REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

Real life is a work in progress… #DesignYourLife

It wasn’t easy for Yvonne Cable to get over a heartbreaking relationship and revamp her life. But now the once-broke single mom is Atlanta’s most sought-after interior designer—and one-half of the media’s hottest power couple. She and her celebrity fiancé, Nathan, are a perfect, practical match, on—and off—camera. And with their new home improvement reality show the object of a fierce network bidding war, there’s no limit to how far they can go . . . 

But Yvonne is stunned when mogul Richard Barrington III unexpectedly makes an offer for their program. He’s the man she thought left her for a more successful woman. And he’s the father of her son—though he didn’t know it until now. Richard wants to get to know their boy, and Yvonne agrees, though she’s wary. Yet little by little, she’s finding it hard to resist the responsible, caring man Richard has become. But when a scandalous leak puts everything Yvonne’s worked for at risk, she’ll have to look beyond surfaces to come to terms with who she is—and discover what she truly wants.

AVAILABLE ON:

AMAZON | KENSINGTON | BARNES & NOBLE

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ABOUT NITA BROOKS

A reading addict, self-professed connoisseur of home improvement shows, and a collector of teapots, Nita Brooks resides in South Carolina with her family. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at @AuthorNitaB.

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Spotlight on Nia Forrester and her new release, FOUR

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Some of you already know that Nia Forrester is one of my favorite authors. I 1-click all of her books and I’m never disappointed. As soon as I found out she was releasing FOUR, I made sure to pre-order it. Get to know Nia and FOUR.

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 09.39.12When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? 

I don’t know that writing begins as a realization. I just know that I always have. From the time I could string together coherent sentences and write them down, that’s what I did. I remember writing something like poetry when I was about four. Something about raindrops and the sounds they made. I only remember because I had an aunt who was so impressed, she acted as though I’d split the atom and kept reciting the poem to everyone and saying how amazing it was. I guess that makes her my first reviewer. 

Which authors have been your literary inspiration? 

Some writers I admire are Donna Tartt for her keen insights into human nature; Anne Rice for her rich detail, Agatha Christie for her tightly woven plots, Stephen King for his ability to use simple almost mundane prose to convey situations that are anything but mundane and also his ability to create equally fascinating characters as plots. And more recently, I’ve enjoyed Lisa Jewell and Peter Swanson’s mystery suspense novels.  My classic favorites are Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston. My by-far favorite independent author is Jacinta Howard, because she doesn’t just share characters and their stories but portrays a world that’s rarely seen in contemporary fiction – young, Black, talented, and socially-conscious hipsters (who sometimes fall in love with each other).

What’s a typical writing day like for you? Could you describe it for us?

I wake up thinking about writing, and where the characters and story were when I last left them. I start counting in my head all my other obligations for the day, and the hours I can spend writing. I think about the characters as I shower (which is where some really great ideas come, interestingly) and when I get out, I may scribble down the thoughts that came to me. I work a day job, so I don’t write (much) while there. But when I get home, I go immediately to my computer and turn it on. I set the intention to write, even if I don’t get many words down. But on average, I think I get about 2,000—3,000 per evening on paper. And maybe about 1,000 of those words survive the evening.

Writing CaveWhere is your favourite place to write?

My home office. Sometimes in my bed, if I use my iPad or Surface. Things don’t work out well when I write from my bed.

Which themes recur in your writing? 

My most frequently recurring theme, I think, is that imperfections and even glaring flaws in who a person is, or was, shouldn’t deny them a chance at happiness. Another would be that, contrary to popular wisdom, you can become your best self through and with another person; and there is no rule that says you have to self-perfect before finding love, and growing in love. I also like to insert a lot about how our families can make us, and how we can make our own families.

What inspired the stories in FOUR? How did FOUR come into being?

Quite honestly, FOUR is my gift to readers. The characters in that book are the ones that they ask about the most, who they constantly refer to over and over again, and who, I think resonated with the largest group of people. So, though I have other stories an ideas that I am eager to get to, I wanted to give my readers deep thanks, for reading about these people and their lives, for loving them, and for letting me know they loved them.

Of the four couples in focus in FOUR, is there one that you would call your favourite? Why?

I think Tracy and Brendan. Because Tracy is so outwardly difficult to love, even while she loves fiercely, and permanently. And because Brendan is her soulmate, her complementary other half who could not be more different from her, and could not be more perfect for her.

Many writers have said they’ve found it difficult to focus on writing in the current political and social climate. Has our current state of affairs affected your writing? 

It is difficult to think about relationships and love in a time when we’re having so much difficulty relating to each other. I can focus on writing only if I incorporate some elements of our time into what I write. I can’t write as pure escapism, and I suspect that the readers who dislike my work may dislike it in part because it doesn’t offer that pure escape. When I write, the people in my books may lie, cheat on partners, make ill-considered decisions, have sketchy pasts, or are just plain stupid. They also interact with the world as we do. They confront racism, colorism, classism, homophobia, abuse … So, I can focus, but the work definitely takes on a darker, more edgy tone in times like this.

Is there a story you would love to tell but haven’t dared to write yet? Tell us about it. Do you think you’ll ever write it?

I want to write a period piece. About what it was like to be Black in America in the early 1900s, when there we were almost one generation past Emancipation, and beginning to embrace the idea of having full agency, or ”freedom.” I want to write a story centered on the journey, hopes and dreams of a young woman in that time, her work, her loves, her ambitions. I may write it, but it’s so perfect in my head that it’s tough to make the leap to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

What’s next for you? Upcoming 2019 releases? Events?

I may do two events in 2019. Wine with Writers, which I do with Lily Java, Rae Lamar and Jacinta Howard, and one other, as yet to be determined.  As far as upcoming releases, I have three or four that I know I want to do, and plan to continue writing my ’Shorts’ as inspiration strikes me.

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Four couples, four transitions, four seasons of marriage …

Grace

Most couples wouldn’t have weathered one mistake of the kind Shawn made when he and Riley first got married, let alone emerge with a commitment that’s stronger, a beautiful family and a love that’s even deeper. Is there any way their relationship can survive mistake number two?

Balance

Whatever Brendan wants, Brendan gets. It’s an arrangement Tracy doesn’t mind, because he provides everything she needs: love, financial security and the comfort of never having to work outside the home. But now, the most important thing she wants, he doesn’t have the time—or maybe even the will—to give. With a relationship built on giving all of herself, is it fair to now ask for a piece back?

Growth

Robyn’s career is in a growth-spurt just as Chris’ seems to be at its natural end. No longer empire-building, he’s struggling with his new reality, and the need for a sense of purpose separate from his work. His wife seems way too busy to notice. That is, until someone else does. 

Renewal

Once a mistress, now just a suburban wife and working mother, Keisha doesn’t recognize herself most days. The problem is, Jayson doesn’t either. If he’s reading her right, she wants out. And unless she’s mistaken, he might not mind too much if she decided to go.

The ‘Commitment’ series finale.

On Sale October 21

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About Nia Forrester

Nia Forrester lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA where, by day, she is an attorney working on public policy and by night, she crafts woman-centered fiction that examines the complexities of life, love and the human condition.

