Friday, April 28, 2017

Reviews at Amazon--March/April 2017

Melissa A:

Review
Review
Review


Review (at Goodreads)
Review



Sara:

Review



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: Three Fat Singletons

By Becky Gulc

Three Fat Singletons is a story of friendship, love, loss and hope. We journey with Jesse, Dotty and Mary through the often hilarious, sometimes painful, obstacle that being overweight can bring to the pursuit of love after thirty. 

Mary, Dotty and Jesse are single, obese, and pushing 40; Dotty: a Christian virgin, Mary is a divorced Catholic and Jesse is a man-eating spiritualist. Together they explore the fat-underworld that is Big Ladies Paradise, Talking Hearts, Entertaining London, blind dates, internet dating, phone sex and the possibilities of lifetime celibacy. 

A week-long getaway to Greece throws them some unexpected challenges; romance, sex, adultery and horrific embarrassment, all of which lead to the revelation that what you get is what you need, not always what you want… or deserve.’ (Courtesy of Amazon UK.)

When asked whether I’d like to review this novel, I read the synopsis and thought it sounded different, refreshing and honest, so of course I was happy to do so.

Overall I enjoyed this novel and it did offer me, as a reader, something different, refreshing, and honest, just as I’d hoped. We keep hearing about obesity epidemics, but I haven’t personally read a novel which focuses on larger ladies (and we’re talking clinically obese not just a few pounds heavier than they’d like to be), and in particular their experiences of dating.

I particularly enjoyed the novel once the characters were on holiday, there are plenty of love interests in Greece, but are they the kind of men these ladies really need in their lives? It’s certainly complex at times, funny and also thought-provoking too in a gentle way. I felt like a fly on the wall on their holiday and it was an adventure!

I felt I got to know Dotty quite well and could sympathize with her over her constant struggles with willpower and wrong choices (the characters are flawed and they know it, but also very real). My only criticism would be that I would have liked to feel I got to know the other characters better than I did; there was more room for character development, I felt. More internal dialogue in parts would have been welcomed with more reveal of the past. On my copy at least, there was a muddle up in the synopsis description of the characters (Jesse, not Mary, being the divorced one) which led to some unnecessary confusion. I would be happy to get to know the characters more in a follow-up novel and there is definitely scope for this, this isn’t a story with everything tied up at the end (but not in a bad way!).

It didn’t bother me, but the book is very descriptive in parts (bowel movements, vomiting on several occasions) so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

A book that offers the reader something different.

Thanks to Inkitt for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review: Memories of May

By Melissa Amster

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but in Tarrin’s Bay, she’s about to find that love is stronger than time...

By day, single mother Olivia Chevalier runs the family’s bookstore and raises her nine-year-old daughter. By night, she escapes into a world of fiction where there is excitement, romance, and happy endings.

Both of her roles are endlessly rewarding, but Olivia’s life has not been without challenges, hard work, and disappointment. So when enigmatic travel writer Joel Foster walks into her bookstore – and her life – with his mantras of trying new things and taking risks, Olivia knows that nothing will change.

But when a family dilemma surfaces, Olivia is compelled to enroll in Joel’s writing course to tell the story of her grandmother’s life. With each new day and each new page, Olivia discovers secrets about her family and truths about herself, and finds herself yearning to rewrite the story she has planned and seek a life as intriguing as fiction. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

If it has Juliet Madison's name on the cover, you can bet I've read it. I adore her writing and am always looking forward to her next book. However, with her Tarrin's Bay series, I have to wait a year between novels. They're all worth the wait though! Memories of May is another sweet addition to this fabulous series. While it can be read as a stand-alone, there are some spoilers for previous novels (mainly April's Glow).

Memories had a Sarah Jio feel to it, with going between the past and present, both containing romantic dilemmas. I enjoyed the flashbacks to May's memories from when she was 20 and receiving letters from a secret admirer.

The dialogue was entertaining and sometimes humorous throughout the story. I even got teary-eyed toward the end. I liked reading about some of the situations Olivia got into, especially since I couldn't imagine partaking in her new adventures myself.

My only minor complaint was that some of the characters became too introspective at times and I would get frustrated with them over it. Maybe that was meant to happen in order to get the story where it needed to be, but it was like talking to a friend and not being able to tell them what I think they should do.

Overall, I adored this novel and am hoping to move time forward to get to June...next year!

