Friday, May 30, 2014

What's in the mail

Melissa A:

On Grace by Susie Orman Schnall from BookSparks PR

Fallen for Rock by/from Nicky Wells (e-book)

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes from Pamela Dorman Books (Penguin)

The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller, won from Writer's Corner

French Twist and French Toast by/from Glynis Astie


The Dog Year by Ann Garvin from Penguin/Berkley

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner from Engelman and Co (Melissa A got this too)

The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry from Sullivan and Partners

Playing with Matches by Carolyn Wall from Quercus

Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer from Penguin

Melissa P:

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick from Girls Love to Read


A Woman of Fortune by Kellie Coates Gilbert from Baker Publishing Group

Strangely, Incredibly Good by Heather Grace Stewart from Fictionella (e-book)


Don't Tell the Boss by Anna Bell from Quercus

Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey from Ebury Press

What Would Mary Berry Do? by Claire Sandy from Pan Macmillan

To Have and to Hold by Helen Chandler from Hodder and Stoughton

In the Summertime by Judy Astley from Transworld

The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson from Penguin

One Chance by Emily Gillmor Murphy sent by Transworld Ireland

Guest Book Review: Star Attraction

By Jacqueline Friedland

We’ve all had our fantasies about meeting a Hollywood heartthrob. Whether it’s Brad Pitt, Ashton Kutcher or George Clooney, the question we all have is the same: What would it take for him, this Hollywood uber-star, to notice me? Would I be able to show him in the span of a single conversation how wonderfully substantial and unique I am? Would he see past my not-quite-supermodel looks into my totally fascinating soul? And then we wonder, what would happen if that heartthrob actually did take a shine to us? Would we be able to hack it out there in Hollywood, the land of the aesthetically perfect and the home of the morally depraved? Is it even possible to have a real relationship in a place like that, or are we just getting ourselves all hot and bothered over nothing?

These are the questions Vanessa Stubbs explores in her debut novel, Star Attraction. The book opens by introducing us to Madison Edwards, the stressed out, over-worked, under-appreciated Australian journalist, who prides herself on the “seriousness” of her journalism. Sadly, Madison’s news pieces seem to keep moving further away from the front of the paper as her editors make room for celebrity gossip and other trash that Madison simply feels is not news. Making matters worse is Madison’s most recent assignment, an interview with America’s biggest movie star during his visit to Australia. Madison flat-out refuses to waste her time in such a way…until she realizes that her job at the paper is on the line.

Cut to Jamie Hall, sizzling hot movie megastar who hops from lavish party to more lavish party with beautiful girls dripping off his elbows. If only he had more arms, there’d be more hotties hanging off them. But here’s the big reveal: Jamie’s a substantial guy who can’t stand the life he is living. He enjoys being an actor, but he deplores the way people are always using him. So when Madison Edwards shows up and starts asking all the hard questions, questions that other kiss-ass journalists would generally avoid, he basically hates her guts. It obviously comes as a big surprise to both of them then when a chance meeting a few days later leads to an impromptu courtship. Unfortunately, a movie star who’s seeking sincerity should know better than to trust a journalist. Or should he?

As Stubbs details the challenges that Madison and Jamie face, she also shows the ugly side of fame. She focuses on the loneliness Jamie feels when he’s locked away in penthouse hotel rooms, prevented from leaving by his fear of getting mobbed. In the few years that he’s been famous, even his relationship with his parents has started to get a bit weird. Just like with Jamie, Stubbs also uses Madison to provide an exposé of newspaper journalism, portraying the favoritism that generates lead articles and the frustration that committed journalists suffer in trying to focus on anything other than the bottom line.

Interestingly, although this book is about the love affair between Madison and Jamie, some of the best parts of the story have absolutely nothing to do with their relationship. For example, Madison has a very complicated relationship with her parents and sister. She also has two special girlfriends who are so dynamic that they nearly jump off the page. In many ways, the book is a commentary on the life of working women, on single women, on girlfriends. Similarly, the way Stubbs handles Jamie’s estrangement from his childhood friend Si is rife with emotional intrigue and heart-tugging moments.

It’s lucky that these other aspects of the story are so engrossing, as Jamie and Madison actually spend very little of the novel in scene together. The interactions they do have, however, are memorable enough to make me forgive Stubbs for not providing more of them. Stubbs herself is an Australian journalist with experience interviewing famous stars, which leads one to think that the details of crazy celebrity-ness she provides aren’t actually so far-fetched or crazy after all. The book is a bit of a case study on the lives of celebrities and the people who surround them. Yes, there are many elements of the plot that play out in predictable ways, but Stubbs’ writing is sufficiently engaging that it’s enough to watch how she gets these particular characters to where you will already know they are going. Star Attraction is a current and thought-provoking romance that is sure to entertain.

