Friday, May 29, 2020

Book Review: Right For Me

By Sara Steven

Shelby Williams has never had a boyfriend worthy of her parents’ approval. The ones she dated were either not rich enough, not well bred enough, or just not good enough. Her luck changes when she meets Tommy Edwards. With an IQ of about a billion, a sexy smile, and a personality as sweet as the treats he bakes, he’s a guy even her parents will have to accept.

Between the pressure of graduate school and a needy ex-girlfriend, Tommy Edwards has had enough stress to last a lifetime. But when he meets Shelby, his plans to stay unattached go up in smoke. Shelby makes him laugh, and the passion she stirs in him is hotter than an oven. She’s the only girl he’s ever met who likes him for who he is rather than just for his intelligence.

When Shelby’s parents take a shine to Tommy, she blurts out that they are engaged, even though they’ve only been dating for three weeks. Tommy is furious, but before she can set everyone straight, both families go into full-blown nuptial mode, including hiring a wedding planner and shopping for a dress. Tommy and Shelby need to figure out how to tell their families the engagement was fake without ruining what’s real. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Right for Me is the follow-up to Dorminy’s Left Hanging, a story that delves into the lives of some of the lesser known characters- we first saw Shelby as the coworker and best friend to Left Hanging’s Darla, and Tommy is the brother to Darla’s love interest, Theo. The nice thing is, both books can be read as stand-alones, but given that I’d read Left Hanging (reviewed here), it was really great to see an expansion on what happens with Shelby and Tommy, and to also reacquaint myself with everyone else, too.

Both characters are near mirror images of each other in terms of their trust level and feelings where serious relationships are concerned. Shelby has had a shaky past, while Tommy is trying to untangle himself from a complicated situation at graduate school. Given that, there are a lot of stop and go moments between the two of them, causing frustrated friction and tension. There is a serious lack of communication, given fears and insecurities, but it added a level of sincerity to this rickety relationship that isn’t quite grown yet, and it gets even harder when Shelby announces their “engagement”.

While we’re learning more about Shelby and Tommy as a couple, we’re also learning more about the two characters individually. Shelby is the all-encompassing people-pleaser, particularly where her mother is involved. And Tommy is also a people-pleaser, in the sense that he doesn’t want to let anyone down, even at his own detriment. It’s no wonder these two find one another in the trenches of trying to figure it all out and grow outside of themselves. Sprinkled in is Tommy’s penchant for baking, and I found it sweet and comical that when he needs to blow off some steam, he heads for the kitchen and bakes it out. It was a unique character trait.

While trying to get out of the engagement, they fall deeper in- but are they doing this to the benefit of everyone else, or is it becoming a real thing? That becomes the question that keeps them both up at night, while still trying to deal with outside influences that threaten to destroy the potential they might have. I really enjoyed the delicate balance. There were a few moments in the beginning of the book where I felt a little more backstory would have helped to develop the characters a little more, but I still appreciated learning more about Shelby and Tommy, and I’m glad I was reintroduced to all of the characters that make both Right for Me and Left Hanging unforgettable!

Thanks to Red Adept Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Cindy Dorminy:

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Pink Shell Shores series

We're pleased to feature the first two novels in Kaya Quinsey Holt's new series: The Pink Shell Shores. Kaya has TWO e-book sets of both novels for a lucky reader!

Fate at the Wisteria Estate (The Pink Shell Shores Book #1)

In Pink Shell Shores, love is in the air.

Aribella "Bell" Lacroix moves to Pink Shell Shores as the new wedding and venue coordinator for the Wisteria Estate. With a high profile Valentine's Day wedding around the corner, Bell has a lot on her plate. When it comes to love, at work Bell plays a connoisseur. But, her personal life proves that it couldn't be further from the truth.

When Colt Gamay and Maggie Blazer come to the Wisteria Estate to start planning their Valentine's Day wedding, Bell is overwhelmed by Maggie's plans for the perfect wedding.

As Bell gets to know the soon-to-be-newlyweds, she learns that there's more to the 'perfect couple' than meets the eye. It becomes clear that Maggie has her eye on one man... and it isn't Colt. Bell surprises herself when she breaks the number one rule in wedding planning: do not fall for the groom.

With wedding plans in full swing and Pink Shell Shores draped in a romantic, snowy backdrop, will Bell be able to help Colt and Maggie pull off the perfect wedding? Or, will Bell find herself an unexpected romance just in time for Valentine's Day?

A Date at the Wisteria Estate
(The Pink Shell Shores Book #2)

In Pink Shell Shores, love is on everyone's mind. Especially with wedding season just around the corner.

In this second book of the Pink Shell Shores series, Aribella "Bell" Lacroix is still busy planning weddings at The Wisteria Estate. So much so, she can barely focus on her own!

