Friday, May 31, 2013

A Summer Fun Giveaway from Jane Porter

**Giveaway is now closed**

Jane Porter was our 2013 Hall of Fame nominee for International Chick Lit Month and there's a reason why....she's just fabulous! Amy and Melissa A. met her during various book tour events (see pics below), and she's even more amazing to chat with in person! She's currently doing a giveaway through various blogs, including ours! Generous, or what?!?

Jane is giving one lucky US reader a "Jane Porter summer reading tote bag" filled with THREE of her amazing novels (Easy on the Eyes, Odd Mom Out and Flirting With Forty) along with other fun goodies.

How to enter:
Tell us one question you'd ask Jane Porter if you got to meet her in person.

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 June 5th at midnight EST.

Melissa and Jane

Amy and Jane

Book Review: Dear Thing

By Becky Gulc

I’m lucky enough to be sent plenty of books for review, but I particularly love it when a book arrives in the post captures your interest from the moment you open the parcel, be this down to the cover and title alone, the blurb, press release or a combination of all three. Dear Thing by Julie Cohen was one of these books, despite my review copy not even having the finished cover (which would have hooked me in even more now I’ve seen it!), I was sold on the idea of the story from the very beginning, but what is it about?

Claire and Ben are the perfect couple. But behind the glossy façade, they’ve been desperately trying – and failing – to have a baby for years. Now, the stress and feelings of loss are taking their toll on their marriage. Claire’s ready to give up hope and get on with her life, but Ben is not. And then Ben’s best friend, Romily, offers to conceive via artificial insemination and carry the baby for them.

Romily acts in good faith, believing it will be easy to be a surrogate. She’s already a single mother, and has no desire for any more children. Except that being pregnant with Ben’s child stirs up all sorts of emotions in her, including one she’s kept hidden for a very long time: Ben’s the only man she’s ever loved.

Two mothers—and one baby who belongs to both of them, and which only one of them can keep. (Synopsis courtesy of Julie Cohen's website.)

I thought that I may be in for an emotional, and quite frankly heart-wrenching ride with this story and that was part of its appeal, as I love reading a good tear-jerker every now and then. I also don’t remember reading a book that covered surrogacy before, so I welcomed the idea of reading something a bit different and delving into a world I knew little about.

Overall I thought this was a great book, and once I picked it up I found I couldn’t put it down; isn’t that a huge sign of enjoyment? As readers we are presented with the perspectives of both Claire and Romily throughout the book and this was really important in terms of developing empathy with each of these characters, that empathy is formed very quickly. Julie managed to create leading characters where I felt equally for both in the situation they find themselves in; I didn’t find myself feeling that the baby should end up with one of them over the other as there was merit in every scenario. I think this helps sustain the reader’s interest, I really didn’t know what the final outcome would be, or what I wanted it to be, but I wanted to find out!

I didn’t find the book to be heart-wrenching like I thought it would be, to an extent I was disappointed with this at the time. I expected to cry, after all; one of these characters I grew to really like was going to end up without the baby they already loved. I'm approaching this as a non-parent, though I recognise people are going to have different levels of emotional attachment with the story. Saying that though with consideration, I think the way the final chapters were written fitted well with the character development throughout the book and the events that take place. I would maybe just have liked a little more insight into the feelings of both Claire and Romily after the decision is made about where the baby will live. As a reader I’m left wondering how the one without the baby is doing right now! But, saying that, I completely understand why as readers we don’t see this. Nevertheless, I’d love to see the characters pop up in Julie’s future books to get this insight.

Julie’s characters are perfect for a book covering the different emotions for different parties involved in surrogacy, the fact that Romily isn’t necessarily the kind of character I would imagine to be a typical surrogate (if such a thing exists), and perhaps appears to go into the process without fully considering how difficult it could be makes the story all the more intriguing. The letters she writes to the baby (hence ‘Dear Thing’) add depth to the novel as it helps the reader find out more about how Romily is feeling, when she writes the letters she opens herself up emotionally to the reality of the situation much more than we witness in the general narrative, these were a really nice feature of the book.

Not only were Claire and Romily great characters (and very different people) and written so well, the supporting characters really helped to make this book. Posie (Romily’s daughter) was a fantastic character and she felt so real and it took me back to being her age and the sometimes tricky relationship with parents; Ben (Claire’s husband) was also great and although we weren’t presented with his viewpoint he still came across as a fully formed character where as readers you really feel for him.

Overall I’d definitely recommend this book as a great read! I’ve seen other reviews which state this story will stay with people and I wholeheartedly agree. This is the first book I’ve read by Julie and now I look forward to reading more.

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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beatriz Williams' "Summer Catch" a book giveaway

Photo by Marilyn Roos
Introduction by Gail Allison

**Giveaway is now closed**

We're so excited that Beatriz Williams is taking time out of her schedule to chat with us today. A graduate of Stanford University, with an MBA from Columbia, Ms. Williams spent the first few years of her professional life as a corporate and communications strategy consultant. These days she's taking her stay-at-home mom career to new heights, managing to not only write fantastic books like Overseas and her latest novel, A Hundred Summers, but also get the laundry done, and raise four children and a husband at the same time.