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

Jacqueline Berkell Friedland is currently an MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where she is studying fiction. She if a former attorney and law school professor. When she is not writing, Jacqueline can be found plowing through novels or chasing after her four young children.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sarah Jio shows her characters some a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

Sarah Jio has been a regular guest at CLC since her debut appearance in 2011 when she introduced The Violets of March. Since then, she has produced five more beautifully written and compelling novels. Her sixth, and most recent, is Goodnight June (published May 27th from Plume), which delves into the history of the beloved children's classic book, Goodnight Moon. I finished it last week and can tell you that you're in for a real treat. Just have some tissues handy. (A whole box will do!) What amazes me most about Sarah is how she has three young children (all boys, for that matter!!!) but is able to produce so many amazing novels in such a short span of time. It's like she's a literary fairy godmother! She even has a seventh novel coming out later this year (it's already available for pre-order)! And we want to congratulate her on being A Novel Review's inductee for the 2014 International Chick Lit Month Hall of Fame! Also, Goodnight June was chosen as an IndieNext Pick for...wait for it...June! (It will be posted next week.)

Today, Sarah is revisiting some of her favorite characters and the love she has for them is still going strong. I can imagine that choosing your favorite characters from your own books is rather difficult!

Thanks to Plume, we have FIVE copies of Goodnight June for some lucky US readers. Perhaps June and/or Ruby will become your favorite characters. They're both very special.

Visit Sarah at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

One is Silver, the Other is Gold

I just finished my seventh novel for Penguin (Plume), and spending time with new characters always makes me think of those from my past stories. (The old song about making new friends and keeping the old comes to mind!). I love all my characters (even the villains!), but a few stand out as my favorites for various reasons. Here they are:

Emily, from THE VIOLETS OF MARCH: I think an author should always have fondness for the protagonist in her first novel. As such, I love my character, Emily, in THE VIOLETS OF MARCH. I agonized with her, cried with her, walked with her on the shores of Bainbridge Island. And this year, when I went through some personal turmoil in my own life, I thought about Emily a lot and wondered how she'd navigated the rough waters I was sailing in.

Claire, from BLACKBERRY WINTER: I decided to make Claire a runner, like me, and, in fact, when she faces her own tragedy, it is while she is running. Finding the strength and courage to run again was a major theme in the development of Claire's character. I relate to her in so many ways and think of her often when I'm on my daily runs through my Seattle neighborhood.

Penny, from MORNING GLORY: Free-spirited, and yet caged in some ways, Penny was also a favorite heroine of mine. I loved creating her world on Boat Street, and learning about the longings of her heart on her little houseboat. I think of her now, out sailing in some exotic location of the world—tan and happy, with a cocktail in hand. The life!

Bee, from THE VIOLETS OF MARCH: Quirky, artsy and soulful, I fell in love with Aunt Bee and all she represented about life. I actually modeled a bit of her personality after my late artistic grandmother, Cecelia, who I miss every day.

Westry, from THE BUNGALOW: Dreamy, handsome, adventurist—let's just say that I may have had a tiny crush on Anne Calloway's long lost love, Westry Green, while writing my second novel, THE BUNGALOW. If only all men were so divine.

Thanks to Sarah for sharing her characters with us and to Plume for sharing her book with our readers.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US only. Giveaway ends June 2nd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Reader Spotlight: A Little Pink in the Cornfields

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: Amber has been a regular visitor to CLC for quite some time and I enjoy reading her comments on our giveaway posts. Her name always shows up with "A Little Pink in the Cornfields" at the end, so I can easily differentiate her from all the other Ambers who comment. :) Of course, that's the name of her blog, being that she lives in Iowa. I'm happy to hear that she will be getting married this summer (right around my birthday). :) Send her your congrats!

Name: Amber Johnson (soon to be Kuehler!)
Age: 32
Location: Des Moines, IA

How did you find Chick Lit Central?
I think it was through a google search about three years ago … I had been blogging for a few years but had just discovered book blogs and was searching for some blogs that featured books I loved. That was when I stumbled on Chick Lit Central!

What are your top FIVE favorite chick lit novels of all time?
There are SO many great novels to choose from, so this was hard! Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin, Confessions of a Shopaholic and Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella, and P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern.

What do you do when you're not reading? 
When I am not reading for fun, I am working as a 4th grade teacher, which I LOVE! I am also very active and enjoy running. I’m not a speedy runner, but I love being able to accomplish long distances. I also love group fitness classes, like Zumba which is my current favorite. These days I am busy planning a July wedding and decorating our new house that we just bought!

I would love to connect with other readers! My Facebook page and tweets are private, but I’m pretty easygoing with requests! You can also connect with me on Goodreads.

Book Review: On the Rocks

By Melissa Amster

Remember on Sex and the City when Berger broke up with Carrie through a post-it note? At the time, we thought it was the tackiest way to end things. However, Carrie could be as private or public about it as she wanted. Eventually, the post-it note method moved to breakups via text message. Nowadays, people are lazy and heartless enough to do it through social media, where almost anyone can see, much to the consternation and embarrassment of the person being dumped. This is how Erin Duffy's sophomore novel, On the Rocks, begins.

Six months ago, Abby's life fell apart for all the world to see. Her longtime boyfriend-turned-fiancé, Ben, unceremoniously dumped her-on Facebook-while she was trying on dresses for the big day.

When the usual remedies-pints of Ben & Jerry's, sweatpants, and a comfy couch-fail to work their magic, her best friend, Grace, devises a plan to get Abby back on her game. She and Abby are going to spend the summer in Newport, in a quaint cottage by the sea, enjoying cool breezes, cocktails, and a crowd of gorgeous men.

