Friday, May 29, 2015

Book Review: The Honeymoon Hotel

By Becky Gulc

The Honeymoon Hotel is the first book I’ve read by Hester Browne, but it won’t be the last as this is a great chick-lit book.

‘The Bonneville Hotel is the best-kept secret in Mayfair: its art deco suites and glittering ballrooms a former home-away-from-home for royalty and movie stars alike. Recent years haven’t been kind, but thanks to events manager Rosie, the Bonneville is reclaiming some of its old cachet as a chic retro-glam wedding venue.

While Rosie’s weddings are the ultimate in romance, Rosie herself isn’t; she’s focused on the details, not the dramas. But when the hotel owner appoints his eccentric son Joe to the Bonneville staff, Rosie finds herself up against an unprecedented challenge: a rival whose predilection for the unconventional could derail not only Rosie’s own career, but the most elaborate, high-profile wedding the Bonneville has ever seen.’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

The synopsis captured my interest straight away. The Bonneville sounded like a lovely hotel in which to spend time, and indeed it was. The hotel is like a character in itself; it’s the basis for most of the scenes as Rosie’s place of work and lends itself to a wide range of interesting characters showing up along the way, from the staff to the customers. I had such vivid images of this hotel, thanks to the rich description. Next time I go to London, I’ll be imagining stumbling across this classy historic hotel even though it’s fiction.

Rosie is a character who is practically married to her job, which kind of suits the relationship she’s in with London’s most notorious restaurant critic, Dom, as he’s also very busy. Nevertheless, Rosie is ready to move their relationship forward. Rosie is very loyal to the hotel and very knowledgeable about its history. Her long-standing colleagues are pretty much like family to her and this shone through the pages. I enjoyed learning about the hotel’s history and the staff through her.

Whilst Rosie is a very good ‘events manager,’ she is very keen to be promoted to manager and when her boss sets her specific targets to meet in order to be promoted, she becomes even more driven, but will the boss’s son Joe throw a spanner in the works? He certainly seems to be doing his best to hamper Rosie’s successes in securing lucrative weddings for the hotel. There were some very funny moments when Rosie and Joe were helping to plan some of these weddings, with them being at polar opposites about what is a good idea for a wedding--in particular a wedding at the Bonneville--and what is not. Joe’s laid back attitude is both frustrating and refreshing.

Dom is an interesting character and I enjoyed tapping into the world of being a restaurant critic through his and Rosie’s outings and the subsequent column he writes, even if he’s not always likable. The supporting characters were very vivid, particularly Rosie’s boss who is very neurotic. He's a boss who on the one hand you’d think ‘what do they do all day?’, on the other hand you forgive them as they’re kind of like family.

Whilst yes, I might have guessed what would happen in this novel, this didn’t matter at all, there were so many people to care about I wanted a neat bow tied up around everybody. This was a joy to read from start to finish and anyone after more of your typical ‘chick lit’ will enjoy this light escapist read with laughs along the way. I found it to be a real page turner.

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

More by Hester Browne:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Liz and Lisa show us a REAL good time...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Debbie Friedrich

It's not a true blogoversary celebration without the ladies who inspired Chick Lit Central with their fabulous blog, originally known as Chick Lit is Not Dead. Not only are Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke amazing on "screen," even when they're showing their #reallife selves, but they're also sweet, funny, and down-to-earth in person. It's instantly easy to see their camaraderie as long-time best friends. If you haven't had a chance to meet them yet, try to see them when they come to a town near you! (This time around, it's mainly Illinois and California, but if you live in a nearby state and can find a way to see them, you won't regret it!) I got to see them again recently and it was even more fun the second time around.


May 2015

Today, they're here to throw a fabulous party for their latest novel, The Status of All Things, which comes out on Tuesday. According to them, "this book seems like it would relish in the spotlight (provided that lighting was good, of course!)." You might recall that their previous novel, Your Perfect Life, was on my 2014 favorites list. Needless to say, I devoured "Status," and can't wait to share my review with you sometime soon. They have a way with writing surreal stories that make me feel like the situations could actually happen. Not to mention, I'm still convinced that they share one brain. Their writing flows so naturally that you can't tell that two people are behind the story.

One lucky party guest from the US or Canada will go home with a copy of The Status of All Things for their reading enjoyment. They also have a special giveaway going on over at Facebook.

Visit Liz and Lisa at their website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Who will you be partying with?
The list of celebs we’d love to see at our STATUS party is endless. But we can tell you Reese Witherspoon would be at the top of it because we have a huge crush on her. We love that she’s delving into the book world and taking wonderful books (like Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive) and making them into fabulous movies. It’s a huge win for all authors!

Where is it being held?
SoCal! Not only are we both from there, both YOUR PERFECT LIFE and THE STATUS OF ALL THINGS are based there. So we like to pay homage in our novels to the place that, no matter where we live, we will always call home. Specifically, we have a favorite rooftop bar in Laguna that sits on top of the La Casa Del Camino hotel where we would host it. It’s casual, yet chic. And the ocean is there as a backdrop.

Prepare to show your true selves...
The theme would be #reallife in honor of our recent campaign to “tell it like it REALLY is” on Facebook and other social media.

Show up thirsty:
We’d invent a drink, for sure! We’d call it the #hashtag! And it would be in honor of Hawaii where the book begins. We’re thinking vodka, more vodka with splashes of pineapple, cranberry and club soda.

Who's on stage?
Bruno Mars is performing, of course! And we’re hoping (since it’s our party) that he’ll pull us up on stage. And maybe hug us. Tightly.

You ALL get a virtual parting gift:
Oh, and the night wouldn’t be complete without a little magic, right? Like Kate in THE STATUS OF ALL THINGS, we’ll be handing out one free Facebook status wish—where you’ll have the power to change your life. But as Kate would probably tell you, use it wisely.

Thanks to Liz and Lisa for visiting with us and sharing their 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. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spotlight: 50 Acts of Kindness...plus a special giveaway



50 Acts of Kindness
Ellyn Oaksmith

Romantic Comedy/90k



Being overly kind isn't in Kylie Harrow's nature. This has never been more evident than when Kylie vents her frustrations to an innocent employee—and the whole scene is posted online,
tanking her career and earning her the dubious distinction of "World's Worst Boss." But when she flees home to the South, Kylie finds her childhood home has changed. The high school quarterback is now the hot and handsome sheriff. Her mother has turned her home into a nudist colony. And worst of all, having heard about her daughter's exploits, her mother won't let her in the door until Kylie completes fifty kind acts in fifty days.


The task seems easy enough at first—and may even help repair her media image—but it quickly turns into a hilarious quest that leads Kylie down a bumpy road filled with new challenges. What started as a gimmick to save her career evolves into a mission to save a spunky old woman and her little dog from homelessness. As Kylie learns about the nature of kindness, she finds the path to happiness and, for the first time ever, maybe even love. 


Buy Links:    

 Amazon    *  B&N   *   iBooks  *    Kobo  *    Smashwords (Print)


Excerpt:

"We are a technology marketing company. People don't want to see our underwear or ultrasounds or try to run a meeting while you jump up to pee."
"I'm due in two weeks."
Her whine was still grating on my nerves, but my recorded words sliced like knives. Was I the equivalent of that rooster my mom had that pecked at the hens? One morning mom found him dead, pecked to death. I thought, "Please do not let this be my barnyard reckoning," even though things were clearly sliding in that direction. On screen I plowed forward.
"I cannot do your job and mine. It's killing me. I need you on the ground running. Oh no wait, you can't run. Which is why you missed the flight to Miami where you got 'dehydrated.'" I did air quotes around "dehydrated."
Holy cow. I was so angry it blinded me to very fact she was recording.
"I was dehydrated."
We were both so very tired.
"Which is why you ended up lounging in Miami while I ran yet another meeting solo. I stayed up until three a.m. doing the PowerPoint you'd forgotten."
"I ended up in the hospital."
"And missed the flight back to New York and yet another day of work. If you are dehydrated, drink water. It's not rocket science!"

I remembered this day clearly. Sleep-deprived from a red eye, I'd left Betsy in New York, begging her to prep for a meeting the following day. When I got back, the slides weren't ready. She'd gone home. I'd miss another night's sleep to finish them.
It was the perfect storm, and she'd caught it. I leaned forward to downsize the screen. "2.7 million views?" She'd titled it "World's Worst Boss?!" There were lots of comments, many expletives, and a passionate, nine exclamation points in a row.
Bob dug a crust from his eye. "It's not something to be proud of."
My mind raced. How to spin this before he threw something out? I managed a casual shrug. "I'm in marketing. I can't help it."
"This makes us look so bad."
It was crunch time. There was no room for complaints or excuses. "Does it though? Does it? What I see is that we expect a certain professionalism and energy from our employees, a requirement that, pregnant or not, they perform to the best of their abilities."
My delivery was very rough, but it was a message she needed to hear." He wasn't buying. I grabbed for a straw. "Isn't posting this on YouTube a violation of my privacy?"
"I don't know," Bob said wearily. "That's 2.7 million negative hits with MLJK's name attached."
My heart clenched. I needed a cigarette. Now. "Whatever happened to 'any publicity is good publicity'?"
He ignored my lame joke.
"She's threatening to file suit. I checked with legal. We can tie her up in court, but the claim is legit."
I inhaled sharply, forgetting, in my growing panic, to exhale.
"Breathe, Kylie."
"S-s-suing us?"
Great, now I was stuttering.
"You called her fat. She says you created an unhealthy work environment."
My jaw dropped. This was not the time to point out that, as a former chubette, I never, ever use the F-word.
"The operative word here is work. I was running on vapors."
Bob got up and looked out the window at his fabulous view. "Stella, by the way, corroborates everything you've said." My eyebrows shot up in alarm. "Yes, I've talked to her. I've talked to a few people, but the point is that sooner or later we all have to deal with this. Pregnant women deserve…" He stared off into the silver buildings and cloudless sky. When I'd entered, the view had felt empowering. Now it was an invitation to jump. "Latitude. We are a family-friendly company."
I snickered bitterly. MLJK years were dog years. Most of the senior partners were divorced. "And what about women who aren't ever going to have children? We just put up and shut up?" I knew this sounded whiney, but I couldn't help myself. I felt like a tightrope walker studying the tiny figures below, waiting for me to fall. Then it struck me. I felt like this most of the time.
He gazed at me, his eyes weary. "Come on. You're what, not even thirty? You don't know that."
Bob was still in his marriage of origin.
"Look at me Bob. My relationships have the longevity of a fruit fly. I have nothing left at the end of the day." I have nothing left right now.
"Maybe it's time to branch out."
Clearly he pitied Betsy. It was time to grab the controls. "I can fix this. I can smooth things out. Get my assistant her own assistant. At least until she's had it."
"Her baby is not an it," he snapped.
"Did I say 'it'?"
I'd been talking so quickly. It? Good move Kylie.
"Yes," Bob said quietly, losing his starch. Crossing his arms he glanced at a framed photo: a gap-toothed, pig-tailed toddler on a swing, pushed by his beaming, very pregnant wife. "You're going to have to leave until this dies down."
For a second I felt nothing but a weight pressing on the top of my head, a dull ringing in my ears.
"This isn't Survivor. You can't let random strangers on YouTube vote me off because I lost my temper."
"They're not. Lance is."
The CEO? I was in a tippy canoe, and by golly, there went my paddle.
I made a tiny bubble of an objection as I sank. "She wasn't doing her job."
"Effective immediately," he said. I knew what preceded those two words. Terminated.
This wasn't a break.
This was permanent.


About the Author:

Ellyn Oaksmith is an award-winning writer who began her career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. Her first book, Adventures with Max and Louise, was published in 2012. 50 Acts of Kindness is her third
book. She's currently at work on her first YA novel, Chasing Nirvana. The best part of her work day is spent watching vintage YouTube footage of Nirvana concerts and calling it research.

Ellyn is part of the Girlfriends Book Club which has been featured in The New York Times and USA Today. She lives in Seattle with her family, a rescue dog and a rather rotund cat.

Links:


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Giveaway:  $25 Amazon Gift Card, courtesy of Bridging the Gap Promotions. Stop by to see all the blogs participating.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

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Open worldwide.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wining and Dining with Sarah Pekkanen...plus a book giveaway

We are thrilled to have Sarah Pekkanen here during our blogoversary month, as she was the first author to reach out to us five years ago to review her debut novel, The Opposite of Me. Since that time, we can't get enough of her. We've read all her books and met her in person. She's funny, easy to talk with, and treats her readers like gold. Since her novels have been given accolades by well-known authors, she has paid it forward by endorsing new authors and even helped us find some great reads as a result. No wonder she was our International Chick Lit Month Hall of Fame choice for 2014!

Sarah's latest novel, Things You Won't Say, takes on a heavier subject matter that is currently relevant, but handles it in a sensitive and unbiased fashion. All three of the women who take turns narrating are easy to relate to and are each sympathetic in their own ways. While I always love Sarah's writing, Things You Won't Say is definitely one of my favorites of hers, next to her debut.

Today, Sarah is throwing a party for her main character, Jamie, who is a harried mom of four (including her "bonus" stepson) and wife of a police officer. Thanks to Atria Books, one lucky party guest from the US will be taking home a copy of this novel. (They'll have to wait until after the party to get it because they won't want to socialize once they get drawn in to the story.) You could also win this book from Goodreads (also US only) and Confessions of a Bookaholic /@jenny_oregan (open worldwide, ends 5/28).

Visit Sarah at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Who will be there?
Cannie from GOOD IN BED, who is also a mom, who loves food and loves to laugh.
Madeline from BIG LITTLE LIES, because she's a lot of fun and she doesn't hesitate to say exactly what she thinks.
Myron Bolitar from Harlan Coben's series, because he's tall, sensitive, has a great sense of humor, and frankly, these women deserve a little eye candy.

Comfort over couture:
Jamie will probably be in haute Old Navy with some sort of stain on the hem. It's not about the clothes… it's about the conversation and fun!

Straight from Chuck E. Cheese's (since they serve both):
Oh, let's be real. Probably pizza and wine. Busy moms need all the help they can get!

This song will stay in your head all night:
Coldplay's "A Sky Full of Stars" to remind these women how wonderful they really are, warts and all.

What are we celebrating?
Moms night out!

Who needs to go to a spa?!?
Let's treat these hard working moms and hire a manicurist and a massage therapist to come help everyone relax. And of course, a bottle of two or wine will provide some entertainment!

Thanks to Sarah for a relaxing time and to Atria for sharing her book with our readers.

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

Visit the ICLM blog to celebrate International Chick Lit Month some more over there and see who is visiting!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

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US only. Giveaway ends May 31st at midnight EST.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Guest Book Review: The Year My Mother Came Back

By Denise Keliuotis

When Alice Eve Cohen was just 22, her mother died. Sad and angry, Cohen spent the next three decades attempting to forget her, pushing memories as far down and away as she could. Cohen was largely successful – until the day her mother appeared at her kitchen table.

Cohen chronicles her deceased mother’s year-long visit in her new memoir, The Year My Mother Came Back. Honest and poignant, Cohen shares the story of how through one of her most difficult years, she came to find peace not only with her mother’s early and devastating death, but also with her mother’s life; something Cohen could not understand when she was a child. Indeed, the timing of Mrs. Cohen’s return is not coincidental, as she comes back just as the author is experiencing multiple life crises, most of which revolve around her own status as a mother: the return of her eldest daughter’s birth mother and her younger child’s painful leg surgery and lengthy recovery. Notably, Cohen’s mother appears on the same day Cohen is diagnosed with breast cancer.

The return of her mother forces Cohen to re-examine their complicated relationship from years long past. Cohen paints her mother with a complex brush, and rightfully so. Cohen’s mother was a trailblazer, a feminist who spent countless hours campaigning for and researching civil rights issues at a time when America continued to resist such an expanding role for women. Cohen’s mother wasn’t like the other mothers; as such, memories of Cohen’s childhood include times both dark and uncomfortable. Cohen’s conversations with her mother provide her answers to questions she’s carried for decades and ultimately grant Cohen some peace, allowing her to forgive her mother or, more accurately, to accept her mother as she was, someone who did her best as a parent while staying true to herself as a woman.

And that leads to perhaps the most important lesson of The Year My Mother Came Back: Cohen, who is often hard on herself, learns to forgive herself for her own mistakes, both as a mother and as a daughter. In doing so, she finds room in her heart and her mind for her mother, gone so long and, yet, still so near. Cohen writes:

“I tried so hard no to think about her, for such a long time. Now she’s right in front of my eyes. . . . Memories flood into the space left empty for thirty years. I want my mother with me. At this moment I don’t need to be a mother, I just want to be a daughter. I need her right now. For the first time in decades, I want to remember everything about her.”

When I picked up this book, I wondered whether I’d be able to relate to Cohen’s story, given my good fortune at still having my mother alive and well. But Cohen’s story covers all the bases, making this book perfect for any woman. Cohen is an adoptive mother, a birth mother and, of course, a daughter. Cohen weaves her story with heartbreaking honesty, vivid images, and lovely prose that makes The Year My Mother Came Back a captivating and enjoyable read, one you will want to share with friends – and your mother, should you be fortunate enough to have her around, either at your kitchen table or else in your heart and your memories, where Cohen now knows she belongs.

Thanks to Algonquin Books for the book in exchange for an honest review. This is also part of BookSparks' Summer Reading Challenge for 2015.

Denise De Fabio Keliuotis is a Chicago native who recently relocated to Middle Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, three daughters, and four cats. She practices a little law and is still editing that memoir and volunteering with hospice patients and wondering if the addition of the fourth cat now qualifies her for the title of “crazy cat lady.” Visit her at her blog.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mandy Baggot's Big Fat Greek BOOK PARTY...plus a book giveaway

We're glad to have Mandy Baggot back at CLC today to feature her latest novel, Truly, Madly, Greekly, which is a fun and sexy beach read and makes me miss the resort where I went for my honeymoon. After reading and enjoying Excess All Areas a while back, I was excited to be transported back to Corfu, even just through the comfort of my couch.

Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads. In 2012 she won the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK's Festival of Romance and has since scooped Top Ten Reads/Book of the Year places from a number of UK book bloggers. A contributor to writing blogs and short story anthologies, Mandy is also a regular speaker at literary festivals, events and women's networking groups. Mandy loves mashed potatoes, white wine, country music, World's Strongest Man, travel and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1's Who Dares, Sings! and auditioned for The X-Factor. She lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen. (Bio adapted from Mandy's website.)

