Open Book with Minnie Darke

Still celebrating all things rom com, I thought only fitting to celebrate one of the best rom com books of the season!  Minnie Darke’s fictional debut, Star Crossed has gotten lovely accolades and high praise from readers and authors alike.  I am thrilled to host Minnie as my latest Open Book, all the way from down under!  Hollywood are you listening, this book is a movie in the making ❤

Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke.jpg

via Amazon ~

A sparkling romantic comedy about one woman’s decision to tinker with the horoscopes of the man of her dreams—with far-reaching consequences

“A bright, brilliant, joyful love story.”—Josie Silver, #1 New York Times bestselling author of One Day in December

When childhood sweethearts Justine (Sagittarius and serious skeptic) and Nick (Aquarius and true believer) bump into each other as adults, a life-changing love affair seems inevitable. To Justine, anyway. Especially when she learns Nick is an astrological devotee, whose decisions are guided by the stars, and more specifically, by the horoscopes in his favorite magazine. The same magazine Justine happens to write for. As Nick continues to not fall headlong in love with her, Justine decides to take Nick’s horoscope, and Fate itself, into her own hands. But, of course, Nick is not the only Aquarius making important life choices according to what is written in the stars.

Charting the ripple effects of Justine’s astrological meddling, Star-Crossed is a delicious, intelligent, and affecting love story about friendship, chance, and how we all navigate the kinds of choices that are hard to face alone.

Advance praise for Star-Crossed

“Swoon-worthy . . . a smart, sweet love story about friendship, destiny, and the power of choice.”Bustle

“[A] juicy romance novel.”Good Housekeeping

“This cleverly structured first outing from the pseudonymous Darke will appeal to fans of romantic comedy, astrology, and chaos. Utterly charming and ripe for development as a film.”Booklist

“Winning . . . Unpretentious, well-drawn characters and the fresh twist on the childhood sweethearts reunited setup make this perfect for fans of romantic comedies.”Publishers Weekly

“Darke creates a world of stargazers whose destinies eventually collide. . . . Funny and enticing.”―Library Journal

Minnie Darke author photo credit Karen Brown

 

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

All dead, I’m afraid: Angela Carter, fairy tale re-teller, Anthony Minghella, one of the creators of Jim Henson’s Storyteller, and Sylvia Plath, poet.

 

  1. Current binge series?

I am one of the world’s most immoderate narrative junkies, which makes binge watching a particular danger for me. I don’t binge when I’m working on a new novel – it’s a recipe for getting derailed, but I’m very much hoping that finishing my book coincides nicely with the release of season three of Stranger Things.I have loved Winona Ryder since I was a teenager.

 

  1. Last favorite book?

The Bitterwood Bible by Australian fairy-tale retailer Angela Slatter.

 

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

A jar of Vegemite (not a tube – it’s different), and a brand new diary and a seriously warm coat. I would go to all the Scandinavian countries, maybe for some of the time on a cruise boat. And, on the way home – because everywhere is on the way home when you’re Australian – I would go everywhere Canada’s Atlantic provinces, including revisiting Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton Island and going to Newfoundland for the first time.

 

  1. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Ah … Australia’s Radio National?

 

  1. Last person you sent a text message to?

My friend and sometime co-writer Heather Rose – she’s an amazing and award-winning Australian writer and we write children’s novels together as Angelica Banks.

 

  1. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. It’s about a young woman sent to be a companion to a wizard in a tower, only to find she has powers of her own. I love the world Novik creates, and the way she writes about different types of magic – male and female magic, high and low.

 

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

Oh, yes. Yes and yes. My teacher in Grade Five and Six was Peter Jerrim, himself a writer, but also a generous, creative, beautifu person who read to our class every day, and allowed me to fill exercise after exercise book with writing. I was thrilled that Peter was able to launch Star-crossed.

 

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

Not while I write, but immediately and after. Music is the ultimate in medication and mood creation. My tastes swing from 1980s music like The Stone Roses and the Cocteau Twins, to beautiful Australian singers like Sophie Koh and Lucy Wise, and Canadian folk bands like the East Pointers and the Small Glories. Actually, my next book is about music and the impact it has on us.

 

  1. Describe your writing space?

My writing space is a bespoke timber caravan with sloping walls and a curved roof, headlight windows featuring sunflowers, and a cork board that I can use as an inspiration board. It has a tap on the porch so I can fill the kettle and rinse my tea cup. Inside, it had an antique desk with a green leather top, two heaters (this is Tasmania), a selection of slippers and fingerless gloves, framed photos by the fairy tale photographer Lorena Carrington, and a bookshelf filled with a tiny fraction of my TBR pile. On my desk are my guardians. Two of them are rag dolls – one called Patience, and one called Enthusiasm – and the other is a Yoda figurine.

