Exclusive Guest Post & Review – Laura Chapman

Today I’m excited to share a review for a new release by one of my favorite authors in addition to an exclusive guest post written by the author herself!

Playing House by Laura Chapman

My Review:

I loved this story of Bailey. She starts off as an assistant designer on a reality TV show that is being filmed in Texas. Bailey slowly becomes an important fixture in the crew and in their lives. But things aren’t always how they seem. There’s little secrets that pop up along the way and Bailey wonders if she’s getting more than she signed on for.

One of the main themes of the story is family and the lengths we will go to protect the people we care about. At the end of the day, the most important thing is taking care of the people we love and its always in our best interest to be open and honest in what we do.

This novel was highly entertaining and I wish there was another one to follow in a series, but I believe it currently is a stand alone novel. Can’t wait to see what Chapman brings on next.

My Rating:  5/5 Stars

I received a complimentary review copy via the author. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

Guest Post by Laura Chapman: Tour of My Office

In my latest novel, Playing House, we go behind the scenes of a hit home improvement TV show. In that spirit, I thought I’d take you readers on a tour of my favorite room in my house: my office.

This is the room I have put the most work and time into. Every piece has a purpose and a story behind it. I’ll share some of those tales. Incidentally, despite my best intentions, my office also tends to be the room in which I spend the least amount of time. Well, after the guest bedroom, which I primarily use to hide clean laundry from my cats before I fold it. I tend to be nomadic with my writing, which means my laptop, notebooks, and I roam the house rather than hanging in my beautiful office.

With that disclaimer, let me show you where the magic (theoretically) happens . . .

I was going to tidy up my desk a bit before I snapped this photo, but I figured this is more honest. Also, I’m in the middle of promoting my newest release and writing a new series. I need to cut out as many procrastinating distractions—like shuffling papers around—as I can.

When I moved into the house more than a year ago, one of my first steps (after shampooing the carpets and scrubbing every surface) was to paint this room. I went with minted lemon from Behr. A friend turned me onto their primer and paint and one, and it is truly a Godsend. It takes just one coat, which is about all I have the patience to do. I wanted something both comforting and classy, and I fell in love with this color right away. Even the woman who mixed it fell hard and made a note to remember it the next time she painted at home.

My furniture is a mix of a black desk and black and white office chair from IKEA paired with black bookshelves picked up at Target over the years. I assembled all of the pieces myself, because I need to use my pink tool-set for something.

The shelves are particularly important, because they hold my (alphabetized) collection of fiction novels as well as my writing resources and copies of my books sold at signings. Organization—when I can manage it—is crucial to my Type A-minus self’s sanity.

I also have a loveseat, which I bartered for with one of my dearest friends, who moonlights as one of my first-sight beta readers. I sanded it down, painted it white and sewed new slipcovers and pillows for the cushions with fabric ordered off of Fabric.com.

What really makes this room mine and inspirational—beyond those shelves of books—is the varying pieces of art and memorabilia throughout.

On the wall opposite my desk, above the loveseat, I have movie posters for Jane Eyre (2011) and Fifty Shades of Grey (2015). I bought the Jane poster as a 29th birthday present to myself. The Fifty Shades poster was a gift from one of my best friends. It’s actually a one-of-a-kind mounted piece, created by the studio for a promotional event and given to him—then passed on to me. He knew how much I liked this poster, and I had no words beyond “Oh my God, oh my God,” when it was delivered to my door. Both are book-turned-movies, which motivates me to (hopefully) one day write a book-turned-movie. Also, I really like to stare at Michael Fassbender’s face and Jamie Dornan’s back.

Other literary touches throughout my room include the Persuasion poster my sister gave me to celebrate The Marrying Type’s launch back in 2016. It sits next to a framed Emma quote given to me by that same friend/beta reader who traded me the love seat . . .

A quote from Three & Out designed into laugh-out-loud cuteness by my cousin . . .

A poster designed by Katie Nieland, the cover artist for The Marrying Type and Playing House . . .

And various other pieces I’ve picked up over the years that screamed “romance writer’s office” when I saw them.

The room was designed and assembled on a budget, but ultimately with the goal of being a place where I could celebrate my life as a reader and writer. Until I have a house big enough to install a Beauty and the Beast-replica library, this room is my literary heaven and haven.

