Excerpt, Giveaways, Interviews, Reviews

#Review of Island Life Sentence by Carrie Jo Howe w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @carriejohowe

Island Life Sentence

by Carrie Jo Howe

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GENRE: Adult Fiction, Humorous, Romantic comedy

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BLURB:

Peg Savage has contractually agreed to move to Key West, Florida. The smudged signatures on the damp cocktail napkin are irrefutable proof.

“An adventure…” her husband Clark says.

Peg can’t swim; she’s afraid of bridges (there are 42 of them); and she doesn’t want to leave her friends. However, after a bottle of Cabernet, a move from Chicago to the southernmost city in the United States seems like the best decision ever.

But now Clark has taken a long term job in Cuba and she’s on her own.

Neither her dog Nipper, nor the ghosts in the attic, offer up any good advice. But how hard can it be living in paradise?

Peg dives into island life but the more effort she makes, the wider her wake of catastrophes. She is tortured by a paddle board, a giant poisonous toad, the local Conservation group, and the patron saint of hurricanes. Not to mention the persistent sweat rash under her left breast.

A tropical depression descends on the island – one that can’t be cured with medication. Peg must gather her strength if she has any hope of surviving the storm.


Welcome Carrie Jo Howe! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.  Hi and thank you for hosting me! I’m a Chicago transplant to Key West, Florida. The island is the southernmost part of the United States and closer to Havana than a Target store.  My husband took a job transfer five years ago. I thought it was going to be fairly temporary, yet we’re still in Paradise. We have three grown boys and a 13 year old Vizsla. The dog is the boss of us all.

Is Island Life Sentence a single title, or part of a series? The book, is the first part of a trilogy. I’m working on the second book now.  

What were your inspirations for the story? Well, Peg is a fictional Mid-western woman who moves from Chicago to Key West. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Peg’s (mis)adventures are based on true stories. Yes, my dog was nearly poisoned by a deadly Bufo Toad. Yes, my house is haunted by haints (Key West ghosts). Yes, I survived a category five Hurricane named Irma.  

Please share your setting for Island Life Sentence.  Key West is a lush tropical island at the bottom of the chain of the Florida Keys.  It is aptly named “the end of the road” for its location and for the fact that it attracts some lively characters.  There’s some funky evolution going on down here–Darwinism at its finest.

When did the writing bug first bite? I think of myself as more of a storyteller.  I like to write about funny or strange events. For example, my first book, Motherhood is Not for Babies, tells about my shock at the effort it takes to raise a family.  I was surprised at how uncooperative they all were. It is therapy to write about it–makes it seem less overwhelming.

Who are you favorite authors, book/series?
The Florida writer, Carl Hiaasen  is an an ex-journalist who writes about Florida and all of its anomalies. Before I moved to Florida, I thought he exaggerated his humorous tales…I’ve since learned that, in reality, he’s quite factual.  My favorites of his books are Tourist Season and  Razor Girl.  

I’m a fan-girl of Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. These two friends are strong and funny. In my dream world, I’m sitting at a table with them in a restaurant and not getting arrested for stalking.

 

Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?  I love my teachers at the Pilates Studio of Key West. They know their stuff and make the classes demanding but entertaining.  That’s saying a lot since the exercise program uses torture terms like, “reformer”, “straps” and “chair”. I also volunteer as a mentor for a high school student for the program Take Stock in Children.  TSIC provides college tuition for low-income, academically minded students. I’m proud to be part of such a well run and necessary organization.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?  Hmmm, let’s see…since it’s Key West, that’s tough to narrow down. Would you mind if I shared a photo of Happy Hour last Friday?  Words can’t do this justice.

Is it okay to say that while I read this book I almost peed my pants?  There are parts of this book that had me laughing out loud and often.  Other parts, I wanted to shake Peg and tell her to put on her big girl panties and suck it up.  Yes, at times, Peg came across as the Too Stupid to Live heroine but once she finally figured out stuff, her brilliance shined.

The situations that she finds herself in are at times funny and then, farfetched but they are meant to be.  She is a true “fish out of water” when it comes to living in Key West.  I’ve never been but I have been to Chicago many times, so her life back in Chicago resounded with me.  I couldn’t imagine moving from Chicago to Key West but it would be an adventure for sure.  I did like the fact that the author had the same experiences that Peg did, Clark not withstanding.

Her husband is a douche.  I could use a stronger word but I’ll keep it PG at best.  The ending of the book is definitely poetic justice but I really did want to know what Peg was going to do now.  I understand the sequel is being written and I can’t wait to read more about Peg and her dog, Nipper.

Randolph, Trudy, Bernie, Nipper, the ghosts and even the setting are perfect secondary characters.  Ms. Howe has written a great chick lit book with heart, humor, a bit of ridiculous but overall a great read.

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Excerpt Two:

“Sunshine state… my soggy ass.”

