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Category: News

Find Your Next Chick Lit Read / #ChickLitMay Giveaway!

May is International Chick Lit Month. Let’s be honest—it’s the best month of the year! Every year, chick lit readers and writers get together to celebrate, share, discuss and gush about their favorite book genre. Not familiar with chick lit or Chick Lit Month? Visit the official website for more information.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of ICLM. To celebrate, a bunch of enthusiastic authors got together and made an infographic to help readers find their next chick lit read.

We’re giving away 19 ebooks to 19 lucky readers. Just enter to win the books you’d like to read!

To enter, comment on the blog post below, listing which books from the graphic you’d like to read and WHY you would like to read them. (Make sure to include your email address so we can contact you.) Entrants can only enter once per blog, but can check out other blogs with this same post and comment there for extra entries! All those links are down below.

Entries close on midnight Friday, May 22 (Pacific Daylight Time), and winners will be contacted directly on May 31.

Good luck everyone—and happy reading!

(Even if you missed this giveaway, feel free to share this graphic on your blog and spread the chick lit love!)

Find the authors and books here, and enter again!

Deeper Themes 30 First Dates by Stacey Wiedower
At the Edge of the Sea by Karen M. Cox
Cheating to Survive by Christine Ardigo
The Postcard by Lily Graham
The Same But Different by Serena Clarke
The Trouble with Dying by Maggie Le Page

* * *

A Little Magic A Leap In Time by Engy Albasel Neville
Scary Modsters…and Creepy Freaks by Diane Rinella

* * *

Laughs Guaranteed Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr
French Twist by Glynis Astie
Miss Adventure by Geralyn Corcillo
Molly Miranda, Thief for Hire by Jillianne Hamilton
Thirty-Two Going On Spinster by Becky Monson
Twin Piques by Tracie Banister

* * *

Light & Bright Caching In by Tracy Krimmer
Something in the Heir by Jenny Gardiner
Wedding Haters by Melissa Baldwin

* * *

On Distant Shores Mr Right and Other Mongrels by Monique McDonell
Set Me Free by Jennifer Collin

* * *

Enter one more time at these great chick lit blogs!

Chick Lit Plus
Chick Lit Central
Living Life With Joy
Chicks 
That Read
Bookaholic Confessions
Mrs. Mommy Booknerd
Book Mama Blog
Every Free Chance

Hanging in Firenze

Yes, when the Italians kept questioning my sanity when I was headed to Fidenza instead of Firenze, it was because they knew anyone would be pazzo to go to the former rather than the latter.

Florence is my kind of city. Vibrant, gorgeous, and very user-friendly. Easy to get around (though a bit easy to get lost while navigating the many tiny streets), and you can choose to go the museum route, the church route, or just wander aimlessly and absorb the vibe. Since I’ve been here before, I’ve been doing just that: taking it all in and meandering the streets.

I’ve been staying at a hostel which is actually pretty nice, all things considered. The location is unbeatable, just steps from the Duomo, which I find to be such a breathtaking masterpiece of architecture. Walking down my street, I’m taken aback by it’s imposing presence just 50 meters away — it fills the panorama. Of course when you get to the piazza del Duomo, it’s overrun with throngs of tourists and vendors selling amazingly useless tchotchkes that somebody must buy. There’s such a buzz of activity, it’s very infectious. But also makes you want to get far away from the influx of tourists ;-). I also love the Piazza della Signoria, just a few blocks away. It’s where the gorgeous Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery are located. The Piazza is filled with statues (including the fake David that some people actually think is the real one!). My favorite is Perseus holding the head of Medusa.

On Thursday night I headed over to Trattoria Nella, one of my daughters favorite restaurants in Florence where we ate last fall when we visited her. A terrific little local place, reminded me of Cheers, where everybody knows your name. There was a couple from California there, and we all got to talking with the owner, who is a professional french horn player and was performing in Rigoletto on Friday night. I’d hoped to make it to it but timing just didn’t work out. Just as well as it turns out it wasn’t where I thought it was so might have been lost, as it turns out the California couple was and never found it. There were a handful of the owners friends just hanging around the place, and one, who reminded me of the opera signer Andrea Bocelli, was a self-appointed DJ with a fondness for the BeeGees, alas. But what was funny is with every song he joined in, like his own personal karaoke, wailing with the falsettos and all. It was quite hilarious.

On Friday I just meandered about the city, worked my way across to the Oltrarno, across the River Arno. When we were last hear last November, the Arno was raging with flood waters after record heavy rains. Now it seems a bit stagnant, still with the heat of summer lingering. It’s still a lovely view from the Ponte Santa Trinita, looking across to the tourist-overrun Ponte Vecchio. At the other end of the Ponte Santa Trinita is the best gelato at Gelateria Santa Trinita, so it’s a daily destination ;-). I also made it to my daughters (and my) favorite pizzeria, Gusta Pizza, down the Via Maggio a few blocks and over toward the Piazza San Spirito. I sat in the shade on the church steps and wrote for a few hours, very peaceful (albeit with a little pigeon-shooing a necessity). Speaking of pigeons, I saw another dead one — this is getting ridiculous!

Friday night I was lucky enough to get a reservation at a tiny osteria we’d been to last year — had heard good things about it, but then it was booked for ever, yet they had one time slot available Friday night, fortunately. I was shocked that Tomasso, whose parents own the restaurant and who oversees it himself, remembered me from when we were there last November. He even remembered what we’d ordered! So surprising. He was delightful and treated me like a friend, and even offered to let me return Monday for dinner, despite there being no reservations. Apparently in the past year their restaurant, which has been around for 27 years, got ranked as one of the top restaurants in Florence. It’s fabulous, homemade pastas, just delightful, simple yet awesome food.

After dinner I wandered into the Piazza della Signoria again, and caught some of the Italy/Bulgaria World Cup qualifying match that was on a large screen on a nearby restaurant patio. Then I heard what sounded like a marching band, and saw around the corner in front of the Palazzo Vecchio was a large municipal band, and a host of performers. It was so sweet — there were baton twirlers, then ballet dancers, and folk dancers, and some noted conductor. I managed to get a seat on the ground in front and hung out there for a while.

On my way back to the hotel I heard a loud crowd a few blocks away, and a street performer who’d held the audience in his thrall the night before was at it again. Amazing, he had at least 100 people gathered around, and while he engaged his audience with his schtick, I think the biggest draw was that he played his music very loud, and it was sort of patriotic marching music that drew people in. I’m sure he was making lots of money.

I saw a girl of about 12 standing atop the back rack of her fathers bicycle — quite a balancing act on both of their parts. I can’t imagine tooling through the streets (and wending through hoards of tourists) that way! I also saw a dog planted not so securely on the floorboard of his owners motorcycle!

I’ve seen a lot of tshirts with references to moustaches on them. Not gonna ask.

And I laugh at the many women who force their boyfriends and husbands to take countless glamor shouts of them in front of famous works. They’ll be walking along and then the woman jams her cell phone or camera into the guy’s hand, no questions asked, then she strikes her pose, to the side, jutting out her ample breasts or behind, and he snaps away. It’s like a silent “Yes, dear.”

I’m amazed at how many Russians are here — wherever I go hear I hear Russian being spoken.

Yesterday I wandered again, working my way to the Giardini di Boboli. The Boboli Gardens are part of the Palazzo Pitti, a massive Renaissance Palace in the Oltranaro. I’ve never toured inside, only been in the gardens, which are a sight to behold. I think I’ll try to get to the palace either today or Tuesday. I was intent on finding one of my favorite statues, it’s actually quite bizarre, it’s of Bacchus astride a turtle, looks like he’s had quite a night of partying. I bought a deck of cards with that picture on the back for Kyle years ago because I thought it was so funny, then I became intent on finding the thing. It was a little underwhelming in person, though I know it wasn’t the original — in Florence, as in probably most cities filled with antiquities, the originals are often put away for safekeeping and protection from the elements in museums, and copies (often still old) are the ones remaining in their place (like the fake David in the Piazza della Signoria, where the original David once stood).

So after finding Bacchus, I walked around the gardens for a while, sat down in the shade to read, and promptly fell asleep for a few hours. A very relaxing/lazy Saturday afternoon. Last night I ended up back at Trattoria Nella, as did the California couple. It turns out they closed the place on Thursday and there was quite the drunken debauched time that I’m glad I missed. They were all laughing about it, the french horn player was strumming a broken guitar he keeps up above the bar, while all swilling grappa and Campari in abundance. Definitely glad I missed that. But they were well on their way to repeating the performance last night. I kept waiting to just get my bill, passed on the grappa and the Limoncella and instead the french horn-playing owner kept filling my glass with more chianti. So my “meal” ended up taking about three hours until I finally got the bill and left.

It’s really quite a gift to be able to not have to be somewhere, and to be able to just be in the moment and not worry about what to do in a few hours, or days. Which is not to say I don’t think about it — especially since my plans have evolved quite a bit from my original intent, I need to figure out where I can go and do it on the relative cheap. Not like I can hang out in Florence in a 150 Euro a night hotel. So I have been pondering my next move, which could be to a farmhouse we love in Tuscany, but might be to the Amalfi coast, if I can get a room at the hostel down there (otherwise too expensive). Scott comes in in a week, at which point we will probably hike the Via Francigena for a few days or perhaps we’ll make the trek to the Amalfi Coast to Positano (so beautiful there), and end up in Rome for a few days.

Today I think I’ll go to the Galileo Museum, which I hear is interesting and not overrun with tourists. A nice cool retreat in from the heat. The weather has been spectacular but hot, and I saw large storm clouds rolling in yesterday afternoon, and today is overcast, so I expect rain might be on the horizon. All the more reason to find a museum. Tomorrow most of them are closed, unfortunately, so if open I will probably go to the interior courtyard at the Palazzo Strozzi, an art museum. The courtyard looked like a nice place to beat the heat and write for a while.

once again i’ve tried to add pictures but the app is crashing, so none to add right now! sorry!

Downton Pre-Premiere Q&A and Giveaway

Wellllll…I haven’t been around my blog in a good while…I’ve got plenty of excuses, but who wants to hear them? But I’m baaa-ck, with a giveaway!

But finally dragging me back over here to blog is one of my favorite shows, FINALLY coming back to the States, for all of us Anglophiles…Downtown Abbey returns Sunday night!

I’ve teamed up with Tracie Banister, whose book Blame it On the Fame I might have mentioned I really enjoyed, along with a host of other fun writers to celebrate and dish about Downton. To get ready for Sunday’s show, feel free to stop by everyone’s blogs and read their amusing answers to these Downton questions. Oh, and please join us for a virtual tea and crumpet-fest Sunday night on twitter, where we’ll partake in #DowntonGala to tweet/snark as we watch.

One lucky winner will receive a copy of a veddy Downton-esque novel, To Marry An English Lord, so please, join in the fun! {and p.s., to ratchet up your chances of winning, you can earn up to nine entries if you want to leave a comment on all nine of our blogs}.

(the giveaway will run until midnight on Thursday, January 10th and a winner will be announced on the 11th)

From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles–just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details–plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette–To Marry An English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible.

Here are our questions, and I’ll tell you MY answers. In the meantime, check out the other authors answers as well by linking to their sites.

Without further audieu, pip, pip, cheeri-o and all that rot!

1) You’re planning a dinner party for the Downton crew – who would be No. 1 on your invite list?

JG: Duh. Matthew. And NO ONE else but Matthew. And me. ‘Nuff said?


2) Whose closet will you raid before the party?

JG: Definitely not the Dowager Countess LOL. I’d have to go with Mary’s. And while I’m at it, can I steal her figure too?


3) Once your guests have arrived, who are you most likely to flirt with?

JG: Duh. Matthew. I wouldn’t even play hard to get. I’d be easy. You might say a downright Edwardian trollop!


4) Who will you likely smack before the dessert course?

JG: Welllll…I don’t want to smack Mary for taking Matthew, but I mean how else do I get rid of her? If not her, then definitely her venal sister Edith. Someone needs to set that chick right!


5) Let’s adjourn to the drawing room for some not-so-polite conversation: What’s your theory on Patrick Gordon aka The Bandaged Man? Impostor or legitimate Crawley?

JG: Totally an imposter. How dare he insinuate himself wrongfully into my clan?!


6) How about Bates? Did he do it? Could he do it? If not, who killed Vera?

JG: No way! I think Thomas, the conniving footman did it so he could set Bates up. He’s that sinister.


7) Favorite quip from the Dowager Countess?

JG: In deference to living in Charlottesville, which I’m surprised isn’t called Jeffersonville…Here’s one of many favorite exchanges of Violet:

Dowager Countess: Good heavens! What am I sitting on?

Matthew Crawley: A swivel…chair

Dowager Countess: Oh, another modern brainwave?
Matthew: Not very modern; they were invented by Thomas Jefferson.

Dowager Countess: Why does every day involve a fight with an American?


8) Favorite Downton spoof?
 

JG: Hands-down, Jimmy Fallon’s is my favorite

 

9) Now you’ve done it! You’ve landed a guest spot on the show. What’s your storyline?

JG: I’m Matthews long-lost bride and mother of his children (this’ll cement the deal) who’s come to retrieve him to his rightful home with moi, naturally. I might have to jack up some of those princesses to get my wicked way.


10) What would you like to see happen in series three?

JG: Well…I saw a PBS teaser and they’re saying the Crawleys lose their fortune, which does not please me. I’m hoping my darling Matthew hasn’t lost his, at least. If they all have to start wearing dowdy second-hand clothes and serve meals to the servants, it won’t be quite the same show, will it?

 

Okay, then. Thus concludes my answers to the the Downton Abbey Q & A. Don’t forget to visit the other participating authors’ blogs to see what they’ve got in store!

And if you’d like to be considered to win the book, I need you to answer question #4: Who will you likely smack before the dessert course?

And I hope to e-see you at the #DowntonGala on Sunday night!

Now scurry off to visit these other authors’ blogs for more fun Downton questions and answers!

Jenny Gardiner:  https://jennygardiner.net/
Tracey Livesay:  http://traceylivesay.com/

Sipping away at my Earl Gray, with pinky extended…

Jenny

 
Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Slim to None

Anywhere But Here

Where the Heart Is

Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me

Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)

Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)

I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship (I’m a contributor)

And these shorts:
Idol Worship: A Lost Week with the Weirdos and Wannabes at American Idol Auditions

The Gall of It All: And None of the Three F’s Rhymes with Duck

Naked Man On Main Street

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