Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Interview with Robyn Carr, Author of The Family Gathering + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome Robyn Carr to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of the 3rd installment of the Sullivan's Crossing series, The Family Gathering from MIRA, a Harlequin imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Robyn! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Robyn Carr was a young mother of two in the mid-1970s when she started writing fiction, an Air Force wife, educated as a nurse, whose husband’s frequent assignment changes made it difficult for her to work in her profession. Little did the aspiring novelist know then, as she wrote with babies on her lap, that she would become one of the world’s most popular authors of romance and women’s fiction, that 11 of her novels would earn the #1 berth on the New York Times bestselling books list.

Robyn and her now-retired husband enjoy traveling, often taking research trips together. Their children are grown—her son is an Army surgeon; her daughter, a police detective/hostage negotiator. Robyn says that, in addition to reading her novels and making snide remarks about how she’s used family scenarios to her advantage, they have made her a happy grandmother.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which just hit shelves yesterday:

An exceptional storyteller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr beautifully captures the emotionally charged, complex dynamics that come with being part of any family. Readers will laugh and shed a few tears as they discover what it means to be loved, supported and accepted by the people who mean the most.

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted.

When the book opens, Dakota has been keeping his distance from his family for a number of years, both because he’s been serving in the military and also because of his wandering, lone wolf nature. What is it that ultimately makes him want to reconnect with his siblings and settle down a bit?

He hasn’t had a lot of time for visiting, obviously, and he didn’t rely on his family, though he cared about his siblings and stayed in touch, but once he got out of the Army he decided to visit his brother and sister since they were both in the same Colorado town. He could immediately see they had built stable, functional lives for themselves, a long way from the way they all grew up. They had formed solid relationships. The people they associated with her also stable and functional. It seemed like a good idea to stay a few months to see if he could find stability and happiness of his own so he gets a job. No sooner does the idea form than he meets Sidney Shandon, a bartender in her brother’s pub, and he is immediately taken with her. Besides being pretty, he recognizes her intelligence, humor and independent nature. She is adamant that she won’t date which might even add to the intrigue.

Can you tell us a little about the title of the book? What does it mean for Dakota, and what can readers expect from this particular family gathering?

The Jones siblings are members of a fractured family, having gone their separate ways and built their individual lives as best they can, going off in different directions. Now, with Dakota’s arrival, three of the four of them live in the same town and they begin to get to know each other for the first time in years. They’re very different from the kids who grew up in a converted school bus on their grandmother’s farm. Twenty years later they’ve all changed and they’ve each had to make peace with their childhood traumas. And in getting to know each other as adults, they begin to accept and respect each other, warts and all. Dakota had never counted on his family, they had never counted on him, but all that is about to change.

Sullivan’s Crossing is such a special setting for this series—what’s your favorite part of writing about this town, and do you discover new things about it with each new book?

Colorado really has it all—quaint small towns like Timberlake, the fictional town nearest Sullivan’s Crossing, big cities like Denver and Colorado Springs, chi-chi expensive skiing towns, lots of cattle land and the majestic Rockies. I’ve been building the town since the first book and new people and businesses keep popping up, new stories and characters to explore. In The Family Gathering we meet the amazing Sidney Shandon and her brother who owns the pub where she tends bar. The wildlife is amazing – elk everywhere, sometimes crowding the streets! It’s a wonderful place for outdoorsy types to hike and camp—the beauty of the mountains holds dangers, giving the place that edge of excitement. I can’t wait to see who I meet next. Would you have expected a stalker in Timberlake or Sullivan’s Crossing? Anything can happen!

One of our favorite new characters in this book is Sidney, the wildly intelligent Sullivan’s Crossing bartender who catches Dakota’s eye. What can you tell readers about her character?

Ah, Sid. She’s a PhD in quantum physics, but she doesn’t share that with the good folks of Timberlake. After a crushing divorce, she needs time to be Just Sid, someone who can have ordinary friends, do a regular job, get strong again. So, she has been living with her brother Rob, the single father of two teenage boys. He owns the pub where she tends bar, where most of the patrons know each other, where all the first responders like to stop for dinner. She has taken a break from the UCLA computer lab to massage her personality and form friendships; she has, as a bartender, developed a wicked quick wit. And she doesn’t have any interest in dating. Another relationship or, God Forbid, marriage is just too risky. The way her 7 year marriage ended just about killed her. And she’s very happy living with her nephews, working with her brother. Of course this refusal to date makes her all that much more desirable to Dakota. Did I mention Dakota is hot? Getting a date has never been a problem... till Sid.