It was dark. The power and the air conditioning had gone out hours ago. Peg hugged her dog under the makeshift bed-tent, clutching him to her sweaty pajama’d breasts.

An engraved locket pinned to Nipper’s blue life vest dangled under his pirate dog collar. Hurricane rain pummeled the bedroom window – the violent wind shook the glass panes. Peg wondered about the moaning sound until she realized it was coming from her own throat.

She shrieked at the sudden crash on the metal roof. Several days of binge drinking without proper oral hygiene, or any hygiene for that matter, produced noxious vapors in the tent. Nipper’s nostrils flared as he took in the odors and licked her fluorescent orange, cheesy, tear-stained fingers.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

After raising three boys in the suburbs of Chicago, Carrie Jo Howe now lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and her dog. Her latest novel, Island Life Sentence, is a fictional account of an American Midwestern woman who feels like an alien in the “one human family” of Key West. Carrie Jo’s first book, Motherhood is NOT for Babies, received a rave review (thanks Mom), and works wonderfully as a form of contraception. Her blog Florida Keys Crime Report, tells of all the goings on in the Keys, where bank robbers get away on bicycles, and perps caught with undersized, pinched, out-of-season lobsters get more jail time than drug runners. She is currently working on the sequels to Island Life Sentence.

 

Website: www.carriejohowe.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carriejohowe/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carriejohowe

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carriejohoweauthor

Blog: https://carriejohowe.blogspot.com/

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Island-Life-Sentence-Carrie-Howe/dp/1911586521

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

 

Carrie Jo Howe will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt, Giveaways, Reviews

#Review of The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @meredithschorr @MeredithSchorr #RomCom

The Boyfriend Swap

by Meredith Schorr

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GENRE: Romantic Comedy

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BLURB:

Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure. Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flaky actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.

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Excerpt One:

“Give the idea a minute to percolate,” Sidney said calmly. Her mouth remained in a straight line, indicating she wasn’t joking.

My stomach quivered with unease, but I took calming breaths to settle down. According to Anne Marie, Sidney was very opinionated and sometimes wouldn’t shut up until she got her way. I’d just let her keep at it until her throat hurt or she passed out from too much wine.

Sidney continued, “If left to our own devices, the holidays are going to blow chunks, but if we pool together, we’ll all be better off. And it’s only for a few days. It’s the perfect solution to our mutual problem.”

I stood from the table and removed a bottle of water from the refrigerator. I poured a glass and placed it in front of her. Hopefully she’d take the hint. The wine was clearly going to her head.

“What do you say?” she asked the minute I sat back down.

The girl had to be on more than fermented grape juice. Hallucinogenics maybe? Whatever influence she was under, she clearly believed her ludicrous plan had merit and I was going to have to put my foot down. “I say that I’m a grown woman and shouldn’t need to lie to my parents about who I’m dating.”

Sidney nodded. “I agree. You shouldn’t.”

A breeze of relief zipped through my core. “Glad we’re on the same page.”

“You shouldn’t have to lie, but in our case, we sort of do. If we want to make it to the New Year without requiring a straitjacket, that is.” She smiled, a slick grin I was certain both assured her clients and put the fear of the devil in her adversaries in equal measure.

 

Where do I start with this gem of a book?  Seriously?  The premise sounded like a true winner and it really was.  I loved Robyn, Perry, Will, and Sidney.  But I did have my favorites.  Anna Marie is a hoot, too but I’ll get more into the secondary characters later.  What truly sets this book apart from any other chick lit/rom-com is that its clean.  I know, right?  I’ve read some really good rom com’s lately but this one is clean.  Sure, sure, the couples before the swap engage in the bedroom but we never see it and its only in passing do we even hear about.  Your’ grandmother can read this book or even better a teenager.  Did I miss it?  Nope, not one bit and you won’t either.  This is a story about two couples that need to grow up, figure out what they want in life and how they are going to achieve it.  With or without their current partner.

Robyn and Will stand out for me because of the trope, childhood friends to lovers.  Robyn and Will have a chemistry that is just there on the edge but neither one of them want to step off.  Robyn has had it in her head about Will since she was a teen and doesn’t want to spoil that image or fantasy.  Will, on the other hand, just to figure out if Sidney is the right woman for him.  You will cheer this couple on from the beginning.  I loved these two and their romance is a slow build with a broken heart or two.  I won’t go into anymore because of spoilers.  Let’s just say that I’m very satisfied how it…

Sidney and Perry are a completely different story.  If I had to pick the couple that needs the most work, it would be them.  Take an alpha female with severe daddy issues and pair her with a wannbe actor and its a recipe for diasater.  I never laughed so hard at them.  Perry is trying to shake her up and boy does he.  Sidney doesn’t know what to do and the pantry scene is priceless.  I saw it coming but I still loved it.  It finally showed a Sidney that I liked.  I didn’t like her very much until then.  She’s got a bunch of issues to deal with and when she FINALLY tells her dad “sorta” off, I cheered for her.  If I had one compliant, I would have liked to see where she and Perry ended up.  The scene at Lord & Taylor is just too funny.  Cherry Bomb!

