Friday, January 15, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway: The Forever Girl


By Sara Steven

When Maze returns to Wildstone for the wedding of her estranged bff and the sister of her heart, it’s also a reunion of a once ragtag team of teenagers who had only each other until a tragedy tore them apart and scattered them wide.

Now as adults together again in the lake house, there are secrets and resentments mixed up in all the amazing childhood memories. Unexpectedly, they instantly fall back into their roles: Maze their reckless leader, Cat the den mother, Heather the beloved baby sister, and Walker, a man of mystery. 

Life has changed all four of them in immeasurable ways. Maze and Cat must decide if they can rebuild their friendship, and Maze discovers her long-held attraction to Walker hasn’t faded with the years but has only grown stronger. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Out of the Wildstone series, The Forever Girl was my absolute favorite, hands down. And granted, it’s only my third time back to the small town, but I really couldn’t get enough of all of the special characters that made this book an absolute five-star experience.

I really love Maze. From the get go, there is no misreading who she is, an impetuous woman who used to go by the nickname, “Mayhem Maze.” So much of that is tied into her past and what she had to deal with for most of her childhood, and it has made it difficult for anyone to get close to her. The only people she allows in are the ones she had spent so much time with when she was a teen, and even that is debatable. It’s always been easier to remain at arm’s length, because there is less chance of getting hurt that way. She also carries around massive amounts of guilt that has eaten away at her over the years, making her blind to what is in front of her, and more importantly, who wants to be there for her.

Her support system, as mentioned in the synopsis, all have their own hurdles to overcome. Cat has potential relationship woes, while Heather hasn’t been forthcoming about immense changes that have occurred in her life since the last time the four of them had been together. Walker faces the same sort of past that Maze does, and while he’s more prone to accepting love from others, there is still a lot of baggage he carries around with him, past hurts that feel daunting. Walker is Maze’s Achilles heel, the one person she feels completely herself around, but at a cost. It made for an interesting dynamic. 

To shed some perspective on how much I loved The Forever Girl; I finished it within a twenty-four hour period. And I’m not prone to feeling overly emotional when I read books, yet there were certain moments that really got to me with this one, particularly when Maze comes face to face with one of her deepest regrets in life. That moment really had this reader all sorts of teary-eyed. This experience really had everything I look for in a good book. An amazingly flawed protagonist. Great characterization. Not to mention the friendships and sizzling hot moments that had the perfect build up and didn’t rush into anything. I was definitely a goner during my stay in Wildstone, totally and completely hooked!

Thanks to William Morrow for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy for a lucky reader!

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


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Giveaway ends January 19th at midnight EST.

More by Jill Shalvis:

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review: The Lost Manuscript

By Cindy Roesel

A Parisian woman, Anne-Lise Briard is on holiday and while she's looking for something to read, finds an anonymous manuscript in the bedside drawer of the hotel. She falls in love with the story, but has no idea of the adventure she's about to take and the people she's going to meet. THE LOST MANUSCRIPT (St. Martin's Press) by Cathy Bonidan is a story of nearly a dozen people, mostly strangers who come together and through letters become friends. It's a novel for readers who love the written word and believe letters and books can create magic and heal people.

Anne-Lise sends a letter and a copy of the manuscript to the enclosed address and discovers its the writer, Sylvestre Fahmer. He says he wrote the first half thirty years ago, but doesn't know who wrote the second half and the little poems in the margins. He apparently left it in the Montreal airport, gave up writing and is now suffering from depression. Anne-Lise and Sylvestre begin a relationship through letters and it gives him some hope. They will solve this mystery together.

Once they start sending letters and meeting others on the search, she discovers people have been touched by this manuscript. People involved discover long-lost love stories, intimate secrets, feel less alone in their loneliness and their lives are made better.

The authors of the second half and poems are eventually discovered at the end. THE LOST MANUSCRIPT will hook you at page one, so be ready to read straight through when you pick it up.

"Once we've reached the last page, we feel more vulnerable to beauty. We look at the people we pass with an unusual benevolence that extends to our own reflection. I understand that this story helps us to smile and to put perspective of those trivial things that have the power to weigh us down." ~THE LOST MANUSCRIPT.

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Sara and Melissa talk about...Movies

We've been running a column series to get more personal with our readers. This month we're talking about movies.

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Sara Steven:

My first day of Spring semester at Arizona State University starts today, and one of the “fun” courses I decided to enroll in had been an American Film Musicals class. Given the heavy workload of the other three classes I’m enrolled in, I figured watching musicals wouldn’t be too difficult. I enjoy them immensely, so it wouldn’t be torture, and summarizing or giving my opinion on the dance moves of Fred Astaire or trying to decipher Audrey Hepburn’s quirkiness in My Fair Lady would be a pretty easy task. 