About the Book

Title: Playing House

Author: Laura Chapman

Published: March 9, 2017

Book Blurb: She’s a work in progress . . .

Bailey Meredith has had it. As an assistant at a prestigious interior design firm, she’s tired of making coffee and filing invoices. She’ll do just about anything to get out from under the paperwork and into the field for real experience. Then she sees an ad for a job that seems too good to be true.

He’s a fixer upper . . .

Wilder Aldrich knew she would be perfect for the crew the moment he saw her. His hit home improvement show only hired the best, and Bailey had potential written all over her. It isn’t just her imaginative creativity and unmatched work ethic that grabs his attention. There’s just something about her.

With chemistry on screen, it’s only a matter of time before sparks fly behind the scenes as well. But with Bailey’s jaded views on romance and a big secret that could destroy Wilder and everyone he cares about, are either of them willing to risk it all for love?

Book Links:

Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Excerpt from Playing House

Keeping a close distance, she followed Waverly up the cracked path to the house. Bailey took quick mental notes of her surroundings. The exterior needed a lot of work. The sagging roof missing gutters made her think they’d find the inside in similar disarray. They stepped through the front door, nearly tripping over Wilder Aldrich, who was measuring the entryway.

“Hey!” He sprang to his feet and out of their way. “What did I tell you about waiting until I gave you the all clear?”

“You were taking for-frickin’-ever, and some of us were freezing our tits off.” She pursed her lips and took on a warrior stance, seemingly daring him to say something else.

Conceding victory to her, Wilder turned and flashed an apologetic grin at Bailey. “Hey.” He offered a hand. Warmth permeated through the thin material of her glove. “Welcome to Casa de Waverly.”

Giving him a smug grin, Waverly sipped her coffee and faced Bailey. “Do you have a smart phone?”

Bailey stared blankly for a second, still dazzled by seeing Wilder up close. But she quickly snapped to attention and dug her phone out of her coat pocket.

“Good,” Waverly said after inspecting it. “While you’re on the job, I’d like you to snap some photos for our social media accounts. I’ll want to vet everything before we post it, but we need to start building the buzz for the next season while we’re filming. In exchange, we’ll cover your phone payments to take care of your data usage. Understood?”

“I can do that.”

“Good. Now . . .” She pulled out her own phone. It was the latest model that had come out on the market a month ago. With all of its reported bells and whistles, it put Bailey’s poor phone to shame. “I’m going to make a quick call. I’ll be back in a few minutes, and we can get started on,” she gestured around her, “this mess.”

She spun on her heel and waltzed out of the room, cooing into the phone.

Wilder cleared his throat, and Bailey turned to give him her full attention. She estimated he was only a couple of years older than herself—maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. He looked younger in real life than he did on TV. He was leaner and a little shorter—though she still had to crane her neck a little to meet his gaze.

He was also more handsome. Not the GQ model, your tongue-sticks-to-the-top-of-your-mouth kind of sexy. But he was hot in the same way the guy you sat next to in Chemistry was. It was enough to distract you from formulas and Bunsen burners every so often, but not enough that you’d ever set the lab on fire or forget to finish your final exam.

So far, he seemed much more serious. Where was the guy who scared Waverly with a stuffed dummy in a closet in the last episode she’d watched before calling an end to the marathon?

He was, she realized, studying her every bit as closely, with those hazel eyes speckled with green. Noting that, she didn’t feel quite as rude taking mental notes on the man in front of him.

At least she looked good. She’d laid out three outfits that morning in the hotel room. The first was a long, silky turquoise tunic that she’d paired with a pair of black leggings and knee-high boots. It was similar to the clothes Waverly favored on screen—only hers weren’t name-brand knockoffs. Then she had the casual jeans, a gray T-shirt that she could dress-up with a navy blue blazer. And there was option three: dark-wash, fit jeans, a chambray shirt, and a scarf. It was an ensemble that fell somewhere in the middle. It was the one that looked the most like her when she inspected herself in the mirror.

It was the one that felt most like her now in the middle of the foyer.

She wondered what he saw when he looked at her. Did he see a confident young woman ready to tackle major projects adeptly? Or did he see someone who was desperate to create, no matter what happened? Both were correct, but which one shone through right now?

Like a light switch, that triggered something in her. She offered her hand again. “We haven’t officially met. I’m Bailey Meredith.”

About the Author

Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, Going for Two, Three & Out, The Marrying Type, and Playing House. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. She loves talking to readers. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also get the latest news from her website, blog, and monthly newsletter.

***Giveaway***

This month, during the Playing House blog tour, you can enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of 1 free Audible copy each of The Marrying Type, First & Goal, Going for Two or 1 $20 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Arielle Joy

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Review – Perfect Girl

Although this novel has been sitting on my iPad for quite some time just waiting to be read, I was recently inspired to read this when I finished reading Kathryn R. Biel’s latest novel New Attitude because one of her characters is named after Michele, who is the author of this book!

Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman

My Review:

Perfect girl was a self-discovery type novel. Carol isn’t your average pushover, she does it out of the love in her heart and the desire to help those in her life. But years of being a people-pleaser has made everyone happy except for the person that matters most, herself. Watch as Carol goes on a journey to discover who she is when she’s being true to herself and what that life looks like for her.

The main theme of the novel is the idea that you shouldn’t always bend over backwards to make everyone else happy. Eventually they’ll take it for granted and leave you feeling resentment in a never-ending cycle of doing things for others. That’s not to say that you should never do anything nice for anyone else, but you should try to find a happy balance.

Another main theme of the novel is infidelity and cheating. Sometimes the person you thought they were turns out to be a smokescreen for who they truly are on the inside, and that person happens to have an ugly soul. Don’t waste time on soul-sucking lying cheating people, they’re not worth the effort and they’ll always be selfish.

The best supporting actress award of this novel goes to Zoe. Although she had a small role in this story, she was one of my favorite characters and I loved the comic relief she added throughout the story. I loved all of the ridiculous dating adventures of Carol’s best friend and literally laughed out loud at the crazy scenarios.

I loved this story and can’t wait to read more of Michele’s novels!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I downloaded an e-book copy of this novel when it was free on Amazon for a limited time. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

About the Book

Title: Perfect Girl

Author: Michele Gorman

Published: October 2014

Book Blurb: Cinderella meets Falling Down in this wickedly funny tale about having it all

Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the “W” in banker.

How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?

With humor and empathy, Perfect Girl lays bare the balancing act that working women face in a man’s world

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

 Arielle Joy

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February Reading

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I can’t believe we’re already half-way through March and I’m only just now recapping February! Today I’m sharing a round-up of the books I read during February. Scroll on to find out which one was my favorite. You can also click the images below to read my reviews for each.

lift-and-separate lean-in we-just-clicked love-in-an-elevator talking-as-fast-as-i-can criminal-confections

Books Read in February 2017

Books listed below in the order they were read

  1. Lift and Separate by Marilyn Simon Rothstein, 4/5 stars
  2. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, 5/5 stars
  3. We Just Clicked by Sophie Childs, 5/5 Stars
  4. Love in an Elevator a Romantic Comedy Anthology, 5/5 Stars
  5. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham, 4/5 Stars
  6. Criminal Confections by Colette London, 4/5 Stars

My favorite books read during February were…

Honestly, this month was hard to pick a favorite, so I picked two. My two favorite books read in February were Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Love in an Elevator a romantic comedy anthology.

 

february-2017-books-read

 

What books did you read last month that you loved?

 

 

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Review – Love in an Elevator

Love in an Elevator, a Romantic Comedy anthology

My Review

love-in-an-elevatorI loved this book, I loved this book, I loved this book! Clearly I can’t say it enough times! Love in an Elevator has 8 short stories that incorporate a romantic story that involves an elevator in some way. Who would’ve thought that there could be so many ways that elevators can bring people together?! They’re all clever and funny and filled with unexpected romance and all the stories incorporate the elevators in completely different ways, yet the elevator plays a key role in all of the storylines. Some of the authors are personal favorites, some are authors i’ve been meaning to read, and some were completely new to me. Almost all 8 stories got a 5/5 star rating from me and I HIGHLY recommend these stories to all who enjoy romantic comedies and are looking for some major laughs!

Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars

[Please note, these stories are no longer available as an anthology and are available to purchase separately as novellas from each author.]

1. Hold the Lift by Aven Ellis

I was looking forward to reading this short as I’ve heard of her work but have never read any of her writing yet! This story was about Sierra and Jude meeting in an elevator that gets stuck. They’re both young, hard-working professionals that work hard to accomplish their goals. I love that he’s a professional hockey player (It’s the only sport I truly enjoy!) and I love the tie-in with the Magic 8 ball. Sometimes the digital age can bring people together and sometimes it can make things more difficult, but I truly believe that when things are meant to work out, they very often times do.

5/5 Stars – super cute story of Sierra and Jude

2. Down, Then Up by Beth Labonte

This was a new author for me and I’m sorry to say I’d never heard of her before. Thankfully that changed now that I’ve read her story of Lauren and Jamie. Lauren runs into her old college boyfriend, of all places on a crazy bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas. They both have accomplished a lot since their college years, but could it be that neither of them ever moved on from their failed relationship?

4/5 Stars – mixture of silly, sweet and serious

3. Going Up? by Whitney Dineen

I’ve got a few of Whitney’s novels on my kindle app but haven’t made my way to them yet. This novella inspired me to read them soon!

Fiona Kitchen moves to New York to open a branch of her massage spa called The Rub, like her flagship store in Pennsylvania. After months of having trouble finding a new client base, Fiona gets a job as an elevator operator. That job leads to some interesting adventures and I was happy to be along for the ride. I would love to read a full length novel of Fiona’s story.

5/5 Stars

4. Taking a Chance by Becky Monson

Liza and Jay meet in the elevator that is supposed to take them to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. Liza is a special type of socially awkward; she’s scared of crowds, small spaces and especially afraid of heights. But she has a promise to fulfill and perhaps Jay is the perfect person to help her accomplish her goals.
5/5 Stars – Such a cute story!

5. Happy to be Stuck with You by Rich Amooi

I was excited to see that Rich was one of the authors in this anthology, as he is one of my favorite authors! You can get a copy of this novella for free if you sign up for Rich’s newsletter (you’ll also get his new releases for a discounted rate when they come out): Sign up here!
Happy to be stuck with you is a cute story about seemingly unrequited love in the workplace. You know what they say about making assumptions about people right? You’re usually wrong! This was a funny one, a laugh out loud comedy from beginning to end, in the classic Amooi style.

5/5 Stars – classic laugh out loud comedy

6. Upstairs, Downstairs and the Lift in Between by Geralyn Corcillo

Another of my favorite authors!

This is the charming story of where Mark and Maisy meet and fall in love. I read the full length novel recently and it’s wonderful! I enjoyed reading how it all began, even though I read it out of order.

5/5 Stars

7. The Only Way is Up by Lindy Dale

This was a new author for me, but one I’ve heard great things about. This is the story of Bailey and Callum. I loved the dynamics between these two and would love to continue reading their story if it was a full length novel!

5/5 Stars

8. Out of Order by Dee Ernest

This was a completely new author for me. I loved the story and the relationship that brews between Seth and Grace and will definitely be checking out her other works.

5/5 Stars

Title: Love in an Elevator

Author: Multiple Authors

Published: July 2016

Book Blurb: Laugh, swoon, and escape with this romantic comedy anthology!

I purchased this book when it was available as an anthology. You can now only purchase the novellas separately from each author on Amazon.

Hold the Lift by Aven Ellis – Amazon Link 

Down, Then Up by Beth Labonte – Amazon Link

Going Up? by Whitney Dineen – Amazon Link

Taking a Chance by Becky Monson – Amazon Link

Happy to be Stuck with You by Rich Amooi – Newsletter

Upstairs, Downstairs, and the Lift in Between by Geralyn Corcillo – Amazon Link

The Only Way is Up by Lindy Dale – Amazon Link

Out of Order by Dee Ernst – Amazon Link

I purchased this book when it was available with all 8 stories together in one. They are now only available separately. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion. 

Arielle Joy

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Release Day Review – New Attitude

Happy Release Day to author Kathryn R. Biel on her latest novel New Attitude! New Attitude is the second novel in the New Beginnings series, which follows the first story called Made For Me. Check out my review for Made for Me and scroll on to read my review on her new novel New Attitude.

New Attitude by Kathryn R. Biel

My Review

New Attitude is a wonderful continuation of the series. This time it’s from Kira’s perspective. Her life is a complete mess right now, but there is a bright spot in her life (and I’m not just talking about her ever-changing rainbow colored hair!). She gets to go to the royal wedding with Michele. After she gets home from that, her efforts are spent trying to get out of the rut she’s in because every area of her life is in trouble and her creativity isn’t where it was at before she was on the show. Insert exciting life-changing news, and an interesting flirtation and you’ve got yourself set up for an entertaining story.

One of the main themes of the story is not jumping to conclusions because things aren’t’ always how they seem at first look. It’s important to give people a chance and sometimes all you need is a new attitude and outlook on life. This was a charming story and I can’t wait for the next one!

5/5 Stars

I received a complimentary review copy via the author. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

Title: New Attitude – New Beginnings Book #2

Author: Kathryn R. Biel

Published: March 14, 2017

Book Blurb: As if it’s not bad enough that I didn’t win the reality design TV show I was on, try coming home to a one word note indicating that my ten-year marriage is over. So here I am, a suddenly single mother in my mid-thirties, doing what everyone advises me to do—have a fling. Except it doesn’t go as planned, so I do the next best thing, which is sit on the couch and mope. But having to provide for a five-year-old doesn’t let me stay home for too long. Before I know it, I’m back to dying my hair wild colors and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

Except Tony, the fling that wasn’t, keeps popping up in the most unlikely places and won’t leave me alone. I’d like to be strong—I’m way too old for him—but he’s cute and funny and sexy and oh, my ex is getting married to a girl named Bambi. All I know is the way I’m doing things isn’t working. If I want to be happy again, I’m going to need to get a new attitude.

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Arielle Joy

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Review – Talking as fast as I can

Talking as fast as I can by Lauren Graham

My Review:

As soon as I knew that Gilmore Girls was creating a Year in the Life on Netflix, I slowly began to make my way through watching all 7 seasons from start to finish to have the full series fresh in my mind. I wanted to complete all 7 seasons prior to watching the new shows, and although it took a long time, it was well worth the wait!

After watching the new Year in the Life episodes, it was time to read Lauren’s book Talking as Fast as I Can. Her novel reads in such a way that you feel as though you are spending time hanging out with Lauren and that she is telling you the story in person. Needless to say, it was funny and thoroughly enjoyable, though it was a quick read and I was sad it was over so soon.

After reading her book, I realized that I’d been living under a rock because I had never heard of the show she was on after Gilmore Girls called Parenthood. I started watching that show and again am thoroughly being entertained by Lauren and her new cast of family members. I’m almost through season 2 and thankful that there’s quite a few more.

I digress, this started off as a review for her book, didn’t it? The only thing you need to know about it, is that you should read it, and that you’re guaranteed to enjoy it. The end.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I purchased a hardback copy of this book on Amazon. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

I also couldn’t resist and bought this fun Luke’s Diner mug on Amazon. How fun right?!

Book Details | Talking as fast as I can by Lauren Graham

Published: November 2016

Book Blurb: In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

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Review – Criminal Confections

Criminal Confections by Colette London

criminal-confectionsPublished: January 2015

Book Blurb: Hayden Mundy Moore is an expert on everything chocolate, helping clients develop new products and revamp recipes until they’re irresistible. But sometimes, a dash of murder finds its way into the mix. . .

Hayden Mundy Moore has bushwhacked through African jungles and haggled in exotic markets to find the finest cacao beans and the most flavorful blends. It’s thrilling work but rarely dangerous–until a colleague turns up dead at the exclusive chocolate-themed Lemaître resort spa in San Francisco.

Adrienne Dowling’s heart attack is blamed on an accidental overdose of the secret ingredient used in Lemaître Chocolates’ new line. Hayden can’t believe that conscientious Adrienne would make that mistake. And between chocolate body scrubs, cocoa mud baths, and a non-stop frenzy of chocolate-based treats, Hayden starts to suspect that she, not Adrienne, was the intended target. Finding a killer among the rival chocolatiers and potential suspects won’t just be satisfying–it might save her life. . .

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

My Review

Entertaining cozy culinary mystery that involves more chocolate than one would know what to do with! I enjoyed Hayden’s story and watching her slowly pull the clues together to figure out whodunit. I loved the dynamics with her friend Danny and adviser Travis too, and would be interested to see where those relationships go in future story lines. The story was well laid out with just enough clues to get an inkling, but not so much where you figured it out too quickly. This was the first novel in the series and I would certainly be interested in continuing with the next ones. There were also a few chocolate recipes at the end, fun touch!

4/5 Stars

I received a complimentary review copy via NetGalley. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

 Arielle Joy

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