Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: The Matchmaker

48-year-old Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others - like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man - call it meddlesome, but there's no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance.

Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive.

But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she's made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it's too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most. The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking new novel from Elin Hilderbrand about losing and finding love, even as you're running out of time. (Synopsis courtesy of Hachette.)

Amy Bromberg:

The Matchmaker is the latest from Elin Hilderbrand, who has been dubbed as the “Queen of the Summer Read.” I 100% agree with this because one, I love her novels, and two, I always have them on my beach read list. So it should come as no surprise that Elin has crafted another grand slam of a story.

Every summer while reading Elin’s newest release I’m always motivated to visit Nantucket. It’s a yearly mental vacation for me. Unfortunately, I haven’t visited the island yet, but I hope to very soon. With each new book I feel I know Nantucket that much better, be it the restaurants and boutique stores on Main Street, the beaches, and some characters that show up from time to time in other novels of hers.

I fell in love with Dabney from the very beginning of the story. Her adoration and zeal for Nantucket really touched my heart. Unfortunately you don’t see this very often, where someone is this dedicated to his or her town and community (at least I don’t). I love how she was also 100% devoted to her daughter, husband, and Clendenin. To say that she has a lot on her plate is an understatement.

Talk about a fantastic love story between Dabney and Clendenin. You know what they say, first loves never die. It’s very rare that first loves get a second chance later in life. Dabney and Clendenin were very lucky.

I was drawn in right from the get go and I couldn’t put this book down. That being said, it went by way too quickly. The Matchmaker is definitely one of my favorite books of 2014 so far. Be warned though; make sure you have a box of tissues near by for the end of the story.

As a side note,  I recently had the pleasure of seeing Elin again (my first time meeting her was at Book Expo America 2013) at Books and Greetings on July 11th. Yes, I was very happy!

Melissa Patafio:

I am a huge fan of Elin Hilderbrand and it is for a good reason. She somehow manages to put every major ingredient for a great book into her stories, every single time. The Matchmaker is another perfect example of Hilderbrand's ability to write with wisdom, empathy, honesty, and wit. I couldn't put this book down, literally. I devoured it within a day and was sad when I had to say goodbye to the characters that were so real to me for the duration of the story. I found myself thinking about this book long after I finished it, and I still do.

If you are looking for something to take to the beach, any of Hilderbrand's books are perfect, but this latest gem will not disappoint you. I was surprised by the twists and turns, even though sometimes there were clues that gave away what MIGHT happen, I was still pleasantly left wondering where it was taking me. As in all of her books, the Nantucket setting is brought to life with the mention of many of the wonderful places that make Nantucket a truly magical place. Having been lucky enough to visit the Island, I can envision exactly where the characters are and appreciate the beauty they are seeing throughout the story.

While the true basis of the story is ultimately heartbreaking, the hope and love that remains a constant theme kept me smiling. I love Elin's writing and her ability to connect us so wholly with the characters each and every time. If you have not read The Matchmaker yet, you are missing out!

Thanks to Little, Brown and Company for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have THREE copies for some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!

Visit Elin's website to learn more about and purchase her novels.

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 August 5th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Best Supporting Role

By Melissa Amster

Ever since I read Apocalipstick on my honeymoon 10 years ago, I have become a huge fan of Sue Margolis' novels. They're so funny and entertaining, featuring characters who end up in some crazy situations from time-to-time. There's a lot of Jewish humor (which I can definitely appreciate), and Sue knows how to work it into a story seamlessly. And then there are the "romantic" scenes. While I was sad to hear that Sue was toning down on them starting with her previous couple of novels, I now know what to expect and still enjoy her novels nonetheless. Best Supporting Role is her latest masterpiece and it shows that she hasn't lost her touch one bit!

After Sarah Green's gambling addict husband dies and leaves her practically penniless with two children to raise on her own, she decides to live a safe and practical life with a stable job and a responsible boyfriend. That seems to work pretty well for her until her aunt passes away and leaves her with a lingerie shop to manage and two employees who are practically part of the family. Soon, she's taking on some gambles of her own that put her relationship and financial state at risk, but heap on some rewards in turn...such as the attractive actor/handyman who helps her fix up the shop.

I had a lot of fun reading Sue's latest novel. She had me laughing out loud many times with her witty humor, especially when it came to conversations between Sarah and her kids. The dialogue and interactions between all the characters was strong and kept the story moving along nicely. I especially loved Sarah's "aunties." They were so much fun and also provided much needed comic relief. Even with all the laughter, I got misty-eyed at times. And while the "romantic" scenes were absent (which I was prepared for this time around), she tossed in some teasers to get the imagination going. Since the story was so strong and compelling, the lack of "romantic" scenes wasn't as big a deal this time around. They weren't needed to carry along the story.

My only complaint is that there was some Holocaust humor in the form of Nazi jokes. Maybe I was reading it at a bad time because of everything going on in the Middle East, but I was also shocked that a fellow member of the tribe would include such humor. I'd be laughing about something and then a comment related to Nazis would stop me in my tracks. It only happened twice and it wasn't horrifying, I just would have been happier without it. Aside from that, the story wrapped up a little too neatly, but by that point I only wanted good things to happen for Sarah after all she had been through.

If you want a fun, light-hearted story, you've come to the right place. If you want to know how well Sue can write a really steamy "romantic" scene, definitely check out some of her previous novels (and read them in the privacy of your bedroom to avoid blushing). While I couldn't come up with a movie cast for this book, I did picture Alex O'Loughlin as Hugh (the actor/handyman). Hope that will get your imagination going too!

Thanks to Berkley (Penguin) for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy for a lucky US reader!

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 August 4th at midnight EST.

More by Sue Margolis:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Splashing in the waves with Erika Marks...plus a book giveaway

Let’s give a warm welcome to Erika Marks. Her latest novel, It Comes in Waves, came out on July 1st. The first book of hers I read was The Guest House, which came out last year. I absolutely loved it. After that I ran to my library and took out her other two, The Mermaid Collector, and her debut, Little Gale Gumbo. Erika grew up in Maine and then went to New Orleans to study architectural preservation. She met and fell in love with her now husband, Ian, when they were walking their dogs on the levee in the rain. They now live in North Carolina with their two children. Before turning to writing Erika was an illustrator, an art director and a cake decorator.

