Open Book with Randy Susan Meyers

Boston writers are some of the best and Randy Susan Meyers is no exception.  Her latest, Waisted, tackles women’s body image issues and female empowerment when a group of women join a weight loss camp to find out it is not all it seems.  Meyers, who always so brilliantly takes on issues that are at our forefront, is my latest Open Book and of course she is AH-mazing!  From Nora Ephron (my favorite!) to Dead to Me (it’s a must-binge) to an empowering bookish lip color, Randy is a wonderful author and woman (follow her on SOCIAL!) and my guess would probably be a fabulous coffee date ❤

WAISTED_Cover Image

via Amazon ~

In this provocative, wildly entertaining, and compelling novel, seven women enrolled in an extreme weight loss documentary discover self-love and sisterhood as they enact a daring revenge against the exploitative filmmakers.

Alice and Daphne, both successful and accomplished working mothers, harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives. Scales terrify them.

Daphne, plump in a family of model-thin women, learned only slimness earns admiration at her mother’s knee. Alice, break-up skinny when she met her husband, risks losing her marriage if she keeps gaining weight.

The two women meet at Waisted. Located in a remote Vermont mansion, the program promises fast, dramatic weight loss, and Alice, Daphne, and five other women are desperate enough to leave behind their families for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The catch? They must agree to always be on camera; afterward, the world will see Waisted: The Documentary.

The women soon discover that the filmmakers have trapped them in a cruel experiment. With each pound lost, they edge deeper into obsession and instability…until they decide to take matters into their own hands.

author social media 2018 color Randy Susan Meyers social media sq-1973

1. What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a
bookclub with? Roxane Gay, Nora Ephron, & Whoopi Goldberg.
2. Current binge series? Dead to Me
3. Last favorite book? Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl
4. What 3 things do you pack in your bag for your dream vacation? Kindle (I couldn’t
possibly pack enough paper books for a vacation.) Airy cotton caftan. Bathing suit.
Where is it? Santorini islands in Greece.
5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly? Sunday NYT
6. Last person you sent a text message to? My BFF
7. Book you read that you wished you wrote? Homegoing by Yaa Gyassi
8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer? Miss Leanza in 2 nd
grade.
9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who? I need total silence when writing.
10. Describe your writing space? I write in my family room where I rotate between a comfy stuffed club chair and perfectly worn couch. There I’m surrounded by many pots oforchids, two overgrown Boston ferns, an aloe plant ready to take over the house, and jadeplants. The oriental rug had many shades of red and best of all is a view of my garden (otherwise known as my therapist.)
11. Coffee or tea? Coffee!
12. Do you have a favorite book that you gift? The Unstoppable Ruth Ginsburg: American
Icon
13. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?
I Will Survive, because at every worst point in my life I worked to find the strength no
matter how deep I had to dig.
14. What/Who inspires you? Gloria Steinem—because she’s never stopped working for
justice.
15. Bravo reality TV- yes or no? No
16. Favorite Instagram account? @bklynlibrary
17. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what
shade would it be? I’d name the lipstick Determination after The Women of Brewster
Place by Gloria Naylor. The color would be a clear strong shade of cherry.
18. Current #TBR pile? Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zukoff, The Floating
Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland, The Secrets Between Us: A Novel by Thrity Umrigar.
19. Best advice you’ve ever received? My grandmother’s advice to be kind.

 

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Open Book with Wendy Walker

Thrilled, pun actually intended to have Wendy Walker on the blog today!  She is a suspense and thriller extraordinaire who always keeps us guessing and looking behind our shoulder 😉  Her latest, The Night Before, is about two sisters and an online date gone bad- literally the best companion for spring break and beach reading!  Coffee, Fleetwood Mac and Gillian Flynn- Wendy is my spirit animal ❤

NIGHT BEFORE, THE.jpg

via Amazon ~

First dates can be murder.

“Ferociously smart.” ―AJ Finn
“Riveting.” ―Riley Sager
“Addictive.” ―Liv Constantine
“Wonderfully tense.” ―Aimee Molloy
“Irresistible.” ―Mary Kubica
“Impossible to put down.” ―Megan Miranda

Riveting and compulsive, national bestselling author Wendy Walker’s The Night Before “takes you to deep, dark places few thrillers dare to go” as two sisters uncover long-buried secrets when an internet date spirals out of control.

Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site.

Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date.

When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him…

Wendy-Walker-Headshot_credit Bill Miles

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

Gillian Flynn, because she has a profound understanding of the connection between family history and the dark side of the human psyche. Jane Austen, because she would find us stories with characters like Mr. Darcy (sigh). And Jonathan Franzen, because he would keep us away from the wine and gossip, and into the deeper literary aspects of the books.

Current binge series?

The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 3. Nothing I have watched before or after the very first episode of Season 1 has captivated and moved me like this series. And I could watch Elisabeth Moss sit in a chair making subtle facial expressions for hours.

Last favorite book?

Where the Crawdads Sing. I rarely get to read outside my genre, so this was a real treat. A great story about perseverance and integrity. I also need to give a shout out to my fellow thriller writers with May books: The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine and The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda. I got a sneak peak and they are both fantastic.

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

Pajamas. Bathing suit. Book. I would say great company but that evokes images of people stuffed in suitcases – maybe I should save that for my next novel! Any destination that is quiet and warm, has a cozy bed, a place to run or hike or do yoga, and coffee and wine would do just fine.

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Oh, please don’t make me choose! Yin and yang – I need both.

Last person you sent a text message to?

My kids – when will you be home, what do you want for dinner, etc. etc.

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. The profound moral issues and character development are what I strive for in every book. This one is near perfection on all fronts.

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

I didn’t actually consider writing until my early thirties. However, when I was a senior in high school, I had a teacher named Mrs. Sundquist who encouraged us to write stories with emotional depth, drawn from personal experiences. This is always the first place I start when I begin to plot a new novel.

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

Never. I need dead quiet. Even a ticking clock will do me in.

Describe your writing space?

I write on my laptop so I can be anywhere that is quiet, warm and inspiring. Sometimes I write at the kitchen table with the door to the back yard wide open. Sometimes I sit in a chaise lounge in front of the fire. Sometimes I stay in my bed, under the covers. It’s all about quiet and comfort!

Coffee or tea?

Coffee, all day long!

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

I love attending book events for my author friends and gifting signed copies. I think a signed book makes a great gift.

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

Uh, one of mine? Seriously, though, I would have to say All The Light We Cannot See. It has everything a movie needs – drama, atmosphere, history, and emotion. Hollywood – let’s do this!  

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

I have to go with Landslide by Fleetwood Mac. First of all, I used to worship Stevie Nicks. Friends from college will attest to this. For me, this song is about the constant changing of life. No matter how far you go in adjusting and overcoming obstacles, there are always more ahead. It is a reminder to enjoy the journey, because that’s all there really is.

What/Who inspires you?

My children, always. I am meticulous about preserving the memories of their lives – videos, photos, artwork from 1st Grade. I am constantly curating and editing, and so I have frequent reminders of the various stages of their lives and how miraculous they are. It is so easy to stagnate when we settle into adult life, and to accept this stagnation. My children inspire me to keep dreaming and striving and changing.

Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Not really, BUT I have to admit to being pulled back into The Bachelorette/Bachelor series with some of my friends. It’s a total guilty pleasure and a much-needed respite from the dark dramas I am typically drawn to. And, let’s be honest – they seem somewhat scripted to me, which makes it even more fun as a writer to guess where the producers will take things.

Favorite Instagram account?

Binchcity. It’s the account of a young college woman, and the daughter of a very old friend. She is hilarious and honest and keeps me in touch with my younger reader base.

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

Eat, Pray, Love – vermilion red, and the kind that won’t wear off with continued use 🙂

Current #TBR pile?

A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Best advice you’ve ever received?

One of the therapists who helped me with a book gave me the best advice I have ever received. She said that almost every reaction we have is influenced by events which occurred in childhood when our brains were still developing. I am not a fan of self-help one-liners, but change your thoughts, change your life is all about understanding this connection between past experiences and current perceptions. Being able to wrangle our emotions is not an easy task, but it has very powerful results!

 

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Open Book with Rachel Felder

It can be scary to wear but always chic ~ a red lip.  Rachel Felder has paid homage to the iconic beauty in her latest book, Red Lipstick An Ode to a Beauty Icon.  There are so many famous people who have made the red lip a staple in our beauty bags ~ Marilyn, Audrey, Grace, the list goes on.  I personally love a red lip and think the shades that are red go beyond just a classic red.  You can have pink red, orange red, brownish red, the list goes on but the fact is there is a red for all of us and you just have to find the perfect one to rock!  Rachel is my latest Open Book and I love her advice and her dream book club- Chanel, ok?!

Red Lipstick Final Cover.jpg

via Amazon ~

A unique, full-color compendium that celebrates and explores the enduring power and allure of the world’s most iconic lip shade, jam-packed with entertaining stories, anecdotes, little-known facts, quotes, and more than 100 gorgeous images culled from fine art, photography, and beauty and fashion editorial and advertising.

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” — Elizabeth Taylor

Lipstick is the one makeup item most women can’t live without—and the most iconic shade is red. Exuding power, sensuality, allure, and mystery, red lips have been a constant of fashion for more than 5,000 years, beginning with Mesopotamian women around 3500 B.C. Throughout the ages, red lipstick has been a signature look worn by royalty, celebrities, and real women across cultures and geography. In fact, nearly all women own a tube of red lipstick, whether it’s the favorite shade they’ve been wearing devotedly for years, or as beauty boost they use for special occasions.

Filled with a show-stopping selection of images and distinctively packaged—the size of a clutch, with a jacket printed with a matte, velvet, red finish—Red Lipstick is the only cultural history of this makeup essential available. Granted unprecedented access to experts and the archives of revered brands like Chanel and Elizabeth Arden, beauty writer Rachel Felder explores the origins and allure of red lipstick and illuminates its association with aristocracy, sex appeal, illicit sexuality, rebellion, power, glamour, fame, and beauty. She also spotlights the fascinating array of women who have worn it through the ages, including monarchs, suffragettes, flappers, working women in World War II, first ladies, political leaders, geishas, Hollywood sirens, rock and rollers, fashionistas, and more.

Inside this enthralling book, you’ll discover why red lipstick makes women more attractive to others (and the science behind it); tips on choosing the most perfect shade of crimson; and a wealth of anecdotes, quotations, select literary excerpts, and trivia, such as the shade Carolyn Bessette Kennedy wore on her wedding day. Red Lipstick is packed with a museum’s worth of fine art, including both Man Ray’s photograph “Red Badge of Courage” and infamous painting “Les Amoreaux;” lush, rarely seen vintage magazine advertisements from stalwart brands like Guerlain and Dior; illustrations by renowned fashion illustrators such as René Gruau, Daisy Villeneuve, and Bil Donovan; artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edgar Degas, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Wayne Thiebaud, and Walt Kuhn; and images of famous red lipstick wearers including Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth II, Coco Chanel, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Madonna, Diana Vreeland, Rihanna, Paloma Picasso, and many others.

With its captivating, chic design, beautiful selection of visuals, and engaging, entertaining text, Red Lipstick is a classic, like the perfect red lip shade itself.

 

RachelFelderPortrait18

 

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

David Bowie, Coco Chanel and Man Ray.

 

Current binge series?

I’m not a binge watcher, but I do watch the news, especially international news online, several times every day.

 Last favorite book?

 I loved Jonathan Coe’s “Middle English”. Coe captures the nuances of modern British life in a way that’s always compelling. This one is extremely timely, since it focused on Brexit.

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

Does red lipstick count as one of the items? I never, ever travel without a capsule wardrobe of red lipstick, with some options of shade and finish.  (And—here’s my travel tip!—I put the clear plastic bag of lipsticks inside a chic leather clutch that becomes my evening purse on arrival.). The other three items I would bring are a pair of oversized vintage sunglasses; a tablet filled with music, books, and magazines; and a fountain pen with which to write on hotel stationery, napkins, and pretty notebooks purchased on the trip.  I’m a city-lover, so it would a visit to a cultural capital.

 Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Since I’ve written many articles for The Sunday New York Times, I definitely pick that!  

 Last person you sent a text message to?

My dear friend, the astrologer Susan Miller. It was red lip emojis.

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

 There are so many! Everything by James Joyce. Every book of poetry by Philip Larkin. Every compilation of scripts by Harold Pinter.  

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

One of the many excellent teachers I had at Barnard College really set me on my way: Joan Snitzer.  She truly empowered me to have confidence in my world view and feel that writing, my great love and creative outlet, could be a career.

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

Yes! Always.  Music is my air.  In the background is a mix of all sorts of established artists—from Nick Drake to The Clash to The Smiths to X—with plenty of newer ones, like Fontaines DC.

Describe your writing space?

First of all, it smells good! There’s always a scented candle burning on my desk, with the aroma chosen to accommodate the mood and season.  There’s usually a cup of tea too. There’s happy clutter—lots of pens, a stack of notebooks, boxes of stationery—and the weathered thesaurus I’ve had for decades.

Coffee or tea?

Tea, tea, and more tea. I gave up coffee nearly a decade ago—it will be ten years in August.  In its place, I’ve learned to truly savor the nuanced deliciousness of tea. Each morning begins with a pot of tea—properly brewed, of course, with loose leaves—and the newspaper. That, to me, is pure bliss.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

I usually give beautiful leather-bound notebooks to friends: I love to encourage them to write—and do so on paper, with a pen. But I do sometimes give beautiful coffee table books, like monographs of the work of fashion designers and artists.

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

 Alain de Botton’s “On Love” I’m a huge fan of de Botton’s books—this one lends itself to film scenes from the first pull-you-in sentence

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

“Lipstick” by Buzzcocks, of course!

What/Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by so much! I’m obsessed with art and music, and love the theater too—those media, along with great literature, are fuel that I can’t live without. My biggest inspiration is my daughter, and the goal to show her the beauty and importance of doing something you love, working hard at it, and giving back to others.

 Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

I watch reality on tv news programs instead of “reality” tv.

Favorite Instagram account?

 There’s not one that’s my absolute favorite, but I do follow the accounts of many top makeup artists and beauty entrepreneurs.

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

I’m hoping it’s ok to name if after one of my books instead of someone else’s!  I would create Manic Pop Thrill, inspired by my first book; it would be an intense, deeply pigmented, shocking-pink-tinged red.

 Current #TBR pile?

I’m about to do some book tour dates and have earmarked a stack of books about some of my favorite artists, like Egon Schiele, for the journeys.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Never leave the house without red lipstick.

 

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Open Book with Lea Geller

If you are looking for a laugh-out loud novel with a heroine who you will be cheering for, then Trophy Life is it and I am so thrilled to have Lea Geller on the blog as my latest Open Book!  Her dazzling and hilarious debut novel, out now, is really the most perfect accessory to accompany you on #SpringBreak.  Nora Ephron, Gatsby and Springsteen, yup, enough said.  Read below ❤

Geller_TrophyLife_FT

via Amazon ~

A refreshingly honest, laugh-out-loud novel about losing the life you always wanted…and finding the life you were meant to have.

For the last ten years, Agnes Parsons’s biggest challenge has been juggling yoga classes and lunch dates. Her Santa Monica house staff takes care of everything, leaving Agnes to focus on her trophy-wife responsibilities: look perfect, adore her older husband, and wear terribly expensive (if uncomfortable) underwear.

When her husband disappears, leaving Agnes and their infant daughter with no money, no home, and no staff, she is forced to move across the country, where she lands a job teaching at an all-boys boarding school in the Bronx. So long, organic quinoa bowls and sunshine-filled California life. Hello, processed food, pest-infested house, and twelve-year-old-boy humor—all day, every day.

But it’s in this place of second chances (and giant bugs), where Agnes is unexpectedly forced to take care of herself and her daughter, where she finds out the kind of woman she can be. Ultimately, she has to decide if she prefers the woman and mother she has become…or the trophy life she left behind.

Authentic and sharply witty, Trophy Life is proof that granny panties and mom coats might not be the answer to everything; they’re simply comfortable (if slightly unattractive) reminders of what happens when one life ends…and real life begins.

 

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

Nora Ephron, Tina Fey and Bruce Springsteen, just so I could finally meet him.

 

 

Current binge series?

I am currently binging the Israeli show Shtisl on Netflix.

 

 

Last favorite book?

I was blown away by The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. I loved it so much, I read the final page and started all over again.

 

 

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

Packing: For reasons which will be immediately clear, for any vacation I pack travels packets of Miralax and Metamucil, and I never travel without an eye mask because I am a terrible sleeper anywhere, but especially in a strange bed. I don’t like being landlocked, so any good vacation has to involve a body of water – can be the beach or a big city with a river running through it.

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

NYT. Each time I read US Weekly, I know fewer and fewer of the celebrities, which just make feels old. Reading the NYT makes me feel like a spring chicken.  

 

 

Last person you sent a text message to?

Probably to my husband, asking him what time he was going to be home. And then one five minutes later asking again.

 

 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Pretty much anything by Ian McEwan, but mostly Atonement, which is a book I read yearly. I feel the same way about Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

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

 

Yes, I had several – most notable was my high school English teacher Judith Beiner who told to write, write, and then write some more.

 

 

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

Yes. It really depends on my mood. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Duke Ellington and the Killers.

Describe your writing space?

 

My home office is completely uninsulated so I can only use it for six months a year, at most. Right now, I’m writing at my dining room table. If I write anywhere near my bed, I end up napping. I have been known to take mid-day catnaps on the couch; but those don’t count.

 

Coffee or tea?

 

Both. Usually black coffee until midday and the black tea with milk.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

Depends on the recipient, but The Most of Nora Ephron is a great gift.

 

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

 

Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. If I could only listen to one song for the rest of time, that would be it.

What/Who inspires you?

The small details and muddiness of everyday life and the things that happen to all of us that nobody likes to talk about. Those inspire me to write.

 

Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

 

No, which may explain why I don’t know anyone in Us Weekly anymore.

 

Favorite Instagram account?

@LondonIsPink which is pictures of London buildings with pink door, parks with pink trees, or city streets with a random pink car parked. It’s a beautiful collection.

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

 

Probably Gatsby and it would be the color of champagne.

Current #TBR pile?

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

In John Irving’s The Hotel Hampshire, a father gives his children the advice, “Keep passing the open windows.” I love that advice, that when times are tough, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and move forward.

 

 

About the author

Lea Geller is a recovering lawyer who lives in New York with her husband and children. She began her writing career by blogging about her adventures in the trenches of parenting, and got the idea for Trophy Life when her two sons were in middle school.

When Lea’s not eavesdropping on her children, she can be found running, drinking diner coffee, and occasionally teaching middle-school English. She enjoys embarrassing her family by posting pictures of her vegetable garden on Instagram (#IgrewDinner). You can follow her at https://www.leageller.com/.

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Open Book with Kristin Fields

Today I am so fortunate to have debut author Kristin Fields on the blog!  Her novel, A Lily in the Light, is about Esme, whose sister goes missing and is never found until she gets a call 8 years later that will change her life all while she is living her ballet dreams in San Fransisco.  I am so thrilled to have Kristin on the blog and to celebrate her debut.  She is my latest Open Book and I will give you a hint: Midge Maisel in a book club- YES please!!!

A Lily in the Light_300dpi

via Amazon:

A harrowing debut novel of a tragic disappearance and one sister’s journey through the trauma that has shaped her life.

For eleven-year-old Esme, ballet is everything—until her four-year-old sister, Lily, vanishes without a trace and nothing is certain anymore. People Esme has known her whole life suddenly become suspects, each new one hitting closer to home than the last.

Unable to cope, Esme escapes the nightmare that is her new reality when she receives an invitation to join an elite ballet academy in San Francisco. Desperate to leave behind her chaotic, broken family and the mystery surrounding Lily’s disappearance, Esme accepts.

Eight years later, Esme is up for her big break: her first principal role in Paris. But a call from her older sister shatters the protective world she has built for herself, forcing her to revisit the tragedy she’s run from for so long. Will her family finally have the answers they’ve been waiting for? And can Esme confront the pain that shaped her childhood, or will the darkness follow her into the spotlight?

Kristin Fields_300dpi

 

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

This is hard. Let’s go with Stephen King to add a little suspense/twisted
intentions, Midge Maisel to tell it how it is, and Rachel Carson because
I appreciate her careful study of nature and how she made a book
about pesticides sound like poetry. In fact, I think I’d like to write a
book with all three of them.

2. Current binge series?

We just finished The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Now we’re studying
before Game of Thrones comes back and rewatching lots of episodes.

3. Last favorite book?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Amazing.

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

We love to travel. There aren’t too many places I wouldn’t go. At the
moment, my dream vacation would be to live on a ship and sail to
Antarctica. I would bring a really good camera, the warmest boots in
the world, binoculars to see glaciers and polar bears close up.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

The NYT – especially the foodie sections.

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My sisters. We have a family group text to share pictures of our pets.

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and Me Before You By JoJo
Moyes. I alternated between loving every single word on the page and
also feeling like I should never write again..

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

In elementary school, Sister Gregory never smiled. Her nylon stockings
rubbed together when she walked up and down the aisles, and she had
a habit of yelling at people for no reason, but she also gave creative
writing assignments.
My first story filled eight notebook pages about a halloween witch who
abducts three girls and convinces the whole town that they are actually
the witches, not her. I turned it in and the next day, Sister Gregory
made me read it aloud. All eight pages. Standing. In front of the whole
class.
She’d done this once before with someone else and told them it was
terrible. Everything a short story should not be, so needless to say, I was
terrified. Plus, I was already shy to begin with. But at the end, everyone
clapped, including Sister Gregory.
It was the first time I’d ever seen her smile, but better than that, it was
the first time I really felt like I had a voice.
Later, Martha McPhee and Barbara Bengels at Hofstra University would
teach me more about craft, and I’m forever grateful to both of them for
their early belief in my writing.

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

Not usually, but for A Lily in the Light, I listened to classical music
while writing scenes at the studio or Tchaicovsky during the
performances of Serenade. Writing to the music helped capture the
emotion of the piece and what it might bring out for Esme as she
danced.
10. Describe your writing space?

Our apartment is tiny, so I usually write on the couch and surround
myself with blankets and pillows and make sure my cat is snuggled up
there too. The more comfortable I am, the more likely I’ll write myself
into a meditative state and keep going just because I won’t want to get
up.

11. Coffee or tea?

It used to be black tea with milk or a good, spicy chai, but then I got
hooked on espresso in Paris and now I can’t function without that
fantastic caffeine jolt every morning. It makes the rest of the day feel
much more do-able.

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

I try to match books with people, so I can’t say there’s one go-to book.
Stories always find people at just the right moment.

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

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. Any opportunity to
watch people surviving alone in nature is fascinating. Same for Where
the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

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

Maybe the Jeopardy song because I’m always in a state of deep
thought/confusion.

15. What/Who inspires you?

I grew up in New York City and took it for granted for much of my
early life – mostly thinking about where I’d rather be instead. But now
that I’ve lived here my whole life, I have a new appreciation for it and
find that it influences so much of my writing.

The beautiful thing about New York is that there is always something
new to do, see, experience, and watching people do their thing has
given me endless writing material. It’s also shaped my worldview and
me as a person, so I have a new respect and pride for my home city
now that I can’t say I’ve always had.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

No! YouTube is enough of a rabbit hole for me.
 
17. Favorite Instagram account?

Henry and Baloo. When our upstairs neighbor brought home a puppy, I
had big dreams that our cat would ride around on her like Henry and
Baloo, but our cat was less enthused..

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

Gatsby – It would be green like the light at the end of Daisy’s dock, but I
would not be brave enough to wear green lipstick ever.

19. Current #TBR pile?

So many. Too many, but I’m really looking forward to Where the Forest
Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah, Trophy Life by Lea Geller, The
Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, True Places by Sonja
Yoerg, My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, and
Dopesick by Beth Macy.
 
20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

My mentor, Martha McPhee, told me once that I should worry less
about writing and just go gather life experience. I was a little sore
about it at the time, but it was the best advice anyone has ever given
me. My writing is better because of it and my life is more interesting.

 

Follow Kristin :

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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.

 

Follow Eithne:

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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.