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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What’s in my “Bookish” Beauty Bag? ~ Lisa Barr

Probably the BEST thing about book blogging is being able to support authors.  They are celebrating the birthday of their new novels and all of the hard work and dedication it took to create the gem of the book we as readers are gifted.  The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr is just that, a gem.  I am thrilled she took the time to let us peak at her gorgeous Rebecca Minkoff tote filled to the brim with beauty musts.  I want to come visit Casa Sephora 🙂  Her book is a must for YOUR beach beauty tote this summer and let’s all take a cue from Lisa- always carry beauty musts with you because you never know what beauty situation you may be in ❤

HI-REZ __ Unbreakables

via Amazon ~

A delicious, sharp novel about a woman who jets off to France after her perfect marriage collapses, putting the broken pieces of herself back together while rediscovering her own joie de vivrea lust for life, art, and steamy sex.

“Artful, feminist, and emotionally gripping. The Unbreakables is a remarkable tribute to a woman’s strength in the face of heartbreak and adversity.” — Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

The worst birthday ever might just be the gift of a lifetime…

It’s Sophie Bloom’s forty-second birthday, and she’s ready for a night of celebration with Gabe, her longtime, devoted husband, and her two besties and their spouses. Dinner is served with a side of delicious gossip, including which North Grove residents were caught with their pants down on Ashley Madison after the secret on-line dating site for married and committed couples was hacked. Thirty-two million cheaters worldwide have been exposed…including Sophie’s “perfect” husband. To add insult to injury, she learns Gabe is the top cheater in their town.

Humiliated and directionless, Sophie jumps into the unknown and flees to France to meet up with her teenage daughter who is studying abroad and nursing her own heartbreak. After a brief visit to Paris, Sophie heads out to the artist enclave of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. There, for the first time in a long time, Sophie acknowledges her own desires—not her husband’s, not her daughter’s—and rediscovers her essence with painful honesty and humor, reawakening both her sensuality and ambitions as a sculptor.

As she sheds her past and travels the obstacle-filled off beaten path, Sophie Bloom is determined to blossom. Allowing her true self to emerge in the postcard beauty of Provence, Sophie must decide what is broken forever…and what it means to be truly unbreakable.

 

 

 

What is your bag of choice?

I’m obsessed with my Rebecca Minkoff tote, and here’s why: it fits my extra-large laptop (with its versatile expander … yes, it’s a thing), and all my beauty must-haves.

What are your top favorite beauty picks?

I have three daughters, so we are basically Casa Sephora. We try every new item out there, and one of my daughters does make-up for all her friends (just picture the amount of Neutrogena makeup wipes and multiply by 10). We live in the Chicago area, which ranges from humid in the summer to dry/freezing/chapped in winter. So creams, creams, AND more creams. We have an entire shelf dedicated to face/body/hand creams. But I can’t live without my Skin Medica serum and my GOOP exfoliator. I’m a big fan of Benefit’s “Gimme Brow” eyebrow filler, L’Oreal Infallible black eye pencil, Younique Moodstruck Epic 4 D Mascara, and Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic & Retinol eye cream. I love lipstick and gloss (back in the day, all my allowance went to Bonne Bell flavored lip gloss). I usually wear natural shades or the rose family. My lipstick du jour is YSL #66 topped with Younique’s Moodstruck’s “Hottie” lip plumper. And before I dash out the door, I always spritz on a little Jo Malone.

What do you always carry on for beauty products for travel?

I bring a little bag inside my big bag filled with mini goodies: Beauty Counter Plumping & Peony facial mist, Lancome Genifique serum for my eyes, Kiehl’s facial cream with hyaluronic acid. Also, I have really curly, frizzy hair that I tame. If I land in humidity — look out! So a black scrunchie is my hot-ticket item.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading my friend Jamie Brenner’s fab new novel, DRAWING HOME. She’s so talented, and we are part of a small Literary Mama group called #BocaBookBitches. I admit it: We hash-tagged ourselves.

And any other fun item/must-have that you always have with you?

