Friday, March 30, 2012

What's in the mail today...plus a giveaway!

**Giveaway is now closed**


Melissa A:

From Bonnie Trachtenberg:

"Neurotically Yours"
(Cover image not available yet)

From PR By the Book:



From HarperCollins UK:

"Down to Earth" by Melanie Rose



From Penguin:



The first thing that drew me to this book....one of the characters has a thing for V.C. Andrews novels. :)

e-books:

Free from Amazon:


From Kat Lieu:



Currently 99 cents for Kindle.

Amy:

From Penguin:



From Random House:




Kathryn:

e-books:

From Holly Robinson Cookson:



From Diversion Books:



Melissa A. got this one too.

Both of the above e-books are $2.99 for Kindle!

What could be in your mailbox..."Stiletto Safari" by Kate Metz. We reviewed it here the other day and now she wants to do a giveaway! She has THREE paperbacks to send worldwide!


How to win "Stiletto Safari":
Since it's the last day of "Friendship Month," tell us which TV or movie character you'd want to have as a best friend. Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. (One entry per person.)

Giveaway ends April 3rd at midnight EST.

Book Review: Single in the City

By Kathryn Hamilton

What would you do if you found yourself going through life on autopilot and stuck in a rut? Would you take up a new hobby? Look into a new career? Get a makeover? If you’re 27 year-old Hannah Cumming, then you decide to move to London, England on an alcohol influenced dare. Having been fired from her one and only job, Hannah leaves the comfort of her Connecticut home (including best friend Stacy) and lands in jolly England to get the fresh start on life that she feels is needed. What follows is absolute hilarity as she experiences a dose of culture shock in her pursuit of friendship, love, and daily living in a new country.

Michele Gorman is an American expatriate currently living in England. "Single in the City" is her first published novel and was released in the UK, but was self-published in the US. It exploded in sales on Amazon, and it is clear why she enjoyed the success. This novel is wonderfully charming and funny, and the story felt realistic. As the main character, Hannah is believable, likeable, and I could completely relate to her tendency to over-think and over-analyze everything. She is, however, much more bold and daring than I am (I don’t think I would ever have the nerve to up and move to a new country without extensive planning), and so I was able to live vicariously through her as she jumped in feet first and found her way. I found myself truly laughing out loud on the second page, and Ms. Gorman had me hooked from that point on. I was also delighted at the fact that while I was fairly certain I knew who Hannah’s love interest was going to be, Ms. Gorman threw in a little twist that made me have doubts (I love when authors keep me guessing!). The supporting characters are also realistically written with big personalities that are not caricatures. I appreciated that there was not a lot of cursing and that references to sex were not smutty.

There honestly is little that I have to criticize about this novel. As an e-book, I was greatly impressed, as my experiences with e-books have been largely fraught with poor editing. I believe there was one instance where two words ran together, but one error in an entire novel is not something I’m going to fuss about. My only other “complaint,” as it were, is that I wish there had been more scenes with Hannah’s feisty Irish co-worker, Siobhan. I loved the character and wanted more of her!

Ms Gorman began to make a name for herself in the world of chick lit with this engaging first novel. It is a perfect example of chick lit, as it brings together elements of friendship, love, and fashion (the latter being something I am completely clueless about). I look forward to reading more from her in the future. The follow-up is the newly released "Misfortune Cookie," which Ms. Gorman wrote in part with input from her fans. What an awesome “novel” idea! I wish Ms. Gorman much continued success!

You might also like:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Books of the Week--March 29th

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

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


"Letter from a Stranger"
By Barbara Taylor Bradford

Justine Nolan is a documentary film maker who lost her beloved grandmother a decade ago—the person who was the only source of love and comfort in her life. Her own mother Deborah had always been distant and uninvolved, following her own agenda in pursuit of her career as an interior designer. But when Justine inadvertently opens a letter addressed to her mother, she discovers that not only is her grandmother Gabri alive, but that Deborah has deliberately estranged the family from her for all these years. Justine’s search for her grandmother takes her to Istanbul where she begins to uncover the family’s secrets that stretch all the way back to World War II. As the layers of deception peel away, Justine begins to understand a woman she never really knew…and she begins to ask questions about the true desires of her own heart.

Visit Barbara Taylor Bradford on Facebook and Twitter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Far from Here"
By Nicole Baart

Danica Greene has always hated flying, so it was almost laughable that the boy of her dreams was a pilot. She married him anyway and she and Etsell settled into a happy life in the small Iowa town where they grew up. But when the opportunity to spend three weeks in Alaska helping a pilot friend presents itself, Etsell accepts and their idyllic world is turned upside down. Ell is gone only a few days when his plane mysteriously vanishes shortly after takeoff, leaving Danica in a free fall. Etsell is gone, but what exactly does gone mean? Is she a widow? An abandoned wife? Or will Etsell find his way home to her? Danica is forced to search for the truth in her marriage and treks to Alaska to grapple with the unanswerable questions about her husband’s mysterious disappearance. But when she learns that Ell wasn’t flying alone, the bits and pieces of the careful life that she had constructed for them in Iowa take to the wind.

Find Nicole Baart on Facebook.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the sister magnet, plus a book giveaway

**Giveaway is now closed**

Lauren Baratz-Logsted writes chick lit that lots of women can laugh at and relate to, which is why we call her a sister-magnet. If you've read "The Bro-Magnet," one of her more recent novels, about a guy whom other guys want to hang out with, you'll know EXACTLY what we're talking about!

Lauren was an independent bookseller and buyer for 11 years before deciding to take a chance on herself as a novelist. While trying to sell her books, she worked variously as a Publishers Weekly reviewer, a freelance editor, a (sort-of) librarian, and a window washer. Her first novel, "The Thin Pink Line," about a woman who fakes an entire pregnancy, was published by Red Dress Ink in 2003 as their own first-ever hardcover; it was also the first book from any Harlequin imprint to ever receive a starred Kirkus review. Since then, Lauren has had 23 more books published for adults, teens and children. The most recent are Book 8 in "The Sisters 8" series for young readers, which she created with her husband and daughter; the YA novel, "Little Women and Me;" and "The Bro-Magnet" and "Z: A Novel," both of which are adult novels published as e-books (available for $2.99 on Amazon).

Lauren has one copy of "The Thin Pink Line" to give to a lucky reader anywhere in the US.

Visit Lauren at her website, and her Facebook and Twitter pages.

Favorite TV show about friendship:
This is actually a really hard question! My first impulse was to say "Friends," for obvious reasons. Then I thought, hmm, but what about "The Big Bang Theory?" I'm a nerd so even though I'm not a hyper-intelligent nerd like the guys on the show are, it's probably the only place on TV I'd fit in. But then I rejected both and decided to go for - drum roll, please! - "I Love Lucy." Can you imagine having best friends forever like that? Living next door to each other and even traveling the world together? I'd love that.

Favorite best friend of a chick lit novel main character:
I'm going to go with David, the gay Israeli ex-fighter pilot who's the best friend of crazy Jane Taylor in my own first novel, "The Thin Pink Line." He sees who she is, warts and all - and Jane's got a lot of warts! - yet he loves her, fiercely.

Chick lit main character you'd want to be best friends with:
Bridget Jones. She'd be a good influence. I'd watch her keeping track of how many calories she consumes and what she weighs every day, and how at the end of the year there's almost no change in her weight. This would inspire me to abandon my decades-long battle with my own last 10 (or 20) pounds. Then I'd use all that extra time and energy to take over the world. Thank you, Bridget!

How did you meet your best friend?
I have two best friends. One I met outside a high school dance in 1977. I told her I felt like a peach - not that I felt like eating a peach, but that I literally was a peach. OK, maybe I'd been drinking. The other I met in 1987 when she came to work for the independent bookstore I was assistant manager of. So I've been friends with one for 35 years and the other for 25 years.

Friend you've known the longest:
See peach story above.

Three words to describe your best friend:
These three words describe both of them: smart, funny, beautiful.

Funniest thing you did with a friend:
This is as hard as that TV question! Does calling all over NJ to see if we could find Bruce Springsteen count?

Who would play your best friend in the movie of your life:
Jennifer Aniston. She looks like my peach friend.

Celebrity you'd like to have as your best friend:
Jon Stewart. He's smart and funny and he knows how to sell books.

Ever a time where you thought you knew a friend but it turned out you didn't know them at all?
More times than I'd care to think about. Now that's depressing. So let's end on a perkier note. Who here loves to read? I do, I do! Who here loves to write? I do, I do! And who here is grateful to Chick Lit Central for having her on today? Um, that would be me. Thank you!

Special thanks to Lauren for such a friendly chat and for sharing her book with our readers.

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

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: Which chick lit character would you want as your best friend?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US only. Giveaway ends April 3rd at midnight EST.

Book Review: "Lone Wolf"

By Melissa Amster

I normally don’t consider Jodi Picoult’s novels to be chick lit, even though most of them feature a strong female character. They’re often about murder, health problems, difficult choices, religion, or family dynamics and feature some sort of gray area and a lot of courtroom scenes. However, Ms. Picoult is a well known female author and one of her biggest concerns is that female authors don’t receive as many reviews as male authors. She also supports chick lit and endorses novels by chick lit authors. Therefore, I wanted to review "Lone Wolf" on this blog.

Luke Warren considers himself to be a family man. However, the family he relates to the most is a pack of wolves. He even neglects his wife and children to live amongst the wolves for an extended period of time. Eventually, his son moves far away and his wife files divorce papers, remarrying shortly thereafter. His teenage daughter is the only one who stands by his side, and she continues to do so when an accident lands him on life support. She’ll even fight with her brother over whether Luke should be allowed to live in this state of being. When matters reach a boiling point, it won’t be the wolves who get to decide Luke’s fate.

I had taken a couple of years off from reading Ms. Picoult’s novels. It was mainly because my focus was solely on chick lit and reviews for the blog. However, it was nice to be back in her world. It felt like I had never left! Ms. Picoult is such an amazing storyteller, that you forget you’re reading a book. She has a way of sweeping readers into the lives of all her characters, whether you agree with them or not. She takes the gray areas and muddies them even further, giving readers a chance to be on both sides of the decision and second guess even their own choices. I originally didn’t know that I’d want to read a medical drama about a man who has lived with wolves. However, she told his story in such a compelling way that I became interested in something I never was interested in before. Having gone to hear her speak recently, I had some background about the wolves and that made the story even easier to follow. I could tell she really did her research when writing about the wolves. I loved how each character’s voice was so distinct and I was able to sympathize with everyone involved. Her attention to detail and all the vivid descriptions of people and scenery made me feel like I was standing right next to everyone in the story. Unlike some of her past novels, I was satisfied with the ending. I won’t say why, as to not spoil the story. She also threw in a lot of surprises along the way. Her exploration of family dynamics and sensitive handling of the subject matter in regards to euthanasia made for a heart-wrenching novel that was impossible to put down.

Ms. Picoult does, however, have a tendency to overuse clich├ęs and metaphors. I can’t clearly think of how she did it in past novels, but with the wolves as a backdrop to the story, she has many opportunities to compare them to Luke’s actual family that it becomes a bit too much after a while. I think it would be easy enough to make those comparisons without her having to point them out each and every time. I also felt like Luke needed to add more to his side of the story. With the surprises thrown in, he didn’t really address any of them and it would be interesting to see how they came about from his perspective. Finally, some of the names of the wolves got confusing to tell apart after a while. When she’d reintroduce them later in the story, I couldn’t always remember what had happened with them initially.

Overall, I really liked “Lone Wolf” and it reminded me why I love Ms. Picoult’s writing style so much. I plan to go back and read the novels I missed over the last couple of years, as it was nice to hear her “voice” again. (And it was also nice to hear it in person.) I can't wait to read about which controversial topic she'll cover in her next novel!

Side note: My mom, who came with me to hear Ms. Picoult speak a few weeks ago, also read "Lone Wolf." She said it is now her favorite of all Ms. Picoult's novels and was emotional throughout.

More by Jodi Picoult:


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Winners of "The Two Week Wait"

To find our winners, we assigned a number to each entry and asked Random.org to choose FIVE numbers.

Congrats to:
26-JunkySouthernGurl2
68-Kristilyn (Reading in Winter)
89-Sam C
100-RoadWarriorMomma
116-BRN2SHOP9

Update (3/30/12): One of our winners did not claim their prize, so we had random.org choose a new winner. Congrats to #56, Paula (mrspaulafranco)!

Here's a message from Sarah Rayner:
Congratulations if you’ve won "The Two Week Wait" and a really big thank you for taking part and showing interest in my book. I am grateful to everyone at Chick Lit Central for enabling me to share my latest novel with potential readers and whether you've come to my writing through this competition or via my previous bestseller "One Moment, One Morning," I hope we’ll be together for a long time. It’s wonderful blogs like Chick Lit Central that facilitate and nurture the relationship between author and reader - and one of the joys of the technological age is it brings us into direct contact with a global audience. Should you wish to drop me a line and let me know what you think of "The Two Week Wait" when you're done, I'd love to hear. You'll find my details inside the book when it arrives.

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. It looks like "Beaches" is the most popular friendship movie.
Thanks to Sarah for a lovely interview.
Thanks to Picador for sharing the books with our winners!

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

Making friends with Kathryn

We don't just ask authors questions...we answer them too. Here are Kathryn's answers. Hope you'll enjoy getting to know her better.


Favorite TV show about friendship:
Hands down, "Friends." Fantastically funny show (Ross and the leather pants is still one of my all-time favourite episodes that makes me laugh whenever I think about it) and the way I met some wonderful people online.

Favorite movie about friendship:
Circle of Friends (adapted from the Maeve Binchy book)

Favorite song about friendship:
"You've Got a Friend In Me" from Toy Story

Strangest way you've ever met a friend:
It's not necessarily "strange," but on the first day of university, I walked up to (my now friend) Karen and asked her if she was in my group (she wasn't). We ended up chatting and it turned out we lived in the same residence, lived about 40 minutes away from each other, and had birthdays one day apart.

Friend you've known the longest:
I've reconnected with people on Facebook that I've known since kindergarten, but as for a friend that I still talk to regularly and spend time with, that would be Anne who I've known since I was 16. (So that's 19 years, whoa, wait... really??? Wow).

Did you ever have those best friend necklaces that split in the middle?
Didn't have one of the necklaces, but my best friend in high school and I had bracelets (one said best, the other said friend).

Funniest thing you did with a friend:
I broke out in a dance in the middle of Ikea once. I spontaneously break into dance all the time, just usually restrict it to not so public places. :)

Was there ever a time where you thought you knew a friend but it turned out you didn't know them at all?
My best friend from high school... I think it's not so much that I didn't know her, but that we grew apart and she's now someone that I don't care to keep in touch with.

Movie character you'd like to be best friends with?
Bridget Jones... or Eve and Benny from Circle of Friends.

Character from "Friends" you'd be best friends with?
This is tough because I'm probably the most like Monica (although my brother once told me that I was a lot like Rachel)... but I'd say either Monica or Rachel. Although, really, probably everyone because in reality my friends are all very different.

(Audio) Book Review: Bad Sisters

By Becky Gulc

Last December, I was lucky enough to win an audio-book copy of "Bad Sisters" by Rebecca Chance on Facebook. I hadn’t read any of Rebecca’s novels previously, and I hadn’t listened to an audiobook since I was a child! I was definitely intrigued to see whether I would enjoy an audiobook as much as the ‘real’ thing. So this review is as much about my experience of an audiobook as well as the story itself.

I recently got an iPod shuffle; thanks to a few technical hitches (i.e. I couldn’t stop it from shuffling!) I enjoyed some early chapters of this novel several times over; it definitely gave me a solid grounding in the three very different sisters involved in this novel even if I wasn’t quite sure where I was in the story! I soon transferred the files over to a walkman instead and started again! I listened to the 16 hours or so of audio when I was walking my dog, working out at the gym, walking to and from work and traveling on trains. I probably looked a bit strange at times as I definitely smiled a lot. There was a moment when I was sitting on a train during a particular scene in the book and had to look around to check no one could hear or see what was probably a blushing face. In this respect, let me just say that the audiobook warns of saucy content, and it definitely delivers on that front!

So what’s it all about? Here’s the synopsis:
‘Three ambitious, rivalrous sisters. And a deadly secret, which one of them is determined to keep buried at any cost ...Deeley is the fake wife of a Hollywood TV hunk, who is secretly gay. But Deeley's five-year contract is up, and his cut-throat publicist wants Deeley out. So, dejected and penniless, Deeley wends her way home to London, hoping to re-establish links with her two estranged elder sisters ...Devon is married to the nation's-favourite-rugby-hunk Matt, and has her own highly successful TV career, as the sexy hostess of her own cookery show. But behind her buxom facade, Devon is lonely and frustrated, and when a live celebrity cook-off shows her up as a fraud, she leaves sweet Matt and runs off to Tuscany, to learn a few lessons - not just in cookery - from an Italian master. Lastly, there's Maxie: a politician's wife, Maxie is fiercely ambitious. She's furious when Deeley, hard on her luck, sells the sisters' childhood story to a tabloid newspaper, revealing their impoverished roots and unsavoury parentage. The story undermines Maxie's carefully cultivated image, and the fallout threatens to be devastating. But Maxie is only too aware that there is much more Deeley could yet reveal. What murderous secret lies in the sisters' past? And just how far will Maxie go to keep it buried?’ (Courtesy of Amazon.)

The story switches between each of the three sisters' viewpoints and the book is cleverly interjected with scenes from the past every so often, so you build up a better understanding of the ‘deadly secret’ the further you get through. The three sisters' lives and characters were all so different and all very lavish, which allowed me to enjoy the escapist nature of the book. I also got lost in each character’s story to the point where I’d sometimes forget the ‘secret’ and yet when I was reminded of it, I was pleased that there’s an intriguing mystery that is going to come to a head at some point and I did find it gripping when it did.

I think the story is designed to be a bit tongue in cheek and even though none of the sisters are that likeable as people and don’t have very high moral standards, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s plenty of lust in this book, and a fair amount of following that up too. It also gave a sense of how the ‘secret’ has impacted on each of the sisters and shaped who they have become as adults. I enjoyed how this aspect of the novel was explored, particularly with Devon.

The audio book is narrated by actress Lisa Milne Henderson (also Rebecca’s sister). Although I can’t compare the delivery to other audio books, I loved it. The accents were great (and there are a fair few in there) and the different character voices were distinct. The pace was also just right. Lisa held my attention throughout which, I guess, is key when I could easily have been distracted by whatever my eyes were looking at!

Overall, I loved this book. It's definitely for those who enjoy a ‘bonkbuster,’ but the characters are so well written, I wouldn’t want to confine it to this description alone. I’d definitely pick up another Rebecca Chance novel. Would it be an audio version? Maybe, although I quite enjoy listening to the birds again on my walks for now.

You might also like:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baking (and breaking) bread with Darien Gee, plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

One time, when I went to visit my parents in Chicago, my mom had a freshly baked loaf of "Amish Friendship Bread" for me to try. It was absolutely delicious! She explained the premise of how the bread is made and how batches are given to friends so that they can continue the chain of bread making.

When I heard that Darien Gee had written a book called "Friendship Bread," I told my mom about it right away. I also knew that we had to feature Darien for "friendship month," as this novel will be available in paperback in early May.

Darien Gee is an author, wife, and mother of three. She’s a Libra Monkey, a chocoholic, and of late, an Amish Friendship Bread addict. (She and I have a few things in common, as we're both married with three kids and chocoholics.) A former California resident, Darien served on the board of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library and ZYZZYVA, an award-winning literary journal. She’s an alum of Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Her next Avalon novel, "Memory Keeping," will be published in 2013 by Ballantine Books. You may also recognize her as Mia King, author of "Good Things," "Sweet Life" and "Table Manners." You can find Darien at her website (where she has recipes for Amish Friendship Bread), Facebook and Twitter.

Darien has two copies of "Friendship Bread" for some lucky US readers!

Favorite movie about friendship:
Fried Green Tomatoes

Favorite book about friendship:
"Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman

How did you meet your best friend?
It was a bit like love at first sight -- from across a crowded field of college students. I'd never met her before but we were going to talk about planning an event together, and when I spotted her, I knew.


Chocolate Chip Cherry Friendship Bread
Favorite memory shared with your best friend:
Learning how to make pesto. We were figuring out what to make for dinner one night -- our regular fare was completely uninspired -- and she brought out her blender and a handful of basil leaves. It was so easy, I'd have to say that was probably the first time I realized how fun and easy cooking could be.

Three words to describe your best friend:
Funny, smart, kind

Funniest thing you did with a friend:
We were at a wedding and nobody was using the disposable cameras on the tables. So, not wanting the bride and groom to be disappointed, we started snapping shots but ended up taking more pictures of ourselves than anyone else. I felt bad afterwards, but the bride and groom later told us the pictures made them laugh and a montage made it into their "official" wedding album.

Who would play your best friend in the movie of your life:
Tina Fey.

The nicest thing your best friend has ever done for you:
Got on a plane the minute I went into labor with my third child.

Favorite destination for a girls weekend/trip:
France. Or possibly Brazil.

Celebrity you'd like to be best friends with?
Ellen DeGeneres, hands down.

Special thanks to Darien for visiting with us and sharing her book with our readers!

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

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is your favorite memory of you and your best friend?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US only. Giveaway ends April 1st at midnight EST.

Book Review: Stiletto Safari

By Cindy Roesel

Are you looking for some fun chick-lit that will hook you at page one and hold you all the way through until the very last page? Then I highly recommend STILETTO SAFARI by debut author, Kate Metz. Kate’s novel arrived in my mailbox, just as I was teetering on the verge of nervous breakdown. Being a book reviewer, that was exactly the situation that would put me over or be the remedy to my situation! Thank God for the absolute side-splitting story Kate put to pages in her novel.

“Today was the worst day of my life. Of course, it didn’t start that way, but by 11:30 a.m. my almost perfect world had ended.” That’s the opening, where the protagonist, Zara Hamilton, is carrying a brand new snakeskin Bulgari handbag while her world is falling apart. How is that even possible? Trust me, Zara is about to come face to face with reality and it’s so not Bulgari!

Zara Hamilton is a lawyer at one of Manhattan’s top law firms. She has the perfect life including a fabulous apartment, designer clothes and a super rich boyfriend, Nick. When Nick is accused of insider trading, his life quickly moves in a downward spiral, and Zara's life gets dragged along with it. She isn’t fired, but the press hounds her and the firm makes it clear they’d like her to stay clear of the office for a while. With the help of some good girlfriends (can’t have enough of those), the idea of volunteering in Africa comes up. What could go wrong volunteering with wildlife? Well as Zara is about to find out, plenty!

She finds herself in Namibia overpacked, overdressed, overstressed and wanting to leave before she even arrives. Turns out, she's carrying the negative attitude that all volunteers initially have before they realize it’s not about them and instead about the needy children and animals. She quickly falls in with the other volunteers--Ismail, Sam and Amy--as well as a young local girl, Gabi. There's also the complicated relationship with the blue-eyed British hunk named, Hamish. You’ll have to read STILETTO SAFARI to get more on him, but he’s delish!

Kate Metz lives in Melbourne, Australia. That may explain why she flips back and forth in her novel between American, British and Aussie slang. She’s a lawyer and has volunteered several times in Namibia. She’s been attacked by a leopard and has gone swimming with baby baboons. Her novel is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format. Visit her at her website to learn more about her and the inspiration behind STILETTO SAFARI.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Winners of "Lessons in Laughing Out Loud"

To find our winners, we assigned a number to each entry and asked Random.org to choose two numbers.

Congrats to:
30-Maureen (mce1011)
45-Booksnyc

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. We loved hearing your funny stories.
Thanks to Rowan for an entertaining interview. We wish her all the best with her upcoming arrivals.
Thanks to Gallery Books for sharing the books with our winners!

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

Friday, March 23, 2012

What's in the mail today?

Melissa A:

From Penguin UK:

"The Greatest Love Story of All Time" by Lucy Robinson



From Smith Publicity:

"Yesterday's News" by Kajsa Ingemarsson
Recently translated to English. There's no US cover picture available online yet, but it does have a cupcake on it!


e-books:

From Kaira Rouda:



From Michele Gorman:



From World Literary Cafe:



Free from Amazon:



Amy:

From Kate Ledger:



From HarperCollins:




Gail:

From Arthur Wooten:




From Get Red PR:




Cindy:

From Kate Metz:




Becky:

From HarperCollins UK:


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Books of the Week--March 22nd

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

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

"Happy Hour"
By Anne Mitchell

When English rose Jane Anderson catches her handsome garden designer husband having an affair, she takes up her best friend Susie’s offer of a trip to New York. But as soon as she arrives people look at her oddly, treat her like royalty and keep referring to her as Rosie Reynolds. Soon she discovers that Rosie is the Big Apple’s favourite talk show host and after Rosie’s botched face-lift, Jane is offered the job of emergency stand-in on Happy Hour, the show that made Rosie famous. But here she meets Lou, a dangerously charming man who also happens to be Rosie’s husband...

"Happy Hour" is currently 99 cents for Kindle.

Visit Anne Mitchell on Facebook and Twitter.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Finding Felicity"
By Monica Marlowe

"Finding Felicity" tells the story of Madeline O’Connor, whose life is turned upside down when she learns that her estranged sister is ill, leaving Manhattan to care for her sister in Italy. Although she is consumed by work and her relationship with her sister is strained by a past betrayal, Madeline makes the journey to Europe and stays in a monastery that accommodates travelers. There, she meets Brother Anthony Lamberti, a man unlike any that she knows in New York. Anthony and Madeline share an overwhelming love and Madeline lets down her guard to the sincerity, dignity, and strength of Anthony. From him, she learns many spiritual and emotional lessons and undergoes a complete transformation. Along the way, she also meets Tyler Reed, who adds the excitement of a love triangle to the many twists and turns along Madeline's journey.

Find Monica Marlowe on Facebook and Twitter.

A friendly chat with Sarah Rayner, plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Gail Allison

**Giveaway is now closed**

Not all authors start out as prolific writers. Sarah Rayner studied English at Leeds University, but translated that into a short-lived career in fashion PR, until her boss told her she was better at writing than at schmoozing clients. That put her on the road to writing, through working for various London agencies, some freelance work, and eventually getting some short stories published in Woman’s Own. She juggled life as both an author and a copywriter for many years. “The Two Week Wait” is Sarah’s fourth novel, following “The Other Half” (2001), “Getting Even” (2002), and “One Moment, One Morning” (2010), which has now sold almost 250,000 copies in the UK alone, and was the success that Sarah needed to pursue writing fiction full time. We’re so glad that she did!

Thanks to Picador, we have FIVE copies of "The Two Week Wait" for some lucky readers anywhere in the world!

Visit Sarah at her website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Favorite movie about friendship:
The Shawshank Redemption

Favorite book about friendship:
"The Help"

How did you meet your best friend?
I’ve got so many friends I couldn’t possibly pick one as my best friend. There’s Jules, my running mate (we met at work); Hilary, my oldest friend, (we’ve known each other since babyhood so I can’t remember when we first encountered one another – probably in our prams!); Clare, my gay best friend (she was my personal trainer); Daney, my eccentric friend (we met at college); Alex, my commuting companion (we met on the train); Sarah, my most stylish friend and shopping buddy (we met dog walking); Diane, my fellow writer who celebrate successes and commiserate failures with me (again, we met at work); Jane, my saviour, who gets me out of scrapes (we met through our boyfriends thirty years ago); and Aiden and John, my lovely man friends (who were once colleagues too).

Friend you've known the longest without meeting in person:
I’ve got several Facebook friends I’ve never met – people who’ve written to me about my books and we’ve struck up a correspondence. But recently I met to two of them face-to-face – I invited them to my book launch for "The Two Week Wait" and they both came.

Funniest thing you did with a friend:
My friends and I filled the school pond with bubble bath and frothed it up with our hockey sticks when the teachers’ backs were turned. We thought it funny – the caretaker didn’t!

Who would play your best friend in the movie of your life:
Tricky, given I’ve so many friends, it had better be someone very adaptable! I’ll say Laura Linney. I like her – compared to a lot of actresses she seems very real.

Other chick lit author you'd want to be best friends with:
Lisa Jewell. I love her books – they’re like having a big slice of cake without the calories!

The nicest thing your best friend has ever done for you:
When I left a long-term relationship several years ago, my friend Daney offered to have me to stay with her and her family for as long as I wanted. Their house is not big, and they had no time to prepare for me. That was extremely kind and I appreciate it to this day.

What is something about a friend that surprised you?
Some of my friends’ taste in men has surprised me over the years. But I’m not going to say which ones in public...

Character from "Friends" you'd be best friends with?
Chandler. He’s got the driest sense of humour. The women aren’t as lovely as my own dear friends, and Joey and Ross are a bit dorky.

Special thanks to Sarah for chatting with us and to Picador for sharing "The Two Week Wait" with our readers.

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

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is your favorite movie about friendship?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

Giveaway ends March 27th at midnight EST.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Making friends with Melissa A.

We don't just ask authors questions...we answer them too. Here are Melissa A's answers. Hope you'll enjoy getting to know her better.

Favorite TV show about friendship:
Hands down, How I Met Your Mother. I know I talk about this show a lot, but I love the friendship between all the characters.

Favorite movie about friendship:
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I never read the books, but the first movie is fabulous.

Favorite book about friendship:
"Firefly Lane" by Kristin Hannah. Like "Beaches" for the 21st century.

How did you meet your best friend?
Summer camp in 1987. We were going into 6th grade at different schools, but we hung out a lot anyway. She inquired about my braces and that was all it took to get the friendship going. 25 years later...still going strong.

Strangest way you've ever met a friend:
Freecycle. I was giving away a baby item and she picked it up from my house. Then we'd e-mail on occasion. Oddly enough, we didn't hang out until right before I moved away from NJ. (I ended up getting moving boxes she was freecycling.) We went to see Jane Green together and refer to that night as our "hot date." (It's hard for moms to get out of the house!)

Friend you've known the longest:
My friend Robin, whom I've known since birth. Our parents met in lamaze class. We'd all go on vacations to Florida together when we were kids. We don't catch up as much as we should, but we know we can if we want to. We got married pretty close in time (6 months apart) and our sons are very close in age.

Chick lit author you'd want to be best friends with:
Sophie Kinsella. I could totally see us talking non-stop and shopping together. :) I know she's actually Madeleine Wickham, but I'd want her to be Sophie when we hung out.

Favorite inside joke with a friend:
I have lots of inside jokes with various friends. Some of my favorite ones involve a friend from college. We thought this one guy was hot and we changed the first letter of his name in order to talk about him a lot. We even imitated him. We talked about making T-shirts saying we were his girlfriend. One time, I wrote "Call me" on the dry erase board on his door and then she and I went running like mad to get out of the dorm suite. Another time, we were sitting outside and saw him waiting in line at the Subway in my residence hall. We were rolling on the ground in hysterics. His brother went to the same school and was also cute. We didn't give him a name. We just referred to him as the hot guy's brother. A guy friend of ours caught on and one day called him our special nickname to his face.

The nicest thing your best friend has ever done for you:
She made these beautiful blankets when my younger son and daughter were born. I could just tell all the love she put into them. She had actually made them both at the same time and saved the pink one because she just knew I'd have a girl someday. :) She also got "Heart of the Matter" personalized for me by Emily Giffin, as she knew I wasn't able to go to a signing at the time. Oh yeah, and she's one of the catalysts (really, the first) in a chain of Jewish geography that led me to my husband.

What do you enjoy doing with friends the most?
Seeing chick flicks and playing board games that allow for a lot of humor.

Books need accessories too!

This is where Gone Reading International comes in. Not only do they sell bling for your books, as well as fun things for us such as games and t-shirts, they also help fund libraries and reading-centered non-profits.

This is their philanthropic mission:

Even in wealthy countries, libraries struggle for funding while demand for their services has never been higher.

Gone Reading International, LLC was founded to counter these problems and spread the magic of reading. We believe that when people have open access to great reading materials, life always changes for the better. When libraries and reading materials are made available, people and their communities thrive through increased opportunity and self-empowerment.

That’s why Gone Reading International donates 100% of our after-tax profits to provide new funding for libraries and reading-centered non-profits. By purchasing GoneReading brand gifts and merchandise, you’re treating yourself and the world at large to a wonderful gift. All purchases from GoneReading help contribute to our philanthropic work.
(Courtesy of Gonereading.com. Read more about their mission here.)

From now through April 15th, when you use the code CHICKLITCENTRAL25, you can get 25% off anything you purchase at their site, except for bookends. Choose from bookmarks, book lights, book journals, bookplates, games, posters, t-shirts, etc. Don't miss out on your chance to use this special discount!


One of their T-shirt images

An appropriate bookmark for us!


Book Review: Searching for My Wand

By Gail Allison

Glenda (named--incorrectly!--after Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz) is struggling. Everything looks great on the outside, but inside, she’s crumbling. Glenda truly wants to be the best she can be: the best mother, the best wife, and the best friend, but life gets in the way. She is absolutely determined to live up to her namesake, though. Glenda needs to learn to overcome the curveballs that life throws her way with her own wry sense of humor before she can start striving for the stars, and sometimes that starts to feel like a little too much to ask. However, she is not a quitter. She keeps going full steam ahead, even when it’s a path she’s been down before.

The cast of characters that Bridget Straub has built into "Searching for My Wand," including Glenda, are well-written and interesting. She keeps them realistic by letting us see their flaws and foibles, even when it seems that those around them can’t. She also maintains a “light at the end of the tunnel” outlook throughout what could be an extremely pessimistic novel. You’re really rooting for Glenda the whole way through. As well, she fleshes out the characters enough that you can start to see shades of people in your own life within them. You know: the best friend who appears to have it all in check, but when you look closer, she’s just as frazzled as you are.

I found Ms. Straub’s jumps from past to present and back again to be confusing at first, but once I got into it, started looking forward to the different pieces and learning more about who people were versus who they are now in the book. They say everything happens for a reason, and you slowly learned from these people’s past lives why they were the way they were in the present. As well, the tiny illustrations scattered throughout were a nice break every now and again.

Yes, this book does deal with slightly darker material, but it’s not a heavy read by any means. Glenda’s persistent optimism, coupled with a simple and peppy writing style keeps this one light and fun.

Bridget Straub has now written four books. "Searching For My Wand" has been available as an ebook since December of 2011, and can be found on Amazon for under $5!

You might also like:




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Winners of "Another Piece of My Heart"

To find our winners, we assigned a number to each entry and asked Random.org to choose three numbers.

Congrats to:
56-Marthalynn
109-Jencey Gortney
121-Julie (aunteegem)

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. We loved hearing about all the nice things your friends have done for you. Some even brought tears to our eyes.
Thanks to Jane for another lovely chat and to St. Martin's Press for sharing the books with our winners!

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

Meet our new review associate!

When we had our associate reviewer contest last year, we mentioned that there was a runner up. Even though our current associates aren't going anywhere (at least they'd better not), we've had such an abundance of review requests that we thought adding a reviewer would accommodate that. We decided to ask our runner up, Kathryn Hamilton, if she was still interested. She said YES!!!

Keep in mind, we may have another contest to add on another reviewer, but nothing is certain yet.

For now, it's time to get to know Kathryn a little better...

Three of your favourite chick lit authors:

Marian Keyes, Jennifer Weiner, and Jodi Picoult. Also really loved Gemma Burgess and can't wait to read more by her.

Chick lit novel you want to see on the big screen:

Anything by Jodi Picoult. "A Girl Like You" by Gemma Burgess would be hilarious... think Bridget Jones kind of funny.

Which book has had an impact on you?

"Firefly Lane" by Kristin Hannah.

Something about you that would surprise people:

I take weekly Belly dance and Bollywood classes (which in no way involves a pole... don't ask). Another thing that surprises people is the fact that I love True Blood (this shocked even my brother).

Some of your hobbies:

Aside from the above dance classes, when my sometimes ridiculous work schedule allows, I also love to read (of course), catch up on tv shows online (I guess that's not much of a hobby), cross-stitch, relaxing with my feline fur baby Abby, listening to music, chatting with friends, and Facebook (I also have a slight addiction to PerezHilton.com).

Favourite place to vacation:

Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to travel much, but I absolutely fell in love with British Columbia when I went there for a wedding in 2000. Places I would love to travel to: Scotland, Australia, and the rest of Canada.

If you want to connect with Kathryn, visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

Winner of "How to Eat a Cupcake"

To find our winner, we assigned a number to each entry and asked Random.org to choose one number.

Congrats to:
102-Margie (mtakala1)

Here's a message from Meg Donohue:
Thank you so much for your interest in HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE! Congratulations to the winner! I hope you enjoy the book. As a brand-new author, it means so much to me to have women like the ladies of Chick Lit Central and all of the site's wonderful reviewers and readers supporting my work. I hope you will all keep in touch and visit me on Facebook, Twitter  and my website (where you can sign up for my mailing list). I love to chat with readers and book clubs, so please do keep in touch! In the meantime, thank you and happy reading!

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

Thanks to everyone for participating. Jen Lancaster, Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin were popular picks amongst this group for author best friend choices.
Thanks to Meg for visiting with us and to HarperCollins for sharing the book with our winner!

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

Sharing some friendly laughs with Rowan Coleman, plus a book giveaway

**Giveaway is now closed**

We are glad to have Rowan Coleman back here to talk about friendship. She was here right before she got married back in 2010 and now she's here right before she's about to give birth to twins. We just catch her at all the right moments! Rowan is best known for "The Accidental Mother" and its sequel, "The Accidental Family." Her latest novel is "Lessons in Laughing Out Loud" (reviewed here), which gives some new perspectives on motherhood and family.

