Lit Ladies Double Feature: Open Book with Elyssa Friedland and Liz and Lisa

Three of my favorite ladies had book birthdays yesterday and I am thrilled they are on the blog today to celebrate!  Both books are perfect summer reads and their back catalogs are musts as well.  Elyssa Friedland’s latest, The Floating Feldmans is a family comedy/drama on the high seas and is a top pick of summer in multiple outlets.   The fab duo of Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, their latest, The Two Lila Bennetts is a summer thriller with Sliding Door vibes and a top pick as well.  The amount of fun in all of their Open Book responses is too much and these three are the ones that you want to grab a drink with have as your next BFF ❤

Floating Feldmans

via Amazon ~

A family vacation dredges up a boatload of trouble in the next witty, insightful novel from the acclaimed author of The Intermission.

“An irresistible drama filled with humor and heart-tugging emotion about family and what it means to belong. I absolutely adore Friedland’s warm, witty writing!”—Emily Giffin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted

Sink or swim. Or at least that’s what Annette Feldman tells herself when she books a cruise for her entire family. It’s been over a decade since the Feldman clan has spent more than twenty-four hours under the same roof, but Annette is determined to celebrate her seventieth birthday the right way. Just this once, they are going to behave like an actual family.

Too bad her kids didn’t get the memo.

Between the troublesome family secrets, old sibling rivalries, and her two teenage grandkids, Annette’s birthday vacation is looking more and more like the perfect storm. Adrift together on the open seas, the Feldmans will each face the truths they’ve been ignoring—and learn that the people they once thought most likely to sink them are actually the ones who help them stay afloat.

Elyssa.Friedland.Headshot credit Lucia Engstrom

What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with?

-Ernest Hemingway

-Oprah

-Meryl Streep

 

Current binge series?

Wentworth (fictional series on Netflix about a women’s prison in Australia. SOOOOOOOO good!)

 

Last favorite book?

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

 

What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it?

-Bikini

-Many pairs of sunglasses because I always lose them

-Kindle

 

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday NYT

 

Last person you sent a text message to?

Ali Winter, one of my best friends.

 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

 

Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

Mr. Baker! I had him twice. Seventh grade and ninth grade. He really pushed my writing.

 

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

-No. I don’t need total quiet and I often have my children around while I write, but for some reason I find music distracting.

 

Describe your writing space?

It’s anywhere my laptop is. That can mean my bed, my desk, a coffee shop, the library, the chaise lounge by my pool. I’m very flexible.

 

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. A ton of it. With almond milk.

 

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

I like to give cookbooks and photography books. I think taste in novels is so personal and specific I don’t love to give them out as gifts.

 

Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

Cutting for Stone.

 

If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?

Just Another Manic Monday. I’m always overcommitted and frantic and can be disorganized.

 

What/Who inspires you?

Any female CEO. I’m not entrepreneurial and I truly admire that quality

 

Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

No. It just feels too fake to me.

 

Favorite Instagram account?

I love Gary Janetti, who makes fun of the royal family.

 

If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 

Fifty Shades of Pink. It’s my favorite color and I really want to move on from the Fifty Shades of Grey obsession. Those books just didn’t do it for me.

 

Current #TBR pile?A NOVEL

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

Best advice you’ve ever received?

You can’t dance at every wedding. My mom told me that and she’s right. I have to say no to some opportunities. I really struggle with that. I want to do everything and be everywhere.

 

Follow Elyssa:

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The Two Lila Bennetts

via Amazon ~

“One fateful decision. Two unexpected endings. A perfect summer read!” —Wendy Walker, bestselling author of The Night Before

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.

L&L final headshot

What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with?

 Judy Blume

Elizabeth Gilbert

Cheryl Strayed

Current binge series?

 Liz: I’m re-watching The Office

Lisa: Million Dollar Listing New York

Last favorite book?

 Liz: Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Lisa: Recursion by Blake Crouch

What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it?

 Liz: I’m going to Paris! In my bag will be a wonder cloth to keep my face soft and clean, Alastin tinted moisturizer and Violets face serum!

Lisa: My next dream vacation would be to China! In my bag, I will pack at least three books, Sun Bum sunscreen and my new favorite derby hat.

 

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

 Liz: US Weekly

 Lisa: US Weekly

Last person you sent a text message to?

  To each other! (of course!)

 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

 Liz: Everything I Never Told you by Celeste Ng

Lisa: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

  Liz: In 7th grade—Mrs. Adams!

Lisa: Not that I can remember! But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. J

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

  Liz: Always! I love moody music! Sia is my favorite.

  Lisa: Yes. I mix it up. Everyone from Kenny Chesney to Lionel Richie

Describe your writing space?

  Liz: My office is light and airy with soft tones. I have a light fixture adorned with glass stars. I love it!

   Lisa: My office has a port hole style window where the light flows in. I have a midcentury modern desk and a white soft chair with gold accents. I am surrounded by books of course, including all of the ones we’ve written. This is a reminder of what we’ve accomplished and how far we want to go.

Coffee or tea?

    Both of us are COFFEE!!!

 

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

          Liz: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

          Lisa: Eat Pray Love by Liz Gilbert

 

Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

          Liz: I recently finished The Seven Days of Us and think it would make a great movie!

          Lisa: The Two Lila Bennetts!  (Too self-promotional?)

 

If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?

          Liz: Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. I’m generally optimistic and believe the best in people. I don’t ever want to change!

          Lisa: Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. You can’t worry about what people think! You can’t let bad things get you down. Just keep moving forward! Don’t sweat the small stuff. All advice I do my best to live by!

 

What/Who inspires you?

          We inspire each other in so many ways. Being lifelong friends and business partners gives us so many opportunities to be motivated by one another.

 

Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

     Um, YES!

 

Favorite Instagram account?

     There are so many good ones! We love Busy Phillips’ and Reese Witherspoon’s!

 

If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 

 Red, White & Royal Blue—and it would be a combo of all three colors!

Current #TBR pile?A NOVEL

          Liz: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, The Library book by Susan Orlean, Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison and The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin.

          Lisa: Whisper Network by Chandler Baker, Evvie Drake Starts over by Linda Holmes, Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky, Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory, Normal People by Sally Rooney, The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess, Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo and Pretty Guilty Women by Gina Lamanna.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

          Keep writing. No matter what!

 

Follow Liz and Lisa:

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Open Book with Minnie Darke

Still celebrating all things rom com, I thought only fitting to celebrate one of the best rom com books of the season!  Minnie Darke’s fictional debut, Star Crossed has gotten lovely accolades and high praise from readers and authors alike.  I am thrilled to host Minnie as my latest Open Book, all the way from down under!  Hollywood are you listening, this book is a movie in the making ❤

Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke.jpg

via Amazon ~

A sparkling romantic comedy about one woman’s decision to tinker with the horoscopes of the man of her dreams—with far-reaching consequences

“A bright, brilliant, joyful love story.”—Josie Silver, #1 New York Times bestselling author of One Day in December

When childhood sweethearts Justine (Sagittarius and serious skeptic) and Nick (Aquarius and true believer) bump into each other as adults, a life-changing love affair seems inevitable. To Justine, anyway. Especially when she learns Nick is an astrological devotee, whose decisions are guided by the stars, and more specifically, by the horoscopes in his favorite magazine. The same magazine Justine happens to write for. As Nick continues to not fall headlong in love with her, Justine decides to take Nick’s horoscope, and Fate itself, into her own hands. But, of course, Nick is not the only Aquarius making important life choices according to what is written in the stars.

Charting the ripple effects of Justine’s astrological meddling, Star-Crossed is a delicious, intelligent, and affecting love story about friendship, chance, and how we all navigate the kinds of choices that are hard to face alone.

Advance praise for Star-Crossed

“Swoon-worthy . . . a smart, sweet love story about friendship, destiny, and the power of choice.”Bustle

“[A] juicy romance novel.”Good Housekeeping

“This cleverly structured first outing from the pseudonymous Darke will appeal to fans of romantic comedy, astrology, and chaos. Utterly charming and ripe for development as a film.”Booklist

“Winning . . . Unpretentious, well-drawn characters and the fresh twist on the childhood sweethearts reunited setup make this perfect for fans of romantic comedies.”Publishers Weekly

“Darke creates a world of stargazers whose destinies eventually collide. . . . Funny and enticing.”―Library Journal

Minnie Darke author photo credit Karen Brown

 

  1. What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with?

All dead, I’m afraid: Angela Carter, fairy tale re-teller, Anthony Minghella, one of the creators of Jim Henson’s Storyteller, and Sylvia Plath, poet.

 

  1. Current binge series?

I am one of the world’s most immoderate narrative junkies, which makes binge watching a particular danger for me. I don’t binge when I’m working on a new novel – it’s a recipe for getting derailed, but I’m very much hoping that finishing my book coincides nicely with the release of season three of Stranger Things.I have loved Winona Ryder since I was a teenager.

 

  1. Last favorite book?

The Bitterwood Bible by Australian fairy-tale retailer Angela Slatter.

 

  1. What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it?

A jar of Vegemite (not a tube – it’s different), and a brand new diary and a seriously warm coat. I would go to all the Scandinavian countries, maybe for some of the time on a cruise boat. And, on the way home – because everywhere is on the way home when you’re Australian – I would go everywhere Canada’s Atlantic provinces, including revisiting Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton Island and going to Newfoundland for the first time.

 

  1. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Ah … Australia’s Radio National?

 

  1. Last person you sent a text message to?

My friend and sometime co-writer Heather Rose – she’s an amazing and award-winning Australian writer and we write children’s novels together as Angelica Banks.

 

  1. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. It’s about a young woman sent to be a companion to a wizard in a tower, only to find she has powers of her own. I love the world Novik creates, and the way she writes about different types of magic – male and female magic, high and low.

 

  1. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

Oh, yes. Yes and yes. My teacher in Grade Five and Six was Peter Jerrim, himself a writer, but also a generous, creative, beautifu person who read to our class every day, and allowed me to fill exercise after exercise book with writing. I was thrilled that Peter was able to launch Star-crossed.

 

  1. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

Not while I write, but immediately and after. Music is the ultimate in medication and mood creation. My tastes swing from 1980s music like The Stone Roses and the Cocteau Twins, to beautiful Australian singers like Sophie Koh and Lucy Wise, and Canadian folk bands like the East Pointers and the Small Glories. Actually, my next book is about music and the impact it has on us.

 

  1. Describe your writing space?

My writing space is a bespoke timber caravan with sloping walls and a curved roof, headlight windows featuring sunflowers, and a cork board that I can use as an inspiration board. It has a tap on the porch so I can fill the kettle and rinse my tea cup. Inside, it had an antique desk with a green leather top, two heaters (this is Tasmania), a selection of slippers and fingerless gloves, framed photos by the fairy tale photographer Lorena Carrington, and a bookshelf filled with a tiny fraction of my TBR pile. On my desk are my guardians. Two of them are rag dolls – one called Patience, and one called Enthusiasm – and the other is a Yoda figurine.

 

  1. Coffee or tea?

Tea. And I quote Colley Cibber: “Tea! Thou soft, thou sober, sage and venerable liquid … to whose glorious insipidity, I owe the happiest moments of my life, let me fall prostrate.”

 

  1. Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

I am always buying books for children, and lately I have given several copies of Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor, which I think is magnificent.

 

  1. Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.

 

  1. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?

Defying Gravity, from Wicked

 

  1. What/Who inspires you?

Almost everything inspires me, to be honest. I love wit and whimsy – those are vital cordials for my creativity – but in truth inspiration often comes from the smallest things – something overheard when eavesdropping, something seen in passing, a thought bubble, a line of text.

 

  1. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Pass on the basis of being Australian.

 

  1. Favorite Instagram account?

I confess to being something of an Instagram avoider. My webmistress (a man, incidentally) and my teenage daughter take care of this for me. They let me know when it’s time for me to provide them with copy, or when I need to send personal replies.

 

  1. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 

Infinite Jest, and it would be a multicoloured shade – a mosaic of coral red, aqua blue, pale green, lemon yellow and pink – a bit like a packet of Fruit Tingles.

