Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Home For Christmas - Review, Q&A and Giveaway

Review by Marlene Engel

The snow was beautiful, but being dressed in a parka, hat and gloves was something that Rachel wasn’t used to.  Born and raised in Arizona, Rachel was used to warmer weather.  However, she agreed to spend this Christmas in Montana with her brother, Ty.  Rachel has had a rough few months and could use a getaway.  Trained in culinary arts, Rachel embarked on a business with a couple who she thought were her friends.  It turned out that they were just out to take advantage of her.  Rachel has since developed thick skin and is hesitant to trust people.  But when Ty suggests that she make gingerbread houses replicating some of the landmark businesses in Marietta to advertise her skill, she thinks it may be a good idea.  If she can make enough money selling her gingerbread to put down as a deposit for a new business, then her efforts would be worth it.  But when she meets Nate, the owner of Bar V5 and the ranch where her brother works, his interest in her baking and business makes her question his motives.  Although he is genuine with wanting to help her build her business, he’s selfishly hoping that she’ll also fall in love with Marietta and decide to stay.  That’s when he puts together Operation: Hansel & Gretel.  As the sales of Rachel’s gingerbread heats up, so does her thoughts and feelings for Nate.  Will she be able to let down her guard and trust Nate?  And will Nate succeed in getting Rachel to make Marietta her permanent home? 

Home For Christmas by Melissa McClone is as inviting as a roaring fireplace on a cold winter’s day!  From the first page to the last, I was captivated!  The closeness of family, the joy of living in a small town, the excitement of new romance to bonding over the deliciousness of gingerbread, this book has all of the elements that I look for in a great book!  Home For Christmas is a must read.  Grab a hot mug of cocoa, curl up in your coziest blanket and enjoy this festive read!

Q&A with the Author:

When did you know you wanted to become an author?
It wasn't one specific moment, but a few which got me to that point. Growing up I kept a journal and rewrote the ending of TV shows and movies so they'd be more to my liking. When I read my first category romance my senior year of high school, a friend and I decided to write a romance novel together. I was seventeen at the time, and my freshman year of college I bought a how to write a romance novel book. I never got beyond the first line. But a couple years after I graduated college, I read a book and thought "I could do this." Of course, I didn't have a clue what was involved, but I committed myself to write a book. A little while after that the roommate of my then-boyfriend saw a flier for the Desert Dreams RWA conference (I was living in Arizona at the time) at a bookstore and that's how I discovered RWA.

What gets you in the mood to write?
I'll be honest. I'm often not in the mood to write. I have three active kids and a husband who's gone a lot, but I have deadlines to meet and must write whenever I have the time no matter what's going on or how I feel. I learned when my kids were babies to pick a song or two for each book. I listen to those songs to put myself into the story fast.

Describe your book in three words.
Sweet, Heartwarming, Christmassy.

What can your readers expect next from you?
Nothing has a firm release date yet, but I've pitched another novella to Tule Publishing for their new Holiday Imprint. I'm plotting sequels with the cowboys who work at the Bar V5 Ranch in Home for Christmas. I recently sold two projects to Harlequin Special Edition. 

A big thank you to Melissa for stopping by Book Mama Blog!

About the author:
Melissa McClone has published over twenty-five novels with Harlequin and been nominated for Romance Writers of America's RITA award. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house. 

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Melissa has kindly offered to give one lucky winner a $10 Amazon gift card!

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Blogger Girl - Review, Excerpt & Guest Post

Review by Marlene Engel

Kim Long is a legal secretary at a Manhattan law firm, but her true passion is being a blogger for her book blog, Pastel Is The New Black.  Any free moment she gets, you can find Kim reading a book or writing up a review.  She loves the benefit of reading books before they’re published and regularly gets e-mails requesting that she review a book.  When she receives a message requesting a review for a book by new author, Hannah Marshak, Kim is less than eager to not only respond, let alone review the book.  Kim has known Hannah since they were kids and Hannah has always been less than kind to Kim.  Their ten year high school reunion is coming up.  Is it a coincidence that she received this request now?  Kim thinks not!

As if dealing with the drama that is sure to come with seeing Hannah at the reunion isn’t enough, Kim is also battling her own inner struggle at work.  Every time she is near Nicholas, an attorney at the law firm, her cheeks begin to flush and her heart does a little flutter.  The mixed signals that she gets from him doesn’t help the matter.  One minute she spies him out to lunch with a beautiful co-worker and the next minute he’s asking her if she would like to meet up for drinks.  Kim is so taken by Nicholas that she’s even willing to give up her ex-boyfriend/bootie call, Jonathan, for a chance at seeing what could possibly be with Nicholas.  Come join Kim and her fun group of friends as they band together over bullies from the past and potential new loves of the future!

Blogger Girl is such a fun book.  Being a book blogger myself, I can relate to Kim, her passion for chick lit and the perks that come with owning your own blog.  I just loved her fun group of friends too and the bond that they share.  I think everyone should have a core group of friends that you can always turn to no matter what.  I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to others.  It’s a book that many can relate to (even if you aren’t a blogger).  

Blogger Girl is currently on sale for .99 cents at Amazon for Kindle!  Get it HERE!

“Penny for your thoughts, Blogger Girl.”
I snapped out of my list making and faced Nicholas, silently praying he was not a mind reader.
He looked at me expectantly.
I swung my free hand in dismissal and lifted my drink towards him. “Nothing important. Cheers!”
Nicholas clinked his glass against mine, said, “Cheers” and took a sip of his drink.
Following his lead, I took a sip of mine.
Nicholas inched closer to me. Speaking in almost a whisper, he said, “Having fun yet?”
Very aware that we’d never stood this close to each other and that these were practically the most words we’d ever exchanged one on one, I replied with faux nonchalance, “Can’t really complain about free drinks. You?” The cuffs of his shirt sleeves had been pushed up to his elbows and I pondered whether the dark hair on his arms was coarse or soft. I wondered what it would feel like to run my fingers up and down his arm. I also wondered if he could hear my heart beating through my chest.
“Definitely can’t complain about that,” Nicholas agreed. “And a break from work is always welcome, especially these days.” He smiled. “Doing anything good this weekend?”
I had practically forgotten it was Thursday night, which was odd for me since I lived for the weekends when my secretarial duties did not get in the way of my reading. “Not sure yet. Probably drinks with friends. And I need to catch up on some reading. For the blog. What about you?” Please don’t mention a girlfriend.
“Oh, this and that.” His eyes glowed, almost like he was holding back a secret.
I bit down on my lip and without thinking, blurted out, “Do This and That have last names?”
Nicholas gave me a once over before shaking his head laughing. “I’ll probably spend most of it at work actually. So, tell me more about this blog.”
I tipped my head to the side. “What do you want to know?”
“I don’t know. Like, what made you start it?”        
“The condensed version or the truth?”
Nicholas cocked an eyebrow. “How long of a story is the truth?”
“Why? Do you have a date to rush off to?” I swallowed hard. Nice, Kim.
Laughing, he said, “It’s just that your answer was rather mysterious, you know?”
I shuffled my feet. “Well, I usually tell people I started the blog because I’ve always loved to read, blah, blah, blah.”
“Blah blah blah. Gotcha.”
After he said that, he winked at me and when my knees wobbled in response, I grabbed the bar with my free hand. “The truth is that one day I was bored at home surfing the internet and I found all of these blogs dedicated to romance books, like Harlequin stuff, and then I found some more devoted to science fiction, thrillers and so on. But I could barely find anything dedicated to chick lit and it pissed me off because I love it. I figured if I love it, there must be other girls who love it too and maybe if I started this blog, I’d find them and we’d bond.” I paused. “Aren’t you glad you asked?”
As his phone rang, Nicholas distractedly responded, “Yeah, that’s cool,” before bringing it to his ear. He whispered, “Sorry” before answering it.

I wondered if it was from “This” or “That.” 

Intro by Marlene Engel

When I heard that Meredith Schorr was writing a book called, Blogger Girl, I knew I had to read it.  Having recently started my own blog, I couldn’t wait to hear her inspiration for the book and see if I could relate to the characters in the story.  Meredith is here today to tell us about the premise of the book and how Blogger Girl came to be.  Welcome, Meredith!

I would like to start by thanking the lovely Marlene for hosting me on the Book Mama Blog today as part of the CLP Blog Tour for Blogger Girl. Marlene has asked me to post about the inspiration for writing Blogger Girl.
                At the outset, I will confess that I did not spend that much time coming up with the idea for Blogger Girl. I had started writing what I thought would be my third novel and found that after forty pages, it had no direction and I didn’t want to waste more time on it. (In case you’re wondering, I’ve set those forty pages aside because I think I might be able to use them as part of another project in the future.) Anyway, I worried, as I always do, that I would not be able to come up with an idea for another novel and then like magic, inspiration hit as I was walking east on 34th Street in New York City on my way home from work one cold evening in December, 2011:
What if I wrote a book about a book blogger who is asked to review a novel written by her enemy from high school?
That was the basic premise and it developed from there.
Why a book blogger? Probably because book bloggers play a vital role in my life. They can make or break my writing career with a review and barely a day goes by that I don’t communicate with a book blogger in one way or another - whether to ask for a review, give thanks for a review or simply read a blogger’s review of another author’s book. In addition to being an author, I am a voracious reader. I read approximately 1.5-2 books a week and get many of my recommendations from book bloggers. Additionally, as I’ve stated before, I am fascinated by the life of a book blogger and even toyed with becoming one myself until I regretfully realized that I could not possibly add the responsibility and the hard work to a lifestyle that is already spread way too thin. Writing a first person perspective novel about a book blogger allowed me to live vicariously as one.
Why a legal secretary? When I’m not writing, I spend my days as a trademark paralegal and have worked in law firms for approximately fifteen years. I know the environment very well. The main characters of my first two novels also worked in law firms and I think of the setting as part of my brand at this point. However, since both Stephanie and Jane were paralegals, I wanted Kim to be a secretary. I also thought it could lend itself to some conflict regarding her romantic life. See below:
Why an attorney for her love interest? Since Kim works in a law firm, I thought it would be fun to create a love interest out of one of her colleagues. I also thought choosing an ambitious lawyer like Nicholas could lead to Kim feeling insecure about her position at the firm and possibly her role in Nicholas’ life. 
Why high school? I think almost everyone had a mean girl in high school and unless you were the mean girl in high school, you can recall that one girl who seemed to have the world in the palm of her hand and wasn’t very nice about it. Most of us are happy and relieved to leave that mean girl behind after graduation but what would happen if she came back? And worse, what would happen if you were put in a position to either help or hurt her? While it might seem like a no-brainer to seize the day and take revenge, I think most morally ground individuals would at least struggle with doing the right thing and so this element created more drama and conflict.
Well, Marlene, thank you again for having me here today. I hope I sufficiently answered your question, although I am always happy to hear from readers who want to discuss my novels in further detail.  

Thank you for stopping by Book Mama Blog, Meredith!  

A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to, and was famous among her friends for writing witty birthday cards. After trying her hand writing children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing “real” chick lit for real women.  When Meredith is not hard at work on her current work in progress, she spends her days as a trademark paralegal. Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner. Blogger Girl is her third novel.

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