Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Stepmother - Pub Week Review & Giveaway

Stepmother tells the story of Marianne Lile, who met a man, fell in love, got married, and arrived home from the honeymoon with a new label: stepmom. It was a role she initially embraced—but she quickly discovered she was alone in a difficult situation, with no handbook and no mentor. Here, Lile describes the complexities of the stepmom position, in a family and in the community, and shares her experience wearing a tag that is often misunderstood and weighed down by the numerous myths in society. Candid and poignant, Stepmother is a story of love and like, resentments and exasperation, resignation and hope—and a story, ultimately, of family.

Did you ever read a book and think … I swear this book was written about me!  Marianne couldn’t have portrayed my life better if I was the main character of the story.  Finally, a book that I can TOTALLY relate to!  Let’s be honest, being a stepparent isn’t as rosy and sunny as the Brady’s made it out to be.  Don’t get me wrong, it can be at times, but there is a whole other side to blended families.  And to hear Marianne’s portrayal of it was not only spot on, but it was honest and refreshing. 

Thirteen years ago I married my husband.  He had two children from a previous marriage, as did I.  For the most part we all got along, but there were times when it was a struggle.  We all want to think that all rules apply to everyone, regardless of if it’s your biological child or step-child.  (And, speaking of the word step, it’s one that I’ve tried to keep out of my vocabulary.  To me, it was just another way to isolate.)  But, for us, there were times when I would think a child should be treated a certain way and he would think differently … and vice versa.  It’s times like these where we would like to be PC and say we will parent the children the same.  But the reality was, the biological parent had the final say in how the biological child got treated.  End of story.   

Marianne tells her thoughts on being a stepparent, being thrown into a whole other family, and how she dealt with it.  She writes in such a way that, even if you aren’t a stepparent, you still feel like you can relate to what she’s been through; or know someone who can!

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About the author:
I’m a mom, stepmom, and now an author at She Writes Press.

I am also a graduate of Colorado College and in a former life worked as a lobbyist for health related interests in Washington D.C. and Olympia, WA.  I put political issues aside to raise kids – my husband’s and our own.  The culmination of that 20 year plus “project” resulted in a memoir, Stepmother.

You can often find me in my Seattle neighborhood walking our 120 pound Bernese Mountain dog and our 13 pound Lapso Apso mix.

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Stepmother by Marianne Lile

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Gaining Visibility - Interview & Giveaway

Julia Berkwith’s daughter has moved to Alaska, her beloved mother-in-law is in a nursing home, and her ex-husband is in Hawaii—with a younger woman. In her late forties, Julia is now used to being invisible. But even if she has to do it alone, she’s determined to celebrate her victory over breast cancer by hiking Italy’s Cinque Terre. And while she’s there, she can scout out treasures for her interior design business back in Kentucky.
Invigorated by the beauty of the Italian countryside, Julia seems unstoppable, until she’s injured by a rock—one that happens to belong to thirty-something stone mason Vitale DeLuca. Reluctantly, Julia accepts Vitale’s insistent offer of lodging while she recovers. But in his home, amid his exquisite sculptures, Julia sees beyond his charm and looks to something special: a talent she must bring to the world’s attention. And once she does, she plans to step aside to leave him in the spotlight. But Vitale has seen something in Julia too, something she is no longer able to recognize in herself. And he is determined to find a way to show it to her.
Poignant and uplifting, Gaining Visibility is an exhilarating story of one woman’s realization that even the deepest scars have a beauty of their own—and that it’s time to take her place in the sun once more.

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Twelve Things You Don’t Know about Me … Or Maybe Wish You Didn’t
by Pamela Hearon

1.       I’m a blueblood—a rabid, died-in-the-wool University of Kentucky Wildcat fan.  My two favorite basketball teams are Kentucky and whoever is playing Duke that day.
2.      Blowing air out of my tear ducts to cause a squeaky sound was one of my claims to fame in childhood, but sadly, I lost the ability as an adult … so don’t expect a lively rendition of “Whistle While You Work” when we meet.
3.      My best blind date turned out to be with my boss’s ex-husband (eeeek!!!).  We’ve now been married for 30 years.
4.       Just looking at a pretzel (the skinny, stick kind) can make me barf.  The origin of the aversion is a mystery, but it has something to do with the fact that they smell like fever.  
5.      My best writing happens in the shower … and while I’m asleep.
6.      I’ve seen the movie Dr. Zhivago 27 times, and I’ve read the book (but only once).
7.      My lifelong love affair with chocolate continues with no break-up in sight.
8.     Walking the Great Wall of China, hiking a glacier, parasailing, seeing puffins and grizzly bears in the wild, and riding a bobsled have all been checked off my Bucket List.  Seeing a grand aurora borealis display has not.
9.      I’ve had my jade plant for thirty-three years—that’s longer than I’ve known my husband.
10.  One night, I heard footsteps in a house I was renting.  The house was old and the wooden floors creaked, and the sound was definitely someone walking.  I went through all the rooms and checked everything out, but I found nothing alarming and all the doors and windows were locked.  The footsteps came a second time … and a third.  The next morning, I read in the newspaper that the woman who owned the house had died the day before.  I never heard the footsteps again.
11.   Perfect days usually have a beach involved.
12.   I mix up the flatware in my dishwasher so the pieces can all get to know each other.  They only get to hang out with their own kind in the drawer.

About the author:
Pamela Hearon grew up in Paducah, Kentucky, a small city that infuses its inhabitants with Southern values, Southern hospitality, and a very distinct Southern accent. There she found the inspiration for her quirky characters, the perfect backdrop for the stories she wanted to tell, and the beginnings of her narrative voice. 

Pamela was a 2013 RITA® Finalist and Maggie Finalist for her first Harlequin Superromance, OUT OF THE DEPTHS (August 2012). Six more Superromances followed — THE SUMMER PLACE (National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist), MOONLIGHT IN PARIS, HIS KIND OF PERFECTION (2015 Maggie Finalist), MY WAY BACK TO YOU, RIGHT WHERE WE STARTED, and IN EMMYLOU’S HANDS.

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Gaining Visibility by Pamela Hearon

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A Sister's Wish - Review & Giveaway

Review by Deb Czajkowski
A Sister’s Wish is Book Three in Shelley Shepard Gray’s Charmed Amish Life series.  This story features beautiful, sweet, caring Amelia Kinsinger, the youngest of the four Kinsinger children.  Amelia’s mother died when she was seven years old, and her father was killed just a few months ago in an accident.  So now twenty-two-year-old Amelia runs the household and takes primary care of the family farm.

Book One in the Charmed series focuses on Lukas, the eldest of the Kinsinger children, while bringing us up to speed on the Kinsinger history.  It delves further into the accident at Kinsinger Lumber, the family business, and the loss of five lives, including their father, the founder and head of Kinsinger Lumber Company.  Lukas has always had sawdust in his blood, so assuming the position of head of Kinsinger in the wake of his father’s death was no surprise to anyone.  And then of course there is the matter of his heart: Will he find happiness in love?

Rebecca’s story unfolds in Book Two. As the second oldest, Rebecca has also worked at Kinsinger Lumber since she was in her teens.  Was that really her choice, though? Or was that simply family expectations?  Rebecca must search her heart for where her career path lies, but, yes, there is also the matter of her heart:  Will she find happiness in love?

But wait a minute.  If this is Book Three, why is it featuring Amelia, the fourth and youngest of the Kinsinger children?  Good question!  Because, Levi, third in line, decided this orphan drama was just a bit too difficult for him at the moment and he needed some time and space to regroup.  In other words, he left town─ ages ago.

So now we’re back to Amelia.  She is in love with Simon, has been for years.  But Simon’s childhood was far from idyllic and that led him to make some very bad choices in his life.  Now, at age thirty, he’s back in Charm and showing interest in Amelia.  Will big brother, Lukas, and big sister, Rebecca, stand by and allow tattooed Simon anywhere near pure and virtuous Amelia? Will they allow Simon to taint their gentle, sheltered baby sister?  And what does Amelia think about her siblings’ perception of this tricky situation, their (over)protectiveness of her?  Is she allowed any say at all in this matter?

Author Shelley Shepard Gray’s books are a wonderful way to spend some quiet hours. Her stories are filled with faith and family and finding one’s way; stories that lift up your heart and make you smile. We all have rocky roads and deep valleys to traverse at one time or another in life. Sometimes the bumps in our paths are way too close to home. It’s refreshing to read how faith and family can be both part of the struggle and also part of the solution. 

In this third addition to the Kinsinger story, I once again enjoyed how the author succinctly laid out the sticky situation. Then she led us step by step to the heart of matter, eventually leading us to the satisfying sigh at the end.  My heart is smiling─again.  I wish the same for you.  Read the Charmed Amish Life series and smile… smile…smile.

Then get ready!  Yes, Book Four in this charming series is coming out very soon! Hurray!

Buy Links:
Amazon | B & N | Google | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info:
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Hold Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook  | Twitter | GoodReads

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Home With My Sisters - Pub Week Giveaway

Faith, Hope, and Joy. As children, the Garland sisters seemed to fit together as seamlessly as their names. Banding together helped them survive their free-spirited parents, who moved from place to place and whim to whim, until their father took off for good. But as the girls grew up, they became virtual strangers. 
This Christmas, they intend to spend the holidays in their usual way: far apart. But their ailing grandmother wants her girls around her once more, and Hope, always the peacemaker, convinces her reluctant sisters to travel to Leavenworth, Washington. Hope is immediately charmed by the unique setting, modeled on a Bavarian village, and by her grandmother’s handsome, mysterious neighbor. Still, there’s scant trace of celebration within the Garland family. Joy’s main motivation for visiting is to secure start-up funds for a coffee shop. Faith, oblivious to her children’s unhappiness, is waiting until the holidays are over to announce that her marriage is over and she has a new love. With a festive schedule of candy-cane martinis, hot tubs, and snowball fights, Hope tries to expose and heal old resentments, but moving forward as a family will take more than a little seasonal goodwill.
Against a stunning winter backdrop, Mary Carter brings rare insight to the deep and complicated nature of sisterhood—a bond that endures far beyond childhood, and can always bring us home again.

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About the author:
MARY CARTER is a freelance writer and novelist. Her other works include London From My Windows, Meet Me in Barcelona, Three Months in Florence, The Things I Do for You, The Pub Across the Pond, My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged.

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Winner a print copy of Mary’s new book
Home With My Sisters

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - 12 Days of Kindness & a Giveaway

Continuing in a festive annual tradition, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber returns with a new original holiday novel full of romance and cheer—and the magical prospect of finding love in the most unexpected places.
Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.
To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love.

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My act of kindness:
In celebration of the upcoming release of this book, I’ve been asked to share an act of kindness that I recently performed.  Here in Upstate New York, where I live, it’s tradition to go apple picking every fall. When my daughter and I went, we got sooo many apples.  I decided to make some apple cinnamon muffins with a cinnamon/sugar crumble.  I brought some to my brother’s house for him and his family.  When I got there my niece’s boyfriend was at the house.  He recently moved back up to the area after his family was relocated down south.  He apparently loved the muffins I made.  Since I still had apples left over, I thought I’d make him some muffins.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be so far away from family, especially when you’re only 19 years old!  So I thought I’d make him some goodies and give him a “taste of home.”  I know it’s nothing big, but when you’re still a kid, away from family, going to school and living as a “broke college student” even the littlest of treats is appreciated.

About the author:
Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 950 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Ten of these novels hit the number one spot.

Celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas”, Macomber’s annual Christmas books are beloved and five have been crafted into original Hallmark Channel movies. Macomber is also the author of the bestselling Cedar Cove Series which the Hallmark Channel chose as the basis for its first dramatic scripted television series. Debuting in 2013, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was a ratings favorite for three seasons.

Macomber owns two businesses in Port Orchard, WA, the town which inspired the Cedar Cove Series. These include the Victorian Rose Tea Room, featured in the Cedar Cove Series, and A Good Yarn Shop, introduced in her popular Blossom Street novels. They are located on the Village Square campus, which also serves as Debbie’s corporate headquarters.

She and her husband, Wayne, serve on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, and she is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington and winter in Florida.

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Winner a print copy of Debbie’s book
Twelve Days of Christmas

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Secrets She Kept - Promo/Giveaway

The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it's suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn't believe it. 
Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he's worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he's built a new life in LA. He's also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother's death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he's determined to find his mother's killer. 
Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother's final days and hours entails a very real risk. 
Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…

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About the author:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

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The Secrets She Kept and The Secret Sister

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The Bookshop on the Corner - Pub Week Giveaway

About the Book:
Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

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About the Author:
Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, includingLittle Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Connect with Jenny Colgan:
Website * Facebook * Twitter

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The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

All the Good Parts - Pub Day Review & Giveaway

Leona is thirty-nine years old, single and living in her younger sister’s basement.  Her situation isn’t exactly conducive to being a mom and she has come to accept that.  When she has a visit with her gynecologist, and is informed that her biological clock is winding down, she finds that the thought of being a mom stays at the forefront of her thoughts.  This causes a sudden panic and Leona to start considering her options.  She could always try fertility treatments or adopt, but she realizes that those options cost money.  Lots of money … of which she doesn’t have.  That’s when she starts considering the few single guys that she knows.  Could there be a potential suitor in the bunch? 

What I really enjoyed about this book was the sense of hope it brought.  I left the story realizing that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you are never too old to go after what you want out of life.  

The author wrote in such a way that made it relatable with the perfect amount of humor.  And the men that Leona encounters?  Let’s just say, they bring a lot of enjoyment to the story.

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About the author:
I was a reader before I was a writer, devouring everything I could get my hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and the instructions booklet for building the Barbie dream house. Later, my obsession with reading evolved into an absolute need to write. After college, I wrote for national trade magazines, taught writing to college freshmen, and eventually found the guts to try fiction.

I'll Be Seeing You, my novel cowritten with Suzanne Hayes, debuted from Harlequin Mira in June 2013. Our second book, Empire Girls, releases on May 27, 2014.

My solo work includes The Witch Collector, Parts I & II, paranormal thrillers for HarperTeen. I love all things witchy--Stevie Nicks is my gal!

When I'm not writing, I'm knitting, baking, and doing all kinds of things my high school self would have found hilarious. 

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All the Good Parts by Loretta Nyhan

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Friday, September 16, 2016

The Spice Box Letters - Pub Week Giveaway

Katerina inherits a scented, wooden spice box after her grandmother Mariam dies. It contains letters and a diary, written in Armenian. As she pieces together her family story, Katerina learns that Mariam's childhood was shattered by the Armenian tragedy of 1915.
Mariam was exiled from her home in Turkey and separated from her beloved brother, Gabriel, her life marred by grief and the loss of her first love. Dissatisfied and restless, Katerina tries to find resolution in her own life as she completes Mariam's story – on a journey that takes her across Cyprus and then half a world away to New York.
Miracles, it seems, can happen―for those trapped by the past, and for Katerina herself.

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About the author:
EVE MAKIS studied at Leicester University and worked as a journalist and radio presenter in the UK and Cyprus before becoming a novelist. She is the author of The Spice Box Letters. Eve is a part time tutor in creative writing at Nottingham University. She is married with two children and lives in the UK and Cyprus.

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The Spice Box Letters by Eve Makis

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Boy Made of Blocks - Pub Week Giveaway

Alex loves his family, and yet he struggles to connect with his eight-year-old autistic son, Sam. The strain has pushed his marriage to the breaking point. So Alex moves in with his merrily irresponsible best friend on the world’s most uncomfortable blow-up bed.
As Alex navigates single life, long-buried family secrets, and part-time fatherhood, his son begins playing Minecraft. Sam’s imagination blossoms and the game opens up a whole new world for father and son to share. Together, they discover that sometimes life must fall apart before you can build a better one.
Inspired by Keith Stuart’s own relationship with his autistic son, A Boy Made of Blocks is a tear-jerking, funny, and, most of all, true-to-life novel about the power of difference and one very special little boy.

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About the author:
KEITH STUART, author of A Boy Made of Blocks, is games editor at theGuardian. He started out as writer and features editor on the highly influential magazine Edge, before going freelance in 2000 to cover games culture for publications such as The Official PlayStation Magazine, PC Gamer, and T3, as well as investigating digital and interactive art for Frieze. He also writes about music, film and media for the Guardian, and is a regular on the Tech Weekly podcast. He is married with two sons.

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St. Martin’s Press is giving once lucky winner
A print copy of Keith Stuart’s new book
A Boy Made of Blocks

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