Monday, August 31, 2020

Spotlight: The Wrong Mr. Darcy

We're bookend-ing the weekend with another modern Mr. Darcy story. This time, it's The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lörincz. And it's focused on sports. We're sure you'll be able to enjoy this, even if you don't read Jane Austen novels or follow basketball.
In Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lörincz's lightly inspired Pride and Prejudice romantic comedy, two unlikely people discover the error of judging by first impressions and the beauty of family, friendship and love. This book will entice you through the last page.

Hara Isari has big ambitions and they won’t be sidetracked by her mother’s insisting that she settle down soon. She dreams of leaving her small-town newspaper behind, as well as her felon father, and building a career as a sports writer, so when she is chosen to exclusively interview a basketball superstar, she jumps at the chance. It’s time to show the bigwigs what she’s truly made of.

At the same time, she meets a rookie on the rise, Derek Darcy. Darcy is incredibly handsome, obnoxiously proud, and has a major chip on his shoulder. Hara can’t think of a man more arrogant and infuriating. However, fate keeps bringing them together—from locker rooms to elegant parties, to the storm of the century—and what begins as a clash might just be more complicated than Hara anticipated. When she begins to see Darcy in a new light, Hara is not quite sure if she should drop the ball or play the love game. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Photo by Ziv Sade
Evelyn Lozada, is a high-profile American-Latina reality television personality, entrepreneur, author and philanthropist. She is best known for her role on VH1’s hit series Basketball Wives (2010-present), OWN’s hit series Livin’ Lozada (2015), author of the first installment of the book series: The Wives Association: Inner Circle (2012) and creator of Healthy Boricua (A Puerto Rican Lifestyle Guide to Healthy Living). Evelyn has become a national trendsetter, a “go to” fitness export, jewelry designer, fashion and beauty maven, social media royalty and a stimulating voice and proactive supporter of causes that effect women and girls through the Evelyn Lozada Foundation. Evelyn is a Bronx native, mother of two (Shaniece Hairston and Carl Leo Crawford) that currently resides in Los Angeles.

Visit Evelyn online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Photo by
Grauwen Photography
Holly Lörincz is a successful collaborative writer and owner of Lorincz Literary Services. She is an award-winning novelist (Smart Mouth, The Everything Girl) and co-author (best-selling Crown Heights, and How to Survive a Day in Prison) living in Oregon.

Visit Holly online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Friday, August 28, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: Dating Mr. Darcy

Today we're excited to feature Kate O'Keeffe's latest novel, Dating Mr. Darcy. It's a charming story that we know you are going to love! You don't even have to be a fan of Jane Austen or reality dating shows to enjoy it. It's been receiving a lot of well-deserved five-star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Thanks to Kate, we have THREE e-books to give away!

Is it a truth universally known that a girl must compete on reality TV to win Mr. Darcy's heart?

Emma Brady is having doubts about how far she'll go to promote her new activewear line. Sure, being on a reality show could be the big break her business so desperately needs, but is putting up with a Mr. Darcy wannabe worth it?

Sebastian Huntington-Ross is straight out of an Austen novel. But it's hard to focus on his chiseled jaw, broad shoulders, and wickedly sexy accent when all Emma can see is his pride, arrogance, and smug demeanor.

Sparks fly when Emma realizes Sebastian has his own agenda for being on the show. Will Emma hold fast and keep the aristocratic Sebastian at arm's length? Or will she put her reservations aside when the lines between reality and "reality show" start to blur?

Dating Mr. Darcy is a laugh-out-loud feel-good rom com for fans of Bridget Jones's Diary, Sophie Ranald, and Sophie Kinsella.(Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Fabulous fun! One of my favorite books of the year!" 
~Rich Amooi, Amazon bestselling author of It's Not PMS, It's You

"Hilarious, heart-warming, and deliciously romantic, Dating Mr. Darcy is the perfect rom com escape." 
~Whitney Dineen, bestselling author of the Creek Water Series

Kate O'Keeffe is a bestselling author of fun, feel-good chick lit and romantic comedies. She lives and loves in beautiful Hawke's Bay, New Zealand with her family, two scruffy dogs, and a cat who thinks he's a scruffy dog too.

He's not: he's a cat.

When she's not penning her latest story, Kate can be found hiking up hills (slowly), traveling to different countries around the globe, and eating chocolate. A lot of it.

Visit Kate 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 September 1st at midnight EST.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Book Review: Under a Siena Sun

By Sara Steven

Lucy needed a change of scene. She didn’t expect the change of a lifetime.

Doctors Without Borders has been Lucy Young’s life for the past four years. After being rescued from a conflict zone, she’s making a change from saving lives under gunfire to practising medicine in safe, serene Siena.

