Friday, July 30, 2021

What's in the mail

The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee from St. Martin's Press
He Gets That From Me by Jacqueline Friedland from SparkPress  (e-book via NetGalley)
A Spot of Trouble by Teri Wilson from Sourcebooks (e-book via NetGalley)
A Fire in the Night by Christopher Swann from Tandem Literary
Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey from Avon (e-book via NetGalley)
The Golden Couple
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
O Beautiful by Jung Yun from St. Martin's Press
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney from Flatiron (e-book via NetGalley)
Tin Camp Road by Ellen Airgood from Riverhead (e-book via NetGalley)


These Walls Between Us by Wendy Sanford from Get Red PR
Look What You Made Me Do by Elaine Murphy from Grand Central (e-book via NetGalley)
Colouring Outside the Lines by Amanda Paull from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
Red Dress by Bridget Finklaire from John Hunt Publishing (e-book)
The Secret of Rainy Days
by Leslie Hooton from Turner (e-book)
The Special Relationship by Frederica Hendricks Noble from Book Publicity Services (e-book)
Last Stop on the 6 by Patricia Dunn from Meryl Moss Media (e-book)
The Ballad of Laurel Springs by Janet Beard from Wunderkind (e-book)

The Fortunate Ones by Catherine Hokin from Grand Central Publishing
The Neighbor's Secret by L. Alison Heller from Wunderkind PR (e-book via NetGalley)

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Book Review: The Summer Seekers

By Sara Steven

Kathleen is eighty years old. After she has a run-in with an intruder, her daughter wants her to move into a residential home. But she’s not having any of it. What she craves—what she needs—is adventure.

Liza is drowning in the daily stress of family life. The last thing she needs is her mother jetting off on a wild holiday, making Liza long for a solo summer of her own.

Martha is having a quarter-life crisis. Unemployed, unloved and uninspired, she just can’t get her life together. But she knows something has to change.

When Martha sees Kathleen’s advertisement for a driver and companion to share an epic road trip across America with, she decides this job might be the answer to her prayers. She's not the world's best driver, but anything has to be better than living with her parents. And traveling with a stranger? No problem. Anyway, how much trouble can one eighty-year-old woman be?

As these women embark on the journey of a lifetime, they all discover it's never too late to start over… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The Summer Seekers focused heavily on living your best life, whatever your age. I felt motivated by Kathleen, Liza, and Martha, because they are all inspirational in their own ways while they deal with various hurdles and obstacles. 

It’s hard not to feel as though life needs to slow down the older you get, but Kathleen is the antithesis of that. Her daughter, Liza, insists on attempting to get Kathleen to pump the brakes and doesn’t support the decisions Kathleen makes for herself. I could feel the struggles between the two, and could see why Liza wants to protect her mother, while Kathleen wants to fight against that.  And speaking of Liza; she hasn’t slowed down, but feels she can only stick to one particular lane due to her role as wife and mother. It’s easy to forget the person you were before familial roles and to feel guilt if you push against the grain of expectation, and I felt I related the most with Liza. Then there’s Martha, who doesn’t have the courage to venture out or try for anything, due to a lack of support and not feeling secure within her own world. The moments we get to see her home life were heartbreaking, and offered up insight into why Martha is the way she is.

The road trip across America and Route 66 really brought out the inner workings of each person, and there were so many moments of discovery about their pasts, including hidden secrets and at times, potential crises. There were moments of potential romance, too, which was a lot of fun to read and hypothesize on how it would all end. It was a definite five-star experience!

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

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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Book Review: Love to the Rescue

By Cindy Roesel

Marin McAllister loves dachshunds. Her whole life revolves around rescuing and making sure they have wonderful forever homes. Park Robinson loves his dachshund, Lamar. They meet at the Delray Beach Dachshund Derby in Janet Franks Little’s novel, LOVE TO THE RESCUE (Anessa Books). It’s part of her “Love on a Leash” series. Marin and Park couldn’t be more different. When pitted against each other in the derby race, free spirit Marin is loosey-goosey about the rules. Handsome, brown-eyed, Park is a stickler. Marin wins the race using some clever ingenuity and Park is annoyed.

But apparently Park has eyes for Marin and keeps showing up unexpectedly and surprising her. Eventually, one of their friends talks them into a date and there’s definite chemistry. She’s secretive about her wealthy background, which has been problematic for her in the past. He’s not too excited to share his family’s traveling around in an RV and their involvement with Renaissance Fairs. They keep dating and eventually Park offers to do the accounting for Marin’s charity, The Forever Homes Dachshund Foundation. When Park discovers someone has been embezzling money from the foundation, they have polar opposite reactions on how to deal with the thief, which leads to them breaking up. 

LOVE TO THE RESCUE tackles some serious topics like gambling and addiction. It shares insight on family dynamics and trusting others. You’ll really enjoy it if you love four-legged fur babies. It’s a cute book, but it felt a little too long to me. When you read it, maybe you won’t feel that way. FYI: There are some pretty explicit sex scenes, so if that offends you, be warned.

