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.

COVER REVEAL: Nicole Waggoner’s The Act

OMG!  Happy Friday!  I am so excited to be able to share the new, absolutely stunning cover to The Act, the follow-up to Nicole Waggoner’s Center Ring, both part of The Circus of Women Triology.

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How beautiful is this cover?  Nicole is one of the most fabulous and sweetest author’s I know (via social media) and has gotten wonderful accolades for Center Ring.  Personally I think it would make a the perfect holiday gift 🙂  Stay tuned to the blog for a fun book and beauty giveaway featuring The Act!  You might just be a lucky winner who gets an early sneak peek!

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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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BLISS and BEAUTY giveaway! featuring Bliss by Shay Mitchell and Michaela Blaney

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I am a HUGE Pretty Little Liars fan so of course I was thrilled to see one of the stars, Shay Mitchell, write a book.  Not only that but it was titled Bliss, I am a little partial to that word 😉  Shay co-wrote the book with her bestie Michaela Blaney,which when writing with a friend always makes for a dishy read.  I am so thrilled to be able to giveaway two copies of the book, now out in paperback, one for you and one for YOUR bestie as well as a beauty treat for you both!  Just comment below on this post- tell me what you love about your bestie 🙂 AND follow me on Facebook or Instagram!  Winner will be picked next week and is open to US residents only. Happy, bliss-filled reading and good luck! xo

About the book via Goodreads ~

Sophia Marcus, 21, has already mapped out every aspect of her glamorous life as a Hollywood actor on her vision board. But her life right now in Toronto is anything but exciting. Attending fruitless auditions during the day and working at a douche-y club at night, Sophia is starting to feel like she’s going nowhere…slowly.

Demi Michaels, Sophia’s best friend, didn’t go to college after high school. Short of ideas for her own future, she puts her energy into building the perfect relationship with an older man. And when that relationship crashes and burns, Demi is left to pick up the pieces.

Sophia’s friend (and Demi’s frenemy) Leandra Hunting doesn’t give a crap about hard work or a loving relationship. She has other plans for her future. After college graduation, Leandra sets out to travel the world in the yachts, planes and limos of ridiculously wealthy men. Will any of them be able to show her what love really means–if she can take off her Chanel sunglasses long enough to see it?

Set in the exotic, intoxicating worlds of Hollywood, Thailand, and London, Bliss paints a relatable portrait of life in your early twenties with equal parts optimism and fear, hope and disappointment, expectation and reality. It’s the Age of Uncertainty when you can count on nothing, but, if you’re lucky enough to have one truly great friend, you can survive just about anything.

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Shay Mitchell (right):

SHAY MITCHELL, 28, is a Canadian actress and star of the ABC family drama Pretty Little Liars. In addition to acting and running her lifestyle blog amoreandvita.com, Shay works with the Free the Children Foundation, an organization that fights exploitation of children around the world; The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization, and the NOH8 Campaign for marriage and gender equality.

Michaela Blaney (left):

MICHAELA BLANEY, 28, is an American and Canadian marketing professional. She is the co-founder of amoreandvita.com, a lifestyle blog with 75,000+ subscribers.

Shay and Michaela both live in LA. Bliss is their first novel.

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*Thanks to St.Martin’s Press for providing copies for the giveaway!

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 Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

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As I am counting down the days until my little arrival I have to cram in as many books as I can!  I am SO glad I picked Sarah Pekkanen’s newest, The Perfect Neighbors.  Reminiscent of Desperate Housewives, one of my favorite shows, the book is the perfect blend of drama, mystery, gossip and friendship.  The best type of summer read that you can’t put down, The Perfect Neighbors is my “Poolside Pick” for this week!

The book takes place in beautiful Newport Cove, a picture perfect neighborhood where the sun is always shining and neighbors are there to help one another.  Kelli is a newly working mom, who stayed at home for years with her kids, and is now in real estate.  Wanting to feel appreciated and beautiful she starts to take to her boss who is handsome and reciprocates this little work crush.  Gigi is a mom of two girls where one is on the outs with her, typical teenage behavior.  She wants to rekindle the relationship they once had but she can’t do it alone as her husband is running for Congress and he is always tied up.  Tessa, the newest neighbor to move to the Cove is friendly enough but always on edge as she is running from something with a secret in her back pocket.  Looking for a fresh start, Tessa isn’t sure how much longer she can fool everyone into thinking she is leading a perfect life.  But who really is?  A picture perfect setting and life behind close doors can be anything you want it to be or can it?

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Pekkanen’s latest is a page-turning, delicious book that kept me guessing each chapter.  The scene she set and the characters she created were intriguing and mysterious.  I love a dishy read with an almost thriller type twist and Pekkanen wrote this perfectly.  I can’t wait to jump into her back catalog and read some of her other novels because if it is anything like this book then it is sure to be fantastic.  Absolutely add this one to to your summer list, you won’t regret it!

 

*Thanks to Atria books for sending Bliss, Beauty and Books a review copy.

 

 

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

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The summer books just keep getting better and the weather keeps getting hotter!  I was so excited to receive a copy of Allison Winn Scotch’sAllison Winn Scotch’s newest book, In Twenty Years.  Think the movie The Big Chill.  A wonderful, complex novel of a group of friends who reunite after their college graduation, twenty years later.  There is nothing I love more than a novel centered around a group of friends, especially an eclectic group and this was nothing short of that.  Winn, who is one of my favorite authors and really people because if you love Tim Riggins you are a friend of mine (you must follow her on Facebook to see her amazing posts about Felicity, Friday Night Lights and all things pop culture 🙂 ), knocks it out of the park with a book that is funny, emotional and real.  The characters, all completely different, are the outcome of what we all feel when we reunite with old friends- joy, envy, compassion and love.  Take my word for it, In Twenty Years will keep you turning the pages.

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In Twenty Years is a densely woven story, which I do not want to give too much away, and multi layered due to its rich characters and thorough plot.  A group of college friends reunite at the calling of their recently deceased friend thanks to a request in her will.  All at different points in their lives they gather together at their college house bringing baggage, secrets and confessions.  Told through alternating chapters for each character, the story is hard to resist as every page captures the essence of this group of friends and has revelations that will keep you guessing.  Winn Scotch, again tells a story that is unique yet captivating for the reader, something she does again and again with her books.  Get this book, grab a cocktail and settle into the sand.  In Twenty Years is my “Poolside Pick”of the week!  This book will bring you lots of BLISS 🙂

 

*Thanks to Lake Union for sending Bliss, Beauty and Books a review copy.