Open Book with Tara Laskowski

Take Big Little Lies, add a heaping spoonful of Desperate Housewives with a sprinkle of Dead to Me and you have The Mother Next Door, Tara Laskowski’s latest novel. I read this in less than three days and I have to say it is the most perfect read for spooky season, centering around a posh group of women and their annual Halloween party. I absolutely LOVED this book and appreciate the twists and turns Laskowski takes you on. I am so thrilled, no pun intended, to have Tara as my latest Open Book. Read below to see what she’s currently reading and the Hitchcock binge watch she is on!

via Amazon ~

“If the women of Big Little Lies were the moms of East Coast high schoolers, they’d be right at home in The Mother Next Door—a witty, wicked thriller packed with hidden agendas, juicy secrets, and pitch-perfect satire of the suburban dream.”
Andrea Bartz, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Never Here

GOOD MOTHERS…
Never show their feelings.
Never spill their secrets.
Never admit to murder.

The annual Halloween block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul-de-sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plans the event for months.

Except the Ivy Five has been four for a long time.

When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet… until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.

As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.

From award-winning author Tara Laskowski, The Mother Next Door is an atmospheric novel of domestic suspense in which the strive for perfection ends in murder…

“Trust no one, absolutely no one while reading The Mother Next Door because everyone has secrets, all of them are liars, and everybody has at least one thing to lose. Tara Laskowski’s brilliantly paced tale of perfect-suburbia-until-you-scratch-the-surface is as compelling as it is twisted.”
—Hannah Mary McKinnon, bestselling author of You Will Remember Me

Tara Laskowski

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

Gosh, this is a hard question! I’m going with characters here. Ok, my bookclub would be:

Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote, who would actually read the books and have something delightful to say and probably cook us some great muffins or something. Except one of us would probably end up dead by the end of the night. 

Wednesday Addams, who most likely wouldn’t read the books but would bring some medeval torture device or an authentic spell book to the meeting for us all to look over.

And Hermoine Granger, who will have taken extensive notes on the book and come prepared with research and questions to spark the conversation.

2. Current binge series?

Well, this might not count, but my husband and I have this project right now where we’re watching all of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies in order of release. We are up to Notorious right now!

3. Last favorite book?

I feel like every book I read is my last favorite! So, in this case, it’s Tana French’s The Searcher. I adore everything she does, and this book is no exception. I loved the characters so much that I was incredibly sad when the book was over because I couldn’t hang out with them anymore.

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

I really want to go to Australia. I don’t think I’d pack anything special, though, except a good camera. I’d just buy a lot of stuff while I’m there!

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday NYT all the way! (I’m also obsessed with the NY Times Spelling Bee game.)

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My son’s tennis instructor. 🙂

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

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

I do! Mr. Jones, my high school English teacher. I actually wrote about him in a column once. We recently got in touch again (he’s now retired), and it was great to get to tell him he’s one of the reasons I do what I do now.

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

Oh, no. I need quiet. I can’t even write in a coffee shop.

10. Describe your writing space?

I mostly work in my home office, surrounded by bookshelves. I’ve got a great big window I can open on nice days and a whole lotta trees to stare at.

11. Coffee or tea?

Usually tea in the mornings, and cold brew in the afternoon.

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

 The book I think I’ve gifted the most is The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. It’s a fantastic book about intuition and trusting your gut. I give it to my women friends. My friend and I used to have a joke in college that whenever we were in a situation that felt weird, we’d turn to each other and say, “What Would Gavin DeBecker Do?” I think it’s a really smart book that has great pointers for navigating a world filled with creeps.

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

I mean, mine? Hahaha. 

I wish there were movies of The Three Investigators series. It’s an old YA crime fiction series that I’m obsessed with. My husband and I are reading them to our son now, and they are so great. There are two movies based on the books that were made in Germany, but they are hard to find, and I’d love to see them made here in the U.S. Great fun.

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

“Season of the Witch” by Lana Del Rey. I was born on Halloween, and I adore anything spooky. 

15. What/Who inspires you?

My son inspires me. He’s got so much energy and enthusiasm and hope. I am amazed at what he creates, and what he says that makes me laugh, and the way his brain works.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Nope. I don’t watch much TV at all, actually, but when I do, it’s usually a British crime show or some horror movie.

17. Favorite Instagram account?

Ok, I love my friend Steph Post’s IG because she’s got all these beautiful animals and wildlife that she photographs. Otherwise, I just adore scrolling through all the Reels about hilarious cats and dogs and nostalgic ‘80s things. 

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

The Shining, and it would be a shimmery black, kind of like an oil slick.

19. Current #TBR pile?

Um, it’s going to crush me. And these aren’t even the ones on my Kindle!

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

For god’s sake, turn on the light. You’re going to go blind.

Follow Tara:

Instagram

Twitter

Open Book with Laura Jamison

I am continuing to spread the joy of books during this uncertain time.  What I know, is that the comfort of a book never lets you down.  I hope you all are hanging in there and staying well and safe.  I am thrilled to celebrate Laura Jamison’s debut, All the Right Mistakes and that she is my latest Open Book!  Read below as Laura’s daughters and myself share a love for Nancy Meyer’s movies ❤

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via Amazon ~

Five college friends have arrived at forty in very different circumstances, but with at least one thing in common: they are among the more privileged in society. Elizabeth and Sara are lawyers, Martha is a doctor, Carmen is a wealthy and well-educated homemaker, and Heather, the most successful, is a famous tech executive―and after more than two decades of friendship, they know one another better than anyone.

Then Heather writes a women’s advice book detailing the key life “mistakes” of her four friends―opting out, ramping off, giving half effort, and forgetting your fertility―that becomes wildly popular, and Elizabeth, Sara, Martha, and Carmen all feel the sting of Heather’s cruel words. Despite their status, these women face everyday obstacles, including work problems, parenting challenges, secondary infertility, racism, sexism, financial stress, and marital woes―and as they weather their fortieth year, each one can’t help but wonder if their life might have been different if they had followed Heather’s advice.
But as these friends are continually reminded, life is complex, messy, disappointing, and joyful, often all at once―and no one can plan her way out of that reality. In the end, all five women must embrace the idea that their lives are shaped not just by their choices but also by how they handle the obstacles life inevitably throws at us all.

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

The first three people that popped into my mind were Jennifer Garner, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah, but I’m confident that if I thought more about I would struggle for hours with this one.

 

  1. Current binge series?

 I’ve been going through a phase where I am watching a lot on the PBS App, like Frontline and American Experience. I think we are all struggling to process what is happening with the pandemic and there is something about these shows that fills that need for me.

 

  1. Last favorite book?

I just finished Daniel Silva’s newest, The Order. I love reading series that span the decades. A new one is like a visit from an old friend.

 

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

Tevas, my favorite tunic top and cargo pants. Anywhere there is good food, good art and beautiful scenery.

 

  1. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

I read the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times every day without fail. 

 

  1. Last movie you saw?

My twin girls and I are working our way through every movie Nancy Meyers ever directed. They especially liked The Intern and Father of the Bride.

 

  1. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

I think anyone who doesn’t say Harry Potter is lying! I’ve also always felt this way about Liane Moriarty’s books.

 

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

Yes! My seventh grade teacher, Ms. Cotterill. 

 

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

No

 

  1. Describe your writing space?

I wrote a lot of my debut novel in my minivan while waiting for my kids to finish practice.  

 

  1. Tell me your coffee/tea order?

8-ounce cappuccino, three shots. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to cut back. 

 

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

No, but I should put some thought into this! 

 

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

I think we need more movies from Jennifer Weiner, Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult’s books.

 

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

Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys. I’ve always been one of the busy, driven people and this song speaks to me.

 

  1. Must have beauty product?

Alta MD sunscreen. Trust me, it’s amazing.

 

  1. Royals- yes or no?  If so, who is your favorite?

One hundred percent, yes. See my next answer.

 

  1. Favorite Instagram account?

Well, this one might make me some enemies, but it’s @kensingtonroyal.

 

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

My friend Amy Schmidt just published a book called Cannonball: Fearlessly Facing Fifty and Beyond and Cannonball should definitely be its own lipstick. I feel like it should be one of those nudes that looks good on everyone. But part of me is also thinking red. 

 

  1. Current #TBR pile?

The Booksparks Summer Reading Camp 2020 list!

 

  1. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Why not you? This was advice from my Dad and every time I think that maybe I’m setting my sights too high, I hear this in my head and it gives me to courage to try.

 

Follow Laura:

Instagram

 

Open Book with Deborah Royce

Another perfect escape read with Deborah Royce’s Finding Mrs. Ford.  A suspenseful and delectable read, set in two different summers.  I am so thrilled that Deborah participated in my “Open Book” feature.  She is a local author, based out of RI. ❤
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via Amazon~
On a sunny summer morning by the sea in New England, Susan Ford’s cocoon of privilege is threatened when an Iraqi man from her distant past boards a plane in Baghdad to come find her.

Mrs. Ford leads a privileged life. From her Blenheim spaniels to her cottage on the coast of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, she carefully curates her world. Hair in place, house in place, life in place, Susan Ford keeps it under control.

Early one morning in the summer of 2014, the past pays a call to collect. The FBI arrives to question her about a man from Iraq—a Chaldean Christian from Mosul—where ISIS has just seized control. Sammy Fakhouri, they say, is his name and they have taken him into custody, picked up on his way to her house.

Back in the summer of 1979, on the outskirts of a declining Detroit, college coed Susan meets charismatic and reckless Annie. They are an unlikely pair of friends but they each see something in the other—something they’d like to possess. Studious Susan is a moth to the flame that is Annie. Yet, it is dazzling Annie who senses that Susan will be the one who makes it out of Detroit.

Together, the girls navigate the minefields of a down-market disco where they work their summer jobs. It’s a world filled with pretty girls and powerful men, some of whom—like Sammy Fakhouri—happen to be Iraqi Chaldeans.

What happened in that summer of 1979 when Susan and Annie met? Why is Sammy looking for Susan all these years later? And why is Mrs. Ford lying?

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

Oh this is hard! Okay, I’m going to pick some living and some dead.

  1. My first book club celebrity choice would be Stephen King. Who better to talk about books with than someone with his understanding of writing, overall, and of suspense, in particular! I’d love to hear him talk about whatever book we were reading that month.
  2. My second choice would be Nancy Mitford. Her book, Pursuit of Love, is my all-time-go-to comfort book. She manages to be both hilarious and poignant. Her understanding of French and English history is unique and I just love the way she says anything at all.
  3. My third book club selection would be Toni Morrison. Her writing is absolutely exquisite, her insights are keen, and her perspective is different from my own—which makes for a perfect book club partner!

Current binge series?

During this pandemic, I went down the English royal rabbit hole! I re-watched all of The Crown, all of Victoria, and all of The Tudors! I took comfort in spending time with these people with very BIG lives dealing with very real problems like epidemics and the economy and infidelity. Not to mention the uncommon problems of beheading annoying spouses!

Last favorite book?

Writers and Lovers by Lily King. I finished it last night and the beauty of the writing is still floating in my head.

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

My dream vacation is always a city. I am not a beach person or a camping person. I have never been to Barecelona and I adore The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafòn (who sadly just died), so that is my pick! The three things (they’re really more composite categories…is that cheating?) I would pack are:

 

  1. A few of those stretchy dresses that you can wash out in your hotel bathtub and still look good in it the next day.
  2. A bookbag with a few “real” books and a kindle for back-up. I love the tactile feeling of paper and I have a visceral knowledge of exactly where in a book I saw something I want to see again. But a kindle is a great way to read more while traveling.
  3. A huge shawl…it works for warmth, as an airplane pillow or blanket, and as a shield from the world!

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday NYT. Although I have now completely switched to doing the crossword on my phone, I still love going through each section of the Sunday New York Times. Arts and Leisure is always my favorite.

Last movie you saw?

The Truth with Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, and Ethan Hawke. It came out this year and is a domestic drama about a famous mother and her very complicated relationship with her adult daughter. Funny and sad. French.

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

I am going to say The Great Gatsby. It so perfectly evokes that sense of loss and longing. It is a book that makes me ache.

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

The actor and writer, Gene Wilder encouraged me to become a writer. I had already been  writing for YEARS without getting serious about it. I developed a close relationship with Gene and his wife, Karen, through our mutual involvement with the Avon Theatre in Stamford, CT. We had a frequent email correspondence. One day, he asked me, “Are you a writer? I think you’re a writer.” And he offered to read something I had written. I sent a screenplay to him and he was very encouraging. From that point on, every time I saw him, he would ask, “I hope you’re writing. You should be writing.” Eventually I listened to him!

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

Absolutely not! I love music and I am one of those people who cannot NOT listen to it when it is playing. That said, the composer who sends me into a state of peaced-out bliss is Bach. I do tend to write snippets of songs into my books…which is always extra work in securing rights! I have included a little bit of Donna Summer’s disco classic, Last Dance, in Finding Mrs. Ford. And I have two songs my lawyer is working on getting permission to use in my next book, Ruby Falls…one by Dion and one by the Eurythmics.

Describe your writing space?

I write in a conservatory! It is a glass room that faces west towards a river and the setting sun. Fortunately, there are shades on the ceiling because it can get very hot out there in the middle of the day. Because I don’t have real walls for cork boards, only glass, I use a rolling shelf/trolley to fan out all my various pages of research, books, notes, etc.

Tell me your coffee/tea order?

I have a DeLonghi espresso/cappuccino machine at home and I call him my personal butler. He is male in my mind. He makes me the best coffee and I am very nice to him and compliment him all the time. Cappuccino is my order and Mr. DeLonghi makes it very well.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

I love to give books that I love! Because of that, I often give Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford. She is a very particular voice and she doesn’t appeal to everyone. It is a litmus test.

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

The Shadow of the Wind! And I would like to see Guillermo del Toro direct it. And my own first book, Finding Mrs. Ford, directed by a resurrected Alfred Hitchcock!

 

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

I just love your questions! The theme song from A Man and a Woman. That one that goes, ba da da da da da da dum, da da dum, da da dum…you know it, right???  Why would it be my theme song? Because it stops me in my tracks and makes me cry whenever I hear it, wherever I am. It makes me feel like my hair is blowing as I drive with my lover in a convertible through the French countryside under the dappled light from those trees that line both sides of the road. Which they are taking down now, by the way, because they are a huge cause of head-on collisions. But that is a real spoilsport bit of information!

Must have beauty product?

Lipstick. My lips would fall off my face if I had nothing to put on them because they get so dry. How did people live without it? What would I do on a desert island???

Royals- yes or no?  If so, who is your favorite?

Are you kidding? YES to Royals! See my binge watching above. Favorite? Well…of the dead ones, I have a soft spot for Queen Victoria and Catherine the Great. And Princess Diana just pierced my heart. She is my generation and I remember being in my little studio in New York City when I watched her wedding. Of the living ones, I have become a big admirer of Queen Elizabeth. All that binge watching helped there!

Favorite Instagram account?

I have become a recent fan of Sarah Cooper…aka Sarahcpr…she lip syncs the president and other famous people and she is a riot! I also like Overheard in LA for a good laugh. It picks up snippets of overheard conversations, which is always fun.

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

Shall I say Pursuit of Love again? It is a pretty fantastic name for lipstick!

 

Current #TBR pile?

I have some books by Tana French, Kimberly Belle, Wendy Walker, Sandra Brown, and Emily Liebert. I want to immerse myself in the works of contemporary female thriller writers. Oh, and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. But that has been in my pile for a long, long time and other books keep landing on top of it!

Best advice you’ve ever received?

If you can’t do it good, do it fast…that was said every day before camera rolled by one of the directors when I was an actress on the soap opera, All My Children. There is a wisdom in reminding us not to belabor things!

Follow Deborah:

Facebook

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Goodreads

 

 

Open Book with Julie Pennell

Julie Pennell is my book and pop culture bestie from another lifetime!  We had the best chat over on Zoom (head to my Facebook or Instagram page) and I am thrilled she ALSO participated in Open Book!  Her latest Louisiana Lucky is the most delightful read and perfect for this dreadful pandemic.  She is so lovely and it most definitely transpires to the pages of her books ❤

Louisiana Lucky Cover

via Amazon ~

From the critically acclaimed author of The Young Wives Club, a “heartwarming story about friendship, heartache, and self-discovery” (Karen White, New York Times bestselling author), comes a charming novel reminiscent of the works of Mary Alice Monroe and Kristy Woodson Harvey, about three sisters who win a huge lottery prize and learn what it truly means to be lucky.

Lexi, Callie, and Hanna Breaux grew up in small-town Louisiana, and have always struggled to make ends meet. For years, they’ve been playing the lottery, fantasizing about how much better life would be if they had the money.

For Lexi, it means the perfect wedding; for Callie, it means having the courage to go after her career dreams; and for Hanna, it means buying a house that isn’t falling apart and sending her bullied son to private school. When the incredible happens and the Breaux sisters hit it big—$204 million dollars big—all their dreams come true. Or so they think. Because it’s actually not a cliché—money isn’t the answer to everything, and it often comes with problems of its own.

Heartfelt, engaging, and featuring characters you’ll root for from the first moment you meet them, Louisiana Lucky is a satisfying page-turner from a rising star in women’s fiction.

 

Julie Pennell Photograph by Riser Vance Photography

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

Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and
Oprah

2. Current binge series?

“Billions”

3. Last favorite book?

“Feels Like Falling” by Kristy Woodson Harvey. It’s
such a heartfelt book, as all of hers are! I also really enjoyed it because
while I read it, I felt like I was transported to the beach for the summer,
which was exactly what I needed.

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

Sunscreen, book, and swimsuit. Right now, any vacation
would be nice (ugh, pandemic!) I love beachy places but I don’t necessarily
want to sit on the beach itself (unpopular opinion, I know, but I hate the
sand). Give me a luxe pool with an umbrella-shaded lounge chair that
overlooks the ocean.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

I feel like now more than ever I am glued
to the news, so Sunday NYT is probably where I’m at more right now,
however US Weekly is a nice escape when I need a break.

6. Last movie you saw?

It’s been a while since I’ve had a stretch long
enough to watch a whole movie (just had a baby so my days and nights
have been extra busy), but I think the last one I got to enjoy uninterrupted
was, “To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” on Netflix.

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever
read a book and wished I was the one who wrote it. What makes reading a
book so magical is that you get someone else’s story and perspective.
Although, I guess I do wish I could have come up with something like Harry
Potter since I don’t think my books will ever get their own amusement park.
8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

Alot of my teachers had a big impact on my career. One in particular stands
out, though. I took a short story writing class in college, and that’s where I
really learned the basics of writing fiction, so I thank him for that and I made
sure to acknowledge him in my book! (Thank you, Mr. Smith!)

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

I can’t listen toanything while I write. It’ll distract me too much. But when I finish up a
tough scene or chapter, I sometimes turn on my Taylor Swift Pandora
station and have a quick celebratory dance party.

10. Describe your writing space?

In my dreams, I’d be writing at a beautiful mahogany desk, looking at oversized windows with views of sunny blue skies and the ocean. In reality, I’m usually writing on my living room sofa or in my bed, whichever space isn’t occupied by my kids.

11. Tell me your coffee/tea order?

Iced latte. I’m the kind of girl who drinks iced coffee year-round.

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

All of my friends are having babies now so I’ve been buying lots of copies of “Goodnight Moon.” It was one of my favorites when I was a kid. I secretly think it’s a miracle book for sleep too. I’ve read it to my older son every night before bed for two and a half years (yes, the book is falling apart, but I love it), and he’s been the best sleeper (knock on wood!)

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

I read this book called “The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance” by Kristy
Greenwood when I was living in England a few years ago. It had me
laughing out loud the whole time. I feel like it would make a cute movie.

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

“Today Was a Fairy Tale” by Taylor Swift. When Ising it I feel happy and whimsical, exactly how I want my ordinary day tofeel.

15. Must have beauty product?

Lip gloss

16. Royals- yes or no?  If so, who is your favorite?

I like the royals. Fun Fact: I used to have the biggest crush on Prince William when I was younger and even found a way to do my social studies fair project on him in middle school. It was a good excuse to cut out pictures of him from Tiger Beat for school. Ha!

17. Favorite Instagram account?

My friend Amy Seder (@amyseder) has a travel Instagram, and her pictures are insane. She and her boyfriend (now fiancé) quit their jobs a few years ago to travel full-time, and I’m so happy/impressed with how they’ve managed to make their dreams come true. Plus, their pictures give me serious wanderlust.

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

Ha, fun question! Let’s go with “Rich Rouge” for “Louisiana Lucky”

19. Current #TBR pile?

“Hello, Summer” by Mary Kay Andrews, “Musical Chairs” by Amy Poeppel, and “The Book of Lost Friends” by Lisa Wingate are just a few on my long list!

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Everything my mom has told me through the years. She’s kind of like my personal therapist. Any time I need advice I go to her.

 

Follow Julie!

Instagram

 

Open Book with Suzanne Nugent

Beach season is here, although looking a littler different this year, but what remains are beach reads and fictional escapes.  Honestly the only thing that allows me to escape the news and all the dark times right now are books.  Books are the friend you need in a time like this.  I am so thankful that Suzanne Nugent took the time to be my latest Open Book because her book, debut that is,  is a great escape!  Brunch and other Obligations is a wonderful read with friendship, a sprinkle of mystery and of course brunch!  Perfect beach read ❤

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via Amazon ~

The only thing reclusive bookworm Nora, high-powered attorney Christina, and supermom-in-training Leanne ever had in common was their best friend, Molly. When Molly dies, she leaves mysterious gifts and cryptic notes for each of her grieving best friends, along with one final request: that these three mismatched frenemies have brunch together every month for a year.

Filled with heartwrenching scenes and witty prose, Brunch and Other Obligations explores the intricate dynamics of girlhood acquaintances who are forced to reconnect as women. This upbeat novel reminds readers that there’s hope for getting through the hard times in life―with a lot of patience, humor, and a standing brunch date.

 

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

Nora Ephron, Michelle Obama, Carrie Fisher.

 

  1. Current binge series?

    I am re-binging Friends from College. The dynamic in this dysfunctional group of friends makes me cringe and laugh. The writing is honest, clever, and funny. I watched it when it first came out a few years ago and it is worth a second binge.

 

  1. Last favorite book?

    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

 

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

    I live in a warm climate, so my dream getaways usually involve cozy sweaters. Three things I always pack no matter where I travel: A notebook, a pen, and comfortable shoes.

 

  1. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

    Sunday NYT.

 

  1. Last movie you saw?

    The last movie I saw in the theater before stay-at-home orders was Little Women. At home, I’ve watched a ton of brilliant documentaries and some inspiring and fun movies on Netflix. It might be impressive to list those. But, real talk? The last movie I watched (today) was High School Musical 2. My son just loves it. And I admit: I dig it too.

 

  1. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

    None. If I love a book, I just want to celebrate the author who created this thing that I love.

 

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

    In high school, one of my friends didn’t like writing but I loved it, so I sometimes ghostwrote her essays. Our English teacher revealed that he recognized my “voice” in her essays, even though we tried to disguise our scheme by changing the font. He always encouraged me to keep using my voice.

 

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

    Yes, and it changes depending on what I’m writing. I like listening to movie scores that evoke the genre I’m writing.

 

  1. Describe your writing space.

    My favorite places to write are at the dining room table or in my favorite coffee shop. It’s been tricky in the last few months because my dining room has been occupied by homeschooling and my favorite coffee shop has been closed. But I write anywhere I can. If I have to, I’ll even write in my (parked) car.

 

  1. Tell me your coffee/tea order.

    At home, I like just a plain black decaf coffee. But if I’m feeling fancy at a coffee place, I order an iced decaf almond milk latte. It’s a lot of words to describe one coffee and I feel very extra when I order it.

 

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

    I don’t have a go-to. I try to pick something unique every time I get a book as a gift.

 

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

    Can I say Brunch and Other Obligations? Well. Now I’ve said it.

 

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

    Shining Star by Earth, Wind & Fire. It’s such an optimistic song that just says keep going, you’re being guided. Also… the funky riff at the beginning builds suspense and then there’s this horn blast that’s like “tadaaaaa!” so it would be a great song to play when you enter a room.

                                                                                                                                          

  1. Must have beauty product?

    Sunscreen.

 

  1. Royals- yes or no?  If so, who is your favorite?

    As a writer, I am most interested in the romantic rogue Royals, like Harry and Meghan or Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. I’m fascinated by people who are born into royalty and opt out. As for a favorite… everything Kate Middleton wears is perfection and I love her for it, but ultimately, my favorite Royal is Dairy Queen.

 

  1. Favorite Instagram account?

    I’m brand new to social media! I just joined Instagram (@suznuge) in February and I’m still finding my favorites.

 

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

    Untamed. And it would be just a clear gloss.

 

  1. Current #TBR pile?

    The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett; Fleishmann is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.

 

  1. Best advice you’ve ever received?

    My Gramma told me: “You should write a book. Just tell it like it is.”

Open Book with Erin Carlson

Three of my favorite people: Nora Ephron, Meryl Streep and Erin Carlson- what do they all have in common aside from Meryl starring in a few of Nora’s films?  They both are the subject of Erin’s two AH-mazing books- I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy and Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep  , two perfect literary escapes during this unknown and scary time.  I have said it once and I will say it again, books are the best remedy while surviving this pandemic and Erin has chosen two women who not only provide fabulous content for her books, but are the cherry on the sundae for cinematic relief.  I promise you any film choice from these two icons will be life changing and picking up these two books, well you can thank me later.  Thanks Erin, for taking the time to be my latest Open Book and answering the questions us Nora and Meryl fans need to know ❤

I’ll Have What She’s Having ~ How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy via Amazon

A backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron’s revered trilogy–When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle–which brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of Hollywood women, from Mindy Kaling to Lena Dunham.

In I’ll Have What She’s Having entertainment journalist Erin Carlson tells the story of the real Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the romcom through her trio of instant classics. With a cast of famous faces including Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Billy Crystal, Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip to Ephron’s New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance and Ephron–who always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it–ruled the set with an attention to detail that made her actors feel safe but sometimes exasperated crew members.

Along the way, Carlson examines how Ephron explored in the cinema answers to the questions that plagued her own romantic life and how she regained faith in love after one broken engagement and two failed marriages. Carlson also explores countless other questions Ephron’s fans have wondered about: What sparked Reiner to snap out of his bachelor blues during the making of When Harry Met Sally? Why was Ryan, a gifted comedian trapped in the body of a fairytale princess, not the first choice for the role? After she and Hanks each separatel balked at playing Mail’s Kathleen Kelly and Sleepless‘ Sam Baldwin, what changed their minds? And perhaps most importantly: What was Dave Chappelle doing … in a turtleneck? An intimate portrait of a one of America’s most iconic filmmakers and a look behind the scenes of her crowning achievements, I’ll Have What She’s Having is a vivid account of the days and nights when Ephron, along with assorted cynical collaborators, learned to show her heart on the screen.

Queen Meryl ~ The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds and legendary life of Meryl Streep via Amazon

A captivating and inspiring portrait of legendary actress Meryl Streep and her work, Queen Meryl explores the fearless icon’s trailblazing roles in film, her feminist activism, and the indelible mark she’s left on pop culture.
Meryl Streep is the most celebrated actress of our time. She’s a chameleon who disappears fully into each character she plays. She never tackles the same role twice. Instead, she leverages her rarified platform to channel a range of dynamic, complicated women–Joanna Kramer, Karen Silkwood, Julia Child, Margaret Thatcher, Katharine Graham–rather than limit herself to marginal roles for which other actresses must settle: Supportive Wife. Supportive Mother. Supportive Yet Utterly Disposable Love Interest. Streep will have none of that.
The once-awkward, frizzy-haired suburban teen blossomed into a rising ingénue on the stage at Vassar College and the Yale School of Drama. She came of age during the women’s movement of the ’60s and ’70s, and has worn her activism on her sleeve even when it was unfashionable. When she reached 40, the age when many leading ladies fade away, Streep plunged forward, taking her pick of parts that interested her and winning a pile of awards along the way. Meanwhile, she remained an unlikely box-office draw, her clout even managing to grow with age: The Devil Wears Prada, starring Streep as the Anna Wintour avatar Miranda Priestly, scored $326 million worldwide.
Journalist and author Erin Carlson documents all of Streep’s Oscars, accents, causes, memes, friendships, and feuds; also exploring the “off-brand” forays into action-adventure (The River Wild) and musicals (Mamma Mia!), and how Streep managed to sneak her feminism into each character. In the spirit of nontraditional bestsellers like Notorious RBG and The Tao of Bill Murray, Queen Meryl is illustrated by artist Justin Teodoro and filled with fascinating lists and sidebars, delivering joy in homage to its unique and brilliant subject.

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

Nora Ephron and Meryl Streep, of course! Plus, Oprah — for her good humor and great taste in books that make people think and feel all the feels. 

 

  1. Current binge series?

My husband and I are watching old episodes of “30 Rock,” the critically acclaimed NBC comedy starring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Dave has never seen the show, so I love seeing him belly-laugh at witty lines such as, “Never go with a hippie to a second location.”

 

  1. Last favorite book?

I loved The Herd by Andrea Bartz!

 

  1. What 3 things are a must for your purse?  What type of bag do you carry?

I love my tan Phillip Lim 3.1 bucket bag, circa 2017. I never leave home without Fresh tinted lip balm, my iPhone and a hair tie, in case I want to do a ponytail!

 

  1. Must read magazine or newspaper column?

I love New York Magazine — the best ever.

 

  1. Last movie you saw?

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

 

  1. Favorite or film you read/watched while researching Meryl and Nora?

Nora’s You’ve Got Mail is my ultimate, but I’ll always adore The Bridges of Madison County — an enduring love story that never fails to leave me in tears. Who doesn’t love a good cry every once in a while?

 

  1. Funnest fact you found out about Nora Ephron?

When researching the making of You’ve Got Mail, I learned from my interview with Greg Kinnear that director Nora and star Meg Ryan would crack each other up on the set, so deep was their mutual affection for one another. Meg was always dissolving into giggle fits while filming. Nora kept the mood on her movies as lighthearted and fun as her classic romantic comedies. 

 

  1. Top 3 favorite blogs?

I love Cup of Jo, Jezebel and sometimes I still check up on EV Grieve, the blog chronicling life in the East Village, my former neighborhood in New York City. The latter is so esoteric that it will be really confusing to those who haven’t lived there, but I love it! 

 

  1. Describe your writing space?

The desk in my office is fairly clean and uncluttered. I’m very easily distracted, and a minimalistic space helps me focus on writing.

 

  1. White, Red, Rose or no way?

Rose, all the way!

 

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

I love Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill. Perhaps I should rethink my definition of “gift.” The book is dark, but it’s a masterpiece told in Ronan’s engrossing self-deprecating narrative style. 10/10, would recommend.

 

  1. Current book that you wished they would make a movie out of in which Meryl would star and which character would she be?

I would love Meryl to play antihero and historical figure Thomas Cromwell in Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror & The Light. Come on, she can do anything! Play any character! And she loves a challenge.

 

  1. Top 5 favorite Meryl movies? Number 1 favorite Nora movie?

My No. 1 Nora movie is You’ve Got Mail, hands down. As for Meryl, here are my top five: The Devil Wear Prada, The Bridges of Madison County, Julie & Julia, Doubt and Silkwood.

 

  1. Current must have beauty product?

I love Goop’s Enriching Face Oil. It smells like a summer meadow in Tuscany, and leaves your skin soft and glowing.

 

  1. Royals- yes or no?  If so, who is your favorite?

YES. I’m partial to Queen Elizabeth, but I love Meghan Markle, too.

 

  1. Favorite Instagram influencer?

Laura Brown, the editor of InStyle, is a great follow on Instagram. She’s funny, charming and doesn’t take herself too seriously.

 

  1. If you could name just one lipstick after a Meryl Streep movie, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 

Using “The Devil Wears Prada” as inspiration, I would name a lipstick after Miranda Priestly’s withering insult, “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.” The lipstick color would be rose pink.

 

  1. Current #TBR pile?

Rebecca Serle’s “In Five Years,” Andre Aciman’s “Find Me” and Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing.” (I know, I know. I’m the last person to read this book!)

 

  1. Best advice for aspiring writers?

Keep writing! The most important thing is persistence; if you’re working on a novel, carve aside time each day to write. It can be 500 words a day, or 200! Every little bit counts. If you write every day, in a year or less, you’ll have a manuscript. And that’s something to look forward to as you’re following an outline or making it up as you go along. If you need help with plotting, there’s no better guide than Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, which has proved invaluable as I write my debut novel, a romantic comedy.

 

 

Bonus trio:

  1. Favorite Nora Ephron book? 

Heartburn is a classic. Delicious and vicious!

  1. Favorite Meryl Streep red carpet moment?

Meryl looked luminous in a vintage-style Chris March gown at the 2010 Oscars, proving that starlets come and go, but she will always be the true queen of the red carpet.

  1. Tell us about your “WHY” for both of these icons to be the center of your books?

Nora and Meryl are legends who prove women can have it all: an adoring husband and family, and a fantastic career. I wanted to learn the secret to their success, and offer fans of both a manual for how to achieve it. 

 

Follow Erin:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

 

Open Book with Kathryn Budig founder of Inky Phoenix

I found Kathryn Budig when I was on my journey of getting certified in yoga at Back Bay Yoga.  She was one of the best instructors I had taken class from and seemed genuinely like a bad ass lady.  I would take her classes online, learn from her book and follow her amazingness on Instagram.  Fast forward to now, queue The Inky Phoenix, an online bookclub founded by the yoga queen herself.  Just when I think she couldn’t get any better, she launches a virtual BOOKCLUB!  Hello, if you know the back story of Bliss, Beauty and Books then you know it was created at first for my love of yoga hence “BLISS” and then the books and beauty came along with it.  So you may say, Kathryn has launched a bookclub of my dreams!

This book club is all virtual and Kathryn will hand select books each month and share on her Free Cookies podcast, started with her equally bad ass wife, Kate Fagan.  This month, she picked Glennon Doyle‘s Untamed, a spiritual container of glitter and wisdom, southing of which we could ALL use right about now ❤

Kathryn is my latest Open Book and after you read her answers, you will realize she is the bookish, blissful BFF that you all need!  Thank you to Kathryn and Kate for gifting us all with The Inky Phoenix which is uniting us all through books!

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

Neil Gaiman, Oscar Wilde and Barack Obama.

 

2. Current binge series?

Vikings! We are so late the the party and have been loving the blend of history and Norse mythology.

 

3. Last favorite book?

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

 

4. What 3 things are a must for your purse?  What type of bag do you carry?

My purse actually resembles a fancy lunchbox. I always have way too many lip products, bobby-pins and a bandaid.

 

5. Must read magazine or newspaper column?

We’re glued to CNN these days, and I love Alison Roman’s column for New York Times Cooking.

 

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6. Last movie you saw?

Knives Out. Love a good ‘whodunnit’ movie.

 

7. Why the Inky Phoenix?

Aside from being an author and writer, literature is in my blood. One of my degrees is in English Literature and I’ve always noted I’m at my happiest when I have a good book waiting for me at home. I started The Inky Phoenix in hopes of building an international community, a place to gather and tickle our minds and share our stories.

 

8. Funnest fact about you?

I am the queen of butchering idioms. Seriously. Every last one.

 

9. Top 3 favorite blogs?

I honestly don’t frequent many blogs.

 

10. Describe your dream book club space?

A restored Victorian mansion with a library full of rolling ladders and secret passageways.

 

11. White, Red, Rose or no way?

All of the above, please.

 

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

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Luiz.

 

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

Melissa Albert’s The Hazelwood and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

 

14. Top 5 favorite movies?

Clue, The Princess Bride, Goonies (you can probably guess my age by now), Love Actually and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

 

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15. Current must have beauty product?

Anything from Maya Chia.

 

16. Royals- yes or no?  If so, who is your favorite?

Currently, not so much. Diana forever and Prince William when we were young.

 

17. Favorite Instagram influencer?

Not an “influencer” but Kate Beckinsale cracks me up.

 

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

The Night Circus and it would be the color of a grape popsicle.

 

19. Current #TBR pile?

A Little Life, All Boys Aren’t Blue, Magpie Murders, Hunting Party and Salem’s Lot (Yes, I’ve never read King. Wild, I know.)

 

20. Best advice for aspiring writers/readers/yogis?

Stop waiting for perfect moments. If you want to be inspired, read. If you want to learn, practice. If you want to see your story in the world, sit down and write 500 words. Today.

 

Follow Kathryn, Kate and The Inky Phoenix:

Facebook ~

Kathryn

Twitter ~

Kathryn @kahtrynbudig

Kate @katefagan3

Instagram~

Kathryn

Kate

Inky Phoenix

 

Practice with Kathryn:

Glo

Youtube

 

Free Cookies Podcast

 

Grace Kelly Open Book with Brenda Janowitz

I do not need to tell you how much I love Brenda Janowitz.  It is evident every time she writes a column for Pop Sugar or new book- she is the godmother of all bookish things if there ever was one plus her love for pop culture is unparalleled.  Her latest book, The Grace Kelly Dress, out now, is the one of her best yet!  It is the most lovely story about a dress, three lives and the interwoven secrets and love that tie them together.  I can’t tell you how much you need to read this book and you need to get to know Brenda.  She is literally the best “book” friend we need in all of our lives ❤tmp_EEivlg_1f359bc8d9c301f1_cover_The-Grace-Kelly-Dress_Brenda-Janowitz_web-1

via Amazon ~

“Exactly the type of book I love: charming, smart, and brimming with heart.”—EMILY GIFFIN, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted

“Fast paced and entertaining from beginning to end.”—KRISTIN HANNAH, #1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Nightingale

Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.

Brenda+Janowitz

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

 

Well, Grace Kelly, of course! And we‘d be reading The Great Gatsby, so I’d love for F. Scott Fitzgerald to join us. Finally, I’d include Michelle Obama. I recently read her memoir, and I instantly fell in love!

 

  1. Current binge series?

 

At the recommendation of Elin Hilderbrand, I binged both seasons of Succession on HBO. I love a good family drama, and Succession is all about the drama!

 

  1. Last favorite book?

 

I loved Little Fires Everywhere and cannot wait for the new Reese Witherspoon adaptation coming soon!

 

  1. What 3 things are a must for your purse?  What type of bag do you carry?

 

I carry a cross-body hobo bag. For a busy mom with kids, cross-body is a must! It’s big enough to carry my trusty iPad, for when I need to get work done on the go. My must haves are lip balm, my phone, and a book!

 

  1. Must read magazine or newspaper column?

 

I”m completely obsessed with the New York Times Modern Love column. I recently had my own essay published there, and it was such an honor. (https://nyti.ms/2NQxDEO)

 

  1. Last movie you saw?

 

My husband and I saw Knives Out in the theater. (And yes, as a busy working mom, I am bragging about seeing a movie in the movie theater.)

 

  1. Favorite or film you read/watched while researching Grace Kelly?

 

I’m a sucker for all of Grace Kelly’s films, but my favorite one is To Catch a Thief. I mean, Cary Grant looking dreamy, come on!

 

  1. Funnest fact you found out about Grace?

 

I was shocked to discover that Grace’s wedding dress was actually comprised of four separate parts, each of which were put on separately as she dressed for her big day.

 

  1. Top 3 favorite blogs?

 

Beauty, Bliss, and Books, of course! I also love Great Thoughts, Great Readers, and Good Book Fairy.

 

  1. Describe your writing space?

 

I usually write in my office, which has a large double desk that my husband and I share. It’s lined with bookcases, and thus, very inspiring. That said, I write wherever and whenever I can, so I have an iPad with an attached keyboard that I love. In fact, I’m writing this to you from my iPad right now!

 

  1. White, Red, Rose or no way?

 

Rose!

 

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

 

I always give books as gifts! I try really hard to match the book with the recipient and make it personal.

 

  1. Current book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

 

The Grace Kelly Dress!!

 

  1. Top 5 favorite movies?

 

To Catch a Thief

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Clueless

Mean Girls

Casablanca

 

  1. Current must have beauty product?

 

I cannot live without SPF everyday. I love Skinceuticals and SuperGoop!

 

  1. Royals- yes or no?  If so, who is your favorite?

 

Yes! There are so many to choose from, but I especially loved watching Grace Kelly’s grandchildren get married this summer.

 

  1. Favorite Instagram influencer?

 

Besides you? I love Ashley Spivey’s feed.

 

  1. If you could name just one lipstick after a The Grace Kelly Dress, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 

 

It would be a pale pink, and we’d have to call it— what else?— Princess Grace.

 

  1. Current #TBR pile?

 

Right now, I’m reading tons of ARCs for my PopSugar Summer list.

 

  1. Best advice for aspiring writers?

 

Writing is re-writing. Don’t be afraid to cut ruthlessly!

 

Bonus trio:

 

  1. Favorite outfit Grace wore during her heyday?

There’s something so classic about the dress Grace wore when she won her Oscar in 1955. But I also love it when Grace let her hair down in Jamaica— that white two piece? To die for!

 

  1. Favorite celebrity wedding dress?

I think this one is pretty obvious!

 

  1. Tell us about selecting your wedding dress?

When selecting my wedding dress, there were so many details that I was drawn to, and it was only in hindsight that I realized that I was actually shopping for my own version of a Grace Kelly Dress. From the delicate bows that trailed down the back of my dress to the silk ribbon that tied around the waist— a nod to the cummerbund— I was channeling this iconic gown.

 

Follow Brenda:

Facebook

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Open Book with Rochelle B. Weinstein

I am back in 2020 with new ideas and new books!  To kick off the UPDATED and FRESH “Open Book” we have Rochelle B. Weinstein.  Her latest, out now, This is Not How is Ends is the perfect love story to being your 2020 reading!  This is a must read for your TBR pile or Goodreads challenge.  I am thrilled Rochelle is my first of the year!

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via Amazon~

From USA Today bestselling author Rochelle B. Weinstein comes a moving novel of hearts lost and found, and of one woman torn between two love stories.

When Charlotte and Philip meet, the pair form a deep and instant connection. Soon they’re settled in the Florida Keys with plans to marry. But just as they should be getting closer, Charlotte feels Philip slipping away.

Second-guessing their love is something Charlotte never imagined, but with Philip’s excessive absences, she finds herself yearning for more. When she meets Ben, she ignores the pull, but the supportive single dad is there for her in ways she never knew she desired. Soon Charlotte finds herself torn between the love she thought she wanted and the one she knows she needs.

As a hurricane passes through Islamorada, stunning revelations challenge Charlotte’s loyalties and upend her life. Forced to reexamine the choices she’s made, and has yet to make, Charlotte embarks on an emotional journey of friendship, love, and sacrifice—knowing that forgiveness is a gift, and the best-laid plans can change in a heartbeat.

This Is Not How It Ends is a tender, moving story of heartbreak and healing that asks the question: Which takes more courage—holding on or letting go?

 

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

Judy Blume

Kevin Costner

Anderson Cooper

 

Current binge series?

Mrs. Fletcher

 

Last favorite book?

The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani

 

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

Tahiti/Bora Bora

Books!

Sunscreen

My family

 

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday NYT

 

Last movie you saw?

Art Of Racing In The Rain

 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

The Heart’s Invisible Furies. Reading right now and WOW!

 

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

YES, my mother, Ruth Berger.

 

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

Rarely. 

 

Describe your writing space?

While I have a home office complete with a standing desk, I tend to write in my kitchen or family room surrounded by my dogs. One on each side of me.

 

Tell me your coffee/tea order?

I have never had either. 

 

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

The Alchemist

 

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

Daisy Jones & The Six! And they are!

What a visual book. It should translate to screen beautifully.

 

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

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

For every curve ball I’ve been thrown, for every challenge, I just keep on keeping on.  There’s no other option.

 

Must have beauty product?

CE Ferulic by Skinceuticals

But I can’t leave the house without Estee Lauder black eyeliner and Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm

 

Royals- yes or no?  If so, who is your favorite? 

No🙈

 

Favorite Instagram account?

@ElyssaFriedland

She ALWAYS makes me laugh. Not at her, of course. 

 

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

The Kiss Quotient

SIZZLING HOT PINK

 

Current #TBR pile?

Camille Di Maio -The First Emma

Samantha Bailey – Woman On The Edge

M.J. Rose – Cartier’s Hope

Mary Beth Keane – Ask Again, Yes

Kaira Rouda – The Favorite Daughter

Therese Anne Fowler – A Good Neighborhood

To name a few…..my stack is high!

 

 Best advice you’ve ever received?

Listen when others are talking. Really listen. Trust your instincts. Be patient. Give back. Always support others. Choose kind. And never give up. 

 

Follow Rochelle:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

 

 

Open Book with Milly Johnson

 Back from across the pond, I am completely inspired and in love with London! The city, the people and oh the royals! I am thrilled my first Open Book back, is to support Milly Johnson, British fiction author queen! Her latest, The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew is out now and completely perfect for a cozy fall read ❤ See below for her fabulous responses and make sure to take a look at her back catalog 😉

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via Amazon ~

Milly Johnson, the Queen of Feel-Good Fiction and The Sunday Times bestselling author, is back with a “glorious, heartfelt novel” (Rowan Coleman, New York Times bestselling author) about a woman trying to find her own place in the world, who through love, loss, and the kindness of strangers, discovers everything she needs in a village by the sea.

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of every successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhew seems to have the perfect life. The glamourous wife of a rising political star who is one step away from the highest position in the government, she matches her husband in looks, pedigree, and money. But he has made some stupid mistakes on his way to the top, and some of those mistakes are just now threatening to emerge. Still, this can all be swept under the rug so long as Sophie the Trophy plays her part in front of the cameras. But the words that tumble out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors drilled into her head.

Bursting out of the restrictive mold that has been tightening around her since birth, Sophie flees to a small village on the coast, a safe haven from her childhood days, where she intends to be alone. But once there, she finds a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time in her life. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long, though, so she must decide: where does her real future lie?

 

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

Stephen King, Catherine Cookson and Henry Viii.  There’s a mixed bunch for you.  I think we’d all have a hoot and some really interesting discussions

Current binge series?

The Staircase.

 Last favorite book?

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell.  I couldn’t put it down.  It’s the story of obsessive lust.

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

I love cruising in the Mediterranean so much.  That way I get to see a lot of places in two weeks and not just one destination.  I’m particularly fond of the Greek Islands so… a book to read in the sunshine. A red lipstick that doesn’t wear off so I can look glamorous at all times and a dress that is loose fitting – you can’t have anything tight fitting when you’re on a cruise – the food is too hard to resist. 

 Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

US Weekly!

 Last person you sent a text message to?

My son, who is on holiday with his friends.  Just to check in that he’s okay. 

 Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Bridget Jones’ diary. 

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

I had an amazing English teacher at college who made me love writers I hadn’t really understood that much like Jane Austen.  I didn’t really tell anyone that I wanted to write books then, I didn’t  have the confidence I’d be able to do it, but I wish I had told her because she would have encouraged me, I absolutely know it.  She was fantastic.

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

I need complete silence when I write.  I even wear noise cancelling headphones when there is no one else in the house. 

 Describe your writing space?

It’s a large office with a very old massive desk with lots of drawers in it.  I have wooden shelves full of books all around the room and a rocking chair where one of my cats likes to sleep.  The other one sits on top of the printer. I have things that look like books but aren’t books everywhere – like a coffee table and storage boxes, old tins – my partner, who is an antiques dealer, finds them for me.

 Coffee or tea?

Coffee.  Strong with a dash of milk.

 Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

Yes it’s called ‘The Tent, the Bucket and Me’ by Emma Kennedy.  It’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

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

Mine – Here Come the Girls – it’s about a group of friends who go on a cruise together.

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

Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles.  It was written on a sunny day and fills me with the feeling that however bad life is, the sunshine is still there behind the clouds.  That’s me – hopeful!

 What/Who inspires you?

Barbara Taylor-Bradford, a woman from Yorkshire who set the world alight with her stories.  I met her a couple of years ago and she was so wise and glamorous and funny.  She made her dream of becoming an author reality – and how!

 Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Not for me

 Favorite Instagram account?

@auntyacidofficial 

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

Deep, beautiful red and I’d call it ‘Rebecca’

Current #TBR pile?

Saving lots of books for my holidays.  I love crime and psychological thrillers:  I have Mark Billingham’s ‘Their Little Secret’ at the top and an advance copy of Nicci French’s ‘The Lying Room’ – I’m lucky because as authors we get a lot of free books.

 Best advice you’ve ever received?

‘There is no pot of gold in a comfort zone.’  Sometimes you just need to be brave, feel the fear and go for it.

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