Friday, October 29, 2021

Reviews at Amazon--September/October 2021

We're posting some reviews at our Amazon accounts, as either they've been sitting in queue for a while and deserve their time in the sun, fall under our featuring policy, or they're new reads that we couldn't wait to post at the blog. You can check them out at the links below. Hope we can help you find your next favorite book!




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Book Review: Out of Love

By Jami Denison

“Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl” is the standard three-act structure for a romance or romantic comedy. “Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl” is the structure for a drama or tragedy. In her debut novel, author Hazel Hayes decides to run things backwards. Out of Love, released internationally in 2020 but just out now in Kindle format for American audiences, starts with the painful breakup and then goes back in time all the way through a couple’s first meeting. Reminiscent of movies like Memento and books such as One Day, the novel aims to answer the question, where did it all start to go wrong? 

Out of Love is a first-person account, told in such a stream of consciousness that we never learn the heroine’s name. Her boyfriend is Theo, and when we first meet them, she has packed up his things at the end of their five-year relationship. The first few chapters are a very painful look at everything going wrong, at least from her perspective: His crush on a co-worker. His late nights at work. His preoccupation with the gym. His obsession with his phone. As the book goes back even further, we see everything else that has contributed to their break-up: Damaged parents. Abusive exes. Unresolved sexualities. At this point, the writing’s on the wall. Why can’t she see it?

Some books come with trigger warnings for sexual abuse, drug use, etc. This book should come with the warning that it will make you re-live your worst breakup ever. The first chapter is such a detailed exploration of all the pain the heroine goes through—the closet without his shirts, the ignored texts, the inability to eat, the badmouthing to friends—that I could barely get through it. At that point, I found the backwards structure a little frustrating, because after all that pain, I wanted to see more of the heroine. I wanted to know if she found a better partner than Theo, if she resolved the outstanding issues from her past.

Out of Love does not deliver the big twists that the novels One Day or In Five Years imparts. With reviews giving those comparisons, I was a little disappointed not to have a surprise at the end. But perhaps that is the surprise. When relationships end, looking back on them, their demises seem inevitable. In the beginning, though, they look like fairy tales. 

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

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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Spotlight and Giveaway: FOUR holiday books!

Today we are featuring three new Christmas novels that published this month and one that will be publishing in a few weeks (The Christmas Bookshop). These novels are sure to put you in a holiday mood. The publishers are giving away one copy of each, so we'll have FOUR winners for this giveaway!

Thanks to Berkley for the giveaway copy

Travel magazine writer Celeste Bell is used to being alone. Her demanding job takes her across the globe but leaves little time for friends or relationships. And after the death of her mother a year earlier, she is more alone than ever. Looking to spend the Christmas holidays in the sunny Caribbean, she is dismayed when her flight is diverted to Sea Spray Island in Massachusetts. Now it looks like she’ll have to spend Christmas there. Celeste is desperate to avoid any emotional entanglements and all holiday festivities. After the year she’s had, she just doesn’t feel like celebrating.

But that’s exactly what community center executive director Nathan White and his young daughter, Abigail, want to do. After suffering a terrible loss, Nathan is entirely focused on making sure that his daughter has a happy Christmas, especially with the knowledge that if he can’t raise money for the community center soon, it will close, and they’ll have to leave the island. When he meets Celeste, Nathan begins to feel a connection and wonders if he’s brave enough to risk his heart once more.

Visit Carrie on Twitter.

Christmas by the Book 
by Anne Marie Ryan

Thanks to Putnam for the giveaway copy.

Nora and her husband, Simon, have run the beautiful oak-beamed book shop in their small British village for thirty years. But times are tough and the shop is under threat of closure--this Christmas season will really decide their fate. When an elderly man visits the store and buys the one book they've never been able to sell, saying it's the perfect gift for his sick grandson, it gives Nora an idea. She and Simon will send out books to those feeling down this Christmas. Maybe they can't save their bookstore, but at least they'll have one final chance to lift people's spirits through the power of reading.

After gathering nominations online, Nora and Simon quietly deliver books to six residents of the village in need of some festive cheer, including a single dad of twins who is working hard to make ends meet, a teenage boy grieving for his big sister, a local Member of Parliament who is battling depression, and a teacher who's newly retired and living on her own. As the town prepares for a white Christmas, the books begin to give the recipients hope, one by one. But with the future of the bookshop still up in the air, Nora and Simon will need a Christmas miracle--or perhaps a little help from the people whose lives they've touched--to find a happy ending of their own.

Visit Anne Marie on Twitter.

Thanks to Putnam for the giveaway copy.

Annie Sharpe’s spark for life has fizzled out. Her kids are grown up, her restaurant is doing just fine on its own, and her twenty-six-year marriage has come to an unceremonious end. Untethered for the first time in her adult life, Annie doesn't know what to do with herself. But when she finds a winter guardian position in a historic seaside home, she decides to leave her city life behind for a brand new beginning.

When she arrives at Willow Bay, Annie is instantly enamored by the charming house, the invigorating sea breeze, and the town’s rich seasonal traditions. Not to mention, her neighbors receive her with open arms—that is, all except for the surly and rugged nephew of the homeowner, who seems intent on making Annie feel unwelcome. His grand plans for the property are directly at odds with her long-term stay. As Christmas approaches, tensions and tides rise in Willow Bay, and Annie’s future is looking less and less certain. But with a little can-do spirit and holiday magic, the most difficult season of her life will become A SEASON FOR SECOND CHANCES.

Visit Jenny on Twitter.

The Christmas Bookshop 
by Jenny Colgan

Thanks to William Morrow for the giveaway copy.

THE CHRISTMAS BOOKSHOP opens with Carmen laid off from her department store job, leaving her with perilously little cash right before the holidays. Too late to apply elsewhere, she only has one option – spending Christmas with her perfect sister Sofia, in Sofia’s perfect house with her perfect children, and her perfectly ordered yuppie life which does not appeal. And frankly, Sofia doesn’t exactly want her prickly sister Carmen there either.

But Sofia has yet another baby on the way, has a mother desperate to see her daughters get along, and has a client who needs help revitalizing his shabby old bookshop. Carmen has no choice but to move in and take the job.

Thrown rather suddenly into the inner workings of Mr. McCredie’s ancient bookshop on the picturesque streets of historic Edinburgh, Carmen is intrigued despite herself. The store is dusty and disorganized but undeniably charming. Can she breathe some new life into it in time for Christmas shopping? What will happen when a famous and charismatic author takes a sudden interest in the bookshop—and Carmen?  And will the Christmas spirit be enough to help heal her fractured family?

Visit Jenny on Facebook, Twitter, and 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 November 2nd at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Book Review: A Christmas a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

Caroline is a cynic career woman living the high life in Manhattan where love and relationships are but a distant memory of the past.

But after a freak accident on Christmas Eve, Caroline receives a visit from a cheeky spirit of Christmas Past, Present, Yet to Come, and—most importantly—Christmas That Could Have Been. When she wakes up on Christmas Day suddenly married with three kids and living two doors down from her parents in New Jersey, Caroline has a chance to experience the life she would’ve had if she’d made a different choice.

Will small-town life as a mother and a wife make her rediscover what’s really important in life?

A modern-day retelling of A Christmas Carol… (synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

A Christmas Caroline was the perfect mash-up of A Christmas Carol and the film, The Family Man! Caroline is a high-powered publishing executive who has fallen out of love with the things that have grounded her, preferring money and success over creativity and connection. Even the first few pages pin her personality down perfectly, when she deals with a few of her employees with the personality of the meanest Miranda Priestly you can ever imagine. The thought of the big “C” word--Christmas--is enough to make her want to break out in hives, and she can’t wait to finish meeting up with her family for the obligatory holidays and move on with her blessed life.

But it’s obvious that even with all of her success, there is a lot that is missing from Caroline’s life. So much so, that after her freak accident, she finds herself transported back seven or so years in time, before the money and proprietary fame. She ends up living in some alternative universe, which is passed off as amnesia to her husband and children, attempting to survive an endless stream of poopy diapers, carpool lanes, after-school activities, and lacking the ever-growing security she felt she had when she had economic security. 

It’s a bumpy ride, but a good one. I loved seeing the vast differences between who Caroline had been when she was a publishing executive, to who she discovers she could be when she’s a wife and mother, branching out in other ways that had been so important to her at one point in time. What’s the appropriate measure of success? I think that varies from person to person, and that is pretty apparent here for Caroline. The image of what she had always seen as “success” changes with each passing day, as well as what she feels is most important in her life. 

I really enjoyed A Christmas Caroline, bah humbug! It’s the perfect read for the upcoming holidays; a well-deserved five-star experience!  

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Apple 

Camilla Isley is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad.

She's a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading--duh!--cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies--popcorn, please. She's a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn't want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Visit Camilla online:
Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway to Win 3 x e-copies of A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley (Open worldwide!)

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

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Giveaway ends November 6th. 

Visit all the stops on Camilla's blog tour: 

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Connecting with Melissa a book giveaway

Photo by Eric Weber (2020)
We're pleased to welcome Melissa Payne to CLC today. Her latest novel, The Night of Many Endings, sounds really interesting and was compared to The Breakfast Club by a reviewer on Amazon. Melissa is here to tell us more about it and thanks to Get Red PR, we have one copy to give away!

Melissa Payne is the bestselling, award-winning author of The Secrets of Lost Stones and Memories in the Drift. For as long as she can remember, Melissa has been telling stories in one form or another—from high school newspaper articles to a graduate thesis to blogging about marriage and motherhood. But she first learned the real importance of storytelling when she worked for a residential and day treatment center for abused and neglected children. There she wrote speeches and letters to raise funds for the children. The truth in those stories was piercing and painful and written to invoke a call to action in the reader: to give, to help, to make a difference. Melissa’s love of writing and sharing stories in all forms has endured. She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three children, a friendly mutt, a very loud cat, and the occasional bear. (Bio courtesy of Melissa's website.)

Visit Melissa online:

Orphaned at a young age and witness to her brother’s decline into addiction, Nora Martinez has every excuse to question the fairness of life. Instead, the openhearted librarian in the small Colorado community of Silver Ridge sees only promise. She holds on to the hope that she’ll be reunited with her missing brother and does what she can at the town library. It’s her home away from home, but it’s also a sanctuary for others who, like her brother, could use a second chance.

There’s Marlene, an elderly loner who believes that, apart from her husband, there’s little good left in the world; Jasmine, a troubled teen; Lewis, a homeless man with lost hope and one last wish; and Vlado, the security guard who loves a good book and, from afar, Nora.

As a winter storm buries Silver Ridge, this collection of lonely hearts takes shelter in the library. They’ll discover more about each other, and themselves, than they ever knew—and Nora will be forced to question her brother’s disappearance in ways she never could have imagined. No matter how stranded in life they feel, this fateful night could be the new beginning they didn’t think was possible. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I love to create real and relatable characters that draw readers into the story and make them want to keep reading until they figure out what happens next. When a reader emotionally connects to one of my characters so much that they think about her even after the last page, I am touched. Sometimes, readers reach out to tell me that they had similar experiences to a character and that her story reflected their own journeys in authentic ways. Or that they learned something new or experienced the world in a different way by reading about a person very different from themselves. Anytime that happens, I take it as a compliment and find encouragement to keep writing and learning and telling stories.
How is Nora similar to or different from you?
Because of the accident that killed her parents and traumatized her brother, Nora is convinced that she alone is responsible for the sobriety of her brother. Much of her life has revolved around his ups and downs, his success and failures. She doesn’t see how that has stunted her own life or how much of her own pain she’s buried with her sacrifices. While I can’t relate to the exact experiences of Nora, I can understand the pull of family and the desire to help the ones we love.   
If The Night of Many Endings was made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
This question is so fun because what author doesn’t love to picture their characters on the big screen? However, sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly who would be the right fit because we live in our characters heads for so long. I’d cast America Ferrera as Nora. I adored her in Ugly Betty and think she would bring the right balance of fierce devotion, internal grief, and loving care of others. For Marlene, I think Jean Smart would be perfect. She’s got just the right sardonic wit and underlying kindness that makes Marlene both unlikeable and loveable. Finally, I’d cast Jeff Bridges as Lewis because he has the perfect grit and the kind of gruff exterior that I envisioned when I wrote him.
What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
One of my favorite books that I read in this last year was The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s a story full of heart, beauty and courage and it had me reading late into the night. I loved Xiomara’s journey and how every poem and page stitched this beautiful story together. 
What is something you have learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I learned that a little bit of downtime is a good thing, too much of it can hobble creativity, but that if we wait for the moment or the world to be perfect, we’ll miss out on all the good stuff that happens in the chaos. 
What is the strangest Halloween experience you've ever had?
When I was in graduate school, my program had offices in an old building called The Ridges. Built in 1874, this building had originally been a mental hospital up until the early 1970s. When I was there, part of the old hospital had been converted to office space, which included a computer lab (that’s right, I went to school in the dark ages of computer labs). One night, I was working in the computer lab on a presentation due the next day. It was late, around one or so in the morning and I was tired. I took a break to stretch my legs and left the room to walk up and down the hall. The lights in the hall were off, except for the exit signs which gave everything an eerie red glow. That’s when I heard the voices, low, mumbling voices that came from down the hall. I was the only one in that wing of the building. Needless to say, I ran to my car and didn’t get my presentation finished until daylight.

Thanks to Melissa for visiting with us and to Get Red 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 November 1st at midnight EST.

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Monday, October 25, 2021

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Secret of Snow

Today we are pleased to feature The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman, which publishes tomorrow! Melissa is a fan of Viola's novels and is excited to add this one to her queue soon. The cover is gorgeous. Thanks to Graydon House, we have THREE copies for some lucky readers!

The forecast is calling for a reluctant homecoming and regrettable decisions with a strong chance of romance…

When Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist whose job is all sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is replaced by a virtual meteorologist that will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract, the only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is the very place Sonny’s been avoiding since the day she left for college—her northern Michigan hometown.

Sonny grudgingly returns to the long, cold, snowy winters of her childhood…with the added humiliation of moving back in with her mother. Not quite an outsider but no longer a local, Sonny finds her past blindsiding her everywhere: from the high school friends she ghosted, to the former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy who’s now her boss, to, most keenly, the death years ago of her younger sister, who loved the snow.

To distract herself from the memories she's spent her life trying to outrun, Sonny throws herself headfirst into covering every small-town winter event to woo a new audience, made more bearable by a handsome widower with optimism to spare. But with someone trying to undermine her efforts to rebuild her career, Sonny must make peace with who she used to be and allow her heart to thaw if she’s ever going to find a place she can truly call home. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

"A beautifully written story about second chances. Fans of women’s fiction won’t be able to put this down." —Publishers Weekly

Wade Rouse is the internationally bestselling author of ten books, which have been translated into nearly 20 languages. Wade chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, as a pen name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction.

Wade’s novels include The Charm Bracelet, a 2017 Michigan Notable Book of the Year; The Hope ChestThe Recipe Box, The Summer Cottage, The Heirloom Garden, and The Clover Girls.

Library Journal writes that Wade has “hit upon the perfect formula to tell heartwarming, intergenerational family stories by weaving together the lives, loves and history of family through cherished heirlooms.” 

Wade's books have been selected multiple times as Must-Reads by NBC’s Today Show, featured in the New York Times and on Chelsea Lately and chosen three times as Indie Next Picks by the nation’s independent booksellers. His writing has appeared in a diverse range of publications and media, including Coastal Living, Time, All Things Considered, People, Good Housekeeping, Salon, Forbes, The Washington Post, Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly.

Also a noted humorist of four memoirs, Wade was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards in Humor (he lost to Tina Fey) and was named by Writer’s Digest as “The #2 Writer, Dead or Alive, We’d Like to Have Drinks With” (Wade was sandwiched between Ernest Hemingway and Hunter Thompson).

Wade earned his B.A. from Drury University and his master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. He divides his time between Saugatuck, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California, and is also an acclaimed writing teacher who has mentored numerous students to become published authors. (Bio adapted from Viola's website.)

Visit Viola online:
Website * Wade's 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 October 31st at midnight EST.

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Friday, October 22, 2021

What's in the mail

Getting Clean with Stevie Green by Swan Huntley from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
The Lifeguards by Amanda Eyre Ward from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)
The Kitchen by Laura Carter from Canelo Books (e-book via NetGalley)
Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis from Dutton (e-book via NetGalley)
One Night on the Island
by Josie Silver from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)
The Other Man by Farhad J. Dadyburjor from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
Hooked by Sutton Foster from Grand Central Publishing
Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr from Harper (e-book via NetGalley)
Why She Left by Leah Mercer from Bookouture (e-book via NetGalley)
The Attic on Queen Street by Karen White from Berkley
Love and Saffron
 by Kim Fay from Putnam (e-book via NetGalley)
Doctors and Friends by Kimmery Martin from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose from Blackstone (e-book via NetGalley)
The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom from HarperCollins

The Believer by Sarah Krasnostein from Tin House (e-book)
First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel from Forever
Southern Belle Insults by Keke Palmer (with Jasmine Guillory) from Amazon (e-book)
The Family You Make by Jill Shalvis from Get Red PR (e-book via NetGalley)
Lease on Love by Falon Ballard from Putnam  (e-book via NetGalley)
We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza from Atria (e-book via NetGalley)
Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh from Viking (e-book via NetGalley)
Be Here to Love Me at the End of the World by Sasha Fletcher from Melville House Books
Secrets of Our House by Rea Frey from Get Red PR (e-book via NetGalley)

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Spotlight: Highland Games

Welcome to the hottest winter Scotland’s ever seen…

Zoe’s always played it safe, just as her parents wanted. But when her great-uncle dies and leaves her a ramshackle cabin in the Scottish Highlands, she decides it’s time to change her life.

Upping sticks seems like a good idea in her cosy flat in London, but the reality is very different. There’s no electricity or running water, the roof leaks and there’s no front door. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s moved up in the depths of winter and her scorching hot neighbour wants her out.

Rory’s got a fifty thousand tonne problem. If he can’t make Kinloch castle profitable, he’s out of a job. He needs a clear head, but there’s someone living in the cabin he saw as his own and she’s turned his world upside down.

Rory needs Zoe out of Scotland, and out of his life. The trouble is, she has no intention of leaving.

Let the games begin…

Purchase Highland Games here.

Evie Alexander is the author of sexy romantic comedies with a very British sense of humour.

Evie takes a method approach to her work, believing her capacity to repeatedly fail at life and love is what has given her such a rich supply of material for her writing. 

Her interests include reading, eating, saving the world, and fantasising about people who only exist between the pages of her books. 

The first novel in her Kinloch series; Highland Games was released in 2021. Hollywood Games, Kissing Games, and Musical Games are releasing in 2022.

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

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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Kris Clink's writing goes above the a book giveaway

Photo by Kacy Meineke
We're pleased to welcome Kris Clink to CLC today. Sissie Klein is Completely Normal (book two in the Enchanted Rock Series) publishes in early November, but thanks to Get Red PR, we have one copy for a lucky reader! This novel can be read as a standalone, but may contain spoilers for Goodbye Lark Lovejoy.

Kris Clink is the author of Goodbye, Lark Lovejoy and Sissie Klein is Completely Normal, which have received praise from Bustle, Midwest Book Review, Kirkus Reviews,, Lone Star Literary, Brit + Co, Travel and Leisure Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly, among others. Set in middle America, her novels are laced with love, heartbreak, and just enough snark to rock the boat for the relatable characters as they confront transformative challenges.

She’s a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and The Author’s Guild. Before becoming a novelist, she coordinated business development in medical environments and managed an office of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Since then, her work has been published in Moms Don’t Have Time to Write on Medium, diyMFA, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Women Writers Women’s Books, and Accent West Magazine. She is the host of Kris Clink’s Writing Table, a podcast about books and writing, where she interviews a variety of publishing professionals and authors from Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) to Camille Pagán.

Calling Texas home for most of her life, Kris now lives in Kansas. She and her husband have filled their empty nest with two spoiled-rotten pups. When not writing, Kris is playing pickleball with friends or searching for an open karaoke mic and an understanding audience. (Bio courtesy of Kris's website.)

Visit Kris online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

One mistake can steal your innocence. One promise can plague a friendship. One secret can tear apart a family.

Sissie Klein barely remembers the night that tore her from the carefree life she knew. Not long after the shocked teen is pushed into marriage, she’s rushed to the hospital where a catastrophic delivery seals her destiny.

Sissie is determined to give her daughter the opportunities she forfeited, but some fates can’t be avoided. Tragedy strikes, leaving behind a legacy of deceit—and an orphaned toddler.

Told with heartbreaking honesty and shrewd humor,
Sissie Klein Is Completely Normal examines the ties that bind us—some inherited, others chosen—none without their share of agonizing tangles. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Sissie Klein Is Completely Normal is a bittersweet and compulsively readable reminder that no matter what life may hand you, it’s never too late to carve your own path. Kris Clink is a gifted storyteller and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.”
—Camille Pagán, best-selling author of Don't Make Me Turn This Life Around

Once again, Clink delivers a beautifully crafted story, rich with family drama and all the emotions that come with it. Told with impeccably sharp wit, superb dialogue, and unrelenting heart, Sissie Klein Is Completely Normal is sure to keep readers up too late, eager to turn to the next page.”
—Bethany Crandell, author of See Jane Snap

“A quaint and heartfelt exploration of familial devotion and the sacrifices parents will make for their children. If you love contemporary relationship fiction, this book is for you.”
—Suzanne Park, author of Loathe at First Sight

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
A veteran sent me a message saying they felt understood by my depiction of Wyatt’s post-war trauma in my first book, Goodbye, Lark Lovejoy.  

What did you learn from writing Lark Lovejoy that you applied to Sissie Klein?
Lark Lovejoy was the first in the series, so I had to create incomplete storylines, threads I’d pull for subsequent titles. Later, I had to remind myself to maintain a narrower focus to write Sissie’s story. Other characters might become the star of future books, but this one was all about Sissie. 

If Sissie Klein Is Completely Normal was made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles? Ooh! Great question and fun to consider. Anne Hathaway as Sissie, Mila Kunis as Della, Tim Olyphant as Harlan, someone resembling Philip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) as Caleb, and so many possibilities for Meg.

Which TV series are you currently binge watching? 
I love Ted Lasso

What is something you have learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I missed being around other humans—not only for companionship, but to people-watch and collect material to make my characters more realistic. 

What is your favorite Halloween candy?
Those little Heath and Butterfinger bars. They’re terrible on your teeth, but so yummy! 

Thanks to Kris 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.

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Giveaway ends October 26th at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches

By Jami Denison

Fall means changing leaves, the scent of a roaring fireplace, frost on the morning grass. It’s also a time for witches and Halloween. Since witches have been a staple of storytelling literally since Biblical times, the best stories build on that past while also offering something original and new. In the latest offering by author C.J. Cooke (we reviewed her previous novel, The Nesting, here), The Lighthouse Witches, a desperate mother brings her daughters to a Scottish island that centuries ago burned witches. It’s a perfect tale for the season. 

In 1998, single mother and artist Liv takes a commission to paint an old lighthouse on a remote Scottish island. Bringing her three daughters—15-year-old Sapphire, 9-year-old Luna and 7-year old Clover, she hopes the island will help ease the pain of losing their father. But the townspeople are clannish and superstitious, and the lighthouse itself once held a prison for women accused of witchcraft. As Liv gets more drawn into life on the island, she starts to wonder about the meaning behind the mural she’s been hired to paint.

In 2021, Luna is expecting her first child and still in mourning for her missing family when she gets a call that her sister Clover has been found. But instead of the adult woman she’d expected, Luna is presented with a 7-year-old child who believes it’s still 1998 and wants to be reunited with Mummy. 

What happened to Luna’s family, and how is it possible that Clover hasn’t aged at all? Could the answer have something to do with “wildings,” which the villagers say were created by witches to mimic human children and destroy their families’ bloodlines? As Luna digs up long-forgotten memories, past and present line up for a scary collision. 

The Lighthouse Witches is a complicated tale that Cooke pulls off smoothly and effortlessly.  With multiple points-of-view and timelines, the story is grounded by her characters. Liv, hiding an enormous secret from her daughters, tries to give them a normal life even though she doesn’t know where they’ll live when her commission ends. Sapphire, her grief over the loss of her stepfather unacknowledged, tangles with the boyfriend of the local teenage witch while clashing with her mother. And Patrick, the owner of the lighthouse, has a past that can scarcely be imagined. 

Cooke hides clues in plain sight and then commits a sleigh-of-hand that would make magicians proud. The book’s ending cannot be predicted, and yet feels completely inevitable. 

“Who knows why we were taught to fear the witches, and not those who burned them alive?” Once again, C.J. Cooke reminds us that the real monsters come in human form.  

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

More by C.J. Cooke:

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Huzzah to Jen a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I read Well Met a while back and really enjoyed it. (See my review.) So I'm excited to have Jen DeLuca here to talk about her third book in this series, Well Matched. (The second is Well Played, which is in my Kindle queue.) The books can be read as standalones, even though there may be some spoilers for the other ones the further you go. Well Met got me in the mood to go to the local Renaissance Faire again and I'm hoping tickets will be available for next weekend, as they were sold out for this past one. If you're looking to get in a Ren Faire mood, Berkley has one copy of Well Matched to give away!

Jen DeLuca was born and raised in Virginia, and has recently swapped Florida for the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband and a houseful of rescue pets.

She’s worked as an ice-show dresser, a wardrobe master, a makeup consultant, and a paralegal. She likes latte-flavored lattes, Hokies football, and the Oxford comma. (Bio courtesy of Jen's website.)

Visit Jen online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

A pretend relationship gives two friends more than they bargained for in a Renaissance Faire rom com filled with flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.

Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell. 

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire—a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she'll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what's real and what's been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship. 

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch's family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch's girlfriend again...and it doesn't feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans—and open her heart—for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

"A great comfort read. Warm, sweet, and hopeful, Well Matched is about daring to come out of your shell and building the life you always wanted."
--Helen Hoang, USA TODAY bestselling author of The Heart Principle

“This series is one of my ultimate comfort reads. I knew I’d adore April and Mitch together, but I didn’t realize how deeply obsessed with them I’d be. Well Matched is for anyone whose life hasn’t gone according to plan, and about all the joys that come with veering off course. Warm and witty, sweet and sexy—this tender hug of a book is Jen DeLuca at her best.”
--Rachel Lynn Solomon, national bestselling author of The Ex Talk

"Well Matched is completely charming and delightfully touching. DeLuca delivers a love story that leaves you feeling as warm and fuzzy as you are hot and bothered. April's vulnerability and humor are endearing and Mitch is book boyfriend goals in a kilt--I couldn't put it down."
--Denise Williams, author of How to Fail at Flirting

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
In these pandemic times, I’ve heard from a number of readers that my books have been a comfort read, helping distract them from Everything That’s Going On. And as someone who turns to books for escapism myself, I can't think of a better compliment. 

How did you decide to use a Renaissance Faire as the setting for your novels?
I volunteered as a tavern wench with my local Renaissance Faire for two seasons. It’s such a romantic setting full of opportunity that I wondered why more books weren’t written with a Faire as a backdrop. I also noticed how, in my costume, I felt like a completely different person, more extroverted than usual. So I imagined an enemies to lovers story with two people who didn’t like each other, suddenly being attracted to each other in their Faire personas, and it went from there! 

If your Ren Faire novels were made into a TV series, what music would you use for the theme song?
There are some great bands who tour Renaissance Faires, whose music I think often listen to while writing my books, so I think their music would be GREAT for a series! They include The Black Velvet Band, Sirena, The Jackdaws, and Cu Dubh. They’re all available on Spotify if you’re interested in checking them out!

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
I’m currently reading BIG BAD WOLF by Suleikha Snyder. It’s a gritty paranormal romance, and her worldbuilding is excellent. It reads like a contemporary, and the paranormal elements are woven in so seamlessly that I find myself forgetting that shifters don’t really exist (as far as I know).  

What is something you've learned about yourself during the pandemic?
That I’m definitely an introvert! For the first few months I had NO PROBLEM staying home and not seeing anyone. It wasn’t much different than my day to day life anyway!

With Halloween around the corner, tell us about something that scared you recently.
While I live with anxiety as a constant companion, I don’t get legitimately scared very often. But this time last year my husband got COVID. We had just moved across the country to a new city and I legitimately knew no one. Of course I got it eventually too, and while we were pretty sick, it was mild enough that we stayed out of the hospital. But those first couple days of worry were the most frightened I’ve been in a long time. 

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

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

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Giveaway ends October 24th at midnight EST.

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