Friday, September 27, 2019

Book Review: Relatively Happy

By Sara Steven

Sarah Hastings' life is chaotic. Between running her organic farm, her yurt-style holistic B&B, and her vegan café Eat Me!, she barely has time for an aura cleanse. What's more, her spirit guide just announced the universe is sending her a man.

Suddenly, a sexy pro-football player, a hipster photojournalist, and fellow organic farmer practically fall from the sky onto her doorstep. But which one is her cosmic soulmate?

While Sarah meditates on the answer, her parents show up unexpectedly throwing the mother of all monkey wrenches into her carefully laid plans.

With only morning yoga and her erotic book club to keep her sane, no wonder she's chucked her vegan diet in search of bacon. Will the stars of love align, or will the universe let her down in the biggest way possible? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I’ve read all three books in the Relativity series, and I have to say- this is my favorite one out of all of them. Hands down. While this is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

It’s not often that I’m drawn to a character’s lifestyle, so much so that I begin to formulate a plan of action where my own health and well-being is concerned. Sarah’s naturalistic approach to life and her habits made me want to eat healthier, spend more time outdoors within nature, to disconnect a little bit from the daily plugged in world I feel I’m deeply rooted in. There is an element of peace around her, even amidst the chaos, and I yearn for that. Sarah makes you want to be a better person.

But that doesn’t mean she’s perfect. Far from. Her interactions with some of the characters in Relatively Happy felt like a continual effort in tolerance. If someone doesn’t share similar views she has in how life should be lived, you begin to see the cracks in the foundation. This was showcased mostly within her male relationships- the men who could potentially be her cosmic soulmates, her father who requests that she go outside of her comfort zone in order to alleviate some of his own burdens. While Sarah gives off the illusion of living a carefree and “live and let live” approach to life, we discover that she is anything but, and that becomes a challenge for her. How do you hold onto your values and ideals while accepting others when their own values and ideals don’t measure up?

I can’t remember the last time I cried while reading a book. I cried while reading this one. And I’m not a crier. There are insanely funny moments sprinkled all throughout, with some of my most favorite characters brought back to life within its pages (like Nan), but there is an element of depth that goes so far beyond anything I’ve read in a really, really long time. It was simplistically beautiful, a spiritual journey that we embark on with Sarah, every step along the way. It’s in that loss of control and the messy parts that we discover who she really is, and what she might be capable of. I couldn’t have been more inspired or loved a book more than I loved Relatively Happy, worthy of more than the five stars I’ve given it!

Thanks to Whitney Dineen for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Whitney Dineen:

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: Barbie Forever

Raise your hands if you played with and/or collected Barbie dolls at some point in your life. If you did, then we have a special treat for you today. Barbie Forever was published this week and thanks to The Quarto Group, we have one copy to give away!

Barbie Forever: Her Inspiration, History, and Legacy presents a detailed, full-color portrait of this beloved doll through all-new interviews, original sketches, vintage photos, advertisements, and much more. A double-sided foldout timeline showcases important moments in Barbie history. Explore how the doll came to be, what it takes to create one of her many looks, and how her legacy continues to influence the world.

Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has been breaking boundaries and highlighting major moments in art, fashion, and culture. She has been an interpreter of taste and style in every historic period she has lived through and has reflected female empowerment through the more than 200 careers she has embodied. Today, an international icon, Barbie continues to spark imaginations and influence conversations around the world.

Barbie Forever is a vibrant celebration for the "Barbie Girl" in all of us. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Ruth Handler in the 1960's, photo by Mattel

Photo by Mattel

Photo by Mattel

Photo courtesy of Robin's website
Robin Gerber is a powerful speaker, best-selling author and historian. She will be on the upcoming CNN documentary series "American First Ladies," speaking about Eleanor Roosevelt, in early 2020. She has appeared on the History Channel and Biography Channel, as well as The PBS Newshour, CBS and FOX .

Her articles have appeared in USAToday, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer and numerous other newspapers and magazines.

Robin is the author of the bestseller, Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way: Timeless Strategies from the First Lady of Courage (Penguin/Portfolio).

Her book about the founder of Mattel, Ruth Handler, is being made into a major motion picture by Reese Witherspoon and Bold Films: Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her (Harper/Collins).