Both girls have family issues that they need to take of in the book and with the help of their ‘boyfriends”, they succed on some level.  Peeps, this book is chopped full of laughs, two couples that shouldn’t be together but are and some major growing up for the girls.  Ms. Schorr has written a winner of a book.  I highly recommend it.  Plus, it has Lord & Taylor.  I know, I live in Texas but we had L & T in Dallas when I was growing up.  I used to get my hair cut there and my first ever Victor Costa party dress was bought there.  And yes, I still have the dress.  😉

I can’t wait to read another book from Ms. Schorr.  I loved her voice, style and most of her characters.  Anna Marie and both sides of the family are great, too.  James is a hoot for Robyn to sound off to and the two guys at the beach were priceless.  Pick this book up.  Tell your friends.  And then tell what book of hers next to read.

 

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

A born-and-bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing romantic comedy and humorous women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hardworking trademark paralegal and her still-single (but looking) status. Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan, an avid runner, and an unashamed television addict. To learn more, visit her at www.meredithschorr.com.

 

Social media:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MeredithSchorrAuthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/MeredithSchorr

Website: www.meredithschorr.com

Instagram: meredithschorr

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

 

Meredith will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

Giveaways, Limitless, Release Day, Reviews, Teaser Excerpts

#Review of The Dating Bender by Christina Julian w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @givemebooksblog @christin_julian

 

 

Title: The Dating Bender
Author: Christina Julian
Genre: Chick Lit/Romantic Comedy
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Blurb
Here I am, on my knees in front of the Trevi Fountain, hoping like hell the legend is true. That the fountain gives you solace and love by a mere toss of a coin.
Why am I here, exactly? Let’s see…
It started with my parents telling me to get married. Of course, being the good Catholic girl I am, I did.
Needless to say, that marriage nosedived, and my parents weren’t exactly happy about it.
Newly ditched and shamefully disowned, I decided to follow the advice of Babs, a tart-of-a-mentor, who offered me a job in Colorado.
Her advice? Sex…and lots of it.
The temptation of freedom, to do whatever—whoever—I wanted was too damn strong for me to say no.
And that’s how it all started. The men, the sex, the journey…
The dating bender.
Because everybody deserves a do-over.
 Sorry, this is late.  School starts this week and I’ve been running around with my head cut off.  The kid starts 7th grade (Juinor High here) and I start working on Thursday.  Anyways, here you go.
This book had me laughing out loud at times, cringing the next moment and then sighing in the end.  This is a great coming of age story about a woman that has been repressed her whole life.  I’m not Catholic so the guilt that most mothers put on their daughters I just don’t get but I have a niece that is Catholic and her mother smothered her and it shows at almost 22.  It’s sad and I just hope that she doesn’t end up like Samantha in the end.  But what I did get is that Samantha needed to get on with her life, with or without her family.
The dysfunction was funny at times but since I’m seeing someone close to me go through her ups and downs (more downs) than most, it made me cringe.  I felt sorry for Samantha in the end but more importantly for her family with their treatment of her.  I’m a firm believer that some things are just not for everyone, marriage included.  I waited until I was 37 to get married and I married and have stayed married for all the right reasons.  I love my husband.  Samantha never had a chance to do that.
Babs is a great character for Samantha in the sense that she can finally be herself and figure out her own life…ON HER OWN.  Without the Catholic mother telling her what is going wrong, telling her what to do, etc.  It grated on my nerves at times but I realize that Ms. Julian was trying to make a point and she did.  I’ve had other people read this book and tell me that it was like a Sex in the City mash-up.  Guess what?  I never watched one episode of that show so I have no reference point.  Sorry.
Overall, I truly loved Samantha and how she finally became her own person.  I won’t even begin to tell you most of the story and if she ever finds someone to love or even how much sex she has.  You need to read the book to find out.  Catholic guilt or not.  🙂
Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Author Bio

 

Christina Julian writes snarky rom-coms that celebrate the underdog and live to make people laugh. She adores dysfunctional leading ladies and the tangled twisty lives they lead. She adamantly believes there is nothing in life that can’t be conquered with a bodacious wine, strong cup of coffee, or a generously iced cupcake. When she is not tapping out her next novel or wrangling her 3-year-old twins, she can be found sipping and swirling in the name of research as a wine and food columnist in Napa Valley. She strives always to live her life to the extreme. 
Christina’s work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Enthusiast, California Home + Design, 7×7, Weddings California, NorthBay Biz, Napa Valley Register, Napa Valley Life, Bohemian, Weekly Calistogan and beyond.
Author Links