She's here to end ICLM on a high note, as she's sharing her casting choices for A Hundred Summers. And FIVE lucky US readers have a chance to win this novel, thanks to Putnam.

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

A HUNDRED SUMMERS goes to the movies

It’s the question they love to ask you at cocktail parties: Who would you cast in the movie version of your book? And it’s the question that sends me straight to the bar to ask for a champagne cocktail, straight up, because why? Because for one thing, I’d hate to disturb the random workings of that cosmic pixie dust that changes books into movies.

For another thing, I have no idea. I know a lot of writers out there start with a picture in mind, a picture of a certain actor, and the character develops from there. Me, I still don’t really know where my characters come from (Mars? Venus? A galaxy far, far away?) but it’s certainly not the screen, whether small, silver, or eye-watering HD surround-sound. Trying to turn an actor into the character you see so clearly in your mind? Really, really hard.

Nonetheless, I’m told it’s International Chick Lit Month this May, and we’re celebrating with a “goes to the movies” theme, so I’ll take a deep breath, invoke the holy spirit of hot buttered popcorn to ward off any jinxes, and plunder the IMDb for the perfect matches.

Emily Blunt as Lily Dane. She’d have to work on her American accent, of course, but Blunt has Lily’s sweet and winning shyness––and her hidden inner strength––down cold. I also love the way her looks can migrate from mousy to radiant, as she proved in her vibrant turn as the young (and romantic) Queen Victoria.

Alexander Skarsgård as Nick Greenwald. At first, this choice seems counter-intuitive: Skarsgard is blond and Swedish, Nick is dark-haired and Jewish. I’d also argue that Skarsgard is a little more sculpted than my mental picture of football-hero Nick. But he’s really tall and radiates intelligence, and of all the actors out there, he’s one of the few who can pull off the retro-cool reserve of the older Nick. Look, as long as I’m allowed to visit the set...

Olivia Wilde as Budgie Byrne. It’s the eyes that got me first, those magnetic icy blues against the dark hair, exactly as I pictured them. Budgie’s sensual and stylish and scheming, and not only is Wilde beautiful enough to own the role, she’s also quite capable of being a naughty, naughty girl.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Graham Pendleton. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a Leo fan, though I did like him in Catch Me If You Can. He always seems like the eternal teenager, without enough heft in his solar plexus to make my heart go gathump. On the other hand, that’s Graham all over: Beautiful, glamorous, modelizer (or the Thirties equivalent of, at any rate). And after seeing him poised on the diving board in The Great Gatsby, hey, I wouldn’t kick him out of the cast for spilling crumbs.

Gwyneth Paltrow as Aunt Julie. Now that Paltrow’s hit the big 4-0, she’s earned dibs on the really interesting parts, and Lily’s beautiful and clever Aunt Julie has all the snappiest lines in the book. I can see Paltrow, who grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and attended an exclusive girls’ school, capturing Aunt Julie’s vintage patrician bossiness to a well-honed T. Bonus: She already knows how to smoke cigarettes.

Well! That wasn’t so hard, after all. And after spending my afternoon Googling images of hunky celebrities and calling it work, I think I’m ready to apply for my CAA card and move to Hollywood.

Happy International Chick Lit Month, everyone!

Thanks to Beatriz for sharing her dream cast with us and to Putnam for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win A Hundred Summers:
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 summer themed movie (or one that takes place during the summer)?
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 June 4th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The CLC Casting Couch

With the "Chick Lit Goes to the Movies" theme for International Chick Lit Month, how could we resist casting our favorite novels?!? Here are some casting choices from Cindy, Gail and the Melissas.


I'm highlighting "lesser known" chick-lit novels!

IN NEED OF THERAPY by Tracie Banister
Pilar Alvarez is a psychologist with a big heart who is just beginning her career and she has a rocky road ahead of her. I'd cast Lily Collins as Pilar Alvarez and Ben Affleck as Ford.

Scarlett O'Brien gets the opportunity of her life to live in Notting Hill for one month. Little does she know her know her relatively ho-hum life will be transformed! I'd cast Emily Blunt and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

WORTH LYING FOR by Lisa Cheney and Lisa Craig
Things change BIG TIME when Mary Minke pulls off the perfect crime and lets her BFF, Caryn in on it! I'd cast Kate Winslet and Halle Berry. (Two kick-ass Thelma & Louise-ish chicks)

HAOLE WOOD by Dee De Tarsio
Jaswinder leaves the Mainland for a little R&R in Maui and ends up smack in the middle of a murder investigation and a hunky doctor's. arms! I'd cast Emmy Rossum (as Jaswinder Park) and Channing Tatum.

LEGALLY WED by Ciara O'Neill
Ciara O'Neill's wonderful debut novel, LEGALLY WED! A clever romantic comedy American boy and British girl in London with complicated immigration issues! I'd cast Emma Stone as Mia and Timothy Olyphant as Max.