She welcomes feedback and email from her readers at authorniaforrester@gmail.com or tweets @NiaForrester.

 

AUTHOR SITEFACEBOOKTWITTERGOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

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Title: The Wedding Date

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Publication Date: 30 January 2018

SYNOPSIS:

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

REVIEW

What would you do if a really gorgeous stranger asked you to be his date for a wedding? Would you say no and laugh it off? Or…would you say yes and see what happens? That’s the situation Alexa Monroe is faced with when she has her meet-cute with Drew Nichols once the two are stuck in an elevator during a power outage in a swanky hotel in San Francisco. What starts off as a fake date has the potential to become something more for commitment-phobe Drew and over thinker Alexa. Will they take their fake date to another level or will they keep on pretending?

The Wedding Date is a fun, sexy (though probably not graphic enough for some readers) romance about the world of modern dating between a black woman and a white man in post-Trump America. Does Guillory touch upon race? Yes, in a very relevant way and with a light hand. It never feels like a sociology lesson and it flows naturally with the plot.

Will you enjoy reading the ups and downs Alexa and Drew experience? Yes, and you won’t want to put your Kindle down. I loved how Guillory handled the subjects of interracial relationships, long-distance relationships and the pitfalls of trying to interpret text messages. So many of the situations in the book made me laugh as I’ve been through them myself.

Take my advice, get thee to your favourite bookstore and pick up a copy of The Wedding Date. You’re going to love Alexa and Drew and you’ll wish it was already a movie.

Highly recommended!

My rating?

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Review: A Summer Affair by Janae Keyes

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 06.47.44I love short stories. I like the feeling of satisfaction I get when I can read a complete story while on my morning commute or during my lunch break. Not every short story succeeds in eliciting that satisfied sensation–the pacing may be too rushed or the characterisation flimsy, but Janae Keyes’s A Summer Affair most definitely succeeded.

With A Summer Affair, Janae gives us a very emotional and relatable story about unexpected love. We meet Ashlee, a wife and author who is dealing with a clingy child and a neglectful husband. We also have Kyle, the author who just happens to be as sexy as all get-out. Of course sparks fly. And we want them to–even when we know they shouldn’t.

I loved the emotional rollercoaster that Janae takes us on. I also loved how she depicted Ashlee and Kyle’s feelings for one another. It came across, for me, as believable and understandable. This was my first time reading a Janae Keyes book and it definitely will not be my last.

My rating?

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5 Books I’ve Just 1-clicked…and 5 Books I’ll Soon Be 1-clicking

Now that autumn is well and truly here in Stockholm, it’s time for me to prepare for the looooong, dark Swedish winter.  Granted, Stockholm does not go through the same 24 hours of darkness during the winter as you get in northern Sweden (though when you have thick cloud cover for weeks at a time, it sure does feel that way), but I become rather hermit-like during the dark days. The Danes would call it ‘hygge‘ or this whole art of getting cozy and being comfortable and relaxed (or something like that). In Swedish, we’re more likely to say mysig.

So how to do I get my hygge/mysig on? With good books, a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and a cozy blanket. I might light some scented candles, too. A cute pair of pyjama pants and a comfy t-shirt or sweater,  add to it my “If you can read this…bring me a glass of wine” socks. But in order to be truly prepared, I need to stock up on books for my dear old Kindle. I’ve already started stocking up for my autumn/winter reading.

Here’s what I’ve 1clicked so far.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 11.46.28Coffee Date by Nia Forrester

You can find out a lot about yourself during the course of a single day.

On the anniversary of the most tragic event of his life, Randall “The Rocket” Reese must face down paparazzi outside his house, a big sister who won’t stay out of his personal life, and a coffee date with an “old classmate” from high school whom he barely remembers.

His plan is to wallow in solitude, but Fate has plans of its own.

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 11.50.57Relationship Goals by Christina C. Jones

Everyone is a stranger at some point, right?

Pulled by an explicable, undeniable thread of… something… Nick and Noah find themselves keen on becoming more. Hashtags and flights and late-night text sessions lead to a connection neither has experienced, or expected. Beyond the shiny veneer of social media, further than the shallow depths of a good selfie, down to the real, for real stuff that relationships are made of… can Nick and Noah actually reach their prematurely awarded goal?

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 11.54.16The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake

The perfect recipe for hygge this autumn: make a hot chocolate, draw the curtains, snuggle under a blanket and read your way to happiness!

It’s autumn in Yulethorpe and everyone is gloomy. It’s cold, drizzly and the skies are permagrey. The last shop on the high street – an adorable little toy shop – has just shut its doors. Everything is going wrong for Yulethorpe this autumn. Until Clara Kristensen arrives.

Clara is on holiday but she can see the potential in the pretty town, so she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work. Things are looking up until Joe comes to Yulethorpe to find out exactly what is going on with his mother’s shop. Joe is Very Busy and Important in the City and very sure that Clara is up to no good. Surely no one would work this hard just for the fun of it?

Can a man who answers emails at 3 a. m. learn to appreciate the slower, happier, hygge things in life – naps, candles, good friends and maybe even falling in love?

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.00.05Stay with Me by Ayobami Odebayo

Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does–but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.08.16Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths.

 

And then there are 5 books that I’ve already marked for 1clicking…

 

Things We Never Said by Nick Alexander

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.12.37“One day, we’ll be dead, and we still won’t have known each other. Not properly. Because no one ever does.”

When Catherine learns that she is dying, she remembers the words her husband once jokingly uttered and decides to leave him the ultimate, posthumous gift: a time capsule containing photographs of their life together along with tape recordings in which she recounts every secret she ever kept, every unspoken thought whether loving or treacherous; the things they never said.

Catherine’s recordings shake up many of Sean’s beliefs, sometimes enraging him and other times soothing with memories of the many joys that make up a life together.

But even as the tapes provide an emotional roller coaster of surprises, Sean prays that they’ll confirm the one thing he always secretly believed but never dared say out loud: that destiny exists; that their life together was not the result of mere chance.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.16.24Cherished by You: A Found by You Finale Novella by Victoria H. Smith

Life and love can take us many places.

For Roxie and Griffin, the journey has been the best part. The strength of Griffin’s love has tested Roxie beyond belief. It forced her to take a look at herself, expose herself, and fight for the man who cares so much about her. For Griffin, the love of a woman named Roxie allowed him to come into his own. He discovered things about himself he might not have known were possible if not for her. She helped him grow into the man he always knew he could be.

They’ve been through a lot and now that the struggles of the past are gone, they can move forward with the next phase of their lives. CHERISHED BY YOU is an extended novella that shows not only where the couple is now, but where they’re headed. The story takes place a few years after LOVED BY YOU and features many of the couple’s friends and loved ones who have been important throughout the series. There will be laughter. There will be heartache as well, but there will also be love.

So much love.

CHERISHED BY YOU is the finale to Roxie and Griffin’s story and was created for all those who wanted more with a few surprises along the way.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.19.51.pngThe Nearness of You by Sareeta Domingo

Falling in love isn’t a choice

Since the moment they met, Ryan and Taylor have shared an unspoken bond. Taylor’s drawn to Ryan more strongly than she thought possible and for some reason only he seems able to lift her out of the darkness in her past.

