Friday, April 16, 2021

What's in the mail

Melissa:

Have We Met? by Camille Baker from Blankenship PR
See Jane Snap by Bethany Crandell from Montlake (e-book via NetGalley)
Heard it in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves from St. Martin's Press (won from Goodreads)
The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery from Harlequin (e-book via NetGalley)
The Bennett Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi from Kathleen Carter Communications
The Photographer
by Mary Dixie Carter from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
The Mix-Up by Elizabeth Neep from Bookouture (e-book via NetGalley)
Meant to Be: If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy from Disney-Hyperion (e-book via NetGalley)
We Can't Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon from Simon & Schuster (e-book via NetGalley)
Imagine Summer by Shelley Noble from HarperCollins

Sara:
When I Last Saw You by/from Bette Lee Crosby (e-book)
A Second-Hand Husband by Claire Calman from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book via NetGalley)
Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book via NetGalley)
Darkness & Grace by Kathryn Schleich from Book Publicity Services (e-book)
A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher from Wunderkind PR (e-book)


Jami:
The Woman at the Front by Lecia Cornwall from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
The Husbands by Chandler Baker from Flatiron
The Paris Connection by Lorraine Brown from Putnam (e-book via NetGalley)
We Share the Same Sky by Rachael Cerrotti from Blackstone (e-book via NetGalley)
The Light of Luna Park by Addison Armstrong from Putnam (e-book via NetGalley)

Book Review: The Last Night in London

By Jami Denison

Stories that weave a protagonist in World War II Europe with a modern-day heroine have become so popular that authors not known for this genre are jumping on the train. Southern fiction writer Karen White (I reviewed The Night The Lights Went Out in 2017 and Dreams of Falling in 2018. Links are to reviews.) is the latest to dip her toe into these popular waters, taking one of her Southern characters and sending her into an exploration of the past. While the tone of The Last Night in London is a tad uneven, the book is a winner, in some places as moving and heartfelt as Ian McEwan’s Atonement

Georgia native Maddie Warner (a character from White’s Falling Home series) avoids her hometown and the pain of losing her grandmother and mother to breast cancer through her work as a globetrotting freelance journalist. When she discovers a distant relative, Precious DuBose, lives in London and worked for the French Resistance during World War II as a model, she proposes an article about fashion during the war. The project reunites her with her college friend Arabella and with Precious’s surrogate nephew, Colin, whom she rejected in college. But as Maddie gets closer to Precious, she starts to question her own attitude toward life. Does her history really mean she needs to hold people at arm’s length? 

The book alternates between Maddie’s first-person point-of-view in 2019, and the third-person point-of-view of Precious’s best friend and fellow model, Eva, in 1939 London. As the drums of war beat louder, Eva meets aristocratic Graham St. James, whose wealthy family would never approve of a laundry maid’s daughter like Eva. So she changes her name, reinvents her past, and she and Graham fall deeply in love, which strengthens her friendships with Precious and with Graham’s sister Sophia (Colin’s grandmother, deceased in the present-day timeline). But the wrong person discovers Eva’s lies, jeopardizing everything.

I loved The Last Night in London, even though I predicted every plot twist and revelation. Eva is an atypical World War II heroine—she has faults and weaknesses; she isn’t noble. But her drive to better her life and better herself is admirable, and she’s a very likeable character. Most WWII heroines are so brave and their missions so dangerous, I can’t identify with them. Eva is very human. 

My only quibble is that the tone was a little uneven. The novel literally and figuratively starts with a bang—a prologue in which a woman during the Blitz tries to get a baby to safety. In the first two chapters, we meet Maddie, Arabella, and Colin, and I felt like I was dropped in the middle of a rom com. I love rom coms, but after that hugely tense and emotional prologue, the banter in the first two chapters didn’t sit well with me. As I got deeper into the story, though, Maddie became less of a romcom heroine cliché, and the dialogue became more meaningful as well. Usually the present-day heroine can’t compete with the World War II protagonist in novels with this structure, but with Maddie actively investigating Precious and Eva’s past, the link between them was significant, and both protagonists were worth rooting for.  

While The Last Night in London is a good addition to the TBR pile of readers in this genre, fans of Atonement, Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper, and Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and A God in Ruins definitely shouldn’t miss it. 

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

More by Karen White:

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Amy E. Reichert feeds our soul...plus a book giveaway


We're pleased to have Amy E. Reichert back at CLC today, to celebrate the upcoming publication of her latest novel, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club (April 20th). Melissa recently enjoyed her previous novel, The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go, and is excited to check this one out soon. Thanks to Kathleen Carter Communications, we have TWO copies to give away!

Amy E. Reichert, author of THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE, LUCK, LOVE & LEMON PIE, THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER, and THE OPTIMIST'S GUIDE TO LETTING GO, loves to write stories that end well with characters you’d invite to dinner. A wife, mom, amateur chef, Fix-It Mistress, a volunteer baby snuggler, and cider enthusiast, she earned her MA in English Literature and serves on her library’s board of directors. She's a member of Tall Poppy Writers. (Bio courtesy of Amy's website.)

