Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spotlight and Giveaway: House of Wonder

We're pleased to feature House of Wonder today and thanks to Penguin Random House, we have one copy for a lucky US reader!

From the author of Can I Get an Amen?, Sarah Healy, comes HOUSE OF WONDER (NAL Trade Paperback Original; September 2, 2014), a warm-hearted novel that explores a woman’s relationship with her unconventional family.

Growing up, Jenna Parsons never felt that her family was strange. Her mother was a former beauty queen and her twin brother Warren was just a silly kid—but when her mother’s shopping habit intensified and Warren became more weird than odd, Jenna felt she needed distance from her family.

But years later Warren calls her back home and she’s surprised by what she finds there. Her mother had hidden her troubles well and Jenna is challenged in a way she never expected. As she stands by the family she left, she finds much more than she bargained for—maybe even a new future.

Sarah Healy lives with her husband and three sons in Vermont, where she works in marketing consultancy. Visit her online at at her websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing the 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 October 5th at midnight EST.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The ladies of CLC get nostalgic

Since authors shared their top 10 lists for different decades and genres, we wanted to do the same. Take a trip down memory lane to see our favorite 90s movies, 80s songs, and 70s TV shows! We'd love to hear your favorites, as well!

Melissa A:

I'm such a 90s girl...I love the music, TV shows, movies, etc. A lot of it just brings back good memories from high school and college. I had a hard time choosing which genre to share, but kept coming back to movies in the end.

Top Ten 90s movies:

1. Clueless-I'm not a Jane Austen fan, but I am thankful to her for inspiring such a fabulous teen movie.
2. Beauty and the Beast-Why it didn't win the Oscar for Best Picture, one will never know.
3. The Wedding Singer-I still love Adam and Drew together (seeing Blended confirmed that) and this started everything off. So cute, funny, and romantic. A great throwback to the 80s too, with lots of fun music!
4. The Lion King-I saw this movie countless times between the summer of '94 and spring of '95...and even more beyond that. Hakuna Matata!
5. Life is Beautiful-In my opinion, the best movie ever made about the Holocaust. I cried way more for this than I ever did for Schindler's List. So incredibly touching.
6. Mrs. Doubtfire-Not just saying this because Robin Williams recently passed away. I was drawn into this movie from the first time I saw it. It's funny, clever, and heartbreaking all at the same time.
7. Ten Things I Hate About You-One of my other all-time favorite teen flicks. I cry every time Kat (Julia Stiles) reads her poem out loud.
8. Home Alone-I still think this movie is hilarious. The humor never gets old. And I love that Kevin only wants cheese pizza. It's not just me!
9. Groundhog Day-One of my favorite "time travel" movies. So quotable too!
10. The Shawshank Redemption-I wasn't expecting to be so moved by this film, but it has definitely stayed a classic for me 20 years later.


Great minds think alike when it comes to decades and genres (and at least one movie). Now you have 19 movies from the 90s to check out!

Top Ten 90s movies:

1. The Cutting Edge - This is one of those movies that I have watched over and over again over the years, and I will continue to do so. I can recite almost all of the lines by heart. It's definitely cheesy but I just love it!
2. Face/Off - Normally I avoid these kinds of movies. However I LOVE John Travolta so I always have to see his movies. Both him and Nicholas Cage have great chemistry. This is also one I can watch over and over again.
3. Titanic - No need for a reason why. One of the best movies of all time.
4. The Birdcage
5. Mrs. Doubtfire
I absolutely love Robin Williams and my two favorite movies that he was in were Mrs. Doubtfire and The Birdcage. Robin Williams rocked the role of Mrs. Doubtfire. I can't see any other actor doing this amazing of a job. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in The Birdcage are just fantastic together. I laugh every time I watch this movie. And of course this is another that I can watch over and over again.
6. Pretty Woman - Another one where there's no need for a reason why. Come on, it's Pretty Woman people!
7. Good Will Hunting - Another fantastic performance by Robin Williams. He won his first oscar for his role.
8. Practical Magic - Sandra Bullock is another one of those actors that I love, and therefore have to see any movie that she stars in. I also love anything having to do with magic on tv or in the movies.
9. Miss Congeniality - Girl Power!
10. Father of the Bride - Steve Martin is hilarious. Pair him with Diane Keaton and you have a winner. I also loved the father daughter relationship between Steve Martin and Kimberly Williams-Paisley.


I've chosen music from the 80s, and I've just gone with 10 songs which stay particularly memorable for me, whether they're any good or not..well that's each to their own, I liked them at the time! I watched Top of the Pops religiously back then and taped my favourite songs onto my cassette player from the radio.

Top Ten 80s Songs

1. Bananarama, "Love in the First Degree" (Some school friends and I used to put on dances during school assemblies, and that included a dance to this, we had a lot of fun as we were allowed to use the hall during lunch breaks to practise)
2. Kylie Minogue -"Hand on Your Heart" (I was a massive Neighbours/Kylie fan and this is one of my favourite song's of hers from the '80s)
3. Jason Donovan - "Too Many Broken Hearts" (as above I of course had to be a Jason fan too..we made up dances to his songs too and i had a pillowcase with his face on)
4. Salt n' Pepa - "Push It" (I bought their album and I remember hearing it was a bit controversial at the time but I was probably too young to think anything of it)
5. Wet Wet Wet - "Angel Eyes" (Popped in, Souled Out was one of my first albums and I was lucky enough to see them perform recently)
6. Starship - "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" (Mannequin was by far my favourite film of the 80's so this had to feature)
7. Glenn Medeiros - "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" (I remember this seemed to be number one for ages, i remember being on a family holiday in spain and in a pub which had Top of The Pops on and it was STILL number one, it reminds me a lot of that summer)
8. Bros - "Drop the Boy" (I was a huge fan of Bros, I particularly liked Matt..)
9. Pet Shop Boys - "Heart" (my brothers used to be fans of the Pet Shop Boys so I'd always hear their music, I saw them supporting Take That and they were great)
10. Madonna - "Live to Tell" (we used to have the True Blue album on in the car a lot and this is my favourite track from that album)

I could go on....!!


