Friday, June 29, 2012

What's in the mail today?

Melissa A:

"Keepsake" by Kristina Riggle from the author (Amy also got this book from The Divining Wand)

"Coming Up for Air" by Patti Callahan Henry from the author (also sent a basket for planting flowers and flower seeds)

"Friends Forever" by Danielle Steel from Transworld (UK cover on the right)

"Happy Hour" by Anne Mitchell from Amazon (e-book; free mid-week, 99 cents otherwise)

"Dewitched: The Untold Story of the Evil Queen" by Ellen Levy-Sarnoff from the author (e-book; $3.99)

"How Lucky You Are" by Kristyn Kusek Lewis from BookSparks PR

"Banking on Instinct" by Lori Verni-Fogarsi from the author (e-book; 99 cents)


"Shine Shine Shine" by Lydia Netzer from St. Martin's Press

"On the Island" by Tracey Garvis Graves from Penguin

"Game of Secrets" by Dawn Tripp from Random House

"The Chaperone" by Laura Moriarty from Crown Publishing (Division of Random House)


"The Wedding Guests" by Meredith Goldstein from Penguin UK (Same as "The Singles")

"Don’t You Forget About Me" by Alexandra Potter from Hodder and Stoughton

"Second Time Around" by Erin Kaye from Avon (a division of HarperCollins)

"Ruby" by Marie Maxwell from Avon (a division of HarperCollins)

"The Beach Holiday" by Anita Hughes from Ebury Publishing (Same as "Monarch Beach")

Book Review: Can't Live Without

By Cindy Roesel

How does it feel to lose everything you own? Stella Hill knows only too well. She wakes up one morning to find her house up in flames. From there, things go from bad to worse in Joanne Phillips’ debut chick-lit comedy romance novel, CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT! Hard to imagine things getting tougher with a start like that, but where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be some flames and CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT has plenty of sizzle!

Written in a similar tongue and cheeky fashion we’ve all come to love from Carole Matthews, Phillips sets us up with a cast of characters that’ll have you keeping notes on the side. Stella’s best friend is her boss, Paul, but let’s face it, they really are in love with each other if they would just wake up to the fact, thank you very much. Her teenage daughter, Lipsy just wants Stella to back off a bit considering she burned down everything she owns in her 16-year old world, including ten diaries that have recorded life as she knows it. Then there’s Stella’s own spendaholic mother who has never looked past an item she couldn’t charge on her credit card, even though there is no money coming into the household. And finally, Stella’s dad locked up in prison, soon to be released, but no one’s talking to him or about his homecoming!

I love that Phillips creates in Stella, a character in her late 30s with many flaws, but ultimately the heart of an angel, someone all readers will rally around. At the risk of spoiling sub-plots, I will only say I believe there were a few too many and that tended to slow down the pace of what could have been a more snappy novel. I can share without giving anything away, that CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT has to do with a list Stella creates of the things she initially believes she can’t live without right after the fire. Ten weeks and one day later and guess what? I’m not giving it away!

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT is all about finding out what really matters in life. It’s discovering how important family time is. It’s recognizing how necessary that phone call is. Sometimes it’s the big stuff, but more often than not, it’s the small things. FYI: I love that super-sassy cover!

You can find Joanne Phillips on Facebook, Twitter and her website. CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT is currently $2.99 for Kindle.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Books of the Week - June 28th

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.

"Thin Rich Bitches"
By Janet Eve Josselyn

“An uproarious romp through the minefield of female one-upmanship!”

Leaving her cheating husband in Boston with the paralegal he impregnated, Pippin Snowe and her son move to a ramshackle farmhouse that she inherited in the exclusive community of Dover, Massachusetts. Pippin finds employment with a local architect, designing kitchen renovations for wealthy Dover women who treat her as they treat the rest of the hired help. Concluding that social climbing is just another sport that she is no good at, Pippin opens a country club for dogs that offers services that the Dover women didn’t know they wanted until they found out that admission was required and spaces were limited.

With irreverent wit, Thin Rich Bitches is a humorous chronicle of one woman’s quest to find her place within a community of people who are more blessed physically and financially, while learning valuable lessons about life, love, competition, and canine couture.

"Thin Rich Bitches" is $2.99 for Kindle.

Janet Eve Josselyn can be found on Facebook.

