Tuesday, January 31, 2017

On Second Thought - Pub Day Review & Giveaway

Review by Deb Czajkowski
Ainsley O’Leary, sometimes mistakenly called Annie, Amy, Abby, Allie, met Eric when she was nineteen and they were both in college.  For the past eleven years (and counting!) they’ve been building a life together, and now, finally, Ainsley finds her heart’s desire─ the ring of her dreams─hidden in Eric’s sock drawer.  So, yes, the question constantly on her mind is: On which day will Eric pop the Big Question?  Perhaps this isn’t the question she should be asking?

Kate O’Leary is single and a successful photographer. For years, dating (i.e., trying to find her perfect match) has been her second career.  After just celebrating her thirty-ninth birthday, Kate decides to have just one career─photography. And then she meets─ and marries!─ Nathan. Kate is blissfully married to Nathan ….for exactly one hundred and two days.  Oh, what a difference a day─just one day─can make!

Nathan Coburn is the beloved son and brother in the wealthy Coburn family and a very successful architect in his own right.  He couldn’t have constructed a better scenario for himself than meeting and marrying Kate.  And then the unforeseen happens.  No one saw this day coming.

Eric “Cancer Chronicles” Fisher has just beaten testicular cancer─apparently the best kind of cancer to get for its survival rates.  Blogging about his journey─in way too much detail and with great liberties taken regarding the facts─is giving Eric notoriety. To what lengths will Eric go to extend his day in the sun? Could he do the unthinkable? Could he publicly break up with the woman who has stood by him for eleven years, the woman who nursed him through cancer? And could he blog about it?

Jonathan Kent is the publisher of the Hudson Lifestyle magazine and Ainsley’s boss.  At the office, his nicknames are, to his face, Mr. Kent (indicative of his formal demeanor) and, behind his back, Clark (as in ever-in-control Clark Kent).  But spend a few days with him outside the office, and you might just be calling him Mr. Darcy!

Daniel Breton is the name he gives when introducing himself.  Anyone else introducing him calls him Danny the Hot Firefighter.  One day─or perhaps more accurately, one night─is about to change his life. 

Author Kristan Higgins intriguingly illustrates that a day can make a difference in each of the lives of her captivating cast in on second thought. Days are tricky that way.  One day can be ordinary, another is extraordinary.  One day life is normal, mundane even.  And the next day the extraordinary hits.  The good extraordinary: amazing, stunning, incredible.  And then there’s the unbelievable, unusual, memorable extraordinary days─days you wish you could forget but instead your life will forever be changed by that one extraordinary day. 

Each of Higgins’ characters in on second thought is ordinary and extraordinary, in other words, human. They all have events that have shaped their lives, shaped the person each has become, guiding them forward in life’s journey.  And the author wonderfully unfolds the stories of these unforgettable characters.  I found on second thought to be enthralling, starting from page one, and the pages that followed did not disappoint. 

 Turn your day into an extraordinary day with a copy of Higgins’ latest hit.  Don’t give it a second thought; do it today!

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About the author:
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award, Kristan lives with her family in a small Connecticut town that boasts a wonderful library, a great agricultural fair, a really good ice-cream stand and not much else. She is the mother of two lovely kids and the wife of a brave firefighter who is also (perhaps more important) a fantastic cook. 

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Monday, January 30, 2017

What Makes a Family - Pub Week Giveaway

Nestled in the Chesapeake Bay, Brodie Island  is charming, remote, and slow to change. For three hundred years, Abby Brodie’s farming family has prospered there. Now, years after leaving to make her way on her own terms, Abby is coming home to see her ailing grandmother, with her teenage daughter and a wealth of memories in tow. Yet as family members gather at the old farmhouse, Abby realizes this visit offers more than a chance to say goodbye. 
 
After decades of feeling she was a disappointment as a daughter, Abby is beginning to see that her mother, too, has struggled to feel a sense of belonging within the Brodie family. Celeste, Abby’s self-centered sister, is far from the successful actress she pretends to be, and needs help that only Abby and their half-brother, Joseph, can give. But most surprising of all is the secret that Grandmother Brodie has been carrying—one that will make each woman question her identity and the sacrifices she’s willing to make to gain acceptance.
 
With her trademark emotional honesty and insight, Colleen Faulkner lays bare the challenges at the heart of a family—learning how to forgive, connect, and let ourselves be truly known at last.