Prior to becoming an author, Robin practiced law in Washington, D.C. and worked on Capitol Hill. She has studied and written about leadership development since 1975. (Bio adapted from Robin's website.)

Visit Robin at her website and on Facebook.

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Giveaway ends October 2nd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Book Review: The Girl at the Window

By Becky Gulc

‘A house full of history is bound to have secrets...

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It's also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from...

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present...’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

The Girl at the Window is another fantastic novel by one of my favourite authors, Rowan Coleman. This is definitely one of my favourite books of the year and Rowan is an author who just delivers every time. The books just keeping getting better and better. Each time I think she can’t surely surpass the previous one, she does it again.

For me this is a perfect autumn read as the evenings start to draw in and the weather turns. You won’t want to put this book down once you start, so make yourself comfortable! I’ve seen on social media that Rowan has spent a lot of time in Haworth (the village where the Bronte’s lived) and specifically at Ponden Hall (Wuthering Heights) and it’s been clear she has an affinity with the place and the Bronte family – her passion definitely comes across in the novel. There was such a strong sense of place throughout the present and the past. I just loved it and can’t wait to return to Haworth myself.

This novel has a bit of everything really and that’s what makes it so strong. I just loved the characters: Trudy, her mum, and lovely son Will. There was a great dynamic between them all. I loved exploring the background to the somewhat strained mother/daughter relationship and admired Trudy’s strength at living with the loss of her husband, and Will’s belief he hasn’t gone forever.

There is a supernatural element to the story and this definitely unnerved me at times, but I enjoyed being spooked. It was certainly enchanting and some elements were really very moving indeed; I can’t say I expected to become as moved as I was! There’s also an abundance of love: love in the present, love in the past, love that is straightforward, love that is difficult, love for the Brontes...this book has it all.

This is a book to fall in love with, a book to hug when you’re finished with it… you’ll be sad that it has ended but so grateful it was written. I know this is a book I’ll always remember. Highly recommended!

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

More by Rowan Coleman:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: Monarch Manor

Today we're pleased to feature Maureen Leurck's latest novel, Monarch Manor. It sounds enticing and we're excited to check it out. Maureen has TWO copies to give away!

The things we leave behind tell a story...

Erin Marinelli has her work cut out for her when she arrives at her late grandmother's Wisconsin home to prepare for an estate sale. But sifting through the overwhelming collection of figurines, outdated appliances, and dusty books, she finds something that captures her attention: a yellowed envelope of old photographs. In one, taken almost a century ago, a beautiful woman is seated with a young boy who looks uncannily like Erin's five-year-old autistic son, Will.

Intrigued, Erin looks further into her family's history, and discovers parallels to her present-day life. The boy in the picture, John Cartwright, was deaf. He and his mother, Amelia, are presume to have drowned together in Geneva Lake, beside Amelia's family home. Named for the butterflies that flocked to its lush gardens, Monarch Manor still stands, though the once-grand Queen Anne house is now in ruins, slated for demolition. Seeking respite from her own exhausting battle to get the best care for Will, Erin delves even deeper in to the past--unearthing a story that is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

Weaving Erin's and Amelia's narratives together, Maureen Leurck creates an unforgettable and moving novel of sacrifice and hope, and the way love between a parent and a child can transform them both.

Maureen Leurck graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and currently resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and three children. She escapes up to the Lake Geneva area when she can for a good fish fry.

Visit Maureen online:

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Giveaway ends October 1st at midnight EST.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Book Review: Escape to Giddywell Grange

By Sara Steven

Maddy Young thought she had it all.

Swanky city apartment? – yep. Fancy car? sorted. High-flying career? – tick.

Even if she’s lost most of her friends because of spending all her time at work, and can’t remember when she last had fun, it’s worth it.

Until she’s suddenly made redundant. Now she’s 37, jobless, and after the breakup with the former love of her life, unhappily single.

Enter Maddy’s childhood friend, Beth, the owner of Growlers, the doggy daycare centre at Giddywell Grange, on a mission to make Maddy see there’s more to life than work.

Soon, Maddy is swapping spreadsheets for volunteer duty at the library, daily Starbucks for cups of tea with elderly neighbours, and her Prada handbag for doggy poo bags… And with Beth’s gorgeous brother, Alex, back from the States, Maddy starts to think that Giddywell Grange might just be her happy place.