Now treating wealthy patients at a private clinic, she's never felt less comfortable. She’s used to helping those in dire need – not those in need of a nip and tuck. Her turmoil grows when she encounters injured tennis star David Lorenzo, whose smiles make Lucy forget her aversion to the rich.

She’s soon falling for the sportsman but is she losing herself in this world of excess? All she’s ever wanted was to help the underprivileged, so can her future lie in Siena at the clinic – with David? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The start to Under a Siena Sun was unlike any other T.A. Williams novel I’ve read! I felt like I was instantly part of Lucy’s unnerving experience working for Doctors Without Borders, a first-hand glimpse into the conflict zone. I think this was an important way to introduce Lucy, because we have a better idea of why she has a hard time with changing scenery and working with the powerful and elite, when her life’s work had been doing all she could for those who were underprivileged and in need.

There is a great portrayal of the difficulties that can come from trying to change the lifestyle Lucy is used to, into the one she has to find common ground with. This means looking beyond and deeper past the surface of her preconceived notions of who David is, too. She has a hard time coming to terms with the fact that he is a star, that he is well known, and that he is well off. There were moments where I felt a bit of an annoyance towards Lucy, particularly when she would internalize that he comes from a different world than she does. She is so willing to accept others who might need her, no matter their background, yet it felt as though she used who David is as a means of putting a wall between them. While I could understand where she is coming from and in some ways identify with that behavior, by the same token I could not.

My conflicting emotions only made me want to see what would happen next, which happens to be a whole lot. David isn’t the only potential obstacle in Lucy’s way. There are plenty of local residents who bring so much to the drama table, and we get to witness that while she is trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life, and whether she sees a future with David. There is plenty of character development for nearly all involved, too, with the central theme focusing on the fact that you never really can judge someone by their appearance or what you’ve heard in the paper, or in the neighborhood, or anywhere else.

I would not be doing my review justice if I didn’t highlight on the exceptional scenery that T.A. Williams brings to every novel he’s written! Granted, to date this is my seventh book and I know there are a few I haven’t had the privilege of reading yet, but my experiences have all been pleasant ones, trips to never before seen peaks and valleys, and Siena is another bucket list locale. A reader can’t help but feel lost within the pages of this Tuscany goldmine, allowing the opportunity to close their eyes and imagine themselves right there with Lucy while she’s basking in the hot sunshine. Siena becomes another important character that perfectly balances everything out. It was the perfect summer adventure.

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Kobo

Author Bio
I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Visit T.A. Williams online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Book Review: Barbarians at the PTA

By Jami Deise

With “Mean Moms” stories being so popular, it’s difficult these days to write a book that will stand out in this genre. Mean moms spawn mean daughters; what’s left to say? Author Dr. Stephanie Newman, a clinical psychologist, does have something new to say, and takes a fresh approach into the material. In Barbarians at the PTA, her second book (the first puts the characters of Mad Men on her couch), Newman’s protagonist is also a psychologist. When the bullying starts, Dr. Victoria Bryant observes it in a detached, clinical way that lets her give reasonable advice and respond in a restrained manner.

At least, that’s her intention.

When Victoria’s wedding comes to a halt in the most embarrassing way possible, she takes her 11-year-old daughter Rachel and moves out of New York City to the Westchester suburb of Mayfair. Having inherited an old home there from an aunt, and with several patients who live in the area, Victoria thinks she’s prepared for the lifestyle. But when Rachel and Victoria both become targets of the school’s PTA president, Lee DeVry, things quickly spiral out of control. Lee’s daughter makes sure Rachel is ostracized at school, and Rachel is devastated. And there’s nothing Victoria can say or do to make it better. As Lee makes sure that Rachel is kept away from birthday parties, late to soccer practice and even targeted online, none of Victoria’s psychological insight provides any help. Even worse, Victoria’s new boyfriend is an old friend of Lee’s. And when she complains about Lee’s machinations, he wonders who is the real villain, Victoria or Lee?

Amazon markets this book as a comedy, but truthfully it feels too true-to-life to be funny. Lee is a one-dimensional villain, almost unbelievable, but Rachel’s pain at sitting alone at the lunch table, her tears when she’s the subject of mean campaigns on social marketing, make the reader want to cry, not laugh. Victoria tries hard to understand and explain Lee’s motivations, but Lee’s actions in targeting a fifth-grader are so beyond the pale that any psychoanalysis falls short.

