Friday, January 31, 2020

Reviews at Amazon--January 2020

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:



Review (Goodreads)

Spotlight: For Love or Money

Lesley has always fancied herself as an amateur sleuth, a sort of modern day Miss Marple without the support stockings.

So when Al wants to hire her to investigate his elderly uncle's young fiancée, she jumps at the chance. It doesn't hurt that the job will involve posing as Al's girlfriend and joining his glitzy, star-studded family on holiday in Nice.

Stella still can't quite believe she's engaged to legendary actor Sir Peter Bradshaw. She accepted what she thought was a deathbed proposal. Now she has a living, breathing fiancé and a wedding to plan.

First, though, she has to get through a holiday in the South of France with Peter's extended family, who all seem convinced she's a gold-digger with her sights set on the family fortune.

As Lesley bonds with Stella over shopping trips and bottles of rosé, she thinks she has it all figured out. After all, it's no great mystery why a young woman would marry a fabulously wealthy seventy-two-year-old with a heart condition, is it? It's an old story.

And Al may be the nicest boyfriend she's ever had (even if he is fake), but Lesley believes in instant attraction and there's just no spark ... no matter how fit he looks in his swimming trunks. So there's no chance he's going to grow on her.

But people have a way of surprising you, as she's about to discover ...

Purchase Links:
Apple * Barnes & Noble *  Kobo * Amazon

Clodagh Murphy lives in Dublin, Ireland and writes funny, sexy romantic comedies. She always dreamed of being a novelist, and after more jobs than she cares to (or can) remember, she now writes full-time. For more information about her books or to sign up to her newsletter, visit her website.

Social Media Links:
Facebook * Twitter * Instagram
Goodreads * Bookbub

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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Say "hello" to Michelle Vernal

We're pleased to welcome Michelle Vernal to CLC today. Her latest novel, When We Say Goodbye, published this past fall and she's here to talk about it with us. It's only $1.99 for Kindle, so get your copy today!

Michelle Vernal loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband and their two boys in the beautiful and resilient city of Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone, and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She writes books that she hopes make you feel you are curled up with your best friend having a cosy chat.

Visit Michelle online: 
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Can you love when all seems lost?

Ellie Perkins life was right on track until her boyfriend Sam suffers a near-fatal car accident, leaving him in a coma and all their future plans in limbo.

Desperately in need of something to fix, Ellie has to find a project and when her grandparents old house is put up for sale, she jumps at the chance. Because, like Ellie, the house is broken. And if she can fix the house, then surely, it's just a matter of time before she and Sam are back on their path to happily-ever-after...

In life, when the worst happens how do you pick up the pieces?

A heart-breaking story of love, loss and the path to forgiveness, perfect for fans of Faith Hogan and Amanda Prowse. To be read with tissues.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Apple Books * Google Play * Kobo

What is a favorite compliment you received on your writing?
A reader told me the characters in my books become like friends to her, how lovely is that?

How are you similar to or different from Ellie?
Ellie and I both love second hand clothes! She can be a little backward in coming forward and we’ve both experienced raw grief because Ellie’s emotions were my own when I was the same age as her although our stories are different.

If When We Say Goodbye were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
I know it sounds a bit Me Before You but I love Emilia Clarke for Ellie, Richard Madden as Sam and Alex Pettyfer as Joel. I had fun holding the latter two mental auditions! Oh, and of course they’d all need to master the Kiwi accent.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
The Crown.

If you could go back in time 10 years, what advice would you give yourself?
Be happy with yourself the way you are.

What is the last dream you can vividly remember?
Last night’s dream. I dreamed I was organising a Christmas do for work. The firm was the company I worked for nearly twenty years ago! No idea where that came from.

Thanks to Michelle for chatting with us and to Rachel's Random Resources for arranging the interview. 

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Book Review: A Wedding in December

By Sara Steven

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiancé but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived—how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget! (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

From page one, A Wedding in December had a unique storyline right from the get go. The fact that Maggie and Nick have to play nice in Aspen and pretend to be happily married, despite living apart for months, I wasn’t entirely sure how that scenario would play out for them, or for those around them. It’s this “can they pull it off?” vibe that makes the reader really wonder what sort of potential drama will ensue, and whether it will ruin Rosie’s wedding.

On top of that are excruciatingly painful moments that surface with Katie. While I appreciated her addition to this family, I had a really hard time with her as a character. It feels as if she is constantly trying to sabotage her sister, even if deep down, that is not her intent. She made me mad during quite a few scenarios, but that touch of chaos really added depth to this story, and even though she can be obnoxious, I’m glad that she was there. After discovering some of her own secrets that lead into why she is the way she is, it really helped in better understanding her motivation.