But Ryan is with Marcy – her best friend.

Marcy stood by Taylor when everything else had fallen apart, and Taylor refuses to risk their friendship now. Somehow she needs to resist what she’s feeling. Yet, when Marcy leaves for a few weeks just as Ryan moves in to their shared flat, the tension grows to unbearable proportions. As the line between right and wrong becomes blurred, Taylor will have to decide whether she can – or should – turn away from what might be the love of her life.

Evocative, moving and heartrendingly romantic, this is a story about real life, true love and the power of friendship.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.23.23Then Came You (Accidentally in Love Book 3) by Nicole Falls

Damon Patterson is craving a new start and the opening of his pastry stop is just the beginning. He’s got something to prove and is hyper focused on being professionally successful. Damon isn’t seeking long term entanglements, which works perfectly for Patricia Payne—a single mother who is on the hunt for a man with a particular set of skills. A chance meeting puts them in each others orbit and they’re immediately attracted.

Both Damon and Patricia come with a little bit of baggage, but that is irrelevant as they become friends with benefits. What began as carnal needs being met eventually evolves into deeper feelings, which neither Damon nor Patricia are equipped to handle. Then Came You follows these two individuals as they journey through passion-tinged attraction, fighting to keep it casual, but eventually succumbing to that four letter word…

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 12.32.47.pngA Winter’s Tale by Carrie Elks

Struggling film student Kitty Shakespeare is determined to make the most of her new job as nanny to major producer Everett Klein’s son, Jonas. It might not be exactly the career she’d hoped for when she moved from London to LA, but thanks to her habit of freezing up in interviews, this is her last chance to impress a key player in Hollywood – if she can get this right, then surely he’ll take a moment to look at her work. However, what Kitty hasn’t allowed for is Everett’s sexy-as-hell brother, Adam – but love at first sight this is not.

Adam Klein may be sexy, but he’s also gruff and rude and in no way ready to make a fool of himself over the nanny – not after the year he’s had. All he wants to do hole up in his cabin and hide from the brother who destroyed his life. If only he could find it easier to ignore the way Kitty makes his heart race . . .

As Christmas approaches, Kitty and Adam come to realise that the course of true love never does run smooth – and just maybe, it’s more interesting that way…

 

Now it’s your turn: what books are you adding to your autumn hygge reading list?

Getting to know…Karen King

I thought life would calm down a bit in November, but it’s been even more hectic than October. It started with NaNoWriMo, add to it a crazy blizzard here in Stockholm, then a death in the family, add a few more unexpected events and you get a month that has made me want to hibernate. But now I am trying to find my bearings again. Whew.

We’re back with another instalment of Getting to know… and today we’ve got author Karen King with us. Karen writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. ‘I do – or do I?’ is her first chick-lit for Accent Press and has recently been nominated for the RONA (Romantic Novel of the Year Award). She has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published.When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven. So let’s get to know….Karen King!

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Author Karen King

So tell me, Karen, what is your favorite part of being a writer? 

Getting a letter or email from someone who’s enjoyed reading my book. That makes my week! It’s so heartening to think that someone has not only read my book and enjoyed it, but also taken the time to write and tell me so. I really appreciate that.

I know what you mean! Sometimes fan mail can make up for all the times I’ve wanted to give up on a difficult story or character. Or when my writing day hasn’t gone as planned. What would you say is the most difficult part of being a writer and how do you deal with it?

Finding time to write down all the ideas that are whizzing around in my head. I have notebooks everywhere, failing that I’ll write on anything, receipts, serviettes, the back of my hand.

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Karen’s latest novel, I Do? …Or Do I?

I agree. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day. I try to jot plot ideas down as soon as they pop into my head. Sometimes I lose the notes and have to try to remember them…well, it happens sometimes. 🙂 So tell me, with all the ideas buzzing around, are you a plotter or pantster?

A bit of both. I like to know my characters really well before I start so I’ll write character profiles for them, and then do a basic outline of the story. After that I start writing and let it flow.

It’s the same for me. Started off as a pantser, but now I am a little of both. By the way, I love the cover of I Do…Or Do I? I just want to take a minute to share with my readers the blurb: 

Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy, and his mother Sylvia, who Cassie has nicknamed ‘Monster-in-Law’, wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID Images to take photographs of the extravagant do, Cassie has no idea what she’s walking into. 



The elusive JM, ID Images’ newest photographer, just so happens to be Jared, Cassie’s first love and ex-fiancé, who broke off their engagement to travel and take photos of far-reaching wonders. He’s back to pay for his next wild adventure. 



Cassie decides it’s best to pretend not to know him, but when she’s asked to write an article for her newspaper, she’s tasked with a column surrounding all things wedding related. When Cassie jokingly writes a column meant for herself depicting her situation, a co-worker submits it in place of the real article and it’s soon making headlines, with readers asking the age old question – Who Will She Choose? 

Sounds like the perfect book for this Thanksgiving weekend!  So, readers, if I Do?…Or Do I sounds like your cup of tea, make sure you pick up a copy. Get your copy here:

Amazon – Accent Press – Waterstones – Book Depository – W.H.Smith 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you write full-time? 

I switch on the computer as soon as I’m showered and dressed, then it’s butt on chair, fingers on keyboard. I answer urgent emails, do a bit of social media then start writing. I’ll carry on writing all day, with the occasional coffee and social media breaks. Often, I’ll write for a couple of hours in the evening too. But I only get a couple of actual ‘writing days’ a week, other days I’m marking assignments (I’m a writing tutor), running courses, visiting schools and other stuff so might write in the evenings.

I write whenever I can snatch away time for it. Still working full-time, but hoping to eventually write full-time. When you write, do you imagine any particular actors or actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

I don’t imagine actors or actresses as my leads but I do look through magazines and cut out pictures of people similar to how I imagine my heroine and hero to look. I also do a Pinterest board of work in progress and pin pictures of things related to my plot on it. For example, for ‘I do?…or do I?’ I pinned lots of wedding related pics, as well as pics of France and Venice which both feature in the story.

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Karen’s writing room – organised chaos 🙂 

Another Pinterest enthusiast! I do the same. I love Pinterest. I even have a board for my dream writing space. Right now, I do most of my writing in my messy home office/guest bedroom, while sitting on my living room couch or in cafés. What abut you? Do you have a favorite writing space?

I’m lucky enough to have my own room to write in. It’s usually very messy, but it’s organized chaos and I know exactly where everything is. If I tidy up I’ve had it, I can’t find anything for weeks.

I am with you there! Whenever I clean my writing space, I can’t find any of the things I need. But when I don’t clean it, the chaos can sometimes overwhelm me. Let’s talk reading. What are you reading now?

I’m reading The Pact by Jodi Picoult.

I read that one a few years ago and loved it. She is one of my favourite authors. Are there any subjects that are taboo for you when it comes to reading or writing?

Horror – I scare easily.

