Open Book with Susie Orman Schnall

There is no shortage of fierce, female driven beach reads this year.  A the top of this list is the gorgeous Susie Orman Schnall’s latest, The Subway Girls.  A historical read with beauty, ambition and two determined woman is all that is within this gem of a read.  I was thrilled when Susie agreed to be my latest “Open Book”.  She is just as fabulous as her two main characters.  Perfect lipstick selection, stellar dream book club picks and a delectable TBR stack.  She is beyond!

The Subway Girls COVER

via Amazon ~

From the author of The Balance Project comes a dual-timeline narrative featuring a 1949 Miss Subways contestant and a modern-day advertising executive whose careers and lives intersect.

“Schnall has written a book that is smart and timely…Feels perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams and Liza Klaussmann.” —Taylor Jenkins Reid, acclaimed author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

“A fast-paced, clever novel filled with romantic possibilities, high-stakes decisions, and harsh realities. Perfect for fans of Fiona Davis’s The Dollhouse, this engrossing tale highlights the role that ambition, sexism, and true love will forever play in women’s lives.” —Amy Poeppel, author of Small Admissions

In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.

Nearly 70 years later, outspoken advertising executive Olivia is pitching the NYC subways account in a last ditch effort to save her job at an advertising agency. When the charismatic boss she’s secretly in love with pits her against her misogynistic nemesis, Olivia’s urgent search for the winning strategy leads her to the historic Miss Subways campaign. As the pitch date closes in on her, Olivia finds herself dealing with a broken heart, an unlikely new love interest, and an unexpected personal connection to Miss Subways that could save her job—and her future.

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition.

SusieOrmanSchnall

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

Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Barack Obama.

2. Current binge series?

 Just finished binging Good Girls Revolt. I’m so sad there won’t be a season 2. And I can’t wait until the next seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies are released.

3. Last favorite book?

My favorite three I’ve read recently are Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

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

1. A bag full of good books (that just counts as one thing!) 2. Cozy sweats. 3. Dark chocolate and English breakfast tea. Then I’ll gather all of those things on a beautiful porch of a beautiful house overlooking a beautiful sea.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

 Sunday NYT. (And the crossword.)

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

 My middle son. About the geometry compass he needs for school 😉

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

 The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

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

 Not particularly. But I have an English professor from college, Al Filreis, who once read an essay I wrote out loud in class. I had taken a lot of risks with it and I almost didn’t turn it in. When he read it aloud, I felt an unbelievable sense of pride and it made me feel so validated. We still keep in touch.

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

 No. Has to be really quiet. I get distracted easily.

10. Describe your writing space?

 I have an office off my bedroom. It’s got this gorgeous crazy floral wallpaper, a big desk with lots of room to spread out all my notes, cozy chairs, and lots of book shelf space. And a big window to look out of when I can’t figure out what to write next. I love having my own space.

11. Coffee or tea?

 Rishi English breakfast tea.

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

 Not one in particular but I do love sending books to people unexpectedly if one has come up in conversation or if I think they’ll like it.

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

 Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

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

 My favorite song is If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out by Cat Stevens. It’s just so uplifting and has so much potential! “You can do what you want 

The opportunity’s on

And if you can find a new way

You can do it today”

15. What/Who inspires you?

Women today! My goodness, women are killing it. I love the ambition, and bravery, and outspokenness that is all over the place today. It makes me want to spread my wings and soar.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

 Of course! In doses.

17. Favorite Instagram account?

 Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She can go from posting something inspiring and motivational and then the next day it will be something hilarious. She’s incredibly authentic. You should definitely follow her. @sarablakely

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

Eat Pray Love. A flattering glowy pink that you can use when you eat, pray, love, and everything in between. I need the items in my life to multitask!

19. Current #TBR pile?

 Humongous! Highlights: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine, Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. It just keeps growing…

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Done is better than perfect – Sheryl Sandberg says that in Lean In.

 

Follow Susie:

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Twitter

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*Thanks to BookSparks for facilitating this interview.

 

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Open Book with Cristina Alger

I started writing about Cristina Alger back in 2016 and my love for her and her work has grown immensely.  She is it.  Author extraordinaire, mom inspo, the chicest New York style, the list goes on  ❤  Her latest novel, The Banker’s Wife is out now and getting the best of reviews.  AND JUST IN- IT WILL BE ADAPTED FOR TELEVISION!  You know I love a page to screen adaptation.  If you want a summer sizzler of a thriller with high stakes, plane crashes, offshore accounts and a wife searching for answers then this is your book.  Cristina was kind enough to take some time to be my latest Open Book and I know if I ever run into her we can share our love of coffee and books over a fabulous chit chat 🙂

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via Amazon ~

“Immersive, satisfying, tense–and timely: This is probably happening for real right now.”–Lee Child

On an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar, and its wreckage is later uncovered in the Alps. Among the disappeared is Matthew Werner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind, including an encrypted laptop and a shady client list. As she begins a desperate search for answers, she determines that Matthew’s death was no accident, and that she is now in the crosshairs of his powerful enemies.

Meanwhile, ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally landed at the top. Now that she’s engaged to Grant Ellis, she will stop writing about powerful families and finally be a part of one. Her entry into the upper echelons of New York’s social scene is more appealing than any article could ever be, but, after the death of her mentor, she agrees to dig into one more story. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including a few who are too close to home. The story could also be the answer to Annabel’s heartbreaking search–if Marina chooses to publish it.

The Banker’s Wife is both a high-stakes thriller and an inside look at the personal lives in the intriguing world of finance, introducing Cristina Alger as a powerful new voice in the genre

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

Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe and Dominick Dunne. 

Current binge series?

The Handmaid’s Tale.

Last favorite book?

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. 

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

Bathing suit, sandals and a great book. St Barth’s!

 Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

NYT.

Last person you sent a text message to?

My husband. 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES by Tom Wolfe 

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

Yes! A law school professor, actually. I’m not sure what that says about my aptitude for the law!

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

I don’t. I don’t need silence but music distracts me. 

Describe your writing space?

Anywhere my children are not! Mostly coffee shops and libraries.

Coffee or tea?

COFFEE.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

HERE IS NEW YORK by E.B. White. We gave it to all our guests at our wedding. It’s such a treasure. 

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

Stand by Me by Ben E. King. I truly believe that with the support of a few fast friends, you can get through anything. 

What/Who inspires you?

My husband. He’s unfailingly calm, positive and kind to everyone. 

Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

No. 

Favorite Instagram account?

This sounds so horribly narcissistic, but probably my own! I use Instagram as a rolling photo album of our family. It’s so fun to scroll back and see old photos of my kids. It just fills me with nostalgia and joy.

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

Telex From Cuba – a brilliant, fiery red. 

Current #TBR pile?

It’s embarrassingly huge. LESS by Andrew Sean Greer. THE GREAT BELIEVERS by Rebecca Makkai. SOMETHING IN THE WATER by Catherine Steadman.  THE HIGH SEASON by Judy Blundell. To name a few!

Best advice you’ve ever received?

A professor of mine used to tell us that our job in life was to figure out “where your hunger for the world meets the world’s hunger for you.”

 

Follow Cristina:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

 

*Thanks to Get Red PR for facilitating the interview.

 

 

Open Book with Caroline Kepnes

Continuing with my love for the hometown gals today with the one and only Caroline Kepnes!!!!  Dream. Come. True.  Kepnes, born in Cape Cod now living in Cali, latest book Providence is out now!  Currently making like every summer must- read list and best of 2018 books list, continues with her creepy and dark vibe but also intertwines a love story throughout.  You may remember her debut stunner, You, which was praised by none other than thriller master Stephen King.  You was adapted for television and will be premiering in September on Lifetime.  I am so THRILLED, pun intended, that she is my latest Open Book, sharing her love for the New York Housewives, lattes and Judy Blume ❤

Jacket_PROVIDENCE

via Amazon ~

“A dark beauty of a book, Providence kept me up at night with characters that made my heart a little bigger.”—Jessica Knoll, New York Times bestselling author of Luckiest Girl Alive

“Part love story, part supernatural thriller and completely engrossing” (People)—from the acclaimed author of You, whose work Stephen King describes as “hypnotic and totally original”

Best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe share a bond so intense that it borders on the mystical. But before Jon can declare his love for his soul mate, he is kidnapped, his plans for a normal life permanently dashed.

Four years later, Chloe has finally given up hope of ever seeing Jon again. Then, a few months before graduation, Jon reappears. But he is different now: bigger, stronger, and with no memory of the time he was gone. Jon wants to pick up where he and Chloe left off . . . until the horrifying instant he realizes that he possesses strange powers that pose a grave threat to everyone he cares for. Afraid of hurting Chloe, Jon runs away, embarking on a journey for answers.

Meanwhile, in Providence, Rhode Island, healthy college students and townies with no connection to one another are suddenly, inexplicably dropping dead. A troubled detective prone to unexplainable hunches, Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus suspects there’s a serial killer at work. But when he starts asking questions, Eggs is plunged into a whodunit worthy of his most outlandish obsessions.

In this dazzling new novel—and with an intense, mesmerizing voice—Caroline Kepnes makes keen and powerful observations about human connection and how love and identity can dangerously blur together.

Praise for Providence

Providence is a novel that doesn’t fit into one box—it’s tender and dark, eerie and cool, heartbreaking but also an affirmation of the power of love. Kepnes perfectly captures each character’s struggle and pain in such a unique, unconventional way that every page—every sentence—is a delightful surprise.”—Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars

“Caroline Kepnes is cool right this minute. . . . [Providence is] terrifically conceived and executed. . . . Kepnes has an exhilarating, poppy, unexpected voice.”The New York Times Book Review

“An addictive horror-tinged romance that’ll keep you guessing.”Entertainment Weekly

Caroline Kepnes_credit Courtney Dowling Pugliese_Ace Photography

 

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

 I’m gonna go with all dead because the impossibility of the lively conversation is bittersweet to me. Joan Rivers, Spalding Grey and Patricia Highsmith.

  1. Current binge series?

 I just started Succession because my friend told me about a violent moment involving a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce.

  1. Last favorite book?

 Fashion Victim by Amina Akhtar, what a unique, biting out-there and in-there book.

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

 Bathing suit, sneakers & books, Martha’s Vineyard in summer OR snow suit, sneakers & books, Sweden in winter.

  1. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

 Sunday NYT because more and more I don’t recognize so many people in US Weekly!

  1. Last person you sent a text message to?

 Kristina Valentine, friend from home, we just realized we are both here.

  1. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

 Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

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

 Mick Carlon, Kathleen Flaherty and Ed O’Toole at Barnstable High School, Meredith Steinbach, Chuck Mee, Tracy Breton at Brown University.

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

 Sometimes. With Providence it was a lot of covers and originals because I was writing about nostalgia, capturing that period between the time in your life when it’s all ahead, and that time when you’re like oh, ok, this is how it worked out. With the draft I just finished, I blasted “Between the Cheats” by Amy Winehouse after most sessions. That’s a haunting, menacing song.

  1. Describe your writing space?

 My sofa is named Corky and my lower back wishes that I would sit at my desk in the ergonomic chair, but you know, such is life. I also write in coffee shops with headphones on. There’s nothing better than realizing you have lost sense of your surroundings because you’re so in the zone. I can write anywhere when it’s in my head. That’s a wonderful thing about the cell phone, the notepad app.

  1. Coffee or tea?

 Latte

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

 Stewart O’Nan’s Last Night at the Lobster

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

 I think it would be a great time to remake “Smooth Talk”, which is based on “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oates. And I would love to see “The Beloveds” by Maureen Lindley brought to life. Kealan Patrick Burke has a graphic short story in John Carpenter’s Tales for a Halloween Night Volume 3 that is crying out to be adapted too, a divorced father spending time with his daughters, oh God, that could be so well done. I mean the storyboards are already there!

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

 “Nothing Compares 2 U” because of the longing, the love, the soul, the yearning, the soaring, the emotional highs and lows that define my life and what writing is for me.

  1. What/Who inspires you?

 Everything. I’m fascinated by the cultural and psychological impact of technology on our lives, so you seey characters grappling with their emotional hardships that are exacerbated by all this communication and connection.

  1. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

 I watched this week’s episode of Real Housewives of New York four times, so that’s my jam. The women on that show fascinate me and it’s been on for so many years, they’re like family you watch from afar.

  1. Favorite Instagram account?

 @PopCultureDiedin2009 THANK YOU FOR ALL THE GIGGLES AND MIND FUCKS

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

Sleeping Beauties, a glowing, incandescent shade reminiscent of the dress worn by Barbie Magic Moves in the 80s

  1. Current #TBR pile?

 Now reading (and savoring) Foe by Iain Reid, then Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall, How to Get Into Our House and Where We Keep the Money by Panio Gianopolous, Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard, The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder, The Hunger by Whitley Strieber, The Goddesses by Swan Huntley

  1. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Hold onto your real feelings while you make stuff up

 

 

you-9781982103101_hr

via Amazon ~

*Soon to be a Lifetime drama series*

Hypnotic and scary.” —Stephen King

“I am RIVETED, AGHAST, AROUSED, you name it. The rare instance when prose and plot are equally delicious.” —Lena Dunham

From debut author Caroline Kepnes comes You, one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2014, and a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age.

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.

 

Follow Caroline:

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Open Book and a Beauty Bonus Round ~ with Jenna Blum

We have an extra special, extra fabulous guest today who is a sparkly Boston gal whose latest gem of a read is out now!!!!  Drumroll and marquis lights please….Jenna Blum is in the house and we have a special “Open Book” today!  The Lost Family is a non-negotiable for your summer reading list.  It is set over 3 decades, told from multiple perspectives and filled with love, loss and hope.  I am so thrilled to have Jenna on the blog and to support such a wonderful local author ❤

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via Amazon ~

The Lost Family is an extraordinary read, the kind of book that makes you sob and smile, the kind that gives you hope…. It is compassionate, masterful and disturbingly contemporary.”—Tatiana de Rosnay, bestselling author of Sarah’s Key

The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged, beautifully rendered story that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s.

In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its brisket bourguignon and impeccable service and to admire its dashing owner and head chef Peter Rashkin. With his movie-star good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the parade of eligible women who come to the restaurant hoping to catch his eye. He has resigned himself to a solitary life. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha—the restaurant’s namesake—and two young daughters perished.

Then exquisitely beautiful June Bouquet, an up-and-coming young model, appears at the restaurant, piercing Peter’s guard. Though she is twenty years his junior, the two begin a passionate, whirlwind courtship. When June unexpectedly becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, believing that beginning a new family with the woman he loves will allow him to let go of the horror of the past. But over the next twenty years, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter Elsbeth, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways.

Jenna Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by a grief he cannot name, a frustrated wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born. Spanning three cinematic decades, The Lost Family is a charming, funny, and elegantly bittersweet study of the repercussions of loss and love.

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

Hemingway, Frederick Douglass, Obama.

 

2. Current binge series?

The Handmaid’s Tale. I wish Season 3 would begin way before April 2019–we may be living in Gilead by then.

 

3. Last favorite book?

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

 

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

Book, iPad, snacks. A beach anywhere!

 

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

NYT always.

 

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My dear friend Stephanie Ebbert at the Boston Globe, who writes on gender issues.

 

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

The Stand by Stephen King.

 

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

Yes! Mr. Laskowich at Watchung School in Montclair, NJ, who read to us each day for 1/2 hour before lunch. Mr. Phillip Stern at Glenfield Middle School in Montclair, who didn’t mind when I wrote a whole novel about him in 7th grade (I had a major crush).

 

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

Never. Music to me is a language and it competes with the language in my head.

 

10. Describe your writing space?

It’s usually covered with images from the book I’m working on. Black Lab Woodrow snoring on bed because he finds writing very boring.

 

11. Coffee or tea?

COFFEE

 

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

I generally give newly published books by friends to help them get out into the world.

 

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

Mine! 🙂 (Those Who Save Us, my first book, is under option. I’d love The Lost Family to become a movie as well—or a series on HBO, SHOWTIME, Hulu, Amazon Prime….)

 

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

Free To Be You & Me, because I believe in the sanctity of personal choice and respect.

 

15. What/Who inspires you?

Injustice inspires me to try & do something about it. Also the Obamas.

 

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

Nope!

 

17. Favorite Instagram account?

My dear friend writer/ yoga guru Sara DiVello. Selma Blair. Reese Witherspoon’s book club.

 

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

Those Who Save Us and it’d be blood red.

 

19. Current #TBR pile?

So much! I actually have a TBR ottoman. I’m traveling on book tour for The Lost Family right now so I’ll have to do this from memory. Many chef memoirs, continuing research for my next book. Anthony Bourdain. Curtis Sittenfeld short stories. Julian Barnes.

 

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

“Jen, do your best.” My dad.

