Sunday, June 26, 2011

Techonology & The Girl Next Door: IT in Chick Lit?

I have several new books that I will be reviewing this summer that take on the theme of technology in one way or another. For instance, in the latest book I finished, Confessions of a Call Center Gal by Lisa Lim, the main character is working in telecommunication, helping customers with their Internet service. Phone Kitten by Marika Christian offers an alternative view at working at a “call center” in which young Emily embraces her hidden talents to be a successful “phone actress”. Click: An Online Love Story by Lisa Becker probably takes the most direct approach of all, similar to the 2007 release, Holly’s Inbox by Holly Denham, as the story, itself, is comprised of email after email after email. I have come to really appreciate this format, mostly for its creativity and ability to tell a whole story through a unique medium. But where did this whole idea come from? Was it Bridget Jones’ Diary? Was it the infamous AOL- ping, “You’ve Got Mail” in the chick flick of the same name, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks?

Whatever it was, it’s been made clear that since the dawn of the Internet, email, blogs and now, e-books have taken off, and chick lit is one genre that remains ahead of fiction’s latest IT trend. What’s your take on the whole email format in chick lit fiction?

I’ve been trying to keep track of all the books that I’ve read, or that I’m eager to read, that use the diary/letter/email format throughout the entire novel. Here are some of my faves that made the list:

Top Ten IT Chick Lit
  1.      Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
  2.    Holly’s Inbox by Holly Denham
  3.     Click: An Online Love Story by Lisa Becker
  4.    Love, Rosie (aka Where Rainbows End) by Cecelia Ahern
  5.     Save As Draft by Cavanaugh Lee
  6.     Boy Meets Girl (Boy  #1) by Meg Cabot
  7.     Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  8.     Holly’s Inbox: Scandal in the City by Holly Denham
9.     The Edge of Reason (Bridget Jones #2) by Helen Fielding
10. He Typed, She Typed by Amy Turner & Mark Van Wye

What IT Chick Lit books am I missing?? Which IT Chick Lit novel is your favorite?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Star Audio Book Review - The Fixer-Upper by Mary Kay Andrews; Read by Isabel Keating

The Fixer-Upper was the first book I read and listened to by Mary Kay Andrews and it really exceeded my expectations. When the story began, narrator Isabel Keating introduces readers to its leading heroine, Dempsey Jo Killebrew. Living in DC, working as a lobbyist for a prominent and very influential man, Alex Hodder, Dempsey finds herself front and center in a political scandal that she swears she knows nothing about. Immediately, her entire life is thrown into total upheaval. She loses her job, her apartment and pretty much everything that identifies her in DC and to top it off, her boss won’t talk to her to even give her so much as a clue as to what it going on.

Nearing 30, Dempsey swallows her pride and hops on a plane to Miami to ask her father, Mitch for a loan. While he doesn’t agree to give her money, he does make an interesting proposition to Dempsey. Apparently, his Uncle Norbert from Guthrie, Georgia had just passed and left Mitch his huge farm house, called Birdsong, and whatever land it’s on; but the catch is, the house is in no kind of condition to live in or even sell just yet. If Dempsey is willing to go up to Guthrie, fix up the old house and put it on the market, Mitch is willing to split – 50/50 – any of the profits that she can garner from the sale. Left with virtually no options, Dempsey goes back to DC to pack up her apartment and heads down to the lil’ town of Guthrie, Georgia.

In Guthrie, Dempsey is met with surprise after surprise. First, to say the farm house is in disarray is a vast understatement; but before she can even enter Birdsong to assess the damages, she comes face to face with an old, cynical and very protective woman, currently living in Birdsong – and she wants nothing to do with Dempsey and she certainly doesn’t want her living in the house with her. Dempsey heads off to the lawyer’s office to find out just what’s going on where she learns that the woman is a distant cousin, Ella Kate who took care of Norbert during his last few years. She has got nothing but hate in her body for the Killebrews. With all bad news, there’s got to be something good – and it takes the form of a Mr. Carter T. Berryhill, or “T” for short. He is a gorgeous, young lawyer, working with his father, a local Guthrie man and the romantic tension that sparks between him and Dempsey is more than palpable. As if Dempsey didn’t already have a long road ahead and ample work cut out for her, the FBI trail her to the farm house in Guthrie and they aren’t leaving until she’s willing to talk to them. Will one too many distractions keep Dempsey from finishing her project or more importantly, rebuilding her life?

A beautifully narrated story, fast-paced and exciting with each passing minute, Isabel Keating kept listeners tuning into every word. She performed as the strong yet naïve Dempsey born and raised a city girl, and then masked her voice as the small town country old lady Ella Kate and then again transformed herself into the sweet, sultry and very southern gentleman Carter T Berryhill; The characters couldn’t have been more different in age, sex, ethnicity and culture and I was vastly impressed by Isabel Keating’s ability to alter the intonation of her voice over and over again in this story, from the bad guys in DC politics to those born in the south of Georgia-born to Dempsey’s California glam-hippie mother and her father’s Hispanic wife.

Overall, The Fixer-Upper was supremely entertaining, with elements of drama, romance, action and humor, there’s a little something for everyone. If you like a good chick it novel with a little mystery, political scandal and southern charm, this might just be the audio book for you.


Mary Kay Andrews latest release is Summer Rental and it is available in stores everywhere. For more information on these books or any of her others, visit her site at
Rating 4/5

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sizzlin' Summer Reading: Surfin' the Web for Chick Lit Contests

Wow, I cannot believe it is June! The first day of summer was this week and you know what that means?! Hot sun, beaches, tanning and of course, sizzling summer reading! I’ve had some fantastic reviews and interviews this week with some of the newest in chick lit and there will be a lot more like it in the coming weeks.

For now, let’s kick off another scorcher of a weekend with some of the hottest book giveaways and contests across the web.

Good luck!

Click: An Online Love Story by Lisa Becker
Fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats, Renee Greene, the heroine of Click: An Online Love Story, reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolds through a series of emails between Renee and her best friends (anal-compulsive Mark, the overly-judgmental Ashley and the over-sexed Shelley) as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. From the guy who starts every story with "My buddies and I were out drinking one night," to the egotistical "B" celebrity looking for someone to stroke his ego, Renee endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will root for Renee to "click" with the right man. Released March 29, 2011.
Writer’s Corner; Ends: June 24, 2011 (1 Copy – ebook)

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and complete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eye liner.
What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?
Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again. Released May 23, 2011.
Goodreads; Ends: June 24, 2011 (10 Copies)

It’s Hard Not to Hate You by Valerie Frankel
From the author of THIN IS THE NEW HAPPY comes a hilarious new memoir about embracing your Inner Hater. In the midst of a health and career crisis, Valerie uncorks years of pent up rage, and discovers you don't have to be happy to be happy. You don’t have to love everyone else to like yourself. And that your Bitchy Twin might just be your funniest, most valuable and honest ally. Release date September 13, 2011.
Goodreads; Ends: June 26, 2011 (40 Copies)

Abandon (Abandon Trilogy #1) by Meg Cabot
Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.
But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.
Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.
But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld. Released May 1, 2011.
Goodreads; Ends: June 26, 2011 (10 Copies)

Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
Meredith Martin Delinn just lost everything: her friends, her homes, her social standing - because her husband Freddy cheated rich investors out of billions of dollars.
Desperate and facing homelessness, Meredith receives a call from her old best friend, Constance Flute. Connie's had recent worries of her own, and the two depart for a summer on Nantucket in an attempt to heal. But the island can't offer complete escape, and they're plagued by new and old troubles alike. When Connie's brother Toby - Meredith's high school boyfriend - arrives, Meredith must reconcile the differences between the life she is leading and the life she could have had.
Set against the backdrop of a Nantucket summer, Elin Hilderbrand delivers a suspenseful story of the power of friendship, the pull of love, and the beauty of forgiveness. Released June 21, 2011.
Chick Lit is Not Dead; Ends: June 26, 2011 (5 Copies)

Seven Year Bitch by Jennifer Belle
Isolde Brilliant used to have a life she recognized. She was working in finance, she had a devoted, if neurotic, husband, and a perfectly acceptable apartment in downtown Manhattan. But once Izzy's wish to become a mother finally comes true, she is laid off from her job, and her old world falls by the wayside. Although she's surprised with motherhood's hidden pleasures-jaunts to the park, bickering with other mothers, and the sense of accomplishment she feels in having made it through her son's first year-her marriage is on shaky ground and she feels lost. She just can't quite get a grip on what to do now that she has all-or most-of the things she's ever wanted.
As Izzy ponders her next move, her best friend announces that she is leaving her husband. Balancing the demands of marriage and motherhood for seven years has made her feel like a nag, a shrew,, and she's determined that the only way out is too leave. Izzy tries to avoid a similar fate, but as new challenges and temptations arise for her, she begins to wonder if there might be some inescapable grain of truth in her friend's outlandish theory. Released: May 13, 2010.
A Cozy Reader’s Corner; Ends: June 26, 2011 (1 Copy)

Ten Beach Road
by Wendy Wax
Madeline, Avery, and Nikki are strangers to each other, but they have one thing in common. They each wake up one morning to discover their life savings have vanished, along with their trusted financial manager- leaving them with nothing but co-ownership of a ramshackle beachfront house.
Throwing their lots in together, they take on the challenge of restoring the historic property. But just as they begin to reinvent themselves and discover the power of friendship, secrets threaten to tear down their trust-and destroy their lives a second time. Released May 3, 2011.
Redlady’s Reading Room; Ends: June 26, 2011 (1 Copy)

The Wedding Writer by Susan Schneider
Lucky Quinn writes up weddings for one of the hottest bridal magazines. And it wasn’t easy to get there. From humble beginnings, she outsmarted her way into the center of New York’s glamorous magazine industry – making up for her background with a sharp mind, whip-thin physique, and ceaseless ambition.
Then, in one day, her life is utterly transformed; two of the magazine’s major competitors fold, and Lucky is named Editor-in-Chief, replacing the formidable, but aging Grace Ralston, who had been at the magazine’s helm from day one. Grace taught Lucky everything she knows, but now it seems that she taught her too well…
As the ripples of Lucky’s promotion spread, the intricate lives of four women begin to unfold. Felice, Your Wedding’s elegant and unshakeable Art Director is now being shaken for the first time by troubles at home. Sara, the Fashion Director, is famed for her eagle eye for fashion trends and exquisite hair. But, for all her know-how, “the Angel of Bridal” has never come close to starring in a wedding herself – she’s picked the dress, but where’s the groom? Grace, recovering in the wake of her sudden, humiliating fall from power, must learn to accept herself – and love – after a life dedicated to fulfilling other women’s dreams. And, through it all, Lucky begins to discover just how lonely the top really is. Released: June 7, 2011.
The Book Chick; Ends: June 27, 2011 (1 Copy)

The Summer Season by Julia Williams
Passions flare, secrets unravel and love blossoms in the heart of the summer season. Hearts Ease House, a country cottage in Sussex, stands overlooking the small village of Hearts Ease. Originally owned by a famous Victorian botanist who created a love knot garden, the house and garden have over the years fallen into a state of disrepair. Joel has recently inherited the house but is struggling to come to terms with being a single dad after the sudden death of his wife, and is hiding a painful secret, the house and garden seem like one burden too many. His original plans to renovate the house and restore the garden to share with his wife, are all in ashes. It seems that Hearts Ease House is destined to remain forever in a state of decay. Then Kezzie, guerrilla gardener bursts into his life, and demands not only that he restore the gardens to their former glory, but he opens them up to the public too. Together as they restore the garden at Hearts Ease to its former glory, they discover the tragedy locked there, and by doing so uncover the secrets of their own hearts. Released: June 23, 2011.
Chick Lit Reviews; Ends: June 30, 2011 (1 Copy)

Are You Going to Kiss Me Now? By Sloane Tanen
High school junior Francesca Manning is an outsider, an aspiring writer and secret devourer of celebrity gossip mags. A fake essay to Seventeen wins her the celeb-schmoozing opportunity of a lifetime, but after the plane crashes, she's stranded on a desert island with five of the most clueless, self-involved headcases to escape Hollywood. Happily skewering their foibles in witty observations on her iPhone proves surprisingly educational for Francesca. The group must work together to survive-if they don't insult each other to death first. Released: May 1, 2011.
Chick Lit Reviews; Ends: June 30, 2011 (1 Copy – US/CANADA ONLY)

Sunset Bridges by Emilie Richards
Former socialite Tracy Deloche has nothing to her name but five ramshackle beach cottages and the unlikely friendships she's formed with her tenants. Wanda, wise waitress turned popular pie-shop owner. Janya, the young Indian wife whose arranged marriage surprises her every day. Alice, a widow raising her complex tween-age granddaughter. And Maggie, Wanda's daughter, a former Miami cop with a love life as complicated as Tracy's own.
The new man in Tracy's life hasn't mentioned love or commitment— and Tracy has just discovered she's pregnant. Janya longs to be a mother—and suddenly has two young siblings in her care. Maggie helps out at Wanda's Wonderful Pies…but is the kitchen big enough for both Gray women? And Alice may lose her beloved granddaughter to someone no one expected….
As a tropical storm brews, the wind carries surprises and secrets over the bridge to Happiness Key. Now, more than ever, five friends will discover just how much they need one another. Released: June 21, 2011.
Chick Lit Reviews; Ends: July 3, 2011 (A Copy – US/CANADA ONLY)

Serendipity (Serendipity #1) by Carly Phillips
Faith Harrington was the classic girl of privilege–until her father was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme and then her marriage crashed and burned.
Now Faith is back in her hometown, hoping for a fresh start. But her father’s betrayal has rocked Serendipity – and not everyone is ready to welcome her with open arms. Then she runs into her teenage crush — the dark, brooding Ethan Barron. Ethan, no stranger to scandal himself, never imagined he’d own the mansion on the hill, much less ever again come face to face with Faith–the princess he once kissed senseless. The chance meeting reignites the electric charge between them.
Still, when Ethan hires her to redecorate what was once her childhood home, Faith is sure that getting involved with the town’s notorious bad boy will only lead to trouble. But her heart has other ideas. And so do the townspeople of Serendipity …
Goodreads; Ends: July 6, 2011 (25 Copies)

The Royal Mess (Alaskan Royal Family #3) by Mary Janice Davidson
Jeffrey Rodinov is descended from one of the oldest families in Alaska, and a Rodinov has been protecting a Baranov for generations. No one ever sees Jeffrey Rodinov coming, and no one—not even a mouthy, illegitimate princess—is going to keep him from playing bodyguard when his king decrees it.
But no Rodinov ever had to protect Princess Nicole Krenski. Her credentials? Hunting guide in the Alaskan wilderness. Smart. Stubborn bordering on exasperating. The lady says she doesn’t need a bodyguard, but that’s where she’s wrong. Someone needs to watch her and show her the royal ropes. Someone who can make her feel like a queen—in and out of bed. Released June 1, 2011.
Goodreads; Ends: July 7, 2011 (10 Copies)

Confessions of a Call Center Gal by Lisa Lim
A fun chick lit romance that will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes. Bridget Jones meets The Office. Madison Lee is a fresh college grad, ready to take on the world of print media. But she has zero luck landing a job. Unemployment is at ten percent and on the rise. Desperate and left with no other options, she accepts a position as a service rep at a call center in Pocatello, Idaho. At the Lightning Speed call center in Spudsville, Maddy plunges into the wild and dysfunctional world of customer service where Sales is prided over Service and an eight hour shift is equivalent to eight hours of callers bashing her over the phone. Oh sure, the calls are bad. But Maddy manages to find humor on the phone and off the phone. And with all the salacious drama behind the calls, there is never a dull moment at the Lightning Speed call center.
Lately . . . Maddy has been pining for her smolderingly gorgeous co-worker Mika Harket. Now things are heating up on the phone--and elsewhere. Don't hang up on this novel. Working at a call center has never been this garish . . . or this delightful. Released May 1, 2011.
Goodreads; Ends: July 8, 2011 (1 Copy)

After the Party by Lisa Jewell (Sequel to Ralph’s Party)
Eleven years ago, Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary fell deeply in love. They thought it would be forever, that they’d
found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple. Then two became four, an apartment became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn’t quite so simple anymore. But through it all, Jem and Ralph still loved each other, of course they did.
Now Jem is back at work part-time as a talent agent. Now Ralph, a successful painter, is struggling to come up with
new, hopefully groundbreaking, work for his upcoming show. Now the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart. And in the chaos of family life, Jem feels like she's losing herself,
while Ralph, stuck on the sidelines, feels like he's lost his muse altogether. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted—but maybe it’s not too late to recapture happily ever after…Release date August 16, 2011.
Goodreads; Ends: July 11, 2011 (50 Copies)

Better Off Without Him by Dee Ernst
Mona Berman is an expert at Happily Ever After – after all, she’s a best-selling Romance writer and happy endings are what she does best. So when her husband of twenty years leaves her for somebody 15 years younger, 20 pounds lighter, and French, she’s got a lot of adjusting to do, both personally and professionally. Lucky for her she’s got three savvy teen daughters, a few good friends, and Ben, the world’s sexiest plumber, to help her along the way.
First she decides that her next book will be the anti-romance – her heroine finds the best part of her life AFTER getting dumped. Next her daughters tell her she needs to start practice dating, and summer at the Jersey shore is the perfect place for that. She’s also juggling her soon-to-be-ex, a loony aunt, and a match-making neighbor, while Ben is sending her romance-driven imagination into overdrive. Can Mona’s life imitate art? Can she write her own happy ending?
Goodreads; Ends: July 13, 2011 (2 Copies)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think.
For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.
When the family returns and Cricket - a gifted inventor and engineer - steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Release date September 29, 2011.
Goodreads; Ends: August 1, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Special Guest Post: Chick Lit Cafe's Jessica Sinn Reviews Wishbones by Carolyn Haines

A Review by Jessica Sinn of the Chick Lit Café

I always look forward to Jessica Sinn’s book views and reviews. Jessica Sinn is the woman behind the Chick lit Café. She reviews all different kinds of subgenres of chick lit, including fashion, romance, mystery and everything in between. Visit her blog for more of the latest and greatest in chick lit books and reviews; find out what she’s reading and more at Thank you so much to Jessica Sinn for sharing her thoughts with us at Lip Gloss and Literature this week. Be sure to drop by the Chick Lit Café and say hi to her.

Wishbones by Carolyn Haines

Anyone who has seen Steel Magnolia’s or Gone with the Wind should know that southern belles are a force to be reckoned with. Any southern lady worth her salt can bring men to their knees with just a bat of an eye. She must always look her best – even when she’s taking out the trash in sweltering heat. Most importantly, she must never accept defeat from the enemy. And Sarah Booth Delaney – the hottest detective in Zinnia, Mississippi – is no exception!

In this eighth installment of Haine’s charming Southern Belle Mystery Series, the sassy sleuth leaves her beloved plantation home and PI agency to pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood starlet. She soon lands the leading role in a steamy remake of the movie Body Heat alongside her old flame, Graf Mileu.

Nursing a broken heart after a bad breakup with her longtime love, Sarah tries to keep her relationship with Graf professional, but the chemistry between them is undeniable. And when the love scenes heat up, so does their off-screen relationship!

Just before she could get her bearings in the big city, the director Frederico’s former lover is found dead in the foothills of Lettohatchi Canyon, a wildfire breaks out, and a foreboding message in lipstick appears on Sarah Booth’s bathroom mirror.

Refusing to heed to the perp’s warning to “go home, hick,” Sarah Booth sets off for Costa Rica to film on location in Frederico’s gorgeous – and reputedly haunted – mansion.

The bad luck continues when the ghost of Federico’s dead wife Carlita stalks the corridors, disembodied voices resonate behind the mansion’s walls, and a set balustrade crumbles. All signs point to Frederico’s angry daughter, Estelle, who threatens the entire film crew to leave the mansion or suffer the consequences.

When Sarah Booth’s best friend and fellow PI, Tinkie, catches wind of all of the unexplained accidents, she comes to the rescue. Hot on the trail, the sassy sleuths hunt down suspects and explore the mansion’s hidden nooks and crannies. With some help from their gal pals in Zinnia, Tinkie and Sarah Booth research Frederico’s dark family history and discover some startling secrets about Carlita’s past.  

Assisted by her resident “haint” (aka Resident Haunt) Jitty, the busybody ghost of her great-great-grandmother's nanny, Sarah Booth digs up all the dirt she can find about the haunted mansion and its shady residents. And when Tinkie and her dust mop of a dog, Chablis, fall victim to the next “accident,” Sarah Booth must piece together the clues before she loses the ones she holds most dear, as well as her chance at stardom.

Readers who like cozy mysteries with a lot of sass, madcap adventure and gutsy characters will love these fun little mysteries!  Carolyn Haines tailors all of her stories with sharp murder plots, romantic tension and amusing dialogue. And if that isn’t enough – she even throws in some adorable four-legged sidekicks! So pull up a chair on the porch, pour yourself a sugary glass of iced tea and spend a lazy summer afternoon in Sarah Booth’s intriguing world of murder and mayhem!

For more info on Carolyn Haines or any of her mystery and chick lit novels, visit her website at or check out her Goodreads Profile.

A big thank you to Jessica from the Chick Lit Cafe!! I can't wait to read about what you're reading next!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Special Author Interview & Book Review with Cassandra O'Sullivan Sachar, Author of Little Miss Teacher

Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar is the debut author of Little Miss Teacher, a novel about a young woman growing up and learning her way through her first year of teaching. The author gave me the time to answer a few questions I had for her and I hope you enjoy the interview; and after reading the interview, please check out my review of her first novel.

Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar is currently on a blog tour, hosted by Chick Lit Plus (CLP) Blog Tours. Than you so much to both Ms. Sachar and CLP for offering me the opportunity to read, review and interview Ms. Sachar and Little Miss Teacher. For previous blogs and her next stop, please visit her page at Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.
Q. As a high school English teacher, yourself, how autobiographical is Little Miss Teacher?

COS: I believe that all writers provide insight into their lives and personalities through their writing.  From my title and content, it's pretty obvious that I looked to my career and experiences for some of my inspiration.  I'm well acquainted with life inside a high school, and that's part of the reason I gave Candace the job of a teacher; I knew I could make it realistic, and I've read several chick lit books about young women starting out in various careers.  We've read about fashionistas and nannies, so why not write about a young teacher?  Everyone has some idea of teachers, since we've all had them, but Candace's story isn't just for teachers; in some ways she's an Everywoman, struggling to find herself as she begins her "adult" life.  I definitely based a few of Candace's classroom adventures upon some of my own as a new teacher (including that first memorable scene... THAT was awkward!).  Still, though, Candace is not Cassandra, and I haven't modeled any single character on a real person. This is something I had to tell some of my students who read the book:  It's a work of fiction!            

Q. Who (or what) have been some of your influences on your path to becoming a teacher? A writer? Do you prefer one craft over the other or do you think you will always do both?

COS: Even before I learned to write, I was a writer.  My mother and I created these fabulous little books; I would draw the pictures and tell her how the story went, and she would scribe my words.  I have her to thank for helping me develop my talent and passion in both reading and writing.  I have folders full of early writing attempts: poems, short stories, a few ill-fated one-act plays, and several beginnings of novels.  I knew I would write a book someday, and I have always thought of myself as a writer, even when life is busy and I don't take the time to write.  When I'm not writing, I mull over ideas for my next project.  As for teaching, I never really expected it.  During my senior year of college I finally realized that I had no real plan for a career after graduation.  Many other English majors have been drawn to teaching for the same reason as I was:  love of the subject.  My friend Joe, who was an English education major, suggested that I turn to teaching.  I graduated with my degree in English and spent the next year gaining teacher certification.  For someone who never saw herself as a teacher, my profession has fit me beautifully, and I have thrived working with teenagers.  I'm currently pursuing my doctorate in education, so I see myself teaching for a long time.  I use my summers off to focus on my writing.  I can't say that I prefer one over the other:  I am both a writer and a teacher.   

Q.  I read that you also published a mystery book for middle school readers called The Hidden Diary. What made you take the leap to women’s fiction or chick lit? Do you have a preference for one genre or another?

 COS: I love mysteries and young adult literature, but I love my chick lit as well.  I actually haven't published The Hidden Diary yet, but it's ready for publication.  Since it's only available as an eBook, I've held back on releasing it, as I'm not sure that the age group does much reading at way (I've been meaning to research this as soon as I have time!).  I feel comfortable in both genres; I like reading and writing both.  Although many authors stick with one age group, sometimes I'm in the mood for one kind of writing over the other.  If there's an interest from the public, I'd love to spend another year in the classroom with Candace as a more experienced teacher, but my current project is a collection of scary short stories for middle grade readers.     

Q. As a teacher, you play an instrumental role in the lives of adolescents who are transitioning into the next stage of development. Little Miss Teacher plays on this theme of struggle and growth as well as its main character, Candace, who is also going through a transitional time in her life. What type of advice do you have for students and/or readers? Would you want your students read your book?

 COS: My advice for students and readers is to allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help when you need it.  Too many of us walk around wearing masks, hiding our feelings and pretending that everything is fine when it's not.  It's okay to cry, it's okay to mess up, and it's okay to get help.  Look at Megan (in Little Miss Teacher):  by not dealing with her problem, it got totally out of hand.  As for students reading my novel... it feels a little funny, like they're seeing me in my swimming suit or something!  I didn't tell my students about publishing Little Miss Teacher, but they found out anyway, of course!  Due to the adult nature of parts of the novel, I would feel a little awkward about recommending that students read it, but I am proud of the book as a realistic depiction of a young woman's life. 

Q. I read on Smashwords that you enjoy many extracurriculars – in addition to your family, pets and two careers. How do you find time for it all?

COS: I am really good at time management!  I try to multi-task; I make to-do lists and grade papers while I'm waiting at the doctor's office or during my daughter's soccer practice.  When I'm on the elliptical machine or exercise bike, I do my school reading.  Still, though, I allow myself time to just relax.

Q. What do you love most about being a teacher? Least?

COS: I love seeing students blossom as writers.  So many students hate writing and/or think they're bad at it; I try to change their perceptions.  There's nothing like seeing students discover that they have the ability to write.  Teachers love their jobs because it's an amazing feeling to impact students and help them find the potential within themselves to succeed.  I'm not so crazy about grading papers... the stacks are endless! 

Q. What do you love most about being a novelist? Least?

COS: I love the creative process.  I start with a kernel of an idea and watch it grow into something so much bigger.  I really started caring about Candace as I wrote about her, even though (obviously) I knew she wasn't real.  She became real to me, and I hurt with her when she was rejected; I felt proud of her when she succeeded.  My least favorite part about writing is the publishing process.  All those rejection letters start to sting after a while, which is why I finally decided to publish Little Miss Teacher as an eBook.  I was sick of having a finished manuscript, a book I was proud of and wanted to share, simply on my hard drive with no one to read it.   

Q: Do you have a certain routine to your writing? A daily schedule? A favorite room, laptop, table, writing tool or anything else?
COS: When I'm focusing on a project, I force myself to write five pages at least every other day.  The pages might be great, or they might be terrible, but they'll get done, and that's the method that helped me finish my two novels.  I believe heavily in the revision process; the book you read is vastly different (and much better) than the one I completed almost four summers ago.  I can write anywhere- in fact, Little Miss Teacher traveled to New Orleans and Tucson with me, since I didn't want a vacation from it when I took my vacations.  I wrote part of the book in my grandmother's living room while she watched TV.  I always write on a laptop; when inspiration strikes me, I'll jot down ideas on little scraps of paper, but I always type my "real" writing.

Q. If you could “teach” wannabe writers out there one thing, what would it be?

COS: Just do it- just write.  It doesn't matter if it's terrible; you can always revise it later.  I've heard so many people say, "I should write a book," but they never do it.  Whether or not you get published, I think that the creation itself is worth it.  If you never even try, how will you know what you can accomplish?   

Q. What is something that most people wouldn't necessarily know about you (that you would be willing to share here, of course!)?

COS:  I was published for the first time when I was in high school.  My 12th grade English teacher recommended that I submit an essay I wrote for his class to a literary magazine called Merlyn's Pen.

Thank you so much to Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar for taking the time to stop by Lip Gloss and Literature, answer my questions and allow me to review her fantastic debut. If you would like to learn more about the author, her book or anything else, please visit her on Facebook page.

And now, for my review of her debut novel, Little Miss Teacher.

Little Miss Teacher by Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar

Little Miss Teacher was a really enjoyable debut that gave readers an inside glimpse into the first year of teaching through the eyes of Candace Turner. What I loved most about this story was the change over time and growth. In the first chapter a student proclaims to Miss Turner, "I can see through your blouse", horrifying Candace; and by the story's end Candace is able to stand her ground when, in the library, a young African American student, boldly accuses her of being a racist for asking her to adhere to the rules of the library. The transformation of character and the growth Candace shows is quite admirable to watch and look back on.

Candace’s first year in teaching is nothing short of a nine-month long roller coaster ride in education. Candace meets and goes on a date with a seemingly suave male teacher, who turns out to be a little too smooth for her liking. Luckily nothing too serious happens and it just becomes one of her lessons learned. She’s given the opportunity (and responsibility) of going on a business trip to New Orleans to learn about a new teaching program being implemented at other schools, where she must attend conferences and speeches, take notes and then present the material back to her own school administrators upon her return. Her teacher friend and confidant convinces Candace to chaperone her first prom, where she is the only adult there who gets all dressed up in a shiny new dress, circa Prom 2010. After prom, and to Candace’s embarrassment, she learns just how quickly social networking and photography can damage your self-image when a student posts their picture from the dance on Facebook. Candace deals with many self-image issues, naturally, being the teacher of so many teenagers, but one particular issue comes as a shock when best friend and roommate confesses to a serious eating disorder. Later, Candace must also deal with the heartache and pain of losing her dream crush, Charlie.  It’s definitely a school year to remember.

Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar provided a very detailed description of every character and each scene. As a reader, I felt like I was right alongside Candace, starting out as a teacher at a high school and just beginning to enter the real world of work, love and friendship. I thought it was really smart, fitting and cute how the author set up each chapter as a “Lesson” learned and then proceeded to detail one event or situation after another. The story, overall, read very true to life. It makes one wonder about the divide between fact and fiction. I would love to read another book by Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar. She definitely did her homework in writing this book!