Open Book with Gabrielle Korn

I was thrilled Gabrielle Korn participated in my Open Book feature. Her collection of essays, Everybody (Else) is Perfect is an addictive collection of wirings and musings from Korn who is the former editor-in-chief of Nylon Magazine. This read is funny, dark, eye-opening and a voice that needs to be heard today. I am thrilled to have her and highly recommend this book as the perfect cocktail accompaniment with the spring weather in the air! She also has the perfect novel to lipstick pick 🙂

via Amazon ~

From the former editor-in-chief of Nylon comes a provocative and intimate collection of personal and cultural essays featuring eye-opening explorations of hot button topics for modern women, including internet feminism, impossible beauty standards in social media, shifting ideals about sexuality, and much more. 

Gabrielle Korn starts her professional life with all the right credentials. Prestigious college degree? Check. A loving, accepting family? Check. Instagram-worthy offices and a tight-knit group of friends? Check, check. Gabrielle’s life seems to reach the crescendo of perfect when she gets named the youngest editor-in-chief in the history of one of fashion’s most influential publication. Suddenly she’s invited to the world’s most epic parties, comped beautiful clothes and shoes from trendy designers, and asked to weigh in on everything from gay rights to lip gloss on one of the most influential digital platforms.

But behind the scenes, things are far from perfect. In fact, just a few months before landing her dream job, Gabrielle’s health and wellbeing are on the line, and her promotion to editor-in-chief becomes the ultimate test of strength. In this collection of inspirational and searing essays, Gabrielle reveals exactly what it’s truly like in the fashion world, trying to find love as a young lesbian in New York City, battling with anorexia, and trying not to lose herself in a mirage of women’s empowerment and Instagram perfection.

Through deeply personal essays, Gabrielle recounts her struggles to reconcile her long-held insecurities about her body while coming out in the era of The L Word, where swoon-worthy lesbians are portrayed as skinny, fashion-perfect, and power-hungry. She takes us with her everywhere from New York Fashion Week to the doctor’s office, revealing that the forces that try to keep women small are more pervasive than anyone wants to admit, especially in a world that’s been newly branded as woke.

From #MeToo to commercialized body positivity, Korn’s biting, darkly funny analysis turns feminist commentary on its head. Both an in-your-face take on impossible beauty standards and entrenched media ideals and an inspiring call for personal authenticity, this powerful collection is ideal for fans of Roxane Gay and Rebecca Solnit.

Open Book Q&A:

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

Michelle Obama, Octavia Butler, and Sarah Paulson.  

2. Current binge series?

I have binged all of television. There is nothing left for me to watch. 

3. Last favorite book?

I recently loved Anxious People by Fredrik Backman.  

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

Sunscreen, a bathing suit, and a very large hat. I’m going to a remote tropical beach. 

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

I’m in a relationship with Sunday NYT, but definitely checking out US Weekly. 

6. Last movie you saw?

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix. HIGHLY recommend. 

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

So Sad Today by Melisa Broder.

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

In college I had a professor named Kathy Engel who I ended up doing an independent study with about feminist poetry. She really championed my writing and encouraged me to pursue it. 

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

I actually need to complete silence to write. I get too focused on music if it’s playing. 

10. Describe your writing space?

I don’t really have one. Since I’ve always had busy day jobs I write where I can squeeze in a few minutes. Usually that means the subway, or these days, on the couch. 

11. Tell me your coffee/tea order?

Oat milk latte, please! 

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

Currently gifting What Kind Of Woman? by Kate Baer.

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

Fledgling by Octavia Butler.  

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

“Everybody Wants To Love You” by Japanese Breakfast. I kind of already feel like it’s my theme song. It’s just so silly and sweet and catchy. 

15. Must-have beauty product?

Augustinus Bader moisturizer, which is also my most expensive product. But it’s so good that I don’t really buy anything else for my face!  

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

No. But Megan is my favorite. 

17. Favorite Instagram account?

Round.boys. You’re welcome. 

