Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reader Spotlight: The Right Prescription

This year, we're doing "Reader Spotlight" posts on a bi-weekly basis. We want to feature readers who have been actively following CLC for a while. We're hoping you can get to know some new friends this way. One of the joys of having CLC is that readers have connected with each other, as a result. That's one of the reasons it was started up in the first place...to bring chick lit fans together from all over the world! We've made some amazing friends because of this blog and we hope you'll get to do so too!

See our previous Reader Spotlight posts.

Note from Melissa A: I met Amy after she won one of our big giveaways from our Facebook page. She seems very nice and I love her enthusiasm for books. I'm glad I got to know her better this way.
See what's she's reading now at Goodreads and visit her on Twitter, as well. She even has her own book blog!

Name: Amy Mays
Age: 28
Location: Virginia

How did you find Chick Lit Central?
I saw a post mentioning the website on Twitter.




What are your top FIVE favorite chick lit novels of all time? 
My favorites are constantly changing but right now they would be:
1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
2. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
3. Four Friends by Robyn Carr
4. One Plus One by JoJo Moyes
5. The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

What do you do when you're not reading?
I'm married to Paul and we have three fur-babies: Tucker, Bentley and Brooks. I'm a college student getting my Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, business owner of a convenience store and a licensed pharmacy technician. I also love to work out, drink wine and watch movies.

Book Review: Shopaholic to the Stars

By Melissa Amster

Confession: I happen to be obsessed with celebrities. In fact, I designated this past month as Celebrity Month at CLC, just so I could talk about everything celebrity related with authors and readers. I think I can definitely relate to Becky Brandon in that regard, as she tries to become best friends with her favorite celebrities in Sophie Kinsella's latest novel, Shopaholic to the Stars.


Sophie Kinsella returns to her beloved "Shopaholic" series with Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) newly arrived in Hollywood and starry-eyed. She and her two-year-old daughter, Minnie, have relocated to L.A. to join Becky’s husband, Luke, who is there to handle PR for famous actress Sage Seymour. Becky can’t wait to start living the A-list lifestyle, complete with celebrity sightings, yoga retreats, and shopping trips to Rodeo Drive. But she really hopes to become a personal stylist—Sage’s personal stylist—if only Luke would set up an introduction. Then, unexpectedly, Becky is offered the chance to dress Sage’s archrival, and though things become a bit more complicated, it’s a dream come true!

Red carpet premieres, velvet ropes, paparazzi clamoring for attention—suddenly Becky has everything she’s ever wanted.

Or does she?
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Just like the previous books in the "Shopaholic" series, Shopaholic to the Stars is light and entertaining throughout. I laughed out loud so many times. Sophie has a knack for humor and she gives Becky some hilarious situations and dialogue. This time around, Becky reminded me a lot of Mindy Kaling in terms of her personality. I never noticed the comparison until I became obsessed with The Mindy Project, but now I could easily see Mindy taking over the role from Isla Fisher if another movie was made from this series. There was nothing predictable about this story and it went in directions I never expected. It also didn't wrap up neatly and I'm excited about where the next book may possibly take place if the last few pages are any hint.

Unlike the other books in this series, Shopaholic to the Stars tended to get a bit farcical at times and made it hard to take some of the characters seriously, including Becky. I also wish there had been more interaction between Becky and her daughter. She barely spent any time with Minnie and was either putting her in school or leaving her with friends. There were some funny parts that involved Minnie, but I hope she gets more focus in the next book.

Overall, I enjoyed this latest installment in the series and can't wait for more in the future! Becky is already a celebrity in her own right, according to our readers! (See the comments section on the linked post.)

After seeing the movie of Confessions of a Shopaholic, it's hard to cast the main characters (Becky, Luke, Suze) without getting the actors who played them out of my head. However, there are some new characters I had fun casting from this book.

Sage: Megan Fox
Lois: Scarlett Johansson or Miranda Kerr
Aran: Vince Vaughn

Thanks to Penguin Random House for the book in exchange for an honest review. Enter to win a copy from Book Mama Blog! (Worldwide. Ends November 27th.)

