Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Sister's Place by Savannah Page ~ My Thoughts

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A Sister's Place

A Sister's Place by Savannah Page
Print and e-book, 400 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by Lake Union Publishing

Sometimes the friend you’ve always needed is the sister you’ve always had.

Throughout the years, sisters Gracie and Juliette Bennett have let life’s changes pull them in opposite directions. But when their beloved grandmother Mimi passes away, they’re drawn back together in the most unexpected way. Set to inherit the family home, a charming Craftsman with an overgrown garden and lush fruit trees near the beach in Santa Barbara, the estranged sisters learn there’s a catch: the house can be theirs, but only if they agree to live in it for one year—together.

Suddenly Gracie, a pragmatic paralegal who’s always stayed close to home, and Juliette, an intrepid recent NYU grad in search of the next thrill, are living under one roof. Forced to reexamine their relationship, they find themselves confronting their pasts and bonding over love, heartbreak, and deeply held secrets. Soon they’ll discover whether a sister’s love is what they need to get them through their darkest hours—and if their grandmother’s clever plan can preserve more than just a piece of family history. It just might preserve the friendship of a lifetime…and reveal the sisters and women they were always meant to be. 

     

My thoughts about A Sister's Place ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first lines.)

First line—"Dear Gracie and Juliette, This is both a time of endings and a time of new beginnings. This is the first of five—five letters, five seasons. And this is also the last—the last of my letters, the last of my time here on earth."

This story starts off with emotion. Gracie and Juliette are reading a letter from their grandmother Mimi, who recently passed away. Mimi places a challenge before them. They can claim ownership of the family home—if they live in it together for one year. Gracie and Juliette are sisters who are as different as night and day and this will definitely challenge them. But they do it for Mimi. 

As we witness the seasons pass, the sisters go through their ups and downs where they sometimes wonder if they can make it a year. Their relationship grows and changes as they struggle to find the sisterly closeness they once had. And when life throws them a curve ball, will they be there for each other? 

I enjoyed A Sister's Place as I watched the sisters work though their personality conflicts and learn to live with each other. I have to admit that at times the story seemed to move along kind of slow as the year passed for them. It ended on a high note as they finally figure out that family is the most important thing. 

I received a copy of A Sister's Place from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review. 

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About the author

Savannah Page

Savannah Page is the author of Everything the Heart Wants, A Sister's Place, and the When Girlfriends series, heartfelt women's fiction. Sprinkled with drama and humor, her writing celebrates friendship, love, and life.

A native Southern Californian, Savannah lives in Berlin, Germany, with her husband, their goldendoodle, and her collection of books.

Savannah loves to hear from readers, so feel free to shoot her an email, stop by her Website, or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram!

Connect with Savannah


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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Announcing the 2018 Reader Survey ~ Please Participate!



Discovering reader preferences, habits and attitudes – Announcing the 2018 Reader Survey … by M.K. Tod, Heather Burch and Patricia Sands

Readers and writers – a symbiotic relationship. Ideas spark writers to create stories and build worlds and characters for readers’ consumption. Readers add imagination and thought to interpret those stories, deriving meaning and enjoyment in the process. A story is incomplete without both reader and writer.

What then do readers want? What constitutes a compelling story? How do men and women differ in their preferences? Where do readers find recommendations? How do readers share their book experiences?

ANNOUNCING A 2018 READER SURVEY designed to solicit input on these topics and others.

Please take the survey and share the link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/68HL6F2 with friends and family via email or your favourite social media. Robust participation across age groups, genders, and countries will make this year’s survey – the 4th – even more significant.

Participate by clicking this link. Those who take the survey will be able to sign up to receive a summary report when it becomes available.

M.K. (Mary) Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, Time and Regret was published by Lake Union. Fellow authors Patricia Sands and Heather Burch helped design and plan the survey. Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her blog A Writer of History.



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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Release Day! Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde ~ My Thoughts #HeavenAdjacent #NetGalley

Happy Release Day!

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Heaven Adjacent

Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Print and e-book, 316 pages
Published June 19th 2018 by Lake Union Publishing

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a bittersweet novel about healing old wounds and finding a new place to call home…

Roseanna Chaldecott spent her life as a high-powered lawyer in Manhattan. But when her best friend and law partner dies suddenly, something snaps. Unsure of her future, Roseanna heads upstate on one tank of gas and with no plans to return.

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Roseanna discovers the perfect hideout in a ramshackle farm. Its seventy-six acres are rich with possibilities and full of surprises, including a mother and daughter squatting on the property. Although company is the last thing Roseanna wants, she reluctantly lets them stay.

Roseanna and the young girl begin sculpting junk found around the farm into zoo animals, drawing more newcomers—including her estranged son, Lance. He pleads with Roseanna to return to the city, but she’s finally discovered where she belongs. It may not provide the solitude she originally sought, but her heart has found room for much more.

     

Congratulations Catherine
 on the release today of
Heaven Adjacent!

My thoughts about Heaven Adjacent ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first lines.)

First line—"Rosanna was standing under the barley warm water in her tiny, cold makeshift shower when the bell at the gate began to clang."

I just absolutely love Catherine's stories and the wisdom that she shares. Her stories are always filled with normal, down-to-earth people who struggle through life but come out better in the end. She always fills her stories with life lessonslessons we could all learn from. 

Heaven Adjacent is a thought provoking look at a woman who decides she is done with her current life and sets out to find her little piece of heaven on earth. As her new life evolves, is this really what her idea of heaven is? She was looking for peace and quiet. Can her life be filled with people and still be what she's looking for?

As I was reading this wonderful story, I couldn't help thinking that maybe the wisdom imparted here should spread like Catherine's 'pay it forward' did. We should all look for what makes us happy and strive for that little peace of heaven on earth, like Roseanna did.

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About the author


I am the author of more than 30 published and forthcoming books, including ALLIE AND BEA, SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW, LEAVING BLYTHE RIVER, ASK HIM WHY, WORTHY, THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS, TAKE ME WITH YOU, WHERE WE BELONG, WHEN I FOUND YOU, WALK ME HOME, SECOND HAND HEART, DON'T LET ME GO, and WHEN YOU WERE OLDER. 

I'm an avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, and have released my first book of photos, 365 DAYS OF GRATITUDE: PHOTOS FROM A BEAUTIFUL WORLD.

I am co-author, with fellow author and publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE: A SELF-HELP GUIDE.

My novel PAY IT FORWARD was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. Simon & Schuster released PAY IT FORWARD: YOUNG READERS' EDITION in August of '14. It is suitable for kids as young as eight. A special Fifteenth Anniversary Edition of the original PAY IT FORWARD was released in December of '14. ~ Goodreads

Connect with Catherine

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

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Release Day! Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris #BringMeBack #NetGalley

Happy Release Day!! 

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Bring Me Back

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris 
Print and e-book, 336 pages
Published  June 19th 2018 by St. Martin's Press 

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.


Congratulations B. A.
 on the release today of
Bring Me Back!

I have Bring Me Back on my reading list and I will be starting it next. I loved this author's other books and I'm super excited to read this one!

About the author

B.A. Paris

B A Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown. Having sold over one million copies in the UK alone, she is a New York Times bestseller as well as a number one bestseller on Amazon and iBooks. Her books have sold in 37 territories around the world. Having lived in France for many years, she recently moved back to the UK, and has five daughters.

Connect with B. A.

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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Monday, June 18, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? June 18, 2018


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's an opportunity to visit other blogs and to comment on their reads. And ... you can add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

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It's been two weeks since my knee surgery. I haven't gotten a lot of reading done and I still need to catch up on my reviews. I am feeling better every day and am finally getting my reading mojo back. I have four more weeks off of work so I'm making it my goal to, not only rehab my knee as best I can, but to also catch up on my review TBR list and post all the reviews for the books I have finished. Lofty goals maybe but I can do it!! 

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a good week. Happy reading!

What I'm currently reading

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Heaven Adjacent
by Catherine Ryan Hyde
I love Catherine's stories.


Before I Knew 
(The Cabots #1)
by Jamie Beck
(audio-book)
I'm just starting this one.

What I recently finished

The Space Between
The Space Between
by Dete Meserve
Awesome! Coming July 24th.

Castaway Cottage
Castaway Cottage
by Joanne DeMaio
I love this series. Read my thoughts here

What I am going to read next

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Bring Me Back
by B.A. Paris
Releases tomorrow!

I really love my reading life!

What are you reading this week?

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Book Spotlight Giveaway! The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting


I have sooooo many books! The Book Spotlight Giveaway feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the many books I have. This feature is a way for my to cull my collection and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy these treasures.

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Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

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The Last Echo

The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder #3
ARC: 358 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Harper

In the end, all that’s left is an echo.

Before, Violet's morbid ability to sense the dead led her to uncover dark murders and long-buried secrets in her small town. Now that she's working with a special investigative team, Violet hopes she can help even more people - whether by saving a life or catching a killer.

Although she's relieved to finally be honest about what she can do, her instant connection with her mysterious partner, Rafe, is both confusing and unsettling, and their unique bond creates tension with her boyfriend, Jay. When she discovers the body of a college student murdered by "the collector," Violet refuses to give up on the case. With her own relationship on the line, Violet doesn't realize that the serial killer is looking to add to his collection and that she may have caught his eye. Will the life Violet has to save be her own?

    

About the author

Kimberly Derting

Kimberly has been in love with love since the first grade, when she would make “boyfriends” hold her hand during recess . . . whether they wanted to or not. In high school, she discovered romance novels and she’s been hooked ever since!

She is the author of the award-winning THE BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, THE TAKING trilogy, and UNDRESSED (her first book in The Men Of West Beach series). She's also co-written the soon-to-be-released picture books about a girl who loves science! Her books have been translated into 15 languages, and both THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE were YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selections.

These days, she spends entirely too much time ordering stuff off the Internet, binge-watching Netflix, and holding hands with a guy who doesn’t have to be forced (her husband).

Connect with Kimberly



a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Castaway Cottage by Joanne DeMaio ~ My Thoughts

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Castaway Cottage

Castaway Cottage
 by Joanne DeMaio

Print and e-book, 408 pages
Published: May 15th 2018 by Joanne DeMaio

From New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio comes a novel that knocks on a shabby cottage door, opening to an unforgettable summer.

Every cottage tells a story. It's a saying Jason Barlow returns to as an architect designing New England beach homes. The latest cottage story he hopes to tell rises from the Stony Point sand: the last-standing cottage on the beach. It's the sole survivor--something Jason can relate to--as surrounding cottages washed out to sea in long-ago hurricanes.

The owners aren't budging, though, keeping Jason's proposed renovation at bay. But with some help from the beach friends, the tide turns for Jason's new venture. Problem is, that weathered cottage on the beach? It holds secrets darker than its gray seaworn shingles. And secrets don't stay buried in this little Connecticut beach town; they wash ashore or get dug up from the sand.

Castaway Cottage reunites the beloved Stony Point crew for a surprising summer by the sea, one that will leave you wanting more with the friends by the shore.

     

My thoughts about Castaway Cottage ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first lines.)

First line—"The beach is empty tonight. Beneath a heavy rising moon, all Jason Barlow sees are shadows. From the boardwalk, he looks out at the water to the idle swim raft."

I just love Joanne's stories and I especially love the ones set in Stony Point. This is a place that is full of sun, beaches, wonderful friends, and great stories. It's such a joy to visit there again and catch up with all the warm and friendly people who live in this community. I've come to know them so well that I feel like I am visiting old friends whenever Joanne takes me back there. 

The story in Castaway Cottage is focused on the lonely cottage on the beach, a place that has a tale all it's own. As the cottage reveals it's past, the residents of Stony Point go on with their lives and discover how closely their lives intertwine with the cottage and it's history. 

The ending definitely left me wanting more and I can't wait to see how the lives of the residents—my friends—turn out and where life is going to take them next.  

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About the author

Joanne DeMaio

Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. Currently at work on her next novel, Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut.

For a complete list of books and to learn more about the author, visit Joannedemaio.com. She also enjoys hearing from readers on her Facebook Page.

Connect with Joanne


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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Book Spotlight Giveaway! The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews


I have sooooo many books! The Book Spotlight Giveaway feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the many books I have. This feature is a way for my to cull my collection and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy these treasures.

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I read and reviewed this book when it came out and loved it! You can read my thoughts here.

Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

The High Tide Club

The High Tide Club

The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews
ARC, 480 pages
Published May 8th 2018 by St. Martin's Press

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Weekenders comes a delightful new novel about new love, old secrets, and the kind of friendship that transcends generations.

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.

The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best, a compelling and witty tale of romance thwarted, friendships renewed, justice delivered, and true love found.

    

About the author

Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is the pen name of American writer Kathy Hogan Trocheck, based in Atlanta, who has authored a number of best-selling books under the Andrews pen name since 2002.

Trochek graduated from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree in 1976. She worked as a reporter at a number of papers, and spent 11 years as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before leaving to write fiction full-time in 1991. She published ten mystery novels under her own name between 1992 and 2000, and switched to the Andrews pen name in 2002 to author Savannah Blues, which marked a change in her style to more Southern-flavored themes.

Connect with Mary Kay 



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Thursday, June 7, 2018

New Release! House of Belonging by Andrea Thome ~ an Interview and a #Giveaway!


House of Belonging

Andrea Thome | June 5, 2018 | Hesse Creek #3
Paperback ISBN: 978-09978504-4-4 | $14.95
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9978504-9-9 | $2.99
Women’s Fiction

Renowned chef Laina Ming walked away from the culinary spotlight and an unhealthy relationship—one that still haunts her a year later. She’s trying to start fresh in the Rocky Mountains, opening a concept restaurant on the banks of the Roaring Fork River, where she hopes she’ll be able to express her passion for food and bury her heartache.

Horse rancher Logan Matthews moved to Aspen to be near his sister and her husband, grateful for his newfound family. Since a chance meeting with Laina the previous summer, Logan’s been enchanted. But she doesn’t want anything to do with him—which makes her all the more appealing.

Despite Laina’s efforts to protect her heart, Logan has been on her mind, too—and he has a way of turning up in the most unexpected places. Can they learn to trust one another and finally find the sense of belonging they’ve both been searching for?

    


I read Seeds of Intention, my first book my Andrea, and I loved it. I fell in love with the characters and the location of the story. You can read my thoughts hereI am excited to go back to that world again when I read House of Belonging

Seeds of Intention (Hesse Creek #2)

Keep scrolling to enter for a chance 
to win Andrea's new book!

Interview with Andrea

What will fans of “Walland” and “Seeds of Intention” like about “House of Belonging?”
I’m hopeful that fans who’ve read the first two books will enjoy revisiting some of their favorite characters, while learning a little bit more about Logan and Laina, who they’ll get to know in this third book. I’m excited about how the series as a whole comes together in this story.

What do you want new readers to know about your books?
I write my books for my friends. Which means I write them mostly for readers who are looking for an escape and want to spend the precious free time available to them with compelling characters in beautiful places. And it’s no secret at this point that I love a happy ending. I’m hoping to balance out some of the negativity in the world with something that makes people feel good.  

Why did you decide to set your newest book in Aspen, Colorado?
I consider all three of the books in the Hesse Creek Series to be destination love stories. The locations are as much characters in the book as the people are. I hope I was able to express my love for the beautiful, cultured, and still wild town that is Aspen. It remains one of my favorite places in the world.

One of the main characters in “House of Belonging,” Laina Ming, is a chef. Are you a foodie?
I’m not really a huge foodie, but I fancy myself someone who appreciates art, and in this case, food as art. My husband and I had the pleasure of experiencing Aspen’s Food and Wine event last summer, and I was blown away and obviously inspired by what the chefs created. It was fun to write about the food that Laina creates, and a blast to write my first “restaurant review.”  

You’re the photographer behind all of your book covers. Where was the image of “House of Belonging” taken?
The image on the front cover of “House of Belonging” was actually taken in Tennessee a long time ago. It’s a nod to the genesis of the series having been set there. I thought it bookended the series nicely, and the symbolism of the single empty swing juxtaposed perfectly with my characters finally finding their sense of belonging as a whole.

“House of Belonging” is the third and final book in the Hesse Creek Series. Is this an emotional finale for you?
Yes and no. I’ve loved living in the world of Walland for these three books, but I’m excited to have the freedom to create something new. That said, the Hesse Creek Series will always hold a very special place in my heart, no matter how many books I go on to write.

Which character will you miss writing about the most?
I could never pick just one; I’ve loved them all so much!  

What’s next for you?
I’m working on a brand new series, set in the Pacific Northwest. It centers around three brothers, and they are pretty interesting guys, so far.  I can’t wait to see where this first story leads me!

Praise for
The Hesse Creek Series

 Seeds of Intention (Hesse Creek #2) House of Belonging (Hesse Creek #3)


“In her debut novel, author Thome writes with a winning charm and peppers her prose with a quirky wit...an enjoyably readable love story.” — Kirkus Review

“Thome’s followup to her well-received Walland takes readers on a gentle ride through a rustic Tennessee setting, perfect for cultivating romance as well as lush fields. Garrett and Willow’s relationship grows in a relatable fashion, with plenty of plot twists along the way. A cast of lovable if meddling friends are well drawn and highly endearing. The second book in the Hesse Creek series treats fans to new developments with old favorites, while also welcoming newcomers.” — RT Book Reviews

“Fans of Nicholas Sparks’ books will enjoy Andrea Thome’s writing. She manages to tell a classic romantic story that is interesting, vibrant, and surprising.” — Windy City Reviews

“Andrea Thome brings the glories of the intimate, nature-focused escape to the wonderful world of romance. Seeds of Intention is delightful escapist fare. This is one series that you are definitely going to want to own the physical copies of, because the covers are absolutely stunning.” — Hypable

Seeds of Intention is a captivating, intricate love story with relatable, layered characters, well-drawn settings, and a satisfying ending. Andrea Thome is an excellent, graceful writer. Her characters are so real you’ll feel as though you’ve known them for years. Thome deftly builds the romantic tension and chemistry between Garrett and Willow, keeping readers engrossed until the end. A tasty treat for romance fans!” — NY Literary Magazine

About the author


Andrea Thome is a former broadcast journalist, having covered both sports and news during her career. In her novels, she explores some of her favorite travel destinations, from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains to the Colorado Rockies, painting rich backdrops that become characters themselves.

Thome lives in Chicago with her husband (a retired Hall of Fame baseball player and their two children. She spends her spare time traveling and pursuing her other passion—photography. See a sampling of her photography and learn more about her books at www.andreathome.com.

House of Belonging follows Seeds of Intention and Walland in the award-winning Hesse Creek Series.

Connect with Andrea



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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Book Blitz! Clutch by Lisa Becker ~ Trailer, an Excerpt and a Giveaway!












Clutch
Lisa Becker 
Publication date: Original 2015; Re-release 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

** Now with five new bonus chapters **

Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.

With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.


Audiobook listeners can get a free copy of Clutch on Audible if you sign up for a 30 day trial!

Trailer



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I've read this amazing and fun story and you can read my thoughts here.

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Excerpt

Mimi Johnson was casually dressed in a brightly-colored blouse with enormous turquoise jewelry and equally-oversized glasses. Despite that largesse, the only thing truly bigger than her personality (and her bosom) was her handbag. Always perfectly matched to her clothing, shoes, and jewelry, she was like a walking Chico’s advertisement, if you added forty years, forty pounds, and a Virginia Slims cigarette. From her Mary Poppins-like bag, she pulled out a box, impeccably-wrapped in glossy pink paper with a white grosgrain ribbon bow. A cigarette teetered between her two fingers while she produced a lung-hacking cough.

“Open it… …sweetie. Open it,” she said to her seven-year-old great niece, Caroline, a beautiful and vibrant girl with long blonde hair and oversized blue eyes.

Alive with anticipation, sweet young Caroline eagerly took the box and smiled up at Mimi. She gingerly removed the ribbon, planning to save it for later. The glossy paper was of less interest and she ripped through it quickly. She opened the box and gently lifted out a hot pink purse, adorned with pale pink flowers and rhinestones. An enormous smile overcame her. Caroline nearly set her own hair on fire from Mimi’s cigarette as she bounded into her aunt’s arms.

“Oh, thank you, Aunt Mimi. It’s lovely.”

And that was when Caroline’s love of handbags began. From big and loud ones that would make Mimi proud to unimposing wristlets, from bowler bags to satchels; it didn’t matter if they were made of canvas or calf-skin leather, were distressed or embellished with metal studs. Hell, she didn’t care if you called them pocketbooks or purses. She just loved them all – almost as much as she loved Mimi.

By the time she was a junior in high school and well on her way to being class valedictorian, it was the hundreds of bags Caroline owned that helped her conceptualize her ticket out of her suffocating small Georgian town. She would design handbags. And it was Mimi who was her steadfast cheerleader.

“Caroline, sweetie… …you find something you love and you just hold onto it.” It had never mattered if Caroline was asking Mimi’s advice about a friend, lover, or career. The advice was always the same: “Find something you love and hold onto it.”

Mimi’s words ever-present in her mind, Caroline headed to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and spent four years in Los Angeles learning everything there was to know to pursue her passion. Then, right out of college, she spent three years working in the design and marketing departments of two of the world’s leading, high-end handbag designers.

She was schooled in beauty and how to accessorize the perfectly-coiffed women on the way to their Botox appointments. But Caroline was pulled by the nagging feeling that the very person who had inspired her career, Mimi, could never afford the bags she designed, even if Caroline used her generous employee discount on Mimi’s behalf. And God forbid Mimi would ever accept one as a gift, always preferring to give rather than receive. But Caroline believed there was no reason for anyone to be denied the ultimate in accessories. She saw an untapped market of designing beautiful and affordable bags, but she just wasn’t sure she was start-up potential. Again, it was Mimi who nudged her to learn the business side of things and apply to MBA programs. When Caroline was accepted to Harvard Business School, Mimi, of course, encouraged her.

“You’ve got this, sweetie. ,” she said. “It’s in the bag.”

•••

Caroline was sitting in Financial Reporting and Control on her first day of Harvard classes (and yes, the class turned out to be as boring as it sounded). That’s when she first eyed Mike, who was wearing a faded pair of Levi jeans, a washed-out vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt, and Converse sneakers. He oozed charisma. Turning her head away from him and back toward the front of the lecture hall, Caroline thought that if he were a handbag, he would be a grey leather tote – confident and dependable, but not trying too hard.

Mike surveyed the large lecture hall as he walked in, a Starbucks coffee cup in each hand. After descending the steps slowly, he took a seat next to Caroline and planted one of the white and green cups on her desk.

Flashing a wide, dimpled smile, which she mused he reserved for getting girls to drop their panties, he said, “Here. You look like you’re going to need this.”

“Thanks,” she replied in a suspicious tone, turning her head sideways to look at him and raising an eyebrow.

“I’m Mike,” he said, again flashing a smile and reaching out for a handshake.

“I’m Caroline. Thanks for the…”

“Latte.”

“Latte,” she confirmed. “Thanks. But just so you know, I’m not gonna sleep with you,” she said in an apparent attempt to establish up front she wasn’t taken in by his obvious charm.

“I know,” he replied matter-of-fact.

Before she could respond, Professor Beauregard, a stout man with excessive eyebrows, spoke up. “Please take note of where you are seated. I will send around a seating chart for you to mark your spot. This will be your seat for the remainder of the semester.”

“Looks like we’ll be seatmates,” Mike said, grinning at her.

“Looks like it.”

About the author

Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series was optioned for a major motion picture.

Her latest novel, Links, is a second chance romance that explores what happens when two high school classmates have a chance encounter after 15 years. #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken called Links, "Witty, heartfelt and emotionally satisfying. Everything I want in a second chance romance! Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down!"

Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse, GalTime.com, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites.

As Lisa's grandmother used to say, "For every chair, there's a rush." Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!
Connect with Lisa 



Hand painted, Secret Garden Envelop Clutch from ART + FASHION = ART TO WEAR Collection by Holly A. Jones, a Florida-based artist and designer who uses Miami attitude, bold colors and style and abstract botanical subject matter to create unique designs. Retails for $145.00. Ends June 14.

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