Friday, January 31, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: It Felt Like a Kiss

By Becky Gulc

It Felt Like a Kiss is the first novel I've read by Sarra Manning, but I don't think it will be my last. This is a book that has great characters, characters to love, characters to despise and the essential character that makes you go a bit weak at the knees. But what's it all about?

Ellie Cohen is in her mid twenties and unlucky in love, or at least her friends think she is. We join Ellie as her best friends deliver a bit of an intervention over her latest boyfriend Richie, whom they feel is no good for her, just like her previous boyfriends. Whilst Ellie is a bit in denial, she soon learns they were right when a box of her most private possessions goes missing and her life is turned upside down when the Sunday papers out her as being the secret love child of the famous rock star Billy King, someone who has never wanted anything to do with Ellie. Ellie is mortified to say the least and the stories in the papers about her just keep getting worse as the days go on. With Ellie in hiding thanks to Billy's lawyer, David, attempting damage limitation, will she ever get the chance to show the public she isn't the gold digging floozy she is being made out to be? And will Ellie be able to control her feelings towards someone with whom it would be highly inconvenient to fall in love?

Whilst this felt like quite a long book, I see that as a positive. The pace was just right for me to get to know and like Ellie before she hits the headlines and this builds up our empathy and outrage that this could happen to such a lovely character. I loved the somewhat complex relationship between Ellie and David. David was someone who, as a reader, you change your mind about as a possible love interest for Ellie as the twists and turns unfold.

The book also switches between the Ellie's story in the present and her mother's story in the past, so it helped us to see what actually happened with Ellie's father and how we should feel about him. I was quite pleased that what I thought might happen at the end didn't in terms of this relationship, it felt real.

A particular positive for me with this novel is the truly rich description throughout, from describing places to people and feelings. Sometimes in novels it can feel like description is there for the sake of it but this was never the case here, I felt truly transported with clear images in my head of the characters and places. A definite recommended read from me!

Thanks to Madeline Toy Public Relations for the book in exchange for an honest review. She has FIVE copies for some lucky readers anywhere in the world!

How to win:
"Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind."--The Princess Bride

Tell us what your favorite on-screen kiss is (from TV or movies).

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.

Worldwide. Giveaway ends February 5th at midnight EST.

More by Sarra Manning:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Juliet Madison wishes upon a star (or a fountain) a book giveaway

When I think of the pairing between fairy tales and chick lit, I am instantly reminded of Juliet Madison. Last year, she sent us 25 years into the future, introduced us to a love angel and showed us what can happen if we don't use spell-check on our electronic genie device. She has even started 2014 with a wish upon a fountain. Juliet's a genius at making fantasy into a fun reality for the modern era. We're so glad to have her back this year, just as she's approaching the one-year anniversary of her debut novel, Fast Forward, and introducing us to her new Tarrin's Bay series, one month at a time.

She's here to talk about fairy tales and Disney, as well as introduce us her first two Tarrin's Bay novels: The January Wish and February or Forever. Plus, one lucky reader anywhere in the world has a chance to win e-books of both novels!

Visit Juliet at her website, blog, Facebook and Twitter.

The January Wish (reviewed here):
When Dr Sylvia Greene makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, it's the most out of character action she can think of for someone with a controlled life of order, plans and preparation.
A week later, the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen arrives in Sylvia's small coastal town with secrets of her own. Soon, Sylvia's well-ordered life is soon thrown into chaos. They say be careful what you wish for, but, for Sylvia, the unexpected consequences may be just what the doctor ordered.

February or Forever (February 1st):
Yoga teacher and single mother, Chrissie Burns has a plan: move into the rundown beach house left to her by her deceased aunt, renovate it, sell it, and move on.
But Tarrin's Bay, where the house stands, is lovely and full of friendly people. Even Chrissie's young son finds friends and begins coming out of his shell. Employed at Serendipity Retreat as a yoga instructor, Chrissie is shocked to be given the role of private teacher to Drew Williams, Australia’s top singer/songwriter for the month.
While relationships between instructors and clients are strictly forbidden, Drew draws happiness out of Chrissie with his down-to-earth nature and sense of humour. However, there's no pose or position to aid her when Drew walks away and leaves her broken-hearted.

Check out the trailer for February or Forever:

Do you believe in happily ever after?
I see life as a journey, so rather than a person reaching a point where they will be happy from that moment on (in a relationship or life in general), I believe people can find happiness right now if they choose, regardless of what is going on around them. Life and relationships will have ups and downs, but the ‘happily ever after’ is the ability to keep getting back up and moving forward with a positive attitude.

When was the last time you made a wish (aside from wishing to become a published author)? Did it come true?
I’m always making wishes! I wish my house would clean itself (hasn’t come true), I wish my friends lived closer, I wish I could find clothing that fits me properly, I wish I could survive on two hours of sleep... ;)
But this year I have wished to be published in print as well as ebook, so time will tell if that is to come true

Which fairy tale would make a good chick lit novel (that hasn't been done already as one)?
Ooh a tough one! I don’t know how up to date I am with which fairy tales have formed the basis of chick-lit books, but a female version of Pinocchio could be interesting, what do you think? Except everytime she tells a lie she puts on weight, ages prematurely, or grows body hair, or something. She has to learn to be honest with herself and others before she can be turned into a real life woman to be with the man of her dreams. Hmm, maybe I could write this one day!

