What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag ~ Abby Stern

TGIF!  Nothing better than a TGIF and in front of a long weekend.  To kick off this AH-mazing three day weekend I am beyond thrilled to have Abby Stern on the blog.  Her debut novel, According to a Source celebrated it’s book birthday this past Tuesday.  This book has it all- Celebs, Hollywood, a stunning cover.. can we say perfect beach read. Stern, a Hollywood insider and celeb reporter, has truly written a gem and clearly she is quite the “source” to do so.  Beware- her bag may cause you to take a second mortgage out on your house 🙂

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via Amazon

Ella Warren loves her job working for celebrity news magazine, The Life, as an undercover reporter. Her evenings are spent using her alias to discreetly attend red carpet events, nightclubs, and Hollywood hotspots like the fabulous Chateau Marmont, where her eyes are always peeled for the next big celebrity story.

When Ella’s new Devil Wears Prada-type boss starts a not-so-friendly competition among the reporters to find an exclusive story or be fired, the stakes are higher than ever. But is being in Hollywood’s elite inner circle worth jeopardizing her friendship with budding actress Holiday Hall and her relationships with her boyfriend and her family? As the competition grows fiercer, her life becomes intertwined in a public scandal that may cost her everything.

A juicy, big-hearted novel about a young woman who loses herself in a fast-paced, glamorous world where finding your authentic self isn’t easy.

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What is your bag of choice?

Oh gosh, I love them all! All of the styles, all of the brands. It’s hard to choose! I think it’s important for every woman to have one nice designer investment bag (if possible) that will never go out of style. I also love Claire V.’s clutches. They come in a variety of fun solids and patterns (hello Leopard!). For everyday use, I love Cuyana. Their bags are high-quality leather but are very affordable so I don’t get worried throwing it around while I’m doing errands. Mine has worn very well and I love that they come out with new colors every season.

What are your top favorite beauty picks?  

For skincare, I’m obsessed with my friend Kat Rudu’s line, Kat Rudu Beauty. The line is pure biotic and it smells and feels amazing and makes my skin dewey. I love all of her products but the two I can’t live without are her Liquid Lift and her Jet Set Cream.

In terms of makeup, I love Jane Iredale’s loose mineral powder with a setting spray to enhance my dewey look. I need Clé de Peau concealer to help erase the late nights writing. I just got the new Dolce & Gabanna Miss Sicily lipstick. It’s the perfect mixture of pigment and sheer and gives my lips the perfect pop. I love the Concetta color and am going to have to stock up in case it’s a limited run.

I also cannot live without my Psssst! dry shampoo. When I’m too busy to wash my hair it’s a godsend and I always carry it around with me to keep the volume of my hair up after I’ve left the house.

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

I always have a good lip balm on hand and right now I’m loving this Kari Gran one. I also always have rollerball of the Marc Jacobs perfume (the original scent) on hand and a travel-size Psssst! shampoo.

What are you currently reading?

I just started The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn. I love her show American Housewife and I’m not very far along but I’m enjoying it a lot! After that I’m going to move on to The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro and am eagerly awaiting Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza’s new novel out in July, Fitness Junkie. My magazine reading has seriously been lacking lately, but I love The New Yorker and Vanity Fair and can always count on Cosmopolitan to entertain me.

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

A snack and gum! I’m obsessed with these Iggy Chips because I can keep them in my purse. When I’m not writing I’m always running errands or stuck in traffic and not only are they portable but they’re healthy and guilt-free even though they taste like they aren’t. My favorite flavor is the Chocomelon which is  watermelon with cocoa powder and  chia seeds. I don’t even want to admit how many bags of these I go thru on a weekly basis. And of course, I gotta have gum for after my snack. I love the Orbitz Sweet Mint flavor.

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Follow Abby:

Twitter @abbystern

Facebook @abbysternwriter

Instagram @abbystern

*Thanks Abby for sharing your stunning bag and your beauty picks! My beauty list just grew! xx

What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag? DOUBLE feature ~ Lynda Cohen Loigman and Gina Sorell

 

Happy May 1st!  I am so excited for the new month and the fact that I have hit over 900 followers in Instagram.  I wanted to celebrate with not one but two bag features!  I am so thrilled to have reached this milestone and am hoping for over 1000 by the end of summer.  Today I have the wonderful Lynda Cohen Loigman, whose highly popular debut, The Two Family House recently came out in paperback and Gina Sorrell, also a debut author and her book, Mothers and Other Strangers.  I was so excited to be able to have both fabulous ladies on the blog.  I have been a huge fan of Lynda’s and she actually introduced me to my favorite nail polish color- Well Read.  I was also thrilled to be able to support Gina and her beautiful book baby 🙂

Lynda Cohen Loigman

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via Amazon

“An emotional but dreamy novel that…will transport you far, far away from your next dreary Monday morning. You may do a lot of sobbing, but don’t worry, you’ll be smiling by the end.” ―Bustle, “12 Spring Break Reads To Help You Escape Normal Life”

**Buzzfeed, “14 Of The Most Buzzed-About Books”

**Popsugar, “6 Books You Should Read”

“A novel you won’t be able to put down.” ―Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author

Brooklyn, 1947: In the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born, minutes apart. The mothers are sisters by marriage: dutiful, quiet Rose, who wants nothing more than to please her difficult husband; and warm, generous Helen, the exhausted mother of four rambunctious boys who seem to need her less and less each day. Raising their families side by side, supporting one another, Rose and Helen share an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic winter night.

When the storm passes, life seems to return to normal; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and the once deep friendship between the two women begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost, but not quite, wins. Moving and evocative, Lynda Cohen Loigman’s debut novel The Two-Family House is a heart-wrenching, gripping multigenerational story, woven around the deepest of secrets.

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Bag of choice

This is going to make me sound really old, but ever since I hurt my back a few years ago, my favorite bags are lightweight totes. My friend Gabrielle had a great one that I kept raving about, and last year my husband got a similar one for me for Mother’s Day. It’s made by a company called Monserat De Luca, and it weighs almost nothing. The fabric is beige suede, but it has a little bit of sparkle to it, so it’s fun.

Favorite beauty picks 

I’m a Laura Mercier fan. I love the primer, the tinted moisturizer and something called “secret finish.” I don’t exactly know what it does (it’s a secret I guess), but I like the way it makes my skin feel.

Always carry in my bag

Wallet and keys

Lipstick and lip gloss

Advil

Hand lotion – usually Eucerin.

Giant individually wrapped wintergreen lifesavers

I keep a notebook and pens in my car so that if I think of a story idea I can write it down. If I’m traveling for a book event, I’ll bring a second tote to carry my computer, books and extra makeup. My mascara always has to be waterproof because I will cry at the drop of a hat!

Currently reading

I’m having a GREAT month for books! I just finished The Orphan’s Tale, by Pam Jenoff and Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister. Now I’m reading All Grown Up by Jamie Attenberg. I’m almost finished with that one, so next up is The Idiot by Elif Batuman.

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Gina Sorrell

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via Amazon

“My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

Thus begins this riveting story of a woman’s quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.

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What is your bag of choice?

I’m obsessed with bags. Every year someone in my family gives me some sort of tote bag, purse, pouch or foldable bag for my birthday. I always carry a reusable bag and these Loqi ones are so pretty. I love Baggu too. I tend to carry too much stuff, so it’s important to me to have something lightweight, and something that I can wear cross-body. My bright blue Longchamps was a birthday present and I take it everywhere. I also cannot resist a good tote bag. This year my husband got me a bag from Litograph with the entire Strunk & White Elements of Style printed on it. They’ll print novels too!

What are your top favorite beauty picks?  

Right now I’m going through a phase of trying new face creams, but might just have to come to terms with the fact that unless I sleep more, I will always look tired! I use Thayers rosewater toner, the cream of the month, (currently it’s this terrific light moisturizer from Luzern), Maybelline mascara, Mac brow tamer, a little powder and Fresh tinted lip balms. I have one in just about every color. For evening I’ll wear a Chanel lip gloss. And I always have lip balm, rosebud salve is a staple.

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

I don’t carry much make-up but I like to always have a foundation powder compact such as Clarins, or Benefit, rosebud lip balm, and lip gloss.

What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading Caroline Leavitt’s Cruel Beautiful World. Caroline is a wonderful writer and a terrific champion of novelists. I love her books, they really sweep me up and carry me away, and her latest Cruel Beautiful World, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, is a stunning page turner about seduction, love, loyalty, and power. I also read magazines, literary, fashion, city guides, design and food magazines. Vanity Fair, Toronto Life, New York Magazine, LA Weekly, Dwell, Good Housekeeping and more. My parents had a beauty salon when I was growing up and bought everything, so I never had to. Now that I’m paying for them, I’m a little more selective, or else I get subscriptions, Poets & Writers is a must.

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

I’m a mom and a snacker, so I always have hand sanitizer, kleenex, healthy snacks for Little Man, fruit leather, granola bars, crackers, and some sweets like fruit juice gummies. I love the Vegan ones that Surf Sweets makes. And all natural raspberry licorice. I have a sweet tooth! And I always have reading glasses, a notebook and pen.

Gina Sorell credit Ian Brown

Follow Lynda and Gina:

Facebook:

Lynda

Gina

Twitter ~

@lyndacloigman

@ginasorell

Instagram ~

@lloigman

@ginasorell

*Thanks ladies for the wonderful interview!  Congrats on two AMAZING debuts 🙂

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

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It’s a new year and I have started my reading list for 2017!  With that, I have also revived my blog which has been “sleeping” for the last few months as being a mom of two is quite the challenge.  I wish I had been sleeping too, buuuuuut  I know sleep and I will meet again some day, lol!  To start off the reading year I just finished up Abby Fabiaschi’s I Liked My Life.  Set in a town just right next door to where I live, Wellesley, MA, it’s a beautiful story about a mother, Maddy, who commits suicide and leaves her daughter and husband to pick up the pieces and start their life over with out her.  Each chapter is narrated by each character experiencing life without her including Maddy herself.  What I can say is not only do you get a heartbreaking story about a family who is suffering without a mother and wife but a shocking twist as well which is one of the best ingredients you can add to a story.  I loved it.  I thought the writing was thoughtful and the story was unique.  If this is the type of stories stored in Fabiashi’s mind we are all in for a treat as she will have lots to share in the literary world!  This is a phenomenal debut and Abby should be on your favorite authors list after this gem. It is definitely one to add to your 2017 list!

 

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*Thanks to St.Martin’s Press for sending a copy for review to Bliss, Beauty and Books.

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

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The cover alone of The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis sold me.  It’s stunning.  But not only was the cover amazing the story was even better!  This was a wonderful debut book by Davis.  It had some glitz and glamour with a dash of mystery and murder.  Hello perfect read.  If you are looking for a cozy read this fall this book is IT!  Read on below for my thoughts as well as my “Bliss Chat” with Fiona.  She was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions about this wonderful book and fabulous setting of the Barbizon Hotel!

The book centers around Darby who is a new NYC resident in the 1950’s wanting to make a life for herself and lives at the Barbizon Hotel.  A women’s only residence, where the girls are trying to make a living and stand on their own two feet.  Starting off on the wrong foot, Darby befriends Esme, a risky maid who is a jazz singer by night.  Engulfed in the beauty and excitement of the city Darby is influenced by Esme to take chances she normally wouldn’t take.  Fast forward to Rose, prest day, who now lives in what was the Barbizon.  Fascinated by a woman whose face is covered and scarred she decides to investigate who she is and what her story is.  The woman is not one to talk so Rose has to piece together the puzzle by talking with other residents of the Barbizon.  The mystery starts to unfold and Davis captures the essence of this magical hotel all the while hooking the reader in a murder-mystery.

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Bliss Chat with Fiona Davis

1.The Barbizon is so glamorous and magical.  What drew you to this location for the book?

For decades, the Barbizon Hotel for Women was the go-to residence for cultured young ladies to live while they worked or studied in New York City. Many ex-guests went on to great fame, including Grace Kelly, Joan Crawford, Sylvia Plath, and Liza Minnelli, as well as writers like Eudora Welty and Joan Didion. When it went condo in 2005, a dozen or so of the long-time residents of the hotel still living there were moved into rent-controlled apartments on the fourth floor. It occurred to me that the building would make a great setting for a novel, with an interesting mix of old-school glamour and modern luxury.

 2. What did you do in terms of research for the book?  Did you talk with anyone that resided there or worked there?

I read through old issues of women’s magazines from the early 1950s to get an idea of what life was like back then, and was drawn into the fashions, the expectations, and the political climate. I also interviewed a number of women who’d live in the hotel in the 50s and 60s to find out what it was like. I learned all kinds of gems, including the fact that although men weren’t allowed beyond the public areas (even the elevator operators were female), the guests snuck them up all the time.

3. I love that it was a murder mystery mixed with fabulous female characters.  What drew you to this idea?

I adore a great mystery – Agatha Christie hooked me as a kid and today I’m drawn to the suspenseful plots of authors like Clare Mackintosh and Tana French. So I made the modern-day heroine a journalist, who starts digging into a tragedy that involved one of the fourth-floor residents back in 1952. The interweaving of the clues and red herrings made my head spin at times, but I enjoyed every minute.

 4. I know you were an actress which is so fabulous!  Can you tell us a little more about that and did that life have a little inspiration in your book as so many actresses frequented The Barbizon?

I had a wonderful time in my twenties acting in New York City, as I was lucky enough to get involved with a theater company that put on masterful shows by playwrights like Jean Genet and Shakespeare. For the book, I wanted to describe what it’s like to step out on a stage in front of an audience. Instead of acting, I used the setting of a downtown jazz club and made my 1952 heroine, Darby, get up and sing. I think that was one of my favorite scenes to write and edit.

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

I have a great home office, but when I need to avoid distractions, I head to the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. There’s something about the long walk across the plaza, past the Henry Moore sculpture, that settles my head and puts me in the right frame of mind to crank out a scene or two.

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

A massage once a month, a glass of Chardonnay after a long day of writing, and a morning run in the park with my best friend.

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

Road trip! I’m wrapping up the first draft of my next book, and plan on heading to Cape Cod for a fall weekend with friends. Can’t wait.

 8. What was the last book that you read?

I mentor a sixth-grader who introduced me to Newbery Medal-winner The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis. It describes a fictional family in 1963, when a bomb in the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church killed four girls, and is an uncanny depiction of family dynamics, as well as heartbreaking.

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

Violets are Blue Facial Serum, which is great for transitioning from summer to fall; Fresh Sugar lip gloss in petal; and Kerastase V.I.P. Volume in Powder, which makes my baby-fine hair look way thicker than it actually is.

 10. Are you looking forward to any books that are coming out in 2016/17?

You bet: Zadie Smith’s Swing Time (out in November), Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (December) Jamie Brenner’s The Forever Summer (April 2017)

 

 

The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes & Bliss Chat

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

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

 

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

 

Bliss Chat with Leigh Himes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

8. What was the last book that you read?

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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There is nothing better than the perfect ice cream cone on a hot summer day.  There is also nothing more perfect than a sweet summer read to take you to exotic places like Italy which is exactly what Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch did for me.  This book is a YA book but really a must read for adults as well.  It is a beautifully written love story wrapped in blanket of soul searching and coming of age.  Welch makes a wonderful debut with this book.

Love and Gelato centers around Lina (Caroline).  After losing her mother she is sent off to Tuscany, Italy to stay with her father Howard- her mother’s last wish.  Howard manages a cemetery in Italy, not the job that Lina thought her absentee father would have.  He is excited she is here and does everything to get her settled as she is anxious to go home.  After receiving a journal that her mother once owned, Lina starts to uncover things about her mother’s past she never knew.  As Lina starts to learn more about her Mom she also meets a young man, Ren who befriends her and introduces her to his circle of friends.  Lina starts to adjust to the Italian life and really confides and trusts Ren as does he.  The journal leads Lina and Ren on an adventure through the streets of Italy.  What Lina thought she knew about her past starts to unfold.  She starts to see everything is not what it seems and that Italy is the heart of the world where you can really find true love.

 

For this being Welch’s first novel I was shocked.  The writing and plot was superb.  I can’t say enough good things about this book.  The story was relatable for any age as it deals with coming of age, young love, death and friendships- something we have all been through.  The characters were so unique yet their relationships were woven together so seamlessly.  Lina is the girl that you will root for until the end and come to love.  Grab your passport and take this trip to Italy- you literally will feel transported.  Love and Gelato is the perfect refreshing, sweet treat for your next trip to the beach!

*Thanks to Simon Teen for sending a review copy to Bliss, Beauty and Books

The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier #SRC2016

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Continuing with my #BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge I was delightfully surprised by the gem of a book, The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier.  Meier, a debut author, tells a story of unexpected friendships and mysterious love all against the backdrop of the historic home of Ray Bradbury.  It is a fun, quick read that I could have finished in a day. The story was that seamless and captivating.  Again another summer pick that will be a perfect companion at the beach or the pool.  Can you tell summer reading is my favorite 🙂

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Mia is a young writer who has been unsuccessful with her first novel.  Panned by the critics, she also starts to lose her sense of direction as her fiancee Carson leaves her and she is now living with her sister.  She sees that Ray Bradbury’s, a famous mystery/sci-fi author,  house is for sale and decides that purchasing the house may just be the inspiration and new start that she needs.  Carson being the big Hollywood producer helps her purchase the home but that doesn’t come without some baggage.  Mia agrees to take in a young, drug recovering actress, Zoe, who needs a little sense of direction as well, as a favor to Carson.  Shortly after moving into the home, mysterious notes are appearing her doorstep.  Could it be her handsome neighbor or just some kids playing a prank?  As she she starts to develop a friendship with Zoe she sees how she is struggling and almost becomes a mother figure of sorts to her, something Mia was not prepared for.  As Mia adjusts to living her life at Bradbury she can see all the magic that it once held for Bradbury himself and her creative energy is sparked.  Will she write her next novel, find love and create new friendships?  She soon discovers that this house and the presence that was once there could be exactly what she needed in her life.

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Meier shines in her debut novel.  A sweet story that reaffirms friendships can be made in the most unlikely situations and love always shows up when we are least expecting it.  The house being a character itself played a huge part in the book and Meier so beautifully depicted that.  I loved the relationship between Mia and Zoe.  This relationship really developed each character so beautifully and it made me love Mia even more.  The House of Bradbury is a perfect summer read with a sunny plot and refreshing ending!

*Thanks to BookSparks for sending a copy for review.