But when her old life – and her old boyfriend - comes calling, will Maddy go back to the job she loved so much? Or will she discover that the key to happiness lies in making others happy?
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

While in the middle of reading Escape to Giddywell Grange, my husband found me on my phone, scrolling. When he asked me what I was doing, I told him: “I’m looking up potential jobs, just to see what’s out there.” That’s what Maddy’s story did for me. It opened up this whole new world of striving for the things you’re most passionate about. So much so, I felt the urge to put the book down if even for a moment or two, to see what was out there for me!

But it wasn’t always like that for Maddy. So much of this novel focuses on the growth and change that comes with the curveballs life throws at us when we least expect it. For so long, she has defined herself by her career. When the career is over, what then? She’s put into various situations that are a stretch, a definitive way outside of her comfort zone. In doing so, she slowly discovers that she’s tapping into familiar veins of happiness that she’d shut down years ago, a characterization of who she thought she should be, vs. who she really is, deep down. So many of us can relate to that scenario. How many hobbies and interests have we stopped partaking in, because we just don’t have the time to do it? Or, how many times have we said, “Well, I could do that in my earlier years, but now that I’m older…” Those are the same blocks Maddy faces while trying to rediscover herself, and we’re with her, every step of the way.

During this personal quest, she runs into Alex, someone she’d had strong feelings for in her youth. Not to mention her ex comes back into the picture, too, only muddying the waters. One represents the past, the other her present. Who will be her future? I really like the way her relationships with both men are presented, an uncertainty that felt very real and very honest. She doesn’t know if she can ever go back, and we don’t know if she could, either.

In appreciating the dynamics of this non-traditional love story, I found that I really enjoyed the motivating message that is sprinkled all throughout Escape. It is never over. There is always time to dream and to aspire to the things we enjoy doing. That sometimes, it is worth stepping outside of our comfort zone, just to see what will be on the other side. I woke up this morning with a renewed sense of purpose, not only in who I eventually want to be when I “grow up”, but in allowing myself to be okay with that. This is my life’s journey, no one else’s, and Maddy helped to remind me of that. This was truly an inspiring five-star read!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US *Amazon UK * Kobo * iBooks

Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger at Kim the Bookworm.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association's Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can't quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she's not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She's also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.

Amazing Grace was her debut novel with Hera Books and came out in April 2019.

Escape to Giddywell Grange is Kim's second novel and it was published on September 18th 2019.

Visit Kim online:
Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Visit the other stops on Kim's blog tour:

Friday, September 20, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica from Kathleen Carter Communications
Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz from Graydon House (e-book via NetGalley)
The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan from Girly Book Club (audio book giveaway)
Stories We Never Told by Sonja Yoerg from Tall Poppy Writers (e-book via NetGalley)
Feels Like Falling by/from Kristy Woodson Harvey (e-book via NetGalley)
Seven Letters by J.P. Monninger from St. Martin's Press
The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin from Berkley  (e-book via NetGalley)
If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman from William Morrow (e-book via NetGalley)
All About Evie by Cathy Lamb from Kensington (e-book via NetGalley)
Christmas Angels by Nancy Naigle from St. Martin's Press

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan from Harlequin (e-book via NetGalley)
Call Me, Maybe by Stephie Chapman from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book via NetGalley)
If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail Rosewood from PR By the Book (e-book)
Write You a Love Song by Fabiola Francisco from Bare Naked Words (e-book)
Against the Rules by/from Laura Heffernan (e-book)
The Summer Springsteen's Songs Saved Me by Barbara Quinn from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
Ten Things My Husband Hated by Pauline Wiles from Rachel's Random Resources (e-b
Wrapped Up in You by Jill Shalvis from William Morrow (e-book via NetGalley)
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert from William Morrow (e-book via NetGalley)

The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger from HarperCollins (e-book via NetGalley)
The Last Affair by Margot Hunt from HarperCollins (e-book via NetGalley)
If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman from William Morrow (e-book via NetGalley)
Invisible as Air by Zoe Fishman from William Morrow (e-book via Edelweiss)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Book Review: Write You a Love Song

Write You a Love Song
The Love In Everton Series
by Fabiola Francisco

Purchase Write You a Love Song 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

What's a girl to do after burning all of her no-good, cheating boyfriend's belongings? Throw a dart at a map and start over in a new town.

