Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Showing Cara Tanamachi some love...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Cara Tanamachi to CLC to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, The Second You're Single. This one sounds like a fun Valentine's Day treat, and thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

Cara Tanamachi lives near Chicago with her husband and five children (two by biology and three by marriage), and their 85-pound Goldendoodle, Theodore. Raised near Dallas, Texas by her Japanese-American dad and her English-Scottish American mom, she was the oldest of two children (the debate still rages whether she or her brother are currently the family favorite). The University of Pennsylvania (Go Quakers!) grad worked as a newspaper reporter, and then published many novels such as Dater's Handbook and The Love Cure under the name Cara Lockwood. A former single mom, she spent eight years dating (hilariously and awkwardly) before finding the love of her life on Bumble (yes, Bumble!). She believes we all could use a little more happily ever after.

Visit Cara online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Freelance writer Sora Reid believes in inertia. She’s the odd one out in a close-knit family of go-getters, including her Japanese-American mom, who hints about her need to lose weight, and her soon-to-be married, overachieving younger sister, who needs her to have a date for the wedding, since a wedding party couples' dance with their Scottish great uncle Bob simply won't do. For Sora, minimal input, minimal expectations is the way to go. She’d rather stay at home with her insufferable neighbor and her adorable pit bull.

The one thing that disrupts her inertia: an intense dislike for Valentine’s Day. What is it with the commercial love machine? Why do we pin our hopes on one romantic day, when staying home with a package of bacon and a bottle of tequila would be way better? Sora’s been betrayed and disappointed more than once and her heart is starting to feel like her Grandma Mitsuye’s antique Japanese ceramic bowl, with its many gold-filled cracks.

When her pledge to stay single in February inspires readers to #gosolo, Sora has a responsibility to empower her readers. But relationships aren’t built to last, so it shouldn’t be that hard. Right?

Enter Jack Mann. A muscle-bound baker who looks like he lifts logs on the weekends, Sora hasn’t thought of Jack since they were in elementary school together. When they see each other at the local grocery store and the attraction hits hard, Sora knows she has to shut it down, quick. She can’t #gosolo AND get the guy. She can’t let down her readers. And relationships always end, so why should Jack be any different–even though he’s confounding all her long-held expectations of love? (Courtesy of Amazon.)

“Riotous, whip-smart, and original. Read this happy-making book if you love yourself.” 
―Jayci Lee, Author of Booked on a Feeling

“The perfect Valentine! Cara Tanamachi will charm even the most reluctant heart with this treat of a story. Sora’s attempts to stay single, then her courage to follow her heart, had me cheering. Readers will fall in love!”
USA Today bestselling author Megan Crane

“The Second You’re Single is harder to put down than a box of gourmet Valentine’s Day chocolates. It has everything I adore in a book: heart, humor, and a sizzling love story that captivated me from the first page to the last. Readers will fall head over heels for Sora and Jack. I'm already impatient for Cara Tanamachi's next book!” 
―Kerry Rea, author of The Wedding Ringer

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like for you?
The road to publishing was long and twisty, with more than a few traffic lights, because I published my first novel as Cara Lockwood in 2003; people say the hard part is getting published, but I say it’s much harder to stay published.

How are you similar to or different from Sora?
Sora and I are similar in many ways. We both come from Japanese and Iris/English/Scottish parents. We are both a bit judgmental, I readily admit, but always harshest on ourselves. Like Sora, I also have been fed up with dating and decided I needed a dating break. I’ve also suffered some pretty heinous break-ups. I think the way Sora and I differ is that she handles stress and trauma by staying in one place, being still and hoping the bad things go away on their own. Some people have fight or flight or freeze, and Sora is definitely in the freeze category. I’m more of a flight person. I flee! But, all that said, Sora and I are both huge fans of bacon. Period.

If The Second You're Single were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Oooh… This is a hard one. For Sora, I love Stephanie Hsu – she was AMAZING as Joy in Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. For Jack, I’d go with Lewis Tan. Yes, I know, normally he’s kicking butt in a fight scene, but those muscles would also work great in a bakery, too. That dough needs kneading! I actually first saw Lewis Tan in Mortal Kombat (which, fun fact – is my favorite game, and the only one where I can soundly beat my teenage kids). Not to date myself, but, oh, I will - I first played Mortal Kombat with my younger brother on Nintendo 64 in the ‘90s. 

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?

Ginny and Georgia. It’s got everything: snappy dialogue, high teen drama, and, of course, a lovable but murderous mom. Don’t we all want a mom who’d kill for us? Wait…. Don’t answer that…

Share a favorite Valentine's Day memory with us.
Like Sora, I hated Valentine’s Day for years. I also drowned my Valentine sorrows in tequila. But, my husband, PJ, like Jack, changed how I felt about Valentine’s Day. My absolute favorite Valentine’s Day was in 2018, when we flew to Oahu. Two days later, we got married at Magic Island. He completely changed how I feel about the most romantic day of the year. That’s all due to the power of love (cue sappy Valentine card inscription).

What is the last thing that made you laugh really hard?
My husband! He’s one of the funniest people I know, and he cracks me up every day. We’re kind of silly and ridiculous, so our jokes don’t always translate to others (read: our kids who think we are cringe), but we keep each other in stitches. 

On a professional comedian level, I love Ronny Chieng. His last two comedy stand-up specials had me laughing so hard (he’s 100% right about bad reviewers). On a humor writer level, Samantha Irby is my absolute favorite. If I need a laugh, I pick up Wow, No Thank You. Can’t wait for her new one, Quietly Hostile.

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 February 5th at midnight EST.

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Monday, January 30, 2023

Book Review: Murder in Chianti

By Sara Steven

Murder in broad daylight…

When millionaire magnate Rex Hunter is found with his head bashed in on the eighth hole of his prestigious golf and country club in beautiful Chianti, it’s a clear case of murder. Hunter was rich and successful and the envy of many, so retired DCI Dan Armstrong thinks the case will be a hole in one to solve….

A despised victim…

But as Dan and his trusty sidekick Oscar begin to dig deeper into Hunter’s lifestyle, they discover a man despised by many. A renowned womaniser, ruthless boss and heartless family man, it seems no one is particularly sorry to see Hunter dead. And the list of possible suspects is endless…

A murderer covering their tracks.

Dan is determined to catch this clever killer, but it seems every new lead brings another dead end. Will this be one case Dan and his canine companion won’t solve? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

This is the next book in the Armstrong and Oscar Cozy Mysteries series, and I can honestly say this one is my favorite so far. Williams has a great way of beginning his stories with an explosive inciting incident, like when Rex Hunter has been found bludgeoned to death by a golf club. It can’t get more explosive than that. 

I really enjoyed the difficulty in finding the murderer. Hunter isn’t well-liked. In fact, there are many characters, including his own family who would attest to wanting him dead. With a case like that, it’s hard to determine who might be the culprit, and as the list of suspects grows, so did my want in trying to determine who it might be. Dan took it all in stride, which was fun to see, considering there is a subplot involving his own familial workings that could potentially sidetrack him from the case. 

It was also interesting to see a few twists that were not murder-related. Hunter’s life and the people within it aren’t as they seem, with one twist completely surprising me and throwing me off guard. You never really know who to trust, other than Dan and those who are helping him in determining who killed Hunter, like his trusty sidekick, Oscar. Seriously, Murder in Chianti and any other book that Williams has written wouldn’t be complete without one of the characters being canine, and Oscar is the perfect canine companion for Dan.

I thought for sure I knew how things would end and who would ultimately be the murderer, but I felt like I was thrown for a loop! That makes for the best kind of mystery, and Williams does well at keeping the reader guessing. And, as always, the backdrop is just as much an important character as the characters themselves. Any book of his makes me want to travel to far off exotic locations, with Tuscany becoming a prime spot for me as a bucket list vacation spot. Murder in Chianti was well-written, suspenseful, and had me guessing throughout its pages. A definite five-star experience!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

T. A. Williams is the author of over twenty bestselling romances for HQ and Canelo and is now turning his hand to cosy crime, set in his beloved Italy, for Boldwood. The series will introduce us to retired DCI Armstrong and his labrador Oscar and the first book, entitled Murder in Tuscany, will be published in October 2022. Trevor lives in Devon with his Italian wife.

Visit T.A. Williams online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter

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Friday, January 27, 2023

What's in the (e)mail

The Fraud Squad by Kyla Zhao from Berkley (NetGalley)
Social Engagement by Avery Carpenter Forrey from Mariner (NetGalley)
Always June by Kate Karyus Quinn from West 44 Books (NetGalley)
We Ship It by Lauren Kay from HarperCollins (NetGalley)
Hello Stranger by Katherine Center from St. Martin's Press (NetGalley)
Funny Guy by Emma Barry from Kaye Publicity (NetGalley)
That Summer Feeling by Bridget Morrissey from Berkley (NetGalley)
Just as You Are by Camille Kellogg from Random House (NetGalley)
The Reunion by Kayla Olson from Atria (NetGalley)
The Déjà Glitch by Holly James from Dutton (NetGalley)
The Spectacular by Fiona Davis from Dutton (NetGalley)
Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee from Random House (NetGalley)
Best Served Hot by Amanda Elliot from Berkley (print)
Go as a River by Shelley Read from Spiegel and Grau (print)