What is a beach resort on a Greek island without a party?!? Mandy is here today to throw a wild one for us and TWO guests from anywhere in the world will get to lounge on the beach with e-books of Truly, Madly, Greekly, courtesy of Bookouture.

Join Mandy at another party for Truly, Madly, Greekly tomorrow on Facebook! She's celebrating her launch day over there.

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

Ready for a Truly Madly Greekly Toga Party?!?

Dress code:
Everyone is either in togas for the authentic Greek theme or beach wear. Bikinis, swimsuits, shorts and Hawaiian shirts.

Bring sunscreen:
The party is taking place on the beach of Agios Sypridon in Corfu, Greece. It’s thirty degrees, the sun is hot, the sky is a cornflower blue and the beer is cold. There might even be a limbo competition!

Kick up your heels:
"Zorba the Greek"
"Play Bouzouki"
"Thong Song" – Sisqo
"In the Summertime" – Shaggy
"We Found Love" – Rihanna
"Fireball" - Pitbull

Make a toast (or two):
A "Racey Lacey" cocktail named after one of my supporting characters in the book. It’s fluorescent pink and contains ouzo, white rum, grapefruit juice and grenadine!

Enjoy the atmosphere:
Greek flags as bunting, palm trees with piƱatas hanging from them, strings of multi-coloured fairy lights, tealight candles on the tables.

Come with an empty stomach:
A Greek buffet will be served – feta cheese, olives, pitta bread, dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) and for the BBQ – chicken souvlaki and loukaniko (sausages)

Thanks to Mandy for a party to remember and to Bookouture for sharing her book with our readers!

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

Want to see what chick lit is like in different parts of the world? Visit the ICLM blog to celebrate International Chick Lit Month and see all the fabulous authors who have visited so far!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Worldwide. Giveaway ends May 27th at midnight EST.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chick Lit Cheerleader: Jen takes party planning by "Storm"

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I think the fun of our Chick Lit Month theme this year was allowing fictional characters to have parties. I enjoyed seeing authors get creative with their parties and how their characters would celebrate. Don't worry, there are still a few more parties in store for this month...

Jen Tucker writes humorous memoirs, with a balance of beautiful and touching moments in her life that bring tears to my eyes. (The humor does that, as well.) So when we asked her to throw a book party for either one of her books or one of her favorite chick lit characters, she opted for the latter and it sounds like she had a great time planning the party. I know the author of this novel will be thrilled and will want to step into her character's shoes for the night.

Take it away, Jen!

Dinner is served!

The china is perfectly placed around the dinner table. Delicate pink peonies and vanilla tapered candles add a splash of color to the centerpiece. Calligraphy place cards dictate who is lucky enough to sit next to me. I hired my friend, Jill, who recently won on the Mother’s Day episode of Guy’s Grocery Games (For Reals! She won!), to create culinary magic for my hungry guests. What’s going on at my house? Well, a pretend dinner party, of course! If it was real, let’s be real for a moment, there would be paper plates and pizza. Life is swirling at the Tucker Homestead right now and that’s just about all I can manage these days. Yet the beauty is we can be vicarious guests together and see what might happen if we sat down to dinner and celebrated one of my favorite chick lit characters.

Sophie Molloy has had a rough year and she needs a party! In Lindy Dale’s novel, Storm in a B Cup, Sophie deals with the reality of breast cancer and a boyfriend who parts ways with her during her lowest of moments. Yet a silver lining does appear in the form of a surgeon who not only recreates what she’s lost, but also is easy on the eyes and on her heart. This girl needs a night that’s all about her, don’t you think?

Just for Sophie, I’ve used my six degrees of separation and invited Jon Bon Jovi to dinner. He is her dreamboat rock star and no celebration would be complete without his hotness. I’m sorry, but this is my dinner party, so he’s sitting next to me, Soph, while you entertain guests at the other end of the table. I’m also inviting Don Draper. Let’s not confuse him with the actor, John Hamm, who plays him on the AMC series, Mad Men. Don is sitting next to me because—again—it’s my party. I want to swill martinis with him while he flirts endlessly with me. His polished suit and slicked back dark hair make me swoon.

Speaking of martinis, I thought it might be nice for Sophie to meet some of my girlfriends who love a good cocktail. Every season, my friends, Jill and Tiffany, create a drink with a catchy name and I have the perfect one to serve my guests. They’ve christened it “Appily Ever After.” What’s in it you ask? Well, let me tell you! Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and apple cider. To fancy it up a tad, I’ll rim the glass with a sugar and cinnamon mixture. It might sound a little too girly for Don and Jon, yet I think I have them both at whiskey.