While Bell's personal life is better than ever, her work life is in shambles. The new owner of The Wisteria Estate making changes left, right, and centre. Bell's life is turned upside down when the new owner declares that the Wisteria will no longer be hosting weddings.

It is up to Bell and her friends to save the Wisteria Estate (and the upcoming wedding dates). As Bell pulls up her sleeves to save the day, will she be able to save the beloved Wisteria and all of the weddings dates? And even more importantly, can she do it all while planning her own dream wedding?

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 audio books. 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

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

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Giveaway ends June 2nd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

Jenny Colgan is a household name when it comes to chick lit. We invite you to check out her recently published novel, Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend. (And now we have that song in our heads.) Thanks to William Morrow, we have THREE copies for some lucky readers!

Sophie Chesterton is London’s “It Girl”. She knows all the right people, goes to all the right parties, and wears all the right clothes…and her rich parents pay for everything. But deep down she suspects that her best “friends”—and her posh lifestyle--are nothing but shallow fakes. Then one evening Sophie’s life takes a shocking, drastic turn, and her father decides it’s high time for the party girl to make her own way in the world.

Forced to earn a meager living as a lowly assistant to a “glamour” photographer, live in a shabby flat with four smelly boys, and eat baked beans from the can—Sophie is desperate to get her old life back, at any cost. But does a girl really need diamonds to be happy?

Full of warmth and sparkle, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend is a surprisingly winning tale about luxury, life lessons, and the surprisingly low cost of true happiness.

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Visit Jenny 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 June 1st at midnight EST.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: Always a Bridesmaid

Today we're pleased to feature Always a Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen. It is the second book in the Getting Hitched in Dixie series and it sounds as delicious as that cake on the cover looks! Thanks to Entangled Publishing, we have one copy to give away!

Each book in the Getting Hitched in Dixie series is STANDALONE:
Just One of the Groomsmen
Always a Bridesmaid

Violet Abrams may have been a bridesmaid no less than seven times, but her wedding day was near―she could feel it. Until her longtime boyfriend left her for someone else. That’s just fine―she has her photography and a new project redesigning her sister’s bakery to keep her happy and fulfilled. Fast-forward to the day of his wedding, though, when Violet might have accidentally, totally not on purpose, started a fire. And... Officially the worst day ever.

Firefighter Ford Maguire thought he’d seen it all. Until he’s called out because someone tried to set the local bakery on fire…with a wedding magazine? The little arsonist might be the cutest woman he’s ever seen, but he’s too career-focused to consider something serious. Still, Violet seems like a great person to help him navigate his upcoming “man of honor” duties in his best friend’s wedding.

Pretty soon, not only is Violet giving him lessons on all things weddings, she’s helping him train his latest rescue-dog recruit puppies and weaving her way seamlessly into his lone-wolf lifestyle. But forever is the last thing on Ford’s mind, and if there’s one thing a perpetual bridesmaid knows, it’s the importance of a happily ever after.

Cindi Madsen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. She loves music and dancing and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children. She and her family also take their Marvel addiction very seriously, as their one-eyed cat, Agent Fury, and their kitty named Valkyrie can attest. You can visit Cindi at her website, where you can sign up for her newsletter to get all the up-to-date information on her books.

Visit Cindi 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 May 31st at midnight EST.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Book Review: The Plus One Pact

By Sara Steven

Cara has officially run out of men. Her most recent dates have gone from bad to worse, and when her dating app informs her there is no one left in her area to choose from, she is at a dead end.

But with a summer of events ahead of her, she needs to find a solution, fast; someone to keep her company at the never-ending weddings, family gatherings and gender reveal parties that she can’t face going to alone. So when she meets handsome, confident, Millsy on a night out she may be in luck. They could not be more different in personality, but he too has a summer of events ahead and is desperate to get his family off his back about finding a ‘nice girl’. What if they made a pact to help each other out and be a plus one for the summer? Just as friends of course...? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The Plus One Pact was a strong reminder in not judging characters by their covers. In the beginning, we see Cara as a more introverted person, who doesn’t really like to make waves or step outside of her comfort zone. Then there’s Millsy, a man who is loud and exudes confidence, who isn’t afraid to put himself out there, regardless of the outcome. As the story progresses and the two begin to learn more about the other, there are a lot more similarities and growthful moments that happen, not only from an individual standpoint, but as friends.

The pact starts out as a means of providing support in getting through tedious family gatherings and weddings. But it’s also a starting point in a potential budding relationship that goes beyond the friend zone. There are a lot of pressures that have been put on Cara, that she should be married by now, with children and all the trimmings that come with that sort of lifestyle. Millsy feels pressure to find a new profession, that he’s not successful enough. It doesn’t help that one of his relatives could be a potential love interest for Cara, and he’s faced with trying to identify for sure on what his friendship with her really means to him. Is it just that, or something more?