My favorite character is Jordan. What you get is what you see, and he doesn’t pull punches or try to sugarcoat his feelings or how he views the world. It was such a great contrast to Katie’s borderline neurotic behavior, providing a nice “opposites attract” scenario for those two. He’s also the voice of reason, pinpointing character flaws that at times are subtle, but they are there, just the same. I imagine his own flaw is that he doesn’t have much of a filter, a much-needed addition for a family who tries their hardest to keep what’s going on in their private lives under wraps.

Amidst the craziness that can stem from wedding preparations on top of chaos within a family, we discover that Rosie has a lot of growing up to do, and even when she attempts to do so, there are people all around her who don’t know how to allow her to do it. It felt real- much like what we’d hear or witness in a friend’s life or in our own lives. It’s hard to see our loved ones as someone other than who we’ve always known them to be, and while everyone within A Wedding in December changes in some way, I think Rosie had the biggest leaps and bounds out of everyone. Overall, this was a sweet read with plenty of challenges and hurdles along the way, which made it all the more appealing.

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

More by Sarah Morgan:

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Spotlight: My One Month Marriage

Today we are featuring My One Month Marriage by Shari Low. It is currently less than $3.00 for Kindle, and free for Kindle Unlimited!

“I just need to know...which one of you slept with my husband?”

You know that "till death do us part" bit in the wedding vows? Well, Zoe Danton believed it. One month after she said “I do”, the man she loved is gone, given his marching orders after Zoe discovered a devastating secret.

As teenagers facing a crushing loss, Zoe made a pact with her three sisters to stick together no matter what. Now she’s discovered that one of them may have been the reason her husband betrayed her. She’s lost her happy-ever-after, but has she lost a sister too?

"Great fun from start to finish." ~Jenny Colgan

"There are only two words for Shari Low: utterly hilarious. I laughed like a drain." ~Carmen Reid

Purchase links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and My One Month Marriage is her first title for Boldwood Books.

Visit Shari online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Book Review: A Reason to Grieve

By Sara Steven

Tom and Emma drift through life, both burdened with a heavy sense of grief. Both have suffered devastating loss and have closed themselves off to the possibility of happiness. Then, at a funeral, their eyes meet and they feel something neither expected.

Supported by their quirky friends and a ‘right to the point’ pensioner, will they overcome their fears and find the solution to the pain within each other, or will they give up and go their separate ways? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

It’s not every day that the primary characters in a novel meet up by way of a funeral-a funeral for someone that neither of them know. Yet that’s how Tom and Emma find one another, an unconventional romance that added buoyancy to what could have been dark, a great balancing act that made for an interesting and unique experience.

Tom and Emma are emotionally stunted, but not by choice. The grief experienced in life has contributed to their lack of emotion, contributing to a few comical moments where they place themselves in situations in order to ultimately feel something. I was right there with them, leaning in, wondering if I’d get to witness a release. Having similar personalities seems to be what has initially attracted the two to one another, yet the road is rough when neither one wants to give, or show themselves for who they really are. A matter of protection.

The romance spreads slowly over the pages, and I liked that gradual progression. It only added to the honesty of who Tom and Emma are separately, and together. There is no rush, and it was timed wonderfully with the rest of the action occurring around them, and there is a lot. But there is more of that balance, so it never feels heavy or one-sided. It flowed well.

The foundation for A Reason to Grieve are the friendships both Tom and Emma share, adding a nice multi-dimensional layer to their story. An anchor that prevents them from floating away, particularly with all the deep-seeded issues they both face. It’s in the exchanges with their friends and the way they reach out to others that really helps the reader see what kind of characters they are, even when they try to hide it. A Reason to Grieve is a definite five-star read!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

With Thud
Mick Williams moved from Stoke-On-Trent, England to Kentucky, USA. Then, after almost a decade, he moved back.
In between reading, writing and listening to good music he still watches proper football and, for his sins, follows his local team Port Vale. He does also still cheer for the Indianapolis Colts.
He was adopted by two cats, Crash and Thud, and resides with his patient wife in Staffordshire.

Visit Mick at his website and on Facebook.

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Friday, January 24, 2020

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The First Emma by/from Camille Di Maio
Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel from Kathleen Carter Communications
The New Husband by D.J. Palmer from St. Martin's Press
The Dilemma by B.A. Paris from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton from Thomas Nelson (e-book via NetGalley)
You Can't Catch Me by Catherine McKenzie from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
The Love Scam by MaryJanice Davidson from St. Martin's Press
Always the Last to Know by Kristan Higgins from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver from Random House
142 Ostriches by April Davila from Kensington
Our New Normal by Colleen Faulkner from Kensington
Life's Accessories by/from Rachel Levy Lesser
One Summer in Nashville by Mandy Baggot from Aria (e-book via NetGalley)
Grown-Ups by Marian Keyes from FMcM (e-book)

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams from HarperCollins
The Cottage on Wildflower Lane by Liz Davies from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
The Confetti Pact by/from Michele Gorman (e-book)

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)

Kaya Quinsey Holt is one in a a book giveaway

We're pleased to have Kaya Quinsey Holt back at CLC today. She's here to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, The Marseille Millionaire. Since it's our 10-year anniversary, we asked her to write a letter to herself from 10 years ago. We enjoyed what she had to say. Kaya also has FIVE e-books to give away!

Kaya Quinsey Holt is the author of four romantic comedies. She holds her undergraduate and master’s degree in psychology. Her first novel, Paris Mends Broken Hearts, was released in April 2018. Since then, her books have sold in seven countries. They have been translated into multiple languages and been formatted into audiobooks. Kaya’s passion for culture, travel, and psychology intertwine for books that are romantic and full of surprises. When she’s not typing away, Kaya loves chatting with friends over a glass of wine, playing with her fluffy Pomeranian Shih Tzu puppy, spending time with her family, and indulging in one too many cups of coffee. Always planning her next trip and adventure, Kaya’s favorite places are usually near a beach. She lives in Toronto with her husband.

Visit Kaya online:
Website * Twitter * Instagram

While selling a million dollar home in Marseille, will Elise Laird cash in at her chance at love?

From Ashfield, USA, to Marseille in the South of France – this is a romance not to be forgotten! The first in a new series following ambitious Elise Laird in her struggle to achieve more than she ever imagined for herself… all in the heart of the South of France!

Elise Laird has just sold the most expensive home in the history of Ashfield, USA, at $4.2 million dollars. The French multimillionaire whose home she sold is thrilled – so much so that he recommends her to a fellow French friend. And when Luc Dubonier steps off of his private jet with the intention of investing in some of Ashfield’s best properties, Elise is shocked to find that the successful tycoon is single.

At least, until she gets to know him. In a series of blunders, Elise learns that Luc may be tough in business, but couldn’t imagine anyone’s personal life being more of a mess. After she impresses him with her sales pitches, Luc asks her to do one more sale for him – his $88 million home in Marseille, France.

When Elise arrives in France, she learns that there is more to the house, and Luc, than meets the eye. If she sells the house, the commission check will be more than her lifetime salaries combined. But after learning why he is selling it, Elise finds herself conflicted, wanting to convince Luc to keep it. Will Elise choose between her bank account or her heart? And while selling million dollar homes, will Elise cash in her chance at love?

In honor of Chick Lit Central’s 10-year anniversary, I have written a letter to myself... myself 10 years ago.

Seventeen-year-old Kaya,

You’re not going to believe it. Ten years from now (to the day), your fourth romance book will be released. It’s called The Marseille Millionaire. Your romantic, Francophile heart should be dancing.

Yes, that’s right. Fourth.

Romance writer? Writing books? I know. It was a big surprise for me too.

Life is going to throw you some unexpected and wonderful twists. The trip you took to Paris last summer is going to come in handy. I’m glad you enjoyed all those croissants while you could. Your gluten-sensitivity will kick in later. That French heritage of yours is going to spark your imagination, offering the inspiration for your first book, Paris Mends Broken Hearts. Don’t worry. The writing process gets easier. I promise.

Another cup of coffee can do wonders. Fresh air really does clear the mind—especially if it is by the water. Sometimes, the right music is what stands in the way between writing another full page and staring at a blank one. You’ll become quite the The Beach Boys aficionado.

Your honeymoon will begin in Marseille—a port-city in the South of France. You’re going to love it. That city will leave an indelible mark on your heart. There are a lot of hills. Bring your walking shoes. I cannot stress this enough. Yes, the seafood is as good as you imagine. Yes, the Mediterranean looks like that in real life. Yes, it will pull at your heartstrings to leave. Don’t worry, you’ll be onto your next adventure soon enough.

