tries to live her life with an open hand: be open to opportunities that come her way and not be quick to say, “Negative, Ghostrider. The pattern is full.” But to say, “Yes!” and grab those moments with an open mind and heart. Next time (I have to decimate my twenty-year-old when he visits later this summer), I’ll ensure whoever enters my moniker into the gaming computer squishes all the letters and solo number together. I’m destined to be JenJen2theMax. You know where I’ll be in the arena—hiding and winning, friends. Hiding and winning.

Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of SaltIn September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at TwitterFacebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.

Book Review: The Perfect Moment

By Becky Gulc

‘Is there ever a perfect moment to begin again in life?

Ever since tragedy threw her life into turmoil, Laura has taken refuge in her waitressing job at Valentino’s restaurant in Glasgow’s leafy Fairhill. Serving lattes and lunch specials means she’s too busy to think about all she lost or the dreams she was forced to abandon. So when her beloved boss announces she’s selling the business, Laura is devastated. Hatching a plan to set her up with the local pub owner, Laura hopes the two of them will make a connection that might just change her mind.

Recovering from betrayal and heartbreak, Bruce is also in hiding from the world and working in his uncle’s pub while he wonders how to restart his life. When Laura asks for help with her matchmaking scheme, he finds himself unable to refuse. She has a smile he can’t resist, no matter how much he wants to.

But as their plan is set in motion, the matchmakers begin falling for each other. Yet Laura thinks she’s happy with her dull boyfriend and Bruce won’t risk another broken heart. As the future of Valentino’s hangs in the balance, can these two lost and lonely people find the perfect moment to start their lives again together?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

This is a lovely debut novel by Alix Kelso. Whilst it’s not particularly exciting in terms of plot, I loved its simplicity and the focus on the characters whom I adored. The writing is excellent and seamless. I was drawn in from the very beginning and I found it hard to put down; utterly charming. I was reminded of authors such as Lucy Dillon when I read this (just missing a dog!) which to me is a great thing.

Laura and Bruce’s stories both pulled me in; they are both very warm characters that have been through difficult times. Whilst the focus is on them, there is also Natalie and Keith, whom I equally adored. I was so pleased to read we’ll have the opportunity to continue reading their stories in future Fairhill novels, as there was definitely more to explore with these lovely older characters.

I found this novel to be romantic, hopeful, and just an all-around feel-good read. The pace was just right and it just all felt refreshingly ‘grown-up’ in the interactions between the different characters. Normally you’re left berating at least one character in a novel, particularly exes or when a love interest gets the wrong end of the stick; this novel was quite refreshing in this respect. I loved it and can’t wait to read more.

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

Purchase links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Alix Kelso is the author of the Fairhill novel series. She’s happiest with her nose in a book and has been known to lash out dangerously if disturbed while reading. Having previously worked as a shop assistant, waitress, hospital cleaner and dishwasher, she eventually became a university lecturer. Although she loved the academic world of teaching and researching and helping her students, she always enjoyed writing stories in her spare time and finally decided to pursue her dream of publishing a novel and becoming a full time writer.

She lives in her home city of Glasgow with her husband and their rescue lurcher, Maggie. She enjoys pottering in the kitchen, walking in Glasgow’s many lovely parks, and is a firm believer in the therapeutic benefits of a long lunch with a big glass of wine.

Visit Alix online:
WebsiteFacebook * Twitter * Instagram

Visit all the stops on Alix's tour:

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Kimberly Belle is dear to 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

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.