Thursday, July 24, 2014

Spotlight: From Paris with Love by Samantha Tonge

OK, the good news is that my writer's block appears to have gone away. Keep your fingers crossed for me! And the even better news is that From Paris with Love by Samantha Tonge is out today! Woohoo! I absolutely devoured Doubting Abbey and have been anticipating the sequel for weeks! (Basically as soon as I finished Doubting Abbey.)

Release Date:  July 24, 2014

Every girl dreams of hearing those four magical words Will you marry me? But no-one tells you what’s supposed to happen next…

Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!

A month-long cookery course in Paris could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Love has plenty to keep her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Paris makes her want to say Je t’aime… Except Edward!

But whilst Paris might offer plenty of distractions from wedding planning – including her new friends, mysterious Joe and hot French rockstar Blade - there’s no reason she couldn’t just try one or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun…


We are lucky enough to have an excerp, y'all! Check it out!

      Okay, let’s see…  On a big road, south, heading further away, was a Métro station called Abbesses. Ooh I liked the sound of that, like the English word “abyss”. Hopefully that meant it was nice and deep. Despite his appearance, chauffeured mystery man was clearly no fitness fanatic, so the idea of following me down flights of stairs might put him off.
I duly headed in a southerly direction and… Yay! There it was, on a main road. Aw, the outside of it looked mega pretty with “Métropolitan” written above it in a fancy font, beneath a little glass roof. Without hesitating, I ran down the vintage entrance and started my descent, ogling the awesome murals on the walls.

      Around and around I ran, dodging people, forgetting I was in France and should stick to the right. In fact, blimey! Talk about busy. And as for that musty smell…I screwed up my nose at the aroma of overcooked cabbage and stinky socks. A boyfriend of mine once smelt like that after playing football. Whereas I was still waiting for any annoying habits of Edward’s to come to the fore… He still seemed pretty perfect – especially since he’d chilled a bit, during recent months. I’d taught him that pants didn’t need ironing and that if we were, um, otherwise engaged (that is snogging!) it wasn’t bad manners to let a phone call go to voicemail.

      A clock caught my eye – it was almost half past four and the beginning of the rush hour. I took out a carnet (booklet to you – ooh, my vocabulary was already widening) of ten Métro tickets that me and Edward had bought. I was just about to push one into the machine when someone tapped my shoulder.

      ‘Tiring are we?’ said a familiar, clipped male voice.
My mouth went dry and I turned around to face those sunglasses. He took them off. Wow. What warm maple-syrup eyes.

      I shook myself. Yeah, just like a stalking lion’s. Dodging sideways, I shoved the Métro tickets into my jacket pocket and headed up the steps, blurting out “pardon,” as I pushed my way up. Thanks to last year’s “how to be a lady” training, I always remembered to be polite, however dire the situation.

      By the time I reached the top, I’d managed to retrieve my phone from the rucksack. My legs ached, my chest burnt and I had no idea where to run next. In other words, there was no alternative but to ring Edward. Shrieking for help, I could have approached a train guard but, well, that wasn’t my style – especially after the last few months of weird things happening. I’d toughened up.

      Don’t get me wrong, nausea hit the back of my throat when I thought who this guy could be or what he might want. However, since being on the telly, I’d been sent men’s underwear through the post, my phone had been hacked, a troll had stolen my identity on Facebook and a fan of Edward’s had stalked me in the swimming pool showers… Currently I had two restraining orders out on people who had grudges against the person they thought I was. It would take more than a smartly dressed dude, in a swanky car, to make me lose my cool.
Blowing out chilly air, I lifted a finger to press dial when a hand curled firmly around my arm and led me out onto the pavement. I stared the black BMW, parked to the side, with its sinister black-tinted windows.

      ‘There’s no need to ring Edward,’ said the man.
      I turned around to meet stern maple-syrup eyes.

      ‘We’ve taken care of him.’ he continued.