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

It would be a deep, dark red called Furies, inspired by Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff. 

19. Current #TBR pile?

Rape Is Not A Crime by Michelle Bowdler

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily Danforth

Black Futures by Jenna Wortham and Kimberly Drew 

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

You’re never as stuck as you think you are.

Follow Gabrielle:

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Open Book with Briana Cole

As we approach a year of this pandemic, I have never been more thankful for books in my life. Stories have kept me moving and escaping from the daily pandemic life, that we have all settled into. Briana Cole’s latest, The Marriage Pass, falls in line with these reads, providing a perfect escape. Her latest is the perfect blend of romance, suspense and drama. I was thrilled she took the time to be my latest Open Book. She is my kind of gal from her coffee order to her music choices. Read below to get to know this fabulous author ❤

via Amazon ~

In a smart, sexy spin-off from her Unconditional Series, Briana Cole continues to explore unconventional relationships and question all assumptions about love, lust, and monogamy in this tantalizing drama that takes the “what if” of a free pass to a whole new level…

Can you really have the best of both worlds?

He’s rich, successful–and has been faithfully married to his longtime girlfriend for nearly one grueling year. Because for Dr. Dorian Graham, too many women is never too much–no matter how loyal his wife, Shantae, has been since their college days. So when she proposes they both celebrate their first anniversary by spending a no-questions-asked, no-consequences night with their greatest temptation, Dorian is shocked, but can’t resist. Especially since Shantae’s wild-card younger sister, Reagan, is gorgeous, uninhibited–and the one who got away…

It turns out one sizzling night with Reagan isn’t enough. Yet the more Dorian takes, the more she demands–and the more he suddenly has to lose. Soon, with his mind games being used against him and his every move checkmated, Dorian will be forced to go all-in on one last desperate play to win. But winning might just be another way to crash and burn…

Open Book feature interview questions with Briana Cole

1. What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with? Just three? This is tough. Of course, Dr. Maya Angelou. She has been a tremendous inspiration to me. I would also pick Terry McMillian and Kimberla Lawson Roby. I believe we would have some fun, engaging conversations. In addition to this, I would want to be in the room with all three of these idols to pick their brains and soak up their wisdom. Also, could Stephen King and Oprah drop by once in a while?


2. Current binge series? I am currently binging Lovecraft Country. It’s different but I am hooked. Since Netflix has put all my favorite shows on, I’m also re-watching some of the TV shows I enjoyed growing up; like One on One, Girlfriends, and Moesha.

3. Last favorite book? Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. I enjoyed that book so much I cracked it open and read it again immediately after I finished it.


4. What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it? Phone (not so much to communicate with people but to write and take plenty of pictures), maxi dresses, and my kids (does that count?). I love to cruise and I am a Disney fanatic so my dream vacation would be a Disney Cruise, sailing to each one of the Disney theme parks around the world and ending in Aulani, the Hawaiian Disney resort.



5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly? US Weekly, for sure. I am all about the entertainment industry!

 

6. Last movie you saw? Black Box on Prime Video. Definitely five stars!

 

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote? I wish I had written My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. That book was so authentic, so well-written with such a great narrative that I would have loved to have been attached to that story. Really, I can say that about ALL of Jodi’s books.



8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer? At Georgia Southern University, my mentor and Creative Writing professor was Peter Christopher. He was very instrumental in steering me towards a career as an author. I valued his constructive criticism and he gave advice on overcoming my personal challenges, such as procrastination, writer’s block, and stepping outside of my comfort zone to try other genres. Mr. Christopher has since passed away, however I will always remember how much of an impression he left on my life and my writing journey.

9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who? It depends. Sometimes, I prefer complete silence because I am hyper-focused and I don’t want noise to distract me. Other times, I may listen to music while writing because it can help put me in the right headspace and get the creative juices flowing. I usually oscillate between R&B, Neosoul, and slow jams because the music is smooth and mellow. Who I listen to depends on the mood of what I’m writing, but I’ve put on Heather Headley, Boys to Men, New Edition, Meshell Ndegeocello, BabyFace… really any artist with a song I know that matches the vibe of my scene. For example, if my characters are going through something traumatic or heartbreaking, I will play Whitney Houston’s Where Do Broken Hearts Go or Patti Labelle’s Hurts Like Hell. Those two work for me every time.

 

10. Describe your writing space? I don’t have a designated writing space because I write EVERYWHERE. When I say everywhere, that is exactly what I mean. I have a desktop computer in my office so sometimes, I write there. I also have a laptop so I may feel like writing on the sofa by the window, in bed, or outside on the back porch. I also write on my phone so people may catch me writing on my cell in restaurants, on planes, in cars, or sitting on a park bench while my children play. I once flew to LA on a personal writing retreat and wrote about a third of my book on the beach on my cell phone. Even when I’m driving on road trips and I am unable to physically type, I have recorded myself or used my phone’s ‘talk-to-text’ feature to have the words annotated and I can clean it up later. So, my writing space is anywhere I can get the words out of my head.

 

11. Tell me your coffee/tea order? I am not a huge coffee drinker, but the occasions when I am craving something, I will order a Tall Caramel Macchiatto from Starbucks. Tea is another story. I drink Sweet Tea nearly every day, preferably the home-brewed kind.

 

12. Do you have a favorite book that you gift? My books, of course! If you mean something other than mine, I usually like to gift non-fiction books or memoirs with powerful messages, depending on the receiver. For example, I used to gift the Chicken Soup books. The last few books I gifted were First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir and journal Becoming, because she speaks such a strong truth about finding your own voice; a message I relay in my own motivational speeches.



13. Book that you wished they would make a movie out of? The Chain by Adrian McKinty. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would love to see that one on the big screen.

 

14. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why? Hall of Fame by The Script. That is my empowerment song and I feel those lyrics represent my mindset. In the chorus, the song says, “Standing in the hall of fame/And the world’s gonna know your name/Cause you burn with the brightest flame.” This speaks to me and motivates me to push through the discouragement, the rejection, the ‘not-so-glamorous’ side of the writing industry. I feel this song captures Briana Cole and why I strive as hard as I do.

 

15. Must have beauty product? There was a time I had to have eyeliner. I couldn’t leave home without it. I have since “upgraded” and now my must have beauty product are lashes. Love, love, love lashes. I just wish I could figure out how to put them on myself.

 

16. Royals- yes or no?  If so, who is your favorite? I don’t really follow the royal families but if I had to pick a favorite, I would say probably Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. She’s outspoken and not afraid to stand up for what she wants, even if that means going against the grain.

 

17. Favorite Instagram account? I don’t have one favorite IG account. I usually just scroll on my feed until something catches my interest. I do have a number of hashtags I follow, including #bookishlife, #bookstagram, and #acting just to name a few.



18. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? Probably my current read Perfect Peace since that sounds like a makeup product. And because I love nude lipsticks, it would be a shade between pale pink and beige with a gloss finish; something I could wear every day.



19. Current #TBR pile? This could go on for pages because, like most avid readers, for every book I finish, I add three more to read. I better keep this to the top five on my list for now.  

  1. When No One is Watching – Alyssa Cole
  2. Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris
  3. Don’t Look for Me – Wendy Walker
  4. The Silent Patient – Alex Michaleides
  5. Verity – Colleen Hoover

 

20. Best advice you’ve ever received? I am the kind of person that will do everything for everyone else and make myself a last priority. I once mentioned to my Soror how exhausted I was and I’ll never forget her response to me: You can’t pour from an empty cup. That has resonated with me ever since. Now, I make more of a conscientious effort to take some time for self-care.