Well, lesson learned: a three credit college course is still a three credit college course. There will be two MLA-formatted papers in my future, as well as a research paper and summaries/reviews of every movie we see this semester--eighteen in total! But, if I had to do it for any genre, I can’t think of a more fun genre. 

The first musical ever for me had been Gigi. It’s still a favorite of mine. My grandmother introduced me to it when I was in elementary school, and to this day, if I ever encounter a dress like the one Leslie Caron wore as Gigi to Maxim’s, it will be mine! 


It’s more than the dress, though. I love all the outfits. I love the Parisian backdrop. I know all of the songs by heart, even now, and just the other day I thought of the legendary Maurice Chevalier remarking on the fact that he’s “glad he’s not young anymore” when I heard my children fighting over something that consequently, didn’t matter too much and would quickly blow over if given another minute or two. 

Gigi opened the door to so many other musicals, and I’ve discovered that while I’ve seen quite a few that are required viewing for my class, there are still quite a few I haven’t seen! 

Some of my favorite film musicals:

Gypsy: Who wouldn’t love Natalie Wood, who goes from tomboy to sexpot while dealing with deep mommy issues with her momager mother?

Mary Poppins: This was a constant while growing up, and I’ve seen it recently after we acquired Disney + for our Roku. While I love Julie Andrews, my favorite character is Bert, played wonderfully by Dick Van Dyke.

The Sound of Music: Another Julie Andrews classic. My favorite song is “So Long, Farewell.”   

Xanadu: Admittedly, it has been nearly four decades since I’ve seen Olivia Newton-John in roller skates. My young parents brought me with them to the movie theater when I was only three, and I can barely remember much of it, other than vibrant colors and the music. I still remember “Magic,” and I get to reacquaint myself with it all this semester, since it’s one of the musicals we’ll be working with.

The Wizard of Oz: I made it a point to watch it every single holiday for several years, when it would air on television.

Grease: Another classic that I have seen several times over the course of my life. Friend and relatives at odd times over the years will break into famous lines and song and phrases, out of the blue. It wasn’t until later in life when I realized what Rizzo meant when she said, “I feel like a defective typewriter. I skipped a period.”    

(Links above are to trailers.)

What are some of your favorite film musicals?


Melissa Amster:

Today I am sharing ten of my favorite movies. Please note that these are just ten movies I love out of many, many more. It's hard to just pick only ten, which is why I don't want to say that these are my only favorites. (Links are to trailers.)

1. Where the Heart Is: I read the book (by Billie Letts) in 1999 and loved it. Then the movie came out in the spring of 2000 and I was excited to see it. The first time, I enjoyed it enough. Then I watched it again when it came out on video (yes, I said video) and fell in love with it. After that, I couldn't stop watching it and it became one of my all time favorite movies. I love James Frain as Forney, with all the curls. 

2. Sing!: I am talking about the film that came out in 1989 (not the animated animal movie). I had read a book called Sing in middle school about a musical competition and someone told me it was a movie, so I knew I just had to watch it. The first time I saw it, I started in the middle where this girl was auditioning for a show by singing "Like a Virgin" really bad. Then I kept watching and knew I had to see it again from the very beginning. After that, I saw it more times than I can even count. I still love it and it makes me smile (and cry) every time I see it. 

3. The Princess Bride: It is inconceivable to me that anyone has NOT seen this movie by now. It's such a classic! Oddly enough, I didn't like it the first time I saw it, when I was eleven years old. I thought some parts were scary. Then I saw it in college and fell in love with it. I watched it all the time and still quote from it a lot. I even have a Westley Funko pop and I read Cary Elwes' movie memoir As You Wish a while back and loved that too. 




4. Girls Just Want to Have Fun: I basically grew up on this movie. My sister and I watched it countless times. We always thought it was hilarious when they were giving everyone invitations to Natalie's party and then all these random people showed up and ruined everything for her. (Natalie was mean to them, so I don't feel guilty about that.) I also thought Jeff was so cute and I was sad that he wasn't in anything else. I will still watch this movie as an adult and I listen to the soundtrack in my car.

5. Dirty Dancing: I fell in love with Dirty Dancing when I first saw it during the summer I turned eleven. I was obsessed after that and watched it all the time. I got the soundtracks, posters, etc. I had such a crush on Patrick Swayze at the time. I still think I look like Jennifer Grey did in that movie. 