More by Sophie Kinsella:


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dana Bate is star-struck...plus a book giveaway

We are thrilled to have Dana Bate back at CLC to celebrate pub day for her sophomore novel, A Second Bite at the Apple (UK: The Stall of Second Chances). As some of you may know, her debut novel, The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs, was on my 2013 favorites list. I recently took a "bite" out of this new novel and am already enjoying it!. Thanks to Kensington,  we have TWO copies for readers in the US and/or Canada! 

Since Dana's last visit, she has become a mom and somehow still finds the time to write. For that, we are thankful!

Visit Dana at her website, Facebook, and Twitter. We promise that she won't "bite."

Synopsis of A Second Bite at the Apple:
Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food. Not with eating it--though she does that too--but with writing about the wonders of the gastronomic world, from obscure fruit hybrids to organic farming techniques. Since food journalism jobs are more coveted than Cronuts®, Sydney pays her bills working for one of TV's biggest egomaniacs--until she's left scrambling for shifts at a local farmers' market.

Stacking muffins for the Wild Yeast Bakery isn't going to win her any James Beard awards. But soon Sydney is writing the market's weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of putting her love life into deep freeze, she's even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a crisp--along with her relationship and her reputation...


Who is your favorite obscure celebrity? (They've been in movies but no one seems to place their name with their face.)
Stephen Dillane. He's British and almost 60 now, but I first came across him in HBO's John Adams miniseries, where he played Thomas Jefferson (or as I called him, "Sexy Thomas Jefferson," though I'm 99% certain I'm the only one who called him that). Apparently he's on Game of Thrones now, so maybe he isn't all that obscure, but I feel like most people don't know who he is.

Who is the celebrity that makes you swoon the most?
Present day? I'm super unoriginal and boring: Brad Pitt and George Clooney. But if we're talking of any era, Robert Redford in his prime was positively dreamy.

Do you think authors are celebrities? If so, which author comes to mind first when you hear the word "celebrity?"
JK Rowling is definitely a celebrity -- and deservedly so! She is a living legend.

What celebrity would you love to meet? What would you say to them if you did?
Gwyneth Paltrow. I love her sense of style and (yes) her cookbooks, but knowing me, I'd probably babble and blurt out something stupid like, "So what was all that conscious uncoupling business about, anyway??"

Do any celebrities follow YOU on Twitter? Has a celebrity retweeted you or tagged you in a Tweet?
Edward Burns follows me! I'm sure some of you are like, "Wait, who is Edward Burns? Was he Sexy George Washington?" No, no he was not. Google him. I promise you will recognize him. I think he retweeted me once, years ago, but I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember what the tweet was. I'm sure it was brilliant, though (right? maybe?).

Oh, and one of my best friends from college, Sally Pressman, is an actress, and she has definitely tagged and retweeted me :).

Which celebrity would make a great chick lit character?
Renee Zellweger -- she certainly has plenty of antagonism coming at her from all sides, and I'd love to hear HER side of the story.

Thanks to Dana for visiting with us and to Kensington for sharing her book with our readers.

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

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US/Canada only. Giveaway ends December 1st at midnight EST.

Monday, November 24, 2014

On the red carpet with CLC

Since we've been asking authors questions about celebrities all month, we thought we'd take a turn in the "hot seat."

Melissa A:

Favorite musician: 
Billy Joel. His music is timeless and he sings with such passion and emotion that it gives me chills. His songs are so memorable and I get them in my head all the time.

Who is the celebrity that makes you swoon the most?
These days, it's Chris Messina from The Mindy Project. All he has to do is dance and I completely melt. I also have this thing for Luke Bryan. More for his sexy voice though.

Celebrity girl crush:
These are just some of them. And now that I've seen Obvious Child, I can add Jenny Slate to that list.

Have you ever missed an opportunity to meet a celebrity because you didn't know they were famous at the time?
When I was a kid, "Refrigerator" Perry from the Chicago Bears was at the airport and I had no clue who he was. Then the Bears won the Super Bowl that year. I was totally kicking myself and I'm not even a sports fan! (As a side note, my sister was at a restaurant in L.A. and Haley Joel Osment was sitting nearby but The Sixth Sense hadn't come out in theaters yet, so she had no clue who he was.)

Which celebrity would make a great chick lit character?
Mindy Kaling, hands down!

Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, what was the experience like?
I've met a bunch of celebrities! Here's a list up through 2010. (Since then, my bucket list of who I want to meet has changed, and will probably change again soon.) I'm sharing a picture I don't think I've shared here before. It's from when my sister and I saw Tick, Tick, Boom (written by the late Jonathan Larson of Rent fame) in 2003 and met Wilson Cruz, who played Ricky on My So-Called Life. It was a really positive celebrity encounter, as he was so sweet and stuck around to talk and take pictures. I've met a few other celebrities since I wrote this post. Thanks to BEA, I even got to meet Neil Patrick Harris! (And B.J. Novak too!) I'm glad I met him before I saw A Million Ways to Die in the West though. (He was funny in it, but there's just this one super embarrassing part...) In most cases, I've been totally star-struck and have basically said one or two words. With (most) authors, it's different, as I feel like they're friendlier and easier to talk with.

When my sister (right) and I met Wilson Cruz 
from MY SO-CALLED LIFE in 2003.


Amy:

Who is your favorite talk show host?
Ellen DeGeneres. She's one of the funniest people on television.

Who is your favorite news reporter?
I have to choose several here. I'm a HUGE Good Morning America fan and overall ABC news. So it's going to be Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and David Muir. I also love Diane Sawyer.

Who is your favorite Broadway star?
Another two: Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.

What is your favorite source of celebrity news?
People magazine. I get SO excited when I see the mailman walk into our office with our copies of People.

If you were hosting a party and could invite any three celebrities, who would you choose?
Now this is a hard one. I have to choose four: Brad Pitt, Jennifer Garner, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Do you think social media has made celebrities even more famous?
Absolutely.

Jami:

Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, what was the experience like?
Soap stars aren’t like other celebrities. They work killer hours, they don’t get a lot of respect in the entertainment industry (more than reality stars, though!), and their characters play out storylines that are often viewed as laughable. Because of all that, they are very grateful to their fans (the non-stalker ones), and reach out to them in ways that movie stars would never imagine.

In many book reviews, I’ve mentioned my sometimes-obsessive love for General Hospital. I’ve also been a fan of other shows, and about ten years ago my friend Kathleen and I ran Daytime Encounter, a soap opera fan fantasy camp. Through it, I got to meet many stars from All My Children, One Life to Live, and Guiding Light – including William DeVry, a very nice man who is currently setting hearts afire on General Hospital. The camp was an all-day affair that let soap fans experience life as a soap star, from auditioning for a part, getting hair and make-up done, and acting alongside their favorite soap stars. For the actors, it was another workday on top of the other five they’d had that week, but they were all gracious, kind, funny, sweet to their fans, and non-complaining. And All My Children’s Walt Willey is funny as hell if you’ve ever wondered.

But General Hospital is first in my heart, and my favorite experiences naturally revolve around that show. Through the early magic of AOL, I was able to meet other fans of my favorite GH actress – Leslie Charleson, who plays Monica Quartermaine. That led me to volunteering for her fan club, and I flew out to LA several times to help with her fan events. If there’s anything better than meeting a star you’ve idolized since you were eleven years old, it’s this: Finding out that star is warm, witty, wonderful and very appreciative of her fans. So naturally I returned the favor in the most Monica way possible, trying to steal her TV husband. ;-)

With Stuart Damon, who played Monica’s husband Alan


Becky:

Who is your favorite actor?
Ryan Gosling, and not just for his looks, I genuinely think he's a great actor and chooses very diverse films.

Who is your favorite comedian?
Milton Jones is becoming a favourite.

Who is your favorite dead celebrity?
Karen Carpenter, I've loved the Carpenters since i was 11 she had such a unique voice. I paid homage to them when i went to California once, including visiting Karen's grave.

Who is your favorite reality star?
Jedward! It's a few years since they were on the X Factor now but i still love them, they always cheer me up when i see them on TV or see their tweets.