 
 
BONUS SECTION*
 
1. Favorite place to shop in Boston? Anthropologie!
2. Biggest fashion splurge? Anthropologie! 
3. Beauty must-haves? Anthropologie! Also concealer, waterproof mascara & eyeliner. I wear cat-eyes to the gym because I’m from Jersey originally and that’s what we do.
4. What do you carry in your purse for beauty products? Matte lipstick from Revlon that would stay on during a nuclear winter.
5. What type of purse/bag do you carry? Normally, I don’t—I have a Coach wristlet but I like to travel light. When traveling for book events, a Coach tote bag. 
FOLLOW Jenna:

Open Bag with Anita Hughes

We have a mix up today.  A little bit Open Book and a little bit Bookish {Beauty} Bag with Anita Hughes.  I am a HUGE fan of Anita’s and thrilled to be able to celebrate her latest release, California Summer.  If you are familiar with her works then you know she has a way of transporting her readers to the glamorous locations that her books take place.  These settings often are their own character within the story and her latest is set against the beautiful backdrop of California.  She is the queen of beach reads and I am thrilled she is on the blog today ❤

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via Amazon ~

“The perfect beach read!” ―Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House Reunion.

“Tender and triumphant…California Summer made my heart sing. ―Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of Between Me and You

Anita Hughes’s California Summer is a charming and beautiful love story about a former Hollywood producer who trades her cast list in for cookbooks in the hopes of following her dreams and finding new love.

Ben and Rosie are Hollywood’s newest director/producer dream team. After hitting it big at Sundance, it seems that their ten years of love and hard work are finally paying off. Rosie is happy making independent films, but Ben wants the A-List celebrity package: a house in Beverly Hills, fancy cars in the driveway, and his name on the biggest blockbusters. He’s willing to do anything, even sleep with the most famous producer in town, to get them.

Rosie is devastated by Ben’s affair, and she decides to take a break from show business. She accepts her best friend’s invitation to spend the summer at her parents’ estate in Montecito. It’s far away from L.A., the perfect place to start over.

In Montecito, Rosie meets a colorful cast of characters including Rachel, who owns a chocolate shop, and Josh, a handsome local who splits his time between surfing and classic cars. Suddenly Rosie has new friends and a new purpose. She starts a business in the village, and her luck seems to be turning around. But Rosie knows all too well that success comes with a price, and the price might be losing love…again.

California Summer is a touching and romantic story about following your dreams but not letting them get in the way of love.

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What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with? Rona Jaffe, Edith Wharton, and Maeve Binchy – three of my favorite authors of all time.

Current binge series? Reruns of the OC.

Last favorite book? The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Lip balm, a sun hat and a book.

Sunday NYT or US Weekly? Sunday NYT’s!

Last person you sent a text message to? My daughter.

Book you read that you wished you wrote? Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer? Not really.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who? No, it has to be quiet.

Describe your writing space? The love seat in my bedroom, looking at the bunnies in the garden.

Coffee or tea? Coffee.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift? Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

What/Who inspires you? My children.

Bravo reality TV- yes or no? No.

Favorite Instagram account? None.

Current #TBR pile? Another Side of Paradise by Sally Koslow.

What is your bag of choice?- purse/tote/backpack and brand that you have? Anything from Kate Spade.

What are your top favorite beauty picks?  Bare Minerals Bronzer, Chanel lip gloss.

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

What are you currently reading (can be books/magazines) Small Admission by Amy Poeppel.

 

Hughes, Anita_CREDIT Sheri Geoffreys

 

Follow Anita:

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Open Book with Michelle Gable

I have been a huge an of Michelle Gable’s since I first read, I’ll See You in Paris.  She has a way with her storytelling that transports you.  I was thrilled to hear that she was going to be writing about John F. Kennedy in her latest, The Summer I Met Jack.  I am a Kennedy enthusiast and always love a story that I do not know much about cue this book and the quintessential New England summer read.  I am so excited to have Michelle back on the blog to day in my latest “Open Book” feature and if you like Flashdance then you will LOVE Michelle- see below ❤

SUMMER I MET JACK_FINAL

via Amazon ~

“[The Summer I Met Jack] offers an alternate Kennedy family history that will leave readers wondering whether America knew the real JFK at all.” —Kirkus Reviews

New York Times bestselling author imagines the affair between John F. Kennedy and Alicia Corning Clark – and the child they may have had.

Based on a real story – in 1950, a young, beautiful Polish refugee arrives in Hyannisport, Massachusetts to work as a maid for one of the wealthiest families in America. Alicia is at once dazzled by the large and charismatic family, in particular the oldest son, a rising politician named Jack.

Alicia and Jack are soon engaged, but his domineering father forbids the marriage. And so, Alicia trades Hyannisport for Hollywood, and eventually Rome. She dates famous actors and athletes and royalty, including Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, and Katharine Hepburn, all the while staying close with Jack. A decade after they meet, on the eve of Jack’s inauguration as the thirty-fifth President of the United States, the two must confront what they mean to each other.

The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable is based on the fascinating real life of Alicia Corning Clark, a woman who J. Edgar Hoover insisted was paid by the Kennedys to keep quiet, not only about her romance with Jack Kennedy, but also a baby they may have had together.

 

Michelle 278_credit Joanna DeGeneres

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

JFK, Tim Ferriss, and Oprah. A dream book club could never be complete without her!

2. Current binge series?

I’m not really a binger, but the most recent series I watched was the One Day at a Time reboot.

3. Last favorite book?

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

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

Bikini, linen dress, and a book. Two places I’ve been dying to see are Portugal and Isla Holbox in Mexico.  

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Neither. People Magazine and/or Entertainment Weekly. 

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My good friend and doubles partner, Erin.  

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Gloria by Keith Maillard

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

I was an accounting major (you know, like most aspiring authors), but took creative writing classes as electives. One professor said I was “selling out” by going into finance. I was like, “if by ‘selling out’ you mean, ‘pay my rent,’ then you are correct.” Maybe that’s not encouragement, exactly? When I was younger, the support definitely came from my dad.

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

Never.   

10. Describe your writing space?

We recently turned our daughters’ former playroom into my office and it’s a great space. It’s at the top of the stairs, with a sliding barn door and windows that open onto the stairwell. It is gray with pops of blue and has white built-in cabinets and dark walnut floors lied diagonally. The desk is huge and there are three distinct work spaces, so my girls can do their homework with me, if they want.

11. Coffee or tea?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.

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

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

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

Amazon made a pilot for The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and I loved it. I kept waiting for the rest of the series, but it never came. I wish they’d finish!

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

This is embarrassing but the first song that popped into my head was What a Feeling by Irene Cara from the movie Flashdance. It reminds me so much of my childhood and I sing it to the girls all the time. I love the lines “Take your passion, and make it happen…” I was trying to convince my youngest daughter to use it for her “walk up” song this summer at the national playoffs for softball, but she was unmoved by my pleas.

 15. What/Who inspires you?

Other writers inspire me for sure—whether they write novels, or scripts, or something else. If I’m stuck, reading something always helps.

 16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

No—although I do like Bethenny Frankel.  

17. Favorite Instagram account?

That’s a tough one! Probably @celestebarber or @travelandleisure

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

I recently read and loved Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood. It comes out in August and is about the true story that inspired Nabokov’s Lolita. I’m sure there are many shades of “Lolita” out there already, so I’d call it “Sally” after Sally Horner, the real girl behind the book. It’d either have to be very light pink, to reflect her innocence, or a garish, glittery fuchsia, something a young girl would think was pretty just because it was so loud.

19. Current #TBR pile?

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

A Theory of Love by Margaret Bradham Thornton

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

 20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

“If it’s not a ‘hell yes,’ then it’s a ‘no.’” This helps me prioritize and reminds me not to say yes to things out of obligation, especially when I’m on deadline, or about to go on tour!

 

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Open Book with Amy Poeppel

From the stunning, fabulous cover to the addictive title, Amy Poeppel’s Limelight is the one of the hottest reads of spring and must for any beach-read addict.  I was thrilled when she said she would answer Bliss, Beauty and Books “Open Book” questions.  She talked US Weekly, Real Housewives,  bookish beauty and her current TBR pile.  Read on to learn more about Amy and her latest book ❤

LIMELIGHT

via Amazon ~

“Outstanding…A tribute to Broadway, teen celebrity life, and a mother who has now seen it all, this work is tough love at its finest and a great read for those wanting a ride on the wild side.”—Booklist (starred review)

Best New Books You Should Read This Spring—PopSugar

In a smart and funny new novel by the author of the critically acclaimed, “big-hearted, charming” (The Washington Post) Small Admissions, a family’s move to New York City brings surprises and humor as their lives merge with the captivating world of Broadway.

Allison Brinkley—wife, mother, and former unflappable optimist—discovers that a carefully weighed decision to pack up and move her family from suburban Dallas to the glittery chaos of Manhattan may have been more complicated than she and her husband initially thought.

Allison learns that New York is unruly and bewildering, defying the notions she developed from romantic movies and a memorable childhood visit. After a humiliating call from the principal’s office and the loss of the job she was counting on, Allison begins to accept that New York may not suit her after all.

When Allison has a fender-bender, witnessed by a flock of mothers at her son’s new school, she is led to the penthouse apartment of a luxurious Central Park West building and encounters a spoiled, hungover, unsupervised teenager who looks familiar. It doesn’t take long to recognize him as Carter Reid—a famous pop star who has been cast in a new Broadway musical. Through this brush with stardom, Allison embraces a unique and unexpected opportunity that helps her find her way in the heart of Manhattan.

In a book that delivers laughs, warmth, and delightful wish fulfillment, Poeppel dives into celebrity culture and modern motherhood with her trademark “quick-witted and razor-sharp” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Maybe in Another Life) style.

Amy Poeppel

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

 I would love to be in a book club with Michelle Obama and Sarah Silverman, and I’d revive Noel Coward and invite him to join. I’m convinced the four of us would have great chemistry! (Lots of wit to go around!) We would drink cocktails, talk, and have a lot of laughs together, and we would choose terrific books to read.

2. Current binge series?

Barry on HBO! I love it in large part because I’m crazy about Bill Hader. I don’t know how this particular show works so well: it combines the humor of amateur acting classes with the horror of gruesome assassinations. Imagine if Waiting for Guffman and Pulp Fiction had a film baby… Weird, right? But for many reasons (the acting, the writing, the premise), the result is perfection.

 

3. Recent favorite book?

I adored Elinor Lipman’s On Turpentine Lane — it’s fantastically funny, original, and smart.

 

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

Books, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat. You’ll find me on the beach or pool-side.

 

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Please don’t make me choose!!

 

6. Last person you sent a text message to?

I sent a chicken emoji to one of my kids for no particular reason, other than as a way of saying hello.

 

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members. It’s so funny and clever, and I love epistolary novels.

 

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

I had so many fabulous teachers when I was in school, and I feel really grateful about that. From kindergarten through high school, I had English teachers who inspired me, encouraged me, and taught me to think and write. Bob Scanlan, a theater teacher/director I had in college, taught me how to write fast-paced dialogue.

 

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

 Unfortunately, I get way too distracted when I listen to music, especially music with lyrics. I need silence to get any work done.

 

10. Describe your writing space?

My desk is supposed to be my writing space, but it’s always too messy to be used. Instead, I sit on my bed, hunched over my laptop. Not great for the spine but terrific for productivity.

 

11. Coffee or tea?

Coffee!

 

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

 I have given Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons to many of my friends. I first read this lovely book when I was in my early twenties and have always found it has such broad appeal. Ellen is one of the most memorable female characters in fiction.

 

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

 May I name a few? Salvage The Bones by Jesmyn Ward, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and The Bucket List by Georgia Clark.

 

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

I don’t know what it is about the song And She Was by The Talking Heads, but it feels like my theme song. I’m not an out-of-body experience kind of person, but something about this woman floating above her house and her neighborhood, checking out the world from this awesome perspective, and “moving out in all directions,” strikes me as fun and bizarre. Plus it’s just a great song.

 

15. What/Who inspires you?

Morning people inspire me. I am so impressed by anyone who wakes up and either writes (I’m talking to you, 5am Writers’ Club) or exercises. I am useless for about an hour after the alarm goes off and dysfunctional until I’ve had coffee. Mid-afternoon is a really good time for me.

 

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

 In phases, that’s a definite yes. I always get hooked on a Real Housewives of Absolutely Anywhere for a whole season, but then I’ll forget to watch it when it comes back on again. So I’ve seen the first season of every Real Housewives show.

 

17. Favorite Instagram account?

 @thecontext for art and style, @bookbaristas for books and the reader’s life, and @henrythecoloradodog for the cutest dog/cat pictures ever.

 

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

I would wear “No Regret Rose” every day, named after Andrea Dunlop’s She Regrets Nothing. It would be a lovely shade of pink, like the cover of the book, and a little sparkly to go well with champagne.

 

19. Current #TBR pile?

Heads Of The Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Another Side of Paradise by Sally Koslow

The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell

 

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

The best writing advice I’ve received is from Anne Lamott’s book Bird By Bird: “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something — anything — down on paper.”

 

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*Thanks to Kathleen Carter Communications for setting up this interview and a review copy of the book!*