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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What’s in my Bookish “BEACH” Bag? ~ Elizabeth Klehfoth

All These Beautiful Strangers was getting major buzz before it even hit shelves.  Tapped as the potential next Gone Girl and optioned by Bruna Papandrea’s Made Up Stories for development, this debut novel by Elizabeth Klehfoth is a thrilling page-turner that deals with elite boarding schools, missing family members, and a mysterious secret society.  I was thrilled when Elizabeth shared her beach bag with us and let us know her must-haves and current reads.  Keep your eye on her readers, I see many great things from Miss Klehfoth ❤

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via Amazon ~

“This is going to be big.” –Entertainment Weekly

“Juicy, clever, and beguiling.”- Cecily von Ziegsar, author of the Gossip Girl novels

A young woman haunted by a family tragedy is caught up in a dangerous web of lies and deception involving a secret society in this highly charged, addictive psychological thriller that combines the dishy gamesmanship of Gossip Girl with the murky atmosphere of The Secret History.

One summer day, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Alistair Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New England school she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd.

Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.

As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.

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What is your bag of choice for the beach?

I have a simple Nautilux striped canvas tote that fits my beach towel and essentials.

What do you always carry in your beach bag for beauty products?

I keep things pretty simple in terms of beauty products when I head to the beach. I always pack my Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm–it contains Vitamin E and peppermint oil, so my lips always feel moisturized and fresh, and my GlamGlow Mega Illuminating Moisturizer for my face, which is great for dry skin and also enhances my complexion with a nice glow.  Sunblock is a must.  I use Equate Sport Sunscreen SPF 30, because it gives me good coverage and doesn’t leave my skin feeling oily. I also pack a couple of black elastic hair ties so I can keep my hair up and off my face.  

What are your top favorite beauty picks?

For every day, I use Origins Checks and Balances face wash, Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream (it’s the only body lotion where I can be 100% sure I won’t break out), CoverGirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 foundation, CoverGirl Clean powder, Almay Gel Smooth Liner in black, Almay Intense I-Color Everyday Neutrals eye shadow for blue eyes (I love these palettes!  They really make my eyes pop and I never get creases), and CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom mascara in black.  For nighttime, I’m obsessed with Origins High-Potency Night-a-Mins Mineral-Enriched Renewal Cream.  It smells faintly of oranges and I always wake up with my skin feeling smooth and soft.  

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The High Season by Judy Blundell.  It’s an engrossing tale that follows three women in the town of Orient, located on the North Fork of Long Island, for one summer.  Ruthie Beamish is a fortysomething woman who lives in Orient year-round, but who must rent out her house during the summer in order to keep it.  Jem is Ruthie’s 15-year old daughter, who’s juggling a falling-out with the popular girls at school and a crush on the handsome and troublesome son of the tenant renting her house for the summer.  And then there’s Doe, a young woman who’s trying to make her way in the world despite a troubled past by rubbing elbows (and snapping Instagram shots) of the well-to-do in the Hamptons.  This poignant story explores the dividing line between the have and the have-nots, is full of laugh-out-loud lines and heartbreak, and is all about second chances, finding yourself, and new beginnings.  It’s a must-read for the beach this summer.

Any other fun item/must-have that you always have in your beach bag?

In addition to my beach read, I always pack my iPhone and headphones so I can listen to music while I veg, a fluffy beach towel, and my crystal rose and calico Raen sunglasses.

Elizabeth Klehfoth Author Photo

 

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Open Book with Cristina Alger

I started writing about Cristina Alger back in 2016 and my love for her and her work has grown immensely.  She is it.  Author extraordinaire, mom inspo, the chicest New York style, the list goes on  ❤  Her latest novel, The Banker’s Wife is out now and getting the best of reviews.  AND JUST IN- IT WILL BE ADAPTED FOR TELEVISION!  You know I love a page to screen adaptation.  If you want a summer sizzler of a thriller with high stakes, plane crashes, offshore accounts and a wife searching for answers then this is your book.  Cristina was kind enough to take some time to be my latest Open Book and I know if I ever run into her we can share our love of coffee and books over a fabulous chit chat 🙂

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via Amazon ~

“Immersive, satisfying, tense–and timely: This is probably happening for real right now.”–Lee Child

On an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar, and its wreckage is later uncovered in the Alps. Among the disappeared is Matthew Werner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind, including an encrypted laptop and a shady client list. As she begins a desperate search for answers, she determines that Matthew’s death was no accident, and that she is now in the crosshairs of his powerful enemies.

Meanwhile, ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally landed at the top. Now that she’s engaged to Grant Ellis, she will stop writing about powerful families and finally be a part of one. Her entry into the upper echelons of New York’s social scene is more appealing than any article could ever be, but, after the death of her mentor, she agrees to dig into one more story. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including a few who are too close to home. The story could also be the answer to Annabel’s heartbreaking search–if Marina chooses to publish it.