Have you ever dreamt about a celebrity?
Erm I regularly dream about the TV presenter Declan Donnelly, he's usually trying to tell me it's never going to happen..I have a very longstanding crush!

Who is your favorite musician?
Paolo Nutini. His album Sunny Side Up is probably my favourite ever album.

Gail:

Who is your favorite talk show host? 
Ellen DeGeneres, no question. I've never seen anyone so full of joy and happiness on a daily basis. The world needs more people who know the value of a smile.

Who is your celebrity girl crush? 
Either Jen Lancaster or Emma Stone! I'm pretty sure if we ever met we'd totally be BFF.

Do you have a celebrity doppelganger? 
I've heard from a few people that I look like Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum or like actress Sara Ramirez. I'm not sure I agree 100%, but I won't disagree because those ladies are gorgeous!

Do you think social media has made celebrities even more famous?
I think social media has made celebrities appear more accessible, and perhaps that has made them more famous, but I also think social media has made almost every celebrity think harder about each and every step they take. Social media has taken on a life of its own and the vast array of viewpoints and opinions out there can turn a faux pas into a major issue in minutes.

Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, what was the experience like?
I've met Alice Cooper a few times and he's easily one of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys. Seriously. He came backstage into the meet and greet area after a concert and promptly went around the room and shook everyone's hand and proceeded to introduce himself. I was probably mostly standing there with my mouth hanging open, on the verge of a Wayne's World-esque "we're not worthy" breakdown, and he was all "Oh hi! I'm Alice! Great to meet you!"

Catherine L. Hensley takes Manhattan...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to introduce you to Catherine L. Hensley today. Her debut novel, New York Dolls published last week with 48Fourteen and the premise is perfect for Celebrity Month. We invited her to dish about celebrities with us and she even has a copy of her book for a lucky US reader!

A native of south Louisiana, Catherine received her master of arts degree in creative writing and media studies from New York University and her bachelor of arts degree in English from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, with minors in history and mass communication. Her writing has appeared in The Advocate (Louisiana’s largest newspaper), OT Practice magazine, Quiet Mountain: New Feminist Essays, and Mused, the BellaOnline Literary Review. She is also a professional freelance editor and writer who works with a variety of genres and offers copyediting, proofreading, content editing, and writing services worldwide through CLH Editing. You can find her at her website and on Facebook.

Synopsis of New York Dolls:
It’s Fashion Week in New York, and Denton Hodges just got her first big assignment for Glitter magazine.

Denton’s assignment: Get in the show at the posh Regency Viscount Hotel, and find a story. But a chance encounter with hard-partying starlet Amber Donovan forever changes the course of the night—and Denton’s life. After a night of being chased by the paparazzi, swimming in swag bags, and falling heart over heels for Hollywood hunk Chris West, Denton’s not just on the story. She is the story.

Suddenly, Denton’s no longer merely a low-level assistant. Amber’s latching on like a BFF from hell, Chris is flirting and cooking her dinner, and as Denton falls for the real people behind the tabloid screen, neither knows about her ties to Glitter. Only Denton holds the secret—or so she thinks. Is Anna Creel, Glitter’s icy beauty editor, on to her? Will Denton be able to write a story exposing her new friends? And is Chris more than just a friend, or did Glitter get the headline right—“Chris and Amber: Hot Nights!”?

Step into the spotlight, and peek beyond the red carpet in
New York Dolls. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Who is your favorite celebrity with the same first name as you?
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Have you ever written to a celebrity? Did they write back?
Yes! At 12, I remember being a huge fan of ER when it first started, and I wrote to Julianna Margulies. I got a signed photo in the mail!

What is your favorite source of celebrity news?
Favorite sources is more like it. I have a pretty gluttonous daily diet of celebrity news. Lainey Gossip is a new favorite. She’s got a wickedly sharp sense of humor.

Which celebrity has the best Tweets or Facebook posts?
Dwayne (“The Rock”) Johnson has some pretty funny posts. He never takes himself too seriously.

Which chick lit character should be a celebrity?
Bridget Jones. She’d have a hilarious reality show for sure.