If you could be a Disney villain which one would you be and why?
I’d be the Queen of Hearts so I could always get my own way, and yell “Off with your head!” whenever things get to me! Of course, I’d never go through with such violence and would rather turn Wonderland into a safe, happy place instead! ;)

Which Disney princess could you see yourself becoming best friends with?
Hmm, let’s say Merida from Brave. She’s headstrong and determined, like me, and we could bond over our hair which has a tendency to get out of control. ;)

Which is your favorite Disney Pixar film?
It would have to be Toy Story 1 and 2. I loved watching these movies with my son when he was younger, and the idea of toys coming to life is a great premise. I haven’t seen the third movie yet as now my son is much older and of course, not interested. Maybe I will have to watch it by myself. ;)
To infinity and beyond!

Thanks to Juliet for making our chick lit wishes come true and sharing her books with our readers.

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Worldwide. Giveaway ends February 4th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reader Spotlight: The Social Networker

This year, we're doing "Reader Spotlight" posts on a bi-weekly basis. We want to feature readers who have been actively following CLC for a while. We're hoping you can get to know some new friends this way. One of the joys of having CLC is that readers have connected with each other, as a result. That's one of the reasons it was started up in the first bring chick lit fans together from all over the world! We've made some amazing friends because of this blog and we hope you'll get to do so too!

If you'd like to be spotlighted sometime this year, please contact us.

See our previous Reader Spotlight posts.

Note from Melissa A: Hailey is extremely active at our blog and Facebook page. Plus, I see her show up in my news feed all the time. She is very nice and I enjoy talking with her and sharing book recommendations.

Name: Hailey Fish
Age: 22 - I'll be 23 on 2/22
Location: Pawcatuck, Connecticut

How did you find Chick Lit Central? 
I'm pretty sure I stumbled upon it but not sure how. I do know I was instantly hooked when I saw women were winning books, I knew I just had to jump on the band wagon, so to speak. I can't imagine not having CLC in my life. I've met (online) a few awesome women and I've won quite a number of novels: some signed, some not signed.

What are your top five favorite chick-lit novels of all times?
1. These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen
2. Always Something There to Remind Me by Beth Harbison
3. The Sassy Belles by Beth Albright
4. How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neal
5. The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service by Beth Kendrick.

What do you do when you're not reading?
When I'm NOT reading?! That's a silly question. I'm ALWAYS reading! I would say when I'm not reading (very rarely) I'm sleeping, busy at work or spending time with family. I love playing bingo, hanging out with my girls, babysitting my nieces and nephews, writing in my notebooks, catching up on shows, focusing on eating right and trying to lose weight.

You can find Hailey on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. She loves meeting and getting to know new people!

Guest Book Review: Love Waltzes In

By Michelle Drodge

I have to admit that there are few things in this world that I love more than reality TV, and my guilty pleasure takes up most of the space on my PVR. The only thing I like to sacrifice a good reality show for is a good book, and I was glad I chose to read Love Waltzes In.

I’m not sure how Ms. Albertson decided to merge the "military guy" with the "dance guy," but that’s exactly what she did for Bret Lord, a former competitive dancer turned Marine Corps. Ten years and three deployments later, he’s back to dancing, not only with his former partner and love interest, but starring on the hit reality series, Dancing Under the Stars. Selena Marcil has had a long dancing career post-Bret, however the spotlight is much different with ballroom legend Dmitri ‘Dima’ Volkov, who makes it clear that his partner must be nothing less than perfection, and the only goal is to win – no matter what it takes.

Now, the dynamic is changing and all of them are dancing with different partners, but who will reign as the Dancing Under the Stars champion’?

A dancer in my head is lean, dark haired, with a smooth Latin vibe. When I think "male dancer," I get the instant picture of Dima in my head. But there is something about Bret Lord that is so endearing to a reader. The idea that a macho, all-American guy who is not lean, but muscular, not dark haired, but blonde, can rock the dance floor is completely taking my mental image, throwing it out the window and making me wish I could meet this guy in real life. Because who doesn’t want their rugged man to know how to bust a move?

I completely adored this book, and I loved that it centered around Bret, with Selena in the background. I couldn’t put this book down until it was finished and have since read it again!

I definitely look forward to more from Alana Albertson, although I hope she can live up to my guilty pleasures!

Thanks to Kelley and Hall Book Publicity for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Michelle Drodge is 28 and lives in a small town north of Toronto in Canada with her daughter, who is three going on thirteen. She works in Restaurant Development during the day, but moonlights as an aspiring writer after her daughter goes to sleep. One day she hopes to see her own book on the shelf alongside her favourite Chick Lit authors!

You might also enjoy:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Laura Kenyon's not-so provincial a book giveaway

Confession...I made January Fairy Tale and Disney month because of Laura Kenyon's debut novel, Desperately Ever After. I had the idea to do it sometime in 2014, but once I found out about this book, I knew we had to feature Laura to talk about this theme!

One part Sex and the City, two parts Desperate Housewives, and three parts Brothers Grimm, Desperately Ever After picks up where the original tales left off—and reimagines them a la Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. With the wit of authors like Jennifer Weiner and the vision of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, the women of Desperately Ever After rescue each other from life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a scandalous new take on happily ever after.

Years after turning her husband from beast back to man and becoming his queen, Belle finds out she’s finally going to have a child. But before she can announce the wondrous news, she catches him cheating and watches her “happily ever after” go up in flames. Turning to her friends for the strength to land with grace, she realizes she’s not the only one at a crossroads:

Cinderella, a mother of four drowning in royal duties, is facing her 30th birthday and questioning everything she’s done (or hasn’t) with her life.

Rapunzel, a sex-crazed socialite and one-woman powerhouse, is on a self-destructive quest to make up for 20 years locked away in a tower.

Penelopea, an outsider with a mother-in-law from hell, is harboring a secret that could ruin everything at any moment.

Laura Kenyon is an award-winning journalist and graduate of Boston College. Her stories and articles have appeared in Kiwi Magazine, Westchester Magazine, Just Labs, Serendipity, The Improper Bostonian, and Westchester/Hudson Valley Weddings, as well as in myriad newspapers and at She lives in Connecticut with her husband and their silver Labrador retriever. Desperately Ever After is her first novel and the start of a series. With her release day around the corner, she's here to celebrate early by talking about Fairy Tales and Disney and she has TWO e-books of Desperately Ever After for some lucky readers anywhere in the world! 

You can find Laura at her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

What is your favorite non-Disney movie based on a fairy tale?
Well, I did love Ella Enchanted, but Shrek was just so smart and funny, it has to win. And for a girl who can’t make up her mind about anything, it’s like a buffet of re-envisioned fairy tales!

What modern day situation or news story could you see being turned into a fairy tale?
Yikes, that is a tough one. In the conventional, Disney-fied sense, I suppose you could find a dozen real life “fairy tales” by browsing the engagement announcements in The New York Times. But the less glamorous Brothers Grimm-type stories were all about morals and warnings. I remember two stories from last year in which a homeless man found something extremely valuable and—despite his own needs—decided to find the rightful owner rather than keep it. In one case, it was an engagement ring that a woman in Kansas City accidentally dropped into his cup; in the other, a backpack in Boston containing $40,000. At the end of the day, an inspired public rewarded them both MANY times over for their honesty—donating more than $148,000 to each one! Just throw in a pair of evil stepbrothers who tried to stop them from returning the valuables in the first place (only to wind up being turned into toads), and you have your modern-day fairy tale!

What is a lesson you've taken to heart from any fairy tale?
“Looks can be deceiving” comes into play in almost every fairy tale I can think of—both to warn us not to trust someone blindly, and to show us that real love and goodness come from within. I’ve definitely taken that to heart—either from all those fairy tales or because I’m just innately guarded. Hmm…

Which fairy tale should Disney adapt into an animated film next?
The Twelve Dancing Princesses! I used to LOVE the Faerie Tale Theatre version of this as a kid—although, personally, I could have done without the soldier’s dangly mustache. I would love to see Disney make this into its next animated feature. I don’t know why they haven’t already.

Which Disney character can you relate to the most (doesn't have to be a princess)?
Having re-envisioned so many of the original characters in my book, it’s hard to remember what Disney’s are like anymore! In Desperately Ever After, I’d have to say Cinderella (I think a little too much and am constantly trying to anticipate what’s next), but as for Disney … let’s see. I’m curious like Ariel but could never leave my entire family to go and get legs. I’m a dreamer like Aladdin, but wouldn’t know what to do with that ego! Cinderella takes “turn the other cheek” far too seriously, and while I’m always late like the White Rabbit, he really needs to lighten up a bit. With three younger brothers and a desire to never fully grow up, Wendy Darling is close. But I think the Disney character I relate to the most is Belle. She would do anything for her family, loves books, makes the most of whatever situation she’s in (once she’s SURE there’s no other way out, that is!), and wants to have loads of adventures—even if they only pan out in her daydreams.

What is your favorite song from any Disney movie?
Oh, that’s easy. “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. No joke, I used to clap my ankles together and swim around pretending I was a mermaid, singing this song in my head and watching my red hair (I totally WAS Ariel!) whoosh through the water. Yes, my inability distinguish reality from fantasy began long, long ago.

Thanks to Laura Kenyon for visiting us and sharing her book with our readers.

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Worldwide. Giveaway ends February 2nd at midnight EST.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: The January Wish

By Melissa Amster

In most parts of the world, it is freezing cold in January. I can attest to this personally while living on the east coast of the United States. However, if you live in Australia, January is a balmy summer month full of festivals and daily swims. In Tarrin's Bay, it starts with a wishing festival and one such wish is about to come true in a way that will impact several lives.

When Dr Sylvia Greene makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, it's the most out of character action she can think of. Hers is not a life of wishes. Hers is a controlled life of order, plans and preparation…of science and research and diagnosis and treatment. But her past has been weighing on her mind, and decisions made long ago have far-reaching consequences.

A week later, the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen arrives in Sylvia's small coastal town with secrets that can't be shared. Between feelings of guilt, gossip, and a growing attraction to an emotionally unavailable colleague, Sylvia's well-ordered life is soon thrown into chaos. She is no longer alone, and for the first time she feels as if her world is open to possibilities.

They say be careful what you wish for, but, for Sylvia, the unexpected consequences may be just what the doctor ordered.
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I really enjoyed The January Wish from start to finish. It was a sweet story with characters who were easy to relate to, even if I never had the same experiences they did. They were all easy to sympathize with in their own ways. There was a lot of foreshadowing throughout the story, keeping me in suspense about what was around the next corner and throwing me for a loop at times. I can definitely say that there was never a dull moment! I loved the feel of Tarrin's Bay. It reminded me of some other small towns I've read about in books, such as the town of Avalon, Illinois in Darien Gee's Friendship Bread. There were times I felt the characters jumped to conclusions too quickly, but it only happened a little bit and it led to some other explanations. There were some funny parts, as well as heartwarming romantic moments throughout. I look forward to reading February or Forever soon and hope that Juliet Madison will keep the Tarrin's Bay series going throughout the year!

Sorry to say this, but I have no casting ideas for The January Wish. I just think a small town story from Australia should feature local actors and actresses and I'm not familiar with enough of them to make such important decisions!

Thanks to Escape Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review. Juliet will be visiting CLC later this week and will have some e-books to give away at that time!

More by Juliet Madison:

Friday, January 24, 2014

What's in the mail

Melissa A:

February or Forever by Juliet Madison from Escape Publishing

Party Girl by Rachel Hollis from The Chic

On the Rocks by Erin Duffy from William Morrow (HarperCollins)...Amy got this too

Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young from Penguin UK

What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin from Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster)...We're currently doing a giveaway for this book! (US/Canada. Ends 1/26.) You can also enter Manic Mommy's giveaway on Facebook! (Also US/Canada.)