Bullies, male and female, have been around forever. When I was growing up, we were told that bullies were cowards and secretly fearful, and that’s why they picked on people weaker than they were. In fact, we should feel sorry for them. They were probably getting beaten up at home! Nowadays, bullies are more likely to be recognized as narcissists of any age; mean people who gain pleasure from other people’s pain. The truth may be somewhere in the middle—folks who enjoy hurting other people probably felt powerless and scared at some time in their lives. Nevertheless, it’s always satisfying to see bullies get their comeuppance, and for that payoff, it’s definitely worth taking on these Barbarians.

Thanks to Saichek Publicity for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Back in time with Ella Allbright

We're pleased to welcome Ella Allbright to CLC today. She's sharing a letter she wrote to the 2010 version of herself.  

A self-confessed reading addict, Ella Allbright writes commercial women’s fiction set in her beautiful home county of Dorset. Her first novel in this genre, The Last Charm published in August 2020 by One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins, and she’s currently hard at work on her next book. Ella is represented by agent Hattie Grünewald at The Blair Partnership, who represent J.K. Rowling.

Ella also writes as Nikki Moore, the author of the popular #LoveLondon romance series. A number of the novellas featured in the Top 100 short story charts on Kobo and the Top 20 in the Amazon UK bestsellers Holiday chart, and in 2018 the collection was released in Italy. Her first published work was the short story A Night to Remember in the best selling Mills & Boon / RNA anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply. Her debut romance Crazy, Undercover, Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2015.

When not writing or reading, she can be found working in her HR day job, walking the family’s cute beagle puppy or watching a Netflix series!

You can connect with Ella/Nikki online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

She also vlogs about how to get published as ‘Author By The Sea’ on her YouTube channel.

A moving and heartwarming love story perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day in December…

Leila’s charm bracelet tells a story of love, a story of loss, a story of hope.

This is the story of her … and the story of Jake.

When Leila Jones loses her precious charm bracelet and a stranger finds it, she has to tell the story of how she got the charms to prove she’s the owner. Each and every one is a precious memory of her life with Jake.

So Leila starts at the beginning, recounting the charms and experiences that have led her to the present. A present she never could have expected when she met Jake nearly twenty years ago…

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Google Play

Dear Nikki,

It’s summer 2020, and The Last Charm – a commercial women’s fiction novel set in your beautiful home county of Dorset – has just been published. Following the popularity of the Love London series in 2015 – 2016 (published in Italy in 2018) I’m writing in a slightly different genre and with a new pen name of Ella Allbright. People have messaged directly to thank me for writing the book, and to tell me how much it’s touched them and how they’re planning to re-read it, or how they’ve ordered it for someone else. Reviews are great, and high sales figures even better, but it’s those messages that mean the most to me, and which give me the energy to write even when I feel too tired and day-to-day life tries to get in the way.

You’ve only been writing seriously for about twelve months, following a chronic illness you recovered from in 2008. I still remember sitting on that hospital bed, gazing at the horizon and promising myself that if I got any quality of life back I’d finally write a book. So you’re writing now, and I’m pleased to say I kept going. Giving up watching TV soaps so you can write after the kids go to bed is the best decision you ever made!

In the last few months, you’ve been a finalist in a Writer’s Handbook competition for an article: ‘How to Write a Bestseller.’ In July, you were also thrilled to receive an Honourable Mention in the Romantic Novelists’ Association Elizabeth Goudge Trophy for a short story. It was open to both published and unpublished authors, and was judged by the amazing bestselling Katie Fforde (!) on the basis of anonymised entries. She called you from the RNA Conference in Greenwich when you were on your way home from the daytime seminar, to tell you the result. She also said, ‘I love your voice, you must keep writing.’ You listened to her advice, and it’s stayed with you all these years.

You think joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association is going to do wonderful things for your writing career, but you really have no idea… You’ll submit manuscripts to the New Writers’ Scheme for three years, and are going to work hard on rewriting those books to make them even better. At the RNA conference 2013 you’ll meet Charlotte Ledger, the (then) editor for HarperImpulse - a brand new digital-first imprint of HarperCollins - and she’s going to offer you a four-work contract in the October. But in August 2013, you’ll accept your first publication offer for the short story A Night to Remember in the RNA Mills & Boon Truly, Madly, Deeply anthology. Excitingly, it includes stories by some of your favourite authors such as Sue Moorcroft, Adele Parks, Carole Matthews and Katie Fforde. You’ll also be a RNA Joan Hessayon Award (for new writers) finalist with your debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love. You’ll pay the kindness forward by being a judge for the RNA awards, a reader for the NWS and by encouraging new RNA members.

Over ten years from 2010, you’ll publish three short stories, five novellas and three novels… with another novel completed, plus the next planned out and ready to write. You’ll also find a wonderful agent who believes in you and your career; Hattie Grunewald of The Blair Partnership, the agency representing the Harry Potter franchise. You’ll have the opportunity to build relationships with readers and authors over social media, and have your smartphone handy to share happy writing news with them instantly – something that barely seems possible to you now.