      Huh? My chin wobbled. How did he know my boyfriend’s name? What if my sexy, kind-hearted, loyal, dreamy Edward would – or had – come to some harm?

      ‘All will be explained,’ said the weirdo, his voice a titch softer. ‘Now, please. Trust me. You’ll be safe. Just get in the car.’

      For Edward’s sake, I did what I was told.

      (Excerpt from From Paris with Love by Samantha Tonge, Copyright 2014.)


Right about now, I am pretty excited that I already have From Paris with Love on my Kindle! Gemma's adventures kept me in stitches in Doubting Abbey and I'm sure that this next installment will be just as enjoyable.

Now it is time to meet our illustrious author!

Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, came out in November 2013.


Ready for some fun? Here are your options for purchasing From Paris with Love.

And if you want to catch up with Doubting Abbey...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Spotlight: Picture This by Jayne Denker

Are you ready for another book recommendation? OK, OK, I know what you're thinking...stop sticking your nose in a book and get back to writing French Fry already! Once my massive case of writer's block ends, I will get right on that.

In the meantime, I have an awesome book for you! The *fabulous* Jayne Denker has just released the second book in her Marsden series! Picture This just came out today! I am happy to report that is in my hot little hands on my Kindle Paperwhite right now! 

Release date: July 17, 2014

It’s where everyone knows your business—and remembers everything you’d rather forget. But somehow the little Catskills town of Marsden draws the most unlikely people back home, turns their lives every which way, and helps them finally figure out what—and who—they want most…

As a celebrity photographer’s assistant, Celia Marshall is used to seeing all kinds of weird antics. But subbing as the model in irrepressible movie star Niall Crenshaw’s latest endorsement ad—while wearing his silk boxers, no less—is definitely not in her job description. Neither is falling for him, especially since he’s dating his latest co-star. To complicate things further, Celia is returning to Marsden to keep an eye on her eccentric grandmother—and Niall is driving her there, then staying to judge a talent contest…

Soon Celia is pulled in a dozen different directions, trying to get her grandmother to act her age, placating her frantic former boss who’s organizing the contest—and attempting to stay away from funny, sexy Niall. Celia’s always been level headed, but suddenly she’s wishing she could get reckless right along with him. Has the time come for sensible Celia to cut loose?...


Want a sneak peek? I thought you might! Poor Celia has just received her grandmother from policy custody following her decision to perform a series of donuts in a farmer's field. What a great time to introduce her to Niall!

After a few general pleasantries, Officer Billy made his way back to his cruiser, and Celia exchanged a look with Niall. She shook her head, disbelieving. “What is wrong with her?”

Niall climbed the porch steps and put his hands on her shoulders. “Hey, go easy on her, all right? Maybe nothing’s wrong. You said she does this sort of thing all the time.”

“I think she’s getting worse.”

“What are you saying about me?” Holly demanded from inside the house.

“Gran! We’ve got to talk.”

The old woman peered out through the screen door. “Who’s that? The movie star? Well, bring him in here with you. I want witnesses.”

She ambled away from the door, expecting Niall and Celia to follow.

“You don’t have to,” Celia murmured to him.

“And miss this? Are you kidding?” Niall held open the screen door for her. “After you.”

They found Holly in the living room. “Come here, movie star. Let me get a look at you.” She peered up at Niall, squinting, appraising.

“Nice to meet you, Mrs....Marshall?” he tried.

“Leigh. Holland Leigh. I’m Celia’s mother’s mother.”

“I apologize. Mrs. Leigh.”

She shook the hand he offered. “You’re a tall drink of water, aren’t you?”

“Guess so.” The fact that she was remarkably short just emphasized his height.

“Ah, you were in that movie with the...the...what was it...the snake, right? On your shoulder all the time?”

“The iguana, Gran,” Celia supplied quietly.

Niall rounded on Celia. “Ah-hah! You said you didn’t watch my movies!”

“No, I said I didn’t go out of my way to see your movies. I caught that one on basic cable. At two in the morning. Edited for language and to make room for a thousand commercials.”

He clutched his shirt over his heart. “You wound me.”

“I doubt it.”

“The lizard was a better costar than the one in your last movie, I’ll say that much,” Holly snorted as she eased herself into her favorite chair.


“I didn’t care for her—what was her name? The one with the peroxide hair. Girl couldn’t act. Lizard had better skin, too.”

Celia rubbed her eyes, mortified. “That’s Tiffany Sola. Niall’s girlfriend, Gran.”

“Really?” The old woman shrugged, unapologetic. “Meh. And if she’s his girlfriend, why is he here with you?”

“He’s not here with me. He’s hosting Ray’s singing contest.”

“Ah. You have my deepest sympathy, young man.” Then she looked up at her granddaughter. “All right. Go ahead. Let me have it.”

Celia sighed, disapproving and disappointed. “Will said he has to write this up. It’s going on record.”

“In my permanent file, along with the D minus I got in shorthand in high school? Color me terrified.”

“Don’t make jokes, Gran. This is serious.”

“At my age, who cares?”

You should. Even if Shane didn’t press charges, Mom and Dad are going to find out about this—it’s inevitable. And they won’t like it.”

Holly said nothing for a moment, then took a gulp of scotch and said into the glass, “I know.”

“And you really shouldn’t be drinking so much.”

“Don’t care. By the time you get to my age, what the hell’s the difference? I’m eighty-five, by the way,” she informed Niall.


“Darn right it is.”

“You don’t look a day over seventy. And I mean that.”

Other senior citizens would have been offended. Holly just cackled with glee. “I like this one,” she said to Celia. “He’s a lot funnier in person than in his movies.”

“Oh my God.”

“Oh, I don’t mean anything by it,” the older woman said, waving her hand dismissively. “I just think you can do better than the dreck they put you in, young man.”

A corner of Niall’s mouth lifted grimly. “I agree.”

“See?” she said to her granddaughter. “He agrees with me.”

“Well, you could have put it a nicer way.”

“Okay.” To Niall, she said, “Get a better agent.”

“It’s not my agent’s fault; it’s mine. Sometimes I make bad choices.”

He didn’t want to go into his motivations for his poor choices; luckily, Holly didn’t ask.

“All I can say is, my granddaughter is one of the best choices you’ll ever make in your life.”

Mortified, Celia covered her face as Niall said politely, “I realize that, ma’am.”

“Of course, you also realize that if you hurt her, I’ll kill you. Well, first I’ll castrate you, then I’ll kill you.”

“Of course.”

 (Excerpt from Picture This by Jayne Denker, Copyright 2014.)


That was priceless! Excellent choice of excerpt, Jayne. 
Here's the lowdown on this very talented author. 

Jayne Denker divides her time between working hard to bring the funny in her romantic comedies and raising a young son who's way too clever for his own good. She lives in a small village in western New York that is in no way, shape, or form related to the small village in her Marsden novels Down on Love and Picture This. When she's not hard at work on another novel, the social media addict can usually be found frittering away startling amounts of time on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog      Facebook      Twitter      Goodreads


And because Jayne is the Queen of Graphics, I have one more goody for you before I go!

Ready to buy this book? You sure have a lot of options!

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     iBooks     Google Play

Happy Launch Day, Jayne! Much love!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Spotlight: Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley

I have another book to recommend, y'all! The very talented Marissa Stapley has just released her first novel, Mating for Life, which I am most definitely adding to my TBR pile. :)

Release Date: July 1, 2014

Former folk singer Helen Sear was a feminist wild child who proudly disdained monogamy, raising three daughters—each by a different father—largely on her own. Now in her sixties, Helen has fallen in love with a traditional man who desperately wants to marry her. And while she fears losing him, she’s equally afraid of abandoning everything she’s ever stood for if she goes through with it.

Meanwhile, Helen’s youngest daughter, Liane, is in the heady early days of a relationship with her soul mate. But he has an ex-wife and two kids, and her new role as a “step-something” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Ilsa, an artist, has put her bohemian past behind her and is fervently hoping her second marriage will stick. Yet her world feels like it is slowly shrinking, and her painting is suffering as a result—and she realizes she may need to break free again, even if it means disrupting the lives of her two young children. And then there’s Fiona, the eldest sister, who has worked tirelessly to make her world pristine, yet who still doesn’t feel at peace. When she discovers her husband has been harboring a huge secret, Fiona loses her tenuous grip on happiness and is forced to face some truths about herself that she’d rather keep buried.

Interweaving the alternating perspectives of Helen, her daughters, and the women surrounding them, “each new chapter brings a wise and tender look at single life, dating rituals, and marital unease” (New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Close). In this “absolute feat of storytelling” (bestselling author Grace O'Connell), Marissa Stapley celebrates the many roles modern women play, and shows that even though happy endings aren’t one-size-fits-all, some loves really can last for life.


Marissa has crafted an amazing story. Let's take a quick peek...


Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Unlike other turtles, the common snapping turtle cannot hide in its shell because its body is too big. These turtles snap as a defense mechanism, but aren't actually vicious. However, perhaps because of the misconception of aggression, snapping turtles are often targeted, and are endangered in North America. When mating, snapping turtles sometimes engage in an elaborate dancelike ritual in the water that involves eye contact but no touching. Snapping turtles have no defined mating season: they court and mate only when conditions are exactly right.

When Liane swam into the snapping turtle, she screamed. He didn't bite her, but clearly he wanted to. Then he was gone, dipping first his head and then his shell underwater. (She didn't know he was a he, but she assumed; there was something placidly male in his glare.) 

She sensed the turtle was still there, somewhere below. She turned to float on her back, hearing her mother's voice in her memory as she did. "If you ever feel scared, don't panic. You'll drown," Helen had instructed from the edge of the floating dock while Liane paddled below. Liane's eldest sister, Fiona, had already been front-crawling to the middle of the lake, where Helen had placed a DIVER DOWN sign. Ilsa had been lying on the floating dock, too, but then she rolled off and swam, dolphinlike, toward Liane, grabbing her sister's ankle from beneath the waves. Liane had shouted and flailed. "Exactly! Thank you, Ilsa. That's a perfect example of what you don't do. Back float instead." Liane remembered her mother's red suit, brown skin, blond hair, and the way she talked to them as though they were already grown-ups. The swimming lessons were the one thing Helen insisted on during summers that spiraled out slowly, like the pucks of Bubble Tape gum they would buy at the marina for $1.25. The girls didn't even have to unpack their bags if they didn't want to. They were never asked to make their beds.

Now Liane looked up at the clouds and tried to fill her belly with air. But her breath was too shallow and she had to kick. Panic soon forced her to flip to her front and start to swim, fast, for the floating dock. 

She wanted to go home, and it had only been one day. Her plan: to swim and eat salads (mostly because she hated to cook, or couldn't cook; it was a chicken/egg situation she didn't care to analyze) and work on the final pages of her thesis. By the end of the week, when Liane's mother and sisters arrived for their annual early summer cottage weekend, she would have finished it. Then Adam would stop asking her when she was going to finish it and she would stop feeling guilty for not responding in a more appropriately proactive way to his father's offer of a job on the faculty at the university, as a teaching assistant, pending her thesis defense. 

The other part of her plan, and one she hadn't told any- one about, involved the hope that by coming here alone, by treating this as a regular cottage and normal lake-and not the site of one of her life's greatest tragedies-she could erase the past and turn herself into a normal person. The kind of person Adam wanted her to be. The kind of person she didn't think she could be but knew she should at least try to be. 

Liane ducked her head underwater-eyes closed, testing herself-and resurfaced with a gasp. In addition to the big fears, her week-alone-at-the-cottage plan hadn't accounted for her many small fears. (Turtles. Seaweed. Algae. Other things too embarrassing to mention. Like ants. Beetles. Walking into cobwebs.) All of these things seemed more frightening without company. (Currently: she could still sense the turtle near, perhaps now waiting at the base of the ladder to bite one of her toes.) 

She went down again, and this time kept her eyes open. Then she surfaced, blinked the water from her eyes, and saw movement to her left. The turn of a page. There was a man sitting at the end of the dock at the cottage next door-it had been the Castersen place, but the Castersens had sold it, or were renting it out, or something. Liane couldn't remember but knew Helen had explained it last year when the new dock had appeared and, next, a pair of kayaks had replaced the motorized pontoon boat Mr. Castersen had once called his "Party Boat." 

The unfamiliar man sitting on the dock reading looked up and Liane looked down, focusing again on her path through the water. But she should have waved. She was in cottage country. In cottage country, you were supposed to wave (even if you were swimming) and mouth, Hello, to people (regardless of whether you knew them). But she was too embarrassed. He had probably heard her screaming about the turtle. He had probably seen the awkward way she'd jumped off the dock, plugging her nose and splaying her legs. And either way, it was now too late because the man-who had copper-blond hair and a matching shadow of a beard-was reading his book again. She kept swimming and looked away from him, but looking away meant she had to look at the shed, so she closed her eyes and ducked under again. 

 (Excerpt from Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley, Copyright 2014.) 


And now for a bit about Marissa from the woman herself!

I'm a National Magazine Award nominated writer and former magazine editor whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Elle Canada, and many others. Mating for Life (Atria Books; Simon & Schuster Canada) is my first novel. When I'm not writing, I'm reading. (In fact, I never go anywhere without a book. Except maybe swimming.) Some of my favourite authors are Meg Wolitzer, Julia Glass, Alice Munro, John Irving, Lauren Groff, Margaret Atwood and James Salter. I live in Toronto with my husband and two children, where I teach writing, and am working on another novel.

Interested in checking out this awesome book? I thought you might be. :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I’ve been tagged by TWO wonderful authors, Jayne Denker and Becky Monson, to participate in the Very Inspiring Blogger Award/Tour! They are both incredibly talented and are guilty of feeding my rather large reading habit! I will get back to writing my next book eventually. :)

Now I must share seven interesting things about myself with you. Hmmm, I will have to think about this. This may take a moment...

OK, here we go!

1. I have never met a piece of chocolate that I didn't like.

2. Audrey Hepburn is my favorite actress EVER! Give me a bowl of popcorn (with some chocolate thrown in, of course) and Charade, Breakfast at Tiffany's and Sabrina and I will be a happy girl!

3. When I was a little girl I dreamed of performing on Broadway. Unfortunately, I am completely tone deaf. 

4. My older sister called me, "Turkey Face" when we were kids. To this day, I am indignant. I look nothing like a turkey!

5. I am secretly pleased that both of my sons are "Mama's boys."

6. My favorite way to relax is to bake - cookies, cupcakes, brownies, oh my! I tend to feed a lot of my friends with my creations since it is actually possible for one to ingest too much sugar. :)

7. I love all things 80s - music, movies...uh, OK, not ALL things 80s, since the clothes were heinous! (Acid washed jeans, anyone?) But John Hughes and Cameron Crowe spun some unforgettable tales and I can't help but shake my booty to the Bangles, Blondie and Pat Benetar. 

Now I have the difficult task of tagging seven more authors - since I think most of my posse has already been tagged! My picks are: Celia Kennedy , GVR Corcillo , Amy Brantley , K.C. Wilder , Maggie Le Page , Jana Misho & Lisette Brodey.
Here are the rules, ladies! Post the logo, link back to your tagger (That's me!) & list your seven things! Ready? Set? Go!