TV critics say that we’re in the midst of a Golden Age for Television. But Gen Xers like me know that the real Golden Age of TV was not the 1950s, or now, but that glorious wonderful decade of the 1970s. And it wasn’t just because you could buy a lunchbox featuring your favorite TV show!

Here are 10 reasons the 1970s had the best TV ever:

1. The Mary Tyler Moore Show – the pioneer program featuring the single girl in the city. Begat Ally McBeal, Sex and the City, and every show with a strong female protagonist who’s looking for love and succeeding at a professional job.
2. All in the Family – Archie Bunker is the original anti-hero. A frank look at race and racism that is too controversial for today’s audiences. Tony Soprano and Walter White are Archie Bunker’s spawn.
3. M*A*S*H – The first comedy-drama, M*A*S*H could make you laugh one minute and cry the next. I spent my middle school years quoting lines from the show. I still think it features some of the best TV dialogue ever written.
4. The Love Boat/Fantasy Island – Yes, these shows ran into the 1980s but they started in the 1970s. They were a great way to spend Saturday night when you were too young to date but longing for love anyway.
5. Little House on the Prairie – I wanted to be Laura. All my friends wanted to be Laura. I’m way too excited that Laura Ingalls Wilders’ real autobiography “Pioneer Girl” is finally going to be published.
6. The Six Million Dollar Man/The Bionic Woman – If these shows weren’t iconic, then why do people still say “We CAN rebuild him” nearly forty years later? And I will always have a huge debt of gratitude to the Bionic Woman, who turned my name from a boy’s nickname into a legitimate girl’s name.
7. Happy Days/Laverne & Shirley – Happy Days taught 70s kids how to be a 50s teenager. Laverne and Shirley made sure we went to college. Can anyone explain the appeal of Carmine?
8. Mork & Mindy – Nothing I can say that hasn’t been said in light of Robin Williams’ death.
9. The Brady Bunch – Who didn’t want to be "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia?"
10. General Hospital – Yes, it premiered in 1963, and yes it’s still going on today, but many devout fans would argue that its single best year was 1979. I fell in love with GH in 1978, so I’m putting it here.

It’s amazing to think there were so many good shows back in the days when we only had three channels. (And no, I’m not counting UHF.) And now, due to the double magic that are DVDs and Netflix streaming, we can watch these shows again and party like it’s 1979

Guest Book Review: Manic Mondays

By Connie Fischer

Catherine is at the top of her game. At age 36, she is the Marketing Director of her own business, Marketing Matrix, based in London. Married to her hunky husband, James, who works with her, she is also the loving mother of their baby daughter, Madeleine. They are proud of the beautiful home they have and enjoy their co-workers and friends. Working long hours, she has been able to do it all and is quite proud of herself. Until one Monday morning in August, that is. Catherine arrived at the office as usual only to be met with James sitting in her office. Out of nowhere, he tells her that they need a break - a trial separation. Completely flummoxed, she tries to talk with him to find out what the problem is and where it all came from. Determined to be a complete jerk, James simply sneers at her, shows her the hot new car he has purchased and his new girlfriend - the office cleaner! Uncertain that she can continue as she has, Catherine decides to appoint another Director and leave the running of the business to James.

Catherine packs up Madeleine and moves some distance away where she can have time to heal from her pain and decide what she wants to do next. She loves spending time with Madeleine and plays with her for hours every day. but soon realizes that she is in a blue funk. Her parents encourage her to spend time with them, but Catherine feels like she needs time to herself.

Soon, Catherine realizes how difficult it is to cope with being the only caregiver for her daughter as James has not visited her. While she is frugal with her expenses, she wonders how long her funds will last her. Should she get a job and if so, what does she want to do?

She finally applies for a very dynamic position with a very large global marketing company. After some tough interviews, she is offered the job. Now, she is back to getting Madeleine in day care and making sure she is happy and settled. However, when an emergency with Madeleine shows her that many men still look down on working mothers choosing their children over their job, Catherine reaches a decision that changes a lot of things for her.

Manic Mondays is broken up where most of the chapters start on a Monday. Many of these Mondays are days that seem to test Catherine in one way or another. However, she is one tough cookie and seeing her question herself only to prove she can handle being a single mother is a journey that many women face every day. But don’t think this is a totally, sad and downer kind of story. No-No-No! There’s some great humor and some really wonderful characters in the story as well. Don’t miss them!

I enjoyed this debut novel from Michaela Weaver and feel that she has a great future as an author ahead of her. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

A huge thanks to Candy Jar Books for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Connie Fischer is a retired office manager from NASA. Loved books from the time she could read. Spent childhood summers in her front yard tree reading Nancy Drew books and biographies. Loves historical and contemporary romance novels, chick lit and anything British. Is a reviewer for the blog, bookworm2bookworm. Her goal for 2014 on Goodreads is to read and review 100 books and she's way ahead of schedule. Lived in Paris, France for a number of years. Living now in southwest Florida. Ahhh...life is good!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reader Spotlight: Cabin Girl

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 place...to 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: Angie is pretty new to CLC, but I've seen her participating in a lot of giveaways and invited her to be in the spotlight. I learned that she has her own book blog and does giveaways there, as well. Definitely check it out! You can also visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

Name: Angie Young
Age: 39
Location: Big Sandy, TN

How did you find Chick Lit Central?
I found it on Facebook while looking for book pages.

