Monthly Archives: February 2014

Blog Tour: Singles’ Holiday by Elaine Spires – Qs&As

Today we’re joined by author and actress Elaine Spires and I’ve asked her a few questions about her blog tour, her book Singles’ Holiday and her forthcoming launch for Singles and Spice.

 

What’s it like, having your first book tour?  

When you’ve poured your heart and soul into your writing and then put it out there for reviewers to read and let you know what they think it’s really scary.   Everyone has and is entitled to their own opinions but on the whole, I’ve had some fabulous comments about Singles’ Holiday and am now really looking forward to the launch of Singles and Spice.

It’s so generous of reviewers to give their time to read and review books.  I know that many of them are busy people with families and jobs so to do this on behalf of authors is really appreciated.  Time is so precious these days with so many things to do, and I really am grateful for their genuine support.

 

I hear that Singles’ Holiday is being adapted into a stage play

It’s so exciting! Singles’ Holiday has been adapted as a stage play and it will be touring in autumn starting in Brentwood.

I can also reveal that a pilot episode for a TV series of Singles’ Holiday will be filmed in August/September.   Again a very exciting time! Fingers crossed that people will love the play and TV pilot as much as they have loved the book.

So tell me about Singles and Spice

The Kindle version will be available and launching on 14th March.  The paperback will be available early April.  It’s my birthday on 14th March and I am hoping to have a big blog blitz on that day.

Singles’ Holiday is set on the island of Antigua, an island which is very close to my heart.  Singles and Spice is set in India.  Eve has some familiar faces in her group as well as some new and very interesting ones.   I’ve thrown some twists and turns into the mix and hope that my readers find it a really entertaining read.

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Blurb:

Antigua… the Caribbean at its most luscious, its most beautiful… silver sand, cobalt sky, warm turquoise sea… and a bunch of complete strangers, who only have one thing in common: they’re single. Some are looking for romance, some for something more. But they’ve all chosen to spend their holiday with people they have never met before. And pretty soon, some will become good friends, some enemies and some lovers. And many of them will experience things they never expected, including their tour manager Eve, who perhaps has the biggest shock of all. A story that will make you laugh and make you cry with just the right number of twists to keep you turning the pages as you get to know all the members of the group as they, in turn, get to know each other.

About Elaine Spires

Elaine Spires is a diverse novelist as well as an award-winning playwright and actress.

Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine’s keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels.

She wrote her first book What’s Eating Me in 2010. It was originally a play, a one-woman show performed as a monologue with a child actor – Elena-Beth Carter playing Eileen as a child in the background and Elaine performed it on the London and Edinburgh fringes. She loved the character of loved Eileen so much that she decided to expand the story into a book.

Her second novel was Singles’ Holiday, set on her beloved Antigua… the Caribbean at its most luscious, its most beautiful… silver sand, cobalt sky, warm, turquoise sea… and a bunch of complete strangers who only have one thing in common: they’re single!

And her third novel Sweet Lady, again set in Antigua, will amaze you with a massive twist which goes to show that nothing is as it seems!

When Elaine is not writing her ideas into her next book or play, she enjoys going to the theatre, visiting the cinema, eating out with her friends and she also loves to read! Elaine spends her time between her homes in Hadleigh, Essex and FiveIslands, Antigua (W.I.).

Author Links

You can learn more about Elaine at her website www.elainespires.co.uk

You can “like” Elaine’s author page on Facebook www.facebook.com/elaine.spires

You can “follow” Elaine on Twitter www.twitter.com/elainespires

Buy Links

You can buy Singles’ Holiday in paperback via Lulu.com

http://www.lulu.com/shop/elaine-spires/singles-holiday/paperback/product-21150479.html;jsessionid=089F0028D0AB2A695AC31160B57254F4m

Kindle Links

You can buy Singles’ Holiday for Kindle via Amazon.co.uk

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Singles-Holiday-ebook/dp/B006DLAE92/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1

You can buy Singles’ Holiday for Kindle via Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Singles-Holiday-Elaine-Spires-ebook/dp/B006DLAE92/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1393143996&sr=8-3-fkmr0&keywords=singles%27+holiday+elaine+spires

Blog Tour: Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn by Tilly Tennant – Review + Giveaway

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Blurb:

There’s only one man for Bonnie, and that’s Holden Finn.

The problem is that Holden Finn is a twenty-three-year-old pop megastar with his boy band, Every Which Way, and has no idea she exists. Not only that, but half the women in the world want to be Mrs Finn, including Bonnie’s teenage daughter, Paige. The real men in Bonnie’s life do nothing but let her down, but a man you can’t possibly have can never do that… right? She’s safe inside her fantasy bubble.

Then Paige wins a radio competition to meet Holden and the band, and Bonnie’s carefully-constructed world starts to unravel. She is about to find out that you should be very, very careful what you wish for …

My review:

*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Actual rating 3.5/5

‘Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn’ is an interesting and fast read. It’s centered around Bonnie, a 35 year old woman and a single parent to Paige. She’s got a huge crush on Holden Flinn, who’s not only a mega star, but is much younger than her. Bonnie and her friend win a competition and they are about to meet Holden Finn. Dreams do come true, e? Well after Bonnie gets to meet Holden, the plot starts really to get interesting and drama starts happening. And then there’s Max and Bonnie’s ex Henri.

Well, personally I did find this whole crush thing a bit silly, because I’m almost 35 and I certainly do not daydream about celebrities. Maybe it’s because of this that I couldn’t really connect to Bonnie, though she’s an interesting character. But I loved her relationship with Paige and it was really wonderfully described.

The writing is lovely and makes the book a real page turner. It’s quite a short read, and perfect for fans of romantic comedies.

My rating: 3.5/5

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Excerpt

Bonnie lay in the bath, staring up at the ceiling. It needed painting, she thought vaguely, as she gazed at the bubbled plaster and clouds of mould that had gathered in the corner by the window. The walls weren’t much better. If she was completely honest, the whole room needed to be ripped out and started again, but that wasn’t going to happen any time soon on her budget.  She had dropped massive hints to her mum that she needed a visit from the DIY SOS team, but Jeanie had stubbornly refused to notice.  Paint was going to have to do, but even that would have to wait. With a school trip to Belgium to pay for and a list of bills that never seemed to be under control, it was just another promise to herself that would not be delivered.

True to her forecast, Paige had taken herself into her bedroom as soon as they walked back into the flat and had been in there for the two hours they had been home. Bonnie could hear the odd stifled giggle, and the low hum of conversation, but what was being discussed she could only guess at and, despite the fact that Paige would probably be unaware of it, eavesdropping didn’t seem right.  With that in mind, she wasn’t rushing to get out of the bath only to sit in front of the TV alone and watch the endless stream of pointless drivel that counted for entertainment. It seemed like a long time ago since Paige had wanted to sit with her and chat in an evening.

Dear Holden,

Please rescue me.

Love, Bonnie.

 

Bonnie’s thoughts were interrupted by a hammering at the door.

‘Mum!’

‘What?’

‘The internet’s gone down again!’

Bonnie frowned. ‘What do you want me to do about it? I’m in the bath!’

‘I was in the middle of an important conversation with Annabel.’

‘And?’

‘Well, now I don’t know what she wanted to say.’

‘Have you turned off the router and started it up again?’

‘Yeah, that didn’t work.’

‘I don’t know what it is then. I’ll have to phone the cable company or something later.’

‘What about Annabel?’

‘What about her?’

‘I need to speak to her.’

‘Phone…’

Bonnie heard a loud, theatrical sigh and then Paige’s footsteps as she stomped away.

Wine was in order, lots and lots of wine. Tomorrow was Sunday and there wouldn’t be anything better for Bonnie to do than nurse a well-earned hangover.

Reaching for the towel, Bonnie hauled herself out of the bath. She ought to go and look at that router before Paige exploded with rage.  Knowing her daughter’s volatile temper these days, it wasn’t completely unimaginable…

That was when she heard the high-pitched squeal.

Wrapping the towel around her dripping body, Bonnie rushed into Paige’s bedroom.

‘Mum!’ Paige shouted as Bonnie burst in the door. ‘What the hell’s the matter with you?’

‘I could ask you the same thing!’ Bonnie thundered as she saw that Paige was lounging on her bed with the phone, just ending a call and clearly not injured or in any sort of peril at all.

‘There’s nothing wrong with me.’

‘I said I would ring the cable company, but you could at least let me get out of the bath.’

‘Who cares about the stupid internet? Annabel phoned me when she couldn’t get through.’

‘What’s with the screaming then?’

Paige sat up, her face now glowing and her eyes suddenly alive with excitement.

‘Annabel’s just told me about an amazing competition.’

‘Competition?’ Bonnie asked with some exasperation, now aware that she was making quite a wet mess on the carpet.

‘Yeah! To meet Holden!’

Bonnie’s mouth fell open. Her gaze travelled to the poster above her daughter’s bed.  She didn’t need to ask which Holden. Suddenly, her pulse seemed to run that little bit quicker. ‘Holden?’ she repeated.

‘Yeah, Holden Finn… from Every Which Way.’

‘I know who you’re talking about,’ Bonnie said in a dazed voice.

‘I’m going to enter; it’s dead easy; all you have to do is text his middle name.’

‘Gabriel!’ Bonnie squeaked.  As soon as she had, she felt the colour rush to her cheeks.

‘OOOH, get the oldie in the know.’

‘I’m not that old,’ Bonnie laughed awkwardly, relieved that her moment of embarrassment had gone unnoticed.  But inside she was a whirlwind of emotions. She might be as close as a text message away from meeting Holden Finn. But then she saw something of her own excitement reflected in her daughter’s face and realisation came crashing in on her. Even in the incredibly unlikely event of her winning if she entered this competition, how could she not give her place to Paige? Paige, who would want her best friend, Annabel, to go with her, not her embarrassing, almost grey-haired mum.

‘Anyway, it costs, like, about two quid to text, that’s alright though, yeah?’ Paige rattled off, already tapping away on her phone without waiting for her mum’s reply.

‘I suppose,’ Bonnie said. ‘Maybe I should text too, from my number, double your chances and all that?’

Paige looked up in surprise. ‘Would you, Mum? That’d be epic.’

‘Hmmm, epic… I suppose it would be,’ Bonnie murmured to herself as she went to get dry.

About the Author:

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Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset but now lives in Staffordshire with her slightly nutty family. Tilly is married to Mr Tennant (not that one, though a girl can dream). After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by enrolling on a degree in English and creative writing. She wrote her first novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books while getting paid for it.

Tilly Tennant on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TillyTenWriter

Tilly’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TillyTennant?ref=hl

Tilly’s blog: http://tillytennant.com/

GIVEAWAY!

Lovely Tilly and Shaz from Fiction Addiction Tours are giving you a chance to win some awesome prizes. The giveaway on this tour is paperback copy of Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn PLUS £15/$25 Amazon Gift Card and it’s open internationally. Entering is easy, just follow the refllecopter and you’re in. Best of luck my lovelies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book News: The Adventures of Pebble Beach by Barbara Berger

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Blurb:

Attracted to the wrong men and don t understand why? Afraid of being alone, getting older and losing your sex appeal? A little sex crazed (or a lot)? And still dreaming of a man who can save you from your life? Chick Lit meets Self-Help in this high-spirited tale of a newly divorced, 40-something woman with two teenage sons who is trying to take control of her life, her sex-crazed body, and her new relationships with men – while struggling to build a career in advertising in the big city (plus going to quite a few therapy sessions). Until one day an unsavory business scandal threatens to ruin the burgeoning career of our brave heroine.

‘The Adventures of Pebble Beach’ is released on Feb 28th.

Find Barbara Berger

Website: www.beamteam.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barbara.berger.961?fref=ts

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraBerger

Twitter: https://twitter.com/barbaraberger

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19157051-the-adventures-of-pebble-beach

Publisher link: http://www.roundfire-books.com/books/adventures-pebble-beach

Purchase links:  Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

Book review: Once upon a Christmas by Sarah Morgan

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*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

WHAT? Surprised I’m still reading Christmas books? Well don’t be, because I really don’t care if it’s February, July or December. I can read Christmas books all year round. Especially if they are written by Sarah Morgan! Last year I read Sleigh Bells in the Snow and I absolutely fell in love with Sarah’s writing, so when I was asked to review this book, I really couldn’t be happier. There’s something so warm, so comforting in reading Christmas books, no wonder I’m so addicted to them.

Once Upon a Christmas is indeed a light and feel-good festive read with all essential elements a good Christmas book should have. The cover is stunning and the writing is wonderful. What I found most interesting is the fact it’s divided into two parts, telling two stories but they are well connected. The first story is about Bryony and Jack and the second one is centered around Bryony’s brother Oliver and her good friend Helen. So that’s a really strong connecting and both stories flow, perfectly intertwined around these 4 characters.

The two stories are a bit different, of course because these couples are different, so you might end up liking one better than the other. In my case, I wasn’t really fascinated with Jack as a character, I hated the fact he called Bryony ‘Blondie’ and really found it so irritating at times. But him and Bryony do share a long history, the fact they know each other for 20 years. Yet I didn’t like him calling her that way, it just seemed a bit disrespectful, but Jack is Jack…once you get to know him, you’ll realize he doesn’t have bad intentions, and is really fond of Bryony and her sweet daughter.

Helen and Oliver were a completely different story. While Bryony is trying really hard to find a man, Helen is doing everything but. She’s been very hurt in the past, so I could really understand her fears. But Helen and Oliver seemed more likable couple and I enjoyed their story more.

As usual when it comes to Sarah, the romance part was well and gradually built and the chemistry between her characters is electrifying. Bryony’s little girl was such a sweetie and her wish to have a dad for Christmas brought me nearly to tears.

Overall, this was a fun and enjoyable read. It reads really fast, it’s fun and has lots of romance. So, if you’re looking for an enjoyable read with lots of romance that will keep you warm on this cold winter days, this is the perfect book for you.

My rating: 3.5/5

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Book review: Dangled Carat by Hilary Grossman + INT giveaway

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*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

I haven’t read many memoirs in my life, but I was pretty much looking forward to reading this one. I find the cover very eye catchy and totally appropriate for the content and must say Hilary is a hilarious, fun, kind lady (had the opportunity to meet her on twitter). So, when I was asked to review her book I was thrilled.

I really have no idea why I’m usually so hesitant about reading memoirs. It’s maybe because they are real life stories and pretty much raw, sometimes with no HEAs. But I always find it very brave from the authors’ side to share intimate moments from their lives, I really admire that.

On that note, I must admit Hilary Grossman is one brave woman for sharing her history and attempts to marry someone she loved very much. The title says pretty much about her journey and her numerous attempts to turn Marc into a loving husband unafraid to commit for a life time.

BUT this is not just Hilary and Marc’s story, though pretty much of it is, but it’s also a warm story about a girl, a very scared and insecure girl. Hilary won me over from the first page, and when I was reading about all the things that were happening in her life, the loss of her father, the hell she went through in school, I had teary eyes. There was one moment, so powerful and so emotional when she is talking about her dad, sharing a memory of him, that I literally couldn’t restrain myself any longer. I burst into tears, thinking of my own father whom I almost lost 2 years ago. I empathized with her so much, my heart was literally breaking each time I’d read about the sad events in her life.

So, as you see, most of the book is the romance between Hilary and Marc, but the author also goes back and forth in time sharing some memories of her childhood too. I found these parts simply beautiful, well written and exceptionally emotional.

I admit, there were few times I wanted to give Hilary a good shake, because she was trying damn hard. But as much as I didn’t go through what she was going in her love life, I could understand her. The romance part did remind me a bit of Carrie and Mr Big’s story from Sex and The City, and there’s even a reference to it. But the fact I love Sex and The City has nothing to do with me loving this book. It’s just…you know, REAL! And it’s brilliantly written, fun, funny yet tender and emotional.

Would I be reading more from Hilary Grossman? Oh yes, you bet! I do wonder what the next book would be about. Would it be another memoir, or a fiction? I’d sure love to see what kind of fictional worlds she would create. But I’m sure of one thing though, no matter what the next book is about, I know Hilary will put all her heart into it and deliver once again. ‘Dangled Carat’ is a fab chick lit memoir you’d want to check, no matter if you already got your Mr Right. Hope you enjoy!

My rating: 4/5

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GIVEAWAY! Lovely Hilary Grossman is giving you, our lovely blog readers, a chance to win an e-copy of her fantastic memoir. The giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY (YAY) and closes on 2nd of March. The winner will be notified by e-mail and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. Unfortunately, if we don’t her from them we’ll have to pick another winner.

Now, enter the rafflecopter bellow and best of luck my lovelies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Hilary Grossman dated a guy so commitment-phobic that she was able to write a book about their relationship. She is currently the CFO of a beverage alcohol importer and lives on Long Island.
Twitter = @feelingbeachie

Guest post: Hilary Grossman is living her dream

Today we have the honour and pleasure to welcome Hilarry Grossman to This Chick Reads. She’s an awesome, funny and kind lady, and also a new author ready to conquer the stage with her debut ‘Dangled Carat’. We’ll be reviewing her book soon and *whispers* we’ll be having an awesome giveaway of her book soon, so watch this space! Off to you Hilary and million thanks for visiting This Chick Reads and for your fantastic support.

I met Robert De Niro on Valentine’s Day at an event for work. I introduced myself to him and shook his hand. I felt like I should have also pinched myself, hard, as he has always topped my “celebrity I want to meet” bucket list.

There was a cocktail reception that followed the presentation. Rob, as he was affectionately referred to by the speakers, attended for a very short time. Many people swarmed around him, all with the goal in mind to snag a picture, including one of my colleagues.  She kept encouraging me to join her.  But I didn’t.  I hung back, away from the crowd and away from him.  I don’t really know my motivation.  I guess I was a little (okay a lot) intimidated by his presence as well as cautious not to overstep my boundaries since it was a professional event.

My colleague got the last picture with him before he left the building.  He was very kind and wrapped his arm around her as they posed and smiled for the camera. She proudly showed me the picture and chastised me for not joining her.  And I was instantly filled with regret.

I don’t know about you, but to me, regret is the worst feeling in the world. It is because I hate the feeling so much I wrote DANGLED CARAT.

Deciding to write a memoir about your relationship with a commitment-phobic man isn’t easy.  Especially when you know that you have to bare your heart and your soul, share your inner most feelings, as well as many embarrassing moments.  And don’t get me started on the s-e-x scene!

I lost my confidence many times as I wrote and traveled down the road to publication.   But I kept going.  Firstly,  because while I knew that elements of my story were unique, I also knew that dating a commitment-phobe was something that so many other women experience. I wanted my story to help them feel like they weren’t alone.  I wanted my experience to help them realize that they should follow their hearts and not only conventional dating wisdom and the advice of well meaning family and friends.  And secondly, I kept at it because I knew that if I stopped, if I didn’t keep writing, I would regret it the rest of my life.

While it hasn’t been easy I have no regrets. I lived my dream. I wrote a book, and based upon some of the emails from readers I have received, I accomplished my goal.  I helped others, who were in a similar situation, feel like they weren’t alone….

About Hilarry Grossman

Hilary Grossman dated a guy so commitment-phobic that she was able to write a book about their relationship. She is currently the CFO of a beverage alcohol importer and lives on Long Island.
Twitter = @feelingbeachie

 

Book review: The Dating Game by Susan Buchanan

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*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

First time I heard of Susan Buchanan was when I saw in my GR feed that a friend of mine was reading ‘The Dating Game’. The fact my friend loved it and highly recommended it, as well as the fab blurb got me very intrigued. I added it immediately to my tbr list. I was over the moon when another friend of mine generously gifted me a copy of this book (thank you so much Sheerie!) which she won on a giveaway but had already read. (I do have the most awesome friends).

I have to say I had high expectations for this book, since in December last year I read Susan’s The Christmas Spirit and really really enjoyed it. There’s something so fresh and original in Susan’s writing, she has an interesting way of approaching a reader, creating characters who feel so real and are so well developed.

This book didn’t disappoint and it really was as fantastic as I thought it would be. Gill McFadden is a workaholic, she’s kind and sweet, but seems she’s been out of the dating scene for quite some time. Her friends keep on telling her it’s time she gets back in the game, unfortunately with her busy schedule and no luck in finding Mr Right, she really feels like dating is the last thing she’d want. But faith my friends, is a funny thing. One day she passes by a bus with an ad of a dating agency Happy Ever After. It’s an awesome name for an agency, you have to admit. I mean, even I would want to check it out.

She finally gives in and makes some calls and appointments and creates a profile. Soon she’s to meet lots of man, could maybe one of them be the RIGHT ONE?

It indeed was a fantastic and fun read. I’ve read quite a few books about dating and matchmaking, but this one was really brilliant. What I loved the most was Gill and the fact Susan created a mature, lovable chick lit heroine. The writing is great, it simply flows and the story never drags. I had a huge smile on my face throughout reading and enjoyed each of the dates. I also loved the trip to Barcelona, and I absolutely adored Gill’s friends and their bonding.

Overall, if you’re looking for a fun, light yet smart chick lit, look no further. ‘The Dating Game’ is uberfun book you’ll devour in one sitting (or two). Enjoy!

My rating: 4/5

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Guest post: Jessica Katoff believes in Realistically Ever After

I probably don’t need to tell you this, considering you’re on this site and all, but Chick Lit is defined as novels written for, about, or by young educated women; literature that appeals especially to women, usually having a romantic or sentimental theme; and slang for a genre of literature geared towards female readers, which deal with modern issues in women’s live. Notice that the definitions don’t include the words “happily ever after” anywhere in them. So why do books that aren’t tied up in a neat little married-with-a-white-picket-fence-and-two-point-five-kids bow get such a bad rap?

I published my first book in December of 2013 and—spoiler alert—it doesn’t end the way a lot of people thought it should. The overwhelming response has been, “Great book, beautiful writing, horrible ending.” Why? Because it’s realistic. I wrote what I felt was not only true to life, but true to my characters, who I spent five years of my life getting to know. Isn’t variety the spice of life or whatnot? Should all books end so predictably, with happiness and sunshine and rainbows and kittens and all of that fluffy crap? What’s so wrong with a little realism with our sentimental themes and modern issues? Isn’t a story more satisfying, if it’s believable? Don’t you want to feel like these epic tales of love that all of us pen and read can happen to any one of us?

Happiness is different for everyone, I know, but for me, happy is realism. I have been given enough false ideations about how relationships are supposed to go via romantic comedies and Cosmo articles and love songs, that I don’t need the books I read or write to fuel the fire. I mean, I’m single and a little bitter, sure, so maybe that has something to do with it, but I like it when my friends are honest with me and books are my best friends. My main character is introduced to readers on the night her boyfriend of a decade has broken up with her—not with a meet cute and Mr. Right courting our leading lady—and the story follows her through her healing. She is a prime example of a human being, in that she makes decisions like anyone else would in her situation, not how Hollywood would lead you to believe women with broken hearts react: irrational, stupid, thoughtless. She’s broken and damaged, but how she heals and how her story ends are hers alone, and her story ends in the way she wanted it to. She got her happy ending, and isn’t that what matters?

Think about something you really love, like something that evokes a want-you-need-you-die-without-you kind of feeling within you. Got it? Now, imagine the precise opposite of that. Got that, too? Great. Now, that opposing thing, guess what? That’s what I love more than anything on the planet and it makes me endlessly happy. Are you happy for me? Or are you angry because the things that make me happy aren’t the same as yours? You’re looking at it all wrong, if that’s the case. There’s more of your happy out there for you, if everyone else has a happy of their own. We’re all different—we love and think and want differently—and we’re all the heroines in our own stories. Yours doesn’t need to be the same as mine. Just be happy for thy fellow chick, and we can all live realistically ever after.

About Jessica Katoff:

Image Jessica Katoff is a boring CEO by day and a New Adult/Chick Lit/Whatever-You-Want-to-Call-It author by night. When she isn’t pretending to be a professional or staring hopelessly at the blinking cursor on her laptop screen, Jessica loves to marvel at the beauty of live music, not wear pants, bake tasty things, binge watch television shows, drink whiskey, and sleep–not all at once. Jessica hates ignorance, people who talk during movies or with their mouth full, lima beans, and the word “ooze.” A southern Florida native and current resident, she plans on relocating to Tennessee with her two very fluffy pooches as soon as possible, and is currently accepting applications for a devastatingly perfect husband in the greater Nashville area. She released her debut novel, WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND, in December of 2013, and expects to release her second novel, SOME OF THE PARTS, in late 2014.

Website: http://www.jessicakatoff.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jessicakatoff | Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jessicakatoff

What You Leave Behind on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HCXP1LQ

Book review: The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman + UK Giveaway

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*Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*

What a read guys! What a read!

‘The Memory Book’ was definitely one of the most anticipated books of 2014 for all women’s fiction fans. To those who haven’t read it yet, I can only say, you’re in for such a treat! I have to admit, I had a strong feeling this is going to be a wonderful book, but it totally exceeded my expectations. Everything about it is perfect, from the gorgeous smooth, red cover to the wonderful story inside.

The story follows Claire who’s diagnosed with an early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. But, this story is not just about Claire, it’s actually more complex and intertwines several stories told from the POVs of her daughters, husband and mother. I usually have a hard time with books told from different POVs, but Rowan did it perfectly. Their stories are beautifully connected and the events flow smoothly.

Claire, once a beautiful and independent woman, is starting to fall apart in front of everyone’s eyes. She’s forgetting how to dress, what she feels for her husband, even once she forgets her daughter’s name. Of course she’s terrified, but she’s a fighter, I can assure of you that. That’s probably the thing which I loved the most about Claire. Her husband gives her a memory book which she’s to fill with lots of memories and mementos she likes to cherish and be remembered for. I’m telling you, reading some of these heart-breaking memories was so hard at times. I haven’t had a case of AD in my family, but I could totally empathize with Claire and her family.

My heart was breaking and my eyes were teary each time I’d see Claire struggling, though we all know AD is not a battle one could win. Yet, despite the sadness on it’s pages, ‘The Memory Book’ is also an uplifting read, which may sound like a paradox but once you read this amazing book you’ll see what I’m talking about. Even in those hardest moments, when a member of your family is slowly vanishing in front of your eyes, there’s something which creates even a stronger bond and you start seeing a new dimension to that person.

This is a complex story because as much as it’s Claire’s, it’s also a story about one whole family and how they cope with the disease of their beloved one. And this my friends fascinated me the most, the way Rowan develops each one of the characters, making them all contribute to the plot and events. They are all important and lovable, and will win you over from the start. And they feel so real!

The writing is exceptional! You’ll find yourself completely immersed in the story wishing for it never to end. It grabs you instantly and pulls you into the lives of all these characters, making you feel through them, see through their eyes, even fighting Claire’s battle. I really can’t praise this book enough, it’s definitely one of those books everyone needs to read. No just chick lit fans, I mean EVERYONE.

Outstanding, mesmerizing, beautiful, warm, thought provoking, amazing…are just few of the words I could use to describe it. It’s definitely one of those books you’d want to re-read and gift/recommend to everyone you know.

My rating: 5/5

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GIVEAWAY!

Lovely Rowan and her publicist Amelia are now offering you guys a chance to win one of THREE copies of this wonderful book! Make sure you enter through the rafflecopter, but in case you don’t win or are too impatient to see if you’re the winner, head to amazon and grab yourself a copy. Giveaway is open to UK residents and closes on 27 February. The winners will be contacted by e-mail and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. In case we don’t hear from them, we’ll have to pick another winner/s. Many thanks to lovely Rowan and Amelia for sponsoring this giveaway. BEST OF LUCK GUYS!

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Blog Tour: The Dead Wife’s Handbook by Hannah Beckerman – Review and Best Romantic Memory

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This Chick Reads is beyond excited to be part of Hannah Beckerman’s Blog Tour for ‘The Dead Wife’s Handbook’. It’s the book EVERYONE has been talking about for the last couple of months! Now that we read Hannah’s book, we can only say it totally lived up to the hype!

‘The Dead Wife’s Handbook’ is one of the best and most original books I’ve ever read. It’s deep, emotional and thought-provoking. When Hannah shared her first chapter I knew I had to immediately check it out. I was hooked from the very first page. I had tears in my eyes from reading the first couple of sentences:

“I didn’t mean to die so young. I don’t suppose anyone does. I don’t suppose many people would willingly fail to reach their thirty-seventh birthday or their eighth wedding anniversary or see out their daughter’s seventh year on the planet. I suspect there aren’t many people who would voluntarily relinquish all that, given the choice.”

Rachel didn’t have a choice. She didn’t even know she had a poor heart until that day she felt a strong pain in her chest and died at the age of 36, leaving her beloved husband Max and 6 year old daughter Ellie to mourn for her. But it’s not only them who’re grieving, Rachel is having a hard time adjusting to the fact she will no longer be able to see or touch her family, that she won’t be able to see Ellie grow up, not be able to see her finish school, fall in love, get married.

Now i told you this is an emotional book, and as you see you’ll probably need tons of tissues when reading it. But what I found really fascinating was the way this book was cleverly divided in parts which showed the things Rachel was going through, the different stages starting from shock, to denial, anger etc. As human beings, we might be different when it comes to many things, but we sure are so similar when it comes to grief, pain and loss. We all feel it and we have a hard time accepting the loss. The Dead Wife’s Handbook is such a wonderful book, yet reading it was such a strange experience. I’ve never thought about what would happen to my loved ones if I died, totally unexpected just like Rachel did. Because, as much as everyone says they’d want their loved ones to move on, is it really something we’d want?

Maybe I’m nothing like Rachel, but I am a woman, a wife and a mother, so I could really connect with her. I could feel her pain, her grief, her worst fears. She’s torn, fearing she’d be forgotten, and that might be worse than the actual death.

“It’s not the mortality of the body that’s the real tragedy of the dead. It’s the dissolution of memory. For the dead, to be forgotten is as if never to have lived at all.”

But though this book will make you cry like a baby, it is definitely not just a book about dying or overcoming loss. It’s about love, that unconditional love we feel for our children, that imprint we leave behind and that continues to speak about who we were. It’s about the importance of family, of loving and being loved, of sharing memories and holding on to them when everything is lost. Because those memories are who we were, who we are, they define us.

I swear, I could talk about this book for hours, and I must say it is an excellent choice for Book Clubs or groups who’d want a fantastic book that will provoke so much discussing on many topics. But it all goes down to this: ‘The Dead Wife’s Handbook’ might be a debut but it’s a masterpiece! And no matter how hard I try to explain just how fabulous this book is, I’m sure I’ll never be able to. It’s such a powerful, deep, emotional, thought-provoking book you definitely don’t want to miss out on. I’m sure you’ll love both the powerful message behind it as well as Hanna’s unique, fresh and beautiful writing style. A true MASTERPIECE that will stay with you long after you’ve read it! I bow to you Hannah!

My rating: 5/5

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Hannah Beckerman’s Best Romantic Memory

I was in Shanghai with my boyfriend at the end of a three-week trip to China. The weather in Shanghai had been patchy since we’d arrived a few days earlier but on this day the sky had finally cleared and there were at last decent views across the city. I was desperate to spend sunset on the observation deck at the top of the Shanghai World Financial Centre – the highest observation deck in the world – but my boyfriend was insistent that we should have early evening drinks at a rooftop bar overlooking the The Bund and the river. I pointed out that we could do that any evening it didn’t rain, but that there might not be another evening clear enough for decent views up high. My boyfriend was insistent we go to the bar, and his insistence was pretty unusual: he’s usually the most laid-back person I know. After a bit of huffing and puffing (actually, quite a lot of huffing and puffing) I finally gave in. A few hours later, at a rooftop bar watching the sun go down and the lights of the city come up, my boyfriend proposed. It turned out he’d been planning to propose on that very day (on the day sandwiched in between the anniversary of when we met and my birthday) and in that very place (overlooking the skyline of a city we’d both been so looking forward to visiting) for some months now. And I’d come very close to spoiling the whole thing with my demands to go somewhere else. We never did get to that observation deck, but we did get married six months later and I reckon that’s probably a better outcome than any view in the world.

My Best Romantic Memory

Three years ago I was away from home (in Bulgaria) due to some research I needed for a project. I always hate leaving my family behind, but unfortunately, it’s a sacrifice I had to make because of my job. First two weeks were hard, I could barely eat and I worked so hard and such long hours at the lab. The third week I really felt like I can’t take it anymore, it was freezing (though it was June), and besides working I really couldn’t do much. I was too tired when I’d come to the flat, and really had no desire to go out and hang with my colleagues. I called hubby and remember crying so hard, telling him I feel like I can’t take it anymore. We were on the phone for half an hour, I spoke to my son and I was trying so hard to sound happy because the last thing I wanted was for him to get upset. I went to bed with tears, hoping tomorrow I would feel better. I woke up and the phone was ringing. It was hubby, optimistic as ever, wishing me a good morning and telling me he has a surprise for me, but I will need to go to the window. Once I went, I nearly fainted. IT WAS HUBBY in front of my building, lots of baggage and flowers in his hands! I remember running down the stairs, leaving the flat’s door open. My love was here! I still can’t believe he drove all night, crossed borders to come and see me and make me feel better. He stayed for a week and we had a blast! I will never forget the look in his eyes, the strong embrace, that feeling when you know someone is there for you whenever you need him. Miki, if you’re reading this, just know that I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, more and more with each new day!