Monday, October 21, 2019

Wicked Good Hop



It's that frightfully fun time of year, and Chick Lit Chat HQ has a few tricks along with a whole lot of treats coming your way this Halloween season. So, join us for a spooktastic time at our first ever Wicked Good Hop on Facebook. From Monday, October 21st through Sunday, October 27th, there will be hours of ghoulishly delightful entertainment at our Haunted Headquartersotherwise known as our Facebook events page.

Over forty Chick Lit and RomCom authors will be giving away a pumpkin patch full of prizes, including books, swag, gift cards, and Halloween/fall-themed goodies. Plus, on the events page, you can enter to win one of FIVE Grand Prizes*, which will be custom 6-packs of scrumptious Wicked Good Cupcakes. These cupcakes in a jar come in a variety of mouthwatering flavors, including seasonal delights Caramel Apple Streusel, Chocolate Pumpkin (Oh My Gourd!), Mocha Madness, Pumpkin Spice, Reverse Chocolate Boo-Day, and Reverse Vanilla Boo-Day.







So, grab your broomstick and fly on over to the party on Facebook where your fave authors, both new and old, will be unleashing some serious hocus pocus. Don't forget your black cat! 


*The giveaway for our Grand Prizes is open to US residents only. However, ALL of the individual author giveaways are open internationally.

~Schedule~

Monday, October 21st
Traci Andrighetti
Tracie Banister (Host)
Angie Ellington
Shanna Hatfield
Beth Labonte
Martha Reynolds
Carol Maloney Scott
Melanie Summers

Tuesday, October 22nd (Jayne Denker - Host) 
Rich Amooi
Rachael Eliker
Crystal Estell
Christina Hovland
Diane Michaels
June Moonbridge
Julie Mulhern

Wednesday, October 23rd 
Glynis Astie (Host)
Gigi Blume
Christina Boyd
Lizzie Chantree
Dylann Crush
RosaLinda Diaz
Jenny Gardiner
Nikki LeClair

Thursday, October 24th (Becky Monson – Host)
Beth Carter
Laura Kenyon
Tracy Krimmer
D.E. Malone
Barbara Plum
Sophie-Leigh Robbins
Sara Whitney

Friday, October 25th 
Maggie Aldrich
Emkay Connor
Karen M. Cox
Amy Gettinger
Hilary Grossman (Host)
Susan Hatler
Skye McNeil
Kate O’Keeffe

Saturday, October 26th 
Holly Kerr
Jennie Marts
Kirsty McManus
Robyn Neeley
Natalina Reis
Holly Tierney-Bedord (Host)
Barbara Valentin


Friday, October 18, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Little Book of Bob by James Bowen from Thomas Dunne
Once Upon a Sunset by Tif Marcelo from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman from Berkley
This Won't End Well by Camille Pagán from Kathleen Carter Communications
Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie from St. Martin's Press
The Second Home by Christina Clancy from St. Martin's Press
Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth from Crooked Lane Books (e-book via NetGalley)

Amy:
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle from Goodreads (won in a giveaway)

Jami:
How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)

Sara:
The Choice by Claire Wade from Orion (e-book via NetGalley)
The Cake Fairies by Isabella May from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
More Than by/from Diane Barnes (e-book)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Sophie Kinsella's holiday treat...plus a book giveaway

Photo by John Swannell
We're thrilled to have Sophie Kinsella back at CLC today to celebrate the recent publication of her latest novel, Christmas Shopaholic. She's here today to get us in a holiday (shopping) mood. Thanks to The Dial Press, we have THREE copies to give away!

Sophie Kinsella has sold over 40 million copies of her books in more than 60 countries, and she has been translated into over 40 languages.

Sophie first hit the UK bestseller lists in September 2000 with her first novel in the Shopaholic series – The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (also published as Confessions of a Shopaholic). The book’s heroine, Becky Bloomwood – a fun and feisty financial journalist who loves shopping but is hopeless with money – captured the hearts of readers worldwide. Becky has since featured in seven further bestselling books, Shopaholic Abroad (also published as Shopaholic Takes Manhattan), Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Shopaholic & Sister, Shopaholic & Baby, Mini Shopaholic, Shopaholic to the Stars and Shopaholic to the Rescue. Becky Bloomwood came to the big screen in 2009 with the hit Disney movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, starring Isla Fisher and Hugh Dancy.

Sophie has also written nine standalone novels which have all been bestsellers in the UK, USA and other countries around the world: Can You Keep A Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, Twenties Girl, I’ve Got Your Number, Wedding Night, My Not So Perfect Life, which was a Goodreads Choice Awards finalist for Best Fiction in 2017, Surprise Me and I Owe You One.

Sophie wrote her first novel under her real name, Madeleine Wickham, aged 24, whilst she was working as a financial journalist. The Tennis Party was immediately hailed as a success by critics and the public alike and became a top ten bestseller. She went on to publish six more novels as Madeleine Wickham.

Sophie was born in London. She studied music at New College, Oxford, but after a year switched to Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She lives in the UK with her husband and family. (Bio adapted from Sophie's website.)

Visit Sophie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
'Tis the season for change and Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is embracing it, returning from the States to live in the charming village of Letherby and working with her best friend, Suze, in the gift shop of Suze’s stately home. Life is good, especially now that Becky takes time every day for mindfulness . . . which actually means listening to a meditation tape while hunting down online bargains.

But Becky still adores the traditions of Christmas: Her parents host, carols play on repeat, her mother pretends she made the Christmas pudding, and the neighbors come ’round for sherry in their terrible holiday sweaters. Things are looking cheerier than ever, until Becky’s parents announce they’re moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch—unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocados—and ask Becky if she’ll host this year. What could possibly go wrong?


Her sister demands a vegan turkey, her husband insists that he just wants aftershave—again, and little Minnie demands a very specific picnic hamper: Surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old-boyfriend-turned-rock-star and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear. But as the countdown to Christmas begins and her big-hearted plans take an unexpected turn toward disaster, Becky starts to wonder if chaos will ensue, or if she’ll manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas after all. (Courtesy of Amazon.)


What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
The greatest compliment I have ever received was “effortless”. I love it when people think I just wrote a book all in one quick dash, because it feels “natural”. The truth is it takes months to plan, but if the book feels effortless then I have done my job! I am also very very happy if anyone describes my writing as funny.

Have you ever considered writing a kid's or young adult series about Becky's daughter Minnie?
That is such a fun idea! I have never thought about it, but I am always up for new plans and ideas, so who knows?

Which was your favorite Shopaholic novel to write?
I think it’s a tie between the first Shopaholic book - because that is where I met/created Becky - and this most recent book Christmas Shopaholic. I’m such a sucker for Christmas! I played carols while I wrote, I read Christmas magazines, I fully immersed in all things festive and I loved it!

What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Every year, my family watches The Muppet Christmas Carol. We sing the songs and quote the lines and I can’t imagine Christmas without it.

What is the best Christmas gift you have ever given someone? Received from someone?
Not exactly a gift, but we were thrilled to welcome my daughter into the world on 22nd December and bring her home from hospital on Christmas Eve. That was very special.

What is a favorite Christmas tradition in your family?
We play a brilliant game where you have to put on hats and gloves and scarves and eat a chocolate bar with a knife and fork. We also read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” every Christmas Eve before we put out mince pies and sherry by the fire for Father Christmas to find.

Thanks to Sophie for visiting with us and to The Dial Press for sharing her book with our readers.

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 October 23rd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Book Review: Absolutely Smashing It

By Becky Gulc

‘“SAM! AVA! Get downstairs, NOW. Have you done your TEETH? HAIR? SHOES? Come on, come on, come on, we’re going to be bastarding late again. No, I haven’t seen Lego Optimus Prime, and nor do I give a shit about his whereabouts. Sam, will you stop winding your sister up and take this model of the Shard that I painstakingly sat up and created for you last night so that I wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. I mean, so that you wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. No, it doesn’t smell of ‘dirty wine’. Well, maybe it does a little bit. Look, Sam, I haven’t got time to argue. Just hold your nose and get in the car, okay? AVA! TEETH! HAIR! SHOES!”

Gemma is only just holding it together – she’s a single parent, she’s turning 40 and her seven-year-old daughter has drawn a cruelly accurate picture which locates Gemma’s boobs somewhere around her knees. So when her new next-door neighbour, Becky, suggests that Gemma should start dating again, it takes a lot of self-control not to laugh in her face.

But Becky is very persuasive and before long Gemma finds herself juggling a full-time job, the increasingly insane demands of the school mums’ Facebook group and the tricky etiquette of a new dating world. Not only that, but Gemma has to manage her attraction to her daughter’s teacher, Tom, who has swapped his life in the City for teaching thirty six to seven year olds spelling, grammar, basic fractions – and why it’s not ok to call your classmate a stinky poo-bum…

It’s going to be a long year – and one in which Gemma and Becky will learn a really crucial lesson: that in the end, being a good parent is just about being good enough.’ (Synopsis courtesy of Little, Brown.)

Absolutely Smashing It is the debut novel by the blogger Kathryn Wallace and whilst I don’t even usually use the word ‘hoot’ I’d summarise this book as a hoot from start to finish!

There are two main characters in the novel, Gemma, a single mum who works full-time; she finds little time for herself. Then there’s Becky who moves in next door with her family. Becky is bored of being a stay-at-home parent and pretty much feels like a single parent given the hours her husband works. Becky is one outgoing vivacious woman and she doesn’t give Gemma much choice in the fact that they’re going to be friends. They’re soon making a pact to improve their lives for the better. This is a friendship that both of them need more than perhaps they realise!

This isn’t a novel I would ordinarily select, I’m just not drawn to novels which suggest they’re going to revolve around parenting and playground politics and I wasn’t familiar with the blog. I’m so glad I was sent this novel for review though because I actually loved it. This is an extremely funny novel, both women have a fantastic sense of humour (particularly Becky) and there are some very comical dating scenes for Gemma. And then there’s Gemma’s daughter Ava; she pretty much says everything you hope your child wouldn’t say in front of people but she’s ever so funny. She also shows she has a lovely heart when her new friend Rosie is going through a difficult time. Loved Ava!

I think the book reflects parenting so well, the daily struggles and guilt, along with the fun side! It’s very reassuring that we all go through the same things! The children were well-rounded and important characters in the novel and this was a strength for me. Tom, the new Year Two teacher, is very dreamy indeed and I was willing him and Gemma to get it together when their chemistry so was written so well! But a novel wouldn’t be the same if it was all plain sailing would it?

The book has likable characters who are striving to get the balance right in their lives and with the help of their new friendship they may just start getting this right, but not without funny moments aplenty. I loved this book and would love to see the characters return in future novels!

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Anita Hughes is decking the halls...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to have Anita Hughes back at CLC today. Even though we haven't bought our Halloween candy yet, she's here to get us in the mood for the winter holiday season with her latest novel, Christmas in Vermont. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy to give away!

Anita Hughes is also the author of Christmas at the Chalet, Christmas in London, Christmas in Paris, Emerald Coast, White Sand, Blue Sea, Santorini Sunsets, Island in the Sea, Rome in Love, French Coast, Lake Como, Market Street, and Monarch Beach. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel. She has her first historical fiction novel, The Light After the War, publishing in February 2020 under the name Anita Abriel.

Visit Anita online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Synopsis:
Emma can’t believe her luck when she finds an open pawn shop on Christmas Eve in Manhattan. She’s there to sell the beautiful bracelet her ex-boyfriend gave her when a familiar looking watch catches her eye. It’s the same engraved watch she gave her college boyfriend, Fletcher, years ago. On a whim, she trades for the watch and wonders at the timing.

Practical Emma thinks it’s just a coincidence, but her best friend Bronwyn believes it’s the magic of synchronicity that caused Emma to find the watch. Fletcher was the one that got away, and somehow Emma never quite moved on.

When Bronwyn finds out that Fletcher is in snowy Vermont at a romantic inn for the week, she can’t help but give synchronicity a push. She signs Emma up to help the inn keeper as the children’s activity coordinator. Emma agrees that a week filled with quaint shops and maple syrup would do her good… and maybe Fate really does have a Christmas gift in store for her. That is until she sees Fletcher with his daughter and fiancée.

Suddenly, the fairy tale trip seems doomed to fail… much like the innkeeper’s dwindling cash flow. It will take a miracle to save her heart and the inn. And that just might be what Fate has in mind.


What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
One of my favorite compliments is that my books make you feel like you are right there on location with the characters. I often hear that readers want to book a trip to Rome or Paris because they felt transported when they were reading. Which is exactly how I feel when I am writing.

What inspired you to set this novel in Vermont?
I spent a month in Vermont when I was in college and I loved everything about it: the covered bridges and the incredible skiing and the quaint villages. I have always wanted to go back. Plus I think it is the perfect place to spend Christmas.

If Christmas in Vermont were made into a movie, who would play the leading roles?
CHRISTMAS IN VERMONT is a movie! It premieres on the Lifetime Channel on October 27th at 8 pm EST. The movie has a new title: NO TIME FOR CHRISTMAS. I haven't seen it myself so I'm excited for it to air.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
My favorite Christmas song is "G-d Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

What is your favorite Christmas dessert?
Pumpkin pie with whipped cream!

Tell us about one of your Christmas traditions.
My children love their Christmas stockings. I always stuff them with useful items: scotch tape, socks, a hairbrush. They pretend to be disappointed but those things come in handy and they love them!

Thanks to Anita for chatting with us and to St. Martin's Press for sharing her book with our readers.

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 October 22nd at midnight EST.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Book Review: Call Me, Maybe



By Sara Steven

What happens when you meet your teenage heart-throb – when you’re both all grown up?

When Cassie was fifteen, all she wanted was to marry Jesse Franklin, the bassist from her favourite band, Franko. Now she’s single, in her late twenties and wondering what happened to that teenage dream.

A chance encounter on Facebook soon leads to a transatlantic hook up, and soon, Jesse and Cassie are having a long-distance love affair spanning five thousand miles.

Cassie is on cloud nine – until she hears something that makes her think that Jesse might not be all that he seems. They say never meet your heroes – but what happens when you fall in love with them…?

Are Cassie and Jesse star crossed lovers, destined to be together? Or should Cassie have left her crush in the box marked 'teenage memories'? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Call Me, Maybe was an interesting take on what might happen if your innermost teenage dreams came true. While reading about Cassie’s yearnings from the nineties, I tried to recall who set my own fifteen-year old heart on fire. For me, it was Heath Kirchart, skateboarder. The first time I caught sight of Heath kickflipping it in the documentary Barbarians at the Gate, was the first time I knew what it was to fall for a celebrity. So much so, I wrote his name on the cover of one of my journals. Surrounded by hearts. It was benign and something I knew deep down would never come to fruition, but I felt hooked, just the same.

That’s the same feeling for Cassie. Only, in her world, she’s given an opportunity to make a connection with her celebrity crush. Those benign walls are no longer there, allowing her the chance to get to know Jesse Franko in real life. Initially, it’s a fun ride. I felt like I was right there with Cassie during the initial conversations on Facebook, the transatlantic hook up, the long-distance relationship that feels destined to work, considering the surreal nature of everything. Only, much like in real life, people are people. Who we imagine our celebrity crushes, or really, any celebrity to be most likely will not measure up to who they are when you meet them in the real world, and Cassie discovers this about Jesse.

Through this unrealistic encounter comes a very realistic approach that could fit any scenario where you meet someone you don’t really know as well as you thought you did. The more time that Cassie spends with Jesse, the less sure she is on whether she fits. Jesse has his own secrets he has to work through, unresolved issues that are the root of everything. Through all of this, it’s obvious that expectations are set too high, and that no one is perfect. Not even the guy you used to have on a poster on your bedroom wall.

Jesse is a complicated man and difficult to get to know (he’s working on it), while Cassie appears to be an open book about most things, yet when it comes to her emotions and how she feels about Jesse, she clams up. Having two personalities come together too quickly can be jarring for anyone, even for those who are well-written characters in a novel. Throw in a messy past and an unclear future, and now we really see how they'll get by once the glossy sheen of former celebrity has been removed, those teenage dreams replaced by realistic expectations. I’m not sure what would have happened for me had I ever found a way to connect with Heath Kirchart back in those days, but if I had, I can only imagine it could have been a messy, wild, unpredictable ride, too- much like the one Cassie and Jesse take us on. This reader can only hope!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Kobo


Stephie Chapman was born in England in the mid 1980s, which makes her thirty-something (but if you ask, she'll probably tell you she's 27). Now, she lives on the South coast of the UK, has a day job to keep her holiday budget topped up, and two kids and a husband to keep an eye on.

Call Me, Maybe and Jetplanes to Jupiter were born out of a healthy appreciation of bass guitars (and the dudes who play them), and Franko was very much inspired by her favourite band as a teenager. So now you know.

Get in touch on FacebookTwitter, and at Stephie's website.


Visit all the stops on Stephie's blog tour:


Friday, October 11, 2019

Book Review: The Stranger Inside

By Jami Deise

As a resident of Pinellas County, Florida, I’m lucky enough to share the area with some of the best crime fiction writers in the country, including Lori Roy, Michael Koryta, Gale Massey, and Lisa Unger. (We also have one of the best book reviewers around, Tampa Bay Times’s Colette Bancroft, who plays a pivotal role in organizing the area’s annual Festival of Reading.) With her recently released 17th novel, The Stranger Inside, Unger does much to cement her reputation as one of the most compelling writers in the genre.

When Rain Winter was twelve years old, she escaped a killer who murdered one of her two best friends and held the other hostage. Years later, her tormentor was killed by a vigilante. Now Rain is a married mother who has put aside her career as a journalist to concentrate full time on raising her daughter, Lily. But when the vigilante strikes again, Rain is drawn to the case – putting her marriage and maybe her own life in danger.

Thematically, The Stranger Inside leans heavily on ideas around trauma – what it does to children in particular, how it can create different psyches that allow the victim to box off what happened and keep it separate. Although part of Rain remains tormented by what she did not do the day her friends were taken – she even began calling herself by a different name – the question of identity is not specific only to victims of trauma. Indeed, Rain is just as torn in two by her roles of mother and journalist, and it is this “stranger inside” that readers (crime fiction readers are mostly female) will find has the most resonance. In a society that tells women that their children must always come first, every mother learns to question any action she takes that does not directly benefit her child.

The narrative itself is split in two, between Rain’s third-person perspective and the first-person perspective of the vigilante. Unger reveals rather early on who this vigilante is, and I don’t want to spoil it by naming the person. But by taking the “who” out of the equation, Unger gets the reader to focus more on the themes than the details. I was struck by how much Rain’s “mother versus reporter” crisis was exacerbated by her husband’s refusal to take responsibility for their daughter. Every time she went to work, he interrupted her with questions about the location of a toy or needing guidance on how to comfort a crying toddler, sending the message that motherhood was her only job and no one else could be trusted to do it. Similarly, the vigilante also feels "only one" responsibility -- spurred into action by the inability of the justice system to convict the murderers.

Unger does an excellent job creating tension and building momentum while working in a plot that is strongly weighted to the past. Still, I was expecting the climax to unfold in a certain way, and was surprised and honestly a little disappointed by the direction Unger decided to take. Then again, maybe I should not have been surprised. Unger is a mother as well as a writer; perhaps the most obvious authorial choice was one a mother just couldn’t bring herself to take.

Thanks to Park Row for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Lisa Unger: