Thursday, May 31, 2012

Winners of "The Red Book"

To find our winners, we assigned a number to each entry (from only those that included contact info) and asked to pick TEN numbers.

Congrats to:
1-Charlotte Lynn
6-A Novel Review-Laura Kay
16-Cyndee Thomas
23-Susan @ The Book Bag
36-Book Groupie
61-Jeryl M.
72-Amy (Aimala127)

Reminder: If you have won a book, you have about 48 hours to claim it by sending your contact information. (You will be e-mailed if you have won, as well.) After that time, a new winner will be picked.

Thanks to everyone for participating and telling us what books you'd want if you were stranded on a deserted island. Such a huge variety of choices!
Thanks to Deborah Copaken Kogan for a wonderful interview and to Voice/Hyperion for their generosity with this giveaway!

Check out our latest giveaways and also enter ones from other blogs and websites on our giveaways page.

Books of the Week--May 31st

Thanks for checking out our newest feature...Books of the Week! There are seven of us and we can't keep up with the many review requests we receive, even though we'd love to read everything sent our way. Therefore, we have decided to give some books their time in the spotlight and introduce you to them through this new blog feature. We will be featuring two books a week. We hope you will take the time to check these books out. (Click the titles to find them on Amazon.) If you read them and want to write a guest blogger review for us, please e-mail us and we'll be glad to work with you!

Authors: We will let you know whether or not we'll be able to review your book upon your request, and hope you'll be interested in this feature as an alternative.

"Hand Me Down"
By Melanie Thorne

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents’ cruel mistakes. Their father, who’d rather work the system than a job, pours every dollar into his many vices. Their mother, once a loving parent, finds love with a dangerous ex-con. When she chooses her new family over raising her first-born girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and forced to rely on the begrudging kindness of increasingly distant relatives. A string of broken promises propels Liz across two states as she searches for a safe home. All the while, Liz is burdened by her stake in a bleak pact with a deceitful adult: to tell the truth about the darkest of her circumstances will cost her the ability to shelter Jaime. Liz spirals into an abyss of fear and shame until she decides she and her sister will no longer be victims, but will she be able to break free in time to fight for herself and those she loves? Hand Me Down tells the story of how two young people, against incredible odds, find love in the most unlikely places and forge lives of their own.

Melanie Thorne can be found on Facebook and Twitter. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Next Time Lucky: Lessons of a Matchmaker"
By Siggy Buckley

Cherie, a professional matchmaker from Dublin, Ireland, faces the ultimate challenge when she tries to find a soul mate for herself. She surfs the risky waves of the Internet and flies around the world to adventures, disappointments and not a few surprises. Chat-rooms prove to be intoxicating, and Cherie feels like in a kid in a candy store. Among the Lotharios she encounters are recycled bachelors, breezy islands of ego, fly-by-nights, birds of paradise, commitment phobics, and the odd sex maniac. She learns the hard way that it's easy come, uneasy go at this smorgasboard of cyber-dreamboats.

"Next Time Lucky" is only $2.99 for Kindle!

Visit Siggy Buckley on Facebook and Twitter.

Meg Mitchell Moore is closer than a book giveaway!

Introduction by Gail Allison

**Giveaway is now closed**

Meg Mitchell Moore is taking time out from her ultra busy life to join us today, and we’re super excited about it! With a B.A. and a Master's in English Literature, Meg was set up for success in the writing community, so it’s no surprise that after some successful years as a journalist, she’s now turned her attention to a burgeoning fiction career. She not only published "The Arrivals" right around this time last year, but she’s doing it again this year, with her latest novel, "So Far Away." As if that’s not enough, she’s currently working on her next novel, in addition to moving her entire family across the country (one husband, three kids, and a border collie). We’re so grateful that she found some time to answer some questions for us here at Chick Lit Central!

Thanks to BookSparks PR, we have one copy of "So Far Away" to give away to a lucky US reader!

You can learn more about Meg by visiting her website and following her on Facebook and Twitter.

"The Arrivals" is now in paperback, as of May 8th (EW book pick and Target book pick):
It’s early summer when Ginny and William’s peaceful life in Burlington, Vermont, comes to an abrupt halt. First, their daughter Lillian arrives, two children in tow, to escape her crumbling marriage. Next, their son Stephen and his pregnant wife Jane show up for a weekend visit, which extends indefinitely. When their youngest daughter Rachel appears, fleeing her difficult life in New York, Ginny and William find themselves consumed again by the chaos of parenthood—only this time around, their children are facing adult problems. By summer’s end, the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility, exposing the challenges of surviving the modern family. And the old adage, once a parent, always a parent, has never rung so true.

"So Far Away" was published this past week:
Thirteen-year-old Natalie Gallagher is trying to escape: from her parents’ ugly divorce, and from the vicious cyber-bullying of her former best friend. She discovers a dusty old diary in her family’s basement and is inspired to unlock its secrets. Kathleen Lynch, an archivist at the Massachusetts State Archives, has her own painful secrets: she’s a widow estranged from her only daughter. Natalie’s research brings her to Kathleen, who in Natalie sees traces of the daughter she has lost. What could the life of an Irish immigrant domestic servant from the 1920s teach them both? In the pages of the diary, they will learn that their fears and frustrations are timeless.

What is the first chick lit novel you read?
"The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing." (LOVED it loved loved it)

Why do you think chick lit is still alive and going strong?
I think the issues chick lit faces are perennially relevant. Shopping, yes, relationships, of course, but also the act of making one's way in the world personally and professionally.
The latter is something most chick lit heroines are wrestling with and for me that's the most interesting aspect of the genre.

Which chick lit character would you want as your best friend?
Andy from "The Devil Wears Prada." Or Bridget Jones, because I would enjoy having a best friend with an accent.

Which chick lit novel would make a great movie (that hasn't been done yet)?
"These Girls" by Sarah Pekkanen.

Who is your favorite chick lit author (aside from yourself)?
I adore Elin Hilderbrand, although I am not sure if she is officially included in the genre. And I can't wait to see what Jennifer Close writes next.

Special thanks to Meg for visiting with us today and to BookSparks PR for sharing "So Far Away" with our readers.

How to win "So Far Away":
Please tell us about an experience you've had with bullying OR what you think can be done to combat cyber bullying. (One entry per person.) Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

US only. Giveaway ends June 5th at midnight EST.

Book Review and Giveaway: Making Piece

By Tracey Meyers

**Giveaway is now closed**

Love. Loss. Grief.

We all deal with the grief that comes with loss differently. Several years ago, after my world turned upside down due to a series of unforeseen events, I turned to knitting in hopes of getting back a "normal" life. After the sudden death of her husband, Beth Howard turned to the healing power of baking pie.

I have to admit, my reasons for wanting to review "Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie" were selfish. My experience several years back wasn't my first experience with unforeseen changes in life, but it was the greatest one, and the one that has had the most impact on my life. As I've managed the rocky road that comes with navigating through a "new normal," I have developed a vast interest in how others handle this tricky path. So when I read the synopsis of this yummy tale, I just had to read more, hoping to further my understanding and growth process so that the next time I am presented with such difficult times, I can better master the bumps along the way.

I can't pick out a favorite part of this book. If I didn't feel the need to keep the pages in pristine condition, I would have marked it up like a textbook full of lessons, highlighting passages I wanted to make note of in case I ever wanted--or needed--to reference them at a later date.

The lessons seemed simple -- "I am going to be okay. Maybe not right away, but I was aware that I was indeed still alive and that I was capable of feeling something other than numbness." or "Sometimes you come to a fork in the road where you are forced to make a decision about which way to go, and the direction you choose can forever change your life."

However, I knew below the surface that these lessons were far more significant. Maybe this had to do with my own personal experiences with grief, but I'd like to think these lessons are universal and can be applied in many different aspects of life.

Photo credit: Kathryn Gamble
Now don't get me wrong, this is not only a book about grief and deep lessons that can be learned as a result; it's also a book about the pure joy pie can bring to others, and the joy and adventures it brought to Beth during various times in her life - including the period following the death of her husband. This book holds delightful tales of how Beth took her husband's RV, a.k.a. "The Beast", and spread her message about the healing power of pie while also developing her idea for TV show based on her belief that "the world needs more pie."

Beth Howard's story not only entertained me and reinforced lessons I had already learned through my own personal experiences, it inspired me to try baking a pie from scratch, as well. This has been something I've wanted to do ever since I was in college, so when I saw this book contained pie recipes, I immediately knew it was not only my responsibility as a diligent book reviewer to try out at least one recipe, but it was also time to fulfill my desire to create pie love.

I won't go into the great detail about my pie making experience in this review. However, I do want to talk about the pie mission that was inspired by one of the stories in this book - and also share with you how my pie turned out.

My peach pie in all its glory
Since I enjoy performing random acts of kindness, after making Shirley Stacey’s Peach Pie* (page 306), I made a (sort of surprise) visit to the medical center where my friend works in Michigan while on a road trip. I knew it would be on the way to my destination and it was the perfect opportunity to spread some pie love.

To say the pie was consumed quickly is an understatement. I would have had a second piece myself, but it was important to me that as many people who worked there got to indulge in a piece, including my friend who almost didn’t get one. Once folks were done with their piece, all I heard were rave reviews. One individual told me I was welcome to bring them pie anytime I felt so inclined. Later that evening, I received text messages from my friend regarding the continuous chatter about my visit. I feel as though all this feedback allows me to report that the recipes in this book are in fact reader friendly and doable for even the greenest of pie bakers. Also, that Beth Howard is correct - pie has the power to make people happy.

I have already made my second pie, Mary Spellman’s Apple Pie* (page 302), and am currently planning to make a third one soon (I’m thinking Strawberry). In the blink of an eye, I have become obsessed with pie making and I also find it a source of happiness. Maybe one day I can fine tune my pie making abilities with a personal lesson from Beth Howard. If not, I will always have this book in my collection as a reminder of the healing power of pie.

Love. Loss. Pie.

*For both pies I used Beth’s Pie Crust recipe (page 301)

Thanks to Harlequin Nonfiction for the book in exchange for an honest review and for offering FIVE copies to some lucky readers in the US and Canada.

How to win "Making Piece":
Tell us your favorite pie flavor OR your favorite pie restaurant. (One entry per person.) Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends June 5th at midnight EST

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Winners of "Jeneration X"

To find our winners, we assigned a number to each entry (one per person and only those that included contact info) and asked to pick THREE numbers.

Congrats to:
8-Erica (wordywon)

Reminder: If you have won a book, you have about 48 hours to claim it by sending your contact information. (You will be e-mailed if you have won, as well.) After that time, a new winner will be picked.

Thanks to everyone for participating and telling us when you realized you were an adult.
Thanks to Amy and Gail for a great review and Penguin for sharing the book with our winners.

Check out our latest giveaways and also enter ones from other blogs and websites on our giveaways page.

Toon in TODAY!

Photo from Paige Toon's Twitter profile
To celebrate International Chick Lit Month right here, we're all doing tributes to some of our favorite authors. Here is what Becky Gulc had to say about Paige Toon.

When I was asked to produce an author tribute as part of Chick Lit Central’s contribution to International Chick Lit Month, a handful of authors whose work I really love came to mind. For each of these authors, I’d made a point of reading each and every one of their books over a number of years. In the end though I decided to pay tribute to a relatively new author compared to many of the other ones we’ve paid tribute to on the blog or the authors that have been inducted into the International Chick Lit Month Hall of Fame. This author is the fabulous Paige Toon.

Paige Toon has now written six novels, beginning with "Lucy in The Sky" back in 2007. She has most recently released "One Perfect Summer," which seems to be going down a storm with her fans. At the moment, "One Perfect Summer" is rated as 5 stars on and all Paige’s previous novels are rated as 4.5...pretty impressive stuff!

So why did I decide to pay tribute to Paige? Well, when I decided on this I’d only actually read two of her novels, "Pictures of Lily" and "Lucy in the Sky." I read both of these novels at the start of last year. When there are so many great authors out there, it takes someone really special to make you enjoy their writing so much that you will take the time to actively go and seek out their other books, previous or upcoming, which I immediately did with Paige. Whilst I have my staple favourites (Marian Keyes, Lisa Jewell, Adele Parks, Freya North, Sophie Kinsella), it had been a while since anyone new had come along and make me instantly love their work like Paige did. When I read "Pictures of Lily," I couldn’t put it down, and I loved "Lucy in the Sky" even more, if that’s even possible. I’ve since read "Johnny Be Good" and "Baby Me Mine," and I can’t wait to read the remaining two! They never disappoint. The only reason I didn’t read them all instantly is that I started doing reviews for the blog last summer, so personal choice has taken a bit of a back seat.

What I love most about Paige’s books is that you instantly bond with the central character, they’re very likeable and you enjoy spending time with them. In "Lucy in the Sky," Lucy is on a plane bound for Australia from London when she receives a text from a stranger claiming to have slept with her boyfriend – when you can’t touch your phone for 24 hours to see what’s going on how can you not feel for the poor woman?! The books also flow really well and you could easily gobble up a whole book in one sitting as you’ll be that keen to read on; they’re not easy to put down.

Paige has spent time living in Australia and America, and now lives in the UK – this has helped her really transport her readers to different countries, I loved "Pictures of Lily," over a year later I can still vividly picture the images of the Australian setting I’d created in my mind.

Another thing that is great about her books is that you’ll see the characters reappear in different books. I wasn’t aware of this until after I’d read my first two as they don’t always reappear in major roles, so I had to go back and see where the different characters were in their lives! This is a nice touch, it’s always good to see how the characters you grow to care about are getting on. There are also some very lovely male characters in the books I’ve read so far...

I’ve found that Paige is one of those authors who will be mentioned in conversations with friends you’ve not seen for a while when you’re discussing books you’ve enjoyed recently. I didn’t want to just base my tribute on my thoughts, so I asked for some feedback via Twitter, on why others love Paige’s books. Here are some of the responses:

‘her characters are well developed and relatable, her stories are exciting but believable and her writing is gripping’

‘there’s a lot of exciting events & the best part is I can never guess what will happen next! It’s the ultimate escape!

[her] ‘work simply pulls me out of this world & throws me into the world of Daisy or Meg etc’

‘really witty and engaging, fun chick lit that I really enjoy’

‘she makes you feel like you know the characters and you immediately feel part of their world. Warm and funny’

If you haven’t read any of Paige’s novels yet, what are you waiting for?!? You won’t be disappointed. Paige, your follow up to "One Perfect Summer" appears to be eagerly anticipated, so write quickly on behalf of all your fans please!

Visit Paige Toon on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Review: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

By Cindy Roesel

Kristina McMorris has done it again. After her shining debut, LETTERS FROM HOME, she was under quite a lot of pressure to write a successful sophomore novel and she delivers with BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES. Since its March publication, it continues to receive rave reviews and write-ups.

Los Angeles, 1941: Maddie Kern is a violinist with dreams of Julliard. She falls in love with Lane Moritomo, the best friend of her brother TJ and the ambitious son of wealthy Japanese immigrants. Maddie and Lane expect their relationship to meet with disapproval, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after they elope, Lane is no longer just an outsider...he’s now seen as the enemy.

McMorris uses her unique perspective as the American daughter of a Caucasian mother and Japanese immigrant father to focus on a controversial, complicated time in American history sure to capture reader’s attentions. She heavily researches the period without her writing becoming academic. I would argue it remains a time not understood by many Americans, something we as a nation are ashamed of and would rather not talk about.

Lane and his family are rounded up like common criminals and interned at a war relocation camp. Maddie follows, sacrificing her dreams of Julliard. She tries to gain acceptance from her new family while her own family turns their back on her and Lane tries to prove his allegiance to America. BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES beautifully explores family duty, loyalty, pride, romance, suffering and loss. McMorris weaves the three points of view between Maddie, Lane and TJ sharing their family dynamics in a heart breaking, smart, faced-paced storyline to make the factual history work with the fiction.

There were pieces of knowledge to be found everywhere in McMorris’ writing, including her author’s notes at the end of the novel. This is why Kristina respects history. “Indeed, history has much to teach us, if only we are willing to learn.”

Reading Kristina McMorris' writing is nothing short of poetry. BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES will have you laughing, taking pause and also reaching for Kleenex, as I did more than once.

You can find Kristina McMorris on her website,  as well as Facebook and Twitter.

More books like this:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Winner of "Cruising Attitude"

To find our winner, we assigned a number to each entry and asked to pick one number. It chose 14.

Congrats to BRN2SHOP9!

Reminder: If you have won a book, you have about 48 hours to claim it by sending your contact information. (You will be e-mailed if you have won, as well.) After that time, a new winner will be picked.

Thanks to everyone for participating and telling us your crazy flight stories. BRN2SHOP9 definitely deserves this prize after what she told us, so must have been looking out for her. There were some other crazy ones as well, and you've definitely earned our sympathies!

Thanks to Heather Poole for chatting with us and to HarperCollins for sharing the book with our winner!

Check out our latest giveaways and also enter ones from other blogs and websites on our giveaways page.

Jillian Medoff shares the love and we're giving away her latest novel!

**Giveaway is now closed**

Today we welcome author Jillian Medoff and her new novel, "I Couldn't Love You More" (reviewed here), just published on May 15th. Jillian is the acclaimed author of "Hunger Point" and "Good Girls Gone Bad," both of which received great reviews. A huge seller in the US, "Hunger Point" was the basis for the Lifetime movie starring Barbara Hershey and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men). Although Jillian is proud of "Hunger Point," had anyone asked, she would not have selected such a bright pink (any pink, frankly) for the trade paperback edition. Her books have been translated into many different languages, including French, Spanish, Hebrew, Turkish, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, and German, but her big wish is for an edition in Tagalog. Jillian has a BA from Barnard and an MFA from NYU, and is grateful for having studied with such luminary writers as Mona Simpson, Jonathan Dee, Robert Coover, and Alice Walker. She also attended Master Classes with Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, and Grace Paley. A former fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, VCCA and Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain, Jillian taught at NYU and the University of Georgia, but for only, like, five minutes. Jillian lives in New York with her family.

Thanks to KMSPR and Penguin, we have THREE copies of I Couldn't Love You More to giveaway to some lucky readers anywhere in the US and/or Canada.

You can visit Jillian at her website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Which authors have inspired you?
Although it's difficult to choose, I'd have to say Philip Roth and Mona Simpson. Both are fearless writers whose mastery of the craft of fiction is awe-inspiring. They write brilliantly about complex family relationships, which is very difficult to do, and their voices are clear, indelible and true. Roth writes in a raw, often brutal way about flawed people, but he respects his characters, so they’re vulnerable, and that vulnerability can break your heart. Simpson's style isn't as aggressive, but she's just as honest. Her characters are complex and haunted, and her observations about the way we live are as powerful as a punch to the gut.
As far as chick lit authors that have inspired me, I’d have to say Jennifer Weiner. I think she is smart, talented, fearless, and very generous to other writers.

Chick lit character you’d be best friends with:
Probably Bridget Jones; although she’s kind of stuck in the 90’s, I think we’re a lot alike.

Describe your writing in three words:
Honest, perceptive, hilarious

Which music group gives off a chick lit feel for you?
Unlike 99.9% of humanity, I don’t listen to music unless I’m running—which is only three times a week for forty minutes. I know this is weird, and probably un-American, but I find music very distracting, particularly when I’m writing or reading. One reason may be because I have sensitive ears and can’t tolerate loud noises, but my husband is convinced that I’m just being difficult. So I don’t know many current groups, but of the ones I know, Katy Perry seems the most chick litty.

If "I Couldn’t Love You More" was made into a movie, who would you cast as the leading roles?
Hmmm, let’s see…
Eliot Gordon: Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Hilary Swank
Sylvia Gordon: Isla Fisher, Drew Barrymore
Maggie Gordon: Kate Hudson
Grant: Ben Affleck, Mark Ruffalo
Finn: Brad Pitt (why not? Live large, I say)
Eliot’s mother: Susan Sarandon

What is your favorite movie based on a chick lit novel?
Definitely Bridget Jones’s Diary, hands-down favorite.

Characters really make the story for us. What three words would best describe your heroine, and what about her called out to you to write her story?
Eliot Gordon is flawed, generous of spirit, and human. From the moment I started writing about her, I loved her desire to do the right thing, even if it was for the wrong reasons. She’s kind and good-natured, although too trusting and naïve. I knew she would be the perfect character to experience a huge lapse of judgment because her redemption would be that much more rewarding. You can’t help but love Eliot.

TV series that feels like chick lit:
Desperate Housewives? Or maybe Grey’s Anatomy before they did the sing-a-long episode.

What do you do when you get writer’s block?
I’ve actually been very lucky. I don’t get writer’s block, although I do have issues related to never having enough time to write. I work four days a week at a corporate job, so I try to write every day, but it’s very difficult when you’re also raising a family. My books take several years to complete, and I work with the same set of characters for very long periods of time. Some writers would hate that, I think.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Work without a net, and by that I mean trash your outlines. When I start a novel, I have a general idea of where I want to end up, but I never know how I'll get there. Part of what compels me to write day after day, chapter after chapter, is the discovery process, seeing the characters evolve as I get deeper and deeper into the story. It means many more revisions (I go forward and back, forward and back over a period of years for each book I write), but I think my novels are richer for it.

Special thanks to Jillian for chatting with us and to KMSPR and Penguin for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win "I Couldn't Love You More":
Please comment below with your e-mail address. (Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What TV show gives off a chick lit feel for you?
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.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends June 3rd at midnight EST.

Book Review: The Charm Bracelet

By Becky Gulc

"The Charm Bracelet" is the latest novel by Melissa Hill ("the queen of the big plot twist"). The book has a beautiful purple cover and is akin to the "Something from Tiffany’s" cover, i.e. it would make a lovely gift of a book, even to yourself! Here is the synopsis:

Every charm bracelet tells a story and Holly O'Neill knows this better than most.
Years ago, at a difficult time in her life, a silver bracelet in a pretty wrapped box was delivered anonymously to her, a single charm attached. Some time later, another mysterious charm appeared, and the same thing happened many times over the years. Each charm proved to be significant in her life, as if her unnamed benefactor understood she needed some kind of talisman to help her through challenging times.
Since then, she has added her own charms - special reminders of the most important events in her life. Her bracelet makes memories tangible - spelling out the nuances of cherished moments through the shorthand of each tiny charm. For this reason, Holly's charm bracelet is her most prized possession.

So when one day, she stumbles across a bracelet that somebody else has lost, she recognises a lifetime spelt out through the very different charms, and knows she must try to reunite it with its owner. In order to try and track this person down, she uses each charm to help discover more about them.

But as Holly gradually begins to piece together the details of this person's life, her quest leads her somewhere she never expected.
(Courtesy of

I found this to be a very sweet, heartfelt book that was perfect for a snugly read in bed; it leaves you with a warm feeling inside, not just at the end but all the way through. I think this was helped up by the build up to Christmas and New Years Day in the story. This is also down to having a very likable central character in long-term single-mum Holly, who has a heart of gold and sees the best in everyone. There is also Greg, who is as key to the story as Holly, and we follow his story throughout too, he is another very likable character who is keen to change his life around, moving from his high-powered job to becoming a self-employed photographer, much to his long-term girlfriend’s annoyance. It’s not until the latter stages of the novel that the two character’s lives become intertwined by the bracelet.

The detective work Holly and her family and friends have to put in to track the owner of the bracelet down maintained my interest and intrigue throughout, and even when obstacles are thrown in her way, Holly doesn’t give up, nor do you want her to. I also enjoyed being transported back to the stories behind each of Holly’s own charms on her bracelet.

I loved the additional characters in the book, Greg’s dad, and Holly’s mum and son; there was a real sense of family in this book, not always straightforward relationships, but forever important.

The story is set in New York and I really felt transported there! I’m sure if I go to New York again, I wouldn’t be able to visit Greenwich Village without looking out for the vintage clothes store where Holly works, which I pictured to be in a very specific spot!

The only negative I can come up with is that it took me a while to decide how I felt about the ending. There was a twist and this left me questioning how realistic it was, but it’s difficult to say more without giving anything away! Anyway, in the end I decided I quite liked the fact that the book wasn’t tied up as predictably as might be anticipated. I would love to see the characters feature in future books by Melissa Hill so we can see how things develop.

A further positive for me was that whilst I read an uncorrected proof copy originally, every one of the typos/inconsistencies I’d marked was addressed for the final version as I had made a point of checking.

I never saw the attraction in charm bracelets before reading this book, but now I think I will smile if I ever see one on someone’s wrist, and I’ll be wondering what the story behind each charm is. I could definitely see this book being turned into a film.

A sweet recommended read from me.

More by Melissa Hill:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sarah Pekkanen's novels make my heart skip a beat!

To celebrate International Chick Lit Month right here, we're all doing tributes to some of our favorite authors. Here is what Amy Bromberg had to say about Sarah Pekkanen.

What can I say about Sarah Pekkanen? Well to start with she's one of my favorite authors. I remember when I finished her first novel, "The Opposite of Me," I knew right away that I wanted to read more from Sarah. And then I did when "Skipping a Beat" came out, which I devoured in such a short amount of time. I actually reviewed "Skipping a Beat" for last year's CLC's review associate contest. As I was reviewing it, I felt like I was tearing it apart, chapter by chapter. Something about that experience made me feel like I was, in fact, the main character, Julia. I was excited for so long for the publication of her latest novel, "These Girls." Surprise, surprise...I devoured it in less than TWO days!

I had the most distinguished pleasure of meeting Sarah on Thursday, May 10th, at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, NJ, where Sarah participated as part of an author panel. The minute I saw her walk through the doors I went crazy! Kind of like kids probably get when they wake up Christmas morning and see all of the presents under the tree. I was pretty impatient when she was making her way to the back of the store and saying hi to people...I was thinking to myself..."there's no need to stop and say hi to everyone Sarah...just come say hit to me!!"  I remember giving her a big hug and didn't want to let go! Yes I know it's corny, but it's the truth. Even though I didn't have a lot of time to speak with Sarah, it still was such a joy meeting her and can't wait to see her again!

I have to share with everybody how Sarah found her agent. When "The Opposite of Me" was finished, she had no idea what to do next. She glanced at a bunch of books at a book store and wrote down the names of each of the author's agents. She then went home and submitted her manuscript to all of them. Well sure enough one of them, Victoria, got back to her...YAY! Of course, Sarah was very excited, right?!? She wanted to do a little due diligence on Victoria, so she emailed one of the authors Victoria works with, to see what she's like, how she works, etc. The next thing she knew, she received a reply...another YAY! However, it was not the author who was was the agent...HOLY MOTHER OF GOD! This particular author was out on tour, and when she's away, guess who checks her email...Victoria. Can we just say that Sarah wanted to crawl in a hole right that very second? Well sure enough at the end of the email the agent said "I'm checking you out too." Well, they both lived happily ever after, and of course we all know how the rest  of this story goes.

You rock Sarah, keep up the fantastic work, and can't wait till number four!

For anyone who hasn't yet learned how fantastic Sarah Pekkanen is, visit her at her website and on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out the interview we did with her recently.

At Watchung Booksellers, May 10, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

What's in the mail today?


From St. Martin's Press:

"How I Came to Sparkle Again" by Kaya McLaren


Free from Amazon:

"The Relationship Shoppe" by Susan Paulson Clark

Free today, so get it while you can!

"Lucky at Love: Some guys just never give up" by Cynthia Hamilton
"Woman On The Edge Of Reality" by Linda Parkinson-Hardman
"The Good Luck Charm (The Good Luck Series)" by Leanne Tyler
"The Bro-Magnet (A Nice Guy Romance Novel)" by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Some of these were short term deals and may not be free anymore.


From Tor/Forge:

"Dog Days" by Elsa Watson

From Penguin/Putnam:

"Overseas" by Beatriz Williams


From Corsair/Canvas:

"The Summer of Secrets" by Alison Lucy


From Emma Lee-Potter:

Melissa A also got this when it was free on Amazon


From HarperCollins UK:

"Chelsea Wives"by Anna-Lou Wetherley

Melissa A got this too.


From Smith Publicity:

"Loving David" by Gina Hummer


From PR by the Book:

"How to Travel the World For Free: I Did It, and You Can Do It, Too!" by Michael Wigge

Book Review: The Rock Star in Seat 3A

By Melissa Amster

Have you ever called someone a "rock star" because you just thought they were all-around amazing? What if the person you really admired actually WAS a rock star? And better yet, what if you got to meet this rock star in person? Jill Kargman indulges our celebrity fantasies with her latest novel, "The Rock Star in Seat 3A."

Hazel Lavery has the life most girls would envy. She works for a popular video game company and gets to help plan parties. Her very attractive boyfriend, Wylie (who is also a chef), is about to propose to her. And this is all as she is turning 30. Life couldn't get any better...or could it? When she's stuck on a turbulent plane trip to Los Angeles, it turns out her seat-mate is none other than her rock star idol (and the star of all her fantasies), Finn Schiller. As they come to know one another on the long flight, they get along better than Hazel ever thought possible. Soon, Hazel finds herself getting caught up in the life she's only ever dreamed about. However, her happiness comes at a price when she realizes she can't have her cake and eat it too. Is Finn the one who can truly complete her, or was she meant for a life of settling down with Wylie?

What I liked most about this book was the feeling of being on a mental vacation. How cool is it to be able to indulge in such a decadent celebrity fantasy, but without the guilt? I got to go on an armchair adventure and was definitely taken for a wild ride this time. The "romantic" scenes were really hot without even having to go into a lot of detail. I'm still blushing from those parts. In contrast, I also enjoyed reading about all the relationship idiosyncrasies that Hazel would bring up in regards to Wylie....the funny nicknames, the strange habits they had together, etc. Aside from all that, the dialogue flowed nicely, which made the chapters move along at a rapid pace and caused me to want to read on from one to the next. (Almost like having a huge marathon of a TV show I'm really enjoying, when I can't just stop after one episode.) Therefore, it was difficult to put down. And best of all, it found a way around a huge pet peeve of mine, which made it even more enjoyable. Oh, and the humor added a nice touch without going overboard. It was subtle, but I still found myself smirking.

I did have a few concerns about "The Rock Star in 3A." First and foremost, the language. While the romantic scenes made me blush, I could just see most of the words in this novel make a lot of people blush if they don't get enough HBO in their life. Let's just say it was "colorful." It got a little bit over the top at times, like when F-bombs were in every other sentence. The other language aspect that got under my skin was the way Hazel talked. I don't mind that she was candid because I felt that added to her essence. What I didn't particularly like was that she talked like a teenager when we were supposed to believe she was 30. She spoke in slang I've never heard any 30 year old least not the ones I know. I felt like she was possessed by Hannah Montana or Lizzie McGuire. I didn't even understand some of the slang terms she used and had to re-read paragraphs just to see if it would make more sense the second or third time around. (I did like "oy to the vey" though.) Finally, I felt like the story wrapped up a bit too neatly. Given the fact that she was making out with a celebrity in public, she didn't seem to attract much paparazzi attention. I thought there could have been a whole angle added there which would have fueled the intensity between Hazel and Finn and made them want to keep things more clandestine as a result. It just seemed like Hazel had it way too easy overall.

"The Rock Star in 3A" was an entertaining vicarious trip and I had a lot of fun reading it from beginning to end. I loved watching Hazel reach new insights about herself while on her whirlwind adventure into the life of a rock star's girlfriend. I just wish this had come out when I was still crushing on Adam Lambert because I would have received even more of a natural high than I already did while reading it. I also wish that a soundtrack had accompanied this book, as there were a lot of lyrics strewn throughout but I didn't have a tune to pair with them. If Jodi Picoult can do it, then so can Jill Kargman. And if Jon Bon Jovi would do the vocals for Finn, then she's got it made!

Thanks to William Morrow (HarperCollins) for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Books of the Week--May 24th

Thanks for checking out our newest feature...Books of the Week! There are seven of us and we can't keep up with the many review requests we receive, even though we'd love to read everything sent our way. Therefore, we have decided to give some books their time in the spotlight and introduce you to them through this new blog feature. We will be featuring two books a week. We hope you will take the time to check these books out. (Click the titles to find them on Amazon.) If you read them and want to write a guest blogger review for us, please e-mail us and we'll be glad to work with you!

Authors: We will let you know whether or not we'll be able to review your book upon your request, and hope you'll be interested in this feature as an alternative.

"When Love Takes Over"
By Caroline Grace-Cassidy

Mia Doyle is the wrong side of 30, she's ok being single though once she has her independence and doesn't have to move back home to her mother. The two women do not see eye to eye. Mia has a talent for selling houses but when the recession hits her job in Clovers Auctioneers in under threat. Then Anita joins the firm and the two have to share a job and commissions. Mia lives with Carla who has just bought new boobs even though she is practically perfect; all because of her horrible snobby boyfriend. Mia begins an affair with Paul, the builder putting an extension on Carla's house, but she cannot figure him out. He blows hotter and colder than an Irish summer. She is ticking along not really knowing who she is or what she really wants from life...

Then Mia meets property tycoon Gordon McHale to show him the most expensive house in Dublin. This multi millionaire would leave George Clooney re-checking his appearence..surely he couldn't have eyes for her?

Visit Caroline Grace-Cassidy on Facebook and Twitter.

"Woodrose Mountain"
By RaeAnne Thayne

Evie Blanchard was at the top of her field in the city of angels. But when an emotional year forces her to walk away from her job as an occupational therapist, she moves from Los Angeles to Hope’s Crossing seeking a quieter life. So the last thing she needs is to get involved with the handsome, arrogant Brodie Thorne and his injured daughter, Taryn.

A self-made man and single-dad, Brodie will do anything to get Taryn the rehabilitation she needs...even if it means convincing Evie to move in with them. And despite her vow to keep an emotional distance, Evie can’t help but be moved by Taryn’s spirit, or Brodie’s determination to win her help – and her heart. With laughter, courage and more than a little help from the kindhearted people of Hope’s Crossing, Taryn may get the healing she deserves – and Evie and Brodie might just find a love they never knew could exist.

You can find RaeAnne Thayne on Facebook and Twitter.

Deborah Copaken Kogan is NOT seeing red, plus a book giveaway

Photo by Dave B. Cross
Intro by Kathryn Hamilton

**Giveaway is now closed**

You won’t be seeing red either, with Deborah Copaken Kogan’s latest novel!

Joining us today is Deborah Copaken Kogan as she celebrates the release of her newest novel “The Red Book.” It is her second novel (and also a New York Times bestseller), but fourth book, that follows "Between Here and April," "Hell is Other Parents" and the bestseller, "Shutterbabe." Deborah is an absolutely fascinating woman whose life is certainly admirable. She has been a writer from an early age (winning her first award in elementary school) and was quite successful for several years as a photojournalist, for which she several received awards. She has also won an Emmy for her work in the field of television. Since 1998, Deborah has kept busy writing novels, publishing essays, adapting both a novel and a memoir into a screenplay, and juggling marriage and children.

Thanks to Voice/Hyperion, we have TEN copies of "The Red Book" for some lucky US readers!

Visit Deborah at her website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Who are three authors who have inspired you?
Virginia Woolf, Leo Tolstoy, Ian McEwan (and many, many others, but I thought those three should get the shout-out.)

What made you decide to become a writer?
I’d wanted to become a writer from the time I was four years old and wrote my first short story (three sentences long) about a bear in a boat in Dr. Seuss’s fill-in-the-blanks "My Book About Me." I actually remember sitting down with the book by myself at the dining room table in our old apartment in Adelphi, MD, after having accounted for all of the doors, beds and windows in my apartment, and creating something on the write-a-story page where there once was nothing: how thrilling that was, however nonsensical the results. I kept writing short stories throughout elementary school, one of which won a statewide writing contest, which added fuel to the fire. I wrote poetry as a teenager, as well as essays and book reviews for Seventeen. Then I got to college and was not accepted into a single creative writing class. Really. Not one. This killed my confidence, and I let go of the dream. I threw myself into photography, moved to Paris after graduation, and started covering wars as a photojournalist for a living. I did that for four years, often writing the accompanying texts, but magazines didn’t want stories written by photographers. They had staff writers who would take my text and rewrite it in their own words. Then I moved back to the States and worked as a TV news producer. Sometime after my first two kids were born, six years into my TV career, I hit a brick wall: I hated my job, hated office politics, hated wearing dress-up clothes, hated what my life had become.
Around this same time, I wrote my red book essay for my 10th college reunion, and I was inspired by seeing words I’d composed bound into the pages of a book. I was simultaneously reading "Angela’s Ashes," and when I found out Frank McCourt had written this masterpiece of a memoir—his first book!—in his sixties, I told myself it was now or never. I took a leave of absence from my TV job and started writing the first chapter of "Shutterbabe," which I sold, along with a proposal, to a publisher for twice my NBC salary. That bought me two years. That was fourteen years ago. I’ve never looked back.

If The Red Book were made into a movie, whom would you cast in the lead roles?
I’ve actually been thinking about this question, since there’s been interest in adapting it. Halle Berry or Vanessa Williams would be perfect as Clover or a newcomer who looks like an older version of Zoe Saldana. I’d love to see Mia played by Minnie Driver, Jane Adams, Winona Rider, Emily Mortimer, Sarah Silverman, or Parker Posey. Addison always appeared in my head, when I was writing her, as the actress and writer Isabel Gillies, so she’d be perfect, but I also think Addison could be played by just about any fine-boned, gorgeous, 40-something (or late 30-something) actress, meaning so many of them: Amanda Peet, Cate Blanchett, Elisabeth Shue, Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman, etc. I wish Caitlin Fitzgerald were a little older, because I could watch her read the phone book and be riveted. As for Jane, I don’t know many Vietnamese-American actresses, but I think it would be important to find one who is actually Vietnamese, not Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or another east-Asian race. Junie Hoang comes to mind, and I think she’s the right age range, but maybe that could be the wild card, casting-wise—an open call for 40-something, Vietnamese-American actresses. Now how often does that happen? Not that often, I have to imagine.

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Read "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott and then do that. "That," in a nutshell, is an expanded version of this: apply ass to chair, write. Also, read. But those are two pieces of advice, and the latter goes without saying.

Characters really make the story for us. What 3 words would best describe your hero, and what about her called out to you and made you want to write her story?
My novel has four main protagonists, so I’ll answer you four times:

Clover: Determined, strong, weak
Addison: Confused, self-satisfied, pretending
Mia: Complacent, yearning, sensitive
Jane: Defended, naive, smart

They all called out to me not because of their strengths but because of their weaknesses and their contradictions—naïve and smart; complacent and yearning. All of us are weak in certain domains, and all of us live with vast internal contradictions, and when you throw four people together and expose all of their weaknesses and contradictions at the same time, then you get, for lack of a better term, drama. I’m not interested in writing about likable, perfect characters who always do the right thing and never question themselves or their motivations. There are no humans like that, so why create characters like that? What fascinates me are people’s flaws and the fact that we can fall in love with them not despite their flaws but because of them. That holds true for me vis a vis real people as much as it does for fictional characters.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
A violinist, a writer, and a Mommy. But then I dropped violin in junior high and frankly? I don’t miss it.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I would have to say letters from readers (the nice ones, not the mean, crazy or wildly inappropriate ones) in general, but if we’re talking about the most rewarding experience with regard to the "The Red Book," my favorite moment was when a male newspaper editor, who’d swiped a copy of the galley from his office, pulled me aside at a Bat Mitzvah and said he liked the book so much that the minute he finished reading it, he immediately logged onto his computer and started googling one of the characters. Until he remembered, duh, she’s fictional. That made my night, my year, and, quite possibly, my life, not only because it was a nice thing for any writer to hear from a person she admires, but because it made me realize that the novel might appeal to both men and women. Not that men actually buy or read that many books, but still, it was comforting, edifying, to hear that this man had liked it enough to confuse it with real life. When I write, I never think to myself, “What would a woman want to read?” I think, “What would I want to read?” And since I’m an equal opportunity reader, I like to think of myself as an equal opportunity writer, so when men like my books as much as women do, I feel like I’ve done something right.

If you were shipwrecked on a desert island what 3 books would you want with you?
Isn’t that a little bit of an outdated question? I’d bring one e-reader loaded with every book in the Library of Congress. Of course, e-readers eventually require electricity, so I guess…hmm…

Barring my ability to find the materials to build solar panels, I’d bring:
"To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf
"Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy
This massive book I own with all of Shakespeare’s works in one volume, except the pages are super thin, so I’d worry about them disintegrating in all that tropical humidity
Hold on. Is there a weight limit to the books I can bring in my suitcase? Because I might have to pay an overage fee for the last one.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Because it pulls off the mask we all wear in public and reveals the flawed, desperate, searching, yearning, loving, living, lying, dying humans underneath.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
When my dad was on his death bed, I had a quiet moment alone with him. I said I was going to quit writing because it was too hard, and I have three kids to support, and I just couldn’t face it or the insecurity of being a writer anymore. He actually sat up in bed, as much as it was painful for him to do so, and said, “Nonsense. Keep writing. Don’t ever quit.” I guess that’s what I want to say to all of you regarding whatever hard thing it is you love to do that you’re thinking of giving up or not even trying: Nonsense. Keep ______ing. Don’t ever quit.

Special thanks to Deborah for sharing her thoughts with us and to Voice/Hyperion for sharing "The Red Book" with our readers.

How to win "The Red Book":
Please comment below with your e-mail address. (Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: If you were stuck on a desert island without a Kindle, which three books would you want with you?
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.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

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

Guest Blogger Book Review: Bloom

By Kim Walker

The first time I picked up this book, I knew I would love it. The cover is beautiful and the actual paper that the words are printed on is thick and glossy and filled with gorgeous photos! It's an experience just turning each page! I knew this book would pull at my heart strings because it's a memoir written by a mother of a child with Down Syndrome and both of my children are on the autism spectrum and my son has a seizure disorder as well. And boy did it ever pull -- this story brought me to tears several times throughout! But keep in mind for all of you that don't want to read heavy material, not all of these tears were due to sadness or grief. Quite the opposite in fact! Often the tears were shed because of the accomplishments that were met and the revelations that were made by all the amazing people in this family.

"Bloom" begins with Kelle Hampton about to give birth to her second child. Kelle is prepared for this adventure beyond imagination -- she has come to the hospital with little thank you gifts to give out to each friend and family member who will be coming to visit once her daughter is born; she has a gorgeous outfit to take her baby girl home in--the same one her first daughter was brought home from the hospital in; she has her music to listen to while going through labor. But within seconds after delivering her baby, she notices something very different about Nella. As baby and mom look into each other's eyes, Kelle is sure that the baby she is looking at has Down syndrome. Within hours, this diagnosis is confirmed by the doctor and Kelle and her husband, Brett, are in a tailspin of despair. This memoir takes you through the first year of Nella's life, and all of the many, many ups and downs their family goes through. There are a lot of tears, many laughs, an amazing group of friends and family who offer the most outstanding amount of support, and copious bottles of beer consumed in this book. The story is mainly told from Kelle's point of view and her intense journey of transformation and it is written with such raw emotions unlike anything I've ever read before. One of the most emotionally moving books I've ever read!

Even if you don't have a child with special needs or know someone who does, I highly recommend you read this. This story will take you on an excursion that will make you think of your life like you never have before. You will be inspired by Kelle's drive and determination, her passion for life. You will question whether you are living your life with enough love, with enough goodness in your heart and with enough passion, and most of all you will fall in love with Kelle and her daughter Nella. This is an absolutely beautiful book!!!

Kim Walker is a wife and stay-at-home mother of two children who both have autism and her son also has a rare seizure disorder called Dravet Syndrome. Kim and her family reside in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and when she manages to find some time for herself, you can bet she has her nose buried in a book. If you'd like to talk about books with Kim, you can find her on Facebook. She's also a regular visitor to our Facebook group! This is her second guest review for Chick Lit Central.

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