Open Book with Beth O’Leary

It’s Rom Com week over here and I am kicking it off with my latest read, The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary.  In her debut novel she writes about two roommates who discover they may just be each other’s soulmates only through a series of post-it notes!  Hello movie material.  I am thrilled Beth took the time, and she has some really fabulous answers, to be my latest Open Book, from all the way across the pond!  She has stunning book taste and is the first author to incorporate a Harry Potter character into her dream book club- yes please!

9781250295637-final.jpg

via Amazon ~

“With likable main characters, spot-on dialogue, a fun premise, and plenty of drama, there’s a lot to like in this sweet story. A warm, enchanting love story perfect for fans of classic rom-coms.” (Kirkus Reviews)

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good audiobook about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open-minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night-shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

 

Beth O'Leary_credit Ellen O'Leary

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

Jane Austen – I’ve always thought she’d be fun. She’s so witty, and so astute in how she
describes people, which I reckon means she’d be a hilarious gossip in real life.

Marian Keyes – She’s brilliant on Twitter, and I adore her books. She’s a really
passionate reader, too, and great at sharing reads she’s enjoyed, which would make for an excellent book club member.

And finally… Hermione Granger, because ten-year-old me always wanted her to be my
best friend, and I reckon being in a book club together would be a good start 😉

2. Current binge series?

I re-binged on Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series recently. She’s a kids’ fantasy
writer who I adored as a child and often come back to for a comfort read. These books
are about a girl in a magical land who wants to be a knight but can’t because she’s
female. It’s got magic, kick-ass young women and one hell of a love triangle – what’s not
to love?

3. Last favorite book?

I fell head over heels for Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient. I pretty much inhaled it in a
day. I loved both protagonists so much – I just had to keep reading and find out what
happened to them!

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

My dream vacation would be staying in a lodge somewhere secluded with beautiful,
rugged mountains all around, and a log-burning stove to curl up and read by.
Number one on my packing list would be a kindle (this is just so I can cheat and pack
more than one book). Then some fleecy pyjamas for cosy nights in front of the fire.
Lastly… can I say my puppy? I hate leaving her behind when I go on holiday!

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Ooh, this is a tough question for a Brit! I’m not familiar with either…

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My boyfriend. It was actually a VERY excited message with a lot of exclamation marks,
because I was telling him that I’ve just found out The Flatshare made it in to the Sunday
Time Top Ten in its first week on sale!!

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?
Rosie Walsh’s Ghosted. It is such a beautifully crafted novel, and it blends genres really
cleverly – it’s romantic, but it has a thriller-ish twist, and there’s some stunningly truthful
writing about grief in there too. I was fiercely jealous the whole time I was reading it…

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

Yes – Mr. D, as he was known when I was at school! (You know you’re the cool teacher
when the kids don’t use your full name.) He really encouraged me to keep writing, and
read my stories even when he didn’t have to. He actually read my first finished novel, a
50-thousand-word monstrosity that I cringe to think about now…

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

I often listen to music while writing, but the songs vary depending on the story and even
on the individual scene. The Flatshare was written on my train journey to and from work, and initially I just used music to block out background noise, but I gradually built a
playlist that sounded like the book – songs that evoked the uplifting vibe I wanted The
Flatshare to have, or reflected something I felt about my main characters. There’s lots of
folksy pop on there, and songs about the feeling of home: Like Home by Colin & Caroline, Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.  The playlist has been especially useful for editing, because it allows me to get back into the heads of my characters after some time away.

10. Describe your writing space?

I have a lovely writing desk in front of a window, all perfectly set up for me to work at…
but I’ve ended up writing most of my second book on the sofa or at the kitchen table. It
just felt too intimidating writing at a desk, somehow! I still write really well on train
journeys, too, as The Flatshare was entirely written that way.

11. Coffee or tea?

Tea – and lots of it. Though I do love to treat myself to a latte now and then!

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

I gave lots of people One Day in December by Josie Silver for Christmas. It’s such a
perfect festive read, full of snowy romance, with some strong, meaningful friendship in
there too (which I love).

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

The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman. This stunning time-travel novel is
so visual, I think it would work amazingly on screen. It flits between the 1970s and the
present day, and it’s a real tear-jerker.

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

Dolly Parton’s Better Get To Livin’. I’m such an overthinker, I could do with this playing
nonstop as I go about my life, to remind me to stop worrying, be more positive and focus
on living the best life I can.

15. What/Who inspires you?

I love rom com writers like Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes and Mhairi McFarlane – they
definitely inspired me to write in this genre. I would also say I’m really inspired by the
wonderful women around me – my mother, my sister, my friends – and the really good
men, too: my dad, my brothers, my friends, and of course my boyfriend. They make me
want to write uplifting love stories about real people who deserve happy endings.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

I occasionally get obsessed with a reality TV show – I watched Love Island religiously
last year – but I only tend to like it if there’s an element of romance involved… (Which is
true of books that I read, too!)

17. Favorite Instagram account?

I’ve recently discovered Pieladybooks – she makes the most amazing book themed pies!
Seriously, check out her grid.

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

Sense and Sensibility. It would be a delicate nude colour… with a bit of a seductive shine
to it when it catches the light.

19. Current #TBR pile?

I’m itching to start Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love – that’s been next on
my list for forever, but other books keep sneaking in and jumping up the stack! I’m very
lucky because now publishers send me ARCs of upcoming books, and I do find it hard to
resist digging in to those…

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

My dad often says ‘trust your ski’. My parents decided to try learning to ski in their
fifties, which was a big step for them, and their instructor used to say that to them – but
my dad has repurposed the phrase for use in everyday life. He says it to remind me to
trust my gut instinct and trust myself.

 

Follow Beth:

Twitter

Instagram

Advertisements

The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

the-perfect-neighbors-9781501106491_hr

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

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

4470996

 

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

 

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

 

 

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

in-twenty-years-by-allison-winn-scotch

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

A1ujy8JRTxL._UX250_

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

 

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

 

The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes & Bliss Chat

9780316305730

Are you looking for a fun, quirky story that has you guessing and rooting for the main character?  Well, The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes is the perfect pick.  I absolutely loved it and am hoping, fingers crossed, maybe for a sequel 🙂  I loved the main character that much and the plot was so fantastic.  This is a wonderful debut for Himes and I can tell she is going to have many fabulous books in her future.

The One That Got Away centers around Abbey Lahey who is married to Jesse.  She lives a typical mom and family life where she feels under appreciated and overworked.  She starts to daydream at work one day about a former coworker who she had a crush on, Alex Van Holt, who also had a crush on her.  Alex, who is drop dead gorgeous and super successful, always lingered in the back of her mind as the one who got away.  While at Nordstroms one day, where she was returning a bag that she couldn’t afford or justify, she slips and falls.  As she comes to, she realizes she is living the life of Abbey Van Holt.   Married to Alex with a family, she is living the upper class, rich life while supporting Alex who is running for election.  She is super confused and wondering how to get out of this but not before she enjoys the finer things in life with Alex.  The bags, the clothes, the shows, OH MY! (think Carrie Bradshaw 😉  Soon she starts to realize that this road not taken was not taken for a reason and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

 

1442510599014

 

This book was an instant favorite for me and would absolutely make a perfect movie.  Himes is so charming with her words and storyline and the characters are developed so perfectly.  This is a must read debut for any reader who loves a light hearted, fun read.  I have chose it as my Poolside Pick for this week and was so honored to be able to “Bliss Chat” with Leigh about the book and a few of her favorite things!

 

Bliss Chat with Leigh Himes

1. I loved this book so much!  What made you decide to write about the road not taken?

Thank you, Courtney! Like my character Abbey, I saw a photograph in a magazine of a man I almost dated years before. After my husband and I had a good laugh about how I sure didn’t choose wisely, I remember thinking it would be a good set-up for a novel. Weeks later, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head so I sat down and started writing, and then couldn’t stop.

 2. Who did you enjoy more in developing Jimmy or Alex?  Abbey Lahey or Abbey Van Holt?  

Great question. At first, I’d say Alex because in many ways he’s my dream guy. He’s handsome, charming and ambitious, but also self-deprecating and funny. But Jimmy has my heart, too, because he’s so real. I’ll be standing on the sidelines of my son’s soccer game or in the school pick-up line and think “lots of Jimmy’s here today” and I mean it as the ultimate compliment. As for Abbey, it has to be Abbey van Holt… I’d love to live her life for a few days.

3. In your life is there a road you wished you traveled or do you ever think about that in any situations that may have been from your past?