But no matter how far away they go, Abby and Grace discover that in the era of social media-when everyone is preserving every little detail of their lives online-there is no real escape. Dating has never been easy. But now that the rules are more blurred than ever, how will they find true love? And even if they do, can romance stand a chance when a girl's every word and move can go viral with a single click? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

After falling in love with Bond Girl back in 2012, I was excited to get my hands on Erin Duffy's latest novel. She has a down-to-earth approach with her characters, and is not afraid to write them as flawed and vulnerable as possible. It made Abby very sympathetic, as I couldn't help but groan when her fiancé decided to end their relationship for all their social circles to see. There were some really strong intense moments, usually brought on by Abby's mom or sister (or both at once). Her mom was such a piece of work, but I loved reading the parts about her. I wanted to see what ridiculous remark would come out of her mouth next. Aside from her, there's a great supporting cast of interesting characters: Grace, Abby's best friend who is having her own complex dating issue; Bobby, the man-boy who lives in Newport with his parents; and Wolf, the gentle German giant.

While this story is well-told and keeps at a good pace, it loses originality points. Even though Bond Girl fits in the genre of crazy career novels, it manages to stand out. This time around, On the Rocks tends to blend in with every other chick lit novel about a girl escaping town after a bad breakup to figure herself out and possibly find romance. The only difference here is that most of the guys she meets are caricatures. It was hard to take them seriously (but I do enjoy a "horrible date" story every now and then and this book had some classics). I was also expecting social media to have more of an impact throughout the story, based on what was said in the synopsis. There are times when Abby and Bobby argue over how much social media affects dating, but it seemed to fall into the background otherwise. Finally, I'm not a fan of smoking and am not sure why that was even necessary for any of the characters.

Overall, On the Rocks will make for a nice beach read this summer. It's light and entertaining and the setting is perfect and easy to visualize. Whether you're in a serious relationship or still looking for "The One," you'll find something you can relate to by the end.

As tradition has it, I have created my dream cast for a possible chick flick:
Abby: Tracey Wigfield (She had a small part on The Mindy Project recently and I visualized her as Abby when I started reading this book.)
Grace: Isla Fisher
Bobby: Justin Long
Katie (Abby's sister): Dreama Walker
Abby's mom: Kelly Preston

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

CLC Ladies talk characters

To go along with International Chick Lit Month, we asked authors different questions about characters. One of the options was to take one of their characters on a friend date. Another was to choose their top five favorite chick lit characters (either from their own books or other books they had read). Some of us at CLC decided to answer these questions, as well!


I've read Bridget Jones's Diary twice and I’ve watched the movie many times. I love how Bridget doesn't care what people think about her, for the most part is carefree, and most important (especially in today's society), she's fine with her physical body not being thin (not SO), the way society thinks women’s bodies should be. I'd fly to see her in London and stay at her flat for a long weekend. We’d go shopping at Harrod's, go to one of her family get-togethers (how hilarious would that be, right?) and that night go to a club, drink and dance the night away. I can totally imagine me having to take care of Bridget when we got back to her apartment, and then the next morning her waking up with a hangover and chocolate is the only thing that will help it.

Melissa A:

Photo by: Andrea Cipriani Mecchi
Since choosing favorite characters is like choosing a favorite child, I've decided to narrow it down to one author and pick five from their books. Since Jennifer Weiner has a new book coming out next month (!!!), I'm celebrating some of her past characters.

1. Cannie Shapiro (Good in Bed and Certain Girls): She reminds me a lot of myself and I love her snarky wit. I can even relate to her on having a child with hearing loss.
2. Maggie Feller (In Her Shoes): You'd think I would say Rose because we're probably more alike, but Maggie was so vibrant and so easy to sympathize with. I just wanted her to get things right and was cheering her on when she did.
3. Becky Rothstein Rabinowitz (Little Earthquakes): She also reminds me a lot of myself. She's very kind and outgoing.
4. Ruth Saunders (The Next Best Thing): Really, what was there not to like? She was so genuine and didn't let Hollywood get the best of her. She was so funny too!
5. Rae, Ruth's grandma (The Next Best Thing): She was so devoted to Ruth and took such good care of her. I wanted to cry with her when she read what Ruth wrote in her journal. She reminded me a lot of my late maternal grandmother.

Melissa P:

If I had a friend date with a main character from a novel it would be Joan from Maggie Shipstead's new book Astonish Me. Joan is a ballet dancer that helped a fellow dancer defect from Russia in the 1970's and also left ballet (prematurely in my opinion) to have a child and get married.
I would like to spend the day with her and to pick her brain and get her to open up. In the book, Joan is always holding back and lives her life trying to be perfect in every way. Although it seems an unrealistic goal to most people, I think that dancers have an ingrained pressure to live up to ridiculous standards, which spill into their everyday lives. The most mundane things become a quest for perfection. I would like to go for drinks with Joan and ask her about her years as a dancer, her relationships with the men in the book and if she would go back and do anything differently. I have an affinity for her because she seems to float through her life not ever really doing or saying what SHE wants. What would she have changed or pursued had she not taken the road she did?
I don't know if we would become best friends but I'm certain we would remain friends either way.