The Summer House by Keri Beevis from Rachel's Random Resources (NetGalley)
Stars Collide by Rachel Lacey from Over the River PR (ebook)
On the Sly by Wendy Koenig from Author Marketing Experts (ebook)

The Lost English Girl by Julia Kelly from Gallery (NetGalley)

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Book Review: Pretty Evil

By Sara Steven

Meet Camilla Black: an affluent, respected, influential fashion magazine editor, who lives it up in her beautiful Mayfair apartment. But Camilla’s glamorous life is a lie. Behind her poised exterior beats the cold dark heart of a vigilante killer, a murderer hell-bent on wreaking vengeance upon bad men.

Camilla expects to get away with murder. She’s careful. And anyway, it’s worth the risk. She’s making the world a better place with each predator she kills. But when one of her victims’ bodies is unexpectedly found, his gruesome death is splashed all over the papers.

To make matters worse, she’s now being pursued by Detective Wheelan, a new addition to the Met with laser-sharp focus and a worrying habit of solving impossible crimes…

She knows she should stop, but she can’t. Some men just deserve to die. Will Camilla’s insatiable appetite for justice be her downfall, or can she outsmart the police? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Camilla lives a double life: On the one hand, she’s well known as a fashion magazine editor, but beyond that lifestyle is the one where she rids the world of bad men, one impeccable kill at a time. The first murder that is described in minute detail had me cringing inwardly, it was that descriptive. Where most of us would end up squeamish, it’s all in a day’s work for Camilla, and it’s a job she has devoted herself to whole-heartedly. She’s careful and particular, ensuring she’ll never get caught. So, what’s the worst that can happen? 

I really liked Camilla’s character makeup. She has no ties to any of the emotions that are often associated with being female. She has her group of “friends” who are almost like a cover, considering she doesn’t feel she can get involved with anyone, not on any level. But somehow, she makes that disconnect look cool. She is unapologetic about her need for passion–whether that’s on a sensual level, or involving her latest kill. She is stealthy and unyielding, almost like a newfound superhero for all of womankind. But even the best can get a little too cocky, and using a bow and arrow and elevating the vigilante experience could be the very thing that eventually takes her down. 

As much as I liked Camilla, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for her. She never feels as though she can trust, and she is continually looking over her shoulder. When she describes what her family life had been like, and talks about the one person she felt she could turn to in her time of need and how in essence it wasn’t at all what she expected it to be, there is a lot of empathy involved. There is a reason Camilla is the way she is, and because she’s doing something to, in her mind, better humanity, it’s a lot easier to side with her, even if she is a serial killer.

The one thing I wish there had been less of had been the long amounts of inner dialogue that would crop up when Camilla reflected on certain memories or the past. I felt as a reader that it would take me out of the current scene she was in, when it would go from the present moment, then we’d get tossed back into the past. But the incredible dialogue and Camilla in general more than made up for it. Pretty Evil was a thrilling experience!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Zoe Rosi has a background in journalism and copywriting. She worked as a reporter for local and national newspapers before moving into the fashion industry as a copywriter. Zoe had four romantic comedies published before writing her debut thriller, Pretty Evil. Working in fashion sparked the idea for the book, which Zoe describes as ‘The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho’. Someone’s Watching Me is Zoe’s second thriller.

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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Spotlight and Giveaway: Make a Wish

Today we're pleased to feature Helena Hunting's latest rom-com, Make a Wish, which just released this week. This sounds like a cute story that we're sure you will enjoy. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy to give away!

Ever have a defining life moment you wish you could do over? Harley Spark has one. The time she almost kissed the widowed father of the toddler she nannied for. It was so bad they moved across the state and she never saw them again.

Fast forward seven years and she’s totally over it. At least she thinks she is. Until Gavin Rhodes and his adorable now nine-year-old daughter, Peyton, reappear at a princess-themed birthday party hosted by Spark House, Harley’s family’s event hotel. Despite trying to avoid the awkwardness of the situation, she can’t help but notice how unbearably sexy he looks in a tutu. Add to that a spontaneous hives breakout, and it’s clear she’s not even remotely over the mortification of her egregious error all those years ago.

Except Gavin seems oblivious to her inner turmoil. So much so that he suggests they get together for lunch. For Peyton’s sake, of course. It’s the perfect opportunity to heal old wounds. Or it could just reopen them. This is one of those times Harley wishes she could see the future…

"Make A Wish will make all of your dilf dreams come true. It will curl your toes, tickle your funny bone, and leave you with the best warm and fuzzy feelings." 
- New York Times bestseller, Kylie Scott

NYT and USA Today Bestselling author, Helena Hunting lives outside of Toronto with her amazing family and her two awesome cats, who think the best place to sleep is her keyboard. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance with all the feels to romantic comedies that will have you laughing until you cry.

Visit Helena online:

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

Giveaway ends January 31st at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Book Review: The Ideal Man

By Sara Steven

Three women’s lives are about to change forever.

The Daughter.

My father is innocent. He’s spent almost four years behind bars, but now he’s getting out. I gave up everything to be there for him, just like he was always there for me. It’s all going to be worth it now.

The Girlfriend.

As soon as I opened the paper that day and saw that picture of Sandy, I didn’t care about the story surrounding it. There’s no way he hurt that girl. Now he’s out, we’ll get married and I’ll finally get to meet his daughter. There’ll be no more hiding our love.

The Other Woman.

No one knows what happened all those years ago, and the life I built depends on no one finding out. Now he’s getting out, my secrets may soon see the light. I can’t let that happen.

One Loves Him.

One Needs Him.

One Wants Him DEAD.
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Despite having a pretty good idea of knowing how this story would end, The Ideal Man offered up plenty of thriller moments–the kind of moments that are more discreet and unassuming. A slow burn and build up of plotline tension. 

Daughter Colette is certain her father, Sandy, is an innocent man. Other family members and friends had all walked away from Sandy, certain of his guilt, but Colette never wavered, even after he’d gone to jail for his potential crimes. After he’s released early for good behavior, she does all she can to make his transition back into life outside of bars as easy as possible, but there are plenty of red flags that present themselves, ones that are difficult to excuse away. Out of all of the relationships within this book, the one between Colette and Sandy offered up the most change, and it was really interesting to witness.

Lynne offered up a different perspective where Sandy is concerned. So many people are focused on the past and what Sandy had been accused of, but Lynne is looking towards the future and what might be. When the reader discovers the relationship arc between the two characters, I wasn’t surprised by the outcome because it was most fitting. It was almost as if Lynne had become a character witness for Sandy.

Jane’s point of view provided the most suspense and intrigue. At first, I wasn’t sure who Jane represented; the person Sandy is accused of hurting, or the person who has remained in the shadows with secrets. Once it’s figured out, I was eager to discover what Jane would do, and how she would handle the situation she’s in. When characters who have never collided begin to collide, it was even better! 

The ending felt right, for everyone involved. And even though I knew how the story would end, the characters who are part of it was a big surprise. It’s always the person you least expect. I really enjoyed The Ideal Man, a worthy, suspenseful five-star experience. 

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

Purchase Links:

T.J. Emerson’s
debut psychological thriller was published by Legend Press and received brilliant reviews. Her short stories and features have been widely published in anthologies and magazines, and she works as a literary consultant and writing tutor. She lives in Scotland.

Visit T.J. online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Emma Barry puts the chick in chick lit...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Emma Barry to CLC to celebrate the publication of her latest rom-com, Chick Magnet. This story sounds like so much fun and we are enjoying the eye candy on the cover. ;) Melissa has this in her five-book pie and is excited to read it soon. Thanks to Kaye Publicity, we have one copy to give away!
Emma Barry is a teacher, novelist, recovering academic, and former political staffer. She lives with her high school sweetheart and a menagerie of pets and children in Virginia, and she occasionally finds time to read and write. 

Visit Emma online:
Website * Twitter * Instagram

Nicole Jones needs a fresh start. “Chick Nic” to millions of internet fans, the social media star and her flock of chickens bask in the spotlight—until she’s publicly dumped by a YouTuber for clout. She has no choice but to round up her birds and move on.

But when one of her hens has an emergency, Nic gets her first taste of her new stomping grounds—and it isn’t good. Veterinarian Will Lund is wildly attractive, yes, but he’s also surly. In fact, he comes right out and calls her a menace for parading her chickens on social media.

As neighbors, Nic and Will can’t exactly avoid each other. Then again, maybe they don’t want to. The two can’t deny their smoldering attraction, and it isn’t long before late-night confessions lead to backyard shenanigans.

Is this the start of a neighborly relationship—or could something more be hatching?

Emma Barry has been one of my favorite authors in the world for many years now, and Chick Magnet only deepens my already fervent love of her writing. Her books are always crafted with exquisite care and thoughtfulness, abounding with graceful prose, extremely likable characters, rueful humor, and a thorough grounding in how good people think, work, and love. Plus, her writing is simply fun, not to mention sexy. With the release of this book, I expect new hordes of fans to join the Emma Barry Stan Club, but rest assured: I will always be the club’s president and most enthusiastic member.”
—Olivia Dade, national bestselling author of Spoiler Alert and All the Feels

“One of the chief pleasures of being a romance reader is getting to watch Emma Barry’s complex, honorable characters forging themselves into stronger, happier versions of themselves. Chick Magnet is Emma Barry at the peak of her powers: hilarious and humane, it will restore your faith in the power of love.”
—Jenny Holiday, USA Today bestselling author

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
Several years ago, I wrote a book, called The One You Hate, about rival aides falling in love during a presidential campaign. Someone who had been a real senior campaign aide reached out to me and said, “Hey, so do I know you? Who did you work for? Because every single detail is accurate.” I’m telling you, that email kept me going through years of writer’s block. 
How is Nicole similar to or different from you?
I want to be Nic when I grow up. I love how resilient she is, how sunny she can be. I tend to catastrophize and, as a result, to get stuck. When we meet her, Nic has been through the absolute wringer, but she’s trying to put her life back together, and I really admire that. We both share a love of animals (especially chickens)—and of a good charcuterie board. 
If Chick Magnet was made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
For Will, we’ll need someone who’s extremely large and good looking, who’s into sports, and who goes tender around children and animals. I’ll admit, I had Chris Hemsworth in mind. For Nic, she has to have that mix of sassy and sweet, with a sort of girl next door charm. I think Rachel Bilson fits the bill.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna is essentially a warm mug of cocoa in book-form. The protagonist grew up totally isolated, hiding her magical powers. She accidentally becomes the governess to three adorable young witches living in this amazing rambling house by the sea. So you have found family, a romance with a grumpy librarian, and this wonderful self-actualization arc for the female protagonist. It’s great.

If we were to visit you right now, what are some must-see places you would show us?
I live in the southeast corner of Virginia, and what we have is coastal beauty and history. I’d take you to see the mantua maker at Colonial Williamsburg, the Hamilton redoubt on the Yorktown Battlefield, the Apollo 12 Command Module at the Virginia Air and Space Center, and the view of the Chesapeake Bay from Grandview Nature Preserve.
What is your favorite thing to eat in the winter?
When it’s cold, I’m always craving warm, spicy, filling soups, stews, and my personal favorite, ramen. I’m a big fan of this recipe from Half-Baked Harvest. I add roasted tofu glazed with Korean barbeque sauce.
Thanks to Emma for chatting with us and to Kaye Publicity for sharing her book with our readers.

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

Giveaway ends January 29th at midnight EST.

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Monday, January 23, 2023

Spotlight: Do I Know You?

When a couple starts to feel like they’re married to a stranger, a flirtatious game of pretend becomes the spark they need to reignite their relationship.

Eliza and Graham are anticipating an anything-but-sexy, weeklong getaway to celebrate their five-year anniversary. Nestled on the Northern California coastline, the resort prides itself on being a destination for those in love and those looking to find it. For Eliza and Graham, it might as well be a vacation with a roommate.

When a well-meaning guest mistakes Eliza and Graham for being single and introduces them at the hotel bar, they don’t correct him. Suddenly, they’re pretending to be perfect strangers and it’s unexpectedly…fun? Eliza and Graham find themselves flirting like it’s their first date, and waiting with butterflies in their stomach for the other to text back. 

Everyone at the retreat can sense the electric chemistry between Eliza and Graham’s alter egos. But when their scintillating game of roleplaying ends, will they still feel the heat? (Courtesy of Penguin Random House.)

“Many authors can write compellingly about falling in love…but it takes a deft hand (or two, in this case) to write compellingly about staying in love.  Luckily, we have Wibbroka, who have crafted a novel about marriage that is honest to the bone, refreshing, and — like a long-term relationship — deliciously surprising.”
—Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here

"Do I Know You? shows the pure magic of that pivotal moment when two people make the choice to fight for each other. This book is more than a story of a marriage in trouble. It's the story of a spark rekindled and the new flames deliver all the warmth you could want in a novel. Full of humor and heart, Do I Know You? had me in my feelings!"
—Denise Williams, author of The Fastest Way to Fall

Do I Know You? offers the fresh twist on a marriage in crisis that I didn't know I needed! Wibbroka does it again with a magnetically raw and intimate portrayal of where love begins, fades, and begins again. Flirty, sweeping, and hopeful, readers will clutch their chests and root for Eliza and Graham until the very last page.”
—Amy Lea, author of Set on You

Purchase Do I Know You? here.

Courtesy of the authors' website

Emily Wibberley
and Austin Siegemund-Broka met and fell in love in high school. Austin went on to graduate from Harvard, while Emily graduated from Princeton. Together, they are the authors of The Roughest Draft, as well as several novels about romance for teens. Now married, they live in Los Angeles, where they continue to take daily inspiration from their own love story.

Visit Emily and Austin's website.

Visit Emily on Twitter and Instagram.

Visit Austin on Twitter and Instagram.

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Friday, January 20, 2023

Book Review: One Day With You

By Sara Steven

Tress Walker waved her perfect husband Max off to work, with no idea that she was about to go into labour with their first child. And completely unaware that when she tried to track Max down, he wouldn’t be where he was supposed to be.

At the same time, Max’s best friend Noah Clark said goodbye to his wife, Mya, blissfully oblivious that he would soon discover the woman he adored had been lying to him for years.

And living alongside the two couples, their recently widowed friend, Nancy Jenkins, is getting ready to meet Eddie, her first true love at a school reunion. Will Nancy have the chance to rekindle an old flame, or will she choose to stay by Tress’s side when she needs her most?

One Day with You - two fateful goodbyes, two unexpected hellos, and 24 hours that change everything. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I love stories that intricately connect characters together, and that’s exactly what I experienced with One Day With You. While I had a pretty good idea of where Max was headed, and I also had a feeling about the secrets Anya (in the book, Noah’s wife is named Anya, not Mya, as the synopsis indicates) is keeping, what happens when it is all revealed is earth-shattering. It leaves the reader with many questions that are answered and revealed little by little over the course of the book, keeping you engaged. I didn’t want to stop reading, in an effort to get to the truth.

I really loved Nancy. I think she’s my favorite character. She has become an honorary aunt for Tress, who doesn’t have much family to call on for help, and she has known both Max and Noah their entire lives, having been neighbors for decades. While the world seems to be imploding all around the other characters, it seems Nancy becomes the calm for everyone, balancing everything out. I also enjoyed the plotline where Eddie is concerned. Although Nancy doesn’t regret the relationship and marriage she’d had with her recently deceased husband, there had been points in her life where she had questioned what life would have been like, had she chosen Eddie instead. 

Where one moment leaves off, with one character’s perspective, another moment picks up, separately, yet tied together. I really appreciated the raw honesty, even when dealing with topics that would be considered subjects that shouldn’t have gray areas. I’ve found that humans are filled with gray areas, and the author was true to that human behavior. Right or wrong, and true to each character. 

My only tiny gripe would be the way that one character’s evolution comes to fruition, in a way that I felt might have been too abrupt. I wanted to see more from the potential fall out with relationships–to see where things would go, to see how this character would deal with things going forward, but I didn’t get to see that. Despite it, though, One Day With You was an amazing and thought-provoking experience, with a lens inside of the human condition. It was a definite five-star experience! 

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 30 novels, including My One Month Marriage and One Summer Sunrise, and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow.

Visit Shari online:
WebsiteFacebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Thursday, January 19, 2023

Audrey Burges is in the house...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Audrey Burges to CLC. Her debut novel, The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone, releases next week. Melissa really enjoyed it and can't wait for you all to read it! Check out her review. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

We just came across this article recently and it goes along with The Minuscule Mansion pretty well, except Myra would never refer to the Mansion as a "dollhouse."

Audrey Burges writes novels, humor, satire, and essays in Richmond, Virginia. She has stories published or forthcoming in McSweeney's, Cease, Cows, Into the Void, Human Parts, Empty Mirror, The Belladonna, Slackjaw, and Points in Case. When Audrey isn't writing, she's being tolerated by her two rambunctious children and very patient husband.

Visit Audrey online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


From her attic in the Arizona mountains, thirty-four-year-old Myra Malone blogs about a dollhouse mansion that captivates thousands of readers worldwide. Myra’s stories have created legions of fans who breathlessly await every blog post, trade photographs of Mansion-modeled rooms, and swap theories about the enigmatic and reclusive author. Myra herself is tethered to the Mansion by mysteries she can’t understand—rooms that appear and disappear overnight, music that plays in its corridors.

Across the country, Alex Rakes, the scion of a custom furniture business, encounters two Mansion fans trying to recreate a room. The pair show him the Minuscule Mansion, and Alex is shocked to recognize a reflection of his own life mirrored back to him in minute scale. The room is his own bedroom, and the Mansion is his family’s home, handed down from the grandmother who disappeared mysteriously when Alex was a child. Searching for answers, Alex begins corresponding with Myra. Together, the two unwind the lonely paths of their twin worlds—big and small—and trace the stories that entwine them, setting the stage for a meeting rooted in loss, but defined by love.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Audrey Burges has written a sure-fire hit—lively, stylish, and full of heart. The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is decorated with gorgeous wordsmithery and magical trimmings, and I loved every minute spent inside."
—Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of Other Birds

"The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is a poignant, beautiful debut filled with magic, fate and redemption. This story captured my imagination and I just had to keep reading to see how it would end. I enjoyed every page."
—Rachel Linden, author of The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like for you?
For me, the road to publishing was a lot like the Mansion itself: often unpredictable, detailed and complex, and ultimately a beautiful experience that I’ve felt so lucky to be part of.
How is Myra similar to or different from you?

I would say that my personality is a blend of Myra and Gwen. It’s like that literary trope that goes around Twitter every so often: inside me are two wolves, and one of them is named Myra and the other Gwen, and they’re constantly bickering over my social life (or lack thereof). I feel that, much like Myra, my personality comes across more clearly in writing than it does in person. But my inner Gwen won’t let me off the hook quite so easily. 
If The Minuscule Mansion were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?

This is an unbelievably hard question! Not least because, as a reader, I find my own inner picture of a character can be altered by other people’s casting choices. And I could see so, so many people in these roles! But with that said, some who come to mind: I could very much see Elizabeth Olsen as Myra, Paul Dano as Alex, Emma Stone as Gwen, and Emily Blunt as Willa. 
What is your favorite room in your house?
My dining room is the nerve center of my house - it’s also my office and writing space, our craft space, and the place where I can hear everything, upstairs and down, as well as the room where I’ve hung a lot of photos and favorite art pieces by family! 
Did you make any New Year's resolutions this year?
I am terrible about making resolutions; when I think of one, it’s invariably something like “I won’t eat quite so much cheese!” followed immediately by “now WHY would I do a silly thing like that?” Maybe it’s time to resolve that I will never, not ever, limit my consumption of cheese, because anything that brings me that much joy is worth celebrating. 

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
Hands down, I would have to say Everything Everywhere All at Once. I am probably obnoxious in my level of insistence that people must see it - like, “Hello, you don’t know me well and oh, I see you’re currently writing me a parking ticket, but I have to ask: have you seen Everything Everywhere All at Once?” And it’s one of those movies where, if the answer is yes, there WILL be a conversation, and it WILL start with “Oh my GOD” and then deteriorate into inarticulate falling-all-over examples of favorite moments. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed and cried so hard during a single film. It is exquisite. See it and then talk to me about it. Especially if you’re currently writing me a parking ticket.

Thanks to Audrey for chatting with us and to Berkley for sharing her book with our readers.

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

Giveaway ends January 24th at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Sara and Melissa Talk About...Authors

We've been running a column series (for three years now!) to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about a topic that is very important to CLC...authors!

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

Sara Steven:

This is an abbreviated short story that I’d written for one of the writing courses I’d been enrolled in while attending college two years ago. It sums up the impact authors have had on me since childhood, forever solidifying my love of reading and the genres I gravitate towards.

 An Ox, A Fox, and a Scythe

My first narrative experience began with an ox, his sizable body prominent in a yellow sweater, polka dotted tie skimming a hairless chest. The clumsy shoes he wore gaped wide in the toe area, appearing to devour pebbles while a grim fox looked on, sipping tea from a chipped cup.

I sat on my grandmother’s expansive lap, the color coordinated necklaces she wore to match her outfits pressed gently against the back of my head. An illustrated book called “There Are Rocks in My Socks!” Said the Ox to the Fox had been left open, fingers skimming pages while she read aloud to me.

“My word,” she remarked, mimicking the wise old pelican from the story who had seen the blunders the ox had been put through, the flips and kicks and flicks, in order to remove rocks from his socks, poor directives from an uninformed fox. “My eyes must be blurred. I’ve never seen anything quite so absurd.”

The fact that she sounded out the words, that I could see them as well as hear them, gave me courage to attempt to read alone, most of it by memory, at first. But soon I identified with what the author Patricia Thomas and my grandmother had set out to achieve: a gateway into something magical.

…books had become my hobby, a hybrid of my past exposures, the sex and flora. They created a new pathway into authors like V.C. Andrews and the Flowers in the Attic series, and Francine Pascal and the Sweet Valley High books that even to this day remind me of shiny spider fiats driven by gorgeous teenage girls, with the occasional girlfriend who suffers from drug overdoses. In an effort to balance out the severity of teenaged high jinks, I read The Baby-Sitters Club, discovering Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey. Claudia was my favorite character created by Ann M. Martin. She could be artistic and daring, and it was rare for her to delve into preteen social dysmorphia that I’d witnessed during my own adolescent years.

…In my teen years, the carpeted halls of the local library had been a regular occurrence, moving up one aisle and then the other, through various genres and nonfiction, the fiction sections. I slid my fingers along the spines of the books. Robin Cook. Bret Easton Ellis. Thomas Harris. Invasion. American Psycho. Hannibal. Stephen King novels lined up alphabetically, their large plastic covers crinkled and aged. Children of the Corn. Pet Sematary. I continued on until my fingers rested on The Stand, the thickest among the group. When I pulled it from the shelf, it left a gaping hole.

