Friday, September 19, 2014

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

Melissa A:

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion from Penguin UK

Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis from Grand Central Publishing

Saving Grace by Jane Green from Pan Macmillan

Amy:

Mahalas Lane by/from Marianne Cushing

Girl Before A Mirror by Liza Palmer from HarperCollins

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor from HarperCollins

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek from HarperCollins


Kathryn: 

Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman from Notting Hill Press (e-book)

Sara:

Slippers in the Oven by Roberta Aarons from Authoramp

Becky:

Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbery from Transworld

Love Me or Leave Me by Claudia Carroll from Avon

Seeing Other People by Mike Gayle from Hodder and Stoughton

The Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne from Quercus

Emma by/from Alexander McCall Smith

The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern from HarperCollins UK

The Seafront Tea Rooms by Vanessa Greene from Sphere

The Runaway Woman by Josephine Cox from HarperFiction,

The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews from Sphere

What could be in YOUR mail:

The May-December Twist by Romney Humphrey

In honor of recently being featured on our Book Shelf, she has FIVE books to give away to readers anywhere in the world!

At fifty, finding romance is hard. It’s trickier if your three best friends (Liz, Kendra and Jo; together known as The Four) sign you up for a dating site and monitor your every move. And, the challenge becomes more complicated when Jo starts competing with Allie for contenders. Allie eventually settles for David, an age-appropriate schoolteacher. He’s pleasant, but makes her feel sleepy, not particularly passionate. A chance encounter leads Allie to Jameson, a self-made entrepreneur. He’s brilliant, interesting and wildly attractive. He decides to volunteer at her non-profit, “Twenty;” he believes in Allie’s vision of volunteering twenty minutes or twenty dollars to the community is brilliant. They share the same sense of values and have definite chemistry. 

The problem? He’s twenty-five years younger. 

The Four consider her crush on Jameson inappropriate. Jo can’t believe Allie isn’t choosing David. (Or does she want him for herself?) If Allie pursues her feelings will she lose The Four’s friendship? Another issue? The possible wrath of her twin twenty-one-year-old sons. And, why would Jameson ever consider her as relationship material anyway? 

Based on real life stories of unlikely but wildly passionate long-term relationships between older women and younger men, The May-December Twist is a tale of alliances, conflicting values and what’s important in the complicated search for love. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Romney Humphrey on Facebook and Twitter.

How to win:
Please tell us: If you could go back in time and date any celebrity regardless of age, which time period would you choose and who would you date?

One entry per person.

Entries without contact information (e-mail address, Twitter account, Facebook page, etc.) will NOT be counted (and we do NOT count "Google +" as contact information).

Open worldwide. Giveaway ends September 23rd at midnight EST.

Book Review: Maybe Baby

By Sara Steven

I enjoy a book where two people find one another and fall in love. The stranger the situation, the more interesting the outcome. Let me tell you, this novel offers up the most unique story line, ever. Hands down.

Laney is an expat living with her boyfriend Niklas, in Stockholm. It’s been five years, and her biological clock is ticking. True, she’s never wanted children of her own before (Niklas has two of his own with a psycho of an ex-wife) but never expected that Niklas wouldn’t want any more, or more importantly, can’t have anymore due to a vasectomy. The situation feels dire, but Laney looks into a progressive sperm bank without Niklas knowing in order to solve the problem for them. She figures she can research first then pursue it if it feels right. The last thing she ever counted on was meeting a man named Mads, the most sought after sperm donor there. She also never counted on feeling an instant connection with him, or falling in love.

Maybe Baby takes the rules or what we know of them, and throws them right out the window. Laney knows she’s invested a lot of time into Niklas, and knows what society would say to be the right thing for her to do, but in matters of the heart, choices are never that cut and dried. Another level to this is the settling into a life vs. actually living one. I got the impression that Laney wants to stay with Niklas because he’s what she knows. There’s comfort and security in their relationship, while her new-found fascination with Mads is exciting and different. Does she risk a sure thing that has been lackluster for years, or does she pursue something that might not work out and cause a lot of damage in the end?

I loved the writing style (real and, at times, very graphic) and appreciated the flow of the story. I was able to delve into the characters easily. Kim Golden did a fantastic job, and I look forward to reading some of her other work, including a future novel with the continuation of Laney's story.

Thanks to Kim Golden for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Claire Ashby gets with the times...plus a book giveaway

Claire Ashby and I already have something in common...we both become mothers in the first decade of the 21st century, also known as the "zeros," "noughties," and simply the 2000s. A lot of new fads and trends have come about since the turn of the century, and I'm sure our kids will one day be telling their kids that they had an iPhone...and that will be such an ancient and outdated item by then! (Just like our record and cassette players are to them...) Claire is here to talk about her favorite fads and trends from the 2000s in honor of Nostalgia Month. She also has one copy of her debut novel, When You Make it Home, for a lucky US reader!

Born and raised in the heart of Atlanta, Claire Ashby now resides in Austin with her family and a pack of wild dogs. When she’s not reading or writing, she spends her time watching extreme survival shows and taking long walks after nightfall. She has an unnatural love of high places, but still regrets the time she skydived solo. She believes some things are better left to the imagination.

Visit Claire on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

My Favorite Fads/Trends of the 2000s

My life forever changed in the 2000s. I became a mom. One of the first rites of passage into motherhood is the rapid accumulation of stuff. The 2000s turned out to be a great time to start a family. Check out some of my favorite fads and trends of that time:

1. Baby wearing – As if a baby wasn’t the best accessory of all time, you can wear them too! I had a Baby Bjorn and a sling, but my favorite was the Ergo Carrier. The hubs preferred to tote the little monsters in the manly metal-framed backpack carrier.

2. The Bob Stroller – Move over Graco. Hello freedom. Not to be confused with a jogging stroller, these streamline strollers with the large single front wheel that swivels in all directions create instant stroller envy. With this stroller, people didn’t stop you to check out your baby – they stopped you to check out your wheels.

3. Oversized Sunglasses – With the new millennium, over-sized sunglasses came back around, which is a total win for a new mom. Running late to a play date at the park? Skip the eye makeup and throw on your mega shades. They’ll cover those puffy bags better than concealer anyway.

4. Cargo Capris – Best invention ever. Sure, you’re not supposed to put anything in those big thigh pockets, but has there ever been a better place to store a Sippy cup while changing a diaper in public?

5. Ugg boots – The only footwear that can compete with the versatility of flip-flops for a mom of little ones is a pair of Uggs. They work with jeans, shorts, skirt…heck, just pair your Uggs and oversized sunglasses and you can get away with wearing your t-shirt nightgown to get the mail.

6. Facebook – Thanks to Facebook, new mothers everywhere could toss all their scrap booking supplies. Nothing better than showing off baby in real time and getting instant feedback. For all the ways Facebook changed the world, I’d like to click the like button on making first time moms feel a little less alone.

7. Reality TV – Sure, people like to dis it, but come on. In the early 2000’s it was a blast. Especially if you had brain mush from changing diapers and nursing all day. Who needs complicated plot lines and witty jokes when you’re covered in baby snot and drool?

8. GPS – Because finding your way anywhere with a screaming baby in the backseat is near impossible.

9. Mommy Blogs – I don’t know where all those brilliant, driven women came from, but thankfully they knew how to do everything and found time to blog about it.

10. Google – One day I’m going to say to my kids, “Hey, when I was growing up we didn’t even have Google. We had this place called the library.”

Synopsis of When You Make it Home:
Meg Michaels, a bookstore owner, has already walked away from two cheating exes. She’s learned her lesson and has her mind set on success—until she gets knocked up. Embarrassed and unwilling to discuss her situation with friends and family, she wears layers to hide the pregnancy.

When Meg gets sick at a party, she’s mortified. Even worse, Theo Taylor, the guest of honor, discovers her secret. Theo, an Army medic wounded in the war, agrees not to reveal her condition, and the two forge a bond of friendship that blossoms into love.

Theo is soon filling all of Meg’s late-night cravings—and not just the pregnancy-induced ones. But can their love overcome all the obstacles that stand between them and creating a happy family?
(Courtesy of Claire's website.)

Thanks to Claire for visiting us and sharing her book with our readers. Thanks to Red Adept Publishing for including us in their blog tour and offering a swag giveaway.

~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 only. Giveaway ends September 22nd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chick Lit Cheerleader: Timeless Treasures

Introduction by Melissa Amster

When I hear the word "nostalgia," I usually think of pop culture from back in the day. However, Jen Tucker, our Chick Lit Cheerleader, has me looking at nostalgia in a different way. Today's post made me think of some memories from visiting my grandparents as a kid. My paternal grandmother had this box of costume jewelry, which would keep my sister and I busy all throughout our visit. I don't know what ever happened to all the jewelry, but I still remember trying on different necklaces and clip on earrings. When I went to my late maternal grandmother's house, I loved this Cinderella coach that was on one of the tables in her living room. I don't even know if it was connected with Cinderella, but it made me think of that for some reason. There was even a light you could switch on. I know my mom took all the items from her home, but I can't remember seeing that one anywhere in her house. It's definitely the one item I wouldn't mind having on display someday in my home. I think my daughter would find it as fascinating as I did. 

Today, Jen is telling us about something that made her ugly cry as much as The Fault in Our Stars.

She has the "Precious"

My grandmother kept a marble trinket box on an end table in her modest family room. The rectangular shaped keepsake was a gift from her sister, Ruthie. A souvenir from her travels to India in the mid 1970’s. The funny thing about this treasure was it was the only thing I was never permitted to touch in Grandma’s home.

Nothing was off limits when I visited my grandparents. From the World War II harmonica Grandpa tucked away in his nightstand, to the cookie jar always generously overloaded with vanilla sandwich cremes, limits were never placed upon my curiosity, or little fingers, until this lidded, white box arrived. I wasn’t keen on that. Not one bit.

Grandma decided this gift was the perfect place to tuck her Winston cigarettes inside, package and all. Until this box arrived, I was always the one who fetched a cigarette for Grandma June from the middle drawer of her doily topped end table. Don’t go judging my granny now, people. This was the 70’s, remember? The day this marble box came into Grandma’s life, it marked the moment my cigarette girl services were no longer required nor desired.

“Jenny, that’s Grandma’s special gift from Aunt Ruthie. I don’t want you to touch it, do you understand?”
I remember looking at Grandma June, puzzled, saying, “Why can’t I touch this one box, Grandma?”
She lovingly took my small hands into hers and said, “Because it’s precious.”

This was quite the blow to my only grandchild ego. Not only was I banned from being near the box, but also I was no longer needed.

I was the early bird each morning while visiting my mom’s parents over the summer. Speed Racer and Gary Gnu were on television during the wee hours of the morning in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I remember one morning while nestled in Grandpa’s chocolate colored wing backed chair, sunshine came through the window and illuminated the beautiful stones atop Grandma’s marble box. I recall transferring myself from Grandpa’s favorite chair onto the fabric worn, swivel seat where my grandmother read and sewed for many years. I picked up the box and held it in my hands. I recollect pondering why is this precious? I thought I was precious. From that moment on, I mischievously decided I was going to show force in the matter. I gently set the box down in its place, removed the lid, and turned it perpendicular to the box, placing it back on top. I’d left my mark. A “Jenny was here” kind of thing. I moved that lid every chance I had and denied being the culprit each and every time. I thought I was the slyest cat in the room.

This was the longest running “Jenny, when you were little…” tale in my family. Until the day Grandma left us behind for a better place, and Grandpa placed this petite box into my hands, passing it on to me, saying, “You’re the most precious things your grandmother had. It only makes sense you two end up together.”

This summer, my husband, Mike, traveled to India for two weeks on business. I asked him to bring me back a colorful scarf, maybe an outstanding pair of gold hoop earrings. Yet my heart was not prepared for what I unwrapped the day he returned. An oval shaped box. White marble with turquoise and lapis stones strategically inlaid within the lid and base, unmistakably similar to my grandmother’s. To say I ugly cried is a grave injustice to the moment I peeled back the brown paper and my eyes took in this token. He said he saw it and knew it was meant for me. One day, I hope to place both marble boxes into the hands of my daughter and entrust to her a small but precious piece of her great grandmother and me.

Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of SaltIn September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at TwitterFacebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.

Spotlight and Giveaway: To See the Moon Again

Today we're pleased to feature To See the Moon Again by Jamie Langston Turner. Thanks to Penguin Random House, we have one copy for a lucky US reader!

In TO SEE THE MOON AGAIN (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; September 2, 2014), award-winning author Jamie Langston Turner presents a poignant novel about learning to forgive the past and finding hope in the future.

Julia Rich’s memory is plagued by an accident she caused many years ago. She has hidden her guilt by teaching at a small South Carolina college and has avoided close relationships with family and friends. But her carefully controlled world is about to change in a way she never could have predicted when a niece she’s never met appears in her life.

Carmen, like Julia, is seeking peace for past mistakes. Together the two women begin a journey that will take them out of their comfort zones and open their hearts.


Jamie Langston Turner is the award-winning author of seven novels and has been a teacher for more than forty years. She is currently a professor of poetry and creative writing at Bob Jones University. Jamie lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband. Visit her online at her website and Facebook.

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 only. Giveaway ends September 21st at midnight EST.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Meghan Cleary holds the "patent" on fashion


What is a chick lit novel without a fabulous pair of shoes?!? Today we have Meghan Cleary visiting us and sharing her favorite shoes from the 1960s, in honor of Nostalgia Month. Her book, Shoe Are You?gives readers advice on their life, wardrobe, and career...all based on their footwear! As a special gift, you can receive the Shoe Are You?® Stiletto Handbook free at shoeareyou.com!



Meghan Cleary is the celebrity shoe columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and internationally recognized footwear authority whose insight on everything from the latest shoe trends to the hottest footwear designs to red carpet stilettos at the Oscars and Emmys has appeared in more than 4,500 media outlets throughout the world. Known for her signature trademark phrase, “what your shoes say about you,” Meghan has analyzed presidents, world leaders and fashion icons alike with her uncanny insight.

From the minute she first laid eyes on a pair of baby blue wedges at age five, to sitting with luxury shoe designers in their studios in Italy, Meghan brings a new, fun expertise and flair to one of fashion’s hottest categories: Shoes. Equally at home in live and scripted environments, including the 45 live, one-hour Shoe Therapy® shows she co-hosted on HSN, red carpet coverage on TV Guide Network,and frequent appearances as a style expert on national television, including Style Network, E!, TODAY Show, Tyra, Extra!, CNN, Rachael Ray, CBS Early Show, Meghan has endeared herself to viewers with her easygoing, accessible, conversational style.


A global footwear icon who has rubbed elbows with the likes of Christian Louboutin and top Hollywood stars — she also guides consumer shoppers on finding the perfect shoes through her media appearances and events. Meghan has produced a shoe and accessories collection, TV segments, documentary, internet content and two books, as well as reporting on industry trends within the footwear trade media. For nine years she served as Contributing Editor at luxury trend publication JCREPORT breaking new designers to the market. A former marketing consultant on Wall Street, Meghan has also been a resource for a variety of top footwear and mass market retail companies in how to reach women shoppers with strategic merchandising and marketing concepts.

Visit Meghan on Facebook and Twitter.

Top Five Shoe Designers of the 1960s

1. Andre Perugia - There's a huge debate about who invented the modern day stiletto -- Perugia, Ferragamo or Vivier? They all were making amazing shoes nonetheless!
2. Salvatore Ferragamo - Shoemaker to the stars.
3. Roger Vivier - Inventor of the "comma" heel
4. YSL - The master of Parisian chic.
5. Ossie Clark - Epitome of swinging '60s

Thanks to Meghan Cleary for visiting with us and sharing her handbook with everyone and Blink PR for coordinating this interview!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: The Glass Kitchen

By Melissa Amster

A few years ago, I read Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee. I loved it and couldn't put it down. Needless to say, I was thrilled when she published her latest novel, The Glass Kitchen, this past summer and couldn't wait to pick it up. While the premise of the novel is food and cooking, as is often the case with Chick Lit, Linda puts a new and interesting spin on the topic.

Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan... and never cook again.

But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.com)

Linda has a comforting quality to her writing. She knows how to immediately draw her readers into her world and keep them there with the promise of good cooking, romance, and magic. The descriptions of people, food, and locations made everything easy to visualize, which I always appreciate when reading a book.  Sometimes the story felt like it was slowing down, but then it would pick up steam when I was least expecting it. There were some fun twists and surprising secrets throughout. It even had some suspenseful moments. Although the concept was surreal, it was fun to imagine as a possibility and definitely served as a benefit to Portia at times.

Overall, The Glass Kitchen was a satisfying novel and a fun escape from everyday life. I hope Linda doesn't wait as long to publish her next novel.

As this would make for a fun movie, here's my dream cast:
Portia: Jennifer Morrison
Cordelia: Jaime King
Olivia: Kate Hudson
Gabriel: Gerard Butler
Ariel: Aryana Engineer

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.