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football cover

I was really excited to be contacted by author Amy Avanzino back in April, asking if I could review her second novel “From the Sideline” (second in the Wake-Up Call series). Of course I said YES! because I enjoyed her first novel so much. You can read my  Wake-Up Call book review or order directly from Amazon
“From the Sideline” was released on July 19th and is published by Henery Press. While it’s part of a “series”, it’s not the type of series where you need to start with book #1 and continue through in chronological order. Instead, the “Wake-Up Call” series is more of a concept, featuring unique characters and storylines for each book. I love that idea!
“From the Sideline” features Autumn Kovac, a single mom to 10 year old Zachary. As much as she tries to shield Zachary from being hurt, emotionally and physically, there’s nothing she can do when Zachary decides to try out for a community football team “The Knights”. With all the aggressiveness of an NHL football team, ‘The Knights’ excel at making young footballers mentally and physically tough. Suddenly, Autumn is immersed into a world she had never experienced before, with tough-fighting moms, and take all the punches dads, parents who WANT their children to be fighting footballers. Autumn prefers to think of herself as a peace-loving mom, but soon she finds herself changing (in a good way).
Self-deprecating Autumn clearly doesn’t think much of herself and instead chooses to describe herself in negative ways for the reader. It’s hard not to feel badly for her, especially when she goes on date nights – as the fifth wheel – with her friends and their husbands (pretty funny though!). But early on in the novel I had high hopes that things would change for the better for her.
As a mom, I could definitely relate to Autumn’s dreams and concerns for her son, Zachary. I totally got her hesitation regarding her son playing football – it’s not as huge of a game here in Canada (thought we have a football league, the CFL) – and the rough exercises she witnesses during Zachary’s practices is enough to cause panic and anxiety attacks. However, it seems like the more seasoned parents are used to it and find her attachment to her son unnecessary. It also doesn’t help Zachary’s image as a mediocre player (though he has a ton of drive!).
With the help of friends Lainey and Sarah, Autumn is able to relax and participate more and more as the football practices wear on. As well, Autumn as the attention of both the President of the football league (Jamie) and an EMT who stays on site at the football field should a player get hurt.
It was fun to see if my theory about who Autumn ends up with worked out, or if there would be a romance in her future at all. I really liked that this book was about improving her life (and that of her son’s) and breaking free from her rocky relationship past. Autumn was a relatable character and could easily be your neighbour next door.

‘From the Sideline’ was the perfect follow-up to ‘Wake-Up Call’. It had similar elements but the story went in a completely different direction. Moving forward and growing as a person was the theme here, something that many of us are continuously striving to do.

GIVEAWAY: Amy Avanzino has generously offered prizes of her two ebook titles. Enter below for your chance to win! Good luck! (CAN/US)

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About the Author: Amy Avanzino received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the University of Washington. She is a former special education teacher who has spent the last several years writing and doing extensive hands-on research for her Wake-Up Series, the first of which is Wake-Up Call. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York, which won two Audience Choice Awards. Amy currently lives in the stands above the football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds around Folsom, California with her husband and four children. Visit her at


Back from the….(reading update and more!)

Hi everyone!

