Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Winners of "Forgotten"

To find our winners, we assigned a number to each entry-including bonus questions (from only the entries with contact info) and asked to choose two numbers.

Congrats to:
119-Bridget O'Neill

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 TV show should have a musical episode. We saw How I Met Your Mother on the list a few times (you can't get enough of Neil Patrick Harris' Broadway performances, right?), along with some other fun ideas.

Thanks to Catherine McKenzie for a lovely interview and sharing her birthday with us.

Catherine's message to the winners: Thanks so much for entering the contest. Congrats and let me know what you think of the book.

Thanks to HarperCollins for sharing Forgotten with our winners.

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

Trick or treating the TV way with Jen a book giveaway

Introduction and interview by Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

A few weeks ago, I had what I would call a "Jen Tucker moment," which was based on something from her previous memoir, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out. I proceeded to e-mail her right away and was in such a rush that I didn't realize until too late that I had e-mailed one of my friends with the same first name. So it was a double "Jen Tucker moment!" Then I e-mailed Jen to tell her about the new embarrassment in my life. Naturally, I made the queen of comedic writing laugh! Jen just has that effect on me. I know she'll have the same effect on you when you read her special Halloween-themed TV month interview. She's so funny and easy to relate to!

Since she last appeared at CLC, she was one of our authors for International Chick Lit Month and she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. (My older son loved it and proceeded to make her a video telling her so! Heck, I even loved it, but Jen adds love to everything she does, so no surprise there!) She's been blogging monthly for Survival for Blondes. Oh yeah, and she wrote another memoir, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt (reviewed here). This time, you don't have to hide the cover, even though it might confuse people who are prone to think that it rains salt.

So sit back with a stash of your favorite Halloween candy and check out whose house Jen would trick-or-treat at and which TV show she watches for a good scare. Then enter to win either one of TWO copies of The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt (reader's choice of print or Kindle) or one of TWO copies of Little Pumpkin (Kindle only). Both treats are being offered tricks involved here! She's so generous, isn't she?!?

If you just can't get enough of Jen (trust me, she's hard to resist), visit her at Twitter, Facebook, her blog or on her website.

First, and always top billing, thank you so much Melissa, and everyone else at CLC, for letting me stop by today. You are always warm and welcoming and I cannot sing your praises high enough for all you do to spread around the love of, chick lit, books and reading. To be with you on Halloween is an absolute treat! Get it? Get it?! Okay...on with the tricks!

Favorite Halloween themed episode of a TV show:
Hands down, my favorite is the Little House on the Prairie episode when Laura and her buddy, Carl, think that Mr. Oleson pulled the old Marie Antoinette on Mrs. Oleson! I had Headless Horseman nightmares for a long time after that one. *Jen shivers*

Scariest episode you've seen of any TV series:
Holy smokes! You caught me at just the right time to ask this question. Friends of ours have raved about the series, Breaking Bad, so Mike, my hubby, and I have been catching up with the television series on Netflix. There’s an episode where a DEA agent has just been informed by an anonymous phone call that he has one minute before Mexican cartel members arrive to shoot him down in a Home Depot parking lot! I stood in front of my TV, yelling, “No-no-no-no-no-no!!!” over and over, while rocking back and forth and hugging myself. You would’ve thought they were coming after me, I was so freaked out!

Which TV series do you watch when you need a good scare?
I am a rabid fan of the AMC series, The Walking Dead. I do not inhale or exhale once the entire 60 minutes the show airs on Sunday nights. As a general rule of thumb, I’m no longer the horror fan I was as a teenager. I was always present opening night for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies. I’m so wimpy now, that I cover my eyes during fight scenes on a sitcom! The way the brilliant creators and talented actors have crafted a zombie show with heart, depth and storyline keep me coming back for more. No one is safe from zombies, people; no one…

Jen's daughter
Have you, your husband or your kids (or dogs) ever dressed as a TV character for Halloween? If so, which one? If not, who do you think would be fun to dress as?
I love dressing up for Halloween! I was more of the angel, princess and witch-type of costume girl. If I were to dress-up this year, and I just might, I would definitely be one of the gals from Mad Men in the early 60’s period of the show. I just love how they wore pearls and heels back then while making Wonder Bread sandwiches and swilling gin, because that is totally not in my daily routine. My friend, author Angie Klink, gave me a fake Mad Men cigarette, and so I have that part of the costume covered. My children, however, have quite the television costume resume:

Wil: Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Bob the Builder, Buzz Lightyear.
Ryan: (See Wil’s previous costumes) Blue from Blue’s Clues.
Gracie: Minnie Mouse

This Halloween, Gracie has decided to be a Care Bear, yet her costume looks more like a prom dress much to her father’s chagrin. Ryan has purchased his final (so he says) Halloween costume ever to wear to the 8th grade dance. I cannot reveal any more information about said costume, due to my parental contractual agreement with him. Plus, there are prizes involved, and he doesn’t want anyone getting a leg up on him with insider information. Wil is now sixteen, and feels it’s in his best interest to be in the candy distribution business, rather than gathering it. *Jen thinks Wil’s lining his own pockets with candy. She’s no fool.*

This all belongs to Jen, so hands off!
Favorite candy to munch on while watching TV?
Would you believe my confectionery preference changes with the seasons? In winter, I chow down on York Peppermint Patties while watching TV. In the spring, I lean towards milk chocolate and dabble in Laffy Taffy. There is also the occasional snitching from my kid’s Easter baskets for a Cadbury Cream Egg. They hate those things, yet The Easter Bunny at my mom’s house leaves them some every year. That’s a win-win for me! In the summer, I love Mike and Ike candies, and M&M’s. I think the no melting in your hands thing they have going on appeals to me in the Indiana heat. Now let’s talk fall candy. Candy corn is my sugar of choice this time of year. I have to ration it to myself or I could easily O.D.

"Scariest" reality TV star:
I have to go with the ninth cast mate on The Jersey Shore. This is an unbilled cast member who has important screen time. It’s Pauly D’s hair. Have you seen it? It defies logic and gravity! What is he hiding within that mane of mystery? Maybe that’s where he stores his zombie apocalypse necessities.

Which TV family's house would you want to trick-or-treat at?
I’m totally going to ring the doorbell at the Huxtables! You know you’d get the giant candy bars there, along with a joke, a lecture, and maybe a dance move or two from Bill Cosby.

If you could choose a costume for any TV character, who would you pick and what would you dress them as?
Gosh, I feel like Carson Kressley! I love makeovers! I would love to dress Cam, Mitchell and Lily from Modern Family in themed costumes. It would have to be something Cam would go ga-ga over, and Mitchell would loathe. My initial instinct is to go with clowns, due to Cam’s endearing love for dressing as one. That’s too obvious a choice though. Oh! I got it! They should all dress like Smurfs! Mitchell is so uptight, that I can just seem him cringing as Cam lathers on the blue makeup.

Thanks to Jen for cracking us up, as always, and sharing her books with our readers!

How to win The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt OR Little Pumpkin:
Please tell us which TV family's house you'd go trick-or-treating at. (One entry per person.) Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

Giveaway ends November 5th at midnight EST.

Book Review: The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt

 By Tracey Meyers

Salt.  For some reason, it's the one ingredient I seem to always forget to put in my pie dough mix until the very last possible minute. (I mean, this one time I even sprinkled some in as I was rolling the dough out.)

The above mentioned pie dough is the only reason I keep salt in my home.  If it weren't for my obsession with making pies from scratch, and the insistence of others that pie dough taste bland without it, salt would not take up resistance in my kitchen cabinets.  However, for Jen Tucker and her family, salt is just like another member of the family and without it, things become that much more wacky in their lives.   

In her latest memoir, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt, Jen takes readers on a journey through the time her family lost the one of their most precious members - the salt shaker.  And a funny journey it was to take.  I thoroughly enjoyed this ride and the stories that accompanied it.  Many of them so relatable, I couldn't help but write her a novel-like e-mail about how all the different stories I related to - and that was just after reading two chapters!  (Sorry Melissa A, I tried really hard to refrain from doing this, but I couldn't help myself!)  Dentist drama, ant drama, dentist drama, kids trying to work situations to their advantage, vet drama, Vegas and BFFs.  Though I was a bit exhausted (figuratively speaking) at times taking all the events in, I surely enjoyed a glimpse into Jen's world and appreciated her ability to laugh at herself and her family... which is another reason I enjoyed her book so much as I firmly believe a key life skill to have is the ability to laugh at oneself and the things that are happening around them.

Now, it might seem like I'm going off on a bit of a tangent.  And, to be quite honest, I believe I am.  However, I would expect that because I am talking about Jen Tucker.  See, in real life, Jen sometimes has a tendency to go off on tangents... ok, she had a tendency to go off on tangents a lot of times.  Now, don't take that the wrong way; it's not a bad thing.  I don't begrudge her for this; it's actually part of her charm.  However, I do think it's something important to note because if you didn't know this about her, and read her book, you might form the opinion that the structure of her book is a bit off when in fact it's just Jen being Jen ... only in a written form.  Before this fact sunk-in, even I was a bit confused and wondered why the chapters of her book just seemed to end abruptly.  After realizing this fact, I instantly knew she would eventually tie-up the loose ends, which she does in the chapter titled, "For the Curious" (that would be me!).  In the end (literally), this just allowed me to enjoy the book even more than I already did prior.

The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt was the first time I read a book by Jen Tucker.  I was glad that I got the opportunity to spend some time with the Tuckers, and will need to backtrack a bit and check out Jen's first memoir, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside OutFurthermore, the next time I forget to add salt to whatever I may be making (most likely pie dough), I'm sure they will all come to mind and bring a smile to my face as Jen's book brought me each and every time I picked it up.

Thanks to Jen Tucker for the book in exchange for an honest review. She's sharing The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt along with her children's e-book, Little Pumpkin, over at her interview.

You might also enjoy:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Live from CLC, it's Kaya McLaren.... plus a special giveaway

Introduction by Gail Allison

**Giveaway is now closed**

Kaya McLaren lives a deliberate life: one that lets her pursue her dreams, yet stay grounded.  She knows that yes, life can be beautiful, but she also knows that it can be torturous, difficult, and every last one of us will experience all of that.  Ms McLaren finds inspiration and strength from everything around her.  Everything around us is always changing, all the time, and she understands and embraces the fact that in order to pick ourselves up and carry on we can’t fight the change, but we need to learn to change right along with it.  She’s familiar with change:  she has been a model, worked at a health store and at Dairy Queen, and worked on archaeology contracts.  She has lived in a tipi, in a house with no insulation, and in a delightful little cabin on the edge of the Snoqualmie valley.  All of this has come together to inspire her to the point where she now has three fantastic novels under her belt, her latest being How I Came to Sparkle Again (reviewed here). We’re so excited she could take some time out for us today.

Kaya is here today to talk about her favorite TV shows. Thanks to AuthorsOnTheWeb, we have a copy of How I Came to Sparkle Again for one of our readers in the US or Canada. In addition, Kaya has a pair of gloves and Ghirardelli hot chocolate for one lucky reader in the US or Canada.

You can find Kaya at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Favorite TV Show from the 80’s:
Does Saturday Night Live count? Oh, what a funny cast… Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Nora Dunn, Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, Kevin Nealon, Chris Farley, David Spade, Jon Lovitz, and Dennis Miller… Legends.

Favorite Cartoon Series:
I’m a purist—Looney Tunes. To this day, when I’m in a meeting or somewhere I don’t want to be, sometimes I just start thinking about Bugs Bunny in The Barber of Seville. It’s my good place. When he gives Elmer a scalp massage with his feet, it just looks like it would feel so good.

TV Show I felt was cancelled too soon:
A few years ago I really loved Men on Trees about a writer in Alaska, and October Road. I was so sad when they were axed.

TV Show that is most like my life:
Northern Exposure—where I’m having conversations with friends about lucid dreaming one moment, and target shooting the next. I loved that show.

TV show that is a guilty pleasure for me:
Revenge. I don’t do fear well, so I end up wide awake for hours and dragging the next day. I should not watch it. I should not. And yet I can’t stop.

Funniest commercial I’ve seen recently:
The Republican National Convention. It’s that part about how fiscally responsible they are with their unfunded war and tax cuts for the rich. Does it get funnier than that?

Episode of a show that made me cry the most:
I can’t think of one episode in particular, but Parenthood is a show that often moves me. I cried just last night when one of the characters was getting diagnosed with breast cancer. Each time I watch it, I just marvel at the phenomenal writing, directing, and acting. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

What TV series would you like to see do a musical episode?
Rock Center with Brian Williams.

Special thanks to Kaya for chatting with us and sharing gloves and hot chocolate and AuthorsOnTheWeb for sharing How I Came to Sparkle Again with our readers.
How to win How I Came to Sparkle Again OR gloves and Ghirardelli hot chocolate:
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 do you feel was cancelled way too soon?
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. Follow us on Twitter and/or Pinterest.
6. 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 November 4th at midnight EST.

Book Review: How I Came to Sparkle Again

By Melissa Amster

Whenever I receive a new book and am not sure whether I'll like it or not, I look to see who endorsed it and what they thought. In the case of How I Came to Sparkle Again by Kaya McLaren, I found endorsements by two of my favorite authors, Kristin Hannah and Sarah Pekkanen. I knew that if they loved it, I would love it too. Did my theory work? Keep reading...

Jill can barely focus on work again after a tragic loss and when she leaves early from her first day back on the job, it leads to a further demise of everything she thought was sacred. The only thing left to do is flee to Sparkle, Colorado....the ski town where she spent her teen years to escape a difficult family situation.

Lisa is through with men coming through the revolving door of her life and wants real love, even if it means having to trust a man. When the possibility of love comes in the form of her ski bum best friend, she doesn't know whether she should run from it or take it for everything it's worth.

The untimely death of 10 year-old Cassie's mother has left both her father and her stricken with grief. Will they ever be able to find happiness again? Cassie hopes to find the answers in the heart shaped rocks she and her mom used to collect.

Loss. Heartbreak. Sadness. Regret. One winter in Sparkle has the power to change all of their lives in ways they will never forget.

Here's the short version of my review: I LOVED this novel and you all must go out and get it at once and devour it right away!

