Open Book ~ Brenda Janowitz

 

open book graphic - white background-13Happy December!  This is a month of bliss with the holidays and spreading cheer!  I am so excited to launch my new feature, “Open Book” on the blog TODAY.  I am always working to create new things for my readers as well as find a way to showcase authors and books in a cool and fun way.  “Open Book” is another way like “What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag?” to learn about authors and the fun stuff we want to know about them.  To me they are celebrities so I am always just as excited as you to read about them and connect.  First up is one of my favorite authors and people.  She is basically the Academy for Books, sharing her book “nominations” lists every season on Popsugar.  Not only does she have amazing taste in books but she is an even more AH-mazing author.  I am so thrilled to have the one, the only ~ BRENDA JANOWITZ kick off my “Open Book” series and believe me you will be dying to have her in your bestie rolodex at the end 😉

 

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

If you’re going to have a celebrity bookclub, the first person you need to invite is Oprah, of course, because she has great taste in books. I’d also love to have Sheryl Sandberg, because I was obsessed with Option B and I just love the way she looks at the world. And speaking of wonderful outlooks on the world, I’d have to have Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I love her books,  I love her worldview, and I’m just crazy about her TED talks. 
Fawning all over each of your guests is totally allowed at this bookclub, right?!
 
2. Current binge series?
Just finished Stranger Things 2 and it was even better than the first season!
 
3. Last favorite book?
 
There are just too many to name! I recently put out my PopSugar Best Winter Reads, so that’s a start:
4. What 3 things do you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it?
It’s usually three books! 
But I also like to have lip balm and sunscreen with me wherever I go. I’d love to fly to Hawaii again— it’s where my husband and I had our honeymoon and I can’t wait to return.
 
5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Both! Does a girl have to choose?!
 
6. Last person you sent a text message to?
My mom.
 
7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. 
8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?
I’m not sure if there was just one, but I was always fortunate to have wonderful teachers throughout my education who inspired me, and encouraged me to do the things I dreamed about.
 
9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?
 
I don’t. I can’t. I get so into the lyrics of the music I’m listening to that I can’t do both.
10. Describe your writing space?
I usually work in my office, on my desktop computer. Writers are always posting pictures of their desks on Instagram, and I always die of jealousy, because mine is a mess. I’d like to say it’s controlled chaos, but it’s not. It’s honestly just a mess! I’ve got notebooks with notes and book ideas, I’ve got advanced copies of books that I’m reading for various PopSugar lists, and I’ve got piles of kid stuff that needs attending to. Not ideal, but it works!
11. Coffee or tea?
Coffee.
 
12. Do you have a favorite book that you gift?
I love giving books as a gift! I tend to gift whatever books have just come out, and I try very hard to fit the right book with the right person.
 
13. Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?
The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman. That book is an all time favorite of mine.
 
14. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?
Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce 
It’s inspiring, it’s empowering, and it motivates you to tackle your day like a boss. After all, who runs the world? Girls!
 
15. What/Who inspires you?
Everyone I meet and everything I see inspires me in some way. What I write truly reflects what I see in the world, what I think of the world, so nearly everything I touch and that touches me has an effect.
 
16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?
Is there an option for: HELL YEAH!?
 
17. Favorite Instagram account?
I love bookstagram accounts (obvs!) and yours is the best! (Also obvious!)
 
18. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 
Ooh! I’m such a sucker for a good lipstick shade. I’m presently obsessed with neutrals, hot pink, and glitter. So, my shade would be a nude base with a shimmer of hot pink. Throw in a touch of glittery shine, and I think we’ve got something special! I’d have to call it: Brave New World. Was there ever a better book title than that?!
19. Current #TBR pile?
Right now, I’m working on my PopSugar Spring Reads list, so it’s all about spring over here!
 
20. Best advice you’ve ever received?
“You fail only if you stop writing.” — Ray Bradbury.
I love this quote because it’s a quote about writing, but it’s also a quote about life.
Brenda Janowitz_credit Hy Goldberg
Dinner Party, The
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What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag? ~ Brenda Janowitz

Her books are amazing.  Her Popsugar lists are what I call the “Oscar Nominations” of books.  She’s fabulous and we are getting a peak into her gorgeous bag ~ today I have the lovely Brenda Janowitz sharing her Bookish {Beauty} Bag.  Her most recent novel, “The Dinner Party” is out now and was one of my top 2016 reads and an US Weekly “Standout Spring Novel”.  I do not know Brenda personally but I like to think someday we will meet for a glass of rose’ and chat all things books, beauty and pop culture aka everything that is BLISS 🙂

Dinner Party, The.jpg

via Amazon

This Passover Seder is not just any Passover Seder. Yes, there will be a quick service and then a festive meal afterwards, but this night is different from all other nights. This will be the night the Golds of Greenwich meet the Rothschilds of New York City.

The Rothschilds are the stuff of legends. They control banks, own vineyards in Napa, diamond mines in Africa, and even an organic farm somewhere in the Midwest that produces the most popular Romaine lettuce consumed in this country. And now, Sylvia Gold’s daughter is dating one of them.

When Sylvia finds out that her youngest of three is going to bring her new boyfriend to the Seder, she’s giddy. When she finds out that his parents are coming, too, she darn near faints. Making a good impression is all she thinks about. Well, almost. She still has to consider her other daughter, Sarah, who’ll be coming with her less than appropriate beau and his overly dramatic Italian mother. But the drama won’t stop there. Because despite the food and the wine, despite the new linen and the fresh flowers, the holidays are about family.

In Brenda Janowitz’s The Dinner Party, long forgotten memories come to the surface. Old grievances play out. And Sylvia Gold has to learn how to let her family go.

Brenda's Bag

What is your bag of choice?

I always carry a huge tote with me. Let’s face it: I’m a mom. I need lots of stuff!

I carry the LV Never Full, which my husband bought me for my first Mother’s Day as a mom. I think all moms need a bag that is “never full” but the truth is, sometimes it really is full. (Sorry, Louis!) In addition to the basics—my wallet, phone, makeup case, and sunglasses—I always pack it with stuff for the kids—crayons, lollipops—along with my own work stuff—postcards with my book titles listed, Sharpies in case of an impromptu signing. (You’d be surprised.) I never leave home without a book (or my reading glasses!) and I usually bring along a scarf wherever I go.

What are your top favorite beauty picks?  

I’m obsessed with makeup. Just check my Sephora account! Right now, a favorite is the Nars multiple. I use the South Beach as a bronzer and then put the Orgasm right over that. I love how it makes me look so dewy and fresh. (I do look dewy and fresh, don’t I?) And the best part? You can take it with you and use it on any other part of your face—even your lips!

I’m also pretty obsessed with perfume. (Again, just ask Sephora.) I’m so in love with Chanel’s new formulation of its iconic No 5 perfume. It’s called No 5 L’Eau and it is absolutely delicious. Who doesn’t want to smell absolutely delicious?!

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

I always (and I mean always!) carry lip balm. No matter the season, you can be sure that I have chapped lips. I’m obsessed with cult favorite Rosebud balm. First of all, it’s only six bucks. What other product could you possibly get for six bucks?! Second of all, it’s a salve, so that means you can use it on your dry lips, your dry hands, and even minor cuts and burns.

And without fail, I’ve always got concealer. As a busy working mom, I need all the help I can get!

What are you currently reading (can be books/magazines)
I’m always reading one season ahead from everyone else, and I read most books in galley form in anticipation of my PopSugar seasonal roundups. It’s almost spring, but right now, I’m reading for summer, which I’m really excited about. I’ve got Jane Green’s The Summer Sisters in my bag right now, which I can’t wait to read after doing an excerpt with Jane on PopSugar. (Link: https://www.popsugar.com/love/Excerpt-From-Jane-Green-Novel-Sunshine-Sisters-43302166)

I also love magazines. I’m a huge fan of People, US Weekly, and Entertainment Weekly.

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

I could never go anywhere without my phone. It’s my lifeline! But I also seem to find my kids’ toys at the bottom of my bag, too. There are lizards, toy cars, you name it. 

And since I’m always on the go, I love my Moleskine notebooks. I’m often asked how I have the time to write when I’m always running around with the kids. And the answer is: I don’t! I make the time. 

Whenever I have an idea, I don’t wait—I just jot it down. Sometimes, I’ll even write an entire chapter of a book in my Moleskine notebook while my kids are off at their activities. (Hey, I didn’t say it was easy!)

And last but certainly not least, I never leave home without my (totally gorgeous and amazing) personalized make-up case, which was made for me by my favorite book and beauty blogger (that’s you!)! I’m completely obsessed with it, and I get endless compliments whenever I take it out. Of course, I would never risk getting it dirty by putting actual make-up in the make-up case, so I use it to hold my author postcards and signing pens. What?! Sometimes a make-up case is too pretty to take a risk!

Brenda Janowitz_credit Hy Goldberg

Bio:

Brenda is the author of five novels, including THE DINNER PARTY (St. Martin’s April 2016). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, the New York Post, Publisher’s Weekly, PopSugar, Mom.me, Hello Giggles, Writer’s Digest Magazine, WritersDigest.com, and xojane. You can find Brenda on her website, www.brendajanowitz.com, and on Facebook and Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.

Brenda attended Cornell University and Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review. Upon graduation from Hofstra, worked for the law firm Kaye Scholer, LLP, and did a federal clerkship with the Honorable Marilyn Dolan Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Social media:
Website: www.brendajanowitz.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brendaJanowitz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaJanowitz

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brendajanowitzwriter/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/brendajanowitz/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/241404.Brenda_Janowitz

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/brenda-janowitz

Praise for THE DINNER PARTY:

“With an impeccable eye for detail, Janowitz skillfully creates scenarios and relationships so authentic that they’re simultaneously hilarious and cringe-worthy. Equally compelling is the cast of emotionally complex, nuanced characters who are lovable even at their most exasperating … [T]his novel delivers poignant universal truths about familial love and conflict in story that will have readers eagerly turning every delicious page. Thoroughly kosher.” – Kirkus Review

“THE DINNER PARTY is everything a reader wants in a novel: guests with a knack for inspired conversation and family drama swirling both above and below the table. A truly entertaining read!” – Elin Hilderbrand, author of THE RUMOR

You think your family is chock full of quirky personalities? Pull up a chair for a holiday meal with the Golds of Greenwich! The vibe is hilarious with a side of heartfelt (but never corny); and the guests are as relatable as they are occasionally appalling. Brenda Janowitz works the room with sensitivity and humor. Thanks to her consummate hostessing, The Dinner Party is a satisfying, delicious meal that sticks with you long after it’s over. –Elisabeth Egan, author of A WINDOW OPENS

“In her funny and smart novel, THE DINNER PARTY,  Brenda Janowitz tells a story of transformation and hilarity. With an acute eye for complicated family dynamics, Janowitz takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters at a holiday dinner. In great bursts of laughter and solemnity, we meet and love family members who are all trying to find their way both in the world and also in their family. As with any good dinner party, it’s a pleasure spending time at Janowitz’s table.” – Patti Callahan Henry, author of THE IDEA OF LOVE

“Don’t miss a seat at this table! Brenda Janowitz’s THE DINNER PARTY charms and delights with a story of the time-honored struggles between parents and grown children, husbands and wives, and brothers and sisters as unconditional love bumps up against unmet expectations. Laugh-out-loud funny with the biggest heart, you will fall in love with this family.” – Jamie Brenner, author of THE WEDDING SISTERS

“[The Dinner Party] skewers family distinctions, revealing how each member is vital to the functioning of the whole … readers who enjoy tales of family dynamics will devour this title.”  – Library Journal

*Thanks to Brenda for her time and all she does for the book world ❤

 

 

The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz ~ Author Q&A

The Dinner Party jacket FINAL

The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz was, like I had said in my Easter post, just as addicting as Cadbury Mini Eggs.  Now for me that means I can’t stop after one, in this case, could not stop one chapter after another.  I literally had to pace myself and savor, just like a bowl of Mini Eggs 🙂  Not only am I a huge fan of Brenda’s writing but she is my go to for must reads thanks to her PopSugar articles.  She is the gals guide to delicious reads and now with this newest novel she can add herself to the list of Spring 2016 must reads.