I’m finally back to writing on my blog and it’s been a LONG time! I had high hopes for the New Year but then found myself in a reading drought. Have you ever had one of those? As a Librarian, it drives me batty when I can’t either find the time to read or I’m just not in the mood (usually that translates to tiredness). I ended up getting sick on Boxing Day (December 26th for those who don’t have that holiday) and that continued for five more months. With 3 kids and working full-time, you can imagine what that does to somebody. Even now, I’m fighting a two week chest cold. Ridiculous!
Anyway, when I finally did get around to reading again, I started slowly and with some tried and true reads, by focusing on my favourite cozy lit mystery series. Both Jenn McKinlay’s ‘Library Lovers’ and ‘Cupcake Bakery’ series came to the rescue and I believe I’m all caught up with both. I love those series so much!
During the last five months I also read ‘Where they Found Her’ by Kimberly McCreight and ‘The Widow’ by Fiona Barton. I really loved ‘Where They Found Her’ but found that ‘The Widow’ was a tough read being a mom to young children. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have read it if I had read a review or the synopsis more carefully. But, that’s not to say it was a bad novel – it’s received a lot of praise so check out Goodreads if you’re so inclined.
I also re-read (I never do that!) a book by Wendy Corsi Staub; while I know some of her books are part of trilogies, I didn’t realize that this particular book “Live to Tell” would be good to read again since I own the next book “Scared to Death”. So, I have that one in my pile of books to read this summer.
Right now, I’m currently reading the second book of ‘The Clifton Chronicles’ by Jeffrey Archer, as well as ‘How to be a Grown-up’ by Nicola Kraus and Emma McClaughlin. Talk about a difference in genres! I’m enjoying both and I love discovering new series to read.
Finally, I picked up quite a few books from garage sales this year (already!). So, those will travel with me to the beach and other weekend getaways this summer. However, I always have high hopes to read more on these getaways, but really, with 3 kids six and under you can imagine how much reading I actually accomplish.
I’m also going to be reviewing Amy Avanzino’s latest “Wake Up Call” books called ‘From the Sideline’ which will be published later this month (which is when my review will be posted, too). I have a few other books to review that I’ve been tardy in posting, so those will be forthcoming as well.
And that’s my update! I read more than just the books mentioned, but honestly I can’t remember them all. There are always books to read and I wish I had more time – so many great books…ahhh…how I love reading 🙂
Maybe this post will give you some new titles to check out!

FIRST & GOAL, by Laura Chapman {review and excerpt “Book Blitz”}

first and goal button
Today I bring to you the latest book by Laura Chapman as part of CLP Blog Tour’s Book Blitz for First & Goal.

First & Goal features Harper Duquaine, a responsible employee in a Nebraska car dealership who decides to loosen up and join her colleagues in a fantasy football league. With only a smattering of football knowledge, Harper joins the guys in an attempt to show them she’s not just the no-nonsense worker who’s only about her job.

Right away, I thought the premise of this novel was pretty inventive. It automatically sets up our protagonist to hang with the guys, and our hopes are lifted even more when she shares a closeness with Brook, one of the leagues players. And if that’s not enough, the delightful cover will draw you in even further.

A major bonus in reading this book is that I learned about fantasy football through a another woman. I had no idea how it was played, but heard about these fantasy leagues for various sports. I know they’re taken seriously and it’s anyone’s game.
Take it from me, as I live in Canada, football just isn’t much of a “thing” here as it is in the States. It’s really a foreign subject to my ears, but I listened when it was written into this charming chick lit novel. To further my education, the author includes recaps throughout the novel for “Team Harper” from a fellow league player. That was added entertainment to the novel!
It was realistic that Harper threw herself into learning about fantasy football, watching the games, getting tips from her brothers and so on. She wanted to succeed with it as she does in the workplace.
I really liked Harper’s tenacity for winning! Automatically, she knows she’s the outsider in this league, just by virtue of being a woman.
It was also fun joining her in a new relationship with a “good” guy and navigating the waters of how to present that to her friends and co-workers.

FIRST & GOAL is an entertaining novel by Laura Chapman, with breezy writing and likable characters. Of course, it’s also more exciting that this is book #1 and sneak peek for the second book is included in the novel. I’m curious to see how this theme will be carried throughout the rest of the novels and what it means for Harper and friends.

first and goal

Excerpt of FIRST & GOAL:

While I dig through piles of green and yellow shirts, I call my younger brother, Christopher. I need advice before the draft. I may not be in this for the glory of victory or the money, but I don’t want to embarrass myself by coming off as an idiot.
His sleepy voice answers a second before it goes to voicemail. “What’s going on?”
Not wasting any time, I explain the situation. After giving him a minute to get the laughter out of his system, I tell him what I need from him. “I need a crash course in drafting a team.”
“Why do you care if it isn’t about winning?”
He snorts. “Fair enough. Do you have a pen and paper?”
My hands freeze on a long-sleeved green and yellow rugby style shirt. “Not on me. Should I grab some?”
He busts out laughing again. This time I struggle to stay patient while he pulls himself together. “Can we get through this?” I ask. “Today if possible?”
“Calm down, BK.”
I glare at the pile of shirts. “I told you not to call me . . . that.”
“Technically, you told me not to call you—”
“Don’t even say it. And don’t pretend saying BK is any different.” I walk over to a rack of jerseys. “Tell me your ‘rules.’”
Christopher clears his throat and begins. “Rule number one: Don’t draft a kicker or defense until the last few rounds.”
“Why not?”
“It doesn’t matter if they show up as the highest-rated available player or if someone else makes a grab for kickers and defenses early. It’s a wasted pick. The guys in your league will make fun of you for the rest of the season if you do something so amateurish.”
Noted. Saving myself humiliation is the primary objective.
“Number two,” Christopher continues. “Don’t try to draft every player from your favorite team.”
“Why not? The Packers are good.”
“Yeah, but what happens if they have a bad week?”
I feign mock outrage. “Are you actually suggesting our beloved Packers would have anything less than a perfect season? What would Dad say?”
“Trust me on this one, Harper. Your Sunday . . . or Thursday or Monday will be a million times worse if you’re dealing with a Packers and fantasy loss.”
“Okay, avoid drafting the entire Packers starting lineup. Got it.” I’m going to have to do some fast research to find out who else I might want on my team. Basically, all the players I know are in Green Bay. “What’s next?”
“Have you found out what pick you have?”
My eyebrows furrow in confusion. “Pick?”
“Where are you in the draft order?”
Oh. “Fourth.”
“The first three people have selected the top three running backs in my mock drafts.” I want to ask what he means by ‘mock draft,’ but there’s no time. “You can have a little fun with being fourth, but I say you should take the Pope. You’ll impress the guys in your league.”
“Who’s ‘the Pope?’”
“John-Paul Massa. An underrated but totally badass running back.”
“Massa it is.” I stare at the Chad Baker jersey in front of me. “When can I draft Baker?”
“No sooner than the second round, but try to hold off until the third. You want to make sure you get a solid wide receiver, and they tend to go fast after the top six running backs are off of the board.”
“But I want Baker.”
“He’ll be around,” Christopher assures me. “And if things get hairy during your draft, you can always text me.”
“Is there a fourth rule?”
“Yes.” He clears his throat again and hesitates. Content with my clothing selections, I walk toward the checkout line. “My fast and final rule: Don’t let the guys seduce you into giving them the best players.”
My gasp of outrage draws attention from the person standing in front of me. I dart an apologetic grin, before hissing at my brother. “Why would you even go there?”
“Harper, you’re smart and driven.”
“But . . .”
“You’re an idiot when it comes to men.” He releases a heavy sigh. “Maybe it’s because deep down you’re a sweet person or maybe you’re too trusting, but you have a talent for giving it up to douchebags.”
I want to argue back on principle. I am a strong, independent woman, who doesn’t need a man to succeed. But, a glance back at my dating track record gives Christopher’s commandment some weight. Maybe I should tell him I’m a new woman after what happened with the last guy. Instead, I thank him for his advice and pay for the new football gear.

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Laura Chapman portraitAbout the Author
Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, The Marrying Type, and Hard Hats and Doormats. Her work also appears in Merry & Bright, A Kind of Mad Courage, and All I Want For Christmas. A native Nebraskan, she loves Huskers and Packers football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Laura is currently in pursuit of a fantasy football championship while penning her next novel.

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ecopy of FIRST & GOAL from CLP Blog Tours. The book review and all other opinions are my own.

clutch: a novel, by Lisa Becker {release day blitz + giveaway}

Clutch_releaseToday I’m participating in the Release Day Blitz for CLP Blog Tours in honour of Lisa Becker’s clutch: a novel. What a fun concept for a book! This chicklit novel pairs men and handbags in a hilarious look at modern dating.
Follow the links below for more about the author, giveaway details and how to purchase your own copy of clutch today!

About clutch: a novel

clutch: a novel is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.

Author Bio

In addition to clutch: a novel, Lisa Becker is the author of the Click Trilogy, a contemporary romance series comprised of Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. She’s written bylined articles about dating and relationships for “Cupid’s Pulse,” “The Perfect Soulmate,” “GalTime,” “Single Edition,” “Healthy B Daily” and “Chick Lit Central” among others. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband and two daughters. To learn more, visit


Social Media Links for Lisa Becker

Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Web

Get Your Copy!


Be sure to enter the giveaway below. Good luck!
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One Wish in Manhattan – Mandy Baggot {feature} #bookoutureXmas

Screenshot_2015-10-25-22-44-11Today’s #BookoutureXmas feature is an excerpt of Mandy Baggot’s One Wish in Manhattan.
Do you have a certain type of book that always draws you in? Usually, a Christmas-themed novel is enough to draw me in, but I also love books where the heroine transplants herself into a new city. In this case, it’s Hayley and her daughter, Angel. Together they navigate the New York waters after travelling from the UK. Told in alternate voices of Hayley and Oliver, readers are suspended into this delightful holiday romance.
Look at that cover – SWOON!


The Book:
The temperature is dropping, snow is on its way and Hayley Walker is heading for New York with one wish … to start over.

With her daughter Angel, Hayley is ready for adventure. But there’s more to New York than twinkly lights and breathtaking skyscrapers. Angel has her own Christmas wish – to find her real dad.

While Hayley tries to fulfil her daughter’s wish, she crosses paths with billionaire Oliver Drummond. Restless and bored with fast living, there’s something intriguing about him that has Hayley hooked.

Can Hayley dare to think her own dreams might come true – could A New York Christmas turn into a New York Forever?

Travel to the Big Apple this Christmas and join Hayley and Oliver as they realise life isn’t just about filling the minutes … it’s about making every moment count.

To buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Indigo Canada/Kobo

About Mandy Baggot:
Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads. A contributor to writing blogs and short story anthologies, Mandy is also a regular speaker at literary festivals, events and women’s networking groups.
Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor and lives in Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two children and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

Snowflakes on Silver Cove – Holly Martin {book review} #bookoutureXmas

bookoutureI have another book to feature on today’s #BookoutureXmas – be sure to follow along with that hashtag on Twitter to be up to date on all the bloggers’ features for the event.

Today, I’m showcasing “Snowflakes on Silver Cove” by Holly Martin. I adored this book and to me, it was the epitome of a feel-good Christmas read. I’ve included an excerpt (extract) for your reading pleasure, as well as my review.

Enjoy 🙂

SnowflakesSnowflakes on Silver Cove – Excerpt

Come and spend a picture perfect romantic Christmas at White Cliff Bay Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself…
Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance. As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George.
But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas? Snuggle up with a piece of Christmas cake and mulled wine, and spend the festive season at White Cliff Bay.

My Review:

Well, what can I say? ‘Snowflakes’ was the perfect book for me to review for this #BookoutureXmas event! I was caught up within the first few pages and adored George and Libby from the start. The Christmas coziness of the novel shone through, and all I wanted was to curl up with this book in front of my fireplace drinking some hot chocolate with a candy cane floating on top. But alas, I have three children and they don’t allow me such luxuries. But, I was able to escape reading this book! Boy did I ever! I fell in love with Libby and George from the very first pages, encouraging them with my reading to “get together for goodness sake!” The cutest couple for sure.
Holly Martin’s writing is engaging from the start and it draws you in to the Christmas spirit.
The love that Libby and George surely have for each other (and hopefully will discover soon) is contagious and I wanted them to fall into each other’s arms for real; not just for the sake of these make-believe dates they’re on. In typical starcrossed lovers fashion, Libby and George need an extra push to see that they are smitten with each other. The setting of this novel was perfect for this romance with its small village bedazzled in Christmasey, twinkling lights…ahhh…magic!
The back story with Amy and Seb was also enchanting and I couldn’t help but root them on.
All of the villagers were a great addition to the story, and it was so much fun getting caught up with their antics against the backdrop of this charming village.
This is definitely a heartwarming book to devour this Christmas season!


Disclaimer: I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley – thank you Bookouture!


About Holly Martin – Holly Martin emerged onto the chicklit scene by winning the Belinda Jones Travel Club short story competition – and has not looked back since.
Her adult fiction debut The Guesthouse, hit number 5 on Amazon chart and she has now written three books with Bookouture: Fairytale Beginnings, Christmas at Lilac Cottage, and Snowflakes at Silver Cove.

#bookoutureXmas Kickoff! Difficult husbands – Mary de Laszlo {excerpt}

Difficult-Husbands-Mary-de-Laszlo-570px bookoutureHere in Canada we’ve just had a stunning election, Thanksgiving is over and now we’re in limbo leading up to Halloween. What a great time to celebrate…Christmas! Ditch the pumpkin spice lattes and heat up some mulled apple cider to get in the mood for #BookoutureXmas week! How awesome is that?!? This feature is hosted by ThisChickReads and Bookouture Publishing. I am so excited to be a part of this event – Christmas and Britlit – two of my favourite things!
When I first started reading chicklit books SO long ago, I started with British chicklit. This was before the ‘Shopaholic’ series was published and Chapters employees would say “chickWHAT” when I was looking for said reading material. As a Librarian in a public library, I was excited when they started ordering more chicklit books upon my recommendation, after noticing other young women my age were looking for the same type of reads.
So this week I am here to share Christmas-themed titles from Bookouture – a fabulous British publishing press – and they have the most scrumptious book covers out there! I absolutely love them! What’s even better…13 more book bloggers are also part of this blog tour, so you’ll have many more reviews and excerpts and blog pages to visit! Are you ready for it?!? Simply follow #BookoutureXmas on Twitter from Oct 22-27 for all the updates!

Today, I am happy to bring an excerpt to the post – called ‘extract’ in Brit language 😉 of Difficult Husbands by Mary de Laszlo “A Christmas tale of family, friends and new beginnings”
Look at the gorgeous cover!


Find out more about Bookouture Publishing

Now onto the EXTRACT for Difficult Husbands:

Christmas in Summer

‘Reset.’ The director, his hair tied carelessly back in a ponytail, called out, and for the umpteenth time Lorna knocked on the fake front door, complete with Christmas wreath, while an underling, with the rosy face of a mischievous cherub, scattered fake snow at her from above. This tickled her nose and made her sneeze and the director sigh, call ‘cut’ and the whole take started again.
Christmas, anxiety gripped her, Christmas in summer. If only it was over when this
shoot was. Even though it was months away she was dreading the real thing; her first Christmas without Stephen, without even her parents to escape to.
‘Reset.’ This time it went better. She opened the door and the camera focused on the
‘room’ conjured up in this stark warehouse. She counted to five while she pretended to be amazed by the magic she saw before her; blazing logs in the fake fireplace, cards hung in streamers among sparkling decorations. There was a show of Christmas fare laid out before her – at least she hadn’t had to cook it, the thought scudded through her mind – then the camera wheeled away to groups of happy, happy people toasting each other with pretend champagne. There were some spotless, tidy children behaving so nicely and quietly – a dream Christmas, when in reality it was often hell.
A small girl – pretty in pink – ruined this cheerful scene by tearing the paper off a
‘present’ only to find a block of polystyrene concealed under the glitzy paper. She howled in disappointment.
Poor little thing, Lorna thought, as her mother scuttled onto the set to retrieve her
sobbing child, that is life though, disappointment often lurks under the glitz. She caught the eye of one of the ‘happy’ people, a woman whose face held remnants of beauty, who’d confided in her before they started shooting that she hated Christmas, her memories of a houseful of cheerful, noisy family celebrations taunting her, now she was alone.
At last it was over, ‘a wrap’. Thankfully, Lorna took off her winter clothes, handing them back to the wardrobe girl. She signed her chit, waved goodbye to the others and left, going back into the sunny day, probably the best one of the summer and she’d missed it while she acted out Christmas inside. Being an extra or ‘supporting cast’ as it was now called, was just another, rather predictable way – a fun way, if you didn’t count the early starts – of earning money.
It was a strange world of unreality; the commercial she’d just worked on portrayed
only the pleasure of Christmas. There was no sign of it being a religious feast, or of unhappiness from a fractured family. It peddled dreams and perhaps spawned resentment in people, most people she’d have thought, especially in these hard times, who’d never achieve such a spectacle.
What would her Christmas be like this year? She could hardly bear to think of it. All those years of special, magical times with her parents and siblings, and continuing with it all with her own children. Even when her parents died she had never confronted the fact that there could come a time when she could be alone for Christmas.
Lorna got into her car, hoping she wouldn’t get lost going home. These studios were usually stuck out somewhere on an industrial estate and were difficult to find, even sometimes for the Sat Nav. She always set off hours early for if you were late on set you were sacked – that was it. ‘End of,’ as her children would say.
Her children, the thought of their pain when Stephen left them brought tears. Marcus said he’d probably go away for Christmas, not able to bear it without his father there, the father as he used to be. Flora slammed a few doors, muttering the same threats. This Christmas she could easily be alone, for the first time in her life, and it terrified her.