When Sophie arrives, Bon Jovi and the Mad Men soundtrack tunes are spinning on the iPod shuffle. Yet all conversation ceases, the music fades, and every eye takes her in as she walks through the front door. She’s wearing jeans along with one of the breast cancer awareness T-shirts she sells at her boutique. She’s so gracious! She’s brought shirts for everyone. I slip mine on. Jon roughs his up a little bit then slides it over his head. Don isn’t really a t-shirt kind of guy, so he folds it into a pocket square and tucks it into the breast pocket of his blazer. That’s hot!

After Chef Jill has filled our bellies with one of her amazing meals, we all mosey outside to our back patio. We are serenaded by crickets while fireflies dot the night sky on this cool, starry evening. After passing around the bug repellant, we quickly jump into sharing memories, glory days, finding out our common interests and also points where we seemed to have lived parallel lives. Since I am a responsible host, Don and Jon crash at my house after a few too many Appily Ever Afters. Too bad their feet hang off the end of Gracie’s lavender bunk beds yet I think they’ll sleep just fine.

Sophie and I clean up the dishes from dinner. As I wash and she dries, we finally have that heart-to-heart I’ve been waiting for, for some time now. I tell her how proud I am of her for battling such a fierce opponent and coming out the other side stronger. That she’s one of the bravest women I know. I’m so thankful she shared her story with others who so desperately need to hear it. I share my feelings, fears and what I’ve learned during my dad’s eleven year fight with cancer and how it will never rob me of memories no matter the outcome. He’s the bravest man I know.

After some tears, and some giggles, I show her to the guest room, give her a hug, and then head on up to my room. As I brush my teeth, a voice from the bed yells out to me. “So, I take it you had fun at your dinner party?”

I squint. It’s my husband, Mike, who groggily sits up and wipes the sleep from his eyes. “Oh, I didn’t realize you were home!”

I can hear his sigh echo off the vaulted ceilings. “Of course you didn’t notice me at all tonight! You were too busy karaoking with Don Draper on the coffee table while Jon Bon Jovi and Sophie canoodled on the couch!”

“Oh you saw that?” I ask while spitting out toothpaste into the sink. I walk towards the bed and ask, “Do you think Jon was impressed by my singing skills?” to which the man of my dreams simply rolls over and says, “Good night, crazy woman.”

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: Help Wanted...plus a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

When Claire Nelson decided that her happily-ever-after lay not in marriage but in a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, she vowed never to tie the knot. But that was before she met Paul Mendez, handsome and charming enough to have her breaking said vow and marrying him shortly after college.

Almost fifteen years and four sons later, Claire is now a burned out breadwinner ready to ditch her quest for happily-ever-after, and Paul has traded his dream of chairing corporate board meetings for volunteering at PTA meetings as a stay-at-home dad. Feeling trapped in a demanding job, Claire's repeated attempts to get Paul to return to work fall flat. Contemplating divorce, she drafts a letter to the Plate Spinner, a popular advice columnist, asking for help. But when the reply contains an offer that may just put her bestselling author dreams back on track, Claire’s only question is: will Paul be on board? Or does her charming husband make a surprise move of his own?
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

I can very much relate to Help Wanted. Like Claire, I’m married. I have two rambunctious boys who I’m constantly having to tend to. Although I’m in a much happier place in my own marriage, and I’m not the burnt out breadwinner of the family, I know what it’s like to have a certain vision, an image of how the future will look, and how it feels to not achieve that due to all the various stepping stones of life. I liked the unique perspective Barbara Valentin has brought to light with this incredible novel. I get to identify from the stay-at-home perspective with Paul, while still yearning for my own dreams and aspirations that have fallen short, like Claire’s.

Even though Claire is struggling, inwardly, she wants to fall in love with Paul again, and Paul feels the same way about Claire. That’s another thing I loved about Help Wanted. It’s not often you find a novel that embraces and encourages marital bonds. The issue, though, is whether these two can make it work. Can they find happiness together, or will they be better off apart?

Mixed in are the subtle nuances that reminded me of The Gift of the Magi. Claire and Paul are both in a really tough place, financially and emotionally, yet there are situations where they end up trying to help one another without the other one even realizing it. There is a lot of charm and humor as well, which made this an easy read and one that I had a hard time putting down. That’s probably why I had no trouble reading it in two days! I’ll also stubbornly admit that I got a little teary-eyed towards the end, and I absolutely loved the ending. It was the perfect finish and one of my favorite endings, hands down.

I’m looking forward to reading the first book in this series, False Start. If it’s anywhere near as delightful as Help Wanted, I know I’m in for a treat!