The cover fascinated me. Two characters, one in white, the other in black. One wielded a sword, the other a scythe.

The librarian stamped the date card in the inner pocket of the book, sliding it in my direction. “Are you sure you should be reading that? It will give you nightmares.”

I tucked the book under my arm, glimmers of rebellion leaking. After locking away in my bedroom, I started reading The Stand, all 823 pages of it. The urge to leave my room never happened, not unless nature called. Every second was devoted to the proverbial fight, the good vs. the evil. The cover of the book represented just that; the fight against good and evil, with the Man in Black carrying a scythe. He represented death, and I did not have nightmares.

The Stand opened up a new door into the world of The King, and several hours later when I’d closed the book, I knew I would read every single thing the man had ever written, starting in chronological order with Carrie.

The horror genre influenced my writing style during those tumultuous teen years, prompting me to create stories about teenagers locked in prison cells, forced to gnaw off their appendages in order to escape, or secret murderers hidden behind masks, reminiscent of Scream. Yet decades have taught me that there is more to fear than the gore and blood and the unknown of my favorite novels. I left the world of horror and entered into the catharsis of recreating my own life experiences, dipping into what is real. It’s just as scary. I mix realism with fiction, and in doing so, it’s given me a way to voice out loud the hidden demons that attempt to burrow inside, wielding swords and scythes, like a secret. They say to write what you know. I lived through what I know.

I purchased the Ox book after my first son had been born. While reading to him, and then to his younger brother when he entered the world nearly six years later, I would use various tones and inflections while reading the parts of the characters in the story, just like what my grandmother had done for me all those years ago. It’s funny that my gateway experience with an eager to please ox, an egotist fox, and an impressionable scythe would help me to develop a life-long relationship with books; their genres, their characters, and their formats. It’s a tradition, an experience I’ve been able to pass on to my own children.

My now fifteen-year old first born who had experiences with the ox and fox, just like his old mother had, is showing an interest in Stephen King, but instead of the scythe, it is the simple naivety of John Coffey from The Green Mile that has drawn him in, a stark electrical chair set against a backdrop of prison cells, blue-green hazy and out of focus on the cover.

Melissa Amster:

I apologize in advance, but I am phoning it in this month. That is because I did a post about authors before I knew this would be a topic (chosen by Sara this month). Therefore, I am sharing a bit from a post I did at my personal blog a while back about V.C. Andrews. To see the whole post, visit the link in the previous sentence. 

When I was in seventh grade, I saw that all the popular kids were reading V.C. Andrews' books. I didn't have even the slightest chance of becoming popular, but I thought I'd give them a whirl to at least try to fit in. The next time I went to the library, I looked for her books and all I could find was a copy of Heaven, the first book of her second series. It looked interesting, so I decided to check it out. My mom thought it was going to be a horror novel and warned me to put it down if I got scared. Thing was, I couldn't put it down. At all! It was so incredibly good from start to finish. Then I started checking out the other books from that series (Casteel), as well as the books from the Dollanganger series, where Flowers in the Attic is from. There was also My Sweet Audrina, which stood on its own and was such an interesting and haunting story.

Casteel series

During the summer between seventh and eighth grade, when I wasn't practicing for my Bat Mitzvah, I was devouring V.C. Andrews' books. I had a friend who also was interested in them. Instead of talking or doing activities when we got together, we'd lay on one of our beds and read. She'd whisper the words as she was reading, which drove me crazy until I was able to tune her out because I was so absorbed in the story. I also got my maternal grandmother to read them. And later, my sister caught the V.C. Andrews fever, as well. Toward the end of my high school years, my friends and I would mark the pages that had "steamy" scenes on them, even though they seemed pretty tame compared to the stuff I've read as an adult. Still, we thought we were being so daring...

Dollanganger series

During my sophomore year of college, I learned HTML and was able to put together a V.C. Andrews website. I then started a fan club through it. It was a lot of fun and I met so many interesting people. We'd discuss V.C. Andrews novels, as well as general things in life. There were some people I met with whom I had a great friendship at the time and then it either fizzled out or went completely downhill. There's one friend I'd still love to find, but she doesn't have an online presence yet. (If anyone knows Shannon Sawicki from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, please put us in touch! She's probably in her early forties now.) I'm still friends with a few women from the club, as either we've stayed in touch throughout the years or we've reconnected through Facebook. So you can see that way before I started CLC, I was connecting people through their love of V.C. Andrews' books!

Who are your favorite authors?

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