2012 Reading Year So Far: Chick List and Women’s Fiction

Last week we featured a sneak peek at 2012 debut authors. This time, I’m taking an early look at Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction for 2012, a category that at times has been a bit of a problem in the Annual Reader Poll at AAR. Some years we pollsters wonder if we’ll have enough votes for any single title to declare a winner. This wasn’t the case in the 2012 AAR Reader’s Poll for books published in 2011, when Jill Mansell’s To the Moon and Back was the winner in the category. A number of 2011 books captured readers’ attention and received quite a few votes in the category.

But in other years we’ve had more problems. First, a lot of AAR readers avoid both genres and leave the category blank on their ballot. Now this isn’t a problem for the readers; I tend to have a number of blank categories on my ballot each year as well (Biggest Tearjerker, Best Love Scenes, Best Romantica/Erotica to name just a few).

Other readers are puzzled about what Chick Lit or Women’s Fiction is. I myself am at times confused about the genre of a book. What’s the difference between Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction, and Contemporary Romance? Sometimes it’s hard to discern. There’s an old ATBF on Chick Lit here at AAR that discusses what makes a book Chick Lit. One of the keys is that Chick Lit is heroine-centered. There’s also an interesting old piece here published in 2000 and written by author Barbara Samuel on the difference between Romance and Women’s Fiction. Once again, Women’s Fiction is heroine-centered, and romance is just one part of the plot. Ms. Samuel’s writes that in Women’s Fiction, “The heroine’s journey might have a lot of elements, and her wish to find a mate might be equal to the need to make peace with a child or a parent or making peace with herself.”

While books are officially categorized in the AAR database in one genre, we’re a bit flexible with this particular category in the Annual Poll. If voters list a book classified as Contemporary Romance in AAR’s database for their favorite Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction, we count the ballot. This has resulted in several wins in this category in recent years for Contemporary Romances.

In the 2012 Reader Poll My One and Only by Kristan Higgins received honorable mention in the category. All of Kristan Higgins’ books are classified as Contemporary Romances in AAR’s review database, but many have received votes in the Annual Reader Polls. In the 2011 poll Ms. Higgins’ All I Ever Wanted tied in the category with Pamela Morsi’s The Bikini Car Wash (classified as Women’s Fiction in AAR’s database). Kristan Higgins’ Just One of the Guys also won the category in the 2009 poll.

To get a feel for the 2012 possibilities in this category I did a quick power search at AAR. So far, only two 2012 Chick Lit books and five Women’s Fiction titles have received reviews here at AAR.

Chick Lit:

Jill Mansell, Nadia Knows Best

Sophie Kinsella, I’ve Got Your Number

Women’s Fiction:

Diane Chamberlain, The Good Father

Sharla Lovelace, The Reason is You

Susan Mallery, Barefoot Season

Margaret Wurtele, The Golden Hour

Lisa Dale, A Promise of Safekeeping

I’ve read two of the Women’s Fiction titles listed above. While I enjoyed them, I’m always in search of additional books in this category. I did another power search at AAR of Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction published in the last few years that received a review of B or higher here at AAR. I then checked at Amazon to see if these authors had any 2012 releases. According to my best estimate, the following authors either have a book coming out over the next few months, or have already had a book published in 2012 that hasn’t yet been reviewed at AAR. I’ve read a few of these authors in the past and will definitely be checking out their new releases.

Chick Lit

Maria Geraci, A Girl Like You (August 2012)

Beth Kendrick, The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service (May 2012)

Pamela Ribon, You Take it From Here (July 2012)

Heather Weber, Perfectly Matched (May 2012)

Women’s Fiction

Emilie Richards, One Mountain Away (August 2012)

Roisin Meaney, One Summer (October 2012)

Kristina McMorris, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves (February 2012)

Pamela Morsi, The Lovesick Cure (August 2012)

Have you read any Chick Lit or Women’s Fiction published in 2012 yet this year? If so, what have been your favorites so far this year? If you haven’t read any so far, do you think you’ll read any before the end of the year? Is there any Chick Lit or Women’s fiction you’re particularly waiting for that hasn’t yet been published in 2012?

- LinnieGayl AAR

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16 Responses to “2012 Reading Year So Far: Chick List and Women’s Fiction”

  1. Vol Fan says:

    I’m so glad you did this blog. I had never been able to understand the difference between the two. Now that you’ve helped me to get it, I see that I do read a lot of women’s fiction. My two favorite authors of all times are Diane Chamberlain and Kristen Hannah. They both would be women’s fiction and they are always on my auto-buy. I read Chamberlain’s The Good Father and Hannah’s last one was Home Front. Loved them both.

    I used to read all of Jodi Picoult, but for some reason, I had a burn out of her books and haven’t read her last three.

    I have read some chick-lit, but for some reason, they aren’t usually as enjoyable to me.

  2. LinnieGayl says:

    Thanks, Vol Fan. I’ve been wondering about The Good Father; I’ve come close to ordering it a few times.

  3. Kayne says:

    I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella is the best book that I’ve read so far this year. I loved the humor.

  4. mb says:

    I’ve read the following books this year that I believe would fit these two categories:

    Liar Bird by Lisa Walker
    Recipe for Love by Katie Fforde
    Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon
    Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues by Trisha Ashley
    Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews
    …and possibly ‘The Expats’ by Chris Pavone. (It’s espionage women’s fiction)

    The ones to be published in 2012 that are on my radar:

    The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne
    The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
    Drowning Rose by Marika Cobbold
    The Soldier’s Wife by Joanna Trollope
    The Patchwork Marriage by Jane Green
    Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes
    …and possibly ‘A Lady Cyclists Guide to the Kashgar’ by Suzanne Joinson (looks like it is historical/modern day womens fiction)

  5. Leigh says:

    LinnieGayl, I read a lot of women’s fiction and chick lit and ta-da guess what? I am reviewing both Emilie Richards, One Mountain Away (August 2012) and Pamela Morsi, The Lovesick Cure (August 2012).

    There is just something rewarding to me about seeing the heroine’s character growth (or hero in The Good Father – and yes you should read it)

    I think Chick lit got a bad reputation for having self-centered wacky heroines -and yes there are some that are like that but many are not.

  6. Leigh says:

    I have read these books:

    Chick Lit:

    Jill Mansell, Nadia Knows Best

    Sophie Kinsella, I’ve Got Your Number

    Women’s Fiction:

    Diane Chamberlain, The Good Father

    Pamela Morsi The Love Sick Cure review pending

    Emilie Richards One Mountain Away review pending

    Kathleen McCleary – A Simple Thing review pending

    Spring Fever Mary Kay Andrews review pending

    Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

    and plan to read:

    Runaway Princess by Hester Browne

    Return to Willow Lake Susan Wiggs

    I also ordered and read from the U.K the newest book by Jill Mansell A Walk in the Park.

  7. Beth says:

    I love chick lit and women’s fiction in addition to historicals, rom. susp. and contemp.

    Wendy Wax – She is great.
    Mary Alice Monroe – Love her. Her’s are very beachy
    Patti Callahan Henry
    Mary Kay Andrews
    Dorothea Benton Frank

    These are all southern but so am I. When I am reading a book about a southern beach i can place myself there because I most likely was just there. I love the local color.

    Sophie Kinsella
    Emily Giffin
    Jane Greene
    Kristen Hannah

    These ladies are also favorites. However, Kristen Hannah’s book Night Road still bothers me to this day. I simply could not reconcile myself with the character change of one the key player’s. Maybe it was the subject I could not deal with – teenage drunk driving. Too close to home. Still it has been a year and I feel like there was 50 pages toward the end that should have been there.

    Beth

  8. Leigh says:

    Beth, I read Wendy Wax’s new release- but I haven’t written the review yet. This is the first book of hers that I have read.

    I quit reading Kristen Hannah – books for me either have to be funny so I can suspend belief or realistic. Ms. Hannah had one little girl who thought she was disappearing and love cured her. I don’t know why but I just can’t suspend belief on scenarios like this.

    Also have these two on my list. Both are being released this month.

    Where We Belong by Emily Giffin:
    When in Doubt Add Butter Beth Harbison:

    • Vol Fan says:

      Leigh: Beth, I read Wendy Wax’s new release- but I haven’t written the review yet.This is the first book of hers that I have read.I quit reading Kristen Hannah – books for me either have to be funny so I can suspend belief or realistic.Ms. Hannah had one little girl who thought she was disappearing and love cured her. I don’t know why but I just can’t suspend belief on scenarios like this.Also have these two on my list.Both are being released this month.
      Where We Belong by Emily Giffin:
      When in Doubt Add Butter Beth Harbison:

      Was that an older Hannah book? I don’t remember that one and I thought I had read most of hers. I will admit though, IMHO, she really has gotten so much better over the years. Her early books were totally different than the newer ones. There are a few of the older ones I didn’t particularly care that much for, but I’ve not read a new one I disliked
      With Diane Chamberlain, one of my most favorite DIK books is Keeper of the Light. It had spun off several after, but I loved that first one and have read it more than once.

      • Leigh says:

        Vol Fan:
        Was that an older Hannah book?I don’t remember that one and I thought I had read most of hers.I will admit though, IMHO, she really has gotten so much better over the years.Her early books were totally different than the newer ones.There are a few of the older ones I didn’t particularly care that much for, but I’ve not read a new one I disliked
        With Diane Chamberlain, one of my most favorite DIK books is Keeper of the Light.It had spun off several after, but I loved that first one and have read it more than once.

        Yes, it is – On Mystic Lake

        Annie Colwater’s only child has just left home for school abroad. On that same day, her husband of twenty years confesses that he’s in love with a younger woman. Alone in the house that is no longer a home, Annie comes to the painful realization that for years she has been slowly disappearing. Lonely and afraid, she retreats to Mystic, the small Washington town where she grew up, hoping that there she can reclaim the woman she once was-the woman she is now desperate to become again.

        In Mystic, she is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix, a recent widower unable to cope with his grieving, too-silent six-year-old daughter, Izzie. Together, the three of them begin to heal, and, at last, Annie learns that she can love without losing herself. But just when she has found a second chance at happiness, her life is turned upside down again, and Annie must make a choice no woman should have to make. . . .

  9. LinnieGayl says:

    Kayne, is I’ve Got Your Number if standalone book, or is it part of a series? I’ve looked at the reviews and it sounds good.

    Thanks for all the suggestions, MB. Did you like the new Katie Fforde? I haven’t read Joanna Trollope in years; must try her again.

    Leigh, you’ve read a lot! And you also snagged some great review books. I just tried to order the new Jill Mansell but it doesn’t come out here until November…sigh.

    Beth, some great suggestions. I like Mary Kay Andrews. I’ve been wondering about Emily Giffin.

  10. Nathalie T says:

    Thank you for explaining the difference between Chick Lit and Contemporary Romance, I’m always happy when I can find a short simple answer. I’m not a big fan of Chick Lit since I’ve never found a single book in the genre that compares to Bridget Jones (one of my favourite books). When I read Chic Lit I usually read Alexandra Potter or one of Sophie Kinsellas standalone books (I can’t stand the Shoppaholic series).

  11. LeeB. says:

    I read a lot of contemporary/chick lit/women’s fiction. I agree that sometimes it’s hard to distinguish in which category a book actually belongs in, but as long as the book is good, I don’t care. But it does make it hard to vote in the Annual Poll. :)

    What I’ve read so far this year with 2012 copyrights (and some of these titles I’ve ordered from bookdepository.co.uk):

    Knit One Pearl One by Gil McNeil
    I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
    Julia’s Child by Sarah Pinneo
    Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
    One Night Only by Sue Welfare
    Lessons in Laughing Out Loud by Rowan Coleman
    A Surrey State of Affairs by Ceri Radford
    A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell
    The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service by Beth Kendrick
    The Runaway Actress by Victoria Connelly
    Happy Ever After by Harriet Evans
    Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues by Trisha Ashley
    One Perfect Summer by Paige Toon

    Also looking forward to Hester Browne’s new book coming out later this year. I think the Marian Keyes book is being published in the US next year. !!!!

  12. Beth says:

    Night Road by Kristen Hannah was released last year. It drew me in and held fast. Like I said before it bothered me like no other book I have read. I have been to Kristen’s web site and she said the idea came to her based on her son’s senior year of high school. How a mother needs to protect her childeren but also start letting go. I could not handle the mother’s character change. My daughter had devastating jr. and sr. year. There were friends deaths(3 to drunk driving and a suicide) discovering a father’s betrayal, drug use, depression and hospitalization. then an abusive boyfriend. We just loved more and refused to quit. Thankfully we have her back.

    I have been to talks given by Mary Kay Andrews and Dorothea Benton Frank. They are riots. Mary Alice Monroe is very active in South Carolina in protecting the sea turtles and their nests.

    I also like Celia Rivenbark’s essays. Funny. Jenn Lawson’s book is funny too.

  13. Vol Fan says:

    Hannah’s books are definitely “taken from today’s headlines” and I can see where they might be hard to handle sometimes. In fact, she had one “Home Again” that was hard for me at the time, due to my husband’s and my dad’s heart problems. But it really was such an excellent book. I can understand how some find her stuff hard to take though. (Side note: Home Again was just re-released this month I believe).

    I had forgotten the details of Mystic Lake and forgot the child involved, but I do remember absolutely loving that book! LOL I remember because it got passed around all over my office as word of mouth made them all want to borrow it.

    • Leigh says:

      Vol Fan: Hannah’s books are definitely “taken from today’s headlines” and I can see where they might be hard to handle sometimes.In fact, she had one “Home Again” that was hard for me at the time, due to my husband’s and my dad’s heart problems.But it really was such an excellent book.I can understand how some find her stuff hard to take though.(Side note: Home Again was just re-released this month I believe).I had forgotten the details of Mystic Lake and forgot the child involved, but I do remember absolutely loving that book!LOLI remember because it got passed around all over my office as word of mouth made them all want to borrow it.

      It more a pet peeve than a reflection of her work . . many authors do it – I think Lisa Kleypas recently had a heroine who just mets the little girl and gets her to interact (can’t remember if it was talk?) when her family (uncles couldn’t)

      But the reason the Hannah book made a impression is because there are pages and pages of the child talking about about how her body is disappearing and she can’t see her hands or her feet etc, All through the book I kept thinking ah, this problem is not normal and I think she need to see a child psychologist -

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