Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Winner of "What She Left Us"

To find our winner, we assigned a number to each entry (from only the entries with contact info; one per person) and asked random.org to choose one number. It chose 18.

Congrats to Val Pearson!

Here is a message from Stephanie Elliot:

Hey everyone who entered to win What She Left Us. Thank you all for taking the time to read the post on my debut full-length e-novel. I appreciate it so very much and congrats to the winner. I hope those of you who download it enjoy it - Books are so near and dear to me and I know they are a personal choice and everyone has a particular taste when it comes to reading so thank you so much if you choose to read my novel! If you enjoy it, I have a short story on amazon too called The Cell Phone Lot and I will be bringing another full-length e-book out to amazon this summer. Thanks to Chick Lit Central and the amazing women who put it all together. I love working with you all and appreciate all the work you do to share the incredible books out there!

Thanks everyone, and if you'd like to connect on Facebook or Twitter, just look me up on my website stephanieelliot.com. Until then, find those great books out there and keep reading! Stephanie

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 about something you had second thoughts about after you made the decision.

Thanks to Stephanie for sharing the songs that go with her book and doing a giveaway with us!

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

Taking a walk in Tiffany Wright's shoes...plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Tracey Meyers
Interview by Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

I LOVE shoes. To me, an outfit isn't complete until I have found the perfect pair of shoes to go with it.  It's like art for your feet.  I loves shoes so much I can spend many hours browsing Zappos.com or the shoe department at any given department store.

Apparently, I'm not the only shoe lover here. Tiffany Wright spent a year wearing a different pair of shoes every day and blogging about it. As a freelance journalist for over nine years, Tiffany's work has been published by magazines including Grazia, Elle, Glamour, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Now, Closer and Stylist.  For almost two years she was Cosmopolitan's "Sex and the Cosmo Girl".  Most recently, her debut novel, Somebody Else's Shoes was published.

So, I invite you to put on your favorite pair of pumps and indulge in your favorite cocktail, as we take a  leisurely walk in Tiffany Wright's shoes. You can walk even further in them by visiting her at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Thank to Tiffany, we have one Kindle version of Somebody Else's Shoes for a lucky reader anywhere in the world!

What inspired you to write Somebody Else's Shoes, aside from your blog, The Stiletto Diaries?
I've spent years working as a journalist for magazines such as Grazia, Cosmo and Company and as such I was always surrounded by fabulous shoes. I often found myself thinking "I wonder what it would be like to be a celeb who wears these sort of amazing shoes every day. Would it be as fantastic as everyone thinks?" I think it's so easy to presume that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so that's where the plot for Somebody Else's Shoes came from. I wanted to test the theory and discover if life really does get any better if you want in somebody else's, much more glamorous, shoes.

Which of the characters in Somebody Else's Shoes do you relate to most...Natasha or Mia?
On a good day Mia, on a bad day Natasha! I think everyone has a part of us that can put ourselves down all the time a la Mia. And likewise, we can all be a bit self obsessed and bitchy like Natasha. I *hope* I have the heart of Mia and the fashion style of Natasha!

In one sentence, tell us what your journey to publication was like.
Very hard work but worth every minute.

If Somebody Else's Shoes were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Ooh I LOVE this question! Mia would be played by someone like Rachel McAdams (from The Notebook). Aly would have to be played by Enrique Iglesias (ok, ok so Aly isn't Spanish or dark haired BUT I do love Enrique so any excuse to meet him!)

You're a wedding proposal planner....what is your favorite proposal amongst the ones you planned? Did anything funny or crazy happen during any of the proposals?
Ooh every proposal is my favorite! If I HAD to choose I would say it is our Bollywood Flash Mob Proposal.. The guy in question hated dancing BUT he knew his girlfriend loved it, so he decided to learn a whole Bollywood routine just for the proposal. The flash mob started up and he got dragged into the middle of the dancers. At first he pretended not to know how to dance and then suddenly - WHAM -he pulled out all of the dance moves. His girlfriend was in complete shock! It was SO sweet. That's what I love about proposals - it's a chance for the guy to show his other half that he really would do ANYTHING for her.

You wore a different pair of shoes every day for a year....which pair was your favorite?
Ooh, my nude Louboutins without a doubt. I've wanted a pair of Louboutins for EVER and so the day I got my book agent I rewarded myself by buying a pair. Do they hurt like hell? Yup. Have a got the blisters to prove it? Yup. BUT MY G-D, I LOVE THEM!

If you were a pair of shoes, what kind would you be?
It's impossible to choose. I'd have to be a pair of Louboutin ballet pumps (yup they exist). Just like Mia and Natasha in the book, I'd need a bit of both ballet pump and glamour all mixed into one!

What are you looking forward to most this summer?
I'm heading off to L.A. and Cannes to research my next book. Let's just say, this one is going to be ever more glamorous than the last!

Thanks to Tiffany for an outstanding interview and for sharing her book with our readers!

How to win Somebody Else's Shoes:
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: Whose shoes would you like to walk in for a day?
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.

Open worldwide.  Giveaway ends May 5th at midnight EST.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: A Cottage by the Sea

By Becky Gulc

Being brought up by the seaside but now living inland, I am often left craving the fresh sea air and love escaping back to my hometown as often as I can. I’m therefore easily sold on any book set by the sea which promises to let me escape to my favourite place through reading, whenever I fancy it. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I was delighted to receive Carole Matthews' latest novel, A Cottage by the Sea, for review recently. With a delectable cover, it promised the reader escapism before even reading the blurb. But what’s it all about?

Grace has been best friends with Ella and Flick since university. The late-night chats, shared heartaches and good times have created a bond that has stood the test of time. Now in their thirties, Grace is always a bit disappointed about how little time they get to spend together, so when Ella invites them all to stay for a week in her cottage in South Wales, Grace jumps at the chance to see her old friends. She also hopes that the change in pace will help her reconnect with her husband, Harry. Unfortunately for her, Harry isn't as enamoured with Cwtch Cottage as she is. Then Flick arrives; loveable, bubbly Flick, accompanied by the handsome and charming Noah, and suddenly the week ahead looks as though it may be even more confusing for all the residents of Cwtch Cottage. (Synopsis courtesy of amazon.co.uk)

I generally enjoy books where the narrative is mixed up a bit, providing a non-linear story and different viewpoints. So to begin with, I found the first-person present tense used throughout this book a little uninteresting, if I’m to be honest. However, I got into this as the book developed and I didn’t even think about it by the time I was a few chapters in. I think the fact that Grace is such a warm and likeable character helps cement the reader’s vested interest in her story and the developments and adventures spanning her week away.

Whilst I did find the story predictable in terms of a few too many seeds being planted suggesting certain things were going to happen, it didn’t really bother me or affect my overall enjoyment of this book. In fact I maybe read more into some of these seeds than I needed to and wondered whether one of the characters was everything they were being made out to be. Although it didn’t turn out to be this way, it kept me wondering throughout about how everything would come together in the end.

I loved the setting and got a real sense of place and adventure from this book, you almost feel like you’ve had a weekend away yourself when you’ve finished. The characters were also well developed and I’d personally love to see a follow-up to this to see where they all are in a couple of years’ time.

This book delivered exactly what it promised and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is one to take on your holidays if you like a quick escapist read. Also, if you don’t already ‘like’ or ‘follow’ Carole on Facebook or Twitter you should do as she’s a great example of connecting with her readers through social networking and is generally very amusing. (She often makes me hungry with her baking photos!)

Thanks to Sphere for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Carole Matthews:

Friday, April 26, 2013

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

**Giveaway is now closed**

Melissa A:

The Love Wars by L. Allison Heller from Penguin Group (Amy got this from the author)

The Week Before the Wedding by Beth Kendrick from Penguin Group

The Seeds of Daisy by/from Alison Caiola

The Way Back To Happiness by Elizabeth Bass from Kensington Publishing

The Summer Everything Changed by Holly Chamberlin from Kensington Publishing

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen from Transworld Publishers (won this from a giveaway)

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella from Transworld Publishers

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky from Wunderkind PR

Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham from Random House


Meet Me At The Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan from Sourcebooks

The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn from Simon & Schuster  (Melissa A. got this too.)

All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg from HarperCollins

Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves from  Penguin Group


A Beautiful Mess by Ali Berlinski from Pubslush Press 

The Smartest Girl In the Room by/from Deborah Nam-Krane


Table for Seven by Whitney Gaskell from Bantam Dell

Sleeping in Eden by Nicole Baart from AuthorsOnTheWeb


Dirty Laundry by Marilyn Slagel from Abbott Press

Undertaking Love by Kat French from HarperCollins UK (e-book)

What could be in YOUR mail:

Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne (paperback). She has TWO copies for some lucky US readers!

A tough, tender, debut novel, in the tradition of Dorothy Allison and Janet Fitch, Hand Me Down is the unforgettable story of a girl who travels between California and Utah in search of her true family, having never been loved best of all.

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents' cruel mistakes. Their father, who'd rather work the system than a job, pours every dollar into his many vices, denying his daughters the shoes and clothing they need. Their mother, once a loving parent, is going through a post-post-adolescent rebellious streak and finds love with a dangerous ex-con. When she chooses starting a new family over raising her first-born girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and forced to rely on the begrudging kindness of increasingly distant relatives.

A string of broken promises that begins with Liz's mother swearing, "I would never hurt you, Liz. You're family," propels her between guest beds in two states searching for a safe home. All the while, Liz is burdened by her stake in a bleak pact with a deceitful adult: to tell the truth about the darkest of her circumstances will cost her the ability to shelter Jaime. As Liz spirals into the abyss of fear and shame that haunts her sleepless nights, can she break free from her bonds in time to fight for her life? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

How to win:
Please tell us: What was the last thing you handed down to someone?

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

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

Book Review: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger

By Miriam Plotinsky

No longer a secret, shameful act, online dating is the norm for singles who are looking for love, and people are very open about meeting their significant others through a website. Though any embarrassing stigma behind Internet dating is gone, some people still struggle to write the perfect profile. In fact, many girlfriends show me the drafts of their profiles, hoping they come across with maximum appeal. So what happens when someone is just not much of a writer? This problem gets plenty of coverage in Lucy Robinson’s A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger.

A modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac, Robinson’s novel explores the life of career woman extraordinaire Charley Lambert, who ghostwrites e-mail exchanges for lovelorn but communication-challenged clients that are trying unsuccessfully to express themselves over the Internet.

Like many women, Charley has a hard time saying no when people ask her to take on extra projects or responsibilities. After a bizarre accident that leaves workaholic Charley stuck in bed, she starts a business, First Date Aid, which allows her to handle the online correspondence of hapless daters from the comfort of her home. Charley’s devastatingly handsome but immature housemate, Sam Bowes, helps her with the business, and they gradually form a bond that puts their established friendship on uncertain footing. As Charley recovers and tries to balance her highly paid job at a pharmaceutical firm with her fledgling small business, she has to learn that working to live is far more important than living to work.

Charley is a lovable and surprisingly vulnerable character, and Robinson sketches her with humor and understanding. While the rest of the world may view Charley as a work-obsessed nightmare, we see her for what she really is: a lonely woman who is using her job as a way to exercise control over an emotionally barren life. Her friends also see the good in Charley, but the problem is that Charley doesn’t see her own value. Instead, she uses her professional life as a shield to protect her from having feelings that might cause her to lose control of her carefully orchestrated existence.

Poignant and relatable, A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger aptly stresses the importance of valuing a personal life over all else. In this work-driven culture, that’s a hard message to relay without expecting some rebuttal, but Robinson manages to portray Charley’s struggle with just the right amount of silliness. The message is nonetheless clear, and we might all stop and think about what we’re capable of handling next time someone asks us to do a project before automatically agreeing. After all, sometimes saying no is the most liberating thing a woman can do.

Thanks to Penguin UK for the book in exchange for an honest review.

You might also enjoy:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A "night" to remember with Sophie Kinsella...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Blake Little
Introduction and interview by Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

If you don't already know this by now, I am a huge Sophie Kinsella fan. I even wrote a tribute to her last year, during International Chick Lit Month. Her books are so clever, funny and endearing (as are the characters in each book). And from doing this interview with her, I like her even more as a person, as she seems so sweet, genuine and down-to-earth. I could totally see myself hanging out with her if she ever came to my town for a visit. (A girl can dream, right?!?)

Sophie has earned her notoriety in the chick lit universe, with her Shopaholic series AND her stand-alone novels. She also writes chick lit novels under her real name, Madeleine Wickham. They have a different feel to them, but still worth checking out.

I am thrilled and honored to be able to share this interview with Sophie Kinsella, as it is her first time visiting Chick Lit Central. (I hope it won't be her last!) I wouldn't mind an in-person visit one of these days, but again, that's just wishful thinking on my part. I'd probably end up all star struck anyway! You can find Sophie at her website and Facebook.

UK cover
I want to thank Transworld Publishers for coordinating this interview. Also, thanks to Random House, we have TWO copies of her latest novel, Wedding Night to share with lucky readers in the US and/or Canada. In addition, I'd like to personally share some of her previous stand alone novels with our readers anywhere in the world. (Even if you've read them before, you're still welcome to enter and share the prize with someone else who hasn't experienced the joy of a Sophie Kinsella novel before.) It's a surprise as to which books I've chosen to share!

In regards to the topic of your latest novel, Wedding Night, what is your favorite memory from your own wedding?
I will always remember walking up the aisle on my father's arm, while a choir made up of all our friends belted out Vivaldi. It was quite overwhelming.

Out of all your characters from any of your novels, who do you relate to most? Least?
I relate to all my heroines - they all have a piece of me in them. I'm a fantasist like Becky Bloomwood, and I'm a a bit of a klutz like Emma Corrigan and I'm a real romantic like Lottie. I suppose the girl I relate to least is Becky's sister Jess - she is so practical and unromantic. But that's not to say I don't understand and respect her.

Any plans for future Shopaholic novels or another way to keep us updated on the whereabouts of Becky?
Yes, I am planning another Shopaholic book. I am missing Becky myself!

Of your stand-alone books, which do you think would make a great movie and who would you cast in the lead roles?
I think The Undomestic Goddess would make a great movie but I've no idea who I would cast. I just know that Nathaniel would have to be someone gorgeous!

Since your name is an alias, how did you come up with it in the first place?
Sophie is my middle name and Kinsella is my mother's maiden name. Growing up, I always loved the name Kinsella so I was very happy to have a way to use it!

Special thanks to Sophie for visiting with us, Transworld for coordinating the interview and Random House for sharing Wedding Night with our readers!

US cover
How to win Wedding Night OR a previous Sophie Kinsella novel:
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.)

If you live in the US or Canada, please indicate that, as well. (Otherwise, your entry will NOT also count toward Wedding Night.)

Bonus entries:
1. Please tell us: What is your favorite Sophie Kinsella novel? (If you haven't read her novels yet, tell us which one you'd want to read first.)
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 for Wedding Night.
Worldwide for previous novels.
Giveaway ends April 30th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Meet our newest review associate!

Introduction by Melissa Amster

Miriam Plotinsky is the runner-up in our 2012 review associate contest (a.k.a. The CLC Project). Due to one of our review associates no longer doing reviews for us (but sticking around in a different capacity), we have asked Miriam to join us as a review associate. She has been doing guest reviews for the past year and we're glad to have her as part of our family.

You can learn more about her at our About Us page.

I happen to know Miriam in person, as well. We live in the same neighborhood, and until the Jennifer Weiner book signing last year, we didn't know that we had a love for chick lit in common. (Keep in mind, I had no influence in the voting for The CLC Project.) She's very nice and I enjoy our chick lit themed and non-chick lit themed conversations.

While she isn't accessible by social media, feel free to comment on this post and I'll be sure to get messages to her!

Name three of your favorite chick lit authors.
Marian Keyes, Helen Fielding, Emily Giffin

Which chick lit novel would you like to see on the big screen?
The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes.

Which chick lit novel has had an impact on you and stayed with you for a long time?
The Other Side of the Story is a book I've read over and over. The main reason I love it has to do with Jojo Harvey's character. She looks bulletproof from the outside, but she is in constant turmoil about various problems in her life, from trying to move up in her career to being in love with her married boss. She could so easily be a stereotype, but instead, she's completely relatable and, quite frankly, I think a lot of women who read this book wish they could be like her.

What is something about you that would surprise most people?
I am a ridiculously talented thumb wrestler, thanks to a bizarrely flexible thumb. I dare anyone to beat me! Seriously. I'm ready.

What are some of your hobbies?
Hobbies are a rare but precious commodity right now since I'm raising three small children while working a full-time job. When I have time, I love to work out, sing, play musical instruments, read, bake/cook, and go anywhere as long as my husband is along to be my partner in crime. I also like to learn a new skill each summer. Last year was tap dance. This year I'm all about landscape painting.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?
Anyplace with a warm beach (room service isn't bad, either) is sheer heaven. Beaches calm me down and make me feel happy. I cannot imagine ever taking a vacation to a cold climate. Sorry, Siberia.

When you least "expected" it....a giveaway from Lori Verni-Fogarsi!

***Giveaway is now closed***

Lori Verni-Fogarsi has been an author, speaker, and small business consultant since 1995. She has been featured in media including Lifetime Women’s Network, the My Carolina Today Show, and Boston Globe Forums Live. Her public speaking has occurred at many prestigious venues including North Carolina State University, Nassau Community College, and many more. She has received two awards for her novel, Momnesia, and her nonfiction, Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs, continues to be one of the most highly recommended in its genre since 2005. Lori is a happy married mom of two, step mom of two more, and has two cats, both rotten. She is very excited about the release of Unexpecting, and enjoys getting to know her readers via social media and in person. She invites you to learn more at her website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Unexpecting is Lori's hot new release. Here's what it's all about:

Shelley and David are a couple of almost-empty-nesters whose children are just about all off to college. Preparing to embark on the next stage of their life, they’ve just ordered white furniture and are planning the vacation they’ve waited their entire lives to take.

Everything changes when Alexandra, seventeen and pregnant, shows up on their doorstep and announces that she’s the daughter he never knew he had! Their life is catapulted in a completely different direction, abounding with dilemmas: Not only do they have an additional child, but also a baby in a household that had been just about to become serene. How much should they help her? And how could they not?

Shelley feels like she no longer fits in anywhere and to top it off, having two seventeen-year-old girls suddenly plunged into being sisters and school mates is not exactly warm and fuzzy. When Alexandra’s behavior starts to become erratic, the couple is faced with even tougher decisions to make.

Hold on for an emotional yet witty ride as you join this family of characters in a story of love, loyalty, heartbreak, and humor that will stay with you long after you turn the last page!

Want to know more? Read the first chapter here for free!

Want your own copy? Then you're in luck, as Lori has a Kindle version to give to one lucky reader anywhere in the world (and if you live in the US, you also have the option of getting a paperback version.)

How to win:
Please tell us about something that happened to you that was unexpected.

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

Open worldwide. (Paperback option is US only.) Giveaway ends April 29th at midnight EST.

And here's something extra special.....
Lori is hosting a giveaway to win either a $100 Amazon gift card or a Kindle Fire! (Giveaway ends May 31st.) You can also find more features and special giveaways at Lori's blog tour page. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kristin Hannah is high flying, adored....plus a book giveaway

Introduction and interview by Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

Photo by Charles Bush
It's a pleasure to have Kristin Hannah back at CLC for a third visit! This time, it's to reconnect with some beloved characters from one of her previous novels because her latest is a sequel to that novel. That's right....we're talking about Fly Away, the sequel to her standout hit, Firefly Lane!

In case the subject of this post is ringing a bell, I got the idea from an Evita song, even though Kristin's success comes from her own amazing writing talent. (Unlike what the song suggests in regards to Eva Peron.) And as you will find out soon, there's an Andrew Lloyd Webber reference in her interview.

If you're new to the world of Kristin Hannah...welcome! We hope you'll love her as much as we do. Just keep in mind that Fly Away has spoilers for Firefly Lane, so read them in order. (There's also a very minor spoiler in this interview, but it doesn't give too much away.) This California-born author moved to Washington (state...I could only be so lucky if she were to live in the country's capitol) when she was still a kid and has called it home ever since. She is now the author of 19 novels. If you haven't even read one of them yet, you're definitely missing out! Kristin is also available to speak with book clubs by phone and has ideas for ways to enhance discussions about some of her novels.

You can get to know more about Kristin by visiting her at her website and Facebook. Thanks to Sarah Hall Productions, we have FIVE copies of Fly Away (reviewed here...contains spoilers) for some lucky US readers!

Did you have a sequel to Firefly Lane in your head as soon as you finished writing it, or did it come to you later?
 I always knew that there was more to the story, and I always intended to someday write about these characters. I never thought of it as a sequel, per se. I just wanted to check in on the characters and see where they had gone in the years after Firefly Lane. Although, to be honest, I was surprised by how difficult it was to re-enter that world. 

Which character from Firefly Lane and/or Fly Away do you relate to most?
Kate was always that character that came most easily to me, and that I related to the most. Perhaps this is why the "sequel" proved so difficult. I always loved Tully, but she remains one of the most difficult characters I've ever written because while I adored her, I often had trouble relating to her.

Do you have sequels planned for any other books?
No! I hate to say never, but I know it will be a long time before I attempt a sequel again. I really love a blank canvas when I begin a book. 

If Firefly Lane and/or Fly Away were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Oh, what an interesting question! I know my Facebook friends have a lot of opinions on this. I think all of the women in these books are so vibrant and alive, I like to let readers imagine actresses on their own.

If we were to visit you in Washington, what would you take us to see or do first?
I would love that! I love to show off my hometown. I think it's that idea of sharing that has encouraged me to set so many of my novels here. A perfect day in the Northwest is a morning visit to one of our fabulous coffee shops, and then a leisurely walk along the Seattle waterfront, and then if we are really lucky and the weather is perfect, a boat ride.

You talked about music in both Firefly Lane and Fly Away. What is your all-time favorite song?
Another great question. I would have to say "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. Every time I hear it, I am moved.

Who is the Tully to your Kate? How long have you been friends? 
 I don't really have a "Tully" to my Kate. Most of my best friends are Kates, like me. :)  Although we all have our "Tully" moments.

What is the best compliment you received about your writing? (Given that we love your books, we don't mind you bragging a bit!)
I have two favorites. With Firefly Lane, I hear from women who say, quite literally, that reading the book saved their lives--women who got breast exams because of the book. And with Home Front, I love hearing from people who say that reading the book gave them a better understanding of, and appreciation for, our military men and women and their families.

Thanks to Kristin for a lovely chat, St. Martin's Press for coordinating the interview and Sarah Hall Productions for sharing the book with our readers.

How to win Fly Away:
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.)

1. Please tell us: Which character do you relate to more, Kate or Tully? (If you haven't read Firefly Lane yet, then just tell us what type of role you take on in your closest 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. Follow us on Twitter and/or Pinterest.
6. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US only.  Giveaway ends April 28th at midnight EST.

Book Review: Fly Away

By Melissa Amster

When Firefly Lane came out a few years ago, I was immediately attracted to it from the cover to the summary to the inside contents. I was taken on an adventure with Kate and Tully, feeling like I had become part of their lives and their friendship in the process. That started me on a Kristin Hannah kick and I couldn't stop reading her novels! So, like many other Firefly Lane fans, I was thrilled to find out that a sequel had been produced, so we could see what happened to all the characters.

Before I go on, I must warn you that the rest of this post contains spoilers for Firefly Lane. If you haven't read it yet and still want to, stop right here....or don't say I didn't warn you.

Not too late to turn back....

So you've chosen to read on....

Four years after Kate's passing, her daughter, Marah, has fallen in with a bad crowd and no matter how hard he tries, her husband doesn't know how to reach her. Her best friend, Tully, has hit rock bottom, becoming a Hollywood clichĂ©. Tully's mother, Cloud, is also trying to find her way out of the mess she has gotten herself into throughout life, so that she can pick up the pieces of her relationship with her daughter. When tragedy strikes, it brings these women together in ways they never thought possible.

Just like all of Kristin Hannah's previous novels that I have read, Fly Away is a page turner from the very beginning. With its trips back and forth in time and shifting perspectives on the same moment, I was drawn back into the world of "TullyandKate," even without Kate being physically present. Kate's absence was such an important piece of the book. It showed how important she was in everyone's lives and how hard it was to move on without her. There was also the "train wreck concept." Tully, Marah and Cloud all made poor choices for their lives and were paying the consequences. It was a bit like watching reality television or a nighttime soap opera. I wanted to shout at them to get their lives together, but also wanted to see if they would be able to turn things around on their own. I think Cloud's story was the most intriguing. It had a V.C. Andrews feel to it, as it was darker and heavier than I was expecting. However, I felt so much sympathy for Cloud and understood what led her to make the choices she did and loved how she found the strength to get her life back together again. Kristin Hannah wrote three very different, but very troubled women so well that I once again felt like I was sitting right next to them, listening to their stories as if it were a counseling session.

There was a "suspension of disbelief" aspect to this novel that I am not quite sure I was all that keen upon. It might work for others, so I don't want to completely discredit it, but it took away some of the realistic feel that I get from Kristin's other novels. I understand why she made the choice to incorporate this aspect, but another part of me wishes there were a different way to go about it. Maybe she did research and there is an aspect of reality to it that I'm just not familiar with. In any case, it didn't keep me from reading this novel any time I had a free moment (or could sneak away from my real life to do so).

Fly Away once more reminds me why I love Kristin Hannah and her novels so much. She really knows how to get into the minds of women with whom she might have absolutely nothing in common, making them seem as real as any of us readers. I already can't wait to see what she'll come up with for her next novel!

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book, in exchange for an honest review. Stop by Kristin's interview for a chance to win your own copy. (US only.)

More by Kristin Hannah:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stephanie Elliot puts her book to music...plus a giveaway!

Introduction by Melissa Amster

***Giveaway is now closed***

Stephanie Elliot is back and this time she has a full-length novel to share with us! It's her debut, as well. You may remember that she wrote a novella called The Cell Phone Lot last year. (Only 99 cents for Kindle...hint, hint.)

We're very proud of Stephanie because we know that becoming published is no easy feat in this day and age. As Stephanie's blog was one of the inspirations for this blog (especially in terms of giveaway bonus questions), maybe her novel will inspire me to write a novel! One can only dream...

If you haven't visited Stephanie's blog, Booking with Manic, you definitely should go over there right now and get to know her better. She features a lot of the latest and greatest in chick lit, as well as some other treats. That's why Chick Lit is Not Dead chose it for their current Blog of the Month! She currently has a HUGE giveaway going on until April 29th (US/Canada only), so don't forget to enter for a chance to win lots of books! In the meantime, she's sharing an e-book (Kindle only) of What She Left Us with one lucky reader anywhere in the world...RIGHT HERE!

You can also find Stephanie at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

As a fun preview of what we have in store for International Chick Lit Month (in a week or so from now), Stephanie is sharing the soundtrack of her novel!

By Stephanie Elliot

When Melissa asked me to contribute a Five Bests to Chick Lit Central we talked about maybe the Five Songs of my life and then I thought that would be major boring snore fest.
There are a bunch of songs that surround the characters in What She Left Us so I thought it would be interesting to take you on a tour of what songs took place during some of the scenes in the book.

1. "Gravity" by John Mayer: When Courtney meets Mitch for the first time she hears him playing this song on his guitar. She is the RA and has to tell him to quit playing his guitar because it's after hours and other students are trying to sleep. But she can't seem to bring herself to knock on his door because she loves the song and he's playing so good. So she waits until the final riffs of the tune until she gently knocks on his door and when he opens the door she is greeted by… well, you'll have to read what happens next. Let's just say she does not leave his room until 3 a.m.!

2. Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days Are Over": When Jenna goes to Klippy's Bar for the first time and settles into the swiveling bar stool, this song is playing. She meets Clay and states that she wishes her 'Dog Days were over.' This is the start of a very unusual friendship.

3. "Your Body is a Wonderland" by John Mayer: In another scene at Klippy's, this time Jenna and Clay are having a fairly close-talking conversation that's not sexual in any way, yet Clay's hands are on Jenna's knees, and she can feel the heat rising through her body. Finally, the music changes to something "less take-me-to-bed." Jenna's not sure if she feels relieved or not.

4. "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison: I don't even know if any of the girls in the book have brown eyes because I like to leave a lot of the description up to the imagination of my readers. I DO know that Mitch, who is playing this song on his guitar at the lake for Courtney, has the MOST AMAZING eye lashes that she has ever seen on a guy EVER.

5. "Stay" by Rihanna: Well, I guess there are a lot of bar scenes because this song is being played at Klippy's and I just realized that the song that played before this one was Sugar Hill's Rap, which means this is a very eclectic bar, and one that I would TOTALLY want to hang out in — which is probably why I created it. Anyway, of course, this is another scene at Klippy's with Jenna and Clay. But listen up! THEY work there! They are friends! Because Jenna is engaged to Darren! Sort of. OK, not really, because Jenna broke off the engagement after her mother died. See, it's sort of screwed up really. You might just have to read the book to find out what it's all about.

Here's the synopsis of What She Left Us:
Jenna and Courtney are dealing with the unexpected death of their mother in different ways. Jenna broke off her engagement to the man she thought she'd love forever, while Courtney headed back to college to take charge of a dorm-floor full of college students as a resident assistant.

Six months later, Jenna is fueled by panic over the news that the sisters may have the same disease that caused their mother's death and she makes an irrational decision - she packs it up and heads to college to be with Courtney. The timing couldn't be worse for Courtney, who's discovering love for the first time with Mitch, a sexy guitar player who may just be off limits.

Emotionally unstable, Jenna wonders if she made the worst mistake of her life by breaking off her engagement with Darren, and when he shows up to make amends, she can't help but second-guess her decision. But then there's Clay, the compassionate bartender at Klippy's who seems to understand everything Jenna's going through. And those hazel eyes just seem to see right through to Jenna's soul…

As the girls maneuver through their unpredictable futures, trying to manage their new health risks as well as tumultuous love lives, Courtney finds a disturbing photograph that indicates there may be more to their family than she ever imagined.

This stunning revelation could shatter the sisters to the very core, making them question everything they thought they knew about their family, their faith, their past and, most of all, each other.

Thanks to Stephanie for sharing her novel's soundtrack with us and her book with our readers!

How to win What She Left Us:
Tell us about a decision that you have second-guessed after you made it.

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

Giveaway ends April 28th at midnight EST.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review: When Love Aligns

By Kathryn Hamilton

Being a Goddess of Love is a difficult job. She is primarily responsible for making love matches for mortals, a prettier modern-day Cupid if you will. For Drew, the pressure is even greater as she has already made one blunder and is trying to prevent the Gods from realizing that she has made another one. Drew has inadvertently matched her true love, Jack, with another woman. With encouragement from her mentor, she sets out on a mission to correct her mistake. Can Drew, without her usual magic, find a way to get Jack to fall in love with her before it’s too late?

Jennifer Daiker is the author who brings us the delightful and whimsical novella When Love Aligns. Ms. Daiker proves that an author can create a well-rounded story in a short amount of space. Although the character development is obviously not as in depth as one would find in a novel, I still felt that I was able to connect with Drew as the main protagonist. While hoping that things would work out in Drew’s favour, I also found myself pondering the age old question of whether or not there is truly such a thing as a soul mate, that one person you are simply destined to be with. Deep thoughts!

I only have one note of contention, and I think other readers will agree: this tale is simply too short. I would have loved to read more about Drew and how she came to be at this moment in time. When I got to the end, although pleased, I wanted more. I would have enjoyed it if Ms. Daiker had fleshed out the story more; I believe there was more to Drew’s story.

Some readers find it difficult to abandon reality, but I am generally a willing participant to go wherever an author takes me, and this is no exception and certainly not a disappointment. If you want a quick jaunt into romantic fantasy, you will want to pick up this charming novella! (However, it is unfortunately not available for purchase for the time being.)

Thanks to Still Moments Publishing (acquired by The Wild Rose Press) for the e-book in exchange for an honest review.

You might also enjoy:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Review: Ballrooms & Ugly Poodles

By Jami Deise

When I lived in Maryland, I vaguely knew that Florida had the reputation of being the weirdest state in the union – something about hanging chads and of course Casey Anthony. But it wasn’t until I moved here last summer that I really got just how weird this state is. There’s something about watching the local news every evening – with its stories of people swallowed whole by sinkholes, strange robberies, and toddlers wandering down highways – that really allows an area’s culture to seep into your pores. Here in Florida, we take a lot of showers.

Author Katie Schnack experienced Florida in a slightly different context than I have, but the bottom line is still the same – Floridians are weird! A transplant from the Midwest, Katie moves to Florida’s east coast to attend college and winds up working as a “cater-waiter” at one of Palm Beach’s five star hotels. Considering that Palm Beach is already one of the wealthiest areas in the country, its five star hotels, like everything else about the area, are more than a cut above the rest.

Her book, Ballrooms & Ugly Poodles (Semi-Tall Tales of a Palm Beach Waitress), is a collection of anecdotes from her job. Although the stories start slowly – I wasn’t that horrified by the fact that cater-waitresses wear the same uniform as waiters, or that she once found a wrapped tampon in her uniform pocket – they do get funnier and stranger as the book progresses. Schnack shares tales of the octogenarian who hit on her husband, a $50,000 wedding cake, and the time she poured coffee all over a woman’s couture gown. At the same time, a strong sense of the class division runs through the book – a struggling college student, Schnack lives off food scrounged from these events while the guests don’t think twice about throwing it away.

The chapters are quick and Schnack’s writing flows very easily. It’s a good book to take with you when you might have a few minutes of downtime but don’t want to get too deeply into a more complicated book. However, humor is very subjective, and some of the stories Schnack tells can be greeted with a shrug. More broadly, I found myself interested in the stories Schnack wasn’t telling. She married very young – I believe she was still a teenager -- and moved to Florida with her husband Kyle, who also worked as a cater-waiter at the same hotel. But there’s little to nothing in the book about what inspired that decision and the specific challenges that come with early marriage. If Schnack had included more personal information, it would have elevated her book from a collection of mild anecdotes to something closer to memoir.

Thanks to Shelton Interactive for the book in exchange for an honest review.

You might also enjoy:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Amanda James is here for a good "time"....plus a book giveaway

**Giveaway is  now closed**

We have a "present" for you...Amanda James is here to take us on a trip through time. And the fact that she is a Quantum Leap fan makes her that much more lovable!

Amanda, a.k.a. Mandy, was born in Sheffield, UK and now lives in Bristol with her husband and two cats. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, singing, and spending lots of time with her grandson. She also admits to spending far too much time chatting on Twitter and Facebook! Mandy recently left her teaching role to follow her ambition to live her life writing, which is what she most enjoys doing.

Mandy's latest novel is A Stitch in Time, which is about Sarah, a teacher in her 30s, who is divorced and yearning for more excitement in her life. One evening, a handsome and mysterious man appears at her door, asking her to go back in time with him. Sarah is whisked from the Sheffield Blitz to the suffragette movement in London to the Old American West, trying to make sure people find their happy endings. The only question is, will she ever be able to find hers?

You can learn more about Mandy by visiting her on Facebook and Twitter and checking out her blog. Thanks to Choc Lit, we have one copy of A Stitch in Time for a lucky reader anywhere in the world!

What was the easiest thing about writing A Stitch in Time? Most difficult?
I think the easiest must have been Sarah. She had a mind of her own and I just followed in her wake. The hardest was wondering how to explain the time travel bit in the accepted terms. For example - if a person travels back in time, won't the future be altered because of their impact? In the end I decided to go my own way.

What motivates you when you're writing?
The plot I guess. I have a vague idea where it is going but I am dying to know what the characters are going to do next. That keeps me entertained and motivated.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors?
I always say never give up and believe in yourself. I f you only half believe you can do it, then I don't think you will. Also if you let rejection beat you down you won't get up and try again. It's always good to ask for advice and/or appraisal too. Learn what you can and then come back stronger.

You've been published in anthologies for various genres. What has been your favorite genre to write for?
I loved all of them but I guess my favourite is the first story I ever had published. It was for Gentle Footprints, an anthology for 'The Born Free Foundation' to raise awareness about animals in captivity and those that are facing extinction My story is called All Things Under the Sky and is about a lion cub, Jubari, and from his point of view.

What is your favorite book from when you were a child?
I have many. But the one that had the most impact was The Lord of The Rings. It had a huge following at the time and I felt so grown up when I read it. I loved the idea of a different world, exciting journeys through strange lands and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

You say that you have an odd sense of humor. What is the strangest thing you have found to be funny recently?
I can't think of a specific example, but I think my sense of humour is quite literal. For example if someone said take a seat - I might be tempted to say, where would you like me to take it? I do in fact say things like this at times and often people just look at me blankly or laugh uncomfortably. I can see you glazing over now - sorry!

In your "Next Best Thing" blog post, you reference Quantum Leap. What was your favorite episode of this fabulous show?
I can't remember a favourite one it was such a long time ago. But I just remember loving the whole thing. It was so fresh and new and it had humour too.

If you could personally time travel, which era or decade would you visit?
That's so mean just giving me one choice! I think it would have to be the era of WWII. In the book Sarah travels to 1940 and is caught in the Sheffield Blitz. My parents were both children during the war and they have told me lots of tales as did my nan. I would love to experience what it was like to see how close it was to the way I have written about it. I would like to be kept safe though while I was there!

Special thanks to Mandy for visiting with us and to Choc Lit for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win A Stitch in Time:
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.)

1. Please tell us: What is your favorite episode of Quantum Leap? (If you've never seen this show, just tell us what intrigues you most about time travel.)
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.

Open worldwide.  Giveaway ends April 23rd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chick Lit Cheerleader: It's spring....time to nest!

Introduction by Melissa Amster

Last week, the unthinkable happened. My laptop became very, very, VERY sick. It almost died a horrible death. My husband, the computer doctor, worked very hard on it to bring it back to life. In the meantime, being computer-less (and my husband needing to use his own computer most of the time) meant I was productive around the house. I organized some clothes and even...wait for it...cleaned my closet! It made me think of how much more organizing I need to do, now that spring is finally here. (I hope I didn't just jinx the entire east coast by saying such a thing.)

As it turns out,Jen Tucker doesn't need a computer meltdown to be productive around the house. In fact, she's SO productive that her husband thinks she has something to hide...

Spring Fling (Not THAT kind of fling!)

“Do you have something you need to tell me?” Mike said, while leisurely chowing down a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats one Saturday morning.

Juggling three super-sized snack containers, I tried not to let any of them fall to the ground during their short pilgrimage from the pantry to the kitchen counter. “What do you mean?” I replied, as the container of potato chips not so gracefully fell to the floor. Much to my dogs’ chagrin, the lid remained intact and no Kettle Chips were harmed at the sudden impact.
“Who are you, my high school science teacher? He always answered my questions with a question,” my beloved said, chomping those frosted cereal layers. I’ve never understood why Frosted Mini Wheats are only coasted with frosting on one side. That seems like a missed opportunity for consumer happiness.

“Perhaps your questions require further clarification, my love.” I retrieved the chips and added them to the collection on the counter. I’d been awake for hours, cleaning out the nooks and crannies of every cabinet, drawer, and pull-out shelf in the vicinity. It all began innocently enough with a refill of the napkin holder. The downward spiral of organizing had consumed me and taken me hostage.

Mike made his way over to the dishwasher, opened it and placed his spoon and bowl inside while calmly stating, “When I asked if you had something to tell me, it’s because you’re acting like you’re nesting…in that way.”

I froze. “You bite your tongue and take that back right now, Mr. Smarty Man! That’s not funny!” We love our three children. Yet we’d like to keep it that way, because according to School House Rock, “Three is a magic number.”

Mike snickered. “I’m not laughing, Blondie,” he said while slamming the dishwasher. Returning to the kitchen table, he grabbed a gardening catalog and drooled over seedlings. Thumbing through the pages, Mike announced, “So, I guess nesting isn’t just for pregnant chicks.”

I did not marry him for his innately sensitive way with words, obviously. Yet he’s right. Spring cleaning, Spring Fever, nesting—call it what you will, applies to me sans bouncing baby bundles at winter’s fade. The first hearty rainfall washing away winter grit and grime, signals some crevasse in my brain to get my nest, and ducklings, in order. If you’d caught a glimpse at my room as a teenager, you would have never thought this was possible. Perhaps the tidy side of me was lying dormant until Mr. Clean called to my subconscious one odd day. Whatever the catalyst, warm weather makes me want to give a boost my roost.

Because I don't have anything more pressing to do in life
than bonding with my labels and containers

Indoors or out, nothing is safe or sacred when I declutter. It’s also the time I play stupid.

“Mom, have you seen that old t-shirt with the holes in it I wear to clean bathrooms?”
*Jen crosses her fingers.*
“It’s missing? Huh; that’s strange, Ryan.”
“Hey Jen! I just found that pair of binoculars I searched high and low for last fall before the Purdue football game. They were in the coat closet!”
*Jen snickers knowing their exact location. She retrieved them from Mike’s messy office two days ago and returned them to their rightful home.*
“Wow, Babe,’ I say with a smile, ‘that’s great!”

This yearly spring fling isn’t just about my label maker getting a workout. I also inventory the depths of me. While cleaning out my flowerbeds, I take time to look at what’s working in my life, and what’s not. I shine a light into the dusty places of my mind, and heart, and take a strong dose of the reality of what’s inside. Do I like what I see? Would I want others to see what’s in there too? When’s the last time I did something silly? When’s the last time I had lunch with my mom who only lives a mile away? How many times this week did I give the stink-eye to drivers who cut me off in traffic? There’s a lot to digest. 
Clothes organized by color because I'm too lazy
to go on a search mission at the rooster crow.

Yet, there’s much to celebrate too. Like that fact that all my shorts didn’t “shrink” while the weather has been frightful. Isn’t it crazy how that occurs when all they’re doing is sitting in your dresser drawer all winter? In all seriousness, this little look-see into my life isn’t about making a Jen Tucker 2.0. Completely gutting and overhauling the old model and trading her in for a new one isn’t necessary. I think she’s pretty cool; for the most part. It’s about making sure I’m giving my best; being my best while being authentically me. It’s not that tall an order. A tall order would be you and me going halvsies on a bottle of wine while we organize Mike’s office! It’s a danger zone. That my friend is something no one should endure alone. Do I have any takers? Anyone?

Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of SaltIn September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at TwitterFacebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.