My favorite chick lit novel of all time is Riders by Jilly Cooper. It’s a sweeping epic of a novel, set in Rutshire, England in nearly current day (early 80s). If you can get past the cover (saucy!) this book will suck you in and not let go for over 900 pages. I’ve read it more than five times. Seriously. It’s my go-to holiday read. It’s the first Jilly Cooper book I ever read, and Riders is completely responsible for my deep and abiding love of Brit Lit. It's also the first novel in Jilly's Rutshire Chronicles series. Yes, I've read (and loved) them all. If I had to cast some of the characters for Riders, I think they would be as follows:

Rupert Campbell-Black: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed casanova. He’s an accomplished show jumper, and an even more accomplished womanizer. Played by Josh Holloway (yep, Sawyer from Lost). If he can rock a cut-glass British accent, his brooding appeal and adorable scruff would make him the perfect Rupert. 

Jake Lovell: a poor gypsy, whose dark eyes are the windows to his haunted soul. His intense hatred for Rupert Campbell-Black fuels many of his actions, but his character is softened by his incredible rapport with every animal he goes near. Played by Mark Consuelos. His dark complexion and sexy stubble would be perfect in this role. Plus, he's only 5'9", and Jake is noted to be shorter than Rupert throughout the novel.

Helen Macaulay/Campbell-Black: A thin, nervous (but stunningly beautiful) American activist who meets Rupert while trying to impede a foxhunt because of its cruelty to the foxes. Played by Bryce Dallas Howard. Her stunning natural red hair and flawless complexion were what first attracted Rupert.

Billy Lloyd-Foxe: Rupert’s best friend and fellow rabble-rouser, Billy tends to follow slightly in Rupert’s shadow. He is also a competitive show-jumper, but he lacks Rupert’s drive and ambition, and is content to stay on the edges of the limelight. Played by Michael Trevino. He’s still quite good-looking, but in a sweeter, more unassuming way than Rupert.

Fenella Maxwell: A rich, horse-obsessed girl who eventually learns to ride well enough to fulfill all her dreams. Fenella doesn’t believe that she’s beautiful, but blossoms throughout the novel. Played by Jennifer Lawrence. She has the depth of expression to work a character that needs to age both physically (only slightly, by a few years) and emotionally.

Melissa A:

I've read a lot of great books already and the year isn't even halfway over yet. I've decided to revisit casting for The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs by Dana Bate. I adored this novel and would enjoy seeing it on the big screen.

Hannah: Lyndon Smith. She played Michaela on 90210 this past year and as soon as I saw her, I thought "Hannah!!!" She may not be "buxom," but she has the right look and energy for the role otherwise. (Weirdly enough, I just had a dream where I met her in person and was asking her about her career now that 90210 is done.)

Rachel: Nina Dobrev. Just because I like casting actresses from the CW. Seriously, she has that girl next door look that I imagined for Hannah's best friend and "partner in crime."

Blake: Ed Helms. He's adorable and also has a goofy side. Yet, I've seen him play a serious role too. I can totally picture him as Hannah's landlord who has no idea she's hosting supper club meals in his home.

Mark: Peter Gallagher. He played a snooty professor on How I Met Your Mother recently and it totally made me picture him as Hannah's boss.

Millie (Hannah's rival): Cobie Smulders. While we're on the subject of HIMYM, I can totally see her playing this role. She has a commanding screen presence and whenever she yells at Patrice on the show, it makes me think of how Millie reacts when Hannah insults her cooking.

Melissa P:

My favorite book is Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.

Lara: Either Natalie Portman or Alexis Bledel. The reason being they are both straight edge girls who can also do humor really well!

Sadie: Mila Kunis or Amy Adams. They are both spunky and cute enough to pull off such an outrageous character. 

The ex-boyfriend: This is hard because we don't know much about him. Even still, I'd imagine someone kind of dry but cute like Penn Badgley a.k.a. Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl

Lara's best friend who ditches her: 
This would have to be an actress who could pull off flighty like Blake Lively or Isla Fisher. Beautiful but unreliable. 

Lara's father: 
I imagine Colin Firth as the father. Kind and sweet and just wanting his daughter to be happy and healthy and sane! 

Guest Book Review: Love In Translation

By Sara Steven

Emily just can’t get it together, when it comes to relationships.

Fresh from an excruciating break-up with her cheating boyfriend, Emily has her best girlfriends to help her through, along with her incredible best guy friend, Steve. She yearns for more. Why does she invest so much more of herself when it comes to dating? Why do her romances end so badly? She vows to never settle ever again, searching for the one man who is near perfection.

Then Andres moves in across the hall from her, a sexy chef who is more than easy on the eyes and shows his affections for her through his delicious Spanish cuisine. It seems too good to be true! Will he be her new love interest?

Oh, and let’s not forget Steve’s undying love for Emily, which he chooses to profess to her at the most inopportune time.

There’s nothing better than a tricky love triangle, and Sara Palacios writes it well in Love in Translation, her debut novel. You find yourself debating on who would be the best match for Emily; Steven, her best friend since high school, who has always been there for her and has secretly been in love with her for years, or Andres- the delicious Spanish man who goes above and beyond for Emily, coveting and adoring her beyond imagination.