6. Wreck-It Ralph: You may be wondering why this is the Disney movie that made it to my list. It's just so funny and clever, with great characters and an interesting plot. I love it every time I see it and I always get teary-eyed at the end. My daughter dressed as Vanellope for Purim one year and I had fun putting together her costume.


7. Ten Things I Hate About You: One of the best teen movies from the nineties. I didn't know what to expect with this one and ended up adoring it the whole way through. I cry every time Kat reads her poem. This was also an introduction to Heath Ledger, who was fabulous as Patrick, not to mention hot! I also enjoyed Bianca's part of the story. 

8. Legally Blonde: Elle Woods was so inspiring to me in this movie and I am not ashamed to admit how much I cried at the end. I also love the Broadway musical version of this movie. Great lines too!

9. 50 First Dates: Find someone who will treat you the way Adam Sandler treats Drew Barrymore in this movie. While it's goofy at times, it's so completely romantic that it's impossible to have dry eyes by the end. 

(Yes, I like movies that make me cry when I least expect them to...)

10. The Shawshank Redemption: Another movie where I'm shocked if someone tells me they haven't seen it yet. I saw it freshman year of college and was so moved by Andy's resolve to escape prison and the lives he impacts while he is there. It's just so well told and the casting is fantastic. I never read the book, but I don't really need to after seeing the movie so many times. 

Tell us about your favorite movies!

Book Review: Truth, Lies, and Second Dates

By Sara Steven

Captain Ava Capp has been flying from her past for a decade. She’d much rather leave it, and her home state, behind forever. But when she finds herself back in Minnesota, against her better judgment, everything goes sideways in a way she never expected it to.

M.E. Dr. Tom Baker has never forgotten Ava and the cold case she ran away from. When she shows up unexpectedly in town, in spite of himself, sparks fly. Which is terrible because he can’t stop his growing attraction to her. Can these two Type-A’s let their guards down and work together to put Ava’s tragic past behind her for good? And keep their hands off each other at the same time?
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I really enjoyed the sarcastic wit and humor within Truth, Lies and Second Dates. Ava showcases so much of it when she’s engaging with friends and coworkers and with the people who think they know her best, the ones who still envision her as the person they remember from a decade ago. The old adage, “I laugh so I won’t cry” seems to really ring true for her, particularly when she’s invited back to Minnesota, a place she has tried so hard to distance herself from for so long.

Ava chose to be a pilot, and I felt this really was the perfect job for the character she is. It adds to her need to continually run away, and to never put roots down in any particular place.  When Tom Baker enters her world, not only do sparks fly, but it makes her question if the last ten years was a good decision for her life. Has her inclination to run away from the past created issues for her future?

And speaking of her future, it begins to appear uncertain when the story removes itself from merely a potential budding romance perspective into a potential murder mystery. Not only will Ava fear for her own life, but there are other people at stake too, and she wonders what that could mean for her and for Tom. It doesn’t help that Tom doesn’t know what to think of the way Ava reacts to everything, questioning whether her motives are pure and real. 

Through all the mischief and mystery, Ava continues to showcase her sarcasm, allowing the reader to feel closer to her and what she’s going through. It was also appealing to see things from not just her perspective, but from Tom’s too, so we get an even better idea of why they react the way they do to what they’re experiencing. I felt like this was the perfect mix of romance, comedy, and enigma, a true five-star experience! 

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

More by MaryJanice Davidson:

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Catching up with Kelly Simmons...plus a book giveaway


Today we welcome Kelly Simmons back to CLC. Her latest novel, Not My Boy, published last week and she has two copies to share with one lucky reader (the second copy can be given to a family member or friend to read together)!

Kelly Simmons is a former journalist, advertising creative director and the author of six novels sold in a dozen countries: STANDING STILL and THE BIRD HOUSE (Simon & Schuster) ONE MORE DAY, THE FIFTH OF JULY, WHERE SHE WENT, and NOT MY BOY (Sourcebooks).

She teaches in the Drexel University MFA program, and is a member of WFWA, Tall Poppy Writers and The Liars Club, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping fledgling novelists.

Additionally, she co-helms the weekly writers podcast “Liars Club Oddcast.”

She was born the same day as Dorothy Parker. Coincidence? She thinks not. (Bio courtesy of Kelly's website.)

Visit Kelly online:

Synopsis:
When Hannah packs up her past and moves to the cottage next-door to her sister, she hopes the luxe neighborhood and close family ties will be the perfect escape for her son and the shadows that trail them. But when a young girl goes missing days after they unload their final boxes and her son is quickly thrown under suspicion, Hannah must do whatever it takes to protect her child.

Even if that means pointing the blame her sister's way instead.