 

  1. Coffee or tea?

Tea. And I quote Colley Cibber: “Tea! Thou soft, thou sober, sage and venerable liquid … to whose glorious insipidity, I owe the happiest moments of my life, let me fall prostrate.”

 

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

I am always buying books for children, and lately I have given several copies of Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor, which I think is magnificent.

 

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

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.

 

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

Defying Gravity, from Wicked

 

  1. What/Who inspires you?

Almost everything inspires me, to be honest. I love wit and whimsy – those are vital cordials for my creativity – but in truth inspiration often comes from the smallest things – something overheard when eavesdropping, something seen in passing, a thought bubble, a line of text.

 

  1. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Pass on the basis of being Australian.

 

  1. Favorite Instagram account?

I confess to being something of an Instagram avoider. My webmistress (a man, incidentally) and my teenage daughter take care of this for me. They let me know when it’s time for me to provide them with copy, or when I need to send personal replies.

 

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

Infinite Jest, and it would be a multicoloured shade – a mosaic of coral red, aqua blue, pale green, lemon yellow and pink – a bit like a packet of Fruit Tingles.

 

  1. Current #TBR pile?

Infinity x 10

 

  1. Best advice you’ve ever received?

There’s no such thing as biting off more than you can chew. You just take a big bite and chew like hell. (As well as being the best, this is also possibly the worst advice I’ve ever received!)

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Open Book with Randy Susan Meyers

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

WAISTED_Cover Image

via Amazon ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Open Book with Kristin Fields

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

A Lily in the Light_300dpi

via Amazon:

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

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

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

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

Kristin Fields_300dpi

 

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

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

2. Current binge series?

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

3. Last favorite book?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Amazing.

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

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

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

The NYT – especially the foodie sections.

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

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

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Coffee or tea?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. What/Who inspires you?

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

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

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

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

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

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

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

19. Current #TBR pile?

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

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

 

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What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag? ~ Jane Healey

I love a fabulous local author and love even more when they write about the Ah-mazing city of Boston!  The Beantown Girls, by Jane Healey, is about three best friends who volunteer for the Red Cross during WWll.  Out now, this historical fiction gem is a must for your reading list!  Read below to see what is on Jane’s Must-Have beauty list with a sneak peek into her timeless Rebecca Minkoff bag 🙂

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via Amazon ~

A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II’s brightest heroines—the best of friends—take on the front lines.

1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She’ll work in city hall, marry her fiancé when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered.

Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines.

Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, the trio isn’t prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.

 

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What is your bag of choice?

I love my Rebecca Minkoff Mini Julian Backpack. It’s really versatile and has a bunch
of pockets.

What are your top favorite beauty picks?

I live in New England and in the winter my face needs all the moisture it can get. I
can’t live without Olehenriksen’s Truth Serum and Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. And I
love Bareminerals Complexion Rescue tinted moisturizer with SPF and use that year
round.  I’m not a big lipstick person but I love a good lip gloss and my favorite Buxom Full-On Plumping Lip Polish Gloss. I have it in multiple shades.  My eyes are really sensitive and I have to be careful what I use. I’ve found the eyeliner and mascara combo that works best for me is Clinique’s Quickliner for Eyes Intense in Chocolate, and LOC Love of Color One and Done Shadow Stick in Champagne Problems.

What do you always carry on for beauty products for travel?

I always carry a good eye cream and concealer, especially for long flights. My
favorite eye cream is Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream and my tried and true
concealer is MAC’s Mineralize Concealer. I also bring an exfoliator, Olehenriksen
Transforming Walnut Scrub, because air travel can do such a number on your skin.

What are you currently reading?

My 12yo daughter is a total introvert, so I’m currently reading Quiet Power: The
Secret Strengths of Introverts. It’s a guide for kids and teens from Susan Cain, the
author who wrote of the worldwide bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts
in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. It’s really fascinating and it’s given me such a
great perspective on my daughter’s personality.

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

I have a small vintage compact mirror that I bought in London with a picture of a
cartoon cat on the front. I also always have an ultrafine black Sharpie pen and sticky
notes – sometimes I write story ideas that come to me when I’m driving, etc. but
often it’s just reminders to pick up the dry cleaning or something!

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