1) Jen Lancaster from her memoirs: We're both sarcastic and have a very low tolerance for stupid, so I felt an instant connection. Her ability to laugh at herself (along with everyone around her) is a rare quality, and never self-deprecating to the point of being uncomfortable to read.
2) Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic books: she always saw the good in everything and everyone, and was never insipid or annoying about it. Plus, she was so fashionable!!
3) Rose Fiorello from The Devil You Know by Louise Bagshawe: she saw everything as an opportunity and broke down massive goals into manageable steps. She never quit until she got what she wanted. Love her!
4) Cannie Shapiro from Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner: she was so real. Everyone writes about people finding inner peace, but Cannie found her inner fire and used it productively.
5) Perdita MacLeod from Polo by Jilly Cooper: she never quit. She was 14 when the book began and pushed and shoved her way into life she wanted until she found a way to do what she loved the most. She could have been written as a spoiled, bratty child (and at times she was) but somehow she was the character that I always rooted for.

CJ Hauser brings some new voices to chick a book giveaway

Photo by Shannon Taggart
Let's all give a warm welcome to CJ Hauser, debut author of The From-Aways, which came out on May 20th. Some of Ms. Hauser's short fiction has appeared to date or is forthcoming in publications including Tin House, Triquarterly, The Kenyon Review, Slice and Esquire. She is the 2010 recipient of McSweeney's Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award, the winner of the 2012 Jaimy Gordon Prize in Fiction and the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Prize for Sudden Fiction. She was also a finalist in Esquire's Short Short Fiction Competition and shortlisted for the UK's Bridport Prize. A Brooklyn College MFA graduate, Hauser will join the Creative Writing PhD Program at Florida State in Tallahassee this fall.

CJ is here today to talk about her characters. Thanks to HarperCollins, we have THREE copies of her novel for some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada.

Visit CJ at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

An Imaginary Tribe of Women

I used to be a nanny for these two little girls, and they were very confused about what I got up to when I was not with them. It was hard enough for them to imagine me existing when I was away, much less having interests outside their own.
“I’m a writer,” I said. “I write books.”
“But what are you doing all day?” they said.
I told them that in my book there was a town, and in that town there were two girls, older than them but younger than me, and that I spent all day writing about the things those girls said and did because they were always getting into trouble.
“OH!” they said, like they were getting it. “They’re your imaginary friends. That’s cool. We have imaginary friends too.”
“No, no—” I started to say, this was different, but then I realized that they had understood perfectly. They were right: before I picked them up from school, I spent all day at my little desk…playing with my imaginary friends, Quinn Winters and Leah Lynch.
The From-Aways is narrated by both of these women, in alternating chapters, and I have spent the past five years listening to their voices, and talking back to them. I know these women like my own family, their good qualities and their bad. Quinn and Leah are the “from-aways” of the title, girls new to a small Maine fishing town, and both out of their element in different ways—until they meet each other at the local newspaper where they become co-workers, then friends.
Quinn and Leah are the sort of women who order whiskey on rocks. They are the sort of women who laugh too loud at jokes and spit their drinks out when that laugh is unexpected. They are the sort of women who stay up all night playing favorite songs on the guitar and singing, badly but joyfully, trying to fit their voices into harmonies. They are the kind of friends who can call each other in the middle of the night when they have done something monumentally stupid, and need to be bailed out…they are pretty much always doing things that are monumentally stupid. They give each other a hard time, tease each other constantly, because how else would you let someone know that you love them?
I have been lucky enough to find a tribe of women like Quinn and Leah in my own life. Smart, fast-talking women. Absurdity-appreciating women. Adventure-seeking women. Women who survive the darkest things by laughing their asses off in the face of it all. These are my people and I wouldn’t last long in this world without them. This is why, when I sat down to write the novel, I knew these were the kind of women I wanted to write about. And I suppose I wanted to do this so that, even if a person didn’t have her own tribe of women like this, she might find one in the book for a while.
Because, sometimes, don’t we all still need an imaginary friend or two?
I am only too happy to share mine in The From-Aways

Thanks to CJ for sharing her characters with us and HarperCollins for sharing her book with our readers.

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 June 1st at midnight EST.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review: Some Girls Do

By Becky Gulc

Frisky Business by Clodagh Murphy was my favourite book of the year in 2013 so when I was approached to review Some Girls Do, Clodagh’s latest novel, I was more than happy to do so. Would the second book I’ve read by this author live up to my expectations though? Yes! Yes! Yes! Another fantastic book I cannot rave about enough. But what’s it all about?

Meet ‘real life’ Claire Kennedy. Claire works in a bookshop, lives with her elderly mother in Dublin, rarely goes out, and is far from sexually experienced. Then meet ‘NiceGirl,’Claire’s alter ego who documents (a.k.a. makes up) her steamy love life on her popular blog, ‘Scenes of a Sexual Nature’. When Mark Bell, an attractive London publisher approaches ‘NiceGirl’ about not only a prospective book deal, but also a possible relationship, Claire goes into panic mode. As an aspiring writer and quite frankly someone who wants to be in a relationship, Mark is someone she is keen to impress. Confessing the truth isn’t considered an option, so Claire comes up with a plan to boost her experience in the bedroom and quickly, before things develop with Mark. Luca, a struggling artist and commitment-phobe comes into Claire’s life at just the right point, and she strikes a deal with him to develop her skills in the bedroom. But will Claire get what she needs from this deal? And will Mark be worth it?