Life won’t always go according to plan - you’ll go through a divorce, suffer bereavements, move house, move jobs, meet someone new who is much younger than you (and very supportive of your writing) - but if there’s some advice I can give you, it’s this: Keep writing because you’re passionate about telling stories and because you want to share them with other people.

Above all - keep writing, be resilient, be brave, have faith, and don’t give up. If you do that, you’ll get your happy ending and have many more years of writing ahead of you.

Love, Ella xx

Thanks to Ella for visiting with us and to Rachel's Random Resources for coordinating this post.

Giveaway to Win Dorset and Reading themed goodies to celebrate The Last Charm by Ella Allbright (UK Only)

First Prize 
Books Make Me Happy/TLC Branded Mug
Keepsake Bracelet for Readers
Lulworth Chocolate Bar
Mermaid metal bookmark
TLC Postcards
PLUS mystery prize

Second Prize
Lulworth Chocolate Bar
I love Durdle Door chocolate lollipop
Sunshine metal bookmark
TLC Postcards
PLUS mystery prize

Third Prize
Lulworth Chocolate Bar
I love Lulworth chocolate lollipop
Starry Sky metal bookmark
TLC Postcards
PLUS mystery prize

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within seven days, then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser 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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Monday, August 24, 2020

Spotlight: Summer at My Sister's

Twin sisters. One scorching summer.

A bucketful of secrets.

Diana’s life is perfect. Her twin sister, Josie’s – not so much. 

Diana has a rich and successful husband, two talented youngsters and an adorable dog. She always looks as if she’s stepped from the cover of a magazine. Her immaculate second home by the sea, for idyllic summers with her perfect family, was actually featured in one.

Josie has a messy, compact flat, dates, but not relationships, and she can’t even keep a houseplant alive. She moves from job to job, goes clubbing with her friends and often looks as if she’s fallen through a hedge.

Although Josie loves Diana deeply, each year she declines the invitation to spend the summer with her sister. Or any other family holiday. Because Josie has a secret.

But is Diana’s life so perfect? Or is she also hiding something? When secrets are revealed this summer, everything will change. Josie could finally have the life she’s always wanted … if she’s brave enough to take a chance.

Purchase Summer at My Sister's on Amazon

Emily Harvale writes novels, novellas and short stories about friendship, family and falling in love. She loves a happy ending but knows that life doesn't always go to plan. Her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily loves to connect with her readers and has a readers' group in which many have become good friends. To catch up with Emily, find out about the group, or connect with her on social media, visit her website.

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now writes full-time. She’s a member of the SoA, an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. When not writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies - and will do anything to avoid both. Emily has two mischievous rescue cats that like to sprawl across her keyboard, regardless of whether Emily is typing on it, or not.

Visit Emily online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Friday, August 21, 2020

What's in the mail

Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi from William Morrow (e-book via NetGalley)
The Restoration of Celia Fairchild by Marie Bostwick from William Morrow (e-book via NetGalley)
When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister from Doubleday (e-book via NetGalley)
You Have a Match by Emma Lord from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
For the Best by Vanessa Lillie from Kathleen Carter Communications
Jessicaca by/from Suzy Blackledge (e-book)
The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg from Random House (e-book via NetGalley)
Half Life by Jillian Cantor from Harper Perennial (e-book via NetGalley)
My Ex's Wedding by/from Kim Gruenenfelder (e-book)
The Love Study by Kris Ripper from Carina Press (e-book via NetGalley)
All That Glitters by Danielle Steel from Delacorte Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Welcome to the United States of Anxiety by Jen Lancaster from Little A (e-book via NetGalley)
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, won from Cindy Reads & Writes
Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park from Books Forward (e-book)

One Step Behind by Lauren North from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Not My Boy by Kelly Simmons from Tall Poppy Writers (e-book via NetGalley)
Pretending by Holly Bourne from Harlequin (e-book via NetGalley)

Truth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Wedding Date Disaster

Today we are featuring The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn. It sounds like a fun story and the cover grabbed our attention right away. Thanks to Entangled Publishing, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

Hadley Donavan can’t believe she has to go home to Nebraska for her sister’s wedding. She’s gonna need a wingman and a whole lot of vodka for this level of family interaction. At least her bestie agreed he’d man up and help. But then instead of her best friend, his evil twin strolls out of the airport.

If you looked up doesn’t-deserve-to-be-that-confident, way-too-hot-for-his-own-good billionaire in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of Will Holt. He’s awful. Horrible. The worst―even if his butt looks phenomenal in those jeans.

Ten times worse? Hadley’s buffer was supposed to be there to keep her away from the million and one family events. But Satan’s spawn just grins and signs them up for every. Single. Thing.

Fine. “Cutthroat” Scrabble? She’s in. She can’t wait to take this guy down a notch. But somewhere between Pictionary and the teasing glint in his eyes, their bickering starts to feel like more than just a game…

USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling romance author Avery Flynn has three slightly wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband, and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip. She lives with her family (including the dogs Gravy, Pepper, Tater Tot, and Eggnog, who are either sleeping or guarding the house from squirrels as well as the cat, Dwight, who is totally plotting world domination) outside of Washington, D.C. She loves to chat with readers. You can email her at avery at averyflynn dot com and join her reader group, The Flynnbots, on Facebook!

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

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

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Giveaway ends August 25th at midnight EST.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Sharley Scott's interesting life

Today we are pleased to feature Sharley Scott with an interview about her latest novel, The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows. It sounds like a fun and relatable story, so definitely check it out!

Sharley Scott is the author of the 'Devon Seaside Guesthouse' novels - Bedlam & Breakfast and B&Bers Behaving Madly. The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows published in early July of this year. The second in the series 'The Gift of a Rose' will be available in the autumn.

Sharley is a guesthouse owner in South Devon. She is thankful to have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the characters featured in the Devon Seaside Guesthouse series.

The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows is a fictional account, but Sharley has never forgotten how interesting life can be with a toddler. Some of the mischief Josh gets up to will be familiar to all parents. Sharley has carried out the threats she made to her son decades ago and now embarrasses him by telling tales to his girlfriend, although he gets her back by recounting stories about his mum.

Visit Sharley on Facebook and Twitter.

Maddie Meadows adores her family and loves her work. But she has good reason to keep them separate.

For single mum Maddie, home is a flat on a run-down estate. And family consists of an excitable toddler, a lonely Dad and a younger brother mired in a love triangle.

Meanwhile, professional Madeleine balances a tricky day job, made worse by a jealous colleague. No one at work knows about her other life, and she needs to keep it this way: one of the bosses has made his feelings very clear about single parents and the people on her estate.

Thank goodness for her fun-loving and loyal friends - although Maddie wishes they’d believe her when she insists she has no time for love. Or so she tells herself as she fights to quell her hidden feelings for her gorgeous colleague, Oliver, who comes from the posh part of town.

When her friends line up their ideal man for her – Sean, more beanstalk than Bean – Maddie wishes she’d told them the truth. It’s hard enough juggling two lives. But, with all the added complications, how long will be it be before Maddie’s carefully created world comes crashing down?

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

What is a favorite compliment you've received about your writing?
Some of the reviews of my books have been lovely. I’m often overwhelmed by people’s kindness and generosity in giving their time to write lovely reviews or to tell me they’ve enjoyed one of my books.

I guess my favourite compliment is that my dad read Bedlam & Breakfast even though he had to use a magnifying glass to do so. A stroke years before had left with limited eyesight and headaches if he strained his eyes, so it was amazing that he was able to read the whole book. He said he enjoyed it too and, believe me, he would have told me different if he hadn’t. We were both honest about each other’s creative work.

Which of Maddie's lives do you relate to more?
I’d plump for Maddie. I was a single parent and lived in a block of flats. Many of the episodes within the book happened to me including, unfortunately, the comments about single parents and people who lived on certain types of estates. I worked full-time when my children were small, although I didn’t work for a council. Maddie behaves a bit better than I did. My fifty-year-old self rolls her eyes at some of the things I got up to with my friends.

If The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead role?
I have no idea. Should I confess that I rarely watch TV nowadays? I don’t know why, other than I am on Facebook far too much.

What is your go-to comfort food?
I love chips and roast potatoes. Currently, I have a thing for mashed potato with cheese. When I was younger, the staff in the canteen at work called me the ‘potato queen’. For 40p I could get a double helping of chips or roast potatoes, which worked out much cheaper than having a meal.

Once I was invited out for a lunchtime meeting which involved food (the best type of meeting). When I came back to the office my colleagues asked me to join them in the canteen. Although I was full, I asked for a single portion of roast potatoes, as I didn’t want to be the only one not eating. But the lady serving the food laughed off my request – no doubt thinking I only had 20p on me – and, as they were about to close, she shovelled the last of the roast potatoes from the tin. I was afraid that if I didn’t eat them, the canteen staff might not be so generous in future, so I ate all twenty roast potatoes. I waddled for the rest of the day.

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
Friends tell me about all these amazing thriller series, but I never get around to watching them.

