Monday, February 27, 2017

A Million Little Things - Pub Week Review & Giveaway

Review by Deb Czajkowski
Zoe is single.  She would go so far as to use the word alone ─so alone that, when she accidentally traps herself in her attic, she envisions someone finding her dead body days, or even weeks, from now.  This realization forces her stop living in her, well, living room ─Zoe works from home, translating manuals─ and reach out to make friends.  She’s also missing her mom, who died several years ago, and she’s needing some motherly TLC right now.

Pam, a recent widow, volunteers for an organization that counsels women on personal and professional goals to help them move forward in their lives.  She balances that with a Pilates class several times each week.  Pam, old enough to be Zoe’s mother, is thrilled when Zoe shows up unexpectedly at her Pilates class, looking to join the class and also looking to her for that mother-substitute TLC.

Jen is Zoe’s best friend, but things have been strained between them for a while now.  Jen and her husband Kirk have an eighteen-month-old son, Jack.  Since he was born, Jack has been Jen’s whole world, to the point that Jen is constantly frantic over every aspect of Jack’s life. But her greatest worry is that there is something seriously wrong with Jack ─he hasn’t spoken one single word yet!

Enter Steven ─initially to fix that faulty attic staircase.  But now he is fast becoming the new man in Zoe’s life. He successfully runs the family business, he’s kind and thought. And he seems to be falling for Zoe. So where’s the problem here?

Zoe’s life has suddenly gotten complicated! Problems, complications: “tomayto, tomahto.”  I like the word labyrinthine.  Why? Well, Jen is Pam’s daughter as well as Zoe’s anxiety-ridden best friend, and Pam wants Zoe to join forces with her in staging an intervention for Jen.  And Steven is (Wait for it!) Pam’s son ─and Jen’s brother. Did you see that coming?  How do Pam and Jen feel about them dating? Oh, then there’s Miguel. Who’s Miguel, you ask?  He’s Zoe’s widowed father ─and he’s now trying to work his substantial charms on Pam!  Labyrinthine is a good word here, right?

Ah, but there’s also that other thing……...

That you will have to wait for! (i.e. Read the book! J)

In A Million Little Things, the cast of characters is relatively small. This allows author Susan Mallery to a.) develop each character’s personality, giving us glimpses into their day-to-day thoughts and activities, flaws and claws, challenges and opportunities; and b.) tangle the web of their lives and loves to intensive their dreams and the drama.

I liked that about Mallery’s novel: Getting to really know the characters made them seem more real to me and their problems more personal.  It was like cheering for friends to search their souls and succeed in finding solutions to their dillemmas. As Mallery skillfully illustrates in A Million Little Things, life can go from mundane to messy in no time at all. And calming the chaos is usually neither quick nor easy.

Maybe your life is mundane right now, and messy ─someone else’s mess!─ sounds like a fun diversion.  Or maybe messy is more like life as you know it.  Either way, I recommend you pick up a copy of A Million Little Things.  Best case scenario is your life looks carefree in comparison.  Worst case? You see that complicated is common ─one might even argue that it’s normal.  Relax today with A Million Little Things and relish a bit of uncomplicated in your life.

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About the author:
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative,” and Booklist says “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Starlight Bridge - Excerpt & Giveaway

Starlight Bridge
Harmony Harbor #2
By: Debbie Mason
Releasing February 28, 2017


A second chance for romance...
Hidden in Graystone Manor is a book containing all the dark secrets of Harmony Harbor, and Ava DiRossi is determined to find it. No one-especially not her ex-husband, Griffin Gallagher-can ever discover what really tore her life apart all those years ago. With Griffin back in town, it's more important than ever that she find the book before someone else does. Because her ex is still angry with her for leaving him. And he still has no idea Ava never stopped loving him...
Ava is no longer the vibrant, happy woman Griffin had once loved and married, and he would do anything to bring back the sparkle to her brilliant green eyes. But what's never changed are the sexy sparks of attraction between Ava and Griffin, and he won't give her up again without a fight. He knows there's the real possibility of a future together... if the truth doesn't burn the bridge between them forever.

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“What happened to your arm?” Griffin asked Ava.
She turned to grab the bucket. “I hit it on the service cart. It’s nothing, really.”
“It’s not nothing. Let me see.” He reached for her at the same time wondering what he was doing. Why couldn’t he just leave it alone?
“No. I…” Her gaze jerked to his hand as he gently wrapped his fingers around her fine-boned wrist. She pulled away from him, wrenching her arm as she did. He noted her desperate attempt to contain the pained gasp, the flash of panic in her eyes.
They were the same, her eyes. They no longer lit up with laughter and passion, but they were just as incredibly beautiful as they used to be. Her eyes were the only thing about her that was remotely familiar. Maybe they were the reason he couldn’t let it go. The reason he took her hand, despite her murmured protest, and carefully pushed up the sleeve of her sweater.
His breath hissed through his teeth. Her forearm was almost completely black and blue. He raised his gaze to hers. “You didn’t get this from banging your arm on the service cart.”
She wouldn’t meet his eyes as she tried to push her sleeve back down. “I hit it again last night. Please, Griffin, it’s just a bruise.”
“You sure about that? It looks pretty bad to me. Maybe you have a hairline fracture. Did you let Doc Bishop take a look?”
She pulled away again, and this time he let her go. They hadn’t been alone together in a long time. He hadn’t stood this close to her or held her hand, and he didn’t like the uncomfortable pressure building in his chest. He tried to convince himself that it was nothing—just a reaction to seeing the extensive bruising. His protective instincts were strong. That’s all it was. He’d react the same to anyone with a similar injury. But with Ava, he didn’t want to feel anything. Not one damn thing.

Author Info
Debbie Mason is the USA Today bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series and the Harmony Harbor series. Her books have been praised for their "likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots" (RT Book Reviews). When she isn't writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their three wonderful children and son-in-law, two adorable grandbabies, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Orphan's Tale - Pub Day Review & Giveaway

When Noa’s parents notice her growing belly she is forced to flee her home.  Sixteen and pregnant by a German soldier, she resorts to cleaning at a train station as a means to survive.  But when things become unsafe, she flees once again.  She is found by a member of the traveling circus, Astrid, and brought to where the circus is.  In order for her to stay, Noa needs to learn to be an aerialist.  Astrid would have to be the one to teach her, but she knows what a time-consuming process that will be and instantly starts to resent Noa. 

Told in alternate point of views, this story tells how Noa and Astrid find themselves at the Neuroff Circus.  Although they meet under horrible circumstances, they lean on each other to get through the nightmare that they’re living. 

This is the first book I’ve read about circus life during WWII.  I was unaware that the circus was used as a safe haven for Jews during the Holocaust.  Clearly the author did much research and the way it was translated on paper was seamless.

Both emotional and empowering, The Orphan’s Tale is not one to be missed.

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About the author:
Pam Jenoff was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England.  She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sweet Southern Hearts - Review #Wintervention

Twice widowed Linny is now married to Jack and hoping for her happily ever after.  The book starts out with Linny and Jack on their honeymoon.  Linny, the true definition of a people pleaser, can think of a million places she’d like to spend her honeymoon.  Instead she is on a white water rafting expedition because she knows that’s what would make her husband happy.  For better or for worse, their honeymoon is cut short when Jack’s 12-year-old son is upset and insists that they come home.

Learning to deal with her new reality of being a wife (again) and step-mother, Linny is also running a business, helping her sister care for her newborn daughter and dealing with a mother who insists that she accompany her and her friends on an RV trip. 

Full of fun and, at times, quirky characters, this heartwarming book is about getting through life’s obstacles while still keeping your sanity.  It also leaves you believing that second, and sometimes third, chances are possible.

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About the author:
Susan Schild writes wholesome and sunny Southern fiction. She likes stories about charming men, missing money, adventuresome women, sweet dogs, and happily ever afters at any age. 

Susan is a wife and a stepmother. She enjoys rummaging through thrift store for treasures like four dollar cashmere sweaters and amateur watercolor paintings. She likes taking walks with her Lab mix, Tucker, and his buddies. She and her family live in North Carolina.

Susan has used her professional background as a psychotherapist and a management consultant to add authenticity to her characters.

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Learn more about BookSparks’ #wintervention book tour HERE.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

This Is How It Always Is - Giveaway

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.
This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.
This is how children change…and then change the world.
This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.
When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.
Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.
Laurie Frankel's This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

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About the author:
Laurie Frankel is the author of three novels: THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS (Jan. 2017), GOODBYE FOR NOW, and THE ATLAS OF LOVE. She is also the parent of one child, the minder of one border collie, the partner of one husband, the denizen of one city (Seattle), and the reader of tens of thousands of books.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Abby's Journey - Pub Day Review & Giveaway

Raised by her father after her mother’s passing shortly after her birth, Abby’s only connection with her mother is through the books she wrote with Abby’s father along with some videos, postcards and journals.  Having suffered from a potentially life threatening condition, her father has sat by her hospital bed numerous times praying that he doesn’t lose his daughter, as he lost his wife.  Because of this fear, Abby at times felt like she wasn’t able to live life as others her age.  But as she gets older, the need to branch out intensifies. 

After going almost a year without her typical health issues, Abby’s doctor feels that she is out of the woods.  She takes advantage of this new diagnosis and, with reluctance from her father, ventures to Europe with her grandmother to retrace her mother’s footsteps through her journal. 

Abby realizes that she not only shares physical characteristics of her mother, but also her love of adventure and travel.  Just as her mother did, Abby documents her adventures and writes blog posts about her experiences.  She also gets to meet some of the people who knew her mother.

As a mother, this story touched me.  I could relate to the father wanting to protect his child, but at the same time could understand Abby’s need to spread her wings.  The author writes in such a way that you feel connected with each character.  You take away from this story a sense of love of family and friends.  What a beautiful story.  What better day than Valentine’s Day for such a heart-warming story to hit the shelves!

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About the author:
Steena Holmes grew up in a small town in Canada and holds a Bachelors degree in Theology.. 

She currently lives in Calgary with her husband and three daughters and loves to wake up to the Rocky Mountains each morning.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Liked My Life - Giveaway

A story from debut author Abby Fabiaschi that is "as absorbing as it is illuminating, and as witty as it is heartbreaking."
Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch...until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.
Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge...but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?

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About the author:
ABBY FABIASCHI is a human rights advocate on the board for Her Future Coalition, an international nonprofit organization with a unique prosperity model that uplifts victims from human trafficking and extreme abuse. In 2012 Abby resigned from her executive post in high tech to pursue a career in writing. I Liked My Life is her first novel. She and her family divide their time between West Hartford, CT and Park City, UT.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Always - Pub Day Review & Giveaway

Review by Melinda Garza
New York Times bestselling author, Sarah Jio, writes a compelling story about the undeniable love of one Kailey Crane and Cade McAllister. The story takes place in Seattle. Kailey is a writer for the Herald. Cade is part owner of Element Records.

This gripping story goes back and forth between present day and ten years prior. In the past Kailey lived with her roommate, Tracy. One night they went out as Kailey was set up on a blind date. Instead Kailey meets Cade. When they meet, their love is intense. She loves him and he loves her. Suddenly Cade is gone. Kailey is devastated and has to learn to move on without him and without any answers or closure.

In present day, Kailey is engaged to Ryan. Ryan is the perfect guy in every way. He is a hard worker, loving, and so proud of Kailey despite them really being complete opposites.

Ryan's parents come for a visit and they go out to eat at Le Marche, a French restaurant. Once they leave the restaurant, Kailey spots a homeless man. When she locks eyes with him, she realizes it is Cade. Cade, unfortunately, does not recognize her and devours the leftovers that were provided to him instead by Kailey.  Kailey is beside herself that she has laid eyes on him.

From that time on, Kailey makes it her mission to find and save Cade. What happened to him those 10 years ago? Why did he vanish?  Did he vanish because he wanted to leave Kailey or did something else happen? Why did Cade never contact her? Meanwhile, Ryan is in the dark about this situation. Even though Cade is homeless and dirty, he is still handsome but his mind is not what it used to be.

As Kailey ventures out to help Cade and to get to the bottom of his disappearance, Kailey has to relive some of her past and piece things together, such as realizing that it is really Cade by the tattoo that he has. They both got the same tattoo in the same place many years ago. The tattoo is one word. That word is toujours which means always.

What ends up happening to Cade and Kailey or Kailey and Ryan? Whose love prevails? Is Kailey able to help Cade and get the answers she so longs for? Is she willing to sacrifice the present for the past?
Sarah Jio wrote a gripping love story that kept me wanting more. The story satisfied and was thought provoking. I cannot wait for the next Sarah Jio novel.

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About the author:
A magazine writer and former columnist for Glamour magazine, Sarah has written thousands of articles and blog posts for national magazines and newspapers including The New York TimesRedbook, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Fitness, Marie Claire, Hallmark magazine, Seventeen, The Nest, Health, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, The Seattle Times, Parents, Woman’s Day, American Baby, Parenting, and many others. She has also appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Sarah recently signed a three-book deal with Random House (Ballantine Books). She lives in Seattle with her three young sons and elderly golden retriever.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Forever is the Worst Long Time - Pub Week Giveaway

When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.

When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.

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About the author:
Camille Pag├ín is the author of the bestselling novel Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, which was recently optioned for film, and the international bestselling novel The Art of Forgetting. Her work has appeared in Forbes; Men’s Health; O, The Oprah Magazine; Real Simple;; and many other publications and websites. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two children, and too many animals.

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