The fact that Cara and Millsy help each other in so many wonderful ways, speaks volumes on bringing out the best in someone you care about, in helping them to discover more about themselves that they didn’t even know were there under the surface. Characters can change, and it’s hard to judge either of them by who they initially portray themselves to be. Ultimately, that might have been the real Cara and Millsy all along, anyway.

The premise to the story was a lot of fun. Finding a friend who will be your plus one to all of the quirky engagements in life only means making the experiences all that more bearable, and the special pizazz of these two were like a one-two punch combo to the heart. All of us could use a little more Cara and Millsy in our worlds!

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

Purchase Links: 
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Portia MacIntosh is a bestselling romantic comedy author of 12 novels, including It's Not You, It's Them and Honeymoon For One. Previously a music journalist, Portia writes hilarious stories, drawing on her real life experiences.

Visit Portia online:
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Instagram * Bookbub

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Spotlight: Beach Read

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They're polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Purchase Beach Read here.

Photo by Devyn Glista St. Blanc Studios
Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Book Review: The Girlfriend Mom

By Jami Deise

Most authors begin their books with several pages of praise from fellow writers. Author Dani Alpert starts her memoir, The Girlfriend Mom, the same way, but she follows this up with a few pages of rejection notes the book received. As a fellow writer who has received the exact same feedback, I already loved Dani before reading a single page of her prose. Her “this is me, warts and all” attitude carries on throughout the entire book.

A screenwriter and performer, Dani knew from an early age that she had no desire to become a mother. But when she meets Julian, a divorced father of two, she falls fast and hard. Soon her weekends morph from parties in New York City hot spots to Chuck E. Cheese in New Jersey. Even though Julian only has the kids every other weekend, he warns Dani that he, thirteen-year-old Nicole and nine-year-old Tyler are a package deal. When she moves in with Julian, she becomes not a stepmom, but a girlfriend mom.

What’s the difference between a stepmom and a girlfriend mom? In the beginning, Dani takes some pains to remain separate from Julian’s kids—she’s not a babysitter or a chauffeur. But when she moves in with Julian, that becomes harder. She’s a writer and she needs her own space and privacy, and that’s not possible with two children who are accustomed to having their parents at their beck and call. Over the years, though, Dani becomes attached to them, cheering at their games while avoiding Julian’s ex-wife, Marie.

And then Julian dumps her. As the “girlfriend mom,” Dani has no rights or obligations to Nicole and Tyler at all. But she loves them just the same, and her heart breaks over not seeing them.

The Girlfriend Mom reads more like a series of essays than a memoir with a strong narrative and structure. Dani is open about embarrassing episodes in her girlfriend-parenting life, such as Tyler going through her nightstand and finding her vibrator, and her annoyance at Nicole wanting to decorate her room in Julian’s new house to her own taste. She fleshes out some of the anecdotes by adding stories about her own childhood, which sometimes muddies the tale she’s telling. As a divorced parent myself, Dani’s early attitude reminded me why most divorced parents prefer to date other parents—non-parents often just don’t “get it.”

While the book’s summary emphasizes what happens after Julian breaks up with Dani (for a natural blonde, no less!), that plot point doesn’t happen until the book is three-fourths complete. And honestly, while the stories about Tyler’s soccer games were funny, I was most interested in how Dani kept up her relationship with the kids after the break-up. That was the most compelling part of the book—especially because she needed to develop a relationship with Marie in order to make it happen. I was disappointed that the biggest hook of the story only made up a quarter of the book.

It’s inspiring that Dani was able to develop such a strong relationship with these young people outside of their respective relationships with Julian. And her friendship with Marie was heartwarming as well. I hope Dani also finds a man who is worthy of her. The stories told throughout The Girlfriend Mom shows that Julian never was.

Thanks to Books Forward for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Happy to have Laura Hankin a book giveaway

Photo credit: Berkley
Today we are pleased to have Laura Hankin here to celebrate her publication day! Her debut novel, Happy & You Know It sounds like it will be a lot of fun to read and we look forward to checking it out soon. Thanks to Berkley, we have one e-book (via NetGalley) for a lucky reader! There's also a fun giveaway to win this novel, along with a Laurie Berkner book (US only, Ends May 22nd).

Laura Hankin has written for McSweeney's and HuffPost, among other publications. The viral videos that she creates and stars in with her comedy duo, Feminarchy, have been featured in Now This, The New York Times, and Funny or Die. She grew up in Washington, D.C., attended Princeton University, and now lives in New York City, where she has performed off-Broadway, acted onscreen, and sung to far too many babies. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Laura online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for wealthy infants on New York's Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.

There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom and just needs to find a way to keep her flawless life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the stylish women who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets and betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.