Once upon a time, I wanted to write horror. Nowadays, I prefer writing love stories. Now what about social media? Some people say we authors can’t survive without it.What’s your take on social media? Do you think it’s vital for us?

Yes, I think it is. One well known publisher told me they wouldn’t even consider a book unless the author had over 1,500 followers on Twitter. I like Social Media, it’s a great way to interact with people but it’s easy to while away hours reading the latest Facebook posts or chatting on Twitter so I try to restrict myself. Twitter is my favourite platform, then Facebook and Instagram. I’m on Google+ and Pinterest too but am not as active on them.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

It was back in the early days of my writing career when I was writing for several children’s magazines and had to come up with story ideas at very short notice, sometimes having to write one in a couple of hours. An editor told me to ‘give a character a problem and solve it’. I added ‘in an unexpected way’ to that and it’s been the basis of my stories ever since.

What advice would you give to novice writers?
Stop faffing about and get that first draft down. Then you can go back and reread, revise and rewrite. If you don’t write something you have nothing to hone.

Thanks again for joining us, Karen! Readers, make sure you follow Karen so you can keep up with the latest! Follow Karen here:

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Getting to know… Laurie Ellingham

Welcome back for another instalment of Getting to Know… Today we have author Laurie Bellingham with us. Laurie  is the author of The Reluctant Celebrity and How to Throw Your Life Away. She lives on the Suffolk/Essex border in the UK with her husband, two children and a cute cockerpoo. I think she loves coffee just as much as I do. 🙂 

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Author Laurie Ellingham

Laurie, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from originally? 

Firstly, thanks Kim for having me here today. Such a treat to get virtually out and about as a writer. I’m grew up in Rayleigh, Essex and featured Rayleigh in my second novel How to Throw Your Life Away. I called the town Henley in the book so I could add a bit of creative license. I studied Psychology at Hull University and lived in East London for many years. I now live on the Essex/Suffolk borders with my hubby and two children who are six and five and both happily settled at the village school.

When I’m not ferrying the kids to clubs, cheering on the sidelines of football matches, cooking (which I don’t really enjoy), tidying and cleaning (I HATE), then I’m running in the countryside, writing and reading. Oh and I like chocolate too.

I love chocolate too. It’s one of my favourite things in the world… Now tidying and cleaning…hate doing them, but one must do what one must do. 🙂 When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I had my first rejection letter when I was 10. I sent a story about a family of peas to the Oxford Press. They sent back a very nice letter and lots of stickers. I miss getting stickers with rejection 🙂

So you could say that I’ve always wanted to be an author. From a very young age I became interested in people and why they behave in certain ways, and filtered this into storytelling.

Imagine if every rejection letter came with nice stickers! That would make them a bit nicer to receive! 😀  Fast-forwarding to now: as a writer, are you a plotter or pantster?

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Oh, definitely a plotter, which is madness because the rest of my life is generally rather messy and chaotic *husband nods from over my shoulder.*

At the start of the year I read Stephen King’s On Writing and was taken with his suggestion to wing it and enjoy where the story takes me. I wrote the first 20,000 words of my latest novel like this but I had to stop and plan and get all my characters sorted out. Once the plan is in place I don’t go back and look at it, not once, but it’s comforting to know it’s there, and I’m happy to change direction if I have a great big light bulb moment when I’m brushing my teeth.
Q: Are you working on a new book now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the plot?
I am. It’s book two for my publisher, Carina (Harper Collins). I’m expecting the first draft finished in a couple of weeks and I cannot wait for the world to see it. Here’s my draft blurb and title (it all might change still)…
The Stranger on the Boat.
‘My name is Abigail Rose Wick. My parents are Sarah and Michael Wick. And I’ve been missing for fourteen years.’
A missing girl returns unharmed. A family torn apart by tragedy begin to heal.
But strange things begin to happen to the Wick family. The media are tipped off, throwing them into a spotlight they cannot hide from. DNA results go missing. Holes begin to appear in the girl’s story.
Is the mysterious girl Abigail Wick?
Who is the stranger on the boat who took Abigail?
What happened fourteen years ago?
Only one person knows the truth.

I sat down expecting this novel to be a fast-paced thriller, but it’s not that at all. I love it.

I know that feeling! I once started working on a book thinking it would be literary fiction and it suddenly veered into a holiday romance. But, wow, I really like the premise of your story!  I would definitely add this to my TBR list.

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Laurie’s writing space

So when you’re writing, do you have a favorite writing space? 

Here it is.

It used to be an entrance hall and front door, then it got an internal door and became a space to stash the dog when he gets under our feet, and now the dog has to share it with me. It smells like musky dog most of the time and doesn’t have a view, but it’s one of my favorite places to be.

I’m fortunate to live in the countryside so anytime I get a bit stir crazy I just take my notebook to the meadow behind our house and write outside for while.

By the way, which titles are on your must-read list this year?

Being part of a fantastic online book community for authors and bloggers (Book Connectors) I see so many amazing books I’m desperate to read. Next up I’m reading The Mountain in My Shoe by Louise Beech. I’m saving it for when my first draft is finished so I can give it the attention it deserves.

And what are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone. It’s the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve put it down. For me it is compelling, gripping, and uncomfortable all in one.

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Her adorable dog, Rodney

So which authors would you recommend to people looking for someone new to read?

S.E Lynes or B.A Paris for a fabulous thriller, and Louise Beech and Catherine Miller for some amazing women’s fiction with depth.

What’s a typical day of writing like for you?

I like to sit down and crack on in the mornings, which means getting the kids off to school and being back at my desk for 9am. By 10.30 I’m ready for a break and Rodney (here’s a pic) is ready to go out so we either run or walk together for an hour.
Then it’s right back to my desk with more coffee and some chocolate (usually a Twix) until it’s time to collect the kids. These are the best days and I usually hit my daily word count of 1000 words with time to spare, but for every day like this there’s a day when life gets in the way and I’m up until late still tapping away at my laptop.

Sounds enviable. 🙂 So on these days when you’re writing,  do you imagine any particular actors/actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

Yes. In fact, one of the first things I do when planning my novel is search Google Images for photos that fit with the images of the characters in my mind. I find it helps to look at these pictures at the start of each chapter as it reminds me of their different mannerisms as well as their personalities.

I do something similar with Pinterest and Google Images. I’ve got a few favourites who’ve become my muses and some characters I absolutely adore. What about you? Which of your characters is your favourite?

There is a character in my first book called Guy Rawson. He’s this brooding model turned singer, and hopelessly flawed. I missed him so I found a part for him in a later novel – Three Months to Live (out in April 2017). Although the two novels are nothing a like – the Reluctant Celebrity is a romantic comedy and Three Months to Live is edgy women’s fiction – Guy slotted in nicely for a little guest appearance.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-12-07-19One of the things I love about writing is when the story first begins to form in my head. What about you? What’s your favourite thing about being a writer?

I love creating a story in my head and characters that feel as real to me as anyone; this is the amazing thing about being a writer. I like hearing that people are enjoying my books as well but that comes later. Mostly though, writing is when I feel most like myself. I’m a mum and wife and a friend and a daughter and a sister, and that’s great, but when I’m writing I’m me.

What would you say is the most difficult part of being a writer and how do you deal with it? 

Loneliness and self-doubt.

The first is less of an issue in recent years because social media has opened up many wonderful writing communities which means I now feel part of something amazing.
The self-doubt is a harder fix. It can hit anytime and completely out of the blue. I try and just see it as the rough with the smooth as there are as many days I’m excited by what I’m writing.

I know exactly what you mean! But, just to change the subject a bit…a lot of people say they read to escape. They don’t want to be reminded of the harsh reality  of the world when they sit down to read a book. What’s your take on this? Should fiction address topical social issues? 

Absolutely. A skilled author can write about topical social issues whilst still offering the escapism of well written characters. Michael J Malone has done just this by writing about domestic abuse with the female as the abuser. It was uncomfortable at times but it had all the elements of a great read too. I feel richer for having read it.

I so agree with you. I think reading shouldn’t simply be about escaping, even if sometimes that’s all I want. Usually I  want to see things from another perspective, even if it means that the writer makes me feel uncomfortable. 

So tell me, what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Read lots of books in lots of different genres. It keeps your mind focused on writing and novels and opens your eyes to other writing styles.

Before we close up, what advice would you give to novice writers?

Firstly, write. Then write some more. Prioritise writing in your life. If you wait until all your other jobs are done, you’ll never get any writing done.
And at the same time read. Then read some more.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Laurie! And readers–make sure you connect with Laurie and check out her novels! 🙂 

Connect with Laurie Ellingham

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Preorder Blitz: In the Best Interest of the Child by Felicia Denise

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Preorder Blitz

ITBIOTC Front Cover

Book Title: In the Best Interest of the Child
Author: Felicia Denise
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Psychological
Release Date: September 17, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Goodreads Button with Shadow

book blurb

Ten-year-old Olivia Chandler has a school she loves, good friends, a nice home, a talented mom, and a successful father she adores. Tragedy rips all of this away from her, and plunges Olivia into the foster care system, where for eight years she is neglected, humiliated, abused, and nearly raped.

Fate smiles on Olivia shortly before she ages out of the system, allowing her the means to attend college and law school.

Years later, Olivia is a successful child advocate attorney, giving a voice to children who are so easily ignored by those claiming to act in their best interest. She has little time for personal relationships, and her lifelong fear of abandonment reminds her never to get too close to anyone.

The successful attorney stumbles though when she’s assigned a case by the court that too closely mirrors her own haunted childhood. Olivia never gives her minor clients less than her all, and the only way she can help her eleven year old client is to face down and acknowledge her demons. This same case also brings a man into her life who sees her for who she truly is, and will not allow Olivia to push him away.

excerpt

Making sure Rena was still sleeping, Olivia exited her vehicle, following the sidewalk to the driveway where a flatbed tow truck came fully into view. A large, burly, dark haired man was winching a late model Mercedes up onto the flatbed. Nearby, a far shorter man stood with his arms folded across his chest obviously not happy. As she got closer, Olivia believed the shorter man to be near her age, even though a head full of curly black hair gave him a more youthful appearance. Olivia smiled as she passed the tow truck driver, noticing how his eyes lingered on her hips. The shorter man didn’t seem to notice her until she was right in front of him, and he started as though coming out of a trance.

“Hello. Can I help you?” Olivia widened her smile.

“Hello. I’m looking for the Bellamy residence.” He regarded her warily.

“I’m Courtney Bellamy. What can I do for you?” She stuck out her right hand.

“Mr. Bellamy, I’m Olivia Chandler, Rena’s court-appointed attorney. It’s nice to meet you.” Courtney Bellamy visibly relaxed.

“Nice to meet you, Ms. Chandler. My wife, Marissa, mentioned you were meeting with Rena today. We can go inside and chat shortly, I just have to see when this guy will have my car up and running.” He spoke the last part of the sentence in a raised voice, making sure the tow truck driver heard him. The driver pulled a face in his direction.

“C’mon, Court! I don’t even know what’s wrong with it. How can I tell you when it will be fixed?”

“There is way too much going on in this family for us to depend on one car, Bruce. There will be whining, tears and harsh words…and my wife will be upset too!” Olivia and Bruce both laughed out loud at Courtney’s snarky comment.

“Let me get it back to the shop and find the problem. If it’s not a quick fix, I have a loaner vehicle you can use until yours is ready. Deal?” Courtney pumped his fist in the air.

“This is why you’re my favorite mechanic! I love you, man!” Bruce guffawed.

“No. I’m your favorite mechanic because I’m your cousin and give you family discounts!”

“Well, there’s that too,” Courtney quipped. Reaching for the side door entrance, Courtney Bellamy addressed Olivia.

“Forgive me, Ms. Chandler. Would you like to have a seat inside while I wrap this up?”

“Please, it’s Olivia. And actually, I have a sleeping Rena in my car out front.”

“Oh! I thought the medical shuttle was bringing her home. And call me Courtney.”

“That was the initial plan, but she was getting tired, and I didn’t want her to have to sit and wait not knowing how long the shuttle would take to get to her. Bringing her myself was easier.”

“How kind of you. Let me grab her chair, and I’ll meet you out front.”

“Sounds good.” Olivia turned and started back down the driveway.” Courtney threw one last taunt at his cousin.

“Bruce, if you put one scratch on my baby, I’m calling your mother!”

“And if you call my mother, I will call YOUR mother and tell her who really broke the garage window when we were kids.” Courtney gasped.

“You wouldn’t dare!” he countered.

“Stay away from my mother, and I’ll stay away from yours.” He caught Olivia’s eye as she passed and winked. She laughed at the easy banter of the cousins, and just for a second wondered what it was like to have someone in your life who had known you all of your life. She heard her name being called just as she reached the sidewalk. Olivia turned to see Bruce jogging towards her. He stopped only after he had more than invaded her personal space. He was taller than she first thought. Her three inch heels put her at an even five foot, ten inches, and she still had to take a step back and raise her head to fully see his face. His light brown eyes had an amused glint to match the devilish smirk on his clean shaven face. His collar length dark brown hair was curly, though not as much as Courtney’s, and had the beginnings of grey at the temples much like her own.

“Forgive me if I’m being forward, Ms. Chandler, but I wanted to give you my business card. I own Bellamy’s over on Mason. If you ever need anything…um, for your car…give me a call. She reached for the card. “Anything…at all.” The man was positively shameless. Olivia couldn’t help but grin.

“Call me Olivia, and thank you. That’s nice of you.” Glancing at the card in her hand, a realization suddenly dawned on her. “Wait. You’re that Bellamy? Bellamy Motorsports of “We have twelve locations to serve you in Hennepin and Olmstead counties?” His face took on the brightest shade of red as he blushed like a teenager.

“Guess you’ve seen our commercials, huh?” She laughed as she backed towards her car.

“Yes. A time or two…or twelve. The commercials never mentioned you were so…hands on.” His eyes widened, but she pointed at the tow truck and continued before he could respond. “The boss answering service calls?” He slid his hands into his back pockets and cocked his head to the side.

“Okay, you got me. But Court won’t let anyone else touch his Precious. I was with him the day he bought her, but I’m not sure who owns whom. Marissa always teases him by telling him she leaving and he can have the house, but she’s taking the kid and the car. He nearly has a heart attack.”

Olivia reached her car and noticed Rena was still sleeping. There was no sign of Courtney at the front door yet. She heard movement behind her and noticed Bruce had taken a couple of steps in her direction.

“I didn’t see a ring. Are you married?”

“No.”

“Involved?”

“No.”

“Do you wanna be?” Olivia laughed in spite of herself.

“You’re definitely not the shy type, are you Bruce?”

“Nope. But I’m usually not this forward either.” Suddenly serious, he continued. “It’s just not everyday I meet a woman I’m so drawn to.” The sincerity in his voice caused her pulse to race.

“I’m flattered, Bruce.” He started to say something else, but both their attention was drawn to the front door as Courtney backed the wheelchair down the one step entrance, then turned and headed towards Olivia’s car.

“Olivia?” She glanced in Bruce’s direction, but looked away quickly, unable to hold his intense gaze. “Olivia?” Taking a deep breath, she met his gaze. “Call me.” She smiled and gave him a single nod. His attention made her feel light-headed, but she knew she’d never call him. She couldn’t. He definitely seemed like the type of man who wanted all or nothing…and nothing was all she had.

Courtney brought the wheelchair to a stop in front of her. “Cinderella’s carriage has arrived. Shall we wake her?” Olivia moved to the car door as she unlocked it with the remote. She reached in to unfasten Rena’s seatbelt, but caught the banter between the cousins.

“Bruce, go fix my car.”

“Shut it, Court!”

“I’m nominating your house for Thanksgiving dinner this year!”

“And I’ll nominate yours for Christmas dinner! And I’ll insist great-aunt Mae bring her dogs…all four of them!”

“You’re an evil man, Bellamy.”

“We share DNA, Bellamy.”

If Olivia didn’t know they were grown men, she would have sworn they were seventh graders. Rena began to stir, and looked around, confused.

“Hey angel. You’re home.” Still disoriented, Rena tried to sit upright. She cried in obvious pain and gripped Olivia’s arm. “It’s okay, angel! It’s okay, I got you. Just breathe through it. C’mon, now. Breathe.” Olivia took her own advice and took a couple of deep breaths to calm herself. She couldn’t comfort the child if she needed comfort herself.

“Olivia?” She looked back at Courtney. “She’s as light as a feather, but that cast adds weight. Step back and I’ll transfer her to the chair.” Rena still held Olivia’s arm, but her grip was loosening.

“You okay, angel? Mr. Bellamy wants to transfer you to the chair. You’ll probably feel better once you can stretch out in your bed, okay?” Rena nodded, and Olivia stepped back out of the way to give Courtney room to transfer her to the chair. She could feel Bruce’s eyes on her but refused to look at him. Her face grew hot and she felt awkward and out of place. Her resolve was weakening and she was about to look in his direction, when a green minivan pulled up behind her car. Bruce clapped his hands together excitedly.

“Oh yeah! The fun is really about to start.” Olivia could tell he was enjoying the moment and glanced back to the minivan not knowing what to expect. A plump woman hurriedly exited the van and rushed towards them. She was short – maybe an even five feet in height – and African American with a mass of hair worn in a long, natural, wavy style. Though plump, her hourglass shape was more than obvious. She wore very little makeup, and she didn’t need too. Her full lips and smooth brown skin were enhanced by large expressive eyes that right now were filled with worry.

“What happened? Is everything alright?” Just as she reached Olivia’s car, Courtney raised Rena into his arms, pivoted, and placed her into the wheelchair. The woman glanced from face to face waiting for an answer. She threw a quick wave in Bruce’s direction, and he returned it. Olivia smiled at her while Courtney leaned over Rena’s chair and kissed the woman on the cheek.

“Hi, Honey. This is Rena’s attorney, Olivia Chandler, and she just brought the munchkin home. Olivia, this is my wife, Marissa.” She took Olivia’s outstretched hand in both of hers and squeezed.

“Oh yes. We spoke on the phone. So nice to meet you. And thank you for seeing her home.” She lightly patted Rena’s shoulder and kissed the top of her head. “Hey Munchkin. Did you hit all your markers in therapy today?” Rena nodded slightly.

“All except the steps. I could only do two.” Marissa stepped behind her chair and started towards the front door.

“That’s still good. Remember last week you could only do one? Progress, munchkin, progress.” She stopped suddenly and turned around. “Courtney, what are you doing here?”

He folded his arms across his chest defiantly.

“I live here.”

Bruce, Rena and Olivia all snickered. Marissa pursed her lips.

“It’s the middle of the day, Courtney.” He started.

“Oh! Geeze, yes. So much happening at once. The school called me. Brian has a low grade fever and an upset stomach. He’s up in his room. The school nurse said she called you first, but didn’t get an answer. I figured you were still with your mom at the dialysis center.”

“They were short staffed today for some reason, so Mom got a late start on her treatment.” She glanced up at the house. I told that boy to go easy on the chili con carne last night. He never listens and this always happens.” She nodded her head in Bruce’s direction. “And why is Bigfoot here?” The laugh escaped Olivia’s mouth before she could suppress it. These people were nuts…and she loved it. Bruce shot a glance at her and mouthed the word “traitor.”

“After I got Bri settled inside, I was going to return to the office, and my car wouldn’t start. I called Bruce to come over and diagnose the problem, but…she’s really sick. He has to take her in.” Courtney Bellamy looked as though tears might be a real possibility.

Marissa turned her head and covered her mouth to hide the grin. She looked back and addressed Olivia.

“Please excuse our family. We’re not usually this scatterbrained and dysfunctional. And we usually care more about our sick children than our sick cars.” Before Olivia could tell her they were all just fine, Bruce chimed in.

“Look up ‘dysfunctional’ in Webster’s and you’ll find our family portrait.” Marissa popped a clenched fist on one hip and shot back.

“Don’t you have little children to scare or people to annoy?”

“Yes, and here I am!”

“Problem child!”

“Diva!”

“Yeti!”

“Smurfette!”

Olivia heard someone join her in the laughter, but when she glanced at Courtney, his eyes were full of love and fixed on his wife. Olivia stepped around Marissa and looked down at Rena, who had dissolved into a fit of laughter. She clutched her bag of snacks with one hand and her stomach with the other. Olivia’s heart melted at the sight. She then noticed Courtney had stepped behind his wife, sliding his hand around her waist. Rena was still laughing when he softly said, “Once they get started, they won’t stop until Rena laughs.” He kissed his wife behind the ear while giving the thumbs up to his cousin.

Olivia was taken aback. Most of what she’d just witnessed was a performance purely for Rena’s benefit. She was so glad she had not prejudged these people and admonished herself for any negative thoughts she may have had about them. These were good, loving people who were just living life. Parents and kids get sick and cars break down, but it didn’t distract them enough that they didn’t have time for a little girl who was…at least temporarily…an orphan. Although Olivia was sure the Bellamys and Averests must have had a pretty strong friendship for Courtney and Marissa to take Rena in, she felt this family would probably help any child in need. Olivia followed as Marissa pushed Rena into the house, but something made her stop and look over in Bruce’s direction. He was still standing there, hands in pockets, focused on her. Shaking her head, she smiled at him, which caused him to throw a big toothy grin back at her.

