Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Open Book with Eithne Shortall

Happiest of St. Paddy’s Day to you!  Much luck and love, all year long!  What better than an Irish love story to make this day complete ❤  Grace After Henry by Eithne Shortall, is a heartbreaking love story that has echos of JoJo Moyes sprinkled throughout.  Eithne is my latest Open Book and she gives some great advice, also loves Busy Phillips Instagram and has a fabulous TBR pile!  Plus Eithne other novel, Love in Row 27, has been optioned for a TV show, love a good page to screen 😉

 

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via Amazon ~

A quirky love story set in Dublin that’s perfect for fans of PS, I Love You and Jojo Moyes, Grace After Henry is a funny, heartfelt debut novel about one woman learning what it means to move on and to let go.

When the love of her life, Henry, is killed in a freak biking accident, Grace feels like she’s lost her own shadow. In his absence, she must put her world back together: she moves into the Dublin dream house they bought together, she returns to work as a chef, she watches TV with her nosy elderly neighbor. But, through it all, she’s ever aware of the growing Henry-shaped hole in her life.

Until his long-lost twin brother knocks on her door.

Newly arrived in Ireland on his own search for answers, Andy is Henry, and yet not quite. Soon Grace isn’t sure if she’s learning to let go or becoming desperate to hold on. Grace After Henry is a funny, tender, and bittersweet story about love, loss, and second chances.

 

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

Nora Ephron, Margaret Atwood and someone with an excellent wine
cellar.

2. Current binge series?

Do you mean books? If so, I’m currently making a start on PD James’s
back catalogue. I spent last year devouring everything Liane Moriarty
wrote, and I think 2019 will be the year of PD James.
If you mean TV, I don’t watch a lot of TV but I am currently wrapped
up in Sex Education on Netflix. I love anything set in the world of teen
angst, although I do wish the show would make up its mind about
where, if not when, it is set.

3. Last favorite book?

I loved Sally Rooney’s Normal People and Sarah Winman’s Tin Man.

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

1. Books, at least three.
2. SPF, I worshipped the sun in my late teens/early twenties and
am now trying to make amends.
3. A swimsuit that can withstand waves.
If it’s a sun holiday – which my packing list suggests that it is – then it
has to be the Greek Islands.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Even though I’m based in Ireland, I do have a New York Times
subscription. So it’s a no-brainer.
6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My boyfriend. Asking him to pick up a Cornetto Classico ice-cream on
his way home. He obliged.

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

There are so many. But the last one was Liane Moriarty’s Big Little
Lies.

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

Not specifically, but I had amazing primary school teachers who
encouraged my confidence and generally taught me to believe in
myself and my abilities. To that end, I would namecheck Maire
McHugh.

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

I almost always write in complete silence. I might listen to music
before writing, to put me in the mood. With Grace After Henry, I never
did that. I did, however, lie on the floor of my writing room and try to
imagine how it would feel to have the love of my life die. When I found
myself on the verge of tears, I knew I was ready to write.

10. Describe your writing space?

It has changed. I wrote most of Grace After Henry in a small bungalow
in the middle of nowhere in the west of Ireland. There were always
multiple birds hopping around outside my window, but some days that
was all the living interaction I had. I went there to try to imagine my
way into Grace’s head – to make myself feel what it would be to be all
alone. My next book, however, was written in a writing room at my
home in Dublin. That room is wall-to-wall books, with a view from my
desk into the back garden.
11. Coffee or tea?

Tea, and lots of it.

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

I have bought several copies of several books as gifts. Among them
are Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Tana French’s The Secret
Place, John Banville’s Book of Evidence and Marian Keyes’ Rachel’s
Holiday.

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

I’m very much looking forward to seeing how Sally Rooney’s Normal
People is adapted for the small screen.

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

This is too hard. I can’t pick one. Although if Joni Mitchell’s Blue album
was just played on a loop, I’d be pretty happy with that.

15. What/Who inspires you?

A little piece of my grandmother has made it into all my book thus far.
She’s a no-nonsense woman who is very funny in her refusal to
indulge anyone about anything. She was the inspiration for Grace’s
neighbor Betty in Grace After Henry.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

For the little TV I do watch, reality shows don’t make the cut.

17. Favorite Instagram account?

Currently enjoying Busy Philipps and Dawn O’Porter.

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

Well I’m always in search of a good nude, so that’s the shade. And
then I guess I’d call it…. Naked Lunch?

19. Current #TBR pile?

I can’t actually look my TBR pile in the eye or I’ll start to
hyperventilate. But as I recall, Jo Spain’s Dirty Little Secrets and
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six are sitting at the top of it.

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

“You’ll be dead soon.” I find it very uplifting. Don’t waste your time
worrying, you never know when you’re going to run out of it.

 

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Open Book with Jillian Cantor

Happy March!  This month so many AH-mazing books will be making their way to your TBR pile including Jillian Cantor’s latest, In Another Time, a sweeping love story set during the second World War.  She is my latest Open Book and we are talking dream bookclub- hers is one of my all time favorites, dream vacation items- same, and the perfect literary lipstick- a red lip is always a yes.  Read below!  Jillian is my kinda gal ❤

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via Amazon ~

A sweeping historical novel that spans Germany, England, and the United States and follows a young couple torn apart by circumstance leading up to World War II—and the family secret that may prove to be the means for survival.

Love brought them together. But only time can save them…

1931, Germany. Bookshop owner Max Beissinger meets Hanna Ginsberg, a budding concert violinist, and immediately he feels a powerful chemistry between them. It isn’t long before they fall in love and begin making plans for the future. As their love affair unfolds over the next five years, the climate drastically changes in Germany as Hitler comes to power. Their love is tested with the new landscape and the realities of war, not the least of which is that Hanna is Jewish and Max is not. But unbeknownst to Hanna is the fact that Max has a secret, which causes him to leave for months at a time—a secret that Max is convinced will help him save Hanna if Germany becomes too dangerous for her because of her religion.

In 1946, Hanna Ginsberg awakens in a field outside of Berlin. Disoriented and afraid, she has no memory of the past ten years and no idea what has happened to Max. With no information as to Max’s whereabouts—or if he is even still alive—she decides to move to London to live with her sister while she gets her bearings. Even without an orchestra to play in, she throws herself completely into her music to keep alive her lifelong dream of becoming a concert violinist. But the music also serves as a balm to heal her deeply wounded heart and she eventually gets the opening she long hoped for. Even so, as the days, months, and years pass, taking her from London to Paris to Vienna to America, she continues to be haunted by her forgotten past, and the fate of the only man she has ever loved and cannot forget.

Told in alternating viewpoints—Max in the years leading up to WWII, and Hanna in the ten years after—In Another Time is a beautiful novel about love and survival, passion and music, across time and continents.

 

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  • What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with?  Reese Witherspoon – I always love her book club picks, and how fun would it be to sit down and discuss with her? Michelle Obama – I respect and admire her so much, and I know she would have the most interesting take on whatever our book club was reading. And third, Jane Austen. Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear what she thinks about fiction today, and all the many retellings of her work?

 

 

 

  • Current binge series? Life in Pieces –we started over Christmas break and now we’re almost done season 3. It’s hysterical and perfect to watch one or two episodes at the end of a long day.

 

 

 

  • Last favorite book? I just got to read an early copy of The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar. It’s not out until July, but it’s a beautiful novel based on the real women who were WASPs in WWII. It’s a love story, a war story, and what I loved most, a story about powerful women who persevere.

 

 

 

  • What 3 things do you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it? A good book, sunscreen, and a bottle of rosé. Hawaii – I’ve never been, and I really want to.

 

 

 

  • Sunday NYT or US Weekly? Sunday NYT if I’m at home on a lazy Sunday – I’d be doing the crossword. US Weekly if I’m traveling. I love reading it on airplanes.

 

 

 

  • Last person you sent a text message to? My husband. He texted me to ask if I’d fed the dog before I left. The dog always acts like she hasn’t been fed, so she’s not a reliable source. This is a common text between us!

 

 

 

  • Book you read that you wished you wrote? The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It has been my favorite book since college (long before the TV series!) and the way she invented the world and weaved in the backstory – it’s just brilliantly written. I come back to it again and again.

 

 

 

  • Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer? Yes, several! But the first teacher who ever encouraged me was my 4th grade humanities teacher Mrs. I. In 4th grade she assigned us to write one short story a week, for the entire year. It was my first time writing fiction and I loved it. She was very enthusiastic about my stories, and it was the first time I ever considered the possibility that I could write fiction.

 

 

 

  • Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who? No, I need complete silence to write. But writing In Another Time, where Hanna, one of my main characters, is a violinist, I did actually end up listening to a lot of classical music before I would sit down to write particular scenes. I listened to all the music that I have Hanna playing in the book, just not at the same time while writing!

 

 

 

  • Describe your writing space? I have an office in my house, and I do write there, when everyone else in my family is home. I have a huge (messy) desk, a wall filled with whiteboards for charting stories and characters, and a small couch that my cats and dog like to sleep on. But I also end up writing at the kitchen table a lot, especially first thing in the morning, with a cup of coffee or two (or three)! That is where I tend to be my most productive.

 

 

 

  • Coffee or tea? See above, definitely coffee. I need a few cups every morning to get going with writing. But I like tea too. Later in the day I switch to decaffeinated green tea.  

 

 

 

  • Do you have a favorite book that you gift? I don’t have just one book that I always gift, but I do give books as gifts all the time. I like to buy copies of books I’ve recently read and loved, so it’s always changing. I give my mom a book every year for her birthday and Mother’s Day!

 

 

  • If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why? “Anbody Have a Map?” from Dear Evan Hansen. Being a fiction writer is definitely an unconventional career path, and it’s always filled with a lot of uncertainty. Even after publishing eight books I’m still not always sure what the right next move is, or the perfect thing to write next, or even the perfect way to write it. I have a teenager and a pre-teen too, so this song also applies to being a mom, for sure.  

 

  • What/Who inspires you? I often write about ordinary women who lead extraordinary lives. I’m especially inspired by women who fight for what’s right, no matter what the costs, both throughout history and today.  