In homage to the 10-year anniversary of Chick Lit Central, here are 10 pieces of advice to make the writing process a little smoother (bonus: these apply to all writers—pre-published and published):

1. Write as much as you can, as often as you can.

2. The world needs your voice. Not just your voice, but every voice.

3. Read like it’s going out of style.

4. There’s lots of rejection out there, but better things are waiting for you.

5. Patience is everything.

6. Re-writing is writing.

7. Even if it trembles, find your voice.

8. If you love it, someone else will too.

9. Pursuing your dreams isn’t always a linear process. Like waves, the ebbs and flows are natural.

10. Don’t be scared to dream as big as you can.

In closing, life is going to look very different in ten years. With a grateful heart, a determined mind, and an ignited spirit, you have nothing to fear.

Finally, a huge merci to all the readers, writers, and dreamers.

Twenty-seven-year-old Kaya

Thanks to Kaya for her insightful post 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 January 29th at midnight EST.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

We're pleased to "meat" Jason a book giveaway

Let's give a warm welcome to Jason Pomerance. His latest novel, Celia at 39, published at the end of 2019. Melissa A is enjoying it so far and learning more than she ever thought she would about working at a barbecue. You can learn too, as Jason is generously sharing FIVE copies with some lucky readers!

Jason Pomerance was born in New York City, raised in Westchester County, and graduated from Middlebury College. His first novel, Women Like Us, was published by the Quill Imprint of Inkshares in 2016, and his four-part novella, Falconer, debuted the same year on Nikki Finke’s Hollywooddementia. His short stories have appeared in Writing Bloc anthologies Escape! and Deception. Writing Bloc is also the publisher of Celia At 39. He lives in Los Angeles with his partner and their animals and has written film and television projects for numerous studios and production companies, including Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, Fremantle Media, and Gold Circle Films. (Bio courtesy of Jason's website.)

Visit Jason online:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Celia Bernhart, on the cusp of turning 39, thinks her life is all planned out. She has a successful career selling pharmaceuticals. She's about to marry her longtime fiance, a doctor. Oh, sure, her mother and her two sisters drive her nuts, but that's normal, right? Then a package unexpectedly shows up at her door -- the address is correct, but it was mailed nearly forty years earlier, to another woman, whose whereabouts are now a mystery. Inside is a curious old cookbook, along with a sealed note from a daughter to her mother. Celia decides to deliver the package to its rightful recipient. Instead she finds the woman's grandson, Dante Zebulon, the pitmaster of a small barbecue joint nestled in the Appalachians, a man who literally plays with fire, and who juggles cooking classic Southern barbecue with raising a young daughter alone. When the note reveals a long-kept family secret -- and when sparks fly between Celia and Dante -- it's not just Celia's life that gets turned upside down. Soon the future for all becomes a question mark. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

How do you get into the mind frame of a woman to write your novels?
Such an interesting question. I guess that in some respects I don't look at characters as male or female but just as humans? Whether male or female, humans often have similar needs and desires and hopes and dreams, so I suppose I'm channeling those ideas and it doesn't matter. On the other hand, there's a part of me that's feels like at one point I must have been an old lady! Certainly for my first novel Women Like Us, where the character Edith Vale sort of popped out of my head and onto the page almost fully formed, and she was a persnickety woman of 70-something. Or I just channel certain women I've known and loved. That's probably a large part of it too. Celia At 39 is very woman-oriented because it's not just about Celia, but it's about her relationship with her mom and her sisters too. The inspiration for the book was finding this old cookbook at a library book sale, and inside was a note from a daughter to her mother, which was dated like 20 years earlier. For the longest time I obsessed about the note and wondered about these two people so I suppose just thinking about them for a long time helped to get inside their heads.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
Food and cooking figured prominently in my first book, Women Like Us, because one of the main characters is a chef. In Celia At 39, a main character is the pitmaster of a barbecue joint, so again food figures prominently. I think a favorite compliment about both books is that the food descriptions are so spot-on they make a reader hungry. In fact somebody just told me the other day a certain scene in Celia At 39 made her hungry for cornbread and cole slaw! It's all really gratifying because I worked really hard on the food scenes in both books

If Celia at 39 were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Reese Witherspoon or Amy Adams for Celia, Chris Evans for Dante, and for Celia's mom Daisy, Diane Keaton.

If you could take us on a tour of L.A., which off-the-beaten-path locations would you show us?
Must sound like I'm obsessed with food (okay, I sort of am) but I'd go for some lesser-known but delicious places to eat. Let's start with breakfast, for example: head to Malibu and get a breakfast burrito from this little joint called Lily's. It's the best breakfast burrito anywhere (in my opinion). Pro tip: call ahead with your order and you won't have to wait. For lunch I'd hit up what's becoming something of a cult, a sandwich shop in Frogtown called Wax Paper (they have a second location in downtown in Chinatown now too). The sandwiches are amazing, and all are named after NPR hosts! For dinner, in Silver Lake, head to MH ZH -- this place has the most delicious Israeli/Mediterranean food, and it's probably the best bargain in town too. I'd also recommend some off-beat architectural sites because people often don't associate LA with architecture, but it's really a treasure trove if you know where to look -- the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House in Los Feliz, for instance, is fascinating. Book a tour and be dazzled. Or Richard Neutra's Lovell House, also in Los Feliz (If you saw the movie "LA Confidential" you'll recognize it).

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
It's a toss-up! Either Once Upon A Time In Hollywood or Parasite. I loved both.

What is something you are looking forward to doing in 2020?
My partner and I have been talking about a return to Italy, specifically to Sicily, where he has roots. Maybe in 2020?? Very much want to also visit Naples and eat pizza for days!

Thanks to Jason for visiting with us and for sharing his 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 January 28th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Sara and Melissa talk about....Reading!

We are starting a new column series to get more personal with our readers. We chose an easy topic for this month, as you can tell. ;) 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.

Sara Steven:
There Are Rocks in my Socks, Said the Ox to the Fox, by Patricia Thomas, is the first book I can recall from my childhood. My grandmother introduced me to the ill-fated ox, who is swindled by the mischievous fox, all while trying to find a way to remove rocks from the poor ox’s socks. The alliteration had me hooked, planting the proverbial reading seed within my preschool sensibilities every time she’d share it with me, later becoming a bedtime reading tradition I carried on with my own sons. Books were, and still are, one of my favorite forms of relaxation and entertainment.

I discovered historical romance novels at the tender age of ten. My stepmother had plastic bags full of paperback bodice rippers, and I still can’t believe she let me read them. Maybe she thought I would skip over the racy parts, but of course I never did. In middle school, I discovered a fellow fan and we would check out the local used book store a few times a week, the two mile walk more than worth it. The owner allowed us to trade books, which meant never having to pay a single penny for good smut. Sometimes we couldn’t wait, criss-crossing our legs and sitting on the dusty floor in dimly lit hallways, delving into our latest finds.

My biggest influencer, though, would have to be The King. Stephen King’s The Stand changed my world. I can’t remember how I found him, or what prompted me to read any of his novels, but when I did I’d lock myself away for hours, often foregoing eating and drinking until every single page was accounted for. The Stand was my first foray into Kingworld, which led me into reading nearly every single other book he’s written. Except for the Dark Tower series. I wasn’t as into fantasy fiction in those days, but I’m willing to give it a go now.

I’ve always viewed the choice to read as a choice for a reprieve, a potential escape from the outside world. The gentle tones from my grandmother when she morphed her voice into who she imagined the fox would sound like, the stark flowery historical romance scenes that stole me away for many an hour, or the many macabre situations that are so incredibly true blue King did that for me. I could slide into someone else’s world and either fill their protagonist’s, or at times, the antagonist’s shoes, or pretend I was yet another character in the literary world. The journey can be a solitary one, or it can be enjoyed with others, in reading and sharing the same books, in appreciating the same genres or introducing a friend to a genre they’ve never read before. In that way, reading can connect us. It can remind us of our past memories, found within the pages of a book, give us relatable experiences, and can ultimately make us feel something deep, and tangible.

Melissa Amster:

Ever since I was a kid, I have always enjoyed reading. What enhances the reading experience is having friends with whom to share it, whether that is exchanging books, recommending books, talking about books, etc. I’m currently in a book club and even though we don’t always agree on the books that have been chosen, we enjoy spending time together talking about them. However, sharing the experience with friends goes back a long way.

I remember exchanging books with my childhood best friend. We would recommend different books to each other and share our books whenever we got together. In our middle school years, we both enjoyed Sunfire romance novels (historical fiction for middle grade readers) and would share them with each other.

Toward the end of seventh grade, I became obsessed with V.C. Andrews novels. I told a friend about them and whenever we hung out, we’d end up sitting and reading the books while in the same room. It became our thing for a while. Fast forward to college, I learned HTML and made a website to celebrate my V.C. Andrews fandom. I also started an online fan club and met a lot of girls (and even some guys) who were as obsessed as I was. I am still friends with a few of them. One went to the same college as I did and we would meet up for lunch regularly. We still e-mail each other about V.C. Andrews (along with some other topics) to date.

During my senior year of high school, I became friends with a freshman because I would randomly run into him at bookstores or the library. He was in the theater class I was assistant teaching and we all had to act like someone else in the class. I chose him and made it all about reading. We connected after that and are still close. We didn’t talk about books as much in high school, but we later bonded over Wally Lamb’s novels, even going as far as singing “I Know This Much Is True” to the Spandau Ballet tune and adding “by Wally Lamb” in at the end. He introduced me to a variety of books after I graduated college and we would sometimes read them at the same time so we could discuss them. I know we did that with Memoirs of a Geisha. Nowadays, he teases me about reading too much chick lit, even though I do read other genres. I even got him to read Me Before You!

I tend to connect with people at work through books. There are some people I may have never thought to talk with until I learned that we had books in common. With one woman, our first connection was because of Jodi Picoult. Since then, we’ve shared books and recommendations and spent long amounts of time discussing our favorite books. There’s another woman with whom I occasionally get together for lunch so we can discuss books. I love sharing books with my friends and colleagues at work. I even helped start an office “little free library,” which is just a rolling cart with shelves in our break room.

A few years ago, I connected with a blogger on the other side of the country through Goodreads. We’re opposite of each other in age and gender, but we have so many favorite reads in common and we have sent each other books several times, as well as introduced each other to new authors. I worry that I’m contributing to him spending way too much on books, but that’s his choice too. :) I also reconnected with a blogger with whom I went to high school. Even though we traveled in different social circles, I always thought she was nice. So I was glad when we connected on Facebook and even more so when she said she was starting a book blog. We recently posted a joint review for Mary Kubica’s latest novel. I love her blog and enjoy hearing her thoughts on books, even if we don’t always agree.

I’ve connected with some friends I met locally because of books. I meet up for lunch with a woman who lives near my office and we mainly talk about books. We originally met because of a mutual friend who is also a bookaholic. I think she had posted something about The Baby-Sitters Club and we connected because of that. I recently had lunch with another woman I met through a friend, as I found out she lives locally and likes books too. Of course, that was also our main topic of discussion.

My shared reading experience extends to family, as well. My mom and sister both enjoy reading and we recommend books to each other and share them with one another. My mom and I went to see Jodi Picoult together back in 2012, which was a special experience for both of us. I’ve even introduced them both to some authors with whom I have connected, such as Pam Jenoff or Mary Kubica. I also bond with my mother-in-law over books and have recommended so many of them to her. She’ll recommend some to me, as well. I’ve been listening to a book that I know she read recently and I look forward to discussing it with her soon. All three of my kids love to read. Even though we have different tastes in books, I enjoy seeing their enthusiasm and going to the library with them. I’ve already been saving up The Baby-Sitters Club books for my daughter and love when my sons read books I’ve enjoyed in the past. I really enjoyed sharing Wonder with my kids, since I loved that book. I’m hoping my daughter will pick it up again soon and not be able to put it down this time.

I created Chick Lit Central after reconnecting with Melissa S. via Facebook back in 2008. We kept talking about all the chick lit authors we both liked (i.e. Marian Keyes, Cecelia Ahern) and it inspired me to form a community to discuss chick lit novels with more women (and men). I actually started the blog in 2010, but I had started a group on Facebook in 2009. It didn’t receive much traction to begin with, until I started the blog. From there, I have met so many people who share similar book interests. My connections with people I’ve met through this blog have either been for a short time or have spanned almost the entire ten years. It has also strengthened my bond with Sara, which is why we are now starting this new column series together. Aside from the books we read for the blog, we talk about many others outside of the ones we’re planning to review. And I’ve gotten to know so many great authors. Authors are the best kind of celebrities. They really connect with their readers and I love working with them on interviews. I’ve gotten to know publishers and publicists over the years, as well. I even hung out with one of them at Book Expo a while back. I also reconnected with another high school acquaintance through the world of publishing. Overall, sharing a love for books with everyone here has been an amazing experience. I can’t believe it has been ten years already! And there are still so many great books to look forward to in the coming years. I’m thankful to have so many people in my life with whom I can share my love for reading.

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

Book Review and Giveaway: Almost Just Friends

By Sara Steven

Piper Manning’s about as tough as they come, she’s had to be. She raised her siblings and they’ve thankfully flown the coop. All she has to do is finish fixing up the lake house her grandparents left her, sell it, and then she’s free.

When a massive storm hits, she runs into a tall, dark and brooding stranger, Camden Reid. There’s a spark there, one that shocks her. Surprising her further, her sister and brother return, each of them holding their own secrets. The smart move would be for Piper to ignore them all but Cam unleashes emotions deep inside of her that she can’t deny, making her yearn for something she doesn’t understand. And her siblings…well, they need each other.

Only when the secrets come out, it changes everything Piper thinks she knows about her family, herself…and Cam. Can she find a way to outrun the demons? The answer is closer than she thinks—just as the new life she craves may have already begun. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

There is no getting around it: the reader of Almost Just Friends will have no choice but to fall in love with all of the characters in this novel! As the synopsis indicates, Piper is tough. So tough, it makes it difficult for anyone to get close to her, and that includes her siblings. I really appreciated the family dynamic that is front and center here, showcasing the amount of love and respect that is present, yet there is so much contention and so many hidden secrets that are kept from one another, much like how real-life siblings could be. Gavin (Piper’s brother) and Winnie (her sister) are so beautifully flawed and honest, they really add depth and clarity to Piper’s world.

Cam also adds depth and clarity, and it was interesting to see two love interests who really mirror one another where personalities are concerned. Both hold a lot of pain due to tragedy, and even though they deal with it in similar ways, they manage to still remain a comfort for one another, even though it takes time and effort in order to feel safe enough to allow that to happen. It helped that the connection between them is palpable, with plenty of scenes that made this reader blush, but in a completely good way.

The different points of view from some of the primary characters really made me feel like I had a better grip on why decisions had been made, a deeper inside into what makes them tick. The way this story was told flowed perfectly, giving me the sense of really knowing so much more about the town of Wildstone and the hidden gems within it. The word that comes to mind the most for me is honesty. Honesty in what each character is going through, honesty in their struggles and their pasts, and particularly with Piper, we see honesty in what she ultimately wants out of her life.

This is my first experience with the Wildstone series, and even though Almost Just Friends is book number four, this certainly could be read as a standalone, too. Given how much I enjoyed this story, it won’t be long before I check out the others in this series. A definite five-star read from me!

Thanks to William Morrow for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one print copy to give away!

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 January 27th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Day with Catherine a book giveaway

Today we welcome Catherine Miller to CLC. Her latest novel, The Day that Changed Everything, is receiving great reviews. We are excited to feature both Catherine and her novel. Thanks to Bookouture, we have an e-book to give away!

When Catherine Miller became a mum to twins, she decided her hands weren’t full enough, so she wrote a novel with every spare moment she managed to find. By the time the twins were two, Catherine had a two-book deal with Carina UK. Her debut novel, Waiting For You, came out in March 2016. 

Catherine was a NHS physiotherapist, but for health reasons she retired early from this career. As she loved her physiotherapy job, she decided if she couldn’t do that she would pursue her writing dream. It took a few years and a couple of babies, but in 2015 she won the Katie Fforde bursary, was a finalist in the London Book Fair Write Stuff Competition and highly commended in Woman magazine’s writing competition. Since then she’s had four novels published.

Visit Catherine online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

For Tabitha, the day that changed everything started like any other.

She woke up, slid her feet into fluffy slippers, wrapped herself in a dressing gown and tiptoed out of her bedroom, leaving her husband Andy sleeping. Downstairs, she boiled the kettle and enjoyed a cup of tea as the sun rose.

Upstairs, Andy’s alarm sounded, and Tabitha took him a freshly brewed coffee, like every other morning. Except today, the incessant beeping rang out and her husband hadn’t stirred. She called his name, she nudged his shoulder. But Andy wouldn’t wake up.

Three years later Tabitha is trying her hardest to get by in the shadow of her grief. She may have lost the love of her life but she won’t give up on the family they dreamed of. Fostering troublesome teenage girls and a newborn baby is a chance to piece together her broken heart.

But being a mother isn’t easy, and neither is healing the heartache she carries around. After losing everything, could saving these three children help Tabitha save herself too?
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I’ve been very lucky to have had some wonderful reviews. I think my favourite has to be from fellow author, Rachel Dove, as I’ve always said it’ll make a great quote for my grave! It says: "Catherine Miller is an evil genius and she broke me. Amazing read."
It’s not what I set out to achieve when writing, but if the words on a page are able to connect to readers on that level then I’ve done something right.

What was the biggest reward and biggest challenge with writing The Day That Changed Everything?
The biggest reward was getting to know all of the characters and their development over the course of the story. The biggest challenge was for the first time I’ve run a dual timeline and bringing that together.

If The Day That Changed Everything were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
For Tabitha, I think I’d choose someone like Carey Mulligan or Michelle Williams.
Max and Syd, the identical twin girls that Tabitha fosters, would be harder to cast as I’m not aware of twins in their age-bracket who’d be suitable for that role, so that would be an open casting.
Lofty the dog could be played by my own dog, Tara. Many of Lofty’s habits are based on her, but as she likes to sleep for approximately 22 hours a day I don’t think she has the ambition or energy to become a movie star. Although I have been telling her she is a tiny-bit famous now. She doesn’t seem fazed by the news.

Tell us about a day that changed everything for you.
I think that would have to be the birth of my twin daughters. Not only was it an eventful day producing my two favourite humans, it was also the catalyst for my writing career. I developed the skill of making full use of any spare time. The girls are now six and I don’t know how, but I have six published books.

What would you tell yourself 10 years from now?
If the next ten years are the same as the last, it would be: You’ll never believe the journey writing is going to take you on. I’d also add some pieces of wisdom:
Look forwards, not sideways
Every word counts
Enjoy the highs, forget the lows
Be kind. Be present.
If you haven’t dyed your hair bright pink yet, why not?

What is the strangest item currently residing in your purse/handbag?
I have all sorts of paraphernalia in my bag thanks to my six-year-old girls. These items include a library book, a magnetic puzzle, kids’ gloves, snacks… The list goes on. The strangest thing is probably in my pocket. I have a stone with a hole in from the local beach that one of my girls wanted to keep as she liked it. She’s long forgotten about the stone, but it is still in my pocket so I can smooth over my favourite pebble if I’m ever missing them. Everyone needs a favourite pebble!

Thanks to Catherine for visiting with us and to Bookouture 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 January 26th at midnight EST.

Visit the other stops on Catherine's blog tour:

Monday, January 20, 2020

Book Review: My Great Ex-Scape

By Sara Steven

What if your future was somewhere in your past?

Rosie Jones has been dumped by every boyfriend she’s ever had - most recently by Dinosaur Dave, live on TV, during the ‘phone-a-friend’ segment of a quiz show.

After the footage goes viral Rosie receives a bunch of flowers with a message:

I love you, I should have never let you go, I want you back x

But who sent them?

At a loose end and with £50,000 prize money in her back pocket, Rosie decides to take a trip down memory lane, visiting each of her ex-boyfriends to see not just if they are the one who sent the flowers but if they are the one.

Her journey takes her back to the house she grew up in and on a transatlantic cruise to New York, but can Rosie figure out which ex-boyfriend is the love of her life, or should the past stay in the past? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Portia always offers up the most unique storylines, and My Great Ex-Scape is another example of that! As much as I wanted to feel for Rosie after her unexpected fifteen minutes of fame by way of going viral, I couldn’t help but laugh- not so much as to the reason behind the viralcy, but the fact that I could easily see what that experience would look like. It’s not every day you see someone get dumped on live TV while on a quiz show. The nickname for Dinosaur Dave only adds to the experience, making it a cringe-worthy hilarious time.

The prospect of visiting former boyfriends, that really struck a chord with me. I have the majority of mine as “friends” on Facebook, and while I rarely ever chat with them online, it’s raised a few eyebrows. For me, it’s ensuring that they’re doing well. I don’t feel the need to have a relationship or to even engage in conversation with them, but I like knowing that they’re healthy and happy, even if I’m not part of that equation. I could really identify with Rosie in that respect. She may have been prompted by a bouquet of flowers, but in meeting up with the former relationships from her past, I got the sense that she is also attempting to receive some closure in her life. Not to mention a chance at finding friendship (or more) again in ways she hadn’t expected to.

When Rosie embarks on a cruise with an unexpected gang to support her, chaos ensues. I got the sense that there’s been so little that she’s done where getting outside of her comfort zone is concerned, so much of her character growth is done while doing water aerobics and having potential bathing suit malfunctions, trying to get through various dinners and drinking ventures, running into someone who is literally from her past- and while that felt a little too easy, I thought it worked well, given the situation. There is a lot to be experienced for Rosie, not sure if she should hold out hope that ultimately, one of her former flames could be the answer she’s been looking for.

While this was a really fun read about a woman who attempts to find the person responsible for sending her flowers, I felt it was more than that. It’s obvious that Rosie has found herself within a rut in her world, and while her experience with going viral was a tough one, it shook everything up, forcing her to make a change. In seeking out her former loves, it meant finding more of who she is and ultimately, who she wants to become. This experience for her seemed to be filled with more misses than hits, and sometimes it takes something like that to really figure out what (and who) you need in life. A well deserving, five-star read from me!

Thanks to Boldwood for the book in exchange for an honest review. Visit all the stops on the blog tour.

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