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Chick Lit versus Contemporary Romance

So I was blog surfing this morning and decided to read a particular book review. What fascinated me was the fact that the author stated that the book in question was sold as chick-lit but actually turned out to be a contemporary romance! Err what? Sorry, but what’s the real difference? Is it marketing hype? Do authors tend to prefer one label over another?

I hit twitter land to see if anyone could shed any more light on the matter – my question: Could someone tell me the difference between chick lit and contemporary romance?

Here are a couple of replies:

@AliMcNamara said: Love to! But I have no idea myself 😉

@Judyastley said: I think chick-lit originally involved younger people looking for Mr Right. Comtemporary romance = broader range of people…But I think they’re pretty much blurred into one nowadays. Chick-lit sounds a bit derogatory and dated these days.

What to people think – are the phrases inter-changeable? I decided to do some more research (granted I didn’t get that much further than Wikipedia!)

Chick-Lit according to wiki:

Chick lit is genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.[1] The genre became popular in the late 1990s, with chick lit titles topping bestseller lists and the creation of imprints devoted entirely to chick lit.[2] Although it sometimes includes romantic elements, chick lit is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre, because the heroine’s relationship with her family or friends is often just as important as her romantic relationships.”

Contemporary Romance according to wiki:

Contemporary romance is a subgenre of romance novels, generally with the setting after World War II…As contemporary romance novels have grown to contain more complex plotting and more realistic characters, the line between this subgenre and the genre of women’s fiction has blurred.”

Its funny when I googled images for the above phrases, chick-lit brought up lots of pink, shoes and elegantly dressed women. Contemporary romance: more naked torsos and women leaning in for a kiss. I guess when it comes to imagery there is a definite difference!

Books v Movies

Do you have strong opinions on books made into movies? Do the movie counterparts ever live up to your expectations? The Sweet Bookshelf is discussing this very topic today, so head over and make your thoughts known. The Last movie adaptation I saw was The Secret Life of Bees and I wasn’t disappointed.

Carpe Bead’em by Tonya Kappes

Orphaned at a young age, Hallie Mediate was raised by her (slightly) crazy Great Aunt Grace on the wrong side of the tracks in Cincinnati. Hallie dreamed of escaping her hometown and never looking back. After putting herself through college, landing her dream job in Chicago, and setting her sights on her handsome running partner Bo Pompillio, life is finally exactly as she wants it.

That is, until she’s transferred back to her hometown.

Hallie is a woman with a plan, and when her boss Piper has her ‘shipped off’ to manage the Gucci store in her hometown, she can’t help but think that she’s trying to get rid of her! But life isn’t all it seems down south, especially after she discovers a talent that could change the course of her life forever.

Carpe Bead’em was a fun, fast read. The kind where you just keep needing to turn the page to find out what happens next. Comedy, romance, drama – it’s all there. You totally get behind Hallie’s character who’s life is punctuated by chaos and drama, be it at work, from family, friends or unrequited sexy running partners. In the midst of all this she finds some remanence of sanity in beading. I loved how the theme of beading ran through the book and how we were taken on this journey with her. I also enjoyed reading about Hallie and her BFFs (felt a little Sex & City, albeit Windy City). And how can you not cackle over the likes of Great Aunt Grace and the crazy 2am phone calls! Laugh out loud moment when 92 year old Aunt Grace steals a passer-by’s poodle because she’s hitting on her husband!

 

Taking Charge by Mandy Baggot – The Review

Did you get your hands on this hunky fella’ yesterday? If not, be sure to head over to Amazon to get your copy of Taking Charge today. This was a much anticipated book for me, and Mandy together with the teams at loveahappyending.com and Sapphire Star Publishing have done a fantastic job of publicising the book and getting readers involved (more on that later).

In Taking Charge, we meet our heroine sassy Robyn Matthers at the airport, heading back home to Portage, having been living in the UK for the last 9 years. A mishap with her carryon and Bam! she runs into him on the left – the gorgeous Cole Ryan. Within minutes (let’s put it down to nerves) we know she’s headed back home to look after an ailing father, his rundown roadhouse and the town’s ice hockey team. Robyn embraces these challenges with gusto – no questions asked…and along the way maybe falls in love. Personally I think this is one of the feistiest female characters Mandy has written, but don’t be fooled, Robyn may come across as having lots of chutzpah, wanting no needing to take charge, but beneath that bravado is a young woman trying to deal with a difficult past, in the only way she knows how.

I seem to have taken the spotlight off of our hero. What shall I tell you about Cole? Tall, dark and handsome – a bit Freddie Prinze Jr like, hockey player extraodinaire, closet geek (yep this side of him took me by surprise), dealing with his own drama and he cooks and cleans! He might like to sell himself as a hot dog eating, beer guzzling ‘Jack the lad’, but he’s smart, talented and sensitive. Very quickly he becomes ensconced into Portage life, but you probably have little choice when a whirlwind like Robyn careens into your life.

Comedy and quirky characters are a plenty in this book. Look out for the Twilight twins, kind hearted Uncle Bob, bleach blonde Nancy and the forever coughing Max to name a few.

Taking Charge isn’t just a romantic comedy (although it ticks that box too), but deals with far deeper, darker issues, which I think have been tackled both realistically and sensitively. Without giving too much away I found it really hard to read Robyn’s interview with Trudy –  it was like the literary  equivalent to watching a scary movie through your fingers! Mandy’s writing style has matured in this book and there is far more depth to her characters, most of whom you can’t help but fall in love with. 5 stars for me!

I’ve really enjoyed the marketing of this book; getting to meet Cole Ryan on twitter, reading the interview with The Portage Panthers, Mandy’s singing and the #TCparty yesterday. Well done to all involved and I wish Lady Baggot the very best.

Celebrating Taking Charge

The 3rd May is pretty special – not only because I finally have a day off, or because it’s voting day. Nope, today is publication day for Mandy Baggot’s fifth novel Taking Charge, courtesy of US based Sapphire Star Publishing. Those of you who’ve been following Mandy on twitter know that today has been dubbed a non stop party day! I’ve been so excited that  I found it almost impossible to sleep last night, and yes I bought my copy at 5:10 am!! I finally get to stay in bed with the hunky Cole Ryan 😉

If the thought alone, of a hunky hero isn’t enough to entice you to buy this book, read the book blurb:

American-born Robyn Matthers is going home. With her dad in hospital, his roadhouse in ruins and the ice hockey team slipping down the league, she needs to take charge. But does she have the strength to do it? 

Cole Ryan is a hockey player on a personal mission. He’s tall, dark, hot and Robyn’s noticed! But can she trust her feelings – or his? And what will Cole do when he finds out the truth about her?

Robyn returns to Michigan and things aren’t quite the same. Her best friend has grown up and is thinking about marriage and babies, the ice hockey team is no longer the life blood of the community and her father is engaged!

When Robyn’s twin cousins drag up past events that hold painful memories for her, she and Cole are forced together. But are either of them ready to start something new?

With an ill father, a trailer trash almost step-mom and ex-boyfriend Brad desperate for another chance, does Robyn have time to contemplate a relationship? Does she really want one? And is it physically possible for two people to fall in love in just three days?

Seeing as it’s party time, I felt it was probably ok to indulge a little and am celebrating by salivating over this:

How are you celebrating Taking Charge Publication Day?

Breaking the Ice by Mandy Baggot

For Mandy Baggot fans, the 3rd May has been marked down in diaries as the date her new book, Taking Charge is released! To tide over the anticipation of this event, I decided to download the last of her books I haven’t read – Breaking the Ice! Dancing on Ice fans, this is definitely one you have to pick up.

Meet our heroine Samantha, London based, almost West End box office assistant, at Civic Hall. Slightly neurotic, uber efficient and  overwhelmed by social situations. She’s been working at Civic Hall for the last 5 years, is committed to  her job, loves the history behind where she works, the shows and not to forget the regulars.

Meet the hero, Jimmy Lloyd, once a gold medallist ice skater, now on tour with “Skating on Broadway” (playing at the Civic Hall) and a recovering alcoholic.

The dilemma: unbeknownst to the motley crew at the Civic Hall, the local council’s Art budget isn’t big enough to keep 2 entertainment venues open in the same area. Could this be the end of Civic Hall? Can Jimmy help “Sam” to save her second home?

The book opens with Samantha stuck in her work freezer, surrounded by 4000 tubs of Berry Fruits ice cream, courtesy of her incompetent boss, Dave. We quickly learn that despite her title, Samantha has many hats on at work, which leaves her with little time for herself. There is quite a lot of comparison to/history about  her older sister Chloe – her opposite; blonde, outgoing and the a bit of a sexual predator. I’m not sure how necessary that was to the story, as we learn more about Chloe as we go on anyway, but once I got past what was an initial hiccup for me, I really got into the story. I loved the subtle introduction of the two main characters to each other, their time on the ice and how they helped each other out. Samantha’s character definitely evolves throughout the book and could it be that Jimmy is much more boy next door than the tabloids would have you believe? As usual Mandy manages to intersperse her writing with humour (how many times have you used a mannequin as a battering ram, sober?) and once again managed to include an unexpected twist to the story. Without giving too much away, as reunions go this wasn’t what I was expecting and I loved how the scene surprised me.

I’m not sure why this was Mandy’s book I left to last. Growing up in the 80s, I love the romance around ice skating, Torvil and Dean and getting my yearly fix of Dancing on Ice. I’ve even donned the skates myself and taken a couple of classes! I’m glad I finally round to it though and for those of you missing DOI, look no further, this book has enough lean bodies, leotards, sequins and blindfolds (!?!) to keep you hot, hot, hot until next season!

One I Missed Earlier

Paulo Coehlo is one of my favourite authors and if I’d seen this earlier I’d have added it to my ‘Introducing Book Trailers‘ post earlier. Aleph is on my TBR list for sure!

Introducing Book Trailers

I’ve only just discovered book trailers this week – yes that’s right! I too am asking myself which rock I’ve been hiding under. Authors seem to use them for different reasons; mainly to tell you about the release date of their new title or just like a film trailer, to give you a teaser and entice you to buy their book. My first book trailer was this one announcing publication day for Victoria Connelly’s The Runaway Actress.

I came across this one on The Sweet Bookshelf’s blog. She’s posted a UK giveaway for Legend by Marie Lu. This trailer is different, futuristic and techie (like a video game). I really enjoyed it and definitely made me want to read the book.

My last trailer offering is again slightly different and was posted on Sarah Pekkanen’s website. It’s for Skipping a Beat – her first book. I love the premise so I’ve bought myself a copy (coming all the way from the US of A!)

What are your thoughts on trailers? Do you watch them? Do they help you decide whether you’ll give a book a go? What kind of trailers do you like and do you have a favourite? Is so I’d love to hear from you.

What Influences Your Choices?

I grew up reading Enid Blyton, Anne of Green Gables and the Shoes books. My pre-teen choices were influenced greatly by books my mum bought me, we read in school or that were suggested by older cousins. Things changed when I went to middle school; I graduated to Nancy Drew and the Point books. Slowly I was being influenced by what my friends were reading. In Year 8, I can clearly remember a contraband copy of Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews being passed around a class of 28 girls. For a whole term we were all intrigued  by Chris and Cathy’s incestuous relationship! So who or what is responsible for my foray into the world of romance and chick lit? That would be my friend Anna. Being a “bigger” girl, she could pass as a 16 year old from as early as 12, which gave her a definite advantage when it came to taking library books out. She lent me my first Mills & Boon, introduced me to historical romance (I think I was the only person to have read the entire Jean Plaidy collection in our school library) and in my mind is to blame for me getting caught by a sub reading a Barbara Cartland under my desk in Maths (my first and my last!). My swooning days however, came to an abrupt halt during my A Levels when I discovered the likes of John Grisham and William Bernhardt. It wasn’t until a friend gave me a copy of Gone With the Wind as a birthday present that I realised I missed dashing heroes and beautiful, feisty heroines. Cue the authors that have become the staples on my book shelves; Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Carole Matthews.

Until recently I’ve stuck to reading what I know, or books recommended by friends. 6 months ago that changed when I joined a book club. Suddenly I’m reading things I would never have looked twice at like Terry Pratchet and Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. Twitter has opened my eyes still further – I’m no longer just taking recommendations from close friends or The Times Bestseller list. Now I’m connecting with other like minded people around the world – tweeting about my purchases, reading blogs, learning the lingo and watching book trailers! In the last week alone I’ve discovered 2 keepers; Kim Izzo (you can see my review on her debut novel below) and Mandy Baggot (I’ve sad 3 of hers already!)

So what influences your choice in reading and has this changed over time? Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Meg Cabot

So I’ve just joined Goodreads.com and was adding books to my bookshelf. I came across Meg Cabot’s page – I had no idea she’d written both a Heather Wells and Queen of Babble series. I’ve read the first in each and remember enjoying them, but also feeling a little disappointed that she hadn’t written more adult books. Well it seems that thats all changed. More to add to my to-read list 🙂