Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Book Review: The Neighbours

By Becky Gulc

‘To get up from rock bottom, you’ve got to take the stairs…

Some women have it all. Others are thirty-four and rent a tiny flat alone because they recently found their long-term boyfriend in bed with their boss. Ginny Taylor is certain her life can’t get any worse. But then she meets her downstairs neighbour…

Cassie Frost was once a beloved actress, but after a recent mishap she desperately needs a new publicist. And Ginny is a publicist who desperately needs a job – but can she be persuaded to work for the prickly woman who lives below her floorboards?

Ginny and Cassie are two very different women, but they have more in common than they’d care to imagine (or admit). And when their worlds collide, they realise that sometimes – just sometimes – bad neighbours become good friends…’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

The Neighbours is the debut novel by Nicola Gill and it sounded like the kind of novel I’d be drawn to and enjoy. So what did I think?

Ginny isn’t having a great time of it when we meet her, she finds her boyfriend cheating on her with her boss, cue loss (or good riddance) of the boyfriend and her job in PR, how can she face her boss every day now? With her best friend/flatmate moving abroad too she’s left to face the turmoil pretty much on her own.

Ginny has never really touched base with her famous actress neighbour before, Cassie Frost. But after a damaging stint on reality show I’m a Celebrity…, Cassie is slowly realising she’s not the in-demand actress she once was, what she needs is some good PR, and who better to provide this than her out of work neighbour and newfound kind-of-friend Ginny?

Without a doubt for me, it was the unlikely friendship between Ginny and Cassie that made this novel great. It was a lovely exploration of forming a new friendship later in life, when you’re meant to be in someone’s life when on the face of it you may not have much in common; it’s just fate. These women seem to know what the other wants and needs than they do themselves. Their story was beautiful. It was so funny at times, I loved Cassie; sassy, says it as it is even if she shouldn’t sometimes! And Ginny is a lovely character whom I warmed to instantly.

There are dark times in the novel and I found these very moving and well-written, the struggle to help a friend navigate mental health issues, I felt as helpless as the friend. There is a lot of kindness and warmth from the central, as well as some of the supporting characters, and it was lovely to read.

This is a great debut novel. I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to these two women and I think that says it all. The Neighbours is funny, moving, and full of love and that’s said without even considering the ‘love story’ elements of the novel (which are also strong). Loved it!

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

Visit the stops on Nicola's blog tour:





Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Kimmery Martin has the antidote for your book slump....plus a book giveaway

Today we welcome Kimmery Martin to CLC to celebrate the publication of her sophomore novel, The Antidote For Everything! It sounds like a fascinating story and we look forward to checking it out. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

Kimmery Martin is an emergency medicine doctor-turned novelist whose works of medical fiction have been praised by The Harvard Crimson, Southern Living, The Charlotte Observer and The New York Times, among others. A lifelong literary nerd, she promotes reading, interviews authors, and teaches writing seminars. She’s a frequent speaker at libraries, conferences, and bookstores around the United States. Kimmery completed her medical training at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She lives with her husband and three children in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Bio courtesy of Kimmery's website.)

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


Synopsis:
Georgia Brown’s profession as a urologist requires her to interact with plenty of naked men, but her romantic prospects have fizzled. The most important person in her life is her friend Jonah Tsukada, a funny, empathetic family medicine doctor who works at the same hospital in Charleston, South Carolina and who has become as close as family to her.

Just after Georgia leaves the country for a medical conference, Jonah shares startling news. The hospital is instructing doctors to stop providing medical care for transgender patients. Jonah, a gay man, is the first to be fired when he refuses to abandon his patients. Stunned by the predicament of her closest friend, Georgia’s natural instinct is to fight alongside him. But when her attempts to address the situation result in incalculable harm, both Georgia and Jonah find themselves facing the loss of much more than their careers. (Courtesy of Amazon.)


What is something you learned from writing The Queen of Hearts that you applied to The Antidote for Everything?
I learned I need an editor! I’d keep writing endlessly if no one reined me in. Also, sometimes my sense of humor is quite stupid.

How are you similar to or different from the main characters of The Antidote?
I think most authors incorporate something of themselves into their protagonists, whether consciously or unconsciously. I did deliberately give both Georgia and Jonah some features you could accuse me of possessing— I’m a bossy science geek, like Georgia, and I gotta admit some of Jonah’s goofiness hits close to home. (And I always have at least one character in my novels who hails from the great state of Kentucky!) But obviously, the more you write a character the more they take on a life of their own. I’m very fond of these two, warts and all.

If The Antidote were made into a movie, who would play the leading roles?
We have a term for this exercise in the writing biz: casturbation. It’s super-fun. Here are my choices:

Georgia the Urologist/Narrator: Jennifer Lawrence is one of my favorite actresses and like me and Georgia, she’s a native Kentuckian. But also maybe a redhead, like Rose Leslie or Emma Stone.

Jonah the Family Medicine Doctor/Best Friend: Godfrey Gao would be sweet! I love his acting.

Mark the Love Interest: Danny Pino or Ryan Reynolds

Darby the Rehab Doctor/Southern Belle: Reese Witherspoon or Kristen Bell

Donovan the Anesthesiologist/Complicated Villain: Paul Bettany. I think it’s mandatory that he play the villain in all movies.

Edwin the Hot Security Guy: Colton Haynes

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
I really liked Booksmart. In a general I am a big fan of Nerd Fiction.

What is the strangest dream you remember having?
For years I had a recurrent dream about a tiny blond brown-eyed girl who bossed me around. I don’t believe in the supernatural but my first child personifies this dream person pretty well, even down to her appearance.

If you could travel through time, would you go to the past or to the future?
No question at all: I’d go to the future. I’m absolutely fascinated by the way technological advances will alter society over the next decades and centuries. We are living on the cusp of the most impactful evolution in human history and I want to know how it turns out.

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

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

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Giveaway ends February 23rd at midnight EST.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Book Review: From Here to Nashville



By Sara Steven

Rachel Hardy dreams of being a successful country music singer in Nashville’s Music City, four thousand miles away from her lonely life in Dorset.

