So Damn Lucky by Deborah Coonts is the third installment in the Lucky O’Toole series. I have read and reviewed both Wanna Get Lucky? and Lucky Stiff, and I’ve been having a fun time with these characters. I love the Vegas setting and all the background information on the city, and I also love reading a good mystery. In this book, Lucky is dealing with a group of magicians that may be intent on murder, her mother drops a bombshell, and her live-in lover is off touring the world with a gorgeous pop star. Lucky is trying to hold down the fort at The Babylon and keep a handle on her personal life. The interest of two other men isn’t helping matters either – former co-worker Paxton Dane is still waiting for his chance, and now the French chef is also trying to wine and dine Lucky. Always the one to fix the problems, Lucky wonders if she will be able to fix her own…
I enjoyed this Lucky book, but I don’t think it was my favorite of the three. That still belongs to Lucky Stiff, but I did like the story. The books are all thick but fast-paced and outrageous. I love a good chick lit mystery novel, and that would be how I classify these books from Coonts. I was a little disappointed to see who Lucky ended up with at the end of the novel. No spoilers, but after reading the previous two books about her, I really didn’t see coming who she had chosen. The supporting cast are all back and being their usual selves, and I think they really add a lot of depth to the plot. I hope there is a fourth Lucky book so I can see her end up with the man who I think she belongs with! I definitely recommend this series.
More Lucky Reviews:
Kay Bratt is on tour with CLP Blog Tours and Chasing China
Mia is a young college student who sets off on a journey to find out more about her birth family – in China. She was told that she was left at a train station when she was just a baby, and lived in an orphanage until she was adopted by her American family. But the time has come for Mia to see China, the orphanage where she once lived, and try to find out more about the Chinese culture. Mia is shocked when she sees firsthand what the orphans go through – no love, strict schedules, and the bare minimum when it comes to toys, food, and clothes. More than just the orphanages, Mia learns from her new friend Jax about how children are kidnapped from their homes and forced to beg and steal on the streets. As Mia tries to learn more about her past, she realizes how lucky she was to be adopted by her family, and feels a growing compassion for those in China that she meets. But will Mia accomplish what she really set out to find – her birth family?
Chasing China by Kay Bratt was such an emotional story. I love how much you learn from reading, and this is definitely a book that educated me on a topic I had never previously heard of. From the orphanages to the kidnappings to the government officials covering up certain situations – this made for quite the read. Bratt weaves Mia’s journey with a delicate hand but a strong voice. Mia is so brave and such a beautiful heroine. I loved the romance angle as well, except there were a few times where I thought Jax’s dialogue was a bit peculiar. To my ears he sounded much older than his age. There were a few editing mistakes that I caught along the way as well, but nothing to really deter me from the plot. Overall, I thought this was a really great book that I think people should read, for the story and for the educational experience you can get. I look forward to reading more from Kay Bratt.
**Everyone who leaves a comment on Kay’s tour page will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of Chasing China before March 5 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**
Monica will be on tour in May/June with her women’s fiction/romance novel Finding Felicity. PDF’s can be provided if you would like to do a book review. Monica will also be available for a guest post or interview, and book excerpts can be provided. Please indicate all features you are interested in below. I will contact everyone chosen to participate. Thank you!
Finding Felicity tells the story of Madeline O’Connor, whose life is turned upside down when she learns that her estranged sister is ill and so leaves Manhattan to care for her sister in Italy. Although she is consumed by work and her relationship with her sister is strained by a past betrayal, Madeline makes the journey to Europe and stays in a monastery that accommodates travelers. There, she meets Brother Anthony Lamberti, a man unlike any that she knows in New York. Anthony and Madeline share an overwhelming love and Madeline lets down her guard to the sincerity, dignity, and strength of Anthony. From him, she learns many spiritual and emotional lessons and undergoes a complete transformation. Along the way, she also meets Tyler Reed, who adds the excitement of a love triangle to the many twists and turns along Madeline’s journey to Finding Felicity.