Here's the longer review, where I justify the short version:
Kaya McLaren has the power to draw readers in from the very first sentence, grabbing them right away and not letting go till...well, she still has a hold on me. Jill, Lisa and Cassie are all very sympathetic characters and I found it easy to relate to them, even if we had nothing in common. They felt as real to me as friends and I missed them when I had to put down the story for a while. Getting to read more about them felt like a real treat. The supporting characters (a.k.a. the guys...even though some of them had their own focus from time to time) were also incredible and added so much depth to the story through their interactions with the lead characters. Kaya's use of description made me feel like I was standing in a snowbank on a blustery winter day. She knew how to bring winter to her readers in a realistic way. I would have preferred her to explain some of the ski terminology, as I tended to get lost during those parts. However, the story was so strong that lack of skiing knowledge on my end didn't detract from it.

While this novel could easily be a tearjerker, I didn't cry. It felt more like a giant hug than a reason for catharsis. That's not to say I didn't feel emotionally exhilarated, like I was the one skiing down a hill of heartbreak and loss, leading to another hill with comfort and romance. (Did I mention that this story is wonderfully romantic, as well?!?) Kaya doesn't hold back though and it shows in the way her characters voice their feelings. There are some Hallmark card moments, but there's a lot of raw and honest emotion, as well. Especially when it comes to Cassie and her ability to speak uncensored. In any case, I do want to warn mothers-to-be to hold off on reading it until their baby is brought safely into the world.

Overall, reading How I Came to Sparkle Again was like drinking mugs of steaming hot cocoa with whipped cream on top while sitting in front of a crackling fire. It just warms you from inside and that feeling remains long after the last page. I commend Kaya for writing this novel and look forward to more like it in the future. It was absolutely unforgettable and one of my favorites from this year. So to answer my earlier question, Kristin Hannah and Sarah Pekkanen know how to pick great stories as well as they know how to write them!

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. We're doing a giveaway along with Kaya's interview, so don't miss out! (US/Canada only.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Books of the Week - October 29th

Thanks for checking out our newest feature...Books of the Week! There are nine 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.

"A Gift For My Sister"
By Ann Pearlman  

A fast paced, riveting page turner that poses the larger questions of where did I come from, how did I become me, and how do we form a family.  Set in a backdrop as vast as a continent, and diverse as plush beach condos, inner city Detroit, and exhilarating rap concerts, it’s a tale told by two fatherless daughters struggling with family curses, eccentric luck, and the complicated multiculturalism that is hallmark of our era.
Sky, obedient and cautious, has worked hard to build her dream life. In her ideal job as a lawyer and married to handsome Troy, they live with their three-year-old daughter, Rachel, in a house on the beach.  Younger sister, Tara, rebellious and impetuous, has fallen in love with the irresistible Aaron, become pregnant in high school, and embarked on a rollercoaster life as a musician.  But when tragedy besets Sky, her world is turned upside down. Amazingly, Tara and Aaron and their rap crew, instead of facing a future destined to be foolhardy and risky, are on the brink of fame.  With this astonishing reversal of fortune, Tara offers to help Sky start over and move home. On the road trip tensions between the two sisters erupt, loyalties are tested and long hidden secrets revealed.  The journey they embark on forces each woman to take a walk in the other’s shoes and examine what sisterhood, and family means to them.
Ann Pearlman can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

 "Me & D*ck"
By C. Robinson

 “I think I can do a better job at taking care of myself than you can do of protecting your balls from my teeth if we hit turbulence."
---Sunshyne Mercy
 Experiencing her quarter-life crisis Sunshyne Mercy is in need of a life-style makeover.  By day the virginal NYC kindergarten teacher tries her best to prepare her students for the "real" world. By night the sexy partial escort attends parties, concerts, movie premiers and political campaigns accompanying high-profile, high paying men. Her ultimate goal is to run a world renowned escorting agency making her the leading Madame. 
Women hate her and men are attracted to her. Wherever she goes Sunshyne turns heads. She utilizes her clients to help make her dream possible. From the outside Sunshyne seems cool, calm and collected while inside she’s struggling with popularity, loneliness and questions whether or not she’ll ever find true love. Meet her clients and discover how crazy some guys act when in the presence of a beautiful woman. Sunshyne captivates her audience through her wit, charm and determination to be the best partial escort the world has to offer.

"Me & D*ck" is $0.99 for Kindle.

C. Robinson can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Guest Book Review: The Ex-Debutante

By Allie Smith

The Ex-Debutante, by Linda Francis Lee, is the most fun I’ve had reading a book in a while. But don’t let the fun, fashionable cover or the idea of debutantes fool you into thinking this is pure confection. At the heart of this story is a lesson everyone can learn, especially those of us who are Type A and always follow the rules. The lesson is this: Sometimes losing control can land you in a far better place than you’d meticulously plotted yourself to be. Also, you can run, but you can’t hide from where you come from - it’s always a part of you.

The Ex-Debutante successfully juggles many subplots. There’s family, legal, social, and of course, love story drama. As if that were not enough, it’s set in the Texan world of Junior Leagues and debutante balls where everyone has money, and lots of it. The descriptions of houses, clothes and parties are the things of Dallas & Dynasty. Even the character names are dramatic: Carlisle, Ridgley, Racine, India. Drama, drama everywhere – but the book is also very, very funny. I got the giggles more than once.

The heroine of the story is Carlisle Wainwright Cushing, who’s grown up somewhat in the shadow of her mother and sister, both Texas beauties who cannot live without a man. At a young age, Carlisle promised herself that she would never end up like them. She’d always dedicated herself to her studies and to being responsible (too often, for her own mother). She’d only ever lost herself to a man, once…briefly, to Jack Blair, an extraordinary Texas hunk. He’s smart, good-looking, charming and oh so “bad.” He was a totally irresponsible choice. Question is – is he still?

After escaping to a safe life in Boston as an attorney, Carlisle is summoned back to Texas to handle her mother’s divorce case. Through a series of family missteps--because Carlisle never walks away from her responsibilities--she also ends up running this year’s Debutante Ball. The irony is, when Carlisle was a debutante, she literally fell on her face. She has her hands full, too. Let’s just say, this year’s crop of debs is far from traditional. Throw in a deb-disdaining, woman’s lib trumpeting sister-in-law who tries to reinvent the sexist tradition, and things get really interesting.

Of course, the opposing counsel in her mother’s divorce case turns out to be Jack Blair and man do the sparks fly - in both the courtroom and the men’s room! All the while, Carlisle is forced to examine and resolve the decades-old resentments she’s held towards her mother and sister. Carlisle has to admit that her need to control everything, to have order and to take care of everyone, prevents her from enjoying and experiencing all that make this life special: family, love and fun. To quote a character, “Messy is good.”

Like I said, drama! But it sure was fun. I was sad when the book ended. The author’s style of writing is fun and fast-paced and dripping with syrupy backhanded southern charm (think of the duplicitous ambiguity of “bless her heart”). Her southern cast of characters are the perfect blend of quirky personalities, many of whom have broken hearts in search of mending. Her story begs the question, “Can you love your family and like them at the same time?” And she also points out that just because you live with someone, it doesn’t mean you really know them…but more importantly, it’s never too late to try.

This book was published a few years ago and I bought it as a hardback– sadly it sat on my shelf for a few years. Shame on me, because it is a gem!

Allie Smith, a former CPA who five years into her career decided that she hated working with numbers and willingly gave it all up to be a stay-at-home mom, lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and four children. In between carpool, play dates and refereeing the kids, she loves to read and write. The mother of a child with autism, she is currently working on a memoir of their journey.

More by Linda Francis Lee:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Review: Kiss and Tell

By Gail Allison

Tash and Hugo Beauchamp are three-day eventing’s golden couple. “The Beauchampions”, as they are called, are renowned for their riding skill and their stellar ability to bring out a horse’s full potential. But understanding horses and understanding people are two very different skills. Ever since her fall, Tash has been terrified of getting back on the literal horse. Hugo can’t understand why anyone would be scared of riding, and is slowly withdrawing into himself. When she checks his phone, Tash finds incriminating texts from “V”, which just drives a deeper wedge into their marriage. Will the Beauchampions reign again or be driven apart by the very sport that brought them together?

Meanwhile, Faith Brakespear is in love with Rory. Rory is in love with liquor and is in lust with any woman who crosses his path. Beccy is pretending to be Tash while texting the hunky New Zealand show jumper Lough Strachan (who just happens to be Hugo’s mortal enemy, but may be coming to train at his yard). Lemon is Lough’s groom, who arrives at the yard much before his rider, befriending (and maybe more) Faith and Beccy. Sylva Frost is famous for being famous, and is looking for more of the same. Will becoming a horse owner of a champion three-day eventer be the key to what she wants, or will she need to continue baiting the tabloids with weight fluctuations and throwaway romances to stay where she wants to be in the glossies?

Once again, Fiona Walker has crafted a tale of romances gone awry, husbands and wives misbehaving, and (of course) a few happy endings set against the background of three-day-eventing. Kiss and Tell is the third book in a set of three, but can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel. Her style is similar to Jilly Cooper (probably why I love her books so much), but with notably less bedroom action. This book is also chock-full of “Britishisms” – word play and punnery that is so prevalent in UK novels. If you enjoy this kind of book, I’d recommend starting with French Relations, moving on to Well Groomed, and then finishing up the trifecta with Kiss and Tell. Be warned though: these novels are not for the faint of heart. Although they’re fun and fluffy and really a rollicking good time, they’re also enormous. Kiss and Tell clocked in at 881 pages…paperback. Well Groomed is the shortest of the three books, and it’s almost 700 pages in paperback. If you were looking for a reason to purchase an e-reader, I’d say these books are one of the best reasons you’ll find.

Ms Walker does a great job in each of these novels explaining the intricacies of three-day eventing. She keeps the explanations light and interesting, never getting bogged down in technicalities and details. You come away from these books feeling like you have a basic understanding of the sport without ever really trying to learn anything. She also develops her characters very convincingly. We’ve all seen celebutantes like Sylva Frost in the tabloids. You’re never sure what they’re famous for, but somehow every move they make is headline news. We can all relate to Faith’s agony over her feelings towards Rory, and every little change she makes to herself trying to catch his eye. And we can all understand a small miscommunication that ends up snowballing into a massive misunderstanding. These real-life situations are absolutely one of the hallmarks of Ms Walker’s writing. I truly can’t get enough of her books, and I hope like crazy there’s a fourth installment in the works.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
Something New by Janis Thomas from Berkley (Penguin)

All She Ever Wanted by Rosalind Noonan from Kensington

Becoming Mrs. Walsh by/from Jessica Gordon (e-book). Amy also got this.

Once More with Feeling by/from  Megan Crane (e-book)

Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners from St. Martin's Press

When She Was Gone by Gwendolen Gross from Gallery Books

Easy by Tammara Webber from Berkley (Penguin)

Totlandia (Book 1) by Josie Brown from Coliloquy (e-book)

New York Minute by Eve Paludan (e-book, free from Amazon for a limited time)

How Do You Voodoo? by Janice Horton (e-book, free from Amazon for a limited time)


The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt by/from Jen Tucker (Melissa A and Amy also got this)

Paris in Love by Eloisa James from Random House

Viewer Discretion Advised by/from Cindy Roesel

Memoir of the Sunday Brunch by Julia Pandl from Algonquin Books

Breast Left Unsaid by Jude Callirgos from Pace Public Relations (e-book)

It's Hard Not To Hate You by Valerie Frankel from  St. Martin's Press

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? by Rhoda Janzen from Grand Central Publishing

Brooklyn Love by Yael Levy from F+W Media

My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future by Kate and David Marshall from Penguin


Friendkeeping by Julie Klam from Penguin

Here I Go Again by/from Jen Lancaster

You Tell Your Dog First by Alison Pace from Penguin

The Longest Way Home by/from Andrew McCarthy (won through his Twitter page)


Saving Each Other: A Mystery Illness - A Search for a Cure - A Mother Daughter Love Story by Victoria Jackson & Ali Guthy from Vanguard Press


Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones sent by Hodder and Stoughton

A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams from HarperCollins UK

Bound To You by Nichi Hodgson from Hodder and Stoughton

When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson from Avon


The Booby Trap by Anne Browning Walker from PR By the Book (Melissa A got this too)

Book Review and Giveaway: Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend

By Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

I have a history of friendships with gay men. On any given weekend in the past (during my days of being single), I'd have an instant date to dance clubs and theater performances. One even accompanied me to a wedding. So, as soon as I heard about Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend, I knew I had to check it out. I thought it would be all about the love girls like me have for their gay male counterparts. However, Sabrina Zollo had other things in store for her lead character, Veronica.

After receiving her MBA, Veronica Lopez has dreams of working for Amnesty International and taking the non-profit world by storm. However, reality sets in and she ends up working for Gisele, marketing  cosmetics that are just designed to make hot women look even hotter. She suffers through dealing with a crazy boss and all sorts of mean girls, until the day Stevie befriends her. Stevie is gay and knows everything about fashion. He takes Veronica under his wing and gives her a makeover, as well as teaches her the ropes at Gisele. Soon, he's more important to her (and crucial to her survival at Gisele) than her closest girlfriends. As Veronica continues to get absorbed in her job, she loses sight of what is important to her, including her friendship with Stevie. What will she be able to salvage after she realizes she's gotten in too far?

I had some concerns over the level of originality in this novel, as it pretty much follows the idea of The Devil Wears Prada and the many other novels like that. (I even read and reviewed one earlier this fall with a similar premise.) While I liked that she met her gay boyfriend at work because I met one of my closest gay boyfriends at a previous job, I feel like she could have met him anywhere or they could have kept their relationship separate from the competitive corporate environment. While Stevie tried to be a voice of reason for Veronica, sometimes being in the same office building wasn't conducive to having a harmonious friendship. I also worried initially that their friendship was stereotypical and superficial. They were just shopping all the time and Stevie was giving Veronica makeovers. They didn't do that much socially otherwise. Some of my favorite memories involve just hanging out in my gay boyfriend's apartment and watching movie musicals or chick flicks and baking cakes together. (We also went clubbing, but I'm not going to spill any details from those experiences.) Eventually, Stevie and Veronica built up to the point where they started talking about relationship insecurities and that's when the story picked up some steam. (Not THAT kind of steam, mind you!)