By the way, Sid has these stunning though secret credentials and Dakota’s job? He’s driving a garbage truck for the county. They are both, in their private ways, so defiant. I love that.

You’ve penned over 40 novels—many of them debuting at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list!—throughout your impressive career. Where do you get your ideas, and what helps to keep you feeling inspired after all these years?

If you’re focused and always thinking about the story, ideas miraculously come. At least once in every book I think I’ve finally tapped out, that I have no ideas left. Two hours or two days later, I know what to do. I think working everyday generates that. I demand a lot of myself, I work hard, but my writing is my companion—I’d be so lost without it. It’s my best friend and confidant, it’s more than a job or pastime. It’s where I live out my dreams and fears and hopes for the world. I have a chance to create the kind of world I’d like to live in, where people are good to each other and angry and evil people are rejected.

I am inspired because I want to be inspirational. And I learned a long time ago to never underestimate the power of gratitude. When I find myself becoming cynical or ungrateful I write about people who, no matter how stiff and difficult the obstacles, forge ahead. I get to create characters who deserve happiness. Their journey is never easy but so worth the battle. Can you think of a better job? I can’t.


What’s next for you?

I’m at work on the 4th Sullivan’s Crossing novel right now and let me tell you, there are some lovely surprises in store for my readers. There is so much love being negotiated that it seems as if Cupid shot an arrow right into Sullivan’s Crossing. The central characters are two that were just introduced in The Family Gathering but all your favorite characters—California, Maggie, Sierra, Connie, and Sully of course—will be back, all up in each other’s business as ever. We don’t have a title yet but it will be released in January 2019. Then in the spring of 2019 another stand alone women’s fiction, also untitled.

Very exciting! Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Robyn! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!

Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Family Gathering—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
When is the last time you had a large family gathering? How did it go?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Robyn and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Over the winter, I went on a trip to Vietnam with my entire mom's side of the family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins). It was extremely fun!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends May 2nd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Interview with Peter Golden, Author of Nothing Is Forgotten + Giveaway (US/Can)

I'd like to welcome Peter Golden to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Nothing Is Forgotten from Atria, a Simon & Schuster imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Peter! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, novelist, biographer, and historian. He was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in the suburbs of South Orange and Maplewood, New Jersey, where he graduated from Columbia High School. He attended Ohio University for two years then transferred to SUNY Albany, graduating with a BA in Philosophy.

He lives in Guilderland, New York, with his wife, a communication professor at University at Albany.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hits shelves today:

From the beloved author of Comeback Love and Wherever There Is Light, comes a novel about the life-changing journey of a young man who travels from New Jersey to Khrushchev’s Russia and the beaches of Southern France as he finds love and discovers the long-hidden secrets about his heritage.

In 1950s New Jersey, Michael Daniels launches a radio show in the storage room of his Russian-Jewish grandmother’s candy store. Not only does the show become a local hit because of his running satires of USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, but half a world away, it picks up listeners in a small Soviet city.

There, with rock and roll leaking in through bootlegged airwaves, Yulianna Kosoy—a war orphan in her mid-twenties—is sneaking American goods into the country with her boss, Der Schmuggler.

But just as Michael’s radio show is taking off, his grandmother is murdered in the candy store. Why anyone would commit such an atrocity against such a warm, affable woman is anyone’s guess. But she had always been secretive about her past and, as Michael discovers, guarded a shadowy ancestral history. In order to solve the mystery of who killed her, Michael sets out to Europe to learn where he—and his grandmother—really came from.

Featuring Peter Golden’s signature “vivid characters and strong storytelling” (The Washington Post), Nothing Is Forgotten changes our understanding of the impact of World War II on its survivors and their descendants, and will appeal to fans of novels by Anita Diamant and Kristin Hannah.