With investigators swarming and neighborhood scrutiny closing in, the divide between two sisters grows. As one fiercely defends her husband, the other shields her boy from the crime, keeping quiet the secrets that might unravel it all.

And all the while, one young girl has vanished, and someone is to blame. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?   
Compliments and comments, usually from book club members who have flagged sentences on the page, really warm an author’s heart. My favorite one of all time is:  “I want a tattoo of that sentence on my arm!”   The sentence was, “in all things, I blame the husband.” 

What did you learn from writing your previous novels that you applied to Not My Boy?
My novels all have a narrow focus — I like to really drill down into one family’s, or one couple’s, story — I like to go deep, not wide. But I know readers enjoy minor characters, too; and in NOT MY BOY, I enjoyed keeping in mind subplots for the “other” characters. 

If Not My Boy were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
I think some of Taylor Swift’s new album, which feels like it was set in a forest, would work nicely. 

What is something you see as a silver lining from the pandemic?
Writers seemed to be slightly better suited to pandemic life than others. We're used to working from home, motivating ourselves, burrowing in and ignoring the world for long stretches of time. So there were months at a time that did not seem wildly different to me. But one big difference — my adult kids spent lots of time visiting us for long stretches. I enjoyed being able to talk to them, walk with them, and recommend books and recipes and TV shows with them. It was like being on retreat with fun, young co-workers. Until they made a mess and didn’t do their dishes. Then they were like bad coworkers who steal your yogurt. 

What is a new year's resolution you made that you hope to keep this year?
Well, for starters, I’m doing Dry January, so we’ll see how that goes before I commit to the rest of the year!

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
My top two in 2020 would be Dear Edward and Writers & Lovers. But, occasionally, there’s a book that everyone in my family likes  — a rare thing indeed. This year, that book was In Five Years

Thanks to Kelly 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




Giveaway ends January 17th at midnight EST.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Book Review: Confessions on the 7:45

By Jami Denison

The impulse to bare one’s soul to the stranger sitting next to you is a popular trope in fiction. And while I’ve never had the impulse to say more than “hello” to my seatmate, the existence of advice columnists, “AITA” subreddits, and anonymous confessional websites point to the real-life popularity of this clichĂ©. Now Clearwater, Florida author Lisa Unger has used this scenario as the basis of her latest thriller, Confessions on the 7:45. And while the book starts out in an expectable way, Unger takes the plot in completely unpredictable directions. 

Catching the later train home, Selena Murphy tells her seatmate, Martha, that her husband Graham is having an affair with their nanny Geneva. It should be a harmless revelation, a way to deal with the stress and tension of her knowledge. But then Geneva disappears… and Martha texts Selena. Only Selena never gave Martha her phone number… 

Confessions seems like it will unfold in a manner similar to movies with the same plot, and I wondered what Martha would want from Selena in return. But Unger is too good a writer, and soon it becomes obvious that she is not retelling a familiar story. Selena’s is not the book’s only point-of-view; Anne, the woman on the train who calls herself Martha, also tells her own tale, and it’s a complicated one. Selena is pulled in two directions: Tell the cops about Martha, and she implicates herself. Tell the cops about Graham and Geneva, and she implicates Graham. She’s stuck, and the police aren’t stupid. As the narrative progresses, it turns out that Selena is a bit of an unreliable narrator. The reader doesn’t get the complete picture of her marriage or of the home she grew up in until events in the book demand the missing details. 

 Beyond the question of the missing nanny—who turns out be less innocent than first seen—is the question of what type of family Selena owes her children, Oliver and Stephen. Is it really better to stay together for the sake of the kids? What happens to kids who grow up in a family of lies? Selena knows the answer—her own father was a cheater as well, and she always judged her mother for staying in the marriage. But her mother kept her father’s secrets too well, and those secrets reverberate onto Selena’s life. 

Unger throws plenty of balls in the air, and she juggles them like a master. By the end of the novel, all threads are neatly tied up, coincidences dispensed with, and reader satisfaction achieved. My one quibble is that a character who turns out to be very important is never seen on the canvas. Confessions on the 7:45 is a masterful, surprising thriller that readers will not be able to put down until the end.