Visit Amy online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Synopsis:
Jobless and forced home to Wisconsin, journalist Sabrina Monroe can tolerate reunions with frenemies and kisses from old boyfriends, but not the literal ghosts that greet her in this heartwarming tale of the power of love and connection from acclaimed author Amy E. Reichert.

For Sabrina Monroe, moving back home to the Wisconsin Dells--the self-described Waterpark Capital of the World--means returning to the Monroe family curse: the women in her family can see spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business. But Sabrina's always redirected the needy spirits to her mom, who's much better suited for the job. The one exception has always been Molly, a bubbly rom-com loving ghost, who stuck by Sabrina's side all through her lonely childhood.

Her personal life starts looking up when Ray, the new local restaurateur, invites Sabrina to his supper club, where he flirts with her over his famous Brandy Old-Fashioneds. He's charming and handsome, but Sabrina tells herself she doesn't have time for romance--she needs to focus on finding a job. Except the longer she's in the Dells, the harder it is to resist her feelings for Ray. Who can turn down a cute guy with a fondness for rescue dogs and an obsession with perfecting his fried cheese curds recipe? 

When the Dells starts to feel like home for the first time and with Ray in her corner, Sabrina begins to realize that she can make a difference and help others wherever she is. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

“Amy E. Reichert has created a heart-squeezing love story, with a perfect sprinkling of mystery and magic. A deliciously sweet tale about ghosts, growing up, and going home.”
~Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read

"The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is such a sweet, fun read. It's warm, cozy and full of hometown charm - and there's a brilliantly quirky cast of ghosts, too!”
~Beth O’Leary, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Flatshare and The Switch

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
When a reader tells me that one of my books brought them comfort and helped them get through a difficult time. When I read, I like to be transported from the day-to-day, so when a reader says my books can do that, I can’t imagine higher praise.

How is Sabrina similar to or different from you?
Other than a fondness for Brandy Old-Fashioneds and Pink Squirrels, I’ve realized it’s crucial to surround myself with people who accept me for who I am and vice versus. Life is too short to pretend to be someone else. 

If The Kindred Spirits Supper Club was made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Sabrina - Aidy Bryant - she can be awkward and funny and endearing. 
Ray - Henry Cavill with an American accent. His deep voice would be perfect for Ray.
Molly - a young Kristin Chenoweth or Reese Witherspoon would have the right amount of depth and perkiness!

What is the last book you read that you would recommend? 
I’m in the middle of Sarah Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series. If you like fantasy with a heavy dose of romance, it’s fantastic. Incredible world building and complicated characters—the perfect escapist read. 

What is something you've learned about yourself during the pandemic?
During the pandemic, I realized I was made for isolation. I loved the excuse to never leave the house, spend extra time with family, and do so many puzzles. 

What is your biggest pet peeve?
I hate when people throw cigarette butts out of car windows. There is a special place in hell for people who treat the world like their own personal ashtray.

Thanks to Amy for chatting with us and to Kathleen Carter Communications 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 April 21st at midnight EST.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Good Sister

Today we are excited to feature Sally Hepworth's latest novel, The Good Sister, which published yesterday. Melissa has enjoyed all of Sally's novels and this one was really a standout for her. (See her review.) Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

Sally Hepworth, the author of The Mother-In-Law delivers a knock-out of a novel about the lies that bind two sisters in The Good Sister.

There's only been one time that Rose couldn't stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life....

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be...dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern's mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden

“Sally Hepworth writes characters you love.” 
―Liane Moriarty, bestselling author of Big Little Lies

Credit: Mrs. Smart Photography
Sally Hepworth has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the United Kingdom and Canada. She is the author of The Secrets of Midwives, The Things We Keep, The Mother's Promise, The Family Next Door, and The Mother-in-Law.

Visit Sally online:



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 April 20th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Spotlight and Giveaway: Second First Impressions

Today we are celebrating the publication of Sally Thorne's latest novel, Second First Impressions. Melissa's is reading it now and is excited to see what will happen. Thanks to William Morrow, we have two print copies for some lucky readers!

Position Vacant: Two ancient old women residing at Providence Retirement Villa seek male assistant for casual exploitation and good-natured humiliation. Duties include boutique shopping, fast-food fetching, and sincerely rendered flattery. Good looks a bonus—but we aren’t picky. 

An advertisement has been placed (again!) by the wealthy and eccentric Parloni Sisters. The salary is generous and the employers are 90 years old, so how hard could the job be? Well, none have lasted longer than a week. Most boys leave in tears. 

Ruthie Midona will work in Providence’s front office, and be at the Parlonis’ beck and call, forever. That’s sort of her life plan. If Ruthie can run the place in her almost-retired bosses’ absence, with no hijinks/hiccups, she has a shot at becoming the new manager. She might also be able to defend her safe little world from Prescott Development, the new buyer of the prime site. Maybe after all that, she can find a cute guy to date. All she needs to do is stay serious—and that’s what she does best. 

Until, one day, someone dazzling blows into town. 

