I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

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It’s a new year and I have started my reading list for 2017!  With that, I have also revived my blog which has been “sleeping” for the last few months as being a mom of two is quite the challenge.  I wish I had been sleeping too, buuuuuut  I know sleep and I will meet again some day, lol!  To start off the reading year I just finished up Abby Fabiaschi’s I Liked My Life.  Set in a town just right next door to where I live, Wellesley, MA, it’s a beautiful story about a mother, Maddy, who commits suicide and leaves her daughter and husband to pick up the pieces and start their life over with out her.  Each chapter is narrated by each character experiencing life without her including Maddy herself.  What I can say is not only do you get a heartbreaking story about a family who is suffering without a mother and wife but a shocking twist as well which is one of the best ingredients you can add to a story.  I loved it.  I thought the writing was thoughtful and the story was unique.  If this is the type of stories stored in Fabiashi’s mind we are all in for a treat as she will have lots to share in the literary world!  This is a phenomenal debut and Abby should be on your favorite authors list after this gem. It is definitely one to add to your 2017 list!

 

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*Thanks to St.Martin’s Press for sending a copy for review to Bliss, Beauty and Books.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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All I have to say is WOW about this book.  I can’t really sum up my feelings about Jodi Picoult’s, Small Great Things, except that everyone needs to read it especially due to the events over the past few days.  I have been a huge fan of Jodi’s for years but I have to say this is her best.  Taking on race and prejudice- her voice, this topic and these issues are what need to be heard and discussed.  We are in a time where uniting and love are crucial.  It took me a month to read this book, my longest in a while, and yes this could be due to sleepless nights, thanks kids, but mostly the fact that this was heavy stuff.  I could only read small bits at a time and then digest it slowly.  Picoult did her research and really presented this story with an open, honest heart and tangible emotion.  I can’t talk enough about how life changing this book was to me.  Thank you Jodi for bringing this issue to the center and aiding us in starting the conversation.  There is so much work to be done but love will continue to TRUMP HATE and together we will always RISE above.

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Fab Fall Reads~ Lauren Graham Edition

So I was late to the Gilmore Girls party.  I know, shocking, as I am a huge fan of the old CW and love all things pop culture.  I finally caved and started to binge the series on Netflix.  OMG.  I am in love with this show.  I think I love it more now then I would have then because I am a mom.  I love Lorelai Gilmore and the relationship between her and Rory.  Lauren Graham is amazing in this role (sidenote: never watched Parenthood either so that is my next series).  Having now jumped on this bandwagon, I can say I am super excited about the revival!  I love Fuller House so I am sure Netflix will do it justice.  Not only is Graham an amazing actress but she is an author too!  Fiction and soon to be non-fiction author, triple threat!!!  Her first book Someday, Someday Maybe was fiction and hit the NYT bestseller list.  It tells the story about an struggling actress who is trying to find herself.  Her newest book, a memoir, Talking as Fast as I Can comes out next month to coincide with the revival.  Read below about each book- full reviews to come and share in the comments if you are a GG fan as well 🙂

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via Goodreads~

In her first work of nonfiction, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood recounts her experiences on Gilmore Girls—the first and second time—and shares stories about life, love, and working in Hollywood. This collection of essays is written in the intimate, hilarious, and down-to earth voice that made her novel, Someday Someday Maybe, a New York Times bestseller.

“This book contains some stories from my life: the awkward growing up years, the confusing dating years, the fulfilling working years, and what it was like to be asked to play one of my favorite characters again. You probably think I’m talking about my incredible achievement as Dolly in Hello, Dolly! as a Langley High School junior, a performance my dad called “you’re so much taller than the other kids.” But no! I’m talking about Lorelai Gilmore, who, back in 2008, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. Also included: tales of living on a houseboat, meeting guys at awards shows, and that time I was asked to be a butt model. A hint: all three made me seasick.”—Lauren Graham

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via Goodreads ~

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing “important” work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It’s hard to tell if she’ll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won’t call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.

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Strong is the New Beautiful by Lindsey Vonn

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Nowadays we are encouraging and seeing so many STRONG WOMEN!  Whether it be politics :), careers, education, the list goes on- we are seeing so many amazing females supporting and praising one another.  One thing that is always in the media is body image.  Raising a daughter of my own, I am always conscious about this topic.  More and more celebrities, sports figures and designers are coming forth embracing all sizes and shapes.  It’s so refreshing to see that a size o or 2 is not the norm and that we are all beautiful in our own way.  I was so excited to receive a copy of Lindsey Vonn‘s new book, Strong is the New Beautiful.  An Olympic athlete, role model for girls and stunning women she writes a part memoir, part food guide and exercise manual that is all about empowering women.  I loved this book so much and will continue to use this as a reference for healthy choices, inspiration and motivation as I come off my maternity leave.  I am always looking for ways to improve my eating and make exercise fun.  What I love about this book most was Vonn shares her favorite recipes, workouts, playlist and go-to everyday routines as well as opening herself up to the personal struggles she endured to get where she is today.

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I am excited to try some of her recipes as well as incorporate her work out favorites into my exercise regime.  If you are looking for an empowering read from a kick-ass women this is it! I also recommend this book as a great gift for teen girls as Vonn shares so many positive messages about body image and self-esteem.  This book is the epitome of a BLISSFUL read.  Enjoy and stay strong and beautiful!

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via Goodreads ~

Lessons in strength, fitness, food, and attitude from the popular world champion skier and beauty icon—Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn.

Olympic Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn wants women to stop thinking about “losing weight fast,” and instead focus on loving their bodies for what they are and what they can do. Lindsey is a small-town Minnesota girl at heart turned world-champion skier, but that didn’t come without hard work. In Strong Is the New Beautiful, Lindsey lays out the never-before-seen training routines and her overall philosophy that have helped her become the best female skier in the world—tailored for women of all shapes and sizes. Lindsey backs up her fitness program with advice on what to eat and how to work out, and kicks readers into high-gear, helping bolster their self-confidence and build a better body image, with the tips and tricks she’s learned as a pro.

This is Lindsey’s regimen, and she encourages people to take from it what will work for them. She bounced back from injury not by doing every single thing a trainer said, but instead, by thinking about the fitness plan that would work for her, and eating the right foods that would make her feel and get healthy. In Strong Is the New Beautiful, she interweaves her training and diet regimen with compelling stories of her life growing up in the heartland, her love of skiing, the challenges she’s faced—including injuries, illness, and depression—and her secrets to wellness, fitness, and recovery.

Supported by cutting-edge science and the latest studies on health and exercise, filled with routines even those hitting the bunny hill of working out can master, and illustrated with dozens of workout shots and photos from Lindsey’s own collection, Strong Is the New Beautiful will inspire and motivate you–whether you’re an aspiring athlete, want to get back into shape, or are eager to up your game—to make your body stronger than ever before, inside and out.
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Thanks to Harper Collins for sending a copy for review.

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

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The cover alone of The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis sold me.  It’s stunning.  But not only was the cover amazing the story was even better!  This was a wonderful debut book by Davis.  It had some glitz and glamour with a dash of mystery and murder.  Hello perfect read.  If you are looking for a cozy read this fall this book is IT!  Read on below for my thoughts as well as my “Bliss Chat” with Fiona.  She was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions about this wonderful book and fabulous setting of the Barbizon Hotel!

The book centers around Darby who is a new NYC resident in the 1950’s wanting to make a life for herself and lives at the Barbizon Hotel.  A women’s only residence, where the girls are trying to make a living and stand on their own two feet.  Starting off on the wrong foot, Darby befriends Esme, a risky maid who is a jazz singer by night.  Engulfed in the beauty and excitement of the city Darby is influenced by Esme to take chances she normally wouldn’t take.  Fast forward to Rose, prest day, who now lives in what was the Barbizon.  Fascinated by a woman whose face is covered and scarred she decides to investigate who she is and what her story is.  The woman is not one to talk so Rose has to piece together the puzzle by talking with other residents of the Barbizon.  The mystery starts to unfold and Davis captures the essence of this magical hotel all the while hooking the reader in a murder-mystery.

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Bliss Chat with Fiona Davis

1.The Barbizon is so glamorous and magical.  What drew you to this location for the book?

For decades, the Barbizon Hotel for Women was the go-to residence for cultured young ladies to live while they worked or studied in New York City. Many ex-guests went on to great fame, including Grace Kelly, Joan Crawford, Sylvia Plath, and Liza Minnelli, as well as writers like Eudora Welty and Joan Didion. When it went condo in 2005, a dozen or so of the long-time residents of the hotel still living there were moved into rent-controlled apartments on the fourth floor. It occurred to me that the building would make a great setting for a novel, with an interesting mix of old-school glamour and modern luxury.

 2. What did you do in terms of research for the book?  Did you talk with anyone that resided there or worked there?

I read through old issues of women’s magazines from the early 1950s to get an idea of what life was like back then, and was drawn into the fashions, the expectations, and the political climate. I also interviewed a number of women who’d live in the hotel in the 50s and 60s to find out what it was like. I learned all kinds of gems, including the fact that although men weren’t allowed beyond the public areas (even the elevator operators were female), the guests snuck them up all the time.

3. I love that it was a murder mystery mixed with fabulous female characters.  What drew you to this idea?

I adore a great mystery – Agatha Christie hooked me as a kid and today I’m drawn to the suspenseful plots of authors like Clare Mackintosh and Tana French. So I made the modern-day heroine a journalist, who starts digging into a tragedy that involved one of the fourth-floor residents back in 1952. The interweaving of the clues and red herrings made my head spin at times, but I enjoyed every minute.

 4. I know you were an actress which is so fabulous!  Can you tell us a little more about that and did that life have a little inspiration in your book as so many actresses frequented The Barbizon?

I had a wonderful time in my twenties acting in New York City, as I was lucky enough to get involved with a theater company that put on masterful shows by playwrights like Jean Genet and Shakespeare. For the book, I wanted to describe what it’s like to step out on a stage in front of an audience. Instead of acting, I used the setting of a downtown jazz club and made my 1952 heroine, Darby, get up and sing. I think that was one of my favorite scenes to write and edit.

 5. As a writer, where is your favorite place to write?

I have a great home office, but when I need to avoid distractions, I head to the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. There’s something about the long walk across the plaza, past the Henry Moore sculpture, that settles my head and puts me in the right frame of mind to crank out a scene or two.

 6. Name 3 blissful things that you can’t live without.

A massage once a month, a glass of Chardonnay after a long day of writing, and a morning run in the park with my best friend.

 7. What is the first thing you do when you complete a book?

Road trip! I’m wrapping up the first draft of my next book, and plan on heading to Cape Cod for a fall weekend with friends. Can’t wait.

 8. What was the last book that you read?

I mentor a sixth-grader who introduced me to Newbery Medal-winner The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis. It describes a fictional family in 1963, when a bomb in the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church killed four girls, and is an uncanny depiction of family dynamics, as well as heartbreaking.

 9. While on tour what is a must-have beauty product in your make-up bag?

Violets are Blue Facial Serum, which is great for transitioning from summer to fall; Fresh Sugar lip gloss in petal; and Kerastase V.I.P. Volume in Powder, which makes my baby-fine hair look way thicker than it actually is.

 10. Are you looking forward to any books that are coming out in 2016/17?

You bet: Zadie Smith’s Swing Time (out in November), Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (December) Jamie Brenner’s The Forever Summer (April 2017)

 

 

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

I was and am still on a thriller kick!  Maybe it’s Halloween season that brings it on but there is nothing more to love than a gripping read, cozy blanket and warm drink.  I had heard so many amazing things about Peter Swanson‘s The Kind Worth Killing that I had to read.  Plus I loved that he was a Massachusetts writer!  The book did not disappoint and I am excited to say he has another novel coming out January 2017!

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Without giving anything away the book centers around Ted and Lily who meet on a flight.  Ted spills to Lily that he caught his wife cheating on him but she has yet to find out.  He jokingly states that he could kill his wife over this.  Lily, lending a supportive ear, instantly says she would like to help with that.  The story develops from there, fast.  What becomes a murderous chase, almost a game if you will, is a chilling page turner and one that I will not forget.  Swanson is reminiscent of Hitchcock and definitely kept me up at night.  Do yourself a favor this Halloween and give yourself a scare with this book.

 

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Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Another great thriller to end the summer 😦  So sad but excited for the fall ~ cozy sweaters, warm drinks and of course fantastic reads.  I am hoping to get back in the swing of things in the next few weeks!  I am not getting the reading I did before Finn but I am still carving time out each day if I can.  I know this will help to keep me on track once I have a little more free time or at least be able to keep my eyelids open “time”.  I finished a few weeks back, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, which I had to read as I kept reading it was creepy, thrilling and unputdownable.  It was ALL of the above.  A must read for all thrill seekers.

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The story centers around a couple, Jack and Grace, who at first seem to be the perfect couple in love.  Good looks, money and pure bliss.  As the story develops the reader starts to see a darker side of Jack, a side that is completely unexpected.  I do not want to give a lot away but few things come to mind- controlling, prisoner, threats, mind games and murder.  Sound good?  This story had twists and turns that kept a chill in my spine and the pages turning.  I promise once you start you can’t stop.  Perfect book for the upcoming Halloween season!