I may be new to the small town of Everton, but I’m well aware that I now share a zip code with a celebrity. You’d have to be living under a rock to not know, Knox Bentley, one of country music’s biggest stars. 

When Knox wanders into my bar— careful brown eyes and broody attitude—I can’t tear my gaze away. A cheating scandal fresh on his heels is just one reason I should stay far, far away, but the closer we get, the more I realize he’s not at all what I imagined.

But being a famous musician comes with unwanted attention...the kind that tears people apart, and now it's becoming too painful to stay by his side.

They say love is a choice, but so is leaving… 

By Sara Steven

There are a lot of polarizing elements within Write You a Love Song, particularly where Knox is concerned. We find him hidden away in his small hometown, trying to wait out the fame and celebrity that has followed him around for years. There are scandals and rumors that surround his life, and while he’s enjoyed his successful country music career, the same thing he finds enjoyment in is also the root of all the chaos in his life. When he meets Ainsley, the girl who tends bar at the local watering hole, no matter how much he finds himself drawn to her, he is fearful of what that might mean for him, and more importantly, for her. It’s this back and forth, the not giving in to temptations that adds more of a build-up to this story. Those polarizing elements that wouldn’t let me put the book down, not even when I had to. I wanted to see what would happen next, on all levels. 

Ainsley has her own reasons for leaving everything behind in order to start fresh in a new town. Her past lends into her feelings about potential relationships in general, even with someone like Knox, the local celebrity. I appreciated the microscopic look at what it’s like when there are two people from opposite sides of the fence, trying to meet somewhere in the middle. The obligations and commitments that can sour the ease in which you’d think a relationship would run its course, the way the flashing lights and random paparazzi can only add a damaging element to something that would ordinarily seem like such a simple scenario. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy, they fall in love. Right? Only, that can’t happen here, not with the kind of life Knox leads, and the kind of simplicity Ainsley wants. 

There are a lot of tough choices both characters need to make, in order to do what is right, not only for their personal lives, but for their relationship, too. Knox questions if what he has done is enough, and Ainsley wonders if there will ever be peace, considering who Knox is. It would have been too easy to put these two together and immediately give them a fairy tale from beginning to end, but gladly, it wasn’t like that. It’s in the struggles that we’re able to see the most depth from someone, whether they are living or a character brought to life on the page. I felt that for Knox and Ainsley.

Surrounding all of this is intense heat! There is no lack of attraction, and it’s portrayed well from one steamy scene to the next. It is a blunt, vivid thing, not sugarcoated with flowery words and edges. Hot and delectable, a welcome surprise that was sprinkled in so nicely. While you may wonder at times whether this couple will make it, what will never be questioned is the intense chemistry they share. It only added to the many positive elements within Write You a Love Song, a straightforward five-star read!

Thanks to Bare Naked Words for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Meet the Author:

Fabiola Francisco is a contemporary romance author from South Florida. Writing as been a part of her life since she was a teenager. Even at that age, she dreamed of happy endings with emotional twists. Her novels include Perfectly Imperfect, The Restoring Series, Sweet on You Duet, and Red Lights, Black Hearts.  

Her passion for books and writing has inspired her to write her own stories. She writes novels readers could relate to and grow with. She’s currently working on writing more stories that connect with readers on a deeper.

Fabiola also loves expressing herself through art and spending time in nature. In her spare time, she loves to cuddle with a good book and a glass of wine.

Visit Fabiola online:

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Book Review: Regrets Only

By Melissa Amster

Claire thought she had everything a woman was supposed to want—a loving husband, a newborn son, a beautiful home in the suburbs. Then she walks in on her husband canoodling with their realtor in their newly renovated kitchen, and in an instant, her perfect life comes crashing down.

With her marriage heading for divorce, Claire knows it’s time to stop feeling sorry for herself. But how can she move on when she’s still stuck in the orbit of her husband’s world? For starters, she can get rid of her soon-to-be ex’s possessions—including his prized, gigantic foosball table—by dumping them onto the curb…until complaints from the neighbors get the police involved. Now Claire is busy dodging the mean mommies at story hour and hiding from her ex-husband’s girlfriend in the grocery store. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even lead to new love.

Desperate for a positive outlet to channel her frustrations, she turns to girlfriends Lissy and Antonia for help. Together they join forces to re-brand Lissy’s local stationery store and turn it into a thriving business. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even new love.