"Barefoot Girls"
By Tara McTiernan

The famous and beloved foursome – they are both things on Captain’s Island in the Great South Bay of Long Island, New York, where they grew up and developed their fun-loving defiantly-barefoot reputation – helped raise one little girl together, their “Barefoot Baby” Hannah. Now grown, Hannah has done the unthinkable and written a poison-pen novel that could tear apart not only her relationship with her mother and the other Barefoot Girls, but also pushes Hannah’s life into a downward spiral that threatens to destroy everything that matters to her including her engagement to Daniel, the one man who had been able to scale the high walls around her heart.

As Hannah battles to come to terms with her equally blessed and troubled childhood and understand her mother and her sister-close friends, she’s confronted with the power of forgiveness and the dangers of holding on to the past.

Charity Shumway has the hottest ticket, plus a book giveaway

**Giveaway is now closed**

Today we welcome Charity Shumway and her debut novel "Ten Girls to Watch," which comes out in July. Charity earned an MFA in creative writing from Oregon State University and a BA in English from Harvard College. In 2007, she spent nine months reporting on the 50th Anniversary of Glamour’s “Top Ten College Women” contest, which served as the inspiration for her book. Her writing has appeared in that magazine and has also been published by Fitness, Ladies Home Journal, and Garden Design, amongst others. She lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster we have TWO copies of "Ten Girls to Watch" for some lucky readers anywhere in the US and/or Canada.

To learn more about Charity visit her website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Movie you know all of the lines to:
That Thing You Do. My family used to just email around lines from it with the subject line "TTYD."

Favorite movie of all time:
Field of Dreams: I get all swoony just thinking about it. Summer! America! James Earl Jones and Kevin Costner! Baseball ghosts!

Favorite movie soundtrack:
The Sound of Music. I know that's kind of cheating because it's a musical, but I'm sticking to it.

Favorite actor and actress:
Actor: Tom Wilkinson is utterly convincing in every role I've ever seen him in, which is saying a lot since sometimes he's genteel and British and sometimes he's a gangster in Batman Begins.

Actress: Meryl Streep. I mean, come on. Though lately Jessica Chastain is winning my heart as well.

Favorite animated movie:
I've always had a soft spot for Lady and The Tramp.

Movie you've seen the most times in a theater:
Sadly, I don't think I've ever seen a movie more than once in the theater. I've got to get on that.

Movie that should have won an Oscar but didn't:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was totally robbed!

Who would you cast in the lead roles, if "Ten Girls to Watch" were made into a movie:
Of course I've spent hours and hours thinking about this. My favorite bits of dream casting are Dawn West: Emma Stone; Lily Harris: Rooney Mara; and Elliot Kaslowski: James Franco.

Special thanks to Charity for helping us end movie month on a high note and to Simon and Schuster for sharing "Ten Girls to Watch" with our readers.

How to win "Ten Girls to Watch":
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 is your favorite movie soundtrack?
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 July 4th at midnight EST.

Book Review: Chihuahua Karma

By Becky Gulc

The cover for Debby Rice’s debut novel is, I expect, a bit like Marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it. As soon as you look at it you know it’s going to be a bit different, quirky perhaps, involving a vicious dog? After finishing "Chihuahua Karma" (available as an e-book for 99 cents on Kindle), I feel happy that the cover sums up the novel overall, it is definitely quirky and different, the dog isn’t mean though, so don’t let the cover put you off! So what’s it all about? Here’s the synopsis:

‘Gregor’s nightmare was a cockroach. Cherry Paget’s is a Chihuahua.

Cherry was young, beautiful and rich—just golden enough to imagine that she had the world by the balls. Death was the furthest thing from her mind. But even a morbid obsession with the afterlife could not have prepared her for what happened.

Chihuahua Karma chronicles the horrendous consequences of Cherry’s bad choices. She trades love for a Black American Express card. She dumps veterinarian, Richard Preston, to marry gangster, Larry Finkelstein. And, when a smudge of magenta lipstick confirms that Larry is cheating she washes down a fist-full of Vicoden with a bottle of wine for breakfast. That mistake is the beginning of her problems.

In an inebriated attempt at tanning, Cherry plunges from the terrace of her penthouse to the street below. She escapes extinction only to encounter a more complicated fate. Cherry regains consciousness trapped inside the body of a very tiny dog.

Cherry’s diminutive prison is a mini Chihuahua named Sugar. The Lucky Dream Dry Cleaners is her dismal new home. With the unwitting assistance of her former housekeeper, Cherry escapes the dirty clothes and cotton dust. Once again ensconced in Larry’s luxurious penthouse, she becomes his girlfriend’s prized purse-buddy.