Teddy Prescott devotes his life to sleeping, tattooing, and avoiding seriousness. When Teddy needs a place to crash, he makes a deal with his developer dad. Teddy can stay in one of Providence’s on-site maintenance cottages—right next door to an unimpressed Ruthie—but only if he works there and starts to grow up.

Ruthie knows how this sweetly selfish rich boy can earn his keep—and be out of her hair in under a week. After all, there is a position vacant…

Second First Impressions is the warmest, coziest, sweetest book of the year, an absolutely perfect blend of humor and heart. I want to live inside Sally Thorne’s brain.”
— Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read

Photo by Katie Saarikko
Sally Thorne is the USA Today-bestselling author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine. She spends her days climbing into fictional worlds of her own creation. She lives in Canberra, Australia with her husband in a house filled with vintage toys, too many cushions, a haunted dollhouse and the world’s sweetest pug.

Visit Sally online:

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 April 19th at midnight EST.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Tracie Banister is full of heart...plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I am so excited to have Tracie Banister back at CLC today. As soon as she said she had a new book in the works, I was so excited. I love Tracie's writing style and her books are so much fun. If you haven't read them yet, it's never too late to start! Tracie and I have a lot of TV show and movie interests in common, especially Younger (#TeamCharles for both of us), Schitt's Creek, Being Erica, and The Princess Bride. She has also been so supportive of CLC, ever since we featured her debut novel. 

Her latest novel, Straight from the Hart, published today and is only $1.99 for Kindle. Because I am such a fan of Tracie's writing, I would like to buy one lucky reader an e-book of their choice from Tracie's current offerings! 

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O'Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her fourth grade class performed an original holiday play she penned. (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she also starred in and tried to direct the production.)
 
Tracie’s dreams of authorial success were put on the backburner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a "real" job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. She is the proud winner of the Independent Press Award (Romantic Comedy) and a Bronze Medal in the Readers’ Favorite Awards (Chick Lit).

Straight from the Hart is Tracie’s seventh novel and a full circle moment for her as the story took her back to Hollywood, which was the setting of her very first book, Blame It on the Fame. (Bio courtesy of Tracie's website.)

Visit Tracie online:

Synopsis:
Romance isn’t dead. At least not as long as Vanessa Hart has anything to say about it.

Having founded her own romance concierge business, Vanessa helps the couples of Los Angeles keep the spark alive by planning unique and unforgettable experiences guaranteed to make them fall even deeper in love. But playing Cupid doesn’t leave this boss lady any time to lock down her own happily ever after, or so she claims.

Vanessa is secretly nursing a broken heart from her last serious relationship, which ended badly, like donate everything he left at her apartment to Goodwill and refuse to ever speak his name again badly. When Vanessa’s ex, celebrity publicist Alex Farr, reappears in her life with an intriguing business proposition, she’d like to tell him where to stuff it, but . . .

Straight from the Hart is under attack by an unscrupulous former employee and getting the endorsement of Alex’s A-list client would prove Vanessa’s the best romance concierge in town. All she has to do is save the marriage of “It Couple” Jax and Jaz, which is teetering on the edge of a fault line thanks to his drunken indiscretion with a co-star, and get the twosome back on the red carpet in time for Jax’s film premiere.

If only Vanessa didn’t have to work side-by-side with the man she once adored and now wants to throttle. Jax and Jaz might be soulmates who deserve a second chance, but there’s no going back for her and Alex. They are done. Over. Finished. Kaput. Vanessa just has to keep telling herself that until she believes it. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I am always really honored when people tell me that they reread my books. There is no higher compliment to me because a story has to really strike a chord with someone for them to want to revisit it multiple times!   

How is Vanessa similar to or different from you?
Vanessa is similar to me in that she’s very goal-oriented and a natural leader. We’re both Fire signs (I’m an Aries; she’s a Leo) so that makes us bossy! LOL Also she’s creative and gets to employ that skill on the job as I do with my writing.

The biggest difference between Vanessa and me is she’s a diehard romantic who goes into any situation or relationship bright-eyed, hopeful, and expecting the best, while I’m more of a realist and have a wait-and-see-how-this-pans-out-before-I-get-excited attitude.

If Straight from the Hart were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
I had someone in my mind as Alex Farr while writing this book, so he’s easy to cast. Canadian actor Chad Connell would be perfect as he’s blond, has an athletic physique, looks great in a suit, and is very charming. Your followers may know him from the Netflix film Good Sam or a cute RomCom he did with the Mowry twins called Double Wedding.

As for Vanessa, that’s tough because I always envision my heroines as their own unique selves. I think Morgan Kohan (another Canadian!) would be my choice to bring Vanessa to life because she has the coppery hair and fair skin, plus she’s tall and slender and has that poise with an underlying hint of vulnerability that the character does. Morgan’s always easy to relate to and root for on-screen, which would be important for anyone playing Vanessa.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
I am working on Country Comfort, the Netflix sitcom starring Katharine McPhee and Eddie Cibrian right now. It’s cute—sort of a gender-swapped, countrified Who’s the Boss. I’ll need a new binge-watch soon, so I’m open to suggestions if anyone has them. I was thinking about checking out Arrested Development since I never saw that. 

