Chick Lit Central – Giveaway of Blogger Girl

Melissa Amster of Chick Lit Central hails Blogger Girl another top favorite of 2013 and considers it the Girls Just Want to Have Fun of books.

Check out her review here and enter for your chance to win an ecopy of Blogger Girl.

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Book Review – Point, Click Love: A Novel

Point, Click, Love by Molly Shapiro is the story of four friends, Maxine, Kate, Claudia and Annie, who are all dealing with issues related to the internet in one way or another. Maxine is not the happily married woman she portrays to the world and, in fact, hasn’t had sex with her husband in years. She forgets her own troubles by burying herself in gossip magazines about celebrities. Katie is a divorcee who swore off men until she realized that she couldn’t swear off sex. She decides to find casual encounters online. Claudia’s lazy husband spends more time on Facebook than he does with his family or looking for a job and 38 year old single Annie is no longer interested in finding a soul mate but she does want a baby and has decided to pick her sperm donor from an online catalog.

I’m giving this book 4.5 stars not necessarily because I LOVED it, but because I really couldn’t put it down from page 1. I found myself tearing through the pages at every opportunity to see what happened.

The book is basically 4 separate stories that only come together because the individual women are friends. Although I enjoyed all four storylines, I was surprised to find myself most interested in Maxine and Claudia since I have never been married. Annie’s story was a bit far-fetched but I enjoyed it as well. My least favorite was Katie. The way things wrapped up for all four was somewhat predictable and while I was satisfied with how things turned out with Maxine, Katie and Annie, I was disappointed with Claudia. Finally, while each story was definitely unique, the personalities of the characters were all pretty similar and I wish there had been more distinction made.  They were all likeable and sympathetic characters but there were no character traits, aside from appearance, that really made them stand apart from each other. For instance, we were told that Claudia was a bit aggressive sometimes but you never really saw it.

Although the book had the potential to dig deep into how our society has become so dependent on technology and using the anonymity of the computer to avoid relating to each other on a more personal basis, it really didn’t.  So, if you’re looking for depth, keep searching.  If you’re looking for a fast read to get you through a long commute by train or plane, though – this is a perfect pick!   

4.5 Stars

Buy here: http://tinyurl.com/bvjm5vq

 

favorite books of 2011

I am a writer of chick-lit novels, but I am also an avid reader. In years past, I probably read about a book a month. In 2011, however, I think I averaged closer to a book a week thanks to receiving a Kindle for my birthday in December, 2010. Reading on a Kindle is just so easy!  While I am not a professional book reviewer, I do post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for all the books I read. As a writer, I know how important these reviews are and I like to give back to my fellow authors by posting positive, yet honest reviews. Anyway, I post a weekly blog on my website and thought I’d dedicate my last blog post of the year to those books I enjoyed the most in 2011.

As a disclaimer, I thoroughly enjoyed way more books than those included on this list. While reading the following books, however, I found myself turning on my Kindle at every available opportunity to find out what happened next: for example, in line for the ATM, riding the elevator to my office and even waiting for the light to change to cross the street! Although I devoured these books like a pint of Ben & Jerrys, I half dreaded reaching the final page. These books had me hooked from the first paragraph and never lost my attention throughout 300 or so pages. And finally, while reading these books, I forgot they were fiction and immersed myself completely in the lives of the characters.

Without further ado, I have listed below my favorite books of 2011:

Skipping a Beat – Sarah Pekkanen. This book tore at my heart strings like no other.

Rita Hayworth’s Shoes – Francine La Sala. This book was like a chick-lit fairytale. I loved it.

Stay: A Novel – Allie Larkin. I couldn’t believe this was Allie’s debut novel. It had the polish of a much more seasoned author.

Pinch Me – Adena Halpern. Halpern consistently makes the preposterous read completely true and she does it with heart and humor.

Save as Draft – Cavanaugh Lee. I think this was my absolute favorite. Who knew a story written entirely in emails and texts could be so poignant?

Already Home – Susan Mallery. Mallery is such a gifted storyteller, I briefly questioned my continued pursuit of a writing career. Quite humbling indeed.

Twenty-eight and a Half wishes – Densise Grover Swank. This fast-paced, gripping mystery/chicklit novel made my 6.5 hour flight from NYC to Seattle significantly less painful than it could have been.

It’s a Waverly Life – Maria Murnane. Classic chick-lit. Even better than the prequel, Perfect on Paper.

Unscripted – Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz. This book had everything I love in a chick-lit book; a relatable protagonist, a charming yet egnimatic love interest and side stories focusing on career and friendship.

And there you have them – my favorite books of 2011. I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings to my Kindle!

Do you agree with my choices? Do you have any to add to my list?

great review of Just Friends With Benefits!

Just a little shameless self-promotion!

http://www.cribnoteskelly.com/1/post/2011/06/just-friends-with-benefits-book-review.html

Reviews – opposing opinions

I just finished a book I only read because the members of my book club voted for it in a poll.  I had no desire to read it, based partly on some assumptions of what the book was about, but based mostly on some bad reviews on Amazon.  As a result, the book didn’t get my vote but I begrudgingly declared it the winner. 

Guess what?  I loved the book – Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger. 

Since I read the book quickly and enthusiastically, I decided to go back and read  the bad reviews on which I based my premature assumption that I would hate it. 

Many reviewers complained that the book lacked a plot line.  I completely disagree.  The story is about three women who, approaching 30 years old, think they are supposed to accomplish something major by that milestone, i.e. marriage and kids.  In the course of a year, they come to discover what they really need is to be true to themselves and mindful of their own needs and desires, regardless of their age.  Was the plot what one would consider ‘high-concept?  No, but in my opinion, it didn’t matter because it captured and maintained my interest and I was fully invested in the characters. 

A few reviewers expressed a lack of relatability with the characters.  Again, I do not share this opinion.  Of the three main characters, I found myself relating to two of them.  One had difficulty letting go, jumping in and taking risks because she was often self-conscious and let fear get in her way.  I don’t know many people who haven’t been paralyzed by fear at some point in their lives.  I know I have.  The other seemed to have so many blessings, yet she wasn’t really happy and felt trapped. It is sometimes difficult to admit to others, and sometimes to ourselves, that what is perfect on paper isn’t right for us – I have been there as well.  (I did not find anything relatable about the third character, a Brazilian drop-dead gorgeous sex goddess who used her sex appeal to get whatever she wanted and whined whenever her friends got attention from men.  She was extremely conceited and it bothered me that her ability to be a good friend seemed to be dependent on being able to one-up the other characters.  I really didn’t see much of a character arc there and her story-line was definitely my least favorite.)   

Some reviewers complained that the book lacked depth.  With all due respect to those people, the book cover, an image of a stiletto sandal, is highly indicative of the light/fun nature of the story, as is the title.  If the reviewer was looking for a deep, thought-provoking novel, he/she should not have chosen that book in the first place. When I read a thriller, I expect to be frightened.  When I read a mystery, I expect suspense.  When I read an Oprah pick, I expect to be deeply touched.  And when I read a book with an image of a designer shoe on the cover, I expect to unwind and be entertained.  Chasing Harry Winston served that purpose for me.  I suppose it could have delved deeper into the psyches of the main characters, but I’m not certain it would have made me enjoy the read any more/less.     

Finally, some reviewers complained that the structure of the book was choppy and confusing.  At no point did I ever feel lost or feel the need to go backwards.  (Although I did read one of the sex scenes more than once – it was evocative without being graphic and I liked it!)  

My only complaint about the book was that a major story-line was concluded through a character telling the reader what happened in a flash-back. I would have much rather seen it play-out and I definitely felt gypped. 

Despite my premature assumptions, I really enjoyed Chasing Harry Winston and am happy it was chosen for my book club.  I like books that are full of action and dialogue as opposed to paragraphs of description and narrative so this was an ideal read for me and the story had me completely engaged. Not once during the read did I find myself bogged down in too much detail or skipping paragraphs.  And while, as mentioned above, the plot was not high-concept, I was never bored. Despite a mixed bag of reviews, that’s what makes a good book for me. 

What makes a good book for you?

Chick-Lit Writer’s Blog

What’s the connection between my dear departed Nanny Tessie and Adena Halpern’s novel, “29”?  Read my post on the Chick-Lit Writer’s Blog and find out!

http://chicklitwriters.com/2011/03/02/review-of-adena-halperns-29/

Book Club review – The Ten Best Days of My Life

Besides being a writer, a trademark paralegal, a New York Yankees fan (with or without a good pitching rotation) and a runner, I am also the organizer of a book club through www.meetup.com, dedicated to the genre of ‘chick-lit’.  At each meeting, we discuss the book of the month (among other girl’s-night-out appropriate topics) over a beverage or two and snacks.  It’s a blast and I look forward to it every month.  Each month, I post a poll with four or five possible book choices and the book with the most votes wins. 

I’ve decided, moving forward, to review the book of the month on my blog.  While the review will be written by me, it will include the comments and opinions of the book club as a whole.  This past month, the winner was “The Ten Best Days of My Life” by Adena Halpern and the book club met this past Wednesday.

Without further ado, here’s our Review of “The Ten Best Days of My Life”

Synopsis – The hereafter is happier than ever in Halpern’s debut novel. After Alex Dorenfield and her dog, Peaches, get smashed by a car, they wind up in heaven, where bubbly 29-year-old Alex is floored by how hip the digs are—especially Seventh Heaven, where Alex’s dreams (of, for instance, designer clothes, an awesome house and eating without gaining weight) come true. The icing on the cake is her reunion with a few deceased family members and meeting a dreamy prospective soul mate. Only problem? She must pass an entrance exam to stay in Seventh Heaven and not be demoted to the fourth level, where she would have to live in a condo, wear last year’s clothes and lose Peaches (all dogs stay in Seventh Heaven). So Alex gets to work on an essay to prove she led a worthwhile and fulfilling life. This simple little story is syrupy sweet throughout; readers into the heavenly have another bonbon to savor.

The general consensus was that the book was very light but highly entertaining.  The book did not tackle any serious issues and was kind of fluffy, however, this was the reason many of us enjoyed it so much.  Although while reading, most of us considered our own ten best days and whether we’d likely be accepted into Seventh Heaven, the novel was a perfect escape from the stress of our own lives.  Some people said it was a perfect beach read and I concur, having devoured it while vacationing on the Norwegian Epic.  And, finally, some members said they read it directly after finishing a deep, thought provoking novel and welcomed the change of pace. 

While many of us enjoyed the book specifically because it was such a light read, a few members of the club did not enjoy the book for just that reason.  One said it was like a “Little Debbie’s Snack Cake” – too syrupy sweep – and she couldn’t even bring herself to finish. Another member enjoyed it, but described it as ‘hoakey’.  One universal negative was that we didn’t buy the connection between Alex and her prospective soul mate, Adam.  Adam didn’t have much of a personality and there was no evidence to suggest that he belonged in Seventh Heaven either, aside from looking adorable in a baseball cap (and most guys do).

But the ending left most of us teary eyed, in a good way.  The last few chapters were very powerful.  

Finally, we all agreed that in order to enjoy this book, you need to suspend reality, not think too much and just go with the flow!  Since I read it on vacation, I had no problem with this but many attendees on Wednesday had questions.  For instance, when Alex lands in heaven, she spends most of her time with her grandparents and her uncle.  But her grandparents never mentioned their own parents and grandparents and wouldn’t you think they’d want to spend time with them too?  This never crossed my mind while reading the book but, then again, I was on vacation and one of my first rules of thumb while vacationing: don’t think so much! 

In sum, the majority of the attendees really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining, light, beach-like read.

http://www.amazon.com/Ten-Best-Days-My-Life/dp/0452289408