Thanks to Author Marketing Experts for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Book Review: Recruited

By Sara Steven

When Olivia Gesso skydives into a recruiting job with Kava Tech-a hip start-up where twenty-somethings binge drink, gamble, and code their way to luxury cars and fat bonuses-it's almost hard to remember how she got there. No one would have expected an eco-warrior hellbent on saving the seeds of an extinct tree to find her way into this silicon jungle, serving as high-heeled bait for geeky coders. But student debt and desperation drive Olivia farther from her life-changing work on a remote Indian Ocean island than she ever thought possible.

Now she's lost in a fast-paced, high-stakes "Brotopia", where hot recruiters make sure the country's best techies get anything they want to sign on the dotted line. Still, Olivia risks it all-including her heart-to be a company star and get what she is after. But having gone from eco-warrior to dot-com fly girl, perhaps a little too easily, means dealing with some seriously irrational expectations. With the investors grabbing her "assets" and the star candidate holding out for more than just money, Olivia must decide how far she'll go to bring an extinct tree back to life. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

Even though I knew where Kava Tech was headed, considering it’s a start-up from the late nineties, reading about Olivia’s experiences as she works her way through the high-speed, overly excessive lifestyle that represented the young tech companies of forever ago felt exhilarating and manic. The contrast between this peaceful, peace-loving, earthly character, who is then pushed into living a vastly different life than she’s used to, was at times disorienting, but in the best of ways. The reader is right there with Olivia, working 18+ hour workdays while she busts everything she has to do the best job she can, all in an attempt to get back to her roots. At times, it was inspiring, yet at other moments, tragic.

Along the way, Olivia finds who might be relationship material--yet, is he really? It seems so much of what she sees in silicon jungle appears to be too good to be true. The fancy cars, company credit cards with substantial credit limits, and the constant “work hard, play hard” ethic can only take her so far, and she constantly questions whether it will ever be enough for Kava Tech, for the man she thinks she’s falling for, and ultimately, for herself. I could see at the start of the book that Olivia comes into Kava Tech with rose-colored glasses, and gradually, the rose-colored glasses lose their tint, maturing her.

She’s battling to get to the top, and as the synopsis mentions, there are a lot of irrational expectations that are thrown at her. With double standards in tow, I wasn’t sure where Olivia would end up...or with who...or how long she felt she’d be able to handle this overly excessive lifestyle. It was consistently interesting and engaging, from start to finish, filled to the brim with that special nineties nostalgia I love so much. It was a well-deserved, five-star read!

Thanks to Stormbird Press for the book in exchange for an honest review. Recruited can be purchased here

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway: Shoulder Season

By Sara Steven

The small town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is an unlikely location for a Playboy Resort, and nineteen-year old Sherri Taylor is an unlikely bunny. Growing up in neighboring East Troy, Sherri plays the organ at the local church and has never felt comfortable in her own skin. But when her parents die in quick succession, she leaves the only home she’s ever known for the chance to be part of a glamorous slice of history. In the winter of 1981, in a costume two sizes too small, her toes pinched by towering stilettos, Sherri joins the daughters of dairy farmers and factory workers for the defining experience of her life.

Living in the “bunny hutch”—Playboy’s version of a college dorm, surrounded by a twelve-foot high barbed-wire fence (to keep the men out, and the girls in)—Sherri gets her education in the joys of sisterhood, the thrill of financial independence, the magic of first love, and the heady effects of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But as spring gives way to summer, Sherri finds herself caught up in a romantic triangle––and the tragedy that ensues will haunt her for the next forty years of her life.

Shoulder Season follows Sherri from her fledgling days as a bunny, when she tries to reinvent herself before she even knows who she is, to the woman she becomes years later. From the Midwestern prairie to the California desert, from Wisconsin lakes to the Pacific Ocean, this is a story of what happens when small town life is sprinkled with stardust, and what we lose—and gain—when we leave home. It’s about the brief but intoxicating experiences of our youth, and how they have the power to shape the rest of our lives. With a heroine to root for and a narrative to get lost in, Shoulder Season is a sexy, evocative tale, drenched in longing and desire, that captures a fleeting moment in American history with nostalgia and heart. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Shoulder Season made a big impression on me. So much so, that I felt the need to have a conversation with my husband about the book, and Sherri’s story. Not knowing much about Playboy’s background, when I told him how the story takes place at a Playboy resort in Wisconsin, I relayed the information not knowing that the resort actually existed, once upon a time. His family used to take trips to the Lake Geneva area, and he remembers seeing the signage for the resort. I love that real-life events and places played such a huge role in this book!

Fictional character or not, Sherri’s recollection of what it’s like to be a Playboy bunny, and live within the “bunny hutch,” was told with such precise precision. I walked a mile within her towering stilettos, and when she describes the famous “bunny dip,” I felt equal parts elation over learning the innermost secrets of what went on behind coveted closed doors, as well as torment when it comes to perfecting the art of being someone else, of inventing a caricature that only drove a wedge between who Sherri used to be, and who she is when she wears the famous bunny suit.

There was a lot of character evolution for Sherri; the innocence of youth, the eye-opening awareness that could only come from the type of job she’s involved in, and the hard-knock life lessons that were cruel and heartbreaking at times. But I wanted to see her endure, to get past it. To keep going right alongside her, so I could discover where she would end up, and what all of it meant, if it meant anything at all. Shoulder Season was definitely an experience I won’t ever forget, a worthy five-star read!

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review. They also 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 August 1st at midnight EST.

Also by Christina Clancy:

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Excerpt: Welcome to Ferry Lane Market

'Delightful and witty with a heroine you'll be rooting for . . . joyful escapism' - Milly Johnson

'Spirited, adventurous and full of heart!' - Heidi Swain

Although thirty-three-year-old Kara Moon loves her hometown of Hartmouth in Cornwall, she has always wondered if she should have followed her dream of going off to study floristry. But she couldn't bring herself to abandon her emotionally delicate single father, and has worked on Ferry Lane Market's flower stall ever since leaving school.

When her good-for-nothing boyfriend cheats on her and steals her life savings, she finally dumps him and rents out her spare room as an Airbnb. Gossip flies around the town as Kara welcomes a series of foreign guests to her flat overlooking the estuary.

Then an anonymous postcard arrives, along with a plane ticket to New York. And there begins the first of three trips of a lifetime, during which she will learn important lessons about herself, her life and what she wants from it - and perhaps find love along the way.

More praise for Nicola May!

'This book will twang your funny bone & your heartstrings' - Milly Johnson

'A fun and flighty read' - Sun

'A funny and fast-paced romp - thoroughly enjoyable!' - WOMAN Magazine

'One of those books that I can't stop thinking about way after I've read it! - Kim The Bookworm

'This book is so addictive that you will literally lose 3 hours of your life, and you won't care!' - Cara's Book Boudoir

Readers love Nicola May, too!

'A FABULOUS must-read' - 5 STARS

'An excellent book of friendship - with a little wickedness!' - 5 STARS

'Good for the soul' - 5 STARS

'I loved it and devoured it in a matter of days' - 5 STARS

'A wonderful, feel-good novel with some grit thrown in' - 5 STARS

'Marvellous, beautiful and heart-warming' - 5 STARS

'Sea, sand and sex - a soppy delight' - 5 STARS

'A truly lovely book' - 5 STARS

'Fun and whimsy, plus a dog!' - 5 STARS

'Nicola May is a brilliant, relevant writer for today, exposing today's issues with tenderness, and always demonstrating a warm, human, heartfelt response' - 5 STARS

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US


** Chapter 1 **

‘I bet even the real Sid Vicious didn’t shit in his bathwater.’ Kara Moon stared down at the noxious poo in the terrapin’s tank.

‘Ooh, I bet he did,’ her boyfriend Jago murmured whilst flattening down his dark-brown Beatles-style haircut and patting his khaki jacket pockets in turn. ‘Seen my keys, Moo Moo?’

Kara cringed inwardly at her once much-adored nick- name. Then, retrieving the keys from the orderly rack in the kitchen, she came back through the open archway into their compact living space.

A lone beam of golden sunlight made its jittery mark across the wooden floor as it seeped through the open crack of the balcony door. The sounds of mewing seagulls and creaking yacht masts in the estuary harbour rose up from below, comforting and familiar, yet they did not ease the gnawing feeling in Kara Moon’s stomach. Hoping for a different answer to the one she was expecting, she asked casually, ‘Where are you going this early, anyway?’

As Jago reached for his battered Beatles key ring, Kara caught a whiff of the Gucci aftershave she had given him for Christmas. He looked at her with a perplexed expression. ‘It’s Jobcentre day. You know I always go over to Crowsbridge on a Friday.’

‘How could I possibly forget?’ Kara said sarcastically. ‘Oh yes, maybe because it’s been eighteen months and you still haven’t come back with a job.’

‘Don’t start.’

‘It’s just, James Bond needs his flea stuff and I’m not sure if there’s enough money in the blue pot and—’

Ignoring her pitiful plea, Jago went to the open hallway, jumped down two stairs at a time, then looked back to say in a patronising tone, ‘My little Ginger Princess. You look quite pretty when you forget to tie your hair up in that stupid ponytail.’

Fighting back tears, Kara put her hand to the back of her long, messy auburn waves as her errant beau of eight years stalled again to say nastily, ‘And why aren’t you at work? Or did you stupidly forget about that too?’

Kara sighed deeply and held her palm up to him. ‘Just go, Jago. You mustn’t be late now, must you.’

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. The famous Lennon- McCartney lyrics that Kara had chosen for his special key ring followed after Jago as he hurried down the stairs, jumped down the last three and went out, slamming the door.

To try and regain a modicum of inner peace, Kara stood still for a minute and stared out of the window at nothing in particular. Here she was, at thirty-three years old, living with a jobless, feckless, twenty-nine-year-old youth, with no mention or hope of plans for the future. And despite her working her butt off to support the two of them, she seemed to barely make ends meet, let alone save any money. The more cash she put aside in the blue ceramic savings pot for unseen eventualities and ‘nice things’ like holidays or week- ends away, the more excuses Jago Ellis found to dip into it. In fact, tragically, the only holiday they had ever been on together was a long weekend to Liverpool where she was dragged around every street and tourist attraction to satisfy his insatiable hunger for anything and everything relating to his precious obsession: the Beatles.

