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.

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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.

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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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Debut of The BLISS List

 

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I love a change of season as it is a fresh start to so many things anew.  I especially love fall and am excited for many new books, television shows and of course beauty products!  Every few months I am going to be curating a list of a few my favorite things and wanted to share them with YOU alas The Bliss List.  Kind of like Oprah Favorite things, if you will 🙂  We all know I am a book, beauty and pop culture enthusiast and I love being able to share my faves with you!   I would love to hear from you too!  Let me know what you are crushing on or binging watching or reading, I want to know so comment below ❤

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

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Honey Company Magic Organic Face Oil

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This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips

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ban.do Starbucks FALL collaboration

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I’ll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller

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This is Us

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Modern Monarchy by Chris Jackson

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Beautycounter Girls’ Night Lipstick

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Busy Tonight 

 

 

Funko POP! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

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Honest Company Creme’ Cheek Blush

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Coming soon a special Holiday Bliss List!  Thanks for reading and make sure to FOLLOW ME over at Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, xx!

What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag? ~ October Ed. with Kate Moretti

October is here.  A month filled with suspense, mystery and thrills.  If you are looking for just that, then the newly released novel by Kate Moretti, The Blackbird Season, is just what you need!  Know for her unputdownable reads, Moretti’s list of novels are filled with twists, turns and surprises, an absolute must for any reader.   I was so excited that she opened her bag for us and validate the fact that yes, mascara is always a must in case of a lash emergency 🙂

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via Amazon ~

“Exceptional…a deliciously sinister glimpse into the duplicity of small-town lives and the ease with which people turn on each other when tragedy comes calling. Moretti’s tale of jealousy and obsession is nothing less than dark magic. Witchery indeed.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Known for novels featuring “great pacing and true surprises” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and “nerve-shattering suspense” (Heather Gudenkauf, New York Time bestselling author), New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s latest is the story of a scandal-torn Pennsylvania town and the aftermath of a troubled girl gone missing.

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alecia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns.

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What is your bag of choice?

I’m not really a brand person. I tend to pick up whatever I’m in the mood for at the moment, but it always has to be big with a lot of space for things my kids hand me on the go – birthday party favors and currently, fidget spinners. I like function and design. I have no idea what brand my bag is but it has a ton of pockets and the black and white flowers go with absolutely everything. I hate changing purses so I try to make it functional and pretty. I think I got this at a flea market. It’s starting to wear and fray and I refuse to throw it out.

What are your top favorite beauty picks?

I’m a plain jane! I don’t wear make-up every day, only for events and dinners, etc. I love BB cream and I’ve tried a ton of them but my favorite is Cover Girl. I know! I’ve tried MAC and Smashbox and even Tarte, but I keep coming back to the good old Cover Girl. It goes on like lotion and doesn’t cake. I have dry skin and I actually mix it with moisturizer in the morning. I also have a ten year love affair with Bare Minerals. The bronzer is amazing and it makes my skin glow. I’ve recently become addicted to Elf. It’s so cheap but has the consistency of an expensive make-up. I find I can try out different colors and I’ve even started to *slightly* highlight using their cream highlighter. Considering I was thirty-five when I learned how to apply eyeliner, I’ve made great strides!

 

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

EOS chapstick, mostly mint but really any kind. My trusty BB cream. Mascara for lash emergencies.

What you are currently reading?

I just got an ARC of Cathy Lamb’s NO PLACE I’D RATHER BE in the mail. I read twenty pages this morning before I started working and was sorely tempted to call the whole day a wash. Cathy writes the most amazing real life characters.

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

A spare pair of earrings! I am constantly losing earrings and I’ve used my spare set of silver hoops more times than I can count. Headphones with a mic so I can talk hands-free while I walk or drive. I sit in a lot of stand-still Philadelphia traffic and find myself dictating story ideas or even whole scenes while at a dead stop, staring at miles of red breaklights.

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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 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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