What is something you've learned about yourself during the pandemic?

I’m really good at doing jigsaw puzzles and they are a fantastic stress reliever! I hadn’t done a puzzle since I was a child and it’s been wonderful to rediscover this hobby. I really like that doing puzzles is not only very entertaining, it works a different part of my brain than writing does. I post my finished puzzles on social media and have a blast discussing them with other puzzle lovers.

Since you write about characters with unique jobs, what is a unique job you would be interested in trying out?
I would love to be a beauty product namer. You know, the person who comes up with all of the fun color names for lipsticks, nail polishes, etc. Naturally, that would require me to try out all the products as well, which would be a great perk because I love cosmetics!  

Thanks to Tracie for chatting with us today!

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 April 18th at midnight EST.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Guest Book Review: Broken (in the best possible way)

Introduction by Melissa Amster

A while back, my husband picked up a book that was sent to me and started reading it. He has been reading my books, as well as some others, ever since. However, he has yet to write a review for this blog. Tracey's husband Matt, on the other hand, not only got into two of Jenny Lawson's books, but he very enthusiastically wrote a review of her latest, Broken. I've hung out with Matt a handful of times since he and Tracey first got together (the long distance is a factor in this) and he's as delightful in person as his writing would lead you to believe. Tracey and I have this thing about the porch test from How I Met Your Mother and Matt definitely passes! I hope he will read more books from Tracey's collection so that we may see more reviews from him in the future. 

Review by Matt Meistrich

After having recently read Jenny Lawson’s earlier ‘memoir’ of her unusual childhood in rural Texas, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, I eagerly awaited the chance to read her more recent book, Broken (in the best possible way).  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened delved into her childhood, which was influenced by too many interactions with animals, dead and alive, due to her father’s fledgling taxidermy business. The experiences she recounts in that book are among the funniest you will ever hear. If you have not yet read  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, please do so, as it will make you laugh like you have never laughed before and make you feel better about whatever childhood traumas you’re now dealing with as an adult. After reading it, you will never look at many species of animals or high school the same way again. This reviewer will attest that memories of being around people who were inspiration for the TV show ‘Jersey Shore’ pale in comparison to her stories of random interactions with animals or what it was like being involved in  high school ‘science project’  artificially inseminating barnyard animals. 

Broken is more focused on her somewhat equally dysfunctional adulthood (and marriage, which she claims hasn’t ended because both her and her husband are too lazy to pursue a divorce) and more importantly, her significant health problems.  Unfortunately, Jenny suffers at times from many maladies, including extreme, debilitating depression and Rheumatoid Arthritis, forcing her to deal with an array of issues and problems you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. 

The main subject here is her semi-experimental treatment with ‘transcranial magnetic stimulation’ to treat her depression. Jenny pulls no punches in describing the full effect, impact and degree of her frequently crippling bouts of depression, and the struggle to treat it. She elaborates on the difficulties dealing with insurance companies, their stinginess and how pursuing almost any avenue of treatment in our health care system became a nightmare. Since her intended treatment is still considered ‘experimental’, she faced unimaginable challenges to have it approved. She details literally every letter, email and other correspondence she had during this arduous process, which thankfully did eventually result in it being approved. Jenny also demonstrates a profound gratitude for being able to receive this (successful and beneficial) treatment due to her privileges and advantages in life. Despite her struggles, she nobly recognizes the struggles so many others face to receive similar, necessary treatments in a health care system that even before this pandemic created too much health care inequality. The title of Broken itself is derived from her belief that we are all ‘broken’ in our own unique way, and that is what defines and distinguishes us. After reading this surprisingly uplifting book about depression, you have to agree with her. 

This book was a marvelous, quick read, and it quickly becomes clear why Jenny Lawson has achieved so much fame and adulation for her work. It’s all completely well deserved

Thanks to Henry Holt for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Matt Meistrich is a New Jersey native, a graduate of Rutgers The State University of NJ, a construction estimator by trade. Since all of those characteristics might be a negative stereotype or redundancy about the Garden State, don't be surprised that he is also now a guest blogger/ reviewer for Chick Lit Central, and that he recently moved to the Chicago area. He also appreciates the diversion CLC's books provide from his regular reading list of construction blueprints and car and airplane magazines.

More by Jenny Lawson:

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Book Review: Half the World Away



By Cindy Roesel

Abbie Potter is really good at her job, but it’s sucking the life out of her. In Rebecca Banks's debut novel, HALF THE WORLD AWAY, Abs is the head of marketing for a UK football team, what we call soccer here in the US, and things aren’t looking up. Her ex-husband of two years, who wouldn’t have a baby with her, has announced he’s having one with his new wife. And one of the bad boys of the team threatens her. What’s a girl to do? Get a new job across the pond in (drumroll, please) Salt Lake City, Utah. I was surprised too, but a story set in SLC felt kind of fresh!

Abbie arrives in “the crossroads of the west” and her PR attributes make the Utah Saints known to all of Utah. She’s considered a rock star, when she introduces a new half time show for the home games that increase attendance. You know there’s a guy involved, who’s one of the most delicious characters I’ve read in a long time. Of course, Abbie and Kyle have to have a falling out.

“It’s not you, it’s me…”

They eventually make up and we readers are happy. I challenge you not to fall in love with Kyle Miller. But problems arise when one of Abbie’s coworkers turns out to be nothing less than a psychopath and all kinds of baggage, she hasn’t taken care of surfaces.

HALF THE WORLD AWAY is about finding yourself and leaving behind feelings and circumstances that are weighing you down. It’s all about female friendships and how you are able to keep each other in check by being honest, laughing together, being angry and even crying tears together. I loved HALF THE WORLD AWAY and I hope you do, too.

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

Rebecca Banks owns a boutique public relations agency specializing in sports and entertainment, and has 20 years of experience in PR and events.

She is also a freelance journalist. For over a decade she has written features from celebrity interviews and human profile pieces to motoring and travel reviews. Half the World Away is her debut novel.

Visit Rebecca online:
Website * Twitter * Instagram

Visit all the stops on Rebecca's blog tour:


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Book Review: Uncork My Love...plus a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

Ivy needs a miracle and a drink—not necessarily in that order. With a struggling winery, the only hope of keeping her dream alive is snagging a gold medal at the annual wine competition. She’s determined to win, but she can do it without the help of Ted Jacobs, aka Mr. Know-it-All.

Ted wants to catch lightning in a bottle and create the world’s greatest wine, but he’s smart enough to know he can’t do it alone. When he heads to Napa to keep his grandma from ending up in jail (don’t ask), he meets Ivy. She’s as complex and intoxicating as his award-winning cabernet, but as stubborn as the mule next door when she stomps on his offer to collaborate.

Ted knows it’s risky to mix business with pleasure, but if Ivy would only listen, they might just be the toast of the town. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

It’s the witty banter that gets me every time while reading something Rich Amooi has written. The nearly combustible dialogue between Ivy and Ted was no exception, and I wanted to grab a bowl of popcorn and sit back, letting the words and scenery unfold!

With two contrasting personalities, it’s easy to see why Ivy and Ted find themselves in sparring matches. Ivy is a lot more grounded and serious, while Ted is more of a free spirit who seems to view life from a “glass if half full” perspective. Yet, he seems so much more regimented, while Ivy wings it. I really appreciated the various contrasting layers to both characters, creating a much-loved three dimensional view. 

And, I can’t forget the two meddling grandmothers! Ted’s grandmother Loretta and Ivy’s grandmother Sherry, two former friends who make plans to join forces all in the name of love. They really added a special kind of spice to Uncork My Love, along with their own humor and fun. 

While I’m not a wine connoisseur, I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine, and it was interesting to read about the processes that go into creating something magical in a bottle. I liked how this particular career choice was used as the premise for the story, because it added a unique quality that really tied into the backgrounds for both main characters. I’ve never been to Napa, not yet anyway, but Amooi’s backdrop made me want to go, and I loved Ivy’s catch phrase: “Stick a cork in it.” Seriously, I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about this book, a much-deserved five star experience!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US


Rich Amooi is a Taleflick Discovery Winner, Readers' Favorite Gold Medal Recipient, Holt Medallion Finalist, and the Amazon Bestselling author of 16 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 * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway to Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card (Open worldwide)

*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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Giveaway ends April 16th.

Visit all the stops on Rich's blog tour:


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Barbara Linn Probst hits all the right notes...plus a book giveaway

Today we welcome Barbara Linn Probst to CLC. We're celebrating the publication of her sophomore novel, The Sound Between The Notes, with an interview. We enjoyed what she had to say and hope you will too. Barbara has one signed copy for a lucky reader!

Barbara Linn Probst is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, living on an historic dirt road in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her debut novel, Queen of the Owls, (April 2020) is the story of a woman’s search for wholeness, framed around the art and life of iconic American painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Queen of the Owls won the bronze medal for popular fiction from the Independent Publishers Association, placed first runner-up in general fiction for the Eric Hoffer Award, was short-listed for the First Horizon and the $2500 Grand Prize, and is currently a finalist for the Sarton Award for Women’s Fiction.

Barbara’s second novel The Sound Between the Notes, recipient of starred Kirkus Review for work “of remarkable merit,” launches in April 2021.

Barbara has a PhD in clinical social work and blogs for several award-winning sites for writers. To learn more about Barbara and her work, visit her website.

Visit Barbara online:
Website * Instagram

Synopsis:
What if you had a second chance at the very thing you thought you’d renounced forever?  How steep a price would you be willing to pay?
 
Susannah’s career as a pianist has been on hold for sixteen years, ever since her son was born. An adoptee who’s never forgiven her birth mother for not putting her first, Susannah vowed to put her own child first, no matter what. And she did. But now, suddenly, she has a chance to vault into that elite tier of “chosen” musicians. There’s just one problem: somewhere along the way, she lost the power and the magic that used to be hers at the keyboard. 

She needs to get them back. Now. 

If only it was that simple.

As her now-or-never concert draws near, Susannah is catapulted back to memories she’s never been able to purge—and forward, to choices she never thought she’d have to make. Blindsided by escalating stakes, Susannah struggles to fulfill her artistic passion while reconciling past and present and doing right by those she loves.

“Family ties can bind or blind us—even with relatives we've never met. In The Sound Between the Notes, trails of music connect generations separated by adoption—while the same notes threaten a family believed sewn with steel threads. In this spellbinding novel, Barbara Linn Probst examines how the truth of love transcends genetics, even as strands of biology grip us. Once you begin this story, suffused with the majesty of music and the reveries of creation, the 'gotta know' will carry you all the way to the final note.”
—Randy Susan Meyers, international best-selling author of Waisted and The Comfort of Lies

“Beautifully told, The Sound Between the Notes, is the story of tragedy and triumph, of the push and pull of family, of the responsibility we feel to ourselves and those we love. Once I started the book, I couldn't put it down until I reached the last, gorgeously written note.”
—Loretta Nyhan, author of The Other Family and Amazon best-seller Digging In

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I’d like to share two, if I may, because each meant so much to me for different reasons…

One is the starred review The Sound Between the Notes just received from Kirkus, the notoriously hard-to-please trade reviewer—a rating given out quite rarely and only (in their words) “to books of remarkable merit.”  

The other is an email I received from a reader, who wrote: “I have just finished reading Queen of the Owls. It is one of the best novels I have ever read, and I've read thousands. It's difficult to believe this is a debut novel, it is just stunningly wonderful.”

What is something you learned from writing Queen of the Owls that you applied to The Sound Between the Notes?
I actually wrote The Sound Between the Notes before I wrote Queen of the Owls

It was going to be published first, in fact, but I knew it wasn’t quite right so I pulled it, one of the best writing decisions I ever made.  That’s another story—how I had to understand music more deeply before I could make Susannah, the protagonist, into the person she needed to be. When I returned to The Sound Between the Notes, a year later, I was ready … 

What I learned that year, as I opened to the piano in a new way, was that I needed to love my characters more, to find the part of every single character, no matter how minor, that’s worthy of love and respect. There are no villains in The Sound Between the Notes. As Susannah comes to understand, each person is doing the best they can. I think that sense of humanity brought the book to a whole other level. It’s a great story— a twisty plot, “a tour de force steeped in suspense”—but it’s also about the struggle to fulfill yourself while doing right by the people you love.



If The Sound Between the Notes were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
That would be a dream come true, wouldn’t it?  Well, if I get to dream, I would cast the brilliant Amy Adams as the adult Susannah. Her teenage-early 20s self is a bit harder to cast, since actresses who might be perfect for the part (like Shailene Woodley) tend to grow up too quickly!  George Clooney is too old (sadly), so I think Christian Bale could do a great job playing Aaron, Susannah’s husband. Helen Mirren would be amazing as Vera, Susannah’s piano teacher. And I’m totally seeing Sissy Spacek as Beryl, her Texas grandmother.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
That’s a tough question, because I enjoy books for different reasons!  Right now, what feels most meaningful to me are books that show something noble and fine about the human spirit, so I’m going to pick Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano because, as Jodi Picoult writes, it’s a book “that leaves you profoundly altered for the better.”

What have you learned about yourself during this pandemic?
What a wonderful question, because I do think it’s been a time of reflection and re-evaluation for so many of us.  

As someone who’s remained in good health, with no children to home-school and a work-from-home profession to begin with, I’ve had it easier than so many. That’s given me the opportunity to take this as a time to slow down, value stillness, and appreciate the small things. As a high-energy multi-tasker, I didn’t know if I could do that, but I did. Before the pandemic, I was constantly running around, always at full throttle. I learned that I can find meaning, equally, in the small interactions—say, with the woman behind the counter at the post office—and that I can walk along the same dirt road by my house every day, and see something new each time.

What is the last thing you had a good laugh about?
I try to laugh as much as I can—especially at myself—because that helps me keep a light heart and stay close to the tender, crazy, vulnerable, and ever-surprising experience of being human. I shared a wonderful laugh with three friends yesterday during our biweekly Zoom gathering when we had one of those, “Wow, you too?” moments. It brought us together in such a natural and uplifting way!

Thanks to Barbara for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

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

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Giveaway ends April 12th at midnight EST.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Lea Geller has nothing to hide...plus a book giveaway

Today, we are pleased to welcome Lea Geller to CLC. Her sophomore novel, The Truth and Other Hidden Things, publishes tomorrow. Melissa really enjoyed it. Check out her review. Thanks to Kathleen Carter Communications, we have TWO copies to give away!

Lea Geller, recipient of the 2019 Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College, lives in New York with her husband and five children, for whom she frequently wakes up and makes five separate breakfasts. Lea began her writing career by blogging about her adventures in the trenches of parenting and got the idea for her first novel, Trophy Life, when her two sons were in middle school. When Lea’s not writing and eavesdropping on her children, she can be found running, drinking diner coffee, and occasionally teaching middle-school English. She is a graduate of Columbia University and Stanford Law School. (Bio courtesy of Lea's website.)

Visit Lea online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Synopsis:

On the same day Bells Walker learns that her IUD has failed, her husband, Harry, is denied tenure at his Manhattan university. So Bells, Harry, their two adolescent children, and her baby bump move to New York’s Hudson Valley, where Harry has landed a job at Dutchess College in the town of Pigkill.

When the farm-to-table utopia Bells envisioned is anything but, she turns to the blogosphere. Under the pen name the County Dutchess, she anonymously dishes about life in Pigkill, detailing the activities of hypercompetitive parents and kombucha-drinking hipsters. Suddenly, Bells has a place to say all the things she’s been secretly thinking about being a wife and mother. As Bells turns the focus of her blog on her new neighbors, her readership continues to grow, but her scandalous posts hit closer to home: she puts Harry’s new job in jeopardy, derails her children’s lives, and risks the one real friendship she’s built.

When Bells uncovers scandals right under her nose, the Dutchess goes viral, and soon everyone is asking, Who is the County Dutchess? Now Bells has to ask herself if it’s worth losing the people closest to her to finally feel noticed by everyone else.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

“What do you do when life throws a bunch of less than welcome surprises your way? If you’re Bells, the plucky protagonist of The Truth and Other Hidden Things, you make a string of questionable (if hilarious) choices…that land you exactly where you were always supposed to be. Lea Geller’s latest novel is a clever, witty, and insightful novel that just may inspire you to look at your own plot twists in a whole new light.” —Camille Pagán, bestselling author of This Won’t End Well

The Truth and Other Hidden Things is a perfect escape, whether you’re a city mouse like the hilarious and lovable narrator, Bells Walker, or used to the bucolic settings that amaze the Walker family so. As Bells navigates a whoops baby, a career tumble, two surly teens, and that PTA lady we all know, you’ll laugh—with and at her—and cheer for her every step of the way. I loved this romp and you will, too!” —Kelly Harms, Washington Post bestselling author of The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

“In this humorous, smart novel, Geller brilliantly tackles one woman’s need for approval and the desperate lengths she’ll go to to get there. Bells Walker is the imperfect mom and friend we can all relate to and eventually root for. Readers will devour this book in one sitting. I did.” 
—Rochelle B. Weinstein, USA Today bestselling author

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
A reviewer just told me that I write narratives which are “relatable with the perfect amount of humor and substance.” I will definitely take that compliment!

What is something you learned from writing Trophy Life that you applied to The Truth and Other Hidden Things?
I learned, and am still learning, the importance of plot points and a protagonist who may be flawed but is both relatable and understandable.

If The Truth were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Casting: I think I’d cast John Krasinski as Harry Walker, because he has a ruffled, sweet professorial air to him. As for Bells herself, back in the day I’d have cast Diane Keaton or Debra Winger, but from today’s actresses I would choose someone with comic chops – Maya Rudolph comes to mind. So does Phoebe Waller Bridges, but that is mostly because I am an enormous fan and would love meet her!

What is something you've learned about yourself during the pandemic?
That quarantines and lockdowns only work for introverts when they (we) actually get to be alone. Also, I apparently need to leave the house regularly to write well – I hadn’t realized how important writing trips to coffee shops and bookstores were to me.

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
I just saw the Sound of Metal which was terrific and the Joan Didion movie, The Center Cannot Hold, which I loved. 

Who was your role model when you were growing up?
I used to write fan mail to Judy Blume!

Thank you to Lea for visiting with us and to Kathleen Carter Communications 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 April 11th at midnight EST.
 

Friday, April 2, 2021

What's in the mail

Melissa:

You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Straight From the Hart by/from Tracie Banister (e-book)
So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park from Avon  (e-book via NetGalley)
Lilyville by Tovah Feldshuh from Hachette (e-book via NetGalley)
Pixely Ever After by/from Teresa Yea (e-book)
Write My Name Across the Sky
by Barbara O'Neal from Lake Union  (e-book via NetGalley)
Plot Twist by Bethany Turner from Thomas Nelson
Hooked on You by Kathleen Fuller from Thomas Nelson
The Siren by Katherine St. John from Grand Central Publishing  (e-book via NetGalley)
You Can Never Tell by Sarah Warburton from Crooked Lane  (e-book via NetGalley)
The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood from HarperCollins
Instamom by Chantel Guertin from Kathleen Carter Communications
Other People's Things by Kerry Anne King from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)

Sara:
Recruited by Lauren E. Anderson from Stormbird Press (e-book)
Invisible by Lindsay Woodward from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)

Jami:
The Audacity of Sara Grayson by Joani Elliott from Meryl Moss Media
When We Meet Again by Caroline Beecham from Putnam (e-book via NetGalley)

Book Review: Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove

By Sara Steven

When thirty-four-year-old Nellie Wagstaff loses her job and discovers her fiancé is a cheating scumbag in a single day, she feels like the world has come crashing down. And that’s before the solicitor’s letter, along with a request to visit a place she hasn’t thought about for a very long time.

Heartbroken, Nellie escapes to the beautiful seaside town of Muddleford in Dorset, where she discovers she’s inherited more than she ever bargained for. Nellie never knew why her mother stopped talking to her sister, but now childhood memories of Muddleford come flooding back: long hot summers, the sea glistening beyond the sandy cove... and a stolen kiss with a boy called Jack.

Jack, now a devilishly handsome vet, has the local pet owners swooning over him, and as Nellie and he become close once more, and she gets used to gossiping with the locals and sipping wine at her beach hut with sand between her toes, she’s sure she can feel sparks flying once more. But just as she thinks she might be able to open her heart again, her newest frenemy, the glamourous Natalia, tells her a secret about Jack that changes everything.

Nellie will never know why her mother and aunt parted ways. She’ll sell the house, forget about Jack, and get back to real life. Because there’s nothing for her in Muddleford... is there? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I’ve read nearly all of Kim Nash’s books, and I have to say, this is by far my favorite! I’m not sure if it’s due to once being in a similar situation as Nellie had been, when it comes to the philandering fiancé, or the way Nash created an amazing world for Nellie to escape to while trying to regroup and figure out what she wants out of life going forward. With it all, I felt like I could relate and identify with Nellie, and feeling close to the protagonist really made Moonlight an enjoyable experience!

The relationship between Nellie and her aunt was a special one, and I appreciated how there was a lot of backstory given so that the reader could truly feel the bond they shared, and how heartbroken Nellie had been when she could no longer see her aunt or maintain that relationship. A huge learning lesson through all of it had been the need to seize the day, to not let past hurts fester, and while Nellie feels so much angst over not reaching out sooner when she might have had an opportunity to mend things with her aunt, there’s also a lesson in learning to accept what has happened, and to forgive.

The way she acts around Jack is so funny! I loved how we get to see her interactions with him, but the internal dialogue is nowhere near as close to how she behaves, attempting to give some space and time, when what she really wants to do is grab him and give him a big kiss! Natalia doesn’t help matters. I wasn’t sure what the situation would turn out to be, if there was more to the relationship between Jack and Natalia and whether there would be any hope for Nellie. It felt like a potential love triangle situation, and I wanted to keep reading to see how it would all play out.

My favorite moments were the ones where Nellie reflects on her life while spending time on the waterfront, enjoying a change of scenery, a change of pace. When she mentioned the beach hut that had once belonged to her aunt, I yearned for something similar of my own. Having come from the west coast with the ability to drive to the beach when it had been an hour away, I think I took for granted those opportunities and didn’t do it enough. So, reading about Nellie’s experiences in Muddleford Cove was a way to live vicariously through her. I enjoyed Nellie and the other characters, and feel this was a five-star experience!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

Kim Nash
is an author of uplifting, funny, heartwarming, feel-good, romantic fiction.

Her previous novel, Sunshine and Second Chances, was shortlisted for the 2020 Amazon Kindle Storyteller Award.

She lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is Head of Publicity for Bookouture and is a book blogger.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association's Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can't quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she's not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She's also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.

Sign up to be the first to hear about new releases. Your e-mail will not be shared with anyone else and you will only contacted about Kim's books.

Amazing Grace was her debut novel with Hera Books and came out in April 2019.

Escape to Giddywell Grange is Kim's second novel and was published by Hera Books in September 2019.

Sunshine and Second Chances is Kim's third novel and was published in June 2020.  

Moonlight over Muddleford Cove is Kim’s fourth novel and was published on 30th March 2021.

Visit Kim online:

Visit all the stops on Kim's blog tour:



Thursday, April 1, 2021

Spotlight and Giveaway: Goodbye, Lark Lovejoy

Today we are pleased to feature Goodbye, Lark Lovejoy by Kris Clink. Thanks to SparkPoint Studio, we have THREE copies to give away!

Lark’s lost her husband, and the expiration date has come and gone on her fake-it-till-you-make-it “Happy Mommy Show.” Healing her broken family requires drastic measures―like returning to her hometown in the Texas Hill Country. But she’s going to need more than clean air and a pastoral landscape to rebuild a life for her and her young sons.
 
After years of putting off her dream of becoming a winemaker, Lark puts every cent into a failing vineyard, determined to work through her grief and make a brighter future for her children. The last thing she expects is to fall in love again. Especially not with Wyatt Gifford, an injured Army vet with a past of his own to conquer.
 
Coming home may not be the reset Lark imagined, but it does take her on a journey filled with humor and reconciliation―one that prepares her for a courageous comeback.


Photo by Kacy Meineke
Kris Clink’s
relatable characters rely on humor and tenderness to navigate complicated relationships. Set in middle America, her novels are laced with romance, heartbreak, and just enough snarky humor to rock the boat. When not writing, Kris spends her time searching for an open karaoke mike and an understanding audience. Born and raised in the Texas Panhandle, Kris lives in Wichita, Kansas where her great Dane, Sophieanne, runs the house Kris shares with her editor-in-training husband.

Visit Kris online:


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 April 6th at midnight EST.