Lydia's Party by Margaret Hawkins from Viking (Penguin)


The Dr. Pepper Prophecies by/from Jennifer Gilby Roberts


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty from Penguin UK

Beautiful Day by Kate Anthony from Penguin UK

Made in Essex by Laura Ziepe from LightBrigade PR

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman from Ebury Press

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes from Penguin UK

The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman from Penguin UK


Weightless by Michele Gorman from Notting Hill Press

Book Review: The Echoes of Love

By Miriam Plotinsky

There used to be a really great commercial on TV for Barilla pasta. A woman is sitting in her apartment, looking out her window. In an opposite window, she sees a very attractive (okay, hot) Italian man looking at her coyly. There’s a knock on her door, and there he stands with a wonderful pasta dinner, and as the music soars (the music is my favorite part), they enjoy a meal together. Ah, romance and Italy. The two are as intertwined as chocolate and peanut butter, and effectively brought together in Hannah Fielding’s The Echoes of Love. Primarily set in Venice, this ostentatious love story brings two characters together in the most dramatic style.

The aptly-named Venetia Aston-Montagu, a blue-blooded art restorer, is rescued one night by Paolo Barone, an Italian businessman with the requisite mysterious past. Through various plot complications, mainly involving Venetia’s traumatic past love life, the two engage in several episodes of banter and verbal foreplay before finally succumbing to carnal lust (and love). Further conflicts, including an evil count and a femme fatale, keep the book in full motion until Venetia and Paolo can confront their pasts in order to create a harmonious future.

The story is quite entertaining, if beyond the bounds of belief. The lovers themselves are cut from a predictable mold, as are their predicaments, but the various settings within Italy’s stunning landscape are appealing. What is not quite so palatable is Venetia herself, who is the antithesis of a feminist heroine. She regularly gets into trouble (her most common fault is falling down a lot), and Paolo is always at the ready to rescue her. Most modern women would find this plot device to be particularly repellant. Furthermore, Venetia’s unparalleled beauty, so often described in detail, is reliant on a too-thin wispiness that adds to her general aura of helplessness, and contrasts sharply with Paolo’s muscled frame. Heroines are not what they used to be, nor should they be presented as such.

In general, The Echoes of Love has an old-world feel that belies its modern-day setting. Perhaps that touch of romantic Italy thrown against my pragmatic American sensibilities is making the contrast more noticeable. This book should probably be set in a different era, when it was more acceptable for women to be victims of learned helplessness. Still, the passionate movement of the book is undeniable, and suspense about the characters’ ultimate fate keeps the story going until, music soaring, everything comes to a neat denouement. But this time, there’s no man with Barilla at the door.

Thanks to Midas Public Relations for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

See what's cooking with Alicia de los a special giveaway

I may have mentioned a time, or two, that I'm writing a book - a memoir to be exact.  Or, should I say, I was writing a book.  Life has gotten hectic and exhausting that by the time I have the time to sit down to write all I really want to do is watch television and knit while my cat, Elsie, tries to distract me by causing some sort of mess. (She excels at breaking things!)  It also makes me tired to think about how far behind I am from my intended, self-imposed deadlines to have the first draft of my manuscript done.  I try to motivate myself by thinking about the "30 minutes a day" rule, but can't seem to do it.

Today on CLC, we welcome Alicia de los Reyes, a Freelance Editor and Writer whose writing guide, The Chick Lit Cookbook, may be just what I need to read to get myself "back on track" to finishing this memoir of mine.

Alicia lives in Seattle with her husband Andrew and their cat Mitzi.  She's currently writing her own novel using The Chick Lit Cookbook and blogging about it at Oh, and her favorite color is purple (which is my fave color!) and her favorite food is chocolate chip cookies (I like her already!). 

Please give a warm CLC welcome to Alicia de los Reyes, as she talks about Fairy Tales and Disney movies with us. She has TWO e-books of The Chick Lit Cookbook for some lucky readers anywhere in the world! Plus, one of the e-book winners could have their manuscript reviewed by Alicia's editor, Kelly Rizzetta of KMR Publishing, if they have one available. See the guidelines to find out if you qualify for this special optional prize. As an extra fun treat, visit Alicia at Book Mama Blog to check out her guest post!

You can find Alicia at her blog and on Twitter.

How can fairy tales and feminism mix?
There are so many great examples of fairy tales that have strong female characters--The Princess Diaries and Enchanted are two of my favorites. The characters in these stories show that women don't have to be Sleeping Beauty or damsels in distress to find a happy ending. I think that's great!

Who is your favorite fairy tale princess?
I love Giselle from Enchanted. It's fun to watch Amy Adams dancing around with rats and pigeons!

If you were to create a fairy tale what would the central theme be?
One theme I like to write about is using your powers for good--doing your best with what you have. Maybe I could write a fairy tale about a princess using her powers to save someone.

Top three favorite rides at Disney World/Land: 
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Haunted House. 
 I guess I like screaming.

"The Magic Kingdom" - what does that phrase mean to you?
It means spring break! When I was in college, my girlfriends and I drove down to Florida, stayed with my grandparents, and went to all of the parks in Disney World in one day. It was so much fun--we finished off our day watching fireworks in the Magic Kingdom and eating gigantic caramel apples. One of my favorite trips ever!

My favorite Disney villain is: I like Jafar from Aladdin for some reason. I think it's his annoying little bird Iago repeating everything he says that does it for me.

Special thanks to Alicia for visiting with us and to KMR Publishing for making someone's dream come true.

~Introduction and interview by Tracey Meyers

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open worldwide. Giveaway ends January 28th at midnight EST. See the guidelines regarding the manuscript review.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chick Lit Cheerleader: Big Red

Happy one year anniversary to our Chick Lit Cheerleader, Jen Tucker! We love having her here every month and look forward to what she'll come up with this year. She even wrote her own intro for this post, so we'll just turn it over to her!

I have been an avid fan of fractured fairy tales since my professor read aloud The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! to her class of future educators. I’d never experienced traditional works twisted like this until taking a class in children’s literature. Luckily, author A. Wolf opened up to Jon Sciezka to share his side of the story or the world might never know the real deal with those little piggies. From what I understand, a bad case of the sniffles, and borrowing a cup of sugar, led to the misunderstanding the poor wolf was a bad guy. And now his tarnished reputation has been the highlight of gossiping swine on farms through the decades. Poor thing. I suspect many other wolves have been thrown under the “happily ever after” bus along the way just as this sad creature was. Feared because they snarl due to seasonal allergies, have wicked looking fur (it’s accidentally parted on the wrong side), and enormous gleaming incisors they spent years at the orthodontist straightening; preposterous!

*Jen shakes her head/pounds chest in pack solidarity*

I thought it would be fun to fracture (or mutilate depending how it turns out) a tale I’m fond of, yet do it grown-up style, with wolves of course. Here’s my spin on Little Red Riding Hood.


Red Wilson never lifted a finger her entire life. She wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth. The grandmother who raised her took great pride in caring for her only grandchild’s every need and it bred a sweet young woman, who believes goodness is rooted in everyone’s heart. A sheltered Red leaves for college ready to take on the world, as Nana worries she’s released her little one out into the big, bad world.

With her first semester of college under her belt, Red is looking for a ride home for winter break. She checks the message board at the student union stumbling upon a name she recognizes. Wolf Dixon grew up in the same small town as Red, yet she had no idea he also attended her university. Although both came of age in a town with one blinking red light, Nana made sure Red stayed away from all the hormonal teenaged boys. Especially Wolf.

Without telling Nana who her ride home for the holidays is, Red hits the road with Wolf. Although she chooses to be Pollyanna-like in her perspective on people, she can’t help but think of Nana’s stern warnings through the years about rough around the edges, Wolf. The road trip takes longer than it should when Wolf sneaks Red into a small-town bar for her first drink, liquor and Red’s digestive tract do not agree with one another, and in Wolf’s haste to get away from a group of road raging kids from their rival college, he ends up in the back of a squad car leaving Red stranded. So much for a quick trip to Grandma’s house.

Wolf cautiously reveals his complicated, layered self to Red during their trip gone wrong. He seems less brash and more insecure than he leads others to believe. So what is Nana’s true motive in suspending Red’s belief that men, especially this one, disguise their true selves in sheep’s clothing? Will Red’s innocent spin on life be shattered, or will she breathe new optimism into the boy who feels life will never deal him a happily ever after?

Wow! That was just a barrel of monkey fun to write! It’s fairy tale month here at CLC, and we’d love to hear about the tale or folklore you’d love to see fractured. Please excuse me, but I need to run! My kids opened the oven and our gingerbread kid cookies seem to be having a polka party in there! Never a dull moment during winter break at the Tuckers'.

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.

Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Melissa Amster:
The first thing you need to know about me is that I'm a huge fan of The Mindy Project. Mindy Kaling is hilarious and totally seems like someone with whom I could see myself becoming friends. And I'm not just talking about her as the character of Mindy Lahiri, but also about what she is like in real life, based on what I've read in her memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

I had purchased Mindy's book earlier in the year, before I knew I would fall in love with her show. As I was in the middle of season two after my marathon catch-up sessions, I decided to finally check out the story behind this genius of a comedic actress. (That, and I needed something light and entertaining after reading a particularly intense novel.)

From the very first page, Mindy had me laughing and grinning. Her book is very easygoing and random at times. It reminds me of The Mindy Project, even though it was written before the show premiered. She mostly focuses on The Office (and tells us some interesting things about the actors) and her writing experience for Saturday Night Live. I was a fan of The Office until Steve Carell left, and I always thought Mindy was a lot of fun on that show too. She even had some chick lit novels available during an episode where they were all having some sort of giant garage sale. I was even more impressed to learn that she was behind some of the really funny episodes. They all had "the Mindy touch." It was really interesting to get an insider look at writing for television.

Mindy is not only a talented actress, but an amazing comic writer of both scripts and books. I'd love for her to write a chick lit novel because I think she'd make it perfect on her first try. I feel like Mindy is the celebrity mascot for chick lit. She's so girly and is not afraid to show it. I also wouldn't complain if she wrote a follow up to this book talking about her experiences working on The Mindy Project. (And not just because I want to know what it's like to work with Chris Messina, but that would be a perk!)

Miriam Plotinsky:
Almost every woman I know had an awkward phase, usually peaking in middle school. We look back at old photos and cringe at our big glasses and braces, wondering why we ever thought wearing a side ponytail with a scrunchie was a good idea. Hastily, we shove the photo album underneath the bed, hoping those incriminating pictures never see the light of day. Well, most of us. Mindy Kaling, who came into public consciousness as Kelly Kapoor on the popular sitcom The Office, wears her childhood embarrassment on her sleeve, sharing those difficult moments of growing up. As a result, we laugh with – not at – Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, an honest and hilarious look at several aspects of female life.

Kaling spends much of the book detailing her rise to success, first as a writer, and then as an actress and comedian. However, the best parts of the book are grounded in Kaling’s relatable voice and experience. A self-proclaimed size eight, Kaling approaches her size as she does every aspect of her life, with proud confidence and a wry sense of what society would like her to be instead. Though Kaling is a celebrity, she never comes across as one. She still hangs out with her college friends, she struggles with dating, and her parents drive her crazy. In other words, she has the same life as everybody else, with an intriguing element of fame added to the mix.

Sprinkled throughout the book are pictures of what Kaling looked like growing up, another testament to her confidence. Hidden behind the giant lenses and awkward bowl-style haircut is the face of a woman who not only gives Hollywood’s preconception about women lacking the skill to be funny an irrefutable run for its money, but who is also conquering a notoriously shallow industry through her wit and unapologetic attitude. Kaling’s brand of humor is gentle and often absurd, showing a vast intelligence that trumps cruder and more common forms of comedy, like slapstick or vulgarity.

Though Kaling entered my realm through the self-deprecating lens of Kelly Kapoor, reading her book was a no-brainer and a rewarding experience. She is one of the many feminists out there working to have people understand that women are funny, intelligent, and edgy. Maybe it’s time for me to take those middle school pictures out and dust them off. After all, I don’t look like that anymore, and that awkward girl is part of my journey to who I am today. It’s time to uncover her comic potential.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

CLC goes into the woods

Since it's Fairy Tale and Disney month at CLC, some of us wanted to talk about these topics.


Which Disney princess could you see yourself becoming best friends with?
I have to choose two here, Belle and Ariel. All of us are book lovers, right? I can see Belle and I spending together in the Beast’s castle library. It would be bliss. I also love castles so it would be quite nice to have lavish dinners made for me while being entertained by the staff. Oh, can’t forget dancing in a ballroom with a beautiful gown on.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a Pisces, or was just born loving anything to do with swimming and water life, but I would be in heaven living under the sea with Ariel. On top of that, when I was little I wanted to be a mermaid.

If you could be a princess, which one would you be?
Definitely Ariel.

If you could be a villain which one would you be and why?
Even though the show Once Upon a Time is not Disney, I would love to be Regina and the evil queen (they are both played by Lana Parrilla). I’ve always loved magic in any show/cartoon. It must be so much fun playing the evil queen. If you haven’t seen the show, you must watch it. Oh, and her costumes are so cool!

Which Disney character can you relate to the most?
Ariel and Belle.

Which fairy tale would make a good chick lit novel (that hasn't been used already)?
I’m going to choose Aladdin. There’s adventure, danger, romance, drama, and comedy all rolled into one.

Melissa A:

Confession: I wrote this a few years ago for my personal blog. However, I don't get as many viewers there and it has been a long time. I thought it would be a good fit for this month's theme, in any case. It's my chick lit version of "Goldilocks." (For more fun, here's a link to a post about which Disney character I relate to the most.)

"Just Right"

Goldie was working at an investment firm in NYC, until they went down due to a Ponzi scheme. She ends up losing her job in a tough economy, along with her Upper West Side apartment, and is now a squatter for abandoned apartments in Manhattan. In the meantime, she has been keeping a food themed blog called "Just Right," where she does food and restaurant reviews. Giving it a "just right" rating means everything is of the best quality. She even rates the comfortableness of restaurant furniture with "just right" also meaning best quality. A major newspaper stumbles upon her blog and offers her a freelance job as a restaurant critic.

Soon, she's the critic everyone wants to have at their restaurant. She's asked to be on TV shows and is given a full-time job at the newspaper. At one point, she ends up going to the restaurant of Johnny Bear, the hottest chef in the city. (Both in quality and looks.) However, she doesn't like his cooking style. In the meantime, she's squatting at one of the most posh apartments in the city. When the hot chef finds out her secret by accident, they may be able to strike a deal that will benefit both of them...Will she give him a bad review and risk his wrath along with her secret or give a good, but dishonest review and risk losing her job and good restaurant critic reputation?

Since I love asking authors who they'd cast if their book were optioned for film, I'll do the same for myself. I'd cast someone like Kristen Bell as Goldie, and since everyone seems to love Ryan Gosling these days, he could be Johnny Bear.


What is your favorite line from The Princess Bride
"They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder."

If you could be a villain which one would you be and why? 
Maleficent. She had insane amounts of power, but deliberately chose to misuse it. I think I could be much sneakier about that sort of thing. Bonus: great cheekbones, and she can become a dragon at will!

Which is your favorite Disney cartoon or movie? 
Lilo and Stitch! I can probably recite it word for word at this point.

What is your favorite song from a Disney movie?
Either "Go the Distance" or "Zero to Hero" from Hercules. That movie had the BEST songs.

Which fairy tale would make a good chick lit novel (that hasn't been used already)? 
I'd love to see a good (bordering on creepy) dark chick-lit adaptation of Snow White and Rose Red.

What is your favorite non-Disney movie based on a fairy tale? 
Hook (with Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams). I should really go watch that again.


My modern-day chick lit adaptation of Cinderella:

Ella Johnstone’s father, Kenneth Johnstone, built the largest, most successful fully organic/natural cosmetics company in the world. Ella had a privileged childhood and learned the business at his knee. When Kenneth married Divinia Dellacourte, Ella gained two older stepsisters who were more interested in parties, men, and getting their pictures taken by the paparazzi than learning the business. Kenneth assured Ella that she would inherit the business solely, but after he suddenly grew ill and died, Divinia produced a will showing all four inherited equally and Divinia was named chair. Now Ella is stuck doing all the work for the company while Divinia and her daughters outvote her and spend all the profits. Ella is working so hard and is so tired she doesn’t even have time to use her own products.

When Chemical Cosmetics announces it’s looking for merger partners, Ella is immediately opposed, but her so-called family outvotes her. They want to get rid of the company so they can spend all their time partying. The owner of Chemical Cosmetics, Chan Hollingsworth, is holding a prospectus meeting to get to know all potential partners. The Dellacourtes lock Ella away in the office, forcing her to rewrite the annual report while they attend the meeting. But a make-up researcher, Terry Snodbrother, breaks her free and demonstrates his new products on Ella. Terry is also a fashion designer and puts his clothes on Ella, including a pair of spike heels that don’t hurt the wearer. Terry warns Ella that the make-up still needs work, and if she leaves it on her skin for too long, she’ll get burned.

Ella gets to the meeting, and she is so beautiful even the Dellacourtes don’t recognize her. Ella tells Chan his company is evil and he is hurting women. He needs to change his products and his image. Chan has never had anyone talk to him like that before. He wants to install Ella as his new CEO. But the meeting takes so long, Ella is forced to flee as her face starts to burn, leaving behind a pain-free spiked heel.

Chan runs a huge social media campaign to find the designer of the heel. Ella is busy helping Terry with that little burn problem and doesn’t know about it. The Dellacourt sisters pretend the shoe is theirs, but their feet are too big. When Chan finally tracks down Terry, she is putting the new improved make-up on Ella. Chan recognizes her immediately and offers to make her CEO. He buys Johnstone Cosmetics, fires the Dellacourtes and puts Ella in charge of everything. Then he puts all his holdings in a trust so there’s no conflict of interest when he and Ella become a couple.


What is your favorite song from a Disney movie?
"That's How You Know" from Enchanted, such a happy song and I love this part of the film.

Which is your favorite Disney cartoon or movie?
Enchanted, closely followed by Toy Story and Finding Nemo.

What is a lesson you took to heart from a fairy tale or Disney movie?
To 'just keep swimming' from Finding Nemo. When I used to swim a lot I used to say this in my head when I was feeling tired, but it applies elsewhere in life too to just keep going!

Which Disney character can you relate to the most (doesn't have to be a princess)?
Not relate to as such (well, i have my moments...) but I feel I have a connection with Dopey thanks to a personalised book I had when i was a child where I was a character in a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves book, one line was 'Dopey has a tear in his eye as Rebecca says goodbye,' It's stuck with me! I still have that book.

Do you believe in happily ever after?
I suppose you can only know this with hindsight for your own life, we'd all like it though so we can hope!

Which Disney princess could you see yourself becoming best friends with?
Not technically a princess (she made a better choice...) but I'd love to be friends with Giselle from Enchanted, just for her positivity to rub off on me a bit!

Linda Yellin delivers a modern fairy a book giveaway

The first Nora Ephron movie I ever saw always comes to mind when I hear her name. It's called This is My Life and stars Julie Kavner (yes, the voice of Marge Simpson) as a single mother working as a stand-up comic and trying to understand what her teenage daughters are going through. It's a sweet story and has a great soundtrack with Carly Simon music. Even now, I have "Love of My Life" in my head. I also learned it was Nora's directorial debut, when the movies with her name attached prior to that were solely for her writing talent.

Nora Ephron is an iconic name in the chick lit world. Her untimely death in 2012 saddened us all and her writing has inspired some of the greatest authors in this genre. One such author is Linda Yellin, who recently published What Nora Knew, which is about a woman who is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance "in the style of Nora Ephron" and flunks out big time. Linda was our Valentine's Day guest two years ago, which is fitting for her romantic books. You can learn more about her at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

Linda is here to talk about fairy tales and Disney with us and to celebrate her pub day, she has TEN copies of What Nora Knew for some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada! She's a funny gal, so sit back and enjoy her interview!

If you were asked to adapt a fairy tale in the style of Nora Ephron, which would you choose and what is one Nora-esque quality you'd add to it? 
 We’d definitely have to go with Lady and the Tramp; it’s basically the same plot as When Harry Met Sally, give or take a dogcatcher or two. At first Lady doesn’t like Tramp, then they become friends, then she starts to love him and they spend a night together. Followed by all sorts of problems. We’d have to upgrade the food, though. Nora always included an appreciation for good food, so that scene with Lady and Tramp sucking on opposite ends of a spaghetti strand? It would require homemade pasta. And maybe a bottle of Prosecco.

What is a lesson you've taken to heart from any fairy tale?
Prepare to go into years of therapy if your mother dresses you in a little red cape and then sends you through a dark, scary forest to deliver baked goods to your grandmother. Really, mom, really?

What is your favorite fairy tale of all time? 
 I guess 101 Dalmatians doesn’t count as a fairy tale, and I’m not sure if Aladdin counts as a fairy tale. (But wasn’t the movie wonderful? Aladdin was waxing his pecs before it was even cool.) So Cinderella has just zipped to number one. I like the idea of chipmunks and mice creating a couture gown for me and pumpkin coaches are awesome.

Which Disney character can you relate to the most (doesn't have to be a princess)? 
 Pinocchio. No, wait, I’m lying. As a kid I felt great simpatico for the ugly duckling. To think that inside my skinny-faced, curly-headed self there might be a swan lurking – well, talk about major appeal. It’s the reverse plot of Beauty and the Beast. Hey! My hairy-faced, beast-headed boyfriend might have a prince lurking inside!

When was the last time you visited a Disney Theme Park? What is a favorite memory from that time? 
 It’s been several years, but I still can’t get the tune from “It’s A Small, Small World” out of my head. And I’m still wildly impressed with how they handle the long lines. You think you’re almost at the front and it’s your turn next on Magic Mountain, when – nope! – the line goes around a corner and you realize there are forty other families ahead of you.

Who is your favorite sidekick from any Disney movie? 
Timothy Q. Mouse in Dumbo. Who wouldn’t want a little voice in their head all day long saying: “You can do it! You can fly!” He’s the friend version of high self-esteem. That movie actually made me wish I had bigger ears. If Timothy was around while I was writing What Nora Knew, I’d have finished in half the time.

Thanks to Linda for visiting with us and sharing her book with our readers.

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends January 26th at midnight EST.

For another chance to win this book, visit Liz and Lisa by January 23rd.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Guest Book Review: Recipe for a Happy Life

By Karen Waskewich

Recipe for a Happy Life was such a breath of fresh air and a delight to read. I read through this book in just about three or four days; there were times where I couldn’t put it down and kept saying to myself ‘oh just one more chapter.’ This book has it all: family, love, and summer time in the Hamptons. After living through this cold weather in the DC area, this book has readied me for summer!

There’s more than one recipe for a happy life.

Hannah Goodman doesn't grow up like most kids on the Upper East side. Her mother, Gray, is an award-winning photojournalist with little time for the banalities of child-rearing, and when she's not jetting off to follow the latest scoop, she's camped out at the Hotel Chelsea. The closest thing Hannah's got to a traditional matriarch is her grandmother—a glamorous widow six times over with a sprawling Hampton’s estate. But Gray is determined that her daughter resist the siren song of the trust fund set, and make her own way in the world. So Hannah does just that—becoming a successful lawyer in New York City, and dating a handsome musician. Hannah has it all, or so it seems, until one hot June day the carefully constructed pieces of her life break apart. When she throws it all in and seeks solace at her grandmother's estate, she discovers that where happiness is concerned, you don’t have to stick to the recipe. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

This was my first time reading a book by Brenda Janowitz and I enjoyed it so much that I want to go back and read some of her other ones. I’ve exchanged a few tweets with Brenda in the past few months and she is such a sweet and funny woman that I was thrilled to finally pick up one of her books.

The story is revolves around three generations of women. The main character, Hannah grew up with a not-so-normal childhood with a Pulitzer-prize winning photographer as a mother and a wealthy and dazzling grandmother who has been married seven times. Hannah always yearned for a traditional upbringing yet has done pretty well for herself; she has a great job as a lawyer in New York City and a gorgeous rocker boyfriend. Then, one summer afternoon, the perfect life Hannah thought she had begins to fall apart and she runs off to her grandmother’s estate in the Hamptons where she spends the summer trying to put the pieces of her life back together.

Janowitz has done a wonderful job diving into the lives of these three women; even though Hannah is the main character, I found myself loving both her mother and grandmother as well. The women are very complex and have secrets and issues of their own that unfold throughout the book. The detail the author puts into describing these women makes you feel that they are a part of your lives and I found myself rooting for them until the end.

Recipe for a Happy Life is about finding happiness amidst a time of loss and betrayal and searching for your own recipe for a happy life. This is a heartwarming, funny, and charming book that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. I highly recommend this one and can’t wait to see what Janowitz comes out with next!

Karen Waskewich is a fiancee to a wonderful man and a mom to a beautiful brindled boxer in Rockville, MD. When she's not working as an IT consultant, she opens up a good book (or turns on her Kindle) or makes her way into the kitchen to cook for her family and friends. Find her at her blog. You can also learn more about her from our very first reader spotlight post!

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Review: Big Girl Panties

By Melissa Amster

Ever since one of my friends from my neighborhood found out that I like chick lit, she and I have been giving each other book recommendations. We have similar tastes, so she told me that I'd love Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich. Well...she was right!

Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief.

Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing?
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Big Girl Panties was enjoyable throughout and I found it hard to put down once I got started. Holly was a very sympathetic character and I like that she had an edge to her personality. She had been through some hard times and was guarded, but her sense of humor shone through her tough facade. Logan was likable, as well. He came off as shallow at first, but he was also really sweet and just the kind of guy a girl would want in her corner. I think he was a product of what everyone else expected for him and he wasn't sure what to do when he became attracted to someone outside of that comfort zone. Really, the story was She's All That, but for adults. (Although, it also reminded me of Shallow Hal in some ways.) There were interesting messages about confidence and body image. Holly was always doubting herself, but then projecting that onto Logan without giving him the benefit of the doubt. It made for some misunderstandings throughout the story.

As you may already know, I'm all about novels with good "romantic" scenes. The more cigarettes I need after such scenes, the better. (And I don't even smoke!) Stephanie Evanovich didn't let me down one bit in that department! Also, her descriptions made it easy to visualize people and places. Then again, it took place in a town where I once lived, so I had some images in my head already. While I wish I didn't have to associate this book with that town, she did a good job not mentioning anything related to my experience living there. (Not like she'd know about my experience, but given that her characters weren't Jewish, that helped.)

The only thing that didn't work for me so well was the perspective shifts within a section. She should have separated out who was narrating. She'd be sharing Holly's thoughts on a situation, and then suddenly the perspective would shift to Logan without any warning. It became confusing at times. She also did this with secondary characters. Speaking of secondary characters though, I really liked Holly's friends, Amanda and Tina. They were each meddlesome in their own way, even though they had good intentions. The story even motivated me on my quest to finally shed the weight I've still kept on after giving birth almost three years ago. I'm currently trying out one of the techniques and it seemed to have an effect over the past week. I guess time will tell...

I could definitely see this as a movie and I already have a cast in mind.
Holly: Melissa McCarthy (She's the only one I pictured in this role from the moment I started this novel.)
Logan: Victor Webster (I originally had Dwayne Johnson a.k.a. "The Rock" in mind, but then I saw a picture of Victor on an article about guys from Sex and the City and he just totally fit the bill.)
Amanda: Eva Longoria
Chase: Josh Lucas
Tina: Kristen Wiig

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