When Jackson Phillips, an independent record label owner, encourages her band to audition for a nationwide ‘Open Mic’ competition, she decides they have nothing to lose.

But when she starts to fall in love with Jackson, the stakes suddenly get higher and she finds herself with a great big dilemma on her hands. Should she abandon her dream and take the easy way out or should she leave the life she has always known behind and take a gamble on a man who has personal demons of his own?

Follow Rachel and Jackson as they learn to trust in love again and to see whether music really can bring them together. (Synopsis Courtesy of Goodreads)

While I’m not a huge country music fan, Rachel’s story still resonated with me, and I had an enjoyable time while reading about her trials and efforts in attempting to make it big in Nashville. There’s something almost whimsical about her as a character. She injects a never ending drive to go for your dreams, and I felt like I’d been elevated by that spirit. The scenes where Rachel and her band are playing shows, I felt like I was right there with them, part of the action- as a band member, or someone there to watch the show. It was nice to have both perspectives in order to get a better understanding of the band dynamics and how it all works into Rachel’s future goals.

When Jackson enters the picture, there was no doubt in this reader’s mind the kind of attraction and draw Rachel has to him. He seems almost too perfect for paper, so I can understand her hesitancy in believing in him and what he represents. I could also see how scary it was for Rachel to consider completely leaving everything she knows in order to move thousands of miles away and take a chance on something that is unknown. Having been in those shoes before, it’s always a crap shoot. I felt those emotions were really explained well and there was no confusion on how she felt.

Told from both Rachel and Jackson’s perspectives, it was nice to see what each primary character is feeling and thinking, as well as what their motivations are as the story progresses. This becomes even more helpful when Rachel finds herself in a bit of a love triangle situation, one that the reader isn’t at first privy to, unfolding gradually. It lends into her indecision on whether she should move or not, not entirely sure on what the right decision should be.

This is the first book in the From Here to You series, and with two more books in the mix, I’m interested in seeing what’s next for this group of characters!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Julie Stock writes contemporary feel-good romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in February 2015 and her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace in March 2017. Over You (Sam's Story) and Finding You (Jenna's Story), her follow-up novellas to From Here to Nashville were published in 2018, making the From Here to You series complete. She has also published a boxed set of the From Here to You trilogy of books.

The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge was published in August 2019, followed by Bittersweet, a collection of 12 Short Stories for Modern Life in September 2019.

Julie is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and The Society of Authors.

Julie is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.

Visit Julie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway to win a signed paperback copy of From Here to Nashville, a bookmark and a guitar magnet (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within seven days, then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winner's 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, February 14, 2020

Sara and Melissa talk about....Romance!

We recently started a new column series to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about romance, since it's Valentine's Day! We're open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our first post here, in case you missed it last month.

Melissa Amster:

As of last week, my husband and I have been together for 18 years. Our 16-year wedding anniversary is next month. When it comes to romance, we don’t rely on flowers and chocolate. Instead, it’s the little things we share that keep our marriage thriving. The number one most important thing in our relationship is laughter. We engage in humor all the time, whether it’s sending funny articles and videos that we know the other will enjoy, sharing inside jokes, doing impressions, joking about something our kids said or did, etc. We love being able to make each other laugh. It’s a natural high for us. Even when there are tough times or someone is having a bad day, just sprinkling some laughter in is enough to buoy us.

Our wedding...16 years ago!

In the beginning, there were typical romantic gestures, like a special date night surprise, going dancing together, making bubble baths, doing stuff for each other’s birthdays, etc. For a date early in our relationship, my husband took me for a carriage ride around downtown Chicago and then for dinner at Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock building. For our one-year wedding anniversary, he re-created that special date and also gave me a necklace he designed and had a jeweler make. (I still wear it all the time.) I also had surprises in store for him on our anniversary. I planned activities that would remind us of our honeymoon, like going to a restaurant similar to Benihana--prior to us keeping Kosher (there was one at our resort), playing billiards, going dancing, and having drinks at Bahama Breeze (although mine wasn’t alcoholic at that time because I was pregnant with our first child).

Nowadays, we go on dates, but we usually just get dinner and go bowling or to see a movie. (Sometimes we’ll see live theater performances, as well.) However, I planned a surprise activity for his birthday this past winter. We went to an escape room for the first time and it was a lot of fun. It brought back an element of excitement from early in our relationship and we also got some inside jokes out of it. Now that our oldest child can babysit his siblings, we get out a lot more often and even go on double dates with other couples sometimes.

I am in love with my husband and the spark in our relationship is still going strong. I’m thankful for him every day.

Since this is a book blog and we are celebrating Valentine’s Day right now, I wanted to mention a few romantic novels I’ve enjoyed in recent years, as well as one that slipped under the radar a long time ago.

Recent:
1. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
2. One Day in December by Josie Silver
3. Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
4. The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr
5. Sparing the Heart by Tracy Krimmer
6. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
7. A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber
8. Twin Piques by Tracie Banister

Slipped under the radar:
Room for Love by Andrea Meyer.
It published in 2007. I loved it and I don’t think it got the attention it deserved. (Probably because I didn’t have a book blog back then.)

I would love to hear about your favorite romantic novels. Please share them in the comments section below.