The Banker’s Wife is both a high-stakes thriller and an inside look at the personal lives in the intriguing world of finance, introducing Cristina Alger as a powerful new voice in the genre

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

Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe and Dominick Dunne. 

Current binge series?

The Handmaid’s Tale.

Last favorite book?

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. 

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

Bathing suit, sandals and a great book. St Barth’s!

 Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

NYT.

Last person you sent a text message to?

My husband. 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES by Tom Wolfe 

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

Yes! A law school professor, actually. I’m not sure what that says about my aptitude for the law!

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

I don’t. I don’t need silence but music distracts me. 

Describe your writing space?

Anywhere my children are not! Mostly coffee shops and libraries.

Coffee or tea?

COFFEE.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

HERE IS NEW YORK by E.B. White. We gave it to all our guests at our wedding. It’s such a treasure. 

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

Stand by Me by Ben E. King. I truly believe that with the support of a few fast friends, you can get through anything. 

What/Who inspires you?

My husband. He’s unfailingly calm, positive and kind to everyone. 

Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

No. 

Favorite Instagram account?

This sounds so horribly narcissistic, but probably my own! I use Instagram as a rolling photo album of our family. It’s so fun to scroll back and see old photos of my kids. It just fills me with nostalgia and joy.

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

Telex From Cuba – a brilliant, fiery red. 

Current #TBR pile?

It’s embarrassingly huge. LESS by Andrew Sean Greer. THE GREAT BELIEVERS by Rebecca Makkai. SOMETHING IN THE WATER by Catherine Steadman.  THE HIGH SEASON by Judy Blundell. To name a few!

Best advice you’ve ever received?

A professor of mine used to tell us that our job in life was to figure out “where your hunger for the world meets the world’s hunger for you.”

 

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*Thanks to Get Red PR for facilitating the interview.

 

 

Open Book with Amber Brock

Today I am absolutely judging a book by its cover.  I mean, how can I not?  Amber Brock’s latest, Lady Be Good is out and all you will need is a look at this poolside cover and be sold.  This cover screams glamorous summer read.  If you are looking for 1950’s glitz and glamour from Miami to Cuba then this is the book.  I am thrilled to have Amber as my latest “Open Book”!  We are talking all things from books to beauty to the Muppets 🙂  P.S. Her book to lipstick name may go down in history as one of the best ❤

Lady Be Good

via Amazon ~

Set in the 1950s, Lady Be Good marks Amber Brock’s mesmerizing return, sweeping readers into the world of the mischievous, status-obsessed daughter of a hotel magnate and the electric nightlife of three iconic cities: New York, Miami, and Havana.

Kitty Tessler is the winsome and clever only child of self-made hotel and nightclub tycoon Nicolas Tessler. Kitty may not have the same pedigree as the tennis club set she admires, but she still sees herself as every inch the socialite–spending her days perfecting her “look” and her nights charming all the blue-blooded boys who frequent her father’s clubs. It seems like the fun will never end until Kitty’s father issues a terrible ultimatum: she may no longer date the idle rich. Instead, Kitty must marry Andre, her father’s second-in-command, and take her place as the First Lady of his hotel empire. Kitty is forced to come up with a wily and elaborate plan to protect her own lofty ideas for the future, as well as to save her best friend, Henrietta Bancroft, from a doomed engagement; Kitty will steal Henrietta’s fiancé, a fabulously wealthy but terribly unkind man from a powerful family–thereby delivering the one-two punch of securing her now-fragile place on the social ladder and keeping her friend from a miserable marriage.
Then Kitty meets Max, a member of a band visiting New York from her father’s Miami club, and her plans take a turn. Smitten, but still eager to convince her father of her commitment to Andre, Kitty and Hen follow Max, Andre, and the rest of the band back down to Miami–and later to Cuba. As Kitty spends more time with Max, she begins waking up to the beauty–and the injustice–of the world beyond her small, privileged corner of Manhattan. And when her well-intended yet manipulative efforts backfire, Kitty is forced to reconsider her choices and her future before she loses everyone she loves.

Amber

 

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

Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, and Stephen Fry. Apparently, I want conversation I can’t keep up with!

2. Current binge series?

Fresh Off the Boat. I’m admittedly late to the game on this one.

3. Last favorite book?

I love the Crazy Rich Asians series by Kevin Kwan, particularly China Rich Girlfriend.

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

Good walking shoes, a guide to historic castles, and my RailPass. I’m going to the UK!

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

I read the NYT articles that my beloved coworker sends me, but I definitely pick up US Weekly at the salon.

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My husband.

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb or Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. Two of my all-time favorites.

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

Mrs. Rutledge, who was my teacher and mentor and is now my friend. I owe her so much, and I’m forever grateful she’s a part of my life.

