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 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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BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Hello inspiration!  I am so filled with light right now after finishing Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  This book is a must read for anyone who is doubting their purpose, their creativity and searching for their path in life.  Gilbert writes about this massive word- CREATIVITY.  What does that mean?  Well in her eyes creativity is an all encompassing word that we all hold inside of us.  Whether we are artists, writers, teachers, healers,the list goes on- we were all put on this earth to be creative in some way, shape or form.  How we express this creativity is up to us.  She encourages us not to feel afraid of our creativity, not to feel ashamed of our passion and not to hide what it is that lights us up.  Whatever way we express our creativity we need not to forget the work that goes into that and Gilbert, through her personal journey, shares her wins and losses from her creativity- writing.

I love the way the universe works.  This little gem of a book called to me just when I needed it.  As I think about what I want to do on my journey I needed a reminder to not forget what it is that is my creativity.  Gilbert is calling us all out.  Channel your energy to your creative source and shine!  Thank you Elizabeth!

*This book was sent to Bliss, Beauty and Books for review purposes.

Food Whore by Jessica Tom

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Would it be ok to write a review that just said, “Get this book.  You wont regret it.”?  I mean that is how I feel about Food Whore by Jessica Tom.  I loved it that much and could have read about 20 more chapters.  Yup, that good.  Tom, a debut author, wrote a novel with all the main ingredients, no pun intended, for a fabulous NYC story- fashion, food and love.  This book filled my craving for a page turner with a fierce cast of characters, amazing clothes and the glittering streets of NYC nightlife.

Food Whore takes place in New York and centers around Tia.  Tia is studying at NYU’s Food Studies program.  Her dream internship is to study with Helen Lansky,  a famous cookbook author.  Instead, Tia gets placed at an upscale New York restaurant working coat check among other miscellaneous tasks.  One night Tia meets Michael Saltz, a New York food critic whose critiques are everything if you own a restaurant or are a chef in NYC.  Michael decides to take Tia under his wing for a secret project that will change Tia’s life in more ways than one with the promise that he will set her up with Helen.  An all expense paid account at Bergdorf’s, handsome chef’s and meals a king would dream of, Tia sets out on a chance of a lifetime.  Sounds amazing right?  What seems like a perfect set-up isn’t all it turns out to be.  Tia discovers that the hard work comes with a price if you want to land that dream job.

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I do not like to compare books as I think they are like little people, their own individual identities BUT I will say this is slightly reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada.  If you loved that book as much as I did then you will devour this.  Tom writes a page turner from the heart, as she is not only a writer but a food blogger as well.  This is a girl who knows what she’s talking about and you can tell in these pages.  My thoughts since we are approaching the holidays filled with amazing food is this book is the perfect complement or gift for the food whore in all of us.  Jessica Tom when is the next book?  I can’t wait!

Circling The Sun by Paula McLain

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Last week I got to meet the amazing Paula McLain at Wellesley Books where she did a talk and signing for her new historical novel, Circling The Sun.  Can I just say not only was this book fabulous but meeting Paula was even more amazing ~ plus she knew me as her Instagram friend!  Can you say #fangirl moment?  I have yet to read The Paris Wife, her first novel, but after reading Circling The Sun, I ran out and bought it.  During her talk, her passion for writing was evident.  Through her in depth research for her topic at hand or her love for her subjects, McLain clearly treats each book with love and authenticity.

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I first heard of Circling The Sun at #BookCon in New York City.  McLain was on a panel for Random House discussing the book.  I knew I had to read it!  I had it sitting in my TBR pile for a while, waiting for the perfect time to start.  Taking place in Africa I thought it would be the perfect book to transition from Summer to Fall, plus I had seen she was coming to Wellesley.  Once I started the book I was hooked.  It centers around the true story of Beryl Markham who was a British girl growing up in Africa.  She was one of the first bush pilots, female horse trainers and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west.  The story takes you through her childhood in Africa to her adolescence growing up without her mother.  As an adult Markham becomes entangled in a love triangle that is complicated and consuming, one of my favorite parts of the novel.  Each page, painted with McLain’s words, took me on my own African safari.  The detail in the facts and description of the setting are immaculately portrayed.

Circling the Sun is a must read for anyone who wants to be inspired.  Beryl Markham is, as McLain said so perfectly, a bad ass woman.  She lived a challenged life which fired her up, educated her and in the end allowed her to come out on top not too far off from McLain’s life, a fact that I learned in Wellesley.  McLain grew up in multiple fosters homes and was abandoned by her mother at a young age.  Like Markham, McLain used her struggles as fuel to her fire.  McLain, a single mother who was struggling to write while going to school is now a New York Times best selling author- bad ass anyone?  I left the signing super excited for what is to come from McLain and I will most certainly be featuring The Paris Wife on the blog as well.

Book Signing