Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Liebster Blog Award - Thanking Small Bloggers Everywhere

I love the name alone of this awardJ I could walk around all day saying it. If you’ve never heard of it (like me until now), the Liebster Award is given to encourage, highlight and congratulate small bloggers across the web. I was so excited to be nominated by my book blogging neighbor, Fiction Fool!
I have been keeping up with my blog for a little over one year now and still loving it. I try to keep my posts central to the topic of chick lit but always looking for ways to expand on various aspects of the genre, adding fun and exciting new features on my blog as I go. If you ever have an idea or there's something you want to see on my blog, I'm very receptive to ideas and opinions so please voice yours!
Now onto the award...In order to keep this fabulous award going I've picked 5 up and coming blogs who have less than 200 followers. The 5 blogs I selected are some of my absolute favorites that I check on a regular basis. (Some of the blogs I picked don't show a Follower widget so if you in fact have MORE than 200 followers, it was not my intention to imply that you do and I hope no one is offended.) There is no obligation to continue this award if it’s not your thing.

So here’s the fabulous Bloggers I want to spread the love to (and the award). Take some time to check them out! You won’t regret it.
   

1. Precision Book Reviews by Literary Marie
2.  An Aspiring Writer’s World by Gabriella
3.  Chick Lit CafĂ© by Jessica
4.  Chick Lit Goddess by Isabella
5.  Chick Lit Bee by Nancy & Shannon


For those 5 Blogs I’ve listed above, in order to spread the love, here’s what you do:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

Congratulations to everyone and thanks again to Fiction Fool for the recognition!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Special Guest Post and Book Review: Just Friends with Benefits by Meredith Schorr Blog Tour

      Just Friends with Benefits by Meredith Schorr is a fabulous chick lit novel that you won't want to miss this summer! The whole time I read this book, I kept visualizing it as a movie. I would be so excited if someone were to pick it up and it had a chance to become a blockbuster hit on the big screen! It's got all the right elements of fiction that keep me reading and turning each page faster and faster. In fact, one of the things I loved most about JFWB was Meredith Schorr's skill at taking a traditional theme of chick lit – finding love – and mixing in all kinds of alternative and sometimes, unusual experiences, characters and events to create a story of love, friendship, work and life.


In JFWB, readers are introduced to an easily likable main character, Stephanie Cohen, who is determined that this is the year she will find love. (This idea totally reminds me of an episode – or I guess season – of Sex and the City when Charlotte declares to all of New York City, in a somehat dreunken state, that this is the year she will be married.) Stephanie has tried all kinds of ways to meet men, from going out to bars, to dating on the internet and the more traditional “set-ups” between friends. When she decides to go a completely different route to get her man (by looking into her past), she feels that she is ready to move fast and forward. Of course, life is never that simple and the target of her dreams does not fall into place so easily. And so sets up a rollercoaster of love and emotions, friendship and the opposite sex and in the process, Stephanie learns a lot about herself, life and love.


Read the novel in its entirety to find out if Stephanie's blast from the past turns out to be the One for her. You won't be disapointed. I was really surprised that this was Meredith Schorr's first novel and can't wait to read more from this budding author. 4 Stars

***If you can't get enough of JFWB or Meredith Schorr, please read on to the Q&A I got to do with Meredith Schorr. I hope you'll find it just as fun as I did learning more about her and her novel. If you still can't get enough, please check out more of her blog tour stops across the Internet.***

Q&A: Catching Up with Chick Lit Writer of Just Friends with Benefits, Meredith Schorr

Q. I often hear “write what you know” and read that your novel, “Just Friends with Benefits”, was inspired by real life. How much “real life” is in it? Where do you draw the line between fiction and reality?

MS: JFWB is definitely fictional. Nothing in the story really happened, at least in the context in which I wrote it but many of the characters are based on people I know or have known. Stephanie's friends from college were loosely based on a group of people I met when I went on vacation with a guy I was dating one summer. And Stephanie is very much like me. My friends and family will not let me dispute that statement! I think the scenarios that played out in the book are true-to-life and that was because I drew from my own experiences when writing them - I know a lot about friendship (fortunately) and also about mistakes and misconceptions many women make in dating and relationships (unfortunately).

Q. You refer to your novel as “chick lit”. How would you define the genre? What does it mean to you?

MS: I define chick-lit as light reading, generally targeted to women who read for entertainment and escape. What separates it from "women's fiction", in my opinion, is that the tone and voice are more "easy-breezy" and the plot usually centers around a woman (or women) who is struggling to find her place in the world, whether it be relationships, career, friendship etc. She does not have to be in her 20s or even in her 30s in my opinion as long as she is learning something about herself and the tone is light. I do not limit the term "chick-lit" to novels about brand name shoes, fancy cocktails, cruel bosses and dating disasters. I like to refer to my novel as "realistic chick lit" in that even women who do not typically read what might have been defined as "chick lit" in the past will likely relate to and enjoy my book. And I have been told that is the case!

Q. Just Friends with Benefits doesn’t take on the stereotypical/traditional roles and scenarios of most chick lit novels. What made you decide to go this alternative and unique route?

MS: Thank you for noticing :) I actually never made a conscious decision to leave out stereotypical scenarios of many chick lit novels. I simply wanted to write a story that was not only humorous, but relatable and since, as mentioned above, Stephanie is much like me, I wrote the story with my own experiences and thought processes in mind. I'm a very down-to-Earth, albeit quirky at times, chick. And much like Stephanie, I was a late bloomer - I like to think I'm still blooming!   

Q. Can you explain a little about how you became a writer? Did you have any specific influences (people, events or other)?

MS: I honestly had no idea I wanted to write until I was a full-fledged grown-up. In fact, my sister used to write speeches for me in high school! It wasn't until writing became an integral part of my job as a Trademark Paralegal that I realized how much I enjoyed even writing emails to clients. I was told I was a good writer and ate it up and so I dabbled in fiction. I started with a children's story but it wasn't for me and then I began to blog and was hooked. People actually enjoyed my blogs and would comment on how well I expressed myself in writing and I think it was probably their encouragement that made me pursue it further. That and the fact that I loved doing it. 

Q. I read that one of the first things you did in your writing career was take a class at one of the Gotham Writer’s Workshops online. How was it? Would you recommend this or any other preparatory steps to aspiring writers out there?

MS: I actually took two courses with Gotham. Both classes were "live", not online. I took the first class just to try something different. When I started the second class, I had already started writing JFWB and I learned so much even from the first critique session. I have to give a lot of credit to the teacher and students in that class for everything they taught me about plot development, conflict, and pacing. Extremely helpful! I'm not sure a class is for everyone and I honestly do not think someone can really be taught to be a good writer - an author's voice should be natural and unique to them and I'm not sure it could be taught nor do I think it should be specifically modeled after someone else's voice. But I do think all writers can learn from constructive criticism and the opinions of others. I think it is important to have someone objective read and critique our writing.

Q. Do you have a specific routine or process to your writing and/or what does your writing space look like?

MS: My writing space can look like a table in Starbucks, the waiting room at a doctor's office, a seat on the train etc. - I tend to write in short increments of time, whenever I get the chance. But when it comes to editing, it's my two-person kitchen table, overlooking 2nd Avenue in NYC!

Q. Are you working on any other books at the moment or have plans for more in the future?

MS: I completed my second novel this summer and it's currently in final revisions. I hope to begin the submission process in September. I have a few ideas floating around in my head for a third but nothing has stuck yet.

Q. What are some of your other favorite books to read? Genres? Authors?

MS: I read a lot of chick lit and women's fiction - shocking! Some of my favorites include Something Borrowed, Love the One Your With, Jemima J, The Opposite of Love, 29, Save as Draft and Skipping a Beat. (I could go on...) I love Emily Giffin. LOVE. A new favorite is Adena Halpern. And Julie Buxbaum is brilliant.

Q. I love your blog and how you “put yourself out there” for others to read and share in your experiences. Do you have any suggestions to other bloggers?

MS: In full disclosure, now that I'm trying to build my name as a writer, I find blogging to be tricky since I don't want to be anonymous anymore and yet am not comfortable letting it all hang out. At first I thought I had to blog about writing and publishing and not only did I struggle coming up with topics, but I did not enjoy the process very much. I decided recently to stop putting so much pressure on myself and simply write what was on my mind regardless of whether it was centered around writing.

My target audience is readers not writers and I have a feeling my personal blogs are more interesting to them anyway. I still have to reign myself in from putting anything in my blog that I wouldn't want read by total strangers, friends and family, an ex boyfriend or a current crush, but at least I enjoy the process once again. My advice to other bloggers is to blog about something that is interesting to you so that your passion shines through in your writing. It also makes sense to know your target audience and what topics would draw them in. Finally, I would advise bloggers to be comfortable about the material they are putting out there on display. Oh, and I am glad you love my blog - thank you!

Q. What are your interests/hobbies outside of writing?

MS: I love to exercise, particularly running. I'm running my first half marathon in September. I'm a baseball fan - New York Yankees all the way! And I cannot live without music or television, or my friends and family. I am endlessly interested in my friends and family.


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

MS: I am incredibly hard on myself. Even in my proudest moments, I often have doubts and questions. I drive my closest friends crazy, but I have gotten much better at enjoying the moment, accepting credit and kudos and talking myself off of the self-doubt ledge! Late bloomer - I told you!


A big thanks to Meredith for participating in the Q&A and a big thanks to Samantha at Chick Lit Plus and Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours for setting up the interview and book review with Meredith Schorr.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - 40 Love by Madeleine Wickham, Read by Katherine Kellgren

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
“She had spent most of the day getting ready for tomorrow, but luckily the tasks she had allotted herself – arranging flowers, preparing vegetables, waxing her legs – were the sort of thing that could be done outside.  The main dishes – vegetable terrine for lunch, seafood tartlets for dinner – had arrived from the caterers that morning and Mrs. Finch had already decanted them onto serving plates. She had raised an eyebrow – couldn’t you even bring yourself to cook for eight people? – but Caroline was used to Mrs. Finch’s upwardly mobile eyebrows  and ignored them. For Christ’s sake, she thought, pouring herself another glass of wine, what was the point of having money and not spending it?”

~ 40 Love (also known as The Tennis Party) by Madeleine Wickham, Read by Katherine Kellgren

In 40 Love Madeleine Wickham, once again, gives readers and listeners a taste of the affluent British community and does a superb job of exaggerating all their tendencies, nuances and situations to create a dark and humorous ambiance. Katherine Kellgren delivers an effective sound of the haughty, totty voiceovers that reign supreme in Madeleine Wickham’s cynical and sarcastic characters. I can’t wait to find out what madness lies ahead!

40 Love (aka The Tennis Party) by Madeleine Wickham, Read by Katherine Kellgren*

It was Patrick's idea that they should have the tennis party weekend. After all, he had the perfect setting - the White House. Bought out of his bonuses as an investment salesman, it was complete with stable, cocktail bar, jacuzzi, shell-shaped bedheads and, of course, the tennis court (towered over by an authentic Wimbledon-green umpire's chair).

He hadn't actually told Caroline, his brash and beautiful wife, what the real reason for the party was. And if she suspected that he had a hidden agenda, she managed to hide it in a cloud of Pimm's-induced laughter. She was glad to welcome Stephen and Annie, their impoverished former neighbours, less glad to see newly wealthy Charles and his aristocratic wife Cressida, and barely able to tolerate the deadly competitive Don and Valerie.

As the four couples gathered on the sunny terrace, it seemed obvious who was winning in life and who was losing. But by the end of the party, nothing would be certain. As the first ball is served over the net it signals the start of two days of tempers, shocks, revelations, the arrival of an uninvited guest, and the realisation that the weekend is about anything but tennis.



40 Love will be on sale everywhere August 30, 2011.

Check out her YouTube video promoting the new release!
 
*Synopsis available on Sophie Kinsella’s web site at http://www.sophiekinsella.co.uk/books/madeleine-wickham/the-tennis-party/

A BIG THANK YOU TO Esther at MACMILLAN AUDIO for sending me a copy of 40 Love for review. All opinions of the novel are my own for review purposes ONLY.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - What Came First by Carol Snow

"Waiting On Wednesday"(WOW) is a weekly event, hosted by Jill from Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases eagerly anticipated. I hope to hear from you and your own WOW so that I can add some more books to my TBR shelf.

Carol Snow’s first two books were Been There Done That and Getting Warmer. After reading both books on the recommendation from a good friend, I was a bona fide Carol Snow fan, eager for more of her novels to come out. It’s with no great delay that she has published several others since, with her latest one coming out early this Fall. What Comes Next tackles yet another topic, high in the priorities of life for women, wife and mother hood. As I’m planning my wedding, this topic may be one more step ahead for me, but never too early to think about and what better place to begin to imagine things than through chick lit fiction!

What Came First by Carol Snow

First comes love, then comes marriage, then . . . things can get a little complicated.

Vanessa wants just one thing for her twenty-ninth birthday: an engagement ring from her longtime boyfriend, Eric. But when the ring turns out to be a mix CD and Eric turns out to be a guy who doesn't want to get married or have children, Vanessa considers a new path to having a family.

When Wendy and her husband, Darren, couldn't have children the old- fashioned way, a sperm donor seemed like the perfect solution. She never imagined she'd have out-of-control twins who'd drive her to cookie binges and scrapbooking while Darren escaped into the virtual world of computer games.

Single and career-driven, Laura didn't need a man to have a baby - at least not one that she ever met. Thanks to an anonymous donor, she shares her life with her adored eight-year-old son, Ian. She'll do anything for Ian - even fill their backyard with a bunch of noisy chickens. But the one thing Ian really wants is something Laura's never been able to give him: a sibling.

Now, to grant Ian's wish, Laura starts a search that will not only change her life but Vanessa's and Wendy's as well...

Synopsis Available on Goodreads

Learn more about Carol Snow on her blog at http://www.carolsnow.com/

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Star Audio Book Review: Summer and the City (The Carrie Diaries #2) by Candace Bushnell, Read by Jenna Lamia

Hot days, warm nights, designer handbags and stiletto heels. You know what that means? Carrie Bradshaw is back in New York in Candace Bushnell’s Summer and the City: The Carrie Diaries #2. I loved this second novel in the series that gives SATC fans a glimpse at the life of Carrie before she was the glamazon NYC Sex columnist with a fetish for designer anything. I listened to the audio, read by Jenna Lamia, and I felt like I was watching an episode of HBO’s Sex and the City. I really enjoyed this book more than its predecessor, The Carrie Diaries.

Carrie Bradshaw is out of high school, almost 18 and eager to return to the city she loves before heading off to Brown University in the fall. Now that she’s not in high school, Carrie is eager to begin her reign of independence. She finds an apartment to rent with several roommates, revisits with newest friend, Samantha Jones and signs up for a writing class at a local university.  You’ll meet another one of the infamous foursome in Summer and the City when Carrie seeks the advice of a redhead working at an upscale department store.

Samantha invites Carrie along to some of the hottest parties in NYC and before she knows it, Carrie’s part of some of the chicest social circles in town and while also making connections to further her career. In one night she meets new boyfriend, Bernard and a playwright enthusiast named, Bobby, who promises Carrie his loft/studio to perform her play once she finishes it. Excited to get a head start on her writing career, Carrie vows to complete her play if it’s the only thing she does this summer.  Of course, writing is NOT the only thing Carrie does all summer, emerging from her youth as a social butterfly and a few other things you’ll have to listen to or read the book to find out.

You won’t want to miss a second of this audio book. Summer and the City is full of surprises right up to the very end.                                               
                                          4 STARS

Monday, August 1, 2011

Star Book Review: The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

The Art of Forgetting was a fantastic debut and notable addition to the library of contemporary women’s fiction. Camille Noe Pagan introduces readers to bffs, Marissa and Julia, who have a love-envy relationship not unlike that of the infamous chick lit pair, Rachel and Darcy. Julia and Marissa have been through just about everything from childhood to adulthood, Michigan to New York, break-ups to make-ups but one night changes everything.

When Julia is victim of a tragic car accident, her brain sustains devastating injuries, affecting every facet of her life. No longer able to remember the past or basic self-care skills, Julia’s parents move her back home to Michigan, and she and Marissa are separated for the first time in their friendship.

Adapting to life in New York without Julia is no easy feat for Marissa but life must go on. Boyfriend Dave is ready to take the next step with her but when ex-boyfriend, Nathan reappears, will old habits and forgotten relationships be rekindled? Marissa’s career at Svelte Magazine leads her down a new path and coworker, Naomi introduces her to a new extracurricular, helping and inspiring young girls to run a 5K.

With so many changes in her life and within her relationships, Marissa is growing up at a faster pace than she’s used to. Will she adapt to all the changes or will she want to run back to her roots and Julia in Michigan?

I’ve added The Art of Forgetting to my list of MUST READS for 2011. I absolutely love how the author took some of the integral components of chick lit and combined it with fresh facts and serious drama to create a tale that’s never been told. You won’t want to forget this one!

5 STARS

To read an excerpt from The Art of Forgetting, check out her web site at:
http://www.camillenoepagan.com/taof.html

Want to get some tips on writing while learning about Camille’s everyday life?? Visit her blog at http://thewahmdiaries.com/


***I received a copy of The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan via NetGalley solely for review purposes. All thoughts and ideas about the book are my own opinion.***

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