**Monica’s blog tour is now full. Thank you to everyone who signed up!**
Punch up the Emotion!
By RaeAnne Thayne
Writing a book about an emotional topic without your prose becoming maudlin or overblown can definitely be a challenge – but if you’re able to pull it off, your readers will definitely connect to your characters and your story.
I just finished my 40th book and in the course of my career, I have written about many emotional issues – infertility, the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse. My current release, WOODROSE MOUNTAIN, focuses on a girl who was severely injured in a car accident a few months before the book opens. It’s about healing and hope, about leaning on others and also about some of the difficulties faced by both the victims of TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) and those who love them.
In this book – and all my others – I try to depict my characters facing their adversities with humor and grace, never losing sight of the emotional connection I want my readers to find with my characters. Here’s a quick checklist that might help improve the emotional punch in your writing:
WOW CHARACTERS: Are my characters compelling, vivid, larger-than-life people that my readers can easily relate to? Even if they’re aliens or shapeshifters or demons, do they possess emotional depth that resonates with my readers?
TRUE CONFLICT: Have I created a conflict between my H/H that cannot be resolved without flaying them open, digging deeply into their psyche and exploring their innermost fears and insecurities?
PROPER PACING: Have I paid careful attention to proper pacing, interspersing moments of raw emotion with levity or sweetness or quiet reflection?
DIALOGUE: Have I used dialogue appropriately to best convey my characters’ moods and emotions? Not just what they say but how they say it: Terse, hard words during moments of anger; softer, rounder sentences in times of reflection or quiet sharing?
POINT OF VIEW: Is the point-of-view character I’ve chosen in a given scene the appropriate one to best intensify the emotional arc?
SETTING: Have I truly utilized setting as effectively as possible to enhance the emotions my characters are experiencing? Weather, time of day, physical location: All can be used to reflect the emotional mood.
THE WRITING! Have I “layered in lusciousness” as the fabulous Barbara Samuel so eloquently puts it, by using all sensory tools at my disposal to accentuate my characters’ emotions through texture and scent and color?
LIVE THE EMOTION: Finally, have I been willing to dig as deeply as I can – in my characters’ psyches and in my own – to explore the wide range of feelings inside us all? If I tend to shy away from intense emotions in my life, am I willing to overcome that instinctive self-protective mechanism in order to allow my characters to experience reactions that might personally frighten me?
If you look at your own favorite books, I’m sure you’ll find the selections on your keeper shelf are those books where the emotional intensity of the characters really resonated with you, no matter what the genre.
What tips do you have for heightening the emotional connection your readers can make with your characters?
Beautiful Ellenabandons her life as a successful fund-raiser for that of isolated housewife in the country estate she shares with her husband, whose affairs become increasingly hard to ignore.
Television anchor Laura is driven to succeed, and her choices are motivated by her one dream in life—to move out of small-time media markets, and on to the big time, whatever the cost.
Angie is the luckless waitress who spends her time waiting for Mr. Right in “shiny shoes” to save her from temporary jobs and a life spent making bad choices, particularly when it comes to men.
ALL THE DIFFERENCE is the story of three women whose lives become entangled by the choices they make and how, ultimately, one of them turns to murder to achieve her goals.
Please visit CLP Blog Tours for the full tour calendar.
(Note: Book will go on sale March 29th)
Heather Hummel is on tour with her novel Write from the Heart. I did a tour with Heather for her first book in the Journals from the Heart series titled Whispers from the Heart, and really enjoyed the story. I was eager to read another from her. Write follows Samantha Sounder, who abruptly quits her job as an office manager and decides to really get what she wants out of life. During her therapy sessions, her therapists encourages her to go through past journals. Samantha is trying to figure out why so many of her relationships with men have failed. While immersed in that project, Samantha also decides that she needs to take her dream of becoming a novelist seriously. She determinedly starts writing her first novel, Winter’s Truth, and receives help from a Craig, a man she meets at a coffee shop. Samantha and Craig are soon heading into their own romance, but Samantha isn’t sure if that is the right decision. After much soul-searching, journaling, and never giving up, Samantha’s life finally seems to be turning around, all because of her go-get it attitude and some positive thinking.
I liked what Samantha’s journey was all about – taking life in your own hands and making something happen for yourself. I harp on that lesson all the time. Samantha was a very sweet main character, someone who always wants to do the right thing but has a hard time finding a break. Craig was a delicious male lead, I was a big fan of his right when he entered the story. Sometimes, I thought the writing was a bit too loose and I had to question some of the dialogue, and how many times the word “Universe” was written. I also thought the ending came together really easily for Samantha. As a writer myself, I thought her journey to being published seemed very easy. But I don’t want to get on that subject too much, because really the focus of the story is about being positive, and how little moments of reflecting on positive thoughts can really help change a life. I really believe in that lesson as well, and I’m glad Hummel wrote such a fine story about it.
See my review of Heather’s novel Whispers From the Heart
A blue straggler is a star that has an anomalous blue color and appears to be disconnected from those stars that surround it. But this is not a story about astronomy. Bailey Miller is “disconnected” from the cluster of her rural south Texas family. She has never quite fit in and now in her early 30s, she finds herself struggling with inner turmoil and a series of bad choices in her life. Bailey’s drinking too much (even for a member of her family), has a penchant to eat spoonfuls of Cool Whip, works in a job that bores her beyond description and can’t keep a relationship longer than it takes for milk to expire in her fridge. Even with the help of her two outspoken friends, Texas lass Idamarie and her quirky college pal Rudy, she’s having a hard time. So she packs up her Honda and heads out of Texas in search of herself and answers to secrets from her great-grandmother’s past. The novel takes readers on a journey from San Antonio, Texas, to a small mountain town in Colorado and back again, as Bailey uncovers not only the secrets of her great-grandmother’s life, but also some painful secrets of her own. All while finding love along the way. If you have ever wondered why you got stuck with the family you did, what you are doing with your job and your life, or had a sudden desire to run off to the mountains, sit back and join Bailey for this laugh-out-loud, yet poignant ride.
Please visit CLP Blog Tours for all the tour stops! **Anyone who purchases their copy of Blue Straggler before April 30 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five entries in a drawing to win a $10 Amazon gift card!!**
In My Mailbox: Week of February 26
Author: Kristin Hannah
Received: For the SheKnows Book Club
Synopsis: In her bestselling novels Kristin Hannah has plumbed the depths of friendship, the loyalty of sisters, and the secrets mothers keep. Now, in her most emotionally powerful story yet, she explores the intimate landscape of a troubled marriage with this provocative and timely portrait of a husband and wife, in love and at war.
All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost. . . .
Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life—children, careers, bills, chores—even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a solider she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own—for everything that matters to his family.
At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately, hope.
Author: Andrea Murray
Received: Via CLP Blog Tours
Synopsis: When Vivian Cartwright was five years old, she witnessed her mother’s death.
Now, sixteen-year-old Vivian only wants a normal life—hard to accomplish when you possess the power to control energy. Her entire life she has feared her power and its connection to her mother’s murder. She has kept her ability a secret from everyone except her guardian, Charlotte, who has hidden Vivian from the man responsible for her mother’s murder.
Her secret is safe until Vivian subconsciously defends herself at school using her power. After this first use of her gift in many years, Vivian’s power seems to take on a mind of its own, increasing in strength and demanding to be used. This increase in power also brings dreams of her mother’s death and the mysterious man connected with it. When she is assigned to tutor the would-be boyfriend of Trista Parmer (a.k.a. the biggest diva in school), Vivian cannot deny the electrifying connection that she feels for the boy, Easton Garrett. In her desire to get Easton away from Vivian, Trista doubles her efforts to humiliate Vivian, forcing Vivian to use her supernatural gift over and over. With each use, Vivian fears she is losing control and discovers her powers are growing—maybe too much—bringing her unknowingly closer to the man who murdered her mother.
Author: Kate Johnson
Received: From Choc Lit
Synopsis: Sophie’s in trouble. Must be Tuesday.
Sophie Green’s an ex-spy, or trying to be. You wouldn’t believe the trouble she’s in. An MI5 officer has been shot with her gun, her fingerprints all over his office. And no, she didn’t kill him.
But she has gone on the run.
Now Sophie’s desperately seeking whoever’s trying to frame and kill her. She’s being forced to work with the least trustworthy man in Europe, MI5 is following her every move, and she’s had to leave the tall, blond, god of a man she loves behind.
Luke Sharpe works for MI6. Or did, until his girlfriend became a murder suspect.
Doing nothing wasn’t an option, so he started investigating. Who cares if it is means jeopardising his career? Sophie’s everything he used to say he never wanted. Young, irresponsible, bright and mad. Now she’s just everything – and she has to live.
She will live, won’t she?
In Sara’s Mailbox:
Author: JT Keitt
Received: From Lauren @ AuthorRight
Synopsis: From the beginning, Patricia Ann Hall knew she had a secret. Within a darkness of shouting voices that only she could hear, inside a world only her eyes could see, she grasped onto a deadly Miracle that although cruel and deceptive, offered her the only escape. Sex was the weapon. Money was the bait. Sanity was the vehicle. And someone had to suffer. Patricia s daughter Symphony finds that even she can t erase the melody of the madness as her past catches up to her, and everything she thought was real reveals its true identity. But is it too late? Miracle s Pain is part two of Secrets of my Soul, the novel that began this twisted tale of mystery; a trilogy that leads to A Promise Fulfilled.
Author: MJ Rose
Received: Lindsay @ Media Muscle
Synopsis: A Secret Worth Dying For …
Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by visions of the past, her earliest memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up with as the heir to a storied French perfume company. These worsened after her mother’s suicide until she finally found a doctor who helped her, teaching her to explore the mythological symbolism in her visions and thus lessen their painful impact. This ability led Jac to a wildly successful career as a mythologist, television personality and author.
When her brother, Robbie—who’s taken over the House of L’Etoile from their father—contacts Jac about a remarkable discovery in the family archives, she’s skeptical. But when Robbie goes missing before he can share the secret—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.
Traveling back to Paris to investigate Robbie’s disappearance, Jac discovers that the secret is a mysterious scent developed in Cleopatra’s time. Could the rumors swirling be true? Can this ancient perfume hold the power to unlock the ability to remember past lives and conclusively prove reincarnation? If this possession has the power to change the world, then it’s not only worth living for . . . it’s worth killing for, too.
The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion and suspense in an intoxicating web that moves from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. This marvelous, spellbinding novel mixes the sensory allure of Perfume with the heartbreaking beauty of The Time Traveler’s Wife, coming to life as richly as our most wildly imagined dreams.
SHELLY BELL HOSTS FUNDRAISER
During 25th Annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week,
Themed Everybody Knows Somebody, Feb. 26-March 3
Observing 25 Years of Working for a World Without Eating Disorders
Farmington Hills, MI— February 23, 2012 — For Immediate Release — Shelly Bell will host a Fundraiser during the 25th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness Week) in an effort to bring public attention to the critical need to raise awareness and funding to battle eating disorders in the U.S.
WHEN: February 26, 2012-March 3, 2012
During NEDAwareness Week, thousands of people come together in communities across the country, hosting events to raise awareness about body image and bring national attention to the severity of eating disorders, which are mental illnesses (not lifestyle choices) with devastating, often life-threatening, consequences. While there is hope and recovery is possible – particularly with early intervention – many people suffer from long-term effects of these illnesses.