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Open Book with Tori Whitaker

This holiday season I have been giving thanks for so many things as we continue this difficult time in all our lives. One thing that I have been so grateful for, more than ever, is the power of storytelling and books. I sound like a broken record but the best place for me to escape these days is within the pages of a book. I am so thrilled to have Tori Whitaker as my latest Open Book as her debut novel, Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish, is a literary delight with dual timelines and complex female relationships. I also love that Tori made her book dreams come true as she always wanted to write a novel and made that goal happen. Books and authors like Tori are what make me so grateful to be a reader and author champion ❤

via Amazon ~

Three generations of women—and the love, loss, sacrifice, and secrets that can bind them forever or tear them apart.

Millicent Glenn is self-sufficient and contentedly alone in the Cincinnati suburbs. As she nears her ninety-first birthday, her daughter Jane, with whom she’s weathered a shaky relationship, suddenly moves back home. Then Millie’s granddaughter shares the thrilling surprise that she’s pregnant. But for Millie, the news stirs heartbreaking memories of a past she’s kept hidden for too long. Maybe it’s time she shared something, too. Millie’s last wish? For Jane to forgive her.

Sixty years ago Millie was living a dream. She had a husband she adored, a job of her own, a precious baby girl, and another child on the way. They were the perfect family. All it took was one irreversible moment to shatter everything, reshaping Millie’s life and the lives of generations to come.

As Millie’s old wounds are exposed, so are the secrets she’s kept for so long. Finally revealing them to her daughter might be the greatest risk a mother could take in the name of love.

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

Sarah Jessica Parker – Like me and my book’s protagonist, she was born in Ohio. Sarah attended a school for performing arts in Cincinnati, in fact, in the historic OTR neighborhood where my Millicent grew up. Maybe author Chris Bohjalian, too, for interesting discussions about books and the world—and singing legend, Tina Turner.

2. Current binge series?

We just finished MadMen and still have a MadMen hangover. Can’t seem to settle on a new binge yet!

3. Last favorite book?

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

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

Hubs and I live outside of Atlanta and we missed our spring get-away because of the pandemic. I’m still waiting for that trip in our older Corvette convertible, top down, driving through the verdant Kentucky Bluegrass region, and touring distilleries of the Bourbon Trail the way one visits vineyards in Napa. I’d pack my “Life Is Good” ball cap, a ponytail scrunchie, and my Ray-Ban sunglasses.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly? NYT

6. Last movie you saw?  Rebecca on Netflix

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. It’s got it all–unforgettable characters, fascinating historical settings, multiple generations and timelines, secrets and regrets, important themes from class to race, and gorgeous prose.

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

There was Mrs. Bradbury in ninth-grade English who encouraged me, though she wasn’t a full-blown mentor.

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

Absolutely not. I need silence.

10. Describe your writing space?

I write in my home office upstairs—never on a laptop in a cabin or coffee shop. I have a computer desk near a bright window, tables for spreading out research materials and outlines and such, and built-in shelves stuffed with books that inspire me.

11. Tell me your coffee/tea order?

Well … I don’t drink either. My daily caffeine fix is chocolate!

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

Hmm, not really.

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

Ariel Lawhon’s Code Name Helene. It’s the fictionalized story of a true-life bad ass woman.

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

I married at age 18, and we celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary this year. That’s a pretty big part of my life and family! So the song would probably be: Led Zeppelin’s, Thank You. Here’s a sense of the lyrics.

If the sun refused to shine
I would still be loving you
When mountains crumble to the sea
There will still be you and me

15. Must have beauty product?

OMG, Clinique’s lipstick in A Different Grape. My friend and I met at work 15 years ago and bonded when discovering we both wore the same color. It was a minor life crisis for us when they changed the formula a year or so ago! They still call it A Different Grape, but it feels, well, different.

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

Yes, and young Princess Charlotte is my fav. When she stuck out her tongue at reporters, I knew she might grow up to make Princess Margaret, the queen’s sister, look boring.

17. Favorite Instagram account?

Yikes, there are too many to name.

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

Perhaps the book, Girl with a Pearl Earring? The lipstick would be: Barely Pearl-ly Pink

19. Current #TBR pile?

I’m still waiting to read Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t pray for things you want. Rather, pray for direction in life.

Follow Tori:

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Open Book with Deborah Robinson

SO thrilled to have Deborah Robinson on the blog as my newest Open Book! Her latest novel, Lily Rose is out now and a must read filled with memorable characters and a deep plot with many layers of family, love and the truth.

via Amazon ~

Is blood truly thicker than water? After a desperate search for her birth mother, fashionista Lily Rose is forced to confront her turbulent past.

Love has set the tone for most of Lily Rose’s young life in Cumberland Falls, high in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. But her perfect world falls apart when her beloved adopted parents are tragically killed and she is sent to live at Red Rose Farm, in the Bluegrass. Lily starts high school and meets her first love, who introduces the idea of a much bigger world to Lily. This relationship spurs her to pursue the grit and glamour of the New York fashion world and a marriage that will nearly cause her demise.

Lily Rose follows Lily as she grows into a New York fashion icon and battles abuse, power struggles, and infertility. In the shadows, we learn about the young woman who gave Lily up and how they will collide. Lily Rose is about love and marriage, infidelity, infertility, and identity. It also calls into questions the old adages blood is thicker than water and nothing is more important than family. Will Lily Rose ever find what she has been searching for? And most importantly, will she be able to stay true to herself in the process?

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

Ernest Hemmingway, Jodi Picoult, and Pat Conroy

2.  Current binge series?

Bloodline, Outlanders, and Outerbanks

3. Last favorite book?

The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate

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

My professional, long lens camera, big cotton, camo hat, and sunscreen.  The Amazon

5.  Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday New York Times

6.  Last movie you saw?

Bombshell

7.  Book you read that you wished you wrote?

The Kite Runner

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

No

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

No.

10.  Describe your writing space?

I think it is lovely in Palm Beach. My office looks out over lots of lush palm trees and has a very jungle like atmosphere.  When I write at my summer house it is in a small reading room with an old fireplace all built in the early 1900’s and surrounded by my glorious maples and  oak trees.

11. Tell me your coffee/tea order?

Iced decaf grande nonfat no whip 5 pump mocha with extra ice and a dome lid from Starbucks.

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

Not really, it depends on the person that I am giving it to, as every person is very different and special.

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

Mine,  Lily Rose.

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

Live Like You Were Dying lyrics by Tim Mcgraw. It isn’t  because I am a country fan, it is the words that draw me deep into the song.  I want to live each day as if it were my last, so (as the song says) I would love deeper, speak sweeter, give forgiveness where I’ve been denying.  I want to live each day the best I can.

15. Must have beauty product?

My favorite perfume.  White Flowers by Creed   

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

Yes,  Queen Elizabeth.

17.  Favorite Instagram account?

citychic4ever

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

Who Killed Ruby Rush?  Red

19. Current #TBR pile?

A Memory of Violets. 28 Summers, City of Girls, and The Paper Wasp

Follow Deborah:

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Double Feature with Liza Nash Taylor

There is nothing I love more than a fabulous bag and a fabulous book! Liza Nash Taylor has both. A fabulous new novel, Etiquette for Runaways, which is a historical fiction delight and a Zadig and Voltaire bag chicer than most. She is my latest double feature and I am so grateful to be able to celebrate her new book! Books, like Liza’s, make a great escape! ❤

via Amazon~

A sweeping Jazz Age tale of regret, ambition, and redemption inspired by true events, including the Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935 and Josephine Baker’s 1925 Paris debut in Le Revue Nègre

1924. May Marshall is determined to spend the dog days of summer in self-imposed exile at her father’s farm in Keswick, Virginia. Following a naive dalliance that led to heartbreak and her expulsion from Mary Baldwin College, May returns home with a shameful secret only to find her father’s orchard is now the site of a lucrative moonshining enterprise. Despite warnings from the one man she trusts—her childhood friend Byrd—she joins her father’s illegal business. When authorities close in and her father, Henry, is arrested, May goes on the run.