Here's my dream movie cast!
Olivia: Abbie Cornish 
Joel: Daniel MacPherson
William (past): Brenton Thwaites
May (past): Ellie Bamber
Jacques (past): William Brent
May (present): Rosemary Harris

Thanks to Juliet Madison for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Juliet Madison:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spotlight and Giveaway: Slightly South of Simple

Today we're celebrating the publication of Kristy Woodson Harvey's third novel, Slightly South of Simple, which is also the start of a new series! In honor of this launch, Kristy has an amazing prize to give away! But first, read all about the novel...

From the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand) comes the first in an all-new series chronicling the journeys of three sisters and their mother—and a secret from their past that has the potential to tear them apart and reshape their very definition of what it means to be a family.

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she'd spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley's life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.



Kristy Woodson Harvey is also the author of Dear Carolina (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2015) and Lies and Other Acts of Love (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2016). Dear Carolina was long-listed for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, has been optioned for film and has appeared on numerous “must-read” lists. Lies and Other Acts of Love was a Romantic Times top pick, a Southern Booksellers Okra Pick and was chosen to be a part of the 2017 Trio display, an integration of story, art and song, which will spend the year traveling the country.

She blogs with her mom daily on Design Chic, the inaugural member of Traditional Home’s design blogger hall of fame, about how creating a beautiful home can be the catalyst for creating a beautiful life and loves connecting with readers at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Southern Living, Domino, Houzz and Our State. She has been seen featured in Readers’ Digest, The Huffington Post, USA Today’s Happy Every After, North Carolina Bookwatch, PopSugar, Glitter Guide and The Sits Girls. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and five-year-old son where she is working on her next novel.




Kristy is generously giving away a swag bag with Slightly South of Simple, a KWH beach bag, insulated cup, book light, and coozie!


How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends April 30th at midnight EST.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Review: Lessons from the Prairie

By Jami Deise

The 1970s was a great time to be a girl who loved stories. Not only were the Little House on the Prairie books ubiquitous, but the TV show was the star of every Monday night. Playing “Little House” was a favorite game for my friends and me. We all fought over who got to be Laura. In fact, some of my very first writings were what I now know was fan fiction… a tale called “Light Up the Sky with Firecrackers,” painstakingly written and illustrated on those tablets given to first graders back then. My mom may still have them. (I know she still has the poem I wrote about loving cats and ants.)

This is my long-winded way of saying that when Chick Lit Central was pitched Lessons from the Prairie, written by former Little House child star and current Fox News reporter Melissa Francis, I was game… but wary. For as much as I loved Little House as a grade-schooler, by the time Melissa Francis joined the show, Mary and Laura were all grown up and I was more interested in General Hospital. Furthermore, my political tastes run more toward the Rachel Maddow end of the spectrum.

Still, I was curious about whatever backstage melodrama Francis might have to offer… as well as the inner workings of a brain on Fox News. Coincidentally, the Little House franchise has recently been claimed by conservatives, pointing to its can-do frontier spirit—and disdain for government and politicians—as proof that the best way to help people is to let their neighbors do it. (This outlook is burnished by the fact that Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane were outspoken in their opposition to FDR’s New Deal. No one had helped them out on the prairie, so why should the government help those crippled by a national unemployment rate of twenty-five percent?)

While Lessons does offer a glimpse of behind-the-scenes life on the set, I might have gotten more bang from my buck by reading Francis’s first book, Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter. Lessons tries to offer a few concrete rules from Francis’s time on the show and her current career, but these are buried in long-winded (albeit interesting) anecdotes from her past. Francis’s recollections about how Michael Landon treated everyone on set equally (except for salaries, of course) devolves into memories of the Sony versus Betamax VCR wars. And while Francis recounts a fairly recent meeting with Little House co-star Melissa Gilbert in which the two reminisced about Landon, there’s no mention whether she debated politics with the grown-up Half-Pint, who’s a well-known Democratic activist and union supporter.

Francis airs some of her dirty laundry—she touches on her mother’s mismanagement of her finances (I suppose she goes into detail in her first book), while acknowledging her mother deserved some kind of compensation for the hours she spent managing Francis’s career. She’s also upfront about her early reporting missteps and the truth about her appearance before the Fox hair and makeup folks have their way with her. I appreciated the tales of her early gumption in going after news jobs—she called up small TV stations, pretended to have already lined up interviews with their rivals, and proposed the “favor” of dropping off her reel while she was in town. That takes chutzpah, something young women fresh out of college—even if that college is Harvard—seem to lack, while their male counterparts have in spades.

Still, the book’s shortcomings left me unable to appreciate the few lessons she detailed. Francis holds a degree in economics from Harvard, yet the book is written at a fifth-grade level. Did her publisher assume that readers attracted to Francis’s story would only comprehend writing at that level, or is this her true voice? Fox declares that while its commentators are unabashed conservatives, its reporters—Francis is on the financial beat—are unbiased. Yet Francis doesn’t try to hide her conservative leanings, even repeating the tired joke about Al Gore inventing the internet. (I find this lie particularly galling—as a financial reporter, Francis should know that Gore rightly took credit only for authoring the legislation that funded DARPAnet’s transition to the internet, not for its creation.) Honestly, I was interested in how Francis developed her political beliefs –she calls herself a Republican as early as her freshman year at Harvard—yet there’s no self-reflection on how she came to believe what she believes.

The behind-the-scenes at Fox News stories are equally sparse. While Francis gushes over Megyn Kelly, she doesn’t seem to have an opinion on Kelly’s revelations in her own book, nor the timing of its release. She mentions that Roger Ailes repeatedly talked about bedding her, but her blasé reaction to his come-ons hints that the women who sued him for sexual harassment just aren’t as strong as she is. She belittles Democrat Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” philosophy, advising young women to choose careers that are flexible with the demands of motherhood. Yet she doesn’t talk at all about how difficult it is for women who have “leaned out” for a few years to resume their careers at the same place they left them, or even to be taken seriously at all once they have pared back to take care of their children.

Despite the book’s shortcomings, there is an authenticity that comes across in Francis’s writing. She doesn’t hold herself up as a model for women who want to balance a high-profile career with demanding (she has three children) motherhood. She’s honest about her weaknesses as a reporter (although she seems unable to see the other side of issues she’s covering). And the overall lesson she imparts—there’s no substitute for hard work—is one she practices as well as preaches.

And lastly, Francis recognizes and appreciates the shining light that is Oprah. As Oprah was one of President Obama’s earliest and most fervent supporters, if Francis can still value her, perhaps she’s not quite as conservative as she leads readers to believe.

Thanks to Weinstein Books for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 21, 2017

What's in the mail...plus a giveaway

Melissa A:
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman from Berkley
Making Waves by Laura Moore from Ballantine
Mrs. Saint and the Defectives by Julie Lawson Timmer from Lake Union
Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery from HQN Books
How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
The One that Got Away by Melissa Pimentel from St. Martin's Press
It Happens in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson from William Morrow
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances from Kensington (e-book via Edelweiss)

Jami:
Before this is Over by Amanda Hickie from Little, Brown (e-book via NetGalley)

What could be in YOUR mail?

A random assortment of books! (Or e-books, if you live outside the US.) CLC is approaching SEVEN years, so we want to do something to celebrate!




How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends May 1st at midnight EST.



Book Review: Kim vs. the Mean Girl

By Melissa Amster

I don't always review YA novels, but when I do, it's because they're written by my favorite chick lit authors. Recently, Meredith Schorr published a YA prequel to her Blogger Girl series. It was fun to see what Kim and Hannah were like in high school.

High school sophomore, Kim Long, is no stranger to the “mean girl” antics of Queen Bee Hannah Marshak. When Hannah steals Kim’s diary and in front of the entire class reads personal (not to mention humiliating) entries Kim wrote about her crush, Jonathan, Kim vows to enact revenge.

Kim and her loyal best friend, Bridget, come up with the perfect plan to put the evil Hannah in her place once and for all. But will their scheming have the desired effect of getting even, or will Hannah emerge more celebrated by her peers than ever?

Kim vs. The Mean Girl can be read as a young adult standalone novel, but it is also a prequel to the popular Blogger Girl adult romantic comedy series and is set in 2000. Told in the duo perspectives of teenage Kim and Hannah, fans of the series will get an inside look into Kim’s early passion for reading, writing (and Jonathan) and find out why Hannah is so darn mean. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

As you can see on the cover, the only thing I didn't like was that it had to end. It reminded me of the Taffy Sinclair books by Betsy Haynes that I read in my preteen years, as well as Caprice Crane's Confessions of a Hater.

I enjoyed reading both Kim and Hannah's perspectives. I found myself laughing out loud at times, as well as cringing. I also enjoyed seeing Kim's friends Bridget and Jonathan as teens, as well as meeting some new characters.

Overall, it's an entertaining story that adults and teens will enjoy.  There were also some good lessons that I took from it. Maybe Meredith can fit in another prequel about Kim and Hannah's college years. (Although I also look forward to a follow-up from Novelista Girl.)

Thanks to Meredith Schorr for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Meredith Schorr: