Thursday, November 30, 2023

Susan Dormady Eisenberg is center stage...plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I recently experienced book besherte. I connected with a woman in a Broadway group after posting about Kimberly Akimbo when I saw it this past summer. I looked her up and noticed she lives somewhat near me and that she has written a book that focuses on a Broadway musical! (And it turns out our kids know each other too.) We have since met up in person twice and she is absolutely lovely. She's so kind and has so many interesting stories about her musical theater experiences. I'm really excited for you to meet her today. Her novel, One More Seat at the Round Table, is the perfect holiday gift for historical fiction and/or musical theater fans. Susan has FIVE copies for some lucky readers (either print or digital)!

Susan Dormady Eisenberg is also the author of The Voice I Just Heard. She has published arts profiles in newspapers, Classical Singer, Opera News, and Huffington Post. She’s drafting her third novel about American icon Annie Oakley, and has also written for companies and organizations throughout Greater Washington, D.C. In her first career, Ms. Eisenberg was director of marketing for The Joffrey Ballet/NYC and publicist for Syracuse Stage and Goodspeed Opera House. She makes her home in Maryland with her husband, a senior care executive, and is a proud member of the Authors Guild. (Bio adapted from Amazon.)

Visit Susan online:

Synopsis:
What if the most conflicted lovers in Broadway’s Camelot aren’t Lancelot and Guenevere?

Set backstage during the out-of-town chaos of Lerner and Loewe’s now-classic 1960 musical, One More Seat at the Round Table portrays the struggles of feisty drama school grad Jane Conroy, who lands a plum Gal Friday job, and Bryce Christmas, a gifted, if insecure, actor on the verge of his big break. When Jane and Bryce fall helplessly in love during Toronto tryouts, their relationship is tested by mistakes they make and endless work woes: Camelot’s four-hour length, poor reviews, the illness of librettist Alan Jay Lerner, and the near-fatal coronary of director Moss Hart who quits.

As Lerner, composer Loewe, and their stars, Richard Burton and Julie Andrews, trudge on to Boston, doubts besiege Jane who hopes to buck convention and skip marriage and Bryce who wants a wife. They also discover hidden strengths as Jane gains agency backstage and Bryce takes charge of his talent. But will Jane’s commitment phobia derail their future? Will Camelot become a glittering hit? These questions create a tense roller-coaster ride to the end of Susan Dormady Eisenberg's wise and witty novel, a story about the transformative power of love and the luminous pull of Broadway as it casts its spell on performers and fans alike.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

"In One More Seat at the Round Table, Eisenberg spins a delicious, surprising concoction of a story, gving a true insider glimpse of one of the most iconic Broadway musicals. Replete with dramatic ups and downs, off-stage romances and rivalries, and sparkling with wit, this book should be required reading for every theater geek or lover of musicals."
 -- Susanne Dunlap, award-winning author of The Portraitist and The Courtesan's Daughter

"An utterly engrossing, hilarious, and often tender novel of how one hundred-plus creative people made Broadway's Camelot from scraps and sheer determination. Told from the points of view of a clever Gal Friday savoring her first job and a rising baritone hoping for his big break, the plot depicts the 1960 out-of-town tryouts when the show's in trouble. One More Seat at the Round Table is an original, charming book. I loved it and was sorry when it ended. All I wanted was to be in the author's chaotic, marvelous world of musical theater."
 -- Stephanie Cowell, award-winning author of Claude & Camille and The Boy in the Rain

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like for you?
The road to publishing was always challenging and sometimes discouraging, but ultimately fulfilling when I realized I could stop pitching traditional houses (to no avail) and send my book into the world via Atmosphere, a respected hybrid press.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing One More Seat at the Round Table?
The biggest challenges of writing ONE MORE SEAT AT THE ROUND TABLE was giving readers a birds-eye glimpse into the creation of Broadway’s Camelot without using excerpts from the book or lyrics. The reason for the latter is that I assumed it would take months to get permissions.

Another challenge was doing enough research so that I could present the stars of Camelot—Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, and Robert Goulet—as flesh-and-blood people who interacted realistically with my fictional characters. 

The biggest reward was visiting the historical theaters where Camelot performed and imagining how the show looked on those stages. Another reward was receiving a Kirkus Review praising my research and saying the book was “engaging and entertaining.” I was thrilled!

If One More Seat were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Casting for a possible movie of ONE MORE SEAT AT THE ROUND TABLE:
Jane Conroy: Lily Collins
Bryce Christmas: Chris Evans
Brock Remsen: Paul Giamatti
Alan Lerner: Julian Ovenden
Fritz Loewe: Christoph Waltz
Moss Hart: Dominic West    
Richard Burton: Max Irons
Julie Andrews: Brie Larson
Robert Goulet: Zac Efron

What is the last musical you saw that you would recommend?
The last musical I saw on Broadway was Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. I would highly recommend it, along with Kimberly Akimbo which I saw this past summer.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours?
As for holiday traditions, our family celebrates both Hannukah and Christmas, and my favorite years are when these holidays overlap and we serve latkes with Christmas dinner.

