Lucky Santangelo is back! The dynamite Jackie Collins recently released number 27, Goddess of Vengeance, and the Santangelo family and friends (and enemies) are back in a big way. Goddess focuses mainly on Lucky’s daughter, the eighteen-year-old Max, as she stars to make adult decisions- like sleeping with her mom’s best friend’s soon to be ex-husband. Venus and Billy have headed for splitsville, and Billy finds himself besotted over Max, while Venus simply starts sleeping around. Lucky is somewhat in the background of the story, but her fierce determination, loyalty, and balls of steel are at no shortage. When the disgustingly sleazy billionaire businessman/Middle Eastern Prince, Armand Jordan, tries to buy out Lucky’s precious casino and hotel complex, The Keys, Lucky quickly lets him know who has the last say. And we can’t forget Lucky’s gorgeous son Bobby and new girlfriend Denver, who are trying to work through there relationship obstacles.
It’s a little difficult to write a synopsis with so many leading characters, and I always worry that readers new to the series will give up hope, but don’t! Once you start reading, it is easy to identify and connect with the jumbled cast. I really enjoyed learning more about Denver and Bobby and where there story continued from Poor Little Bitch Girl, and even diving into Max’s character more was interesting to read about. There is no shortage of raunchy scenes and vulgarity, of course, especially when it comes to Armand’s character and his dimwitted view of woman. The ending of the book really picked up for me, and I couldn’t put it down. I loved how all the characters were slowly gravitating towards one location, and had to see how it all finished. I will say that I thought the ending with Armand was a little bit of a letdown. I would have been okay with a much less easy and way out for him to die, after all his disgusting behavior and lewd acts. But other than that, another delicious and frantic story to add to the Santangelo collection!
Luckily, yes. I’ve been writing since I could pick up a crayon. Before I learned how to spell, I’d tell my stories to my parents. In first grade, writing stories in my class journal was my favorite part of school. In second grade, my teachers started sending me to young authors’ conferences, which had been geared toward fourth-graders and upward. In third grade, I decided I was going to journalism school and that’s exactly what I did after graduating from high school. After finishing my journalism degree, I decided to do an M.A. in English part-time, outside of work, purely out of love for language and writing.
Q: What inspired your first novel, Rock Star’s Girl?
I started freelancing as a promotional writer and web designer for musicians when I was a senior in high school. That led to making friends and acquaintances who are musicians, and then meeting their friends who are musicians, and so on. Some of them are in independent bands, and others are or have been in more popular bands signed to major labels. Several are guys I’ve gone on dates with, or have been in relationships with.
When you meet someone who is known in the music or entertainment world, in a context that’s entirely separate from their career—usually it’s been through mutual friends, or friends of mutual friends, or at a friend’s show or something—you just don’t really think about what they do for a living. You forget that there are people out there who follow their lives, or who would recognize them in a crowd, or discuss and dissect things they’ve said or done, or even what clothes they’ve worn somewhere.
I was reminded of this one weekend afternoon while hanging out with someone I knew who is in a fairly well-known band. We’d met through mutual friends, and to this day I’ve never seen one of his band’s shows, so the career/public-self wasn’t the context I knew him in. We were at his place, and he was looking at something on his computer. When he explained that he was reading a message board about his band, to check on what people were saying about him or all of the band members that day, it made me stop for a second. It was a really strange moment, and it made me think about what it would be like to read what people are saying about you when they know your face and name, but don’t know YOU. The idea for Rock Star’s Girl initially came out of that moment. I wanted to explore that idea from the side of someone who didn’t have a career in the entertainment industry, and who would never expect to be in that situation at all.
I should also mention that I have nothing but good things to say about any of my friends who are musicians. Cory and Jesse (characters in Rock Star’s Girl) are very much fictional.
Q: What was the most difficult process in writing for you?
The first big revision of Rock Star’s Girl was definitely the most difficult part of the process. Anyone who remembers writing their first novel can probably relate to this. Here you have this manuscript, finally complete at between 80,000 and 90,000 words. You’ve been working on it for ages. You want to query agents, or send it out into the world. Then you start getting feedback and suggestions and realize that something could be much more effective if you changed this, or changed that, or added this subplot. Before you know it, you’re deleting 20,000 or 30,000 words from your manuscript, and that’s only the first revision. They become much easier to do after that, I think.
Q: Can you tell us about your second novel?
My second novel is about as different from Rock Star’s Girl as you can get. It’s not chick lit. Think more along the lines of something you’d study in a contemporary literature class. It experiments a bit with form and with concepts of time. Plot-wise, I’m keeping that under wraps for a while. I know that’s really vague!
Q: Do you have a certain writing schedule you try to stick to?
Writing something every day is the schedule I most try to stick to. It isn’t always fiction-writing, although working on a novel-in-progress is something I aim to do the majority of the days each week. For me, the most important part of getting a manuscript finished is to work on it consistently most of the week, every week. It doesn’t matter if it’s writing only a sentence or two, or if it’s writing 9,000 words over a weekend, as long as I’m writing something every day. It’s when I leave something sitting for a week or two that I slow down a lot.
Q: I noticed from your website and blog that you are really into fitness. What are some of your go-to workouts?
I’m a cardio nut right now. You can usually find me on the elliptical three times a week, doing about 6 or 7 miles each time. About once a week after the cardio, I’ll do the lighter hand weights for more arm toning, or use some of the weight machines. I also walk my dog three or more times a day, so that gets added into the mix.
When I have days with a little bit more free time, I like to hike. One of my favorite places to hike, Runyon Canyon, is mentioned in Rock Star’s Girl. Kundalini yoga is also one of my favorite things to do. I find that it really strengthens my abdominal area, and also puts me into a great headspace.
The biggest part of “dream big” for me is getting to the true, most ultimate dream or goal, and not selling myself short. It’s about asking yourself what you would do, where you would live, and what your life would be like ideally, and not taking into consideration anything perceived as a limitation or restriction. That’s important. If something is a dream, and you’re restricting or limiting yourself in that dream, then where else in your present-day life are you constructing restrictions or limitations that don’t have to be there?
If there is something you want to do in your life, just do it. Don’t talk about wanting to do it, or write it off as, “One day I’ll do this,” or “I want to do this, but�” Writing a book is a good example of this. A lot of people never get to that point. It’s abandoned a few pages in, or several chapters in, or even after a first draft. Or they think, “Wow, I could never do that,” or are daunted by the concept of a word count and don’t begin at all.
Something I’ve enjoyed a lot lately is discovering aspiring writer’s right around me, whom I never knew had the ambition to write. Since finishing Rock Star’s Girl, I’ve found myself in conversation with people I’ve known for years, hearing about how they want to write a screenplay but don’t know where to start or if they’re doing it right, or how they want to write a book but don’t know if they can. It’s great to be able to talk about the perceived limitations that keep people from writing, and to help them shift their focus from hypothetical roadblocks to achieving their dream.
I strongly encourage everyone out there to think about what they truly want to do and the places in this world they want to explore, and to go after their dreams. You may come across people who question what you want to do, but the important part is to listen to what you know about yourself, and not what others think they know about you or see as limitations.
Q: What are some of your favorite Sephora products?
My number one, can’t-live-without product that I purchased from Sephora is the Jonathan Beauty Water Shower Purification System, but I don’t think they sell it anymore. I wish they did! When I first moved to California, the building I lived in had ridiculously hard water with a lot of copper in it. I have blond hair, so it started looking not-so-blond until I got the filter. I’ve also noticed that if I wash my face using only the filtered water, instead of tap water from the sink, I don’t get skin blemishes. Results may vary by person, but what this filter removes from water is amazing.
Second is Bare Escentuals mineral veil, although you can get that from several places. I usually get it from Sephora, though. I love this stuff, and have been using it for about four years.
For the summer months, I also really like the self-tanning gel made by Clarins. My skin is very fair, and although it doesn’t burn easily, it also just doesn’t tan. I was always afraid of self-tanner turning my skin orange, but when I read the first 50 great reviews of this product on Sephora, I decided to try it. It gives your skin a really natural-looking, “just-got-back-from-the-beach” type of glow.
Q: What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m reading White Noise by Don DeLillo and The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. Next up is The Tenth Insight, also by James Redfield.
Q: What are some top places on your travel wish list?
The top places right now are London, Paris, Brisbane, and Sydney. I’ll hopefully visit all of these places soon!
Q: What would be your advice to aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring writers is the advice I discovered in a post on Write It Sideways that helped me forge ahead with Rock Star’s Girl. The advice was simple: don’t edit as you write. When I began writing Rock Star’s Girl, I was in the habit of going back over every sentence I’d written and editing it, then editing it again. When I stopped doing that and left it for the many revisions to come, it was amazing how quickly the rest of the novel came to life.
The second piece of advice I have is to write something every day. It doesn’t have to be something for your current writing project, but the very act of just sitting down and writing for even five or ten minutes every day can move mountains. Once you get your mind used to switching over to writing mode by writing every day, writer’s block really does become a thing of the past.
A few weeks ago, I posted an article outlining a few ideas I had for October- which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I had some great feedback from that original article, so I am going to move forward with my plans. Big thanks to everyone who emailed me with their ideas and support!
First, I have posted a donate button on Chick Lit Plus through PayPal. I will be taking donations all throughout October that will go towards the Susan G. Komen organization. Second, I will personally be donating $1 for every review that is posted during the month of October for the Chick Lit Reading Challenge. And third, I am going to be running a month long contest that will feature your stories. I am looking for submissions that talk about your experiences with breast cancer. This is pretty open topic that can range from if you had breast cancer, a family member or a friend had cancer, what you do to support and find a cause, how you raise awareness, etc. This will be based on how many submissions I get, but I would like to choose a winning story each week. That story will be published on Chick Lit Plus, the weekly winners will be able to choose a book from my personal bookshelf that I will send to them, and each winner will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. At the end of the month, I will write an article that will feature snippets from each story that was submitted.
So that is my plan for October! Please help spread the word about the submissions to your friends, families, and followers. I’m hoping we can get some inspiring stories that come in and I’m looking forward to October and doing my part. I will be posting a Call for Submissions post shortly with more information on the articles. Thanks again to everyone who gave their ideas and feedbacks!
Catherine Lambert, a Parisian lawyer who loves style and a good challenge, takes the opportunity to transfer to her firm’s New York office. New York- the fashion, the glamour, the excitement- Catherine cannot wait for her new chapter in life. But New York turns out to be nothing what she expected. The workload and office hours are much worse than what she put in at Paris, the employees are gossipers, her boss very well may be from hell, and her clients are self-absorbed a-holes. But Catherine is determined to make her move a successful one, and she throws herself into her new life. When one of her clients expresses interest in Catherine, it looks like her New York life might finally be looking up. Or is an offer about to Catherine’s career in jeopardy?
First, I loved the cover of J’Adore New York by Isabelle Lafleche. That caught my eye right away. And once I started reading, I was swept away in Catherine’s story. This is an exceptionally well written and intriguing novel from a debut author, and one that I think should go on your to-read list. Chick lit fans will love the glamorous settings: from the New York backdrop, the stylish outfits, and the love triangle that Catherine finds herself in. I will be looking forward to more from Isabelle Lafleche, and be sure to get your copy of J’Adore New York.
This darkly funny novel describes Wendy Sinclair’s spin-crazy life in Las Vegas after she impulsively decides to not return to Houston following a bizarre girls’ weekend in 2005.
The confused, unhappy 45-year-old newlywed soon rents a ramshackle apartment in a building filled with misfits; wallows in a blur of spas, malls and buffets, and, ultimately, becomes a designer of cocktail waitress uniforms and an Ann-Margret impersonator in a casino show with Elvis.
She also hangs with some pretty colorful characters. Paula’s her bold, brassy glamazon BFF who’s looser than a Casino Royale slot. Maxine’s her saucy former-Tropicana-showgirl boss. Paige and Serena are two twenty-something blackjack dealers she shops, gambles, and clubs up a storm with. Major crushes on a hunky pilot and sexy former rock star are also part of the mix.
And then there are the phone fights with Roger, Wendy’s workaholic husband waiting impatiently in Houston. Their clashes are louder and more raucous than a hot craps table at Caesar’s! Does she go back to him, or does her midlife crisis become a midlife makeover?
Please visit CLP Blog Tours for the full calendar of tour stops! **Anyone who purchases a copy of A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) chicklitplus (dot) com will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card!**
When eReaders first came out, I was skeptical. When eReaders started to become popular, I was still skeptical. What was this little device that was trying to take over my lovely paperbacks? I didn’t want one. But with CLP gaining speed and more and more review requests coming in, I knew I would have to take the plunge. More authors are publishing eBooks, and some are publishing eBooks only. I knew I couldn’t continue to be stuck at my computer reading off the screen, or wasting trees by printing out the book. So I caved.
Well, technically, my mom caved. She is the one who bought me my Amazon Kindle for Christmas. When I first got this lightweight little…thing…in the mail, I’ll admit- I wasn’t sold yet. Turning it on, letting it power up, having to read the directions and log on to Amazon to create my account…these aren’t things you have to do with reading a book. You just open it. So far, I wasn’t getting along with my Kindle.
But then, things changed. After the initial set-up process, I understood why people are raving for these eReaders. Fast downloads, easy to read print, I can read my Kindle anywhere, I can stick it in my purse when I go to work. I was falling in love! Do I want my Kindle to replace my paperbacks completely? Never. There’s something about a great book with a beautiful cover to hold in your hands that is just not replaceable. But I now am a fan of my Kindle, and urge other readers (especially book bloggers) to own one.
Another reason I am so impressed with my Kindle is because of Amazon in general. I started using Amazon a few years ago, buying and selling on the popular website, then became an affiliate when I started CLP. When it was time for me to buy an eReader, the Kindle is what stood out to me. I had no troubles until about seven months into owning it. One night, it just wouldn’t work. The screen was frozen, none of the buttons would work, trying to reset it wasn’t working, zilch. I remember panicking, because I had eBooks on there that needed to be read and reviewed for deadlines. I called Amazon, and a helpful woman walked me through the steps of resetting it, tried to have me charge it fully then reset it, and when all of the above failed, told me she would send me a new Kindle ASAP. No charge, no fees, nothing. Two days later, my brand new Kindle arrived. I deposited my broken one into the box and shipped it off- again with no charge. My new Kindle works beautiful, all my files transferred over without a problem, and I am one happy Amazon eReading customer.
Sometimes, I come across a book that I’m just not sure what I’ll say in my review. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate. Some scenes pulled me in, others pushed me away. Sometimes I was laughing out loud, other times I was baffled. And that is precisely what It’s a Man’s World by Polly Courtney did to me. The story revolves around workaholic Alexa Harris as she steps into Banter- the gentleman’s magazine that showcases naked girls. Alexa’s job is to drive up the sales and implement new and fresh ideas so Banter doesn’t go under. She knows she is in for a challenge, switching from working with all women to all men- men who stare at naked women all day and think very little of their new female colleague. Alexa has to juggle her career, love life, and protests that come along with her position and lads’ magazines in general.
So, why am I so confused as to my thoughts on the book? For starters, Alexa is often talked about being a strong female, a trait someone would surely need to work with a bunch of frat-boy men in the Banter setting. Alexa goes from me being strong and putting the guys in their place, to allowing sexual harassment to occur to her and others without saying a word about it. That was a little strange, I felt like I never knew which side of Alexa I was going to get. Then there was her boyfriend, who to me seemed like a decent guy. Until the end of the book where Alexa suddenly realizes how controlling he was- but readers never really see that part of him. I thought that he was a great and decent guy all along, and was actually waiting for them to get back together. Those are just a few of the head scratching moments I had.
On the other hand, there were times were I was really drawn into the story, and wanted to find out what happened next. I enjoyed Alexa’s two best friends and their dramas they were going through. The lone other female that worked at Banter, Selena, was interesting to read about as well. I was never quite sure what she was up to, and it was nice seeing how her story played out at the end. So there were parts that I enjoyed reading as well. Overall, I think most chick lit readers would be able to appreciate the story and the characters that Courtney has come up with. I just felt like I was too back and forth on the book to be able to really get lost in the story.
In My Mailbox: Week of September 25
Author: Kimberly Lin
Received: From Kimberly Lin via CLP Blog Tours
Synopsis: Sometimes going after what you want is the hardest thing you will ever do… Meet Helen. Smart, successful and obliviously trapped. For the past six years, Helen has given her life and her heart to her cushy corporate finance job and to Mark without question. However as the Recession sweeps the Nation, she is one of many left unemployed and with the burning question of what does she really want in life. RECESSION PROOF is a debut novel for anyone that has settled in their career and relationship but has discovered that what really matters in life is living it…
Author: Sue Watson
Received: From Sue Watson
Synopsis: TV Producer Stella Weston is over worked, over weight and under fire. Having battled uphill for years to balance her career with her family life, she is repaid by being put out to pasture on a religious gardening programme complete with a nervous vicar, his nymphomaniac wife, and 22 stone Britney wannabe gardener, Gerald. Miles away from her husband and daughter she somehow turns the show into a comedic triumph, only to once more fall foul of her evil and twisted boss, stick thin MJ. Stella decides enough is enough but soon finding herself husbandless and penniless, she realises discovering the courage to quit is sometimes the easy part. Desperate, Stella throws herself into her one true love, cakes, and asks the question: can you really turn a passion into a profession? What follows is a series of comical disasters, hilarious holidays, failed dates, super cakes, accidents, injuries and near death experiences. Full of spirit, heart and girl power, this is a high quality chick lit novel that will have readers everywhere laughing, crying, and reaching for the mixing bowl.
Author: Rachel Gibson
Received: From Transworld Publishers
Synopsis: Trouble . . .
Chelsea Ross’s acting career has been a total bust. The closest she ever came to stardom was her brilliant performance as “Pretty Dead Girl #1.” But leaving Hollywood to become the personal assistant to a famous hockey player could be her stupidest career move ever.
More trouble . . .
Injured superstar Mark Bressler’s glory days are over. The bad-boy ex-jock could at least be civil to the pint-sized, pink-haired bombshell who the Seattle Chinooks hired to be his P.A. If Chelsea didn’t need the money, she’d be running from the world’s biggest jerk as fast as her feet could carry her.
Chelsea can deal with Mark’s rotten attitude and dark moods. The problem is those biceps and that red-hot bod! And when the bad boy starts to put the moves on her, Chelsea knows it’s time she banished him to the penalty box . . . if only she could resist the kind of trouble he has in mind!
Shannon Hart is on tour with CLP Blog Tours!
Until the End of Forever is the debut novel from Shannon Hart, and I thought it was romantic and sweet. The main couple, Sarah and Rob, are nauseatingly perfect at first glance, but you begin to learn that Sarah isn’t content with her life. She suddenly longs for freedom, away from being only a wife and mother. When a business opportunity presents itself to Sarah in the form of a trip to Paris, she eagerly signs up and takes off across the Pond. But when tragic events occur back home, Sarah finds herself more confused than ever with her life and with her marriage.
I enjoyed that the novel was written from both Sarah and Rob’s point of view. I think by having the multiple viewpoints gives readers an extra oomph on understanding and engaging with the characters. I definitely think the ending showcased some fantastic dramatic scenes, and really tied the entire story together nicely. The biggest dilemma I had with Hart’s writing is that she often relied on flashbacks to tell a part of the story, when they really weren’t necessary. The multiple flashbacks kept yanking me from the plot and started to overwhelm me. But overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend chick lit readers to give it a shot. The message at the end of the story is a great one, and I also love the story behind the title!
**Everyone who leaves a comment on Shannon’s tour page will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card!**
A: I’ve always loved writing. I used to write short stories for my High School paper and stuff, and I used to write just for my friends to read. One of my close friends encouraged me to write an entire book but I never thought I could do it. Then, after that, I had one too many excuses: marriage, work, having kids – and one day, I had trouble sleeping and started to write some things just to kill time but then it got so exciting. It was like this adrenaline rush and I just couldn’t stop.
Q: Who are some of the authors or novels that inspired you when you were younger?
A: I am a huge Meg Cabot fan and I started reading Danielle Steel when I was quite young too. When I was really young I was hooked on Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books.
Q: Your first novel, Until the End of Forever, features a heroine who seems to be uneasy with her completely perfect life. How did you create your main character and her troubles?
A: I’ve met a lot of people in my life – they have come from various backgrounds, education, and were at different stages. No matter how rich, how popular, how successful, how beautiful they were, they all had something in common: there was always a point in their life when they felt discontent. They got bored of doing the same routine day in and day out, even their marriages didn’t seem exciting anymore and they wanted a temporary getaway. These things become lunch topics when I meet with these people and I just figured that a lot of people could really relate to it.
A: Having a full time job! Everytime I would get an inspiration for a chapter, I’d be at the office in the middle of a meeting or something and by the time I got home to my computer, I already forgot half the things I wanted to write.
Q: How important do you think having a website, blog, or social media presence is to an author?
A: Website, blog, twitter, facebook – all are extremely important to authors. People are spending more time on their computers, laptops, iPads, tabs, smartphones and other forms of technology, and we need to make use of that. It’s amazing what you can do and gain just by being present and active on platforms like twitter and facebook. It’s a must for me.
Q:Until the End of Forever is your first book, and I know you are working on publishing your second. How was the process different the second time around?
A: Well for one, the characters in my second book are very different from all the ones I had in Until the End of Forever. They are a lot younger, which meant I had to get in touch with the younger voice inside my head. I haven’t been 25 in a long time, so it was pretty challenging. I think that being my second book, I had a better sense of what I needed to do to make the story work. I was very motivated because it felt like a challenge: can I make it just as good or better than the first one?
Q: Will you ever revisit any characters from Until the end of Forever?
A: I love all my characters from Until the End of Forever. There are times I reread it myself just because I miss some quirky comment from Samantha or miss some of Rob and Sarah’s romantic stories from when they were dating. I think revisiting one of the characters and doing a spin-off story is definitely in the cards, but perhaps not in the very near future. It would be great to know who readers would like to see in the spin-off. Let’s ask them!
Q: Do you have any plans right now for a third book?
A: Funny you should ask that. I was just thinking about it the other day. I have this plot in mind. I’ve been scribbling notes on how to build it. I’ll keep you updated!
Q: I read that you lived in Melbourne, Australia for some time. How long did you live there and what are some experiences you will never forget?
A: I was there for about 4 years, studying marketing and business administration. Living there on my own, far from my parents and family was not easy at first, but it turned out to be the most valuable experience in my life. I learned how to be independent and this was also the time I found myself to be most creative. I was a part of drama clubs and choirs and just felt like I really matured while I was there.
Q: I know that you have a career outside of writing, as well as a family to juggle. How do you keep all under control?
A: Keeping it all under control is not easy, that’s for sure. But I’d have to credit my husband who is so super supportive. He lets me have that “me” time to sit down and write, he lets me do my work at home when I don’t manage to finish at the office and he doesn’t complain when I have to travel for my day job. He is understanding and very accommodating and I hope he knows how grateful I am. I also have nannies who are amazing with my kids.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
Q: What are the top three stores you could max your credit cards out?
A: Chanel, Miu Miu and just about any denim store. I’m a real denim freak.
Q: Where would be your dream vacation?
A: To be honest, I just love traveling period. So anywhere I go, as long as I get to spend it with my family, I’m good.
Q: What is your best advice for aspiring writers?
A: This is hard – I’m still aspiring too! But here is my two cents worth: there is no dream too big to chase, so if it’s your life long dream to be a writer, then go sit down and just write. Just sitting down and actually writing a whole novel, and being happy with what you’ve written is already half the battle.