Sunday, February 28, 2016

Can't Stay Away by Lilly Avalon Giveaway! (Open Internationally!)

Unexpected
Lilly Avalon

Piper Winchester is fresh out of college. With only three weeks until her father remarries and five weeks until her first business venture launches, she's got her hands full. She certainly doesn't need any distractions to get in the way of building the future her father's always wanted for her. But when a familiar boy with bright green eyes walks back into her life, she's thrown for a loop.

Four years ago, Chase MacKenzie left for college without looking back. He didn't mean to disturb the peace then, and he definitely doesn't want to do that now. Once he lays his eyes on Piper again, there's no way he can leave without fixing what went wrong in the past. Although she's more determined than ever to push him away, he still manages to get under her skin. Regardless of what happens between them, there's one thing that will always be standing in their way...

He's about to become her stepbrother.
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & NobleiTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one $5 Amazon gift card and one fabulous Lilly Avalon-themed swag pack—that's two winners total. Yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What's your favorite forbidden romance book?

You can double your chances of winning one of the above prizes by following Lilly on Twitter. Just leave your Twitter handle in your comment and I'll give you an extra entry!
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. Lilly and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Lilly Avalon!
Giveaway ends March 13th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally. That means anyone in the world can enter, as long as you have a verifiable email and mailing address. Woohoo!
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!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Interview with Julie Christine Johnson, Author of In Another Life + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

I'd like to welcome Julie Christine Johnson to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of In Another Life from Sourcebooks Landmark!

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

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Julie Christine Johnson is the author of the novels In Another Life and The Crows of Beara (September 2017, Ashland Creek Press). Her short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Emerge Literary Journal, Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt, the anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss and featured on the flash fiction podcast, No Extra Words. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs.

A runner, hiker, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington state with her husband. In Another Life is her first novel.


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

It is January 1208 and in a village on the border between Provence and Languedoc, a monk whispers a benediction over the body of a slain papal emissary. The Cathars—followers of a heretical faith—are blamed for the assassination. The Pope declares a holy war and Languedoc is forever changed.

Eight hundred years later, historian Lia Carrer returns to southern France to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. Instead of finding solace in Languedoc’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, the woman trying to heal risks love, and loss, again.

Reincarnation is familiar ground for Lia—an expert in the mystical beliefs of the ancient Cathar faith—but to reconcile the truth of that long-ago assassination, the logical researcher must accept religious fantasy as historical fact.Three lost souls enter her life, each holding a key to the murder that launched a religious crusade in the heart of Europe.

In Another Life is set amidst the medieval intrigue of thirteenth century Languedoc and Paris, intertwined with Lia's modern quest to uncover the truth of an ancient murder and free a man haunted by ghosts from his past.

Describe In Another Life in six words (or less!).

Time-slip French mystery/love story.

How did you arrive at writing historical fiction? Are there any other genres you’d like to try your hand at, or any you want to stay away from?

In truth, In Another Life is a fantasy built on a scaffolding of historical fact. This allowed me poetic license with the plot, but I wanted to honor the historical details of daily life. And the story itself gave me very little choice. There’s just no way to capture the spirit of Languedoc without showing how it’s been shaped by history.

I’m a voracious reader, much of it historical fiction and non-fiction, so in many ways, sinking into another era felt very natural.

My second novel, The Crows of Beara, is set in contemporary southwest Ireland, but has a thread of magical realism—an ancient Irish legend—woven through. My third novel, which I’ve just handed over to my agent, takes place in contemporary New Zealand. No Middle Earth, though I made my Lord of the Rings pilgrimages while living there!

But I would love to return to medieval France; I’m researching a sequel to In Another Life now—another past-present narrative, with Lia leading the way.


What was the inspiration for the book?

I’ve lived in and traveled throughout France, so it seems natural that my first novel would come from this place that is my heart’s second home. In the spring of 2011, my husband and I spent a few weeks in Languedoc, and we fell under the spell of its haunting beauty and history. We spent our days clambering around medieval ruins and our evenings reading up on local history while sharing a bottle of gorgeous Languedoc wine. I had no idea at the time that I was researching a novel, but I left with a mental image I couldn’t shake: a woman standing on a cliff’s edge; below her stretches a valley laced with vineyards and studded with wind towers. Behind her, a man steps out from the ruins of a Cathar citadel. I was aching to find out who they were. Then I read about the Cathars’ belief in reincarnation and I knew I had my way in to the story.


As a huge fan of first lines, I'd love to hear the first line of In Another Life. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
Eighteen months after her husband’s death, Lia Carrer returned to Languedoc like a shadow in search of light.
I wanted to show, in one image, a woman alone, full of grief, yet moving toward hope. I’m so proud of this line, for it gives the who, when, where, what and it hints at why in fewer than twenty words! I had it buried down in the fourth or fifth paragraph of the first chapter and my writing group said, “Um, Julie? This sentence here? That’s your first line.” Done.

