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Friday, January 15, 2016

Peri In Progress by Cat Lavoie (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Peri In Progress by author Cat Lavoie!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Cat!

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself. 

Thank you so much for having me, Kathleen. I'm a chick lit writer from Montreal, Canada and I have three published novels: Breaking the Rules, Zoey & the Moment of Zen, and Peri in Progress. When I'm not reading or writing, I love watching TV and posting silly pictures of my cat, Abbie, on Instagram. 

How long have you been a writer? 

My first novel was published in 2012, but I've wanted to be an author ever since I discovered books and learned how to write. 

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career? 

I work for an insurance company as a health claims analyst, but I hope I'll be able to write full-time someday. 

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer. 

I read a lot as a child and started writing (really bad) poetry and short stories when I was a teenager. It wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I decided it was time to sit down and write a book. (Thankfully, it never saw the light of day.) For many years after that, I worked on-and-off on a story that would eventually become my debut novel, Breaking the Rules

Please give a brief description/storyline about Peri in Progress

Peri in Progress is about a woman who decides to shake things up in her life, but things don't go according to plan. She ends up working for her best friend's brother—a sexy chef who is completely off-limits. Sparks fly and Peri's life gets a lot more complicated.

What was the inspiration for this story? 

I love stories about people reinventing themselves and the idea for Peri in Progress came to me a few years ago after I made (yet another) New Year's resolution to be healthier. 

How did it feel to have your first book published? 

It was a dream come true! I think I celebrated for about a week. The publication of Breaking the Rules also gave me the confidence to keep going and write more books. 

Do you write books for a specific genre? 

I write Chick Lit. 

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?  

I'm a huge Chick Lit fan, but I also enjoy women's fiction as well as mysteries and thrillers. Two of my favorite books are The Other Side Of The Story by Marian Keyes and Confessions Of A Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. Both novels are funny and have characters you think about long after you've finished reading. 

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing? 

I have a small writing nook in the middle of my apartment—it's nestled between the living room and kitchen and has a perfect view of the television. (Not always a good thing, but I can't write without a bit of background noise.) 

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books? 

I'm inspired by many things—from a TV show or song I like to a conversation I happen to overhear on the subway or bus or something that happened to me. Sometimes I just let my imagination go into overdrive and start asking a lot of questions—what if this happened or what if that happened? 

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes? 

I wish I could adhere to a strict schedule, but with a hectic day job and other obligations, it's not always possible. However, I try to devote most of my lunch breaks and weekends to my work in progress. 

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most? 

I love writing dialogue—I'll often stare into space as imaginary people have conversations in my head. (It can get a bit weird.) Backstory is something I struggle with—I want to give enough information so the reader feels like they know the character, but I don't want to slow down the story too much. Striking a good balance can sometimes be difficult. 

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing? 

If I'm not writing, I'm most likely watching television or reading. 

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received? 

Keep writing! It took me a while to realize that is really is the answer to most writing-related woes. 

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer? 

When someone reaches out and says they've enjoyed one of my books. It's the best feeling in the world to know that a reader connected with one of my characters or my book made them laugh. 

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans? 

I have a newsletter that I've started sending out on a monthly basis. I also love interacting with readers on Facebook and Twitter. 

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination? 

Most of it is purely from my imagination. The idea for my second novel, Zoey & The Moment Of Zen, where a woman is sent to a resort to get over an ex-boyfriend, came to me when I went on a trip to Mexico after a bad breakup—but none of Zoey's experiences are based on my own. (Thank goodness!) 

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer? 

There are many… but Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes are at the top of the list. 

What is your definition of success as a writer? 

Writing novels that connect with readers and having fun in the process. 

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us? 

I'm currently working on my fourth chick lit novel. It's still in the very early stages so I can't reveal many details, but it's going to take place in the fictional town of Messina, CT where my two previous novels were set.

Thank you Cat for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and sharing with us a bit about yourself and your writing career!