I didn't always agree with Veronica's behavior, but sometimes I could relate to what she was going through. I've dealt with lots of stress at work before, mostly from previous jobs, but even through the current job that I love. I remember working late hours to get everything done on time. I tend to fall behind on keeping up with my friends and am hoping they're more understanding than Veronica's friends were, even though I could also understand their point of view. While Veronica's boss seemed more like a caricature than a human being, she even had some decent moments. What really intrigued me was the mean girl culture at Gisele. I've worked with some mean girls in the past, but nothing like what Veronica had to deal with. They were relentless and even made me squirm! I definitely felt sorry for her in that regard. It seemed like nothing she did made things any easier when it came to breaking into their tight clique.

There was something that kept me drawn to this novel. Perhaps it was the easygoing nature of Sabrina Zollo's writing style. She doesn't waste time with descriptions, nor does she expect readers to know every fashion brand on the planet. She provides enough of a visual that it's easy to follow along with the story. Then there was the sincere hope that even though Veronica lost sight of what was important to her, she just HAD to see the error of her ways and I was waiting for her epiphany to occur. When it did, there was an overall feeling of satisfaction. I won't say what happens or how it all goes down, but the ending is realistic. It's not totally happy and it's not totally sad. Just honest.

While I think the story could use some tightening up at times, it was entertaining overall. It reminded me of Ugly Betty to the point where I was even picturing America Ferrera and Michael Urie as Veronica and Stevie and Becki Newton as one of the mean girls. Eric Mabius would even make a good Caden (the hot male boss at Gisele), come to think of it!  And why not give Vanessa Williams some Medusa-like hair and cast her as Savannah (Veronica's boss), while we're at it?

If you're looking for some light entertainment that also teaches a few lessons about balancing career with friendship, you've come to the right place.

Thanks to Central Avenue Publishing for the e-book in exchange for an honest review. They also have a signed e-book of Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend for a lucky reader anywhere in the world. In addition, we have a paperback copy of Mean Girls at Work by Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster for  a lucky reader anywhere in the world. 

How to win Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend OR Mean Girls at Work:

Please tell us:
1. Your favorite gay guy from a TV show.
2. Your favorite mean girl from a TV show.
3. Your favorite TV show that takes place in a corporate environment.

Please choose only one of the three, as it is only one entry per person (any more than that will not win bonus points, but you can still answer for fun). Also, please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

Giveaway ends October 31st at midnight EST

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Becoming couch potatoes with Tracey and the Melissas

Since we're asking authors all their favorite things about TV this month, we also want to share our own fun TV memories. Today Melissa A., Melissa P. and Tracey are flipping channels.

Melissa A:

Favorite TV show of all time:
Full House. It's my comfort show. I find that as an adult, I can relate more to the guys, but I still love all the pre-teen and teen angst.

Favorite show from the 90's:
I'm such a 90s TV geek. My So-Called Life, Friends, Party of Five, The X-Files, Dawson's Creek, Seinfeld...the list goes on!

Character you are most similar to:
Claire Dunphy from Modern Family. It's actually freaky how similar our personalities are!

Guilty pleasure show:
90210! Who needs Jason Priestley and Luke Perry when you can have Matt Lanter?!?

Favorite character from any show:
Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother. She's like my TV best friend. I love how much character depth she has and how she will just do embarrassing things and get all into whatever it is. And her wink rivals that of Barney Stinson's.

Favorite show that your kids watch now (admit it, you watch too!):
I liked watching Hi-5 with my boys when that was still on the air. It was very cute...they had little skits and musical numbers based on a theme. We had this sampler DVD with one episode and my younger son would call it "coo coo cah" because there was a song called "Cool, Cool Cat." I actually met the actor who sang that when he was in In the Heights and I was more excited to meet him than any of the original Broadway cast!

Favorite theme song:
I get the theme from The Big Bang Theory in my head a lot and love that Barenaked Ladies sings it. I also love "I'll Be There for You" and I still clap at the beginning. :)

Show that deserves to be a Scene It game theme:
Arrested Development!

Melissa P:

Favorite crime/law series:
Law and Order: SVU
I love this show. While it is sometimes hard to stomach both mentally and physically, I am a huge advocate in the fight for women's safety and protection. I support the Joyful Heart Foundation which Mariska Hargitay is heavily involved in. It's just one more reason I love this show. Anyone actively involved in the fight regarding violence against women gets my TV time.

Favorite performance show:
So You Think You Can Dance. As a dancer my whole life, I love and appreciate the talent and hard work that the dancers exhibit. It's truly awe inspiring.

Show you felt was cancelled way too soon: 
The Chicago Code. This was such a great show and being from Chicago, I felt was a pretty accurate portrayal of Chicago politics, which is probably why it was canceled...