Deftly avoiding a bite from Sid Vicious, Kara swore loudly and continued to hold back the tears she had been gripping on to. Then, gagging as she pulled her pink rubber washing-up gloves up as far as they would go, she scooped up the offending smelly mess in the tiny net bought for the purpose.

It was five years ago when Jago had arrived home drunk, carrying a huge tank up the steep stairs, slopping water as he went. And five years ago when the job of looking after this poor little reptile, first seen by Kara hanging on to a rock for dear life, had become her responsibility. She lifted her head in thought. Had they been getting on then? She couldn’t remember.

Their living room with a view offered an optical illusion of space but despite the long bay window seat and door out on to the balcony, there was barely room for their table/ desk with a couple of dining chairs and a sagging, two-seater sofa. Jago had cack-handedly fixed a TV far too big for the room to the wall above the fireplace. And the glass shelf that was eventually put up for the tank to sit on was placed at such an angle that when poor Sid wanted to get out of the water and bask under his heat lamp, it took him several attempts to scrabble his way up the slope to his rock. A canvas of the iconic Abbey Road Beatles cover hung on the wall above him; it was as if the Fab Four were taunting the little terrapin with their ability to walk in a straight line.

Despite the lack of space in the two-bedroomed flat, when Kara had caught sight of the Painted Turtle’s cute little prehistoric face, she didn’t have the heart to say he had to go back to the pet shop from whence he came. And by the time she had got around to googling ‘How long do terrapins live’ and realised it could be up to thirty years, it was too late: Sid Vicious, the most aggressive reptile in Cornwall, along with James Bond, the skinny twelve-year-old black- and-white rescue moggy, with his furry white tuxedo and 007 air of nonchalance, were now very much part of their dysfunctional little Ferry Lane family.

Grimacing, she emptied the terrapin’s mess into one of the big terracotta flowerpots on the first-floor balcony. Then, taking in the fresh sea air, she looked down to see the welcome sight of her father opening the metal gates of the ferry float and Jago running across the road towards it at full pelt so as not to miss its prompt departure.

As if sensing his daughter’s sad eyes on him, Joe Moon looked up, smiled, waved, then turned his attention to beckoning the queuing cars on to the beloved car and passenger ferry service – the thriving business that had been part of the Moon family’s life for as long as Kara could remember.

Nicola May writes 'chick lit with a kick' and is the internationally bestselling author of eleven romantic comedies. All have appeared in the Kindle bestseller charts. The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay became the best-selling Kindle book in the UK across all genres in January 2019 and March 2020 respectively. It was also the second best-selling eBook of 2019 in the UK. Nicola's books have also been sold in many languages.

Visit Nicola online:
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Visit Hodder Books online:

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Friday, July 23, 2021

Book Review: The Promise of Summer


By Sara Steven

After years of dating losers, cheats and one guy who did something unrepeatable to her kettle, Ruby has all but given up on romance. But then a stranger sits next to her on a train to London and explains his plan to propose to the woman of his dreams. Maybe true love does exist after all?

When the man accidentally leaves the engagement ring behind, Ruby is determined to save the day. But she hasn't counted on fellow passenger Curtis stepping in and insisting he should be the one to track the stranger down.   

As summer closes in, the unlikely pair make a promise to reunite the ring with its owner. But can they find their own happy ever after along the way? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I’m all for unique scenarios that bring unlikely characters together. The Promise of Summer delivered on that premise, and more! 

It’s not every day that you run into someone on a train who leaves behind an engagement ring, but that’s exactly the type of situation Ruby finds herself in. Driven by the need to see someone find their own happily-ever-after, she and her newfound acquaintance, Curtis, go on a mad hunt to try to find the owner of the ring.  The way the story progresses and the means in which both Ruby and Curtis learn more about one another was cleverly written and felt magical, yet held a ton of realism within the magic. Ruby is so driven to help the stranger find happiness because she doesn’t have that in her own life, where romance is concerned. And, Curtis is incredibly standoffish and admits to not really knowing what love is about, coming off as closed off from the rest of the world.

In some respects, Curtis’s personality reminded me of my teenage son. While my son can be affectionate and loving, he’s never been the type to be overly affectionate and prefers to show his affection in other ways. I think largely due to that, Curtis was one of my favorite characters. I could see the gradual shifts when he chooses to open up more to Ruby, someone he sees as just a friend, and she claims to feel the same way about him. She has to work for and earn his trust; he won't give it easily. The undercurrents between them made me wish that there would be more going on whenever they were highlighted within the book.

Honorable mention goes to Ruby’s best friend, Kim. Both women work together as florists and while they often lean on each other, there are a few secrets they’ve managed to keep from one another’s reach. It was interesting to see how they’d handle that--whether it would strengthen the friendship, or cause more distance. While Ruby is looking for the stranger in an effort to return the engagement ring, Kim is dealing with her own intriguing scenarios, starting with a man from her past, and a man who could potentially be her future. Or, are they the same person? All of that unfolded gently and freely, making it, and the rest of The Promise of Summer, a pleasurable, five-star experience.

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Kobo

Bella Osborne has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. Since then she’s written seven best selling romantic comedies and she’s been shortlisted three times for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award. 

Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Book Review: Pug Actually

By Cindy Roesel

Doug is more than a cute pug you want to pick up and hug. In Matt Dunn’s novel, PUG ACTUALLY (MIRA) Doug the pug is one determined sassy four-legged match-maker. Doug loves his owner, Julie, who rescued him with all of his heart. But he doesn’t think much of her boss and lover, Luke. Julie wants to break-up with Luke but she’s afraid she’ll become a lonely cat lady. Can Doug the pug help Julie find love?

Everyone in Julie’s orbit knows Luke is bad for her, but she won’t listen to reason so it’s up to Doug the pug to make her realize that love and happiness is possible for her. Her dad hooks her up with divorced neighbor, Tom, who Doug the pug thinks is perfect, but for reasons you’ll read in the book that pairing crashes and burns. Or does it?

PUG ACTUALLY is a quick, fun and lighthearted read. It’s a delightful romantic comedy that both romcom fans and dog lovers will find cheerful and charming. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the other book narrated by a dog that I read and enjoyed, Enzo in THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. Maybe PUG ACTUALLY will also be turned into a movie. We can hope.

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

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway: Ruthless Women

By Sara Steven

Broadcast to millions from its picturesque location off the coast of Jersey, Falcon Bay was once the world's most popular soap opera. But with ratings at an all-time low, a new network owner, the malevolent Madeline Kane, arrives on the private island determined to do whatever it takes to get the show back to the number one slot.

Director Farrah, leading lady Catherine and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who've been trying to hold the production together. But thanks to their handsome but corrupt boss, Jake Monroe, Farrah is losing episodes to male colleagues, seventy-year-old Catherine is terrified of losing the public's adoration, and Amanda is battling her desire for a forbidden affair with a handsome new employee.

As Madeline's pressure to revive the show intensifies, she unleashes a true battle of the sexes where the women will do anything to stay in the jobs they love and on the island they call home. Can they team up to bring down their rivals? Or will jealousy, betrayal and revenge rip their friendships apart? As the story reaches its shocking climax, one thing is for certain: only the most ruthless woman will survive…
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Ooh, boy. From start to finish, Ruthless Women takes you on a drama ride, and you never know if and when you will ever get off of it, or if you even want to! For most of the journey through Falcon Bay’s history, I didn’t know what would happen or what secrets were in store, particularly with Madeline Kane. So much of what drives her is very much shrouded in mystery. 

All of the women are forces to be reckoned with, and in later decades of their life. I really appreciated reading a book that I can relate to, given my own age, and the entire time I read it, I thought, “Women can be so strong and amazing” no matter how old they are. I think there have been more and more examples of that in recent years, but Ruthless Women had that in abundance. 

The synopsis mentions the shocking climax, and it really, really was. I thought for sure it would go in one direction, but what ended up happening had come out of left field and I did NOT see it coming! I loved that so much! It also ended on a little cliffhanger, with what I hope could be a potential continuation that involves Jake and other characters within the story.  

To be honest, I’m not really into soap operas in general, but from start to finish, I was completely engrossed and wanted to see how the story would play out. The experience would appeal to anyone looking for drama, suspenseful situations, and a little bit of danger and spice mixed in from the various steamy scenes that are sprinkled throughout the pages. It was a little bit Desperate Housewives, combined with Sex and the City; a well-deserved five-star read!

Thanks to Kaye Publicity 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 July 26th at midnight EST.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Spotlight: The Liability of Love

Margaret Carlyle is searching for an epic love as she heads to college in 1979 after the loss of her beloved mother to cancer. When a charismatic boy named Anders rapes her on their first date, she wants nothing more than to forget it ever happened. But as the years pass, each life decision she makes seems driven by what happened that night. 

When Anders becomes famous as an actor, Margaret can no longer ignore her past―and she must make choices that will affect everyone around her, most notably her husband, Douglas, and Fitz, the man who has loved her patiently since college. 

This deeply moving novel is a window into class and privilege, the mysteries of marriage, and the destructive power of secrets―and an examination of what happens when we try to bury the past, as well as the consequences of confronting it.

