Friday, January 23, 2015

What's in the mail

Melissa A:

30 First Dates by Stacey Wiedower from Gemma Halliday Publishing

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins from Confessions of a Bookaholic

The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery from Mira

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand from Hachette (paperback edition)

Amy:

Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer from William Morrow

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley from Confessions of a Bookaholic

Melissa P:

New Uses for Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick from BookSparks



Jami:

Dangled Carat by/from Hilary Grossman

Milked by Lisa Doyle from Simon & Fig

The Secret Life of Book Club by/from  Heather Woodhaven

Bedside Manners by/from Phoebe Fox

I Don’t Have a Happy Place by Kim Korson from Wunderkind PR

**All are e-books**

Gail:

Just a Little Crush and That Old Black Magic by Caroline Fardig

If We Lived Here by Lindsey Palmer from Kensington


Becky:

Campari for Breakfast by Sara Crowe from Transworld

As Good as it Gets? by Fiona Gibson from Avon

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis from Hutchinson (See Author Liaison Cindy Roesel's review at her blog.)


Sara:

Office Girl by/from Carey RavenStar Robin

Revenge of the Cube Dweller by/from Joanne Fox Lewis

Double Feature Review: Sweet, Sweet Fantasy

By Melissa Amster

I read two very sweet and romantic stories this past winter and only really have good things to say, so I figured I'd keep the reviews simple and to the point, while also singing praises for these novels. Since both have surreal elements, figured the heading for this review post was fitting. (Of course, I have a Mariah Carey song in my head now!)

Both synopses are courtesy of Goodreads.

The Life Intended 
By Kristin Harmel

After her husband's sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she's planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn't she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she's really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband's hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.


There's a reason The Life Intended made it onto my 2014 Favorites list. Everything about it is fantastic. It's a beautifully written and incredibly powerful story throughout. I've seen authors being asked (during interviews) what book they wish they had written. I can say, without a doubt, that this is the book I would have answered with. I also felt a personal connection to this story because of the hearing loss aspect, as I have two children who were born with hearing loss and wear cochlear implants. Kristin mentions cochlear implants, so it was exciting to see that aspect included in a story. I won't say why or how, as to not spoil it! Of course, this would make an awesome movie, and here's who I'd cast.

Kate: Elizabeth Reaser
Patrick: Eric Bana
Dan: Peter Sarsgaard
Andrew: Nathan Fillion

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



The Look of Love 
By Sarah Jio

Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed.

This is different from Sarah Jio's usual fare, but I still enjoyed it and couldn't stop turning the pages. The stories of Jane's friends were so compelling and some were even heartbreaking. However, I didn't feel as emotionally overwhelmed (to the point of tears) as I have from her previous novels.  The novel had a Love, Actually feel and since I enjoy that movie, this is a good thing for me. Even if you've never seen this movie (or didn't enjoy it as much as I did), I think you'll still like The Look of Love a lot. I was even casting it as a movie in my head the entire time. Here are the ideas I had for some of the characters (as there were a lot).

Jane: Yael Grobglas
Cameron: Brandon Routh
Lo: America Ferrera
Flynn: Adrian Grenier
Katie: Michelle Monaghan

Thanks to Penguin Random House for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Kristin Harmel:

More by Sarah Jio:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tracie Banister has "piqued" our interest...plus a special giveaway

I have a confession to make (I have these a lot)...I haven't read a book by Tracie Banister until now. And, of course, I had no idea what I was missing either! I have only heard good things about Tracie's previous novels, Blame it on the Fame and In Need of Therapy (links are to past reviews), so I decided to dig in with Twin Piques, her latest novel. I am more than halfway done and enjoying it a lot so far. I keep finding posts, articles, and videos that are related to what Tracie mentions in the story and sending them to her.

This past year, Tracie started watching The Mindy Project and then convinced me to watch Jane the Virgin, so we dish often about such fun, chick-lit themed shows. And in doing this post, I sent her an example of what I did a few years ago and we found out that we share a love for Broadway musicals too!

Tracie was recently at CLC to help us celebrate celebrity month. Her fun answers to our themed questions were enjoyable to read. This time around, she's sharing her favorite things and we think you'll enjoy what she has to say.

In honor of Twin Piques taking place in San Francisco, Tracie is giving away one of our favorite things to a lucky US reader... CHOCOLATE! She will send a Cable Car Gift Tin w/17 Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares to the winner of our giveaway.

You can find Tracie at her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.


Synopsis of Twin Piques:

Forensic accountant Sloane Tobin and kooky pet psychic Willa may have the same face, but that’s the only thing these identical twins have in common.