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

Mine is a bit of a faerie tale. But it’s proof that not every writer has a long and terrible road ahead. I began writing fiction in 2011, after taking a series of writing workshops in Seattle. Buoyed by early success in having short stories published, I went to a writers’ conference in June 2012 and it was there I realized I could, I must, try to write the story that was nattering around my brain. Two weeks later I wrote the first words of a novel that became In Another Life.

After two years of writing and revising, I ended September 2014 with a draft of In Another Life that I felt was ready to query. I’d researched literary agents, compiled a query spreadsheet, and drafted and redrafted my query letter. Before I sent out any letters, however, I decided to give in-person pitching a go. I attended a writers’ conference in October, and there I met the two women who would, a few weeks later, become my agent (Shannon Hassan of Marsal Lyon Literary), and the editor of In Another Life, (Anna Michels, Sourcebooks).

What I learned along the way is that developing a writing practice, and for me that means writing every single day, was critical to my success—the success of completing a first draft. I had to plan for my writing time, schedule it, guard it jealously. A writer must write. A writer must read. And a writer must send her work into the world, hear “No” over and over again, pick herself up each time, rinse and repeat. Although my first novel was quickly signed and set on the road to publication, I have stacks of rejections for other work. Those Nos are badges of honor because each one represents belief in myself, and if feedback is offered, they are learning experiences that make me a better writer.

Be prepared for rejection, but do not see it as failure. That agent, publisher, journal wasn’t a good fit for your work or your work isn’t quite ready. Revise if necessary and keep going.

That's an amazing journey, and what fortune you had in meeting those two at the conference! 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?

I just went through the Rolodex of my characters and I can think of only one short story—a work-in-progress—in which the characters are based on real people. What is very present in my writing, however, is deeply personal themes. For example, Lia is acutely claustrophobic. So is the author. I haven’t been in an elevator in years. The character in my third novel is coping with child loss and has immigrated to New Zealand, both of which I have experienced. And I often write about how place changes and shapes us. My characters undergo major life upheavals and sortings-out once they leave the United States, when they are forced to confront themselves away from familiar social and cultural norms.

I love how many personal themes run through your characters—that's the beauty of each individual writer! Which character from In Another Life was most difficult to write?

Lucas. In earlier drafts he was far more sinister, but as I got to know him and fleshed out the story, I realized I wanted a more ambivalent, richer character, someone who had made poor choices, had done terrible things, but who was not inherently evil. One of the major themes of In Another Life is redemption and through that I came to develop affection for and a desire to forgive Lucas.

Name the top five novels that have made the biggest impact on your life or on your writing.

As a child, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, which lit the fire of my determination to be a writer, and C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, which filled me with the wonder and joy of storytelling. As an adult, every word written by Jane Austen, for her sense of humor, the sheer beauty of her sentences, the way she can tell the most delicious and satisfying of stories; Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, for its strong, sensual women and breathtaking world-building; and Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. This novel made me crave to put words on paper. I read it years before I began writing, but it nudged open the door of my writer’s heart.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out Julie's random favorites, her best writing and personal advice, and what makes In Another Life stand out as a book from all the rest. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of In Another Life, so you don't want to miss that either!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Interview with Suzanne Redfearn, Author of No Ordinary Life + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

I'd like to welcome Suzanne Redfearn to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of No Ordinary Life from Grand Central Publishing!

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

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Born and raised on the east coast, Suzanne moved to California when she was fifteen. She currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband, their two kids, a Cockapoo named Cooper, and a cat named Motley. They own a restaurant in town called Lumberyard.

Prior to becoming an author, Suzanne was an architect specializing in residential and commercial design. When not writing, Suzanne enjoys doing anything and everything with her family—skiing, golf, tennis, surfing, playing board games, and watching reality TV. She is an avid baseball fan. Her team is the Angels. She can also be found in the bleachers watching her kids' sports or prowling the streets with her husband checking out the culinary scene of Orange County.


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

Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and their three children... or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. In a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives.

Describe No Ordinary Life in six words (or less!).

Mother protects her kids from fame.

How did you arrive at writing women's fiction? Are there any other genres you’d like to try your hand at, or any you want to stay away from?

I have actually written in several other genres, but Hush Little Baby was the one that got published, and the editor I am with works primarily in women’s fiction, so that is the genre she is most interested in publishing.

I love young adult novels and someday would love to write in that genre as well.


What was the inspiration for the book?

I knew my editor wanted me to write another story about a mother protecting her children, and I was in line at the grocery store and saw a tabloid with the headline, “Zac Efron Enters Rehab Again.” My daughter was a High School Musical fan when she was little, so I felt like I had watched Zac Efron grow up, and to know he was suffering and that his suffering was being made public made me feel horrible for him and his parents. The idea Child Star popped in my head. At that point I wasn’t certain what the story was going to be, but I liked the idea of exploring what goes on behind the glitz and glamour that causes so many young actors to suffer such tragic setbacks and downfalls.


As a huge fan of first lines, I'd love to hear the first line of No Ordinary Life. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
Molly and I sit outside the principal’s office, my eyes staring at my hands in my lap like a defendant awaiting a verdict.
It’s always nice to start with a bit of tension, and all of us can relate to the feeling of being outside the principal’s office. My protagonist starts off meek and overwhelmed by life and she needs to become strong. The first chapter is the setup to show how difficult it is for her to stand up to authority.

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

Telling you my road to publication would take way too many pages :) So I will sum it up: dozens of rejection letters from agents; three agents along the way; dozens of rejection letters from publishers; five novels written; one contingency sale based on my ability to edit the story to the publisher’s liking; one very small advance; a dozen more compromises on the story; Hush Little Baby published!!!!

It was a difficult journey that required perseverance above all else. The most important wisdom I picked up along the way is to keep on trekking. You never know what story is going to hit that magic mark and make it through the gauntlet and into the world.

That's a refreshingly honest perspective—thank you for sharing, and for the sound advice! 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?

I always tell people to be careful what they say or do around me because, if it is interesting, it will wind up in one of my stories. That being said, all of my characters are fictional. They are as real as real people, but they have been entirely made up in my head. This story was a little different because I wanted to tell a story that was very authentic, so I did a lot of research before I started on child actors and the world behind the glitz and glamour. I read every autobiography and biography I could find on former child stars and some of those stories inspired me. The little girl in the story, Molly, is definitely influenced by Shirley Temple and Jodie Foster because I wanted a child too young to choose the path for herself and one so precocious that, the moment the spotlight found her, she would be destined for superstardom. And my protagonist is based in part on Pattie Mallette, Justin Bieber’s mom, who was a young single mom struggling financially when her child was discovered through a YouTube video.

Which character from No Ordinary Life was most difficult to write?

I struggled with Sean, the husband. While he was one of the antagonists, I still wanted him to be sympathetic. I really wanted his internal struggle between his love for his kids and his greed to be felt.

What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

That’s probably a question better asked to my readers.

But the part I’m always most amazed at is how the story feels like it tells itself, like it knows what it wants to be and I just have to figure that out. I put the work in, but this other amazing thing happens that feels very organic. It feels like a gift, so I would have to say that is my greatest strength.

My weakness is everything else, the struggle of writing it well enough that the writing doesn’t get in the way, of not being lazy and saying good enough when it isn’t, and also of accepting good enough when I’ve done my best and it still isn’t perfect. All of it. Writing is very, very hard.

Name the top five novels that have made the biggest impact on your life or on your writing.
  1. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
  2. Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One
  3. John Irving, The World According to Garp
  4. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
  5. Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
How do you react to a negative or harsh review to your books?

I used to read all the reviews. Now I only read the positive ones. So much goes into writing a novel, and so many people help along the way that, by the time it makes it into the world, I am extraordinarily proud of it. Knowing people appreciate it is wonderful. If people don’t, I don’t really want to hear about it.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out Suzanne's random favorites, her best writing and personal advice, and what makes No Ordinary Life stand out as a book from all the rest. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of No Ordinary Life, so you don't want to miss that either!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Platinum Doll by Anne Girard Giveaway! (US only)

Platinum Doll
Anne Girard (aka Diane Haeger)

Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, Platinum Doll tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.

It’s the Roaring Twenties, and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. Here, she has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen.

With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it. Featuring a glittering cast of ingénues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Platinum Doll—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
Who is your favorite "platinum doll," or actor/actress from Hollywood's Golden Age?
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. Anne and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author and publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely Anne Girard and Suzy Missirlian!
Giveaway ends March 7th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to 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!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

If I Run by Terri Blackstock Giveaway! (US only)

If I Run
Terri Blackstock

Casey knows the truth.

But it won’t set her free.


Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested... or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer... or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of If I Run—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What's the most fascinating (or shocking) murder case that you've ever heard of? What happened?
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. Terri and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I think the Black Dahlia case has a reason for being so highly publicized. Basically the victim was found completely sliced in half at the waist. So gruesome; this kind of thing is shocking to witness in movies/TV shows so I can't even imagine witnessing it in real life!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at FSB Media!
Giveaway ends March 1st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to 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, February 9, 2016

The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley Giveaway! (US only)

The Ramblers
Aidan Donnelley Rowley

For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City.

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Ramblers—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What's your favorite thing to see/eat/do in New York City? If you've never been before, what's the #1 thing on your list that you want to do there?
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. Aidan 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 over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends February 23rd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to 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!