What are your top FIVE favorite chick lit novels of all time? 
Somewhere In Time by Richard Matheson, Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, and Nights In Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks.

What do you do when you're not reading?
I homeschool my children. So when I'm not busy doing that I'm either reading books or blogging about the books I've read. I also enjoy reading blogs that other people write about books.

Book Review: When We Fall


Ready for a fresh start, Allison Parker moves back to her hometown in the suburbs of New York. While she’d once savored the dynamic pace of city life, sadly, it lost its allure after her husband’s untimely death. Now, ready to focus on her art career accompanied by her ten-year-old son, Logan, Allison doesn’t anticipate that her past will resurface. When the wife of her husband’s best friend from summer camp takes her under her wing, things begin to spin out of control.

At one time, Charlotte Crane thought she had it all—a devoted husband, a beautiful little girl, and enough financial security to never have to worry. But behind her perfect facade lie a strained marriage and a fractured relationship with her sister. When new girl Allison arrives in Wincourt, Charlotte welcomes the chance to build a friendship. Before long, Charlotte begins to see her life through Allison’s eyes, and the cracks in her seemingly flawless existence become impossible to ignore.

As Allison heals from the loss of her husband—even wondering if she might be ready to date again—Charlotte feels more distant from her loved ones than ever before. The emerging friendship between the two women appears to be just the antidote both of them so desperately need...until everything falls apart. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Kathryn Hamilton:

There are times when you open a new book and you just know it’s going to be well-written. This was the case with Emily Liebert’s second novel, When We Fall. There is a short paragraph prior to first chapter that is so beautifully written that the reader is instantly captivated. If you, like myself, have not read one of her books previously, you will not be disappointed. Nor is there any wonder why Ms. Liebert has received the praise she has (and from the likes of Jane Green to boot!). She offers insight into female relationships (both friendship and familial) as well as loss of various kinds.

Ms. Liebert has created many strong characters that carry the story. Readers will likely be able to see elements of themselves in both Allison and Charlotte. Allison is the obvious protagonist; she is the one readers will like from the beginning and will empathize with. However, Charlotte plays an equally important role in the story and is just as much a central character, although rougher around the edges. I saw more of myself in who Allison is as a character, but I could identify with Charlotte’s situation more on some levels.

One of the best parts of this novel is the relationship between Allison and Charlotte. It demonstrates the glorious way that friendship can change you and challenge you to think differently about your life. Quite interesting to me is the relationship between Charlotte and her sister Elizabeth and how it differs so drastically from the relationship that Allison develops with Elizabeth.

As far as the other characters go, Sabrina is one that you will not like, and you aren’t supposed to. She is the epitome of the mean girl grown up. It is unsettling how much someone’s poison can infiltrate other’s lives. Dempsey is charming and wonderful. Every woman will wish she had a Dempsey in their lives (although, I admit, I kept thinking about bread every time I saw his name… Dempster’s/Dempsey). I wasn’t sure how to feel about Charlie because it’s easy to make him the villain. If anything, he represents a key theme to the novel: things are rarely as they appear on the surface. Another key theme that is a universal truth that every reader can identify with is how important communication is to successful relationships and how things can absolutely fall apart due to misunderstandings.

Due to the way my analytical mind works, I always try to figure out how things are going to play out in a novel and I pride myself on being right whenever I am. In this case, I was close in terms of guessing how the “everything falling apart” would, well, fall apart. As much as I like being the chick lit plot sleuth, I do enjoy it when authors throw a twist at me that I didn’t see coming, and Ms. Liebert was quite successful in doing so. Kudos to this talented author on her exceptional writing skills that will no doubt garner her a legion of fans, including myself.

Melissa Amster:

I haven't read Emily's debut novel, You Knew Me When, but now that I've read When We Fall, I definitely want to go back and do that. I admire her writing style. It's very genuine and the dialogue flows naturally between her characters. I almost felt like I was eavesdropping on real conversations! She also knows how to take characters who seem either sympathetic or completely frustrating and change our view of them in a split second. The only one who remains a constant is Allison, as she is who she is throughout the story and eventually becomes a victim of the underlying drama. She is likeable the entire time and easy to trust no matter what is being said behind her back.

Charlotte, on the other hand, is a difficult character to like, even when I think I could relate to her and even want to consider a friendship with her. I don't want to say how, when, or why she has to redeem herself for how she treats people, but I'm relieved when that happens. I almost wish that Emily had included Charlotte's sister, Elizabeth, as one of the narrators. I would have loved to hear her perspective on a more personalized level. She was the most fascinating to me. Perhaps Emily will feature her in a future novel?

A concept Emily wanted to focus on a lot in this novel is that of friendship between a man and a woman when one or both parties is married or in a serious relationship. Can men and women still be friends under such circumstances? She has a great article in Huffington Post about it. She also talks about female friendships and how catty and judgmental women can be towards each other, which is evident in this novel, as well. I think she handles both concepts in an intriguing way that kept me turning the pages and not wanting to stop!

Overall, this was a well-written novel and I look forward to reading more of Emily's writing. She has a bright future ahead of her.

My dream cast for the movie of this novel:
Allison: Sarah Chalke
Charlotte: Jennifer Garner
Elizabeth: Olivia Wilde
Allison's mother: Deborah Rush
Charlie: Josh Duhamel
Dempsey: Christian Kane

Thanks to Sarah Hall Productions and Penguin's First to Read program for the books in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What Sarah Rayner watched on TiVo...plus a book giveaway

Ugly Betty, Arrested Development, Firefly, Desperate Housewives, and The Office. What do these titles have in common? The answer to this question is that they were just some of the TV shows I watched sometime between 2000 and 2010 (and sometimes beyond, although I didn't start watching How I Met Your Mother until 2011...even at that time, 2005 felt like ages ago). 

Today, Sarah Rayner is here to tell us some of her favorite TV shows from the first decade of the 21st century. (Just a fair warning that there may be some spoilers for shows that have spilled over into the current decade.)

Sarah lives in Brighton with her husband and teenage stepson, but she was born in London. She spent her childhood in Richmond, Surrey, went to Leeds University to study English, and then returned to London in the late ’80s. After working in fashion PR for a bit, her boss told her she was better at writing than schmoozing clients, and suggested she become an advertising copywriter. From there, she worked for 10 years in various London agencies before writing freelance and having some short stories published by Woman's Own. Getting Even (reviewed here) is actually her sophomore novel and was published in 2002, but then updated in 2013 and now available in the US. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy for a lucky reader in the US or Canada!

Visit Sarah at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

I’ve been asked by Chick Lit Central to pick my top ten TV shows from the decade of my choice – which is perfect, as I love television. As the main reason I enjoy TV so much is that these days it’s the go-to medium for bold, brilliant drama, I’ve opted for the ten-year period when the genre truly transformed itself – 2000-2010. Prior to this, shows as good as ThirtySomething and Twin Peaks were a rarity, and looking back at the picture quality, it seems rather blurry. But in the noughties, Hollywood production values and novelistic storytelling became the norm, and with box sets and catch-up TV, we can now devour an entire series in a weekend, just as you would a great book. Boy, are we lucky.

10. Sex and the City. Prior to SATC, no drama had had leads like Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda: sexually frank, witty and independent. Moreover, for all the talk of shoes and shopping, the show also tackled modern social issues such as promiscuity, infertility and cancer, and underlined that whilst romantic relationships come and go, friends can be forever.

9. Arguably without Ally McBeal to blaze a trail there would have been no SATC, and without SATC there’d be no Girls today. Ally showed us that working women could be funny and bright, not to say a tiny bit bonkers. She even managed to pull ‘Larry’ and thus revive the career of Robert Downey Junior, for which I – and the world – should be eternally grateful.

8. My latest novel, Getting Even, is about revenge, and whilst it’s a dark comedy focused on female friendship and not a crime thriller, it does reveal my passion for stories about the shadier side of human nature. Hence The Killing at number 8 – and I’d recommend the Danish original over the US remake, as it’s richer and S1 has a more satisfying ending.

7. Staying with the global theme, it’s the BBC’s Planet Earth at number 7. Even if you usually give nature programs a wide berth, Google the scene of a mother polar bear with her cubs and your heart will melt, I promise.

6. So much more than a vehicle for George Clooney, it’s ER at number 6. The show started in 1994 (wow, that makes me feel old) and finished 15 years later, and I watched every episode. When the credits rolled for the 331st time, I felt I’d lost a limb.

5. Here in Britain we call it Strictly Come Dancing, in the US it’s Dancing with the Stars. Launched in 2004, the show has been exported to 40 countries, making it the world’s top reality TV format. Costumes and celebrities are part of its appeal, but for me the magic is in the journey.

4. Perhaps it’s little surprise I loved Absolutely Fabulous – my first job was in fashion PR and I recognized my old boss in the cringe-making antics of publicist Edina Monsoon. But it was her best friend Patsy – whose alcohol consumption, drug taking and promiscuity eclipsed Edina's – who had the best lines.

3. Six Feet Under: a haunting soundtrack set the tone for this beautifully written, finely acted drama series focusing on a dysfunctional family running an independent funeral home in L.A. Black humor, sex and death – what’s not to love?

2. With its season-long narrative arcs offset by a procedural story that gets resolved in each episode, The Good Wife rewards the dedicated viewer who also seeks instant gratification – that’ll be me then. When Will Gardner came to a sticky end I was convinced the show would falter, but instead the creators took the chance to give their characters added depth, and S5 was the best yet.

1. In spite of the series’ title, Mad Men is as much about women too. Cleverly scripted, brilliantly acted and stunning to look at, having worked in advertising for 20 years, I can vouch for the show’s authenticity. If readers of Getting Even enjoy my novel a tenth as much as I love Mad Men (and, I confess, Donald Draper), my work on this planet is done.

Synopsis of Getting Even:
Revenge has never been such fun...

How would you feel if your best friend at work betrayed you? Was secretly having an affair with an influential colleague? Did you out of a coveted promotion, then teamed you up with a mere junior, leaving you feeling completely demoted? What would you do?

For Ivy there's no choice.

The only person she has ever trusted, Orianna, has blown it big time. So there's only one way forward: revenge. Ivy's campaign is brilliant, if horribly destructive, and she's determined to get even with the woman has dared to cross her. But is Ivy really the innocent party? Or is she hiding secrets of her own?

Set in the heart of Soho's adland, where emotions run even higher than the salaries, Getting Even is an unputdownable tale of jealousy packed with bonking, bonding and backstabbing.
(Courtesy of Sarah Rayner's website.)

Thanks to Sarah for reminiscing with us and to St. Martin's Press for 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 September 28th at midnight EST.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: Getting Even

By Jami Deise

Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but revenge as a plot never gets old.

In Getting Even, British author Sarah Rayner has updated Shakespeare’s Othello, placing the drama in a modern-day London advertising agency. Her Iago is Ivy, who feels betrayed when her best friend and work partner Orianna conceals her relationship with their co-worker Dan, then accepts a solo promotion. Although Ivy’s first reaction is to throw a drink in Orianna’s face when she’s told her friend will soon be her boss, she quickly moves into stealth revenge mode. Her lies, manipulations, and set-ups make her a brilliant combination of Iago plus Cady Heron from Mean Girls.

Although the work takes months, and she’s forced to extend her games to her new co-worker Cassie and her and Dan’s mutual personal trainer Rob, eventually Ivy has Orianna right where she wants her. But Ivy has other lies and secrets of her own… and Orianna isn’t as oblivious as Ivy believes.

Getting Even is a sharp, well-written novel that will have readers questioning the motives behind the actions of their own friends and co-workers. Although the first scene drags a bit and fails to excite the reader for what comes next, the rest of the book is fast-paced and engrossing. It’s told from multiple viewpoints – Orianna’s, Ivy’s, Dan’s and Rob’s. Rayner takes pains to show how hurts in their past – Ivy’s from a father who deserted the family and then lied to get out of child support; Orianna’s from a previously failed relationship with another co-worker – make them vulnerable to feeling betrayed by those closest to them: For Ivy, it’s Orianna, and for Orianna, Dan.

Naturally, Orianna comes across as the most sympathetic, if a bit clueless. However, as the story progresses, she wises up even beyond the reader. Dan and Rob also come across as a little clueless – Rob especially. A gay man, Rob seems to have no “gaydar” – he easily buys Ivy’s lie that Dan goes both ways, ignoring all the evidence that Dan only has eyes for Orianna.

While telling the story partially from Ivy’s point of view gives readers a front seat to all her machinations, it does not succeed in accomplishing the loftiest goal of this type of storytelling – getting the reader to root for the villain. In this regard, I was reminded of the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding, where the writers deliberately set out to tell the story from the “bad guy’s” (or in that case, “bad girl”) point of view. In that movie, I think it worked, since only Jules’ point of view was presented. In this case, because the reader knows Orianna’s motives for her actions around Ivy are pure – and Ivy’s own back story nothing out of the ordinary – at no time does Ivy’s revenge seem justified.

The novel is set in the world of London advertising, and Rayner’s background in the industry makes the setting come alive. The rivalries between the writers and the artists, and the creative people versus the numbers people, add an extra layer to the revenge, and raise the stakes in the story.

Getting Even is a great read for fans who love a good revenge plot: Othello. Mean Girls. Revenge. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Moby Dick. It also serves as a warning for working women who’ve been encouraged to Lean In: Leaning in makes it too easy for the person behind you to stab you in the back. 

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review. They'll be doing a giveaway along with our interview tomorrow.

More by Sarah Rayner:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Review: Beautiful Day

By Becky Gulc

Today is the day that things are going to change for Rachel Bidewell.

She will walk through the doors of Clifton Avenue Care Home and start a new life.

Rachel is returning to work. And as she discovers, juggling a new job, three children and an ex-husband can feel like drowning.
Someone needs to throw her a lifeline...

Philip doesn't seem like an obvious lifesaver. He has just lost the one person who ever cared for him and, even as an adult, he doesn't know how to live in the real world.

But might Philip and Rachel each have something the other needs?

This is a story of unexpected friendship; of the messy, muddy territory of those broken by life - and what it takes to fix them. It reminds us that the very darkest of days can be funny, heart-warming and even beautiful.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

Beautiful Day is the debut novel by Kate Anthony and it’s a book I found to be very emotive and heart-warming, one of those books you’ll remember reading in years to come.

Rachel is someone who is trying (or being forced) to rebuild her life following the break-up of her marriage; her husband now living with the person he was having an affair with. With three children together, there’s the pressure to remain on good terms and manage the break up well, but this is understandably far from easy. I thought Kate tapped into Rachel’s mind-set so well in this respect, exploring the mother who wants everything to remain calm for the sake of her children, but also the mother who battles with her children now having to be away from her every other weekend through no fault of her own, and worse still them spending time with 'Deborah.' Quite frankly she’s a bit bitter about it all.

Rachel doesn’t always manage the ‘front’ she wants to portray to her children and her ex with ease, and this is written so well. I have gone through my parent’s marriage breakdown and I felt huge empathy for how Rachel must have felt and how she acts, whether intentional or not, and also how the children would be feeling throughout this. Although this novel is entirely told through Rachel’s narrative, I felt we still get insight into how the children are coping.

When Rachel begins a new job at a residential home, we see a different side to her. Although as a reader I liked her anyway, it was her work ethic and interaction with Philip that made her such a likeable character, and made it such a beautiful--and different--story. Philip is a new resident who has just lost his mother. With severe learning difficulties and having basically been brought up indoors and fed a diet of white bread, he struggles to adapt to his new home, and his key worker Rachel. With a supportive line manager in Rob, but an obtrusive ultimate boss in Denise, who appears to want to belittle Rachel at every given opportunity, this is a workplace that will provide Rachel with highs and lows and will certainly be a challenge in more ways than Rachel could ever expect. The narrative around the workplace was particularly enjoyable, being very funny and moving, with twists and turns along the way that had me on the edge of my seat.

When the story sees Rachel’s personal and work life come together at different points in the novel I thought it was so touchingly interwoven; Rachel’s children being so lovely with very uplifting moments. I really felt Rachel went on a ‘journey’ in this novel, in her own life but also in her relationships with her children, and the beautifully written character of Philip is a core part of that.

This is a book which I read in next to no time as I couldn’t wait to pick it up. It covers complex issues, but in a beautifully written, touching and sometimes funny way. More please!

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

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

**Giveaway is now closed**

Melissa A:

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion from Penguin UK

Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis from Grand Central Publishing

Saving Grace by Jane Green from Pan Macmillan


Mahalas Lane by/from Marianne Cushing

Girl Before A Mirror by Liza Palmer from HarperCollins

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor from HarperCollins

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek from HarperCollins


Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman from Notting Hill Press (e-book)


Slippers in the Oven by Roberta Aarons from Authoramp


Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbery from Transworld

Love Me or Leave Me by Claudia Carroll from Avon

Seeing Other People by Mike Gayle from Hodder and Stoughton

The Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne from Quercus

Emma by/from Alexander McCall Smith

The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern from HarperCollins UK

The Seafront Tea Rooms by Vanessa Greene from Sphere

The Runaway Woman by Josephine Cox from HarperFiction,

The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews from Sphere

What could be in YOUR mail:

The May-December Twist by Romney Humphrey

In honor of recently being featured on our Book Shelf, she has FIVE books to give away to readers anywhere in the world!

At fifty, finding romance is hard. It’s trickier if your three best friends (Liz, Kendra and Jo; together known as The Four) sign you up for a dating site and monitor your every move. And, the challenge becomes more complicated when Jo starts competing with Allie for contenders. Allie eventually settles for David, an age-appropriate schoolteacher. He’s pleasant, but makes her feel sleepy, not particularly passionate. A chance encounter leads Allie to Jameson, a self-made entrepreneur. He’s brilliant, interesting and wildly attractive. He decides to volunteer at her non-profit, “Twenty;” he believes in Allie’s vision of volunteering twenty minutes or twenty dollars to the community is brilliant. They share the same sense of values and have definite chemistry. 

The problem? He’s twenty-five years younger. 

The Four consider her crush on Jameson inappropriate. Jo can’t believe Allie isn’t choosing David. (Or does she want him for herself?) If Allie pursues her feelings will she lose The Four’s friendship? Another issue? The possible wrath of her twin twenty-one-year-old sons. And, why would Jameson ever consider her as relationship material anyway? 

Based on real life stories of unlikely but wildly passionate long-term relationships between older women and younger men, The May-December Twist is a tale of alliances, conflicting values and what’s important in the complicated search for love. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Romney Humphrey on Facebook and Twitter.

How to win:
Please tell us: If you could go back in time and date any celebrity regardless of age, which time period would you choose and who would you date?

One entry per person.

Entries without contact information (e-mail address, Twitter account, Facebook page, etc.) will NOT be counted (and we do NOT count "Google +" as contact information).

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

Book Review: Maybe Baby

By Sara Steven

I enjoy a book where two people find one another and fall in love. The stranger the situation, the more interesting the outcome. Let me tell you, this novel offers up the most unique story line, ever. Hands down.

Laney is an expat living with her boyfriend Niklas, in Stockholm. It’s been five years, and her biological clock is ticking. True, she’s never wanted children of her own before (Niklas has two of his own with a psycho of an ex-wife) but never expected that Niklas wouldn’t want any more, or more importantly, can’t have anymore due to a vasectomy. The situation feels dire, but Laney looks into a progressive sperm bank without Niklas knowing in order to solve the problem for them. She figures she can research first then pursue it if it feels right. The last thing she ever counted on was meeting a man named Mads, the most sought after sperm donor there. She also never counted on feeling an instant connection with him, or falling in love.

Maybe Baby takes the rules or what we know of them, and throws them right out the window. Laney knows she’s invested a lot of time into Niklas, and knows what society would say to be the right thing for her to do, but in matters of the heart, choices are never that cut and dried. Another level to this is the settling into a life vs. actually living one. I got the impression that Laney wants to stay with Niklas because he’s what she knows. There’s comfort and security in their relationship, while her new-found fascination with Mads is exciting and different. Does she risk a sure thing that has been lackluster for years, or does she pursue something that might not work out and cause a lot of damage in the end?

I loved the writing style (real and, at times, very graphic) and appreciated the flow of the story. I was able to delve into the characters easily. Kim Golden did a fantastic job, and I look forward to reading some of her other work, including a future novel with the continuation of Laney's story.

Thanks to Kim Golden for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Claire Ashby gets with the times...plus a book giveaway

Claire Ashby and I already have something in common...we both become mothers in the first decade of the 21st century, also known as the "zeros," "noughties," and simply the 2000s. A lot of new fads and trends have come about since the turn of the century, and I'm sure our kids will one day be telling their kids that they had an iPhone...and that will be such an ancient and outdated item by then! (Just like our record and cassette players are to them...) Claire is here to talk about her favorite fads and trends from the 2000s in honor of Nostalgia Month. She also has one copy of her debut novel, When You Make it Home, for a lucky US reader!

Born and raised in the heart of Atlanta, Claire Ashby now resides in Austin with her family and a pack of wild dogs. When she’s not reading or writing, she spends her time watching extreme survival shows and taking long walks after nightfall. She has an unnatural love of high places, but still regrets the time she skydived solo. She believes some things are better left to the imagination.

Visit Claire on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

My Favorite Fads/Trends of the 2000s

My life forever changed in the 2000s. I became a mom. One of the first rites of passage into motherhood is the rapid accumulation of stuff. The 2000s turned out to be a great time to start a family. Check out some of my favorite fads and trends of that time:

1. Baby wearing – As if a baby wasn’t the best accessory of all time, you can wear them too! I had a Baby Bjorn and a sling, but my favorite was the Ergo Carrier. The hubs preferred to tote the little monsters in the manly metal-framed backpack carrier.

2. The Bob Stroller – Move over Graco. Hello freedom. Not to be confused with a jogging stroller, these streamline strollers with the large single front wheel that swivels in all directions create instant stroller envy. With this stroller, people didn’t stop you to check out your baby – they stopped you to check out your wheels.

3. Oversized Sunglasses – With the new millennium, over-sized sunglasses came back around, which is a total win for a new mom. Running late to a play date at the park? Skip the eye makeup and throw on your mega shades. They’ll cover those puffy bags better than concealer anyway.

4. Cargo Capris – Best invention ever. Sure, you’re not supposed to put anything in those big thigh pockets, but has there ever been a better place to store a Sippy cup while changing a diaper in public?

5. Ugg boots – The only footwear that can compete with the versatility of flip-flops for a mom of little ones is a pair of Uggs. They work with jeans, shorts, skirt…heck, just pair your Uggs and oversized sunglasses and you can get away with wearing your t-shirt nightgown to get the mail.

6. Facebook – Thanks to Facebook, new mothers everywhere could toss all their scrap booking supplies. Nothing better than showing off baby in real time and getting instant feedback. For all the ways Facebook changed the world, I’d like to click the like button on making first time moms feel a little less alone.

7. Reality TV – Sure, people like to dis it, but come on. In the early 2000’s it was a blast. Especially if you had brain mush from changing diapers and nursing all day. Who needs complicated plot lines and witty jokes when you’re covered in baby snot and drool?

8. GPS – Because finding your way anywhere with a screaming baby in the backseat is near impossible.

9. Mommy Blogs – I don’t know where all those brilliant, driven women came from, but thankfully they knew how to do everything and found time to blog about it.

10. Google – One day I’m going to say to my kids, “Hey, when I was growing up we didn’t even have Google. We had this place called the library.”

Synopsis of When You Make it Home:
Meg Michaels, a bookstore owner, has already walked away from two cheating exes. She’s learned her lesson and has her mind set on success—until she gets knocked up. Embarrassed and unwilling to discuss her situation with friends and family, she wears layers to hide the pregnancy.

When Meg gets sick at a party, she’s mortified. Even worse, Theo Taylor, the guest of honor, discovers her secret. Theo, an Army medic wounded in the war, agrees not to reveal her condition, and the two forge a bond of friendship that blossoms into love.

Theo is soon filling all of Meg’s late-night cravings—and not just the pregnancy-induced ones. But can their love overcome all the obstacles that stand between them and creating a happy family?
(Courtesy of Claire's website.)

Thanks to Claire for visiting us and sharing her book with our readers. Thanks to Red Adept Publishing for including us in their blog tour and offering a swag giveaway.

~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 only. Giveaway ends September 22nd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chick Lit Cheerleader: Timeless Treasures

Introduction by Melissa Amster

When I hear the word "nostalgia," I usually think of pop culture from back in the day. However, Jen Tucker, our Chick Lit Cheerleader, has me looking at nostalgia in a different way. Today's post made me think of some memories from visiting my grandparents as a kid. My paternal grandmother had this box of costume jewelry, which would keep my sister and I busy all throughout our visit. I don't know what ever happened to all the jewelry, but I still remember trying on different necklaces and clip on earrings. When I went to my late maternal grandmother's house, I loved this Cinderella coach that was on one of the tables in her living room. I don't even know if it was connected with Cinderella, but it made me think of that for some reason. There was even a light you could switch on. I know my mom took all the items from her home, but I can't remember seeing that one anywhere in her house. It's definitely the one item I wouldn't mind having on display someday in my home. I think my daughter would find it as fascinating as I did. 

Today, Jen is telling us about something that made her ugly cry as much as The Fault in Our Stars.

She has the "Precious"

My grandmother kept a marble trinket box on an end table in her modest family room. The rectangular shaped keepsake was a gift from her sister, Ruthie. A souvenir from her travels to India in the mid 1970’s. The funny thing about this treasure was it was the only thing I was never permitted to touch in Grandma’s home.

Nothing was off limits when I visited my grandparents. From the World War II harmonica Grandpa tucked away in his nightstand, to the cookie jar always generously overloaded with vanilla sandwich cremes, limits were never placed upon my curiosity, or little fingers, until this lidded, white box arrived. I wasn’t keen on that. Not one bit.

Grandma decided this gift was the perfect place to tuck her Winston cigarettes inside, package and all. Until this box arrived, I was always the one who fetched a cigarette for Grandma June from the middle drawer of her doily topped end table. Don’t go judging my granny now, people. This was the 70’s, remember? The day this marble box came into Grandma’s life, it marked the moment my cigarette girl services were no longer required nor desired.

“Jenny, that’s Grandma’s special gift from Aunt Ruthie. I don’t want you to touch it, do you understand?”
I remember looking at Grandma June, puzzled, saying, “Why can’t I touch this one box, Grandma?”
She lovingly took my small hands into hers and said, “Because it’s precious.”

This was quite the blow to my only grandchild ego. Not only was I banned from being near the box, but also I was no longer needed.

I was the early bird each morning while visiting my mom’s parents over the summer. Speed Racer and Gary Gnu were on television during the wee hours of the morning in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I remember one morning while nestled in Grandpa’s chocolate colored wing backed chair, sunshine came through the window and illuminated the beautiful stones atop Grandma’s marble box. I recall transferring myself from Grandpa’s favorite chair onto the fabric worn, swivel seat where my grandmother read and sewed for many years. I picked up the box and held it in my hands. I recollect pondering why is this precious? I thought I was precious. From that moment on, I mischievously decided I was going to show force in the matter. I gently set the box down in its place, removed the lid, and turned it perpendicular to the box, placing it back on top. I’d left my mark. A “Jenny was here” kind of thing. I moved that lid every chance I had and denied being the culprit each and every time. I thought I was the slyest cat in the room.

This was the longest running “Jenny, when you were little…” tale in my family. Until the day Grandma left us behind for a better place, and Grandpa placed this petite box into my hands, passing it on to me, saying, “You’re the most precious things your grandmother had. It only makes sense you two end up together.”

This summer, my husband, Mike, traveled to India for two weeks on business. I asked him to bring me back a colorful scarf, maybe an outstanding pair of gold hoop earrings. Yet my heart was not prepared for what I unwrapped the day he returned. An oval shaped box. White marble with turquoise and lapis stones strategically inlaid within the lid and base, unmistakably similar to my grandmother’s. To say I ugly cried is a grave injustice to the moment I peeled back the brown paper and my eyes took in this token. He said he saw it and knew it was meant for me. One day, I hope to place both marble boxes into the hands of my daughter and entrust to her a small but precious piece of her great grandmother and me.

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: To See the Moon Again

Today we're pleased to feature To See the Moon Again by Jamie Langston Turner. Thanks to Penguin Random House, we have one copy for a lucky US reader!

In TO SEE THE MOON AGAIN (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; September 2, 2014), award-winning author Jamie Langston Turner presents a poignant novel about learning to forgive the past and finding hope in the future.

Julia Rich’s memory is plagued by an accident she caused many years ago. She has hidden her guilt by teaching at a small South Carolina college and has avoided close relationships with family and friends. But her carefully controlled world is about to change in a way she never could have predicted when a niece she’s never met appears in her life.

Carmen, like Julia, is seeking peace for past mistakes. Together the two women begin a journey that will take them out of their comfort zones and open their hearts.

Jamie Langston Turner is the award-winning author of seven novels and has been a teacher for more than forty years. She is currently a professor of poetry and creative writing at Bob Jones University. Jamie lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband. Visit her online at her website and Facebook.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing the 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 September 21st at midnight EST.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Meghan Cleary holds the "patent" on fashion

What is a chick lit novel without a fabulous pair of shoes?!? Today we have Meghan Cleary visiting us and sharing her favorite shoes from the 1960s, in honor of Nostalgia Month. Her book, Shoe Are You?gives readers advice on their life, wardrobe, and career...all based on their footwear! As a special gift, you can receive the Shoe Are You?® Stiletto Handbook free at shoeareyou.com!

Meghan Cleary is the celebrity shoe columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and internationally recognized footwear authority whose insight on everything from the latest shoe trends to the hottest footwear designs to red carpet stilettos at the Oscars and Emmys has appeared in more than 4,500 media outlets throughout the world. Known for her signature trademark phrase, “what your shoes say about you,” Meghan has analyzed presidents, world leaders and fashion icons alike with her uncanny insight.

From the minute she first laid eyes on a pair of baby blue wedges at age five, to sitting with luxury shoe designers in their studios in Italy, Meghan brings a new, fun expertise and flair to one of fashion’s hottest categories: Shoes. Equally at home in live and scripted environments, including the 45 live, one-hour Shoe Therapy® shows she co-hosted on HSN, red carpet coverage on TV Guide Network,and frequent appearances as a style expert on national television, including Style Network, E!, TODAY Show, Tyra, Extra!, CNN, Rachael Ray, CBS Early Show, Meghan has endeared herself to viewers with her easygoing, accessible, conversational style.

A global footwear icon who has rubbed elbows with the likes of Christian Louboutin and top Hollywood stars — she also guides consumer shoppers on finding the perfect shoes through her media appearances and events. Meghan has produced a shoe and accessories collection, TV segments, documentary, internet content and two books, as well as reporting on industry trends within the footwear trade media. For nine years she served as Contributing Editor at luxury trend publication JCREPORT breaking new designers to the market. A former marketing consultant on Wall Street, Meghan has also been a resource for a variety of top footwear and mass market retail companies in how to reach women shoppers with strategic merchandising and marketing concepts.

Visit Meghan on Facebook and Twitter.

Top Five Shoe Designers of the 1960s

1. Andre Perugia - There's a huge debate about who invented the modern day stiletto -- Perugia, Ferragamo or Vivier? They all were making amazing shoes nonetheless!
2. Salvatore Ferragamo - Shoemaker to the stars.
3. Roger Vivier - Inventor of the "comma" heel
4. YSL - The master of Parisian chic.
5. Ossie Clark - Epitome of swinging '60s

Thanks to Meghan Cleary for visiting with us and sharing her handbook with everyone and Blink PR for coordinating this interview!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: The Glass Kitchen

By Melissa Amster

A few years ago, I read Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee. I loved it and couldn't put it down. Needless to say, I was thrilled when she published her latest novel, The Glass Kitchen, this past summer and couldn't wait to pick it up. While the premise of the novel is food and cooking, as is often the case with Chick Lit, Linda puts a new and interesting spin on the topic.

Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan... and never cook again.

But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.com)

Linda has a comforting quality to her writing. She knows how to immediately draw her readers into her world and keep them there with the promise of good cooking, romance, and magic. The descriptions of people, food, and locations made everything easy to visualize, which I always appreciate when reading a book.  Sometimes the story felt like it was slowing down, but then it would pick up steam when I was least expecting it. There were some fun twists and surprising secrets throughout. It even had some suspenseful moments. Although the concept was surreal, it was fun to imagine as a possibility and definitely served as a benefit to Portia at times.

Overall, The Glass Kitchen was a satisfying novel and a fun escape from everyday life. I hope Linda doesn't wait as long to publish her next novel.

As this would make for a fun movie, here's my dream cast:
Portia: Jennifer Morrison
Cordelia: Jaime King
Olivia: Kate Hudson
Gabriel: Gerard Butler
Ariel: Aryana Engineer

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.