Thanks to Park Row for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Lisa Unger:

Friday, January 8, 2021

What's in the mail

Melissa:

Widowish by Melissa Gould from Little A
Her Turn by Allison Jones from BooksGoSocial (e-book via NetGalley)
Shoulder Season by Christina Clancy from St. Martin's Press
No One Asked For This by Cazzie David from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey from William Morrow (e-book via NetGalley)

The Jake Ryan Complex
by/from Bethany Crandell (e-book via NetGalley)
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson from William Morrow
Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie from Atria (e-book via NetGalley)
Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
The Perfect Daughter
by D.J. Palmer from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
No More Words by/from Kerry Lonsdale (e-book via NetGalley)
Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan from Kathleen Carter Communications
The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
Sara:

Lost, Found, & Forever by Victoria Schade from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
Reality in Chaos by Monique Kelley from The ROZ Group (e-book)
My Way to You by Fabiola Francisco from Bare Naked Words

Jami:
It Had to Be You by/from Georgia Clark (e-book)

Book Review: How to Judge a Book by its Lover

By Cindy Roesel


Laurel Linden is an unlucky at love, miserable dog-walker trying to make it as an author in Manhattan. In HOW TO JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS LOVER (StoneTiger) she strikes gold when at a college alumnae meeting, she gets a “big sister” who is determined to turn Laurel’s life around and push her towards the life she wants. Soon she has a well-known intellectual boyfriend who does nothing but makes her feel inferior, she’s spending money on designer clothes she can’t afford, has a publishing contract, and all of it adds up to the image she wants to portray, as an up and coming world-famous author.

Then everything goes to hell and she’s living back home with her parents on Long Island after losing her boyfriend and apartment. She still has her book contract but starts waking up to the fact the manuscript is pretty awful. What’s a girl to do? Well, first of all, she has to take her head out of the clouds and stop thinking her life is miraculously going to turn into Celebrity Style magazine.

In HOW TO JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS LOVER, we take a romp through Manhattan with twenty-something, Laurel who is looking for everything we all want when in our twenties, but some of us need to read the tea leaves and slow down. Laurel is lucky to have a friend named Trish that she grew up with and keeps Laurel in reality. Trish introduces her to a dentist who lives and works in Massapequa. He couldn’t be more different than the city guys Laurel is always looking for. But sometimes serendipity magically happens and changes what you think you wanted all along.

Laurel’s experience isn’t all flowers and sunshine, she hits some storms, but overall she keeps her positive attitude and is open to new experiences. Something we all might be open to.

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

More by Jessica Jiji:

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Cat Lavoie's time is now...plus a special giveaway

We're thrilled to have Cat Lavoie back at CLC today, to celebrate the recent publication of her latest novel, Eventually Evie. While you may recognize Evie from Messing with Matilda, this novel can be read as a standalone. Eventually Evie is currently 99 cents for Kindle, so don't miss out your chance to get it at this great price. To assist with filling your Kindle (or bookshelf), Cat has TWO $10 Amazon gift cards for some lucky readers!

From Melissa: Every time I hear Cat's name, I think of this scene from Ten Things I Hate About You (start at 1:02).

Cat Lavoie is a chick lit writer from Montreal, Canada. She loves writing fun and quirky romantic comedies and is the  author of BREAKING THE RULES, ZOEY & THE MOMENT OF ZEN, PERI IN PROGRESS, NINE LADIES DANCING (A HOLIDAY NOVELLA) and MESSING WITH MATILDA.
 
A fan of all things feline, Cat loves cats and hopes to someday have a house full of them in order to officially become a crazy cat lady. (But one or two cats will do for now.)
 
If she isn't reading or writing, Cat enjoys listening to podcasts (mostly comedy and true crime) and watching way too much TV. She fell in love with London many years ago and hopes to go back one day. Cat is currently at work on her next novel. (Bio courtesy of Cat's website.)

Visit Cat online:

Synopsis:
How are you supposed to get your life back on track when the Universe won’t stop messing with you?

After a series of personal and professional setbacks, interior designer Evie Glass has lost faith in herself and the world. The last thing she needs is her loud, boisterous family poking their noses in her business, so that’s why she avoids opening up about anything—especially her love life—during their weekly dinners. Thankfully, her bestie and next-door neighbor, Matilda, always has her back.

When Evie is asked to cat-sit Matilda’s beloved rescue, she’s not thrilled at the prospect. One well-meaning mistake later and a distraught Evie is rushing her furry charge to the ER where she meets and is instantly smitten with Fletcher West, a charming veterinarian who seems to return her interest. That is until they both realize they’ve met before—ten years ago when he was dating her temperamental cousin. Fletch’s break-up with Bee put him at the top of her family’s hit list and makes him the last person Evie should be dating.

In addition to navigating a secret romance with Fletch, Evie must also deal with a demanding new job, an eccentric client from her former life, and an ex who’s suddenly blowing up her phone. She convinces herself she’s got it all under control, but what is Evie going to do when things start falling apart and she learns she’s not the only one keeping secrets?

One thing’s for sure… Eventually Evie’s got to take a chance—on love, on life, and on herself. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

The Tracie Banister Seal of Approval: "I have a new favorite Cat Lavoie book! Eventually Evie has the snappy dialogue and great characterizations I've come to expect from this talented author. Add to that family drama, forbidden romance, a hoo-larious sub-plot about a high maintenance client, and a pair of kitties that'll steal your heart and you've got one terrific read!" (Tracie Banister is the author of In the Swim of Things.)

What did you learn from writing your previous novels that you applied to Eventually Evie?
There were times when I really struggled with this book and, at one point, I considered giving up on it. But then I remembered I’ve hit the same wall with every single novel I’ve ever written. I just needed to take a bit of a break from the story, get a pep talk from a writer friend, and trust the process. Just keep going, it’s all going to work out in the end became like a mantra… one I’ll also surely need to use for my next book! 

How is Evie similar to or different from you?
I’d like to think Evie and I share a bit of quirkiness and a love of good food and good coffee. However, I don’t have a large, meddling family and, unlike Evie, I can’t draw to save my life and don’t have a BFF who enjoys coming over just to clean my apartment. (I wish!) 

If Eventually Evie were made into a movie, what are some songs that would be on the soundtrack?
“Happier” by Marshmello and Bastille

The first time I heard this song, I knew it was going to be on the Eventually Evie soundtrack. I played it on repeat when I was writing an important—and emotional—scene in the book. 

“Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi

The perfect wallowing-in-sadness-after-a-break-up song. 

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

I can just imagine Evie singing this song at the top of her lungs and dancing around her apartment.

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
I reactivated my Netflix membership for the holiday break (I can’t keep it year-round or I’d binge everything and get nothing done) and I’ve been loving catching up on The Crown. Once I’m done with that, I want to watch Emily in Paris and Bridgerton because I’ve been hearing so many good things about both shows. 

Did you make any resolutions? If so, what do you think will be the easiest one to keep?
I didn’t make any resolutions this year, but I did decide I want to read more books in 2021. I’m a notoriously slow reader, so I want to challenge myself. It probably won’t be easy, but it’s going to be lots of fun!  

What is the strangest dream you've had recently, that you can remember?
I don’t usually remember my dreams but, a couple of weeks ago, I had one where I was at the office and overwhelmed with problem cases and an endless stream of urgent emails in my inbox. I woke up about a minute before my alarm went off, completely stressed out. Although I was relieved to know the problem cases weren’t real, I was kind of disappointed in the subject matter—who wants to dream about a hectic day at the office? It was definitely more boring than strange and, thankfully, it hasn’t been a recurring dream! 

Thank you so much for having me! It’s always such a thrill to visit Chick Lit Central. 

Thanks to Cat for visiting with us and for sharing Amazon gift cards 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

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Giveaway ends January 12th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Book Review: Three Little Truths

By Jami Denison

Liane Moriarty is the undisputed queen at the intersection of women’s fiction and mystery, and any author who is compared to her is measured with a formidable yardstick. Amazon and reviewers are comparing international author Eithne Shortall to Moriarty based on her latest release, Three Little Truths. Luckily for readers, Shortall delivers with her tale of three very different women and the cul-de-sac where they live. With its well-plotted mystery, sympathetic characters, occasional humor and domestic setting, Three Little Truths fits nicely onto a bookshelf next to The Husband’s Secret

The point-of-view characters are Martha, who just moved to Dublin’s Pine Road with her family after a traumatic event at their previous home; Robin, a single mother who moved back in with her parents after a fall-out with her dodgy boyfriend; and Edie, newly married to Daniel and desperate for new friends and a new baby, even though Daniel isn’t completely on board. When Edie befriends Martha, she stumbles across her new neighbor’s secret: She moved her family to Pine Road after they were the victim of a home invasion prompted by her husband Robert’s bank job. Instead of going to work and getting the money, Robert turned to the police. He was vetted as a hero and promoted at work, but Martha is having a hard time getting over his willingness to risk his family’s safety.

This backstory is the spine that holds the book together, and the mystery of who was behind the home invasion compels more than one character. The action moves forward at a good clip, and Shortall works in a relevant subplot about girls at the local private school being targeted on a “rape list.” The crisis affects another Pine Road neighbor, Trish, who is the principal of the school, and motivates Martha’s older daughter Sinead, who sees the school’s subdued reaction as another example of how women are expected to overlook shoddy male behavior.