Marissa had cleared the doorway and Courtney held the door for Olivia. When she walked past him, he touched her arm lightly and quietly said, “He’s a good guy.” Her face heated up again, but she was rescued when she heard Marissa call out to her to follow her voice to get to Rena’s room.

itbiotc-teaser_bruce

meet the author

An avid reader from a very early age, Felicia would re-write the stories she read, making the women a little bit tougher. Not to outdo the men, but raised by parents who taught their six daughters to always stand up for themselves, and to always “be a lady”, Felicia has very little patience with ‘crybabies’ – female or male. Introduced to creative writing in grade school, Felicia amused herself by creating stories, poems, and song lyrics…that she never showed to anyone.

Now embracing the concept of sharing, Felicia’s first published novel, In The Best Interest of the Child” debuts in September 2016.

Felicia left the harsh winters of Michigan and now resides in Arizona with her husband of more than thirty years, who’s always trying to read over her shoulder. Their three adult children are scattered around Arizona. She is looking forward to having grandchildren, but feels she may win the lottery first…or get struck by lightning. Though she enjoys a good rain storm, Felicia no longer goes outside when it rains. She’s not taking any chances.

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5 books I’m going to read by the end of summer

By this time next week, I will be in my dear-old hometown of Philadelphia, most likely sweating profusely and wondering why I left the not-very-humid, mild Stockholm behind. But I need my annual dose of America. I never travel without my Kindle, and I’ve already begun stocking it with books that I’m itching to read. So what’s on my list?

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I’ve heard a lot of good things about In Black & White by Catherine Lavender, so I’ve already 1-clicked it for my Kindle. 

Micah Winters always knew that she was different. It was the pigment of her skin and the texture of her hair that revealed that she was a woman from biracial parents. For five decades, Micah’s African American mother has remained silent about Micah’s estranged father (Sidney Irving). It is not until after Sidney Irving’s death that Micah learns that she is the daughter of the legendary novelist and screenwriter. Now with her mother’s memory fading away from Alzheimer’s disease, Micah can only rely on a novel that was written from her father years ago to understand her parents’ past during the time of segregation in the United States. Micah’s once simple life is not so simple anymore as she tries to make sense of an unfamiliar world as she inherits her father’s wealth and private past. With an abandoned heart, Micah must forgive the past in order to discover who she really is.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 23.45.14I’ve been a fan of Kathleen Tessaro since I read her debut novel, Innocence. Her latest novel, Rare Objects, sounds like the perfect read for a historical fiction fan like me. It’s set in Depression-era Boston centers around an unlikely friendship  and a secret. I’m already hooked. 🙂

Maeve Fanning is a first generation Irish immigrant, born and raised among the poor, industrious Italian families of Boston’s North End by her widowed mother. Clever, capable, and as headstrong as her red hair suggests, she’s determined to better herself despite the overwhelming hardships of the Great Depression.

However, Maeve also has a dangerous fondness for strange men and bootleg gin—a rebellious appetite that soon finds her spiraling downward, leading a double life. When the strain proves too much, Maeve becomes an unwilling patient in a psychiatric hospital, where she strikes up a friendship with an enigmatic young woman, who, like Maeve, is unable or unwilling to control her un-lady-like desire for freedom.

Once out, Maeve faces starting over again. Armed with a bottle of bleach and a few white lies, she lands a job at an eccentric antiques shop catering to Boston’s wealthiest and most peculiar collectors. Run by an elusive English archeologist, the shop is a haven of the obscure and incredible, providing rare artifacts as well as unique access to the world of America’s social elite. While delivering a purchase to the wealthy Van der Laar family, Maeve is introduced to beautiful socialite Diana Van der Laar—only to discover she’s the young woman from the hospital.

Reunited with the charming but increasingly unstable Diana and pursued by her attractive brother James, Mae becomes more and more entwined with the Van der Laar family—a connection that pulls her into a world of moral ambiguity and deceit, and ultimately betrayal. Bewitched by their wealth and desperate to leave her past behind, Maeve is forced to unearth her true values and discover how far she’ll to go to reinvent herself.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 00.01.08I love Dorothy Koomson’s novels and I 1-clicked her latest, When I Was InvisibleWhen I Was Invisible, a few weeks ago. I haven’t started reading it yet, but it’s probably going to be one of my Philly reads.

‘Do you ever wonder if you’ve lived the life you were meant to?’ I ask her.

She sighs, and dips her head. ‘Even if I do, what difference will it make?’

In 1988, two eight-year-old girls with almost identical names and the same love of ballet meet for the first time. They seem destined to be best friends forever and to become professional dancers. Years later, however, they have both been dealt so many cruel blows that they walk away from each other into very different futures – one enters a convent, the other becomes a minor celebrity. Will these new, ‘invisible’ lives be the ones they were meant to live, or will they only find that kind of salvation when they are reunited twenty years later?

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 00.17.07Rowan Coleman‘s We Are All Made of Stars sounds like the sort of book that will make me weepy (which I love!), so I’ve 1-clicked it! Rowan is also known as Scarlett Bailey (who has written some of my absolute favourite Christmas novels). Looking forward to diving into this decidedly non-Christmasy book! 🙂

A dedicated nurse, Stella finds comfort at the hospice where she works the late shift, especially since her husband returned from Afghanistan—cold, distant, and shattered by painful memories he refuses to share. The hospice at night is another world, where the dying receive closure by creating the letters that Stella helps them write. The pages are filled with love and humor, sometimes regret, and, occasionally, even instructions for a perplexed husband on how to run appliances. There’s one rule: The letters are mailed only after the patient has passed.

Suddenly Stella is faced with a dilemma: A woman under her care, Grace, has written a confession to the son she abandoned many years before. The letter clearly needs to be read before Grace dies. But if Stella mails it now, she breaks the rule—and risks tampering not only with Grace’s wishes but also with fate.

Navigating passion and grief, loyalty and loss, and a marriage threatened by silence and secrets, Stella discovers that letters hold a special power: granting solace, saving memories, nurturing relationships. As the words endure, love redeems.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 00.30.23Finally, I still haven’t had a chance to read Pulling Doubles by Christina C. Jones, so I need to remedy this before the end of the summer.

All Devyn wants – besides a tall, fine husband and eventually a few babies to fulfill her “about to turn thirty, running out of time, cute black family” dreams – is to finish her yearlong internship at University Hospital. She’s excited about the experience, eager to learn, glad to help wherever she can… it should be easy, right?

Well, it would be… if it weren’t for arrogant, know-it-all, always-got-something-to-say Dr. Joseph Wright. Devyn can’t stand him, and if his attitude is any indication, the feeling is mutual… or is it?

Joseph doesn’t “do” doctors. Or nurses. Or patients. Or anybody else who has anything to do with the hospital, for that matter. University Hospital has infiltrated enough of his life, and the last thing he needs is a blurring of the lines between professional and private.

… until smart, sexy, sassy Nurse Devyn Echols comes along, and stomps all over those lines.

When you’re pulling doubles with the person you hate to want so bad… something is bound to ignite.

That’s it for me today! Next week, I’ll be writing to you from Philadelphia and I’ll be sure to share with you my bookstore finds!  

Which books have you 1-clicked this summer? Share your recommendations in the comments and one lucky commenter will win a $10 Amazon gift card. Hurry! I’ll be choosing + announcing the winner on Monday, July 18th. 

 

 

Coming soon: Because My Heart Said So: A Friends-to-Lovers Collection by Nia Forrester, Jacinta Howard, Lily Java and Rae Lamar

#4Writers4Love presents:

Because My Heart Said So: A Friends-To-Lovers Collection
by Nia Forrester, Jacinta Howard, Lily Java and Rae Lamar

Book Cover - Because My Heart Said So (Forrester, Howard, Java & Lamar)

Four Authors. Four Stories. For Love.

“Acceptable Losses” by Nia Forrester: Quentin is in the middle of a separation from his wife that seems to have no conclusive end in sight, while Lena is stuck in Single Girl Hell. The only respite either of them have is their regular coffee dates, while working on shared projects at a very demanding job. Sick of hearing about Lena’s semidisastrous attempts to couple-up, Quentin decides to fix her up. With his brother. Seems like a perfect solution; after all, his brother is a decent enough guy and Lena deserves that. Perfect… until it appears that the fix-up might actually work.

“Blind Expectations” by Jacinta Howard: Aristotle once said the only thing constant in life is change. Or was that Confucius? Whatever. People are fluid—they come into your life for a while, and when it’s time for them to float on, Leah has no qualms waving goodbye. The only exception is her neighbor and best friend, Trevor. When all else fails in her crazy world, Trevor is always there, reliable, steady… real. But then one night a heated argument leads to a revelation that shakes Leah to the core. Suddenly, Leah is forced to make a choice. But will her heart survive her decision?

“Blackbirds” by Lily Java: Once upon a time Sydney Tarr and Elliott Vance were friends: fast friends, ride or die, pledge of allegiance, take it to the mat, “friends.” And the fact that Sydney loved her friend more than she should didn’t matter until finally… one unusual and spectacular night, it did. It mattered very much. Still, not every story is a fairy tale is it? Friends do part—sometimes forever—but, not always.

“Blur” by Rae Lamar: Jade Warner is back home. The bad part? Starting over. The best part? Reconnecting with Kyle Malone. Picking up where they left off years ago, it feels just like old times…except for the mutual attraction and questionable feelings, which are all brand new. For Jade and Kyle, it’s unthinkable to hook up given the history of their fail-safe friendship, but anything can happen when you live under the same roof…

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Nia Forrester is the author of the Commitment series. Nia lives and writes in Washington DC where, by day, she works on public policy and by night, she crafts women-centered fiction that examines the complexities of life, love and the human condition. Visit her at niaforrester.com.

Jacinta Howard is the author of women’s and new adult fiction. Since 2014, she’s released four novels, including the well-received Love Always series. She also released the USA TODAY Must-Read Romance, Happiness in Jersey, as well as the emotional new adult novel, Finding Kennedy. Visit her at JacintaHoward.net.

Lily Java is a freelance writer and novelist who writes women’s fiction in many genres. Her debut suspense novel, Sticky Moon, was released in 2014. When she isn’t writing, Lily raises money for the arts planning events in iconic landmarks throughout her beloved hometown: New York City. Lily is a true ambivert, who enjoys solitude as much as she likes meeting or talking with other passionate readers and writers. Visit her at LilyJava.com.

Rae Lamar is a mild-mannered consultant by day and fiction writer by night who calls Atlanta home. She is the author of Dawn of Aris and The Aris Effect along with other works of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. On a perfect day, she can be found on the top floor of a swanky beach resort, sitting on the balcony of an ocean-front suite with a book in her hands and food at her fingertips. SN: She rarely has perfect days. Visit her at raelamar.com.

From ‘Acceptable Losses’ by Nia Forrester:

“So …” he began, “this is …”

“Awkward,” Lena finished for him. “I know. I’m sorry. I had no idea that …” She stopped and sighed. “Just … I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Quentin said, wondering why it was that he wasn’t angry at her.

She at least knew on Friday when he leaned in and kissed her that there was one very good reason that they shouldn’t. And yet, he wasn’t mad.

Lena gave a small, derisive laugh. “No. It is definitely not okay, Quentin. I mean, I’m here with your brother. And on Friday night …”

“Let’s not talk about Friday night,” he interrupted her.

A look crossed her face then that was unmistakable. It was hurt.

“Of course,” she said. “We should just forget it ever happened. It was wrong, and it shouldn’t have …”

“No, Lena, I didn’t mean … What I mean is …”

He took two steps toward her, and then stopped. He didn’t know what he meant. But he did know that what happened on Friday, he didn’t like hearing described as ‘wrong.’ Shit, it was complicated, no doubt about that. But it didn’t feel wrong. Kissing her, being that close to her actually felt very, very right.

Quentin & Lena Reference Image - Acceptable Losses by Nia Forrester

From ‘Blind Expectations’ by Jacinta Howard:

“I’m sitting on your lap,” she breathed, eyes still closed. “And we keep kissing.”
“Yes, you are. And yes, we do.”
She heard the smile in his voice and opened her eyes.
“Seems like you enjoy it,” he grinned, biting the corner of his lip. “I know I do. You taste good as hell, Leah. Even better than I knew you would.”

Leah & Trevor Reference Image - Blind Expectations by Jacinta Howard

From ‘Blackbirds’ by Lily Java:

Elliott had the smoothest skin she’d ever seen on a man. Dark and brown, it looked like it had been painted onto him with oil and a thick brush. Sydney had the urge to photograph him, but that was an urge she had about a thousand times a day with a lot of people. What was different about this was her urge to see more of him. The shirtless Elliott. The sleeping Elliott. Elliott at play.

Elliott & Sydney Reference Image - Blackbirds by Lily Java
From ‘Blur’ by Rae Lamar:

“Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever find the right guy.”
Kyle watched as Jade stabbed a shrimp with her fork and stuck it in her mouth. “Your first mistake is labeling him ‘right’ because what the hell does that even mean? There is no right or wrong, Jade…it’s about finding the one who makes you feel most alive.”

Jade & Kyle Reference Image - Blur by Rae Lamar

WIN A COPY OF BECAUSE MY HEART SAID SO!

TOMORROW I WILL GIFT AN E-BOOK COPY OF BECAUSE MY HEART SAID SO… TO ONE LUCKY WINNER.

All you have to do is head over to KIM TALKS BOOKS’ Facebook page

and answer this question:

WHAT ARE YOU READING AND ARE YOU ENJOYING IT?

Share your answer as a comment to the pinned “What Are You Reading?” post by tomorrow, June 15 at noon EST.

I’ll randomly pick a winner!

Good luck!