Featuring a second coming-of-age story,
Regrets Only deftly explores the subtle nuances of marriage, family, friendship, and what it means to be a woman today, while delighting readers as its unforgettable heroine acts on impulses we’ve all been guilty of having. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Erin Duffy's debut, Bond Girl, made it to one of my annual favorites lists. When I saw the cover and synopsis paired with her name for Regrets Only, I knew I wanted to read it.

Regrets Only was an easy and entertaining read. I instantly was absorbed in the story and felt lots of sympathy towards Claire. She was in an awful situation from the very beginning, and her soon-to-be ex-husband kept making things worse for her, even though he was the one at fault. I got so mad at him on her behalf! And to top it off, the women in town were acting like middle school mean girls. I could definitely relate to her loneliness in a new town where it's hard to make friends, especially with other moms.

I like the trajectory of this novel and where it led throughout. There were some funny moments alongside the sad and frustrating ones. The entrepreneurial angle was really good and I liked how Claire helped Lissy remodel and re-brand her stationery store.

The only part that felt a bit much for me was how Claire tended to overreact or fly off the handle more than necessary. I understand why she was angry, but sometimes I felt embarrassed for her. This did not take away from my enjoyment of this novel.

I found it hard to put this novel down until I was finished. I look forward to reading whatever Erin Duffy comes up with next, and I also need to add Lost Along the Way to my TBR pile in the meantime.

Movie casting suggestions:
Claire: Anna Kendrick
Antonia: Jaimie Alexander
Lissy: Julia Goldani Telles
Owen: Allen Leech
Fred: Corey Stoll
Dee Dee: Emily Rose

More by Erin Duffy:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Mhairi McFarlane is a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Mhairi McFarlane, whose latest novel, Don't You Forget About Me, published last week. Becky has reviewed some of her previous novels and enjoyed them. We're excited to check this new one out! Thanks to William Morrow, we have one copy to give away.

Mhairi McFarlane was born in Scotland in 1976 and got the fringe hairstyle locked down early so she could concentrate on wider issues affecting society, like why Cadbury's don't make plain chocolate buttons. Surely the demand is there. She has written five rom-com books and is trying to write another and not be distracted by Netflix or Twitter, with varying success. Visit Mhairi on Facebook and Twitter. (Bio adapted from Amazon UK).

You always remember your first love... don’t you?

If there’s anything worse than being fired from the worst restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else. Reeling from the humiliation of a double dumping in one day, Georgina takes the next job that comes her way—bartender in a newly opened pub. There’s only one problem: it’s run by the guy she fell in love with years ago. And—make that two problems—he doesn’t remember her. At all. But she has fabulous friends and her signature hot pink fur coat... what more could a girl really need?

Lucas McCarthy has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but he’s also turned into an actual grown-up, with a thriving business and a dog along the way. Crossing paths with him again throws Georgina’s rocky present into sharp relief—and brings a secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows what happened twelve years ago, and why she’s allowed the memories to chase her ever since. But maybe it’s not too late for the truth... or a second chance with the one that got away? (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
Wow this is a nice question! *rubs hands* Oddly enough the greatest compliment any writer can ever receive is "What happens next?" That right there is proof you've done your job and it also makes you giddy with power, that you invented a fictional universe that feels real enough to people that they want to know what happens - they've invested in enough to care about its outcome. To some extent storytelling is a magic trick isn't it? It's a made up world and the reader knows it's made up, obviously, but your job is to make it feel as real as possible, as impactful as possible. A less generalised answer - when my first editor at HarperCollins signed me up, she had to make a case - the standard one in acquiring any author - for why I was a good bet to publish. She told me that in projection for future books, she said "Mhairi is a natural writer." That really thrilled me. A natural writer.

What was the biggest challenge and biggest reward with writing Don't You Forget About Me?
The biggest challenge, if you've read it (no spoilers!) was the revelation and resolution for Georgina. I've not had that experience and I was very conscious it had to ring true. It wasn't easy but I honestly felt like I was stuck in her shoes for that whole passage, and I needed a stiff drink afterwards. The biggest reward was the response to DYFAM. I don't think any author can judge a book by the end - that's not fibbing or false modesty, you've lived with it for so long, with so many of its flaws and its different drafts and its difficulties, you can't really 'see' the end result. So the feedback and the enthusiasm has been amazing. And very movingly, a friend told me she'd have her young daughters read it when they were the right age, so that they hopefully feel more prepared to stand up for themselves than Georgina did. I never write anything as a teaching credential, but if story telling can have any positive real world effect, I feel very lucky to be able to do that.

