Friday, July 29, 2016

Interview with Kate James, Author of When I Found You + Giveaway (Open Internationally!)

I'd like to welcome Kate James to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of When I Found You from Harlequin Heartwarming, the third book in the K-9 trilogy!

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

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Kate spent eight years of her childhood living in foreign countries as her professional parents traveled on business. She lived in four countries and spoke five languages before settling down in Canada again to attend university. After graduating with a degree in civil engineering, she held a variety of positions in the field of real estate development and operations, and ran three substantial organizations. While her writing during this period was mostly business related, including presentations and speeches she delivered both nationally and internationally, her passion is and always has been fiction.

Kate's business and personal experiences enable her to write fiction with a deep, often first-hand knowledge of what she is writing about. This approach makes Kate's stories richer and more vivid.

Kate’s goal is to entertain you with well-written, engaging stories, set in intriguing places and with strong, likable characters. “I hope my stories bring you pleasure and entertain you. Nothing pleases me more than receiving feedback from people who have chosen to spend their valuable leisure time with one of my books,” notes Kate.

Kate married her husband, Ken, in an elegant, ocean-front wedding on a tropical island. They enjoy traveling and the outdoors with their beloved Labrador Retrievers.

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

Is she part of the solution... or the problem?

It could be a terrorist threat. Or is it some other sinister plot? An unprecedented rash of security breaches at San Diego's international airport is putting passengers at risk and bringing the competence of the airport's chief of security, Ariana Atkins, into question.

With explosives the weapon of choice, police K-9 unit captain Logan O'Connor and his bomb detection dog, Boomer, might be Ariana's best, if not only, line of defense. Logan is certain his belief in Ariana, and his growing love for her, aren't misplaced... but it wouldn't be the first time he's misjudged someone's intentions.

As a huge fan of first lines, I'd love to hear the first line of When I Found You. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
"The pilot’s bringing the plane back?" Ariana Atkins, chief of security and asset protection for the San Diego International Airport, swiveled away from her desk and stared at her senior security manager.
Although I write fiction, my personal belief is that for a reader to be drawn into a story (among other attributes) it has to be genuine and credible. I try to draw on my personal knowledge and experiences to the extent possible, ensure that I do the necessary research and, at times, fictionalize facts.

I have been fascinated by airports and the aviation sector for as long as I can remember. Professionally, I have had some involvement in the industry. As such, I have more insight into an airport’s operation than the average person might, and I also tend to pay more attention to media coverage of airport or aviation related incidents.

My primary goal for the opening scene is to establish the setting and introduce the main characters in a way that will capture the reader’s interest. An airline pilot deciding to bring an aircraft back shortly after takeoff and for a somewhat unusual reason engages both the hero and the heroine under less than ideal circumstances, and will hopefully accomplish this goal. Without giving away too much, I will say that this scene is a case of fictionalizing an actual occurrence.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out how Kate came up with the title and the hero's name, and what her guiltiest pleasure is. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of your choice of one of the previous books from the K-9 trilogy, so you don't want to miss that either!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Interview with Tiffany McDaniel, Author of The Summer That Melted Everything + Giveaway (US/Can only)

I'd like to welcome Tiffany McDaniel to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of The Summer That Melted Everything from St. Martin's Press!

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

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.

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

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere—a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperature as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestle with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

Describe The Summer That Melted Everything in six words (or less!).

The devil comes to town.

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

I never planned on writing in a specific genre. I just wrote what was in my head and one of the first agents I pitched to said I was literary fiction. I think what sets my literary fiction apart from other literary fiction is that there’s always the hook like you’d find in commercial fiction. For example in The Summer that Melted Everything, there’s the question of what happens to not just the individual but the community as a whole when the devil comes to town. Characters and plot are equally important to me, so while literary fiction explores the characters more in depth than commercial fiction, I also know you have to have a strong plot to keep readers turning the page.

I do write in other styles. I write poetry, plays for the stage and screen. I’d also love to write a really good murder mystery, though I’m no Agatha Christie. I’d also love to write a series of books in the vein of sci-fi or just star-exploration.

What was your inspiration for the book?

I always say I’m inspired by the characters themselves. It’s very much their story and I just hope I’ve written for them their best truth.

As a huge fan of first lines, I'd love to hear the first line of The Summer That Melted Everything. Can you give us a brief commentary on it?

I am also a great lover of first lines. When I write the first line, I always hope it’s a line that grabs the reader right in. The first line in The Summer that Melted Everything is:

The heat came with the devil.
I always start writing a new novel with two things: The title and the first line. These two things always determine the course of the entire novel for me, so when I wrote this first line, it really determined the devil was coming and it was going to hell-hot.

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

I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I didn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything, which was my fifth or sixth novel, but only second novel to be submitted to editors after my first novel. So it was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published. Getting published, especially when you’re a female literary fiction author, is tough and it’s a road paved with heartache and tears, at least for me. I feel very fortunate to be in the position I am of getting a book published and I definitely feel for those authors who are still on the journey. What I picked up along the journey to publication is to never give up; that’s my advice to those still on the journey to publication: Never give up.

Which character from The Summer That Melted Everything was most difficult to write?

I didn’t find any of the characters really difficult to write. I will say Sal took some balancing because he arrives as a thirteen year old boy, but presents himself as the devil. So I had to find that balance of the kid in him while also maintaining the wisdom of a fallen angel. He was an incredibly interesting and fun character to write because of his supposedly being Lucifer. How many times does one get to write dialogue for the devil? After writing this character, I found myself wondering, what would the real devil think of this character?

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out Tiffany's random favorites, her goals as a writer, and what makes The Summer That Melted Everything stand out as a book from all the rest. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of The Summer That Melted Everything, so you don't want to miss that either!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Top 5 Characters I Named After Real-Life People by Amy Vastine, Author of The Girl He Used to Love + Giveaway (US/Can only)

The Girl He Used to Love (Grace Note Records #1)
Amy Vastine

Publisher: Harlequin Heartwarming
Release Date: June 21st 2016
Page Count: 384
Genre: Romance, Contemporary

The past will always be between them

He swore he'd never return home. Then a flat tire lands Dean Presley back in Grass Lake, Tennessee, and he's forced to confront the woman he left behind. Faith Stratton was once the love of his life. Now her gifted brother could be the rising Nashville star Dean needs for his struggling music label. But it means taking Sawyer away from the horse therapy farm that Faith's so proud of. That won't be easy, especially since those old feelings that started all the trouble… Well, let's just say he can't go back there, because he doesn't want to relive the memories of the terrible accident that drove them apart.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Exclusive Sneak Peek: A Reckless Promise by Kasey Michaels + Giveaway (US/Can only)

A Reckless Promise (The Little Season #3)
Kasey Michaels

London's Little Season has never been so scandalous

It's the kind of vow often made on the battlefield. Darby Travers, Viscount Nailbourne, never imagines he'll have to honor it. Yet here she is on his doorstep—his late comrade's young daughter, and Darby's new ward. Worse, she comes with the most overprotective, mistrustful, bothersome chaperone—the child's aunt, Sadie Grace Boxer. Darby is quite sure that behind her lovely facade, the woman is guarding a secret.

Sadie Grace faced many trials working in her brother's surgery, but none prepared her for the world she's thrust into with his passing. Navigating the ton, with its endless ball gowns and parade of parties, is difficult enough, but hiding the truth about her niece while the sophisticated viscount watches her every move proves nearly impossible—particularly when his searing gaze tempts her to bare all. But when her family's past catches up with her, she'll have to trust in Darby... no matter the cost to her heart.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Exclusive Sneak Peek: The Daredevil Snared by Stephanie Laurens + Giveaway (US/Can only)

The Daredevil Snared (The Adventurers Quartet #3)
Stephanie Laurens

#1 New York Times bestselling author of the beloved Cynster novels, Stephanie Laurens takes you on a fresh journey with The Adventures Quartet, a daring Regency-era adventure laced with mystery, tropical heat and passionate romance.

He has something to prove

Captain Caleb Frobisher, hedonistic youngest son of a seafaring dynasty, wants to be taken seriously. Seizing the next leg of the covert mission his brothers are pursuing, he acts decisively and effectively in securing the mission's objectives. But responsibility has taken root, and he remains in the jungle to ensure the mission's ultimate goal.

She will risk everything

Katherine Fortescue fled a life of poverty and came to Freetown as a governess, only to be kidnapped and forced to oversee the child workforce at a mine. Guarded by well-armed, well-trained mercenaries, the captives have lost all hope of escape. Then Katherine meets a handsome man—a captain—and he brings the sweet promise of rescue.

Together they will face the future

The sadistic mercenary who runs the mine has other plans, but Caleb's true strength lies in extracting advantage from adversity, and through the clashes that follow, he becomes the leader he was always destined to be. The sort of man Katherine can trust—with her body, with her life. With her love.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Exclusive Sneak Peek: All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell + Giveaway (US only)

All the Time in the World
Caroline Angell

An unforgettable debut about a young woman's choice between the future she's always imagined and the people she's come to love.

Charlotte, a gifted and superbly trained young musician, has been blindsided by a shocking betrayal in her promising career when she takes a babysitting job with the McLeans, a glamorous Upper East Side Manhattan family. At first, the nanny gig is just a way of tiding herself over until she has licked her wounds and figured out her next move as a composer in New York. But, as it turns out, Charlotte is naturally good with children and becomes as deeply fond of the two little boys as they are of her. When an unthinkable tragedy leaves the McLeans bereft, Charlotte is not the only one who realizes that she's the key to holding little George and Matty's world together. Suddenly, in addition to life's usual puzzles, such as sorting out which suitor is her best match, she finds herself with an impossible choice between her life-long dreams and the torn-apart family she's come to love. By turns hilarious, sexy, and wise, Caroline Angell's remarkable and generous debut is the story of a young woman's discovery of the things that matter most.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M. Boyer Giveaway (US/Can only)

Lowcountry Book Club (Liz Talbot Mystery #5)
Susan M. Boyer

Who could have pushed Shelby Poinsett out her second-floor library window besides her husband? In USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author Susan M. Boyer’s new novel Lowcountry Book Club, Private Investigator Liz Talbot enters a tight-knit community of Charleston, SC’s genteel women who have gossip to spill, secrets of their own, and a hundred-year-old book club they are dying to join.

Newlywed couple and business partners Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews are hired by a prestigious Charleston law firm to prove the innocence of Shelby Poinsett’s husband, Clint Gerdhart, before his trial begins. As the two begin to dig into the case, they learn that Shelby may not have been the perfect wife everyone thought she was. When Liz uncovers a photo of Shelby and Sonny, a Talbot family friend and Charleston police officer, looking too cozy for comfort, Shelby’s true character comes into question. Did the woman who ran a book club, adopted animals, and volunteered at a homeless shelter have a past that would make someone kill?

As Liz interviews the eighteen members of the closed club, she notices an anger bubbling under these women’s polite exteriors. Through conversation, she finds that the hostile undertone of the book club began when Shelby was named president. Liz is convinced that one of them knows who pushed Shelby Poinsett out her window—or may be the murderer herself.

Liz must run the gamut of Southern society to keep an innocent man out of jail and bring a killer to justice. With Boyer’s authentic Southern voice, Lowcountry Book Club merges Charleston charm with a mystery that leaves readers guessing until the very end.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Lowcountry Book Club—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
When is the last time you did something for the first time? What was it?
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. Susan and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Recently I visited Europe for the first time and it was amazing! Super unbearably hot and sunny, but amazing!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Claire McKinney PR!
Giveaway ends June 24th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the 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!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Top 10 Changes Made to Under an Adirondack Sky by Karen Rock + Giveaway (US/Can only)

Under an Adirondack Sky
Karen Rock

Can he juggle everything... including her?

After raising his siblings and running the family pub for more than a decade, Aiden Walsh has set his own dreams aside. Until the most beautiful woman he's ever seen stumbles into his bar, and his arms. Too bad Rebecca Day is the school psychologist in charge of his brother's future. Who's he kidding? He doesn't have room in his full life for romance anyway. But forced to join Rebecca and her group of troubled teens on an Adirondack retreat, he realizes keeping his family afloat isn't enough for him... not by a long shot.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know About In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch + Giveaway (US/Can only)

In Twenty Years
Allison Winn Scotch

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea's fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

8 Heart Review: Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon + Giveaway (US/Can only)

Mystic Summer
Hannah McKinnon

Page Count: 283

Release Date: June 7th, 2016
Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by tour publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, TLC Book Tours and Atria Books!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
A chance run-in with a college boyfriend puts a young woman’s picture-perfect life in perspective in this warm-hearted and lyrical novel—from the author of The Lake Season.

Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for.

But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become.

Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New England summer when past and present collide, Mystic Summer is a gorgeous novel about looking back, moving forward, and the beauty that blooms when fate intervenes.
It occurs to me that so far my summer consists of living everyone else's lives. My students' lives, my family's lives, and that of my best friend. And though I groan inwardly when I think of all these commitments I have to follow through on, I realize there's one thing bothering me most of all; beyond them, where are my own?

When she's blindsided by a trio of seemingly unconnected eventsher best friend Erika's summer wedding, a heartbreaking potential layoff, and a chance run-in with an ex-boyfriend, CamMaggie Griffin has no idea that she's just embarked on a summer that will change her life and cause her to question everything she holds dear.

A devoted Boston resident, she makes the decision to return to her hometown of Mystic for the summer while she figures her life out, and that's when things start to fall apart... and together. 

Personally I wasn't convinced by Maggie's relationship with her boyfriend, Evan. It seemed like a prop to make her relationship with Cam more complicated, but overall it seemed very cliché (and in the end, pretty obvious who she would choose). On the other end of the spectrum, her relationship with Cam is much more realistic with more depth, and I loved the complex feelings that arose from her struggle to come to terms with possibly still being in love with her first love.

Reminiscent of the Hamptons, Mystic resides on the sleepy Connecticut coast which makes for a rich summer backdrop with plenty of nostalgia and plenty of heart. I love the evocative descriptions of Maggie's childhood, glimpses into her friendships and family life. It made her seem like such a real, flawed person. She's an easy main character to sympathize with, although at times I felt she sounds slightly standoffish in the way she looks down on people. She tends to isolate herself and make others feel bad for her for it; she is a self-proclaimed outsider, being the last of her friends group to be married, and more disappointingly, with no actual plans to anytime soon.

Hannah McKinnon, however, is no amateur at characterization. Most of Maggie's shortcomings seem intentional, and the other characters such as Cam, Erika, and her family members, are all so well developed, almost painfully so. I can't get enough of McKinnon's writing style either—the perfect mix of breezy and sophisticated, yet also modern and trendy, setting an appropriate foundation for the book.

Mystic Summer is not necessarily a romance story, but more a journey of self-discovery that women's fiction lovers will rejoice in. It is the story of the fresh-faced Maggie's dilemma as she is faced with a choice that could lead to two very separate paths.


Beautifully written, with wonderful attention to literary detail // I'm a sucker for the "past lovers reunite" trope // Cam's background and his new start in Mystic is intriguing, and definitely my favorite plot point // Perfect beach reading—easy and uncomplicated // Light and airy tone gives it an apt summer vibe, although it's introspective and profound where it needs to be


I grew tired of Maggie's narration pretty quickly; wish we could have gotten other perspectives, like from Cam, Erika, or even Jane (her older sister) // The side plot with Evan, Maggie's current boyfriend, is a bit exasperating—the romance with Cam could have easily been a better and more realistic story without a current (and utterly forgettable) boyfriend in the way


"Everyone ready?" Peyton asks. She ushers us out in her usual mother-hen fashion. Erika laughs at something Trent says and loops her arm through mine. We walk out as a noisy group of friends into the warm night along the pier, each one of us linked with one another. Like Mrs. Wilder said, there are stars in our eyes. And I can't help but wonder, why are we the lucky ones?
"Cam? It's me. Maggie."
There's a pause. I rush to fill the silence, suddenly feeling the need to explain myself. "Did I wake you?" I picture him glancing at the clock and a rush of embarrassment fills me. "I'm sorry to call so late. Look, why don't I call back in the morning?"
I'm about to hang up when Cam clears his throat. "Hang on a second."
So I do, my heart in my throat. I shouldn't have called. Not at this hour. Not at all.
"Griff." He's the only one who's ever called me that.
"I'd hoped it was you."


Imagine yachts, the seaside, and salty air
Mystic Summer perfectly embodies the warm-weather beach read, telling the story of a very ordinary girl, faced with a very extraordinary decision to make:  hold tight to the life she's worked so hard to build, or let go and allow room for something better. Hannah McKinnon's gorgeous literary flow pairs well with this wistful New England backdrop to create a warmhearted and thoughtful novel about settling down, the keeping of friends, and self-knowledge Americanflag

8 hearts: An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended (x)


One of you lucky readers will get the chance to get your hands on this book yourself!! Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Mystic Summer—yay!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What is a trait or behavior you look out for in others (whether in dating or making friends), that is an indicator that they are a good person?
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. Hannah and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

To me, the biggest one would be not going out of their way to put you down or make your life difficult, even if they don't agree with you. For instance if you're wrong about something, they don't argue with you or make you feel stupid over it, but rather gently point it out. Or if you have differing opinions on a controversial issue (like religion), they don't get personal over it and defensive, but rather are respectful enough to listen to your perspective.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and Atria Books!
Giveaway ends July 16th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the 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!