While there are a few stereotypical women’s fiction characters providing comic relief – the PTA president, the Martha Stewart wannabe – overall Shortall does a nice job of mixing the comedy and drama in original ways. However, with so many families living on the cul-de-sac, and with their myriad problems—too many rats and too few parking spaces—it was hard to keep track of the minor characters, and by the end I had just given up. But Shortall crafts a terrific climax at the street’s annual pre-Easter party, mixing all of the characters, elements, and setups for an excellent payoff. 

As much as I loved the book, I didn’t care for the ending. Having made the point that it’s wrong that women are expected to overlook men’s shortcomings, Shortall doubles down on that expectation instead of letting her main characters put themselves first. While this choice results in a peaceful conclusion, it violates one of the cardinal rules of mystery fiction: that the guilty are punished, either through the legal system or by fate. 

Perhaps it’s that I read this book the weekend that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died that the ending feels so wrong to me. In 2021, women should not be expected to keep our mouths shut in order to keep the peace. Fiction should provide the kind of justice that real life is often incapable of delivering. I think Martha’s daughter Sinead would probably agree. 

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

More by Eithne Shortall:

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Brooke Burroughs' incredible journey...plus a book giveaway

Today we are featuring Brooke Burroughs at CLC, to celebrate the recent publication of her debut novel, The Marriage Code, which is based on her real-life experience of living in India. This will appeal to fans of 90 Day FiancĂ©, but also anyone who wants a good romantic comedy. Thanks to Amazon Publishing, we have one copy for a lucky reader!
 
Brooke Burroughs has worked in the IT industry for over ten years, and has been writing her entire life. During her three years living in India, she met her husband and had to navigate feeling like an outsider in a traditional, Indian family. It was during this experience that she had the idea of writing a story about falling in love with not only a person, but with a family and a culture. 

Visit Brooke online:

Synopsis:
Emma has always lived her life according to a plan. But after turning down her boyfriend’s proposal, everything starts to crumble. In an effort to save the one thing she cares about—her job—she must recruit her colleague, Rishi, to be on her development team…only she may or may not have received the position he was promised. (She did.)

Rishi cannot believe that he got passed over for promotion. To make matters worse, not only does his job require him to return home to Bangalore with his nemesis, Emma, but his parents now expect him to choose a bride and get married. So, when Emma makes him an offer—join her team, and she’ll write an algorithm to find him the perfect bride—he reluctantly accepts.

Neither of them expect her marriage code to work so well—or to fall for one another—which leads Emma and Rishi to wonder if leaving fate up to formulas is really an equation for lasting love. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like for you?
Five years, two laptops, and lots of coffee.

What was the biggest reward and biggest challenge with writing The Marriage Code?
The biggest reward was to be able to write a novel inspired by my own real life adventure moving to India and falling in love, but that might have been the biggest challenge too. Fictionalizing a story that was so close to me was really hard at times, especially when developing the characters. Real life often doesn’t have the drama and high stakes that fiction does, and I wanted to develop characters that had their own challenges and journeys to take that weren’t mine or my husband’s.

If The Marriage Code were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
When I wrote it, I always pictured Emma Stone and a thirty year old Saif Ali Khan as Emma and Rishi, the two lead characters. But since I can’t go back in time, I would cast Shahid Kapoor today alongside Emma Stone. I think he would make a super cute Rishi.

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
I love going to the movies, and finding really funny (and sometimes odd) films. One that I saw this year was Extra Ordinary, a funny, weird, and likely low budget Irish movie with a really good cast about a driving instructor who has supernatural abilities and reluctantly must save a possessed girl. It is probably not for everyone though. When in doubt I always recommend one of my all-time favorite comedies, Spy.

What is the funniest thing that happened to you while you were living in India?
Aside from a lot of monkey incidents, this story I can laugh about now although it was slightly mortifying at the time. I had been living in India for three weeks when it was my birthday. A friend from work suggested I go to this fantastic restaurant in Bangalore to celebrate and said I had to try their gulab jamun for dessert. (I’d never had it before, but now I know they’re delicious, and the name loosely translates to a rose water delicacy.) Determined as I was to memorize the name (to note, I’m normally terrible at memorizing anything) I didn’t write it down. So as the suited-up server asked me what I’d like for dessert, in this restaurant with fancy chandeliers and napkins that felt like silk, I fumbled, because of course I couldn’t remember and said “Aloo Jamal”, which roughly translates to “potato plus some guy named Jamal.” He made me repeat it like three times before he gave up and just brought me a menu, as my friends found glee in my humiliation.