 

  1. Current #TBR pile?

Infinity x 10

 

  1. Best advice you’ve ever received?

There’s no such thing as biting off more than you can chew. You just take a big bite and chew like hell. (As well as being the best, this is also possibly the worst advice I’ve ever received!)

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Accessorize Your Bookshelves #booksarechic

With the start of a new month, the month of FASHION, I thought it would be fitting to compile a list of my favorite, most chic reads.  I was also feeling inspired after Stella Artois release their latest campaign featuring Sarah Jessica Parker, bringing back our most beloved, Carrie Bradshaw.  I didn’t realize how much I missed her until I saw her back in action- tulle, stilettos and all.  There are so many books on fashion, designers, glam, etc. so this is just a slice of the fashion pie.  I have been collecting Hollywood glam and fashion coffee table books and bios for years and they are something I still love to collect.  Lots of the best ones are out of print, so the thrill of the hunt at used bookstores or EBAY is just as exciting as finding a fashion bargain!  Let me know your favorites so I can add them to my list 😉

 

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Accessorize your bookshelf

 

Grace: A Memoir ~ Grace Coddington

Eleanor Lambert: Still Here ~ John A. Tiffany

 

 

Sex and they City: Kiss and Tell ~ Amy Sohn

She ~ Kate Spade

 

 

Style A to Zoe ~ Rachel Zoe

Coco Chanel ~ Megan Hess

 

The Essential Marilyn Monroe ~ Joshua Greene

Grace Kelly: Hollywood Dream Girl ~ Jay Jorgensen

 

The Woman I Wanted to be ~ Diane Von Furstenberg

Journey of the Dress ~ Diane Von Furstenberg

 

Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the ’90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion ~ Maureen Callahan

Louis Vuitton :Marc Jacobs ~ Pamela Golbin and Yves Carcelle

Fashionable Fiction

 

 

The Devil Wears Prada ~ Lauren Weisberger

The Knockoff ~ Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Fashion Flicks

 

*The September Issue

*The Gospel According to Andre’

 

*McQueen

*The First Monday in May

Open Book with Jennifer Robson

Devoted followers of Bliss, Beauty and Books know that I am royally obsessed and literally love all things royal ~ old and new.  When I heard about Jennifer’s book, I knew it would be a true gem and was thrilled receive an early copy.  For the fashion lover to the most fabulous anglophiles, The Gown is a must for your 2019 TBR pile.  As always books are chic but books about the royals may just be the chicest ❤

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via Amazon ~

One of December’s most anticipated reads from InStyle, HelloGiggles, Hypable, Bookbub, and Bookriot!

One of Real Simple’s Best Historical Fiction novels of the year!

 

The Gown is marvelous and moving, a vivid portrait of female self-reliance in a world racked by the cost of war.”–Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.

“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”

—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

 

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What three celebrities/authors/figures, living or dead, would you want to have a book club with?

I’ve just started work on a book about Hollywood in the early 1950s, so let’s say Judy Garland, Gloria Grahame, and Betty Grable.

 

Current binge series?

The Crown. I couldn’t let myself watch it while I was writing The Gown, so now I’m all in. Even my husband is hooked!

 

Last favorite book?

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley. I read an early ARC and gobbled it up in an overnight binge read. So, so good.

 

What three things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation? Where is it? 

An e-reader, because of stupid baggage restrictions and the cost of lugging 15 books on holiday. An enormous hat, so I can hide under the brim and read all day. A swimsuit that covers up my anxiety areas but is (miraculously) comfortable.

 

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday NYT. I ration out the sections over the course of the weekend like they’re pieces of chocolate.

 

Last person you sent a text message to?

My sister. Our daily check-in.

 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Not for the supernatural parts – for the descriptions of doing research at Oxford. She captured it perfectly, and she managed to make it interesting to read about. (At least I found those parts interesting!)

 

Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

In my sophomore year at King’s University College I had the most amazing English professor, Lorraine DiCicco. She was such a tough marker, and she had such high expectations, that I bent over backwards to please her – and along the way I learned a lot about the craft of writing. I met up with Lorraine again last year and was finally able to thank her.

 

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who? 

 Only classical music, only instrumental, and typically from the general era I’m writing about. I listened to a lot of Elgar when I was writing my World War One books.

 

Describe your writing space? 

I have a small room at the back of my house, and it has just enough space for a desk and a row of bookcases and a ratty old Ikea Poang chair. I sit in the chair with my laptop balanced on my knees, and I watch the birds and squirrels in my back garden, and sometimes I even get a bit of writing done, too.

 

Coffee or tea?

 Despite the amount of tea-drinking that goes on in my books, coffee is the fuel that keeps me going.

 

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird

 

Book that you wished they would make a movie out of? 

The Hole in the Middle by my friend Kate Hilton. It’s about a thousand times more engaging than the romcoms Netflix keeps making, and there’s a twist at the end that’s incredibly surprising and satisfying.

 

If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why? 

“Winter Birds” by Ray LaMontagne, because it’s a poem set to music, and his words remind me why I want to write: “And though all these things will change / The memories will remain” is what I set out to do when I create my stories.

 

What/Who inspires you? 

People who defend the powerless and voiceless, even when they know it will lead to their personal ruin.

 

Bravo reality TV – yes or no?

Hard no. The only reality TV I can watch without an anxiety attack are the baking shows. The Great Canadian Baking Show is my current fave.

 

Favorite Instagram account? 

drinkingwithchickens – Kate Richards mixes level-11 Instagramming skills with the funniest pictures ever (mainly of her chickens giving her cranky looks). And her cocktail recipes are sensational.

 

If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 

Miriam, after one of the heroines in The Gown, and it would be the perfect shade of bright coral red without any blue undertones.

 

Current #TBR pile? 

Right now I have two piles: one of ARCs, and next to it an even higher stack of history books that jumped into my hands at the bookstore. I hate when that happens.

 

Best advice you’ve ever received? 

“Just write the book, Jen.” From my sister, sometime in early 2008, after I’d sent her the bazillionth outline for a book that eventually becameSomewhere in France. If she hadn’t been such a hard-ass I’d probably still be fussing with that outline.

 

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Open Book with Rea Frey

We may be saying good bye to summer but it’s not really official until end of September so keep on with the delectable summer reads!  Rea Freys’ debut fiction novel is one for your must-read lists!  Not Her Daughter, already optioned for film, is the perfect read to enjoy by a fire pit on these indian summer nights.  Missing child, unsure mother and successful kidnapper are all the key ingredients in this page-turner.  I was thrilled when Rea answered a few questions for my latest “Open Book”.  She might just be the book BFF I didn’t know I needed 🙂 Very Cavallari, wine and US Weekly and a #tbr pile of some of my favorites- Rea, call me ❤

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via Amazon ~

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

PopSugar – The Summer’s Hottest Books * Refinery 29 – Best Summer Thrillers * US Weekly – Summer’s Best Send-Offs * Parade – 20 Chilling Thrillers by Women to Read This Year * Brit + Co – 15 New Thrillers by Women That Will Give You Chills This Summer * The Zoe Report – 20 Books to Read this Summer * She Reads – New Summer Thrillers to Get Your Heart Racing * Working Mother – 15 Hot New Summer Beach Reads * Culturalist – Top Ten Domestic Thrillers That Will Make You Question Everything * Crime Reads – 5 Debut Crime Novels to Read This August

 

“Brings to mind Jodi Picoult…thought-provoking domestic drama.” – Booklist

“Will make you miss your bedtime, guaranteed.” – Bestselling author Kimberly Belle

Gripping, emotional, and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?

Praise for Not Her Daughter

“The plot twists here are brave, the themes are both poignant and unsettling, and the resolution is deeply resonant. A page-turner with heart!”New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti

“A cleverly constructed novel that will have you questioning everything you believe about right or wrong.” – New York Times bestselling author Chevy Stevens

“Engrossing and suspenseful, Frey writes her characters with depth and compassion, challenging readers to question their own code of ethics.” Zoje Stage, author of Baby Teeth

“An emotional ride where the line between right and wrong begins to fade…pulls you in from the very first page, and unlike most in its genre, you won’t know how you want it to end until it does.Wendy Walker, author of Emma in the Night

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1. What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with? 

Maya Angelou, James Joyce, and Sylvia Plath. Can’t you just imagine that conversation? 

2. Current binge series?

Very Cavallari. It follows Kristin Cavallari on her journey to open her accessory store, Uncommon James. It takes place in Nashville (where I live), and I CAN’T STOP WATCHING IT. 

3. Last favorite book?

Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle

4. What 3 things do you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it?

Book, workout clothes, journal. My dream vacation is in the mountains, near water, where I can hike, write, and eat my face off. 

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

I should say NYT, right? Smart people say NYT. But I’m an US WEEKLY gal all the way. It’s my unwind go-to read with a glass of wine and a big old bubble bath. 

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My husband

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

To Kill a Mockingbird

8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

Yes! My father, for starters. He is a magnificent writer, and from the time I was young, he taught me the love of reading (through TV Guides, of all things), writing poetry, and storytelling. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Seard, was instrumental in helping me craft stories. I also had a wonderful AP English teacher in high school, Mrs. Johnson, who let me write to my heart’s content and helped me craft my writing portfolio to submit to college writing programs. I went to Columbia for fiction writing, so, you know, all the teachers there were beyond helpful. 

 9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

Not always, but if I do, it’s actually Billie Holiday, classical, Son Lux, or a mellow playlist on Spotify. 

10. Describe your writing space?

I actually share a desk with my husband, but he made the desk, so I suppose he can use it too. It’s an eight-foot long slab of wood. I have the left side, he has the right. (He’s a designer, so we are often sketching and writing together, which is nice.) I like a minimalistic space, so I have flowers, my laptop, a stack of advance reader copies, and oh so many pens. 

11. Coffee or tea?

Coffee. I don’t trust tea drinkers…

12. Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

I absolutely love Pam Grout’s books. E2 and E3 are life changers. In terms of writing, Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I have recommended this book more times than I can count! 

13. Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt 

14. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?

Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. I love this song. I’ve made love to this song. I’ve cried to this song. I’ve broken up to this song. I got married to this song. It showcases the struggles we all face. It’s romantic, and tragic, and hopeful at the same time, much like life. 

15. What/Who inspires you?

My daughter inspires me every single day. She’s only six years old, but she has it all figured out. (Seriously, children are the best teachers, aren’t they?) She reminds me to step away from my computer, to put the damn phone down, to play, to laugh, and to not take everything so seriously. She literally insists I go jump on the trampoline if I’ve been sitting too long. She’s my hero. 

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Nope

17. Favorite Instagram account?

I love Instagram so much, and though I’ve only been on it for a little over a year, I find the “audience” there to be so supportive and authentic. Ironically, my favorite account is a brand new one: @manifesting.through.the.mess, which is all about navigating the mess of motherhood and reclaiming yourself along the way. Elizabeth Pearson is going to do big things, y’all. You should follow her. 

18. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be?

You are a Badass: hot pink

19. Current #TBR pile?

Holy shit, my list is like a mile high. (No, really, I can show you.) In no particular order: 

The Darkest Time of Night by Jeremy Finley

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

The Bucket List by Georgia Clark

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

And the list continues…

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

There is no right time. Now is the right time. 

We live in such an if/then society. We’re scared to take risks, to burst out of the norm, to do what we want when we want. We think there’s a perfect time to do the things we really want. When you get enough money. When you have the steady job. When the kids go to school. When all the shit gets done. When you’re not so tired. But there isn’t any magical time to follow your own path. LIFE is the time, and it’s right now. I think waiting is one of the biggest detriments to being happy and living a more fulfilled life. 

 

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Open Book with Susie Orman Schnall

There is no shortage of fierce, female driven beach reads this year.  A the top of this list is the gorgeous Susie Orman Schnall’s latest, The Subway Girls.  A historical read with beauty, ambition and two determined woman is all that is within this gem of a read.  I was thrilled when Susie agreed to be my latest “Open Book”.  She is just as fabulous as her two main characters.  Perfect lipstick selection, stellar dream book club picks and a delectable TBR stack.  She is beyond!

The Subway Girls COVER

via Amazon ~

From the author of The Balance Project comes a dual-timeline narrative featuring a 1949 Miss Subways contestant and a modern-day advertising executive whose careers and lives intersect.

“Schnall has written a book that is smart and timely…Feels perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams and Liza Klaussmann.” —Taylor Jenkins Reid, acclaimed author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

“A fast-paced, clever novel filled with romantic possibilities, high-stakes decisions, and harsh realities. Perfect for fans of Fiona Davis’s The Dollhouse, this engrossing tale highlights the role that ambition, sexism, and true love will forever play in women’s lives.” —Amy Poeppel, author of Small Admissions

In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.

Nearly 70 years later, outspoken advertising executive Olivia is pitching the NYC subways account in a last ditch effort to save her job at an advertising agency. When the charismatic boss she’s secretly in love with pits her against her misogynistic nemesis, Olivia’s urgent search for the winning strategy leads her to the historic Miss Subways campaign. As the pitch date closes in on her, Olivia finds herself dealing with a broken heart, an unlikely new love interest, and an unexpected personal connection to Miss Subways that could save her job—and her future.

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition.

SusieOrmanSchnall

1. What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with?

Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Barack Obama.

2. Current binge series?

 Just finished binging Good Girls Revolt. I’m so sad there won’t be a season 2. And I can’t wait until the next seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies are released.

3. Last favorite book?

My favorite three I’ve read recently are Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

4. What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it?

1. A bag full of good books (that just counts as one thing!) 2. Cozy sweats. 3. Dark chocolate and English breakfast tea. Then I’ll gather all of those things on a beautiful porch of a beautiful house overlooking a beautiful sea.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

 Sunday NYT. (And the crossword.)

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

 My middle son. About the geometry compass he needs for school 😉

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

 The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

 Not particularly. But I have an English professor from college, Al Filreis, who once read an essay I wrote out loud in class. I had taken a lot of risks with it and I almost didn’t turn it in. When he read it aloud, I felt an unbelievable sense of pride and it made me feel so validated. We still keep in touch.

9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

 No. Has to be really quiet. I get distracted easily.

10. Describe your writing space?

 I have an office off my bedroom. It’s got this gorgeous crazy floral wallpaper, a big desk with lots of room to spread out all my notes, cozy chairs, and lots of book shelf space. And a big window to look out of when I can’t figure out what to write next. I love having my own space.

11. Coffee or tea?

 Rishi English breakfast tea.

12. Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

 Not one in particular but I do love sending books to people unexpectedly if one has come up in conversation or if I think they’ll like it.

13. Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

 Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

14. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?

 My favorite song is If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out by Cat Stevens. It’s just so uplifting and has so much potential! “You can do what you want 

The opportunity’s on

And if you can find a new way

You can do it today”

15. What/Who inspires you?

Women today! My goodness, women are killing it. I love the ambition, and bravery, and outspokenness that is all over the place today. It makes me want to spread my wings and soar.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

 Of course! In doses.

17. Favorite Instagram account?

 Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She can go from posting something inspiring and motivational and then the next day it will be something hilarious. She’s incredibly authentic. You should definitely follow her. @sarablakely

18. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 

Eat Pray Love. A flattering glowy pink that you can use when you eat, pray, love, and everything in between. I need the items in my life to multitask!

19. Current #TBR pile?

 Humongous! Highlights: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine, Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. It just keeps growing…

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Done is better than perfect – Sheryl Sandberg says that in Lean In.

 

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*Thanks to BookSparks for facilitating this interview.