How she can read the hearts and minds of animals has always been a mystery to Willa, and her rotten luck with men is equally baffling. Although she’s been looking for “The One” for what feels like forever (A teenage marriage to a French mime and dating a guy named Spider seemed like good ideas at the time!), optimistic Willa refuses to give up on love. When she meets Brody, the handsome rose expert hired to save her grandmother’s garden, she’s instantly smitten, but why does he keep sending her mixed signals? Does he return her feelings, or is their attraction all in her fanciful head?

Unlike her twin, Sloane has zero interest in romance. Her passion is her job, where she uses her gift for numbers to take down slimy embezzlers and asset-hiding spouses. When she’s assigned two high profile cases, Sloane feels confident the promotion she’s been angling for is within her grasp. But will her plan to climb the corporate ladder be thwarted by difficult clients, her co-worker-with-benefits, or – most surprisingly of all – her own sister? And how’s she supposed to stay focused on the drama at work when her childhood friend, Gav, moves in next door and the spark between them becomes impossible to ignore?

To get what they both want, can Willa and Sloane band together and rely on each other’s strengths? Or will their differences drive them apart once and for all?


Playing Oprah on Chick Lit Central today feels like a strange sort of kismet as it was O’s “Favorite Things” show back in 2008 that introduced me to the Kindle, the clever, little device that would go on to change my life as both a reader and a writer! I don’t know if I’ll be setting any trends with the items on my Favorite Things list, but all these goodies have certainly brought joy to my life!

Kate Spade Shanghai Deco Dot Scarf – Having been obsessed with polka dots since I was a child, my eyes lit up like a pinball machine when I saw this scarf. It’s black with white dots, which is très chic, and I love that Kate Spade New York is spelled out on the scarf with pink stitching. So fun, so girly; it’s the perfect fashion accessory for this winter.

The Mindy Project S1/S2 DVDs & Mindy’s BookThe Mindy Project is TV Chick Lit, and I can’t get enough of it! I want everyone to watch this show and love it and quote it as must as I do, so I am giving my faux audience the first two seasons on DVD, which I recommend you marathon in one weekend. And since money is no object in this scenario, I’m flying Mindy Kaling in to sign copies of her very funny book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, for all of you.

Fitbit – We all start out the new year making resolutions to lose weight and get on a regular exercise routine, right? The Fitbit can be a big help with that as it tracks your steps, distance, and calories burned all day long. I absolutely love the one I received this Christmas. It helps me to set different exercise goals for myself every day, and it’s super motivating to see those stats on my wrist. Bonus: The Fitbit comes in ten different colors, so you can choose the one that suits your style best. Mine is classic black, and I love how sleek it looks.

Coconut Body Butter by The Body Shop – This smell of this product is divine; it always makes me think of suntan lotion and the beach. I have super dry skin (as most of us do at this time of year), but this body butter keeps my skin soft and hydrated all day long. Love! Since this is a fantasy giveaway that will cost me nothing, I’m giving you all a year’s supply of this yummy body butter, which made Nylon’s 2014 Beauty Hit List.


Tiara – I am of the firm belief that every woman should own one of these so that she can feel like a queen at all times. I received a beautiful, rhinestone-encrusted tiara with a heart design from a dear friend of mine, author Kathleen Irene Paterka, who shares my love of royal-watching. She actually works at a castle (Castle Farms in Charlevoix, MI) and my tiara came from the gift shop there, so it’s legit! I like to wear it when I’m writing, taking a bubble bath, even when I’m doing chores around the house. I would gift everyone with their own tiara and then conduct a class on how to do a proper royal wave (As you can see from the picture, I practice mine on my neighbors quite a bit.)

Thanks to Tracie for sharing her favorite things with us and giving our readers a chance to win chocolate!

~Introduction by Melissa Amster


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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


US only. Giveaway ends January 27th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cover reveal and giveaway: Those Secrets We Keep

We love Emily Liebert. Not only is she a great writer, but she's also incredibly sweet. So we were over the moon when she asked us to exclusively reveal the cover for her upcoming novel, Those Secrets We Keep! It's publishing in early June from Penguin Random House, but we have your chance to win some ARCs right here. See below for details....

Emily was last at CLC in September, when she did a fabulous interview with Jenny O'Regan from Confessions of a Bookaholic (@jenny_oregan). You can read it here if you missed it.

Three women. Three lives. Three secrets.

On the surface, Sloane has the perfect life—an adoring husband, a precocious daughter, and enough financial security to be a stay-at-home mom. Still, she can’t help but feel as though something—or someone—is missing…

Hillary has a successful career and a solid marriage. The only problem is her inability to conceive. And there’s a very specific reason why…

As the wild child daughter of old family money, Georgina has never had to accept responsibility for anything. So when she realizes an unexpected life change could tie her down forever, she does exactly what she’s always done. Escape.

When these three women unite for a three-week long summer vacation in beautiful Lake George, New York, even with the idyllic location as their backdrop, the tensions begin to mount. And they quickly discover that no secret can be kept forever…


Here's the cover you've been waiting for. Isn't it gorgeous?!? We love the pink and purple tones.


And that's not all....coming in Spring 2016 from Penguin Random House, Emily's next novel will be called...
Some Women

Now for the most exciting part....
You can enter to win one of two ARCs of Those Secrets We Keep OR one Skype chat for your book club. Each winner gets signed bookplates and bookmarks, as well!
**Both giveaways are US/Canada only.**

To be eligible for the Skype chat, you must pre-order the book (orders outside of Amazon are fine, as well) and send proof of purchase to chicklitcentral (at) gmail (dot) com.

To be eligible for the ARCs, use our Rafflecopter and follow the instructions for sharing. Facebook and/or Twitter shares count. (In case you don't use both.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


US/Canada only. Giveaway ends January 25th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ciara Geraghty puts on her red shoes

Photo credit: Doreen Kilfeather
Ciara Geraghty’s new novel Now That I’ve Found You is out now in the UK, published by Hodder & Stoughton. We are glad to be one of the stops on her blog tour and have invited her to share some of her favorite things with us. This is Ciara's first visit to CLC, but we have reviewed two of her previous novels, Finding Mr. Flood and Lifesaving for Beginners.

To learn more about Ciara, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Synopsis of Now That I've Found You:
Vinnie Boland is a single father who is struggling to raise his teenage daughter and his young son on his own, with insistent help from his elderly mother. Vinnie’s wife – his childhood sweetheart – left the family over a year ago. One day, Vinnie has a panic attack while driving Ellen Woods – one of his regular taxi fares – to her weekly physiotherapy session. Ellen reluctantly drives Vinnie to the hospital. It’s the first time she has driven a car since a horrific car accident over a year before. This simple act, getting behind the wheel again, releases something in Ellen. The panic attack – its causes and its consequences – forces Vinnie to stop and think about his life. The pair embark on a cautious friendship. (Courtesy of Ciara's website.)

To hear Ciara talk about her latest novel, check out this video.

A few of my favourite things

My favourite book:

Anne Of Green Gables by LM Montgomery made a lasting impression on me. My mother recommended when I was a child and she took real pleasure from me reading it. She’d say ‘which bit are you at now?’ When I walked into the kitchen that day, she said, ‘He died, didn’t he?’ And she was right. Matthew had died. And I mourned his passing like he was a real, live person whom I had known personally. That’s the moment when I realised the impact books could have. The realness  of them. How they made you care. Empathise. Grieve. And I grieved for Matthew. I still do. I don’t think I’ll ever get over him.
My favourite quote:
“Ever tried? Ever failed? Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)
I love this one. Failure is seen as such a disaster. And yet, the way Beckett puts it, its just another way of persevering. So, thats what I do: I try to fail better.
My favourite film:
Shirley Valentine. I love the way Shirley talks to the wall and the rock, the fact that her friend is a hooker instead of the glamourous air-hostess Shirley always supposed her to be. The way she runs away and doesnt come back, a notion that many of us – secretly – harbour. It makes me laugh every time. I feel better about the world afterwards.
My favourite - funeral - song:
“Lets Dance” by David Bowie. I love dancing, I love red shoes, Im not all that fond of funerals, especially my own, so the idea of people swaying in the aisles in red dancing shoes distracts me from the fact that I will, in fact, be dead.
My favourite smell:

Fresh cut grass. Its so sweet, that smell, like cake. It reminds me of the beginning of the summer holidays when I was a kid and the summer stretched before me and seemed endless and full of possibilities.
My favourite piece of furniture:

My wooden rocking chair. My husband bought it for me when I was pregnant with our first baby, Sadhbh. I sat on it and rocked and placed my hands across my bump and entertained fanciful notions of what it might be like to be a mother. I fed each of my babies on the chair, rocked them in my arms when they woke in the night. Its like a time machine. When I sit in in, I remember the past and imagine the future.
My favourite photograph:
There is a photograph of my husband a couple of days after our first baby was born. He is exhausted looking, sort of draped along the edge of the crib, as if hes wishing he could take the baby out and climb in himself. The photograph makes me laugh, while also sending a pang through me, when I remember how young and hopeful and clueless we were.
My favourite piece of clothing:

The Aran cardigan I have that my great-aunt Una knit for my mother in 1965. My mother gifted it to me about ten years ago but she made me promise NEVER to wash it. I have to give it to her when it needs to be cleaned. She doesnt trust me with the washing machine. And I cant blame her; there have been laundry fatalities on my watch….
My favourite gadget:
My iPhone. It sort of changed my life, although Im aware that that sounds a bit dramatic. But it narrowed the gap that had been growing for years between me and technology, because it was so easy to use and made social networking - an unknowable land beforehand - accessible to luddites like me.  My family laugh when I am looking for my phone because I never say, ‘Has anyone seen my phone?I say, ‘Has anyone seen my iPhone?I still say that. After all these years. 
My favourite possession:
My violin. It belonged to my grandfather and its reputed to be over a hundred years old. Its a beautiful piece of wood and the sound it emits is so mellow, as if the years have smoothed and rounded it, been kind to it.
My favourite / death-row meal:
My mothers lasagne. And baked Alaska – a feat of baking wizardry (you see, the icecream is INSIDE THE MERINGUE, like an unexpected ingot of gold. Last attempted in home economics class in Manor House School, circa 1985. Result: it perhaps lacked the finesse of presentation of many of the other offerings but it tasted like I imagine sophistication and intrigue might taste. I ate it with a teaspoon on the train home.
My favourite animal:

My dog Heidi. We adopted her when she was three (shes six now). I call her our recession dog because her family emigrated to Abu Dhabi at the height of the recession and they couldnt take her with them. She is possibly the only mammal in the world who loves me unconditionally.

Thanks to Ciara for visiting and to Hodder and Stoughton for including us on this blog tour. See below for all the stops.



Monday, January 19, 2015

Guest Book Review: Suzanne Davis Gets a Life

By Connie Fischer

Suzanne is a 31..OK…34 year-old single woman living in a tiny apartment in New York City. Her job is as a technical writer for an air-conditioning company. With her biological clock ticking away, she has yet to find the perfect man. As she works mostly from home, her every day life is pretty predictable. However, she is determined to step up her search for a husband and decides to start by spending time on the apartment’s playground observing the mothers as they interact with their children on a daily basis. She slowly gets to know some of them which gets her introduced to several men and involved with a book group. A couple of the men she meets aren’t too bad, but neither are they the greatest.

Suzanne has a mother who has driven her crazy all of her life resulting in her now amassing large fees from her shrink. Thank goodness her mother lives in Arizona.

The story takes us through some of the dates Suzanne has with men and the resulting sexual encounters. In addition, she introduces readers to the characters in her apartment building that will leave the reader laughing.

Life continues on this flat line way until Suzanne is diagnosed with a serious illness. What follows is an account of her reaction to her illness and her treatment.

The novel has a number of laugh out loud moments. The biggest thing that struck me was that I could just hear Woody Allen telling this story. It was perfectly written for him to narrate it.

While I enjoyed some of the humorous moments and goofy characters in Suzanne Davis Gets a Life, I found that the book became a bit monotonous after awhile. However, I’m sure many readers will like the comedy.

Thanks to Paul Dry Books for a print copy in exchange for an honest review.

Connie Fischer is a retired office manager from NASA. Loved books from the time she could read. Spent childhood summers in her front yard tree reading Nancy Drew books and biographies. Loves historical and contemporary romance novels, chick lit and anything British. Is a reviewer for the blog, bookworm2bookworm. Her goal for 2014 on Goodreads is to read and review 100 books and she's way ahead of schedule. Lived in Paris, France for a number of years. Living now in southwest Florida. Ahhh...life is good!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review: Ignoring Gravity

By Sara Steven

There were two primary reasons I felt drawn to Ignoring Gravity. The close relationship I have with my younger sister, number one. The second reason: there was a brief time during my childhood where I was convinced I was adopted. This paranoia was brought on by a passing joke my paternal grandmother told to a friend of hers, not knowing I was in the other room and had heard every word. She told her friend that I must be the mail man’s child, because at eight years old, I didn’t look at all like my father or other relatives in my family. When I heard that, I took it seriously and began to question who my real father was and my identity. A lot to take on when you’re a child, yet it’s a lot to take on for anyone, even for an adult like Rose Haldane.

Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it.

Ignoring Gravity connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister Lily. Then just when she thinks there can’t be any more secrets...(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

After Rose discovers the truth, she makes it her mission in finding out who her biological parents are. In doing so, she creates a lot of chaos within her relationships, primarily with Lily, who is dealing with family drama of her own. Should Rose back down and accept the life she has been given, or should she continue to seek out the life she may have had? The bigger question: Who is Rose, exactly?

I really enjoyed all of the twists and turns that accompanied the characters in this book. Just when I thought I had everything figured out, and knew who Rose’s parents were, the plot would take a sharp detour. I really felt as though I was with Rose on this journey of self-discovery, and when she finally unravels the secrets that have been decades in the making, I was as shocked as she was.

Looking back at my own family photos, it’s quite apparent that I’m my father’s daughter, especially now that I’m a grown-up. We look a lot more alike than I’d ever thought possible. I think for Rose and her family, she will always be a true Haldane, no matter what the outcome. Family is family, and it’s what (and who) you make of it that counts the most. A fantastic read!

Thanks to Sandra Danby for the book in exchange for an honest review.