May arrives in New York City, determined to reinvent herself as May Valentine and succeed on her own terms, following her mother’s footsteps as a costume designer. The Jazz Age city glitters with both opportunity and the darker temptations of cocaine and nightlife. From a start mending sheets at the famed Biltmore Hotel, May falls into a position designing costumes for a newly formed troupe of African American entertainers bound for Paris. Reveling in her good fortune, May will do anything for the chance to go abroad, and the lines between right and wrong begin to blur. When Byrd shows up in New York, intent upon taking May back home, she pushes him, and her past, away.

In Paris, May’s run of luck comes to a screeching halt, spiraling her into darkness as she unravels a painful secret about her past. May must make a choice: surrender to failure and addiction, or face the truth and make amends to those she has wronged. But first, she must find self-forgiveness before she can try to reclaim what her heart craves most.

authorphoto3

OPEN BOOK ~

  1. What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a book
    club with? Josephine Baker, Truman Capote, Tina Fey.
  2. Current binge series? Schitt’s Creek.
  3. Last favorite book? The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi.
  4. What 3 things do you pack in your bag for your dream vacation? Super comfy jammies from Johnny Was, Caddis reading/anti-blue light glasses, my travel Veuve
    Clicquot champagne stopper.
  5. Where is it? Paris.
  6. Sunday NYT or US Weekly? NYT, and do not touch that crossword puzzle.
  7. Last person you sent a text message to? My daughter.
  8. Book you read that you wished you wrote? Where the Crawdads Sing.(Hello! 100 weeks on the bestseller list!)
  9. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer? Connie May Fowler.
  10. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who? Depends on what I’m writing, usually something of the era, or something moody to set a scene.
  11. Describe your writing space? I’m nomadic and seasonal. In warm weather I’m usually on my porch with my dogs at my feet. Otherwise, I’m in a 1928 bunkhouse with no plumbing. There’s a window heater/AC that blows either tepid, mildew-smelling air or warm mildew-smelling air. I have made peace with the mice, except when they get into my knitting yarn. Then, it’s war.
  12. Coffee or tea? Nespresso purple capsules with steamed skim milk, or I get testy.
  13. Do you have a favorite book that you gift? Um, lately? My own.
  14. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and
    why? I can’t pick just one, but for right now, “Get Ready for This”, by 2 Unlimited.
  15. What/Who inspires you? Right this minute? Kamala Harris!
  16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no? No.
  17. Favorite Instagram account? @botanicaetcetera
  18. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? Great Sexpectations. A dusty, frosted, iridescent ecru with hints of
    mauve.
  19. Current #TBR pile? HAMNET, by Maggie O’Farrell, THE WRONG KIND OF
    WOMAN by Sarah McCraw Crow (ARC), SISTER DEAR by Hannah Mary McKinnon, THE FIRST TO LIE by Hank Phillippi Ryan, DEATH ON TUCKERNUCK by Francine Mathews.
  20. Best advice you’ve ever received? My mother told me, “They’re not looking at YOU! “Which she meant in a kind way, to say that people are more self-involved than we think, so we shouldn’t worry about projecting what they’re thinking about us.
     

WHAT’S IN MY BOOKISH BEAUTY BAG~

  • • What is your bag of choice?- purse/tote/backpack and brand that you have?
    Well, I’m going to give answers that are pre-COVID, so as not to not have to confess that I never switched my winter bag to spring OR summer this year, because now I only carry my wallet, but I love bags with very subtle branding. My go-to city bag is a black leather purse with lots of zippers and hardware by Zadig & Voltaire.
     
    • What are your top favorite beauty picks?  
     Chanel and Bobbi Brown for makeup, except that they discontinued two of my faves.
    Yes, there IS still a customer for gray eyebrow pencil! Mario Badescu toner, SKII
    (though it smells like gym socks), Claus Porto bath soap.
    Clairol Shimmer Lights purple shampoo, to brighten my silver hair.
    • What do you always carry in your bag/purse/carry-on for beauty products?  
     Biafine lip balm, Chanel presses powder compact. For flying, Caudalie grape water
    spray, with a sleep mask and Marvis cinnamon toothpaste.
     