"A poignant tale of love, loss, and secrets, The Liability of Love is a heart-wrenching, compassionate portrayal of survival--of what happens when old wounds are left untended, when quiet pain refuses to stay silent any longer, and when we allow ourselves a second chance. Gorgeously written; Susan Schoenberger has crafted a story that will remain with you long after you turned the last page." 
―Amber Smith, New York Times best-selling author of The Way I Used to Be

"The Liability of Love is a gorgeously written novel about how one terrible moment can ripple through a person's life, and those around her, in ways both great and small. Susan Schoenberger masterfully weaves a beautiful, gripping tale filled with empathetic and well-drawn characters. An unforgettable and moving story of love, loss, and, ultimately, survival."
--Jillian Cantor, USA Today best-selling author of Half Life

Susan Schoenberger is the award-winning author of A Watershed Year and The Virtues of Oxygen. With a linotypist as a grandfather, she has ink in her blood and worked as a journalist and copyeditor for many years, including The Baltimore Sun and 12 years with The Hartford Courant. She currently serves as Director of Communications at Hartford Seminary, a graduate school with a focus on interfaith dialogue. She lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, with her husband Kevin. They have three grown children and a small dog named Leo. 

Visit Susan online:
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Monday, July 19, 2021

Spotlight: The Final Girl Support Group

A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant
New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized—someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

Purchase The Final Girl Support Group

New York Times bestselling author Grady Hendrix makes up lies and sells them to people. His novels include HORRORSTÖR about a haunted IKEA, MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM, which is basically Beaches meets The Exorcist, WE SOLD OUR SOULS, a heavy metal horror epic, THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES, and THE FINAL GIRL SUPPORT GROUP. He's also the author of PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, an award-winning history of the horror paperback boom of the Seventies and Eighties. He wrote the screenplay for, MOHAWK, a horror flick about the War of 1812, and SATANIC PANIC about a pizza delivery woman fighting rich Satanists. You can discover more ridiculous facts about him at his website. (Photo and bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Grady online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter

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Friday, July 16, 2021

Spotlight: The Lost Girl of Berlin

The truck stopped for a moment in the freezing, bombed-out street and Kate caught sight of a little girl in a ragged dress on the steps of a once-beautiful mansion. The child’s eyes were startling blue, a pair of endless pools, drawing Kate towards her…

1946, Berlin. War correspondent Kate Mancini is in Germany, reporting on the aftermath of the devastating war. For her readers back home in New York, she tells the stories of innocent families, trying to rebuild the wreckage of their lives now the soldiers have left at last. But in the Russian-held sector of Berlin on an icy winter’s day, Kate breaks all the rules, rescuing Mia Stein, a silent orphan who she fears will otherwise perish.

Together with her fellow journalist, handsome Rick Shearer, Kate manages to find a safe house for Mia before she returns to America and vows to keep in touch. Back home, the reality of post-war life for women is stark. Whilst Rick walks into his dream job, no newspaper will hire a woman. The editors laugh her out of their offices, telling her to get married and raise a family. Rick does all he can to support her, as she takes her first steps towards the new medium of television news, and their friendship deepens into something more.

Then tragedy strikes: Rick is falsely named as a communist sympathizer. He is arrested, blacklisted and faces prison.

Kate knows she must do all she can to free the man she loves. But that means returning to Germany, to seek out the little orphan girl who is her only chance at salvation. Kate and Rick saved Mia—will she help them both now? And even if Kate succeeds, freedom might never be hers when she returns home…

From Amazon Charts bestseller Ella Carey comes an utterly heartbreaking historical novel, inspired by true events, about the courage, love and friendships that sustain us in the darkest of days. Fans of Fiona Davis, All the Light We Cannot See and My Name is Eva will be totally captivated.

Purchase The Lost Girl of Berlin

Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen languages, in twelve countries, and have been shortlisted for ARRA awards. A Francophile who has long been fascinated by secret histories set in Europe’s entrancing past, Ella has degrees in music, nineteenth-century women’s fiction, and modern European history. She lives in Melbourne with her two children and two Italian greyhounds who are constantly mistaken for whippets. 

Ella loves to connect with her readers regularly through her Facebook page and on her website. 

Visit Ella online:

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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Spotlight and Giveaway: Yoga Pant Nation

Today we are featuring Yoga Pant Nation, the third novel in Laurie Gelman's Class Mom series. While it can be read as a standalone, there may be spoilers for Class Mom and/or You've Been Volunteered. Thanks to Henry Holt, we have FIVE copies to give away!

From the author of
Class Mom and You've Been Volunteered comes Yoga Pant Nation--a novel about one mom's challenges through parenting and life, keeping her on her toes and perpetually in yoga pants.

Jen Dixon of Overland Park, Kansas—fearless mother of a fifth-grade boy and two thirty-something daughters—is used to juggling a lot, from her mission to become a spin instructor, to stepping in as the most acerbic class mom ever (again), to taking care of her two-year-old granddaughter. But when the PTA president throws her a mandate to raise $10,000 for the fifth-grade class, even unflappable Jen is going to need more than her regular spin class to get her through this final year at William Taft Elementary School.

In the midst of new complications—organizing the class overnight to Topeka, an unexpected spin class fan in the form of her husband’s crazy ex-wife, and trying to navigate her parents’ sudden descent into apparent delusions—Jen hardly has the patience to listen to yet another half-baked idea (come on, ladies, another wrapping paper sale?) from WeFUKCT (We Fundraise Until Kingdom Come Team), her fundraising committee. But if anyone can get elementary parents to pull off the impossible, it’s Jen Dixon.