Thanks to Gallery Books, we have TWO copies of "Lessons in Laughing Out Loud" for some lucky US readers.

You can find Rowan on Facebook, Twitter and her website.

Favorite song about friendship:
My favorite song about friendship is really not about friendship, its called "Motorcycle Emptiness" by the Welsh rock band, The Manic Street Preachers. It always makes me think of a road trip that my best friend and I took when were in our twenties, on the search of an 'epiphany' and we played and played and sang and sang this song at the top of our voices for a week solid.

Favorite book about friendship:
Is it wrong to say on of my own books? My first novel (not yet published in the states), "Growing Up Twice," is an homage to my best friends, who have stood by me through thick and thin, its really a love story about friendship.

How did you meet your best friend?
I've known my best friend since we were about six, but we didn't really bond until we were fifteen, at which point we became so inseparable that we even wore the same outfits at the same time!

Friend you've known the longest without meeting in person:
Oh good question....I know a lot of writers and readers who I've had the pleasure of meeting online and have yet to meet in person. I suppose that a particular reader who found me back in the days of MySpace, would be the longest serving online friendship that has yet to make it into real life!

Who would play your best friend in the movie of your life?
Joan Cusack. She's got the kind of quirky down to earth funny, strong, caring, clever personality of my best friend. Also I really want to meet her brother.

Favorite inside joke with a friend:
When I was at university my friend was dating a boy who was a terrible dancer. We nicknamed him Ken-Can't-Dance - even though his name was Stephen...of course it was inevitable that one day I called him Ken to his face....we didn't see him around much after that.

Other chick lit author you'd want to be best friends with:
I'm lucky enough to be good friends with a lot of chick lit authors, but I wold love to go out with Marian Keyes. I'm a huge admirer of her and her work, and have never met her in person yet. And she seems so lovely!

The nicest thing your best friend has ever done for you:
I was living about 300 miles away from home when my first proper relationship broke up. I called my best friend and she got straight in the car and drove all night to come and fetch me home.

Favorite destination for a girls weekend/trip:
I had the best hen week EVER in Las Vegas. Its a crazy place.

What do you enjoy doing with friends the most?
Talking and laughing. No one makes me gasp for breath laugh as much as my women friends do.


Special thanks to Rowan for this friendly chat, especially as she has other things on her mind at the moment. Thanks also to Gallery Books for sharing "Lessons in Laughing Out Loud" with our readers.

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

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is the last thing you laughed about with a friend? (Or share a favorite inside joke.)
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US only. Giveaway ends March 25th at midnight EST.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: Lessons in Laughing Out Loud

By Melissa Amster

I don't read many novels where the main character starts off by saying she'd like to kill someone. However, in the case of "Lessons in Laughing Out Loud," it opens exactly that way and it really gives an interesting insight to Rowan Coleman's latest main character, Willow Briars.

Willow leads a relatively lonely existence, except when she's escorting celebrities to hideouts for her job and spending time with her best friend, Daniel or her twin sister, Holly, who has a perfect life in contrast to her own. All that changes when she stumbles upon a store of odds and ends, where she falls in love with a pair of shoes and ends up with an old coat and so much more, as a result of her shoe purchase. The shoes seem to have a magic effect on her physical appearance, transforming her from overweight to curvy within seconds of putting them on. Soon, people are coming back into her life after she was expecting to never see them again and then there are other surprises in store for her. However, she's haunted by a trauma from her past and will never be truly happy until she confronts her ghosts. Will the shoes give her the confidence she needs or will she find it from within herself?

I'll be honest here. I love Rowan Coleman as a writer and as a person. However, "Lessons in Laughing Out Loud" didn't really grab me in the beginning. It felt kind of slow at first and I had no idea where Ms. Coleman was planning to go with it. Then it suddenly picked up and kept me intrigued the rest of the way through. The characters were really interesting and distinct. They all felt so real. I could actually picture most of them in their interactions with Willow and the others in her life. There was also an air of mystery throughout. Ms. Coleman kept alluding to something happening in Willow's past, but left it up to the reader to put the pieces together before she would give them the full story. Once I got into the story, I really liked it and got emotionally involved with Willow and the people in her life. I sincerely wanted good things to happen for her and I could also feel what she was feeling, even though I've never been in her shoes (both literally and figuratively). The ending left me with a giddy grin on my face.

I think I wasn't instantly grabbed as easily by the story because of the wordiness. The sentences tended to be wordy a lot of the time and I would have to read some several times before I understood what was being said. Also, the concept of magic shoes or clothing from a mysterious store has been used in other novels, so the originality factor was not really there this time. However, Ms. Coleman found a way to add interesting twists to this story, giving it a unique flair overall.

While I miss the stories Ms. Coleman writes about mothers (i.e. "The Accidental Mother"), she still managed to incorporate her thoughts about motherhood in this story, giving it a sweet and heartwarming feel. The story had a Marian Keyes feel to it, which made me check the cover often to make sure I really was reading a Rowan Coleman novel. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I also would like to see more of Ms. Coleman's "voice" shine through than have her sound like she's trying to write as someone else. I definitely noticed a different feel in both this novel and in "The Home for Broken Hearts," as compared to her previous novels. However, I did enjoy "Lessons in Laughing Out Loud" overall, and look forward to reading whatever Ms. Coleman puts out next. She always manages to surprise me.

More by Rowan Coleman: