Thursday, March 26, 2015

We're not letting Bethany Chase get away...plus a book giveaway

Bethany Chase and I first connected on Facebook due to our mutual love for chick lit (no surprise there, right?). We also found out that we are both Weird Al fans, but that's another story for a different time. Anyway, I was thrilled to find out that she was publishing a book and eagerly awaiting the day it would be published. Well, that day is almost here, as her debut novel, The One That Got Away, hits shelves on March 31st! It's already generating buzz with rave reviews from Emily Giffin, Allie Larkin, Patti Callahan Henry, and Liz and Lisa...just to name a few. Her writing style is being compared to Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner. Needless to say, her book is next in my TBR pile and I can't wait to dig in (I just hope to not get any matzah crumbs on it).

Thanks to Penguin Random House, FIVE lucky US readers will be in my shoes soon!

You can find Bethany on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Today, she's here to talk about books and reading with us.

Synopsis of The One That Got Away:
Sarina Mahler thinks she has her life all nailed down: a growing architecture practice in Austin, Texas, and an any-day-now proposal from her loving boyfriend, Noah. She’s well on her way to having the family she’s hoped for since her mother’s death ten years ago. But with Noah on a temporary assignment abroad and retired Olympic swimmer—and former flame—Eamon Roy back in town asking her to renovate his new fixer-upper, Sarina’s life takes an unexpected turn. Eamon proves to be Sarina’s dream client, someone who instinctively trusts every one of her choices—and Sarina is reminded of all the reasons she was first drawn to him back in the day. Suddenly her carefully planned future with Noah seems a little less than perfect. And when tragedy strikes, Sarina is left reeling. With her world completely upended, she is forced to question what she truly wants in life—and in love.

Full of both humor and heartbreak, The One That Got Away is the story of one woman’s discovery that, sometimes, life is what happens when you leave the blueprints behind. (Courtesy of Random House).



What is your guilty pleasure read?
Dlisted.

Which book do you wish you wrote?
Joshilyn Jackson’s Gods in Alabama is a masterpiece in my opinion. Brilliant plotting, sharply drawn and interesting characters, an authentic and vivid setting, terrific humor—this book just has everything going for it.

What was your favorite book (or series) to read as a child/pre-teen/teenager?
Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. Those series are basically the Bookish Young Girl’s Guide to Life.

What is your favorite book to movie translation?
A Room With a View! It was my mother’s favorite movie, and one of mine as well when I was growing up. Terrific cast, terrific writing, sumptuous settings, wonderful wit, and swoonable romance – I adore that movie.

What book genre would surprise someone if you told them you read it?
Probably fantasy. I don’t read a ton of it, but some of the books on my keeper shelf are Guy Gavriel Kay’s quasi-historical epics and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. And as always I love me some Chuck Wendig.


Is there a certain place you've visited that inspires you to write? Or a specific environment you need to be surrounded by for inspiration?
I have a long-standing tradition of getting big bouts of writing done when I am on my annual Florida vacation with my husband and his brother and sister-in-law. I have literally nothing to do all day except write, drink beer and eat, and it is absolutely divine. I have many fond memories of developing good ideas while a half-empty Blue Moon is within hand’s reach. I’ll let you decide if that’s causation or correlation.

Thanks to Bethany for visiting with us and to Penguin Random House for sharing her book with our readers. 

~Introduction by Melissa Amster


Aside from our giveaway here, you can also enter to win THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY through Bethany's blog tour (US only, ends 4/16), Confessions of a Bookaholic (worldwide, ends 3/31; also at @jenny_oregan), and Manic Mommy Reviews and Reads (US only, ends 3/29)!


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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US only. Giveaway ends March 31st at midnight EST.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What is CLC without readers?

Since we asked authors questions about books and reading this month, we thought it was only fair if we answer them too. Lots of good book recommendations here, so get your spring reading on!

Melissa A:

What is your favorite book that you had to read for school?
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I read it before I had to, which helped. I still wish it were a movie!

Where is the strangest place that you've been able to sit and read? 
I've read at baseball games. Mostly when the opposing team was up.

What book were you hesitant to read but then completely devoured?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I had to read it for book club and I just couldn't put it down! (See my review.)

What is your guilty pleasure read?
I'd read books for kids around my sons' ages if I had more time. I sometimes will pick up Diary of a Wimpy Kid and laugh out loud. I'd even re-read all The Baby-Sitters Club books if I had time and no one saw me doing it. :)

If you wrote fan fiction for a standalone or series, which would you choose and what is something you'd do for the characters?
I already started fan fiction for The Baby-Sitters Club. I want to write more of it but haven't figured out where I want to go with it yet. I imagine what the girls are like as adults.

What is your favorite book to movie translation? 
Where the Heart Is by the late, great Billie Letts. I loved the movie even more than the book and it's since become my all-time favorite. I can't get through it without crying.


Amy:

When you go to the library or bookstore, which section do you hit up first?
Well, of course that would be the women's fiction section.

What was your favorite book (or series) to read as a child/pre-teen/teenager?
You can make fun of me all you want when I say it was the Sweet Valley High series. I can be such a girly girl. I also really enjoyed The Baby-Sitters Club series.

Where is your favorite place to sit and read? 
Either at a beach or by a pool with the sun shining and the breeze blowing.

What book do you think everyone must read at least once in their lives? 
For every girl definitely Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.

Print or digital? 
I will always prefer the real, original form of a book. I only pick up my iPad to watch Good Morning America while I'm getting ready for work in the morning.

Do you read books if you've seen the movie version first? 
Generally I don't.


Melissa P:

What is your favorite book that you had to read for school?
My favorite book that I had to read from school is The Great Gatsby. It also happens to simply be my favorite book of all time. I can read it over and over again.

When is the first time a book touched your soul? 
The first book that touched my soul, I mean REALLY touched my soul was P.S. I Love You  by Cecelia Ahern. I have never bawled so hard reading a book before. It was incredible, I loved that book.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
The last book I read that I would recommend is one I literally just finished called The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. I also just found out they are making a movie of the book starting Keira Knightly!

Print or digital? 
I prefer print. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I see how far into the story I am.

What is your favorite book to movie translation? 
My favorite book that was turned into a movie is The Devil Wears Prada. Although there were some great scenes they left out, the movie is still one of my favorites. Meryl Streep did an amazing job playing Miranda Priestly.

What is your favorite humorous book?
My favorite humorous book would literally be anything by Marian Keyes. Her characters are hilarious and the Walsh parents that reappear in many of her books are the best!


Jami:

How does being an author affect your reading choices/experience?
I doubt I’m the only author who reads a fantastic book and then puts it down, whining, “I’m never going to be this good! Why do I even try??” Waaa. Please excuse the pity party.

For me, being an author means it’s almost impossible to completely lose myself in the world of the book. In the back of my mind, I’m always analyzing how the writer tells her story, presents her characters, and builds her universe. So an experience that should be pure pleasure is also work, but I hope it helps me become a better writer.

It also affects my reading choices. I’m currently writing a mystery taking place in a planned community. The most well-known fictional planned community is the lovely town of Stepford, so I read and outlined that book while working on my own plot points. It’s not something I ordinarily would have chosen, but it was a good story. (I hope mine is, too.) Since I write in a few different genres, I try to read the genre I’m working in while I’m writing. I think this is the opposite of what many writers do – they try not to read similar books out of fear their voice will get contaminated or they’ll subconsciously steal plot points. I do all my stealing consciously! ;-)

Becky:

Which book do you wish you wrote?
Tricky one, lots of books! Quite different authors but I'd be very proud to write the same style of books as either Lisa Jewell or Paige Toon.

When is the first time a book touched your soul?
I read Marley and Me when it first came out and I had my first Labrador at the time so I would cuddle him when I was laughing and crying at this book which was just a wonderful book. If only I'd written "Rooney and Me" first, I definitely had similar cheeky tales to tell!

What are your favorite snacks/drinks to have while reading?
Aero Bubbles dipped in hot chocolate mmmm.

Print or digital?
Print, I've owned a Kindle for a couple of years now and have still only read a handful of books on it, I just prefer holding a 'proper' book. I don't care how heavy my suitcase is when going on holiday, I'm taking print books!

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
I would recommend lots of books that I read to others but sometimes there are stand out ones that I've heard little about that I feel deserve greater recognition. Liberty Silk by Kate Beaufoy is the last book I read which I felt this strongly about. Wonderful book. (Reviewed here.)

What book are you looking forward to reading this year?
We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman

Sara:

What was your favorite book (or series) to read as a child/pre-teen/teenager? 
Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High series

Print or digital?
Print, hands down

Sci fi or fantasy?
Sci-Fi

Do you read books if you've seen the movie version first? 
I do. I find the book is almost always better than the movie

Which book would make a great TV series? 
Kim Harrison's The Hollows series. I could see it on Fox, or the WB. Or even on the big screen

When is the first time a book touched your soul? 
Stephen King's The Stand. I was 16. I read the novel in one day

Guest Book Review: Deathbed Dimes

By Michelle Drodge

When the opportunity to read a book penned by a writer in my city arose, I jumped at the chance. For whatever reason, it’s rare to come across a writer from Toronto reaching out to Chick Lit Central for a review. Hailing from Toronto my whole life, I was excited to see what our local talent could do.

I am here to report, us ‘Torontonians’ do not disappoint.


Naomi Elana Zener’s novel, Deathbed Dimes, was a fun take on what can happen when life throws you lemons. The novel starts out with Joely coming home to find her apartment empty at the hands of her fiancĂ©, who has up and left her (and wants the ring back!). At the advice of her best friend Coco, a fellow lawyer whom she’s known since law school, she throws herself back into her work, only to be repeatedly ‘sandbagged’ by her nasty colleague, Chip – one who must have bribed the professors into granting him his law degree. Upon a sudden decision by the partners at her firm, Joely walks out and must make a new life for herself.

Fleeing to her parents in LA (famous Hollywood actress mom Sylvia, and washed-up TV director Armand), Joely has a chance encounter with Etsy, the niece of her former client who was entitled to a hefty inheritance, but whom no one could locate – until now.

With the help of Coco, and her other long-time lawyer friend Ethan, who come to her side in her time of need, they develop a plan to open their own firm and represent Etsy to get her the money was supposed to inherit. Unfortunately, proving that the questionable second Will executed Aunt Ivana’s nurse Mandy, which conveniently left Etsy nothing and Mandy everything, complicated matters.

Of course, no chick lit novel would be complete without a knight in shining armour, but this love triangle is best left for the reader to enjoy, as the triangle of affairs is rather complicated and will keep you guessing where Joely’s loyalties lie. In addition to her own love life, someone close to her reveals a secret that will keep you laughing throughout the book, but also make you shake your head at the capabilities of some (albeit fictional) characters!

On the whole, Deathbed Dimes was an entertaining, light read, and I am proud to say that Naomi Zener has done us Canadians proud – I definitely look forward to reading more from my fellow Torontonian in the future!

Thanks to Naomi Elana Zener for the book in exchange for an honest review.


Michelle Drodge is 29 and lives in a small town north of Toronto in Canada with her daughter, who is five going on fifteen. She works in Restaurant Development during the day, but moonlights as an aspiring writer after her daughter goes to sleep. One day she hopes to see her own book on the shelf alongside her favourite Chick Lit authors!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway: Bedside Manners

By Jami Deise

If the age-old question men ask about women is, “What do women want?” then surely the age-old question we ask about ourselves is, “Why do we keep falling for jerks rather than the nice guys who want to date us?” It’s a scenario that even the smartest among us can’t avoid … even someone as smart and level-headed as fictional “Breakup Doctor,” the relationship therapist Brook Ogden.



We first met Brook in Phoebe Fox’s debut novel The Breakup Doctor (reviewed here), in which strong and solid Brook dissolves into a hot mess when her boyfriend dumps her after asking her to move in. Now starring in her follow up, Bedside Manners, Brook is again firing on all cylinders. Her radio show is doing well; her newspaper columns are highly regarded. And she’s even started a therapy group for men and women going through a break up (or just anticipating one.) Her personal life is also smooth, with best friend Sasha dating her brother Stu, and her own new relationship with good-guy Ben coming along nicely.

So naturally some kind of bombshell has to go off.

In Brook’s case, it’s in the form of ex-patient Chip Santana, with whom Brook got in a wee bit o’ trouble last book around. But Chip swears he’s changed, and he only wants to see Brook to get some coaching on how to apologize to his ex-girlfriends – especially the one he attempted to strangle. But Chip has always sent Brook’s hormones racing … even though she knows Chip is no good for her – or really for any other decent woman in the state of Florida. But as Chip continues to make inroads, Brook finds herself questioning her rock-solid relationship with Ben, and everything else she believes in.

When I reviewed The Breakup Doctor last year, I found Brook’s breakdown to be absolutely hysterical and I was happy to see that the book was the first in a series. This second book, however, while very well-written and nicely structured, just doesn’t have that LOL funny of its predecessor. Part of the problem is that Brook has recovered nicely from her post-dump breakdown, and she’s very thoughtful and logical about her conflict between Chip and Ben. That’s all well and good, but it’s not exactly funny. Most of the humor derives from the members of Brook’s therapy group, which is limiting, as the group doesn’t appear that often and its members don’t really develop beyond their individual problems. Still, the opening scene – where Brook helps a shy client find her way out of an S&M bar – is very amusing.

As the series progresses, author Fox may want to take her cue from private detective series. By concentrating on her crazy clients and keeping Brook’s dilemmas as a subplot, Fox can maximize the humor and minimize the internal teeth-gnashing. She might also want to take my advice about having Brook take on writers who are dejected by rejection from agents and publishers. I’m still getting those “no thanks” letters, and I could really use some help!

Thanks to Phoebe Fox for the book in exchange for an honest review. She is giving away an e-book set of The Breakup Doctor and Bedside Manners to a lucky reader anywhere in the world!

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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Worldwide. Giveaway ends March 29th at midnight EST.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: The Tea Chest

By Becky Gulc

Whilst I don’t think ‘extras’ that accompany books for review are necessary, they can undoubtedly help generate excitement regarding an upcoming release, particularly in terms of less well known authors. When I received The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon (not an author I’d heard of), the book arrived along with a lovely tea towel, teabag and postcard which I thought was great marketing; and yes I happily use my tea towel! But what is the book itself about?

‘Kate Fullerton, talented tea designer and now co-owner of The Tea Chest, could never have imagined that she'd be flying from Brisbane to London, risking her young family's future, to save the business she loves from the woman who wants to shut it down.

Meanwhile, Leila Morton has just lost her job; and if Elizabeth Clancy had known today was the day she would appear on the nightly news, she might at least have put on some clothes. Both need to move on.

When Kate's, Leila's and Elizabeth's paths cross, they throw themselves into realising Kate's vision of the newest and most delectable tea shop in London, The Tea Chest. But with the very real possibility that The Tea Chest may fail, the three women are forced to decide what's important to each of them.

An enchanting, witty novel about the unexpected situations life throws at us, and how love and friendship help us through. Written with heart and infused with the seductive scents of bergamot, Indian spices, lemon, rose and caramel, it's a world you won't want to leave.’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

I have to say I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the cover or title, although the description did make me slightly more interested in it. This initial lack of appeal probably has more to do with me having read quite a few food/tea based books lately and maybe feeling the market has been a little over-saturated with them; many have been excellent, some not quite working for me. However, I loved this book from start to finish and didn’t feel it was anything like the books I’d already read.

This novel is very strong on character development, I warmed to all three leading characters immediately and they are all introduced to the reader quite quickly. They were all interesting characters and my interest in all three of their stories was maintained throughout the book. I loved how these women came together and how they move from colleagues to friends and essentially become what felt like family to me. The bonds were so tight at points, aided by the fact that Kate and Leila are both away from their home of Australia. I also enjoyed how the narrative was interspersed with the back story of Judy (the not so nice co-owner of The Tea Chest) as all the stories came together and were nicely interwoven with clear resolutions by the end.

I enjoyed the rich descriptions in the novel and felt like I was a fly on the wall of The Tea Chest, right from its starting point of being a building in disrepair to the grand opening and challenges in running the business. I also enjoyed how Josephine drew on topical issues, such as the London riots to further develop the story.

This book had lovely descriptions, rich characters, humour, romance and sadness with several interesting twists and turns along the way. This was a book that warmed my cockles and I’d personally love to meet these characters again in future novels, I thought there was scope for all of the characters to crop up again.

Time for a nice cup of Yorkshire tea!

Thanks to Allen and Unwin for the book in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, March 20, 2015

What's in the mail

Melissa A:

Searching for Beautiful by Jennifer Probst from Gallery Books

Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen from Astor and Blue

I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster from Penguin


Amy and Melissa A:

Has Anyone Seen My Pants? by Sarah Colonna from Simon and Schuster

Amy:

Dear Carolina by/from Kristy Woodson Harvey

When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon from HarperCollins

Jami:

Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin from Penguin Random House (e-book)

Becky:

The Girl Who Couldn't Stop Arguing by Melissa Kite from Corsair

Sara:

The Good, the Bad, and the Furry by Tom Cox from St. Martin's Press

The 8 Mistakes of Amy Maxwell and Amy Maxwell & the 7 Deadly Sins by/from Heather Balog (e-books)

All Because of You by/from Vivian Brooks (e-book)

Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde from BookSparks PR (e-book)

Book Review: The Marrying Type

By Sara Steven

Having read and reviewed Laura Chapman’s Hard Hats and Doormats, I was honored and very excited to be given the opportunity to read her latest novel, The Marrying Type.

Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it).

With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress.

Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future. (courtesy of Amazon)

I am a huge reality TV buff, and I felt I received a back-stage pass to a lot of the drama and chaos that ensues for Elliot while she attempts to save her family business, one bride at a time. She is constantly putting out fires, including her own. Then there’s the ex. Eric Warner had been “the one” for Elliot, years ago, before she ended things and not amicably, I might add. Who would have ever guessed that one of the brides-to-be who Elliot will work closely with, would end up being Eric’s sister?

I felt emotionally invested in Elliot. It’s a testament to how well Chapman has breathed life into her characters. It made it difficult to put the book down, because I wanted to know what would happen next, and if Elliot would ultimately have the happy ending she desperately wants and deserves. I found myself rooting for her and cheering when she stands up for herself in various pivotal scenes, or getting misty-eyed when things aren't going according to plan. True to Chapman fashion, this book was an enjoyable read and a total page turner, every step of the way!

Thanks to Laura Chapman for the book in exchange for an honest review. For more fun with Laura, read her "12 Things" post over at Book Mama Blog and her "5 Things I Can't Live Without" lists over at Whitney Dineen's blog.