In her diminished state, Cherry finds new perspective. She yearns for Richard. And she forms an unlikely alliance with Don Paco Fernandez, a temperamental ghost with a taste for tequila and pretty ladies. Through Don Paco, Cherry discovers that only she can save an orphaned child from her impending adoption by a sinister couple. The cast of off-beat characters collides, and Cherry meets her destiny at a casino night Christmas party. (courtesy of

I’ll be honest and say that even though I love dogs and am open to ghost stories etc, based on the synopsis I wouldn’t have chosen to read this book off my own back. It perhaps all sounded a bit silly and not my cup of tea, BUT, having read it I’m pleased to say I enjoyed it and I can see an audience for it amongst Chick Lit Central followers.

The characters aren’t all that likeable, particularly initially but some of them grow on you, especially those that become central to the narrative: Cherry/Sugar, Lucille (the orphaned child) and Richard. When Cherry first dies and finds herself in Sugar’s body, there are some great comical moments as she adapts to life as a dog. Since Cherry wasn’t that likeable as a human, you don’t feel that sorry for her, but you feel her frustration. There are plenty of characters worse than Cherry to dislike, such as her cheating husband Larry who practically moves his latest squeeze in before Cherry is even dead in the ground. Cherry/Sugar become more likable as she starts to realise her purpose (earthly mission) thanks to a philandering ghost...a positive difference she can make as a dog. It is only upon achieving this mission that she will resolve this predicament in which she finds herself. How will this resolve itself? We just don’t know.

I felt the viewpoint worked well throughout the opening chapters, it was well-written and it made me think about how life would be different if you were suddenly to become a dog (that feels bizarre to write that!). In the later chapters I felt this was lost a little bit, for example there was a moment when Sugar becomes injured, but none of the description is about how Sugar is feeling even though it’s told from her viewpoint, just about how others react to her injury.

Overall I thought the book had a feel good-factor, it was amusing, different (which is a good thing!) and had characters who finally learn what is important in life. Question is, if Cherry is already dead, this is a lesson learnt too late surely? I had no idea how the story was going to develop and as it’s pure fantasy it maintained the suspense throughout, I didn’t guess where it would end so I was gripped. If you want to read something a bit different to the norm, you may well enjoy this quirky book!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Winner of "Game of Secrets"

To find our winners, we assigned a number to each entry (one entry per person, from only those that included contact info) and asked to pick one number. It chose 12.

Congrats to bn100!

Here is a message from Dawn Tripp:
Congratulations on winning a copy of GAME OF SECRETS! I love Chick Lit Central and how committed they are to getting books into the hands of readers. Although writing is such solitary work, I am always aware of the reader who will someday find my book in their hands. "Game of Secrets" is my third novel. In many ways it was the most challenging to write, because it grazes certain truths in my own life. If you would like to write to me with any questions you have, or any thoughts on the story, either as you are reading along, or once you have reached the end, I'd love to hear from you. You can reach me at Happy Reading!

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 favorite movie memories.
Thanks to Dawn for visiting with us and to BookSparks PR for facilitating the interview and sharing "Game of Secrets" with our winner.

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

Fifty Shades of Gray Area: The perils of writing an honest review

By Melissa Amster

I recently encountered some situations, one being my own, where reviewers came to me to ask if they really had to post a review given that they weren't fond of the book and didn't feel comfortable posting a review that could potentially damage the author's sales. In all the instances, including my own, I felt it fair to contact the author and let them know that we wouldn't be reviewing the book for those reasons. It's such a sticky gray area though. As reviewers, we're expected to be honest with our readers as to our thoughts on a book. However, we've formed relationships and connections with authors and if we really didn't like their book, it will come at a cost to them. Thankfully, the authors we contacted were very understanding. The one from my situation said it would be alright to share my opinion with her privately. She understood and appreciated what I had to say. Another author was open to having her book featured as a Book of the Week instead. (For BOTW, we don't give our opinions on the books, but instead allow readers to decide for themselves if it would interest them. We have a bit more diversity with what we post there.) A while back, Amy shared her thoughts about authors reactions to bad reviews in a post from Chicklit Club.

No two readers are alike and someone else might like a book that we didn't or vice versa. Is it fair for us to potentially jade them against reading a book? I know I tend to not have interest in a book if a reviewer whom I respect didn't like that book. It just comes with the territory.

When I review a book, I look at it from both the positive and negative sides. I am not afraid to share if the book has poor spelling and grammar, something didn't sit right with me, it ended abruptly, etc. However, if I can't give a balanced review where I have one thing I liked for each thing I didn't like, I don't feel that it's worth writing the review at the expense of hurting the author's sales. I am glad when I get to give a glowing review because I loved a book so much. Even if I find one thing to criticize, I'm still glad I was able to sing the praises for that book. It is rare that I come across a perfect book, even if I love the author. I do my best to be as fair as possible. If I can't even get into the book, the chances of me reviewing it are nil, as it just was not up my alley. It doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't like it, but why is it my place to say I couldn't get past chapter one and watch the author's sales suffer as a result. I don't think the weight of their sales is on my shoulders, but I only want to help, not hurt!

There was a time when I read a book from an author I liked, but with whom I had no personal connection. I chose not to review their book on my blog, as I didn't have much to say that was positive. I wrote a short review on Goodreads about it though. Even though they're a bestselling author and my review wouldn't make or break their sales, I still felt wrong posting so much negativity on my blog. I feel this is a place to celebrate chick lit, not berate what we read.

This got me thinking, Carrie Bradshaw style...

If someone doesn't like a book, are they obligated to be honest with their readers even if it could hurt the author's sales?

I took to the "streets" to find out what other people thought. I asked within our group, as well as some bloggers whose reviews I also respect. I also asked authors for their thoughts and will be posting those at another time.

Melissa Patafio, Partner of Chick Lit Central:
I think there really is a difference between writing an "honest" review and outright trashing an author/book. Writing what you disliked about the book and writing what you dislike about the author are two completely different things. Recently, a blogger wrote a nasty "review" of a well known author's latest work, but completely tore the author herself apart, not just the book. In this case, I would not call it a review at all, but a personal attack of an individual. I believe that if we dislike a book then it is ok to say that it just wasn't enjoyable and that is our right, but to tear down the author because what's on the pages doesn't appeal to us is downright uncalled for.

Hurting an author’s book sales as the side effect of a real and honest review is one thing, but trying to hurt their reputation and bash their morals or integrity intentionally is wrong. There are ways to get your point across without being aggressive or a bully.

Gail Allison, reviewer for Chick Lit Central:
When I'm reviewing a book, I try really hard to find something positive about it that I think our readers would be able to relate to. Even though it's all chick lit, folks still have their personal preferences, and some of the stuff I like is definitely not the same as some of the stuff other people like. If there's a book that I just can't find anything positive about (yup, it's happened), then I won't write a negative review about it. I don't think that's fair. Our reviews are opinions, and as such should all be taken with a grain of salt. Instead, I'll check with the other reviewers and see if they're interested in giving the book a shot. Maybe it's something that will appeal to them! On the flip side, I don't think it's fair to either our audience or the author to pretend everything is kittens and rainbows wonderful with a book. I also try to provide constructive criticism, and hopefully add something to that author's thought process that might help them to create a slightly more well-rounded end product with the next go-round.

Kathryn Hamilton, reviewer for Chick Lit Central:
As a reviewer, it is inevitable that you are going to come across a book you don't like. Thankfully, I haven't come across this yet, but there have been a few times when I have had issues with certain aspects of a novel, and this isn't any easier to deal with. I think that it is my responsibility to give an honest review, but do so in a tactful way. I often do this by expressing my criticism and then putting in a "disclaimer" of sorts that this is just my opinion. So far authors have been receptive of this approach and I haven't had any negative feedback. However, I think that if I didn't like a book at all, I would still post the review, but I would also share it with the author. In the end, I feel that readers will make their own decisions about whether or not a book is of interest to them regardless of the review because they are cognizant of the fact that it is just one person's opinion.

Cindy Roesel, reviewer for Chick Lit Central:
Reading novels before they are published is a special gift bestowed upon reviewers. We don't get paid, at least not at my level. I imagine they do at The Miami Herald and The New York Times. I receive the occasional free book and I'm grateful for it. I also get to discover new authors, which can be exciting. But it can also not be a positive experience when you're still expected to write a review of a book you didn't enjoy. At this point, what do you do? Do you write the truth, gloss over, or essentially lie? I can only tell you my perspective and I believe it's a unique one, because I'm both a reviewer and a published novelist, subject to being reviewed.

As in my life, I believe honesty is the best policy. Every book I'm sent comes with a pitch from the publicist and lately, more often than not, I discover my own angle after reading the book. That's one of the exciting discoveries about reading a new novel and writer. Once I received a book and I told the writer I just couldn't write a review because I didn't "get it." It was in the paranormal genre which I don't connect with, so I can't fairly judge. I had read several of her other books, so I felt I was honest.

I believe some reviewers think their job is to be sarcastic and snarky. I don't believe that is mine. I also don't think it is my job to worry about whether or not my review will affect sales figures for the author. Let's face it, I'm reviewing for Chick Lit Central, so we're all hoping to find happy endings and great stories and wonderful readers! Nothing is better than getting a five star review like Jillian Medoff recently gave me on Amazon for my book!

If I had to give advice on writing a book review that wasn't favorable, there would be two main things I'd want to stress. The first is that when you are critiquing the book, be sure that it is focused on the work and not the author. The second, which runs parallel with the first, is be sure you can support your opinion. Saying a book "sucks" without giving a specific example of why doesn't fly. Saying a book wasn't as good as it could be because the characters weren't believable is more creditable.

Ultimately, I feel that book blogs have a responsibility more so to their reader than the publishers, when it comes to reviews. The ARC copies are given to reviewers with the understanding that a fair and honest review will be given, which may mean a negative review will result.

In the event that there is a less favorable review, bloggers will have to manage that relationship with the publicist, publisher or author, so the review doesn't completely terminate the relationship.

Julie Peterson, Booking Mama:
I rarely write negative reviews, but occasionally I can't help it. Usually, I try to read books that sound like ones I'd enjoy so that definitely limits my negative reviews. Since I started blogging, I always try to approach writing a review in a positive way -- yet also in an honest one. I keep in mind that the author put everything into their story so I try to find something redeeming about the book. If I am really struggling, I might mention that this book wasn't really for me, but I can see that _____ audience might appreciate it. If all else fails, I try to find positive reviews in the blogosphere and link to them.

My general thoughts are that it feels a little easier to be critical of a faceless author's work, e.g. if you're sent their work by a publisher. With those who contact you personally, it feels harder and feels more appropriate to let them know if you won't be able to provide a positive review. All in all though, there are usually positives to be found in every book. So as long as you give a balanced view and think of a possible market for the book if it's not for you then there's no harm in it. We all have different tastes and can be respectful at the same time.

Jonita Fex, The Book Chick:
As a book blogger I feel that I have responsibilities to both the author of the book that I'm reviewing as well as any potential readers. I owe the author a fair and honest review and I owe the potential book reader honesty so they don't end up wasting their money on something that I have misrepresented. Thankfully it's not often that I read a book that I strongly dislike, but if I do I will write the most honest and fair review that I can. I will summarize the book plot and then highlight the parts of the story that I enjoyed, followed by my opinion about the parts that I didn't enjoy! To this date there have only been a handful of books where I struggled to find anything positive about it, and in those extreme and rare cases I e-mailed the author and politely let them know that the book was not a good fit for me and that I would not be reviewing it.

I will never go out and deliberately try to hurt an author's sales. That's not fair to the author, especially because it could just be a case of a book not being a good fit for me personally. However I will also not be dishonest about a book. If I say that I loved it, you'd better believe that I loved it, and if I didn't like it all that much, my review will show you that. If I ever lose my integrity as a book blogger, I believe that it would be time for me to retire my blog.

Laura Kay, A Novel Review:
I’m pretty careful in my book selection; I choose to review books I would go to the store and possibly buy. Even with that, I’ve come across a book or two I wasn’t thrilled with. One of them I simply couldn’t finish. It was boring and taking me forever to read, which causes me issues with my TBR pile get backed up. I simply put the book down. Some books have a slow start, so it seemed unfair to review it. It was an author request and she never got back to me. I had decided I would be honest. With a book I completed reading and didn’t like, I reviewed it discussing more of the story line. I stated something positive, something negative and tried to end on a positive. I made sure to mention I wasn’t the target audience. Just because I didn’t like something doesn’t mean someone else won’t love it.

Megan Snider, Write Meg:
When it comes to discussing a book I found less than stellar, I give myself time before writing my review -- all so I can organize my thoughts and not come across as mean-spirited. Since my reviews are geared toward fellow readers, not authors, I do not contact an author ahead of a critical review; I just make sure I'm being as fair as I can. When reviewing a book, I feel obligated to be honest -- and know that others' trust in my opinions will disappear faster than an ice-cold Slurpee on a summer day if I start writing bland, vanilla reviews of books that were actually pretty terrible. While I never want to be mean for the sake of being mean, I have to be honest. Just have to.

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts about honest reviews and the gray area that goes along with them.
Stay tuned for another post where we'll be featuring authors and their thoughts on receiving a bad review, even if it's honest....

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Winners of "Between You and Me"

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

Congrats to:
53-Maureen (mce1011)
69-Erin Cook

Here's a message from Emma and Nicola:
Congratulations to all the winners of "Between You and Me!" Thank you for your interest in our latest book. We are so excited about this story. We love writing about dysfunctional families and this might be our most dysfunctional yet! And thank you to Chick Lit Central for hosting this contest and supporting female storytellers.
Love, Nicki & Emma

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 favorite chick flick characters. Looks like the most votes went to Bridget Jones (played by Renee Zellweger) and Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan in "You've got Mail"). It was nice to see some votes for Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon in "Legally Blonde"), as well.

