Open Book with Sarah McCoy

I can remember watching the Anne of Green Gables movies on PBS when I was a kid and falling in love with Anne, Matthew and Marilla- a story that is still one of my favorites.  When I heard best-selling author Sarah McCoy was writing Marilla’s story I was beyond excited!  It’s the perfect fall, coastal read that you will want to cozy up by the fire with a hot cider. I am thrilled Sarah is my latest “Open Book” as she is a gal after my own heart- US Weekly, Andy Cohen and Audrey- Hepburn that is- and after reading her “Open Book” you will see McCoy is just as charming.

Marilla_HC

via Amazon ~

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

Sarah McCoy Author Photo_credit Emily Martin.jpg

 

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

 Lucy Maud Montgomery, Ann Patchett, Audrey Hepburn. 

2. Current binge series?

“The Great British Baking Show.” They’re all just so nice to each other! 

 3. Last favorite book?

Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion. 

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

Hair spray, stevia (for tea), and Burt’s Bees Lip Balm in pomegranate. I’d be on my way to the United Kingdom if I had a jet and bags of money.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

 Oo, I’m a sucker for US Weekly. It’s my guilty pleasure. Sunday NYT makes me feel smugly good about myself—it’s smart reading! But if I just want entertainment, I gobble the gossip rags. 

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My husband, Doc B. 

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Circe by Madeline Miller. It’s so, so good. Madeline is a dear friend of mine so when I read Circe, I felt her beautiful spirit in every word. It’s luscious and unforgettable and totally her. 

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

My mother, Dr. Eleane McCoy. Before she retired, she was a career elementary school teacher then a principal. To this day, she is always learning something new and sharing that knowledge with others. She encouraged me to read and write from my earliest recollections.  

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

I write in complete silence. No music, TV, phones, or sounds of any kind. Even the doorbell sets me off, so that has to taped over. My postman knows the deal.  

10. Describe your writing space?

Truthfully, I’ve moved so many times that I’ve come to realize my writing space is really a writing bubble. Inside that bubble is the beat-up desk I’ve been writing on since my first book, my wooden office chair, my MacBook, my magic mouse, and my dog Gilly at my feet. Everything around that has changed but those are the constant elements. Oh—and a window! My desk is always at a window so I can look out to nature. It inspires and soothes me.  

 11. Coffee or tea?

Tea! Heaps of it. 

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

Anne of Green Gables, naturally. 

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

Anything by Kate Morton. Her novels are all so lush… and British! 

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

U2’s “Walk On.” I’ve been a gypsy my whole life. My father was a career army office and then I married an army surgeon. The song resonates and reminds me that I can take love everywhere I go. It never gets left behind. That’s a beautiful, powerful thing. 

 15. What/Who inspires you?

People who aren’t afraid to be raw and let you see that rawness—for good or for bad, no pretenses. Nature, for similar reasons.  

 16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Are we talking Andy Cohen world? Um, yes. I am obsessed. 

17. Favorite Instagram account?

There’s this British Instagrammer named Jade. Her feed is called @thedarlings_. It’s gorgeous like a modern storybook, only it’s her real life. I’m spellbound by it. 

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

1) “Cavendish Caliente” would be mellow red with hints of gold like the dunes of Cavendish Beach at sunset. 

2) “Southern Pepper Gloss” would be a bright red and shiny slick.  

19. Current #TBR pile?

  My editor suggested I read a novel that released awhile back called Through The Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen. So that’s at the top of my pile. Followed by new releases: Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Jodi Picoult’s A Spark of Life, and Becoming by First Lady Michelle Obama. 

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

One of my dearest mentors told me, “You’ve got to sing your own song, Sarah.” Meaning: I have to live my life without worrying that it isn’t acceptable or traditional or perfect. It’s the singing that matters. 

 

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Open Book with Tammy Lynne Stoner

Looking for a good fall read with heart, soul and perseverance?  Then look no further.  Tammy Lynne Stoner’s debut, Sugar Land has all those ingredients and more- the type of novel that is the best companion on a cozy fall day.  I am thrilled she sat down to chat with me and celebrate her debut novel.

sugarland_frontpromo_CVR

via Amazon ~

Sugar Land is a southern fried novel about love, Lead Belly, and liberation. According to a starred Kirkus Review, Sugar Land “is a postcard of small-town Texas life from Prohibition through civil rights, tracing the treatment and awareness of gay people through these decades. The love child of Fannie Flagg and Rita Mae Brown… [a] ravishing debut.”

It’s 1923 in Midland, Texas, and Miss Dara falls in love with her best friend―who also happens to be a girl. Terrified, Miss Dara takes a job at the Imperial State Prison Farm for men. Once there, she befriends inmate and soon-to-be legendary blues singer Lead Belly, who sings his way out (true story)―but only after he makes her promise to free herself from her own prison. Sugar Land is a triumphant, beautiful novel about the heart’s refusal to be denied what the heart wants.

tammy headshot

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

Frida Kahlo, Oscar Wilde, and Nelly Bly.