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About the author:
Colleen Faulkner lives in Delaware, where her family settled more than three hundred years ago. She comes from a long line of storytellers and spends her days, when she’s not writing, running the family farm, reading, and traveling the world. She’s still married to her high school sweetheart and has four children and six grandchildren.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

My Not So Perfect Life - Pre-release Giveaway

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

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About the author:
Sophie Kinsella has sold over 36 million copies of her books in more than 60 countries, and she has been translated into over 40 languages.

Sophie wrote her first novel under her real name, Madeleine Wickham, at the tender age of 24, whilst she was working as a financial journalist. The Tennis Party was immediately hailed as a success by critics and the public alike and became a top ten bestseller. She went on to publish six more novels as Madeleine Wickham: A Desirable Residence, Swimming Pool Sunday, The Gatecrasher, The Wedding Girl, Cocktails for Three and Sleeping Arrangements.

Sophie was born in London. She studied music at New College, Oxford, but after a year switched to Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She now lives in London, UK, with her husband and family.

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My Not So Perfect Life

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Housekeeper - Review - Part of the BookSparks #Wintervention #WinterReadingChallenge

With no family, Anne Morgan tends to cling to the people in her life.  But when her boyfriend, and boss, cheats on her she’s left picking up the pieces and in need of a job.  Thankfully the daily affirmation emails that she gets from Emma Helmsley are still one positive that she gets to look forward to. 

Emma Helmsley is the English version of Martha Stewart.  Through her books and social media, she offers her readers advice on how to live a less stressful life while living in a stressful world.  Married with two children, they appear to be the poster family for the perfect life. 

When Anne comes across a post online that Emma is in search of a housekeeper it becomes her mission to get in with the family.  And, when she does, her love and admiration for the Helmsleys keep her from seeing the truth behind the perfect fa├žade. 

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About the author:
Suellen Dainty is the author of the novel After Everything. An Australian, she is a former writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian and worked for the ABC before moving to London more than 25 years ago to work for Sky News, where she was a producer and director of the original series of The Book Show. She has studied Creative Writing at the University of Oxford and Bath Spa University. She lives in London. Find out more at SuellenDainty.com.

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BookSparks #wintervention winter reading challenge.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Things We Keep - Paperback Giveaway

Anna Forster is only thirty-eight years old, but her mind is slowly slipping away from her. Armed only with her keen wit and sharp-eyed determination, she knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. But Anna has a secret: she does not plan on staying. She also knows there's just one another resident who is her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.
Eve Bennett, suddenly thrust into the role of single mother to her bright and vivacious seven-year-old daugher, finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke, she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them. Eve has her own secrets, and her own desperate circumstances that raise the stakes even higher.
With huge heart, humor, and a compassionate understanding of human nature, Sally Hepworth delivers a page-turning novel about the power of love to grow and endure even when faced with the most devastating of obstacles. You won’t forget The Things We Keep.

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About the author:
Sally Hepworth is a former event planner and human resources professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. She is the author of Love Like The French, published by Random House Germany in February 2014. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the U.K., and Canada, and she now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and two young children.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pretty Little World - Pub Week Review & Giveaway

Review by Deb Czajkowski
Pretty Little World is the story of three families that geography brought together.  Moving onto one of Philadelphia’s best row house streets, these three families─all strangers when each family purchased their tiny row house─quickly formed a unique bond that is so strong, it’s like family─the best kind of family.

Midwesterners Mark, Celia, and their three children, Ted, Lu, and Ollie, live on the left side of the triplex row house.  Chris, Stephanie, and their son, Harvest, bought the center home. East Coasters Leo, Hope, and their daughter, Shoshanna, complete the triplex on the right side.

Until the day comes that Mark and Celia announce that they are selling their house.  “Our house was tiny and crowded before we had Ollie,” they explain, “but now we really need more room, a larger space.”

“NO! You can’t move!”

“That will break up our family!”

“We can figure this out!”

So the idea begins to form: take down the inside walls that separate the three houses and make it one big house!  The first floor would be shared space; the upstairs bedrooms would remain as they are, separate and still private.  The three families who are as close as family would live together as one family, one big family in one big house.

Like a modern day Kibbutz?  Interesting thought. But wouldn’t that change the family dynamics?  Won’t familiarity breed contempt? Or at least seriously threaten the present harmony?  And that’s only addressing the friendships between the three families.  What impact might this communal living have on each individual family? On each marriage?

Pretty Little World is co-authored by Elizabeth LaBan and Melissa DePino.  Is there a clear division of labor between the two authors?  Is it obvious that each author wrote certain chapters?  Are there two distinct plotlines that intertwine and converge? Not even a little!  Pretty Little World is a well written, consistent, and entirely fluid novel.

But do authors LaBan and DePino make this concept─ three families who jell like, well, jello─ work?  Is their Pretty Little World actually plausible?  I say yes! Perhaps, though, more like tapioca─still jelled, but not quite so smooth, maybe a bit messier. Yes.  Like a real family (or families, as the case may be).

I have a friend who is my sister in all the ways that truly count: not by blood, but heart-to-heart.  We click─have from day one─on a level that not even blood can promise. I believe this concept would have worked for our families. So yes, I can envision the scenario.

Do you have a heart-sister?  Does your family have an always together family?  Does one of your kids have a bestie that she/he has had forever, and it seems like you hardly ever see one without the other? If yes, you can picture it, the bond.  If not, imagine the possibility. Then read Pretty Little World for a peak in the window. You’ll love the view.

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About the authors:
Elizabeth LaBan is the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages; The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages; and The Restaurant Critic's Wife. She lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant-critic husband and two children.

Melissa De Pino is the founding partner, principal, and editorial director of Leapfrog Group, a branding and marketing firm for nonprofits, and a former high school English teacher in Camden, New Jersey. She grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and earned degrees at both Villanova and Temple universities. She lives in Center City, Philadelphia, with her two sons. Pretty Little World is her first novel.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Twilight Wife - Giveaway

From bestselling author A.J. Banner comes a dazzling new novel of psychological suspense in the vein of S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl that questions just how much we can trust the people around us.

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare. A twisty, immersive thriller, The Twilight Wife will keep readers enthralled through the final, shocking twist.

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About the author:
As a child, A. J. Banner loved reading everything from Nancy Drew to Tolkien to her parents’ spy novels, “borrowed” from their bookshelves and hidden beneath her pillow. She wrote her first thriller, Mystery at Crane Corner, at the age of 11. She drew her own cover art and bound the pages with staples.

Born in India and raised in North America, A. J. graduated from high school in southern California and received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. She tried various professions after college, including a stint in law school and a memorable job at a veterinary clinic, since she loves animals, but eventually she returned to writing.

A longtime fan of Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, A. J. feels at home writing stories with unexpected twists and turns. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five rescued cats.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Her Every Fear - Pub Day Giveaway

The author of the wildly popular The Kind Worth Killing returns with an electrifying and downright Hitchcockian psychological thriller—as tantalizing as the cinema classics Rear Window and Wait Until Dark—involving a young woman caught in a vise of voyeurism, betrayal, manipulation, and murder.
The danger isn’t all in your head . . .
Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.
But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.
When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidently learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?
Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real.
And much, much closer than she thinks.
Told from multiple points of view, Her Every Fear is a scintillating, edgy novel rich with Peter Swanson’s chilling insight into the darkest corners of the human psyche and virtuosic skill for plotting that has propelled him to the highest ranks of suspense, in the tradition of such greats as Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, Patricia Highsmith, and James M. Cain.

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About the author:
Peter Swanson is the author of three novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; and his most recent, Her Every Fear. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science FictionThe Atlantic MonthlyMeasureThe GuardianThe Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.
A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Echo of Twilight - Pub Day Giveaway

In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer. 
 
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever...

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About the author:
Judith Kinghorn is the author of four novels: The Echo of Twilight, The Snow Globe, The Memory of Lost Senses, and The Last Summer. She was born in Northumberland, educated in the Lake District, and is a graduate in English and History of Art. She lives in Hampshire, England, with her husband and two children.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Sisters One, Two, Three - Pub Week Giveaway

After a tragic accident on Martha’s Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.
When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter.
At turns heartbreaking, humorous, and hopeful, Sisters One, Two, Three explores not only the consequences of secrets—even secrets kept out of love—but also the courage it takes to speak the truth, to forgive, and to let go.

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About the author:
Nancy Star is the author of four previous novels: Carpool Diem, Up Next, Now This, and Buried Lives. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, Family Circle, Diversion magazine, and on the web. Before embarking on her writing career, Nancy worked for more than a decade as a movie executive in the film business, dividing her time between New York and London. She has two grown daughters and a son-in-law and now lives in New Jersey with her husband.

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