If we were to visit you right now, what are some places you would take us to see?
If you visited me in Baltimore, I would take you on a literary tour of sites related to Edgar Allen Poe, including his former Baltimore rowhouse, his grave, and the saloon in Fells Point—The Horse You Came In On—where Poe allegedly took his last drink. I would also show you a townhouse at 1307 Park Avenue where F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda, and their daughter Scottie lived for two years while Zelda was receiving treatment at Sheppard Pratt in Towson. Finally, we’d have lunch at the Owl Bar in The Belvedere, once a hotel, now a condo building, where Fitzgerald often drank with renowned Baltimore journalist H.L. Mencken.  

Thanks to Susan 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 December 5th at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Book Review: Murder at the Matterhorn

 

By Sara Steven

A brand-new cozy crime series set in gorgeous Tuscany...It's murder in paradise! 

An old friend in need… 

Despite being retired from the police, Dan Armstrong is always on hand to help with solving a crime. So, when he’s contacted by an old colleague in need of help, Dan readily agrees. The only problem Dan can see is the location – an isolated mountain-top campsite of UFO enthusiasts. An unexplained death... But these are no ordinary star watchers, and when Dan arrives one member of the group is already dead. Some of the group suspect alien abduction, but Dan is sure the killer is much closer to home. An out of this world case? Dan doesn’t believe in aliens, but faced with black hole of secrecy from the group of suspects, he and Oscar have their work cut out to catch the murderer…before they strike again. It's another case for Dan and Oscar to solve! (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

It’s another fantastic read by T.A. Williams! The Armstrong and Oscar Cozy Mysteries series always has the best stories and unique plots, and this by far was one of the more unique plotlines. This time, Dan is tasked with digging deeper into a potential murder among UFO enthusiasts. Given the background of Tuscany and Dan’s prior mysteries, a reader would never suspect that Dan would find himself among ufologists, but he takes it all in stride. Despite not believing in UFOs, he has to make it appear as though he does in order to get to the bottom of things. 

As always, there is a long list of potential suspects and Dan reflects on all of them, one by one, to ensure the reader is following right along with him. From the get go, we’re focused on certain possible perps, and I had a feeling it might be one person who appeared to be glaringly obvious, but then that lead didn’t pan out, only to have to follow a new lead to someone else…Murder at the Matterhorn really kept me on my toes, from start to finish, in order to discover the truth. 

Oscar truly is the best! In one particular scene, when faced with possible tragedy and an injured character, Oscar literally lies next to the injured character in order to provide his own body heat. It was the sweetest, most touching gesture ever. A reader can’t help but feel more endeared to such a beautiful creature, and he really makes me appreciate my own dog all the more. 

Usually, I read mysteries that are harder around the edges, with plenty of scary undertones, but there is comfort and warmth within this cozy mystery series. We still get the thrill of the chase, along with the suspense needed in order to keep us on the hook, but Dan and Oscar add a fantastic element that really rounds everything out. Not to mention T.A. Williams and his signature style for creating an incredible scenic backdrop that is always another character within his stories. I look forward to the next mystery for this dynamic duo to solve! It was a definite five-star experience for me.

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Apple

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 introduces us to retired DCI Armstrong and his labrador Oscar and the first book, entitled Murder in Tuscany, was published in October 2022. T.A. lives in Devon with his Italian wife.

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

Sign up for T.A.'s newsletter.

Visit all the stops on T.A.'s blog tour:

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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Spotlight and Giveaway: Alice Sadie Celine

Today we are celebrating the publication of Sarah Blakley-Cartwright's debut adult novel, Alice Sadie Celine. Thanks to Simon & Schuster, we have TWO copies to give away!

It’s opening night, but far from glamorous. Alice is performing in a local Bay Area production of The Winter’s Tale, the complete opposite of what she had envisioned for her career back home in Los Angeles. She doesn’t have dreams of superstardom per se, but the basement theatre in a wildfire-choked town simply isn’t ideal. To make matters worse, her best friend Sadie is not even coming.

Pragmatic and serious Sadie and flighty, creative Alice have been best friends since high school—really one another’s only friends—but now that they are through with college (which they attended together) and living on opposite ends of California, Alice would at least expect her friend’s support. Sadie, determined not to cancel her plans with her boyfriend, ends up enlisting the help of her mother Celine.

A professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at UC Berkeley, Celine’s landmark treatise on sex and identity made her notorious, but she’s struggling to write her new book in a post-second-wave feminism world. When Sadie begs her to attend Alice’s play, she relents, if only for an escape from writer’s block. But in a turn of events perplexing even to herself, Celine becomes entranced by Alice’s performance and realizes that her daughter’s lanky, slightly annoying, best friend is now an irresistible young woman.

Set over the course of decades—from Alice and Sadie’s friendship’s early days and Celine’s decision to leave her husband to the radical movements of 90s Berkeley and navigating contemporary Hollywood—Alice and Celine’s affair will test the limits of their love for Sadie and their own beliefs about power, agency, and feminism. Witty and relatable, sexy and surprising, Sarah Blakley-Cartwright’s debut adult novel is a mesmerizing portrait of the inner lives of three very different women.

“Obsessed! Each sentence of Alice Sadie Celine is chock full of playful irreverence for feminist and gender theory, hip popular culture references, and the wide breadth of what defines female sexuality.”
—Chloë Sevigny

“I am literally obsessed.”
—Busy Philipps, actress and New York Times bestselling author of This Will Only Hurt a Little

Credit: Beowulf Sheehan
Sarah Blakley-Cartwright is the author of Red Riding Hood (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), a #1 New York Times bestseller that was published worldwide in thirty-eight editions and fifteen languages. She is the publishing director of the Chicago Review of Books, associate editor of A Public Space, and is based in New York City.

Visit Sarah at her website and on 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 December 3rd at midnight EST.

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Monday, November 27, 2023

Book Review: Beneath the Surface

By Sara Steven

You are cordially invited to an overnight voyage on the Splendid Seas.

An invitation to Catalina Island from billionaire CEO Richard Kingsley. For his sons, Ted and John, and their wives, it’s an opportunity to curry favor, gain control of a real estate empire, and secure their family’s futures. For the controlling patriarch, succession is a contest. He and his newest wife won’t make it an easy win.

Then Richard’s estranged live-wire daughter, Sibley, crashes the party. She’s the least of the night’s surprises. As the stakes for the inheritance of the Kingsley legacy are raised, the beautiful waters of the Pacific look more like a menacing illusion.

Let the games begin for a family who has everything money can buy, and has used lies, deception, and more to keep it. This weekend one of them will be crowned heir. One is in line to lose everything. That’s the plan. But in the coming storm, so much can go dangerously wrong. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Reading Beneath the Surface reminded me of watching one of those thriller dramas that instantly suck you in. From the very beginning, there is an undercurrent of intrigue and mystery, even though the scenery portrays possible innocence and normalcy. 

Ted and his wife Paige are making their way to the Splendid Seas, with Paige internalizing what kinds of tragedies can happen on a yacht, along with the deaths that have been suffered at Catalina Island. John and his wife Rachel are so focused on success and coming out on top, that they even wear business attire to meet with the patriarch of the family, Richard. They will stop at nothing to get what they want. The reader is instructed to focus on one thing, while there are plenty of other hidden agendas lurking beneath the truth. 

Richard has pitted his two sons against each other their entire lives. It’s no surprise that both John and Ted want to be their father’s successor, even though due to lies, deceptions and manipulations, neither are fit to do so. Not that Richard doesn’t have his own skeletons in the closet. It’s no secret to anyone who knows him, but for some reason, he can skirt by all of it unscathed. Until someone threatens to reveal what has really been going on with Kingsley Enterprises.

Beneath the Surface is the type of mystery read I really enjoy! Those undertones of darkness, mingled in with various mysteries to figure out. One of the biggest surprises had to be Richard’s wife, Serena, and what’s really been going on with her when Richard isn’t looking. The final decision made in the end by Richard as to who would be his successor really was the perfect way to end things. It’s exactly what I would have done. A worthy, five-star read!

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

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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Book Review: Spells for Forgetting

By Becky Gulc

‘A rural island community steeped in the mystical superstitions of its founders and haunted by an unsolved murder is upended by the return of the suspected killer in this deeply atmospheric novel.

Emery Blackwood’s life was forever changed on the eve of her high school graduation, when the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. Now, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence among the community that fractured her world in two. She’d once longed to run away with August, eager to escape the misty, remote shores of Saiorse Island and chase new dreams; now, she maintains her late mother’s tea shop and cares for her ailing father. But just as the island, rooted in folklore and tradition, begins to show signs of strange happenings, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that no one wants to remember.

August Salt knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night that changed everything. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from the past that has never healed—Emery. But the town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises that span generations threatens to reveal the truth behind Lily’s death once and for all.’ (Courtesy of Adrienne Young's website.)

This is a fantastic novel that had me hooked from the very beginning. It’s such an atmospheric and eerie novel that Saiorse Island will remain in my memory for a long time after reading this. The island is up front and centre as a character in itself and it’s executed so well. I definitely felt the darkness and possessiveness of the island through the writing.