 

  • Bravo reality TV- yes or no? A few years ago, yes. I used to be very invested in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. But I haven’t watched the past few seasons. Now I like my reality from Rachel Maddow – I watch her every night after dinner.

 

  • Favorite Instagram account? @dachshund.planet – there’s nothing I love more than a cute dog picture, and I especially love dachshunds (I have a rescue dog who is part dachshund part terrier.)

 

  • If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. And it would be bright red, of course!

 

  • Current #TBR pile?

Learning to See by Elise Hooper

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

The Secrets of Clouds by Alyson Richman

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

 

  • Best advice you’ve ever received? The best writing advice I’ve ever received is “butt in chair.” Quite simply, sit down every day and just do the hard work rather than making excuses not to. But I also think this applies in all areas of life as good advice!

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jillian Cantor has a BA in English from Penn State University and an MFA from the University of Arizona. She is the author of award-winning novels for teens and adults, including, most recently, the critically acclaimed, The Lost LetterThe Hours Count and Margot. Born and raised in a suburb of Philadelphia, Cantor currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

 

 

Open Book with Jennifer Robson

Devoted followers of Bliss, Beauty and Books know that I am royally obsessed and literally love all things royal ~ old and new.  When I heard about Jennifer’s book, I knew it would be a true gem and was thrilled receive an early copy.  For the fashion lover to the most fabulous anglophiles, The Gown is a must for your 2019 TBR pile.  As always books are chic but books about the royals may just be the chicest ❤

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via Amazon ~

One of December’s most anticipated reads from InStyle, HelloGiggles, Hypable, Bookbub, and Bookriot!

One of Real Simple’s Best Historical Fiction novels of the year!

 

The Gown is marvelous and moving, a vivid portrait of female self-reliance in a world racked by the cost of war.”–Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.

“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”

—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

 

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

I’ve just started work on a book about Hollywood in the early 1950s, so let’s say Judy Garland, Gloria Grahame, and Betty Grable.

 

Current binge series?

The Crown. I couldn’t let myself watch it while I was writing The Gown, so now I’m all in. Even my husband is hooked!

 

Last favorite book?

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley. I read an early ARC and gobbled it up in an overnight binge read. So, so good.

 

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

An e-reader, because of stupid baggage restrictions and the cost of lugging 15 books on holiday. An enormous hat, so I can hide under the brim and read all day. A swimsuit that covers up my anxiety areas but is (miraculously) comfortable.

 

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday NYT. I ration out the sections over the course of the weekend like they’re pieces of chocolate.

 

Last person you sent a text message to?

My sister. Our daily check-in.

 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Not for the supernatural parts – for the descriptions of doing research at Oxford. She captured it perfectly, and she managed to make it interesting to read about. (At least I found those parts interesting!)

 

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

In my sophomore year at King’s University College I had the most amazing English professor, Lorraine DiCicco. She was such a tough marker, and she had such high expectations, that I bent over backwards to please her – and along the way I learned a lot about the craft of writing. I met up with Lorraine again last year and was finally able to thank her.

 

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

 Only classical music, only instrumental, and typically from the general era I’m writing about. I listened to a lot of Elgar when I was writing my World War One books.

 

Describe your writing space? 

I have a small room at the back of my house, and it has just enough space for a desk and a row of bookcases and a ratty old Ikea Poang chair. I sit in the chair with my laptop balanced on my knees, and I watch the birds and squirrels in my back garden, and sometimes I even get a bit of writing done, too.

 

Coffee or tea?

 Despite the amount of tea-drinking that goes on in my books, coffee is the fuel that keeps me going.

 

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird

 

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

The Hole in the Middle by my friend Kate Hilton. It’s about a thousand times more engaging than the romcoms Netflix keeps making, and there’s a twist at the end that’s incredibly surprising and satisfying.

 

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

“Winter Birds” by Ray LaMontagne, because it’s a poem set to music, and his words remind me why I want to write: “And though all these things will change / The memories will remain” is what I set out to do when I create my stories.

 

What/Who inspires you? 

People who defend the powerless and voiceless, even when they know it will lead to their personal ruin.

 

Bravo reality TV – yes or no?

Hard no. The only reality TV I can watch without an anxiety attack are the baking shows. The Great Canadian Baking Show is my current fave.

 

Favorite Instagram account? 

drinkingwithchickens – Kate Richards mixes level-11 Instagramming skills with the funniest pictures ever (mainly of her chickens giving her cranky looks). And her cocktail recipes are sensational.

 

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

Miriam, after one of the heroines in The Gown, and it would be the perfect shade of bright coral red without any blue undertones.

 

Current #TBR pile? 

Right now I have two piles: one of ARCs, and next to it an even higher stack of history books that jumped into my hands at the bookstore. I hate when that happens.

 

Best advice you’ve ever received? 

“Just write the book, Jen.” From my sister, sometime in early 2008, after I’d sent her the bazillionth outline for a book that eventually becameSomewhere in France. If she hadn’t been such a hard-ass I’d probably still be fussing with that outline.

 

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