I always carry a picture of my kids (the real deal not just the cell-phone garden variety), and I don’t leave anywhere without a small journal. I always carry a black sharpie and a copy of my book. Whenever my husband and I travel together, we give one signed book to someone special on our journey. It’s become our little tradition – the key is we both have to agree on the person, and state our case … (shhh, don’t tell anyone – but I usually win on this one).

 

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Open Book with Lea Geller

If you are looking for a laugh-out loud novel with a heroine who you will be cheering for, then Trophy Life is it and I am so thrilled to have Lea Geller on the blog as my latest Open Book!  Her dazzling and hilarious debut novel, out now, is really the most perfect accessory to accompany you on #SpringBreak.  Nora Ephron, Gatsby and Springsteen, yup, enough said.  Read below ❤

Geller_TrophyLife_FT

via Amazon ~

A refreshingly honest, laugh-out-loud novel about losing the life you always wanted…and finding the life you were meant to have.

For the last ten years, Agnes Parsons’s biggest challenge has been juggling yoga classes and lunch dates. Her Santa Monica house staff takes care of everything, leaving Agnes to focus on her trophy-wife responsibilities: look perfect, adore her older husband, and wear terribly expensive (if uncomfortable) underwear.

When her husband disappears, leaving Agnes and their infant daughter with no money, no home, and no staff, she is forced to move across the country, where she lands a job teaching at an all-boys boarding school in the Bronx. So long, organic quinoa bowls and sunshine-filled California life. Hello, processed food, pest-infested house, and twelve-year-old-boy humor—all day, every day.

But it’s in this place of second chances (and giant bugs), where Agnes is unexpectedly forced to take care of herself and her daughter, where she finds out the kind of woman she can be. Ultimately, she has to decide if she prefers the woman and mother she has become…or the trophy life she left behind.

Authentic and sharply witty, Trophy Life is proof that granny panties and mom coats might not be the answer to everything; they’re simply comfortable (if slightly unattractive) reminders of what happens when one life ends…and real life begins.

 

author-img.jpg

 

 

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

Nora Ephron, Tina Fey and Bruce Springsteen, just so I could finally meet him.

 

 

Current binge series?

I am currently binging the Israeli show Shtisl on Netflix.

 

 

Last favorite book?

I was blown away by The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. I loved it so much, I read the final page and started all over again.

 

 

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

Packing: For reasons which will be immediately clear, for any vacation I pack travels packets of Miralax and Metamucil, and I never travel without an eye mask because I am a terrible sleeper anywhere, but especially in a strange bed. I don’t like being landlocked, so any good vacation has to involve a body of water – can be the beach or a big city with a river running through it.

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

NYT. Each time I read US Weekly, I know fewer and fewer of the celebrities, which just make feels old. Reading the NYT makes me feel like a spring chicken.  

 

 

Last person you sent a text message to?

Probably to my husband, asking him what time he was going to be home. And then one five minutes later asking again.

 

 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Pretty much anything by Ian McEwan, but mostly Atonement, which is a book I read yearly. I feel the same way about Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

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

 

Yes, I had several – most notable was my high school English teacher Judith Beiner who told to write, write, and then write some more.

 

 

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

Yes. It really depends on my mood. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Duke Ellington and the Killers.

Describe your writing space?

 

My home office is completely uninsulated so I can only use it for six months a year, at most. Right now, I’m writing at my dining room table. If I write anywhere near my bed, I end up napping. I have been known to take mid-day catnaps on the couch; but those don’t count.

 

Coffee or tea?

 

Both. Usually black coffee until midday and the black tea with milk.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

Depends on the recipient, but The Most of Nora Ephron is a great gift.

 

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

 

Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. If I could only listen to one song for the rest of time, that would be it.

What/Who inspires you?

The small details and muddiness of everyday life and the things that happen to all of us that nobody likes to talk about. Those inspire me to write.

 

Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

 

No, which may explain why I don’t know anyone in Us Weekly anymore.

 

Favorite Instagram account?

@LondonIsPink which is pictures of London buildings with pink door, parks with pink trees, or city streets with a random pink car parked. It’s a beautiful collection.

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

 

Probably Gatsby and it would be the color of champagne.

Current #TBR pile?

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

In John Irving’s The Hotel Hampshire, a father gives his children the advice, “Keep passing the open windows.” I love that advice, that when times are tough, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and move forward.

 

 

About the author

Lea Geller is a recovering lawyer who lives in New York with her husband and children. She began her writing career by blogging about her adventures in the trenches of parenting, and got the idea for Trophy Life when her two sons were in middle school.

When Lea’s not eavesdropping on her children, she can be found running, drinking diner coffee, and occasionally teaching middle-school English. She enjoys embarrassing her family by posting pictures of her vegetable garden on Instagram (#IgrewDinner). You can follow her at https://www.leageller.com/.

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Open Book with Kristin Fields

Today I am so fortunate to have debut author Kristin Fields on the blog!  Her novel, A Lily in the Light, is about Esme, whose sister goes missing and is never found until she gets a call 8 years later that will change her life all while she is living her ballet dreams in San Fransisco.  I am so thrilled to have Kristin on the blog and to celebrate her debut.  She is my latest Open Book and I will give you a hint: Midge Maisel in a book club- YES please!!!

A Lily in the Light_300dpi

via Amazon:

A harrowing debut novel of a tragic disappearance and one sister’s journey through the trauma that has shaped her life.

For eleven-year-old Esme, ballet is everything—until her four-year-old sister, Lily, vanishes without a trace and nothing is certain anymore. People Esme has known her whole life suddenly become suspects, each new one hitting closer to home than the last.

Unable to cope, Esme escapes the nightmare that is her new reality when she receives an invitation to join an elite ballet academy in San Francisco. Desperate to leave behind her chaotic, broken family and the mystery surrounding Lily’s disappearance, Esme accepts.

Eight years later, Esme is up for her big break: her first principal role in Paris. But a call from her older sister shatters the protective world she has built for herself, forcing her to revisit the tragedy she’s run from for so long. Will her family finally have the answers they’ve been waiting for? And can Esme confront the pain that shaped her childhood, or will the darkness follow her into the spotlight?

Kristin Fields_300dpi

 

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

This is hard. Let’s go with Stephen King to add a little suspense/twisted
intentions, Midge Maisel to tell it how it is, and Rachel Carson because
I appreciate her careful study of nature and how she made a book
about pesticides sound like poetry. In fact, I think I’d like to write a
book with all three of them.

2. Current binge series?

We just finished The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Now we’re studying
before Game of Thrones comes back and rewatching lots of episodes.

3. Last favorite book?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Amazing.

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

We love to travel. There aren’t too many places I wouldn’t go. At the
moment, my dream vacation would be to live on a ship and sail to
Antarctica. I would bring a really good camera, the warmest boots in
the world, binoculars to see glaciers and polar bears close up.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

The NYT – especially the foodie sections.

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My sisters. We have a family group text to share pictures of our pets.

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and Me Before You By JoJo
Moyes. I alternated between loving every single word on the page and
also feeling like I should never write again..

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

In elementary school, Sister Gregory never smiled. Her nylon stockings
rubbed together when she walked up and down the aisles, and she had
a habit of yelling at people for no reason, but she also gave creative
writing assignments.
My first story filled eight notebook pages about a halloween witch who
abducts three girls and convinces the whole town that they are actually
the witches, not her. I turned it in and the next day, Sister Gregory
made me read it aloud. All eight pages. Standing. In front of the whole
class.
She’d done this once before with someone else and told them it was
terrible. Everything a short story should not be, so needless to say, I was
terrified. Plus, I was already shy to begin with. But at the end, everyone
clapped, including Sister Gregory.
It was the first time I’d ever seen her smile, but better than that, it was
the first time I really felt like I had a voice.
Later, Martha McPhee and Barbara Bengels at Hofstra University would
teach me more about craft, and I’m forever grateful to both of them for
their early belief in my writing.

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

Not usually, but for A Lily in the Light, I listened to classical music
while writing scenes at the studio or Tchaicovsky during the
performances of Serenade. Writing to the music helped capture the
emotion of the piece and what it might bring out for Esme as she
danced.
10. Describe your writing space?

Our apartment is tiny, so I usually write on the couch and surround
myself with blankets and pillows and make sure my cat is snuggled up
there too. The more comfortable I am, the more likely I’ll write myself
into a meditative state and keep going just because I won’t want to get
up.

11. Coffee or tea?

It used to be black tea with milk or a good, spicy chai, but then I got
hooked on espresso in Paris and now I can’t function without that
fantastic caffeine jolt every morning. It makes the rest of the day feel
much more do-able.

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

I try to match books with people, so I can’t say there’s one go-to book.
Stories always find people at just the right moment.

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

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. Any opportunity to
watch people surviving alone in nature is fascinating. Same for Where
the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

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

Maybe the Jeopardy song because I’m always in a state of deep
thought/confusion.

15. What/Who inspires you?

I grew up in New York City and took it for granted for much of my
early life – mostly thinking about where I’d rather be instead. But now
that I’ve lived here my whole life, I have a new appreciation for it and
find that it influences so much of my writing.

The beautiful thing about New York is that there is always something
new to do, see, experience, and watching people do their thing has
given me endless writing material. It’s also shaped my worldview and
me as a person, so I have a new respect and pride for my home city
now that I can’t say I’ve always had.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

No! YouTube is enough of a rabbit hole for me.
 
17. Favorite Instagram account?

Henry and Baloo. When our upstairs neighbor brought home a puppy, I
had big dreams that our cat would ride around on her like Henry and
Baloo, but our cat was less enthused..

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

Gatsby – It would be green like the light at the end of Daisy’s dock, but I
would not be brave enough to wear green lipstick ever.

19. Current #TBR pile?

So many. Too many, but I’m really looking forward to Where the Forest
Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah, Trophy Life by Lea Geller, The
Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, True Places by Sonja
Yoerg, My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, and
Dopesick by Beth Macy.
 
20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

My mentor, Martha McPhee, told me once that I should worry less
about writing and just go gather life experience. I was a little sore
about it at the time, but it was the best advice anyone has ever given
me. My writing is better because of it and my life is more interesting.

 

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What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag? ~ Ashley and Leslie Saunders

I was thrilled to chat with Ashley and Leslie Saunders, the fantastic sister writing duo whose debut book, The Rule of One is out now!  They opened their bag for us and shared their beauty favorites and current reads.  If you love a futuristic setting and the unbreakable  bond of sisterhood then their book is a must!

theruleofonecover-1ddd88ae

via Amazon ~

n their world, telling the truth has become the most dangerous crime of all.

In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.

She has an identical twin sister, Mira.

For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.

Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.

 

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1. What is your bag of choice?- purse/tote/backpack and brand that you have?

Backpack. We’ve used the same Herschel backpack for years. It’s great for hiking, which we do a lot of, as well as traveling. Perfect for carrying our laptops (a writer’s best friend) and jackets for ice-cold plane cabins (why is it always so cold in planes?!)

2. What are your top favorite beauty picks?  

We love a good moisturizer, Ole Henriksen is our go to. Glam Glow’s mud masks are a favorite of ours. And definitely probiotics for that natural glow and overall skin health.

3. What do you always carry in your bag/purse/carry-on for beauty products?  

In our carry-on we always have with us chapstick, eyeliner and a light perfecting skin tint from Glossier that we love!

4. What are you currently reading?

Ashley: I’m currently reading a super interesting post-apocalyptic novel called Happy Doomsday by David Sosnowski and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I used to be a strictly one-book-at-a-time girl but this year there are just so many books I want to read that I now read multiple at once!

Leslie: I’m currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King. I love walking around Los Angeles with a mix of literary Pulitzers and fantasy adventure sagas swirling around in my head, waiting for me on my nightstand until I wind down for the night.

5. And any other fun item/must-have that you always have with you 🙂

We always, and we mean always, have Burt’s Bees in our back pocket. Peppermint, of course.

Saunders-Photo-ShayanAsgharnia-2017

 

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Open Book with Tammy Lynne Stoner

Looking for a good fall read with heart, soul and perseverance?  Then look no further.  Tammy Lynne Stoner’s debut, Sugar Land has all those ingredients and more- the type of novel that is the best companion on a cozy fall day.  I am thrilled she sat down to chat with me and celebrate her debut novel.

sugarland_frontpromo_CVR

via Amazon ~

Sugar Land is a southern fried novel about love, Lead Belly, and liberation. According to a starred Kirkus Review, Sugar Land “is a postcard of small-town Texas life from Prohibition through civil rights, tracing the treatment and awareness of gay people through these decades. The love child of Fannie Flagg and Rita Mae Brown… [a] ravishing debut.”

It’s 1923 in Midland, Texas, and Miss Dara falls in love with her best friend―who also happens to be a girl. Terrified, Miss Dara takes a job at the Imperial State Prison Farm for men. Once there, she befriends inmate and soon-to-be legendary blues singer Lead Belly, who sings his way out (true story)―but only after he makes her promise to free herself from her own prison. Sugar Land is a triumphant, beautiful novel about the heart’s refusal to be denied what the heart wants.

tammy headshot

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

Frida Kahlo, Oscar Wilde, and Nelly Bly.

2. Current binge series?

 Mind Hunter (for the second time) and The Great British Bake-Off (because my lady won’t watch serial killer shows).

3. Last favorite book?

The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine.

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

Earplugs, scented candles, and flannel pajamas.

Now that I have three kids, my dream vacation would be on a chartered, luxury boat (amazing chefs, craft cocktails, stand-up comedy, casino, massage) for a month with my friends and family—each with their own space to retreat to—skirting around the Greek isles, spending a week here and a week there, living off the boat and exploring on our own.

 5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Oh, Sunday NYT hands down—unless I’m on a plane, then US Weekly.

 6. Last person you sent a text message to?

A funny bitmoji of me juggling bacon and eggs to my five-year-old twins. This is my first time away from them for more than a few days…

 7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

One!? Geek Love.

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

When I was young, I was awkward with terrible social cueing. My fifth grade my teacher, Mrs. Brinjac, allowed me to do a radio interview of myself instead of a biography speech. She didn’t really encourage my writing—no one did since I didn’t show anyone until I was in college— but she encouraged me to express myself in a way that was comfortable yet unusual. And that probably did more for my writing than anything else. 

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

Only when I edit. I need quiet when I write.

10. Describe your writing space?

Anywhere I can open my computer. I don’t have a dedicated space.

11. Coffee or tea?

100% tea. Coffee makes me insane.

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

Cloud Atlas and Her Body and Other Parties.

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

Mine.

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

“Sweet Surrender” by Bread because my goal is to surrender to everything.

 15. What/Who inspires you? 

The bizarre brilliance of nature—frogs with transparent eyelids, color-blind creatures whose bodies change color to camouflage themselves, how parasites manipulate their hosts—and the bigger ideas of how we are expanding, how we are unified, how we may just be a dream.

 16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Only the gay and fashion shows.

 17. Favorite Instagram account?

Oh gads, I’m not on Instagram much… I suppose Buzzfeed.

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

It would be called “Smogless” after the opening line from the novel Middlesex (“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974”). It would be sky blue.

19. Current #TBR pile?

Demonology by Rick Moody, Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, Ration by Cody Luff (which won’t be out for two years), Edgewater by Ruth L. Schwartz, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James… it goes on.

 20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

While not directed to me personally, it rang out for me when I read this quote from William Carlos Williams: “Submit to your own myths.” 

THANKS! THIS WAS FUN.

 

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Open Book with Amina Akhtar

Can I just say this book had me at THIS cover.  When I read that this book is a cross between, The Devil Wears Prada and Dexter, I was sold.  Amina Akhtar’s debut has received rave reviews and even though this is her first novel, Akhtar is no novice to writing.  She previously has written for Vogue, Elle, Style.com, the list continues.  I was honored she took the time to chat with me to share her love for coffee, all things horror and Bravo TV- #besties 😉

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via Amazon ~

“Darkly satisfying.”—Martha Stewart Living
“A diabolical page-turner . . . impossible to put down.”—Forbes
“Darkly funny.”—Fashionista
“As awesome as it sounds.”—Book Riot

A thrilling take on the fashion world, #FashionVictim is Dexter meets The Devil Wears Prada.

Fashion editor Anya St. Clair is on the verge of greatness. Her wardrobe is to die for. Her social media is killer. And her career path is littered with the bodies of anyone who got in her way. She’s worked hard to get where she is, but she doesn’t have everything.

Not like Sarah Taft. Anya’s obsession sits one desk away. Beautiful, stylish, and rich, she was born to be a fashion world icon. From her beach-wave blonde hair to her on-trend nail art, she’s a walking editorial spread. And Anya wants to be her friend. Her best friend. Her only friend.

But when Sarah becomes her top competition for a promotion, Anya’s plan to win her friendship goes into overdrive. In order to beat Sarah…she’ll have to become her. Friendly competition may turn fatal, but as they say in fashion: One day you’re in, and the next day you’re dead

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

Just three? Some mix of Jordan Peele, Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, Caroline Kepnes, and Edward Gorey. I love all things horror, creepy and macabre.

2. Current binge series?

I don’t think I’ve binged on a series properly in a while. I could use some suggestions!

 

3. Last favorite book?

Providence! It’s so good I couldn’t put it down. Caroline’s characters are incredible and real and I love them.

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

My iPad so I can read books without lugging them around, cute shoes I can walk in, and Nars lip pencils. I’d go to London. I love London and it’s been ages since I was able to go back.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday Styles for sure.

 

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My friend Daniel who helped get the FV pilot made. (It’s TBD currently.)

 

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Christodora by Tim Murphy. I don’t wish I wrote it but when I read it, I was almost angry at how good it is. Tim is masterful. After every page I had to stop and marvel at the way he wove his stories and characters.

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

None that stick out but my parents have always been really encouraging. But they also wanted me to be able to support myself, so I went into journalism for most of my career.

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

Not really. If I need to drown out noise I’ll put on some classical music. But anything with words is distracting.

10. Describe your writing space?

I’ll write anywhere I can. I think having worked in digital, you learn to not be so precious about it. You have deadlines, and your cubicle is probably the least inspiring place in the world. But you have to get it done! So for now I write on my bed with my dog next to me. She snores.

11. Coffee or tea?

So much coffee.

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

Yes! Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. If you’re feeling stuck—whether in writing or life—read it. It helps me get out of my head.

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

It’s not out yet but PJ Vernon’s When You Find Me is utterly riveting and incredible. It’s a southern gothic thriller that you’re going to love.

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

She’s Lost Control by Joy Division. It’s been my favorite song since my teen years. Because really, aren’t we all losing control a bit?

15. What/Who inspires you?

My friends. I’ve luckily managed to surround myself with really talented, supportive, and bad ass women and men who go after what they want. They have ideas and the next day they make them reality. It’s incredible to witness.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Of course! We all need guilty pleasures!

17. Favorite Instagram account?

Juniper Foxx! Who doesn’t need photos and videos of animals to brighten their day? Also, the Bloggess’ account is a close second. Fashion wise, Nicolette Mason is someone I am lowkey obsessed with.

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

A Nars pencil in Anya Red. It’d be the perfect shade of blood red.

 

19. Current #TBR pile?

Sister of Mine and The Widow of Malabar Hill are at the top of the pile.

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t give up. Writing is full of rejection. If you want to write, write. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get that one yes you need to get published. But even if you don’t, keep writing!

 

 

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