When August Salt reluctantly returns to the island to honour his mother’s wish of scattering her ashes and to sell her house he is hoping to do this quickly and quietly. Afterall, he and his mother left the island abruptly many years ago straight after the fire and death of Lily. Fingers were very much pointing at August despite a lack of concrete evidence, so his return would never go down well with the local community. However, word soon spreads that August is back and this doesn’t end up being the quick, under-the-radar trip he had envisaged.

August and Emery were joined at the hip back in the day, they’d even been planning to leave the island together in secret, until the fire. Instead August left without saying a word and Emery was bereft that her future plans had changed in an instant. Emery remained on the island, she never wanted to see August again after everything, or did she?

The bond between August and Emery was clear throughout the novel, how united they’d once been and so in love, and how sometimes love never really goes away. There’s such tension between the pair after so many years, and so many questions. As a reader you are left questioning what happened on the night of the fire and Lily’s death, who is lying, why is anyone lying, and was August involved despite Emery’s insistence? Although I somehow immediately felt for August and had a longing for him to be innocent and be exonerated. 

The narrative worked really well for me. Chapters are short, going at a nice pace, and they switch mainly between the viewpoints of August and Emery, both in the present but also pre-fire. The viewpoints of other characters are cleverly woven in as needed and there’s even one for the island itself before we finally learn what happened on the night of the fire. I felt tense as elements were revealed slowly; it kept me guessing and I couldn’t predict what unfolded.

One of the things I liked most about this novel was that it doesn’t sit neatly in any particular genre and I loved how it encompasses a murder-mystery, a love story and a decent splash of magic and folklore. It must be really tricky to get a good balance between the different elements and it just worked perfectly for me. Oh and the ending, yes! 

Thank you to Quercus Books for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase Spells for Forgetting here.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Diane Barnes has it all...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Diane Barnes to CLC today! Her latest novel, All We Could Still Have, released earlier this month and it sounds like an emotionally powerful story. Thanks to Diane, we have one signed copy to give away!

Diane Barnes is the author of More Than, Waiting for Ethan, and Mixed Signals. She is also a marketing and corporate communication writer in the healthcare industry. When she’s not writing, she’s at the gym, running, or playing tennis, trying to burn off the ridiculous amounts of chocolate and ice cream she eats. She and her husband, Steven, live in New England with Oakley, their handsome golden retriever. She hopes you enjoy reading her books as much as she enjoyed writing them. 

Visit Diane online:
Website * FacebookTwitter * Instagram

Synopsis:
Nikki and Kyle Sebastian have a loving and healthy marriage. It’s only missing one thing they want—children. When the couple is diagnosed with “unexplained infertility” and endures several failed rounds of IVF, Kyle, for both their sakes, is unwilling to bury them deeper in emotional and financial debt.

Desperate to have a baby, Nikki betrays Kyle’s trust in an attempt to try IVF one more time. The choice fractures their once-stable union. Now burdened with suspicion, resentment, and further grief, their little family is falling apart.

Picking up the pieces of their broken home means reassessing their dreams for the future—dreams that Nikki’s not ready to give up. If she can’t find a way to forge a new path forward with Kyle, she may find herself alone at the end of the family tree she longs to help grow. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

All We Could Still Have is a deeply moving story about having no control over the thing you desire most and discovering a different way of looking at that desire along the way. Diane Barnes masterfully weaves through darkness to discover light and takes the reader on a beautiful journey with a host of compelling characters that feel like they could be any one of us.” 
—Suzanne Redfearn, #1 Amazon bestselling author of In an Instant

“In All We Could Still Have, Diane Barnes deftly navigates soul-achingly difficult issues and betrayals of the heart with such honesty and care that you just know—at each anticipated turn of the page—her story will leave you with the most redemptive emotion of them all: hope.” 
—Alli Frank and Asha Youmans, authors of Never Meant to Meet You and Tiny Imperfections

“With wry precision, Diane Barnes tackles what it’s like to be in a good marriage stretched to its very limits by desire, betrayal, and the definition of family. All We Could Still Have begs the question: Does deep struggle always signal a red flag to the end? Or, is it the very foils of being human that turn a good marriage into a great one? I read this book in one night, holding my breath until the very last line.” 
—Ann Garvin, USA Today bestselling author of I Thought You Said This Would Work

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing? 
I'm not sure that I have a favorite. It's always a tremendous honor when someone reads my book and posts a positive review.  So, all positive reviews are my favorite compliment. A few readers have mentioned that they read one of my books in one sitting. I love hearing that.

If you could tell the debut novelist version of yourself one thing, what would it be? 
Publishing is a long game, a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient. Good things are ahead.

If All We Could Still Have was made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles? 
I'd choose Jennifer Aniston as the protagonist Nikki Sebastian because I think she'd bring a ton of emotion to the role. Chris Evans would be Kyle because like Kyle, Chris is a New Englander. Kate Hudson would be a perfect Dana because like Dana, Kate is fun. Allison Janney would be a dream Aunt Izzie. Reese Witherspoon would be a perfect Sharon, and Christopher Meloni would be a great Hank. 

What is the last book you read that you would recommend? 
Wow. Great question.  I can't narrow it down. Anything by Elizabeth Berg. A book I always recommend is IN AN INSTANT by Suzanne Redfearn, and more recently I've been recommending THE WILD BETWEEN US by Amy Hagstrom.

If your life were a TV series, which celebrity would you want to narrate it? 
Easy, Sarah Jessica Parker!

What is something you eat on Thanksgiving that is unique to your family?
 We start the meal with my Mom's soup. It has chicken and acini di pepe in it.  If I spend the day with my brother and his family, he makes me White Russians. We started that tradition sometime in high school or college. He makes a mean White Russian!

Thanks to Diane for chatting 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 November 26th at midnight EST.

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Monday, November 20, 2023

Book Review: Thrive

By Sara Steven

When rumors spread like wildfire—like having three-ways with her boyfriend’s rock climbing brother—Lily Calloway spirals into a dark place. Her bedroom. Loren Hale is more confident and determined to keep their sex life private, even from their friends, and he helps Lily in the only way he knows how. But how much love is too much?

Their lives are filmed, watched, and criticized. And through it all, Lily and Loren have to face enemies they never thought they’d see, demons they don’t know if they should bury, and setbacks they didn’t think they’d meet. Not this soon.

And one rumor could be too much for them to handle. It will test their greatest limitations, and if they don’t hold onto each other, someone is going to drown. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I really appreciate the Addicted series, and Thrive is a great addition to it. It focuses on both Lily and Lo’s perspectives, and from what I understand, it’s a bit of a recap and a more in-depth look into what happened behind-the-scenes from books Hothouse Flower and Kiss the Sky. There were familiar scenes and I remember the filming that takes place for their reality series, but those experiences had initially been given by other primary characters within this series. Since the series began with Lily and Lo at the center of it, it made sense. 

It’s nice to see that Lily is trying hard to manage her addiction. The struggles to do that can be perceived by others, but it means more coming from her. Lo has his own addictions as well, so we get to witness that, as well as the relationship issues he has with his brother Ryke, who he has had struggles with for years, and with his best friend Connor–who totally hates Ryke. There is anxiety and frustration, and he continually feels as though he needs to shield Lily from potential harm. It’s a lot to pile onto his plate.

As with the other books in this series, there are steamy moments that really draw the reader in. I like how blunt and direct the writing style can be, particularly for those moments and with the inner and outer dialogue provided. The writing never strays from who each character is. For Lily, she is shy and introverted, but when she is with Lo, she comes alive. Lo is all hard angles and is perceived and soulless, yet Lily reminds him of his capacity to love, despite his past. They are a beautifully flawed couple, which makes them all the more endearing.

This really is a friends to lovers experience, which I think can be some of the best reads. It was nice catching up with “Lilo,” despite so many familiar scenes and events that I remembered reading about in the other two books. 

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

More by Krista & Becca Ritchie:


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Friday, November 17, 2023

What's in the (e)mail...plus a giveaway

Melissa:
Start Us Up by Lexi Blake from Get Red PR (print)
Joe Nuthin's Guide to Life by Helen Fisher from Gallery (NetGalley)
Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out by Ryan Love from Harper 360 (NetGalley)
The Hearing Test by Eliza Barry Callahan from Catapult (NetGalley)
Young Rich Widows by Vanessa Lillie, Layne Fargo, Cate Holahan, and Kimberly Belle from Sourcebooks (NetGalley)
Next of Kin by Hannah Bonam-Young from Dell (NetGalley)
Pocket Dog by Jim Garland from Victory Editing (NetGalley)
The Fake Mate by Lana Ferguson from Berkley (NetGalley)
Good Girls Don't Die by Christina Henry from Berkley (NetGalley)
Light of the Fire by/from Sarahlyn Bruck (print)
Memory Piece by Lisa Ko from Random House (print, won from Goodreads)
Hypnotized by Love by/from Sariah Wilson (print)
Night for Day by Roselle Lim from Berkley (NetGalley)
The Goldie Standard by Simi Monheit from Sibylline Press (NetGalley)
The Happiness Blueprint by Ally Zetterberg from Harlequin (NetGalley)
You Cannot Mess This Up by Amy Weinland Daughters from Simon & Schuster

Sara:
Enemies to Lovers by Portia MacIntosh from Rachel's Random Resources (NetGalley)
Baby, One More Time by Camilla Isley from Rachel's Random Resources (NetGalley)
The Boy With the Star Tattoo by Talia Carner from William Morrow (NetGalley)
Under the Palms by Kaira Rouda from Thomas & Mercer (NetGalley)

Jami:
The Sleepwalkers by Scarlett Thomas from Simon & Schuster (NetGalley)
The Alone Time by Elle Marr from Over the River PR (NetGalley)

Melissa S:

The Rule Book by Sarah Adams from Dell (print)
It Must Be True Then by Luci Adams from St. Martin's Press (print)

Allyson:
Mayluna by Kelley McNeil from BookSparks (NetGalley)


What could be in YOUR mail:

The Wishing Bridge by Viola Shipman

Thanks to Harlequin, we have one copy to give away!

Synopsis:
Once the hottest mergers and acquisitions executive in the company, Henrietta Wegner can see the ambitious and impossibly young up-and-comers gunning for her job. When Henri’s boss makes it clear she’ll be starting the New Year unemployed unless she can close a big deal before the holidays, Henri impulsively tells him that she can convince her aging parents to sell Wegner’s—their iconic Frankenmuth, Michigan, Christmas store—to a massive, soulless corporation. It’s the kind of deal cool, corporate Henri has built her career on.

Home for the holidays has typically meant a perfunctory twenty-four-hour visit for Henri, then back to Detroit as fast as her car will drive her. So turning up at the Wegner’s offices in early December raises some eyebrows: from her delighted, if puzzled, parents to her suspicious brother and curious childhood friends. But as Henri fields impatient texts from her boss while reconnecting with the magic of the store and warmth of her hometown, what sounded great in the boardroom begins to lose its luster in real life. She’s running out of time to pull the trigger on what could be the greatest success of her career…or the most awkward family holiday of her life. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

It also includes the bonus novella, Christmas Angels.

See Melissa's five-star review.

“With emotional depth and nostalgic charm, Viola Shipman weaves a story that reminds us of the power of love, family, and the magic that surrounds us during this special time of year. The Wishing Bridge is a heartwarming and enchanting tale that captures the true spirit of the holiday season.”
~ RaeAnne Thayne, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Viola Shipman has a magical way with words and emotions, making the reader a part of the story. You’re there, experiencing it all in wonderful, nostalgic ways.”
~ New York Times Bestselling Author Lori Foster

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 November 21st at midnight EST.

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Book Review: Get a Room

By Sara Steven

Brian Hawkins has had the worst year. He watched his girlfriend marry another man, lost his job and his apartment, and, after a summer under his parents’ roof, has taken refuge with his younger sister. A quiet few months in Philadelphia is just what he needs to clear his head and get back on his feet. But he’s barely unpacked before the bane of his existence, his sister’s best friend shows up. His planned solitude is replaced by pop songs, rom-coms, and bright pink hair. Which would be fine, except there’s only one extra bed, and there’s no way he’s sharing it with her.

Sarah Webb didn’t think anything could be worse than a marriage-proposal-gone-wrong walk of shame to her best friend’s apartment. But she was wrong. So wrong. Because she’s not just staying with Jess, but with Jess’s older brother. Brian is grumpy and stubborn and—not that Sarah would ever admit it out loud—totally hot. He’s also off limits. Which is why she should let him have the bedroom, stop staring at his abs, and keep her distance. But playing nice isn’t in her nature.

As Sarah and Brian pull pranks and place wagers over who can lay claim to the bed, things between the rivals start to shift. Sarah can admit that Brian has his moments, and Brian sees a side of Sarah she usually keeps hidden. When she needs a last-minute date for a charity gala where her doctor-ex is going to be in attendance, Brian seems like the perfect fake date. But as they spin around the dance floor, their fledgling friendship turns to something unexpected—and only one thing’s certain… more than just the bed is up for grabs. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I love a good read that has a great tempo and keeps me engaged from start to finish, and Get a Room totally fits that bill. From the very beginning, the reader can totally feel the disdain Sarah and Brian have for one another. Sarah has always been the immature best friend of his sister Jess, which was obvious, given Sarah’s reaction when she sees Brian in what used to be “her” room. And for Sarah, Brian is the uptight and obnoxious brother who can never just let loose and have fun, also portrayed nicely within those first few chapters. But when Sarah sees Brian with his shirt off–all bets are off.

It’s more than just physical attraction, though. Over time, they discover that there is a lot more there than just immaturity and obnoxiousness. Brian has the opportunity to see Sarah at work, discovering just how passionate she is and just how giving she can be. Sarah takes Brian with her to the charity gala as her fake date, but he’s charismatic and enjoyable to be around. Not at all the uptight guy she thought he was. I appreciated the “fake date” angle here. I thought that was a really nice way to put the two characters together in an uncomfortable, awkward situation, to see how they’d fare. They both get a lot more than they bargained for.

As much as I felt a bit of contempt towards Jess–if you choose to read Get a Room, you’ll totally get where I’m coming from here–it was a necessary upset in Sarah and Brian’s world. And it was inevitable. But I could see that build-up coming. I was just as annoyed and bothered as Sarah and Brian, particularly when Sarah feels she has to choose between her best friend, who has always been her family, and the man she doesn’t think she can live without. Other factors that could tear this potential couple apart are their backgrounds, their friendships, and a possible job opportunity for Brian that would move him out of state. It made me wonder if it’s all worth it.

There are some great moments that show character evolvement, along with some pretty incredible steamy moments between Sarah and Brian. That’s always a pleasant surprise, and the author did not disappoint her readers. It was a lot of fun, complete with witty banter and characters who stick with you–a definite five-star read!

Thanks to Casey Dembowski for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Also by Casey Dembowski:

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

We're sweet on Adriana Mather....plus a book giveaway

Today we are excited to welcome Adriana Mather to CLC. Her latest novel, Mom Com, released this week and it sounds like a real treat! Thanks to Blackstone Publishing, we have TWO copies to share with some lucky readers!

Adriana Mather is the New York Times bestselling author of the How to Hang a Witch series and the Killing November series, with family roots that go back to Sleepy Hollow, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Titanic. Most recently, she has embraced her love of swoon with her newest novels Mom Com and The Breakup Artists. She’s also an actor and producer, and co-owns Zombot Pictures, a production company that makes feature films.

Visit Adriana online:


Synopsis:
Maddi DeLuca is coming home for the holidays with her nine-year-old son, only it’s not the triumphant return she might have hoped for. She recently broke down on a reality TV baking show, letting the entire country know she feels like a colossal failure, and she can be certain her mother will remind her of all the ways she hasn’t lived up to expectations over the years.

Ten years ago, all Maddi dreamed of was running her father’s beloved bakery in their tiny coastal town of Haverberry Cove, Massachusetts. Her best friend, Wilder Buenaventura, had his own dream—a life with Maddi. And for one brilliant moment when they were seventeen, those dreams collided. They baked together. They loved each other insatiably. But like a fallen soufflé, their relationship imploded, taking their lifelong friendship with it.

If she had her way, Maddi would have stayed in California, hiding her head in its beautiful white sands. But at her mother’s request, she has returned to her hometown to help deal with an urgent matter concerning her father’s will and his nostalgia-filled bakery. What Maddi doesn’t know is that this issue also mysteriously involves the one person she’s spent forever trying to forget—Wilder. Now she finds herself forced to make an impossible decision: give up her father’s bakery and her lifelong dream, or find a way to coexist with Wilder without murdering him with a cookie cutter. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

"A swoony, sparkling love story with an enormous, electric heart. So irresistibly readable that I tore through the pages even as I wanted to linger over every gorgeous sentence. I laughed. I cried. And I fell in complete, delicious love with Maddi and Wilder."
Jennifer Niven, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places

“Adriana Mather’s Mom Com is clever, hilarious, and―most importantly―a whole lot of fun. Mather’s writing is fizzy and witty, and her characters impeccably drawn. This is a perfect holiday love story.” 
Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Happy Place

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
There is nothing that makes my heart soar as high as getting a message telling me that one of my books turned someone into a reader or got someone back into reading after a long stretch. Having people connect with my writing in a way that makes a difference in their lives is a true honor.
 
How is Maddi similar to or different from you?
We both love sweets and pastries, that’s for sure! And we both love our kids somethin’ fierce! But the thing I adore about Maddi (that I strive to share with her) is that she’s always trying to do better. She’s acknowledges her flaws and instead of pretending them away, she leans into them, wanting to understand and shift. While she doesn’t always get it right, she never stops rooting for love, hope, and a better day tomorrow.
 
If Mom Com were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
I’d cast Emily Blunt as Maddi! Oscar Isaac as Wilder. Someone as amazing as Kelly Bishop (Emily Gilmore in the Gilmore Girls) as Maddi’s mom. And Keira Knightley as Liv. 
 
Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
The British Baking Show just came out with new episodes and I LOVE it so much. It’s also a perfect companion to Mom Com. The other show I’m watching is also British but so low brow, I’m not sure I should admit it? Haha. 
 
Tell us about your favorite holiday tradition. 
My absolute fav holiday tradition is getting cozy. Fluffy socks, matching Christmas pajamas, amazing scents wafting from the kitchen, snuggling on the couch with cocoa, and of course spending time with my beautiful family. It’s the atmosphere of joy! 
 
If we were to visit you right now, what are some places you would take us to see?
Salem, MA. It’s got Caramel, a French bakery that makes delicious macrons, and Jolie Tea Company, that does the prettiest and most scrumptious high tea with flowered napkins. There are cobbled stone alleyways and houses painted entirely black, all surrounded by historic brick buildings. There are no chain stores in the small town center; they are all locally owned with so many handcrafted products. It’s got history, quirk, and a plethora of pastries, making it a win on all fronts!

Thanks to Adriana for chatting with us and to Blackstone 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 November 20th at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Sara and Melissa Talk About...What Our Kids Are Reading

We've been running a column series (for over three years now!) to get more personal with our readers. This month, we are talking about the books our kids are into (or have been into in the past).

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:

For National Family Literacy Month, I wanted to focus on what my two sons have been reading. For most of their lives, libraries and books have been a huge intricate part of their childhoods. Spending time with them with a book or two at bedtime is a wonderful tradition that I will always cherish, and although their habits have changed a lot, I love that they still show an interest in reading.   

From 2016

My eighteen year-old is currently reading:

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski: This is a book a friend had recommended to me when I was in my early twenties. I thought it was funny when my son showed this recent purchase to me–also recommended to him by a friend. 

Dante’s Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Blame by Tsutomu Nihei

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin: My son has become very attached to the recent Oppenheimer movie. He has seen it six times! So it wasn’t a surprise to me to see this on his book pile.

What my thirteen year-old is currently reading:

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Dog Man book series by Dav Pilkey: I’m fairly certain he’s read every single book that is in this series.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney: The same could be said for this series, too. He has every single book on his reading table in his bedroom right now.

Melissa by Alex Gino: My son’s English class had a list of books the kids could choose from to read for a book report, and he chose this one. After looking it up on Goodreads, it looks as though our very own Melissa has read it, too.


Melissa Amster:

A while back, I obtained a collection of Baby-Sitters Club books, hoping that my daughter would devour them like I did. I think this may have been pre-pandemic, that's how long they have been sitting on her shelf...untouched. We even watched the TV series on Netflix and she loved it. I thought that would inspire her to read the books. I tried reading one of them to her to get things started and she lost interest quickly. She keeps saying she will read the books, but so far, that hasn't happened. And she has moved on to other books that I also enjoy: Young adult rom coms (including those that are LGBTQ+ themed). So I can't totally fault her for not wanting to connect with the BSC, even though I still do. (And no, I haven't showed her the graphic novels, but I feel like that takes away from the excitement I felt from reading the chapter books when I was her age.) 

This also applies to the Sweet Valley Twins books, which I think she would probably ignore in favor of Sweet Valley High, if I could get my hands on those. I have to wonder if they'll be too "eighties" for her. I also recall that she didn't read the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary that I enjoyed as a kid. (Same for Ellen Tebbits.) Nor has she picked up a Judy Blume book, even though she loved the Margaret movie.

Over the summer, she and I were talking about historical fiction and I told her about the Sunfire Romance novels I loved at her age. I even found a bunch on some websites and purchased the ones that were reasonably priced. 

Not pictured: Laura, which arrived later. Original post can be found here.

Has she read them yet? No. They are sitting on her dresser and she says that she'll get to them. Just having them in my house makes me feel so nostalgic. The ones I really loved were way too expensive to purchase for someone who may or may not eventually read them. 

As I mentioned above, my daughter enjoys YA rom coms a lot. She's a fan of Dahlia Adler, Robbie Couch, and a few others I also love. And even though it's middle grade, she and I both enjoyed The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz, and we are so excited to read Cut Loose soon. I thought she'd like the Heartstopper books more, but she is lukewarm on those. She did enjoy Loveless a lot. I think her friend is trying to get her to read the Summer I Turned Pretty series since they both enjoy the TV show. We'll see if that happens though. 

My sons read, but my younger son hasn't been as much into it as he used to. He'll read books for school assignments and sometimes I'll "catch" him reading for fun. When he was younger, he enjoyed the treehouse series by Andy Griffiths. My older son also reads a lot for school, but he enjoys young adult novels in his spare time (not that he has much of it these days). He likes TJ Klune's fantasies a lot and couldn't wait to read each one when it became available. When he was younger, he loved the Land of Stories books by Chris Colfer. All the kids would read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, but now I think my daughter may be the only one interested in the latest one. Same goes for the Dog Man and Cat Kid books. 

One author I will not share with my kids is V.C. Andrews. They know about her books (and have some idea of what happens), but I am not deliberately putting them into their hands. If they want the books, they know how to find them and can get them on their own. So far, none of them have had the desire to read them and that doesn't bother me. 

Overall, I'm glad my love for reading has rubbed off on my kids, but I don't think it's to the same level as it is for me. 

If you have kids, what are they reading? If you don't, what books did you enjoy while growing up?

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