Open Book with Caz Frear

Fall is here!  Cue cozy sweaters, fall scents, pumpkins and THRILLERS!  I love to read thrillers in the fall because they are the perfect companion during this ghoulish month.  I mean I love a good thriller all the time but the change of leaves and Halloween vibes that surround us, make a good suspenseful read perfection.  Cue Caz Frear’s debut novel, Sweet Little Lies.  A murder, secrets and a missing girl are what makes this book a must-read but it might make you keep the light on at night 😉  I was thrilled to chat with Caz in my latest “Open Book” where she talks Stevie Nicks, Gwen Stefani and the necessity for a statement red lip- all things that are a must! ❤SweetLittleLies hc c

via Amazon ~

n this gripping debut procedural, a young London policewoman must probe dark secrets buried deep in her own family’s past to solve a murder and a long-ago disappearance.

Your father is a liar. But is he a killer?
Even liars tell the truth . . . sometimes.

Twenty-six-year-old Cat Kinsella overcame a troubled childhood to become a Detective Constable with the Metropolitan Police Force, but she’s never been able to banish these ghosts. When she’s called to the scene of a murder in Islington, not far from the pub her estranged father still runs, she discovers that Alice Lapaine, a young housewife who didn’t get out much, has been found strangled.

Cat and her team immediately suspect Alice’s husband, until she receives a mysterious phone call that links the victim to Maryanne Doyle, a teenage girl who went missing in Ireland eighteen years earlier. The call raises uneasy memories for Cat—her family met Maryanne while on holiday, right before she vanished. Though she was only a child, Cat knew that her charming but dissolute father wasn’t telling the truth when he denied knowing anything about Maryanne or her disappearance. Did her father do something to the teenage girl all those years ago? Could he have harmed Alice now? And how can you trust a liar even if he might be telling the truth?

Determined to close the two cases, Cat rushes headlong into the investigation, crossing ethical lines and trampling professional codes. But in looking into the past, she might not like what she finds. . . .

Caz Frear cr Rebecca Knowles Photography

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

Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac:  Just because I think she’s the coolest woman alive.  I even named my novel after a Fleetwood Mac song (actually that’s a lie, my editor came up with the title but I like to think it was serendipity)

Daniel Day Lewis:  My favourite actor.  He’s incredibly elusive so it would be amazing to be sat right next to him at a bookclub.  And he’s also extremely well-read.

Marian Keyes:  I’m a huge MK fan.  Rachel’s Holiday is definitely up there in my top 10 favourite books ever.  While she’s also extremely well-read, she’s less ‘intense’ than the other two so she’d help keep the mood light!

2. Current binge series?

Peaky Blinders on Netflix.  I’m on the third of four series and I’ll be bereft when it ends!  Can’t believe how late I am to the party though – it started in 2013. 

3. Last favorite book?

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent.  The characterization is superb.  The central character, Cordelia Russell, is a shameless manipulator and borderline narcissist but you can’t help but be enthralled by her.

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

I spent a long weekend in San Francisco a couple of years ago and I’ve been dreaming of going back there ever since.  I’d pack…

  1. Comfortable walking shoes.  I’m a bit of a shoe freak and usually go for style over comfort but SF has so many steep hills and uneven roads that heels are tricky.  And there’s so much to see on foot that it’s a shame to use public transport unless you really have to.
  2. As the song instructs, I’d be sure to bring flowers for my hair ☺ I’m a hippy at heart and I absolutely loved the Haight-Ashbury area.
  3. A pashmina.  You can be warm one minute, cold the next in SF, so it pays to be prepared (I got caught out last time thinking it would be wall-to-wall heat!)

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Mmmm, being a Brit, I’m not overly familiar with either, but as I think US Weekly is more focused towards celebrity gossip, I’d probably go for Sunday NYT.  I’m not a huge celeb gossip fan (although, you know, I’m not immune to it!)

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My husband – to ask him to pick up milk and a birthday card for a 6-year-old.  My life is so rock and roll ☺

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

In The Woods by Tana French.  It’s a masterclass in everything – plot, prose, suspense and characterization.

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

I was lucky enough to have two – Mrs Spencer (when I was eight) who told me I had ‘something’ and to never give up writing stories, even when I ‘got big’ and Mr Kelly (when I was fourteen).  Mr Kelly used to encourage me to write reviews of everything – books, films, concerts, etc – on top of my standard homework.  He taught me that writing is a muscle and you have to use it every day.
9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

No, but I really wish I could!  I need complete silence, sadly.  If I’m editing, I might occasionally put classical music on in the background but very, very low (pointlessly low, really). 
10. Describe your writing space?

A grey chesterfield couch with many cushions and a Jo Malone candle burning close by.  I do have an office which I venture into occasionally but I do my best work on the couch.  I used to write in bed until I realized it was terrible for both posture and sleep!

11. Coffee or tea?

Tea.  I don’t mind coffee but I treat it more like medicine – I’ll force a cup down if I need to sharpen up or stay awake.  I drink tea purely for pleasure.

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

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer.  It’s a novel about mental health and it tells the story of 17-year-old schizophrenic Matt, and the guilt he feels over his younger brother’s death several years ago.  Sounds depressing, right?  It isn’t.  It’s incredibly moving but it’s also funny, sharp and made me laugh out loud (and cry like a baby).  Such clean, unaffected writing too.  I buy it for everyone. 
13. Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

Mine ☺  Failing that, I’d say Little Deaths by Emma Flint.  It’s the story of a woman accused of murdering her three children in the summer of 1965 and I believe it’s based on a true story.  Not only is it a gripping thriller but it’s also an interesting commentary on how the media portray ‘difficult’ women.  It was only published a couple of years ago so it’s early days, maybe it will be made into a film?

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

‘What You Waiting For?’ – essentially it’s about Gwen Stefani’s fear of making a solo album and the writer’s block she was experiencing at that time.  It is EVERYTHING.  It’s an ode to pushing through self-doubt and fear of other people’s opinions.  It’s a call to arms to every woman who has a fear of standing out, of being who she really is.  I love it and it fires me up every time.  It had a massive impact on me.


15. What/Who inspires you?

Everyone and everything!  Just overhearing a conversation on a bus can inspire a whole new piece of dialogue or sub-plot.  I think ‘inspiration’ is a slightly mystical term as usually there isn’t one single image or one anecdote that quite literally inspires the writing of a 100,000 word novel.  You just start with a character and a dilemma and get writing (or plotting).  I think it’s actually writing, even bad writing, that fuels inspiration, not the other way around.  If you wait for the killer idea or the killer hook to strike, you could be waiting a very long time!
16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

No. No. No. No. No.  On the rare occasion I stumble across reality TV, I want to throw something at the screen.  Although, it depends what you mean by reality TV?  I am partial to a bit of Judge Judy ☺

17. Favorite Instagram account?

I’m relatively new to Instagram so I’m not sure that I’ve got any clear favorites yet, but @crimebythebook is a great account for honest, constructive reviews (and sneak peeks at upcoming releases).  There’s also a UK comedian @russell_kane who really makes me laugh.  His memes and rants are always spot on.
18. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be?  

Kiss Me First and it would be a statement red, maybe fire-engine or blood red.  I have far too many red lipsticks!
19. Current #TBR pile?

Oh wow, it’s toppling over as we speak.  I’m so lucky to be sent lots of proofs to read so I could fill a whole page with the books I’d love to get stuck into asap, but here’s what’s up next…

The Secrets You Hide – Kate Helm (a British debut)

Red Snow – Will Dean

Pieces of Her – Karin Slaughter

Cross Her Heart – Sarah Pinborough


20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

I’m going to refer back to Gwen Stefani and ‘What You Waiting For?’

“Life is short.  You’re capable.”

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Open Book with Mary Kubica

I am a HUGE Mary Kubica fan and whenever she has a new release I am thrilled, no pun intended.  Her addictive and twisty thrillers are a must for every bibliophile.  Her latest, When the Lights Go Out, is nothing short of nail biting, page turning suspense- the perfect cure to the end of summer blues.  This book is exactly what you need on a cozy fall evening but be prepared to lose some sleep 😉  Mary was kind enough to chat all things in my latest Open Book ❤

WTLGO cover - 4.26

via Amazon ~

“A twisty, captivating, edge-of-your-seat read.” —Megan Miranda, bestselling author of All the Missing Girls

“Creepy and oh so clever!” —Alice Feeney, bestselling author of Sometimes I Lie

A woman is forced to question her own identity in this riveting and emotionally charged thriller by the blockbuster bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica

Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?

 

Mary Kubica credit Sarah Jastre

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

Natalie Babbitt, Stephen King, Maggie O’Farrell 

 

2. Current binge series?

BIG LITTLE LIES (Amazing!)

 

3. Last favorite book?

SOMETHING IN THE WATER by Catherine Steadman

 

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

Gym shoes, sunglasses, camera – hiking in Acadia National Park 

 

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday NYT

 

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My husband  

 

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by SJ Watson

 

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

Not one teacher per se, but many teachers who helped ignite that passion for reading and writing that later turned me into a writer 

 

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

Nope, I need things quiet

 

10. Describe your writing space? 

My office is clean and fairly sparse, with gray walls, a desk of my grandmothers that I renovated, bookshelves and a comfy armchair  

 

11. Coffee or tea? 

Coffee

 

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

THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien

 

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

THE CHILD FINDER by Rene Denfeld 

 

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

Life in the Fast Lane (I rarely have time to sit still and do nothing!)

 

15. What/Who inspires you? 

Nature

 

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no? 

No

 

17. Favorite Instagram account? 

@farmsanctuary 

 

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

GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT (Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke), and it would be red

19. Current #TBR pile? 

FORGET YOU KNOW ME by Jessica Strawser, HER SECRET SON by Hannah Mary McKinnon and THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER by Kaira Rouda   

 

20. Best advice you’ve ever received? 

Live in the moment 

 

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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.

Fiona Davis high res.jpg

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 Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

I was and am still on a thriller kick!  Maybe it’s Halloween season that brings it on but there is nothing more to love than a gripping read, cozy blanket and warm drink.  I had heard so many amazing things about Peter Swanson‘s The Kind Worth Killing that I had to read.  Plus I loved that he was a Massachusetts writer!  The book did not disappoint and I am excited to say he has another novel coming out January 2017!

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Without giving anything away the book centers around Ted and Lily who meet on a flight.  Ted spills to Lily that he caught his wife cheating on him but she has yet to find out.  He jokingly states that he could kill his wife over this.  Lily, lending a supportive ear, instantly says she would like to help with that.  The story develops from there, fast.  What becomes a murderous chase, almost a game if you will, is a chilling page turner and one that I will not forget.  Swanson is reminiscent of Hitchcock and definitely kept me up at night.  Do yourself a favor this Halloween and give yourself a scare with this book.

 

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Food Whore by Jessica Tom

Food Whore

Would it be ok to write a review that just said, “Get this book.  You wont regret it.”?  I mean that is how I feel about Food Whore by Jessica Tom.  I loved it that much and could have read about 20 more chapters.  Yup, that good.  Tom, a debut author, wrote a novel with all the main ingredients, no pun intended, for a fabulous NYC story- fashion, food and love.  This book filled my craving for a page turner with a fierce cast of characters, amazing clothes and the glittering streets of NYC nightlife.

Food Whore takes place in New York and centers around Tia.  Tia is studying at NYU’s Food Studies program.  Her dream internship is to study with Helen Lansky,  a famous cookbook author.  Instead, Tia gets placed at an upscale New York restaurant working coat check among other miscellaneous tasks.  One night Tia meets Michael Saltz, a New York food critic whose critiques are everything if you own a restaurant or are a chef in NYC.  Michael decides to take Tia under his wing for a secret project that will change Tia’s life in more ways than one with the promise that he will set her up with Helen.  An all expense paid account at Bergdorf’s, handsome chef’s and meals a king would dream of, Tia sets out on a chance of a lifetime.  Sounds amazing right?  What seems like a perfect set-up isn’t all it turns out to be.  Tia discovers that the hard work comes with a price if you want to land that dream job.

Jessica Tom

I do not like to compare books as I think they are like little people, their own individual identities BUT I will say this is slightly reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada.  If you loved that book as much as I did then you will devour this.  Tom writes a page turner from the heart, as she is not only a writer but a food blogger as well.  This is a girl who knows what she’s talking about and you can tell in these pages.  My thoughts since we are approaching the holidays filled with amazing food is this book is the perfect complement or gift for the food whore in all of us.  Jessica Tom when is the next book?  I can’t wait!

Happy All Hallows’ Eve!

in a dark, dark woodruth ware

Happy Halloween fellow bliss seekers and book worms!  Quick post today for book readers who dare.  I finished up in a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware this week for my inaugural book club meeting with my fellow Simmons College gals.  What a spooky, suspenseful, thriller worthy of all its current accolades.  The story takes place on a hen, which is a british version of a bachelorette party, where a group of people do not know the weekend that lay ahead.  Murder, mystery and a house picturesque for a horror movie, are the perfect blend of macabre for this fantastic read.  Luckily for us readers, Reese Witherspoon bought the rights and will be making this thriller into a movie!  Once you read it, you will see its the perfect book to keep you on the edge of your seat in a theater!  Enjoy your evening ~ trick or treat?!

Double Feature * Jojo Moyes *

JoJo Moyes

Happy October!  This is the first in a few posts featuring two books by the same author.  First up is the amazing Jojo Moyes.    I am late to her “party” as I have had Me Before You sitting in my TBR pile for weeks.  When I was sent After You I knew it was time to read them back to back.  I had heard so many amazing things about Me Before you and rightly so- this book was one of the best books I have ever read.  Period.  After You was an equally and satisfying sequel and the two solidified Moyes as a new favorite author of mine.

Me Before YouAfter You

Without giving any spoilers away I can tell you both novels center around Lou.  Lou lives in London and is in constant search for what her life’s purpose is or will be.  Her family is in need of extra income and Lou knows she needs to find a steady job.  She decides to take a caretaker position for a wealthy family whose son Will, is a quadriplegic.  Will is hot- blooded and resentful due to his current situation.  Lou being the colorful character that she is, makes it her duty to soften Will and establish a relationship.  Both novels span the duration of their journey and show the growth of Lou and purpose that she is meant to serve.  With a colorful cast of characters, both of these books center around personal growth, relationships and never taking anything for granted.  Lou and Will are two of the best book characters I have met.  Each completely different yet always in sync.

JoJo Moyes

Jojo Moyes is an author who can tell a story where your heart beats so fast at the end of each chapter you have to continue to read to catch your breath.  She is that ah-mazing.  If you haven’t done yourself the favor of reading any of her books then you are missing out.  I know years from now Me Before You will be a book I pick up again and I am thrilled it will be coming to the big screen.  Happy Fall Reading and thank you Jojo for sharing your gift with us!