Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Skinny Bitch in Love - Review & Giveaway

Review by Marlene Engel

Clementine Cooper has busted her tail climbing up the ranks in the vegan culinary world from chopping vegetables to her current position as Sous Chef at the hottest vegan restaurant in Santa Monica, Fresh.  But her chance to really show off her skills happened when she was to prepare a dish for one of the Los Angeles Times food critics.  Had it not been for someone sabotaging her dish with butter, she would probably still have her job and not have been blacklisted from all of the other vegan restaurants in the area. 
Determined to prove that you can’t keep a good woman down, Clementine starts her own business, The Skinny Bitch Cooking School, in hopes of making enough money to open her own vegan café across the street from her apartment.  But during her first cooking class, a disturbance outside quickly dampers any hopes of that happening.  As she watches a huge 3D steer’s head being erected on what should’ve been HER restaurant’s building, she realizes she not only lost out on the building, but now will have to stare at an image of a dead steer’s head whenever she looks out her window … the soon to be location for The Silver Steer restaurant.

As luck would have it, the meat loving owner of The Silver Steer happens to not only be wildly handsome, but Clementine can’t seem to control her desire to be near him.  But what could vegan, Clementine Cooper, possibly have in common with carnivore, Zach Jeffries?  She’s not quite sure of the answer, but something in her is curious to find out!

Everyone has heard of the Skinny Bitch books.  Heck, even my husband has read the men’s version, Skinny Bastard!  When I found out that one of the authors, Kim Barnouin, was putting out a novel based on her vegan lifestyle and relating to her bestselling Skinny Bitch books, I knew that I had to check it out.  

Let me start with saying that I’m not vegan (or vegetarian for that matter).  However, you don’t have to be to enjoy this book.  I love her style of writing and how she incorporated her passion for veganism into her first novel.  After reading about how you can turn a dish that typically has animal products into one that doesn’t, has me wanting to taste some of these dishes for myself!  Kudos to Ms. Barnouin on her first novel and stay tuned for my review of her second novel, Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched, coming really soon!  And, expect an awesome giveaway for that review post as well!

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About the Author:
Kimberly Ann Barnouin was born on February 27, 1969. Yes, she has included her year of birth, she's in her 40's and proud of it. She was born in Rhode Island but grew up in Maryland. Both states were way too cold for Kim so she moved to Miami Beach in her mid 20's to thaw out. She now resides in Southern California with her hot French husband and their 4 year old son Jack.

She is the co-author of the New York Times Bestseller Skinny Bitch, and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, as well as Skinny Bitchin, Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven, and Skinny Bastard. She released her first solo book Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook in October of 2010.

She is the founder of her website www.healthybitchdaily.com, a fun and informative green living guide for women.

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Kim is giving 1 lucky winner a signed copy of
Skinny Bitch in Love!

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Fated for Love - Review & Giveaway

Librarian Callie Barnes has visions of reading and relaxing—and maybe having a few too many drinks—on her girls’ weekend away. Her hopes are crushed when her friends pull into a dude ranch instead of a spa, and she refuses to say longer than one night. That is…until she realizes the ranch is owned by sinfully sexy, and dangerously rugged, Wes Braden—the subject of her late-night fantasies.

Fearless rancher Wes Braden thinks he’s the luckiest guy on the planet when the sweet, sexy librarian from his hometown shows up at his ranch. Their connection is white-hot, making it impossible for either to ignore their carnal desires. Wes is more than willing to convert sweet Callie from chick lit to a world of erotic romance, but Callie ties sex to love, and Wes avoids commitment like the plague.
Callie is thrust into physically demanding activities that ignite her deepest fears. Luckily, Wes is as tender as he is strong, and he’s there every step of the way to help her find her inner strength. With Callie’s influence, Wes might even discover that he’s been nursing a few fears of his own. Passion pulls Callie and Wes from their safe, comfortable lives into each other’s arms, and they’re about to find out just how alike they really are.

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Review by Marlene Engel

Melissa Foster has done it again with another hot, hunky Braden for us to swoon over!  This time it’s sexy, cowboy Wes Braden.  And if his six plus feet of rock hard muscle doesn’t make you melt, his love for reading surely will!  Or, at least, it did with me.  I love me some sexy nerd boys in disguise!

To the average person, Thursdays might not be the most exciting day, but to Callie it’s the day of the week that she most looks forward to.  That’s because it’s the day Wes stops by the library to pick up the books she’s pulled for him.  As a librarian, she’s used to helping people find books.  But she takes special care in picking out the ones for Wes.  There’s just something about Wes that makes Callie start casting him as the lead hunk in the books in her mind.  But a guy like Wes wouldn’t be interested in a girl like Callie.  She sees the way the other women at the library come in droves to gawk Wes.  They’ve obviously caught on that he’s a Thursday regular.  But it doesn’t stop her from fantasizing about him …

Callie’s friends are concerned that she’s spending too much time with her nose in a book, so they have organized a girl’s weekend to the spa … or so they told her!  When they pull into a dude ranch Callie is anything but excited to be there.  That is, until she realizes that it’s owned by the man of her dreams, Wes Braden!  Maybe this weekend isn’t going to be so bad after all.  Although the eye candy is nice, Callie’s fears are put to the test.  Thankfully Wes is there to hold her hand through it all.

Throw on your cowboy boots and your ten gallon hat!  Melissa Foster has treated us to another hot book that will have you melting like an ice cube in the sun!  If you haven’t read the previous books in the Love in Bloom series … WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???  There are more hunky men and sexy girls in this series than you’ll know what to do with! 

About the Author:
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women's fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on The Women's NestFostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Cassidy Lane - Review

Review by Darcie Czajkowski

Cassidy Lane has a life many would covet. She is a best-selling author of five novels, lives in a cozy, comfortable apartment in Manhattan, and has a loyal and supportive group of friends and family. This is how the world sees Cassidy, not only those with whom she is close, but everyone at her twenty-year high school reunion in Palo Alto: Successful. Glamorous. The person who has it all.

Only Cassidy sees herself differently. When she walks into the room where her high school classmates mingle, she is shrouded by memories of being the smart girl that was never asked to prom. A thirty-eight-year-old woman who is still single and searching for a happily-ever-after like the ones she writes about in her novels. That is, until Brandon Forrester saunters in, dressed to perfection, and catches Cassidy’s eye. Unsurprisingly, due to their vast high-school class, their interactions were extremely limited, a notch above complete strangers. Where was he hiding all this time? she wonders.

Post-reunion, Brandon e-mails Cassidy, telling her that he will be in New York for work and asking if she’d like to meet him for a drink. Elated, Cassidy accepts, and soon thereafter is involved in a bi-coastal texting relationship. Cassidy thinks Brandon could be her happily-ever-after and that she might finally get the ending that has historically been reserved only for the characters in her stories.

But as her burgeoning romance fills her with boundless hope, the writing of her latest book comes to a stalemate when writer's block threatens her ability to deliver her manuscript within her editor's tight deadline. And even when the words eventually resume their flow, they lead to a story far removed from her typical sunshine-and-roses, fairytale stories.

Which will it be for Cassidy? Happily ever after? Or will her romance end in heartbreak, the type of ending that her faithful readers never want to see?

Cassidy Lane is a likeable character, someone whom I was rooting for to find love. She has everything in her life, except romance and it's a piece that she greatly desires. While I was hoping that Brandon would be the one for her, I also felt conflicted when he failed to offer Cassidy the same attention and priority in his life that she afforded him. As I was reading, I wished that I were Cassidy's friend so I could have told her that she deserved to find a man who would treat her like a queen, that a man who would check every box is possible to find. All of these thoughts and feelings tell me that I was invested in this book. I felt like I knew Cassidy, as if she was one of my friends. And for this ability to bring a character to life to such a degree, Maria Murnane should be given tremendous credit. She writes with realistic dialogue and tells a story with a satisfying end, even with the inclusion of a minor cliffhanger which leaves the reader (me!) wanting more. An easy-to-read, enjoyable story from Maria Murnane.