Thanks to Penguin, we have one copy of It Comes in Waves for any US reader.

Visit Erika at her website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Favorite thing about summer: 
No school schedule. My husband is a teacher so our summer routine means NO routine which is such a gift. Later nights, lazier mornings. I know how lucky we have it, believe me. But most of all, I treasure the time we have to be together as a family.

Annual summertime tradition: 
A road trip! Some summers we head north to see family and friends in Maine; other summers (like this one) we head west to visit my brother in Colorado. Usually we camp along the way and it’s always an adventure. I am a car nut—I love driving and I love the experiences that come with car trips and the open road. Our girls are still young and it’s important to my husband and I that we make the most of this time to explore the landscape together and show them that there are always new places to see and experience.

Favorite summertime food: 
My husband grows a wicked garden so my favorite summertime food would have to be the fresh salsa he makes from his tomatoes and peppers. Un. Real. I have been caught eating it by the spoonful. And honestly, I will put it on anything. Seriously. Name a food and I could almost guarantee I have covered it with his salsa.

Favorite summertime beverage:
Sangria, no contest. To me there is nothing more seasonal or festive than a pitcher of sangria and scooping out that wine-soaked fruit from the bottom of the glass. Blueberries, raspberries, chunks of nectarines, watermelon. Whatever’s in the fruit basket goes in.

When I go to the beach, I MUST bring these three things: 
Sunglasses, a good straw hat, and something to store shells in after an afternoon of beachcombing. I love to read at the beach, but with two little mermaids, there’s not a whole lot of time for books when the sand and surf are calling!

Favorite amusement park:
Growing up in Maine, we always went to Funtown in Saco. I haven’t been back for years but I have very fond memories of the rides, the loud music, the photo booths, and the sticky smell of cotton candy and fried dough.

Thanks to Erika for celebrating summer with us and Penguin for sharing her book with our readers.

~Introduction by Amy Bromberg

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 August 3rd at midnight EST.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summertime fun with CLC

We answered some of the same questions we asked the authors who visited this month. Read about how we've been spending our summer! We'd love to hear about how your summer has been so far, as well.

Maryland State Fair, 2012
Melissa A:

Favorite thing about summer:
That's when my birthday takes place.

Did you go to camp as a kid? Day or overnight? Favorite memory from camp?
I went to both at different times. My second year at this one popular day camp, I met my BFF. We were in the same group and she asked me what it was like to have braces. We've been best friends for 27 years and even did one summer together at an overnight camp.

Song that reminds you most of summer:
"Accidentally in Love" by Counting Crows. I always think of Shrek and Fiona playing around on the beach. Really though, it's a fun and playful song and I always heard it during the first summer after I got married, so I just make that association.

Favorite ice cream flavor:
Chocolate chip cookie dough

Favorite movie that takes place in the summer: 
Tie between Dirty Dancing and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Have you been to the Renaissance Faire? If so, what was your favorite thing about it?
I've been several times and love the atmosphere. It reminds me of The Princess Bride. It's fun to watch people who aren't working there walk around in their elaborate costumes. And it's fun to see performances, especially of the comedic kind. (One time a juggler made me kiss him and he moved his face right as I was going for his cheek.)

Maryland Renaissance Festival


Amy:

Favorite summertime food:
Corn on the cob, raspberries and blueberries.

When I go to the beach, I MUST bring these three things: 
Sunscreen, a towel and of course a beach read.

Do you like waterslides?
Absolutely! I'm a Pisces through and through. I actually was called fishy when I was in day camp because I was always under water.

Favorite carnival food:
Fried oreos and funnel cake.

Song that reminds you most of summer:
Definitely "All Summer Long" by Kid Rock

Favorite place to get ice cream:
That has to be either Emack & Bolio's  or Thomas Sweet.


Melissa P:

Favorite thing about summer:
My favorite thing about summer is being outside! I love to sit by the pool and read, have cocktails on a fun patio with my friends, or go hiking/walking outdoors. Moving to Colorado from Arizona was a big change because in AZ we are always outside, even in the heat. I've had to find any way possible to be outdoors here, even if it means just a glass of wine on my balcony, looking at the Rockies and the view of downtown :)

Freedigitalphotos.net
Favorite summertime food:
My favorite summertime food is all the fresh fruit! I could live off of a great fruit salad for days! :)

Did you go to camp as a kid? Day or overnight? Favorite memory from camp?
I went to overnight camp as a kid. It was on whitefish lake in Minnesota and was a private catholic camp. I learned to sail, shoot rifles, water ski, and we had church services every Sunday morning. It was a great experience for me!

Favorite summertime memory from when you were growing up:
My favorite summertime memory from growing up is playing ghost in the graveyard or kick the can with all the kids on our block in Chicago. Our parents would all sit in lawn chairs on one of the driveways and drink wine while we played. We also used to ride our bikes all over the neighborhood and swing on a rope across the creek and catch bull frogs and fish off the dock. It was the most idyllic childhood ever.

Bikini or one-piece?
Bikini

Favorite ice cream flavor:
My favorite ice cream flavor now is half baked by Ben and Jerry's. When I was little it was either chocolate or mint chocolate chip. It was such a treat to get a cone and sit in the sun


Jami:

Favorite summertime food:
I’m a born and raised Maryland girl. My husband is a born and raised Maryland boy. Both sets of parents were Maryland born and raised.... along with all four sets of grandparents! For us, summer food means only one thing – steamed crabs. Yes, we were both born with wooden mallets in our hands. From a very early age, we were handed a steaming hot blue crab, covered with Old Bay seasoning, and instructed not to rub our eyes. We were taught to pull off the claws first, bend them back, pull out the claw meat and stuff it in our mouths. (Only the front few claws have enough meat to make it worth the work.) Then turn over the crab, peel up “the apron,” bend the body in half, pull off the shell, throw away the devil’s meat, and dig out the juicy white meat. Maybe swirl it in some more Old Bay for extra spice. What about that mallet? Oh, only amateurs actually use it. Real Marylanders can crack open a crab with our bare hands. Of course, the ultimate irony is that after 45 summers of enjoying this regional treat, my husband and I moved to Florida. We’re surrounded by sunshine and sea water 12 months out of the year, but the crabs here are stone or Alaskan King. And there’s not a single container of Old Bay in sight.

Becky:

Favorite summertime beverage:
Elderflower & Lime Kopparberg, you could forget it's alcoholic it's so refreshing.

Favorite ride at an amusement park:
I enjoy a good water ride, I could literally spend all day going on the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios I've been on it a fair few times and never tired of it.

Ocean/lake or pool?
Ocean. I grew up by the sea and I love spending time there still. I love closing my eyes listening to the waves and picturing myself somewhere a bit more exotic. I like a little paddle too, tend to save swimming in the sea for when I'm on holiday somewhere warmer!



Sandals or flip-flops?
I have wide feet so i have less issues with flip flops!

Favorite ice cream flavor:
I would say mint chocolate chip, although I had a turkish delight flavour recently which was amazing!

Favorite chick lit novel that takes place in the summer:
The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Gail:

Favorite thing about summer:
Laying out in my giant hammock in the backyard, reading the day away in the sunshine.

Did you go to camp as a kid? Day or overnight? Favorite memory from camp?
I went to day camp as a kid for a few summers. I remember a gym n swim with one of my sisters (gymnastics in the morning, swimming lessons in the afternoon), but the BEST one I went to was at the local zoo. Because I was in the group of oldest kids (I was 12!) we got to prepare meals for some of the animals and I remember being allowed to hold a tiger cub. He was very warm and VERY heavy, but it was awfully neat to be allowed to hold him.

Freedigitalphotos.net
Ocean/lake or pool?
I prefer the pool....no greeblies on the bottom to grab at my feet. But I also enjoy summertime out at my parents' cabin at the lake. Just maybe not so much being in the lake. Seaweed. Enough said.

What is your favorite way to cool off?
Daiquiris. No....wait...margaritas. No...Mexican Bulldogs on the patio. Please can I have all three?

Time to barbecue...what will you be grilling?
Would you believe pizza?? My husband and I found a recipe for pizza on the barbecue and it's phenomenal! We put artichoke hearts, black olives, onions, green peppers, feta cheese, and spinach on it. Amazing. Also, spaghetti squash done on the barbecue is seriously delicious.

Favorite ice cream flavor:
Lemon sorbet. But not the sweet lemon kind. The super tart "omg it tastes like they put 900 lemons into this but I can't stop eating it" kind. Mmmmm....

Favorite movie that takes place in the summer:
Dirty Dancing!

Book Review: The Way Back Home

By Becky Gulc

I’ve been an avid reader of Freya North’s books for a number of years now and very much enjoyed a talk given by Freya at York library a couple of years ago. In the busy world of reviewing I’d admittedly bought but not got round to reading Freya’s last two novels (Chances and Rumours), but I’d loved the last book of hers I did read, Secrets. I even visited some of the settings from this novel in Saltburn last year. So when I was approached to review Freya’s latest novel, The Way Back Home, I was delighted and couldn’t wait to prioritise reading another book by one of my favourite all time writers, and this time with my reviewing hat on. So what is all about?

One summer, something happened that changed everything forever…

Growing up in an artists’ commune in Derbyshire, Oriana Taylor has freedom at her fingertips in a house full of extraordinary characters. Her closest friends, brothers Malachy and Jed, share their childhood with her. There, in the rambling old house and tangled grounds, their dreams and desires take wing unchecked.

But too much freedom comes at a price. Something happens the summer they are fifteen. And now, having been gone nearly twenty years, Oriana is back.

This is their story. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK)

This book was everything I hoped it would be and more. I’ve read that Freya was inspired to write this story after visiting her friend’s apartment in a Georgian mansion, which was also a former artist’s commune. Windward, the house in this story was destined to be a leading character in the novel, and it really is such a fantastic place to set a story. With such rich description of the setting, I could vividly picture Windward back in the day with the various interesting characters living there, separate but amongst one another, and also in the present when much has changed in many respects, while in other respects nothing has changed at all.

I was intrigued from the very beginning of the novel, we learn something serious happens in Oriana’s life when she is 15, and we are cleverly given snippets of information at different points in time during Oriana’s childhood. This kept me intrigued as to what exactly what happened until we near the end of the novel when all is revealed. Yes I may have seen it coming as we got nearer the end, but that didn’t spoil it for me at all, it just raised more questions for Freya to answer for me on how relationships could ever be salvaged after the incident, thankfully my questions were answered.

There were three very strong characters in this novel. I cared about all three of them; Oriana, Jed and Malachy, all flawed, realistic, a bit lost. I loved the complex relationships between them all, with some things clearly left unresolved from twenty years ago. Mistakes were made, but who hasn’t made mistakes, especially when young? Again I enjoyed the slow reveal of the past, what exactly was Oriana’s relationship with each of the brothers? I enjoyed Oriana working through her current dilemmas when returning from the US after so long, and felt the emotion and regret along with her. I willed her to speak up about her true feelings once she acknowledges these herself, even if there are potential repercussions. I was on edge as to how things would end up for them all, and I was pleased with how everything was tied up.

I always love it when authors bring back characters from previous novels, and Freya brings back Cat and Django in this novel which I’m sure will delight fans. (I pictured Django very clearly as David Essex thanks to some Facebook chat quite a while ago now!)

If you haven’t yet read a book by Freya North what are you waiting for?

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Guest Book Review and Giveaway: Styling Wellywood

By Jacqueline Friedland

**Giveaway is now closed**

How do you handle an upsetting situation? Do you face the music, try to come to grips with whatever happened, work through the issues and move forward? Or do you run? Do you evacuate the premises, the neighborhood, the state even? Perhaps you refuse to see or hear anything related to the harrowing incident that has gotten you down. If you ditch the group of friends that made you mad, or drop the class with the professor you accidentally offended, you know what you are: An escapist. You’re one of those people who thinks that if you never return to the store where the salesclerk bitched you out, it’s almost as if that lady does not exist. And if she doesn’t exist, you don’t have to feel bummed that she called you a stuck-up pig, right?

Wrong. In her debut novel, Styling Wellywood: A fashionable romantic comedy, Kate O’Keeffe drives home the point that you cannot always escape from your problems, no matter how far you run. The book’s protagonist, young, attractive, self-deprecating Jessica Banks, is an escapist extraordinaire. The book begins as Jessica reluctantly returns to her hometown of Wellington, New Zealand, single and unemployed. After a mysterious tragedy four years earlier, Jessica had left her family and her besties behind, hightailing it out of town. She spent the next few years living it up in London, but sadly, her visa expired, and she has been forced to return home. The story opens with Jessica watching her younger cousin’s school play, in the same auditorium where she performed as a child, and wondering how she has ended up exactly where she started.

Luckily for Jessica, she has at least arranged a professional venture with one of her best childhood friends. The beautiful and fashion-forward Morgan has agreed to include Jessica as a junior partner in her personal styling business. Jessica also reconnects with her old friend Laura, who is now a spit-up covered, harried mother of twins and Ben, the guy who has been vetting Jessica’s boyfriends since high school. Laura tries to convince Jessica to visit the parents of their other childhood BFF, Lindsay, who is mysteriously absent during much of the story. In typical escapist fashion, however, Jessica continually avoids the task, thereby letting us know that there is a big unresolved issue awaiting consideration.

Meanwhile, Jessica’s mother convinces her to play tennis at the local country club as a means of getting her single self out there. Before she knows it, the world’s hottest tennis pro is pursuing her. His looks make up for what he’s missing between his ears, and Jessica feels her time in Wellington might not be as bad as she expected. Sadly, just a couple of weeks into her return, everything seems to fall apart. Morgan disappears, leaving nothing but a hasty text message and Jessica holding the proverbial styling bag for many a high maintenance client. Worse yet, Laura loses her patience with Jessica’s apparent self-involvement, and Ben turns out to be not at all what Jessica always thought.

Jessica reaches a point where she can do little more than return to the single bed in her very lavender childhood bedroom and hide under her very lavender covers. She is finally motivated by financial necessity to continue the styling business in Morgan’s absence. Although she is petrified to fail without Morgan’s help, she soon learns that she is more capable than she realized. She also discovers that helping her clients deal with personal problems (like getting over a divorce or building self-esteem) through fashion and styling improvements actually helps her make many discoveries and positive changes to herself, as well. It’s not until she goes on a trip to visit her father and his new-age second wife, Morning (yes, that’s her name), that she understands she must face her Wellington demons before she can move forward with her life. Once she stops trying to escape, she might even discover that she doesn’t want to.

Part Bridget Jones’s Diary and part Eat, Pray, Love, O’Keefe’s book blends multiple styles to form a novel that is all its own. At first glance, the book presents like a light, summer beach read. The pacing is fast and there are many romantic conundrums and slapstick snafus. However, underneath the apparent light-hearted fluff are several weighty issues, which O’Keeffe treats with sensitivity, finesse and just the right touch of humor.

This ambitious novel tackles topics ranging from friendship, motherhood and divorce to sexual orientation and mental health issues, all while presenting a charming travelogue about the windiest city in New Zealand (which is apparently the windiest city on the entire Earth). Pieces of the novel might seem trite, like Jessica’s cocktail-drinking man-obsessed divorced mother, her high school arch nemesis who has of course, grown into a beautiful and successful woman, and the romance that you can predict from the novel’s start. Even so, the story’s circuitous path and the meatiness of the underlying issues are sufficient to set this book apart. It is worth escaping to a quiet spot to read O’Keeffe’s engrossing tale.

Thanks to Kate O'Keeffe for the book in exchange for an honest review. She has TWO e-books (Kindle) for some lucky readers anywhere in the world! 

How to win:
We're making it easy this time. Just comment below with your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win (i.e. Twitter handle)

Entries without contact information will NOT be counted (and we do NOT count "Google +" as contact information).

Worldwide. Giveaway ends August 3rd at midnight EST.


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


Friday, July 25, 2014

What's in the mail

Melissa A:

Twisted Straight by Elizabeth E. Zerman

When You Make it Home by Claire Ashby from Red Adept (e-book)

Amy:

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand from Hachette

Becky:

It Had to Be You by Ellie Adams from Transworld

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand  from Hodder & Stoughton

Kathryn:

When We Fall by Emily Liebert from Sarah Hall Productions

Gravel on the Side of the Road by Kris Radish from BookSparks (e-book)

Ameera Unveiled by/from Kat Varn

Book Review: Pretty in Ink

By Gail Allison

There's a shakeup going down at Hers magazine, and it's affecting everyone from the Editor in Chief right down to the mailroom guy. Readership and ad sales are down, so Louisa (the old editor-in-chief) is out and Mimi (the new) is in with a vengeance. Everyone knows that a new boss means a new staff, but no one knows how that's going to work. Will Mimi keep the well-oiled cogs that are the current staff in place or will heads begin to roll? And how will everyone react to all the changes?

Pretty In Ink by Lindsay Palmer walks us through the inner workings of a women's magazine. We get to see firsthand the tug-of-war between journalistic integrity and what headlines actually get that glossy grabbed at the grocery store. We see the quiet war waged between staff who are used to doing things the old way, and those who have embraced (whether willingly or not) the new way.

This story jumps from character to character, and from department to department in every chapters. It's a unique way to get a number of viewpoints across, and can feel a bit muddled at points (more than once I had to stop and think about who was actually narrating this chapter), but once you get into the rhythm of it, it's an interesting way to tell a story, for sure. You get to see everyone's attitude towards the new boss, and watch some people come around, see Mimi woo some people to become her new work BFF, and feel the knots of tension in your stomach when some of them get that awful call to go upstairs and see HR. Their unique personality quirks and way of narrating helps keep the characters separate for the most part, and from chapter to chapter you get to watch the same story unfold, but from a whole spectrum of viewpoints. In fact, looking back on this novel, the story kept progressing at a formidable rate. The host of voices used made it feel like nothing at all, though.

I found Pretty in Ink to be quite captivating. Ms. Palmer definitely draws on her experience in the magazine industry to provide realistic situations (and people, most likely) throughout the novel. None of the situations seemed to be too far removed from what I imagine everyday life is like at a magazine, and as soon as I got a grasp on which character was whom, I settled in and enjoyed the story as it was told through the many different characters. It might be a little optimistic to call it a "beach read" due to the sheer quantity of narrative voices used (if you accidentally took a nap mid-chapter you might have to go back and re-read to figure out whose story it was), but it's definitely an enjoyable novel that you'll have trouble putting down.

If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the gleaming smiles and glossy covers of newsstand magazines, you won't want to miss this novel!

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Spending summer down under with Liane Moriarty...plus a book giveaway

The weather here in Chi-town has been unusually chilly this summer.  Since I prefer cooler temps for running, this hasn't been a problem for me. However, not everyone shares my love of summertime highs in the high 60s/low 70s.

Though the US, along with other countries around the globe, is currently experiencing summertime, today's CLC guest is in the middle of a rather cold winter.  That's right, author Liane Moriarty lives in Australia, but that's not stopping her from celebrating the summertime season with us.

Liane hasn't always been a full-time writer.  She's had a variety of careers including a stint in marketing and advertising.  Liane is now a full-time author.  In addition to writing a children's series, she has written six novels.  One of those novels is the soon to be released, Big Little Lies. Thanks to Putnam (Penguin), we have FIVE copies for some lucky US readers!

So please join me in giving Liane a warm CLC welcome!

What makes summertime in Australia unique and special?
(First let me say I forgive you for making me think about summer when it’s FREEZING here in Sydney.) I decided to outsource this question, as I think only an outsider can say what’s unique about Australian summers, so I asked some expat friends from the UK. They rhapsodized for ten minutes straight about the beauty and wonder of our long Australian summers. “You Australians do everything outdoors in summer,” they said. “It’s such an outdoor lifestyle!” I felt proud as if I was personally responsible for our outdoor lifestyle (even though my husband has been known to say, “Put down that book and come outside!”). Then my friends began to chuckle at the elaborateness of our BBQs and picnics: the food, the equipment, the tablecloths, and I still felt proud but kind of embarrassed about the tablecloths.

Which book do you feel best embodies summertime?
The first book that came to mind was an Australian classic I read as a child called Ash Road by Ivan Southall. It was written in 1966, the year I was born, and it’s about a group of children who accidentally start a bushfire. I don’t remember much about the story except that it was completely gripping and terrifying and just thinking of it makes me smell summer in Australia.

The one thing I do during the summertime that I don’t do any other time of the year is:
Allow my morning-person husband to drag me and the children out of our beds early on a Sunday morning for a trip to the beach. “You’ll thank me!” he says, chirpily, annoyingly, but he’s right, it’s always worth it.

My favorite summertime guilty pleasure is:
The second almond croissant for breakfast on the beach. (I don’t feel guilty about the first one. I had to get up so early for it!)

I know it’s summertime when:
I can’t touch the steering wheel in my car because it’s so hot.

Favorite summertime food:
Mangoes



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

~Introduction and interview by Tracey Meyers.

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


a Rafflecopter giveaway


US only. Giveaway ends July 29th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reader Spotlight: Living for "Today"

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: Michele and I instantly hit it off when she started following CLC. She's so friendly and fun to e-mail with. We have similar tastes in chick lit novels, so it's fun to share recommendations with each other. The icing on the cake is that she recently sent me a present for my birthday, which was unexpected and very thoughtful! Michele is a great friend to have in your corner, so I hope you'll take the time to connect with her! Her wedding anniversary was earlier this week, so send some good wishes her way. She can be found on Facebook.

Name: Michele Davenport-Burdick
Age: 45
Location: Bakersfield, CA

How did you find Chick Lit Central: I discovered Chick Lit Central on Facebook, through friends and authors I was following. It's a wonderful site to discover new authors and to see who is reading what.

Top FIVE favorite Chick Lit novels:
I have numerous favorite authors who I've become pretty good friends with, so I don't want to exclude anyone.
1. Emily Giffin's Something Blue
2. Jane Porter's Brennan Sisters Trilogy- The Good Woman, The Good Daughter, and The Good Wife.
3. Laura Spinella's Beautiful Disaster and Perfect Timing. (I had to mention both here as they are equally awesome-sauce!
4. Sarah Pekkanen's The Best of Us
5. Jane Green's Tempting Fate

What do you do when you're not reading? 
Writing. I think reading and writing go hand in hand. I read a lot and write a lot. I'm in the middle of writing my first novel and I appreciate authors so much more now as writing is a very tedious, time-consuming process.

Another fun fact: In March, I was asked to appear on The Today Show LIVE with Kathie Lee and Hoda for a Google hangout with the fabulous author, Jane Green. It was like chatting with old girlfriends and an experience I will never forget.


Book Review: Your Perfect Life

Best friends since childhood, Casey and Rachel couldn’t lead more different lives. While workaholic Casey rubs elbows with celebrities daily as the host of Gossip TV and comes home nightly to an empty apartment, stay-at-home mom Rachel juggles an “oops” baby, two fiery teenagers, and a husband who barely seems the man she fell in love with two decades before. After an argument at their twentieth high school reunion, Casey and Rachel throw back shots to get the night back on track. Instead, they get a life-changing hangover.

Waking up in each other’s bodies the next morning, they must figure out how to navigate their altered realities. Rachel is forced to face the broadcasting dreams she gave up when she got pregnant in college, and Casey finally steps out of the spotlight to face the real reason why she’s alone. And they soon discover that they don’t know themselves—or their best friend—nearly as well as they thought they did. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Amy Bromberg:

I met Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke on Facebook through their blog Liz and Lisa (formerly Chick Lit is Not Dead). They are such colossal chick lit cheerleaders. I had the pleasure of meeting them at Book Expo America 2013 and they're just so nice. So of course when they announced that their manuscript was bought by Simon and Schuster, I was so excited for them and had to read it!

Have you ever wished you had something someone else did? Have you ever been jealous of someone else or of the things they had? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live that person's life for just a couple of days? I know I have. No, this is definitely not a productive way of thinking, but sometimes we just can't help ourselves. Your Perfect Life reinforces the old saying "The grass is always greener on the other side."

I enjoyed both Casey and Rachel's characters. I'd love to work and be around celebrities all the time like Casey does. And how about getting to go to parties and events and having a huge walk-in-closet like Carrie in Sex and the City? What girl wouldn't like one?!? In regards to Rachel, I can't imagine juggling three kids and all that entails.

The story made me miss my best friend Emily. A few years ago she moved to Maryland and since then I haven't went down to visit her. I have to make a point to see her very soon because after all you have to do whatever it takes to make sure your friendships last.

What I took away the most from this story is that we need to be happy and grateful with what we have. Someone else's life might look grand from the outside, but you don't know what happens behind closed doors. Also cherish your friends because life isn't the same without them. Your Perfect Life is a winner, and you must pack it in your beach bag!

Melissa Amster:

I also have connected with Liz and Lisa both online and in person. I read a previous book that they had self-published a few years ago called The D Word and enjoyed it a lot. So I was more than excited to hear that they had another chick lit novel coming out and that it was surreal in nature. (I love surreal books!) I even got my hands on an advanced copy at the beginning of the year and devoured it right away. It instantly set the bar for my 2014 chick lit reads.

I loved everything about Your Perfect Life and am still raving about it. The word "perfect" sums up the entire novel. It's like Firefly Lane meets Freaky Friday. Rachel and Casey remind me of myself and my best friend. I definitely am the Rachel in our relationship and could relate to her the most. We both have three kids and sometimes wonder if we took the "safe" route in life. I'm sure it would be fun to have Casey's lifestyle, but I'd also miss my kids a lot, even though there are times that I just want some peace and quiet. I was away from them for two days and all I could think about was them.

Throughout the story, I smiled and laughed often, and even cried, which I was not expecting to happen. It even inspired me to write a fun story for my personal blog. Your Perfect Life has cemented a spot on my list of 2014 favorite chick lit novels.

Of course, this novel was just begging for a movie cast! Liz and Lisa had their own ideas, but here are mine:

Casey: Charlize Theron (she's really the only one I pictured in this role, even though I like the idea of Elizabeth Banks too.)
Rachel: Maria Dizzia (She plays Piper's best friend Polly on Orange is the New Black and I immediately pictured her when Rachel was introduced into the story.)
Charlie: Peter Sarsgaard (He just seems very cute and lovable.)
John: Patrick Wilson (He has that suburban husband appeal.)
Destiny: Xosha Roquemore (One of the nurses on The Mindy Project. I think she could give some fun energy to this part.)
Audrey: Sarah Hyland (My go-to "teen" for book casting. She plays Haley on Modern Family.)
Sophie: Abigail Breslin

Thanks to Liz and Lisa for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Down by the sea with Patti Callahan Henry...plus a book giveaway

We are pleased to feature Patti Callahan Henry today, as she has recently published The Stories We Tell. She's here to revel in the summer with us, and thanks to Sullivan and Partners, we have one copy to share with a lucky US reader!

Patti Callahan Henry grew up in Philadelphia and moved south with her family when she was 12 years old. With the idea that being a novelist was “unrealistic,” she set her sights on becoming a pediatric nurse, graduating from Auburn University with a degree in nursing, and from Georgia State with a Master’s degree in Child Health. She left nursing to raise her first child, and not long after having her third child she began writing down the stories that had always been in her head. When her first child was six years old, she told Patti that she wanted “to be a writer of books” when she grew up. That made Patti realize that writing was her own dream as well. She began taking writing classes at Emory University, attending weekend writers’ conferences, and educating herself about the publishing industry. Her first book, Losing the Moon, was published in 2004. She has since appeared in numerous magazines including Good Housekeeping and Southern Living. Two of her novels were Okra Picks and Coming up For Air was selected for the August 2011 Indie Next List. She is a frequent speaker at fundraisers, library events and book festivals. Patti lives in Mountain Brook, Alabama with her husband and three children, and is a full-time writer. You can find her at her website, Facebook and Twitter. (Bio adapted from Patti's website.)

Synopsis of The Stories We Tell:
Eve and Cooper Morrison are Savannah’s power couple. They’re on every artistic board and deeply involved in the community. She owns and operates a letterpress studio specializing in the handmade; he runs a digital magazine featuring all things southern gentlemen. The perfect juxtaposition of the old and the new, Eve and Cooper are the beautiful people. The lucky ones. And they have the wealth and name that comes from being part of an old Georgia family. But things may not be as good as they seem. Eve’s sister, Willa, is staying with the family until she gets "back on her feet." Their daughter, Gwen, is all adolescent rebellion. And Cooper thinks Eve works too much. Still, the Morrison marriage is strong. After twenty-one years together, Eve and Cooper know each other. They count on each other. They know what to expect. But when Cooper and Willa are involved in a car accident, the questions surrounding the event bring the family close to breaking point. Sifting between the stories—what Cooper says, what Willa remembers, what the evidence indicates—Eve has to find out what really happened. And what she’s going to do about it. (Courtesy of Goodreads.)

Favorite thing about summer:
No early alarms to get kids off to school in a frenzy.

Annual summertime tradition:
Beach! Water!

Favorite water activity:
Reading in a hammock somewhere near a river, lake or sea.

Have you been to the Renaissance Faire? If so, what was your favorite thing about it?
I've never been, BUT I must put this on my schedule!

Time to barbecue...what will you be grilling?
Fish -- usually fish that one of my boys caught.

Favorite ice cream flavor:
Caramel. Anything with caramel.



Thanks to Patti for visiting with us and to Sullivan and Partners for sharing her book with our readers.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


US only. Giveaway ends July 28th at midnight EST.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cooling off with Lindsey Kelk...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Rachael Wright
We always enjoy having Lindsey Kelk at CLC. From her "I Heart" series to her standalone novels, she epitomizes chick lit in a fun, lighthearted, and humorous way. She's here today to talk about summer with us. Thanks to Harper Fiction (UK), we have TWO e-books of her latest novel, What a Girl Wants (sequel to About a Girl) for some lucky readers anywhere in the world! (UK winners have the option of a print version.)

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

Synopsis of What a Girl Wants:
Tess Brookes was the girl with a plan.

Now she’s the girl with a choice.

Should she stay in London and start her own advertising agency with her best friend and potential boyfriend Charlie? Or should she head to exciting Milan to pursue both a new career as a photographer and a new man, the enigmatic and elusive (and highly irritating) Nick?

For the first time, Tess has to choose between the life she always dreamed of and a future she never imagined possible. With her heart and her head pulling her in different directions, Tess has to make a life-changing decision about "What a Girl Wants." (Courtesy of Lindsey's website.)


Annual summertime tradition: 
Sunburn.

Favorite summertime beverage: 
Pimms

Favorite water activity: 
Does sitting in the ocean and refusing to move count? No? Sigh.

Favorite carnival game: 
Hook a Duck! I used to be pretty good.

Favorite summertime memory from when you were growing up: 
Climbing onto the top of my granddad’s shed with my brother and cousin.

Favorite chick lit novel that takes place in the summer: 
It’s not technically chick lit but Paula Danziger’s Remember Me to Harold Square will always be one of my favourite books, however old I am. It’s about a New York teen’s summer adventure in her own city and it made me fall in love with NYC years before I ever visited.

Thanks to Lindsey for visiting with us and to Harper Fiction for sharing her book with our readers.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Worldwide. Giveaway ends July 27th at midnight EST.


We may be the last stop on the tour, but stop by the other blogs too!




Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: She Sins at Midnight

By Sara Steven

Lila Montgomery is living a double life. By day she’s a kick-ass assistant in Hollywood. On her off hours she’s Jasmine Sheath, romance novelist. Who can blame her? She wants to settle down, find the perfect man and bear his children. Raising a family is the dream of a lifetime. Her options in the husband department are slim to none, however, so those who can’t live the life they want can write about it. Right? It doesn't matter anyway. No one knows that she writes sensual novels for women. It’s her deep, dark secret, and she fully intends to keep it that way.

Her breakthrough novel is a huge success, though. So much so, that’s she’s up for a prestigious award. It’s still not the image she wants to present to the outside world. Her fifteen year high school class reunion is coming up, and while she really wants to go, the last thing she needs is to showcase her dark secret, fearing the implications of her goody two shoes image turned dirty.

The day job is getting to Lila. Melinda Forrester, famous actress and sexual play thing to the stars seems to have a major malfunction where Lila is concerned, and this propels our heroine to Bentley Hills, her old stompin’ grounds and the impending high school reunion. Who knew that catching up with old friends would mean running into the guy she crushed on for years, the prototype for the dashing, handsome hero in her novel? Or that a few negative comments said about Melinda would backfire in such a way that it might threaten Lila’s career and let the cat (or in this case, novel) out of the bag?

I thoroughly enjoyed She Sins at Midnight. Whitney Dineen made sure to include plenty of laughs in this book, along with romantic encounters written in pure romance-novel fashion. I can’t forget the cat fight scenes between Lila and Melinda, either. I think Dineen needs to write a follow up; a "Where Are They Now?" novel. Maybe for the twenty year reunion?

Thanks to Whitney Dineen for the book in exchange for an honest review. She has THREE signed copies for some lucky US 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 July 23rd at midnight EST.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Relaxing on the sand with Taylor Jenkins Reid....plus a book giveaway

Today we welcome Taylor Jenkins Reid. If you haven’t read her debut, Forever, Interrupted, well then you must. It was named one of the “11 Debuts We Love” by Kirkus Reviews. Only 5 days ago, Variety announced that it is going to be a feature film staring Dakota Johnson! Talk about some huge excitement. Her latest, After I Do, came out July 1st. In addition to being an author, Taylor is an essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and their dog, Rabbit.

Visit Taylor at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Taylor is here to talk about some of her favorite summer activities. Thanks to BookSparks, we have one signed copy of After I Do to give away. Taylor has also offered up two wine glasses to the winner (like the ones on the front cover)! US only.

Synopsis of After I Do
When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after. (Courtesy of BookSparks)


When I go to the beach, I MUST bring these three things:
Books, magazines, sandwiches. (I know you're supposed to say sunscreen and I DO bring sunscreen but I'm much more excited about the books, magazines, and sandwiches.)

Favorite amusement park:
My father's side of the family runs the Jolly Rodger in Ocean City, Maryland so I'm partial to that one.

Favorite water activity:
Floating. And I've never been to a swim up bar but if it's anything like I imagine, I'll have to change my answer.

What do you do on Fourth of July?
I eat pulled pork and potato salad and cole slaw and hot dogs on Hawaiian sweet buns and then I try to get home in time to soothe my dog who is terrified of fireworks.

Favorite chick lit novel that takes place in the summer:
I'd have to go with either A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams or Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. Both wonderful books set in small towns off the East Coast.

Favorite movie that takes place in the summer:
The Sandlot. Nothing can ever match how much it meant to me as a kid. My brother and I loved it so much we'd watch it and then rewind the tape and watch it again.

Thanks to Taylor for visiting with us and offering up the wine glasses and BookSparks for sharing After I Do with our readers.

~Introduction by Amy Bromberg

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 July 22nd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chick Lit Cheerleader: On the Road Again...

Introduction by Melissa Amster

Last year, we took our kids to Disney World for the first time. We wanted to make a video of us presenting this information to them, since we had kept it a surprise for so long. We had a whole plan in place, which was to let them think they were going to Chicago and then we'd tell them there was a blizzard but that their grandparents and aunt got out of there and were meeting us somewhere warmer. Then we were going to tell them how we were all going to Disney World. In theory, we imagined them jumping up and down and screaming with joy. In reality, my younger son was more concerned about getting something to drink and my older son was so confused and got annoyed because he already told all his friends he was going to Chicago. He was even more bewildered to learn that Chicago was never in the plans to begin with! Thankfully our Chick Lit Cheerleader, Jen Tucker, was able to pull off a big surprise for her kids. However, she didn't get to capture their reactions on video. Hopefully, this month's post will suffice!

The Land of Coasters

I’ve been able to pull off a few surprises for people over the years. A solo limo ride for my best friend, Nancy, where she found me and two other friends at a restaurant waiting to celebrate her birthday, and a surprise party for my hubby, Mike (who abandoned me to globetrot throughout Spain while we were in college), really are my shinning secret party planner moments. Yet I now present to you, the ultimate in surprises—a secret destination for the Mini Tuckers in my life. I called it vacation. My offspring called it torture.


We picked up our anchor and set a course for North Wildwood, New Jersey from landlocked Indiana. Escaping for four days to the beach with one of my longtime girlfriends and her family was heaven sent. Lazy days with sand between my toes, adult laughs on the scenic deck of the beach house with a clear view of the ocean, along with the sounds of our five children betwixt us laughing and bonding. That’s not the torturous part for my children I’m referring to. It’s what came after the ocean side days I want to tell you about.


I looked at the routes we could travel home from vacation knowing we had a little over a week to get away. With four days spent bodysurfing in the waves that would provide four remaining days to play with on the return home. I fidgeted with a few ideas: take the kids to Washington D.C. and do the American history things, head to Hershey, Pennsylvania and see if the streets are lined with Hershey Kisses (some things should remain a fantasy), or take the Toll Road to Ohio to see my best buddy from high school and pop by Cedar Point, the amazing Roller Coast. Decisions, decisions.

I had a nice outline planned to present to Mike with our options. First I suggested D.C., where we could not only check out monuments and Barack’s house, but also hug friends (like the ├╝ber cool Melissa Amster). Next, I mentioned driving through Ohio and spending a day at Cedar Point. I never had the opportunity to mention visiting the land of chocolate kisses. “Forget being patriotic, let’s go ride some freaking coasters!” I love that man of mine.

We planned the trip, booked the room and conspired with our friends in Ohio to keep the second leg of our journey a secret. I almost fumbled the ball a few times and revealed what we were up to, yet our lips remained sealed. Here’s the caveat to this whole surprise. My children know I’m a planner. How you might ask? I’m the girl who posts our menu for the week on the refrigerator. My closet is color coordinated, and that has carried over to the books on my shelves (You should try it! I can’t find anything specific I’m looking to read, yet it’s a beauty to look at.). I am organized. So when we waved goodbye to our friends and hit the road, it was chaos in the minds of our children.

I made the announcement. “Hey, Team Tucker. Dad and I decided we’re going to just take a few days to drive home; stop when we feel like it and see where the road takes us.”


L to R: Ryan, Snoopy, Wil, Gracie
Here were their responses:
Wil-“So we’re just going to get in the car and drive? For no reason? I don’t understand.”

Gracie- “How will you know where we’re going if you don’t know where you’re going? Will we die?”

Ryan-“Okay, who are you and what have you done with my parents? What are you now, hippies? Are you taking us to live with your hippie friends in Canada? Mom, you are a planner. You don’t just drive for fun! This makes no sense. I don’t know you anymore.”

This was going to be great. Even with the constant queries of how much longer, are we there yet, and what will we do if all hotels are sold out, we stuck to our lines like great actors do.

I’m the first to admit I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer at times. I’m working on raising my children to be smarter than the average bears. It’s obviously a work in progress. None of them noticed the GPS, whom Mike affectionately refers to as “Bitching Betty,” spout directions to a destination…for nine consecutive hours! Within an hour from Sandusky, Ohio, the Cedar Point signs emerged. Not one peep from the backseat about the neon billboards featuring screaming thrill riders. Not a single one word. Last but not least, as we exit the highway, Ryan commented, “Hey…we’re in Sandusky? What’s here? I think I know this city.”

He does know this town. He’s traveled to it every fall for Cedar Point’s Halloweekends in October since the fifteen-year-old was in Pull-Ups. He never connected the dots. None of them did. I’m beginning to think bad parenting is to blame.


You know you're cool
when you get a social media
shoutout from your kid! 
The final reveal came when Mike pulled out his phone and recorded the big reveal. I’d been wearing a Cedar Point T-shirt under my hoodie the entire day, unzipped my jacket and yelled, “We’re going to the land of coasters!” There were hoots and hollers; praises lifted towards the skies that we were the most amazing parents. I’d love to share that video with you now. However, Mike forgot to actually hit the record button on his phone.

We had an amazing time as a family. Except for one little glitch. It was revealed one of our children might have been switched at birth at the hospital. Gracie danced and cheered waiting to ride the oldest coaster on the property, The Blue Streak. It’s tame compared to the negative G’s, heights, drops and spins of today’s giga-coasters. She cried. She wailed. She begged me to stop the ride as her stomach felt the force of gravity take over. She dwells among thrill ride seeking enthusiasts who cannot relate to her. I’d stick with my earlier analysis of the switched babies theory if she did not resemble a female clone of my husband. Again, bad parenting is most likely the culprit.







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.