2. Current binge series?

 Mind Hunter (for the second time) and The Great British Bake-Off (because my lady won’t watch serial killer shows).

3. Last favorite book?

The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine.

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

Earplugs, scented candles, and flannel pajamas.

Now that I have three kids, my dream vacation would be on a chartered, luxury boat (amazing chefs, craft cocktails, stand-up comedy, casino, massage) for a month with my friends and family—each with their own space to retreat to—skirting around the Greek isles, spending a week here and a week there, living off the boat and exploring on our own.

 5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Oh, Sunday NYT hands down—unless I’m on a plane, then US Weekly.

 6. Last person you sent a text message to?

A funny bitmoji of me juggling bacon and eggs to my five-year-old twins. This is my first time away from them for more than a few days…

 7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

One!? Geek Love.

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

When I was young, I was awkward with terrible social cueing. My fifth grade my teacher, Mrs. Brinjac, allowed me to do a radio interview of myself instead of a biography speech. She didn’t really encourage my writing—no one did since I didn’t show anyone until I was in college— but she encouraged me to express myself in a way that was comfortable yet unusual. And that probably did more for my writing than anything else. 

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

Only when I edit. I need quiet when I write.

10. Describe your writing space?

Anywhere I can open my computer. I don’t have a dedicated space.

11. Coffee or tea?

100% tea. Coffee makes me insane.

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

Cloud Atlas and Her Body and Other Parties.

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

Mine.

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

“Sweet Surrender” by Bread because my goal is to surrender to everything.

 15. What/Who inspires you? 

The bizarre brilliance of nature—frogs with transparent eyelids, color-blind creatures whose bodies change color to camouflage themselves, how parasites manipulate their hosts—and the bigger ideas of how we are expanding, how we are unified, how we may just be a dream.

 16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Only the gay and fashion shows.

 17. Favorite Instagram account?

Oh gads, I’m not on Instagram much… I suppose Buzzfeed.

 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 called “Smogless” after the opening line from the novel Middlesex (“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974”). It would be sky blue.

19. Current #TBR pile?

Demonology by Rick Moody, Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, Ration by Cody Luff (which won’t be out for two years), Edgewater by Ruth L. Schwartz, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James… it goes on.

 20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

While not directed to me personally, it rang out for me when I read this quote from William Carlos Williams: “Submit to your own myths.” 

THANKS! THIS WAS FUN.

 

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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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Open Book with Rea Frey

We may be saying good bye to summer but it’s not really official until end of September so keep on with the delectable summer reads!  Rea Freys’ debut fiction novel is one for your must-read lists!  Not Her Daughter, already optioned for film, is the perfect read to enjoy by a fire pit on these indian summer nights.  Missing child, unsure mother and successful kidnapper are all the key ingredients in this page-turner.  I was thrilled when Rea answered a few questions for my latest “Open Book”.  She might just be the book BFF I didn’t know I needed 🙂 Very Cavallari, wine and US Weekly and a #tbr pile of some of my favorites- Rea, call me ❤

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via Amazon ~

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

PopSugar – The Summer’s Hottest Books * Refinery 29 – Best Summer Thrillers * US Weekly – Summer’s Best Send-Offs * Parade – 20 Chilling Thrillers by Women to Read This Year * Brit + Co – 15 New Thrillers by Women That Will Give You Chills This Summer * The Zoe Report – 20 Books to Read this Summer * She Reads – New Summer Thrillers to Get Your Heart Racing * Working Mother – 15 Hot New Summer Beach Reads * Culturalist – Top Ten Domestic Thrillers That Will Make You Question Everything * Crime Reads – 5 Debut Crime Novels to Read This August

 

“Brings to mind Jodi Picoult…thought-provoking domestic drama.” – Booklist

“Will make you miss your bedtime, guaranteed.” – Bestselling author Kimberly Belle

Gripping, emotional, and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?

Praise for Not Her Daughter

“The plot twists here are brave, the themes are both poignant and unsettling, and the resolution is deeply resonant. A page-turner with heart!”New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti

“A cleverly constructed novel that will have you questioning everything you believe about right or wrong.” – New York Times bestselling author Chevy Stevens

“Engrossing and suspenseful, Frey writes her characters with depth and compassion, challenging readers to question their own code of ethics.” Zoje Stage, author of Baby Teeth

“An emotional ride where the line between right and wrong begins to fade…pulls you in from the very first page, and unlike most in its genre, you won’t know how you want it to end until it does.Wendy Walker, author of Emma in the Night

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

Maya Angelou, James Joyce, and Sylvia Plath. Can’t you just imagine that conversation? 

2. Current binge series?

Very Cavallari. It follows Kristin Cavallari on her journey to open her accessory store, Uncommon James. It takes place in Nashville (where I live), and I CAN’T STOP WATCHING IT. 

3. Last favorite book?

Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle

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

Book, workout clothes, journal. My dream vacation is in the mountains, near water, where I can hike, write, and eat my face off. 

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

I should say NYT, right? Smart people say NYT. But I’m an US WEEKLY gal all the way. It’s my unwind go-to read with a glass of wine and a big old bubble bath. 

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My husband

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

To Kill a Mockingbird

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

Yes! My father, for starters. He is a magnificent writer, and from the time I was young, he taught me the love of reading (through TV Guides, of all things), writing poetry, and storytelling. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Seard, was instrumental in helping me craft stories. I also had a wonderful AP English teacher in high school, Mrs. Johnson, who let me write to my heart’s content and helped me craft my writing portfolio to submit to college writing programs. I went to Columbia for fiction writing, so, you know, all the teachers there were beyond helpful. 

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

Not always, but if I do, it’s actually Billie Holiday, classical, Son Lux, or a mellow playlist on Spotify. 

10. Describe your writing space?

I actually share a desk with my husband, but he made the desk, so I suppose he can use it too. It’s an eight-foot long slab of wood. I have the left side, he has the right. (He’s a designer, so we are often sketching and writing together, which is nice.) I like a minimalistic space, so I have flowers, my laptop, a stack of advance reader copies, and oh so many pens. 

11. Coffee or tea?

Coffee. I don’t trust tea drinkers…

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

I absolutely love Pam Grout’s books. E2 and E3 are life changers. In terms of writing, Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I have recommended this book more times than I can count! 

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

The Secret History by Donna Tartt 

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

Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. I love this song. I’ve made love to this song. I’ve cried to this song. I’ve broken up to this song. I got married to this song. It showcases the struggles we all face. It’s romantic, and tragic, and hopeful at the same time, much like life. 

15. What/Who inspires you?

My daughter inspires me every single day. She’s only six years old, but she has it all figured out. (Seriously, children are the best teachers, aren’t they?) She reminds me to step away from my computer, to put the damn phone down, to play, to laugh, and to not take everything so seriously. She literally insists I go jump on the trampoline if I’ve been sitting too long. She’s my hero. 

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Nope

17. Favorite Instagram account?

I love Instagram so much, and though I’ve only been on it for a little over a year, I find the “audience” there to be so supportive and authentic. Ironically, my favorite account is a brand new one: @manifesting.through.the.mess, which is all about navigating the mess of motherhood and reclaiming yourself along the way. Elizabeth Pearson is going to do big things, y’all. You should follow her. 

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

You are a Badass: hot pink

19. Current #TBR pile?

Holy shit, my list is like a mile high. (No, really, I can show you.) In no particular order: 

The Darkest Time of Night by Jeremy Finley

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

The Bucket List by Georgia Clark

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

And the list continues…

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

There is no right time. Now is the right time. 

We live in such an if/then society. We’re scared to take risks, to burst out of the norm, to do what we want when we want. We think there’s a perfect time to do the things we really want. When you get enough money. When you have the steady job. When the kids go to school. When all the shit gets done. When you’re not so tired. But there isn’t any magical time to follow your own path. LIFE is the time, and it’s right now. I think waiting is one of the biggest detriments to being happy and living a more fulfilled life. 

 

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Open Book with Amy Blumenfeld

As we wind down these final days of summer there is still PLENTY of beach reading time!  Amy Blumenfeld’s debut novel, The Cast is the perfect choice to beat the end of summer scaries- P.S. that is a real thing 😉  It has got friendship, drama, heart and a complex cast of unforgettable characters. I was thrilled to ask her a few questions for my latest Open Book.  I have to say- her vacation spot is on my bucket list, her lipstick choice needs to be a reality and her life advice is something I always forget but is so true!  Thanks for sharing Amy ❤

THECASTfor Amazon

via Amazon ~

Twenty-five years ago, a group of ninth graders produced a Saturday Night Live–style videotape to cheer up their ailing friend. The show’s running time was only ninety minutes, but it had a lasting impact: Becca laughed her way through recovery, and the group—Jordana, Seth, Holly, and Lex—became her supporting cast for life.

On the silver anniversary of Becca Night Live, the friends reunite over the Fourth of July to celebrate Becca’s good health—but nothing goes as planned. The happy holiday card facades everyone’s been hiding behind quickly crumble and give way to an unforgettable three days filled with complex moral dilemmas and life-altering choices. Through humor, drama, and the alternating perspectives of five characters, The Cast explores the power of forgiveness, the importance of authenticity, and the immeasurable value of deep, enduring friendships to buoy us when life plays out differently than expected.

AmyBlumenfeldHeadShotWEB

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

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Robin Williams, Oprah

Current binge series? 

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and 

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman

Last favorite book?

The Book of Separation by Tova Mirvis and Limelight by Amy Poeppel. Very different books, but equally engrossing. 

What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it? London. A good book, tickets to a West End show, and the key to the Kensington townhouse I’ll be renting so that I can pretend I’m a local.

Sunday NYT or US Weekly? 

Sunday NYT

Last person you sent a text message to? 

My husband

Book you read that you wished you wrote? 

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

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

I did not have a teacher who encouraged me to become a writer but I did have a professor in graduate school who suggested I turn my master’s project into a book. Although it was a very circuitous route, The Cast is what eventually blossomed from the seed he planted all those years ago.

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

No. The characters in my head make enough noise!

Describe your writing space? 

As soon as my daughter is off to school I make a mug of tea and sit down at the dining room table with my computer. By the time she gets home, my laptop and I have usually relocated to a sofa, an area rug on the floor, my bed, or if the weather is nice, a spot outdoors. 

Coffee or tea? 

Though I love the aroma of a coffee shop, I’m definitely a tea person.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift? 

For kids, I like to give My Book About Me by Dr. Seuss. For adults, it’s all based on the recipient. I match the book to the person.

If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why? Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel. First, because I am a huge Billy Joel fan – my first big concert as a kid was seeing him play at Yankee Stadium. Second, I believe in the importance of authenticity and gravitate to people who stay true to themselves. 

What/Who inspires you? My parents, husband, brother, and daughter. 

Bravo reality TV- yes or no? No

Favorite Instagram account? It’s a tie between Jennifer Garner and my 20-something-year-old nieces living in Chicago. 

If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? Great Expectations. It would be a nude shade with a little shimmer.

Current #TBR pile? Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer, The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall, Beauty in the Broken Places by Alison Pataki, The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Best advice you’ve ever received? One step at a time. No matter how great or small the goal, I find this to be the most practical piece of advice I’ve ever received. I apply this to nearly everything I do – from packing a lunchbox to hosting a party to writing a book. This is what I keep in the back of my mind and it tends to get me to the finish line. 

 

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Open Book with Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Two summers ago, fully pregnant, I had the good fortune of meeting Liz and Lisa while they were on tour.  They are exactly how you would picture them- fun, bubbly, sparkly, gorgeous and vivacious- basically the gals you want in your squad.  I am always thrilled to support them and read their literary gems.  I love having them on the blog and am excited to share their “Open Book” answers.  They have picked the perfect book to lipstick shade, shared their current reads and really live by the best motto- read below and see why they truly are the book besties dreams are made of ❤

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via Amazon ~

From the bestselling authors of The Good Widow comes a chilling novel of psychological suspense that will make you think twice about what your best friend may be hiding…

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.

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

Elizabeth Gilbert, Judy Blume and Barack Obama

  1. Current binge series?

Lisa is binging Seven Seconds on Netflix and Liz is binging Dietland on AMC. 

  1. Last favorite book?

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier and Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone 

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

Books (Does that count as one? Lol), bathing suit and birkenstocks.

Grand Cayman! Together! 

  1. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

US Weekly! 

  1. Last person you sent a text message to?

Lisa–my husband

Liz–Lisa!

  1. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

You by Caroline Kepnes 

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

Lisa didn’t have a teacher. It was her mom who encouraged her. Liz had so many teachers that encouraged her—it would be impossible to choose just one! 

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

YES! Lisa listens to Kenny Chesney and various other country artists. Liz loves Sia and plays her on repeat! 

  1. Describe your writing space?

Lisa has a loft, hidden away from the rest of the house with sweeping views of the treelined streets below. Liz has a tranquil office that relaxes her. 

  1. Coffee or tea?

Coffee for both of us! 

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

Lisa enjoys gifting Eat Pray Love. Liz loves to gift The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. 

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

Ours! The Good Widow or Girls’ Night Out! 

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

Don’t Worry, Be Happy for Lisa. So much easier said than done! For Liz: Girls Just Want to Have Fun! 

  1. What/Who inspires you?

Hard workers—people that hustle to get to the top. 

  1. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Yes! We love Million Dollar Listing–any city!

  1. Favorite Instagram account?

We love @vilmairisblog and also @thesatoproject, a really cool organization that saved dogs in Puerto Rico. 

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

Double Life. It would be that perfect shade of red and would go with The Good Widow

  1. Current #TBR pile?

Lisa has The Subway Girls by Susie Schnall, An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, Our House by Louise Candish. Liz is reading The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier. 

  1. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Never give up. And we won’t!

 

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