Within a few pages I was hooked, this book had me missing TV programmes I usually watch religiously, that’s how much I couldn’t put it down. Claire is instantly likable as a main character, she’s soon giving a drenched Luca a lift home after not having the most polite first encounter, just out of the kindness of her own heart. She really is a ‘NiceGirl.’ I felt it was important to understand why Claire would want to run a blog where she’s being far from herself, and also to understand why she would then take the next step of trying to effectively become a bit more like ‘NiceGirl’ in real life and entering this deal with Luca. I got it. We learn enough about Claire’s quite mundane life, her lack of self-esteem but also her determination to succeed to set everything in context. We also learn enough about Luca, as we are also presented with his viewpoint throughout the novel to be confident Claire is not striking a deal with a complete idiot, even though he has plenty of moments. We can warm to him as readers even in the early stages when he is quite frankly a bit of a prat.

I knew from the synopsis/cover and through reading Frisky Business to expect a steamy novel, and of course it delivered on that front but without ever being over explicit or graphic, the ‘naughtier’ scenes were generally in the ‘blog’ extracts. This is a book which still sits very comfortably in the ‘chick lit’ genre I love without going the extra step into ‘erotic fiction’ that I don’t read. It’s a book which strikes the balance well, and that balance is tipped more towards Claire and Luca as people, both of which I enjoyed spending time getting to know.

I loved the families in this book. Claire’s Mum is great, one of the best Mum characters I’ve read; lovely, fragile, and ever so funny. They have a lovely relationship and I loved the scenes where Claire's Mum and her friends play cards. Luca’s family is also intriguing, he has a complex relationship with his mother that I enjoyed seeing develop in this novel. There is definitely a lot more to the novel than Claire just getting experience between the sheets. It’s a beautifully emotional book at times.

I flitted between thinking I knew how this book would end, then deciding I didn’t; thinking I knew how I wanted it to end, then changing my mind. The end was just what I wanted by the time I got there, apart from not wanting it to end at all. Another fantastic novel by Clodagh Murphy. Already looking forward to the next one!

Thanks to Hachette Ireland for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Clodagh Murphy:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kate Moretti is full of character(s) a book giveaway

We're thrilled to have New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti here for a visit. Melissa A. was blown away by her debut novel, Thought I Knew You (reviewed here). Kate's sophomore novel, Binds that Tie, is darker in nature, but it definitely looks intriguing! She's here today to talk about her characters from both novels and show what it's like to write two contrasting women. She even has one signed copy of Binds that Tie for a lucky reader anywhere in the world. In addition, her publisher, Red Adept, is doing a swag giveaway over at their website, that also includes e-books of Thought I Knew You.

Kate Moretti lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life. She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like. Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway. You can find her at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Writing My Less-Than-Perfect Female Characters
Creating characters from thin air is hard. Every writer has her tricks. For Thought I Knew You, I loosely based Claire Barnes on myself, a classic rookie move. Some of the critics have called her “boring”. Touché. But, I was going for real. I am boring. I’m a mom of two little girls. I work in the pharmaceutical industry, along with my husband. I live in an old farmhouse, and at the time I wrote the novel, I had a dog (sadly, she’s since passed away). Many of Claire’s worldviews are not mine. Her rigid selfishness is not mine (I don’t think) and her lack of self-awareness is not me. I know this to be true: I am unflinchingly, torturously self-aware. I wanted Claire to be relatable, although flawed and not entirely likeable. I wanted her to be in pain and emotionally drained. I wanted her to act out. It was difficult to determine where this line would be drawn: erratic behavior based on life circumstances or unpredictable character?
Creating the novel around Claire was easy. She’s similar to a lot of us; concerned with soccer and the PTA, playground safety, Girl Scout cookies, playdates, and church rummage sales. She’s a working, middle-class mom, thrown into a tragedy. Her perfect little life is upended. What would we do? I probably made her drink a bit more than I should have, along with some other questionable behaviors.
For Binds That Tie, I knew I had to “man-up” and explore character development. I wanted a character who was almost the complete opposite of me. I learned the trick of basing characters on celebrities. I actually have no idea if this is a well-known trick, but it worked like a charm. When I started out, I based Maggie on Gwyneth Paltrow (this was pre-working mom rant, when she was still at least a little bit likable). Whenever I was stuck on what Maggie might say or do, I tried to imagine Gwyneth playing Maggie in the movie. Maggie, like Gwyneth, is beautiful, yet cold and distant. I then took it a few steps further. I created a character who was emotionally unavailable and self-reliant, yet terribly insecure. By the end of the novel, I honestly just loved Maggie. I still do. I think about her, wonder how she’s doing in her continued life. But I knew that I might be the only one.
Maggie fascinates me. She’s been rejected or used by almost everyone around her. Her parents were ill- equipped for parenthood and doted mainly on her sister, who then marries Maggie’s ex-boyfriend. Maggie’s husband is unfaithful. For these reasons, I was insistent on making Maggie beautiful. People think that beautiful people are empty vessels. Why should they hurt? Why should they be insecure? Why should they ever feel lonely? I imagined that being extraordinarily good-looking could be isolating, because people assume your distance comes from snobbery or superiority. Then I gave Maggie the inability to really connect with anyone because she felt different. To me, Maggie is so wonderfully honest and broken. I wanted to hug her. She needed a friend, in the worst way, the poor girl.