With her always irreverent and laugh-out-loud humor—boldly holding forth on those things you’re thinking, but would never dare say out loud—Laurie Gelman shines a light on the indignities and hilarities of modern parenting.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Another home run for Laurie Gelman! Yoga Pant Nation is hilarious and warm, with sharp observations and unforgettable characters. When I wasn’t laughing, I was cheering, rooting for a chaotic yet loving family that somehow manages to figure it all out."
―Byron Lane, author of A Star Is Bored

"By page three, I had already laughed out loud five times. Jen Dixon, everyone's favorite class mom, is back and better than ever. Gelman's razor sharp wit never falters in this page-turner. PTA-philes and phobes alike will revel in this hysterical romp, which packs big feelings and genuine emotion while delivering a chuckle a minute."
Elyssa Friedland, author of Last Summer at the Golden Hotel

“Hilarious mom, daughter, wife, and grandma…not to mention room mom and overachieving fundraiser―Jen Dixon is the friend we all need in the journey of life!”
Julie Chan, host of Beyond the Book with Julie

Photo by Jonathan Breton
Laurie Gelman was born and raised in the Great White North. She spent twenty-five years as a broadcaster in both Canada and the United States before trying her hand at writing novels. The author of Class Mom and You’ve Been Volunteered, Laurie has appeared on Live with Kelly and Ryan, Watch What Happens Live, and The Talk, among others. She lives in New York City with her husband, Michael Gelman, and their two teenage daughters.

Visit Laurie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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

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Giveaway ends July 20th at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Sara and Melissa Talk About...Birthdays

We've been running a column series to get more personal with our readers. This month, since we're both July babies, we're talking about birthdays!

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:                                                                                                                                 
Melissa made a particular comment recently, after I told her about the power outage I experienced out here in Arizona just a couple of days ago. We’re smack dab in the middle of monsoon season, and while scrambling around in a dark house barely lit by cell phone lights, I remembered the tealight candles she sent my way, as part of my special birthday box. She’s always sending the neatest things for my birthday. 

I’d already packed up nearly all of my candles--we’re moving soon, so I didn’t think I needed candles. I have just the one that I leave as a decorative piece within a white shiny bird cage, and a tiny orange tealight in an orange vase that reads: “Shine a Light.” When I relayed all of that to her, she said, “It’s beshert.”

I’ve heard the phrase before, but I looked it up again, just to be sure. Beshert means, “destiny.” And I believe it was destiny. In fact, the day before I’d contemplated packing the box up and adding it to our ever-growing pile meant for storage, before we make the big move. Yet, I didn’t. My birthday candles really came in handy. 


I played a few card games by candlelight with my husband and son while we waited out the monsoon. At one point, we needed a set of dice, and my son ran off to retrieve the dice he’d received from another friend of mine when she went to Vegas recently. Somehow, they’d eluded the packing surge and were tucked away in a desk drawer. Another beshert moment. Then later in the evening, while we were winding down and counting the hours before we were promised power again, the kid was up for reading one of his Dog Man books, but there wasn’t enough light to make that happen. Is it crazy that Melissa had also packed a clip-on book reading light in the birthday box, too?

The older I get, birthdays begin to feel like just another day. My fortieth was pretty spectacular, with friends and family living it up into the early morning hours before we all crashed and burned with massive hangovers the next morning. But that was three years ago. It feels like the digits between the big 4-0 and 5-0 are just that--digits. And I’m fine with that. I’m happy with cake. Maybe dinner out. I appreciate the gifts I receive, but I don’t focus on them. I nearly forgot my own birthday this year, because there’s so much going on right now and it hasn’t been a priority for me. 

Yet, it’s hard to ignore the “beshert” moments, like this one. Even when I’m not focused on my own needs, my friends have my back. Even when they might not realize it. It all lined up to make a scary, unpleasant night a lot more bearable for all of us, which shows that the people who come into our lives can be our own beshert experiences.   

Melissa Amster:                                                                                       
My birthday is coming up in less than a week. I always look forward to it, even if it's a simple celebration. It's an affirmation of life. This year's birthday puts me halfway to another milestone, which is hard to believe sometimes. In any case, I always enjoy all the Facebook messages from friends and family. I definitely feel the birthday love from near and far. I also give away books every year, either on my personal blog or on social media. I think I will be doing it through my bookstagram this year.

Over the past few years, I've usually taken a "me day" on my birthday. I don't do any work and just relax and do something for myself. I also like having date nights with my husband on or around my birthday. There have been years that I've had a party, usually on Shabbat, with friends from my community. Every year, it varies, just based on what I want to do. Some of them have been a blur over the years. One year, my son got strep, which ended up derailing my "me day," but watched The Karate Kid together and then my in-laws babysat while my husband and I saw Evita at night. That was five years ago. I did end up getting a manicure and pedicure the next day though. 

Last year, thanks to Covid, I didn't do that much, but I watched A Mighty Wind, which is a movie I enjoy. Had I known two days later that I would be laid off from my full-time job (which I am okay with because it has led me to a different path), I might not have taken the day off as it wouldn't have mattered soon anyway. The best part of my birthday was a video card my husband made, where he dubbed his own voice into scenes from Schitt's Creek, trying to do impressions of each character. He totally nailed David's voice and we still laugh about that. He did the same thing with a Randy Rainbow Cameo afterward. While  it wasn't a real Cameo video from Randy, it still made me laugh a lot. Speaking of Cameos, my BFF and her husband got me one from 90 Day Fiance's Loren last year, which was really sweet. While Sara enjoys my gifts, I equally love hers. She got me this Sodastream flavor that I had trouble finding at the store, as well as a David Rose mug. 

I don't have set birthday plans this year, but there are some things I'd like to do, such as having dinner with my family and going to this cool nighttime outdoor art display. Here's to hoping that actually happens!

When is your birthday? What did you do/are you doing to celebrate?

Chantel Guertin is an a book giveaway

We are pleased to welcome Chantel Guertin back to CLC. She visited us back when we first started in 2010, so we have a lot to catch up on. As soon as Melissa saw her latest novel, Instamom, she knew she just had to read it. She loved it and has a five-star review to share. Thanks to Kathleen Carter Communications, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

Chantel Guertin is a bestselling author, brand ambassador, and Toronto-based beauty expert whose own life story reflects elements of Instamom. She has been the first-ever beauty editor at ELLE CANADA and a founding editor at THE KIT. Currently, she is the beauty expert on Canada's number-one daytime talk show, The Marilyn Denis Show, and runs Ghost Bureau, a content marketing agency based out of Toronto, with her husband.

Visit Chantel online:

In this #funny, #wise, #emotionally compelling look at modern love and finding your true path, a proudly kid-free influencer meets the ultimate #dealbreaker . . .

It’s the influencer’s golden rule: know your niche. Kit Kidding has found hers on Instagram, where she gets paid to promote brands and share expertly curated posts about her fun, fabulous, child-free life. Kit likes kids just fine, but she passionately believes that women who choose not to become mothers shouldn’t have to face guilt. Or judgement. Or really hot chefs who turn out to be single dads.
Will MacGregor is aggravating, sexy, persistent, averse to social media, and definitely a bad idea. As soon as Kit learns his parenting status, she vows to put their scorching one-night stand behind her and move on. But Will and Kit are thrown together on an Instagram campaign, and the more time she spends with him—and his whip-smart, eight-year-old daughter, Addie—the more difficult it is to stay away, much less sustain what Will so cleverly calls her “Resting Beach Face.” 

Kit’s picture-perfect career path is suddenly clashing with the possibility of a different future—messy, complicated, and real. Which life does she truly want? Will she have to re-invent herself? And will love still be waiting by the time she figures it out?
(Courtesy of Amazon)

"Chantel Guertin's Instamom is the #InstaFun rom-com you need right now: witty and spirited, with a modern love story that satisfies thanks to a charming meet-cute and timely insights. Pitch-perfect, sexy and smart! #LovedIt."
 —Karma Brown, bestselling author of Recipe for a Perfect Wife

"Instamom has it all: a heroine you'll wish you were friends with, a male lead you'll want to date, and a cast of characters that make this smart, refreshing story about love and life choices truly shine. Chantel Guertin made me laugh, she made me swoon, she made me obsessively turn pages—but she also made me think deeply about how our pasts shape our futures, and how change takes courage. Perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Emily Henry, this is the book you'll be telling all your friends to read next!" 
—Marissa Stapley, bestselling author of Lucky

"Fun, romantic, and thought-provoking, Instamom explores a woman's journey to discover what she needs as opposed to what she always thought she wanted. Chantel Guertin's characters are so endearing and compelling, and the story is full of joy, hope, and inspiration. A perfect escape read that will also empower you to reach for your dreams." 
—Samantha M. Bailey, USA Today and #1 national bestselling author of Woman on the Edge

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I love whenever I hear someone laughed and cried. 
What is something you've learned from writing your previous novels that you applied to Instamom?

Every book needs a good hook! Before I really started writing Instamom I made sure that my heroine had a really strong problem she needed to solve.   
If Instamom were made into a movie, what are some songs that would be on the soundtrack?
“Hannah Sun” by Lomelda
“Kissing in the Rain” by Soccer Mommy
“Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers
“Saw You in a Dream” by The Japanese House
“Traitor” by Olivia Rodrigo
“Evermore” by Bon Iver & Taylor Swift
Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
My husband and I are watching Bridgerton together. I went to Bath to research my new novel (where Bridgerton was filmed) and took a Bridgerton tour, which was super fun to see the spots in the show (and some of the bloopers).  
What have you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I always thought of myself as a planner, but the pandemic made me realize I actually don’t like having to plan out every second of every day. With no sports practices or lessons to get the kids to, there were often no plans for days on end, and I loved that. It was so nice to know that we could all eat dinner together at 6 p.m.  
What is your go-to refreshment in the summer?
Rosé. I try not to drink it all day though 😉

Thanks to Chantel 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 July 19th at midnight EST.

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