If we were to travel to India, what are some must-see places you would want us to check out?
The north and south feel like two different countries to me, and sometimes even each state feels like a different country, so I could write an entire essay about my must-see places. But, if I had to narrow it down, my top three are: Rajasthan, and specifically Jaipur and Udaipur, to visit the old forts and palaces because the architecture and art is amazing. Unique. Stunning! Another is Kerala because of the culture and coast—Rishi and Emma go there in The Marriage Code and it’s because it’s gorgeous with its backwaters, forests, and tea plantations. The third is probably Assam, which is so far northeast it’s in between Bhutan and Bangladesh. We went there last year, stayed in a village and went on a safari riding elephants through the swamp to see rhinos. It was magical in a very different, down-to-earth kind of way.

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

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

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Giveaway ends January 11th at midnight EST.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Stacy Wise tells no lies...plus a book giveaway


We're pleased to welcome Stacy Wise to CLC to kick off the new year. Her latest novel, Lie, Lie Again, published on New Year's Day. Melissa really enjoyed it and has a review for you to check out. Stacy also had Melissa's dream job before she became a writer, so this comment on Facebook was a huge compliment!


Thanks to Get Red PR, we have one copy to give away!

Stacy Wise is the award-winning author of the novels Beyond the Stars and Maybe Someone Like You. Prior to her writing career, Stacy worked in television casting on shows including The X Files, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and Party of Five. After a decade in the industry, she returned to school and received her teaching credential and masters from Chapman University. She has taught both kindergarten and third grade. A native of California and graduate of UCLA, she lives with her family and three fluffy dogs in Los Angeles. (Bio adapted from Stacy's website.)

Visit Stacey at her website and on Facebook and Instagram.

Synopsis:
For three women with so much to hide, there’s no such thing as a little white lie…

All three women who live at 1054 Mockingbird Lane have secrets…and with a body at the bottom of their apartment building’s staircase, those secrets need to stay buried.

Sylvia Webb has a plan. And a potential Mr. Right. He’s sweet, simple, and dependably clueless about what she’s up to. The only thing unpredictable about him is his needy ex-girlfriend, who is this close to shattering Sylvia’s dreams. But Sylvia’s not going to let that happen.

Riki McFarlan has a good career and an amazing boyfriend who wants to settle down. If only she didn’t have feelings for her neighbor—who happens to be her close friend’s husband. With everything going so right, why is Riki flirting with something so wrong, so…dangerous?

Embry Taylor is as devoted to her children as she is to her husband, who’s a bartender by night, an aspiring actor by day. She is his biggest fan. But with his career not taking off and tensions high, even sweet Embry has something she’s desperate to keep hidden.

Lies, secrets, and revenge. For three neighbors with stakes so high, someone is headed for a downfall. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Wise masterfully captures the tension between appearances and reality, spinning a fast-paced and darkly funny tale of three young women, each with her own secrets, each reaching for her dreams. I loved it!" 
~Kaira Rouda, USA Today bestselling author of The Favorite Daughter

"Stacy Wise writes with intensity, emotion, and just the right amount of humor as she tells the story of three women whose lives intersect at an apartment complex on Mockingbird Lane. Their secrets bubbling below the surface, threatening to be revealed...unless they lie. Lie, Lie Again is a must-read!" 
~Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, authors of How to Save a Life

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
A reader wrote to tell me that she loved the book so much that she was thinking about the characters even though she had finished. She also said she laughed out loud at certain parts. I thought that was really cool!

Which of the three women in Lie, Lie Again do you relate to the most?
I can relate to Embry in the sense that I understand what it’s like to have a toddler and a baby and be pregnant with a third. I had four kids in a span of seven years, so that part of her life was pretty easy to imagine.

If Lie, Lie Again were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
I was a casting director years ago, and I would’ve had an entire list in minutes back then! But now I don’t watch as much TV as I used to. That said, here are my initial thoughts: Kaitlyn Dever as Riki would be a dream come true. Michelle Trachtenberg would be on the short list for Sylvia. And if Lauren Alaina decides to take up acting, I would love to see her play Embry! 
 
What is something you have learned about yourself during the pandemic?
Such a great question. It has been a strange time, hasn’t it? I think the main thing I’ve learned is to trust my gut and to be patient with myself.

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
Criminal Minds. One of my daughters and I have been watching an episode every night. We started during the pandemic (I can’t remember what month!), and we are currently on season ten.

Did you make any new year's resolutions? If so, what is one you are hoping to keep?

No, I never make a New Year’s resolution, but rather, I pick a theme for the year on my birthday. Sadly, I forgot all about it this year until this question! But it’s never too late, right? :) My theme for this year is going to be embracing new beginnings.
 
Thanks to Stacy for chatting with us and to Get Red PR for sharing her book with our readers.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Giveaway ends January 10th at midnight EST.