    • What are you currently reading (can be books/magazines)?
    GREEN DOLPHIN STREET by Elizabeth Goudge. I got a 1944 copy on eBay. I love old
    books. I’m listening to THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD by Zora Neale Hurston,
    for the umpteenth time. The late Ruby Dee narrates, and it is my #1 audiobook of all
    time. I named a character Janie, after Janie Starks.

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Open Book with Laura Jamison

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

all_the_right_mistakes-3-600x927

via Amazon ~

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

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

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

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

 

  1. Current binge series?

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

 

  1. Last favorite book?

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

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

 

  1. Last movie you saw?

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

 

  1. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

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

 

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

Yes! My seventh grade teacher, Ms. Cotterill. 

 

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

No

 

  1. Describe your writing space?

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

 

  1. Tell me your coffee/tea order?

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

 

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

No, but I should put some thought into this! 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Must have beauty product?

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

 

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

One hundred percent, yes. See my next answer.

 

  1. Favorite Instagram account?

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Current #TBR pile?

The Booksparks Summer Reading Camp 2020 list!

 

  1. Best advice you’ve ever received?

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

 

Follow Laura:

Instagram

 

Open Book with Deborah Royce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current binge series?

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

Last favorite book?

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

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

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

 

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

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

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

Last movie you saw?

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

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

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

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

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

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

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

Describe your writing space?

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

Tell me your coffee/tea order?

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

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

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

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

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

 

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

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

Must have beauty product?

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

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

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

Favorite Instagram account?

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

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

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

 

Current #TBR pile?

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

Best advice you’ve ever received?

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

Follow Deborah:

Facebook

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Open Book with Julie Pennell

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

Louisiana Lucky Cover

via Amazon ~

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

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

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

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

 

Julie Pennell Photograph by Riser Vance Photography

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

Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and
Oprah

2. Current binge series?

“Billions”

3. Last favorite book?

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

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

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

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

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

6. Last movie you saw?

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

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

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

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

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

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

10. Describe your writing space?

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

11. Tell me your coffee/tea order?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Must have beauty product?

Lip gloss

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

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

17. Favorite Instagram account?

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

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

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

19. Current #TBR pile?

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

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

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

 

Follow Julie!

Instagram

 

Open Book with Suzanne Nugent

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

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via Amazon ~

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

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

 

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

Nora Ephron, Michelle Obama, Carrie Fisher.

 

  1. Current binge series?

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

 

  1. Last favorite book?

    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

 

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

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

 

  1. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

    Sunday NYT.

 

  1. Last movie you saw?

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

 

  1. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Describe your writing space.

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

 

  1. Tell me your coffee/tea order.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

                                                                                                                                          

  1. Must have beauty product?

    Sunscreen.

 

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

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

 

  1. Favorite Instagram account?

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

 

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

    Untamed. And it would be just a clear gloss.

 

  1. Current #TBR pile?

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

 

  1. Best advice you’ve ever received?

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

Open Book with Erin Carlson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  1. Current binge series?

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

 

  1. Last favorite book?

I loved The Herd by Andrea Bartz!

 

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

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

 

  1. Must read magazine or newspaper column?

I love New York Magazine — the best ever.

 

  1. Last movie you saw?

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

 

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

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

 

  1. Funnest fact you found out about Nora Ephron?

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

 

  1. Top 3 favorite blogs?

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

 

  1. Describe your writing space?

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

 

  1. White, Red, Rose or no way?

Rose, all the way!

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Current must have beauty product?

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Favorite Instagram influencer?

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Current #TBR pile?

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

 

  1. Best advice for aspiring writers?

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

 

 

Bonus trio:

  1. Favorite Nora Ephron book? 

Heartburn is a classic. Delicious and vicious!

  1. Favorite Meryl Streep red carpet moment?

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

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

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

 

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