Friday, April 29, 2022

What's in the (e)mail

Thank You, Next by Andie J. Christopher from Berkley (NetGalley)
The Marriage Box by Corie Adjmi from BookSparks (print)
More Than My Scars by Kechi Okwuchi from Baker Books (NetGalley)
Ways the World Could End by Kim Hooper from Turner Publishing (ebook)
Out of the Blue by Jason June from HarperCollins (NetGalley)
A Thousand Ways to Pay Attention by Rebecca Schiller from Hachette (NetGalley)
Come Here Often? by Ellie Center from Bookouture (NetGalley)
Take it from Me by Jamie Beck from Montlake (NetGalley)
A Line in the Sand by Teri Wilson from Sourcebooks (NetGalley)
Starry-Eyed Love by Helena Hunting from St. Martin's Press (print)
Smart Girl Summer by/from Kristin Rockaway (print)
Summer Sky by/from Jenna Starly (ebook)
The Sunshine Girls
by Molly Fader from Harlequin (NetGalley)
The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford from Atria (print)
Magpie by Elizabeth Day from Simon and Schuster (NetGalley)
Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane from Avon (NetGalley)
Once Upon a December by/from Amy E. Reichert (NetGalley)
Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green from Berkley (NetGalley)
Just Another Love Song
 by Kerry Winfrey from Berkley (NetGalley)
Vacationland by Meg Mitchell Moore from William Morrow (print)
Lucy Checks In by Dee Ernst from St. Martin's Press (NetGalley)
Andrea Hoffman Goes All In by Diane Cohen Schneider from BookSparks (print)

How to Save a Life by Clare Swatman from Rachel's Random Resources (NetGalley)
A Ration Book Victory by Jean Fullerton from Rachel's Random Resources (ebook)
A Dress of Violet Taffeta by Tessa Arlen from Berkley (NetGalley)
Head Over Feet by/from Whitney Dineen (ebook)
Sweet Love and Country Roads
by Camilla Isley from Rachel's Random Resources (NetGalley)
It's a Widow Thing by Karen Booth from Rachel's Random Resources (ebook)
Finding Grace by Maren Cooper from BookSparks (ebook)

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan from Atria (NetGalley)
The Lost Ticket by Freya Sampson from Berkley (NetGalley)

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Book Review: The Serial Killer's Girl

By Sara Steven

Lexi Jakes thought she could run from her past.

But when her biological mother is found dead, strangled with a red silk scarf and holding a chess piece, Lexi knows that her worst nightmare has come true. Because the murder has all the hallmarks of her own serial killer father, renown strangler Peter Graves.

Now with her own precious daughter’s life in danger, Lexi will do anything to keep her child safe…she is her father’s daughter after all. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

With most mystery books, I can usually suss out who the culprit is. But with this one, I had a tough time figuring it out, and I loved that! The majority of The Serial Killer’s Girl is told from a third-person perspective for Lexi, but there are a few chapters dispersed throughout that are told from the killer’s perspective, nearly a step ahead at every turn. We know whomever it may be knows where Lexi is, but we have no clue how. As the story unfolds, there is more understanding as to what makes that possible and more importantly, why it’s happening and the type of vengeance the killer feels towards Lexi.   

I felt the author did a great job of giving an accurate emotional portrayal of what it must feel like to be the daughter of a serial killer. From the onslaught of the recent murder and how it replicates the way her own father would terrorize his victims, to her innate fear of someone finding out who she really is and how best to protect her daughter, I didn’t question the authenticity in any of it. The sense of always feeling like Lexi has to hide and to run away made total sense to me–but as she quickly points out, when will it ever end? She has been running for what seems like the majority of her life, courtesy of the legacy her father has left behind.

As the book neared the end, I had my list of suspects, narrowing it down to two potential characters. It was only then in those moments of terror, when Lexi discovers that her daughter is in danger had I figured it out and looked back at the subtle clues provided in discreetly making that known. There is a bit of a surprise twist, too, that I hadn’t seen coming.

I really enjoyed The Serial Killer’s Girl. It was a well-written suspenseful thriller that provided those curveballs and frightening moments when the reader doesn’t know what’s about to hit them, making it a five-star experience!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

L.H. Stacey
is the bestselling psychological suspense author of over five novels. Alongside her writing she is a fulltime sales director for an office furniture company and has been a nurse, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Staff Instructor. She lives near Doncaster with her husband.

Visit L.H. Stacey online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Sign up for her newsletter.

Visit all the stops on L.H. Stacey's blog tour:

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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway: Drop Dead Gorgeous

The title Drop Dead Gorgeous may have you thinking of a mockumentary from the 90s about teen girls in a beauty pageant. However, Rachel Gibson's latest novel is a completely different story. It sounds like so much fun too. Thanks to Gallery, we have FOUR copies to give away!

On her way from singing in church to a Tinder date, Brittany Lynn Snider is changed forever when she crashes her momma’s minivan. One moment she’s texting HotGuyNate, and in the next she’s at a hospital in El Paso with doctors operating on her near-lifeless body. If that wasn’t bad enough, she finds herself trapped in the “Limbo Lounge” where patients await their fate, playing cards and watching reruns of 7th Heaven and Heaven Help Us. When a shimmering portal appears, it begins to pull Brittany in—until the lounge’s resident bully, a wealthy socialite named Edie, leaps through first and steals Brittany’s place.

Brittany now has a second chance at life on Earth, but with a catch: she must inhabit Edie’s body. Waking up as Edie in a facility where doctors try to cure her alleged retrograde amnesia, Brittany resumes a life of privilege in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Yet even as she basks in luxury and reconnects with Edie’s old flame, Brittany plans to return to her old life in Marfa, Texas. But when things don’t go according to her plan, she must ask herself: Who is Brittany Lynn Snider, and what does she want now?

“Funny and touching, Gibson’s fearless storytelling reveals that even the most painful parts of life can be achingly beautiful.”
—Lauren Layne, New York Times bestselling author of Made in Manhattan
“Magical, endearing, and thoroughly entertaining.”
—Angie Hockman, author of Shipped

“Fresh and surprising, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS left me with a mile-wide grin. The feisty, fierce heroine Brittany, with a heart as big as her teased Texas hair, had me cheering wildly for her success!”
– Karen Hawkins, New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author

Credit: Tana Photography
Rachel Gibson is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over twenty-five novels, including The Art of Running in Heels, Just Kiss Me, and How Lulu Lost Her Mind. She has received the RITA Award, the Golden Heart, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and more.

Visit Rachel online:
Website * Facebook * 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

Giveaway ends May 3rd at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Book Review: The Year of the Horses

By Cindy Roesel

I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs lately. In fact, I began a memoir workshop in January. I enjoy Courtney Maum’s fiction, and was excited to read she wrote a memoir, The Year of the Horses (Tin House). It takes grace and courage to put your real life on the page and Courtney doesn’t hold back.

Courtney grew up privileged, she lived in a wealthy neighborhood and she rode horses. Then her brother was diagnosed with a rare heart condition and her magical childhood ended; no more horses and eventually her parents split up. As a child she had passion, friends, sports and as she got older, creative writing became an important part of her life. She soon got published, but there was something missing.

She got married, had a child, but therapy and medication didn’t help her with her depression. She refused to believed she was depressed because she was secure financially, had a husband and child, as well as successes. Thirty years after leaving the barn, she found herself riding horses and getting well. 

Riding is an activity compromised mostly of girls and strong women. Many books have been written trying to unlock the bond between women and horses. Courtney soon found herself playing polo, with husband and daughter cheering her on.

“A safe place that just so happened to be one of the most dangerous sports in the world.”
--Courtney Maum

Courtney takes us on a journey of darkness and forgiveness, and we, as readers, learn to embrace our true selves. The Year of The Horses is engaging, enjoyable and full of horse knowledge. 

FYI: The end of the memoir provides a collection of further readings.

Thanks to Tin House for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Courtney Maum:

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway: Wedding Season

Today we are featuring Wedding Season, which is the third novel in the Carolina Girls series by Michelle Major. It can be read as a standalone. Thanks to Kaye Publicity, we have one copy for a lucky reader.

Side note: The last time Michelle was at CLC, she recommended the movie I Care a Lot. Since that time, Melissa has seen it and would recommend it too!

The last person she wants to see in Magnolia, North Carolina, could be exactly whom she’s been waiting for…

Mariella Jacob was one of the world’s premier bridal designers, but one viral PR disaster later, she’s trying to get her torpedoed career back on track in small-town Magnolia, North Carolina. With a secondhand store and a new business venture helping her friends turn the Wildflower Inn into a wedding venue, Mariella is finally putting at least one mistake behind her. Until that mistake—in the glowering, handsome form of Alex Ralsten—moves to Magnolia too.

