Thursday, December 5, 2019

To us, Julie Valerie is perfect...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Kim Brundage
Introduction by Melissa Amster

I met Julie Valerie in person at Book Expo, five years ago. We actually shared a hotel room for the event. She was really nice and funny. So I was thrilled to find out that she was publishing a novel and I eagerly awaited its arrival and then added it to my TBR as soon as it arrived. Holly Banks Full of Angst is just as delightful as its author. You can check out my review here. Julie has one signed copy for a lucky reader!


After Book Buzz in 2014

Julie Valerie, an avid Scrabble player who once played QWERTY on a triple word, writes humorous women’s fiction and is developing a series set in the idyllic Village of Primm, starting with her debut novel.

She is the founder of the 85K Writing Challenge, providing writers an enriching environment in which to pen 85,000 words in 90 days, supported by a full calendar of writing support. Julie also serves on the board of directors for James River Writers, a multi-faceted non-profit organization based in Richmond, Virginia, that serves as central Virginia’s literary hub. A voracious reader, Julie has reviewed 200+ books in her genre and won the BookSparks 2015 Summer Reading Challenge Grand Prize.

Deepening her love of the written word, Julie earned an editing certificate from the University of Chicago Graham School and is constantly humbled by the nuances of language and the nitty-gritty of grammar while strengthening her proficiencies in the Chicago Manual of Style. With a master’s degree in education and a certification in wilderness first aid, Julie enjoys reading, the study of wine, section hiking the Appalachian Trail, and travel.

Writing amid the mayhem and merriment of her motley crew, Julie is married to her college sweetheart, has four children (two girls, two boys) and two English Labradors (one yellow, one chocolate). (Bio adapted from Julie's website.)

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


Synopsis:
Holly Banks could not have made a worse first impression on the seemingly perfect moms in her new affluent community, the Village of Primm. Turns out wearing pink piggy pajama bottoms while dropping off her kindergartener late to the first day of school wasn’t her best look.

Not to mention Holly’s worried her husband may be having an affair, she can’t get her daughter to stop sucking her thumb, her hard-won film degree is collecting dust, and to top it all off, the power-hungry PTA president clearly has it in for her…

To make matters even worse, Holly’s natural eye for drama lands her smack-dab in the middle of a neighborhood mystery—right as her own crazy mother shows up in Primm “to help.” Through it all, Holly begins to realize her neighbors may be just as flawed as—and even wackier than—she is, leaving her to wonder: Is there such a thing as a perfect mom?
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


In one sentence, tell us what the road to publishing was like for you.
On my road to publishing, I met many wonderful people, and for that, I am truly grateful.

How are you similar to or different from Holly?
I am very similar to Holly. When faced with a new situation, my "fight or flight" response is keenly felt and I almost always choose flight until I can settle in and get comfortable with my new surroundings. Not only that, I'm constantly making mistakes and wishing I could do better.

If Holly Banks Full of Angst were to become a binge-worthy TV series, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Oh, that's a great question! Kristin Bell would be perfect for Holly. And I think Anna Kendrick looks a lot like the Hollys on the cover. When I wrote Mary-Margaret St. James, I imagined her as Reese Witherspoon, but Christina Applegate would also make a great Mary-Margaret.

What is your favorite Christmas movie?
My favorite Christmas movie is Love, Actually.

Tell us about a family holiday tradition.
Every year for Thanksgiving, a family holiday tradition we enjoy is decorating gingerbread houses. Whatever hasn't been eaten by Christmas gets broken and served with ice cream and enjoyed on Christmas Day.

What is your favorite winter holiday snack?
My favorite winter holiday snack is my sister's cranberry and orange zest shortbread cookies served with a cup of hot English Breakfast tea.

Thanks to Julie 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


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway ends December 10th at midnight EST.


Giveaway ends December 10th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Book Review: Christmas in Chamonix



By Sara Steven

When life goes downhill... head to the snow-capped Alps for roaring fires, apres-ski and festive romance.

Lily Jackson loves Christmas. She also loves her childhood friend Jamie, but when her plan to kick-start their romance goes drastically wrong and her job gets her down, Lily decides it’s time to make changes. A job opens up in snowy Chamonix and egged on by her best friend Imogen, Lily decides to go for it.

As Lily settles in with the eccentric Devereux family at their gorgeous boutique ski hotel, she starts to confront her past. But when she meets handsome ski instructor Luc, who hates Christmas, Lily might have taken on more than she can handle.

Can Lily make a new life – with or without skis? And can she get Luc to see how truly romantic Christmas can be? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

There’s nothing better than a classic Christmas love triangle, and you get that in spades with Christmas in Chamonix!

There are two clear-cut scenarios where Lily has to make a really tough call in matters of the heart, and both involve her friend, Jamie. I could fully appreciate the relationship she has with Jamie, the kind that centers completely on their friendship and trying to maintain it, no matter what. Along with that are the blinders she’s had when it comes to him, only adding to the confusion. It makes it difficult, and that was thoroughly portrayed to perfection. So much so, it propels Lily in finding a means of escape by way of a new job, in a new town, gaining a new life and hopefully, a new perspective.

As is the case with so many of us, Lily has deep-seated issues that become a catalyst for many of her behaviors and the interactions she has with others. I thought this was an interesting backstory and an important one, adding a relatable factor to the protagonist. It answered some of the questions I’d had regarding her fears and her need to stay within her familiar comfort zones, and the type of reaction she has initially in meeting Luc. There is the belief that he would never be interested in someone like her, that in some respects, she isn’t good enough for him. Yet, she is drawn to him. I liked the back and forth that played out for the both of them, particularly with Jamie thrown in for good measure.

The snow-capped mountains and hills of Chamonix felt like a gorgeous fairy tale, the kind you want to get lost in. I couldn’t help but wish to be another employee at the Boutique Hotel Devereaux, to bunk in with Lily and her best friend, Imogen. An escape from the ordinary, and while it was obvious there was a lot of hard work to be had, it was well worth it. I always appreciate good scenery in the stories I read, and that was front and center here for Chamonix.

Even with Lily’s blissful retreat into the unknown, there are plenty of uncertainties for her and those love triangles that cut a little too close to home in some respects. Along with that are moments of intrigue and suspense, fun, and emotionally charged scenes that really rounded out Lily’s story. While I would have preferred to see some of the romance happen a little faster for her, I still enjoyed the chase, a full-packaged rom com that was well worth the read!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UK

Sasha Wagstaff learned foreign languages, and imagined she might eventually get a glamorous job speaking French. After climbing her way up the banking ladder, Sasha started idly mapping out the beginnings of a novel on an old laptop. When she realized her characters were more real to her than dividends and corporate actions ever could be, she left her job to become a writer. She also writes under the pseudonym of Ella Harper.

Visit Sasha online:
Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Visit the other stops on the blog tour:

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Spotlight: Single All the Way



Travel Together Tour Manager Eve Mitchell is planning a quiet Christmas at home to rest and relax before a special New Year. But she soon, very unexpectedly, finds herself in the depths of the Essex countryside looking after a singles' group which contains some old, familiar faces and some pleasant - and not so pleasant - new ones. With its country walks, quizzes, disco and black-tie ball, the Christmas and Twixmas Break passes quickly, but just as they think it's all over the plot takes a twist and we learn some dark secrets...

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK  * Amazon US


Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine's keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels. Elaine has written two books of short stories, two novellas and seven novels, four of which form the Singles Series - Singles’ Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way and Singles At Sea.  Her latest book, Singles, Set and Match is the fifth and final book in the series.  Her play Stanley Grimshaw Has Left The Building is being staged at the Bridewell Theatre, London in May 2019.  Her short film Only the Lonely, co-written with Veronique Christie and featuring Anna Calder Marshall is currently being in shown in film festivals worldwide and she is currently working on a full length feature film script. Only the Lonely won the Groucho Club Short Film Festival 2019!  Elaine recently returned to UK after living in Antigua W.I. She lives in East London.

Visit Elaine online:
WebsiteFacebook * Twitter * Instagram


Monday, December 2, 2019

Reviews at Amazon-October/November 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:


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Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop




December is here and sleigh bells are ringing, which means it's time for Chick Lit Chat HQ's annual Holly Jolly Chick,Lit Hop! Get ready to party with 60+ bestselling and award-winning authors in the Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy genres in our signature, fun-filled, holiday style. Each of these authors is playing elf and offering a Santa-tastic giveaway—books, author swag, gift cards, and many other twinkling treats. Whether you've been naughty or nice this year, all this yuletide magic is yours for the taking! There may even be a few carols if you’re lucky.

But wait! There's much more to this extraordinary celebration. On the hop's Facebook group, you can enter to win our Grand Prize*—a collection of the best gifts this holiday season has to offer. Just a few of the many wonderful items included are: Flippy Multi-Angle Soft Stand for Tablets, Books, and E-Readers, 5-Piece Simply Christmas Cookie Cutters Set with Recipe Cards, Snowflake Holiday Earrings with Swarovski Crystals, Softies Hooded Marshmallow Scarf, Winter Fun Wine Charms, Don't Ask Just Mask Gift Set with Reindeer Headband from The Body Shop, and Lea Michele's new holiday CD, Christmas in the City.




And if you don't nab our Grand Prize, there's no need to be a grinch! Our Runner-Up Prizes*, which will go to THREE lucky winners, are Christmas Bath Bomb Sets in delicious, holiday scents of Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread, Eggnog, and Hot Chocolate. What could be more festive and relaxing?



The celebration runs from Monday, Dec. 2nd through Sunday, Dec. 8th, so head on over to the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop Facebook group for some lively conversation with both authors and readers, incredible prizes, and lots of holiday fun! You'll find each day's featured authors, along with the links to their pages/giveaways, in the pinned post at the top of the group. We look forward to seeing you there!

*The Grand and Runner-Up Prize giveaways are open to US residents only. However, all of the individual author giveaways are open internationally.