The Dinner Party centers around a colorful and zany family celebrating Seder dinner.  Sylvia, the matriarch of the family is hosting and stressfully getting ready to host her daughters new boyfriend and his family.  The catch is they are the ever famous Jewish Rothschild family.  To Sylvia this is the most excited dinner she has hosted and wants it to be completely perfect because, I mean, its the Rothschild’s.  With her husband Alan by her side she knows this will be a success even though there are a few things she wishes she could change.  For instance her other daughter, Sarah, and her longtime boyfriend Joe.  Sylvia not being a fan of Joe, since he is not jewish and a big Italian guy, wishes Sarah would cut her losses and look for a gentlemen involved in their faith.  Sarah knows this but is madly in love with Joe and is harboring a secret that she knows will only send her mother over the edge.  On top of that Joe is bringing his mother who insist they chat  via the iPad with her husband who is in prison.  Sylvia’s other daughter Becca, is currently in medical school and dating the infamous Henry Rothschild, who really isn’t contributing much to society which in turn makes Becca question her career and future plans.  Then finally, there is Gideon , who is the prodigal son and can’t do wrong until he shows up to the dinner with a special guest and announcement to make.  With all of the surprises unfolding, Syliva is not sure how she will make it through the dinner and how her perfect family stayed from her ideal plans in life.

Brenda Janowitz photo credit Hy Goldberg-2

 

I love this book so much and miss the characters already!  I am hoping, maybe, there will be a revisit to them as there is so much more to tell!  Janowitz is clearly a master storyteller creating a world where the reader cam immerse themselves into the story.  Again, a theme I am finding as a reader (lucky me), that Janowitz creates real characters and relatable themes which makes her that much more lovable.  I felt like she was talking to me while reading the book.  Her voice is so genuine and thoughtful it truly shines in The Dinner Party!  Brenda was kind enough to answer a few questions below.  She made me want to call her on the phone and chat all things books and gossip!  She’s so fun and I loved her answers 😉

 

Bliss, Beauty, and Books

by Brenda Janowitz

The Dinner Party

  1. This novel was based on a Seder dinner with a colorful family. How much of the story was based off your family and experiences?

I may have to plead the fifth on this one!

 

But seriously, I always say that my books come from everything and they come from nothing. I find inspiration everywhere, and that includes from my family, but there’s never any one character who’s just one person. Everything I write is an amalgam of every experience I’ve ever had.

 

  1. The relationship between the siblings and their mother was so complicated yet special.  What gave you inspiration in creating these different dynamics? 

The first relationship I thought about in creating the book was that of Sylvia and Sarah. And I think that theirs is the central relationship in the book. But as I began to flesh out the book, I thought about each character—which women would have more than one child? Which would have only one child? Was that by choice?

When it came to Sylvia’s family, I imagined a competitive environment. Sylvia didn’t come from much, so she always had to fight. I wanted her to enstill that in her children, which may or may not be a good thing.

 

  1. I loved the characters of Joe and Sarah.  Did you ever have girlfriends that dated outside of the jewish faith?  If so was it a big issue for the families?

Thank you!

 

Yes, I think intermarriage and dating outside of one’s faith is always something that happens, always something that people are going to think about and talk about. I’ve dated outside my faith, and most of my girlfriends have, too. Some of my closest friends married outside of their faith. I think it can be a struggle to reconcile, but if the bond is strong, a couple will always figure it out in a way that works for their families. 

 

  1. Family was key in this novel.  What was it like to grow up in your house? (sibling/parental relationship, favorite memories?)

I have a very close knit family. I’ve always been close to both of my parents, and my younger brother, too. I grew up in a warm environment, and I have so many fond memories of holiday time both with my family, and with extended family, too. I suppose that’s part of what drew me to a holiday story—this idea of family all gathered together around a shared experience. 

 

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

As a writer, I’d love to write on a beach, with the cool breeze in my hair.

 

But as a busy working mommy, I’d say that I mostly write wherever and whenever I can. Sometimes that’s at my desk, sometimes it’s on a laptop at a coffee shop, and sometimes it’s dictating full chapters of a book in the nursery school parking lot!

 

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

When I really need to unwind, I take a bubble bath. And nothing is better than reading a book while those bubbles tickle your toes. But really, what I couldn’t live without is my husband and my two sons—they are my bliss; they are my everything.

 

So, books, bubbles, and boys. (Did that sound dirty?)

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

Freak out.

 

I wish I could say that it gets easier with each book I write, but five books in, every time I start a new book it feels like a mountain that I just can’t climb. It feels like I’ll never write another book again. But writers write, so I do!

 

  1. What was the last book that you read?

I just finished Jane Green’s FALLING for my PopSugar Summer Reads list and it was fabulous. I just adore everything Jane writes.

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

 Lip balm is a must for me. I always have chapped lips. But I’m also obsessed with fake eyelashes, so if you see me on tour with sexy bedroom eyes, you know my secret.

