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