Sara Steven:

I’ll be honest- I’m having a bit of a bah humbug Valentine’s Day holiday this year. Having dealt with health issues since the beginning of the year, and still ensconced within the throes of it, visions of red hearts and pink “I love yous” has taken a back seat to doctor’s appointments and medical exams. It’s funny how quickly a moment or an event can change one’s perspective on things. In researching ideas on how I wanted to approach this month’s topic, I found correspondence between my husband and I circa 2008. This was from before the wedding, before the second child. Before the health issues:

From me, to him:

I love to watch you. I love to watch your habits and the little things you do. Like the way you hold your fork and the 5 seconds it takes you to actually taste food in your mouth, and the facial expression that comes after it. That's a classic Kevin, right there. When you walk away from me or towards me, I love to watch the type of gait you have. It's this self assured step with a little bit of boy mixed in there. It's really cute. I love that you always have to be touching me, in some way, when we are together, whether it's a hand on my back, or entwined in my hand, or when we are on the couch, not even cuddling, our feet have to be touching. You are an AMAZING man baby. Thank you for being the way you are, and thank you for being mine. :)
I love you. Have a good day at work today. :)


And from him, to me:
What I love about YOU, Sara, is that you can send something like this to me, and it's so touching and wonderful that I have no idea how to respond to it. I'm sure there were a few things I did yesterday that you could add to this list, but those things along with all the other things you mentioned here, are all because of you. You are the reason I'm the way I am. This morning I was reflecting on how good I feel and how much more like myself I have been lately. I realized, though, that I'm not like myself at all. I can't say that I'm feeling like I used to so many years ago, because I'm feeling better. Way better. I have all of the same silly playfulness and fun-loving spirit that I used to have, but I also have much more confidence, and resolution, and respect in myself and others. Most of all, though, I have love. I have love that I never knew existed, and cannot live without. I'm complete and happy and healthy and I feel so incredible. I owe that all to you. You are my best friend, my partner, my girlfriend, my lover, my muse...you're my everything. As sappy as it sounds, I don't think a word exists for what you mean to me. I think there's just a feeling that exists for it, and I'm so happy that you feel it too, so you know what I'm talking about. I love you Sara. Thank you for completing me.


Our honeymoon, almost 11 years ago!


It’s not that I don’t still feel that way. I hope he does, too. Only, time has progressed us, catapulted us into an entirely different dimension than 2008. Sweet love notes have been replaced by sticky notes, or notes sent through text. Responsibilities have compounded, with moves and new jobs and two children. Our date night for Valentine’s Day this year will be his accompaniment to another doctor’s appointment, this one roughly an hour from where we live, not counting the Phoenix rush hour traffic. We still hold hands, and while we don’t whisper sweet nothings into one another’s ear nearly as much as we used to, I don’t know anyone who can deliver a much-needed joke when I need it, not like my husband can. He’s Wit On Tap. He’s also stepped up, picking up where I’ve had to slack, steering the kids and making dinners and doing as much as he’s able to, to help me out. My visions of red hearts and pink “I love yous” is knowing I have someone in my life who would literally do all he can for me, in order to ensure that I’m healthy and all right because I am that important to him. To me, that’s the real deal, right there. And really, what’s more romantic than that?

Whether you’re in a new, budding relationship, or one that’s seen a few miles, or maybe you’re spending time with your girls on a Galentine’s Day extravaganza, any and all of it- I hope you have a wonderful time spending the 14th of February with the people who mean the most to you.


Your turn! Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section. We look forward to hearing from you.

Excerpt: The Single Best Thing



**May contain spoilers for the Singles series**

Almost four years have passed since Melv followed Eve back to England refusing to throw away their long awaited chance of lasting love and happiness. Much has happened in that time. No longer a tour manager for Travel Together, Eve is enjoying unexpected success in her new career. Has she forgiven him for hurting her so deeply? Was her love for him simply enough? And what about her own dark secret?

Provoking smiles and tears, this glimpse into Eve’s future brings the Singles’ Series to its final conclusion


Excerpt:

The Single Best Thing is set four years into the future from the end of Singles, Set and Match (the fifth book in the Singles’ Series). Here is the opening to it...

June 2023

‘Keep back behind the cordon, please.’

The burly security guard waved his arm and flashed a toothpaste ad movie-star smile that took the sting out of his authoritative tone. Feet shuffled as everyone complied with his request, smiling at each other, some starting up conversations with those standing next to them, others standing quietly, smiling to themselves in silent, eager anticipation.

‘It’s her!’

A loud, excited murmur rippled down the long line as those towards the back looked behind them and saw their idol approaching flanked by another security guard whose biceps were the size of a prize-pig’s thighs.

‘Here she is!’

‘She’s coming!’

‘She’s shorter than I thought.’

‘She looks great.’

‘Love her dress.’

‘She don’t look Greek.’

The object of their attention and appreciation smiled shyly and nodded to them all as she walked to the front of the queue and took her seat on the ready-made stage in the centre of the busy shopping mall.

‘Morning! Good morning!’

In her navy blue trouser-suit and pale pink shirt, hair and makeup immaculate, Eve may have looked confident and sure of herself as she greeted them but her stomach was churning. She chided herself for her nerves, after all these people were here to see her because they were her fans.

My fans!

She smiled inwardly at the thought that she had fans. And so many. She glanced across at them again. Security guards were changing the cordons so the queue now zig-zagged back and forth in an attempt to take up less space. Eve thought there must be several hundred people there. And they had all come to meet her! Her tummy gave another little flutter at the thought and she felt herself blushing. She hoped she wouldn’t break out in a sweat; she was permanently warm these days. Menopause seemed to be going on for ever.

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, five of which form the Singles Series - Singles’ Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way, Singles At Sea, and Singles, Set and Match. Her play Stanley Grimshaw Has Left The Building was 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 has been 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:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Spending the weekend with Rachel Gladstone....plus a book giveaway

Today we are pleased to have Rachel Gladstone visiting us. Her debut, The Weekend Wedding Assistant, published this week. We love the cover and it sounds like an entertaining story. Thanks to Turner Publishing, we have THREE copies for some lucky readers!

Rachel Gladstone is a staff writer for Dish Magazine where she reviews books for her column "All Booked Up" and wrote a TV pilot, Hopeful Times, for Cornerstone Entertainment which is now in pre-production. Rachel has also contributed work to The Nashville Scene, Ourselves, Foundations, GX, The Lipscomb College of Business and Nashville Lifestyles magazines and her blog, The Petty Chronicles, about the funny side of divorce had 30,000 readers on FirstWivesWorld.com and can be viewed at DivorcedMoms.com.

Visit Rachel online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Synopsis:
Thirty year-old Nashvillian Julia Holmes is just weeks away from becoming Mrs. Aaron DeMinthe and she has meticulously planned every detail of her big day. The one thing she didn’t plan for is her fiance Aaron’s announcement: he needs to tick something off his bucket list before they tie the knot, and that something is to hike the last leg of the Appalachian Trail. Less than 48 hours later, as he summits Mt. Katahdin, the last mountain of the trek, he’s struck by lightning and killed.

Julia is grief-stricken and inconsolable, despite the fact that she’s surrounded by her best gal pals. Returning to her wedding venue, Whitfield Chapel, in search of closure, she happens upon the Chapel’s Wedding Director, who offhandedly mentions that they’re looking for a Weekend Wedding Assistant. 


Before she can even think about it, Julia takes the job. As she ushers four brides a weekend down the aisle she was supposed to walk down herself, Julia tries to understand why she said “I Do” to a job she never set out to get, in a place she’d only meant to occupy for an afternoon– and wonders if she’ll ever find true love again.


In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like for you?
After pedaling hard and fast in the bike lane of freelancing for years, the journey towards releasing The Weekend Wedding Assistant has been an absolute joy and I’ve savored every moment from the first round of editing to choosing the cover art to holding the first ARC in my hands.

How is your main character, Julia, similar to or different from you?
Julia Holmes is an eternal optimist, as am I. Her irreverent sense of humor is both sword and shield for her when dealing with life’s challenges, and that is definitely my stock-in- trade. We both hate shopping, but her dive into a manic shopping spree which is meant to save her sanity, was something she wholly owned. Julia is younger than I am but she’s the age I will forever be in my head, and she was very indecisive when it came to choosing her life’s path while I came out of the womb singing, tap dancing and ready to rock. She’s certainly been luckier at love than I have, but the eternal optimist in me still believes Mr. Right is right around the corner.

If The Weekend Wedding Assistant were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
First of all, your lips to God’s ears! From the moment The Weekend Wedding Assistant downloaded in to my head like a movie, I have wanted other people to see it the way I did. Every time I watch TV or go to the movies I find myself searching for a glimpse of Julia and Linc in the faces of the actors on screen. Those who have come closest to my vision so far are Gillian Jacobs of Community and David Barry who played Lord John Gray in the Outlander series. If either of you happens to be reading this interview, please give me a call!

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding?
The bride was making her entrance to a Whitney Houston song as she processed down a grand staircase in an historic house. The introduction to the song had just finished when she paused midway and began to sing at the top of her lungs to her waiting groom and dumbfounded guests through a microphone she’d kept hidden in her bouquet. Not only was this completely unexpected but it was especially disturbing because she couldn’t carry a tune, a fact that did nothing to dissuade her from continuing to sing her way to the altar. To add insult to injury, later in the ceremony, it was the groom’s turn to reciprocate and quite unfortunately, he was tone-deaf too! It was all I could do not to burst out laughing or run somewhere and hide until the madness was over. But instead, I stood in the back, nodding and smiling, a supportive wedding planner ‘til the end.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
I recently finished reading Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson. It’s hilarious and deep, filled with unforgettable characters and impossible to put down.

What is something new you’d like to do in 2020?
I’d like to be able to hold the feral kitten I rescued 11 weeks ago who is still hiding under the guest room bed. And if I could learn to bake something that was actually edible rather than doubling as material you could use to build a foundation for a house that would be marvelous.

Thanks to Rachel for visiting with us and to Turner 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 February 18th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Book Review: Erotic Fiction?...plus a special giveaway



By Sara Steven

Sarah’s mind-numbing housewife existence is turning her brain to mush. With her third bun in the oven, this British mum is drowning under a mountain of play dates, bills, and head lice checks. But her man’s get-rich-quick idea of writing steamy novels isn’t her ideal way to dial up life’s passion.

Drew desperately wants a break from Sarah’s whinging. And if that means researching how to write racy books all by himself, then he’ll make the sacrifice. But as he finally warms Sarah up to the sultry side hustle, their R-rated private project gets publicly exposed…

With an office scandal brewing, it’s only a matter of time before gawking workers and a perfectly nosy PTA president turn them into social pariahs. Can Sarah and Drew earn some extra income from sizzling lit without falling prey to stiff gossip? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

This was a unique experience where writing erotic novels comes into play. Ordinarily, we read about a woman who is taking that venture on, but in this case, it’s a man who takes those steps! With that comes an interesting collaboration between Drew and Sarah, when the normal response would be to shy away from racy or sexual things from one or both partners.

When the couple takes it on, they go full force, and in doing so they find out a lot about one another. I appreciated that lens, because much of the focus leading up to that has been on what has been the contributing factor on the distance in their marriage. It’s understandable, considering how much they have going on, how both feel neglected, that there isn’t enough time in the day to do it all. Plenty of parents and couples can relate to their situation, and can find a lot of similarities in how Sarah feels as a stay at home mother, trying to keep her head above water while feeling compared to the “perfect” mothers in her world. (There’s one in particular, and those exchanges are pretty funny) There’s also Drew’s full-time employment with many stressors on his shoulders, wanting desperately to support his family at all costs. Their writing collaboration feels like a much-needed break from all of it, a ray of unconventional hope.

Through it all, the reader is introduced to hilarious humility for both characters. There were a few particular scenarios, particularly with Sarah at the post office, which really got me going! It was an unexpected situation, but one that really added to the type of chaos that she endures, and even though she doesn’t realize it, she deals with it through a lot of grace. Drew’s office antics with coworkers added a layer of funny sarcasm to the idiot coworker trope, as he often experiences with one guy in particular who acts as a catalyst for Drew in more ways than one. All of it gave way to a lightheartedness that was needed in order to balance out some of the heaviness that comes from life’s monotony.

Given the humor, the truth behind the struggling marriage, and the really unique plot, it was inevitable for me to give Erotic Fiction? five stars!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Hannah Lynn is an award-winning novelist. Publishing her first book, Amendments - a dark, dystopian speculative fiction novel, in 2015, she has since gone on to write the multi award winning The Afterlife of Walter Augustus - a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist, Fiona and the Whale – a thought provoking romantic comedy and the delightfully funny and poignant Peas and Carrots series.


While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character driven stories and wonderfully vivid description.

She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a re-imagining of a classic Greek myth.

Born in 1984, Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she has spent twelve years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia and Europe. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction. Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Jordan.

Visit Hannah online:
Website * Facebook * TwitterGoodreads * Bookbub

Hannah Lynn is giving away TWO $25 Amazon gift cards! The giveaway is tour-wide and she will choose the winners at the end. Good luck!

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Visit all the stops on the blog tour:




Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Light After the War

Today we're pleased to feature Anita Abriel's recently published novel, The Light After the War. Anita Abriel writes women's fiction novels under the name Anita Hughes and this is her first foray into historical fiction. Thanks to Atria, we have FIVE copies to give away!

Inspired by an incredible true story of two Jewish friends who survived the Holocaust, THE LIGHT AFTER THE WAR (Atria Books; Hardcover; $27; February 4th, 2020) is a sweeping novel of love and friendship that spans World War II from Budapest to Austria and the postwar years from Naples to Caracas, perfect for fans of The German Girl and We Were the Lucky Ones.

It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban arrive in Naples. Refugees from Hungary, they managed to escape from a train headed for Auschwitz and spent the rest of the war hiding on an Austrian farm. Now, the two young women must start new lives abroad. Armed with a letter of recommendation from an American officer, Vera finds work at the United States embassy where she falls in love with Captain Anton Wight.

But as Vera and Edith grapple with the aftermath of the war, so too does Anton, and when he suddenly disappears, Vera is forced to change course. Their quest for a better life takes Vera and Edith from Naples to Ellis Island to Caracas as they start careers, reunite with old friends, and rebuild their lives after terrible loss.

Moving, evocative, and compelling, this timely tale of true friendship, love, and survival will stay with you long after you turn the final page.


“A finely-woven story of post-war romance, second chances, and resolve that refuses to give in or give up. The setting details are evocative and inviting. Well done!”
—Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Last Year of the War

“Set against the vividly drawn backdrops of Naples, Caracas and Sydney in the aftermath of WWII, The Light After the War by Anita Abriel is a beautifully written and heartfelt novel. I was completely swept up in Vera’s and Edith’s lives, their friendship, their heartbreaks and their triumphs. An unforgettable story of strength, love, and survival.”
—Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author of The Lost Letter and In Another Time

"Fans of Georgia Hunter’s We Were The Lucky Ones should race to grab Anita Abriel’s The Light After The War, spanning continents and set against a vividly drawn canvas of World War II and the post-war period. Based on Abriel’s own family history, The Light After The War is a heartfelt and memorable tale of family, love, resilience and the triumph of human spirit."
 —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

"I was utterly moved and transfixed by The Light After the War, a beautiful novel that spans a decade across four continents in the wake of World War II. You'll be swept away by this fast-paced, heartbreaking, and hopeful tale of friendship, family, second chances, and the enduring power of love, based on the true story of author Anita Abriel's mother and her fascinating journey away from war-torn Europe in the 1940s. A must-read for anyone interested in the emotional toll of the Second World War."
—Kristin Harmel, international bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amelie


Anita Abriel was born in Sydney, Australia. She received a BA in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing program. She lives in California with her family and is the author of The Light After the War which was inspired by her mother’s story of survival during WWII.

Visit Anita online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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

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Giveaway ends February 17th at midnight EST.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Book Review: Five Wakes and a Wedding




By Sara Steven

Nina is your average 30-year-old with a steady job, a nice home – and dead bodies in her basement. As an undertaker, she often prefers the company of the dead to the living – they’re obliging, good listeners and take secrets to the grave.

Nina is on a one-woman mission to persuade her peers that passing on is just another part of life. But the residents of Primrose Hill are adamant that a funeral parlour is the last thing they need… and they will stop at nothing to close down her dearly beloved shop.

When Nina’s ‘big break’ funeral turns out to be a prank, it seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin for her new business. That is, until a (tall, dark and) mysterious investor shows up out of the blue, and she decides to take a leap of faith.

Because, after all, it’s her funeral… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The synopsis begins with Nina and how she’s an average individual, but I think Nina is anything but. This is my first time in reading a chick-lit themed book that centers around the protagonist and her profession as an undertaker, and I found it to be an interesting and unique experience!

I loved how the premise of Nina and her profession is discussed and showcased as though it’s just an ordinary job. This added an element of comedy to a topic that could have been a heavy one, but in treating the job with normalcy, it balanced everything out. Her ideas are very unconventional but come from a good place and as a reader, I could see the sensibility behind Nina’s thought process, suggestions that could very well be applied to real life. On the flip side, as much as I disliked the protagonist- as well I should- I could understand why they and the rest of the town are afraid of Nina and her business, aptly named “Happy Endings” (I love the contrast with that sort of name!). Death can be a very scary subject, and their reactions to the funeral parlour were real and honest.

I also appreciated the backstory that led into why Nina chose this profession, which was needed considering how different of a job it is. That gave deeper meaning into her connection to the parlour and her need to save it, at all costs. Along for the ride are her friends, Gloria and Edo, who not only support her, but are part of the parlour scene, too, and make for some great dialogue and funny situations. They are a hodgepodge mix of characters that seem to fit well.

There were moments where I wasn’t sure in which direction Nina wanted to go, in terms of her romantic notions. Given her past, it’s been hard for her to let someone in. While I appreciated watching that part of things unfold, I felt it took a backseat to the relationship she has with her friends, and more importantly, the one she has with herself. Five Wakes was a fun and entirely different take on life and death!