 

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

So many!

 

I’ve been doing book roundups for PopSugar, and it enables me to read all of the fabulous books coming out each season before they hit shelves. My spring picks are here: http://www.popsugar.com/love/Best-2016-Spring-Books-Women-39774358#photo-39774358   And I’ll be getting my summer picks together shortly so stay tuned.

 

Bio:

Brenda is the author of five novels, including THE DINNER PARTY (St. Martin’s April 2016). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, the New York Post, Publisher’s Weekly, PopSugar, Mom.me, Hello Giggles, Writer’s Digest Magazine, WritersDigest.com, and xojane. You can find Brenda on her website, www.brendajanowitz.com, and on Facebook and Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.

 

Brenda attended Cornell University and Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review. Upon graduation from Hofstra, worked for the law firm Kaye Scholer, LLP, and did a federal clerkship with the Honorable Marilyn Dolan Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

 

Social media:
Website: www.brendajanowitz.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brendaJanowitz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaJanowitz

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/brendajanowitz/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/241404.Brenda_Janowitz

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/brenda-janowitz

 

About THE DINNER PARTY:

http://us.macmillan.com/thedinnerparty/brendajanowitz

This Passover Seder is not just any Passover Seder. Yes, there will be a quick service and then a festive meal afterwards, but this night is different from all other nights. This will be the night the Golds of Greenwich meet the Rothschilds of New York City.

 

The Rothschilds are the stuff of legends. They control banks, own vineyards in Napa, diamond mines in Africa, and even an organic farm somewhere in the Midwest that produces the most popular Romaine lettuce consumed in this country. And now, Sylvia Gold’s daughter is dating one of them.

 

When Sylvia finds out that her youngest of three is going to bring her new boyfriend to the Seder, she’s giddy. When she finds out that his parents are coming, too, she darn near faints. Making a good impression is all she thinks about. Well, almost. She still has to consider her other daughter, Sarah, who’ll be coming with her less than appropriate beau and his overly dramatic Italian mother. But the drama won’t stop there. Because despite the food and the wine, despite the new linen and the fresh flowers, the holidays are about family. Long forgotten memories come to the surface. Old grievances play out. And Sylvia Gold has to learn how to let her family go.

 

Praise for THE DINNER PARTY:

“With an impeccable eye for detail, Janowitz skillfully creates scenarios and relationships so authentic that they’re simultaneously hilarious and cringe-worthy. Equally compelling is the cast of emotionally complex, nuanced characters who are lovable even at their most exasperating … [T]his novel delivers poignant universal truths about familial love and conflict in story that will have readers eagerly turning every delicious page. Thoroughly kosher.” – Kirkus Review

 

“THE DINNER PARTY is everything a reader wants in a novel: guests with a knack for inspired conversation and family drama swirling both above and below the table. A truly entertaining read!” – Elin Hilderbrand, author of THE RUMOR

 

You think your family is chock full of quirky personalities? Pull up a chair for a holiday meal with the Golds of Greenwich! The vibe is hilarious with a side of heartfelt (but never corny); and the guests are as relatable as they are occasionally appalling. Brenda Janowitz works the room with sensitivity and humor. Thanks to her consummate hostessing, The Dinner Party is a satisfying, delicious meal that sticks with you long after it’s over. –Elisabeth Egan, author of A WINDOW OPENS

 

“In her funny and smart novel, THE DINNER PARTY,  Brenda Janowitz tells a story of transformation and hilarity. With an acute eye for complicated family dynamics, Janowitz takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters at a holiday dinner. In great bursts of laughter and solemnity, we meet and love family members who are all trying to find their way both in the world and also in their family. As with any good dinner party, it’s a pleasure spending time at Janowitz’s table.” – Patti Callahan Henry, author of THE IDEA OF LOVE

 

“Don’t miss a seat at this table! Brenda Janowitz’s THE DINNER PARTY charms and delights with a story of the time-honored struggles between parents and grown children, husbands and wives, and brothers and sisters as unconditional love bumps up against unmet expectations. Laugh-out-loud funny with the biggest heart, you will fall in love with this family.” – Jamie Brenner, author of THE WEDDING SISTERS

 

“[The Dinner Party] skewers family distinctions, revealing how each member is vital to the functioning of the whole … readers who enjoy tales of family dynamics will devour this title.”  – Library Journal