Who would you choose?

We’re also given back story on Emily’s family life, strained relationships with both her mother as well as her sister. You get the sense that a lot of what she has dealt with growing up has fed into the way she manages her romantic relationships, and this helps to identify and relate to Emily as a real person, not just a character in a book.

This was a quick read for me. It flowed well, and was a nice, relaxing, easy breezy experience. If you are looking to get lost in love, "Translation" is the perfect book for you!

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

Sara Steven is a wife and stay-at-home mother of two rambunctious boys in Bellevue, NE. When she’s not running marathons, group fitness instructing part time, or working on her novel, she takes a break and opens up a good book (or turns on her Nook). Find her at her blog.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Our new picture!

It's been three years, so we decided it was time for a change and that we should have a new picture to represent us. We thought of different ways to go about getting such a picture and finally decided to contact a professional artist. Melissa A. met Ben Stanford through Sabrina Zollo, author of Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend, as he had been doing artwork for her website. After a friendly chat on Skype and multiple e-mails, we came up with an image together that would fit what CLC stands for....individuals from all different backgrounds and ages coming together to share their love for chick lit novels.

Ben Stanford is an expat Canadian living in Paris, France with his wife and son. When he’s not freelancing on web and design projects, he works as a communications consultant for international organizations based in Paris. He has a fine arts degree with a concentration in communications from the University of Ottawa. Ben created the new illustration and logo for us and would love to work on book cover designs with aspiring authors. Check out his work on Pinterest and You can also find him on Twitter.

And now the moment you've been waiting for....and you're seeing it here first!

Lindy DeKoven shares her "Princess Diaries" a book giveaway

Introduction by Kathryn Hamilton

**Giveaway is now closed**

Give a warm welcome to Lindy DeKoven as she joins us here at CLC to celebrate her debut novel and share her dream cast (and what a cast that would be!). Lindy is a force to be reckoned with. She has experienced immense success in the television world with such titles as Executive Producer (CBS), Television Executive (Disney/Warner Bros.) and Executive Vice President (NBC). Lindy is also passionate about women’s issues, serving on several boards and most notably, being appointed to the California Commission on the Status of Women by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. So what is the next step for someone who has an obvious passion for the television world? Writing a novel inspired by her years behind the scenes. The end result is Primetime Princess, which has already garnered high praise. We look forward to hearing more from Lindy!

Thanks to Amazon Publishing, we have TWO signed copies to share with some lucky readers in the US.

Visit Lindy at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

(Please note that this post contains potential spoilers for the novel.)

Amy Adams. Alexa Ross is an easy role to cast as she represents a lot of women who are struggling to launch their careers while overcoming obstacles in the workplace. I really enjoyed Leap Year, starring Amy Adams as a high-powered woman having to take life a little slower. Like Adams’ character, Alexa takes her job very seriously but also yearns for a great relationship with a good man. She’d sure like to have it all if she could. And like most women in that situation, it ain’t easy.

Robert Downey Jr. Jerry Kellner is similar to Miranda Priestly, in The Devil Wears Prada. The antagonistic relationship that ensues between Alexa and Jerry is often shocking and heart wrenching. Jerry’s timing is impeccable. Just when Alexa thinks she has him under control, he emerges from the shadows turning Alexa’s world upside down. Downey’s sometimes charming yet sleazy, smarmy attitude depicted in a few roles he’s played in the past calls out to Jerry. Jerry is the co-worker from hell. But unfortunately everyone has one. I’ll bet you can name one right now!

Bradley Cooper. Gordon Harrison has a wonderful disposition. It takes a lot to get him riled up. He’s secure, confident and passionate. He couldn’t be more different than Jerry. Like Cooper’s character in Silver Linings Playbook, he’s not met anyone quite like Alexa Ross. He finds her sexy, exciting, and challenging. Because Cooper is so charming and likeable in Silver Lining Playbook, I couldn’t help but think of him for this role.

Kerry Washington. Sylvia is spirited, ballsy, and has plenty of ‘tude. She doesn’t take you-know-what from no one. Kunis displays some of that spunk in Scandal on ABC. Sylvia says what she thinks and has few regrets. She’s the yin to Alexa’s yang. But, as close as they are, Sylvia and Alexa almost come to blows when Alexa starts making changes in her life.

George Clooney. I had the pleasure of working with this handsome dude many years ago, and he is as wonderful today as he was then. It would be really exciting if he wanted to play Chester King, the president of a broadcast network. Clooney certainly looks the part, and based on past roles I expect he could take on this character with ease. Like I said, we should be so lucky!

Thanks to Lindy for sharing her cast list with us and to Amazon Publishing for sharing Primetime Princess with our readers.

