Friday, April 29, 2011

Special Guest Post with Brunonia Barry, Author of The Map of True Places

I just started to listen to The Map of True Places, via Amazon’s Audible application on my iPod and I’m so glad I downloaded it. I have only listened to about 20 minutes of it, including the prologue and a bit of chapter one, and I am hooked! Maybe because I can relate to the main character Zee, who hails from Massachusetts, just north of Boston (like the author, herself) and her profession as a psychologist also mirrors my education background. When one of the author’s representatives over at FSB Media offered me an article from Brunonia Barry on the subject of her writing, you can imagine my delight. As you may know, I have been diligently working on my own novel, my first chick lit work of fiction and I am a bit of a stickler for organization. Like Ms. Barry describes in her article, she too, organizes her story before putting pen to paper. I found her process to be very interesting and reassuring, especially for a new writer, like me, who can easily get “stuck” in the mess in the middle. Read on and be on the look out for a future post on Lip Gloss and literature when I review the unabridged audio of The Map of True Places and offer a fabulous giveaway for the paperback version of Brunonia Barry’s book.!

The Mess in the Middle
By Brunonia Barry,
Author of The Map of True Places

One year into a two-year book deadline, I have reached page 165 in my manuscript. So far, my characters have obediently done everything I've asked of them, but today something changed. This morning, they couldn't seem to take a step without tripping over their feet. So they decided to stand still. I couldn't make them go forward, and I couldn't make them go back. When I asked what the problem was, they told me they were confused.

I'd be panicked about this situation except that I've been here before. Twice. And even more if you count the screenplays I wrote when I lived in LA or the books I've written for ‘tweens. While I don't like it, I have come to expect that there are times when characters just won't move.

For me, this always happens in the same place, maybe not always on page 165 but some place close to it. It's always in the middle of the book. "What was it you wanted me to do?" seems to be the question my characters ask, and when I tell them, they become skeptical. Since I trust characters over plot every time, I tend to listen when a character tells me "I wouldn't do that kind of thing." And the middle of the book is always where they seem to doubt their motivation.

There's a name for this. It's called the mess in the middle. It's an expression I first heard when I was enrolled in one of Robert McKee's screenwriting workshops. I was writing a comedy called Sluts, a sort of West Coast Sex in the City with an edge, when my characters refused the adventures I was trying to send them on and threatened to infect me with a case of writer's block if I persisted in giving them directions. They were angry with me, and who could blame them? As a relatively new writer, I was lost and confused.
Confusion, in itself, doesn't bother me. I honor it as part of the writing process, a byproduct of communing with the muse. It is a frequent ailment, but not a serious one. Unfortunately, the mess in the middle is a different illness. If left unchecked, it can be fatal. I'm willing to wager that this midpoint is where most writers abandon their projects. I know it has been true for me. I have several unfinished manuscripts sitting in drawers, including that screenplay. One day, knowing what I know now, I may open the drawer and dust off those stories. Meanwhile, I'll tell you exactly what the mess in the middle is, and what you can do about it.

I'm sure you've heard that old story about the mountain. You are climbing a tree lined mountain trail in an effort to see the view from the top. You've been walking for quite a while. About halfway up, you realize that you don't have any idea where you are. You can no longer see the bottom of the mountain, and you cannot yet see the top. You begin to panic. If it were up to you, you'd just quit, but you can't. You're halfway up the side of a mountain for God's sake.

So what do you do? If you've prepared for the hike, you've been smart enough to bring a map. Though it's an exercise in blind faith, you have no choice but to follow it.
In writing, my map is my step outline. Though I write free form for quite a while when I'm starting a project, I am not a pantser. I believe very strongly in outlines. Once I've captured the voice of the characters and know them well enough to ask that first what if question that propels them forward, it is time to create a step outline.

My outline is simple enough. It contains only the major steps of the story. Sometimes it's a sentence or paragraph, sometimes a list of bullet points. I spend more time on it that any other aspect of my writing, because it's the only tool that allows me to see the big picture. It particularly helps with pacing and with the progression of character changes. If I follow it, I seldom get into trouble.

The problem is, sometimes I don't follow it. I am moving along so fast, and the story is going so well, that I just keep writing. This is exactly what I discovered this morning when I went back to look at my outline. A few days ago, I was writing so furiously that I skipped a step, and, as a result, my characters missed an important turn. If they had reached the impasse immediately, I might have spotted my omission. Unfortunately, the dead end hadn't come until the following chapter, several turns later.