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About the Author:
A former PR executive who abandoned a successful career to pursue a more fulfilling life, Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series (Perfect on Paper, It’s a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two), as well as Cassidy Lane and Katwalk. At her speaking engagements she shares the “story behind the story,” an entertaining tale of courage, passion and perseverance that has inspired audiences across the country to follow their dreams—no matter what.

A remarkable personal story:
Perfect on Paper, which Maria wrote during a year she spent playing semi-pro soccer in Argentina, was initially turned down by several major publishing houses. In an effort to prove them wrong, Maria self-published and implemented a creative, grass-roots marketing campaign. And it worked! Within a year Perfect on Paper attracted the attention of senior executives at Amazon, who chose it out of more than 10,000 self-published titles for the company’s venture into traditional publishing. They offered Maria a contract, and since then the book has also been published in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Turkey, and Indonesia. Maria’s subsequent novels have also been purchased by Amazon Publishing, each housed under the Lake Union imprint.

Maria was a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar at UC Berkeley, where she graduated with high honors in English and Spanish and was an Alumni Scholar. She also received a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University. She currently lives in New York City.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Heroes Are My Weakness - Book Tour & Giveaway

Heroes Are My Weakness
By: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Releasing August 26th, 2014
Avon Romance

New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips is back with a delightful novel filled with her sassy wit and dazzling charm

The dead of winter.

An isolated island off the coast of Maine.

A man.

A woman.

A sinister house looming over the sea ...

He's a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.

But she's not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they're trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.
It's going to be a long, hot winter. 
Purchase the book at: 
Amazon * B&N * Kobo * iTunes

About the Author:
Susan Elizabeth Phillips soars onto the New York Times bestseller list with every new publication. She’s the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award. Susan delights fans by touching hearts as well as funny bones with her wonderfully whimsical and modern fairy tales. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is also a wife, and mother of two grown sons.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Girls of August - Review

Review by Darcie Czajkowski
Friendship. That is what bound Madison, Rachel, Barbara, and Melinda together for fifteen years. Their husbands' common profession as physicians inspired their bond, but the girls fell in love with each other in a way so sacred that they chose to carve out time each August to spend a week at the beach. And became the Girls of August.

But the sudden, heart-stopping death of Melinda put an abrupt end to their summer vacations. They could not fathom reuniting without her.

And so they separately lived their lives until Melinda's husband remarries and the girls decide that they must reunite. Even though nothing about this summer vacation will be like they once were. Because Melinda is irreplaceable. By anyone. Certainly by Baby, a young, ripe beauty with a penchant for speed-talking and skinny-dipping.

That being said, Baby is gracious enough to allow the Girls of August into her family's beach house on a far-flung island off the South Carolina coast.

The original, real Girls of August come into the vacation saddled with prejudice and Baby's youthful antics seem to confirm their fears. And then some. Yet as time ticks along on the removed, rustic island and secrets seep from cracks and rise to the surface, it appears that the only thing the ladies were right about is that nothing is as it once was.

Despite a slow start, The Girls of August navigates the depths of genuine friendship. It shares a real, true story of girls whose love, respect, and admiration for one another started as youthful kinship and developed into solid relationships that have endured for a generation and will continue blossom for decades to come. The gap in time initially feels nonexistent to the women as they reminisce about past summers and the joys and sorrows of those moments, but when the stories emerge about the years since their last reunion, it is both amazing and startling just how much has transpired. Anne Rivers Siddons writes with clear, precise language and realistic dialogue in this rich story of women who, despite their different life paths, chose to treasure the moments in life that matter the most. For time is a gift and there exists no better way to spend it than with those who make you grateful to be alive. 

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About the Author:
Anne Rivers Siddons is an American novelist who writes stories set in the southern United States.  She was raised in Fairburn, Georgia, and attended Auburn University, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority. While at Auburn she wrote a column for the student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, that favored integration. The university administration attempted to suppress the column, and ultimately fired her, and the column garnered national attention. She later became a senior editor for Atlanta magazine. At the age of thirty she married Heyward Siddons. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and spends summers in Maine.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Acts of Contrition - Review

Review by Deb Czajkowski

For the past ten years, Mary Morrissey has been living a lie.  If she were truly honest with herself, the previous ten years had been a lie as well. To be fair, over the course of the first decade she was only lying to herself. For the second decade, she has been lying to her husband.  Lying by omission, lying because she is afraid her secret will destroy her perfect life, shattering the life of her dreams.

Mary was nineteen when she first met the charismatic Landon James, a young attorney with great political aspirations and an admitted personal commitment phobia. Still, he quickly became Mary’s addiction, rendering her incapable of resisting his charms and the intermittent presence in her life, holding Mary hostage for ten years−and beyond.

Then, when Mary was twenty-nine, she met Tom who, after only three months of dating, asked Mary to marry him. And so began the life of her dreams: a loving husband who is committed to her, followed by the births of two daughters and twin sons. Finally, a happily-ever-after for Mary? Not exactly.

Mary has a secret, one that has tormented her for the past ten years, one huge enough to blow her happy world apart. During each of Landon James’ political campaigns, Mary has held her breath, waiting, watching, wondering.  Just as Mary finally thinks she’s home free, that her secret will remain hidden, the damning truth is suddenly brought to light. And the fall-out is every bit as devastating as Mary feared.

To err may be human and to forgive may be divine, but does that apply to a ten year cover-up of betrayal and heart-break?  Is forgiveness possible when the hurt is so personal, so deep?  Will this far-reaching revelation destroy forever Mary’s family, her dream? Can addiction be conquered or will that hold remain eternally to taunt and tempt?

Are you obsessed with washing your hands? (Maybe a little.) Are your cupboards stocked with a six-month supply of food? (I’ll admit to three months.) Do you frequently have to feed your need to read? (Definitely!)  Addictions? Maybe. But generally speaking, most people would probably consider such behaviors to be pretty harmless.

Serious addiction is certainly front and center in author Jennifer Handford’s book, Acts of Contrition, primarily the extensive effects of Mary’s addiction to Landon.  Alcoholism, the Morrissey curse, is also given weight. Unless you have personally seen the costs of addiction, it’s often hard to comprehend its reality. In Acts of Contrition, Jennifer Handford honestly and convincingly illustrates that fierce and sometimes brutal pull.  But she also beautifully couches her story with abiding faith, family love and loyalty, and unfathomable forgiveness.

While Acts of Contrition is not a light-hearted story, actually painful at times in its realism and rawness, I highly recommend this incredibly well written book.  If you cannot relate to Jennifer Handford’s characters and their issues, then you can count your blessings.  And that alone is worth this read.

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About the Author:
Jennifer Handford is the author of Daughters for a Time, an acclaimed novel that has sold more than 100,000 copies. People Magazine hailed it, "A wrenching, resonant debut about infertility, cancer and adoption. Grab your hankies." In 2010, Jennifer was one of three first-place finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Jennifer is currently teaching writing at American University. Her second novel, Acts of Contrition, was published in April 2014.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Binds That Tie - Review & Giveaway

Review by Marlene Engel

On the outside, Maggie and Chris seem to be the perfect couple, but behind the facade is a marriage laced with loss, lies and infidelity.  During a night out with her friends, Maggie interacts in what seems like harmless flirting.  But what started as innocent has turned into an obsession when her fling shows up drunk and disorderly at her door.  What Maggie does next will alter her life and marriage forever.

With a criminal record and time served in prison, Chris can’t afford to get in trouble.  When Maggie commits a crime, he decides to take the blame for it.  But is he willing to go back to prison, for a crime that he didn’t commit, just to protect his wife?

From the beginning of the book, the author takes you on a dark journey full of deceit and betrayal.  Just when you think you have it figured out, there is another twist waiting on the next page!  This story will have you shaking your head in disbelief and not quite knowing who to root for.  A true nail-biter from the beginning to the end, Kate Moretti takes you on an emotional rollercoaster.  It was impossible to put this book down, and you will not believe how it ends!

About the Author:
Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of the women’s fiction novel, Thought I Knew You. Her second novel Binds That Tie was released in March 2014. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.

She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.

Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway.

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Winner’s choice of print or e-copy of Binds That Tie.  International winners are limited to an e-copy

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