I used to have so many regrets and would analyze my decisions constantly. Why didn’t I move to NYC when I was twenty-two? Why did I buy this old house? But writing this book, and getting older, has been cathartic. Now I don’t believe in roads not taken… all our experiences are just steps on the path we were meant for.

 

4. What has been your most favorite thing about the process of this book and going on book tour?

The best thing about writing is falling in love with your characters. On tour, it’s meeting fellow book lovers. I’ve met school librarians, veterinarians, reporters, artists, emergency room nurses, fellow novelists, etc., and I love hearing about their lives and how they make things work.

 

5.  As a writer, where is your favorite place to write?

In my bed! We don’t have air conditioning anywhere but our bedrooms so in the summer I’ll sneak back upstairs in the afternoon with my laptop. I have to bring coffee, though, to prevent nappage.

 

6. Name 3 blissful things that you can’t live without?

Besides husband/kids/dog, I’d say avocados (in any form), super-hot baths, and my NinoBrand sweatpants, which are so cool they make me proud to be a “sweatpant mom.”

 

7. What is the first thing you do when you complete a book?

I’ve only completed one, and if memory serves, my husband and I went out to our secret place: a little strip mall beer shop in Ardmore, Pa. that serves drafts and hot dogs in the back. So maybe that will be my new end-of-book tradition.

8. What was the last book that you read?

The excellent “The Expatriates” by Janice Y.K. Lee.

 

9. While on tour what is a must-have beauty product in your make-up bag?

A friend turned me on to Beauty Counter products and I am obsessed, so I always travel with my BC Cream Cleanser and Night Cream. My other current obsession is eyebrow pencils… right now I am using one from Hourglass.

 

10. Are you looking forward to any books that are coming out in 2016?

 

Yes! On my list are “June” by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, “If I Forget You” by Thomas Greene, and “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. But before that, I’m checking out two paperbacks: “A Window Opens” by Elisabeth Egan and “Everybody Rise” by Stephanie Clifford. I’ve heard great things and I like to support debut authors! 😉

 

*Thanks to Hachette for sending a copy for review to Bliss, Beauty and Books!

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin #SRC2016

First_Comes_Love_New_Cover_fe1KfmQ.width-800

Well after two years waiting anxiously for Emily Giffin’s newest novel, First Comes Love, I can say that I am completely satisfied and blown away.  It’s absolutely one of her best yet.  And now cue book hangover and another two years waiting for her next novel.  I savored this book because I knew once it was over, it was over, but I am so glad that I did.  It was so emotionally packed with deep relationships and at times heavy plot that I needed those extra days to process and think.  I can only say some many things about my love for EG and you can see from my Insta feed that I will support her not matter what but it is up to you readers to discover the magic of Emily on your own.  If you have yet to read any of her back catalog then put those on hold and start with First Comes Love, if this book doesn’t blow you away then I am not sure what will.

First_Comes_Love_Revised_Cover.max-1000x1000

 

First Comes Love centers around sisters Josie and Meredith.  Both reeling from a tragic accident within their family, they could not be more different.  Josie is the fun, confident sister who is a teacher and single.  She lives with her best friend Gabe, who is straight and single as well ,but she is ready to give up on the dating game.  Meredith is the more reserved, hard headed sister yet picture perfect daughter who is always questioning Josie’s decisions and lifestyle.  She is married to Nolan and together they have a daughter. She is struggling within her marriage to keep it a float.  As the anniversary of their families tragedy comes near, each sister is at a crossroads in their lives.  Josie knows she isn’t getting any younger and wants to pursue having children without getting married or making any commitments.  Meredith is struggling to find out who she is within her marriage and isn’t sure if the man she married is the one for her.  Both connected by their bloodline, they struggle to support one another  yet know they are the ones who know each other best.  Meanwhile a secret holds them together in more ways than they know and when the truth comes out it will test their relationship.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 12.45.35 PM

Emily Giffin year after year puts out a bestseller, that is a fact.  But what is so amazing about her as a writer is that each novel, truly always about relationships, is so different and surprising.  She has a special way of creating characters and plots that are relatable and real.  It’s clear she is an excerpt and it solidifies my belief that she is the true “best friend author”.  I have talked about this before in regards to her but what I mean is, she is the author that you want to call and chat on the phone with.  She is the gal that you want to grab a glass of wine with when “the one” doesn’t call you back.  She is just so real to us readers and proves that if you ever get to meet her on tour.  I am not sure what more you can ask of in an author?!  I am choosing First Comes Love as my poolside pick of the week.  I give you my Bliss Beauty and Books promise that you will absolutely love this book and become an EG fan for life.

Here’s To Us by Elin Hildebrand


9780316375160

We all know, as readers, that Elin Hilderbrand is the queen of beach reads.  Each summer I anxiously await her gorgeous covers and blissful, beachy plots.  I mean any book set on Nantucket you automatically can smell the salt air and feel the sand between your toes.  Plus I am a New England gal and love that Elin loves her town so much to continuously write about it.  I have been and if I lived there year round I would be that in love with it too!  Here’s to Us was quintessential Elin and I soaked it up in merely a few days.  She once again can continue to reign as a beach read queen and this book just put another jewel on her crown.

Here’s To Us centers around Laurel, Belinda and Scarlett all former wives of celebrity chef – Deacon Thorpe.  All completely different they are reunited on Nantucket upon hearing that Deacon has passed away.  Buck, a former employee and confidant of Deacons, wants everyone to gather at Deacon’s old house to celebrate his life and spread his ashes.  Along with Deacon’s children with each wife, they gather for a few days that are filled with drama, loss and secrets.  Set against the beautiful setting of sun, sea and sand each character is dealing with the loss of Deacon in their own way.  Can this eclectic group come together and mourn the loss of someone they all loved or will greed and jealousy divide them and have them leaving the island with regret?
elinnew

Here’s To Us is the perfect book to keep the pages turning under the hot sun.  It has all the main ingredients to prove this- amazing characters, a complex plot and the perfect amount of drama, love and lust.  Hilderbrand summer after summer garners new fans with these page turners and this fan has yet to be disappointed.  She just has a way with a summer read and I think it’s the fact that she lives and breathes Nantucket life as well as taking beautiful, beachy vacations.  She gets it.  And by “it” I mean she knows what we readers want in the perfect beach read.  Thank you Elin, time and time again for making our summer days and nights that much better!

*Thanks to Little Brown for sending a review copy.

This Was Not The Plan by Cristina Alger ~ Poolside Pick #3

this-was-not-the-plan-9781501103759_hr

Summer officially started yesterday and what a better way then to kick it off with an all around fabulous read.  This Was Not The Plan by Cristina Alger won me over with the first few paragraphs and held me all the way until the end.  I love, love, loved this book.  It was touching at times, hilarious and thoughtful- all the things you want in a great book.  I chose this book as my 3rd “Poolside Pick” selection because it is the perfect beach or pool bag accessory and you will not be able to put it down plus the cover is so bright and summery its sure to match your swimsuit 🙂

The book centers around Charlie, “Chuck”, who is a big time lawyer and a widow.  His beautiful and loving wife Mira was killed in an airplane crash leaving Charlie and their son Caleb.  Charlie relies on his sister Zadie to help with Caleb while he maintains his high profile career.  One night at work outing he gets a little tipsy and takes the mic.  In front of his whole office he lets loose on his thoughts about his career and workplace, not something that was looked at as a highlight.  Not thinking much of it he returns home not knowing he was being filmed.  The next morning Charlie gets a call into the office with the bosses informing him of his actions and the consequences- he is being fired.  Charlie only knows work life, what will he do now?  Back at home his sister Zadie feels for him but it couldn’t be better timing as she wants to get away with her boyfriend which will leave Charlie to take care of Caleb, something he has yet to do on his own.  Soon Charlie starts to see what really matters in life with the help of another single dad, an old college crush and his absentee father.  Will Charlie still long for 20 hour work days or will really living life put everything into perspective and allow him to see what real love and family is like?

485614634_hr

As I said before I love everything about this book.  The writing is superb, the characters are lovable and the plot is perfect.  I really almost felt like I was watching a Nora Ephron or Gary Marshall movie- Cristina listen, this needs to be a movie 🙂  It was so charming.  I loved the way the Alger sewed in pieces of the past with Mira and Charlie as it was great to know the relationship that they had.  Charlie is so relatable and I was cheering for him until the last line.  This is a book that will not disappoint, guaranteed.  It was so good I am off to get Alger’s other novel The Darlings as she is on my list as a favorite author now!  So pack those bags for summer and get your beach reading started with This Was Not The Plan!

 

*Thanks to Touchstone for sending a copy to review.