Filled with humor and shocking twists, Happy and You Know It is a brilliant take on motherhood – exposing it as yet another way for society to pass judgment on women – while also exploring the baffling magnetism of curated social-media lives that are designed to make us feel unworthy. But, ultimately, this dazzling novel celebrates the unlikely bonds that form, and the power that can be unlocked, when a group of very different women is thrown together when each is at her most vulnerable. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

“It's what would happen if the women from The Nanny Diaries met the women from Sex and the City in the social-media age. I devoured it in less than 48 hours.”
—Jill Santopolo, author of The Light We Lost

What were the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of writing Happy and You Know It?
The most challenging part was simply getting started! I couldn't find the right tone. At first, it was too satirical, to the point where readers were never going to care about any of the women. I had a different main character - a new mom who had just moved up from the South - who I ended up deleting entirely, because she was so much less interesting than all the supporting characters. But once I locked into who the women were, the rewarding part started. It feels magical to know your characters so well that you can put them in any sort of situation and immediately see how they'll respond, what sort of quips they'll make. And now that the book is making its way out into the world, I find it immensely rewarding to hear from readers who tell me that it has managed to distract them from... everything going on right now.

How are you similar to or different from Claire?
I used to do her job! I would sing to playgroups of wealthy women, and marvel at their lives. I never got quite so intertwined with my employers, though. And beyond that, at times during my twenties, I definitely had the same feeling that Claire deals with, that the world was moving on without me, that my big hopes and dreams for myself weren't coming together. But I think/hope I dealt with all of that in a much healthier way than Claire tends to do!

If Happy and You Know It were made into a movie, who would play the leading roles?
So many good options! But while I was writing it, I would sometimes pull up pictures of Emma Stone (Claire), Margot Robbie (Whitney), Gabrielle Union (Amara), and Kirsten Dunst (Gwen) for inspiration.

What is your favorite children's song to perform?
I've never seen such joy as when I used to sing "Let It Go," during the heyday of Frozen. But I always loved doing Laurie Berkner songs too - she's a queen of creative, engaging children's music that is catchy and fun for adults too.

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
I can't stop thinking about Little Women! What an amazing way to adapt a classic story and make people see it in a totally new way, while still staying true to the heart of it!

What is something you've stopped doing since the quarantine started?
Um, hugging people besides my boyfriend.

Thanks to Laura for visiting 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 May 25th at midnight EST.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Book Review: Twins

By Melissa Amster

Fraternal twins Justice and Temerity Bauer are not just siblings, but best friends. Temerity was born blind, talented, and wickedly funny. Though she’s fiercely independent and a successful violinist with the city orchestra, she has always had her brother to watch out for her. Justice is both protective and resigned about his exceptional sibling, and they live together in a stylish loft with their pets, a not-so-smart dog named Runt, and a fat cat named Mouse.

When Justice asks his girlfriend to marry him, it sends the twins into uncharted emotional territory and they are both uncertain of how the new relationship, and living apart, will affect them. As the story begins and they face the depth of their connection and the impending separation, memories and secrets are dredged up—both joyous and tragic—leaving Justice and Temerity confronted with old wounds that tie them to the past.

Temerity has lost faith in her ability to have a romantic relationship, even with the handsome pianist that lives on the second floor. Meanwhile, her friend Regan is attacked by an unstable, ex-husband who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to force her into submission. Seth, a twelve-year-old boy that the twins found living in the basement of their building a year before leads the siblings to Fay, a one-time teacher with schizophrenia, who protected the twelve-year old when he was homeless.

Together, the twins and their friends Rupert and Ellen set out to help get Fay the medication and treatment she deserves, and protect Regan from her dangerous ex. In spite of the dangers they confront, the biggest obstacle facing Temerity is learning to trust herself…and risk falling in love with the talented man downstairs who plays the piano so beautifully.

Like A Man Called Ove, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Twins is about exceptional people who have so much to offer but often live invisible lives. Twins is a love story about siblings, lovers, family, laughter, and the redemption of friendship.

Twins is… A messy, poignant, honest love story, just like life. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Both Invisible Ellen and Becoming Ellen (links are to reviews) made it to my favorites list during the years they were published. So I was thrilled to find out that Shari Shattuck was publishing a companion novel. While Twins could be the third in the Ellen series, it also can be read as a stand-alone, as there is enough background information to fill in what happened in the previous novels. However, I highly recommend reading both of them first, as they're delightful!

Temerity is one of my all-time favorite secondary characters, so I am glad Shari told most of this story through her perspective. It was interesting to get into her head and understand how it feels to be blind. I also enjoyed getting to know Justice better this time around. He had a smaller role in the Ellen novels, but he also seemed really nice. I love that they were both still up to their "schemes" to help people. I wish they lived in my neck of the woods so I could ask them to help some people I know who have been dealt unfair circumstances. While this was a happy-go-lucky story overall, there were some sad and dark moments to balance it out.