If Don't You Forget About Me were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Ooh - an actress called Romola Garai - not sure how famous she is in the States, she's well known in the UK. Lucas would be Aidan Turner, who plays Poldark on TV here - again, has he made it in America yet?! He's silly levels of handsome. Google them! Robin would be a joy to cast too because he's such a type, with his curly hair and smarm. Can't think who'd be right though, I feel like readers would make good suggestions?

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
I have just finished Mindhunter 2, the series about the FBI's behavioural science unit in the 1980s and their studies into serial killers. So, so compelling. I'm a huge David Fincher fan. I've just started the HBO series Chernobyl, because apparently when I am not enjoying murders I like radiation.

Who is the most unforgettable person in your life?
Haha, wow! Hard to choose just one? Plus there's all kinds of terrible people you might not forget :) I will pass on this one, if that's OK, it seems a political quagmire to me! There, I got to use the word "quagmire" though.

What is the strangest thing currently residing in your purse/handbag?
Well, this is truly strange,'s a florist's card, one of those little ones that come with flowers. It accompanied a bunch of red roses I had sent to my office years ago by a former colleague, who wanted to apologise for not buying me a pint (I think, the reasons are lost in time.) He signed it "Norbert" as a joke about being like a tightfisted character in a comic called Viz (British reference only). He's now a prominent political journalist on a national newspaper here and I bet would be QUITE embarrassed / amused to be reminded of it. It made me laugh though and somehow it's ended up surviving many changes of handbags, lost among my purse, keys, photos, lipstick, spare iPhone headphones etc....

Thanks to Mhairi for chatting with us and William Morrow for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends September 22nd at midnight EST.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Book Review: The Worst Couple in the a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

From the author of The Woman America Loves a Latte and I Will Follow Him comes a satirical novella about an over-the-top fame-hungry duo whose love for each other is only rivaled by their love of attention.

No longer content to just be Snappigram sensations, folk hop singers Zeke and Angelique are ready to move up from coffee house performances to the big stage. With songs like “Uh Huh, Future Baby Mama” and “Don’t Worry About the Bills, Little Missus” there’s pretty much no way they can fail.

But if their musical career takes off, will it leave their love behind?
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Zeke and Angelique reminded me of Nico Slobkin and Brie Bacardi, the annoying Instagram couple (played by Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner) on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. In fact, if The Worst Couple in the World were to ever be turned into a television show or movie, that’s who should play this folk hop singer duo!

I imagine it’s hard to write characters who are so slanted and silly, yet still maintain a level of seriousness that only adds to the hilarity. Holly Tierney-Bedord perfected this, not only by placing Zeke and Angelique in otherwise “normal” situations that really brought forth their quirky personalities, but by the interactions they have with other people who are more grounded and realistic. You can’t help but go with the flow and fall in line with the surreal, because this special couple believes so much in what they are doing and who they are, you start to believe in it, too.

One of my favorite characters is Zeke’s mother. Sadly, I know people who have the type of personality she has, an all encompassing life sucking quality that ordinarily would not be considered funny. But, in her conversations with Zeke and Angelique, her mannerisms, it’s just pure fun, from start to finish. The contrast between the mother and Angelique is a lot of fun, too, and it makes for some of the best deliciously awkward moments.

What I liked the most about this couple, is that even through the silliness, there is an undercurrent of perseverance. Granted, they have no clue how silly they are, but even when it seems there is no hope and that they need to give up on their dreams, they don’t give up. I also felt this was a blatant look at how far people will go to gain fame. Angelique goes through a lot of “changes”, and even though she brings this up flippantly, the reader gets the sense that it is far from flippant and that’s the whole point. Even though it’s a clear coat of funny, the solid foundation underneath that is all truth. This was a unique read, and it makes you wonder what you’d do and how you’d react if you’d ever encounter these two, the worst couple in the world!

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

Purchase links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of over twenty books ranging from serious women’s fiction to romantic comedies, domestic thrillers, humor, and cozy mysteries. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Visit Holly online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Blog

Giveaway to Win a $5 Starbucks Gift Card 
(Open to US Only, as part of the blog tour)

*Terms and Conditions –US 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. We are not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Book Review: Skint Estate

By Jami Deise

Ever since Jeannette Walls released her memoir, The Glass Castle, in 2005, books about growing up with poor, sometimes abusive, parents have been popular. Biographies such as Educated, Hillbilly Elegy, Hand to Mouth, and the award-winning Evicted put faces and names to statistics – at least in the United States. Now British artist Cash Carraway has given readers a look at what life is like under the poverty line in Tory-run, austerity-focused London in her memoir Skint Estate. In some cases, it’s better; in others, it definitely seems worse.

Carraway begins her book on the run from an abusive boyfriend, taking a pregnancy test in the feces-smeared bathroom of a moving train. Even though she’s broke and her own parents were abusive as well, Carraway is desperate to have this baby, wanting a child to love and a family she can call her own. Anyone who has ever wondered why someone in gut-wrenching poverty would add to their complications by procreating will be enlightened by Carraway’s longing.

Determined to earn the money required to rent a place before her baby is born, Carraway finds work at a peep show, a step down from her former life as a stripper. Behind a wall, men ogle and “wank off” to her expanding body. Carraway hides no detail of the degradation, which comes from her employers as much as her customers. The smells, filth, language, and hunger of her and her daughter’s life are everywhere. The author never tries to pretty it up, and the reader can’t hide from her reality.

In both countries, it is expensive to be poor. Both the U.S. and the U.K. penalize folks on benefits who earn, inherit, save, or are gifted money. British citizens at least have the NHS, so they don’t need to worry about going bankrupt due to medical bills. They also have to contend with a government that seems determined to push poor women and children out of London, away from their families, schools, and support systems. When the Grenfell Tower caught fire, Carraway and her daughter were practically next door, at a shelter for abused women that was literally falling down on top of them.

What is the link between violence and poverty, and how does someone like Carraway develop the strength to try to escape both her upbringing and her financial situation? Near the end of the book, she reveals that no matter what else is going on her life, she wakes up every morning at four am to write, eventually producing a one-woman show before writing this book. She is also a political activist, trying to get the media to pay attention to the horrible way the government treats poor women and children. I can’t imagine having this kind of fortitude, especially in the depth of a depression she suffered that nearly drove her to suicide.

The issue with memoirs is that the reader knows, just by picking up the book, that the author overcame her life challenges enough to write and become published. When we read a book like Carraway’s, it’s important to remember that it’s not just her story she’s sharing, but the stories of millions of people all over the world who are just as desperate, but who do not have a voice. Her voice becomes theirs. Let’s hope people are listening.

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: We Got This

Today we are featuring We Got This (September 10th, She Writes Press), which is a compilation of personal stories from solo mom writers. Whether you are a solo mom or someone special in your life is, this is one you will want to add to your (or their) TBR pile! Thanks to JKS Communications, we have TWO copies up for grabs!

Frank, funny, and unflinchingly real stories by solo moms, for solo moms.

In the United States, more than 15 million women are parenting children on their own, either by circumstance or by choice. Too often these moms who do it all have been misrepresented and maligned. Not anymore. In We Got This, seventy-five solo mom writers tell the truth about their lives—their hopes and fears, their resilience and setbacks, their embarrassments and triumphs. Some of these writers’ names will sound familiar, like Amy Poehler, Anne Lamott, and Elizabeth Alexander, while others are about to become unforgettable. Bound together by their strength, pride, and most of all, their dedication to their children, they broadcast a universal and empowering message: You are not alone, solo moms—and your tenacity, courage, and fierce love are worthy of celebration.

“Isolated, scared, sad, and hopeless are some of the emotions I felt when I was going through my divorce eleven years ago. I had two small children and no family living near me, and I had never felt so alone. I wish I could have read We Got This back then. Reading this book made me feel like I had friends, women who understand me, who care about me, and who are here for me, and like no matter what, everything is going to be OK!”
―Jackie Pilossoph, Creator, Divorced Girl Smiling, "Love Essentially" Columnist for Chicago Tribune Media Group

Dr. Marika Lindholm founded to ignite a social movement of solo moms. A trained sociologist, Lindholm taught courses on inequality, diversity, and gender at Northwestern University for over a decade. After a divorce left her parenting two children on her own, she realized solo moms lacked much-needed resources, support, and connection. She built her social platform, Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere (ESME), out of this combination of academic and personal experience. In addition to publishing numerous scholarly articles, Lindholm has been a regular contributor to Psychology Today, Working Mother, Mind Body Green, and Talk Space. She has published essays and fiction in the Daily News, Elephant Journal, The Hill, Ms., Silent Voices, and the Southern Indiana Review.

Visit Marika and ESME online:
Website * Facebook * ESME's Twitter
Marika's Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest

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 September 17th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sharing a meal with Nicole a book giveaway

Today we're celebrating the publication of Nicole Meier's latest novel, The Second Chance Supper Club. This novel looks and sounds really good and we're excited to dig in! Nicole is here to tell us more about it and thanks to Get Red PR, we have one copy to give away!

Nicole Meier is a native Southern Californian who pulled up roots and moved to the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her husband, three children, and one very nosey Aussiedoodle.

Her debut novel, The House of Bradbury, was chosen as a Best Book of 2016 by Refinery29. Her sophomore novel, The Girl Made of Clay (reviewed here), was recently named a Top Book according to Bookbub readers. 

Nicole's works have been published in The Oregonian, Cascade Journal, Southern Oregon Magazine, Women Writers Women’s Books, Brazen Woman, and more. (Bio adapted from Nicole's website.)

Visit Nicole online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Ginny and Julia Frank had a forever bond, until a sudden tragedy thrust them apart. Now, each at a crossroad in her own life, their paths are about to intersect. Broadcast journalist Julia has it all: a career, an ambitious fiancé, and the hard-won respect of her peers. Until a hasty and desperate decision destroys her reputation, puts her job at risk, and sends her reeling toward the only soul left to turn to: her estranged sister, Ginny.

The owner of a clandestine supper club hidden in the Arizona desert, Ginny has a lot on her plate. The last thing she wants is more drama—or the burden of nursing her younger sister’s wounded ego. Her young adult daughter Olive is enough to deal with. But family is family. Besides, Ginny can use the help in more ways than one, and she’s going to make sure Julia pulls her weight.

As a tenuous reunion reopens old wounds, Julia and Ginny have no choice but to confront the pain and betrayals of the past. Will working to keep the secret supper club running be just what they need to find common ground and a path toward forgiveness, or will the increasing stress push them even further apart?

Warm, comforting and brimming with hope, THE SECOND CHANCE SUPPER CLUB is the perfect reminder of the unique bonds that make up a family.

The Second Chance Supper Club is as warm and comforting as one of chef Ginny’s signature dishes. Meier writes with insight and heart, offering readers a vivid peek at the intriguing world of private supper clubs in this life-affirming story of three women reconnecting with the ones who matter most.” —Amy Mason Doan, author of The Summer List and Summer Hours

“The Second Chance Supper Club is a book to be savored. Meier expertly weaves the stories of two grieving sisters with humor, tenderness, and hope. Upon finishing this scrumptious book, I felt as one would feel after a good meal: satisfied but wishing I could take just one more bite.”
—Jennifer Gold, author of The Ingredients of Us

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
A reader wrote a review saying my book made her "ugly cry." I loved that I was able to evoke such emotion in my story. We all need a good cry now and then, right?

What was the inspiration behind The Second Chance Supper Club?
A couple of years ago I saw a film at an indie film festival. It was a documentary on underground dining. I'd never heard of the concept before, but knew instantly that I wanted to include some kind of culinary speakeasy in my next book. It was a lot of fun.

If The Second Chance Supper Club were made into a movie, who would play the lead roles?
Oh! I love this question. For the younger ambitious sister, Julia, I might pick Kristen Bell. For her older bossy sister, I would love someone like Laura Linney.

What is your favorite memory from elementary school?
Going to the library and checking out books.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
A few! Dead to Me, Big Little Lies, and about a half dozen Food Network shows.

What is the strangest thing residing in your purse/handbag?
Oh, gosh. I'm a minimalist in that department. I just stick my credit card in my phone case and away I go!

Thanks to Nicole for chatting with us and to Get Red PR 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 September 15th at midnight EST.