As a huge fan of first lines, I’d love to hear the first line of Nothing Is Forgotten. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
I was never too interested in my family’s history.
I used this line because the story explores why history is important, and I wanted to show the growth of the main character—a crucial feature of a novel. Or at least the novels I enjoy.

Tell us about your road to publication, such as how you first queried, unexpected challenges, and things you picked up along the way.

Nothing Is Forgotten was sold via an outline. It was my third novel. Not much was difficult about that except the 70 pages I produced.

However, my first novel was published by a small press and then picked up by a major publisher. That was a happy accident. It was also after my first two novels had been rejected. There is only one thing to know if you want to publish books: Work at it every day and don’t quit. Ever.


Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your fiction?

Yes. Me. And everyone I ever met. And the people I hope to meet. And the people I invent. And the people I dream about. Does it sound like I sometimes confuse reality and fiction? Well, I confess—I do.


Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes Nothing Is Forgotten stand out from the rest?

Whether Nothing Is Forgotten stands out, I’ll leave to the judgment of readers.

What makes it different is that it deals with the connection between the Cold War and the Holocaust, a history that is rarely explored in novels. Oh, and there is also a love story, because I like novels with love stories.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out Peter's best personal and professional advice. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of Nothing Is Forgotten, so you don't want to miss that either!

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie Giveaway (US only)

The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #3)
Paige McKenzie with Nancy Ohlin
from Hachette // HBG

The final installment of the New York Times bestselling Haunting of Sunshine Girl trilogy (based on the hit YouTube channel) about a girl who can communicate with ghosts.

Is Sunshine Griffith who she thinks she is? Now that her luiseach powers are fully awakened, and having barely survived an abyss full of demons at the end of Book Two, Sunshine must figure out who-or what-has been organizing the forces of darkness against her.

Thanks to her brainiac boyfriend, Nolan, they not only unearth that Sunshine’s death would trigger a calamitous event, but that all civilization depends on her survival. So when an unexpected event unleashes a fierce war between the luiseach and the demon army, Sunshine will learn a shocking truth about herself. Can she bring herself to make the ultimate sacrifice to save humankind?

Giveaway!

Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What would you do if you could communicate with ghosts?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Paige and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends April 16th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US readers only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open internationally. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Interview with Kelly Rimmer, Author of Before I Let You Go + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome Kelly Rimmer to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Before I Let You Go from Graydon House, a Harlequin imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Robyn! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women’s fiction author of five novels. Her latest novel, Before I Let You Go, will be released in April 2018.

Kelly lives in rural Australia with her family and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which will hit shelves next week:

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As the weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhoods, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.

The opioid crisis in the United States was recently declared a national public health emergency, and yet you started work on this book nearly two years ago. What inspired you to write about an addicted mother and the struggles she faces within the relentlessly harsh legal system? What kind of research did you conduct to write so accurately about the current politics of addiction and recovery for this often unmentioned population of women?

Addiction is an issue close to my heart, so I have been watching the crisis evolve for some time. The situation has been at “crisis levels for almost a decade, and I’m relieved that it’s at least beginning to get some national attention—although there’s a very long way to go yet before it’s effectively addressed.

I spent almost a year interviewing, reading, and researching to gain an understanding of the science around addiction and the legal issues involved in the book. I also, of course, spent time researching the complex issues for those who leave fundamentalist religious sects like the one the sisters are trapped within as children.


The novel really showcases how blurry the line between right and wrong is when dealing with addiction, and yet so often, women who are pregnant and addicted are dealt with harshly and in ways that negatively impact them, their babies, their families, and their communities for generations. The legal impact feels especially drastic in the book’s scenes when Annie delivers the baby and almost immediately loses all legal rights as a parent. Is this situation a common reality for women like Annie?

Laws around drug use in pregnancy are set at the state level, and each state handles the matter differently—but there are countless real-life cases like Annie’s across the nation, where women have lost their children or served prison time. It’s actually impossible to know how many women have had their parental rights removed like this because cases like Annie’s are often handled in the juvenile courts—which means case records aren’t publicly available.

At its core, Before I Let You Go is a powerful story of two sisters—Lexie and Annie—and the bond between them and the bond they both have with Annie’s baby, Daisy. How did you write about this relationship in such a real, moving way?