About The Author

Cat Lavoie lives in Montreal, Canada with her tempestuous cat, Abbie. Her debut novel, BREAKING THE RULES, was published in August 2012 by Marching Ink. ZOEY & THE MOMENT OF ZEN was published in October 2013. PERI IN PROGRESS will be published in October 2015.

If Cat isn't reading or writing, she's most likely watching too much TV or daydreaming about her next trip to London.

Author Website
Author Amazon Page

Book Review

Peri In Progress by Cat Lavoie
Publisher: Marching Ink, LLC 
Publication Date: October 28, 2015
Format: eBook - 206 pages
               Kindle - 567 KB
               Nook - 339 KB
BNID: 2940151219945
Genre: Chick Lit

Buy The Book:
Amazon - CA
Amazon - US
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

You know what they say about best-laid plans…

After a disastrous thirty-first birthday party where she gets stood-up by a man she isn’t supposed to be dating, Peri McKenna decides it’s time to change what hasn’t been working—which is pretty much everything. Her love life is going nowhere fast, she’s bored to tears by a job that makes her the office pariah, and the lifelong junk food addiction that used to be somewhat quirky is now positively problematic. To top it all off, her newly-purchased home is falling apart and wishful thinking hasn’t done much to fix the leaky roof.

It’s time be an adult now that she’s officially ‘thirty-something.’

But when the first step of Peri’s self-improvement plan backfires, she starts to wonder if change might be overrated.

Enter Milo Preston, an up-and-coming chef who’s in town to take over a local restaurant. When Peri and Milo begin working together, she finds it hard to ignore his easy charm and captivating emerald-green eyes. Since Milo is her best friend’s estranged brother, Peri has to keep reminding herself that he is completely off-limits. As they grow closer, Milo introduces Peri to new foods, the joy (and pain) of jogging, and makes her think her luck might finally be turning.

But when the past catches up with them, Peri finds herself back at square one. Will she be able to sort herself out—or will the roof cave in on her once and for all?

Book Excerpt:


It was a birthday surprise—just not the one I was expecting.
Throughout my twenties, I’d predicted that my inevitable and premature midlife crisis would happen during my thirtieth birthday party. I’d throw an epic tantrum, dramatically curse out the friends and family who’d gathered to celebrate my milestone, and disappear with a bottle of champagne and an entire triple layer chocolate cake. As it turns out, I rang in the big 3-0 without so much as a single tear. But exactly twelve months later, I was on the verge of losing it.
“Screw him,” I shouted over my shoulder at my best friend, Elsa. “I just want to dance. It’s my birthday and I shouldn’t have to wait for anybody to have fun. I’m going to throw my hands in the air and wave them like I just don’t care.” I took a defiant and confident step in the direction of the crowded dance floor, ready to lose myself in the music.
“Peri, watch out!”
But Elsa’s warning came about half a second too late. A brick wall—almost seven feet tall and wearing a tight black T-shirt that could barely contain his muscles—appeared out of nowhere just as I was throwing my hands in the air. Crashing into him face-first, I felt the heel of my shoe snap. I knew I’d sprained my ankle before I even hit the ground.
“Peri! Are you okay?” Elsa asked, rushing over to me. At least I think that’s what she said—I had a hard time hearing her over the terrible dance music blasting from the nearby speakers. I’d never been to The Cat’s Meow and, after spending an hour in that club, I knew why. I’m sure half the people there were using fake IDs and the rest didn’t look a day over twenty-one. They were going crazy over songs I’d never heard before. I felt old, out of touch, and horribly overdressed. I’d squeezed myself into a tight black skirt I could barely move in and my ridiculous top had both sequins and sparkles. The mirrored disco ball spinning above our heads—which I now had a perfect view of—was more discreet than me. “Peri,” Elsa repeated. “Answer me. Are you hurt?”
The brick wall was pumping his fist in the air, completely unaware that he was the reason I was sprawled out on the floor trying to avoid getting trampled by the abundance of stilettos dancing dangerously close to my head. I pointed at my leg and winced. “My ankle.” I could feel it beginning to throb and swell. What was I thinking wearing heels? Flats would have been a much safer option, but I’d wanted to step outside my comfort zone for a night on the town with my best friend and my secret (for now) boyfriend—or my Clandestine Lover, as I liked to refer to Declan, which never failed to make Elsa gag.
“I think it’s time we call it a night,” Elsa said, helping me up.
Keeping my weight off my right leg and holding on to Elsa for dear life, I stumbled off the dance floor and made my way to an empty leather couch at the back of the room. “Ow. Ow. Ow.”
“If you’re in that much pain, then we definitely need to go home and put some ice on your ankle. And, to be honest, I can’t leave soon enough. This place makes me feel ancient.”
“But it’s my birthday,” I said, whining like a child and readjusting the glittery pink BIRTHDAY GIRL tiara on my head. “I did not wear this stupid thing and make a fool of myself just to go home early. I think some of the glitter fell into my eye and that’s why I didn’t see that guy in front of me. I bet it’s full of toxic glue.”
Elsa shook her head, and I could see her trying not to laugh. “First of all, that tiara is a treasured tradition. We’ve been wearing it on our birthdays since grade school. And if you’re going to blame anything for tonight’s turn of events, I’d blame those dance moves. Were you trying to pirouette or something?”
I stuck my tongue out at her. If you’re going to act like a petulant child, might as well put some effort into it. “No, we can’t leave. Declan might still show up. Maybe he’s just running late.”
Elsa grunted and rolled her eyes. “What happened to ‘screw him?’ And unless he’s coming here with an ice pack, he’s not going to be useful at all. As far as I know, sticking your tongue down someone’s throat is not a recognized medical procedure.”
It’s always been hard for Elsa to hide her complete and absolute hatred for Declan. I was hoping she’d be able to fake it for the sake of my birthday. Apparently not. It was hard enough convincing her that The Cat’s Meow was my idea. If she had known Declan was a regular here and he was the one who’d suggested this place for celebratory birthday drinks, she would have never agreed to come along.
“Let me check my phone,” I said, fishing it out of my bag. “Maybe he tried calling me.” My face broke into a huge grin when I saw his name on the screen. I held up the phone triumphantly. “A text! He sent me a text.” And then I proceeded to read Declan's message and my face fell faster than I did on the slippery dance floor.
Hey McKenna
Can’t make 2night. Sorry.
No explanation. Nothing—not even a simple happy birthday. How hard is it to type two little words? I would have been happy with Hap B-day.
“He’s not coming, is he?” Elsa asked, even though I’m sure she already knew the answer.
I shook my head, determined not to let my disappointment show. “He had an emergency.” I don’t know why I felt the need to lie. Even if I had told Elsa that Declan was busy feeding hungry orphans or clothing the poor, she’d still talk about him with a scowl on her face.
“Did His Royal Highness run out of fancy imported moisturizer or something? Never mind. I don’t want to know. I need to get you home. I’m allergic to cats and The Cat’s Meow is giving me hives. How’s your ankle?”
I looked down at my injured foot and tried to move it from side to side. A sharp pain ran up my leg and I screamed out loud. “I hope it’s not broken.”
“We have two options. Either I take you to the ER, or I take you home. Which one is it?”
As bad as it hurt, I was pretty sure a broken ankle would be a thousand times more painful. And there was no way I was spending hours in a waiting room sitting next to someone hacking up a lung or bleeding all over me. Maybe there was a way to salvage a part of this evening. Unlike Elsa who’s been celebrating the same birthday (her twenty-ninth) for the last three years, I was only going to turn thirty-one once and I did not want to waste a minute of my special day at the hospital. “Home,” I said, sighing.
After limping all the way to the exit—using Elsa as a human crutch—we finally made it outside. My friend was the designated driver that night, so I’d been free to drink all the strawberry mojitos I could handle—which ended up being just one, minus the few sips I spilled down the front of my shirt. Thankfully, Elsa’s car wasn’t parked too far from the entrance so I was able to climb inside her red Mini Cooper with minimal pain.
“Ready?” she asked, sliding the key into the ignition.
I took one last glance at the club door just in case Declan was pulling a prank on me and he was actually waiting for me inside with flowers and a really thoughtful gift—like a pair of earrings (amethysts, since my favorite color is purple) or a weekend trip to New York City where we’d be free to stroll hand in hand without worrying about bumping into somebody from work. When you live in tiny Messina, Connecticut, you can’t sneeze without sharing your germs with someone who’s known you since grade school. I sighed and looked away when a group of guys (none of whom were Declan) stumbled out of the club and roared with laughter as one of them puked on the sidewalk.
“Peri?” Elsa asked. “Have you heard anything I’ve just said? Did you hit your head when you fell? Should I be worried about a concussion?”
I shook my head and smiled. “Sorry, I was just daydreaming. Let’s get out of here.” I needed to forget about this messy evening and I knew something that would help me do just that. “Hey, Elsa! Do you know what my ankle needs?” I asked.
“Ice? Possibly a brace?”
“No, I was thinking of something less boring and more delicious.”
Elsa squinted and, tearing her eyes away from the road for a fraction of a second, gave me a look. I knew she knew what I was thinking about. Without a word, she turned the car around and headed to Bob’s Hamburger Hut, our favorite greasy spoon diner. Since I had trouble walking, we ordered from the drive-through window and ate bacon cheeseburgers, cheese fries, and frosty chocolate milk shakes while singing along to the radio. I only looked at my phone twice to see if Declan had called or texted. The birthday message I wanted to receive never came, but the junk food did a good job of numbing the pain.

My Book Review:

If you are looking to read a thoroughly enjoyable chick lit tale on a cold winter's day, then look no further, Peri In Progress by author Cat Lavoie is the book for you!

When Peri McKenna turns thirty-one, she realizes that it is time to take control and make some changes in her life, a time for a new and improved Peri! Seriously, who hasn't wanted a do over at some point in their life! So Peri makes a list of changes she wants to make: eat healthier and cut out junk food, get more exercise, make repairs to her crumbling home, and have a mature romantic relationship. But with changes comes obstacles and stumbles along the way: her clandestine relationship with co-worker Declan Perry causes problems at work, she still craves junk food, and oh yeah ... she develops a crush on her best friend Elsa's older brother, chef Milo Preston. So what's a girl to do when she is a work in progress?

Oh my goodness! Author Cat Lavoie sure does know how to weave a delightful chick lit tale that easily keeps the reader engaged and in stitches. Set in Messina, Connecticut and told in the first person narrative, Peri McKenna takes the reader along for the ride as she embarks on a journey of personal self-transformation. There is something about Peri that is so relatable, she is sassy and determined to make the necessary life changes, you can't help but cheer her on. This is a lighthearted fun story that has a nice amount of wit and humor while describing Peri's personal journey, her awesome relationship with best friend Elsa, and an unexpected but complicated romance that will put a smile on the reader's face.

Peri In Progress is a poignant and entertaining story, it is a wonderful example of a chick lit tale at its very best!


Contest Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

January 4 – Chick Lit Plus - Review
January 6 – Cherllynn Writes – Excerpt
January 8 – The BookChick – Review & Q&A
January 12 – Chick LitGoddess – Q&A & Excerpt
January 14 – BooksEtc – Review & Q&A
January 14 – LivingLife With Joy – Q&A & Excerpt
January 15 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
January 15 – One Book At A Time- Excerpt
January 18 – Around the World In Books – Excerpt


  1. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Kathleen! I'm so happy you enjoyed Peri! :)

    1. Hi Cat! Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. I enjoyed reading Peri's story. :)

  2. I enjoyed the interview. I always like to see what inspires authors to begin writing. :)
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

    1. Hi Diane! Thank you for stopping by my blog, I appreciate it. I love hosting author guest posts and interviews on my blog, there is always something interesting in every post. :)