Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reader Spotlight: The Right Prescription

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!

See our previous Reader Spotlight posts.

Note from Melissa A: I met Amy after she won one of our big giveaways from our Facebook page. She seems very nice and I love her enthusiasm for books. I'm glad I got to know her better this way.
See what's she's reading now at Goodreads and visit her on Twitter, as well. She even has her own book blog!

Name: Amy Mays
Age: 28
Location: Virginia

How did you find Chick Lit Central?
I saw a post mentioning the website on Twitter.

What are your top FIVE favorite chick lit novels of all time? 
My favorites are constantly changing but right now they would be:
1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
2. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
3. Four Friends by Robyn Carr
4. One Plus One by JoJo Moyes
5. The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

What do you do when you're not reading?
I'm married to Paul and we have three fur-babies: Tucker, Bentley and Brooks. I'm a college student getting my Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, business owner of a convenience store and a licensed pharmacy technician. I also love to work out, drink wine and watch movies.

Book Review: Shopaholic to the Stars

By Melissa Amster

Confession: I happen to be obsessed with celebrities. In fact, I designated this past month as Celebrity Month at CLC, just so I could talk about everything celebrity related with authors and readers. I think I can definitely relate to Becky Brandon in that regard, as she tries to become best friends with her favorite celebrities in Sophie Kinsella's latest novel, Shopaholic to the Stars.

Sophie Kinsella returns to her beloved "Shopaholic" series with Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) newly arrived in Hollywood and starry-eyed. She and her two-year-old daughter, Minnie, have relocated to L.A. to join Becky’s husband, Luke, who is there to handle PR for famous actress Sage Seymour. Becky can’t wait to start living the A-list lifestyle, complete with celebrity sightings, yoga retreats, and shopping trips to Rodeo Drive. But she really hopes to become a personal stylist—Sage’s personal stylist—if only Luke would set up an introduction. Then, unexpectedly, Becky is offered the chance to dress Sage’s archrival, and though things become a bit more complicated, it’s a dream come true!

Red carpet premieres, velvet ropes, paparazzi clamoring for attention—suddenly Becky has everything she’s ever wanted.

Or does she?
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Just like the previous books in the "Shopaholic" series, Shopaholic to the Stars is light and entertaining throughout. I laughed out loud so many times. Sophie has a knack for humor and she gives Becky some hilarious situations and dialogue. This time around, Becky reminded me a lot of Mindy Kaling in terms of her personality. I never noticed the comparison until I became obsessed with The Mindy Project, but now I could easily see Mindy taking over the role from Isla Fisher if another movie was made from this series. There was nothing predictable about this story and it went in directions I never expected. It also didn't wrap up neatly and I'm excited about where the next book may possibly take place if the last few pages are any hint.

Unlike the other books in this series, Shopaholic to the Stars tended to get a bit farcical at times and made it hard to take some of the characters seriously, including Becky. I also wish there had been more interaction between Becky and her daughter. She barely spent any time with Minnie and was either putting her in school or leaving her with friends. There were some funny parts that involved Minnie, but I hope she gets more focus in the next book.

Overall, I enjoyed this latest installment in the series and can't wait for more in the future! Becky is already a celebrity in her own right, according to our readers! (See the comments section on the linked post.)

After seeing the movie of Confessions of a Shopaholic, it's hard to cast the main characters (Becky, Luke, Suze) without getting the actors who played them out of my head. However, there are some new characters I had fun casting from this book.

Sage: Megan Fox
Lois: Scarlett Johansson or Miranda Kerr
Aran: Vince Vaughn

Thanks to Penguin Random House for the book in exchange for an honest review. Enter to win a copy from Book Mama Blog! (Worldwide. Ends November 27th.)

More by Sophie Kinsella:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dana Bate is a book giveaway

We are thrilled to have Dana Bate back at CLC to celebrate pub day for her sophomore novel, A Second Bite at the Apple (UK: The Stall of Second Chances). As some of you may know, her debut novel, The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs, was on my 2013 favorites list. I recently took a "bite" out of this new novel and am already enjoying it!. Thanks to Kensington,  we have TWO copies for readers in the US and/or Canada! 

Since Dana's last visit, she has become a mom and somehow still finds the time to write. For that, we are thankful!

Visit Dana at her website, Facebook, and Twitter. We promise that she won't "bite."

Synopsis of A Second Bite at the Apple:
Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food. Not with eating it--though she does that too--but with writing about the wonders of the gastronomic world, from obscure fruit hybrids to organic farming techniques. Since food journalism jobs are more coveted than Cronuts®, Sydney pays her bills working for one of TV's biggest egomaniacs--until she's left scrambling for shifts at a local farmers' market.

Stacking muffins for the Wild Yeast Bakery isn't going to win her any James Beard awards. But soon Sydney is writing the market's weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of putting her love life into deep freeze, she's even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a crisp--along with her relationship and her reputation...

Who is your favorite obscure celebrity? (They've been in movies but no one seems to place their name with their face.)
Stephen Dillane. He's British and almost 60 now, but I first came across him in HBO's John Adams miniseries, where he played Thomas Jefferson (or as I called him, "Sexy Thomas Jefferson," though I'm 99% certain I'm the only one who called him that). Apparently he's on Game of Thrones now, so maybe he isn't all that obscure, but I feel like most people don't know who he is.

Who is the celebrity that makes you swoon the most?
Present day? I'm super unoriginal and boring: Brad Pitt and George Clooney. But if we're talking of any era, Robert Redford in his prime was positively dreamy.

Do you think authors are celebrities? If so, which author comes to mind first when you hear the word "celebrity?"
JK Rowling is definitely a celebrity -- and deservedly so! She is a living legend.

What celebrity would you love to meet? What would you say to them if you did?
Gwyneth Paltrow. I love her sense of style and (yes) her cookbooks, but knowing me, I'd probably babble and blurt out something stupid like, "So what was all that conscious uncoupling business about, anyway??"

Do any celebrities follow YOU on Twitter? Has a celebrity retweeted you or tagged you in a Tweet?
Edward Burns follows me! I'm sure some of you are like, "Wait, who is Edward Burns? Was he Sexy George Washington?" No, no he was not. Google him. I promise you will recognize him. I think he retweeted me once, years ago, but I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember what the tweet was. I'm sure it was brilliant, though (right? maybe?).

Oh, and one of my best friends from college, Sally Pressman, is an actress, and she has definitely tagged and retweeted me :).

Which celebrity would make a great chick lit character?
Renee Zellweger -- she certainly has plenty of antagonism coming at her from all sides, and I'd love to hear HER side of the story.

Thanks to Dana for visiting with us and to Kensington 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.

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If Rafflecopter is not working for you on this post, click here.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends December 1st at midnight EST.

Monday, November 24, 2014

On the red carpet with CLC

Since we've been asking authors questions about celebrities all month, we thought we'd take a turn in the "hot seat."

Melissa A:

Favorite musician: 
Billy Joel. His music is timeless and he sings with such passion and emotion that it gives me chills. His songs are so memorable and I get them in my head all the time.

Who is the celebrity that makes you swoon the most?
These days, it's Chris Messina from The Mindy Project. All he has to do is dance and I completely melt. I also have this thing for Luke Bryan. More for his sexy voice though.

Celebrity girl crush:
These are just some of them. And now that I've seen Obvious Child, I can add Jenny Slate to that list.

Have you ever missed an opportunity to meet a celebrity because you didn't know they were famous at the time?
When I was a kid, "Refrigerator" Perry from the Chicago Bears was at the airport and I had no clue who he was. Then the Bears won the Super Bowl that year. I was totally kicking myself and I'm not even a sports fan! (As a side note, my sister was at a restaurant in L.A. and Haley Joel Osment was sitting nearby but The Sixth Sense hadn't come out in theaters yet, so she had no clue who he was.)

Which celebrity would make a great chick lit character?
Mindy Kaling, hands down!

Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, what was the experience like?
I've met a bunch of celebrities! Here's a list up through 2010. (Since then, my bucket list of who I want to meet has changed, and will probably change again soon.) I'm sharing a picture I don't think I've shared here before. It's from when my sister and I saw Tick, Tick, Boom (written by the late Jonathan Larson of Rent fame) in 2003 and met Wilson Cruz, who played Ricky on My So-Called Life. It was a really positive celebrity encounter, as he was so sweet and stuck around to talk and take pictures. I've met a few other celebrities since I wrote this post. Thanks to BEA, I even got to meet Neil Patrick Harris! (And B.J. Novak too!) I'm glad I met him before I saw A Million Ways to Die in the West though. (He was funny in it, but there's just this one super embarrassing part...) In most cases, I've been totally star-struck and have basically said one or two words. With (most) authors, it's different, as I feel like they're friendlier and easier to talk with.

When my sister (right) and I met Wilson Cruz 
from MY SO-CALLED LIFE in 2003.


Who is your favorite talk show host?
Ellen DeGeneres. She's one of the funniest people on television.

Who is your favorite news reporter?
I have to choose several here. I'm a HUGE Good Morning America fan and overall ABC news. So it's going to be Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and David Muir. I also love Diane Sawyer.

Who is your favorite Broadway star?
Another two: Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.

What is your favorite source of celebrity news?
People magazine. I get SO excited when I see the mailman walk into our office with our copies of People.

If you were hosting a party and could invite any three celebrities, who would you choose?
Now this is a hard one. I have to choose four: Brad Pitt, Jennifer Garner, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Do you think social media has made celebrities even more famous?


Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, what was the experience like?
Soap stars aren’t like other celebrities. They work killer hours, they don’t get a lot of respect in the entertainment industry (more than reality stars, though!), and their characters play out storylines that are often viewed as laughable. Because of all that, they are very grateful to their fans (the non-stalker ones), and reach out to them in ways that movie stars would never imagine.

In many book reviews, I’ve mentioned my sometimes-obsessive love for General Hospital. I’ve also been a fan of other shows, and about ten years ago my friend Kathleen and I ran Daytime Encounter, a soap opera fan fantasy camp. Through it, I got to meet many stars from All My Children, One Life to Live, and Guiding Light – including William DeVry, a very nice man who is currently setting hearts afire on General Hospital. The camp was an all-day affair that let soap fans experience life as a soap star, from auditioning for a part, getting hair and make-up done, and acting alongside their favorite soap stars. For the actors, it was another workday on top of the other five they’d had that week, but they were all gracious, kind, funny, sweet to their fans, and non-complaining. And All My Children’s Walt Willey is funny as hell if you’ve ever wondered.

But General Hospital is first in my heart, and my favorite experiences naturally revolve around that show. Through the early magic of AOL, I was able to meet other fans of my favorite GH actress – Leslie Charleson, who plays Monica Quartermaine. That led me to volunteering for her fan club, and I flew out to LA several times to help with her fan events. If there’s anything better than meeting a star you’ve idolized since you were eleven years old, it’s this: Finding out that star is warm, witty, wonderful and very appreciative of her fans. So naturally I returned the favor in the most Monica way possible, trying to steal her TV husband. ;-)

With Stuart Damon, who played Monica’s husband Alan


Who is your favorite actor?
Ryan Gosling, and not just for his looks, I genuinely think he's a great actor and chooses very diverse films.

Who is your favorite comedian?
Milton Jones is becoming a favourite.

Who is your favorite dead celebrity?
Karen Carpenter, I've loved the Carpenters since i was 11 she had such a unique voice. I paid homage to them when i went to California once, including visiting Karen's grave.

Who is your favorite reality star?
Jedward! It's a few years since they were on the X Factor now but i still love them, they always cheer me up when i see them on TV or see their tweets.

Have you ever dreamt about a celebrity?
Erm I regularly dream about the TV presenter Declan Donnelly, he's usually trying to tell me it's never going to happen..I have a very longstanding crush!

Who is your favorite musician?
Paolo Nutini. His album Sunny Side Up is probably my favourite ever album.


Who is your favorite talk show host? 
Ellen DeGeneres, no question. I've never seen anyone so full of joy and happiness on a daily basis. The world needs more people who know the value of a smile.

Who is your celebrity girl crush? 
Either Jen Lancaster or Emma Stone! I'm pretty sure if we ever met we'd totally be BFF.

Do you have a celebrity doppelganger? 
I've heard from a few people that I look like Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum or like actress Sara Ramirez. I'm not sure I agree 100%, but I won't disagree because those ladies are gorgeous!

Do you think social media has made celebrities even more famous?
I think social media has made celebrities appear more accessible, and perhaps that has made them more famous, but I also think social media has made almost every celebrity think harder about each and every step they take. Social media has taken on a life of its own and the vast array of viewpoints and opinions out there can turn a faux pas into a major issue in minutes.

Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, what was the experience like?
I've met Alice Cooper a few times and he's easily one of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys. Seriously. He came backstage into the meet and greet area after a concert and promptly went around the room and shook everyone's hand and proceeded to introduce himself. I was probably mostly standing there with my mouth hanging open, on the verge of a Wayne's World-esque "we're not worthy" breakdown, and he was all "Oh hi! I'm Alice! Great to meet you!"

Catherine L. Hensley takes a book giveaway

We're pleased to introduce you to Catherine L. Hensley today. Her debut novel, New York Dolls published last week with 48Fourteen and the premise is perfect for Celebrity Month. We invited her to dish about celebrities with us and she even has a copy of her book for a lucky US reader!

A native of south Louisiana, Catherine received her master of arts degree in creative writing and media studies from New York University and her bachelor of arts degree in English from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, with minors in history and mass communication. Her writing has appeared in The Advocate (Louisiana’s largest newspaper), OT Practice magazine, Quiet Mountain: New Feminist Essays, and Mused, the BellaOnline Literary Review. She is also a professional freelance editor and writer who works with a variety of genres and offers copyediting, proofreading, content editing, and writing services worldwide through CLH Editing. You can find her at her website and on Facebook.

Synopsis of New York Dolls:
It’s Fashion Week in New York, and Denton Hodges just got her first big assignment for Glitter magazine.

Denton’s assignment: Get in the show at the posh Regency Viscount Hotel, and find a story. But a chance encounter with hard-partying starlet Amber Donovan forever changes the course of the night—and Denton’s life. After a night of being chased by the paparazzi, swimming in swag bags, and falling heart over heels for Hollywood hunk Chris West, Denton’s not just on the story. She is the story.

Suddenly, Denton’s no longer merely a low-level assistant. Amber’s latching on like a BFF from hell, Chris is flirting and cooking her dinner, and as Denton falls for the real people behind the tabloid screen, neither knows about her ties to Glitter. Only Denton holds the secret—or so she thinks. Is Anna Creel, Glitter’s icy beauty editor, on to her? Will Denton be able to write a story exposing her new friends? And is Chris more than just a friend, or did Glitter get the headline right—“Chris and Amber: Hot Nights!”?

Step into the spotlight, and peek beyond the red carpet in
New York Dolls. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Who is your favorite celebrity with the same first name as you?
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Have you ever written to a celebrity? Did they write back?
Yes! At 12, I remember being a huge fan of ER when it first started, and I wrote to Julianna Margulies. I got a signed photo in the mail!

What is your favorite source of celebrity news?
Favorite sources is more like it. I have a pretty gluttonous daily diet of celebrity news. Lainey Gossip is a new favorite. She’s got a wickedly sharp sense of humor.

Which celebrity has the best Tweets or Facebook posts?
Dwayne (“The Rock”) Johnson has some pretty funny posts. He never takes himself too seriously.

Which chick lit character should be a celebrity?
Bridget Jones. She’d have a hilarious reality show for sure.

In what way do celebrities have it easiest? Hardest?
They have it easiest in terms of money and access, hardest in the loss of privacy.

Thanks to Catherine for visiting with us and 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.

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If Rafflecopter is not working on this page, click here to enter.

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: Part-Time Princess

By Sara Steven

Lucy is a down on her luck waitress at the local biker’s bar, trying hard to make ends meet. She not only has her own welfare to consider, but her uncle’s, as well. He ended up in a special care facility (a rather expensive facility) after the death of Lucy’s parents, and she feels responsible for him and his well-being. After a rough night and a run-in with a few jerks on her shift, she finds herself fired and without much to go on in the job department.

Then she spots an ad in the newspaper that totally changes her life. Can Lucy go from a crass-talking, biker babe to a posh, sophisticated princess?

In Part-time Princess, Lucy fills in for Lady Elizabeth, a woman who is beloved in the land of Fredonia, but has a few skeletons in her closet which have left her indisposed. After a total overhaul with a beautician and a hairstylist, not to mention etiquette training, can Lucy pull off this ultimate con? It’s My Fair Lady meets Ms. Congeniality! And where would we be without the quintessential love triangle? Part of Lucy’s job is to keep the Prince of Fredonia, Cristoph, interested. She never bargained on his brother, Nick! Both men are hunky. Both vie for her affections, but only one can win, and who are they really vying for? Are they falling for Lucy, or for who they believe to be Elizabeth?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Once I got going, I had a really hard time putting it down! It’s comedic and candid, and Lucy is a total riot with the way she thinks, the way she communicates and the way she tries to behave when she’s “on duty”. She’s constantly trying to stop herself from letting the cat out of the bag, not wanting to reveal that she’s an imposter. It makes for a lot of fun, exciting moments, yet there are touching, serious moments as well, especially where Elizabeth’s family is concerned. Lucy may not have come from royalty, but she’s certainly regal in my book!

Thanks to Pamela DuMond for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Pamela DuMond:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sarah Jio has "the look" a book giveaway

By Melissa Amster

A couple of years ago, we asked Sarah Jio who her celebrity doppelgänger was. She said Charlize Theron. I can definitely see that resemblance. However, I've found some other celebrities she looks like and have sent her pictures of them in the past. I wanted to share about them today in honor of celebrity month and her latest novel, The Look of Love, which comes out on November 25th. I read it recently and had a hard time putting it down! It's perfect for fans of Love, Actually and anyone who just wants a new and interesting love story. Thanks to Penguin Random House, we have TEN copies for some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!

Visit Sarah at her website, Facebook, and Twitter. Read her columns at Glamour, as well.

Sarah Jio's Celebrity Doppelgängers

* Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry: Around the time The Violets of March came out and I first met Sarah, I also saw the video for "If I Die Young." I immediately saw the resemblance between these two fabulous women! See for yourself:

Ashley Benson from Pretty Little Liars: When I first saw a picture of Ashley, I thought of Sarah right away and even sent her a picture to show her. She definitely took it as a compliment!

Yael Grobglas from Jane the Virgin: The first time I saw her, I made this Sarah Jio connection. At the same time, I thought she'd be perfect as Jane, the lead character from The Look of Love. (She's not Jane on the current TV show; she plays Petra, the wife of Rafael.) This is a more recent resemblance, so I haven't sent Sarah a picture yet.

* Debbie Gibson: One of her 80s songs came on my Spotify and as I was looking at her picture, I saw a resemblance to Sarah. I went to her website for further confirmation and I realized I wasn't losing my mind after all. I especially see some similarities in this video.

* While she's not officially a celebrity, there's no way you can be a book lover and NOT have been acquainted with Jenny O'Regan from Confessions of a Bookaholic. I was looking at some pics of her recently and definitely think she and Sarah could be sisters. She's also doing a giveaway for The Look of Love. (US/Canada. Ends 11/23.)

Synopsis of The Look of Love:
Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

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.

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US/Canada only. Giveaway ends November 24th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chick Lit Cheerleader: Material Girl

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I don't remember how my childhood obsession with Madonna got started. I know one day I was given the "Like a Virgin" cassette and before I knew it, I was listening to it all the time. I think this was around third grade. Maybe it had to do with seeing all her music videos on MTV. She just seemed so cool and had such a great voice. At the time, I didn’t even know how big of an icon she’d become. I had a friend in my class who also liked Madonna. One time we had to do a project and we made up a song about it by changing the lyrics to “Material Girl.” Then there was this one day camp...when I dressed up like Madonna for costume day. No one else seemed to get it though. I had blonde curly hair and a freckle above my lip. I thought that would add a natural appeal to the look I was attempting. In fifth grade art class, we all had to make these people out of construction paper. I made a replica of Madonna, of course. I got teased about it, but I still was obsessed with her. While it was around the time her “True Blue” album came out, I still went with a “Dress You Up” look for the project. Flash forward 20 years...Madonna sounds just as great now as she did when I was a kid. I’m impressed that such a great pop star from my youth is around for my children to hear (when they’re ready) and still seems young no matter how many years have passed. (Excerpt from my personal blog, Merrylandgirl, April 21, 2010.)

I'm not the only Madonna fan though. Our Chick Lit Cheerleader, Jen Tucker, is here to tell us what she'd bid on at Madonna's recent auction.

Going Once, Going Twice...

In my office, resting on my desk next to the framed photo of my boyfriend Seal with his arm lovingly draped around my shoulder, I have a rubber duck whose rear end is signed by Hodor. For those who do not speak Game of Thrones, Hodor is a character played by Kristian Nairn on the HBO series based upon the epic novels by George R. R. Martin. My friend, Sabrina, scored the yellow quacker for me when the actor visited Indianapolis as part of Comic Con, Gen Con or maybe it was Con-Con; I can’t keep track anymore, can you? Regardless, having a little something signed by an actor on a hit show watched by millions of fans around the globe is pretty freaking special to me. Different strokes for different folks, right?

With Sabrina and the Hodor duck

Recently, a gaggle of items owned by the Material Girl went up for bids at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. Madonna parted ways with costumes, contracts, cancelled checks and chopped credit cards. While leafing through the online catalog of itemized photos, I couldn’t help but wonder if money were no object, and I was sitting amongst the high bidders on November 7-8, 2014 as Madonna’s items paraded into the crowded room one-by-one, what would I be willing to raise my numbered paddle to bid on? Decisions, decisions....

Her shoes? No way. According to the item descriptions, she wears a size seven. I wear size whatever fits over my bunions, and that’s not a size seven.

The candy pink dress and bracelets she wore in the "Material Girl" video? As stunning it was, if I was going to splurge on one of many dresses available, it would be the one she wore the day she married Sean Penn. Layers of tulle, a sash covered with pink ombre flower petals trimmed with golden pearls, accompanied by a black bowler hat with veil attached and the matching shoes that’d never fit on my tootsies. This isn’t the dress I’d save for my husband’s company party or for dancing around the house while alone and singing Crazy For You into my hairbrush. Oh no! This is the little number I’m wearing to the grocery, while waiting for the elliptical machine at the gym, and definitely while eating popcorn and Sno-Caps while watching the new Mockingjay movie. Why? Because I could, right? Let’s not tuck such a beauty away for a special occasion that may never arrive. Every day is an occasion if you spent—cough—$81,250 for a dress. I’d even let my girlfriends borrow it while they drove carpool or took their goldendoodle to the dog park because that’s the kind of friend I am.

Maybe Madonna’s Day Planner from 1988 would be an interesting catch. Some of the highlights betwixt the pages include dinner dates, rehearsals and appearances, birthday reminders and other little things like appearing on The David Letterman Show or a photography session with Herb Ritz. If you would peek into the pages of the dairy I never kept that same year, it would probably include tanning appointments, who I owed money to for fronting me Bahama Mama Tropical Fruit Punch Schnapps, and my next boomerang perm appointment. Almost as interesting, right?

When the fun of daydreaming fades away and I ponder the mementos and memorabilia Madonna parted with raising generous funds for charity, I’m left pondering the importance of things taking up space in my life. Things I can’t take with me when I check out permanently. Things that someone else might be able to use if I donated them rather than me dusting them from time-to-time. It’s good for the soul to clean out the junk drawers once in a while. You might find the key to your barn that went missing quite some time ago too (not that I’d know anything about that). You might wonder if I’m considering parting with my Hodor signed duck butt since Madonna sent her League of Their Own costume off to a better life. It’s a nice thought yet so not going to happen. It’s my woobie. Yet if you want an adorable pink sock monkey, I can totally hook you up!

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

Book Review: Expecting

By Jami Deise

Pregnancy stories are a staple in women’s fiction, and with good reason: While most women eventually become mothers, every pregnancy and delivery story is unique. “Tell me your labor story,” is a request many new mothers hear over and over again. For Laurie Gaines, however, her labor story could take up an entire book. In fact, it does.

In Ann Lewis Hamilton’s novel, Expecting, Laurie and her husband Alan never expected having a baby to be quite so difficult. But after two heartbreaking miscarriages, they consult a fertility specialist who recommends IUI – intrauterine insemination. And the third time’s the charm – Laurie gets pregnant again, and this time the pregnancy keeps. But when Laurie’s almost completed her first trimester, she gets a call from the fertility clinic that no one wants to hear – a disgruntled tech had thrown Alan’s sperm sample away. Laurie was inseminated with sperm belonging to an Indian-American college senior named Jack. Now what?
Now what is the question asked by all three players in this story, as it is told from the points of view of Laurie, Alan and Jack. Laurie understands her husband’s mixed feelings, but she’s already completely bonded with her baby and believes the best solution is to get to know Jack. Jack is already under enormous pressure from parents who constantly compare him to his doctor older sister, not to mention juggling two girlfriends and trying to graduate after changing his major – again – at the very last minute. And Alan copes by throwing himself into his job and secret Facebook conversations with his old college girlfriend.

The biggest surprise I found in Expecting was how the writer made me sympathize with Alan, the ostensible villain of the piece. Ordinarily, novels that feature husbands having physical or emotional affairs while their wives are pregnant tend to be rather one-sided, but Hamilton took care to communicate how Alan’s turmoil, his inability to fully share his feelings with his wife, and the decision to keep quiet about the baby’s origins prompted his actions.

The novel begins as Laurie goes into labor, and then backtracks to Laurie and Alan’s first pregnancy, proceeding linearly from there. This worked very well (I usually feel this type of beginning is a cheat) as the dialogue and character actions seem completely out of place for the situation, and gets the reader guessing right away what might have led up to this scene. For the record, I guessed wrong.

There are some funny bits, and certainly the overall situation is comedic, but the book has its dramatic moments as well. Certainly there’s no shying away from the pain of pregnancy loss, and in the reader notes Hamilton is open about the fact that the story is somewhat based on her own life. (The sperm mix-up, thank goodness, is completely a figment of her imagination.)

Hamilton is an experienced TV writer, but Expecting is her first novel. However, her expertise shines through. Another interesting note is that the book began as a short story, and she expanded it into a novel as part of National Novel Writing Month, an annual event every November. NaNoWriMo encourages participants to write at least 1667 words a day, in order to have a finished (albeit raw) 50,000 word novel by December first. Expecting should be the poster child for this project, and if you’re participating, take a few hours off and read it. You’ll be both inspired and humbled.

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tracie Banister explains it a book giveaway

No celebrity month would be complete without featuring Tracie Banister's debut novel, Blame it on the Fame (reviewed here). We invited her to chat with us about celebrities and she had a lot to say! She's even giving away an e-book of this novel to a lucky reader anywhere in the world!

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O'Hara. She is currently the author of two novels (the second being In Need of Therapy) and has a third one on the way. She resides in the South and enjoys watching TV, going to the theatre, finding talented new writers, and spending time with her three adorable rescue dogs. Tracie is also the moderator of ChickLitChat, which takes place every Thursday at 8 pm EST on Twitter.

Visit Tracie at her blog and on Twitter.

Who is your favorite fifteen minutes of fame celebrity?
Her fifteen minutes should have been up a long time ago, but I’m still strangely fascinated by Kim Kardashian. She keeps finding new ways to keep herself relevant and in the spotlight while others of her ilk (see former bestie Paris Hilton) have faded into semi-obscurity. I’ve got to give her credit for that and I want to thank her, and her media-loving family, for keeping me endlessly entertained with all of their shenanigans, which include everything from outrageous fashion faux pas to surprise divorce/pregnancy announcements.

Who is your favorite celebrity couple?
The only couple who currently has my undivided attention is Prince William and his lovely bride, Kate. I’ve been a royal-watcher going way back to the engagement of William’s parents. I adored Princess Diana and followed her all through my teen years. I still have tons of magazine clippings of Diana, the wedding, the births of her sons, all of her fashion triumphs, etc. stored in a box somewhere in my attic. Now that William is all grown up and has a family of his own, it’s fun to keep tabs on what he and the duchess are doing. They seem like such a nice couple, and their love story (friends turned sweethearts) is a plot plucked right from the pages of some of my favorite novels. I can’t wait to see if baby number two is a boy or girl!

Which celebrity did you crush on the most when you were a kid?
My first, and also my longest-lasting, celebrity crush was Harrison Ford. I believe the crush started when I saw The Empire Strikes Back and fell head over heels for Han Solo. Who could resist such a lovable rogue? My crush continued when the first Indiana Jones film came out. No lie - my friends and I watched that movie in the theatre 8 times during the summer of ’81. We didn’t have a lot to do back in those pre-internet days. ;) I remained devoted to Harrison Ford well into adulthood, but the thrill wore off when he turned gray and started wearing an earring. So, I threw him over for a rotating roster of fake boyfriends, most of whom have British accents.

Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, what was the experience like?
I met quite a few through my job, actually. During the ‘90s, I worked for a company that sold a communication product widely used in the entertainment industry, so we had a booth at a big television industry conference that was held in Vegas every year. I roamed the floor a lot at that convention and got to queue up and have my picture taken with many popular television stars of the time – Fran Drescher, Matthew Fox, Jane Seymour, Chuck Norris, Lorenzo Lamas, and William Shatner just to name a few. Everyone I met was really nice; a few of them even confessed to me that they were super nervous and couldn’t stop sweating. Celebrities are people, too! :)

Are there any celebrities who came from your hometown or where you live now?
Of course, the most well-known celebrity to hail from the Atlanta area is Julia Roberts. She grew up in Smyrna, which is a suburb about ten minutes from me. Kim Basinger is, also, a Georgia peach, but her family was from Athens, the home of UGA in the eastern part of the state. Ryan Seacrest is another Georgia native. And, of course, there are tons of musicians who started out in Atlanta – Cee LoGreen, Jason Aldean, André 3000, and Chris and Rich Robinson from the Black Crowes (My brother went to high school with them!)

Do you have a celebrity doppelgänger?
I’ve had a few throughout the years, but the one I get the most frequently now is Melissa Joan Hart a.k.a. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, probably because we’re both petite and blonde. I’m actually several years older than Melissa, so it’s her that looks like me, not vice versa!

Thanks to Tracie for visiting and 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

Worldwide. Giveaway ends November 23rd at midnight EST.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: Blame it on the Fame

By Gail Allison

The road to the Oscars: a red carpet littered with couture gowns, killer heels, and enough paparazzi energy to power an entire city for a week. But what comes before all the lights and the swagger? What are the lives of the nominees like leading up to the big day? And what if each of the five glamorous nominees for best actress is completely different from the other, and each woman has her own special (if, in some cases, dysfunctional) way of dealing with the pressures of a nomination from the Academy? Blame it on the Fame by Tracie Banister was so much fun to read. In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, she lets us follow each of the five nominees for the coveted Best Actress award and observe how they’re dealing with the pressure of wanting that golden statue so badly, and exactly what each one of them is willing to sacrifice to get it.

Anaya Reynolds is an ex-model who has her sights set on being the next big thing on the silver screen, but the sex, drugs, and booze seem to be getting in the way. Or is it the acting that’s getting in the way of her partying? Can she rein in her wild child ways or will her career implode with a spectacular crash and burn like so many wannabes in Hollywood?

Laurel Hastings appears to have it all, until her personal life disintegrates in front of her very eyes, and then her scheming best friend splatters the gory details all over the entertainment news. Can she get it together in time to walk the red carpet with grace and style or will she end up running from the spotlight, just like she did last time she was thrust into the public eye?

In the press, Danielle Jamison is perfectly balancing motherhood and a skyrocketing acting career...but behind closed doors her life is a totally different story. The children she’s so devoted to in front of the cameras are nothing but an inconvenience, and the husband she’s so committed to is nothing but a dead weight who is riding her coattails to the top and not pulling his weight in the household, according to her. Now if Danielle can just keep the two worlds from colliding and maintain the picture-perfect facade that she’s created for the press, everything will be ideal. But what if someone spots a crack in her veneer?

Jordan Schaeffer is trying to build an acting career on her own name and her own talent: not an easy thing to do when you’re the child of a movie star mother and a powerhouse producer father. She knows the road that she wants to be on isn’t easy but she’s willing to put in the time and effort for it. Now she needs to convince her mother that she’s doing what’s right for her. But can she live her own life and be happy with it when her mother, one of the biggest names in show biz, is intent on creating the right path for her?

Philippa Sutcliffe is choosy about the roles she’s in and even choosier about the men she’s with. When an off-screen romance between her and her leading man ends in betrayal and tears she vows never to work with him again. So what will she do when that same picture receives a number of nominations from the Academy, and they’re pushed back together for a nonstop run of press engagements? Will she get pulled back in by his charm and charisma, or is she really over him now?

Blame it on the Fame was a really fun read, especially if you enjoy awards shows. It was a look behind the curtain at the way five very different actresses dealt with the pressures and stresses of being acknowledged for their talents. It was never too heavy, even though it touched on some fairly weighty topics (mental health, infidelity, and substance abuse to name a few). The ending was just perfect too. Very well written, and easy to enjoy, I’d recommend Blame it on the Fame to anyone who enjoys awards shows (and the catty commentary before and after). There was definitely some colorful language as well as some steamy love scenes, so if that’s not your thing, maybe steer clear. In my opinion, though, Ms. Banister has come up with a winner here, and I’ll be putting this in my re-read pile for sure. This book managed to take me off the couch and on to the red carpet every time I picked it up...and I didn’t have to get cinched into spanx and a strapless gown to attend!!

Thanks to Tracie Banister for the book in exchange for an honest review. Come back tomorrow to hear Tracie's thoughts about celebrities and enter to win this book! (Worldwide giveaway.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

What's in the a giveaway

Melissa A:

Independently Wealthy by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal from St. Martin's Press

New Uses for Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick from Penguin (Berkley)

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg from PaperBackSwap


I am Ella. Buy Me. by Joan Ellis from Word Slinger Publicity (e-book)

The Thursday Night Club by/from Steven Manchester (e-book)


The Truth About Suzie by/from Erica Rimlinger


The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty from Penguin UK

Thornfield Hall by Jane Stubbs from Corvus

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes from Penguin UK


Confessions of the Sausage Queen by Ute Carbone from Bridging the Gap Promotions (e-book)

What could be in YOUR e-mail:

Peace by Piece and Cape Maybe by Carol Fragale Brill

Carol has THREE e-book sets of both books to give away worldwide (with a printed book option to one US winner)

Visit Carol on Facebook and Twitter.

Cape Maybe

Sometimes the toughest journey is the one that takes you back to your roots. For Katie, navigating life and love is trickier than walking barefoot on a beach full of broken shells. Maybe Katie will break the family cycle of alcoholism. Maybe she won’t. Set against the backdrop of picturesque, seaside Cape May,
Cape Maybe traces the push and pull of Katie’s conflicting love for her erratic mother and steadfast grandfather, and her ever-growing attraction to her best friend, Dennis. Katie’s life is shaped by her vow to be nothing like her alcoholic mother. Her reckless teenage choices test the strength of family ties, friendship, and first love. Ultimately about hard-earned hope, what we inherit, and what we choose to let go, in Cape Maybe Katie discovers what she never expected about motherhood, forgiving yourself, and creating your own second chances.

Peace by Piece

Six years after fleeing college and Thomas’s betrayal, Maggie has nearly given up on love. Enter Izzie, a motherless eight year old, and every maternal instinct kicks-in. With Donald, Izzie’s dad, Maggie waits for the thrill—for anything magic: a spark, a quickening, a quiver racing up her spine. The magic never comes, but it is precisely the ordinariness of his kisses and subsequent proposal that make her feel safe. She imagines that loving Izzie is enough to finally lock Thomas out of her heart. Donald sways Maggie to quit work and be a stay-at-home mom to Izzie, cajoling her to wait for the right time to have a baby. Izzie is the center of her world, but some days Maggie cannot think over the roar of her biological clock. Unable to win the baby debate, she returns to college and accepts a teaching job. She has what many women long for: the house and minivan, the daughter and spouse, a career and steadfast girlfriends. But there’s an empty space inside that no amount of bingeing can fill. After an ectopic pregnancy, Maggie’s bulimia worsens. Donald cannot cope with all her tears over her lost baby. For a much needed break, Maggie attends a teacher’s conference in her college town, a handful of miles from where her heart first came alive—and where it was irrevocably shattered. By chance, Maggie and Thomas, also a teacher, reconnect. Will Maggie return to her enviable life as a wife to a successful banker and as a mother to the child who has become her own? Or this time around, will she trust Thomas and follow her heart?

See Jami's review.

How to win:

Please answer ONE of these questions:
*Are there any celebrities who came from your hometown or where you live now?
*Have you ever dreamt about a celebrity?
*Who is your favorite celebrity with the same first or last name as you?

One entry per person (if you choose to answer all the questions, they will NOT count as extra entries)

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).

Worldwide (with print option available to ONE US winner). Giveaway ends November 19th at midnight EST.

Book Review: Slippers in the Oven

By Sara Steven

And you thought you have family drama.

In Slippers in the Oven, Ann and Emma are estranged sisters who find themselves at the funeral of their dead husband. Yes, you read that correctly. Ann, a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother had been married to Henry for many years before he decided to leave her for her sister, Emma, the wild one. Emma feels it’s time to bury the hatchet, proposing a two-week ocean cruise where they’ll be forced to communicate and get to know each other again. Her hope is for reconciliation and a better understanding as to why everything had played out the way it had with Henry.

They really have nothing in common (other than a deceased husband). Ann is meek and selective, quiet and shy. Much more reserved than her older sister Emma, who had never been married before Henry, has no children, and has worked in the corporate world for most of her adult life. Loud and vivacious, she’s almost always the center of attention, yet in Emma’s mind, Ann is the one who seems to steal the spotlight at any given moment just by being awkward and bordering a bit on clumsy. People find her most endearing, something Emma yearns for, and Ann wishes she could be more outgoing just like her big sister.

Along with these two strong female leads are a sprinkling of nutty characters they find on the cruise ship. It’s never a dull moment at the dinner table seated next to Gloria, the habitual cruiser who has sailed seventeen times and counting, or Denny, a woman who never shows up to a meal without dressing to impress first, complete with sequins. The men on the ship are even more hysterical, like Reg who Emma has deemed “follicularly challenged” or Norman, the man who sweeps Ann off her feet during a ballroom dance lesson yet can’t seem to speak above a whisper.

We get flashbacks of the past and childhood memories for Ann and Emma, delving deeper into the story of why these two never felt they could get along, leading up to the moment where Emma practically stole Henry from Ann. I'm reminded of something a friend once told me: “A long trip will make or break a relationship.” With pivotal moments as haphazard and choppy as their ocean cruise, it makes you wonder if the time these sisters are spending together will completely break their sisterhood. Will they ever be able to trust in one another again?"

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Swati Sharma leads the glamorous a book giveaway

It takes one to know one...
When I first heard Jennifer Weiner speak at a book signing, someone asked her how she became a writer. Her answer? She reads. The same can be said for Swati Sharma, who has been reading chick lit novels on a regular basis and reviewing them for Chicklit Club. She is now a chick lit novelist herself, and is here at the tail end of her blog tour to celebrate the release of her debut, Fashionably Yours.

Swati was born and grew up in Delhi. Before dabbling into writing, she completed her post graduation in business. Prior to writing Fashionably Yours, she authored four coffee-table books and wrote articles for a lifestyle magazine. One thing you may not know about her is that she is a clairvoyant and no, it’s not a joke! Swati currently resides in Delhi with her extensive collection of nail polishes, lipsticks, and a very neat pile of fashion magazines. You can find her at her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Today, Swati is talking about celebrities with us. She also has TWO e-books of Fashionably Yours for readers in the US and/or UK.

“Maya Kapoor swaps the snowy mountains for the glittering ocean.”

Maya Kapoor arrived in Mumbai with a glamorous dream, quite literally. Maya wants to be a serious fashion writer for the high-end fashion magazine, Glamorous, but luck is not in her favor. Instead, she lands a job with a local fashion magazine, Style. Maya hates everything about it but for now this is all she has. Despite all the odds, Maya is excited about living an independent, fashionable life in the city of dreams.

At twenty-five, love has eluded Maya. But when she bumps into the dashing photographer, Aryan Malik, she falls head over heels for his gorgeous smile and charming manner.

But Maya seems to be stuck in a rut - her credit card bills are sky-high, her melodramatic mother can’t stop ranting, the boss is unbearably cruel, her younger sister has decided to tie the knot, and she’s not sure if Aryan could love a simple, confused girl like her.

Will Maya get the fairytale life she dreamed about or will she let everything slip through her fingers? Read her diary and find out.

If you were hosting a party and could invite any three celebrities, who would you choose?
Sarah Jessica Parker, Colin Firth and James Marsden.

Who is your favorite actress? Actor?
Kate Hudson and James Marsden

Who is your favorite celebrity couple?
Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.

If you could be a celebrity for a day, what would you be famous for and how would you spend your day?
Well. I think I would be famous for my curves. Don't laugh, I am serious. I just have to shift few pounds here and there. I would have spent my morning reading the magazines and drinking the champagne in the Jacuzzi, would have gone out for the coffee to some fancy cafe with my girls and would have spent my evening in Chanel with a personal shopping assistant.

Have you ever missed an opportunity to meet a celebrity because you didn't know they were famous at the time?
Not really. I am not celebrity crazy.

Which celebrity would make a great chick lit character?
Indisputably James Marsden.

Thanks to Swati for visiting with us and sharing her book with our readers!

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US/UK only. Giveaway ends November 18th at midnight EST.

We may be the last stop, but see where Swati has already been and learn more about her and Fashionably Yours! (Click on the picture to expand the size.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reader Spotlight: Like Mother, Like Daughter

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: Rhonda and Kayla have been following CLC for a while and participating in all the giveaways. I love their enthusiasm for books and based on their last name, I guessed they were related. Well, I was right! They're mother and daughter. And they remind me of myself and my mother in how we share a love for books and recommend them to each other. I thought it would be fun to put the spotlight on this dynamic duo today.

Name: Rhonda Gothier
Age (or age range): 50's
Location: Florida

How did you find Chick Lit Central? I like Chick Lit and was referred by my daughter

What are your top FIVE favorite chick lit novels of all time?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (all time favorite book)
Mrs. Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
O'Dwyer trilogy by Nora Roberts: Dark Witch, Shadow Spell, and Dark Magick (anxiously awaiting release)

What do you do when you're not reading? 
I enjoy playing card games with family and watching movies with my grandkids.

Visit Rhonda on Facebook and Twitter.

L to R: Kayla and Rhonda

Name: Kayla Gothier
Age (or age range): Early 30's
Location: Northeast Florida

How did you find Chick Lit Central?
 The finder of many fun things - Facebook ;-)

What are your top FIVE favorite chick lit novels of all time?
(1) Anything by Emily Giffin (LOVE her!!)
(2) Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella
(3) Meg Cabot's Queen of Babble series and Heather Wells series
(4) Anything by Jodi Picoult
(5) Anything by Nicholas Sparks.
It is so hard to pick specific books - how about authors?!? :-)

What do you do when you're not reading? 
When I am not reading, I am probably sleeping so I can keep up with my very active children. :-)

Visit Kayla on Facebook and Twitter.