Friday, January 23, 2015

Left Overs - Pub Day Blast

 A novel about friendship, hope and the power of pasta from the No.1 bestselling author of Pear Shaped.

‘A brutally honest tale of life and love (or the lack of it) and an exploration of the heroine’s tremendous affection for food … Sharp and funny, it’s a celebration of why life is more than just falling in love.Woman magazine

According to a magazine, Susie is a ‘Leftover’ – a post Bridget Jones 30 something who has neither her dream man, job, nor home. She doesn’t even own six matching dinner plates.

According to her friend Rebecca, Susie needs to get over her ex, Jake, start online dating – or at least stop being so rude to every guy who tries to chat her up.

But Susie’s got a plan. If she can just make it the 307 days till her promotion and bonus, she can finally quit and pursue her dream career in food, then surely everything else will fall into place. If only her love life wasn’t so complicated…

A sharp, witty and refreshing novel about love, friendship and enjoying what's left on the table.

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About Stella Newman:
Stella Newman studied English at Sussex University, then went on to work in advertising, at the BBC and then as a professional food taster. She is now a full time writer, based in London and is currently writing her third novel and her first TV series. She travels to America as often as she can because they don’t have In-N-Out burgers, Compost Cookies or a Gramercy Tavern in London. She occasionally blogs about restaurants, food and writing at

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What people are saying about Stella's novels:

'...both hilarious and heartbreaking. More characters of this kind are needed in contemporary fiction: women whose struggles through crises we can relate to, and whose ultimate victory can inspire us.'

‘I felt like Susie could be one of my friends and I was rooting for her to get the life she wanted. Like pasta, Leftovers is a true comfort. A delicious read to enjoy with a glass of

What a fantastic book. Really quite brilliant, way superior to standard chick-lit... so well written, fresh, insightful, funny... honest and very contemporary. Fantastic dialogue. Great characters. There's so much that's fresh and fun, including the food world which I loved.’ Henry Fitzherbert Sunday Express

Witty and engaging. Susie is a great contemporary heroine… A funny and honest story.’ 

A fabulous first novel by a British writer... Her writing is witty and snappy and she is hilarious on the food industry.’ Wendy Holden

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Grown Ups - Book Tour, Guest Post & Giveaway

The Grown Ups
A Novel
By: Robin Antalek
Releasing January 27th, 2015
William Morrow

From Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart, comes an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends who explore what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and the difficulties in doing both together. Spanning over a decade, and told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them. It is the addictive and moving story of these old friends who wind up confronting their past in order to find happiness in their adult lives that make this novel an anticipated winter release.

Sam Turner, the summer he turns 15, feels lucky enough to enjoy the unexpected attention of his friend Suzie Epstein, even though it’s only a few secret months. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand—and will never question—the budding relationship is kept hidden from their close circle of friends. But before their summer tans can even start to fade, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving away to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.

Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie Epstein takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers while simultaneously planning an early escape to college to seek independence. Though she occasionally thinks of Sam, it’s her oldest friend Bella Spade she finds herself missing. Embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie could call home, Suzie makes no attempt to reconnect with the one person she needs. Its years later that a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother Michael will reunite her with both Sam and Bella—finally forcing her to confront her friends, her past and what she left behind.

After losing Suzie, Bella surprisingly finds her first real love in Sam. But his inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. Watching Suzie and Michael as they seem to have worked it all out, Bella’s only to wonder where she went wrong and how to make it right.

Buy Links Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | IndieBound

The 7 Stages of Writing a Novel
~ Robin Antalek

1.    The Crush. You have an idea? It makes you smile at the thought? You don’t do anything, yet. Every time you think about it – and you can’t stop thinking about it – it gives you a secret thrill.  With The Grow Ups I had one sentence. The first sentence. That was all I had for about a month.
2.    Flirting.  You put a few words down on paper. You imagine what the characters look like, where they live, what they eat for breakfast. You tear out pages from magazines or scour photos and place them around your desk. Anything that gives you a sense of who these characters are.  Because of that first sentence I had an entire neighborhood, a close-knit groups of friends and their parents in my head before I even wrote a word.  We went on a lot of walks and bike rides together.
3.    The First Date.  You are bursting. Your fingers may even tingle. When you can’t stand it another minute you will sit down and write – maybe in starts and stops, and maybe in a torrent of words.  It doesn’t matter how you do it. You ARE writing.  When I sat down to write I had no expectations of a novel – as a matter of fact I thought I had a solid idea for a short story. When that short story was finished, I kept going. I submitted the first chapter as a short story to Glimmertrain magazine and it ended up as a finalist in a contest. It validated the idea to continue past the original idea.
4.    Making it Official.  One chapter leads to two, two to three, and on and on. You shouldn’t be counting words, or editing, you should just be getting it all down on paper.  This is the best part of writing – the discovery process. Where do the characters want to go? What obstacles are in their way? Let them do what they want.  You want to be surprised now.  I just kept writing. I didn’t stop. It was a very, very fast first draft – under three months.
5.    This Might Be Getting Serious.  It doesn’t matter how long it took you to get here. You have a first draft. Some come quickly, some don’t. There are probably huge gaps, continuity could be a problem, pacing and plotting might be rough. It doesn’t matter.  I had been letting my agent read bits and pieces as I wrote. When I had that first draft she asked me a few questions. I went back into the manuscript (another couple of months) and addressed her concerns. It wasn’t long after that she submitted it to my editor at Harper Collins.
6.    The Commitment. You can’t leave these characters hanging no matter the issues. If you want to see this to the end – you might have to let some of them go, do things to make them hurt or worse.  Make no mistake about it: it’s hard. This is the real work of writing.  Give the manuscript to a trusted reader. Read the manuscript out loud. Put it aside and return to it later if you can’t be objective. No first draft is perfect. Let that go. In the case of The Grown Ups, I had written the draft in first person, single POV. My editor asked if I had ever considered third person and multiple viewpoints? Because the main dramatic tension in the novel was between the male narrator and two female – she asked me to try writing some chapters in their POV. The original draft was on the slim side – around 260 pages – I could afford to add which was easier. Turning first to third, rearranging the structure of the novel, trying to figure out where these other voices came in – took about another six months. It was rough, but made for a much more multi-layered story. I lost a chapter I loved during the re-write. Both editor and agent said it wasn’t necessary, but totally my call. After much deliberation I let it go. Kill your darlings.
7.    Congratulations. You may have killed a character or two, dropped lengthy passages that you were sure was some of your best writing, added a narrator or deleted a narrator. You probably gained a little weight. It’s okay. You are holding your manuscript in your hands.  

About the Author:
Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart. Her nonfiction writing has been published in literary journals and in several collections, including The Beautiful Anthology; Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema; and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review, and Literary Mama among others. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Author Links:  Website | Tumblr | Facebook | Goodreads

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Walking on Trampolines - Review & Giveaway

Review by Darcie Czajkowski
When Annabelle Andrews glides into Tallulah “Lulu” de Longland’s life, Lulu is besotted. By Annabelle’s unqualified comfort in her own skin. By her bewitching artist parents of national fame. And by Annabelle’s instantaneous interest in becoming Lulu’s best and only friend.

Forsaking all others at their elite Catholic school, Lulu and Annabelle are inseparable. They bond over the fact that they both call their parents by the first names, that their mothers have limited parental capacities, and that they feel most alive when they are with each other, communicating through a unique word-blending language. Only when Joshua Keaton enters the picture and becomes Lulu’s first boyfriend does their fold expand to three.

But just before high school graduation, just as Lulu and Josh are making plans to travel abroad, Lulu finds Josh and Annabelle together, at once severing the two lifelines that mattered most to her.

Devastated, Lulu fritters away the next four years, listlessly performing menial office tasks for her father Harry’s successful plumbing business. But Harry sees that his daughter isn’t engaged in her life in any capacity, failing to go on even one date in the years since Annabelle and Josh’s betrayal, and, in an act of love, he fires her and insists that she move to the city an hour and a half away from their sleepy little town of Juniper Bay.

Lulu starts working for Duncan McAllister, a morning radio show host who is prominently known in the industry as the King of the Airwaves. Lulu and Duncan are an odd pairing: Lulu is understated, a caretaker. Duncan has three ex-wives and another one imminent, a gaggle of children, and a loud, demanding personality. But the two form a symbiotic friendship, one that Duncan will ultimately rely on to get him through the most difficult news one can receive in life. In turn, Lulu will be repaid in the most unexpected of ways, encouraged to learn lessons in finding her own happiness, realizing her place in the world, and forgiving not only Annabelle and Josh, but also forgiving herself.

Frances Whiting strikes glittering gold in Walking on Trampolines. At first glance, the story is simple: girl meets boy, boy break girl’s heart, girl doesn’t recover. But as the reader continues to parse the delicate folds of this story, she is taken on a journey that spans complicated home lives, the realization that everyone deserves happiness, the challenges in surviving loss, and the freedom that is found in forgiveness. With layered characters, vivid setting depictions, and a remarkably original premise, I was captivated by this story and encourage you to set foot into Lulu’s world in the coastal town of Juniper Bay, Australia.

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About the Author:
Frances Whiting is one of Australia's best known and favourite columnists. For more than fifteen years her Sunday Mail column has engaged readers in the highs, lows and the wonderful of the every day. She is also an award winning journalist and Senior Feauture writer for Q Weekend Magazine in the Courier Mail. She has published two collections of her columns: Oh To Be A Marching Girl, and That's A Home Run, Tiger! Walking on Trampolines is her first novel.

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Walking On Trampolines
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Accused - Review

Review by Deb Czajkowski
Mary Dinunzio has just made partner at Rosato & Associates.  In fact, congratulatory toasts are still being made and cake is still being passed around when the receptionist interrupts the party to announce that Allegra Gardner is on her way up and is looking for representation.  Although Allegra herself is unknown to the firm and has no appointment, the celebration comes to an abrupt halt and the lawyers immediately transition into legal mode.
Allegra Gardner is thirteen years old and a member of the extremely wealthy and prestigious Gardner family.  She is also a certified genius whose only friends are the bees she keeps.  Allegra’s sister, Fiona, was murdered six years ago.  Allegra has always believed that the wrong man went to jail for this crime and, now that she has control of the trust fund her grandfather left her, she can hire a law firm to help her prove it.

Lonnie Stall was a server at the Gardners’ house the night Fiona was killed.  He was seen fleeing the scene, his blood was found on Fiona, and her blood was on him.  Later, he pleaded guilty to the crime.  It seemed to be an open-and-shut case.  Law enforcement and even Fiona’s parents were satisfied that justice had been served.

Allegra’s parents are fiercely fighting against reopening the case. Why would Mary Dinunzio take Allegra as her first official client as partner when she knows this means going up against the powerful Gardner family and fighting for a guy who admitted he committed the crime? Is Lonnie really guilty of killing Fiona?  Why does Allegra feel so strongly that Lonnie is innocent?

Author Lisa Scottoline pulled me into this drama right away with Mary’s likeable normalcy tucked into the very new partnership and then with Allegra’s clever quirkiness.  Two avenues kept me interested as the story progressed:  One, I wanted to believe with Allegra that Lonnie is innocent; two, I tend to root for underdogs, and Lisa gave me several.  While this book is of course a legal battle of lawyers and power, it is satisfyingly filled with wit, humor, and endearing people.  I recommend it for both reasons. Start your literary year with Lisa’s Accused.

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About the Author:
Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 22 novels, including her latest, Betrayed. She also writes a weekly column with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled "Chick Wit" which is a witty and fun take on life from a woman's perspective. These stories, along with many other never-before-published stories, have been collected in four books including their most recent, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, and the earlier, Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, which has been optioned for TV, and My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space. Lisa reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has served as President of Mystery Writers of America and has taught a course she developed, "Justice and Fiction" at The University of Pennsylvania Law School, her alma mater. Lisa is a regular and much sought after speaker at library and corporate events. Lisa has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

The Longest Date - Review

Review by K.T Sullivan

The author has written for the television shows Sex in the City and Modern Family. Each chapter reminded me of the shows. This book is a personal account of her meeting her husband, getting married, and trying to get pregnant. It could be a show called How I Met My Husband. She was forty when she married. Her husband proposed on horseback, wearing a suit of armor. Not afraid to set the bar too high. He’s a “tattooed lawyer/poet/chef” and a self-proclaimed bad bay. Between them, they have had numerous lovers and she has been married before. She recounts getting a “get” from a rabbi, writing their own vows, and attempts at pregnancy. There is fun and sadness in her life.

I liked the book because I like the two television shows she worked on. The chapters could stand alone as episodes of a sitcom. The fact that she found love when she wasn’t looking for it should strike a familiar chord. Love does have a way of presenting itself at odd moments. They met when they arrived at a bar with dates and ended up going home together.