When we were locked down and we had to shut the guesthouse, I watched Call the Midwife while ironing. I hadn’t seen it before but I had read the book. I made it to series five by the time we opened (I didn’t do a lot of ironing). When I told my friend that I was enjoying it, she watched the whole series from beginning to end in two weeks.

I think I am one of the few people who say they should watch more TV.

What is the strangest thing residing in your purse or handbag?
I don’t use a handbag or purse, which might explain why I am always losing things. I drive myself up the wall with constantly having to search bulging pockets in various garments for keys/cards or undertaking a futile search of the bedroom/lounge/car because I have no idea where I last left something. Currently, I am typing with the screen zoomed to 150% because I’ve put my reading glasses somewhere.

This Q&A session is making me realise that I need to make a few changes to my life. Once I’ve found my glasses I might see what is on TV.

Thanks to Sharley for visiting with us and to Rachel's Random Resources for coordinating the interview. 

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Book Review: The Search Party

By Jami Deise

With their understated reactions to everything, the British usually deliver mysteries and thrillers that pack a quiet punch with endings that reverberate. British author Simon Lelic continues this tradition with The Search Party, the writer’s first psychological thriller. When their friend goes missing, five teenagers head to the woods to find her… with tragic results. As Detective Inspector Fleet tries to piece together what actually happened based on four very different accounts, at the same time he fights memories from a tragedy in his own past in the same town from which Sadie Saunders disappeared.

Lelic’s authorial voice reminded me of British mystery writer Martha Grimes, and his inspector is as circumspect as Grimes’s Richard Jury. But while most authors stick to the point of view of the detective and other investigators, Lelic intersperses Fleet’s actions with transcripts of Sadie’s friends—Cora, Abi, Mason and Fash—as they recount what happened in the woods during those two days they were looking for Sadie, and how Sadie’s brother ended up dead. The latter chapters all begin with the kids talking to an unseen interrogator, and then moving breathlessly to a play-by-play description of what happened from the time they decided to search for the girl themselves. At times, these scenes reminded me of The Blair Witch Project.

While I was quite invested in Fleet’s investigation and was curious about his past and why his marriage fell apart, I was less interested in Sadie and her friends. When the book begins, Sadie is already missing; while she is described by her friends as a princess who was worshipped by her classmates and adored by her parents, since she never appears “on-screen,” I found it hard to care about her. Similarly, with her friends all recounting the action afterward in similar voices, none of them really stood out to me—I kept getting Cora and Abi mixed up, for instance.

But Lelic’s ending makes up for these missteps. Employing a sleigh-of-hand I never saw coming, he compounds tragedy after tragedy to leave readers slack-jawed. It was the type of ending that made me want to go back and reread the book for clues I missed the first time.

For me, the ending is the most important element of a book. I’m willing to forgive a lot if the ending delivers. The Search Party ending delivers in spades, making the read a worthwhile investment. And while I had my fill of the teenagers, I’d like to see more stories featuring Detective Inspector Fleet and his colleagues. His mixture of sad backstory, quiet competence and British stiff-upper-lippedness makes for a compelling detective.

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

More by Simon Lelic:

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Aloha Spirit

Today we are featuring The Aloha Spirit by Linda Ulleseit. Thanks to SparkPoint Studio, we have FIVE copies to give away!

The spirit of aloha is found in Hawaii’s fresh ocean air, the flowers, the trade winds . . . the natural beauty that smooth the struggles of daily life. In 1922 Honolulu, unhappy in the adoptive family that’s raised her, Dolores begins to search for that spirit early on―and she begins by running away at sixteen to live with her newlywed friend Maria.

Trying to find her own love, Dolores marries a young Portuguese man named Manolo His large family embraces her, but when his drinking leads to physical abuse, only his relative Alberto comes to her rescue―and sparks a passion within Dolores that she hasn’t known before. Staunch Catholics can’t divorce, however; so, after the Pearl Harbor attack, Dolores flees with her two daughters to California, only to be followed by both Manolo and Alberto. In California, Manolo’s drinking problems continue―and Alberto’s begin. Outraged that yet another man in her life is turning to the bottle for answers, Dolores starts to doubt her feelings for Alberto. Is he only going to disappoint her, as Manolo has? Or is Alberto the embodiment of the aloha spirit she’s been seeking?

Linda Ulleseit, born and raised in Saratoga, California, has an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. She is a member of the Hawaii Writers Guild, Marketing Chair for Women Writing the West, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. Linda is the author of Under the Almond Trees, which was a semifinalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Contest. Linda believes in the unspoken power of women living ordinary lives. Her books are the stories of women in her family who were extraordinary but unsung. She recently retired from teaching elementary school and now enjoys writing full-time, as well as cooking, leather-working, reading, gardening, spending time with her family, and taking long walks with her dogs. She currently lives in San Jose with her husband. They have two adult sons and two yellow Labradors.

Visit Linda 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 August 23rd at midnight EST.

Monday, August 17, 2020

A friendly visit from B.R. Maycock

Today we are pleased to have B.R. Maycock here for a visit. She has written a letter to a version of herself 10 years into the future and is sharing it with us right here! Her latest novel is The Greatest of Enemies, which is part of a series but can be read as a stand-alone.

When B R Maycock (Berni to all you lovely people!) isn’t dreaming up vibrant leads for romantic comedies, she’s ingesting books for her blog, in particular chick lit (her first love!) books, romantic comedies and thrillers. She can also be found playing footie or watching Marvel, DC or Star Wars movies and cartoons in Co. Westmeath, Ireland with her brilliantly out there husband, Keith, and their four epic little men.

Her debut It Started With A Snub and Christmas romantic comedy Snowday are available now on Amazon, as is Pushing Her Luck, the first of a series about AbbeyGlen Village, whose luck is about to change…

She has one goal and that’s simply to make readers smile and/or laugh (a splutter rates highest ;) ).

Visit B.R. Maycock online:
Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Get ready for fireworks as two women with very different personalities become housemates!

Bex has settled in well into the small town of Abbeyglen. Yes, she misses her housemate Holly, but she has plenty to do what with the setup of the new Caulfield’s café, her blogging and of course her work in Blackwater Financial Services.

Louise is shocked when she arrives in the town of Abbeyglen to find it has changed, everything looks too new and shiny, and who is this person in Holly’s apartment?!

With Bex’s bff heading for domestic bliss, some unwelcome changes in work, and now the arrival of eternally negative Louise, can Bex remain her usual chirpy self or will handbags at dawn, daytime and night-time too bring out a side to her she never knew existed?

For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Christie Barlow and Rosie Green. (This is book two of a series but can be read on its own if you are so inclined!)

Hi Berni! Since this is for a book blog I’m hoping to skip all the personal stuff, I’m hoping (and assuming) everyone is still okay and that life is back to normal, I’m praying I’m finding you in a time of no masks and the ability for the kids to be able to go to school and play in the playground with their friends, although, hold on, oh! They’re all teenagers and adults now, they can’t play in playgrounds at all (falls to floor, sobbing)!!

(Shakes self off and calms down). Anyhoo, on the reading front, I’d assume you are still a blogger, and that you kept it going even though you were afraid your reading slump of 2020 was going to knock you out totally. On the book front can you tell me you got your you-know-what- together and have all your books in both paperback and audio format? Please? And my gosh please tell me you got an author website together and did a newsletter!
Strangely, as I write this, I have seen a lot of people posting lately about getting themselves and their book goals together. Now, July 2020, you have four books out, six written, and, let’s be honest about this, nobody knows you exist.

The general consensus is very few make the ‘book out the front of the book shop, bestseller in the newspaper’ thing, Yes, we would all love people to go to a bookshop or see our book at an airport (my personal dream), but I think, ten years from now Berni, you and me have accepted that isn’t our path. Our way is to find the people who sit with their kindles and read loads of feel good, laugh out loud books and have them read ours, smile and have a better day for it. That’s our job ten years Berni (I’m sorry, I don’t know what else to call you!) I’m hoping you’ve grabbed this by the horn and now have at least fifteen books out (fifteen books by fifty-I like that!!), and that the Abbeyglen, Riverside and Greene Sisters series, while now just a distant memory, are selling well enough for us to be making a living (and are also in paperback) and that we have fans that look forward to the book in the way I used to jump when a Sophie Kinsella book came out.
Now. I think I’d better go and put all of the above into action. Hopefully in ten years time I’ll be writing this letter about the things we HAVE done!!  See you in ten years time, ten years from now Berni!

Thanks to B.R. Maycock for visiting with us and to Rachel's Random Resources for coordinating the guest post. Visit all the stops on the blog tour!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Book Review: Until I Find You

By Jami Deise

Even though my son is 26, I can still clearly remember his early days of babyhood and how terrified I was that something would happen to him. In my mind’s eye, I could see myself falling down the stairs while holding him, accidentally dropping him during bath or changing time, or accidentally choking him during a feeding. If I woke up without him in my arms or my sight, I was terrified: Where was he?

As hard as those early days were, at least I had a husband to help and all five senses to rely on. In Rea Frey’s latest domestic suspense thriller, Until I Find You, new mom Rebecca Gray is a widow who has lost most of her sight to a degenerative eye disease. She moved into her childhood home so her mother could help her care for Jackson, but her mother has just died as well. Now with few close friends and determined not to ask for help, Bec suddenly feels like she’s being followed. Things in her house are not where she left them. Then, after a fainting spell, she goes to pick up Jackson from his crib… and she knows this isn’t her baby. The problem is, no one else believes her. How can she find her baby when nobody thinks he’s really missing?