If I hadn't taken the time to create my map, I might never have found my mistake. The manuscript might have ended up in that drawer with my screenplay. Luckily, with my step outline and just a bit of work, I was able to get my characters back on track. They are now happily moving forward.

How are your story maps constructed? Do you outline? Have you experienced the mess in the middle?

As originally published on "Writer Unboxed"
© 2011 Brunonia Barry, author of The Map of True Places

Author Bio
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Brunonia Barry, lives in Salem with her husband and their beloved golden retriever, Byzantium.

Barry is the first American Writer to win the Woman's International Fiction Festival's 2009 Baccante Award (for The Lace Reader). Her second novel, The Map of True Places is out now.

For more information please visit, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

A sincere thank you to Anna Suknov at FSB Media for providing a text copy of Brunonia Barry’s article. Sign up for email alerts on Lip Gloss & Literature to be informed when the Audio Review and Contest to Win your OWN Copy of The Map of True Places goes live!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

10 Things I Love About Chick Lit: Fabulous & Free Fiction - Enter Now to WIN!

It's been far too long since I've posted an update of Chick Lit Book Giveaways and Freebies across the web. With Two (2) Special Contests going on at Lip Gloss and Literature , one to win Beneath a Starlet Sky and one to win The Scent of Jade, there's no better time than NOW to try for your chance at any one (or ALL) of these great reads?! I've ordered them beginning with the contest who's date ends soonest. See below for all contest links and details:

1. Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews
Goodreads; Giveaway Ends: April 28, 2011

2. The Scent of Jade by Dee DeTarsio (2 e-Copies!!)
Lip Gloss & Literature; Giveaway Ends: April 30, 2011

3. Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney
Silver’s Reviews; Giveaway Ends: April 30, 2011

4. The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton
Colloquium; Giveaway Ends: May 1, 2011

5. Buy How to Date a Werewolf by Rose Pressey for $1.99 & WIN an iPAD2!! (Second prize $50.00 Gift Card to
By Author; Giveaway Ends: May 5, 2011 @ 12:00PM

6. Attachments by Rowan Rowell
Colloquium; Giveaway Ends: May 8, 2011

7. Beneath a Starlet Sky by Amanda Goldberg & Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper (US/Canada)
Lip Gloss & Literature, Giveaway Ends: May 10, 2011

8. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
Goodreads; Giveaway Ends: May 10, 2011

9. The Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
Goodreads; Giveaway Ends: June 1, 2011

10. Thin, Rich, Pretty by Beth Harbison
St. Martins Press; Giveaway Ends: June 1, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Star Book Review and Contest: Beneath a Starlet Sky by Amanda Goldberg & Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper

(See below for details.)

“Welcome to Hollyweird…” so greets readers to the second helping of star-studded dramedies of Lola Santisi and her celeb-crazed family. Amanda Goldberg & Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper, daughters of two of Hollywood’s very real and brightest players, have earned a name for themselves with their behind-the-scenes sneak peak at what it’s like to live in Tinseltown. Be prepared for an outlandish yet dead-on portrayal of life Beneath a Starlet Sky.

Everyone in Hollywood knows the Santisi’s but no one knows what it’s really like to live on the inside of the star-crazed, camera-hungry, award show stealing family like daughter. Lola Santisi. Lola is the CEO of Julian Tennant, Inc., a struggling wedding designer and her BGF, ‘Best Gay Forever’. She will do (almost) anything to get him on the cover of Vain magazine, even if it means having to beg Papa Santisi to put a rehab-bound actor in his latest Oscar-worthy film. Lola’s BFF, Kate, has always put business before pleasure especially now that she’s managing Saffron Sykes, the hottest star since Angelina Jolie, but what will happen to Lola and Kate’s friendship when Kate’s relationship with Lola’s brother, Christopher goes sour? As if things weren’t already chaotic enough, Mother Santisi and her reality-tv film crew are around every corner and demanding Lola and everyone act out scripted scenes to boost sweeps week ratings. Finally, Lola thinks she may have finally found her own Dr. McDreamy, Lev, but when he’s approached to act a bit part in a TV medical drama, Lola’s afraid there won’t be enough medicine to cure the actor bug. But, with the Cannes Film Festival on the horizon, maybe what everyone needs is a little time away from La-La Land but then again where the Santisis go, drama usually follows and where else but a film festival would plenty of cameras catch all the action….

This book was sinfully delicious! I loved every page. For a book with many characters, it was so easy to follow all the drama and I found myself rooting for Lola the entire way. Beneath a Starlet Sky proves that you can take the girl out of Hollywood but you definitely can’t take the “Hollywood” out of the girl! A four star, guilty pleasure. If you haven’t read Goldberg and Hopper’s first novel, Celebutantes, chronicling the Santisi-saga in all their celeb-frenzied glory, I would definitely add that to the top of your TBR list. In the meantime, get a copy of Beneath a Starlet Sky, head on over to France with Lola Santisi, catch a film, see the stars, and just wait for all the drama unfold.


Here’s your chance NOW through Tuesday, May 10, 2011 to WIN your VERY OWN COPY OF Beneath A Starlet Sky by Amanada Goldberg and Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper. Write a comment below, including your email and then cross your fingers that you’ll be reading soon about all the antics of Lola, Kate, Julian and all the Santisis at this Cannes Film Festival! It’s a story not to be missed….



1.                          Write a Comment below and include a Valid Email Address where I can contact the winner
2.                          OPEN to all US and CANADA Residents
3.                          One Winner will receive one (1) copy of Beneath a Starlet Sky, provided by the Publisher
4.                          ONE entry per person (No extra entries; although spreading the word about this fabulous contest is always appreciatedJ)
5.                          Winner will be chosen Wednesday, May 11, 2011 via
6.                          Winner will be Announced on my blog, Lip Gloss & Literature and an Email will be sent to the winner at the email provided
7.                          If the Winner does not respond within 48 Hours, a new winner will be selected.

Thank you to the publisher for providing the copy of Beneath a Starlet Sky and Thank you to EVERYONE for participating. GOOD LUCK!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Star Audio Book Review: I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson; Read by Sian Thomas

What would you do if you had the chance to reconnect with your childhood dreams of meeting a teen idol rock star? This is the very predicament that Welsh woman, Petra, finds herself in as she’s cleaning out her mother’s attic just days after her funeral and stumbles upon a letter informing her teen self that she’d won a contest to meet David Cassidy some twenty-four years ago!

 As teens, best friends, Petra and Sharon spent endless hours, days, nights fawning over David Cassidy of The Partridge Family fame but as the girls lived on one side of the world, and David, on another, in Los Angeles, the closest they ever got to him was through his exposes and personal Q&As in the magazine, The Ultimate David Cassidy. They adored him. David could do no wrong in their eyes; even when he announces his final farewell tour, the girls are not mad with their idol and make every effort possible to get to the show.

Across the ocean, in another Land, in the not-so glamorous world of celebrities and magazines, meet Bill, writer behind the personality of “David Cassidy” in the The Ultimate David Cassidy magazine. It was his daily struggle and constant conflict that he wrote under such false pretenses by pretending to be the man that so many girls around the world lived and breathed on his every word. But in all practicality, he had to pay the bills just as much as any other “David” didn’t he? And, really, wouldn’t he be doing these girls a disservice by not responding to their countless letters. Surely the real David Cassidy hadn’t the time for it did he?

Fast forward 24 years, when Petra finds her winning letter and phones The Ultimate David Cassidy to claim her prize. The magazine, at first shook by the call, finds no problem with honoring her winnings and agrees to send both Petra and Sharon out to Las Vegas to meet David Cassidy, himself. However, Petra and her teenage dreams are in for a reality check when she is introduced to head writer for The Ultimate David Cassidy magazine, Bill. Listen to find out how Petra deals with this crushing blow to her childhood idolization or will it even matter now 24 years later?

A fun blast to the past. Told in a soothing and articulate fashion by British narrator, Sian Thomas, who has read countless audio book productions before, including Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry.  

Bonus: An afterword includes an Interview with the real David Cassidy, himself, conducted by the author, Allison Pearson.

3/5 Stars

For more information on Allison Pearson visit her Facebook fan page, follow her on Twitter or check out her latest thoughts in her column in the Daily Telegraph. Her first novel was I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Special Guest Post & Contest: Dee DeTarsio, Author of The Scent of Jade

(Self) Interview With Dee DeTarsio, Author of The Scent of Jade
(And after the interview, check at the bottom for details on the special contest and giveaway for two (2) Amazon Kindle e-book copies of her adventurous, romoantic comedy, The Scent of Jade.)

Dear Marian Keyes,

Wait a minute. Why are you writing a letter to Marian Keyes, famous author and brilliant Irish storyteller, an icon gifted with wit and charm beyond compare?

Well, if you would bother to take that snooty tone out of your implication, I will answer. I am reaching out to Ms. Keyes because I’m convinced we are BFF soul mates. We have so much in common. It’s uncanny! I even sometimes wonder if we’ve shared past lives together. And besides all that, I am really jonesin’ for a new novel from her; isn’t it Helen’s turn? I’m also thinking Mammy Walsh has some stories in her past...

Why are you stalking Marian Keyes?

She’s a Virgo, I’m a Virgo. She’s a successful internationally recognized goddess of an author, and I...well, I’ve read everything she’s ever written. I expect we would be best friends, as close as sisters. She even looks amazingly like my younger sister, Ma... OK, my sister’s name isn’t Marian, it’s MaryBeth, but we call her Beezer, which has the exact same number of letters Marian’s name does. Coincidence? (I sometimes even call my sister an eejit!)

That’s the strength of your connection?

Her most excellent Ms. Keyes is from Ireland, I love the color green. From her first book, Watermelon, (my seventh favorite fruit) to Sushi For Beginners (I’m only up to California rolls myself!) to Anybody Out There...I have loved, read, and reread every word. I’ve even read parts aloud to my husband.

What can guys learn from chick lit?

Lots of cool stuff. Like women think it’s sexier for guys to fill up our cars with gas, than to play bongos on our ass. (See what I did there, I made it sing-songy so it can be remembered easier.) Guys need to come over to the pink side--they don’t know what they’re missing.

You really think Marian Keyes is going to respond to you?

She’s going to have to sign that restraining order sooner or later.

What do you want from her--a blurb for your book?

That would be genius. I’ve even taken the liberty of writing it for her myself:

You’d be an eejit not to read this gobshite.”  Marian Keyes xoxo

You must really think you’re fly like a G6.

More like a V8.

So, what would you say if you were ever lucky enough to meet the object of your affection?

WHEN I finally meet MARIAN KEYES! (I will be the one wearing my skinny jeans that look brand new on account I don’t get to wear them that often, with a brand new top that covers all the right places--I think a dress would be too-too...) I’m thinking of leading off with, “Top of the morning!” as an icebreaker.

I am such a gobshite.

Dear Marian--Friend me!!

Photos: Marian Keyes...                                                     ...and her doppelganger, my sister, Beezer!    

For more of the writings of hilarious author Dee DeTarsio, check out her blog at or her website at or

Currently at work on her fourth novel, she has written three others, of which I was so lucky to read and review the first, The Scent of Jade. Aptly marketed as "Romancing the Stone" meets Survivor, you won't be disappointed as you fly through the pages in this adventurous romantic comedy. Dee DeTarsio has very generously offered two (2)!!! copies of The Scent of Jade to two lucky winners worldwide. (These are Amazon Kindle formatted e-books. you do NOT need a Kindle to read them, simply download the Kindle application to your phone, iPod, Computer or other compatible device.)

Contest!! Rules & Details: Two (2) Kindle e-Books: The Scent of Jade by Dee DeTarsio

1. Post a Comment below with your Email Address for entry to win one of two copies of The Scent of Jade.
2. One entry per person.
3. Contest is open worldwide; you just need computer access to receive the e-book.
4. Each winner will receive an electronic copy of The Scent of Jade. This is an e-format from Amazon Kindle. You do NOT need to own or use a Kindle ereader; simply download the Kindle Application on your phone, computer, iPod or other compatible device.
5. Contest will be open through Saturday, April 30, 2011.
6. Winners will be chosen randomly through
7. Must include email address in comment so that I can contact you should you win. (I will NOT use your email for any other purpose.)
Good Luck and in the meantime, Check out my review of The Scent of Jade on Lip Gloss and  Literature.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Star e-Book Review: The Scent of Jade by Dee DeTarsio

The Scent of Jade  by Dee DeTarsio
            The Scent of Jade by Dee DeTarsio introduces readers to a new heroine, Julie Fraser, who finds herself in for quite the adventure when she decides to follow her husband on his business trip to the rainforest of Costa Rica. Thinking she has made the ultimate romantic gesture, the surprise is on Julie when she catches her husband, Colin, in a compromising and arabesque position with a voluptuous vixen. Not only does this appear to be a shocking display of animal lust, but it also seems to be ritualistic in some way as they are doing the deed in front of some type of jade artifact. Without a second thought, Julie grabs the green object and starts running….and running…and running, further and deeper into the wild of the rainforest.

            Julie doesn’t even consider looking back as she runs, determined to get the picture of her husband and that….hussy…out of her mind, but soon Julie begins to regret her hasty decision, realizing as she looks around that she’s lost and suddenly, she wishes she'd stopped running a while ago. Praying that her husband has sent out a search party for her – even though she hasn’t forgiven him for being a total bastard – Julie makes the best of her current surroundings. Along the way she meets a colorful cast of characters, including a meddlesome monkey, a blonde Juan, his scintillating sister, magic-making mama and many more. But despite who she meets, the only person Julie really wants to connect with is Colin.

            The longer Julie is out in the rainforest, the more she realizes the danger she’s in. Apparently, the jade artifact she “stole” is the long-lost object of Costa Rica’s heritage and there are a lot of people who are very upset that Colin had it in his possession, even more angered to learn that it’s, once again, gone missing!

            What is so important about this little green rock that has everybody in Costa Rica up in arms? Will Julie ever find out? Will she ever be reconnected with her husband, Colin? What will she say to him if they get the chance to reunite? Could this be Julie’s last vacation ever?

            Dee DeTarsio is a former tv news writer who has a talent for reeling readers into her books with her quick wit, a keen and insightful leading heroine, action-packed scenes and much hilarity. If you’re looking for an adventurous romantic-comedy, The Scent of Jade won’t let you down. A fast-paced, quick read, you’ll be racing through the pages. This was the first book I read by Dee DeTarsio and I will definitely be checking out her other releases.

   4 Stars

            Out in ebook, you can find The Scent of Jade by Dee DeTarsio or any of her other novels at Diesel e-books, the Amazon Kindle Store or Smashwords:

For more information on The Scent of Jade, Dee DeTarsio or any of her other releases, visit her website via:

Or follow Dee’s hilarious posts on her blog at:

Look for a Special Author Guest Post by Dee DeTarsio Coming Soon to Lip GLoss and Literature!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Star Book Review: Tales from the Yoga Studio by Rain Mitchell

Tales from the Yoga Studio was the first of a new series of books on yoga and friendship in Southern California by Rain Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell has shared a few articles on her writing process and the difficulty with which it was and the strength she gained from it. Fittingly, then, her series tackles the topic of yoga as a meditative practice for letting go and how a group of Southern Californian friends use it to get through some of the toughest times in their lives.

 Lee is the go-to guru of all yoga teachers in sunny L.A. and that’s just who friends Graciela, Stephanie, Imani and Katherine go to every week as they head over to Lee’s studio in Silver Lake for a workout that helps them sweat out all their demons. It’s not only the four friends who are aware of Lee’s special talents as a yoga instructor and sure enough, yoga empire, “Yoga Happens” seeks out Lee for one of their new chain studios opening up in LA, making her a bountiful offer, hard for any working mom, to refuse. Along with their lush offer, Yoga Happens has even guaranteed Lee a spot for her husband, Alan at the posh studio, where he can play his music for yoga goers. Like any offer that appears too good to be true, Yoga Happens contract is exclusive and if Lee accepts, she must close down her own quaint studio in Silver Lake.

Lee’s followers and close friends, Katherine, Graciela, Imani and Stephanie also have their fair share of issues going on at the moment. Katherine, newly sober, is having a difficult time allowing herself to trust others, especially one guy in particular. Will she give him and herself a chance at love or will she be too afraid to get close? Stephanie is battling her own demons while trying to keep her writing career alive. Will the script she’s currently working on be accepted or will she burn out before she can finish it? Graciela, a gorgeous hip hop dancer, has the chance of a lifetime to be in a video for Beyonce but will an unfortunate injury hold her back? Finally, Imani wasn’t so sure that yoga was for her, but as she begins checking out local studios with bff and paparazzi magnet, Becky, she starts to realize that it may be just the calm she needs to help her weather her own heartache.

I love yoga but still didn’t know what to expect from a contemporary women’s fiction book on the subject. I thought it started off somewhat slow, but something kept pulling me back into the story. I don’t know if it was the fluidity of the writing that was reminiscent of the peace and relaxation of child’s pose or the characters that highlighted the creativity and togetherness of female friendship; but by the story’s end I was hooked on SoCal’s soothing yoga practice and Rain Mitchell’s writing.

I will definitely be checking out the second book in this series when it comes out.
3 Stars

For more info on Rain Mitchell or Tales from the Yoga Studio, check out her web page:

For one of the articles I posted by Rain Mitchell, check back to this post in March:

***I received Tales from the Yoga Studio from FSB Media in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions of this review are my own.***


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Putting on My Lip Gloss #3: Writing Beginnings and Characters from Start to Finish

I have been working on a new writing project for a little over a month now. I started by brainstorming and jotting down a few disjointed ideas, scenarios and characters and then I wrote a very brief outline (that I still fill in from time to time as more information becomes revealed throughout the story that I don’t want to forget). I am at the point now where I am working on a rough draft of the first few chapters, the beginning and one of the main areas of focus in this part of the novel is on character development. I have been scavenging through articles and reference books, gathering tips and ideas for anything and everything I can find on beginnings and characters and I’m once again, amazed at the plethora of information that is available to would-be writers like me.

Two of my favorite websites and blogs have been particularly helpful as of late; namely, the Daily Writing Tips website and the Girlfriends Book Club blog. Daily Writing Tips provides, tips, ideas, suggestions and how-to’s from grammar to writing a great endings and everything in between. Here was a fantastic article on “Opening Lines to Inspire the Start of Your Story”:

Girlfriends Book Club was created by women, for women, featuring a different women’s fiction writer’s thoughts every day. In March they did a feature on beginnings in novel writing. Several authors shared their views and advice on openings. Here was the first of many articles that spanned over a week’s worth of writing:

To subscribe to the daily writing tips on the site of the same name, visit:

or to follow the daily writings of some of my favorite authors, check out:

Other than gathering how-to type information on beginnings and characters, whenever I’m working on my writing, my reading habits begin to change. More specifically, I start to notice things in the literature I read and I start to actively make mental notes (and sometimes physical notes) of the ways in which books approach various elements of fiction. For example, I’ve been reading several women’s fiction books and I’ve noticed how the emphasis on character development has been a major focus of each story. I think this is particularly true for series novels, in which books follow a main character (or a few main characters) over a longer period of time.

Who are some of your favorite characters? Series? Can you think of any memorable first lines? Do you prefer beginnings or endings? I’d love to hear from you!!

Putting on My Lip Gloss is a new series of blog posts that represent my personal thoughts, ideas and general ramblings related to chick lit reading and writing. Every day is an inspiration – I never know where my next post is going to come from, but when it does, I always feel like putting on my lip gloss! Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Star Book Review: Misery Loves Cabernet (Charlize Edwards #2) by Kim Gruenenfelder

Misery Loves Cabernet welcomes readers back into the life of personal assistant, Charlize “Charlie” Edwards where we find her in the next phase of her life. When we last read about her in A Total Waste of Makeup she was harried with the wedding of kid sister, Andy. While she’s off-duty as a stressed out maid of honor, Charlie is still busy bailing out another person close to her, neurotic boss and A-List movie star, Drew Stanton, of whatever wacky hijinks he’s got himself wrapped up in now, from getting his hand stuck in a toilet (again!) to kidnapping her ninety year old grandma, Mawv. Bffs, Dawn, Jenn and Late continue to keep Charlie on solid ground, maintaining their weekly girls night out to enjoy the eclectic entertainment of the newest drag queen shows in town. Charlie is still pining after handsome photog, Jordan, who has fled the states for a job in Paris and it doesn’t sound like he’s coming back anytime soon; but luckily a new man has entered her life in the form of a gorgeous Irish producer, Liam, who wants to cast Drew in his newest Indie film and it will be up to Charlie to convince Drew that scaling back to do a little film is in his bigger interests. Usually, she’s not one to get caught up in the business side of Drew’s life but when Liam says the magic three words, “filming in Paris” Charlie is on her phone to make sure Drew reads that script! Of course, life never works out nice and neat for Charlie and from here on she’s on yet another wild adventure as she tries to get to Jordan half-way across the world.

Charlie is such a lovable character that she and the crazy antics of her friends and family are definitely what made the story. In fact, I became so engaged in the book that I never really stopped to wonder what the point of it all was. Don’t get me wrong, because it is most definitely entertaining from page one to page 368. I even found myself laughing out loud at various parts to the point of a few eye-brow raises from others in my reading vicinity. I also must say that I just love the cover of this book! I think it is so cute, humorous and perfect to attract the eye of any chick lit fan and I will miss carrying it around. I was a little disappointed by the way the ending wrapped up and wished maybe things hadn’t ended so quickly, but all in all, I was entertained and reading Misery Loves Cabernet was like coming home to an old friend, Charlie, who I’d met in A Total Waste of Makeup. I can’t wait to check out Kim Gruenenfelder’s third novel, There’s Cake In My Future which just came out late 2010.

3/5 Stars

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Star Audio Book Review - Delirium by Lauren Oliver; Read by Sarah Drew

            What would you do if you just met the love of your life but everyone told you that you had to give up on love...forever? In Delirium, Lauren Oliver’s second YA novel, readers and listeners are brought into a futuristic, dystopian world in which scientists have discovered a cure for the delirium, the disease that has been brought upon humans due to love. They say love causes a delirium that has been devastating to society through divorces, infidelity, heartache and even the exciting or “good” qualities associated with the feelings of love. Society promises that once “cured”, humans will no longer find themselves victim of the attachments, emotionality and instability of love; thereby freeing humans from the anguish and, by default, also, the blessings of love. The end result is a planned, predictable and more stable way of life. Anyone who goes against these rules and regulations is either labeled a sympathizer or a resistor and is hunted down and banished to exile forever. 

Lena Holoway, a high school student in Portland, Washington, has always done the “right” thing or more accurately, she’s always done whatever was expected of her. She eagerly awaits her procedure, counting down the days to when she will be cured of the “disease”. Prior to the procedure, she undergoes a detailed evaluation to find out what profession, spouse and other aspects of her future will entail. Scientific questioning reveals her future husband, college and career but one day, the unthinkable happens – and Lena falls in love with a boy in town named Alex. All of a sudden her whole world, her beliefs, her perceptions, her ideas, dreams and hopes for the future are all up in the air. She is more confused than ever and for the first time, Lena isn’t doing what’s expected of her. The girl who eagerly counted down the days until her procedure is now debating whether or not she even wants to have the procedure; only it might not be up to her to decide.

In a futuristic tale of Romeo and Juliet, Lauren Oliver explores what happens when a young girl comes of age and discovers love in a world where love has been forbidden. Find out what happens when she starts thinking for herself and how she learns to handle the conflicts and inner turmoil that take a toll on her psyche. Will she have the procedure that supposedly will free her from the restraints of love? What will become of her and Alex?
Sarah Drew does an excellent job narrating from the young adult perspective and has come become one of my favorite young adult narrators.

This was my first experience reading or listening to a dystopian-type novel and while I applaud Lauren Oliver for her creativity in manifesting a world in which science has broken the spell of love, I’m not so sure this is the type of book I am most interested in.  Like I said, I think Lauren Oliver did a fantastic job writing the story and has a great imagination for what it would be like to be a teenager, falling in love for the first time in a world where love had been banned but for me, I was not as interested in the concept as I would have hoped. Maybe it was because I had read so many great reviews of this book, that my expectations for it were unrealistically high, but there were many parts where I just felt the novel moved too slowly for me. Listening to Delirium definitely allowed for a more interactive and engaging experience for me, but overall, I was disappointed in the book as a whole. I would still be interested, however, in checking out Lauren Oliver’s first novel, Before I Fall, to see if maybe that is more a story to my liking. Check it out for yourself and tell me what you think! I still love the cover of Delirium – I think it is just beautiful.

  3/5 Stars

For more information on Lauren Oliver, visit her web site at

   Other audio books read by Sarah Drew:
    The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell


Read my review of The Carrie Diaries at the Chick Lit Club!