Thanks to Barbara Valentin for the book in exchange for an honest review. Enter to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Bridging the Gap Promotions. (Open worldwide.) See below for how to enter.


Buy Links: Amazon * Nook * iBooks * Kobo * Smashwords

See all the blogs participating:

May 15
A Passion for Romance-It's All About the Author Interview

May 16

May 17
Naughty Librarian - Spotlight

May 18
Harlie's Books - Character Interview

May 19
Willow's Author Love Blog - Review (Books 1 & 2)

May 20

May 21
Bleeding Heart Blog - Spotlight

May 22
Badass Blogettes - Character Interview
Boundless Book Reviews - Review (Books 1 & 2)

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

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Worldwide. Giveaway ends May 23rd at midnight EST.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Genevieve Gannon's Spicy Soiree....plus a book giveaway

We're glad to have Genevieve Gannon here today to continue the blogoversary and Chick Lit Month parties. Her latest novel, Chasing Chris Campbell, comes out in early June and she has THREE e-books to share with some lucky readers anywhere in the world!

Genevieve Gannon is a Melbourne-based journalist and author. Her writing was first published in the St Monica’s Primary School newspaper, The Monical, in the form of a mince pie recipe she completely made up. She lifted her standards of journalistic integrity and wrote stories for music and fashion street press magazines while at university before moving to Canberra to do a journalism cadetship. In 2011 she joined the national news wire, Australian Associated Press, where she covered crime, politics and entertainment. Her work has appeared in most major Australian newspapers including The Age, The Australian, and The Daily Telegraph. She currently lives in Melbourne where she is a court reporter. At night time she writes romantic comedies. Aside from Chasing Chris Campbell, her debut novel is Husband Hunters. You can find Genevieve on Facebook and Twitter. (Bio courtesy of Genevieve's website.)


Synopsis of Chasing Chris Campbell:
Violet is saving money: living on rice and beans and denying herself chocolate eclairs all in the name of saving for a home deposit. Once they save enough, she and Michael can buy a house, settle down and live happily ever after. But when Michael does the unthinkable, Violet is forced to rethink her life choices.

A chance encounter with Chris Campbell (first love, boy-next-door, The One That Got Away) spurs her into travelling to exotic locations she never dreamed she'd explore - Hong Kong, Vietnam, Varanasi - on a quest to catch up with Chris and lead a life of adventure. Armed with hand sanitiser and the encouraging texts of her twin sister Cassandra, will Violet find true love before it's too late? Or will the nerve-wracking experience of travelling send her back to Melbourne in search of safety and stability? Can she work out what she really wants before she is left with nothing?

Violet Mason has just come back from a whirlwind tour of Asia, chasing her first love, Chris Campbell (boy-next-door, the one that got away), so Genevieve is throwing her a welcome home party.

Who will be there?
We have invited Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, who spent three months living in India, and three months in Indonesia. She and Violet would have a have to talk about! We're also inviting Hollywood actress Amy Adams, who, like Violet, had an accidental travel adventure while filming the romantic comedy Leap Year in Ireland. Like Amy, Violet found herself in all sorts of scrapes as she scarpered around Asia chasing after "The One." (And PS: How great is Amy Adams? She should be invited to everything, always.)

Location:
Before Violet set off on her adventure, all she wanted was to settle down with her boyfriend Michael. She rarely went to bars, and almost never went clubbing. But her big adventure changes all that, and Violet loves to dance. So we've booked out Ms. Collins in Melbourne. (On Collins Street, in honour of publisher HarperCollins.)

What's on the menu:
Salad, salad and more salad. After eating only curries in India, and constantly getting food poisoning, all Violet wants to eat is fresh, leafy food!

Your evening entertainment:
In Varanasi, Violet has an encounter with a snake charmer, so we're hiring some of those, and some fire eaters like the ones she saw at the night markets in Goa.

Check out the scenery:
Bollywood theme! The party is going to be an explosion of beautiful colours.

Thanks to Genevieve for a lovely celebration and for sharing her book with our readers.

Don't forget to check out the International Chick Lit Month blog to get to know some new authors!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.


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Worldwide. Giveaway ends May 25th at midnight EST.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Celebrating FIVE years the CLC way!

To celebrate our five year blogoversary, a few of us are sharing some special CLC memories. 