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


Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

As a former journalist, broadcaster and advertising copywriter, Karen Ross has followed a fairly traditional path into writing fiction. Five Wakes and a Wedding is her fourth book, and like its predecessors, the novel has two common threads: the setting is London’s Primrose Hill – Karen’s own neighbourhood – and one of the characters is a dog . . . this time he’s called Chopper and he’s almost the same size as a Shetland Pony

Karen has been self-employed for many years, and continues to work as a marketing consultant, in the absence of an offer to manage Tottenham Hotspur. By way of credentials, her other ‘job’ is trading profitably on the world’s first football stockmarket, a platform called Football Index, where you buy and sell players with real money.

Visit Karen at her website and on Twitter.

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Book Review: When Adam Met Evie



By Sara Steven

When former Olympic Swimmer, Michael Adams—now reluctantly Canada’s hottest reality TV star— insults his fake showbiz wife on social media, he escapes the ensuing scandal and jumps on the first flight to Australia. Desperate to experience ordinary life again—if only for a few weeks—he becomes “Adam”, just another tourist traveling through the Outback. But with a reward out for his safe return and his fame’s nasty habit of catching up with him when he least expects, he needs a disguise… and he’s just found it.

Sweet and scruffy British backpacker, Evie Blake, is taking a year out of her busy London life. Tired of lies and liars, she’s looking for adventure to heal her broken heart. So when the hot Canadian she meets at the campground offers to be her travel partner through Western Australia’s wild Kimberley region, she grabs the chance, unaware he’s got the world out looking for him. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

This was the perfect debut novel from Guilia Skye. Right from the get go, I fell right in step with “Adam” and his quest in trying to escape his life, instantly endearing me to his character and what he’s trying to achieve. And when he runs into Evie? That scene went down as one of the most cringe-worthy (in a good way) scenarios I’ve ever encountered, but it set the tone for the way both characters relate and identify with one another. It was with a definite bang!

When the pair are on the road, or making multiple stops along the way, it gave the reader an in-depth look into their personalities and backstories. We also got to witness majestic scenery, wild and brazen, like many of the scenes that occur between Adam and Evie, and it was all very much appreciated! Hot and steamy, just like the Australian landscape.

Paradise is tainted with much of the baggage that Adam carries along with him, and I could feel the frustration for him, and for Evie. I understood Adam’s need for anonymity, yet on the other hand I’d wanted him to live the life he really wants to live, regardless of the repercussions. That showed real character evolvement, in witnessing his need to grow up some and really decide on what (and who) is most important to him.

There were many moments that dealt with tipping scales and figuring out what’s right, for the person involved. This happened for both Adam and for Evie, and it was nice to see that as When Adam and Evie progresses. And while I’m not the one who ordinarily casts celebrities in the roles of the characters in a book, I couldn’t help but picture Michael Phelps for Adam, and Emma Watson as Evie. I thought the premise was unique and refreshing throughout, and well worth the five stars I’ve given it!

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


Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Italian-born Giulia Skye spent her childhood watching classic Hollywood films and thinking up her own romantic stories. After two decades working in TV production, she knew turning those stories into novels would be much more enjoyable - and far cheaper – than turning them into films. She still keeps her hand in TV production but is at her happiest being a stay-at-home mum, spending time with her family, growing her own vegetables and conjuring up sizzling stories about sexy heroes meeting fiesty heroines who aren’t always as they at first appear. When Adam Met Evie is her first novel, Book 1 of her “Take a Holiday” series.

Visit Giulia at her website and on Twitter and Instagram.


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Friday, February 7, 2020

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo from St. Martin's Press
Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles from Atria (e-book via NetGalley)
Perfect Happiness by Kristyn Kusek Lewis from HarperCollins (e-book via NetGalley)
If You Must Know by Jamie Beck from Montlake Romance (e-book via NetGalley)
Side Trip by/from Kerry Lonsdale (e-book via NetGalley)

Think I Wanna Marry You by/from Piper Lennox (e-book)
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa from Avon (e-book via NetGalley)
Beach Read by Emily Henry from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Where We Belong by Shann McPherson from HarperCollins (e-book via NetGalley)
The Light After the War by Anita Abriel from Atria (e-book via NetGalley)
The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman from Graydon House
The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis from Kathleen Carter Communications
Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing by Allison Winn Scotch from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda from William Morrow (e-book via NetGalley)
I Know How This Ends by/from Amy Impellizzeri (e-book)
How to Save a Life by/from Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (e-book via NetGalley)
She's Faking It by Kristin Rockaway from Graydon House


Sara:
From Thailand With Love by Camilla Isley from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
Mom Genes by/from Hilary Grossman (e-book)

Jami and Melissa A:
Grown-Up Pose by Sonya Lalli from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)

Jami:
Safe House by Jo Jakeman from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Little Wonders by Kate Rorick from William Morrow (e-book)

Book Review: A Dozen Second Chances




By Sara Steven

Seventeen years ago, Eve Roberts had the wonderful life she’d always dreamed of: a degree in archaeology, a gorgeous boyfriend, and exciting plans to travel the world with him, working on digs. But when her sister Faye died, the life Eve knew ended too. Faye’s daughter Caitlyn came to live with Eve, her boyfriend left, and she quickly gave up on her dreams.

Now approaching her fortieth birthday, Eve faces the prospect of an empty nest as Caitlyn is leaving home. Caitlyn gives Eve a set of twelve ‘Be Kind to Yourself’ vouchers, telling her that she has to start living for herself again, and that she should fill one in every time she does something to treat herself.

With her very first voucher, Eve’s life will change its course. But with eleven more vouchers to go, can Eve learn to put herself first and follow the dreams she’s kept secret for so long? Because life is for living – and as she well knows, it’s too short to waste even a moment… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

There were a few plot lines blended into and all around A Dozen Second Chances; Eve and the demons she faces where her family is concerned, Eve and her need to settle for mediocre in order to put everyone else in her life first, Eve and the pain she still experiences when dealing with former relationships. It made for a very flawed character, yet a likable one, and the type of person we can all relate to, given our own familial experiences and potential heartaches. The vouchers Eve receives become a catalyst in digging Eve out of the rut she’s been in for years, a simple gesture, but one that spoke volumes.

I felt I could identify with Eve on a very basic level. As a mother and wife, I strive to do all I can for my family, and while I appreciate having that opportunity and enjoy my life, there have been times where I feel as though my own needs are put on the back burner. This is by my own doing, given the various ways I could change the situation in order to feel as though I’m more of a priority in my own world, and it is that same experience Eve goes through in taking care of Caitlyn, or in choosing a job that doesn’t fulfill her but checks a box to ensure her employment. It’s not that she doesn’t want to change, it’s that she’s worried on what it will do to those around her.

There are layers to Eve, reasons she’s the way she is, and those layers are peeled back like an onion. At times, not even she recognizes what the issues are, so the reader gets to discover that right along with her. It takes her a long time to figure it all out, but it seemed more than fitting for the type of person Eve is, given the gigantic cement wall she’s built up to block out so many things. Along the way we’re met with fun characters, like Eve’s grandmother, providing a much-needed lightheartedness to some serious topics. A Dozen Second Chances was an evolution of character, making me wish for my own vouchers so I’d feel a kick in the pants to make some changes in my own life.

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UK


Kate Field writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire where she lives on the edge of the moors with her husband, daughter and cat. Her debut novel won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award for new writers. Visit Kate on Facebook and Twitter.





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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Peggy Lampman's latest gem....plus a book giveaway

We're so glad to have Peggy Lampman back at CLC today. Her latest novel, The Ruby of the Sea, recently published and it sounds so interesting. Peggy has one signed copy to give away!

Peggy Lampman’s passion is writing women's fiction, which uses contemporary themes as a means to break down familial and cultural barriers. Her novels, THE PROMISE KITCHEN, THE WELCOME HOME DINER and THE RUBY OF THE SEA, reflect this fascination. She grew up in Alabama and planted roots in her college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan where she owned a specialty food store and wrote a food column for THE ANN ARBOR NEWS and MLIVE. She is currently writing her fourth book. (Bio courtesy of Peggy's website.)

From Peggy: Thanks for inviting me to share my thoughts on Chick Lit Central. I love connecting with my readers. You can find me &/or my books here:
Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
Lush with devastating secrets, lies, romance and psychological drama..."You tell me about a family without a certain amount of dysfunction, and I'll tell you that family is lying."

After aimlessly traveling the country for fifteen years, Linnea Chandler returns to her hometown of Key West, Florida keeping the genesis of a life-altering phobia to herself--not a good idea, as she comes to find out. The 19th Century lighthouse that she, her parents and two sisters call home also has a troubled past, carrying the frightening myth that eerily mirrors the mystery of her younger sister today. Should Linnea run while she can?

The women must decide to what extremes they are willing to go to protect their secrets. Ignore the brutality behind the retrieval of spoils from a fatal shipwreck in 1857? Defy a 2017 hurricane threatening to pummel their town? And when their world is upended, do the women have the strength to move forward?
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
At this writing, I’m reading Goodreads reviews generated from the advances sent out on THE RUBY OF THE SEA. I note the phrase “deeply emotional read” keeps popping up. I, myself, love “deeply emotional reads”, so at this moment in time, that’s a favorite compliment.

In general, I enjoy readers telling me they can identify with (and love) my very imperfect characters––flaws and all!

What was the inspiration behind The Ruby of the Sea?
Since childhood, Key West, Florida has always been a favorite vacation spot of mine. If it weren’t for my husband, Richard, who insisted we explore the town’s kitschy, tourist side, my imagination would never have been sparked to envision The Maiden Tower, Rossalea, and her history. Although this book is set in contemporary times, a historical sub-plot does weave through the narrative.

Like so many people, I’ve experienced the fallout of undiagnosed mental illness with friends whose story needed to be told. Why not create a character with a sobering story such as this, set in a town filled with color and light? The seeds of a plot began to germinate, culminating in THE RUBY OF THE SEA.

If The Ruby of the Sea were made into a movie, what are some songs that would be on the soundtrack?
Songs from Madonna’s Ray of Light would be on the soundtrack, as they illuminate the souls of the three sisters in THE RUBY OF THE SEA. (Esp. “Drowned World”, “Swim”, “Ray of Light”, “Little Star” and “Mer Girl”.) I’d also toss in some Cuban retro disco From Gloria Estafan, like “Turn the Beat Around”, as the story is spiced with a couple of Cuban characters.

What do you like most about Valentine's Day?
What’s not to like about a holiday based on the concept of love and whimsy? It enlivens my stark, white Michigan landscape with charming little pink and read hearts sprinkled everywhere.

As well, I enjoy staging a romantic dinner with my husband. I owned a specialty food store for 20 years before writing a food column for our local paper. We made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, selling whimsical take-away dinners for two. If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a link to well-tested romantic recipes that you’ll find on my dinnerFeed blog.

Note: Mark your calendars for an AMAZING Valentine’s Day giveaway. If you’re not a member of the Blue Sky Book Chat, you might want to reconsider. I’m one of the host authors, and from Feb. 11 to Feb. 14th, we’ll be giving away a $100 gift certificate to your favorite restaurant, a box of chocolates and the book, LOVE LETTERS FROM GREAT MEN.

What is a favorite experience of yours from the past decade?
Hands down, the most fascinating experience I’ve had this decade was three years back when travelling in China and Tibet with my husband. The People’s Republic of China claim Tibet to be a part of China. Tibet asserts itself to be an independent state unlawfully occupied.

Although they share the same East Asia location and official government, the communist ideology and nonreligious attitude embraced by the people we met in China was in startling contrast to those we encountered in Tibet. Tibetans very public reverence to Buddha was displayed ubiquitously in the streets and temples in a pervasive hum of chanting and prayers.

That trip was certainly fascinating. But my FAVORITE experience was two years ago, Feb. 20, 2018, when my daughter placed my first grandchild into my arms :)

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
What was life before Netflix and Amazon? Having torn through Big Little Lies, This is Us, and Shameless, I’m on my B list now, currently watching Peeky Blinders.