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

I listen while I’m planning but not while drafting (too distracting). My husband makes me playlists to inspire me—sometimes with era-appropriate music, sometimes to match the tone of whatever I’m working on. The playlists have had everyone from Yo-Yo Ma to Rhianna on them. Like my reading preferences, my tastes in music are eclectic.

10. Describe your writing space?

I have an office with ocean-blue walls and windows that look out on the trees and birds in my backyard.

11. Coffee or tea?

Mostly coffee, but I like a cup of tea on a cold afternoon.

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

I love passing along the Harry Potter series, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.

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

Until recently, I would have said Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett, but the mini-series is coming soon on Amazon. I got my wish!

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

“Rainbow Connection” (yes, by Kermit the Frog). It’s such a lovely song about the power of dreams and hope, and it’s been a favorite of mine for a long time.

15. What/Who inspires you?

My husband and my mother.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Not for me. I prefer my drama fictional.

17. Favorite Instagram account?

Chrissy Teigen.

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

I’d call it Sangria and Sensibility, and it would be a deep wine-red. More of a Marianne color than Elinor.

19. Current #TBR pile?

Mostly 10th grade essays. When I finish those, I’m looking forward to getting back to an ARC of Not Our Kind by Kitty Zeldis. I also got myself I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon that’s waiting on my coffee table.

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

“Wherever you go, there you are.” I take it as a reminder that you bring your baggage with you, so no change of situation will ever be enough to bring joy. Joy has to come from within.

 

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Open Book with Camille Di Maio

Any time Camille Di Maio writes one of her historical fiction gems they are a must for your reading wish list.  Her latest, The Way of Beauty is out now and is the story of two unlikely friends who are connected by a past and present love.  I was thrilled to chat with Camille again, she was featured last year in “What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag”,   and today she is talking Reese Witherspoon, coffee and Beatriz Williams, three of my favorite things ❤

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Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.

Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.

Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.

Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.

 

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  1. What three celebrities/authors/figures – living or dead – would you want to have a book club with? I would love to meet with Agatha Christie and ask her how she writes her amazing stories. I have read every single Poirot book and have never – ever – figured it out. Reese Witherspoon, so we could talk about all my favorite subjects – books, movies, parenting, clothes, and living in the south. And Rebecca Ryman, because she wrote my favorite book of all time – Olivia and Jai.
  2. Current binge series? I can’t wait to start Season 2 of Victoria. I’m waiting for my daughter to come home for spring break so that we can binge it to our hearts’ content!
  3. Last favorite book? I just finished reading an early copy of Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle, and it’s the kind that had me putting things off so that I could read “just one more chapter.” Ha – I ended up finishing it in one day.
  4. What three things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation? 1. Always a book (or ten). 2. A sarong, because of course, there will be a beach. 3. Postcard stamps, because I LOVE sending snail mail.
  5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly? Us Weekly. Magazines are escapism for me.
  6. Last person you sent a text message to? My daughter in college. We keep in touch every day.
  7. Book you read that you wished you wrote? Olivia and Jai. It almost kept me from writing. It was a debut book and it was so so good. It intimidated me for a very long time.
  8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer? My mom was my greatest encourager when I was growing up. She drilled me in vocabulary and believed I could do it even when I doubted.
  9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who? If I listen to music, it is classical. I get focused on lyrics otherwise and it distracts me.
  10. Describe your writing space. With four kids and a husband who works from home, I do my best work out of the house. I love going to the library or my local Barnes and Noble, breathing in the literary air.
  11. Coffee or tea? Coffee. Cappuccinos to be precise!
  12. Do you have a favorite book that you gift? I have favorite authors that I gift frequently – Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams.
  13. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why? “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Vassar. It is about being grateful for all the distractions – the laundry, the bills to pay, the phone ringing, the kids needing you. Because that is really paradise, even if we don’t realize it in the moment.
  14. What/who inspires you? People who have an ethereal quality to them inspire me. They seem to have a peace that transcends the challenges of the day.
  15. Bravo reality tv – yes or no? No. I always wonder how much is scripted or manipulated and I prefer just a well-written story instead. This isn’t Bravo, but as far as reality tv goes, I love Shark Tank.
  16. Favorite Instagram account? Book Barista has such lovely posts about books and libraries and all things literary.
  17. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? Best Day Ever, named after a book by Kaira Rouda. The cover is a deep red. It would make a great, daring lipstick.
  18. Current #TBR pile? Are you kidding me? I have a whole TBR house. If I live to be a thousand years old, I will never finish them all, and I will certainly bring more in than.
  19. Best advice you’ve ever received? It’s more of a quote: “Let no one come to you without leaving better or happier.” Saint (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta. I try to live this every day.

 

About Camille 

Camille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, and those dreams came to fruition with her bestselling debut novel, The Memory of Us, and her second novel, Before the Rain Falls. In addition to writing women’s fiction, she buys too many baked goods at farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge in her passion for travel.

She and her husband homeschool their four children and lead an award-winning real estate team in San Antonio, Texas. They split their time between Texas and Virginia. Connect with Camille at camilledimaio.com.

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Open Book ~ Peter Swanson

If you are a mystery and thriller enthusiast like me then of course you know Peter Swanson.  Reminiscent of a Hitchcockian thriller, his books are addictive and unputdownable.  My first Swanson novel was The Kind Worth Killing and it was the perfect cat and mouse chase that made me a solidifed fan.  His latest, All the Beautiful Lies is out now and a perfect spring break companion! I recently picked it in my top April picks for Shereads.com! Read below for his must-have travel items, recent reads and perfect song choice to describe his life.

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via Amazon ~

From the acclaimed author of Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing comes a diabolically clever tale of obsession, revenge, and cold-blooded murder—a sly and brilliant guessing game of a novel in the vein of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Patricia Highsmith.

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “otherworldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

Peter Swanson Author Photo

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

Agatha Christie, Ira Levin, and Stephen King

Current binge series?

Babylon Berlin

Last favorite book?

You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames

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

Walking shoes, books, a flask for whiskey. The English countryside.

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday Times

Last person you sent a text message to? 

My Goddaughter Meghan.

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

I recently read Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz and was very jealous.

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

I do. Mrs. Heffernan from 11th grade English. She read one of my short stories out loud. Embarrassing at the time, but it changed me.

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

I always listen to film soundtracks while I write. Lately I’ve been listening to Jonny Greenwood’s score for Phantom Thread.

Describe your writing space?

A small office with a cluttered desk. I write on the sofa with my cat next to me.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

I’ve given Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis to quite a few people.

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

I’d love to see a great film version of The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

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

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered. I’m in one of those states, usually bewildered, all the time.

What/Who inspires you?

Stephen King inspires me as a writer. Despite his success he never mails it in.

Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Definite no.

Favorite Instagram account?

Amanda Seyfried, who only publishes pictures of her dog.

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

Darker than Amber is the name of one of my favorite books by John D. MacDonald.

Current #TBR pile?

Providence by Caroline Kepnes, The Wife by Alafair Burke, The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same,” by Rudyard Kipling is a line I think about frequently.

 

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What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag? ~ Jessica Strawser

Jessica Strawser is not only the editor-at-large for Writer’s Digest, the must have publication for all writers, she is also new force  in the thriller book game.  Her debut novel, Almost Missed You was a Barnes and Noble 2017 book pick and her latest release, Not That I Could Tell is popping up on booklists everywhere.  And she has impeccable timing, who doesn’t love a great thriller for Spring break!  I am so excited she shared her tote with me featuring her favorite beauty items and go-to snack so she doesn’t get HANGRY. Don’t we all 😉

NOT THAT I COULD TELL

via Amazon ~

An innocent night of fun takes a shocking turn in Not That I Could Tell, the next page-turner from Jessica Strawser.

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce―and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her―and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions―especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors―and to ask how well anyone reallyknows anyone else.

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What is your bag of choice?

I used to drag a boring, standard-issue laptop bag to conferences and book festivals, until I stumbled across this stylish Vera Wang that can stand in for a purse as well. It has just the right pouches to keep everything I need sorted, plus a padded sleeve for my Macbook. And it’s so versatile—it has yet to clash with a single dress or outfit—I can take it straight from the podium to cocktail hour without looking out of place. I get compliments on it everywhere I go.

What are your top favorite beauty picks?  

Years ago, I went to the eye doctor for some annoying irritation around my eyes, only to learn that I was having a “stress response” to my makeup. It wasn’t an allergy, exactly, but it might as well have been. He recommended I switch to Almay, because their products are designed for people with similar sensitivities, and I haven’t had an issue since! I love their mineral sheer eye shadows, though I do sometimes wish the colors weren’t so limited. (If you’re reading this, Almay, more purples, please!)

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

I’m pretty minimalist, to be honest: lip balm (any kind, really), powder foundation (Neutrogena is my favorite), and hand wipes are the only things I really mind being caught without (though when I am, I do really, really mind). Then again, I always end up carrying so much of my kids’ stuff around in my purse, there’s barely room for my own!

What are you currently reading?

I have been so looking forward to the new memoir I Am, I Am, I Am by one of my favorite novelists, Maggie O’Farrell. It’s about her seventeen brushes with death, and though we’ve never met, I’m wholeheartedly glad that she survived every one.

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

I always try to have a granola bar or a pack of peanut butter crackers along, just in case. (I tell myself I’m bringing it for the kids, but who am I kidding? They inherited their ability to get hangry in a snap from me.)

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