The only thing that didn't work so well for me was that perspectives shifted a lot within the chapters, especially when Temerity's narrative was taking place. If something needed to be described, another character would take over the narrative for a moment and then it would shift back to Temerity's voice afterward. It got confusing at times and I felt we could have received a different descriptive focus from her, like how something smelled, tasted, sounded, etc.

I would love another novel featuring these characters, especially now that Ellen is on her path to a new career. I felt like I was revisiting with old friends and I love how they made some new friends in this story. I'm not ready to let go of them yet!

Movie casting suggestions:
Temerity: Tatiana Maslany (When I read Invisible Ellen, I originally pictured Temerity as being similar to Cosima in Orphan Black and the image just stuck with me.)
Justice: Max Minghella
Ellen: Danielle Macdonald
Amanda: Amanda Seyfried
Regan: Stephanie Leonidas
Geoff: Eric Winter
Hugo: Alexander Dreymon

Thanks to Shari Shattuck for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 15, 2020

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Friends Who Move Couches by C.J. Zahner from Backlit PR (e-book via NetGalley)
Little White Secrets by Carol Mason from Amazon Publishing UK (e-book via NetGalley)
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens from Random House UK (e-book via NetGalley)
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)
Charming Falls Apart by/from Angela Terry
Meet You In the Middle by Devon Daniels from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Fifty in Reverse by Bill Flanagan from Tiller Press  (e-book via NetGalley)
The Ringmaster's Daughter by Carly Schabowski from Bookouture  (e-book via NetGalley)
Admission by Julie Buxbaum from Delacorte Press (e-book via NetGalley)

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Agony Auntics by Julie Butterfield from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
The Exit Strategy by/from Lainey Cameron (e-book)

The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis from William Morrow (e-book via NetGalley)
Gone Times by/from S.H. Steele (e-book)
Gravity is Heartless by Sarah Lahey from SparkPoint Studio (e-book)

Book Review: The Summer of Falling in Love

By Sara Steven

The thought of having a dog hasn’t crossed Theo Martin’s mind. It’s not that he doesn’t like dogs – he does – but the idea has simply never occurred to him.

It has occurred to his mother, though. When she decides to buy him a puppy because she thinks it will “liven him up a bit”, his life is turned completely upside down, and not for the better as far as he’s concerned. But when he discovers that having a cute dog on the end of a lead attracts a great deal of female attention, he soon changes his mind. All kinds of women stop to pet the pup and while they coo over Poppy, they talk to him. A lot. And for Theo, it looks like his love life is taking a very welcome turn for the better.

But what about Josie Wilde, his dog sitter?

Forced to employ someone to walk his dog when he’s in work, he finds himself increasingly attracted to her, but unfortunately Josie’s interest in him appears to be purely professional. As the summer unfolds and he falls head over heels in love with the sweet and vulnerable pup, he finds himself falling for Josie, too. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

This is a sweet love story in not only a romantic sense, but in the bond that many people have with their pets and animals. While Theo never imagined he’d end up with a dog, and makes every attempt to find a new home for it, Poppy ends up becoming more to Theo and as he puts it, “worms her way” into his heart. The beautiful detail given for Poppy made me feel like I had an adorable dog sitting right next to me. She becomes a magnet, not only in gaining female attention, but by pulling positivity and enjoyment into Theo’s life.

As mentioned in the synopsis, Josie is a tough cookie to crack. There were plenty of quips and remarks that she makes in what feels like an attempt in protecting herself from letting anyone in, and that includes Theo. It was nice to see a potentially romantic couple who don’t instantly fall for one another, that there is work and effort put into it. Theo has to prove that he is someone to be trusted, and that made me appreciate this couple even more.

I thought it was also a nice change of pace to see what life is really like when adopting a puppy. Theo goes through trying times and has to muster up a lot of patience, which is very real and true of what happens when bringing a puppy home. I could feel the tension and irritation, along with the exuberance when he finally feels he’s having breakthroughs with the new addition to his life. It made me feel closer than ever to my own dog!

There are a few bumpy experiences along the road to petdom, as well as Theo’s attempts at making it known with Josie on how he feels for her, even when he’s not entirely sure on what that is. But Falling in Love was such a nice reprieve from the current real-world situation we find ourselves in right now, a nice break with sweet tender moments that really highlight the love a man has for his dog. The back and forth between Theo and Josie was great to see, but it’s the relationship with Poppy that really did it for me!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Liz Davies writes feel-good, light-hearted stories with a hefty dose of romance, a smattering of humour, and a great deal of love.

She’s married to her best friend, has one grown-up daughter, and when she isn’t scribbling away in the notepad she carries with her everywhere (just in case inspiration strikes), you’ll find her searching for that perfect pair of shoes. She loves to cook but isn’t very good at it, and loves to eat - she’s much better at that! Liz also enjoys walking (preferably on the flat), cycling (also on the flat), and lots of sitting around in the garden on warm, sunny days.

She currently lives with her family in Wales, but would ideally love to buy a camper van and travel the world in it.

Visit Liz online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

A conversation with Brandy a book giveaway

Today we're pleased to welcome Brandy Ferner to CLC. Her debut novel, Adult Conversation, published last week. It sounds like a fun story and we look forward to checking it out. Thanks to Books Forward, we have TWO e-books for some lucky readers!

Brandy Ferner is a mother, wife, and the creator of the Adult Conversation podcast, social media pages, and blog. Her writing has been featured on Good Morning America, HuffPost, Romper, CafeMom, TODAY Parents, and more. In addition to writing and fulfilling her kids’ endless snack requests, she spent the past decade working as a doula, childbirth educator, and birth trauma mentor, ushering clients through the intense transition into motherhood. The insight gained from watching moms crack wide open—literally and figuratively—and her own experience as an independent woman who suddenly traded autonomy for snuggles, led her to say out loud the things that modern mothers are thinking. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s comedic, but it’s always honest. She currently lives in Southern California, and her love language is sleep.

Visit Brandy online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram 

Check out Brandy's podcast!

April is a thoughtful yet sarcastic mother of two who tries her best to be a caring, connected mom in a middle-class culture where motherhood has become relentless. April rages at modern motherhood’s impossible pressures, her husband’s “Dad privilege,” and her kids’ incessant snack requests. She wants to enjoy motherhood, but her idealist vision and lived experience are in constant conflict with one another. Is she broken—or is motherhood?

Desperate for an answer, she seeks out a therapist, and lands with an unexpected woman whose validation and wisdom gives April the clarity to reclaim herself and even start designing clothes—her pre-motherhood passion. But when the ever-elusive babysitter cancels last-minute, April finds herself back at square one. She seeks guidance, but her therapist is now dealing with her own crumbling marriage—and instead of counseling April, she convinces her to speed off to Las Vegas with her to help catch her husband cheating. With a little weed, alcohol, and topless pool hopping, plus a male stripper and some much-needed autonomy, the two find lost pieces of themselves that motherhood swallowed up. But neither one is prepared for how tested—and tempted—they will be, or for the life-altering choices their journey will force them to make. Who is guiding whom anymore?
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

“Ferner nailed it in this sharp-witted debut about the roller coaster ride that is motherhood. Her observations are not only relatable and authentic, but laugh-out-loud funny. You will not be able to put it down, just like your children.”
Emily Liebert, USA Today bestselling author of Pretty Revenge

In one sentence, tell us what your road to publishing was like.
The most amount of hustling amid rejection that I’ve ever had to do.

How are you similar to or different from April?
April and I are similar in almost every way, but she is the version of me from about five years ago when I started writing the book. Since that time, I have gotten clearer about boundaries and speaking up for what I need, whereas April is learning how to do that for the first time in this book.

If Adult Conversation were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Because I’m a mom and haven’t seen a non-animated movie in years, my mind goes to Parker Posey circa early 2000’s to play April! Ideally, April's role would be played by someone quirky, real, and with a comedy background - possibly Kristen Wiig. For the June character, Emma Stone comes to mind.

What are you doing for self care during the quarantine?
As someone who feels conflicted about the idea of self care for moms - which often feels like an idea that’s being sold to us so that we will just take care of ourselves and stop demanding actual policy change and equal rights - I have to say that my form of self care right now is asking for help from my kids and husband when I feel like I’m shouldering too much of this pandemic burden. That, and not doing any of my first-grader’s “optional" schoolwork.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
I was lucky enough to be an early reader for the book Motherwhelmed: Challenging Norms, Untangling Truths, and Restoring Our Worth in the World by Beth Berry, and it had so much nurturing insight, vulnerability, and validation. It led me to lots of epiphanies, and crying. It has a brilliant way of offering overworked mothers an inspiring and do-able blueprint for their own peace, healing, and relief from care-taking overwhelm.

What is the most recent bit of good news that you have heard?
That my case of Cup of Noodles just shipped from Amazon!

Thanks to Brandy for visiting with us and to Books Forward 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 May 19th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Summer Set

Today we are featuring Aimee Agresti's latest novel, The Summer Set, which published this week. It looks perfect for fans of theater and anyone who wants a dramatic story. Thanks to Graydon House, we have one copy to give away!

With a setting inspired by the real-life Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires where stars like Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lauren Graham, and Chris Pine have performed, THE SUMMER SET is a salacious rom-com, beach read perfect for Broadway nerds and Hollywood gossips alike.

Charlie Savoy was once Hollywood's hottest A-lister. Now, ten years later, she's pushing forty, exiled from the film world back at the summer Shakespeare theater in the Berkshires that launched her career—and where her first love, Nick, is the artistic director.

It's not exactly her first choice. But as parts are cast and rehearsals begin, Charlie is surprised to find herself thriving: bonding with celebrity actors, forging unexpected new friendships, and even reigniting her spark with Nick despite their complicated history.

Until Charlie's old rival, Hollywood's current “It Girl,” is brought on set, threatening to undo everything she's been working towards. As the drama amps up both on the stage and behind the curtains, Charlie must put on one heck of a show to fight for the second chance she deserves in her career and in love.

Photo by Abby Greenawalt
Aimee Agresti is the author of Campaign Widows and The Gilded Wings trilogy for young adults. A former staff writer for Us Weekly, she penned the magazine's coffee table book Inside Hollywood. Aimee's work has also appeared in People, Premiere, DC magazine, Capitol File, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer, and she has made countless TV and radio appearances, dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and HLN. Aimee graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, DC, area.

Visit Aimee 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 May 18th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Camille Di Maio is a first class a book giveaway

We're thrilled to have Camille Di Maio back at CLC today to celebrate the recent publication of her latest novel, The First Emma. Melissa A loves her novels and is excited to share her five-star review of this one soon. Today, Camille is sharing a letter she wrote to the version of herself from ten years ago. Thanks to Get Red PR, we have one copy of The First Emma for a lucky reader!

Camille Di Maio is the award-winning author of five novels, the most recent being The First Emma. Married for twenty-two years and the mother of four children, (plus two senior rescue pets), she flees to coffee shops and libraries to write in peace. An avid traveler, most of her destinations find their way into her books. She is a co-founder of the Facebook group My Book Tribe and loves to interact with her readers on Instagram. When she’s not reading, writing, and travelling, she’s exploring farmers’ markets for the best baked goods.

Visit Camille online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

1914 - Young bride Emma Koehler dreams of a happy marriage and a simple life with her husband, but her hopes are quickly dashed by Otto’s obsession with his business. Though they become one of the wealthiest couples in the country – a fortune made on beer, mining, and hospitality - Emma is lonely in their stone mansion, unable to have children and unable to keep his attentions at home. When a tragic accident changes everything, Otto presents a new betrayal – and Emma must choose between loyalty and independence in a world that demands convention.

1943 – Mabel Hartley flees Baltimore after the war leaves her broken and alone. She answers the advertisement of a dying woman in San Antonio, with an urgent plea to come write her memoirs. In Emma Koehler, Mabel discovers astounding resilience - a pioneer who weathered personal devastation and navigated her large brewery through the storm of Prohibition. Soon Mabel realizes that Texas holds more for her than this new friendship. Romance blooms even as she’s given up on love, and an unexpected phone call gives her hope that not all goodbyes are final.

The First Emma is a moving story of love, hope, and murder that captures one woman’s journey to make her mark on history and another’s desire to preserve it. (Courtesy of Goodreads.)

Dear Camille, It Will Happen. Hang in there

Dear Camille – circa 2010,

You’re still changing diapers. Four kids in, you figure that you’ve changed thousands of them in eleven years of parenthood.
There’s other things you’ve done by the thousands. Made meals. Given hugs. Said I love you.
You’ve sold thousands – millions, actually – of dollars in real estate. Helping people sell their most valuable asset or going on an odyssey to find a dream home with a new buyer.
But if you think about it, what have you done for yourself lately?
Something just for you?
Think back a minute. Back to being twelve years old at St. Therese School in Aurora, Colorado. Where bullies sent you into hiding in the library during recess. Where you discovered the first of thousands of words and books and stories that would rescue you and give you a vision for what your life could be: that of a writer.
Anne Shirley and Jane Eyre and Nancy Drew made for excellent companions at the time. And now you have companions in your own home who just barely come up to your waist.
Don’t get lost in that. Listen to the muse. You can do both. You can do it all. You can be a wife and a mom and a Realtor and a writer. It won’t be easy. It won’t be without sacrifice. But you can do it if you give yourself the chance.
Trust me. Take a journey into your future with me as I give you a glimpse. A thread of hope that will become a rope that will become a lifesaver if you let it.
Any day now, you will be running errands. Kids in the back of the van. You will set your iPod to shuffle and marvel at what it used to be like to play cassette tapes on a Walkman. (There is something marvelous awaiting you called Spotify. Just wait.)
While you’re driving, a song will come on. One you’ve heard thousands of times – Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles. I won’t give it away now, but I will tell you – that moment, that song will change your life. Pay attention. Listen to the words. Think about its story.
Story. It has a story waiting to be told.
You will be manic to be the one to tell it.
You will drink thousands of ounces of Dr Pepper (good Texas girl!) and set to work writing thousands of words and you will craft something that is the beginning of your dreams coming true. You’ve served everyone else’s dreams. Take this chance and don’t feel guilty about it.
One book? That is all you ever wanted to do, but this story and others will be received by hundreds of thousands and through some blood, sweat, and tears, you will have embarked on a full-fledged career.
Still, you’ll doubt. You will be tempted with every book to say that it’s terrible. It should be chucked. No one will want to read it But persevere. Your children are watching and you don’t want them to learn what it means to be a quitter. Keep going. Every one of your books will find a publishing home. I promise you.
Just stay focused. Humble. Hopeful. And edit like your life depends on it.
There will be surprises along the way. Be grateful for each one of them, good or bad. Because even the bad ones lead to good if you embrace them as the growth experiences that they are.
Your children are watching you. You want them to learn to see crisis as opportunity.
You will make thousands of friends. The internet you know now is only at the dawn of what it is capable of doing. Be authentic on it and you will ingratiate yourself to people regardless of geography and you will, in turn, be enthralled with them. Don’t let anyone tell you that true friendships can’t be formed online. Some of the people you come to love the very most will originate here.
Ten years from now you will be about to publish your fifth book. Your FIFTH book! You’ll be working on your sixth and you have a really good feeling about what’s going to happen with it. You’ll live across the country from where you live now and you will be happy about that. Your dad will no longer be around, but you will look up to the heavens and still tell him about every milestone and share with him every corny joke you come across.
Ten years from now, diapers will be a thing of your past. Two kiddos will be in college and the other two will need you a bit less than they need you right now.
And more than ever, it will be your time.
It’s coming. I promise. Keep faith, hope, and love in your heart and you will be amazed at what emerges.

Thanks to Camille for visiting with us and to Get Red PR for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends May 17th at midnight EST.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Book Review: Just Another Silly Love a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

Two rival radio personalities. Lori Martin is a positive and upbeat DJ, known for playing love songs and dedications. Ben Baxter dishes out no-nonsense, in-your-face relationship advice. Total opposites. Never in a million years would they want to work together.

Fired for losing her cool after her boyfriend breaks up with her on the air, Lori surprisingly receives a job offer for the coveted morning show at the radio station across town where Ben works. She thinks she’s replacing him, but finds out they want to team up Lori with her archenemy to set the air waves on fire and boost ratings. Financially strapped, she can’t turn down the job.

While their on-air fireworks and explosive chemistry make for great listening, what in the world will happen after work hours? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I’ve yet to read a Rich Amooi novel that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and Just Another Silly Love Song is no exception! There’s nothing better than two characters who come together in an opposites attract scenario, and that’s surely the case for Lori and Ben. But what’s even better, is discovering that the two main characters who think they have nothing in common, have a lot more in common than they could ever imagine.

I loved the conversations and downright banter between these two. I felt like I was listening in on a real-life radio station’s program, and we get to learn so much more into who Lori and Ben are, not only as a potential couple but separately, as individuals. Lori comes off as an incredibly happy person, who doesn’t let a single thing get her down, while Ben is a lot more cynical and doesn’t believe in happily-ever-after. Yet further reading proved that they meet somewhere in the middle, and perceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. It was fun to witness that discovery on my own, and to see this couple discover that for themselves, too.

While I very much appreciated the chemistry between Lori and Ben, I loved the other characters who are key players, like Lori’s grandma Joyce, and Ben’s grandpa Wayne. It turns out that Joyce becomes the catalyst for a lot that happens within this story, and it was so sweet to see her looking for love with Wayne. It was like getting two love stories for the price of one, and it was interesting to see two paralleling mature experiences, showcasing that it doesn’t matter your age where love is concerned.

Much like in the real world, simple lack of communication and assumption can wreak havoc on a budding relationship, and I wasn’t sure at first what would happen and where this story would go, if anyone would end up together or if all of it would fall apart. But what I saw was the perseverance for all involved, no matter the outcome, and I really appreciated that kind of outlook. There is a lot of spunk and fantastic scenarios and even better characters, that made Silly Love Song a five-star read for me!

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

Purchase Links
Amazon US * Amazon UK * International Link * Goodreads

Rich Amooi is the Amazon #1 Bestselling author of 15 romantic comedies, including It's Not PMS, It's You, Dying to Meet You, There's Something About a Cowboy, and Madam Love, Actually.

A former radio personality and wedding DJ, Rich now writes romantic comedies full-time in San Diego, California, and is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

Visit Rich online:
Website * Facebook * Instagram * Twitter

Giveaway to Win $25.00 Amazon Gift Card (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within seven days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  We are not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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