Tag Archives: chick lit

Book Review: ‘Christmas is in the Air’ by Cary Morgan Frates, Danielle Lee Zwissler, Jennifer Conner, and Karen Hall

Christmas is in the Air Anthology 2

This is the second Christmas romance anthology from Books to Go Now that I have read this month. I loved the first one,Christmas Romance, and this the second one didn’t disappoint. Four talented romance authors, four sweet stories that will warm your heart this holiday season. And just like in the first one, there are dogs in this one, too!

In “Red Soles at Night Christmas Delight,” by Cary Morgan Frates, Audrey Wells is out of her wits when a dog jumps on to the deck of her boat and in the process throws her super expensive Louboutin shoes into the lake. The dog’s handsome owner has no choice but to dive into the freezing cold water to rescue them. Of course, Audrey ends up making sure he doesn’t get pneumonia. In a turn of fate, they end up spending Christmas Day together. A humorous and sexy story.

In “Yuletide Bride,” by Danielle Lee Zwissler, reporter Mary Simms is out on a mission. She wants to prove that the town’s Magic of Christmas Festival, where perfect couples are “matched” for life, is a sham. Will she have the courage to uncover the truth and destroy people’s belief in the tradition, even if it means destroying the happiness of some of the old couples involved? And what about James, the handsome lawyer who asks her not to go ahead with her story, and for whom she’s developing some serious feelings? Will Mary learn to have faith? An original, delightful story with a touch of mystery.

In “Christmas Gift that Keeps Wagging,” by Jennifer Conner, we meet Julian Barrows, a single dad with a kindergarten son who suffers from seizures; and Hannah, the beautiful trainer who specializes in seizure-detecting dogs. Their paths touch when Julian tries to get her dog for his son. The problem is, it’s incredibly expensive. Fate has other plans, and the magic of Christmas works its way into their lives…A heart-warming story with an ending that will pull at your heart strings.

The last story is “One Horse Open Sleigh Race,” by Karen Hall, where we’re transported to 1819 London, and where, after a most unexpected encounter, a wealthy earl and the feisty twin of the new clergyman find true love thanks to a Christmas sleigh race and an adorable “match-making” Scottie. Lovers of historical romance will relish this one.

This anthology has a tantalizing, charming cover. That’s the first thing that pulled me to the book, and it adequately illustrates the inside content. The four stories in this anthology are all about strong yet vulnerable heroines and sensitive, yet forceful heroes; about the spirit of the Christmas season and the magical effect it can sometimes have on people; about the hope and faith for true love and the attainment of that love.

Through the authors’ imaginations, I was transported to different places and times, relishing the characters’ fictional worlds and predicaments. I also love how the authors incorporate humor into their stories, and how the dogs play their important roles. Christmas Is in the Air is an upbeat, thoroughly enjoyable read, and one I’m sure readers of sweet romance stories will enjoy.

Find out more on Books to Go Now and  Amazon.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine. 

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Ten Things About Arnine Cumsky Weiss You May Not Know

Arnine Weiss 7Arnine Cumsky Weiss is a nationally certified sign language interpreter and a teacher of English as a second language. She has worked in the field of Deafness for over thirty years. She is the author of six books. BECOMING A BAR MITVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES, BECOMING A BAT MITZVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES (University of Scranton Press), THE JEWS OF SCRANTON (Arcadia Publishing), and THE UNDEFEATED (RID Press) and  THE CHOICE: CONVERTS TO JUDAISM SHARE THEIR STORIES (University of Scranton Press). Her second novel, SHE AIN’T HEAVY (Academy Chicago)was published in June, 2013. She is married to Dr. Jeffrey Weiss and is the mother of Matt, Allie, and Ben.

Visit Arnine’s website at www.ArnineWeiss.com.

She Ain't Heavy 7Ten Things About Arnine Cumsky Weiss You May Not Know

1)     I wrote my first book Becoming a Bar Mitzvah: A Treasury of Stories, inspired by my oldest son surviving cancer.

2)     The Idea for my first novel, The Undefeated, was rolling around in my head for 20 years before I wrote it.

3)      The title for my newest novel She Ain’t Heavy is a take-off of both a slogan for Boy’s Town and a Hollie’s song.

4)      She Ain’t Heavy is dedicated to my mother because she wasn’t heavy.

5)      Teddy Warner, the protagonist of She Ain’t Heavy works in a Dunkin’ Donuts. I love DD coffee.

6)      I lived in northeastern PA for twenty-five years and both of my novels are partially set there. The mayor came to my launch party for The Undefeated.

7)      I’ve worked with deaf children as both a teacher and sign language interpreter for over thirty years.

8)      When I moved to NYC, I started to teach English as a second language and GED prep classes to better connect to the city.

9)      I saw someone reading She Ain’t Heavy on the subway. I feel like I have arrived.

10)  I’m a twin.

About the Book:

Just when counter clerk Teddy Warner is about to be evicted from her Scranton apartment, she bumps into beautiful, brilliant, blond Rachel – her estranged childhood friend whose mother forbid their friendship thinking Teddy was beneath them.

Teddy and Rachel reconnect over hot chocolate and under New Year’s Eve fireworks.  Their discussion leads to an invitation. Soon, Teddy’s on her way to Philadelphia, where Rachel is a student, to share an apartment and begin an exciting new life in the City.

Teddy views Rachel as perfect.  Rachel can’t bring herself to shatter the image by letting on that she is having an affair with a married man. Just when Teddy is starting to feel at home, Rachel insists on some privacy.  Acting out her anger at being asked to stay away, Teddy indulges in a one-night stand.

When Teddy returns to their apartment the next morning, Rachel is being carried out on a stretcher – the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. This unforeseen tragedy leaves Teddy alone in a strange city, with no money, no friends, and no connections.

As Teddy struggles to find her way, she meets a mentor at the same university Rachel previously attended who takes an interest in her, but with strings attached. She also develops a unique bond with the firefighter who rescued Rachel.  And yet, Teddy remains committed to helping Rachel get back on her feet, at a time when no one else who supposedly loves her can accept her in this diminished way.  Along the way, Teddy discovers her own strength in the roles of caretaker, lover, and friend.

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Interview with J.B. Miller, author of NO TIME FOR LOVE

00J.B. Miller is a published author of fiction, non-fiction, award-winning poetry, music, and numerous articles and blogs. No Time For Love is her first novel. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children.

Visit her blog at http://notimeforlovebyjbmiller.wordpress.com.

Welcome to As the Pages Turn, J.B.!  Can you tell us more about your heroine, Chatham?

No Time for LoveJB: Chatham is the type of heroine that all women can relate to. She does her best to keep up with the demands of her family, her work and unfortunately, does not have enough time for herself. So many readers I talk to can relate to Chatham as though they are reading about themselves. She is today’s every day heroine.

The first chapter sets the tone for the whole book. Why did you decide to start it in the kitchen over waffles?

JB: I want the reader to identify with the heroine right away. I want her to be within reach. Every mother in the world lives a secret life of chaos that many will not even admit to, but when they read about Chatham’s life, they can settle right in alongside her.

The kids seem to be Chatham’s top priority and rightly so. What are her thoughts on dating?

JB: Dating is not even on the burner. She has fleeting wistful thoughts of love, but her everyday demands steal all of her time. I believe in love finding us when we least expect it and even in Chatham’s family centered world, love sneaks up on her.

Does Chatham believe in soul mates?

JB: Her husband was her soul mate and sadly, Chatham does not think that she will ever find another. She is wrong.

What does Chatham do for a living?

JB: Chatham works in advertising. In particular, she writes catchy slogans and jingles for advertising campaigns. She is quirky but relatable. There are a few creations she has come up with that I think should be real companies like Vatican Air – get there on angels wings.

What is Chatham’s favorite pastime?

JB: Sleeping is high on the list, but she doesn’t get much.

What do you believe is Chatham’s biggest obstacle?

JB: Chatham’s biggest obstacle is letting herself follow her heart when love finds her. If she can’t decide which love is for her, then how will she finally find true happiness? The reader will have to see where it all ends up.

That is such a fun cover. Who designed it?

JB:I enlisted a top graphic designer to create my vision. I wanted love and time to jump off the page. I think they do.

Is chick lit a new genre for you?

JB:I have written short stories in the genre and many award winning poems. One of my favorite poems is I Don’t Do Socks.

Thank you so much for this interview, JB. Do you have any final words?

JB:I wrote No Time For Love so that women everywhere can feel that the real person they are is understood. I want mothers to know that it’s OK to not always keep it all together. When the reader finishes the book, I want them to believe in true love.


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Interview with Allie Larkin: ‘My stories tend to spring from my characters’

Allie Larkin

Allie Larkin lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, Jeremy, their two German Shepherds, Argo and Stella, and a three-legged cat.

She is the co-founder of TheGreenists.com, a site dedicated to helping readers take simple steps toward going green.

STAY is her first novel.

You can visit Allie’s website at www.allielarkinwrites.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Allie. Can you tell us what your latest book, Stay, is all about?

Savannah “Van” Leone is heartbroken when her best friend marries the guy she’s been in love with since college.  She has to be the maid of honor in the wedding (and wear a hideous bright orange dress).  When the wedding is over, she goes home, has a few too many vodka and grape Kool-Aid cocktails, watches a Rin Tin Tin marathon and accidentally orders a German Shepherd off the internet from Slovakia.  The tiny puppy she thinks she’s getting turns out to be a 100lb beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, but Van quickly realizes that the dog, who she names Joe, is the loyal friend she’s been looking for.  Joe leads Van to Dr. Alex Brandt, a veterinarian with floppy blond hair and a winning smile.  But just as things start to heat up with Alex, the newlyweds come back, forcing Van to decide between old relationships and the promise of new ones.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Van has a good heart, and she tries very hard to find her place in the world and do the right thing.  She’s also an awful housekeeper, a closet Boston fan, and someone I’d be proud to call a friend– if she were real. Janie, Peter and Diane are all people she’s known for a very long time.  One of the major issues Van has to navigate is how to keep people she’s known so long in her life when her life has changed so much.  How do you find a way to grow up and move on and still keep ties to your past?

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Joe is loosely based on my German Shepherds, Argo and Stella, but otherwise, all of my characters are pure fiction.  I like to use real locations a lot in my work, but I like the freedom of writing about characters who don’t resemble people I know.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A little bit of both.  I have a vague idea of some of the things that might need to happen, but my stories tend to spring from my characters, and as I get to know my characters better, I discover the details of the story.

Q: Your book is set in Rochester.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

I’ve lived in Rochester for ten years now, and it feels like home.  So many books take place in very big cities or very small towns.  I wanted to put Van in a location that would make her relatable, and I liked being able to use the places in Rochester I’ve come to know and love while living here.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Van needed to start her life away from where she grew up, and Rochester was a great place for that to happen for her.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Van has just returned from the airport after picking up the 100 pound German Shepherd she accidentally ordered off the internet from Slovakia.  She’s not quite sure what to do with a 100 pound dog, and still a little afraid of him.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

The words on the screen were starting to blur, but I didn’t care. I needed a dog, and I wasn’t going to stop until I found one. I clicked from one site to another and then, I saw him.

He was a shaggy ball of fur. Jet black, except for a small pink tongue hanging out of his mouth. His head was tipped to one side like he was listening to something intently. One of his ears flopped over. The breeder was in Bratislava, Slovakia, and the site wasn’t in English, with exception of a few shaky translations. At the top of the picture of the puppy, it said something I couldn’t read, and then male 11/5. The puppy was only a few weeks old. He was just a baby. Under his picture, there was a link that said, order form. I moused over it, ready to click.

I took another long slurp of my Kool-Aid. I couldn’t just decide I wanted a dog and order one off the Internet. It was crazy. Crazy! I tried to go back to watching Rin Tin Tin, but I couldn’t stop staring at the picture of the puppy. It was like one of those paintings where the eyes follow you everywhere. From every angle, I felt like that dog was looking at me. He was going to be taken away from his mother. He was going to be given to some random family and he was going to get lonely and miss his mom and they wouldn’t understand. Not like I would.

“You need me, don’t you?” I asked him. I felt like his eyes looked more and more sad and lonely every time I looked at the picture.

I clicked on the link. The order form said that the cost for the dog was one hundred and forty thousand koruny, which, seven drinks in, I figured was like pesos or lira or something like that, where a thousand of them equaled a dollar. I thought about looking it up, but my vision was starting to blur, and I wanted a dog. Now. I didn’t want to wait any longer than I had to. What if someone else was sitting around in their pajamas watching the Rin Tin Tin marathon, realizing they needed a dog too? What if, in the time I took to look up the conversion rate, someone else bought my puppy? Someone else would get to cuddle up with that little ball of fuzz. Someone else would get sloppy dog kisses on their cheek. Someone else would have a true and loyal friend who would hop over burning hay bales for them, and I’d still be alone. And whoever got him wouldn’t understand him the way I would. It was probably really cheap. Cheaper than buying a dog from the United States even, I was sure.

I grabbed my purse off the coffee table and rifled through the mess of business cards and discount cards, dropping them all over the couch, until I found my credit card.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Allie.  We wish you much success!

Thank you so much!

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Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me: An Interview with Maya Jax

Loving spy and mystery novels, Maya Jax entertained the idea of being a secret agent and started working at an embassy overseas while doing her master’s in international relations.  During this time, she finished her first screenplay, an action/thriller about spies and nuclear weapons.  She pitched it to a friend in Hollywood, who told her she had talent, but to never – ever – show anyone the script again.  Realizing her love for writing was stronger than her desire to spy and fight crime, she attempted a second screenplay focusing on what she knew best — trying to make it as a writer.  The screenplay turned into a manuscript and the result was chick lit novel Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me.

Website: www.mayajax.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MayaJax

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maya-Jax/137505986269231?ref=sgm

Q: Thank you for this interview, Maya. Can you tell us what your latest book, Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me, is all about?

Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me is about the struggle to become a writer in a world of successful professionals.  Heroine Lelaina Zane graduated from law school three years ago and headed straight for LA to try making it as a screenwriter.  So far, she only has three years waitressing experience and a ton of rejection letters.  She finally thinks she’s on the verge of her big break, when she’s called back to her hometown because her dad has fallen ill.  It’s a fast and funny (well, I hope it is!) read about balancing life and expectations.

Q: Is this your first novel?  If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

This is my first.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

I think the hardest part was feeling like it was finished.  You really want to be done, but it always feels like there’s more you can do. As for writer’s block, going to the gym or taking a shower usually helps me.  Vacations are the ultimate cure, but if I went on holidays every time I was stuck then I couldn’t afford to feed or clothe myself.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

I’m surprised by the number of guys that have read it, and that liked it enough to email me about it.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

I write best very early in the morning or late at night, so I’ll get up early and write a few hours before going to work, and then write again before bed.  I also constantly write notes on scrap paper.  My purse is full of gum wrappers covered in notes.  I was recently going through airport security, and the guard who checked my purse was horrified by the mess of wrappers. She gave me a ten-minute lecture on cleanliness.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

My website says that I perform Broadway musicals in the privacy of my home, and that’s not really a lie.  I find singing and dancing very relaxing.  Anyone that’s lived with me may disagree about the relaxing part.

Q: What book changed your life?

When I first moved back to my hometown for a life change, I walked into a major bookstore.  One of the employees came up to me and grabbed my hand.  I didn’t say a word, but she said that she knew a book I would love.   She led me over to a bargain bin and dug out the last hardcover copy of The Devil Wears Prada.  It had been out for over a year, so I have no idea why this woman zeroed in on me, or how she knew I hadn’t read it.  Without even asking if I wanted it, she walked me over to the till and handed me over to the cashier.  The whole interaction seemed like something that was supposed to be happening, so I bought it and read the whole book that night.  It was the first chick lit I ever read, and as I read, I kept thinking this is meI can do this!  I wish I knew who that woman was.  I would love to thank her.  I never saw her again.  She was like some kind of mirage.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

It Really Happened This Way

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

I wouldn’t say I’m a klutz, but I do have a talent for getting myself into some pretty ridiculous situations, which were the inspiration for a few of Lelaina’s mishaps.  However, some of my own situations just don’t translate onto the page.  There was a scene with a three-foot fish that really happened at a preschool where I worked, but no matter how I wrote it, it just didn’t seem possible, so I had to cut it.

Thank you for this interview Maya.  I wish you much success on your latest release, Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me!

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Claire Cook’s ‘Seven Year Switch’ book giveaway for reviewers!

Seven Year Switch 2Claire giveaway

Claire Cook, author of the just released women’s fiction novel, Seven Year Switch, is offering a super giveaway for those lucky readers who are willing to post a review at Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook or Barnes & Noble! Here are her details:

Because I know it’s the power of my incredible readers spreading the word to your friends and family that will make this book take off, we’re going to have another giveaway!

All you have to do is read SEVEN YEAR SWITCH and post a nice review on Amazon (buy locally, review globally is my motto!) Goodreads or Facebook or Barnes & Noble or even your own blog, and email the link to the review to Claire @ ClaireCook.com. (Just make sure you put REVIEW in the subject line so I don’t think it’s spam.)

You can post the same review on as many sites as you want – in fact I hope you will! – and each one counts as another entry! The prize is pictured above: a beach bag filled with a complete autographed set of all seven of my novels – and a beach towel, of course!

If you already own signed copies of all my books, you can donate the whole thing to a fundraiser for your favorite charity or use them as birthday presents.

Thank you — your support is what has made this midlife career of mine possible, and I appreciate it so very much.

— Claire Cook

Visit Claire Cook’s website at www.clairecook.com.

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