Mariella ruined Alex’s wedding by announcing that his starlet bride-to-be was sleeping with Mariella’s fiancé. While he’s furious when they’re forced to work together, there’s no denying Mariella is hardworking, talented…and gorgeous. In fact, though Alex keeps reminding himself that they’re enemies, something deeper is growing…daring them to admit that a rocky past might lead to something unexpectedly wonderful.

“Perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber.” —Publishers Weekly 

USA Today bestselling author Michelle Major loves stories of new beginnings, second chances and always a happily ever after. An avid hiker and avoider of housework, she lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains with her husband, two teenagers and a menagerie of spoiled fur babies. 

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

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

Giveaway ends May 1st at midnight EST.

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Monday, April 25, 2022

Book Review: What Happened to the Bennetts

By Jami Denison

After taking a detour into historical fiction with her World War II novel Eternal, author Lisa Scottoline has returned to her mystery roots with her latest novel, What Happened to the Bennetts. Although former lawyer Scottoline has published about a book a year since her debut in 1994, she often returns to themes about trust and family secrets, and plots involving organized crime and law enforcement. Bennetts will be a familiar read for Scottoline fans. 

Court reporter Jason Bennett is driving his family home in his new Mercedes when the unthinkable happens—he’s carjacked, and in the melee, his teenage daughter Allison is shot and soon dies in a hospital operating room. Jason, his wife Lucinda, and pre-teen son Ethan have no time to mourn her—the FBI shows up in the middle of the night, explaining that the carjackers are members of a notorious crime family that now has it out for Jason. They’re sprinted away and into witness protection, unable to tell family and friends what happened or communicate with them. 

As their community pleads on social media for answers and a citizen reporter starts asking questions, Jason learns that the attack against them might not have been random after all. And with the FBI refusing to answer his questions, he’s forced to go at it alone to find out what really happened and get justice for his daughter. 

I had expected What Happened to the Bennetts to unfold like a typical domestic thriller, but the novel turned into a political thriller about halfway through. The visual set pieces come quickly, giving the book the feel and pacing of a movie or a show like Reacher. Because of this, it’s a very quick read—the literary equivalent of a bag of potato chips. You can’t stop eating them, but when the bag is finished, you’re still hungry.

Scottoline gives Jason a bit of a character arc—he’s a cautious guy in the beginning, a man who quit law school because he didn’t want to go into debt. As the story develops, he has to break rules and confront the bad guys himself. Still, the story is very external, focusing almost exclusively on the plot. The grief over Allison’s death feels almost perfunctory as Jason rushes around Pennsylvania and Delaware, shaving his head, spying on the bad guys, and trying to track down the big bad.

The story is Jason’s alone, and told from his first-person point-of-view. Because of this, the reader never feels that his life is truly in danger. I found myself wishing that Scottoline had roped in additional points-of-view, especially from his wife, Lucinda, who had secrets of her own. 

As a writer, Scottoline is a machine, and Bennetts could be considered a master class in plotting. It’s a great book for a flight or a beach read—you’ll turn the pages quickly, but when the book is done, the story is over. 

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

More by Lisa Scottoline:

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Friday, April 22, 2022

Book Review: Untethered: Faith, Failure and Finding Solid Ground 

By Marisa Appleton

When Laura Whitfield was fourteen, her brother, Lawrence, was killed in a mountain climbing accident. This changed Laura’s life forever, changing her outlook on life.

Laura spent her summer on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Those few months were the best time of her life, filled with friendship, beer and boys. After the summer of her life, Laura started to realise that the beach wasn’t the happy place she expected. Instead of returning to college, Laura moved to New York City to pursue a career in modelling. Yet again, Laura’s dream of being a high-flying New York model is quickly crushed. At her first agency, she is told to come back when she has lost 10 pounds. Laura doesn’t let this stop her. She encounters unexpected hurdles the whole way through her life. Making many wrong decisions, she eventually finds her Mr. Right and has her happy ever after.