 

Open Book with Michelle Gable

I have been a huge an of Michelle Gable’s since I first read, I’ll See You in Paris.  She has a way with her storytelling that transports you.  I was thrilled to hear that she was going to be writing about John F. Kennedy in her latest, The Summer I Met Jack.  I am a Kennedy enthusiast and always love a story that I do not know much about cue this book and the quintessential New England summer read.  I am so excited to have Michelle back on the blog to day in my latest “Open Book” feature and if you like Flashdance then you will LOVE Michelle- see below ❤

SUMMER I MET JACK_FINAL

via Amazon ~

“[The Summer I Met Jack] offers an alternate Kennedy family history that will leave readers wondering whether America knew the real JFK at all.” —Kirkus Reviews

New York Times bestselling author imagines the affair between John F. Kennedy and Alicia Corning Clark – and the child they may have had.

Based on a real story – in 1950, a young, beautiful Polish refugee arrives in Hyannisport, Massachusetts to work as a maid for one of the wealthiest families in America. Alicia is at once dazzled by the large and charismatic family, in particular the oldest son, a rising politician named Jack.

Alicia and Jack are soon engaged, but his domineering father forbids the marriage. And so, Alicia trades Hyannisport for Hollywood, and eventually Rome. She dates famous actors and athletes and royalty, including Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, and Katharine Hepburn, all the while staying close with Jack. A decade after they meet, on the eve of Jack’s inauguration as the thirty-fifth President of the United States, the two must confront what they mean to each other.

The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable is based on the fascinating real life of Alicia Corning Clark, a woman who J. Edgar Hoover insisted was paid by the Kennedys to keep quiet, not only about her romance with Jack Kennedy, but also a baby they may have had together.

 

Michelle 278_credit Joanna DeGeneres

1. What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with?

JFK, Tim Ferriss, and Oprah. A dream book club could never be complete without her!

2. Current binge series?

I’m not really a binger, but the most recent series I watched was the One Day at a Time reboot.

3. Last favorite book?

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

4. What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it?

Bikini, linen dress, and a book. Two places I’ve been dying to see are Portugal and Isla Holbox in Mexico.  

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Neither. People Magazine and/or Entertainment Weekly. 

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My good friend and doubles partner, Erin.  

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Gloria by Keith Maillard

 8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

I was an accounting major (you know, like most aspiring authors), but took creative writing classes as electives. One professor said I was “selling out” by going into finance. I was like, “if by ‘selling out’ you mean, ‘pay my rent,’ then you are correct.” Maybe that’s not encouragement, exactly? When I was younger, the support definitely came from my dad.

9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

Never.   

10. Describe your writing space?

We recently turned our daughters’ former playroom into my office and it’s a great space. It’s at the top of the stairs, with a sliding barn door and windows that open onto the stairwell. It is gray with pops of blue and has white built-in cabinets and dark walnut floors lied diagonally. The desk is huge and there are three distinct work spaces, so my girls can do their homework with me, if they want.

11. Coffee or tea?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.

 12. Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

 13. Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

Amazon made a pilot for The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and I loved it. I kept waiting for the rest of the series, but it never came. I wish they’d finish!

 14. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?

This is embarrassing but the first song that popped into my head was What a Feeling by Irene Cara from the movie Flashdance. It reminds me so much of my childhood and I sing it to the girls all the time. I love the lines “Take your passion, and make it happen…” I was trying to convince my youngest daughter to use it for her “walk up” song this summer at the national playoffs for softball, but she was unmoved by my pleas.

 15. What/Who inspires you?

Other writers inspire me for sure—whether they write novels, or scripts, or something else. If I’m stuck, reading something always helps.

 16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

No—although I do like Bethenny Frankel.  

17. Favorite Instagram account?

That’s a tough one! Probably @celestebarber or @travelandleisure

 18. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 

I recently read and loved Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood. It comes out in August and is about the true story that inspired Nabokov’s Lolita. I’m sure there are many shades of “Lolita” out there already, so I’d call it “Sally” after Sally Horner, the real girl behind the book. It’d either have to be very light pink, to reflect her innocence, or a garish, glittery fuchsia, something a young girl would think was pretty just because it was so loud.

19. Current #TBR pile?

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

A Theory of Love by Margaret Bradham Thornton

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

 20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

“If it’s not a ‘hell yes,’ then it’s a ‘no.’” This helps me prioritize and reminds me not to say yes to things out of obligation, especially when I’m on deadline, or about to go on tour!

 

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