Thanks to Emma and Nicola for a lovely chat and to Engelman and Co. 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.

At the movies with Cindy and Kathryn

Since June is movie month this year, we are asking authors about their favorite movies, but we also want to share our favorite movies and answer some other movie themed questions. This week, it's Cindy and Kathryn's turn.


Movie of all time: The Godfather 2
Independent film: Garden State
Action movie: The Bourne Trilogy...Looking forward to Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy
90's movie: The Wedding Singer...anything with Adam AND Drew...NOT the newer stuff!
Movie snack: PLAIN M&M's

Movie you know all the lines to: The Godfather 2
Best memory of an experience at the movie theater: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Midnight showings in high school)
Movie that made you cry the most: Kramer vs. Kramer


80's movie: Ferris Bueller's Day Off (but let's face it, John Hughes ruled the 80s!)
Disney movie: Cinderella, but I also love the ones that came out in the 90's (The Lion King, Aladdin)
Chick flick: The Notebook
Fantasy movie: Lord of the Rings

First movie you ever saw as a kid: First movie I remember was Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Last movie you saw in the theater: Titanic 3D
Movie that should have won an Oscar but didn't: Dead Man Walking
Movie you know all the lines to: Circle of Friends

The Hughes of chick lit, plus a book giveaway

**Giveaway is now closed**

The last name Hughes is legendary when it comes to the movie industry. Thanks to Anita Hughes, this last name will now become legendary when it comes to the genre of chick lit. Anita has splashed onto the literary scene with her decadent escapist beach read and debut novel, "Monarch Beach" (reviewed here). She has two more books awaiting publication in the next year or so, and if they're anything like "Monarch Beach," readers will be in for a treat!

A wonder from down under, Anita was born in Sydney and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper, and was named "One of Australia's Next Best Writers." She received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing program. She currently lives in Dana Point, California with her family, where she interrupts her writing to watch the glorious sunsets. You can find her at her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Anita is here to talk about what made the other Hughes famous, even though she doesn't mention any of his movies here. (We still love her anyway!) Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have THREE copies of "Monarch Beach" for some lucky readers anywhere in the world!

Favorite movie about friendship:
THELMA AND LOUISE is still one of the best movies about female friendship. They are two such strong women sharing a wild and emotional ride. (And of course it doesn't hurt that Brad Pitt is featured without his shirt on.)

Favorite foreign film:
LES RIPOUX. I am a huge French film buff. Les Ripoux (My New Partner) featured a young Thierry Lhermitte. I admit I developed a huge crush on him that never waned - plus the script was very funny.

Favorite movie about time travel:
THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. This was one of my favorite novels and the movie did it justice in every way: a pure romantic delight.

Favorite movie based on a chick lit novel:
SOMETHING BORROWED. I have read and loved every Emily Giffin novel. Kate Hudson was perfect in SOMETHING BORROWED and the whole cast made you feel like you were hanging out with old friends. I loved it!

Movie you've seen the most times in a theater:
LOVE, ACTUALLY. There is not an actor or part of this movie I don't love. I have seen it so many times, I could probably recite the lines, but it still gets better and better.

Movie that made you cry the most:
RUNAWAY BRIDE. I'm a sucker for romance. I cry in any movie when the steadicam shot follows the guy and girl reuniting at last. Even though I know Julia Roberts and Richard Gere will get together, when that steadicam shot zooms in on them outside the church I always burst into tears.

Chick lit novel that you wish were a movie:
I just finished reading WIFE 22 and I cannot wait for it to be made into a movie! It is absolutely fabulous and made for the screen.

Who would you cast in the lead roles if "Monarch Beach" were made into a movie:
Anne Hathaway as Amanda, Oliver Martinez as Andre and Richard Gere or Tom Cruise as Edward. (Tom Cruise should be cast in every movie). Someone really fun like Kate Hudson as Stephanie.

Special thanks to Anita for chatting with us today and to St. Martin's Press for sharing "Monarch Beach" with our readers.

How to win "Monarch Beach":
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: Which movie made you cry the most?
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.

Giveaway ends July 2nd at midnight EST.

Book Review: The Great Escape

By Becky Gulc

"The Great Escape" is the sixth novel by author and journalist Fiona Gibson. With a delightfully colourful and fun looking cover, the book was immediately enticing and I looked forward to getting started on my first Fiona Gibson novel. This was one of the books I took on my recent holiday and my expectations were heightened when my Mum (who read the book before me) was giggling away on her sunbed. If it’s good enough for my Mum...

"The Great Escape" is the story of three friends, Hannah, Sadie and Lou. These three 30-something women were inseparable during their university days in Glasgow, but over a decade later their busy lives mean they rarely ever get chance to meet up, nevertheless the bond between them all remains strong. With each one of the ladies desperate to escape their adult lives with all the responsibilities and trials and tribulations this brings, they soon agree on a last minute hen do, and where better to go than Glasgow, to revisit a place which reminds each one of them of a simpler more straightforward existence. Well, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Hannah is the ‘hen’ as she’s about to marry her dream man, Ryan; the problem is his two children who seem to despise her. Can she really marry a man when she feels like an unwanted guest in her own home? Then there’s Sadie, happily married, successful, and recently relocated to the countryside following the birth of twins. But, is she starting to forget who she really is? Finally there’s Lou, a quirky lovely character who abandoned her creative dreams for a 9-5 job to pay the bills, whilst her long-term bum of a boyfriend sponges off her and cheats on her behind her back. Each of the characters desperately needs this weekend away, but can they recapture their youth? What spanner will their sexy former neighbour, Johnny, who is still in Glasgow, throw into the works? Will any of them be able or wishing to go back to their same old lives in England after the weekend is over?

There are multiple narratives in this book. Not just the three women, but their partners too, and a couple of additional characters. This took a little getting used to until each couple’s story became familiar but I definitely enjoyed this overall, tapping into the male point of view was very interesting for the three stories, particularly in terms of Spike (Lou’s boyfriend), who as the reader you can’t help but despise, but you wonder if he can somehow redeem himself for his actions even if Lou deserves better. Nevertheless, I didn’t always enjoy the change in viewpoint, for me sometimes it happened too frequently. Although I was happy with the ending of the novel, I was disappointed it wasn’t delivered from the viewpoint of one of the central characters, but instead was from the viewpoint of a character that played a very small part in the book overall. For me this didn’t quite fit or add anything, even though the events were ones I was happy with. But maybe I’m just being fussy!

Overall I thought this was a great escapist read (no pun on the title intended!) and I warmed to each of the central characters. Like my Mum, I found myself laughing out loud many times, particularly in relation to how Sadie’s husband Barney copes in caring for the twins when she’s away. When the characters are on the train up to Glasgow, they were having so much fun I just wanted to be on it with them, and when they arrive, it gets even better. This won’t mean much to many people, but I was pleased to see Lou living in York which is where I live, big up Yorkshire!

I thought the book covered a lot of ground in terms of the range of difficulties that people can face in relationships; everyone will be able to relate to something in here, even if like me you don’t have children or step-children. All in all, it’s a great story about friendship and change and it was refreshing to see the male characters' viewpoints shown throughout, giving a holistic view of a situation. I was impressed with Fiona’s ability to balance real life and heartfelt issues with light hearted fun comedy, to me that makes a great read. I’d recommend that you escape with this book this summer!

More by Fiona Gibson:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Winners of "The Meryl Streep Movie Club"

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

Congrats to:
86-Michelle James

Here's a message from Mia March:
Thanks so much to everyone for entering the giveaway for "The Meryl Streep Movie Club." I loved reading your comments and seeing who you'd like to star in your own movie club--such fun and varied answers! If you have a chance to read "The Meryl Streep Movie Club," I hope you enjoy it, and I'd love to hear from you with your thoughts on the book. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone at Chick Lit Central for inviting me to share my novel with you! :) Mia

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 the actors and actresses you'd feature in a movie club. Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock seemed to be the most popular choices amongst this group.

Thanks to Mia for chatting with us and to Simon & Schuster 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.

Elin Hilderbrand has a summer a book giveaway

Photo by Laurie Richards
**Giveaway is now closed**

Today we welcome back Elin Hilderbrand and her brand new novel "Summerland.". Elin lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her ten previous novels. Elin is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa. This is her second visit to Chick Lit Central, as she was here last summer to answer a few questions.

If you would like to learn more about Elin, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

She's here today to tell us about some of her favorite movies. Thanks to Little, Brown, we have THREE copies of "Summerland" to share with some lucky readers in the US and Canada.

Favorite movie of all time?
Love Story with Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal

Favorite movie musical?
The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Movie that made you laugh so hard that you couldn't hear some of the dialogue?
Best in Show

Favorite foreign film?
Life is Beautiful

Who would you cast if Summerland were made into a movie?
Zoe: Julia Roberts
Jordan: Robert Downey Jr.
Ava: Kate Winslet
Al Castle: William Hurt
Lynne Castle: Kathy Bates

Special thanks to Elin for chatting with us and to Little, Brown for facilitating the interview and sharing "Summerland" with our readers.

How to win "Summerland":
Please tell us your favorite movie of all time. (One entry per person.) Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

US/Canada only. (No P.O. Boxes.) Giveaway ends July 1st at midnight EST.

Book Review: Last Summer

By Melissa Amster

Bullying seems to be a prevalent topic these days...and it definitely should be! Earlier this summer, I read "So Far Away" by Meg Mitchell Moore, which involved bullying on an intense level. When I saw that "Last Summer," by Holly Chamberlin, was also about bullying, I was compelled to see how the topic was handled by another women's fiction novelist.

Jane Patterson and Frannie Giroux have been best friends ever since their daughters were born. They live next door to each other in southern Maine and spend idyllic summers together, looking after each other and their kids. Then the unthinkable happens; Jane finds out that Rosie has been bullied and that Frannie's daughter, Meg, is involved in her pain and humiliation. This leads to neighbors no longer speaking to one another and family dynamics shifting course. Will Rosie and Jane be able to forgive Meg and Frannie or will they be spending future summers apart, even while living so close to each other?

"Last Summer" was an interesting and well thought out novel that covered both bullying and the dynamics of friendship. It was interesting to "watch" the interactions between the two adult women as juxtaposed against the interactions of the two teenage girls. I found the chapters that involved either Rosie or Meg's point of views as the most interesting parts of the story. I'm not much of a YA reader, but I found it interesting to see how some of their attitudes and ideas were timeless and others were jaded by the era in which we currently live. The adults were closer to my age, but they seemed a lot older for some reason. Maybe because I haven't raised a teenager yet, I can't completely relate. However, I enjoyed reading the parts involving Frannie because she had a lot of interesting drama and struggles to deal with. Her ex-husband was a deadbeat and she had financial concerns. Her ability to make friends was limited, so it seemed harder on her when Jane cut off their connection.

Having said that, even though Jane also seemed to be short on friends and her daughter was the one being bullied, I had the hardest time relating to her. The chapters involving her point of view just seemed so dry. I wanted her to experience some sort of personal drama, as well. A fight with her husband wasn't enough to satisfy me. Thankfully, the other perspectives balanced hers out and her chapters were relatively short.

I liked the chapters that featured Rosie's diary, as they gave me a lot of insight into what she was going through. I was especially pleased that there was no dialogue in the diary entries. They felt more authentic, as a result. However, having the bullying scenes in diary format took away from the intensity of those scenes. I would have rather seen Rosie in the moment instead of reflecting upon it later. They did paint a good picture of what people go through at the hands of bullies; her depression felt like a lead weight on my shoulders and even if someone had never experienced bullying, they'd be able to sympathize. I think anyone who had been a bully and read Rosie's diary would call their victims and apologize profusely!

The only other concern I had was with character references. Jane would be the featured perspective of a chapter, but then be referred to as Mrs. Patterson. Or Rosie would sometimes refer to Jane as her mother and other times as Jane. The balance of references based on perspective just felt awkward as a result. Meg and Rosie's voices sometimes sounded similar, which also threw me off as to who was narrating a chapter.

Overall, I liked "Last Summer." Aside from the harsh realities of bullying, it had a nice coming of age feel. Ms. Chamberlin's use of detail made me feel like I was at the beach or shopping downtown with the girls. It put me in the mood for summer and there was a peaceful, "comfort food" feel to the story. This is my first experience with reading something by Ms. Chamberlin. I noticed that she has written a bunch of novels, so I'd appreciate recommendations for a must-read by her.

Special thanks to Kensington for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Holly Chamberlin:

Friday, June 22, 2012

What's in the mail today?

Melissa A:

"When Girlfriends Break Hearts" by Savannah Page from Amazon (e-book; free mid-week; now $2.99)
"Creative Chaos" by Kate Lynch from Amazon (e-book; free until midnight; $2.99 otherwise)

"Size 12 and Ready to Rock" by Meg Cabot from HarperCollins


"Beach Colors" by Shelley Noble from HarperCollins


"Breaking the Rules" by Cat Lavoie from Marching Ink(e-book)


"Natasha Naturally" by Catherine Lucas from the author (e-book; currently 99 cents for Kindle)

"Skeleton Women" by Mingmei Yip from the author

"I Live, You Move On" by Lendy Demetrius from AuthorRight