Character you are most similar to:
Sarah from Parenthood. While I do not have kids and our lives are very different, I see so much of my personality and mannerisms in her character. I am a pretty laid back person and it takes a lot to really rattle me to my core. I try to take life one day at a time even when it's crazy and heartbreaking and confusing. I keep going and stay positive. I like to think its a gift that I was blessed with. The walls can be falling down around me and I'll just say "well, I guess we can go grab a pizza and a bottle of wine and figure this thing out..."

Episode that made you cry the most:
The recent episode of Parenthood. When Christina told the family she has breast cancer, I cried like a baby. It's a subject close to my heart and my family and I couldn't stop the tears.

Funniest episode of your favorite comedy series:
The episode of Friends where Chandler and Joey get robbed. I don't know why, but I crack up every time I see that episode. If you haven't seen it, Google or YouTube it! Hilarious!!!

Guilty pleasure show:
Glee. I can't believe I'm admitting this but I absolutely LOVE Glee!!!

Favorite show of all time: This is a three-way tie between Gilmore Girls, Felicity, and Sex and the City. All pretty self explanatory. Humor, drama, love...trifecta.


Favorite channel for TV shows (cable or network):
ABC seems to be the station with a lot of shows I like over the past couple of years, however CBS is a close second.

Favorite comedy series:
Tie between How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory.

Favorite crime/law series:
Castle and Law and Order

Show you felt was cancelled WAY too soon:
Best Friends Forever

Guilty pleasure show:
Reality TV

Episode of a show that made you cry the most:
I'm not sure it made me cry the most, but I did cry at the How I Met Your Mother episode when Marshall finds out his dad died.

Favorite cooking show:
The original Iron Chef and Cupcake Wars

Favorite soap opera:
I don't watch soap operas anymore, but for a brief period of time back in the 90s I watched Days of Our Lives on a fairly regular basis.

Riding the big yellow taxi with Julie Klam, plus a book giveaway

Photo by Sarah Shatz
**Giveaway is now closed**

Today we welcome Julie Klam and her latest memoir, Friendkeeping. Julie Klam grew up in Bedford, New York. After attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and interning at Late Night with David Letterman, she went on to write for such publications as O: The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, and The New York Times Magazine and for the VH1 television show Pop-Up Video, where she earned an Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Special Class Writing." Her other books include Love at First Bark, You Had Me at Woof and Please Excuse my Daughter. She lives in New York City.

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

Thanks to Penguin, we have THREE copies of Friendkeeping to give away to some lucky readers anywhere in the US.

Favorite TV show of all time: 

Favorite comedy series: 


Favorite snack to eat while watching TV: 

Combination of corn nuts and wasabi peas my dad makes

Show that is most like your life: 

Sesame Street

Funniest commercial you've seen recently: 

Haven't seen a commercial in years

Show you wouldn't be caught dead watching: 

Any show where women attempt to discover who their baby daddy is

Guilty pleasure show: 

Good Luck, Charlie (Disney Channel)

Special thanks to Julie for making us smile and Penguin for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win Friendkeeping:

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. Since this book is about friendship and we're celebrating TV month, please tell us: What is your favorite episode of Friends? (If you've never seen any episode of Friends, just tell us so and it still counts.)
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. Follow us on Twitter and/or Pinterest.
6. 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 October 30th at midnight EST.

Chick Lit is Not Dead is also doing a giveaway for this book. (US/Canada. Ends 10/28.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Winner of "Sophie's Turn"

To find our winner, we assigned a number to each entry-including bonus questions (from only the entries with contact info) and asked to choose one number. It picked 2.

Congrats to The Every Free Chance Reader!

Here is a message from Nicky Wells:
Huge congratulations to The Every Free Chance Reader on winning your e-copy of  Sophie’s Turn. I hope you enjoy meeting Sophie and Dan and best friend Rachel, and that you have a rockin’ time finding out about Sophie’s life and decisions.

You may know that
Sophie’s Turn is my first novel. As a new author, it is an enjoyable challenge to build a name and a readership, and your very interest here on this blog helps me greatly on my journey ~ that means a lot to me.

Therefore, thank you very much to absolutely everyone who entered the giveaway. I am so happy that
Sophie’s Turn captured your interest and I hope that one day you will grab an opportunity to read my work. If you do, don’t be shy about it ~ reach out to me and say hello, I’d love to hear from you. It is interaction with readers that makes my work worthwhile and shapes who I am as an author. There’s nothing better than to meet the reader, and fabulous blogs like Chick Lit Central play a critical role in making this happen.

So again, thank you to everyone who commented and entered, and to Melissa, Tracey and everyone here at the wonderful Chick Lit Central for hosting me and
Sophie’s Turn. I hope to see you all again when Sophie’s Run comes out in February 2013. Until then, my friends: Rock on!

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 kind of reality show you'd create. From REAL real housewives to traveling, you all have some fun ideas and we hope they'll become a reality (show) someday!
Thanks to Nicky for rocking our world and Sapphire Star for sharing the e-book with our winner.

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