Themed Everybody Knows Somebody in 2012, some of the many events planned for the week include presentations and health fairs in schools and on college campuses; screenings of informational films; fashion shows featuring men and women of all body types; art shows; The Great Jeans Giveaway; and NEDA Walk fundraisers.
NEDA encourages individuals to get the conversation started in every community by pledging to do just one thing to raise awareness and provide critical information on eating disorders and related issues. Everyone can participate by planning and/or getting involved in local NEDAwareness Week events and activities; providing information and resources; and by encouraging community members to model acceptance and celebration of diversity in body shapes and sizes.
For information on how to get involved during NEDAwareness Week: www.myneda.org
U.S. Statistics on Eating Disorders: As many as 10 million females and 1 million males in the U.S. battle anorexia or bulimia. And as many as 13 million more struggle with binge eating disorder. Millions practice disordered eating due to an obsession with dieting ● Four out of 10 Americans either suffered or have known someone who has suffered from an eating disorder ● For females between 15- and 24-years-old-old who suffer from anorexia nervosa, the mortality rate associated with the illness is 12 times higher than the death rate of all other causes of death ● 40% of newly identified cases of anorexia are in girls 15-19 years old ● There was a significant increase in incidence of anorexia from 1935 to 1989, especially among young women 15-24 ● There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 in each decade since 1930 ● Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives ● Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet ● 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner ● 81% of 10 –year-olds are afraid of being fat ● The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds ● Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women ● 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.
Shelly Bell’s debut book, A Year to Remember, follows a food addict’s road to recovery as she searches for her soul mate under the watchful eye of the nation. A recovering compulsive overeater, she wrote A Year to Remember to share her strength and hope with compulsive overeaters and food addicts everywhere.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in New York City, is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders. For more information, visit www.NationalEatingDisorders.org
For Treatment Referrals, Visit www.NationalEatingDisorders.org
Or Contact NEDA’s Live Helpline: 800-931-2237
Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (EST)
Shelly Bell — (313) 550-3313
Debut Authors and Titles – March 2012
Author: Ashley Ream
Release Date: March 6
Synopsis: In thirty days Clementine Pritchard will be finished with her last painting and her life.
World-renowned artist and sharp-tongued wit Clementine Pritchard has decided that she’s done. After flushing away a medicine cabinet full of prescriptions, she gives herself thirty days to tie up loose ends—finish one last painting, make nice with her ex-husband, and find a home for her cat. Clementine plans to spend the month she has left in a swirl of art-world parties, manic work sessions, and outrageous acts—but what she doesn’t expect is to uncover secrets surrounding the tragedy that befell her mother and sister. In an ending no one sees coming, will we lose Clementine or will we find her?
A bold debut from an exciting new voice, Losing Clementine is a wonderfully entertaining and poignant novel about unanticipated self-discovery that features one of the most irresistible, if deeply flawed, characters to grace contemporary fiction in years.
Author: Meg Donohue
Release Date: March 13
Synopsis: Free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clairs’ housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls oblivious to class differences could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.
A decade later, Annie bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death, and a painful secret jeopardizes Julia’s engagement to the man she loves. A chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, but when a mysterious saboteur opens up old wounds, they must finally face the truth about their past or risk losing everything.
Author: Ceri Radford
Release Date: March 29
Synopsis: Constance Harding’s comfortable corner of the Home Counties is her own little piece of heaven. Her time is spent party-planning (disastrous), matchmaking for her startlingly well-dressed son Rupert (catastrophic), and dreaming of the hat aisles at John Lewis. But she’s about to learn that her perfect home conceals scandal that would make the vicar blush. Her Lithuanian housekeeper’s polyester underwear keeps appearing in her husband’s study, her parrot has gained a troubling new vocabulary and her daughter is turning into a Lycra-clad gap-year strumpet. As her family falls apart, Constance embarks on an extraordinary journey. From tripping in Ibiza to riding with a handsome Argentinean gaucho whose only English words are ‘Britney’ and ‘Spears’, Constance discovers a wider world she thought it was too late to find …