Thanks to Peggy 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 February 11th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Rachel Levy Lesser's stylish ways...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Rachel Levy Lesser to CLC today. Her memoir, Life's Accessories, published this past fall and we're excited to check it out. Rachel has THREE copies for some lucky readers!

Rachel Levy Lesser is the author of Who's Going to Watch My Kids?, My Name is Rebecca Romm, and Shopping for Love. Her articles and essays have appeared in various outlets including The Huffington Post, Glamour.com, Parenting.com, Kveller, Modern Loss, Scary Mommy and The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. She is a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania and received her MBA from the Ross School of Business at The University of Michigan. In her previous life as a marketing professional, Rachel worked on the business side of Time Inc. on magazines including InStyle, Life, People, Real Simple, and Sports Illustrated for Kids. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. (Bio adapted from Amazon.)


Visit Rachel online:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
Rachel Levy Lesser can relive almost every significant life event through an accessory. A scarf, a pair of earrings, a bag, even a fleece pair of socks―each contains the elements that put together the story of a life. Life’s Accessories is a funny, sad, touching, relatable, shake-your-head-right-along-as-you-laugh-and-wipe-away-tears, coming-of-age memoir. In fourteen essays, Lesser tackles sensitive issues like anxiety, illness, and loss in a way that feels a bit like having a chat with a good friend. Out of the stories comes solid life―and fashion―advice. About far more than just a hair tie, a bracelet, or a belt, Life’s Accessories is a window into the many ways in which Lesser has come to understand life―in all of its beauty, its joys, its sorrows, its heartaches, its challenges, and its absurdity. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
People often tell me that when they read my books or essays, they feel like they are having a conversation with a good friend. I take that as a compliment because it makes me feel like my writing is relatable, that my readers feel comfortable with me and that they are getting to know me through my work. Some have even said that they feel like they actually are my friend (even BFF!) after reading my latest book, Life’s Accessories including these early reviews from fellow authors. I love this! Always room for more BFFs right?!

“I fell in love with Rachel on page one, and by the last chapter I was convinced she was my long lost BFF.”

“I’d like to be one of Rachel Levy Lesser’s best friends even though I’ve never met her.”

“….she exudes a palpable joie de vivre, attracting a lively coterie, including us who read, as Best Friends Forever.”

What was the biggest reward and biggest challenge with writing Life's Accessories?
The biggest reward is most definitely hearing from readers that my book helped them deal with a difficult time they were going through, helped normalize their thoughts or make them feel that they are less alone. In Life’s Accessories, I revisit the highs and lows of my life. I think that it is in the lows that people really can connect and learn. I write in part because it helps me process so much of life, and that feels like it should be enough. But then to know that my writing actually touches and helps other people is the biggest reward I could ever ask for or imagine.

The biggest challenge was going back and revisiting some of my most painful memories – most especially thinking about my time in graduate school in my 20s when my mother was getting sicker and sicker from metastatic cancer. I had blocked a lot of those details out of my mind, and I made myself remember them (luckily I have a good memory.) That was hard but also so cathartic. Readers have told me that this was the hardest part for them to read but also some say, the best part.

If Life's Accessories were made into a movie, who would you cast to play yourself?
It’s funny you ask that because there has been some early interest in Life’s Accessories for film (or television) and my friends and family joke about who would play me (and the other characters) in a movie version. We say that by the time a film does get made, we will be so old that we will have to get actors to play us who are children right now (or maybe not even born yet!) If I had to pick someone now though I’d say Jennifer Aniston because well….Rachel Green. And yes I had the Rachel Green haircut in 1995. Who didn’t?!

What is your favorite thing about the month of February?
This doesn’t always happen in February, and others may curse me for saying this, but I like one really good snow storm where we can all stay home, stay safe and bake cookies, read, watch movies and take a break from the craziness of everyday life. The added bonus to a one day snow storm like this is playing hooky the next day and heading out for one great day of skiing in fresh snow.

What is your most treasured accessory?
This is a tough one for me as I have so many. I mean I wrote a whole book about accessories! The one that comes to mind is a pair of gold antique dangly earrings with gold fringe on them and a misshapen antique diamond in the middle above the fringe. These earrings belonged to maternal grandmother and I have such clear images of sitting next to her in synagogue when I was a little girl during the high holidays and staring at the earrings, drawing an outline of them in my head and watching them sway as she moved her head, then she would look at me and squeeze my hand with her cool well-manicured hand. I think she always wore them to the high holidays. My mother wore them for just a short time after my grandmother died before my mom got sick. A few weeks before my mom died, my mom took me to the bank box to show me the jewelry in there that was hers that would soon be mine. I didn’t want to go with her that day and I didn’t want to listen to her instructions. I wasn’t ready. She made a point of telling me to wear those gold dangly earrings and to wear them often. “Wear the with jeans,” she said. “Don’t wait for a special occasion.” And so I do wear them often jeans (and for special occasions) and I think my mom and grandmother would like that.

What is the strangest way you made a new friend?
A little over 10 years ago, when doing freelance work for a newspaper I was randomly assigned to cover a story on an upcoming fundraising event for Memorial Sloan Kettering. I was given the number of the women named Amy who was chosen as the poster child for the fundraising event as she is a survivor of a childhood cancer and was treated at Sloan. I called Amy up and did the formal interview for the paper over the phone. When the interview was over, we got to talking and it turns out we knew so many people in common as we were the same age and had ran in similar circles for many years. We even figured out that we had been to the same parties and events at the same time. Amy is a writer like me and over the years we have showed each other our work and bounced ideas off of each other. We have met up in person many times and when we are together it seems like we could talk forever – about writing, families, friendships and really everything. Our latest books came out at around the same time and we are going on a mini little book tour together now 10 years after randomly meeting on the phone. I call her my work wife as I bounce ideas off of her all the time and she does the same for me. I am so glad that I was assigned that story by that newspaper editor all those years ago!

Thanks to Rachel for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers!

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


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Giveaway ends February 10th at midnight EST.