Monday, January 31, 2022

Book Review: Is This for Real?

By Sara Steven

Love is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Usually me. I admit it, I’m a relationship-recluse. Ironic, given that I write romantic comedies. So, I’m on a sabbatical from dating.

Which is why fake dating my best friend Rory is foolproof. Rory suggested it because he needed a date for work functions. And I can use our experiences as fodder for my romcom novel. Plus, my sister doesn’t know it’s not real and she is thrilled that I’m not walling myself off emotionally. Her words, not mine. But I do wish she would stop saying that she always suspected there was something more between me and Rory. She should realize that we’ve been friends forever so I’m immune to his appeal.

We would never work. Rory is such a romantic; he still believes in that perfect love similar to his parents’ marriage. My parents fought bitterly. So, we are better off as friends. I can’t risk losing our friendship, even if this might be my chance—before his ex-girlfriend wins him back.

Those flickers of attraction? Easily extinguished by cold water reality—like a two-mile hike in drenching rain over sand with wheelie luggage.

But our relationship is not sticking to the plot—or is it? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Is This For Real? was funny and charming, particularly with the premise behind Penelope and Rory’s friendship turned pseudo romantic relationship. In that respect, it reminded me a little of the movie The Wedding Date, where Debra Messing’s character hires someone to act as though he’s her boyfriend in order to appease her family. Initially, that’s what Penelope asks for, too. For Rory to step up and pretend to be more than just her friend, to get her through some awkward and uncomfortable moments. Rory ends up needing that kind of help from Penelope, too, initiating the start of a beautiful pretend relationship where the lines begin to blur and Penelope isn’t always sure where the acting begins, and the realism begins. 

The way Rory is written, it would be hard not to fall for him. He’s Penelope’s best friend, not to mention a great guy who has always been there for her when she’s needed him. But while they’ve both dealt with some pretty hard-hitting stuff during the length of their close friendship, they’ve never had to deal with it while romantically involved, and that could certainly change the viewpoint of things. It’s a big reason that Penelope isn’t sure if she should entertain the idea of being more than friends with Rory, or keep things safe, the way it’s always been.

Not to mention the other potential relationships on the periphery; it seems there’s always someone waiting in the wings for Rory, and Penelope had once declared her feelings to someone she considered a close friend, and it ended horribly. It’s hard to know what to do, and how to do it in such a way where no one’s heart will get bruised. 

Is This For Real? reminded me of how tough it can be to put yourself out there, and how much you can gain (or sometimes lose) by doing so. It was an enjoyable experience, and a side note: I thought some of the subjects in the book were really interesting; I didn’t know much at all about miniatures before reading about them in this story, and even how that’s incorporated along with Penelope’s writing was pretty fascinating!

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

Purchase Links:

Kathy Strobos is a writer living in New York City with her husband and two children, amid a growing collection of books, toys and dollhouses. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Harvard-Radcliffe University magna cum laude, and Columbia Law School. She spent two semesters abroad at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. She previously worked as a lawyer. She left law to pursue her dream of writing fiction full-time and getting in shape. She is still working on getting in shape.

Visit Kathy online:

Visit all the stops on Kathy's blog tour:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Friday, January 28, 2022

What's in the (e) a (print) book giveaway


Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho from Disney (NetGalley)
The Dachshund Wears Prada by Stefanie London from Harlequin (print)
Influenced Love by Shellee Marie from Lola's Blog Tours (e-book)
The Life You Left Behind by Debbie Howells from Rachel's Random Resources (NetGalley)
The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas from Atria (NetGalley)
Asking for a Friend by Andi Osho from Harper360 (print)
A Brush with Love
by Mazey Eddings from St. Martin's Press (NetGalley)
Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot from Berkley (NetGalley)
Crazy To Leave You by Marilyn Simon Rothstein from Lake Union (NetGalley)
How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan from St. Martin's Press (print)
Room and Board by Miriam Parker from Dutton (NetGalley)
The No-Show by Beth O'Leary from Berkley (NetGalley)
Shmutz by Felicia Berliner from Atria (NetGalley)
My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer from St. Martin's Press (NetGalley)
Mall You Need is Love
by Sarah Robinson from Author Collective 20 (NetGalley)
Reservations for Six by Lindsey Palmer from Wyatt McKenzie (NetGalley)
Watch Out For Her by Samantha Bailey from Simon & Schuster Canada (NetGalley)
Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne from Gallery (NetGalley)
Jagged Little Pill: The Novel by Eric Smith; Alanis Morissette; Diablo Cody; Glen Ballard from Abrams (NetGalley)
The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa from Avon/Harper Voyager (NetGalley)
The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick from Harlequin (NetGalley)
This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg from Flatiron (NetGalley)
When We Let Go by Rochelle B. Weinstein from Lake Union (NetGalley)
Sophie Go's Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim from Berkley (NetGalley)

The Core by/from Gloria Foster (e-book)
A Sunrise Over Bali by Sandy Barker from Rachel's Random Resources (NetGalley)
Curfew by Jayne Cowie from Berkley (NetGalley)
Lost Coast Literary by/from Ellie Alexander (e-book)
Murder at the Summer Fete by Victoria Walters from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
The Woman With the Map by Jan Casey from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)

How to Find Your Way Home by Katy Regan from Berkley (NetGalley)
One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose from SparkPoint (NetGalley)
At Least You Have Your Health by Madi Sinha from Berkley (NetGalley)
The Paris Showroom by Juliet Blackwell from Berkley (NetGalley)
The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager from Dutton (NetGalley)

Girl by Camille Laurens from Other Press (e-book)

What could be in YOUR mail:

How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy to give away!

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he's found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door--the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends February 2nd at midnight EST.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Book Review: Good Rich People

By Jami Denison

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” His most well-regarded book, The Great Gatsby, went on to prove it. Published almost a hundred years ago, it’s hard to believe that the inequality he wrote about has gotten even worse. 

And so have the people.

Author Eliza Jane Brazier, in her sophomore offering, doesn’t seem to think too highly of rich people; her title Good Rich People is sarcastic. Her rich married couple, Graham and Lyla, aren’t the carelessly indifferent type à la Tom and Daisy Buchanan; they actively seek to harm other people. In their contemporary home overlooking Los Angeles, on the grounds of Graham’s mother Margo’s extensive estate (which includes a nine-level garden based on Dante’s circles of hell), they invite tenants to live in their guest house, and then play a game to ruin their lives. When we first meet Lyla, she’s overseeing the handyman cleaning the blood out of their decorative fountain. The blood came from the previous tenant. Lyla is trapped in a sexless marriage; she loves Graham, who is a sociopathic, manipulative pretty boy completely in cahoots with his evil mother. Neither Graham nor Margo think Lyla really belongs in their family. They want her to destroy the life of their new tenant, Demi, to prove that she does. And Lyla says okay.

But Lyla doesn’t know—no one knows—that Demi isn’t Demi at all. Demi, a rich tech executive, died of a drug overdose, and her life has been taken over by a homeless woman who blames herself for Demi’s death. Determined not to be arrested for Demi’s death, and seduced by the lifestyle of the couple who lives upstairs, she becomes more and more ruthless as the book progresses. With everyone playing a game, who’ll be the last person standing?

I never understood why Fitzgerald had Nick Carroway narrate The Great Gatsby until I read Good Rich People. The book begins in Lyla’s first-person narration, and she’s such a self-centered, careless character that it was hard to continue reading. Her love for her psychotic spouse is incomprehensible. I was ready to put the book down until Brazier revealed that Demi wasn’t Demi after all. That’s when I began rooting for the faux Demi to bring down the entire rotten house of cards. 

In the chapters told from her first-person point-of-view, faux Demi reveals herself to be a victim of the nation’s “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. Raised by a single father who was an addict, abandoned by the system at 18, tricked into a worthless degree from a for-profit college, she’s bounced from minimum-wage jobs into homelessness. And so, when she decides to do a good deed for Demi, the universe seems to reward her for her efforts. 

Good Rich People is a satire that lacks humor; a social parable for a country that has billionaires in space while diabetics ration their insulin. You might find Graham and Lyla completely unbelievable, then a Senator who owns a yacht and a Maserati opposes a child tax credit because their parents might use it to take drugs; family leave is out because people might pretend to be sick in order to go hunting. The cruelty is the point. 

With a completely satisfying ending, Good Rich People is a timely reminder that it’s not just their money that makes the rich different from you and me.  “Fight back,” Brazier, who lives in L.A. and has worked in the television industry, seems to be telling us. Don’t lie down and take it. Take it from them.

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

More by Eliza Jane Brazier:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Book Review: Coco at the Ritz

By Marisa Appleton

The year is 1944. Paris has just been liberated from Nazi control. Coco Chanel is arrested for corroborating with the enemy. Coco At The Ritz follows Chanel throughout the wartime years, focusing mainly on her relationship with Spatz Von Dincklage. She is living the Ritz hotel which has been taken over by high-ranking Germans during the occupation of Paris. She returns to Paris following a stay in Lembeye. Her nephew André, who she raised like her own son, has been taken prisoner while fighting for the French. She returns now to Paris to plead his case to the enemy, hoping her influence can save him. She is soon in a relationship with Von Dincklage, hoping he can help save her nephew. Throughout the following years, Chanel becomes more tangled in Nazi life. She becomes a Nazi spy, even trying to personally negotiate peace with Winston Churchill. Once Paris is liberated, she is arrested and questioned for helping the enemy.

While most of us may know Coco Chanel as the founder of the Chanel brand, many of us will not know about her dark history and connections with the Nazi party. Gioia Diliberto goes back to the second world war in this novel. As with her previous novels, Diliberto bases her story on well researched history. This stage in Chanel’s life is barely documented on; it has even been left out of the history on the Chanel website. Von Dincklage had friends in powerful places which benefited Chanel by allowing her to live in the Ritz. He helped her to try and reclaim her perfume brand from the majority owners. The Jewish family that owned it had fled to the United States, so Chanel tried to use Nazi laws to benefit her and her business. While told from Chanel’s perspective, Diliberto does not excuse her actions rather just provides some context for her actions. After the war, people were quick to label each other as either heroes of resistance or villains of collaboration when most people were simply trying to survive. At the start of the story, Von Dincklage seems like the perfect gentleman. However, throughout the story he turns more into a villain. He restricts Chanel’s freedom, forcing her to become a spy for the Nazis and preventing her from signing a petition which could save her friend Max Jacob. Whether Chanel really did just want to profit from Nazi rule or if she was just trying to survive, it certainly makes an excellent story. There is no evidence that Chanel shared Nazi ideology, but Diliberto acknowledges the anti-Semitic remarks she was recorded saying.

I really enjoyed reading this story! As someone who likes history, it was really interesting to learn about this time period in French history. I managed to read it in just over a day. Since all the characters are based on real people, there are many famous people name-dropped such as Pablo Picasso and Cristóbal Balenciaga. Diliberto makes her characters feel real; they are not just good or bad. She interweaves actual events and people with fiction to create a compelling story. Overall, this story offers a new perspective from the wartime which is definitely worth the read!

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

More by Gioia Diliberto:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway: The Charm Offensive

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Melissa Amster:

I had been interested in reading The Charm Offensive, as I love LGBTQ novels. So when Jenny from Book Coffee Happy said she had purchased it (more on that below), I added it into my Kindle TBR so we could review together. I'm so glad for that extra push, as it was a great story that I still think about and recommend! 

The story was really well told, with some laugh-out-loud moments and some tissue-worthy moments. It shines a light on what happens behind the scenes on reality dating shows, and it's not all sunshine and roses. (I watch only one reality TV series and even that one has reported a lot of behind the scenes scandal and manipulation.) Both Dev and Charlie were sympathetic and lovable lead characters and there were some great supporting characters, as well. (Especially Parisa and Jules!) There's a lot of focus on mental health throughout the novel and that is what has the most emotional impact. It also has some typical romcom elements that I enjoy in any novel. 

Having Dev and Charlie both narrate in third person got confusing sometimes because I wasn't always sure who the focus was on, even if it said the character's name at the beginning of the chapter. That was the only issue I had with this novel, which is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

Overall, it is a sweet and romantic story, and definitely worth checking out!

Movie casting suggestions:
Dev: Nik Dodani 
Charlie: Harry Cook

Jenny Share:

Thank you so much for having me, Melissa!  It’s so nice to be back guest blogging on Chick Lit Central.  

I’m Jenny, and I blog over at Book Coffee Happy.  I’ve known Melissa for years and was excited when she asked if I would like to review Alison Cochrun’s The Charm Offensive with her.

I bought The Charm Offensive at the most lovely little bookshop while vacationing in Door County, Wisconsin (If you ever find yourself in the area, you MUST stop in THIS ADORABLE bookshop)!

I’ve been holding on to this book for a few months and couldn’t wait to finally crack it open.

A smart purchase, indeed.

I loved EVERY SINGLE WORD of this beautiful book!  I never wanted it to end!  Alison Cochrun’s writing is a GIFT.  Each character was so perfectly crafted and each storyline was so perfectly created.  Together, all of it made this such a gem of a book in every single way.  This book tackled some really big topics (love, mental health, sexual orientation, gender identity, family, friendship, etc.) in the most perfect of ways.  I ADORED THIS BOOK SO, SO MUCH.

I’m a huge Bachelor fan and I absolutely loved the behind the scenes view that this book gave into the creating of a reality show love story.  I mean, everyone knows it’s fake but THIS fake?  Mind blown.  Yikes.  And yet…I’m still such a fan, lol.

If you are a Bachelor fan, this book is a MUST READ.  Another must read for Bachelor fans is One To Watch by Kate Stayman London (you can read my review of that one and my thoughts on the Bachelor franchise HERE).

What a perfect read for me to start off 2022!  I can already confidently say that this will be one of my favorite books of the year…and it’s only January :)

Alison Cochrun’s next novel comes out this fall and I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!  If it’s even a smidge as wonderful as The Charm Offensive, I love it already...

Thanks to Atria for the book (for Melissa) 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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 31st at midnight EST.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Lindsey Kelk lights up the a book giveaway

We're pleased to have Lindsey Kelk back at CLC today. Her latest romcom, On a Night Like This, was published last week and she's here to talk about it with us, as well as share some other fun things about herself. Thanks to HarperCollins 360, we have TWO copies to give away!

Lindsey Kelk is the Sunday Times bestselling author of books including the I Heart series, In Case You Missed It, and One in a Million, along with the middle grade Cinders & Sparks series.

As well as writing her ‘witty, funny, warm and clever books’ (thanks, Marian Keyes), Lindsey co-hosts the award-winning beauty podcast, Full Coverage, and Tight and Fights, a pro-wrestling podcast on the Maximum Fun network.

Born and raised in South Yorkshire, Lindsey lived in London and New York before settling in LA, where she lives with her husband and two rude cats.

Visit Lindsey online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Within days of wishing she could change her life, Fran Cooper is acting assistant to a celebrity, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and en route to a tiny Italian island and the glittering Crystal Ball, along with the world’s rich and famous.

When she – quite literally – bumps into a handsome American called Evan, a man able to keep his cool in the face of chaos, the magic really begins.

Evan makes her a promise: no last names, no life stories, just one unforgettable night. Yet Evan belongs at the Crystal Ball and Fran is a gatecrasher. They may be soulmates, but their homes are an ocean apart, and their lives a world apart. They’ll never meet again – unless, on a night like this, everything can change forever… (Courtesy of Amazon.)

“So uplifting and wildly romantic”—Marian Keyes

“I fell head over heels in love”—Beth O'Leary

“The literary equivalent of opening a glass of wine with your best friend”—Mhairi McFarlane

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
Any time someone says I made them laugh. I love to receive any kind of messages from readers, writing can be a very isolating experience, but my absolute favourites are usually DMs from people telling me a book helped them through a difficult moment or just gave them a chance to escape real life for a while. For me, there’s any greater compliment.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing On a Night Like This?
The entire writing process on this one was challenging! On a Night Like This was my (first) lockdown book and it was so much more difficult to write a pacey romcom while stuck in my house with so much uncertainty than I had anticipated. I actually threw out my first draft completely and had to start over a couple of times. Thank goodness for my editor. That said, it was probably my most rewarding writing experience to date, Fran’s story was very cathartic for me and gave me a chance to work through some of my own stuff. It’s been incredible to get messages from people who also felt seen and found some comfort in her story.

If On a Night Like This were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
We’d have to start with "On a Night Like This" by Kylie Minogue! Definitely "Enchanted" by Taylor Swift which was a huge influence on this story, "I Can’t Help Myself" by The Four Tops, "Hold Back The Night" by The Trammps, "Hands to Myself" by Selena Gomez, "Something Changed" by Pulp and "Take a Chance on Me" by ABBA. Fun, poppy, dance songs with a romantic leaning. I could go on forever honestly, I love music. 

If you could partner with any author to write a romcom, who would it be and why?
Donna Tartt. Come on, Donna, let’s do it, I promise it’ll be fun.

What do you like to do most in your spare time?
I love watching TV and movies, I’m obsessed with Yellowjackets right now, and of course I read a lot. One of the best bits of being an author is getting sent advance copies of books, I consider myself extremely lucky. Lockdown made me a Peloton person and I’m still totally in love with my bike (CodyRigsby4eva), plus I’m also the co-host of a wrestling podcast called Tights and Fights, so I watch a lot of pro-wrestling. No, really.

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?
The Yellowjackets theme tune! That and "Alone" by Heart. I heard it the other day and my husband has asked me to stop suddenly bursting out my off-key power ballad every hour or so. It’s a reasonable request.

Side note from Melissa: At least you don't have Encanto songs constantly taking up headspace!

Thanks to Lindsey for chatting with us and HarperCollins 360 for sharing her book with our readers.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 30th at midnight EST.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Book Review: The Cocktail a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

Rock star, River Jackson, is back in his hometown of Glastonbury to open a cocktail bar… and the locals aren’t impressed.

Seductive Georgina is proving too hot to handle; band mate, Angelic Alice, is messing with his heart and his head; his mum is a hippie-dippy liability; his school friends have resorted to violence – oh, and his band manager, Lennie, AND the media are on his trail.

But River is armed with a magical Mexican elixir which will change the lives of the Three Chosen Ones. Once the Mexican wave of joy takes a hold of the town, he’s glad he didn’t lose his proverbial bottle.

Pity he hasn’t taken better care of the real one… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

The Cocktail Bar turned out to be an interesting experience for me, because I recently finished Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bar (reviewed here), which felt like the sequel to The Cocktail Bar. I’m glad I did, because it seemed like I received a lot of backstory on the primary characters and I better understood a lot of the motivations that were there, particularly for Georgina. I mean, wow. Talk about an arch nemesis! 

From the get go, there’s no mistaking the fact that no one wants River to open the bar. The first chapter kicked off some pretty explosive scenes that solidified how risky it is for River to even stay in Glastonbury. But he feels called to it, not only because it’s a means of getting out of the rock star business, but also due to a mystical experience he’d had that foretold this new venture in his life. Despite all of that, the path to freedom is riddled with holes; Georgina, his “friends,” his band manager. Even his mother who tries hard to support him has been a bit of a hindrance, and I could really feel that constant struggle within him. It made me feel invested in seeing him succeed, because I couldn’t help but feel really irritated by some of the other characters, particularly his “friends” who stop at literally nothing to sabotage him! 

Another side plot is his feelings for Alice. He’s not sure what that means, or what it even is, which provided a really nice obstacle between the two of them, and with Georgina. I like how Isabella May gives the reader three different perspectives; River’s, Georgina’s, and Alice’s, particularly because of that obstacle. There’s no questioning what any one of them is thinking about all of it, which made me feel one step ahead.

I’m sure a lot of people would prefer to read The Cocktail Bar first before reading Twinkle Twinkle Little Bar. However, I think no matter which order you decide to go in, both books are worth the read! There were moments of action, suspense and intrigue, added in with some pretty pivotal characters who carry well into either book.

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

Purchase Links:

Isabella May
lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up on Glastonbury's ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children's publishing... selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel - both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of romcom, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

Isabella is also a Level 4 Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.

Visit Isabella online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway to Win Kindle Copies of all of Isabella May’s EIGHT currently published books in the Foodie Romance series (Open Worldwide)

Prize includes, The Cocktail Bar, Oh! What a Pavlova, Costa del Churros, The Ice Cream Parlour, The Cake Fairies, The Chocolate Box, Bubblegum and Blazers, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar

*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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Giveaway ends February 4th.

Visit all the stops on Isabella's tour: 

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us

Friday, January 21, 2022

Book Review: Sasha's Redemption

By Sara Steven

This is a story about redemption and finding love in the unlikeliest of places. Sasha Sokolov is the woman every woman loves to hate. And if you've read any of the first three Sweet Water Circle books, chances are, you probably do, too. But doesn't everyone deserve a chance to right their wrongs and be happy?

After Sasha is fired from her high-powered advertising job for lying about her college education, it sets her life off on a downward spiral, leaving her single, broke, and with no place to live. As if things couldn't get any worse, Sasha's unraveling life attracts the interest of the most unlikeliest of groups, The Sweet Water Circle, Sasha's former work nemeses. Can this tight-knit group help Sasha turn her life around? And if they can, does Sasha even want their help? She might move to Skid Row just to spite them.

But sometimes, you don't get what you want. You get what you need. And if anybody needs the snarky wisdom of the Sweet Water Circle, it's Sasha. That being said, one thing she really doesn't need is to move in downstairs from a single dad with two young girls who excel at invading personal space. Or does she need them to learn what it's like to truly care for another person? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Some might say, “Why add a nemesis to a book series’s lineup?” And to that I say: Read Sasha’s Redemption!

I’ve read every single book within the The Sweet Water Circle series and have encountered plenty of Sasha. Much like the synopsis states, she is the woman everyone loves to hate, but for good reason. She likes to undermine, manipulate, and make enemies, never friends. But why? Where does that motivation come from? I’m really glad that Grayson Avery gave us backstory into the why, because like any bully, those feelings of inadequacy and the need to lash out had to start from somewhere, and we get to find that out, and more. 

A central theme for Sasha is: “Oh, how the mighty have fallen.” Despite her attitude and the way she's treated the ladies within the Sweet Water Circle, I couldn’t help but feel bad for her as one by one the things she holds most dear to her slip away; her job. Her living situation. A relationship that may not have fulfilled her, but made her look good. Anything that makes her seem as though she has her life in order has been stripped from her, and she has to find a way to find a new normal within all of it. 

Sasha has to decide on who she can rely on, even when she’s always felt that there is no one to rely on but herself. It was really great to see a lot of character evolution, when she tries to figure out what that means and who is worth fighting for, even when no one wants to fight for her. As always, Grayson Avery provided the reader with a lot of laughs, great dialogue, and realistic reactions that felt fitting for Sasha, but we get to see a side of Sasha never seen before–which made her story a great addition to the series, and a worthy five-star read!

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

Grayson Avery is the author of The Sweet Water Circle Series, a romantic comedy series that focuses on childhood friends in their 30's and 40's as they help each other navigate the stormy waters of dating, marriage, divorce, and a whole lot of inappropriate, naughty, and downright hysterical situations.

Visit Grayson online:
Website * Facebook * Amazon * Goodreads

Visit all the stops on Grayson's tour:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Lauren Layne has made it a book giveaway

We are pleased to have Lauren Layne at CLC today to talk about her latest novel, Made in Manhattan, which released this week. The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis sounds enticing. Thanks to Gallery, we have THREE copies for some lucky readers!

Lauren Layne has authored over two dozen novels that have sold more than one million copies in nine languages. Layne’s previous novel, To Sir, With Love (June 2021), was a June 2021 Library Reads Pick and an Apple Books July 2021 “Best Book of the Month. It received *starred* reviews from Library Journal, BookPage, Publishers Weekly and coverage including USA Today, TheSkimm, BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, PopSugar, Country Living, and more. With each book she writes, Layne’s star only continues to rise higher and burn brighter as she garners increasing recognition as a Big Name in the romcom genre.

Visit Lauren at her website and on Instagram.

Violet Townsend is a people-pleaser. Raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, she says the right things, wears the right clothes, and never rocks the boat. So when Edith Rhodes, the elderly CEO of a billion-dollar company and surrogate grandmother to the long-ago orphaned Violet, asks her to teach her newly discovered grandson how to fit in with New York City’s elite, Violet agrees. Her Assignment? To prepare Cain Stone to take his place as heir to his family company…but he’s not exactly an eager student. The only reason he’s even stuck around this long is for the hefty paycheck at the end.

But somewhere amidst antagonistic dinner parties and tortured tux fittings, Cain and Violet come to a begrudging understanding—and the uptight Violet realizes she’s not the only one doing the teaching. As she and Cain begin to find mutual respect for one another (and maybe even something more), Violet learns that blindly following society’s rules doesn’t lead to happiness…and that sometimes the best things in life come from the most unexpected places.

"This lighthearted read includes witty banter, a "phew, that’s hot" romance, and the author's adept ability to bring her characters and their experiences off the page and into your life. New York’s never felt more real than it does in Layne’s Made in Manhattan." 
--USA Today

"Layne (To Sir, with Love) brings a light touch to this delightful, gender-swapped My Fair Lady tale in which the city itself is a nuanced character…[It] is sure to tug readers' heartstrings. Layne has a skill for building unique heroines, and Violet...adds depth to this contemporary. Layne’s fans are sure to be pleased.” 
--Publishers Weekly

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I definitely get warm-fuzzies anytime readers compliment the banter in my books. It’s my favorite thing to write!
How is Violet similar to or different from you?
We’re more similar than not! We look alike, same taste in style—I even have pearls that I wear quite often! The biggest difference is that the occasional four-letter word probably rolls of my tongue a bit more easily than it does hers. :-) 
If Made in Manhattan were to become a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Oh gosh, I’m pretty ignorant on modern pop culture—I still think of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks as the ultimate rom-com leads! Okay, let’s see…I can see Shelley Hennig as Violet, but I’m drawing a blank on Cain! I have such a clear picture of him in my head, but no actors quite fit! Maybe Tyler Hoechlin comes closest?
Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
I don’t want to say! *cringes* Okay, fine! JTT!!

(For those of you who don't know, it's Jonathan Taylor Thomas.)
What is your go-to outfit?
Ha, I was just chatting with an author-friend about how we couldn’t remember the last time we wore pants that had a button! It’s winter right now, and I’ve been wearing a lot of black leggings, bit cozy turtleneck sweaters, and Chelsea boots with gold hoop earrings as my go-to! 
What is your favorite thing about New York City?

The vibrancy! So many people I encounter just on a day-to-day basis are here in the city to pursue their dream job, or because it's their dream to live here. That sort of deliberateness, the sense of being surrounded by people who dream really big, gives New York a wonderful kind of energy! 

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 25th at midnight EST.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway: Somebody's Home

Kaira Rouda's latest domestic suspense thriller, Somebody's Home, released this week, and it looks so intriguing! Thanks to Get Red PR, we have TWO copies to give away! Kaira will be appearing live at Great Thoughts' Great Readers on Thursday, January 20th at 1:30 pm EST to talk about this novel. Join the group so you can meet her!

Julie Jones has left her suffocating marriage. With her teenage daughter, Jess, she’s starting over. Their new house in Oceanside is the first step toward a new life. Even if it does come with the unexpected. The previous owners, a pastor and his wife, have left something—or rather someone—behind. 

Tom Dean has a bitter hatred for the father who considers him a lost cause, and for the woman who’s moved into their family’s house. The only home he’s ever known. He’s never going to leave. She thinks he’ll be gone in three days, but Tom has the perfect plan.

For a newly single mother and her daughter, a fresh start is the beginning of a nightmare. Before the weekend is over, somebody is going to get exactly what they deserve.

“A truly unputdownable novel that had me gripped—and anxious—from the first sentence! Captivating, fast paced, and unsettling, Somebody’s Home is astonishingly good. I gulped it down.” 
—Sally Hepworth, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Sister

“With an intriguing cast of characters and a killer premise, Somebody’s Home is a thriller worth staying up all night for. Fast-paced and relentless, Kaira Rouda cranks up the tension with every turn of the page. With unexpected twists and jaw-dropping revelations, Rouda knows how to draw readers close and keep them entranced.” 
—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Overnight Guest

“Trust your instincts and grab a copy of Kaira Rouda’s Somebody’s Home. In Rouda’s latest thriller, a mother trusts her instincts when she knows the person on her property is threatening her family. But what if the threat is coming at her from all sides and more than one person is hiding a dark secret? A compulsive, fast read, Somebody’s Home reveals what people will do to protect not only their homes but the families within those four walls. A captivating read.” 
—Georgina Cross, bestselling author of The Stepdaughter

Kaira Rouda is an award–winning USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction that explores what goes on beneath the surface of seemingly perfect lives. Her novels of domestic suspense include The Next Wife, The Favorite Daughter, Best Day Ever, and All the Difference. To date, Kaira’s work has been translated into more than ten languages. 

A former magazine editor and society columnist, Kaira won the Stevie Award for Women in Business for creating the first female-focused residential real estate brand, Real Living, and growing the brand to more than 22 states before its sale to Berkshire Hathaway. Her first book, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, led to a national speaking tour where she inspired thousands.

Active in the areas of homelessness, food security, and empowering women and girls, in her twenties, as a volunteer, she created the first walk-in emergency shelter for homeless families in Central Ohio. Kaira has received numerous awards for her community service, including the national Kiwanis Service to Mankind Award, among many others.  Kaira lives in Southern California with her husband, Congressman Harley Rouda.

Visit Kaira 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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 24th at midnight EST.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway: Waiting for the Night Song

Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton is now available in paperback. To celebrate, SparkPoint Studio has one copy to give away!

A startling and timely debut, Julie Carrick Dalton's Waiting for the Night Song is a moving, brilliant novel about friendships forged in childhood magic and ruptured by the high price of secrets that leave you forever changed.

Cadie Kessler has spent decades trying to cover up one truth. One moment. But deep down, didn’t she always know her secret would surface?

An urgent message from her long-estranged best friend Daniela Garcia brings Cadie, now a forestry researcher, back to her childhood home. There, Cadie and Daniela are forced to face a dark secret that ended both their idyllic childhood bond and the magical summer that takes up more space in Cadie’s memory then all her other years combined.

Now grown up, bound by long-held oaths, and faced with truths she does not wish to see, Cadie must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to protect the people and the forest she loves, as drought, foreclosures, and wildfire spark tensions between displaced migrant farm workers and locals.

Waiting for the Night Song is a love song to the natural beauty around us, a call to fight for what we believe in, and a reminder that the truth will always rise. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

“Dalton weaves the vagaries of friendship, the wonder of the natural world, and the power of truth to create a powerful and unforgettable story.” 
―Erica Ferencik, bestselling author of The River at Night and Into the Jungle

Waiting for the Night Song is not just a coming of age story, but several coming of age stories. It’s a novel about how time passes and how time stands still, ties that bind and ties that constrict, place and our place in the world, what keeps us together and what keeps us apart, all of which is to say that Julie Carrick Dalton has written a novel of elegant contradiction, intimately explored, beautifully woven together.” 
―Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of One Two Three

 "Smart and searingly illuminating snapshot of nature, betrayal, and sacrifices set in the evocative New Hampshire wilderness."
Kim Michele Richardson, bestselling author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Julie Carrick Dalton’s journalism has been published in such places as The Boston Globe and BusinessWeek, and she workshopped the novel in GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator, a year-long, MFA-level novel intensive. She has won several awards including the 2017 William Faulkner Literary Competition. Dalton has been invited to speak at literary conferences, schools, and universities on the intersection of fiction and climate. Waiting for the Night Song presents pressing issues of climate change and its effects on our communities in a cautiously hopeful way, an optimistic call to action that is sure to resonate with readers and gives this page turner an urgent, timely, big scope feel. In her non-writing time, Dalton operates a 100-acre organic farm in rural New Hampshire, where the novel takes place. 

Visit Julie 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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 23rd at midnight EST.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Book Review: Look What You Made Me Do

By Sara Steven

Carrie wants a normal life.

Carrie Lawrence doesn’t need a happily ever after. She’ll just settle for “after.” After a decade of helping her sister hide her victims. After a lifetime of lies. She just wants to be safe, boring, and not trekking through the woods at night with a dead body wrapped in a carpet.

Becca wants to get away with murder.

Becca Lawrence doesn’t believe in happily ever after because she’s already happy. She’s gotten away with murder for a decade and has blackmailed her sister into helping her hide the evidence—what more could a girl want?

But first they have to stop a serial killer.

When thirteen bodies are discovered in their small town, people are shocked. But not as shocked as Carrie, who thought she knew all the details of Becca’s sordid pastime. When Becca swears she’s not behind the grisly new crimes, they realize the town has a second serial killer who has the sisters in his sights, and what he wants is…Carrie. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

One of the biggest aspects I appreciated most about Look What You Made Me Do, is the normalcy brought on by both primary characters within the story. Of course I know that anyone who is a serial killer is meant to be feared, yet Becca ended up becoming someone I sided with a time or two, despite her background! Just the dynamics between Carrie and Becca was enough to keep me hooked, yet the introduction of thirteen bodies only tipped the scales, because I wanted to know what was going on just as much as they did. If it’s not Becca, then who is it?

I honestly had no clue on who it could have been. When Carrie and Becca set out to discover that answer for themselves, I sifted through the clues as though I was right there with them, watching through the lens of cameras and video, trying to get a sense for who could be trusted, and who might trigger any sort of red flags. Finally, when the reader comes upon that magical “aha” moment, it really was a shock. And the last few chapters were such a whirlwind roller coaster, I had no choice but to stay up late and finish the book, because there was no way I’d be left with a cliffhanger like that!

Carrie wants to live a normal life, but for most of it, her sister hasn’t allowed that. I could appreciate the continual push and pull that Carrie feels for Becca, in wanting to escape the clutches of someone who does everything she can to manipulate in order to get what she wants, but at the same time, there is an elevated appreciation for Becca’s penchant to do whatever the heck she feels like, no matter what. That becomes more than evident the later the story unfolds, and Carrie has to take on some of those qualities herself in order to survive. Look What You Made Me Do was such a wild ride, an adrenaline-fueled five-star experience!

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Elaine Murphy:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.