Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chaperones by Megan Karasch (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with JKSCommunications, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Chaperones by author Megan Karasch!

Author Guest Post

Beyond My Comfort Zone
By: Megan Karasch

In theory, studying abroad in England was a no-brainer. An adventure in the country that birthed the likes of Hugh Grant, David Beckham and Dan Stevens? “Sign me up!” When the trip turned from theory to reality, however, I thought nothing of those handsome chaps and more for the fact that I would be 5,000 miles from home, with absolutely no one I knew, for nine months, in a country about which my only knowledge was their Romcoms and love of tea. The sum of these parts equaled one large, ludicrous crying spell at the airport, which prompted my loving, albeit practical, parents to say these simple but impactful words: “You don’t have to go. But ask yourself if you’ll regret it if you don’t.” – another no brainer. Had I let fear consume me that day and bailed on England, I would have missed what became a life-altering, eye-opening experience. This is the situation out of which Andrea Lieberman, the main character of Chaperones, was born.

As one character in Chaperones so eloquently puts it, Andrea is a girl “afraid of her own nose hairs.” While this is, of course, an exaggeration, she is a fearful person, likely more so than an average one. But then, so am I. Whether it’s as trivial as my desire to have a piece of cake at 5 a.m. being overcome by the fear of how my stomach will treat me after I consume it, or as dire as my desire to be an actress being overcome by my relentless dread of public speaking, fear has this colossal and frustrating power to prevent me from being who I want to be or doing what I want to do. If I don’t work constantly to push past it, life will paralyze me – like it almost did to Andrea.

Andrea had a life full of fear and regret until the day she decided enough was enough and accepted a photography assignment that would take her to England for six months, alone, knowing she would face many of the things that scared her. And she welcomed that challenge. She knew that, had she declined that opportunity, she would have remained an insecure, dependent girl watching life and all of its benefits pass her by without so much as a wave. At one time, I was terrified to write a novel for fear of not being able to finish and of being judged harshly. Law school scared the daylights out of me for countless reasons. I’ve also been scared to try swing dancing, for fear I’d look silly or haphazardly kick someone in the face. And, as I said above, studying abroad was terrifying. I’ve tried all these things and though none is/was perfect, my life’s richer and I’m happier for having done them. Conversely, I have a strong desire to visit Israel but I’m too scared to go. So far, my fear has squashed my desire in that case and with each story I hear from friends who’ve been there, I grow more regretful and frustrated. But I rest assured, knowing (hoping?) that, just like Andrea, when I let desire be a greater force than fear I will at least give it a try.

Writing about why it was important for Andrea to push past her fears and creating the ways she could do so, was cathartic. As I wrote, I found myself quite persuasive in my anti-fear arguments and knew that they applied to me too (even more so, because I’m real). Trying something you’re scared of makes you stronger, wiser, worldlier; it opens doors; and it dismisses regret like the nasty parasite it is. Andrea had to be thrown into the deep end to see if she could swim; she was too far-gone to wade slowly (and, frankly, it’s funnier that way). The rest of us can take on our anxieties little by little if we so choose, being proud of the progress we’re making along the way. I certainly don’t mean to trivialize how paralyzing fear can be or affirm that I will get past everything that scares me; that’s unrealistic. But in my opinion, pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone can be so complicated and difficult, that all you need to be successful at it is to confront what scared you.

About The Author

Megan Karasch was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. After college, she worked in a creative capacity assisting with the production of stories for a nationally televised entertainment news program. Following her television stint, she went to law school in Southern California where she earned her J.D. For almost two years, commencing in 2007, while the analytical side of her brain was hard at work in the law, she exercised the creative side writing for a popular Los Angeles lifestyle online magazine, writing music reviews and special interest pieces.

Currently, both halves of her brain remain active while she continues to practice law and has begun what she hopes is a prosperous and rewarding life using the written word to enlighten and enliven. Megan lives in Southern California with her cat, Squeaker, and spends her time reading, socializing with her friends and family and playing drums for a local indie rock band.

AUTHOR WEBSITE - Tales From My Hard Drive

Book Review

Chaperones by Megan Karasch
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: June 13, 2013
Format: Paperback or eBook?
ISBN: 9781484094457
Genre: Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Chaperones
*Publication Date: June 13, 2013*

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by JKSCommunications.

Book Description:

For Andrea Lieberman, life began at 26. Growing up with parents so protective they made a convent seem like a Sandal’s resort, she developed a catalog of phobias so large, going into a church seemed risky business. Finally, Andrea had had enough; she wanted to live rather than fear dying. Without hesitation, she accepts a photography assignment for a magazine traveling through England and packs up her camera, her pepper spray and every insecurity she accumulated since birth. Excited but petrified to reveal the news to her boyfriend, he intercepts with news of his own – a marriage proposal, leaving the lingering question of their impending nuptials as she travels abroad.

Upon touching down in England, Andrea flops around like a fish out of water. The magazine’s staff – the idiot, the slut, and the mute – offer little comfort outside of a pint of beer until she’s assigned two blokes as travel companions – a tight-arsed copywriter and a drop-dead gorgeous art director with movie star charm. These two men help Andrea push herself beyond her comfort zone while testing the limits of her fortitude and her relationship with her boyfriend. The photographic journey becomes a comedy of errors thanks to unforeseen obstacles at every turn. As Andrea struggles to complete the assignment, she discovers the most revealing picture she develops will be of herself.

Book Excerpt:


“Honey, I have huge news. Amazing news. Life-altering news that I just cannot wait to share with you!” I had planned to say to my boyfriend, Brandon, while driving the twenty-five minutes it takes to go five miles in Los Angeles. My intestines were in knots and I managed to chew each of my nails so far down that I struck blood. I knew he’d eventually be happy for me, because he would agree that opportunities like the one I was moments from sharing with him come once in a lifetime, but the road to that emotion would certainly be paved with tears and heartache.

I pulled up to Brandon’s house, took a deep breath, and then several more, and walked in. That’s when something, call it Murphy, Mother Nature, The Force, or a different being with a screwed-up sense of humor, threw a wrench into the middle of my plan, shattering it to smithereens.

The house was empty. Throwing my keys on the counter to make myself comfortable, I noticed a picnic basket wrapped in an absurdly large, candy-apple red bow — the kind of bow most often seen wrapped around cars in commercials that “hint” to women that their husbands are lazy deadbeats if they don’t drive a luxury SUV into the living room and waste a hundred feet of ribbon tying it around the thing. A paper sign rested atop the basket: Don’t even think about opening me. I mean it. Pick me up and take me across the street to the park. Don’t worry, I’m watching you, it’s safe. I love you. — Brandon xoxo

Never having enjoyed surprises, I opened the left side of the lid slightly and found another note: Seriously?Laughing, I opened the right side: Satisfied? You’ve got another note. Stop your snooping and take me to the park. Enter where we always do. I acquiesced to the demands in the notes, picked up the basket and walked out.

Upon entering the park, I immediately happened upon a trail of rose petals that led me into a pocket of trees I had always avoided because it seemed an ideal hiding place for knife-wielding lunatics. Today, however, petals paved the way and I knew this madness was Brandon’s doing, not the elaborate plan of a psychopath. I picked up the rose petals as I walked, eager to keep mementos from what I felt was going to be an extraordinary day.

As I walked further through trees, I began to hear the vibrant strings of the Spring movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. My smile grew painfully wide while I listened. As the music grew louder, I walked faster, excited about what I would find beyond the trees and also itching to get out from the dark, insect-ridden thicket. What the hell was crawling all over my legs? The sunshine greeted me again as I stepped out into a wide-open field smelling of fresh-cut grass. Dogs chased Frisbees, children swung high on the swing set and played messily in the sandbox, and picnic blankets lay in luminescent, kaleidoscopic designs around the lawn. The sounds of laughter created a staccato pattern around Vivaldi’s violins. Though there was dynamic activity on all sides and I was concerned that the kids on the swings were going so high they might fly right off, I eventually focused in on the giant heart outlined in rose petals a few feet ahead.

Brandon stood in the center of the shape, tall and proud, his upper body covered in a tee with a printed tuxedo shirt and jacket, his hands in the pockets of khaki shorts. I chuckled at his shirt, as it so perfectly demonstrated his playful nature. Sunglasses concealed his warm, chocolate-brown eyes and the sun glinted off his sandy blond hair, creating a reddish tint. My eyes began to fill with water and I ran the last few steps toward my darling Brandon, dropping the basket and the rose petals I had accumulated en route. I threw my arms around him and attempted a graceful, dramatic embrace, as though I had just come off an airplane to find my beloved who had been at war for twenty years, but my momentum was too great and it carried me onto his toes, practically knocking him into the bottle of champagne lying beside him inside the heart.

The ends of Brandon’s hair around his neckline sat in a pool of sweat and his back was damp. We unlocked our embrace and he smoothed my hair back from my face. He gave me a long, tender kiss hello, followed by multiple quick lip-to-lip pecks. As he held my face in his hands and our lips continuously met, I knew he was seconds from asking the question virtually every girl looks forward to from the moment she sees Prince Charming slide the glass slipper onto Cinderella for the first time.

After a few minutes of passionate lip locking, Brandon removed his sunglasses and held my hands in his. 

“Andrea,” he said. “Standing in the spot where I met you at a party I didn’t really want to go to, I know you are the woman who makes me glad I’m alive.”

He knelt down and reached his hand into his pocket. A second later his hand emerged, shaking slightly, closed around that classic black velvet box I had dreamed of since before I even fully understood its significance.

Brandon stared deep into my eyes, his eyes shimmering as they began to accumulate tears, and continued. “The last year of my life has been damn near nirvana and I would be a total fool not to tell you now and every day following that I love you. My darling Andrea Joanna Lieberman, will you marry me?”

I looked down at Brandon’s handsome face, tears sliding down my cheeks like a light rain in early June. I tried to stare into his eyes, but the sun bounced off the diamond, creating a prism of color and rays of light. The world was silent, save for the sound of my galloping heartbeat.

“I have to tell you something,” I said.

“Huh? Is it something other than ‘yes’?” he asked, with squinted eyes and a furrowed brow.

“Sort of.”

My Book Review:

Chaperones is an entertaining story of a woman's journey of self-discovery and growth during a six month photography assignment in England. Written in the first person narrative, twenty-six year old Andrea Lieberman has always lived a protective life that her parents have provided her, a life that has sheltered her from the risks and ups and downs that come naturally in life. Living with fears and regrets, Andrea decides to move out of her comfort zone and experience life when she takes a six month photography assignment in England. Andrea's adventure in England will take her out of her comfort zone, allow her to experience life beyond the protective walls that she grew up in, and along the way discover who she really is.

Chaperones is such a fun and lighthearted read that is filled with quirky characters and entertaining dialogue and interactions that will keep the reader in stitches. The reader follows Andrea as she embarks on her adventure in England away from her overbearing and overprotective parents and boyfriend Brandon. I really enjoyed watching Andrea discover the world outside the protective walls that she grew up in, from the quirky people that she meets, to the amusing trials and tribulations that she finds herself in, Andrea is able to navigate outside her comfort zone and overcome her obsessive fears and paranoia and discover who she is and what the world has to offer.

I loved the author's richly detailed description of the setting, the reader is easily transported to England with it's familiar landmarks, culture and dialect. You can't help but become captivated by Andrea's adventure in England, in a way it feels like the reader is experiencing Andrea's adventure right beside her. From start to finish, Chaperones is a fun read with entertaining twists and turns that keeps the reader engaged and cheering on Andrea as she learns about herself and the world around her.



  1. nice share. i appreciated it. Thanks a lot!
    said ramalan

    1. Thank you for stopping by and posting your kind comment.

  2. Great review & guest post. This seems interesting.

    1. Hi Shane! Thank you for visiting my blog and posting your kind comment.