This memoir by Laura Whitfield was unlike anything I’d ever read before. Not usually a fan of non-fiction, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Laura’s story! The story follows 14-year-old Laura in the years following the death of her brother, Lawrence. While studying his master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh, a freak accident killed Lawrence while he was climbing Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in Scotland. His death affected the whole family, especially Laura. Throughout the years after, she turned to religion, using God to help her find her way. While at times, she loses her way in life, she always makes her way back to life. I found it really admirable the way Laura discussed her mistakes. She didn’t blame herself or anyone else, she just acknowledged that things happen sometimes, and life isn’t always perfect. 

Sometimes, however, I did find myself feeling frustrated at Laura. Just as she was about to get everything she wanted, she would change her mind or go back on her decision. For example, she was finally offered a modelling contract at a top agency but left NYC after another doomed relationship. Sometimes her mistakes could be blamed on her naivety such as deciding to go to New York in the first place after being encouraged to model by her crush at the Outer Banks. This frustration, though, came from wanting Laura to do well and get her life together. Obviously, since it is a memoir, I won’t be too critical of her. The mistakes did add a level of relatability. We have all made mistakes and bad decisions, but this is part of life. Reading it really did feel like listening to a friend tell you stories. I felt fully immersed in her stories and it has left me with lots to think about. I finished this book in less than a day, I enjoyed it so much! Laura is an excellent writer and storyteller so I hope to see more of her soon! 

Overall, I really recommend Untethered: Faith, Failure and Finding Solid Ground even if non-fiction isn’t your usual read. The life lessons within teach about embracing your sexuality, overcoming shame, and taking risks. This story of a normal girl living her life is truly inspiring and is definitely worth the read!

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

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Danielle Owen-Jones's debut is rich with humor

Photo by Russell Colman
Today we are pleased to welcome Danielle Owen-Jones to CLC. She's here to talk with us about her debut novel, Stone Broke Heiress, and share some other interesting things about herself.

Danielle Owen-Jones grew up in Merseyside. She started her career as a senior journalist and features writer before launching her own freelance PR and content writing business. Danielle now calls Cumbria home, where she lives with her husband, Tom, and adorable cockapoo, Poppy.

Danielle is represented by Clare Coombes of The Liverpool Literary Agency and published by Bookouture (Hachette UK).

Visit Danielle online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Six months ago, I was the heiress to a soup empire worth millions. Now, I’m standing in a giant dumpster.

Bella Whittington’s caviar-and-Cristal life comes crashing down when she walks in on her fiancé and best friend tangled up in page 34 of the Kama Sutra, limbs everywhere. But her plan to dull the pain with Daddy’s credit card is totalled by the news that they’ve lost the family business. Suddenly Bella’s both single and completely broke.

Shivering in her dingy new studio apartment after a traumatic incident with a homemade turmeric face mask (Hello Tangerina Jolie!), Bella realises she must pull up her Gucci socks and get a job, fast. But Dan, the gorgeous, grumpy owner of the local soup kitchen, hates the Whittingtons, so a teensy lie about her surname gets Bella through the door, and set loose on the stove… Minestrone with a side of melted spatula, anyone?

When Bella’s ex returns with a golden ticket back to her glitzy old life, should she accept? Because that would mean no more box wine and frozen pizza nights with Dan. No more singalongs to the crackly kitchen radio. No more my-heart-is-as-melted-as-that-spatula moments when he finally cracks a reluctant smile… But if Dan finds out the truth about who she really is, will she even have the choice?

An absolutely hilarious, feel-good rom com that will have you snorting with laughter. The new must-read for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk and Schitt’s Creek!

In one sentence, tell us what the road to publishing was like for you.
A mix of nerve-wracking and exciting – well worth experiencing the rollercoaster ups and downs to achieve my dream of being able to call myself a published author!

How is Bella similar to or different from you?
I’d hope we’re different from each other at the start of the book, as she’s rather high maintenance and a bit of a princess! However, her heart is in the right place. We’re similar in that I can be a little bit ditsy and accident-prone at times (I would probably accidentally dye my face yellow with a homemade face mask too!) And my husband would certainly agree that I have a slight problem when it comes to shopping. I wish I could cook like Bella though, I’m not a natural when it comes to the kitchen, even though I love food!

If Stone Broke Heiress were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
In my head, Bella looks like Lily Collins. But it would be my dream for Jodie Comer to play her as she’s incredible – and she’s a proud scouser too! Dan is Regé-Jean Page (who else can do brooding like him?) Bella’s mum Aurelia would be Kim Cattrall (another fabulous scouser) and dad Wilf would be Hugh Bonneville. Then it’d be Judi Dench as Elsie, Florence Pugh as Susie, and a totally adorable rescue as lovely Herbie.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
I finally read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo when I was off sick recently and it was phenomenal. I adore Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and I had very high hopes for it, but it more than lived up to my expectations! 