How to win Primetime Princess:
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. Since this book has "Princess" in the title, please tell us: What is your favorite movie that features a fairy tale?
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 June 2nd at midnight EST.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: The Forced Redundancy Film Club

US cover
By Jami Deise

When I first saw the title of this book by Brian Finnegan, I thought The Forced Redundancy Film Club was about a group of people forced to watch the same films over and over. This goes to show that no matter how many cute romantic comedies I read by adorable British authors, the Queen’s English will never become part of my everyday vernacular. While Finnegan’s book takes place in Dublin, the Irish and the British both use the same term – “forced redundancy” -- to refer to what we in America call “laid off.” I often prefer the British way of putting things – I’m completely enamored of the extra “u” found in words like “colour” – but in this case I think we Americans have got it right. No one goes to work one day to discover that there’s another person who has been doing their exact same job. But hundreds of people every day are still learning that, through no fault of their own, their job has been eliminated.

That’s the situation that co-workers Katherine, Martin, Lisa and Jamie find themselves in when they all lose their jobs at Qwertec. Drowning their sorrows that night, the four decide to form a monthly film-watching club, although none had been especially close friends at work. Katherine insists that Alice, who had not been laid off, also be included, or she won’t participate.

The novel is structured around the monthly meetings, which include films such as Casablanca, To Kill A Mockingbird, and When Harry Met Sally. Between meetings, it focuses on the personal lives of each of the five protagonists. Katherine is the hardest hit by the redundancy, taking menial temp jobs and losing her home and her relationship. Martin finds himself running his alcoholic father’s auto repair shop. Lisa is stuck at home with three young boys – one of whom seems borderline psychotic – and a husband who constantly makes excuses to work late. Jamie is cheating on his boyfriend of seven years with a mentally unbalanced but good-in-bed Iranian. And Alice, having just lost her adoptive mother, goes on a mission to find the woman who gave her up. At the same time, the characters form relationships with each other: There’s a flirtation between Katherine and Martin, and supportive friendships between Jamie and Lisa, and Katherine and Alice.

UK cover
The novel itself is well-written, and other than taking too long to establish its structure of multiple points-of-view, technically flawless. Personally, though, I had a hard time getting into it. Each character’s personal and professional life is in an upheaval, and even though their specific stories are unique, overall it made the chapters feel, well, redundant. None of the characters was going through an epic tragedy that made for great literature, just the everyday crap that keeps piling on. Because of this, it wasn’t until the last few chapters that the novel gained enough momentum to result in a sense of urgency to continue reading. Furthermore, I was expecting that the films themselves would play a bigger part in the book. But other than a few lines of conversation afterward and Katherine remembering how she’d loved her father the way Scout loved Atticus, the characters didn’t learn any major life lessons from the movies they watched. (Jamie really could have learned something if Fatal Attraction had been an early selection, for instance. And Lisa could have learned a few lessons from The Exorcist.)

But the end, though, delivers what the cover promises: “Because everyone deserves a happy ending…” By the last few chapters, the book had my complete attention, and I closed it a satisfied reader. If you’re attracted to the book because of the movie tie-in, however, you’re better off just re-watching the ten movies featured.

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

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Friday, May 24, 2013

What's in the a giveaway

**Giveaway is now closed**

Melissa A:

Lake Como by Anita Hughes from St. Martin's Press

The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand from Kensington (Another novel from the "Amour Et Chocolat" series, The Chocolate Rose, is 99 cents for Kindle through 5/26)

Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren from Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster)


The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster from Penguin Group (Tracey also got this)

The Smart One by Jennifer Close from Knopf Publishing Group

Time Flies by Claire Cook from Simon and Schuster

Domestic Affairs by Bridget Siegel from Chick Lit is Not Dead (won from giveaway)


Changing Lanes by Kathleen Long from Media Connect


What She Left Us by/from Stephanie Elliot (e-book)

The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison from Catherine McKenzie (e-book)


The Affair by Gill Paul  from Avon Romance

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman  from Transworld

Country Loving by Cathy Woodman  from Randomhouse

Wish You Were Here by Victoria Connelly  from Avon Romance

In Her Shadow by Louise Douglas from Transworld

Me and Mr Jones by Lucy Diamond from PanMacmillan

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher from Penguin Group UK

Save the Date by Allie Spencer  from Arrow Pulications

You and I by Emily Gillmor Murphy from Transworld

Tidal by Amanda Hocking  from PanMacmillan

Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany  from Picador

What could be in YOUR mail:

Alison Caiola is sharing FIVE copies of The Seeds of a Daisy with some lucky readers anywhere in the world!

The Seeds of a Daisy is a 2013 "Indie Excellence Award for Chick Lit" Finalist.

From the outside looking in, Lily Lockwood, popular star of the hit TV show St. Joe’s, has it all. Recently nominated for an Emmy, her star is definitely on the rise. She shares her gorgeous Malibu beachfront home with her even more gorgeous actor boyfriend. Perfect, right? Not so much! Within a matter of just a few days, it all falls apart. The wind is knocked out of her when she finds out that her boyfriend, on location shooting a western, is riding horses all day and his curvy co-star all night. Before Lily can catch her breath, she gets word that her mother, best-selling author Daisy Lockwood, is in intensive care after a near-fatal accident. Lily flies across the country to be by her side. The girl, who has a hard time deciding if her Chai Latte should be Grande or Venti, is now faced with making crucial life and death decisions. While rifling through Daisy’s papers, she comes across shocking information about her mother that threatens to shake her very foundation. Lily embarks on a journey of self-discovery and closure as she seeks to unlock the mysteries of her mother’s past. (Synopsis courtesy of

How to win:
Since this novel is about a TV show, tell us your favorite movie based on a TV series.

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 May 30th at midnight EST.

Book Review: The Mermaid of Brooklyn

Jenny Lipkin is the mother of two young girls and struggling to get through each day, weighted down by post-partum depression and the many demands of her daughters. When her husband disappears after saying he's going to the store, she reaches her wit's end and makes a decision that changes her life forever. When a new friend rescues her from this decision, she also manages to change Jenny's life in ways she never thought possible, allowing her to see success, love, motherhood and relationships in a new light.

Melissa Amster:
The Mermaid of Brooklyn is Amy Shearn's second novel and it definitely shows. Her writing is strong and polished throughout. The dialogue is realistic and even caustic at times. Jenny doesn't mince words, but I wish she had used less of the "G" word that I'm so uncomfortable reading in novels or even using in real life. The descriptions are fantastic, making me feel like I'm right there, in the moment. I could feel the summer heat on a sticky 90 degree day and smell the various baby scents, barbecues, etc. I could even hear everyone's voice in my head as I was reading it. Everything was easy to visualize, as well. However, there was such an abundance of description that it weighed the story down at times. The many pages of introspection added to this weight. Once the story picked up some steam, it moved along nicely.

Jenny's new friend sounded like a Jewish grandmother at times, calling her "bubbeleh" and saying that Jenny didn't know from hardship. While I loved how she helped Jenny embolden herself, I also didn't agree with something Jenny did under her influence. There was a point in the novel where Amy Shearn could have added in a really cool twist, given how surreal the story was already turning out. However, she didn't and the story stayed on its natural course. Even so, I liked that she tried to stay realistic aside from the one surreal aspect. In the meantime, there were some aspects I really enjoyed as Jenny started coming into her own. I don't want to spoil anything though. Her older daughter reminded me of my kids and it was nice to see that I'm not the only mom who gets frustrated and doesn't always know how to handle a tantrum that gets out of control. I liked realistic aspects such as this one.

While The Mermaid of Brooklyn definitely fits into the chick lit genre, this has a different feel from the novels to which I usually tend to flock. It's very well written and worth checking out, but I wouldn't put it in the same category as a "beach read."

Marlene Engel:
Something I learned early in life is that you can never judge a book by its cover. That couldn’t be more true than with this book. At first glance one might think that this would be a light, fluffy read. I saw the mermaid cloud on the cover and my mind automatically made me think "This is going to be a cute book, like The Little Mermaid." This book, and especially the mermaid, couldn’t be further from the one depicted in The Little Mermaid. Most of us hear the word mermaid and think of a beautiful aquatic creature that’s part human and part fish. Usually with long, flowing hair and a beautiful voice. The mermaid in this book is much more dark and is referred to as a "rusalka." For those who aren’t familiar, a rusalka is a female ghost or mermaid like demon that lives in the water. In Slavic mythology, rusalka were fish-women who lived at the bottom of rivers. In the middle of the night, they would walk out to the bank and dance in meadows. If they saw handsome men, they would fascinate them with songs and dancing, mesmerize them, then lead them away to the river floor to their death.

The book is based around Jenny, a mother to two young daughters whose having a difficult time raising the children on her own. She is married; her husband called one night on his way home from work saying he was stopping at the store, but never came home. Although I have never dealt with Jenny’s exact circumstances, I can relate to raising two young children on my own. I was once a single mom and know the struggles of being at your wit’s end and just wishing you had someone to share the burden with.

The Mermaid of Brooklyn is a raw look at motherhood at the brink of a breakdown. Although it’s a fairly dark story, it has its humorous parts as well. I enjoyed Jenny and her mother-in-law’s characters. I felt they were very relatable. The mermaid, or rusalka, gave the book a mysterious feel and made it unlike any book I’ve ever read. Although I don’t tend to read dark books, I found this one to be interesting. It’s not a book for everyone, but if you’re looking for a twist to the usual chick lit novel, this may be the one for you. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to others.

Marlene Engel is a stay at home mom who runs a home daycare. She lives in Clifton Park, New York with her husband and three year-old daughter. She also has three older boys who live away from home while attending college. She is an adoptive/foster parent and an advocate for the special needs population. In her spare time she enjoys reading and getting together with her book club.

Thanks to BookSparks PR and Touchstone for the books in exchange for an honest review.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spending "Midnight in Paris" with Isabelle a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Patafio

**Giveaway is now closed**

Isabelle Lafleche, author of J'adore New York, is joining us for the second time with her latest novel, J'adore Paris (reviewed here). If the sequel is anywhere near as good as the first (which I'm sure it is), this will be yet another read that's impossible to put down!

Isabelle worked as a corporate attorney in New York, Toronto, and Montreal before becoming a best selling author and is able to portray the corporate law life as well as intertwining fashion into her books.

It's a real treat to have Isabelle back at CLC and we look forward to seeing what she has planned for the future!

A big "thank you" to Isabelle for taking the time to answer our movie casting question and we hope you enjoy seeing her choices! She also has TWO copies of J'Adore Paris for some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!

You can find Isabelle at her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Cast for J'adore Paris (can also be used for J'adore New York)

My first choice would be Marion Cotillard. Not only is she a model and spokesperson for Christian Dior, the fashion house portrayed in the novel, she’s extremely classy, gorgeous and talented (Have you seen her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose? Hel-looooo). My second choice would be Zooey Deschanel. She’s witty and really lovely; I think she would also make a great Catherine Lambert.

My dear friend Yanic Truesdale who played in the Gilmore Girls would make the perfect Rikash. He’s very funny, stylish and over-the-top fabulous.

Jean Dujardin would be perfect. He’s got some major French charm and charisma. I could also see Ryan Reynolds in this role. Who wouldn’t?

Hugh Jackman. Um, just because.

I would love to see Catherine Zeta-Jones play Bonnie. She’s stunning, has a commanding screen presence and knows how to play a badass. Oh yeah.

Thanks to Isabelle for sharing her dream cast for her "J'adore" series and her book with our readers.

How to win J'adore Paris:
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 movie that takes place in a country overseas?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

5. Follow us on Twitter and/or Pinterest.
6. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends May 29th at midnight EST.

Book Review: J'Adore Paris

By Melissa Amster

My sister recently went on a trip to Paris and I saw a Facebook status update from her that said "J'adore Paris." Seeing it through her eyes (and amazing photos), as well as on the pages of Isabelle Lafleche's latest novel, makes me feel the same way.

After her harried schedule as a lawyer in New York, Catherine Lambert is back in Paris, living with her boyfriend and ready to kick back in high fashion, working for Christian Dior. However, her new job isn't as plush as she was hoping, as one of her first assignments involves staking out and entrapping counterfeiters. Soon Catherine is in over her head and her safety and integrity become compromised by people who don't want her in their "business." Will Catherine and her loyal assistant, Rikash, manage successfully to outsmart even the most dangerous counterfeiting criminals?

It has been a while since I read J'adore New York. I think it was back in 2011 when I was still working off of very little sleep. However, I remember loving that novel and couldn't wait to dive right in to J'adore Paris and catch up with Catherine, Rikash and others from J'ANY. Once I did, I realized how much I forgot from one novel to the next. I wish there had been more background or a refresher given at the beginning so readers like myself, who were coming back into the story after reading billions of books in between that time, could remember what was going on and where we last left off. There were little nuggets of information provided throughout the story, but I really needed more. Having said that, once I was able to enjoy it for its own merit, I really got into the story and had a hard time putting it down. There was a lot of adventure and suspense throughout the novel. I was definitely nervous for Catherine, as she was placed in some risky situations. In the meantime, Isabelle Lafleche never left us wanting for fashion and location descriptions. She painted Paris in a beautiful light, making me want to see it for myself in person. While I was craving some answers, the ending felt a bit rushed as things seemed to fit things too nicely together. However, Isabelle still left some questions unanswered, making me believe that there will be a third part to this series.

Overall, J'adore Paris was entertaining and kept me on my toes. In honor of such a fun story, I want to share some photos of Paris that were taken by my sister, Beth Silverman, on her recent trip. Hopefully they'll set the mood for when you read this novel.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the book in exchange for an honest review. Isabelle is doing a giveaway along with her visit.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Chick Lit Cheerleader: A new kind of "Dirty Dancing"

Introduction by Melissa Amster

Every time I hear Bruno Mars' latest song, "When I Was Your Man," I always think of a chick lit novel and how I can picture it playing in the background while a guy is realizing that he screwed things up with the girl he loves and she has moved on. I could see it being a good fit for Jason from Charlotte Street (by Danny Wallace) or even for Ryan from The Week Before the Wedding (by Beth Kendrick).

Ever since I started CLC, I have been associating music with chick lit. Back in the summer of 2010, "The Only Exception" by Paramore always gave off a chick lit feel. Then there was Adele's latest CD, 21. The following summer, I listened to The Band Perry's debut album often and all the songs made me think of chick lit. Since that time, a song will come along every now and then to remind me of a novel I had read recently. It's interesting to read about what authors think should be on the soundtrack of their novel. Therefore, I thought it would also be fun to ask an author what they would want as the soundtrack of a novel that was written by someone else. Perhaps their favorite novel? That's what brings me to our Chick Lit Cheerleader, Jen Tucker, and her post for this month...

(Please note that this post contains potential spoilers for the novel.)

Dancing Naked in Dixie....Doesn’t that title just stir up a whole lot of interesting mental imagery? Heh-heh.

I was challenged by Chick Lit Central to choose a novel I loved, and give it a soundtrack if it were to shine on the silver screen. Not a piece of cake to select only one since I love so many books written by a plethora of gifted writers. Last summer, I read Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark. How much did I love it? So much so, that I think I emailed and tweeted Lauren after consuming every other page her novel. It’s absolutely gush worthy. I’m thankful that I ended up with a dear friend in Lauren out of my exuberance, and not a place on her stalker list. Her writing is so picturesque, that it’s not a stretch for me to craft a soundtrack playlist that compliments her story. Charge up those iPods, ‘cause here we go!

"Killin’ Kind" by Shelby Lynn
Julia is the city girl transplanted in a small town that is next to last on her list of “must sees” before she croaks. In fact, she’d rather dance naked than cover this historic town on assignment for the travel magazine she writes for. The last thing she needs or wants is a romance with a guy who isn’t a part of her run around world. Yet, love seems to find us when we least expect it, doesn’t it? Julia…you’ve just found that killin’ kind of love, girl.

"Stars" by Simply Red
I understand the dilemma of falling for someone when you least expect it. That’s the story of my real-life romance with my husband, Mike. Julia’s in a relationship that’s going nowhere fast. Shug also has someone in his life he’s committed to, and God bless her pea pickin’ heart, she’s just not the nicest of southern belles. When love burns brightly between Julia and Shug, the one place they find solace is in each other’s arms.

"Wide Open Spaces" by The Dixie Chicks
Julia is dealing with some serious stuff personally and professionally. Exploring the globe has always been her gig as a writer. Stepping out of her father’s shadow professionally, and also distancing herself from him emotionally, has been a huge part of why she wants a “get away” writing career. Until Eufaula, Alabama came along, I think Julia was looking for meaning in her life in wide open spaces that never completely satisfied her soul.

"Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?" by U2
Julia is so busy chasing the stories that come her way; living a life of chaos and disarray in the thick of it. With her recent articles less than stellar, she needs to rein it in professionally and strike gold with this next article. Being in Eufaula has made her stop the insanity wheel, and for once in her life, calmed her down long enough to smell the sweet tea and roses. Can you really take the wild horses out of a manic girl like Julia? Maybe she’s found the right place, the right man, and the right time in her life to make that happen.

"Turn Me On" by Nora Jones and Jamie Cullum
“Turn me on” moments are strong throughout the storyline between Julia and Shug. With this steamy duet playing in the background, the sparks definitely would feed the flame between these two characters that readers want more of. Trust me, I’ve already twisted Lauren’s arm to write a sequel so we can find out what transpires with these love birds from different zip codes. All I can offer Lauren’s legion of fans is you better "Stay Tuned."  Man—that was totally corny, wasn’t it?

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.

Life's a Beach and Princeton Library is living proof!

By Amy Bromberg

**Giveaway is now closed**

I’m SO excited to share some great news! Not sure if any of you have seen my tweets and Facebook posts about how Chick Lit Central is partnering up with the Princeton Public Library in hosting Beach Reads “Girls’ Night Out” on Friday June 7th at 6:30pm. This event will be the kick-off to their adult summer reading program that the library runs ever year. Summer is nearly here and it is time to start planning the list of what you plan to read. This event will definitely help you get your summer beach read list ready. A panel of authors, which I will be moderating, will talk about their latest books and share what they have on their summer readings lists.

The panel includes:
1. Author Priscille Sibley will discuss her debut The Promise of Stardust.
2. Novelist Christina Baker Kline will talk about her latest novel Orphan Train.
3. New York Times bestselling author Pamela Redmond will discuss her latest novel The Possibility of You.
4. TV writer and former TIME magazine staff writer Lisa Takeuchi Cullen will discuss her second book and first novel Pastors’ Wives.
5. Talking about her fifth novel, The Widow Waltz, will be author Sally Koslow.
6. Bestselling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (“The Nanny Diaries”) will discuss their latest novel Between You And Me.
7. Author Beatriz Williams will be talking about A Hundred Summers which will be released on May 30th.

Following the panelists’ discussions of their books and recommendations for summer “must reads,” the authors will sign their books that may be purchased at a Labyrinth Books booth at the event. Of course there will be yummy refreshments including cupcakes, sorbet and so much more! There will also be baskets including copies of the books along with some beach items will be raffled off during the event.

Thanks to the library we have TWO awesome giveaways to share with you. For those who unfortunately won’t be able to make it (if you don’t live local, etc.) you can enter to win two books of your choice signed by the authors, which will be mailed to the winner after the event (US only). For any of you who are thinking about coming, you can enter to win reserved front row seats for you and two friends on the night of the event, plus a book of your choice to be signed that night. You may enter one giveaway or the other. Just leave a comment saying which giveaway you want to enter.

For more information check out the event’s Pinterest board and the information about the event on the library’s website. For any and all additional information please feel free to call (609.924.9529 x220) or email Janie L Hermann.

How to enter the giveaways:
Please comment below and say which giveaway you're entering. (If you're able to attend the event, you may enter both.) Giveaways are:
  • TWO books of your choice from the list above (anyone from the US may enter)
  • Reserved front row seats to the event for yourself and two friends, plus ONE book of choice (for the winner only) to be signed that night. (Only enter if you are planning to attend)
Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

Both giveaways end May 29th at midnight EST.