Melissa A:

When I first started CLC, I had no idea how far it would come. I started out practically begging people to enter the giveaways and now each one has an amazing turnout! I wanted to share some of the highlights for me over the past five years at CLC. Too many wonderful things to list, so I'll try to keep it brief!
  • Getting acknowledged in several books, including Saving Grace by Jane Green, Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr, and Say Never by Janis Thomas.
  • Getting to write a blurb for The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall
  • Getting to interview Candace "DJ Tanner" Cameron when her book came out in 2013
  • Getting to interview Sophie Kinsella twice.
  • Meeting some of my favorite authors in person, including Jane Porter, Meredith Schorr, Samantha Stroh Bailey, Jennifer Weiner, Kristin Harmel (she had dinner with my whole family), Jen Tucker, Liane Moriarty, Liz and Lisa, etc. (The list goes on... I met Jane Green prior to starting the blog though.)
  • Jennifer Weiner calling on me by my name at her DC book signing.
  • Going to BEA. It's a book lover's Disney World!
  • Becoming friends with some wonderful readers and even becoming sister blogs with Book Mama
  • The amazing team here that does interviews, reviews, tweeting, monthly columns, etc. 
  • All the reader participation: Whether you've been here since the beginning, joined in the middle, or you're new here....I love you all!
  • Finally, being told that I had an impact on someone's decision to read a book. That means so much to me every time I hear it.
Thanks again to everyone who has contributed to CLC's success in some way or another!

With Jennifer Weiner at the event
where she called me by name, July 2012



Jami:

Happy Blogoversary Chick Lit Central! My three-year anniversary of writing reviews for Chick Lit Central is coming up this summer, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It has truly been a life-changing event! I “met” Melissa A. on Twitter, when I read her interview with Rachel Bertsche, writer of MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend. I loved Melissa’s insightful questions, and when I saw that she lived in Maryland like I did, I sent her a note. A few weeks later, we had lunch; she gave me a ton of books and agreed to beta-read my own chick lit novel, KEEPING SCORE. (She did a great job, too!) A few months later, Chick Lit Central held a contest for a new reviewer, and I think Melissa was as excited as I was when I won. Not only does Melissa do a wonderful job keeping the site organized, she’s been a tireless promoter for me, introducing me to other writers, telling other people about my book, and keeping an eye out for other publication opportunities for me. I know she’s just as supportive of other writers, reviewers and book bloggers, and how she manages to do that, plus hold down a full-time job and raise three children, is beyond me! My experience with Chick Lit Central led directly to me getting a job with one of the top literary agents in New York, as well as other freelance editing opportunities. So thank you Melissa and Chick Lit Central. You have literally (and literarily) changed my life!

Becky:

With Rowan Coleman
I can't believe I've been reviewing for Chick Lit Central for nearly four years now, it seems like yesterday I got the email from Melissa! I remember where I was when I got the email, I was so giddy and didn't stop smiling all day! Reading the books and reviewing them is a hobby I truly love, of course people go through phases or situations when they read less for whatever reason, I've been through that too, but I'm glad that the ultimate desire to continue, and keep appreciating this opportunity, reigns me back in and I'm in the full-flow of reading again! I am grateful for the people I've met, Melissa and the CLC team and all the publishers and authors I've been introduced to through this. Being the UK associate reviewer I've also loved meeting people from the US/Canada (even if virtually!) and there are lots of new amazing authors whose work I have been able to enjoy because of the worldwide focus of the blog. Whilst we're 'Chick Lit Central' there is a great deal of variety in the books we review and I love that, it can be a light escapist read one week then a deeper/darker tale the next. When I was shortlisted in the 2012 Novelicious writing competition I felt humbled by the number of CLC followers who supported me during that time, what great followers we have :). Melissa and the team have also been so lovely when going through difficult periods, I am so grateful.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Find Your Next Chick Lit Read / #ChickLitMay Giveaway!

May is International Chick Lit Month. Let's be honest—it's the best month of the year! Every year, chick lit readers and writers get together to celebrate, share, discuss and gush about their favorite book genre. Not familiar with chick lit or Chick Lit Month? Visit internationalchicklitmonth.com for more information.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of ICLM. To celebrate, a bunch of enthusiastic authors got together and made an infographic to help readers find their next chick lit read.

We're giving away 19 e-books to 19 lucky readers. Just enter to win the books you'd like to read!

**To enter, comment on the blog post below, listing which books from the graphic you'd like to read and WHY you would like to read them. (Make sure to include your email address so we can contact you or, if you're not comfortable doing so, send it here and say that you commented at Chick Lit Central.) Entrants can only enter once per blog, but can check out other blogs with this same post and comment there for extra entries! All those links are down below.**

Entries close on midnight Friday, May 22 (Pacific Daylight Time), and winners will be contacted directly on May 31.

Good luck everyone—and happy reading! :D

Even if you missed the dates for this giveaway, feel free to share this graphic on your blog and spread the chick lit love!

ChickLit-Infographic

Find the authors and books here, and enter again!

Deeper Themes
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A Little Magic
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Laughs Guaranteed
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Light & Bright
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On Distant Shores
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Enter one more time at these great chick lit blogs!