Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Winner of "The Chocolate Lover's Club"

Thanks for all your participation! Even though there can only be one winner this time, I hope you all will take the time to check out "The Chocolate Lover's Club." It's such a good story and I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

To find the winner, I assigned everyone numbers by the order in which the entries came in and used the Custom Random Number Generator. It came up with 4 as its magic random number.

Congrats to Book Groupie, who said "My favorite is orange-flavored dark chocolate. Yum!"

A very special thanks again to Carole Matthews for answering my questions about chocolate and for sending me this book to give away. :)

Stay tuned for more giveaways tomorrow, next week, and throughout the summer.

Winning Wednesday--June 30th

I will only be posting giveaways on this blog from now on. If you have a giveaway that ends before Wednesday of a given week, please feel free to post it at Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Thank you!

New as of today! Win a copy of "My Fair Lazy" by Jen Lancaster from Chick Lit is Not Dead (Deadline unknown)

Also new today! If you're into more paranormal chick lit, enter this giveaway for "Strange Neighbors" by Ashlyn Chase hosted by Luxury Reading. US/Canada only. (Deadline: July 14th at midnight)

Win a set of Jennifer Weiner trade paperbacks and a hardcover of "Fly Away Home" from Redbook Magazine! (Deadline: July 19th, 11:59 pm EST)

Another JW giveaway: Win "Fly Away Home" by Jennifer Weiner from So Many Books, So Little Time. US residents only. (Deadline: Tonight at 11:59 pm EST)

Last chance to enter Chick Lit Central's giveaway for "The Chocolate Lover's Club" by Carole Matthews. (Deadline: TODAY at NOON EST)

48 Writers, 4 Winners. Enter here to win a year of books. Sponsored by Leah Stewart. (Deadline: Friday at 5 pm EST)

Order "Sand in My Eyes" by Christine Lemmon for a chance to be entered in her Beach Bag Giveaway! (Deadline: July 1st)


Win a copy of "Sand in My Eyes" from Luxury Reading. US Residents only. (Deadline: July 12th at midnight)

Speaking of Lemmon...or lemon, in this "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" by Aimee Bender from Dan's Journal (Deadline: July 3rd) and Tutu's Two Cents (Deadline: July 13th) Both are US only and no P.O. Boxes.

Win "The Castaways" by Elin Hildebrand from A Sea of Books US/Canada only and no P.O. Boxes. (Deadline: July 9th, 11:59 pm EST)

Win "Free to a Good Home" Eve Marie Mont by telling her about your best pet adoption story. U.S. shipping addresses only. (Deadline: July 19th, 8:00 am EST)

Become a fan of Julia London for a chance to win a bath set and a copy of "One Season of Sunshine!" (Deadline unknown)

Win "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman from Novel Escapes. (Deadline: July 2nd, 11:59 pm EST)

Allie Larkin is hosting a photo contest for a chance to win a $50 iTunes gift card!: "Stay" on Vacation. (Deadline: End of summer)

Marilyn Brant is giving away an ARC of Friday Mornings at Nine" to celebrate some big news surrounding this novel. (Deadline: Friday at 9 am EST) There's also a chance to win this book through Fresh Fiction (Deadline: TODAY)

Jane Porter has two copies of "She's Gone Country" to give away on her blog. (Deadline: Friday morning)

Good luck! More giveaways coming soon from Chick Lit Central, including one from Caren Lissner tomorrow and TWO more to come next week!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Writing away

I was once again picked as a runner up by Rowan Coleman for her Friday Status Short Story contest. This was my entry.

I was startled by a loud gasp. “Of course, this WOULD happen right before prom! Tessa, do you have any pads?” Sherrie shouted from the stall next to me in the girls’ P.E. locker room.

“I don’t. Sorry. That does suck though,” I said flatly. I checked again to see if I would actually need any for myself today, but luck wasn’t on my side this time either. I wouldn’t be needing any pads now or for the next nine months.

I also started participating in a [Fiction] Friday challenge from "Write Anything." Here is my first mini-story. I received some positive feedback on it and decided to try it again this week. Check my personal blog on Friday to see more.

I've been on a writing kick lately. Mostly blogging, but it's good exercise for the mind. I have a weekly blog project going with a few other friends. We take turns coming up with topics and then we each blog about them. Some are more challenging than others. It's a lot of fun though.

Last week, a fellow blogger included me on an e-mail that she was sending to a bunch of authors to tell them about her recent blog post. I replied that I'm not a writer yet, but thanked her for including me. Then several authors wrote back telling me that if I write, then I'm a writer. :) And meeting with Sarah Pekkanen was also encouraging, as she shared her writing experiences and also offered advice for future writers. (I'll be posting this interview next week, so stay tuned!)

I still would like to enter the short story contest from Family Circle. I just need to get going on it. I have an idea and am still trying to figure out how I want to lay it out on paper. Sometimes I think I could do more with it and turn it into a full length novel. Pretty ambitious, right? :)

If you like to write and have a chick lit themed short story that you'd like me to post for you on this blog, please share. Don't be shy! I love reading short stories as much as novels, especially if they come from members of Chick Lit Central.

Winners of Sheila Curran books

This message is from Sheila Curran:

Dear Contest Entrants, I picked the numbers before I read the comments, so please know I LOVED all your comments and wish all of you the best of this beautiful, hot summer!
Sheila Curran
And the numbers are:
3, 15, 21, 36, 48
Winners, please let me know if you'd like something particular in your signed books...hugs...

The winners are:
BRN2SHOP9, ChristyJan, JHS, Krystal_Lynn, and Tiffany

Thanks again to everyone for participating! Special thanks to Sheila Curran for taking the time to answer my questions and for providing books for the giveaway!

Don't forget to enter my current giveaway for "The Chocolate Lover's Club" by Carole Matthews, if you haven't already. There will be more exciting giveaways coming up soon, so stay tuned!

Monday, June 28, 2010

I really *am* Belle!

I feel like someone gave me their library. Or at least a lot of people contributed to mine. Now that I am doing giveaways and reviews, I come home every day to find packages by my door. Lots of new books! (In all fairness, I recently did a book exchange with a friend and am also participating in Paperback Swap.)

Ever since I've been in touch with authors, publishers and publicists, I've had more access to new chick lit novels that are just now hitting the shelves. I am extremely grateful for each book I receive, but am not letting that jade my opinion for the reviews. If a book is good, it will merit a good review. That's all there is to it. Even the most perfect books leave room for a small critique. I feel that honesty is the only way for the writer to have effective feedback and for them to use what is given for when they write future novels. Don't worry...I'm not like Anton Ego (from "Ratatouille") and I usually find a positive spin to any point of criticism.

Having said that, I have a lot of books and there is just one of me. I am a working mother of two young boys. I'm a blogger. I also have to find time to keep the house in order. I read on the treadmill in the morning and during my lunch break at work. I find time in the evenings too. I'm happy if I can get through a book in a week's time, but I do have my slow moments. If you sent me a book to review, it will get reviewed at some point. Probably not tomorrow, but soon enough. And for those that get reviewed later on, think of it as a way to breathe new life into the book and get the sales going all over again. :) I know I recently reviewed a book from the late 90's, if that says anything. In any case, I plan to stay more focused on reading this summer and am excited about all the books I have to review and the interviews and giveaways I have planned for this summer!

In the meantime, I am still open to having guest bloggers. If you are interested, please let me know if you'd like to do book reviews, author recommendations (see the ones I did recently in this blog), short stories, etc. I will credit you for all entries. Please do not write the actual entry before clearing the topic with me first. I'd feel bad if I was writing about the same thing and didn't choose to publish it for that reason. Another thought is that I may pair your book review with my own, if we read the same book. It could be an "At the Movies" sort of thing, but for books!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Carole Matthews talks about chocolate....

Last year, I devoured "The Chocolate Lover's Club" by Carole Matthews. It was such a delicious story. It had a "Sex and the City" feel but revolved around chocolate instead of Cosmopolitans. I loved how each woman had their own situation to deal with and how they tried to help each other out. It was so nice to see the bonds of female friendship played out in such a way. I heard that there's a sequel out in the UK called "The Chocolate Lover's Diet." (Just what I need, in more ways than one!) If anyone overseas wants to do a giveaway for it to send to someone in the US, I'd gladly enter! It sounds like another wonderful treat!

Recently, Carole Matthews sent me a signed copy of this book to give away to one lucky winner. I also got the chance to ask her some questions about chocolate. Enjoy!

1. What is your favorite brand of chocolate?

We have a great range of stores in the UK called Hotel Chocolat. I don't know if you have them yet? They make beautiful chocolate all sourced from their own plantation. It's very expensive for high street chocolate, but well worth it. I also love Lindt chocolate and their dark 70% is my favourite. A while ago someone sent me chocolate from Max Brenner in New York and that was fabulous!

2. What is your favorite movie about chocolate?

There are very few movies on the subject of chocolate and I think Hollywood are definitely missing a trick there! Someone should instantly make a movie of "The Chocolate Lovers' Club" - it would be a sure fire hit! Out of the limited choice, I don't think you can beat "Chocolat" starring the beautiful Juliet Binoche and the inimitable Johnny Depp. It was a great film - much lighter than the book but equally as yum. I could watch it over and over again.

Side note: I'd also love to see "The Chocolate Lover's Club" as a movie!

3. What is your favorite food that includes chocolate?

I love any food that contains chocolate! But I find it particularly hard to resist chocolate ice-cream, brownies or a really rich chocolate mousse. Gorgeous.

4. Where is your favorite place to purchase chocolate?

I've been very lucky in doing my research for The Chocolate Lovers' Club and The Chocolate Lovers' Diet to have visited all kinds of gorgeous chocolate shops. In fact, if I ever give up writing then I'd really like to open one! But the chocolate area in Fortnum and Mason's in London takes some beating. They have every type of high-end chocolate you can think of from all over the world.

5. Preference: White, dark, milk or something else?

I prefer dark chocolate now and as plain as possible. I find filled chocolates - or what the purists would call confectionery - just too sweet. Once you have savoured truly wonderfully produced chocolate it's hard to settle for anything less. Though sometimes, I have to confess, a Snickers bar hits the spot just as well!

Thanks again to Carole Matthews for this interview and for the book to give away.

How to win this signed book:
Please comment below with your e-mail address.

For additional entries (each as a separate comment including your e-mail address, as well):
1. Please tell us: What is your favorite kind or brand of chocolate?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.

Winner will be picked at random on Wednesday, June 30th.

A story inspired by "At the Ballet"

I posted this writing challenge last week and someone decided to take on this activity. It is a well-written story and I hope you all will read it and feel free to leave feedback. You're welcome to try it yourself, as well.

Thank you Rachel, for taking on this challenge and allowing me to post your story on this blog.

If you'd like to see future writing challenges or possibly a contest, please let me know.

Now, without any further ado, I present to you....

Up a Steep and Very Narrow Stairway
by Rachel Fox

Up a steep and very narrow stairway, the smell of stage make-up, the sound of our tutus rustling, we make our way to the wings. With a million shushes, Mrs. Rebecca guides us into the rolling cage that is Mother Ginger’s skirt. At the top of the cage all we can see of Mr. Jeffrey is the bottom half, standing on a little platform. He balances on the tiny platform and wiggles his toes. Above the cage, Mr. Jeffrey emerges, transformed into a white-haired, rosy-cheeked woman. His bright yellow dress cinches at his waist and then expands to cover the cage. All the way to the floor it falls in grand rivulets of silk. Inside, we stand on the unfinished wood, squished tight together. We watch as the two stagehands in the center lean heavily on the crossbars. With a jolt, Mother Ginger begins to roll towards the stage. My heart begins to beat wildly in my chest as the familiar music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker comes rushing across the stage.

Summer and Virginia, the two oldest gingerbread children, begin the count.

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Two, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Three, two, three, four . . .” they chant in unison.

We follow along in our heads, keeping time to the rhythm of the music. At the end of the fourth eight count, Summer and Virginia pull back the curtain at the front of Mother Ginger’s skirt. We file out, eight little gingerbread children in olive green tutus. Each of us a mirror of the others: long hair pinned in a bun atop our heads, wide eyes fighting the spotlights, circles of rouge at our cheekbones, bright red lips, perfectly-tailored green silk covering undeveloped bodices, a sharp jutting of tulle at the waist, smooth pink tights, and unscuffed pink ballet shoes.

Only the audience can see the one inconsistency marring the expertly choreographed dance. If you were sitting in the back of the theatre, you would wonder why the small dancer at the left of the stage had two bright white feet. If you were in the first several rows, you could distinguish the bright white as a pair of small white socks. You might ask yourself why this single dancer wore the glaring white socks rather than the soft pink slippers worn by her sisters. When she slid her left foot up, toes pointing, to rest at her right knee, you would notice the grimy grey on the bottom of her feet. You would see the gritty dirt left from playing backstage for hours. She would pirouette in perfect time, but you would not enjoy her skillful execution. The spell of repetition will have been broken.

With a final series of pas de bourrée couru the gingerbread children return to their mother’s skirt. I look up in time to see Mr. Jeffrey’s wild face. He pantomimes an expression of love. With his large fan in one hand, he makes a wide gesture to welcome his little children back to the comfort of his skirt. I am always surprised to see him in drag and wonder what a spectacle it would be to see him, in full make-up and wig, plant a large kiss on the small lips of Mrs. Melanie, his wife. I enter the skirt, snagging my sock on the edge of the rough wood. My mouth drops and I let out a tiny gasp. Summer quietly shushes me. She looks down at my sock clad feet and repeats my gasp. We roll back into the wings. Between the strong legs of the stagehands, I watch the stage floor roll beneath me. I cannot look up and face my fellow dancers, my friends. Quickly, Mrs. Rebecca ushers us out of the cage and back towards the stairwell. As I run toward the heavy door, a teardrop lands silently on my bright white sock. It soaks into the absorbent fabric and disappears, leaving only a light grey spot. I watch my feet as they follow pink slippers down the stairway. Without a word, I enter the dressing room, noisy with the excited chatter of little girls. I begin to shed my costume, starting with the offending socks.

“You wore your socks on stage?” Summer says. “How could you forget to take them off?”

I do not answer. Instead, I wiggle into my jeans and keep my eyes on the floor. I wad up the socks and stuff them into my bag. I slip on my tennis shoes on my bare feet and cross the room to the door. My mother stands waiting in the dimly lit hall with my winter coat held open. I turn and fit my arms inside. She zips me up.

“Did you hear? One of the girls left her socks on during the performance. Poor thing.” I overhear a whisper. One of the other mothers. My stomach begins to turn and I wrap my arms around my waist.

My mother and I exit the theatre and walk slowly to our car. We are carful not to slip on any of the icy puddles that speckle the parking lot. Inside the car, waiting for the heater to warm our numb fingers and toes, my mother gives me a knowing look.

“It’s okay, Jenny. No one was looking at your feet. Instead they were watching you dance beautifully across the stage,” Mother says.

I cringe and finally let the tears flow that I have been holding since my sock snagged on the rough floor of the cage. A shudder runs through my petite 12-year-old frame and I lose my breath. I gasp for air and my mother places her hand on my back. She rubs in a small, soft circle.

When the crying has stopped, I realize that the car has warmed. My face is red and hot. I kick off my sneakers and put my left foot in my mother’s lap, careful not to nudge the steering wheel. She puts the car into reverse and backs into the parking lot. Driving slowly through the lot, she reaches into the little compartment on her door, fumbling for the lotion. Something sharp sticks her index finger and she wraps her hand around the culprit. She jerks her hand up. Between her index finger and her thumb dangles a long ornate earring. It’s post is sharp and the backing has gone missing. The gold catches the light of the street lamps and tiny diamonds sparkle in the dark. I have not seen this look on my mother’s face before. It is foreign the way her eyes droop beneath the round lenses of her glasses. Her complexion goes pale for just a moment. I turn my eyes to my mother’s unpierced ears, knowing instinctively that I should stay silent. My mother tosses the earring back into the compartment and brings out the bottle of lavender lotion. As she pulls the car out onto Main Street, she flips the top and squirts a cold glob onto my sore foot. I wince. Mother begins her practiced massage and another shudder quivers in my chest.

Book Review: Not Ready for Mom Jeans

By Melissa Amster

I have a very selective sense of humor and have only found a handful of book characters to be really funny. Among those are Bridget Jones and Sammy Joyce ("Sammy's Hill"). I'm pleased to add Clare Finnegan to my list of characters who had me laughing from start to finish. And I have Maureen Lipinski to thank for that!

Clare is the heroine of "Not Ready for Mom Jeans." The story is about her first year of motherhood and all the laughter, tears and stress that go along with being a working mother and having to make a lot of decisions for herself and her family. There's a broad cast of characters that she encounters along the way which includes her family, friends, co-workers and some other outside forces that will remain a surprise for those of you who haven't read it yet.

I have a lot in common with Clare: We're both moms (which certainly helps), we love blogging, we like our jobs, we're both loyal to our friends and like taking care of them and my first year of motherhood took place in the Chicago suburbs. There are times during the book where I swear she was reading my thoughts and voicing them out loud. I even felt compelled to contact Ms. Lipinski on Facebook each time I came across such a mind-reading experience.

Along with being hilarious, "Not Ready for Mom Jeans" is a sweet and enjoyable story. However, I feel it speaks only to a limited audience. I worry that anyone who hasn't experienced motherhood would not be as interested nor even be able to laugh along with all the baby-related humor. Also, some of the characters seem more exaggerated, almost like caricatures in writing. If Ms. Lipinski's attempt was to be satirical, then she definitely succeeded in that effort. All the same, these exaggerated personalities were very funny and I hope no one, including Ms. Lipinski, has had to encounter such personalities in real life.

I really liked this book a lot and would love to read her first novel, "A Bump in the Road." I also think that this novel has left enough material for a third story about Clare and all the other characters that helped make "Not Ready..." a great story from start to finish.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview with Sheila Curran and book giveaway!

Sheila Curran is the author of "Diana Lively is Falling Down" and the recently published novel, "Everyone She Loved." She has copies of both books to give to five lucky readers! She also took time from her busy schedule to answer a bunch of questions. I hope you'll enjoy her reading her answers as much as I did!

Your books/Writing
1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
Though books were always my major love, I never saw myself as someone who could actually write them. I intended to go to law school but my husband was finishing his PhD and I was waitressing. Just so I felt I was accomplishing something, I decided I might as well work on a skill I would need as a lawyer. I decided I’d ‘practice’ by trying to imitate the murder mysteries I inhaled before, after, and between shifts at the restaurant. Twenty five years, two kids and several gigs as a grant writer later, I’m still ‘practicing’ and never quite believe I’ve been lucky enough to be paid to do it!

2. What do you do to combat writer's block?
I pace, make notes, try not to feel suicidal, take out poster boards and arrange post-its on them with the ideas and characters I’m thinking about. Mostly, I make myself sit in my chair and stare at the blank screen. When all else fails, I pray. At this point, I’m usually in tears. Amazingly enough, I eventually find my way back.

3. Did you see "Everyone She Loved" originally going in a different direction than how it eventually turned out?
Yes. I started out with this really light-hearted comedy in mind, as is evident by the premise of the book, but ended up touching on subjects like anorexia, grief, infidelity and loss. Many readers tell me they were extremely worried about my characters and had to stay up all night to see how things would turn out. I truly didn’t know how the book would end until I wrote the last chapter, and that was four years after I’d started.

4. Do you have plans to write a new book?
Oh yes. I’m working on a book set in a beautiful neighborhood in midtown Atlanta called Ansley Park.
Would you ever write a sequel to "Diana" or "Everyone?"
Sure. I still miss my characters from both novels and have gotten lots of letters from readers asking for more of them.

5. If "Everyone She Loved" were made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

I picture Catherine Keener (who played Harper Lee on Capote, and the love interest in 40 year old virgin) as Lucy (who could also be played by Kate Winslet or Scarlett Johanssen.) Penelope should either be Penelope Cruz (who I’d love to see play a southerner) or Holly Hunter. Someone who can carry off imperious, charming, lovable and just a little bit over-the-top. I’m sure I’ve forgotten who else could play her. Martha should be Ellen Barken or Cameron Diaz.
The love interest? McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy. Patrick Dempsey? Or Daniel Day Lewis, or Liam Neeson. A bad guy? Phillip Seymour Hoffman could play the meddling relatives, tweedledee and tweedledum, twins from England. And for the perfectionist dance instructor Siobhan? Ooh, I think Sarah Jessica Parker or Kyra Sedgewick could do her up just right.

Just for Fun:
6. If you could ask any author to review one of your books, who would you ask?
I adored Bridget Jones’ Diary, so I might ask Helen Fielding or Marian Keyes to review Diana Lively (since it has British characters and is a comedy of manners). For Everyone She Loved, I’d ask Kelly Corrigan, who wrote The Middle Place, both because her book is about how your community of friends can get you through anything, which the theme of my second novel, and because my husband (and kids) are Corrigans as well.

7. If you could live in any decade, which would you choose?
I like where I am, thank you very much. However, if I could time-travel back to the nineties, when we had a surplus, weren’t involved in a war and hadn’t missed the Al Qaeda threat, to say nothing of all the environmental regulations that were undone since 2000, well, it mighta, coulda been different for us now.

8. You mentioned in another interview that you waitressed for a long time while you were first writing. What is your craziest customer story?
Well, since it was announced today that Prince Albert is getting married, I have to say I waited on him in New York, at a restaurant in Tribeca. He was very sweet and acted like we were old friends. Second would be the sweet little old lady in Chicago who had her glasses taped to her forehead so they wouldn’t slip down.

9. What is your favorite TV show?
I adore the Home and Garden channel, also Entourage, Weeds, The Wire, Sex in the City, 30 Rock, House, Grey’s Anatomy and Californication.

10. What is your funniest quirk?
Oh honey, how long have we got for this interview? I’m a bundle of quirks from start to finish. My sisters call me Messy Cook, I tend to speak before I think and therefore embarrass my husband and children on a daily basis. I am terrified of frogs and getting on planes and making phone calls to people I don’t know. I LOVE to eat and tend to enthuse just a bit too much about my favorite recipe. I am also a hypochondriac and have a niche in my brain for deadly illnesses. I can’t remember important things but can gleefully tell you where I bought everything I own, how much I paid and how much of a discount I got off the full price. I also know the calorie counts for just about anything I’ve ever consumed.

To win both "Diana Lively..." and "Everyone She Loved" (each winner will get both books), please comment below with your e-mail address.

For additional entries (each as a separate comment including your e-mail address, as well):
1. In "Everyone She Loved," Penelope makes a pact with her husband and closest friends. Please tell us: Have you ever made a pact with someone?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.

Winners will be picked at random on Monday, June 28th. Open to US/Canada residents only.

Good luck!

At the Ballet

Recently, I saw the movie version of "A Chorus Line" (after years of not having watched it). I wrote about my new view of this movie in my personal blog. I kept thinking of how the lyrics to "At the Ballet" had a chick lit feel to them. The lyrics can be found here.

I thought it would be a fun writing challenge to take one of the stories in the song and turn it into a short story with a chick lit angle. I present this challenge to you if you have a writing blog or are just looking for a creative writing exercise. It is not a contest, just a fun thinking and writing activity. (However, if you'd be interested in me running a writing contest in the future, please speak up!)

If you end up taking on this challenge, please send me a link to wherever you have posted it. If you'd like me to post your story on this blog (giving you credit, of course), please let me know. I may even take on the challenge myself when I feel motivated enough. I'll share what I come up with too!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Winning Wednesday--June 23rd

I will only be posting giveaways on this blog from now on. If you have a giveaway that ends before Wednesday of that week, please feel free to post it at Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Thank you!

There are a lot of good giveaways this week. Good luck!

New as of today! Learn more about Sheila Curran and win 2 of her books! US/Canada only. (Deadline: June 28th)

Another new one today! Win "An Afternoon with the Girls" prize from Jane Porter! (Deadline: Friday night)

Win "The One that I Want" from Chick Lit Reviews (Deadline: July 2nd)

For a creative and helpful way to win "Fly Away Home," share your worst traveling-with-kids story, best advice for traveling with kids, or a snappy comeback to a not-so-kid-friendly passenger with Jennifer Weiner. See her blog for details. (Deadline: This Friday)

Win a $60 Gift Certificate to CSN Stores from The Book Chick. US/Canada only. (Deadline: July 5th)

The Book Chick is also giving away a copy of "The Opposite of Me" by Sarah Pekkanen! US/Canada only. (Deadline: July 12th)

BOGO giveaway: If you pick up a copy of "Husband and Wife" by Leah Stewart, she'll send you a free signed copy of one of her first two books, "Body of a Girl" or "The Myth of You and Me." Email your receipt to (Scanned is fine). (Deadline: Friday at 5 pm EST)

Enter to win a Beach Bag of Books and other fun beach treats from (Deadline: Friday at 12 pm EST)

Become a fan of Julia London for a chance to win a picnic basket full of goodies and a book! (Deadline unknown)

Enter to win "The Lies We Told" by Diane Chamberlain from Living It, Loving It. US/Canada only. (Deadline: Friday at 11:59 pm EST)

Win a copy of "Rock Chicks" by Ronni Cooper from Chick Lit Reviews. UK residents only. (Deadline: June 27th at midnight)

Leave a comment on Jenny Nelson "Georgia's Kitchen" for a chance to win a copy of "Thin Rich Pretty" by Beth Harbison. (Deadline unknown)

Or win a copy of "Georgia's Kitchen" itself from Luxury Reading US residents only. (Deadline: July 6th)

More giveaways to come from Chick Lit Central soon, so stay tuned!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Winners of "Chocolate Wishes" by Trisha Ashley!

I assigned everyone numbers by the order in which the entries came in and used the Custom Random Number Generator to choose 3 random numbers. It picked 3, 25 and 32.

So....Congrats to:

Carol Wong

I'll get in touch with you to get your addresses.

Another congrats goes to Jonita, who wins the members only contest for publicizing this contest the most! (I'll be in touch with you, as well. I already have a special package put together for you.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise!"

One of my favorite movie heroines is Belle, from "Beauty and the Beast." I think she sticks out to me the most because of her love for reading. I could definitely relate to her, as I have always been a bookaholic.

It started when I was too young to read but not too young to memorize books. I'd sit with books on my lap and make it look like I was actually reading them. When I finally learned how to read, I relished the ability and got a thrill out of every trip to the library.

We had family friends who we would visit every once in a while. They had a huge set of bookshelves in their den with every children's book imaginable. I'd spend hours on their comfortable chair reading book after book. I looked forward to going to their house for that reason.

Meanwhile, I continued to collect books like they were going out of style. My favorite part of the mall was the bookstore and I'd get mad if we skipped going or if I was rushed while I was there. I also made sure to bring books with me wherever we, restaurants, family gatherings, etc.

By the time I got to high school, I could never be without a book. I carried one around at all times. As I got older and continued with this habit, I'd get teased about it by my family and friends. I would have a book with me while waiting for a show to begin or during the boring parts of a baseball game. I also brought books to the gym and mastered the ability to read while on the treadmill. (That has come in handy, as we now have a treadmill in our house.) If Belle could walk through a crowded French village while buried in a book, I could do the same at a relatively quick pace on a machine!

My book tastes have ranged in genre from pre-teen/teen novels to horror and finally to chick lit. I also flock to authors like Wally Lamb, Jodi Picoult and Khaled Hosseini. I even like an autobiography on occasion ("Eat Pray Love" and "The Middle Place," just to name a couple.) If a book looks interesting enough, I'll devour it!

One of my favorite parts of "Beauty and the Beast" is when the Beast gives Belle his library. It was such a romantic gesture in the eyes of a book lover such as myself. The first time I set foot in the used book sale room at our local library, I felt like how Belle must have felt at that moment. I almost cried from elation! Adding to that mix was the (disorganized) variety of books at my favorite thrift store. I find it hard to leave either place without buying at least one book.

I feel that the interest I've developed for chick lit over the years has opened up my reading options. It's such a growing genre and I feel like it's going to continue growing in leaps and bounds. I enjoy having other people around with whom to discuss different books and authors. I like being able to share information about new books as I hear about them. I look forward to sharing discussions about all the new books that are coming out this summer and in the future.

So there you have it...My name is Melissa and I'm a bookaholic. I'd love to hear about the role that books have taken in your life. Please feel free to comment or share your own book related blog posts with me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book Review: The Gatecrasher

I had "The Gatecrasher" sitting on my shelf for a couple of years before deciding to finally pick it up and read it. It started off kind of slow and made me question whether I should give it more of a chance. Then it started to pick up momentum....

In "The Gatecrasher," Madeleine Wickham takes us into a world of rich socialites. Money plays a role in the motivations of the protagonist and the antagonist in this story. Fleur Daxeny crashes funerals of the wealthy in hopes of pairing up with the widower and gaining their assets in the process. Then she meets Richard Favour and becomes friendly with his family, which complicates her usual plan. Tossed into the mix are Fleur's daughter, a man from her past, and Richard's son-in-law, who has his own agenda for the family.

The story had a Jane Green feel to it at times....a lot of rich people, shady characters, different points of view, and a touch of romance. I liked the emotions that Ms. Wickham put into each character. It made it that much easier to get caught up in their different dramas. However, it ended way too abruptly...almost like a train that screeched to a halt. I wanted to see where the story would go next and what would happen to some of the characters, now that I was all invested. I also will try not to fault her for naming the antagonist Lambert, as my association with the name is completely the opposite. (This story was written in the late 90's, so she named him without having to take an "American Idol" runner-up into consideration.) And after seeing "My Life in Ruins," I can only picture the teenage girl as Fleur's daughter now. Again, I doubt it was written with her in mind, as the actress was probably three years old at the time.

Overall, it was a decent story. It had humor, suspense, romance and other elements that make for a good novel. However, I don't know that I'd go out and recommend it without being asked about it first. If asked, I would say that it was worth a read.

Giveaways for the week

Enter The Mother of All Giveaways by commenting on the related post on Allison Winn Scotch's Facebook page. (Deadline: Friday at 3pm EST)

5 (More) Things Liz & Lisa Didn't Know about Jane Green from Chick Lit is Not (Deadline unknown)

Win a $100 Starbucks ™ Gift Pack from Marlo Schalesky. (Deadline: July 5th)

Interview with Trisha Ashley and giveaway for "Chocolate Wishes" from this blog! (Deadline: Friday at 12 pm EST)

More giveaways to come soon!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Interview with Trisha Ashley and book giveaway!

Trisha Ashley is the author of thirteen novels including "A Winter’s Tale," which was a Times bestseller and also shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan award for romantic comedy; and "Wedding Tiers," which has been nominated for this year’s Melissa Nathan award. Her latest book is "Chocolate Wishes" and her fourteenth novel, "Twelfth Night," comes out at the end of October. Visit her website, where you can email her, join her newsletter group or leave a message in her guestbook.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to interview Trisha.

About your book and/or writing:
1) What was your inspiration for "Chocolate Wishes?" I wanted an excuse to eat a lot of chocolate. (Just joking!) Years ago I had the idea for the "Chocolate Wishes," a sort of delicious fortune cookie, just as Chloe did. I could see that it would be easy to get a passion for chocolate making, and it would be a huge consolation to someone who has had a pretty challenging life. There were a few other themes I wanted to explore, too.

2) How long did it take you to complete the novel from start to finish? Less than six months. But I start collecting the material for a new novel before I’ve finished the previous one, so it isn’t a standing start.

3) What did you look to for motivation while writing this novel? There are always things I’m burning to write about, new ideas to explore. Writing in first person, I have to become my heroine and see things through her eyes. If I didn’t laugh aloud or cry at least once while writing it, I would know it didn’t have any emotional depth – but my heroines gain a life of their own and always surprise me into it. There was a point in her life when Chloe could have chosen an easier road, but she didn’t: I admire her strength and humour in adversity and the down-to-earth way she deals with a more-than-eccentric family.

4) What were some challenges you faced during the writing process? Just the usual ones: for the first couple of chapters you feel as if you are pushing a rock up a hill with your nose. But then it tips over the edge and starts rolling on its own and you’re running to keep up with it.

5) If "Chocolate Wishes" were to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters? I often have long Facebook discussions about who to cast as the characters in my books. I’ve just done a quick poll and I think we rather fancy Henry Ian Cusick as Raffy and Gemma Arterton as Chloe.

Fun questions:
6) What is your favorite chocolate bar or type of chocolate? I love the really dark stuff with hot chilli in it.

7) What are you looking forward to doing most this summer? Squeezing in a bit of painting.

8) What is something that most people would find surprising about you? I have professional qualifications in architectural glass.

9) What is your favorite movie of all time? Fargo.

10) What other hobbies do you have, apart from writing? Well, writing isn’t a hobby, it’s how I make my living! I also like to paint, make patchwork cushions, garden and walk along the beach. Oh, and talk on the phone.

Trisha is giving away 3 copies of "Chocolate Wishes." For an opportunity to win one of these copies, leave a comment below.

For additional entries:
1. In "Chocolate Wishes," Chloe's passion is chocolate making and she turns it into a career. Please tell us: What is your passion?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower.
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.

Winners will be picked at random on Friday, June 18th. Please leave your e-mail address in each comment, so I know where to find the winners. Good luck!

Friday, June 11, 2010

"The One that I Want:" book review....and more!

Allison Winn Scotch took her readers back in time with "Time of My Life," and now she sends them into the near future with "The One that I Want."

Tilly Farmer seems to have a comfortable and easygoing life. She's married to her high school sweetheart and trying for a baby. Her career as a guidance counselor allows her to plan proms and high school musicals, as well as help students achieve their dreams. Then she has an encounter with a childhood friend and starts seeing pieces of the future as a result. When those visions start coming true, Tilly's world starts to unravel, and she comes undone along with it.

I didn't know what to expect from "The One that I Want" just from reading the cover. I was originally thrown by the name Tilly, as the last time I heard the name was from one of my grandma's friends. However, "old lady" names have been making a comeback and I hear of a lot of little girls being named Sophie, Stella or Esther. Tilly isn't so far off! It ended up working really well with the character's personality and disposition.

There is so much I want to say about why and how much I liked this book. It was original, had a narrator with whom I was able to relate even if we were to have nothing in common, realistic dialogue and lots of candid and unexpected moments. The point of the story was for Tilly to experience clarity. Well, I experienced it right along with her, as it caused me to evaluate my own life. I love how she visits the concepts of maturity, revisiting the past and happiness. I also love how the town Tilly lives in is so small and suburban that it is easy to visualize and be able to understand in relation to the story.

The only thing I would have changed is the use of clichés and what has come to be known as "psychobabble." Maybe because it sounded too close to the way I write or talk, but sometimes Tilly got almost too introspective and I wanted to tell her to take a break. (I've been told to do the same, so maybe Tilly and I are more alike than I thought!) Maybe it was just that she wanted to be a guidance counselor for herself.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and have been recommending it to everyone I know. I am already anticipating Allison Winn Scotch's next book!

Now for the treats....Crystal Patriarche from BookSparks PR has offered to give away 3 copies of this book to go along with the review. As a result, I asked Allison if she'd like to do an interview and after her friendly response, I thought up some fun and thought provoking questions that I only hope she hasn't had to answer before. She returned them to me with some great answers, along with a few laughs.

Book/writing related:

1. Which authors do you aspire to be most like?

Gosh, I admire a lot of authors, to be honest, so it’s hard to pinpoint one, but a few who come to mind are Jonathan Tropper, Amanda Eyre Ward, Laura Dave, Nick Hornby. I admire authors who write really compelling reads without being too heavy-handed. Something that sucks me in but isn’t agonizingly slow.

2. What one piece of advice would you give to people who want to become authors?

I always say that aspiring authors need to listen to criticism and take their egos out of the equation. Too many folks – myself included– think that their early/first work is untouchable, when, in fact, it’s far from it. The only way to improve is to figure out where your weaknesses are, and in order to do that, you need to be open to constructive advice. I can sincerely say that if I hadn’t taken criticism early in my career, I never would have been published. Sometimes, you think you know what you’re doing when, in fact, you have no idea.

3. You set "Time..." and "The One..." in opposing locations of the country. Do you feel the setting had an effect on the direction in which you'd take each story?

Yes, definitely. I very intentionally moved out of NYC for this one. Partially because I wanted to write about the world outside New York – because it is big and vast and wide and it’s easy to get caught up in writing these NYC characters and forget about what else is out there – but partially because a savvy NYC gal wouldn’t have worked for this at all. I wanted to explore someone who had really put her dreams on hold and my past two characters were go-getters, whereas Tilly was a caretaker. It felt important to explore different geography for her.

4. How did you come up with the names for your characters?

Much like a parent does for her child. :) I think about who they are, who I expect them to be, and then I roll some ideas around. I’ve changed some names half-way through if they didn’t feel right. Tilly needed to have a fairly weightless, almost flighty name that maybe she could have outgrown at some point, and yet, that lightness is also what is best about her. (I’m certainly not disparaging the name! Only that this is what it conjured up when I thought of her.)

5. I know on CafeMom, you talked about some casting ideas for "Time...". If "The One..." were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in the main roles?

You know what’s strange? I really have no great ideas. Maybe someone like Amy Adams, the cute every day woman who can blend into the landscape and make people smile in the grocery store. An actress like that. Tyler would be your all-American guy like James Marsden and Eli would be a little lankier, a little messier, like John Krasinski. Darcy is a toughie – someone like Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married," but maybe a little rougher around the edges. Like I said...I haven’t figured it out!


1. What is your favorite musical?

Ooh, good question. I am a huge musical buff, and so I almost hate to give this generic answer, but for me, the music of Les Miserable is still moving to this day. I’m a fan of plenty of much more obscure musicals, but I simply will never fall out of love with On My Own...or, far that matter, just about every song from the show.

2. After your comment about the recent link I put on your Facebook page, I have to ask this....Who is your favorite American Idol winner or contestant?

Kelly Clarkson. :) The first and the best. That said, David Cook and Carrie Underwood are tied for second. I was just thinking the other day how remarkable it is how loaded my iPod is with someone who in some way was made by that show.

3. Tell me something funny that one of your kids said.

Just this past weekend, my husband was away, so I was on my own with the kids, and my five year old looked at me and said, “I’m not having kids when I grow up. They’re too much work.”

4. Do you have a theme song? If so, what is it?
Hee, like Ally McBeal? Not one specifically, but music is constantly playing the background of my life. For this book, I was obsessed with The Killers, so I’d say that as of late, it would be them. Read My Mind and Human were two biggies, and I still play them and love them.

5. Which of your book characters do you feel you can relate to the most?

I think there are pieces of me in all of them, though I relate the least to Tilly. She was hard for me to write because we didn’t share too many commonalities. I suppose, in that sense, I relate the most to Jillian from Time of My Life because we’re in the same stages – deep in the trenches and raising kids and trying to keep the reins on our lives in our 30s. But I still love Natalie too – she’s fierce and brave and smart, and I admire all of those things about her.

Thanks again to Crystal for offering up the books and to Allison for doing this interview.

Photography was a big focus in this story. To win one of the books, comment below about your favorite photo that has personal meaning to you.

For additional entries:
1. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower.
2. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.

Winners will be picked at random on Sunday, June 13th. Please leave your e-mail address in each comment, so I know where to find the winners. Good luck!

Time's up!

The contest for "Stay" is now closed. I will have Allie Larkin pick 3 numbers (all the numbers have been assigned already) and will notify the winners later today.

If you missed your opportunity, don't despair! Sign up for another chance to win at Chiot's Run.

There will be more giveaways including one this weekend and one next week, as well as many more in the weeks ahead. I'd like to see a huge turnout for all. Why turn down the opportunity to win a free chick lit novel?!?

Thanks to those who entered and shared this post with others! Good luck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More book giveaways!

Win a copy of "Stay" by Allie Larkin from this blog. See this interview first (Deadline TOMORROW 9:00 am EST)

For another way to win a copy of "Stay," visit Chiot's Run (Deadline: Sometime next week)

Win "The Castaways" by Elin Hildebrand from The Book Chick (Deadline is July 1st)

For UK readers only: Win a copy of "Best Friends Forever" by Jennifer Weiner (Deadline unknown)

From Chick Lit is Not Dead: Win a copy of "Seven Year Switch" by Claire Cook (Deadline unknown)

Two ways to win "She's Gone Country" by Jane Porter: from Chick Lit is Not Dead via B&N and from Jane Porter, herself. (Deadline for Jane's blog is TONIGHT at MIDNIGHT and unknown for Chick Lit is Not Dead)

Win "The One that I Want" from Read it Forward. (Deadline is June 15th)

Stay tuned to this blog for more opportunities to win fabulous new books! I'll be hosting a lot of giveaways in the coming weeks and months!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In "Blume"

By Melissa Amster

A few years ago, I read "Everything I needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume". It's a series of essays from different authors who had experiences with Judy Blume books that affected their lives. It made me think back to when I used to read her books all the time. I even read a few more than once, if they really affected me. I don't know a girl who hasn't read at least one of her books, but if I'm wrong here and you're on that list, please let me know.

When I read this book, I was thinking about how the house we were renting at the time was like the summer house they stayed at in "Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great". Anyone who has read that book will know what I'm talking about.

I think it's because her books feel so real and so easy to relate to, which is why a bunch of authors came together to write about how the stories impacted their lives. It is making me want to go back and read her books again.

I think it would be hard for me to pick my favorite of all her books. "Blubber" stands out because I could relate to the situations Linda went through. That even average girls get bullied and deal with peer pressure. I also liked "Deenie", "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself", and "Just as Long as We're Together".

What is your favorite Judy Blume book, and why?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Interview with Allie Larkin and book giveaway!

By Melissa Amster

"Stay" by Allie Larkin hits shelves this week!

Check out the trailer:

I recently had the opportunity to do an online interview with Allie Larkin. I enjoyed reading her answers to my questions and hope you will too!

About the book and/or writing:

1. What was your inspiration for "Stay?"
It wasn’t just one thing. STAY started as a writing exercise in a college course, and from there it evolved. Once I developed Van as a character, she inspired the story. I took a look at Rochester, where I live now, and Westchester, where I grew up, and tried to see them through the eyes of someone in her situation, with her personality. Argo, my dog, was absolutely the inspiration for Joe and for realizing that Van needed a dog, but Van existed as a character before Argo joined our family and I realized Van needed that kind of unconditional love too. And later, when we adopted our other dog, Stella, some of her personality ended up in the mix. I live in Rochester, I grew up in Westchester, and obviously some little things from those experiences carried over into the book.

2. How long did it take you to complete the novel from start to finish?

The writing exercise that started STAY was from a class I took in 2002. From there, it turned into a short story; then, it sat in a drawer for a long time, until I decided to go back to it.

3. What did you do to celebrate "Stay" becoming published?

I cried in Target (I was shopping when my agent called to tell me Dutton wanted to publish STAY). Then we went out to dinner at Lento, which is our favorite birthday/anniversary/special occasion restaurant.

4. Do you have plans to write another novel?
I hope to write many, many more novels. And someday, I think I’d like to check back in with Van and Joe and the gang.

5. If "Stay" were to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?

I think the important part is who I wouldn’t cast. Argo should not play Joe. He is brilliant, and smart, and oh so loveable, but not trained for film. In an early idea for the book trailer, Argo was going to be in it, so I took him out to film some test shots. Trying to get him to stay in the frame was one of the most impossible tasks I’ve ever faced, and I did not succeed.

Fun questions:

6. What is your favorite chick lit book?
I am awful at picking one favorite anything. Of course, I loved Bridget Jones, which is the ultimate classic chick lit book, isn’t it?

7. Who is your current celebrity crush?
We’ve been watching Buffy episodes on Netflix a lot lately, and I’ve decided that James Marsters should be in everything all the time. I don’t think I’d call it a crush, but I do find him fascinating.

8. What were you like as a teenager?

I wasn’t diagnosed with ADD until I was 18, so I had some confidence issues related to feeling like a square peg and not knowing why. I was a little on the shy side. I had lyrics to Toad the Wet Sprocket songs written all over my binder. I cut pep rallies to hang out in the art room. I was in chorus, chamber choir, and plays. I wore flannel and Doc Martins, and a little too much eyeliner. And I had a great group of friends that I still keep in touch with.

9. What is the funniest thing your dog has ever done?

A few years ago, in the waiting room at the vet’s office, Argo burped, loudly, just as the receptionist turned away to grab a file. She heard it, but she didn’t see him, so she totally thought it was me. As she got us checked out, I could tell she was trying not to giggle about it. Blaming it on the dog just seemed like too lame of an excuse to even bother. At the time, I was pretty embarrassed, but now, it cracks me up to think of it.

10. You talk a lot about your husband in your Divining Wand interview. How did you meet him?
J and I both got roped into going to a picnic at Cobb’s Hill Park in Rochester. He smiled and said “hi” to me every time he walked passed, but we didn’t get the chance to talk. It’s so cheesy to say, but I do think it was a bit of love at first sight. I had to leave early to meet some people, but I slipped him my e-mail address before I left, because I really couldn’t stand the thought of not seeing him again.
At the beginning of our first date, I told him not to expect it to turn into anything. I was decidedly single at the time. But, by the end of our first date, I was pretty sure I was going to marry him. It was a wonderful thing to be right about.

As we know from the trailer and story description, a drunk Van buys a 100 pound German Shepard from the Internet. In honor of the release of "Stay," Allie Larkin is giving away the book to 3 lucky readers. In order to be considered, comment below by letting us know: What was your strangest impulse buy?

For additional entries:
1. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower.
2. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.

Winners will be picked at random on Friday, June 11th. Please leave your e-mail address in each comment, so I know where to find the winners. Good luck!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It *is* easy being Green

During the first half of 2002, I read my first Jane Green novel, "Jemima J." It had been recommended to me by some friends and I decided to check it out for myself. I was not disappointed and could hardly put it down. I recommended it to other friends upon finishing the story. It was a fun story with a good message and it motivated me to exercise. A while after that, I started reading Jane Green's other novels and was equally impressed. As of last summer, I have read all her books. There's a new one that I'm looking forward to reading when it is released this summer. Some of my favorites so far are "Babyville," "Bookends," "The Other Woman," and the aforementioned "Jemima J."

There is something that speaks to me from each of her novels. It could be that she creates characters with whom it is easy to connect. The setting comes into play, as well. Most of her recent stories take place in a rich suburban part of Connecticut, but I feel like I am living in the characters' houses with each story I read. She even adds an air of mystery or intrigue to her stories, even sticking in villains from time to time.

Last summer, I had the pleasure of hearing Jane Green speak in NJ and meeting her afterward. She is a lovely speaker with a beautiful British accent. I even had her voice in my head when I was reading "Dune Road" shortly after hearing her speak. She has a great sense of humor, but it's more subtle than in your face. She answered as many fan questions in the time available and didn't rush through her answers. For being such a wonderful author, she is very modest and gracious. After her speech and reading were finished, she stayed to sign books. I first thought we wouldn't be able to get posed pictures, but she was very nice about having people take pictures with her. She even commented to me about how I keep my camera in a baby sock.

Jane is on Facebook and I enjoy hearing the latest news about her stories and the status of publication. She's made herself so approachable in person that I am very comfortable e-mailing her to ask questions or to send letters of praise.

I hope Jane Green continues to write amazing stories so that future generations of chick lit fans can enjoy her work as much as I have (even though there will be women like me who ensure that the new generations will read classics like "Jemima J").

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review: Names My Sisters Call Me

By Melissa Amster

Anyone who has ever experienced intense sibling rivalry will appreciate "Names My Sisters Call Me" by Megan Crane. They'll instantly be able to relate to the drama between Courtney, Raine and Norah. And anyone who is best friends with their sibling will still appreciate it because it will remind them how lucky they have it!

The story starts out with a happy moment that is dragged throughout the book, due to a huge fight between two sisters and a guy who is connected to two other sisters. Courtney's boyfriend proposes to her on the first or second page of the story and she decides that her wedding won't be complete without Raine, who ruined Norah's wedding six years ago. Much to Norah's chagrin, Courtney seeks out Raine and has an encounter with a past love who broke her heart. The experience affects how she views her family, as well as her relationship with her fiancé. However, this fiancé and her best friend are the two voices of reason in the story, pulling her in multiple directions.

Megan Crane is great with descriptive language. I felt like I was standing right next to Courtney the entire time. She also has amazing use of dialogue between the characters. I could almost hear their voices hashing things out between each other. Throughout the story, I kept wondering what would happen next and what decisions Courtney would make. I wondered if the sisters would resolve their ongoing issues with each other. It had a very realistic feel overall. There were times when I felt more like Courtney's shrink than a reader, but the story still held my interest and kept me guessing at the same time.

I would be interested in reading Megan Crane's other stories if she uses such vivid and believable characters like she did with "Names..."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New contests

Win "Still the One" by Robin Wells from The Book Chick. (Deadline is 6/13)

Buy "The One that I Want" by Allison Winn Scotch between now and Friday and e-mail her the receipt to have a chance to win a prize package. See Allison's blog for more details. There's also a chance to win one of 150 bookplates! (Deadline is 6/4)

Or win one of five copies of "The One that I Want" from (Deadline unknown)

Stay tuned for a giveaway contest from yours truly! :)