There are few relationships in life as profound as those between siblings—it’s a uniquely enduring relationship. Who else sees into the corners of our lives, right from early childhood? I wanted to try to capture the way those sibling relationships can stretch and bend under great tension…but it’s just so hard to break them, despite the fact that these are also the people we might fight with sometimes! In the case of Lexie’s special relationship with Daisy, I actually thought of her easy willingness to care for Daisy as an extension of her endless love for her sister, in a roundabout way. Of course, Lexie cares deeply for her niece, but her bond with Annie is so deep and so wide that she’d do anything for her and her child—even going so far as to step into her role as “mom” when the circumstances demand it.

You write in your author’s note about a favorite uncle who suffered from addiction and how that has influenced you. Even though this book is a work of fiction and not autobiographical, was your uncle an inspiration for this book?

It was the loss of my uncle that sparked my interest in issues around addiction in the first place. He was one of the voices of my childhood, always cheering me on and encouraging me to believe I could do anything. When it comes to my writing career, sometimes I can’t quite believe the things I’ve managed to achieve, but I’m also fairly confident that if my uncle were still alive he’d be quite smug about it—I can easily imagine telling me, “Well, I knew you could do it!”

But there’s also no sugar-coating it: my uncle’s behavior could also be immensely destructive, and this deeply affected both his own life and the lives of those who loved him, and the damage lives on long after his death for some of our family members. This is the nature of addiction—it is ugly and brutal, and there are no simple solutions because real lives are changed forever. Once beautiful, vibrant people get caught in its grip. That’s why I dedicated the book to my uncle, and although the story in no way reflects his story, that’s how he inspired it.

You’ve written several bestselling, acclaimed novels. Was the process and experience of writing Before I Let You Go different than your experience with past books?

The nature of the stories I write is that my writing process becomes deeply personal—but that was certainly true in a more intense way with this book. I think I lived and breathed Annie and Lexie’s story for six months and then “woke up” and realized my real life was actually still happening outside of my office!

What’s next for you?

I’ve finished the first draft of my 2019 novel—I’m so excited for the next one! I can’t say too much just yet, as it’s still in the very early stages of development, but I think readers who enjoy Before I Let You Go will love it, too.

Very exciting! Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Kelly! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!

Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Before I Let You Go—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Are you addicted to anything, or do you know anyone who is?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Kelly and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Me, no (other than internet or shopping addiction LOL). Sadly I think sugar addiction and alcohol/nicotine addiction are very rampant in my social circle. They may not seem as fatal as hard drugs, but can have health risks associated with them that society doesn't take as seriously.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends April 11th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt + Giveaway (US/Can)

We Own the Sky
Luke Allnutt
from Park Row // Harlequin

A triumphant story about love, loss and finding hope—against all odds

“We looked down at the cliff jutting into the sea, a rubber boat full of kids going under the arch, and then you started running and jumping through the grass, dodging the rabbit holes, shouting at the top of your voice, so I started chasing you, trying to catch you, and we were laughing so hard as we ran and ran, kicking up rainbow showers in the leaves.”

Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Top 5 Shamelessly Fun Ways I Researched for The Italian Party by Christina Lynch + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Italian Party
Christina Lynch
from St. Martin's Press (MacMillan)

Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany's famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.

When Scottie’s Italian teacher—a teenager with secrets of his own—disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.

Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America's role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, Prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Fatal Chaos by Marie Force + Giveaway (US only)

Fatal Chaos (Fatal #12)
Marie Force
from HQN // Harlequin

First the calm. Then the storm...

Escaping DC during the dog days of summer is one of the smartest moves Washington metro police lieutenant Samantha Holland ever made. Beach walks aren’t quite as romantic with the Secret Service in tow, but Sam and her husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano, cherish the chance to recharge and reconnect—especially with a scandal swirling around the administration.

No sooner are they back home than a fatal drive-by shooting sets the city on edge. The teenage victim is barely older than Sam and Nick’s son, Scotty. As more deaths follow, Sam and her team play beat the clock to stop the ruthless killers. With Nick facing his greatest challenge—one that could drastically change all their lives and even end Sam’s career—will the mounting pressure deepen or damage their bond?