She doesn’t get overly romantic, except for his proposal. She writes in a fresh matter of fact way, relaying her personal journey from party girl to mom.

The title is apropos describing how marriage feels to her. It’s a constant reassessment of a changing relationship.

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About the Author:
Cindy Chupack is a screenwriter who has won three Golden Globes and two Emmys for her work as a writer/executive producer of HBO's Sex and the City and writer/co-executive producer of ABC's Modern Family.

Several episodes she penned—namely, Sex and the City '​s "Evolution", "Attack of the 5'10" Woman", "Just Say Yes", "Plus One is the Loneliest Number", "I Love a Charade", and "Splat!", and Modern Family '​s "Little Bo Bleep"—were individually nominated for Writer's Guild and/or Emmy awards. Chupack also worked on Everybody Loves Raymond as a writer/co-executive producer.

Her first book, The Between Boyfriends Book, was published by St. Martin's Press. Her second book, a comic memoir about marriage entitled The Longest Date, will be published by Viking in January 2014. She has also written humorous essays for The New York Times, Real Simple, Harper's Bazaar, People, Allure, Slate, and Glamour.

Chupack is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She received a journalism degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Curvy Girls Club - Review

Review by KT Sullivan
Four women are trying to lose weight. After accessing their lack of progress at a health club, they decide to live instead of diet. Some don’t realize they’re jeopardizing their health by focusing on dropping a few pounds. Pixie has an abusive husband, Jane hosts a television show, Ellie is consumed by jealousy, and Katie, the narrator, needs to focus on one guy or lose him. All face major decisions and some are dictated by their weight. In some cases, these women are the only support group for each other.

They create The Curvy Girls Club as a place where women of a certain size can come together and be comfortable. Jane is faced with a dilemma, host a new show or move for her husband’s career. All try to support each other, until one unintentionally breaks the bond. Are a few extra or less pounds worth a friendship or a job?   

The author’s message is simple: love yourself before you try to please others. This is a story based on friendship and sisterhood. I saw something once commenting on women and their weight. ‘Without men, the world would be full of fat happy women.’ Some women seek approval based on their looks. This story doesn’t dwell on men’s opinions as much as the women dreading their appearance. These women from different backgrounds find themselves in the same spot. Weight is defining them and ruining their self-images. Many issues, especially pregnancy weight gain, are relatable topics. Many women will see themselves in the characters and will be pleased on how they resolve their problems.

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About the Author:
Michele Gorman is the USA TODAY bestselling author of eight romantic comedies. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 16 years. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word "portion".

You can find out more about Michele by following her on twitter or Facebook and by reading her blog or website. Do chat with her online - she's always looking for an excuse to procrastinate!

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Passionate Nutrition - Review

Review by Marlene Engel

Although this is a book about nutrition, it’s Jennifer’s story that really is the star of the book.  Her childhood was anything but typical.  The daughter of a pedophile father and a mother who passed at a young age from cancer, at times she was forced to steal food if she wanted to eat.  Much of her young life she lived off of scraps and junk food.  Despite her deprived upbringing, she learned that by simply changing what you put into your body, you could change how you feel not only physically, but emotionally.  This led her into the field of nutrition and opening up her own practice called Passionate Nutrition.

It’s almost daily that you hear about a new diet craze claiming that if you eat this or eliminate that then you are guaranteed optimum health.  I don’t know about you, but when it comes to restricting my diet, I find that I never achieve the results that I set out to.  With Jennifer’s approach, she actually encourages abundant eating.  Which, for me, is very doable!  She goes on to explain The Healthy Trinity, which is digestion, balance and whole foods and when unbalanced the body as a whole is affected. 

In this book, the author offers healthy ways to lose weight with recipes to encourage health and liveliness.  It’s not your mother’s typical cookbook, but instead shows the author’s journey from starvation to optimum health of both body and soul.  Her inspirational story is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.  It’s a true testament that it’s not about where you’re at, but where you’re going in life that truly shapes who you are. 

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About the Author:
JENNIFER ADLER is a nationally recognized nutrition expert and the founder and owner of Passionate Nutrition. A certified nutritionist in the state of Washington, Jennifer is an adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University, and co-founder of the International Eating Disorders Institute. She holds a master's of science in clinical nutrition and counseling and a graduate certificate in spirituality, health, and medicine from Bastyr University. She was trained at the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Colorado. She lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

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