In what way do celebrities have it easiest? Hardest?
They have it easiest in terms of money and access, hardest in the loss of privacy.

Thanks to Catherine for visiting with us and 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.

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US only. Giveaway ends November 30th at midnight EST.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: Part-Time Princess

By Sara Steven

Lucy is a down on her luck waitress at the local biker’s bar, trying hard to make ends meet. She not only has her own welfare to consider, but her uncle’s, as well. He ended up in a special care facility (a rather expensive facility) after the death of Lucy’s parents, and she feels responsible for him and his well-being. After a rough night and a run-in with a few jerks on her shift, she finds herself fired and without much to go on in the job department.

Then she spots an ad in the newspaper that totally changes her life. Can Lucy go from a crass-talking, biker babe to a posh, sophisticated princess?

In Part-time Princess, Lucy fills in for Lady Elizabeth, a woman who is beloved in the land of Fredonia, but has a few skeletons in her closet which have left her indisposed. After a total overhaul with a beautician and a hairstylist, not to mention etiquette training, can Lucy pull off this ultimate con? It’s My Fair Lady meets Ms. Congeniality! And where would we be without the quintessential love triangle? Part of Lucy’s job is to keep the Prince of Fredonia, Cristoph, interested. She never bargained on his brother, Nick! Both men are hunky. Both vie for her affections, but only one can win, and who are they really vying for? Are they falling for Lucy, or for who they believe to be Elizabeth?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Once I got going, I had a really hard time putting it down! It’s comedic and candid, and Lucy is a total riot with the way she thinks, the way she communicates and the way she tries to behave when she’s “on duty”. She’s constantly trying to stop herself from letting the cat out of the bag, not wanting to reveal that she’s an imposter. It makes for a lot of fun, exciting moments, yet there are touching, serious moments as well, especially where Elizabeth’s family is concerned. Lucy may not have come from royalty, but she’s certainly regal in my book!

Thanks to Pamela DuMond for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Pamela DuMond:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sarah Jio has "the look"....plus a book giveaway

By Melissa Amster

A couple of years ago, we asked Sarah Jio who her celebrity doppelgänger was. She said Charlize Theron. I can definitely see that resemblance. However, I've found some other celebrities she looks like and have sent her pictures of them in the past. I wanted to share about them today in honor of celebrity month and her latest novel, The Look of Love, which comes out on November 25th. I read it recently and had a hard time putting it down! It's perfect for fans of Love, Actually and anyone who just wants a new and interesting love story. Thanks to Penguin Random House, we have TEN copies for some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!

Visit Sarah at her website, Facebook, and Twitter. Read her columns at Glamour, as well.

Sarah Jio's Celebrity Doppelgängers

* Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry: Around the time The Violets of March came out and I first met Sarah, I also saw the video for "If I Die Young." I immediately saw the resemblance between these two fabulous women! See for yourself:



Ashley Benson from Pretty Little Liars: When I first saw a picture of Ashley, I thought of Sarah right away and even sent her a picture to show her. She definitely took it as a compliment!

Yael Grobglas from Jane the Virgin: The first time I saw her, I made this Sarah Jio connection. At the same time, I thought she'd be perfect as Jane, the lead character from The Look of Love. (She's not Jane on the current TV show; she plays Petra, the wife of Rafael.) This is a more recent resemblance, so I haven't sent Sarah a picture yet.

* Debbie Gibson: One of her 80s songs came on my Spotify and as I was looking at her picture, I saw a resemblance to Sarah. I went to her website for further confirmation and I realized I wasn't losing my mind after all. I especially see some similarities in this video.



* While she's not officially a celebrity, there's no way you can be a book lover and NOT have been acquainted with Jenny O'Regan from Confessions of a Bookaholic. I was looking at some pics of her recently and definitely think she and Sarah could be sisters. She's also doing a giveaway for The Look of Love. (US/Canada. Ends 11/23.)

Synopsis of The Look of Love:
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. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing the book with our readers!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

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US/Canada only. Giveaway ends November 24th at midnight EST.