Tell us about your longest friendship.
I’ve known my best friend Loren since before we were born (our mums are best friends and were pregnant at the same time!) We grew up together, have shared so many life experiences and we have a very special bond – she’s more like a sister to me than a friend.

If we were to visit you in Cumbria, what are some places you would take us to see?
Make sure you bring your walking boots! I’d take you on my favourite walk in the Lake District – the coffin trail route (it’s much nicer than it sounds, I promise!) around Grasmere and Rydal Water. The scenic views are magnificent, especially on a sunny day. Then we’d pick up some Grasmere Gingerbread (of course) and head to either a fab old cosy and traditional pub for a pint of Loweswater Gold, or to the brilliant Royal Barn in Kirkby Lonsdale to sample a tasting paddle of their beers, with some delicious well-earned food after our long walk. 

Thanks to Danielle for chatting with us and to Bookouture for arranging the interview.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Book Review: Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market

By Becky Gulc

‘39-year-old Glanna Pascoe - also known as 'the Rainbow Painter' - runs the Hartmouth Gallery in Ferry Lane Market in Cornwall. She is just getting her head and broken heart around being single, childless, and sober when Cupid flies in, shooting arrows all over the place.

Meeting the mysterious and fascinating Isaac Benson, famous local artist, and recluse, allows Glanna's disillusioned heart and attitude to soften, and she begins to learn more about herself than she ever thought possible. Confused by her growing feelings for Isaac, Glanna throws herself into organising a life-drawing class at her gallery, using both male and female nudes - and setting local tongues wagging.

A theft from her gallery and the return of ex-love Oliver Trueman cause Glanna to wonder if a pot of gold will be appearing at the end of her rainbow. And will it bring her the happiness, she has sought for so long?’ (Courtesy of Amazon UK.)

This is book three of Nicola May’s ‘Ferry Lane Market’ series although the first one I’d personally read. Whilst you get the sense that some of the characters with minor parts in this novel have more of a backstory in the previous novels, it very much can be read as a stand-alone novel. 

I loved Glanna as the main character. I loved that she wasn’t flawless, and it was refreshing to read a light-hearted novel with a character that has a past and talks openly about it, she could even be a bit crude at times but never too much that it bothered me. Glanna is someone who knows herself, recognises her past and how it shapes her present and she was all the greater for spending time with as a reader as a result.

I enjoyed her meeting and getting to know the reclusive local artist Isaac. They have a lovely bond and relationship, and it was lovely to see that develop; they come into each other’s lives at the right time. I also loved Oliver, and I perhaps would have liked him to have a bigger in-person part earlier on in the novel, as the elements with him felt a tad rushed and I wanted more after waiting so long!

Glanna’s relationship with her parents is also complicated at times but so strongly written. There’s warmth, humour, disappointment, frustration, embarrassment and lots of love between all of them, and to be honest this was one of my favourite aspects of the story. This love surpassed the ‘love interest’ element of the story for me. 

I felt the sense of place was strong, and the novel had a real community feel to it with the wide range of characters you’d expect to meet in a small place. There were lots of comical moments!

This was a great read and I’ll be making sure I read the other novels in the series soon to find out more about the characters we met here. 

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

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

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:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Visit Hodder Books online:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway to Win PB copies of Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market for you and a friend 
(Open to UK only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 April 30th.

Visit all the stops on Nicola's blog tour:

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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Nicole Waggoner is having a grand old a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I am thrilled to welcome Nicole Waggoner back to CLC today. I loved the first two books of her Circus of Women series and am excited to read the third and final book, Grand Finale, soon. The first book, Center Ring (reviewed here) is currently $1.99 on Amazon, as part of the Spring Sizzlers Sale. The Act (reviewed here) is free on Kindle Unlimited. And Nicole has an e-book of Grand Finale for one lucky reader! (It's also available on Kindle Unlimited, but if you don't have that, you will want to win it here!) I'm not sharing a synopsis, as to not spoil the first two books.

Between the last time Nicole was at CLC (check out our fun Hamilton post) and now, she and I got to meet up when she was in DC for a weekend. This was back in 2017 and I still treasure my memories from that day! We had such a great time talking and she is so funny, kind, and down-to-earth. Since we're both Broadway fans and have kids close in age, we definitely had a lot to chat about.

Nicole Waggoner is author of the Circus of Women Trilogy. In addition, Nicole is a decorated teacher with 17 years' experience teaching upper level English, Creative Writing, and Literary Criticism courses. She is proud to call her husband, Jeff, and her children, Noah and Maya, her biggest fans. The other loves of her life include green tea, great conversations with dear friends, all things theater, water and sand, women's health, and a fanatical commitment to live her belief that love is a verb to be paid forward. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Nicole online:

What is something you learned from writing the first two books in the series that you applied to Grand Finale?
I learned a lot from my first two books! In particular, I learned how receptive women are to seeing real life on the page. I have been so touched by the stories of connection with the characters. I firmly believe Brené Brown nailed it when she said the two most powerful words in the English language are 'me, too.' 

What were the biggest rewards from writing this series? 
The biggest reward has definitely been the wonderful people I have met in the book world! Supportive communities among readers, book bloggers, book groups, IG, and Booktok have added so much joy to my life! Annnnnndddd....they keep my ever-growing TBR list bursting! 

If Grand Finale were made into a movie, what are some songs that would be on the soundtrack? "Home" by Michael Bublé, "Wildest Dreams" Taylor Swift/Bridgerton Instrumental Version, "Perfect" Ed Sheeran, "Tears in Heaven" Eric Clapton, "Something in the Way" by Nirvana, "If It Kills Me" by Jason Mraz, "Lucky" Colbie Calliat, "I'll Be There", by The Jackson Five, "Irreplaceable", by Beyonce, and "I Almost Do", by Taylor Swift

Which TV series are you currently binge watching? 
Yellowstone, Pivoting, Bridgerton, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, And Just Like That, Outlander. Schitt's Creek, and Sex and the City are my current 'comfort food shows'. Friends will always be my favorite television show of all time!

What is something you've learned about yourself during the pandemic? 
I've learned that I can, in fact, work out at home. I've completely downed the Peloton Kool-Aide and am obsessed with the bike, yoga, and strength workouts. My bike is named The Duke of Hastings and Cody Rigsby (mentioned in the acknowledgements) is one of my favorite humans.

What is the last thing you had a really good laugh about? 
Our rescue kitty brought a live bird in through the dog door and absolute chaos ensued! I even made a TikTok of my giant husband trying to get it off of the ceiling fan above our bed. We laughed until we cried and he is now a sound on TikTok. LOL :) (Do not show to kids as there is some swearing.)

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

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

Giveaway ends April 24th at midnight EST.

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Monday, April 18, 2022

Book Review: Secrets Behind the Billionaire's a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

Find out what happens when a billionaire returns to Felicity’s life in book one of Rachael Stewart’s new duet, Claiming the Ferrington Empire, from Harlequin Romance.

The man she never forgot…The feelings she never lost…

Sixteen years ago, Felicity fell in love with the boy from Ferrington Manor. But their affair was short-lived when Sebastian vanished and she was left with the secret consequence of their love. Now he’s back and his return sends shock waves through Felicity! Will the revelations about Sebastian’s departure be enough for Felicity to succumb to the feelings that still draw her to him? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

This was an excellent start into the Claiming the Ferrington Empire series. Felicity, nicknamed Flick, had fallen in love with Sebastian when they were teenagers and she swore their love would last forever. Yet, Sebastian suddenly left their small town behind and despite Flick’s efforts in finding him, or hoping that he’d someday return, she had to let go of what they’d had and move on with her life, for several important reasons. 

When he returns sixteen years later, there are many different emotions that Flick has to sort through, and Rachael Stewart did a great job of showing that. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to feel as though I’d lost the love of my life, only to have him return years later–would the emotions remain the same, or would his disappearance taint the past? 

And even if the emotions are there, how can they ever mend the rift that time has created? While Flick has always known that Sebastian had come from money, things are a lot different when the man she’d been in love with is now a billionaire, given her own economic standing. She’s unsure of whether she’d be good enough for him, but he also wonders the same thing–if he would ever be good enough for her, given his past. 

I really loved the chemistry between the two characters! Amidst the fears and emotions is an undercurrent of heat–much appreciated in a Harlequin Romance read. I had a really hard time putting this one down, and I’m looking forward to the second book in this series, featuring Sebastian’s brother Theo and Flick’s friend and coworker, Bree. There were some alluded scenes within Secrets that let me know Theo and Bree’s scenario will most likely follow in the footsteps of its predecessor…a dynamite, five-star experience!

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

Purchase Links: 
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heartwarmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.

She’s been writing since she could put pen to paper as the stacks of scrawled on A4 sheets in her loft will attest to, and the lovingly bound short stories that her father would run off at work and proudly share out with his colleagues. Thinking it was a pipe dream to be published one day, she pursued a sensible career in business but she was really play-acting, achieving the appropriate degree and spending many years in the corporate world where she never truly belonged. Always happiest when she was sat at her laptop in the quiet hours tapping out a story or two. And so here she is, a published author, her full-time pleasure, a dream come true.

A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she's not glued to her laptop, she's wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.

Visit Rachael online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway to Win 4 x Signed Rachael Stewart Paperbacks and more (Open worldwide)

Prize Contains:

4 x Signed paperbacks:

Tempted by the Tycoon’s Proposal

Surprise Reunion with His Cinderella

Beauty And The Reclusive Millionaire

Secrets Behind the Billionaire’s Return


“Hug” Bracelet

Diamond Metallic Pen

Heart Post-Its

*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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Friday, April 15, 2022

Book Review: An Upside-Down Sky

By Marisa Appleton

Picture this: eighteen different people, all on this trip for very different reasons. Namyan has recently opened for tourism. This group departs on one of the first tours of the country, visiting pagodas, monasteries, and other famous landmarks. Each character offers a different perspective on American life; they represent the American population. In the group there are straight, gay, gender-fluid, black, brown, white, progressive, conservative, artistic, repressed, old, young people. Every character has a good and bad side, no one is perfect! The story mainly focuses on Lars and Catty Vonderville and their friend Lidia DeCampos as they visit the sights of Namyan as they make new friends – and enemies – along the way. Each character has a secret, a part of their lives that they don’t wish for anyone else to find out. 

Linda Dahl represents American society in this novel. In a documentary style, she tells the story of eighteen different people on one of the first tours of Namyan – a fictional country based on Myanmar (formerly Burma). This is a country whose history is flooded with war and genocide so when tourism finally opens the industry booms. 

I really enjoyed reading this novel. While it is quite different to my normal reads, I loved the variety of the characters. While having too many main characters doesn’t normally work, Dahl makes it work. Each character has a different reason for being on the trip. Clint and Betsy Hodges won the trip at an auction, Ed and Ann Boren are here because Ed is an entomologist (bug collector), and Klaus Haynes is here to write for his blog. Before the story starts, Dahl introduces the characters in an almost documentary style. She outlines their names, characters, reasons for being on the trips and even their nicknames. The nicknames are all mean, derogatory names given to them by the other characters. I found this guide to the characters very helpful. With there being eighteen different people to keep track of, it can be quite confusing. This guide meant you had something clear to skip back to and refresh your memory. I enjoyed how the story had different perspectives. While it does focus on particular characters, the story mainly focuses of Lidia and her friends Lars and Catty, the story also offers insights into the lives of other characters. 

The trip starts off smooth, but it quickly goes downhill. Many illnesses and accidents plague the guests, causing additional stress for Thila – the tour leader. The tour almost seems cursed when guests bicker, argue, get injured and even accidentally take psychedelic drugs! Differing opinions cause rifts within the groups, and rightly so when racism and homophobic language is used! A love story unfolds between an unlikely pair, Lidia and Klaus. They both need each other on this trip to move past their previous struggles at home. Dahl ends the novel with a similar review of the characters that were at the start. I enjoyed this way of wrapping up the novel. It really pulled all the characters together. It is worth the read if you are interested in a travel novel that also contains themes of love, friendship and politics.

Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase An Upside-Down Sky here.

More by Linda Dahl:

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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Janis Thomas keeps us in a book giveaway

We are thrilled to have Janis Thomas back at CLC today. Melissa has enjoyed all her books (Say Never is one of her favorites) and is excited to read her latest, Finding Grace, soon. Thanks to Blackstone Publishing, we have FIVE copies to give away!

Janis Thomas is the author of What Remains True and All That's Left of Me (Lake Union, 2017, 2018). She has also written three critically-acclaimed humorous women's fiction novels, Something New, Sweet Nothings, and Say Never, which was chosen by Chick Lit Central as one of the best books of the year. Murder in A-Minor is the first in her musical murder mystery series. 

Janis has written over fifty songs, and two children’s books which she wrote with her dad. When she isn’t writing or fulfilling her PTA duties, Janis likes to play tennis, sing with her sister, and throw lavish dinner parties with wild menus for friends and loved ones. She lives in Southern California with her husband, their two beautiful children and two crazy dogs. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Janis online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


A young girl is in terrible danger … but can they reach her in time?

Somebody’s coming for you...

California: Twelve-year-old Melanie has been in foster care her whole life, moving from home to home—unloved and unwanted. And although she has found relative contentment with her current foster parents, Melanie harbors a secret that, if discovered, would blow her world apart. Someone talks to Melanie, a presence no one else can see or hear, and this presence has a message for her: something bad is about to happen.

New York: After years of battling with her troubled, unpredictable mother, Louise has managed to find peace in her solitary existence. Until the day Grace crashes back into her life and entreats Louise to help her save a child from imminent danger. Unwilling to get caught up in her mother’s madness, Louise resists. But she realizes the only way to be rid of Grace once and for all is to play along.

Louise and Grace set off across America in search of Melanie, driven by Grace’s firm belief that they have to get there before the bad thing happens. To do that, Louise must first come to understand and trust her mother. But after a lifetime of pain and dysfunction, can the two finally heal old wounds in order to save one young girl?
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Finding Grace is a compelling psychological suspense drama about the ties that bind and the forgiveness that lives within us all. A truly unique and captivating read!"
~Wendy Walker, bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten

"Compelling and redemptive, Finding Grace captured my heart from the first page and never let go."
~Suzanne Redfearn, #1 Amazon bestselling author

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing Finding Grace?
Finishing a book is always a major reward! Some people say it’s passé to type THE END when you finish a manuscript, but I always do—slowly—and I savor each of those six keystrokes. Then I close the document and pull out the champagne. As for challenges, FINDING GRACE is written in multiple POVs, dual times, and multiple locations, so keeping everything straight in my head required a lot of organization. I had to start each writing session with the following questions: Who am I? Where am I? What year is it?  
During the editing process, was there anything you had to take out of the book that you wish you could have kept?
Writers tend to fall in love with their words, and I am no exception. So, yes, I’m sure I cut things that broke my heart a little bit. But I completely trusted my editor—the marvelous Sara O’Keeffe—and I know the book is better because of the insightful suggestions she made. 
If Finding Grace were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
I LOVE this question, especially since music plays a part in the story. Grace is a huge fan of Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder. “Even Flow” is mentioned on the very first page, so I would have to lead with that. “Better Man” comes in later. Louise is a Nirvana fan, and I think “Come as You Are” is a good fit, thematically. 

Louise also grew up listening to her grandmother’s faves: Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and the like. “Come Fly with Me” is featured, as is “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Melanie mentions Billie Eilish, and “Everything I Wanted” would be perfect for the movie. Wow. This soundtrack is a little all over the place, isn’t it? Let’s call it eclectic….
What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?

I wasn’t prepared to enjoy The Batman as much as I did. I was prepared to be bored. I was prepared to fidget in my seat the two-and-a-half-hour mark. But I wasn’t and I didn’t. I found the movie visually spectacular and completely engaging. And, since I’ve never seen any of the Twilight movies, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Robert Pattinson. Let’s just say, I approve. 
What is something you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I learned that as much as I bake, I’m terrible at making bread. (I am a sourdough starter killer.) Oh, yes, I also learned that I still like spending time with my husband, and since we’ve been married over twenty-two years, this was a very positive realization!
What is the most comfortable piece of clothing you own?

Oh, dear. My husband, the one I like to spend time with, despises my most comfortable item of clothing—an old, thin, cotton Massimo long-sleeved t-shirt that is softer than the downy coat of a baby duck. Unfortunately, the shirt also has holes. And the sleeve is torn. And the color had faded from black to a sort of green-grey-black. I never wear the shirt out of the house. Okay, I do, but only if it’s hidden under something else. I should get rid of it or throw it in the rag pile. My husband begs me to dump the shirt every time I put it on. But I intend to wear it until it’s nothing more than threads.

Thanks to Janis for chatting with us and to Blackstone for sharing her book with our readers.

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Giveaway ends April 19th at midnight EST.

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