Frey offers a compelling plot that makes the book hard to put down. With all her losses, Bec is an easy heroine to root for, and she rarely feels sorry for herself. Still, Frey leaves just enough room in her first-person narration to allow readers to wonder if Bec really has had the mental break that her friends suspect.

With a small cast of characters, Frey provides an easy list of possible suspects in the baby switch—as well as compelling back stories that offer further clues into what might have happened to Jackson. My only quibble was that Frey alternated Bec’s point-of-view with the third-person narration of her friend Crystal, whom Bec met at a grief group (both women are widows). Crystal’s issues with her ten-year-old daughter and her daughter’s nanny pale in comparison to the high stakes in Bec’s story, and chapters from her point of view feel like unnecessary diversions.

The emotional journey of the domestic thriller lets readers experience their worst nightmares about what could happen to their families. Frey ups the ante with her blind heroine. Always authentic and never exploitative, Frey makes it clear that no one knows her child like a mother does… and that mothers will overcome every obstacle when their child’s safety is at stake.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Rea Frey:

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A dose of Roselle Lim's a book giveaway

Photo by Shelley Smith
We're pleased to have Roselle Lim here today to celebrate the recent publication of her sophomore novel, Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop. Melissa enjoyed it as much as her debut, Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune and has a review to share. We enjoyed learning more about Roselle today and she sounds as interesting as her books! Thanks to Berkley, we have one e-book (via NetGalley) for a lucky reader!

Roselle Lim was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada as a child. She lived in north Scarborough in a diverse, Asian neighbourhood.

She found her love of writing by listening to her lola (paternal grandmother's) stories about Filipino folktales. Growing up in a household where Chinese superstition mingled with Filipino Catholicism, she devoured books about mythology, which shaped the fantasies in her novels.

An artist by nature, she considers writing as "painting with words."

When she isn't writing, she is sewing, sketching, or pursuing the next craft project. (Bio courtesy of Roselle's website.)

Visit Roselle online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people's fortunes—or misfortunes—in tea leaves.

Ever since she can remember, Vanessa has been able to see people's fortunes at the bottom of their teacups. To avoid blurting out their fortunes, she converts to coffee, but somehow fortunes escape and find a way to complicate her life and the ones of those around her. To add to this plight, her romance life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai.

After her matchmaking appointment, Vanessa sees death for the first time. She decides that she can't truly live until she can find a way to get rid of her uncanny abilities. When her eccentric Aunt Evelyn shows up with a tempting offer to whisk her away, Vanessa says au revoir to California and bonjour to Paris. There, Vanessa learns more about herself and the root of her gifts and realizes one thing to be true: knowing one's destiny isn't a curse, but being unable to change it is.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
It's a tossup between readers who claimed the book had made them hungry versus those who praised the book for its cinematic and sensory quality.

What is something you learned from writing Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune that you applied to Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop?
I focused on improving my writing skills before I dove into Vanessa: To plot better, to write tighter prose, to track the tension and release, and to create more satisfying emotional arcs. My goal is to find one thing to improve upon with each subsequent manuscript.

If Vanessa Yu was made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Vanessa Yu - Elizabeth Ho or Jamie Chung
Marc Santos - Sam Milby or Manny Jacinto
Aunt Evelyn - Michelle Yeoh
Girard - Pierce Brosnan or Antonio Banderas
Uncle Michael - Will Yun Lee
Auntie Faye - Ming Na Wen
Ines - Aissa Maiga

You use magical realism in your books. What is something so beautiful to you in real life that it almost seems magical?
There's a lavender farm and vineyard outside town where, pre-pandemic, they held a summer festival with live music at the gazebo and hayrides through the fields and into the vineyard.

Walking through a field of lavender transports me to another reality.

As the perfume of French and English lavender hangs in the summer air and bumble bees and butterflies flit from plant to plant, nothing else brings me closer to magic on earth. I could stand amidst that undulating sea of violet and white flowers, the sun bathing everything, forever.

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
Old Guard on Netflix. It's a high energy, fast-paced, action movie starring a diverse cast led by Charlize Theron. It's a great summer blockbuster movie.

What is your Zodiac sign and how similar is it to your personality?
My sign is Aries and, yes, I do have the infamous Aries temper!

Fortunately, my birth date lies closer to Taurus. I’m thankful for its grounding influence as it tends to soften my more volcanic outbursts.

Thanks to Roselle 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 August 18th at midnight EST.