It was fun to write two completely different characters, one I could relate, the other I couldn’t. I much prefer my second method, which is a good thing since I think autobiographical characters are a one-time use. I found that I much preferred deeper development of Maggie over her husband, Chris. And while it is dual point-of-view story, I felt a much stronger connection to Maggie. I think I’ll always gravitate towards female driven plots with strong, but somewhat, damaged main characters. To me, the real meat of life lies in the flaws. Bad decisions, selfish choices, the way people react when pushed to their limits; the best stories lie in the blurred space between good and evil.
Thanks to Kate for visiting us and sharing her book with our readers. 
Enter to win an e-book or swag from Red Adept Publishing and see the rest of the blog tour stops here.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Worldwide. Giveaway ends May 27th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chick Lit Cheerleader: Lovely Ladies of Literature

Introduction by Melissa Amster

Since our Chick Lit Cheerleader's last visit, she's been published once again. This time, in a compilation called A Kind of Mad Courage. Her story, "Heartstrings," is about a widow whose daughter is saved through another woman's loss. Get those tissues out as this sounds like a tear-jerker to me. Jen is no stranger to tear-jerkers, having recently admitted that she "ugly cried" on an airplane while reading The Fault in Our Stars. In fact, Hazel is one of the strong female characters who has made an impact on Jen. Read more about her and some other characters who have had a similar effect! 

Hear them Roar!

In the midst of International Chick Lit Month, it occurred to me we’ve bonded with some tough cookies in novels over the years.  Women who’ve leapt into view from page one with a strong voice, some women on journeys to find their voice and, lest we forget, women who worked overtime to have their voice resonate as the only one heard in the room.  I wondered what it would be like to have characters who’ve imprinted on me as a reader as a part of my day-to-day.  Here is what I imagine life with these women may look like.       
Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada-Tough as nails.  Dressed to the nines.  I think she eats her assistants for breakfast.  Miranda doesn’t require a rational reason to verbally go “Tae-Bo” on anyone.  More than moxie, Miranda unapologetically crafted herself to be top dog.  As long as I’m not on the receiving end of her bottle rocket-esque zingers, I won’t be crying under my desk.  She could squish me like a bug with one, “That’s all” thrown my way. 

Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind-She’ll stretch a wardrobe, farther than yards of drapery fabric were meant to go.  Her agenda may trump minefrom time-to-time, yet as God as her witness, she’ll never let me go hungry.  Although her methods aren’t always pristine, Scarlett is a do-er.  A risk taker.  She’d be the friend who’d have the courage to say to me, “Oh fiddly-dee, stop talking about the tattoo you want, and just go do it!”     

Hazel Grace Lancaster in The Fault in Our Stars- Although her character is Young Adult in genre, Hazel Grace affected me to my core.  She’d gift me with a symbolic pack of cigarettes for my victory smoke at the end of my life’s hurdles.  She would teach me about living life to the fullest while able, willing, and healthy.  I hope we’re all blessed to have a Hazel Grace in our lives.      

Idgie/Ninny Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café-I crave to spend time with friends who’ve successfully merged onto life’s less traveled roads that I can learn from.  Idgie would spear me on to defend friends at the courthouse, until the grave, or even manning the barbeque pit depending on your dilemma.  Ninny would encourage me to find my inner "Towanda," on the days I look in the mirror and see a shadow of the bee-boppy girl who once was.  Ms. Threadgoode; a friend to many through the decades, proves she’ll be there for those she loves no matter what. 

Novalee Nation in Where the Heart is- This young thing didn’t let the number seven keep her from evolving from the homeless Wal-Mart mom, into a driven young woman.  She knew when to accept help, when to forgive, and why, at times, she needed to depend upon herself.  That’s a friend I need in my world.  The one who will love me even when I might name my children after favorite snacks. 

Chick Lit has given us iconic characters.  Ones we love.  Some we love to hate.  Many we identify with whether we see ourselves in them, or someone we know.  We’d love to hear about the characters you’ve been moved by.  A plethora to choose from!  Enjoy this fabulous month celebrating the genre we love.  Without passionate readers like you, who’d yell, “Towanda!” to cheer us on at Chick Lit Central?  Thank you for being a part of our community.

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.

Spotlight and Giveaway: The One and Only

Emily Giffin's latest novel, The One and Only, is finally here! Thanks to Random House, we have FIVE copies for some lucky US readers!

In her eagerly awaited new novel, beloved New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin returns with an extraordinary story of love and loyalty—and an unconventional heroine struggling to reconcile both.

