Monday, December 31, 2012

Books of the Week: December 31st

Thanks for checking out 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.

By J.M. Remmer

Frances Flight an eager, country girl bags a job at Shooting Weekly, throws herself into the life of a London journalist and the arms of Henry Black the magazine’s heroic Editor. When Frances’ glamorous world of gameshooting collides with her animal rights activist cousin’s, her romance, the future of the magazine, and even her own life become endangered. As Frances, and the wonderful motley crew at Shooting Weekly, bang their way through grouse shoots, muddy wildfowling and elegant pheasant shooting, they face enormous challenges to save the sport they love.

Bang Bang is a fantastic romp through the British countryside revealing the thrilling, boozy, bed-hopping world that is British gameshooting. Set in 2001 at the time hunting was being banned Bang Bang offers a brilliant portrayal of the wild side of English country life. An amazon reviewer writes, 'JM Remmer writes with zest and wit, and creates a rollicking series of adventures for her country girl in the big city. Think 'Lace' meets 'The History of Tom Jones' - or Jane Austen sitting on a rampant rabbit.The result is a funny, heart-warming and deliciously sexy read. I learnt as much about outdoor nookie as countryside politics, and just as I devoured Jilly Cooper without ever wanting to get on a horse, so I read this without feeling any urge to kill a duck.'

J.M. Remmer can be found on Facebook .


Farbissen: Melissa Morris and the Meaning of Money
By Jasmine Schwartz

"There were days when fortune smiled and others when it grimaced, and the current one was up for grabs."

So begins Farbissen, a mystery that's smart, funny and satisfying.

Melissa Morris is a thirty-something single New Yorker who works in fashion. She has it all, until she fails spectacularly and is banished from the fashion industry. Set adrift, she follows her boyfriend to London, hoping for a second chance. But Melissa's search for herself is interrupted when she discovers a dead body.

Farbissen is $2.99 for Kindle.

Jasmine Schwartz can be found on Facebook.

Review: The Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay

By Amy Bromberg

I absolutely loved The Shortest Way Home. I’ve been a fan of Juliette Fay since reading the first few chapters of her debut, Shelter Me. Juliette is one of those writers who has a way of getting inside her characters, with the unique ability of making them come to life on each and every page.

Amazon: Sean has spent twenty years in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s much-loved Shelter Me. There, he discovers that his steely aunt, overly dramatic sister, and quirky nephew are having a little natural disaster of their own. When he reconnects with a woman from his past, Sean has to wonder if the bonds of love and loyalty might just rewrite his destiny. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Due to Sean's mother passing away from Huntington's disease, there is a 50% probability that Sean might inherit it. This prompts Sean to devote his life to helping and caring for others as a nurse in third world country. After being away from home for a consecutive six years, he decides it’s time to take a break. Upon his return home, Sean ends up finding out his Aunt Vivian, who raised him for most of his life, is starting to experience memory problems. His sister, Deidre, who is quite bitter that Sean left her alone to care for their aunt and their nephew Kevin, is ready to move and start her own life. And then there’s Kevin, who, for all intents and purposes, has been raising himself since his father died. Because Sean thought he was going to die from Huntington’s in his mid-30s, he never planned on having to deal with “family” stuff. Maybe it’s time that Sean’s family needs him more than the rest of the world?

Right from the start, I was drawn to the characters in the story, each of them having shortcomings and traits often found in everyday life. It's tender, filled with humor, stimulating, and just fills your heart with love. The book covers important issues such as family loyalty and responsibility, friendship, love and taking leaps of faith. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: The K Street Affair

By Cindy Roesel

If you’re reading CHICK-LIT CENTRAL, you obviously love Chick-Lit, but we’ve been expanding and reviewing other genres lately. Lucky me, because I’m a fan of Showtime’s, Homeland and the old FOX show 24, and I’ve been given Mari Passananti’s latest novel, The K Street Affair, to review and from page one, let’s just say you better buckle up!

Lena Mancuso, a talented young lawyer at one of the country’s top law firms has a very busy few days ahead of her. But first, let us readers get through first fourteen well-written pages that jump out of the beginning of Mari Passananti’s novel like a screenplay. They describe the terror that hits Washington DC.

It’s believed terrorists have set off several bombs throughout the Washington DC area crippling the city. Shortly after Lena makes it home, FBI agents show up at her door saying they need her help, believing her firm has something to do with the bombings. Shocked by the day’s events, unable to contact her husband and several friends, Lena is overwhelmed by what to do. She doesn’t want to turn her back on what’s right for America. I don’t want to give away any of what happens from there but I’ll tell you the conspiracy goes all the way up to the POTUS (President of the United States) and the story goes around the world.

If you like twists and turns and smart story-telling, this is the book for you! Once you get on this roller-coaster, forget about getting off. I really liked Lena Mancuso, she’s tough, smart and has amazing luck. By helping the FBI, Lena, puts herself and everyone she loves in danger and the situation she ends up in is just too crazy in itself! It’s somewhat far-fetched, a bit long, but it’s enjoyable.

I look forward to what Mari Passananti follows The K Street Affair up with. It's not long till this one will be coming to bookstores near you...January 8th to be exact!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Winners of "The Green Ticket"

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

Congrats to....

8 - BCT
30 - Mary

Here is a message from Samantha March:

Thank you so much to Chick Lit Central for hosting me and everyone who participated!  Congratulations to the winners and I hope you enjoy The Green Ticket. Happy New Year!

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 winter foods.

Thanks to Samantha for a lovely interview and for sharing her book with our winners.

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

2012 Favorites

We're jumping on the bandwagon of blogs that have shared their 2012 favorites. Between everyone, we loved a lot of the novels that were published this year and it was so difficult to choose just one (or two, in some cases). We'd love to hear what your favorites were from this past year, so please feel free to comment on this post.

Melissa A:

Neurotically Yours by Bonnie Trachtenberg

I always like a book that takes on a creative idea and runs with it. Bonnie charmed me with her debut novel, Wedlocked, and Neurotically Yours was an excellent follow-up. I loved everything about it and just devoured it in no time flat! I can only imagine what she'll come up with next, but I know it will be golden! See my review for more reasons why I enjoyed it so much!

Bond Girl by Erin Duffy

If there was ever a book to "bond" with, this is the one! It stayed strong throughout and was a compelling story. It made Wall Street interesting to me with it's sharp cast of characters and Alex's incredible voice throughout. The whole "crazy job" theme in a novel can get to be a bit much sometimes, especially when trying to mimic The Devil Wears Prada. However, Erin Duffy nailed this topic well and I hope she'll be back to entertain us all with more novels. If this isn't enough reason to run out and get it today, check out my review!


Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

I have loved all of Sarah Jio's books but for some reason this one went above and beyond for me. A combination of Sarah's incredible writing, the back and forth between the present and past, the character development and the spectacular-ness of the book carried me away right into the story. Melissa A. and  I reviewed it, so you can find out more there!

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

This is another one where it's extremely tough to explain. I devoured this in two sittings. It felt like the pages were on fire, meaning I couldn't help reading it that fast and at the same time gobbling it all up. My review (along with Kathryn's) says it all!


Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie by Beth Howard

Aside from being the first book I reviewed officially for Chick Lit Central, I picked this book because it struck a chord with me.  Navigating through grief is nothing new for me and though I've read several books about the topic this year through my role at CLC, this one continues to stand out amongst them all.  I think a major reason why has to do with the connection to pie.  I loved Beth's outlook that pie can heal any pain one is feeling.  Also because of this book, I discovered that I have a talent for making pie!  Though it had been yummy to consume the pies I've made, even more importantly experiencing the joy people have when I give them a pie has been the greater pay-off.  It is what drives me to continue making pie... and believe that Beth Howard is correct that pie can heal a persons heart and provide love and joy.


She's The Boss by Lisa Lim

I'd like to offer Lisa Lim's new novel, SHE'S THE BOSS as best novel for 2012. Reasons why? You're guaranteed to laugh your way into 2013 and after the past few weeks we've had I doubt anyone is going to turn that offer DOWN.  Lisa's writing keeps getting better and she really knows how to twist what's happening right here, right now and make it edgy and relevant! And let's face it, most of us reading this are WRITERS, and she pushes the envelope for us to do better and that's tres cool! Happy 2013! If you want to know more about why I loved it, check out my review.


The School Run by Sophie King

Of all the women's fiction books I read this year, my favorite was Sophie King's The School Run. I naturally gravitate toward stories about parents and their children, and this book, with multiple points-of-view, features several interlocking tales about parents and kids who all attend the same school. She had several female characters who were highly sympathetic and relatable, and everything builds toward two separate but simultaneous crises. Sophie King is a writer whom I never would have discovered if not for CLC, and I'm so glad I did. I recently reviewed it for CLC, so here it is again in case you missed it.


The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

As an associate reviewer, I've had the privilege of reading several fantastic novels this year. There is one that stands out a little more than the others for me and that is The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. This is a beautifully written period novel set in the early twentieth century. Ms. Moriarty does a wonderful job at transporting the reader to a time characterized by model T cars and silent movies. The title character, Cora, is a woman of many layers and the choices she makes would be considered controversial even by today's standards. The Chaperone has everything that makes a great read: descriptive settings, intriguing characters, interesting storyline, and of course, romance (although on a somewhat subtler level than your typical chick lit). If you haven't picked up this acclaimed novel yet, don't waste another moment. If I haven't said it all here, you can read more about it in my review.


The Long Weekend by Veronica Henry

I think if I had to pick my favourite book of the year it would be The Long Weekend by Veronica Henry (although Scarlett Bailey's Married by Christmas is a joint favourite really!). I always love how Veronica's books make you really escape, they have such a great sense of place you really do feel like you're a fly on the wall of these characters lives, soaking in their everyday surroundings. I was completed transported to Cornwall, a place I've never actually been. In this book, Veronica manages to entwine so many different stories and characters without it ever being too much or confusing, but the best part was that each story was interesting and intriguing, each character offered something different. I can't wait for Veronica's next book to see where she's taking her readers next! Check out my review for more details.


Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie 

This book was just beautiful. Whenever I see that Catherine has a new book coming out, I immediately make room on my shelf because I know it's going to be phenomenal. (Also woo! Canadian author!!) I know that her books are guaranteed to be the type that I will not only read again and again, but that I'll want to lend out to my mom, my sisters, and my friends. I love that this book had such a deep impact on me while I was reading it that I started to wonder if I was doing the right thing with my life, and if I had a chance to make a gigantic, sweeping change in my life, would I want to? It stemmed many insightful conversations with my husband and my friends, and I think it ultimately led to a deeper understanding of myself along the way. Also, this book had that X factor. That thing that grabs you by the neck and drags you deep into the book within the first few pages. I have yet to find a book by Ms McKenzie that doesn't have this, which makes me love her books even more. It was enthralling from the get-go, yet grounded enough in reality that it forced me to think about my life and my choices. This is one book that won't soon be forgotten.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

I don't know if this really counts as chick lit, but I'm totally putting it in anyways. This book is freaking hilarious. I was laughing so hard while reading this in bed one night that I managed to wake up my husband. I had tears streaming down my face and was struggling to catch my breath, and he had no idea what was wrong with me. Nothing was wrong. I was just enjoying the random snippets of weird that, let's be honest, we all have in our lives. We just maybe don't have them as wonderfully narrated as Jenny Lawson does. She does a fantastic job of bringing us into her odd family and telling stories with such candor and openness that it's almost a little disarming at times. You feel like you're almost intruding on her life, she draws such a fantastic picture of what is going on around her at that moment. It's not a book that you have to sit and read through in one sitting either, which I love. I can read a chapter, enjoy it immensely, and not feel like I'm leaving the characters hanging if I don't keep reading right away. This book is awesome, and it will be enjoyed for years to come.

Book Review: Lauren Takes Leave

By Gail Allison

Have you ever wished you could just throw your hands up in the air and quit your life for a little while? So has Lauren Worthing. A middle school teacher who is starting to feel unappreciated and unfulfilled both at home and at work, Lauren is finding that she has less and less to look forward to every day. So when a jury duty summons arrives in her mailbox, she sees it as few people do: a key to her freedom (and possibly her sanity). Lauren arrives at the courthouse nearly giddy with anticipation, and literally begs one of the selecting attorneys to choose her to sit on the jury. She uses the jury duty (which only ends up being a total of a couple of days at the courthouse) to first take a few day trips here and there, and then tells people she’s been sequestered and ends up in Miami for a long weekend with her two best friends. There are celebrity run-ins, there’s a guy who’s been harboring feelings for Lauren for years, and there’s more than one cocktail thrown into the mix. Will Lauren ever be able to go back to her humdrum life once she’s seen all the world has to offer?

This first novel from Julie Gerstenblatt (you’ll know her work from Huffington Post) is a fun foray into fiction. I did find, however, that it was aggressively fiction. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. I mean it in more of a “you know this will never ever happen to you because series of clichés and coincidences aren’t quite this prevalent in real life” kind of way. Lauren is a fun character, but somehow never has to really pay for her bad behavior. She goes off and does what she wants, and escapes pretty much unscathed. Her relationships are stronger, she finds forgiveness from friends, and she somehow manages to find inner peace. It makes for a comfortable, happy ending for sure, but it’s really not real life.

This book is a lot of fun, and would be a perfect beach read. Heck, I would have taken it to the beach myself if it wasn’t snowing so hard! I found myself rooting for Lauren to find herself and make it out of the giant tangled mess of lies in one piece. It was easy to pick up, a nice light read, and fast to get back into once I had put it down for a little while. Although the situations were a little outlandish and the plot had its fair share of cliché moments, it moved along at a good pace. As well, all of the characters were well-developed enough that you felt like you knew who they were and how they’d react to situations, but not so overly developed that you were bored with them or felt they were taking over the protagonist’s spotlight. It’s a very well-balanced novel in that regard, and doesn’t make the mistake that so many first-time authors make of over-introducing every new character to the point of extreme overkill.

Overall, I’d recommend Lauren Takes Leave. It’s pure chick-lit, pure fun, and a nice easy read. AND it’s only around $5 for Kindle!  After all the baking and cleaning you’ve been doing for everyone else, isn’t it time you treat yourself to this one?

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ringing in the new year with Tiffany Romigh and a book giveaway

**Giveaway is now closed**

With 2012 coming to an end, we have reached our last interview for the year. That honor goes to Tiffany Romigh, who is here to talk about her debut novel, Elasticity, which is about three women trying to make some self-improvements and ditch old habits before their 10 year reunion...and they only have one month. What better book to read while working on our New Year's resolutions, right?

Tiffany's career has taken a shift from PR to becoming a novelist. Until recently, she worked as the Vice President of Edelman Public Relations in NYC, and served additionally as a Creative Consultant for the agency-at-large. Prior to her position at Edelman, she owned a fashion and beauty PR agency, worked at LVMH Group as the copywriter for beauty line Hard Candy Cosmetics and was an award-winning advertising copywriter at international agencies including Deutsch, Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson, working on campaigns such as DeBeers, IKEA, Jaguar, Red Bull, Adidas and NFL on FOX. She is no stranger to writing though. Outside of PR and advertising, Tiffany has written for several fashion websites and brands. In addition, she served as a wardrobe stylist for a syndicated talk show on CBS and studied comedy at The Second City. Tiffany currently lives in Austin, Texas.

If you want to know more about this fashionable, fascinating and friendly woman, you can find her at Facebook, Twitter and her website!

Tiffany is here to say goodbye to 2012 and ring in a bright 2013 full of fabulous new (and current) authors. To do so, she has FIVE paperbacks of Elasticity for some lucky readers in the US and Canada.

First off, tell us about your awesome book, Elasticity, and what inspired you to write it…
Thank you for the compliment. As for the inspiration for the book, I’ve always been fascinated by this idea of how people find moderation and middle ground amongst all the extremes we’re bombarded with – and in my own life, especially in my younger days, it was hard to get to that middle ground. I also needed a place to put some of the that-can’t-possibly-have-really-happened moments in my life, and this worked perfectly!

Walking down 7th Avenue South one cold, cold morning, it just gelled. Maybe I’ll go back to that sidewalk when I get writer’s block…

How did you decide to write Chick Lit?
I think it picked me, and not the other way around. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it, how the writing voices inside us are formed… and I suppose that just through incidence and experience, this is what mine wanted to be. I’m not sure if it’s this way for other writers, I just know that it comes out the way it wants to come out, no matter what. I’m just happy that it fits into a category that I’m proud of.

Which of the three women in Elasticity do you relate to the most?
There are pieces of me in every single character in the book, even the male ones, but I suppose if I have to pick one, the character of Brooke, the woman who has an issue with shopping and just wants to feel special would probably be the closest. She gets herself into lots of humorous situations and has a rather renegade approach to getting out of them and, I must say, I’ve done some of those things. I’ll leave it to you to guess which ones.

The other thing is, a novel is a wonderful opportunity to explore the “what-ifs” without actually having to live them: What if I spent all my money… Couldn’t control my binges… Etc… I got a version of my very own cautionary tale, and was allowed to do it through three people and didn’t have to pick up the pieces.

If Elasticity were made into a movie, who would star as Brooke, Whitney and Tripp?
I’ll give you the best and worst answer: We’re working on a film version right now, and when I can tell you about it, I will. It’s very exciting, though.

What is your favorite holiday themed movie?
Love, Actually. The scene with Keira Knightly at the door, and the character talking to her through the giant note cards kills me.

What is your favorite New Year's Eve memory?
This will sound terribly square, but if the shoe fits… I never go out on New Year’s Eve. I did spend one New Year’s in Sydney, and it was kind of cool being on the other side of the world, but I’m still quite certain I went to bed at eight.

Did you keep any of your New Year's Resolutions for 2012 and do you have any new ones for 2013?
I never make resolutions, although I do usually have a lot of hopes, and this year is no exception. Let’s check back in twelve months and I’ll give you the thumbs-up or down. 2012 was a big thumbs-up.

How will you be ringing in 2013?
If I’m lucky, and I do feel that way – and fortunate, blessed, and full of gratitude – I’ll do it like this: with a glass of champagne and an early night, surrounded by people that I love.

Special thanks to Tiffany for a fun chat and for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win Elasticity:
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: How will you be ringing in 2013?
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 January 2nd at midnight EST

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winners of "Winter Wonderland"

To find our winners, we assigned a number to each entry (from only the entries with contact info) and asked to choose THREE numbers (two for paperback, worldwide; one for e-book, US only).

Congrats to....

Paperback winners:
38-Kaley @ Books Etc.

E-book winner:
60-Margie (mtakala1)

Here is a message from Belinda Jones:

Congratulations to the winners of the Chick Lit Central/Winter Wonderland competition!

There are a few ways you can prepare for the arrival of your book - firstly you will need toasty toes so your fluffiest socks are in order, along with something fleecey and snuggly to wear, possibly a duvet. A steaming mug of hot chocolate bobbing with marshmallows is all-but essential, as are a pair of finger-less gloves so you will be able to turn the pages of the book with ease! Now you are fully prepared to take your trip to the magical kingdom of Quebec! Ice palaces, husky dog-sledding and maple syrup pie await! Enjoy!

Your author,

Belinda xx

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 idea of a winter wonderland. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday season and warming up by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa!

Thanks Belinda for a lovely interview and for sharing her book with our winners.

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

Book Review: Charlotte Street

By Melissa Amster

I hear lots of horror stories about guys acting like jerks when it comes to dating and relationships (both in reality and in novels), so when a guy actually does something romantic, it's cause for some serious swooning. Even if that romantic gesture could be seen as evidenced in Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace.

Jason Priestley (not the actor) is living in an apartment over his friend's video game store, right by what is rumored to be a brothel. He's so out of touch with the music scene that his favorite band is Hall and Oates. He writes snarky reviews for a free newspaper and gets to find out his ex-girlfriend's relationship developments through Facebook (while all he can say on his page is that he's "eating soup"). So when he has even the slightest connection with a pretty girl on the street, he could just dismiss it and move on. However, that's not so easy when her disposable camera falls into his possession and his best friend convinces him to find her through her photos. Soon he's on a quest to find the girl of his dreams.

The cover of Charlotte Street says it "Looks set to be this summer's One Day...." That could have kept me from picking up this delectable treat. However, a friend who shares the same taste in books as me told me she loved it and so I was eager to check it out for that reason. Thankfully, it is nothing like One Day. (No offense to those of you who liked that novel.) The only thing the two novels have in common are British name-dropping and obscure references. (What's so funny about Percy Passage anyway?!?) No, this is more like Attachments (by Rainbow Rowell). Both have guys who become smitten by girls they don't know, just based on what they see in front of them. Both guys seem creepy and stalkerish for what they're doing, but it makes them lovable protagonists anyway. (Think about how Zack on Saved by the Bell was always doing selfish and manipulative things and would still have girls wanting to be the next Kelly anyway. Same thing applies here!)

Needless to say, Jason Priestley charmed me from page one, no matter how much everyone else saw him as a hot mess. There was something so endearing about him that I just wanted him to "win" throughout the story, even when he was digging himself a deeper hole. He had a great cast of characters with whom to interact, from his best friend, Dev to music groupie, Abbey and even his ex-girlfriend, Sarah. The lengths Jason goes to in order to find the mystery girl are rather clever and it's fun when they generate new and interesting results. It's like he's going on a scavenger hunt of England, trying to find the answers that will put him in the path of the mystery girl once again.

Aside from obscure British references and some slang I had trouble translating, there was nothing I didn't like about Charlotte Street. It's a charming novel and a fun piece of escapism. I enjoyed seeing a guy admit his vulnerability and flaws. If only more guys were like Jason, I have a feeling there would be far less dating horror stories out there. (Of course, less chick lit novels would be around as the inspiration wouldn't be there as a result.) I think Charlotte Street would be a cute movie and I would definitely check it out on the big screen!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Winners of "Married by Christmas"

To find our winners, we assigned a number to each entry (from only the entries with contact info, one per person) and asked to choose THREE numbers.

Congrats to:

27-Pauline Wiles

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 holiday flicks. Always a fun topic at this time of year. So many fun choices too!

Thanks to Scarlett for sharing her book with our winners.

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

Books of the Week: Christmas Edition

Thanks for checking out 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.

Since it's Christmas Eve and we have only been able to feature a handful of Christmas and holiday themed books this past month, we decided to share a bunch of Christmas themed novels and novellas this week.

White Christmas
By Emma Lee-Potter 

Everyone dreams of a White Christmas. But nobody dreams of one quite as much as Hal Benson. An out-of-work actor, Hal has been hired as a stand-in weather forecaster by a ratings-chasing news channel. Hal couldn't care less whether it rains or not. It is just a job. But then he meets Lizzie Foster. A rival weather forecaster, on a far more serious channel, Lizzie is bright, determined, fascinated by meteorology - and very, very beautiful. She is the complete opposite of Hal. And yet sometimes opposites attract. After meeting at a conference - and after a spark develops between them - Lizze and Hal make a bet live on air. Will it snow on Christmas Day? But as the big day approaches, their relationship turns out to be as unpredictable as the weather. And sometimes as stormy. Whilst everyone else is unwrapping presents, Hal and Lizzie are looking to the clouds for signs of snow. Will Hal and Lizzie overcome their meteorological differences - and find true love?

 Emma Lee-Potter can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Christmas in Wine Country
By Addison Westlake

It's Lila’s big debut as an event planner and the company holiday party is going to be her chance to shine. 72 hours later, Lila has no job, no boyfriend and a new video on YouTube featuring her pawing her way through drunken karaoke of “Hungry Like the Wolf.” On impulse, Lila flees the city for sleepy, misty Redwood Cove up the Northern California coast where she runs into (literally) Bay Area magazine’s 10 hottest bachelors, Jake Endicott of Endicott Vineyards. Join Lila on her year of comedy, adventure and self-discovery on the Northern California coast, with all kinds of ups, downs and misadventures and a full cast of small-town wine country characters. Thankfully, even the greatest misunderstandings can all be worked out with a little Frank Sinatra and mistletoe.

Christmas in Wine Country is $0.99 on Kindle.

Addison Westlake can be found on Facebook  and Twitter.



Santa Maybe
By Scarlett Bailey

Amy Tucker is single. So single in fact she hasn’t had a man in her room for three years and her idea of a good time is buying new kitchenware at Ikea. So when she wakes up on Christmas Eve to find a strange man at the end of her bed, she is more than surprised.

Least of all, when the beautiful man claims to be Santa and has sexy stubble to rival George Clooney.

Santa whisks Amy on an exciting and unforgettable journey around the world through time and space. But can he really make Amy's Christmas dreams come true?

Scarlett Bailey can be found on Facebook  and Twitter.

Chocolate Kisses
By Darlene Fredette

When Jackson Frost returns to Redford Falls, Candi Cane knows he's not only after her chocolate kisses. Their last encounter had Candi acting on her desires and an act of revenge when vengeance boiled. Jackson has discovered her secret. Is it her desperation for a Santa that has her pausing to sign her name on the dotted line, or something closer to her heart?

Chocolate Kisses is $1.99 on Kindle.

Darlene Fredette can be found on Facebook  and Twitter.

Santa Drag
By Liv Rancourt

Things aren’t always what they seem,and this shopping mall Santa has secrets only her true love can reveal.

Desperate for some income, Mackenzie Reed takes the highest paying acting gig she can find: playing Santa in the mall. It’s all white whiskers and ‘ho-ho-ho’ until the day Joe McBride shows up. Joseph Timothy McBride. The actor. The real-life, got a soap opera gig and several commercials and you saw him in Scream 2 actor. The only guy she ever really loved.

Mack’ll have to give the performance of a lifetime to keep him from realizing who’s underneath all that red velvet and fur. Joe’s as good-looking as ever, but any hope of a reconciliation will go down like a sack of coal if he recognizes her. Can she pull it off, or is this Christmas going to be the one Santa leaves a Creepy Kringle under her tree?

The Santa Drag is $0.99 on Kindle.

Liv Rancourt can be found on Facebook  and Twitter.

Mistletoe Accomplished
By Maggie Devine

When ex-food critic, Lauren Webster is run off the road by a tall, strapping cowboy, she gets more than she bargains for. His cursory attitude and gruff comments have her wondering what she’s done wrong when it was him who caused the accident.

Curtis Carmichael on the other hand, is not the cow farmer Lauren assumes he is, but he doesn’t see the need to let her in on that little secret– nor the one about how he was responsible for ruining her career in Manhattan. But when Lauren show’s up at his family’s newly renovated restaurant, it is going to take more than a miracle to hide his true identity. Lauren meanwhile, begins to wonder if the cattle farmer has a serious medical problem – until her food arrives and she forgets about him altogether. There is something suspiciously familiar about her Pancetta Crisp with Goat Cheese, and she is determined to find out what it is.

Mistletoe Accomplished is $0.99 on Kindle.

Maggie Devine can be found on Facebook  and Twitter.

Christmas without Icing
By Michelle Betham

Jessie Collins has always wanted to visit Lapland. But this Christmas, more than any other, it’s also a place she feels she really needs to be as she tries to come to terms with a painful event in the past, and a future she really needs to start living.

Can a strange young man called Mikku, lights in the sky, and a magical little town in the Arctic Circle really help her find the strength she needs to move on?

A story of love and hope at Christmas - 'Christmas Without Icing', a Lapland fairytale…

Christmas without Icing is $0.99 on Kindle.

Michelle Betham can be found on Facebook  and Twitter.

Shelle Sumners grows "Grace" a giveaway

Photo by Chia Messina
**Giveaway is now closed**

Today we welcome debut author, Shelle Sumners. Shelle lives and writes in Bucks County, PA. Her debut novel Grace Grows is available in paperback from St. Martin's Press as well as a Random House audio book, Featured Alternate selection for Doubleday, Literary Guild and Rhapsody Book Clubs, is being published internationally! It has a companion soundtrack of phenomenal original songs that appear in the story, written and performed by her husband, singer-songwriter and Broadway actor Lee Morgan.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press we have five copies of Grace Grows to giveaway to some lucky readers anywhere in the US and/or Canada.

You can find Shelle at her website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

First off, tell us about your awesome book, Grace Grows, and what inspired you to write it.
Grace Grows is the story of a very careful, very organized young woman whose entire life is upended by the love of a slightly wild, spontaneous, open-hearted musician.

I dreamed these characters, Grace Barnum and Tyler Wilkie, after spending time in New York clubs with my husband (a musician! go figure) and visiting Bushkill Falls, in the Pocono Mountains. When I say I dreamed Grace and Ty, I mean literally. I woke up at five one morning with their story in my mind and started writing notes.

While I was writing Grace Grows, I thought it would be fun to have real love songs in the story. I asked my husband to collaborate with me, and the wonderful result is the Grace Grows Original Soundtrack. It’s exciting for us that Random House used portions of all the songs in the Grace Grows audio book, and both the audio book and the St. Martin’s Press enhanced e-book (available from Barnes & Noble) feature the entire song “HER”--which I think may be the most beautiful love song ever. You can hear “HER” on my website:

What do you think the key is to a successful chick lit novel? Lots of sexiness? A studly hero? Plenty of angst? (or others)
Yes! LOL

Here’s what makes a book fun for me: I love it when the women become wiser. I like men who are kind, physically and emotionally strong, and driven by their biological imperative/testosterone, but successfully managing it. Of course there needs to be plenty of conflict (angst! Yes!); and I love it when the sex in the story becomes profound communication between the characters.

I need chick lit recommendations. Seriously, I would love it if people would tell me their absolute favorites. I need to catch up. Please email me.

How did you celebrate when you first found out you were being published?
Well, that’s quite a story. Six weeks before my agent took Grace Grows to publishers, I had a stroke. It was a freak kind of stroke that happens to younger adults and even children, caused by an accidentally torn artery in my neck. A blood clot went to my brain, and I was very fortunate to survive. Everything in my life abruptly changed. I lost my job of eight years. My body no longer did what I told it to, so I was in physical therapy. I was anxious and sad.

And then I found out that my book was going to be published. Here’s how I celebrated: I laughed and marveled at the wonder of this good life change. I hugged my husband and daughter. I called my mom. Then I went a little crazy: I ate pizza, watched the 6:30 and 7:00 episodes of That 70s Show, and went to bed late, at 7:30. Woo-hoo! Good times!

Honestly, I’m still celebrating.

If Grace Grows were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
It is actually possible that it will be a movie; people are working to develop it. So I have been thinking about this, and it’s tough because Grace and Ty are so themselves, in my mind. There are two or three actresses I can think of who could be a lovely Grace. In casting Ty, we’d have to find an amazing, beautiful, emotionally open actor who is also a gifted singer and guitar/piano/harmonica player. How hard can that be? Surely there are tons of guys like that!

I have no difficulty, however, casting Dan and Julia in my mind: Christoph Waltz and Julianne Moore would be perfect.

What are two of your favorite things about the holidays?
I make this white-chocolate toffee that is like heroine or crack or erotic fan fiction. You can’t stop partaking. Now I’ve trained my teenage daughter to make it, so I don’t even have to stand over the hot stove to get my yearly fix!

I also love the winter solstice. I love candles and Yule logs, holly, and the stars in a clear, cold sky on that longest night of the year. I love celebrating that the warmth and light of the sun will gradually return now, as the days begin to lengthen.

How do you usually celebrate the holidays? Do you spend time home in an intimate gathering, or do you go out to a fancy party?
Usually it’s festivity with friends and family, but I’m willing to try a fancy party.

What is your favorite holiday themed TV program/movie? (Or holiday episode of a TV series.)
Every year I watch Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Love, Actually. It’s also a holiday tradition in our house that I will start watching It’s a Wonderful Life and absentmindedly get up and drift out of the room, usually somewhere around the time the gym floor opens and people fall into the swimming pool. And then, in the middle of doing whatever else, I realize GAH! I’ve done it again!

I know this is holiday blasphemy, but I just can’t stick with it. I’ve tried and tried. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
For many, many years, my resolution looked like this:

Eat less, exercise every day, and become a size 8.

Now my resolution looks like this:

Love and treasure your body; it’s been through a lot and done a lot for you.
Eat healthily, most of the time.
Exercise some, most days.
Love more.
Be grateful.

Thanks to Shelle for visiting with us and to St. Martin's Press for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win Grace Grows:
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: How do you usually celebrate the holidays? Any special traditions?
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 December 30th at midnight EST

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: The School Run

By Jami Deise

Is there a parent alive who doesn’t love and dread driving their children around? Those times in the car can feature wonderful, uninterrupted conversations with your child – if she’s not too busy texting her friends. But they can also be a source of great frustration – horrible traffic, late children, carpooling… When my son was in elementary school, I would pick him up at school and immediately drive him into the city 45 minutes away for baseball practice, while he changed into his uniform in the back seat. Those were great times, when he wasn’t kicking me in the head.

Carpooling children is the organizing principle of Sophie King’s The School Run, a 2005 bestseller that was recently released as an e-book. “The school run” is a British term that means “dropping off or picking up the children at school.” Perhaps that is self-evident, but I didn’t know that before reading the book. The British certainly have a way with words and pithy phrases.

The novel centers around seven adults : Harriet, Pippa, Evie, and Nick, all parents with children at St. Theresa’s (which features both an upper and lower school); Kitty, a teacher at St. Theresa’s; Martine, a French au pair who cares for two children at St. Theresa’s; and Betty, who lives across the street from the school and who once had a child there. The point-of-view shifts among each main character with every chapter, and the action takes place during a single week right before the start of summer. Harriet is a stay-at-home mom with a marriage in jeopardy; Pippa is having a health crisis; Evie has a laid-off husband and two mean-girl stepdaughters; and Nick is a widower with a teenage daughter. Kitty teaches one of Harriet’s children. Martine sometimes participates in a carpool with Harriet and Pippa when she’s not thinking evil thoughts about her charges and her employers or making plans with her married lover. And Betty suffered a tragedy two years ago that has left her mentally ill.

A few months ago, I reviewed King’s Tales from the Heart, and enjoyed her short stories very much. I found The School Run equally engrossing. Each main character’s story and situation are unique and compelling. Almost all characters are empathetic and three-dimensional. Harriet’s husband complains she put their children’s needs before his, and now she’s worried that he’s involved with someone else. Pippa’s health crisis has her terrified of dying young and leaving her children motherless. Evie’s employer has absolutely no concern whatsoever for her balancing act. And Nick blames himself for his wife’s death, and is terrified their daughter might be too much like her. The only two characters who don’t work for me are Martine and Kitty. Martine is a nit-filled husband-snatcher who hates her charges – granted, those kids are brats and her employers treat her like a slave. And Kitty is harmless, but as a single teacher, her circumstances are so different from the others, that I wasn’t as interested in her story.

As the novel progresses and culminates, King weaves various threads of each character’s story together, and also delivers a pretty good head fake. She plants subtle clues from the very beginning of the novel that pay off in the end. I did have a few problems with the ending, though. There’s a crisis at the school that, to me, doesn’t seem to fit tone-wise with the domestic dramas that dominate the book. There’s a lack of tension toward this particular event – perhaps if King had included a parent of one of the kids who instigates the crisis, she could have created a stronger build-up. And, this particular crisis seemed to be resolved too quickly and easily. Similarly, the climax of Betty’s story is over before any real consequences are seen.

Harriet, Evie, and Pippa are all likeable women, but they are similar enough, from a voice and personality perspective, that I had trouble discerning the women from each other as I progressed through the chapters. I often needed to stop reading and actively remember who was whom. And Evie commits what most American women would consider an unforgiveable crime – leaving her two-year-old alone in her car, both times with bad results. I understand that Europeans are a lot more cavalier about leaving their children alone, but it still struck me as irresponsible – especially when she did it again after it blew up in her face.
Overall, The School Run is an engaging read with highly relatable characters. Their day-to-day lives feature situations most parents will recognize and appreciate. Although the novel has a few flaws, they are overshadowed by its story and the careful way King brings together her characters.

Thanks to Corazon Books for the e-book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Sophie King:

Friday, December 21, 2012

What's In The Mail

Melissa A.:

Family Pictures by Jane Green from St. Martin's Press (Amy got this too)

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler from St.Martin's Press

The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen from Atria (Simon and Schuster)

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern from The Book Chick

Free from Amazon (at time of purchase):

Brownie Points by Jennifer Coburn

Multiple Choice by Claire Cook

Public Property by Mandy Baggot

The Publicist by Christina George


A Hundred Summers by/from Beatriz Williams 

Once Upon a Second Chance by Marian Vere, won from Chick Lit is not Dead

Marriage Matters by Cynthia Ellingsen from Penguin Group

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes from Eleanor Brown

The Lion Is In by Delia Ephron from Plume

Goldberg Variations by Susan Isaacs from Simon and Schuster


May I Be Happy by Cyndi Lee from Penguin Group


Legally Wed by/from Ciara O'Neill

She's The Boss by/from Lisa Lim


Love and Other Subjects by/from Kathleen Shoop

Divorce for Beginners by Sophie King from Corazon Books


My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary by Rae Earl from Hodder and Stoughton