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living. (
Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Check out a review from Marlene Engel, over at Book Mama Blog (our sister blog).
Photo by Emmanuelle Choussy

About the author:
Emily Giffin, a Chicago native, graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, she moved to Manhattan and practiced litigation at a large firm for several years while she paid back her school loans, wrote a novel in her very limited spare time, and dreamed of becoming a writer.

Despite the rejection of her first manuscript, Giffin persisted, retiring from the legal profession and moving to London to pursue her dreams full time. It was there that she began writing her first novel. One year later, her gamble paid off, as she completed her manuscript, landed an agent and signed a two-book deal on both sides of the Atlantic. The following summer, Something Borrowed, hailed as a “heartbreakingly honest debut” with “dead-on dialogue, real-life complexity and genuine warmth,” became a surprise sensation, and Giffin vowed never to practice law again.

Dubbed a “modern day Jane Austen” (Vanity Fair) and a “dependably down-to-earth storyteller” (New York Times), Giffin has since penned six more New York Times bestsellers, Something Blue (2005), Baby Proof (2006), Love the One You’re With (2008), Heart of the Matter (2010), Where We Belong (2012) and The One and Only (May 20, 2014).

Giffin now resides with her husband and three young children in Atlanta. You can visit her at her website, Facebook, and Twitter. (Bio adapted from Emily's website.)

Thanks again to Random House for sharing Emily's book with our winners!

How to win The One and OnlyUse Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US only. Giveaway ends May 26th at midnight EST.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kimberly Rae Miller comes clean about her favorite a book giveaway

You hear about hoarding all the time, but you never realize the impact until you read about it from the perspective of someone who has been affected by it. That someone, in this case, is Kimberly Rae Miller. Her memoir, Coming Clean, is about growing up as the child of someone who struggles with hoarding. Today, she's here to celebrate the release of this book in paperback by talking about something light and fun...a friend date with her favorite chick lit character! Thanks to Amazon Publishing, we have FIVE copies of Coming Clean for some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!

Kimberly Rae Miller is a writer and actress living in New York City. Her writing on healthy living has been published on Conde Nast’s blog network, Social Workout, Yahoo’s women’s network Shine, and in various magazines. She also contributes entertainment news to CBS Radio and CBS New York. In 2010, Kim was featured in Katharine Sise’s breakthrough career guide Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career. You can read her personal blog at You can also find her at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Going British with Bridget

My very first chick lit heroine will always be my favorite. I read the first two Bridget Jones novels while I was backpacking around Europe when I was 18, at that time I thought I was all sorts of mature and worldly and had my act together. I thought Bridget was a funny, disaster of a human being, and that I would never be like that in my 30s. Recently I reread the books, to prep for the release of Mad About the Boy, and I thought of Bridget more of a kindred spirit. I’m in my 30s now, and have definitely lived through my fair share of bad boys, awkward social situations, and professional disasters. Girl, I get you now more than ever!

For the sake of this exercise, I’m pretending the third book never happened:

If Bridge and I were to spend a day together now we’d start the day off with brunch and Bellinis. Life is always easier after brunch, and then things would get real. We’d weed through her closet, get rid of anything age inappropriate --I know I sound old, but there’s a switch that gets turned on and you’re all of a sudden like, “I should definitely not wear that to work.” We’d discuss how completely disappointed we both were in the second movie—really, just complete rubbish. We’d remove Daniel from her phone, and also delete any pictures of his genitals he’d sent her—because you know if there were iPhones when Helen Fielding wrote the first two books it would have been all penis pictures all the time. We’d throw out her scale and her cigarettes—it’s not the 90s anymore, Bridge, it’s time to let it go. And, I would probably make the end of our day super awkward by asking if it was cool with her if I had a bit of a make out session with Mark Darcy. My fiancé might be mad, but he’d understand, I’ve given him free rein with any Victoria’s Secret model he comes across. To make it up for her drinks would be on me, you can only take away so many vices from a girl.

Thanks to Kimberly for taking us on her friend date and to Amazon Publishing for sharing Coming Clean with our readers.

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 May 26th at midnight EST.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Authors among us...

We have two authors as part of the CLC family. We asked them to participate in our chick lit month themed activities and enjoyed reading what they came up with!

Cindy Roesel:

So, here’s the dealio (yes, I love opening my stories with this fragment). Melissa suggested I take my main character, Charley Thomas from Viewer Discretion Advised (VDA) on a friend date.
Let me begin by telling you about Charley and VDA. It takes place in Miami, so we went to the Clevelander Bar on world famous Ocean Drive where Charley loves to go for drinks. VDA is a story inside the cutthroat, backstabbing television news business. Charley is the hands-on Executive Producer who does whatever it takes to get ratings, win Emmys while walking a tightrope to keep her values at the same time working for a boss determined to crush her. There’s a love interest, too!

We had lots of girl talk to dish about, but Charley was annoyed as well. I wrote VDA two years ago and she’s really mad I haven’t written her a sequel. She kept badgering away at me with “Where’s the follow-up?” “All those great reviews on Amazon. So?” “Kirkus loved the novel. So, where’s the sequel?” After spending time with Charley, it was obvious to me, when creating her character, you write what you know. She can be pretty pushy! I think we’ll stay friends as long as I write that sequel.

Jami Deise:

In celebration of International Chick Lit Month, Melissa asked me to talk about how I came up with some of the characters from my chick lit novel KEEPING SCORE. Since my son Alex plays baseball, a lot of people assume that my protagonist, Shannon, is based on me. In fact, some friends have said that reading the book was like having a conversation with me. Well, of course she is! I made Shannon divorced and dating because there’s more to play with when you have romantic interests in your novel. And Shannon is thinner and has a quicker wit than I do. I also gave her brown hair. But other than that, she’s in the same situation I was when my son first began playing travel baseball ten years ago, and she reacts the same way I reacted. So Shannon is definitely based on me!

Thematically, KEEPING SCORE is about how competition hurts relationships. So when I created my supporting characters, they all needed to be competing with Shannon in some way. She competes with her best friend, Jennifer, because they both want their sons to be on the best baseball team, and there isn’t room for both of them. She competes with a co-worker because they both want to be seen as the best PR people in their office. And she even competes with her ex-husband David over whose job is more important. (She lost that fight, which is why they ended up getting divorced.) The only person in the book Shannon isn’t competing with is David’s new girlfriend Chloe – because she doesn’t want David anymore! It’s so common for the protagonist to hate the ex’s new girlfriend, so I wanted to do something different with this relationship. Shannon and Chloe even end up becoming friends. I was worried that was far-fetched, but when Alex played high school baseball, he had a teammate whose mother babysat for the twins that his dad had with his second wife! Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Book Review: Catching Air

A chance to run a B&B in snowy, remote Vermont—it’s an offer Kira Danner can’t resist after six soul-crushing years of working as a lawyer in Florida. As Kira and her husband, Peter, step into a brand new life, she quells her fears about living with the B&B’s co-owners: Peter’s sexy, irresponsible brother Rand, and Rand’s wife, Alyssa…who is essentially a stranger.

For her part, Alyssa sees taking over the B&B as the latest in a string of adventures. Plus, a quiet place might help her recover from the news that she can’t bear children. But the idyllic town proves to be anything but serene: Within weeks, the sisters-in-law are scrambling to prepare for their first big booking—a winter wedding—and soon a shy, mysterious woman comes to work for them. Dawn Zukoski is hiding something; that much is clear. But what the sisters-in-law don't realize is that Dawn is also hiding from someone... (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Amy Bromberg:

One of my top author crushes is Sarah Pekkanen. I met her last year at Watchung Booksellers and I started jumping for joy when I saw her walk into the store. I look forward to her new books every year.

As always Sarah brings her characters to life. She does exactly this with Alyssa and Kira. Alyssa is a free spirit, while Kira is a bit of a control freak. At first these two sister-in-laws are more or less strangers, but as they work together, side-by-side, at their new B&B, and get to know one other, they develop a strong friendship. They actually end up balancing each other out, which benefits them greatly when it comes to running a business together. Unfortunately their husbands, and brothers, Peter and Rand, don't balance each other out, or, in fact, get along that well. Dawn ends up appearing at the perfect time when they need an extra set of hands to run the B&B. Her story adds a sub-plot line which is nice. I really enjoyed the setting, a B&B in Vermont. For years my dad wanted to run his own B&B so it was nice to see what actually goes on to run one successfully. I'm not a ski person but it seems very peaceful in the Killington mountains.

Catching Air is relatable and delves into issues that many women encounter, some of those being the highs and lows of marriage, infertility, heartbreak and friendship. If you're looking to cozy up with a book over a weekend, then you've definitely got yourself a winner here!

Melissa Amster:

I always know that when I pick up a Sarah Pekkanen novel, I can expect interesting characters who jump right out of the pages, allowing me to feel like we're all in the same room. They're easy to sympathize with in various ways, and when the last page is turned, I end up missing them. Catching Air is no exception to this feeling. In fact, it's my favorite of Sarah's after The Opposite of Me. I had a hard time putting it down so that I could focus on stuff in the real world. The descriptions made me feel like I was right at the B&B, smelling and tasting Kira's delicious food. I especially enjoyed the camaraderie between the three women and the feeling of empowerment that each of them was able to attain. While some things seemed to come easy for the women when all was said and done, I still felt like it wasn't neatly wrapped up and that I was left wondering what would happen down the road.

On the side of the book cover, it indicates that this book is for fans of some well-known chick lit authors. I see that being a draw for a debut novel. However, this is Sarah's fifth book and it needs no such justification. She has come into her own so much that other debut novels should say "For fans of Sarah Pekkanen" and new authors should be compared to her instead!

I recently asked Sarah who she'd cast if Catching Air were made into a movie. I couldn't resist making my own choices, as well!
Dawn: Emily VanCamp
Alyssa: Alysha Umphress (America Ferrera is another possibility)
Kira: Amanda Seyfried
Rand: Channing Tatum
Peter: Ryan Gosling (Mainly so that Sarah could work with him on the set, but I also could see him fitting into this role.)

Thanks to both Engleman and Co and Atria for the books in exchange for an honest review.

More by Sarah Pekkanen: