Happy Holidays! We know y'all are so busy this season so we've kept our December list short and sweet. We'll be giving them all away to one lucky winner! Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page and you'll be entered to #win. Contest closes December 18th at 8am PST. Good luck!
It's finally getting chilly over in San Diego (where Liz lives), and she can't wait for some rain so she has an excuse to hide away under a blanket with one of these amazing books! Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page to be entered to win ALL OF THEM. Yep, you heard that right. One lucky reader will get every one! Contest closes November 23rd at 8am PST.
Read more about them here:
The leaves are turning. The air is crisp. Fires are being built in the fireplace. (Well out here in the Midwest anyway!) And this month, we have a great suggestion for a heartwarming (get it?) novel to read when you want to relax on a nice fall day: HOUSE TRAINED by Jackie Bouchard. And you can win a copy! Just leave a comment on this post or on our Facebook page to be entered. Contest closes on Sunday, November 1 at 8pm PST.
The scoop: Alex Halstad, a childless-by-choice interior designer and dog mom, is a true perfectionist. But her orderly life turns chaotic when the teenage daughter her husband, Barry, never knew he had shows up on their doorstep...with a baby girl of her own in tow. While Alex’s dog enthusiastically welcomes the new arrivals, Alex struggles with the loss of her steady routine. She desperately needs peace and quiet to get her business back on track before Barry finds out she’s spent most of their savings. Meanwhile, the arrival of the girls stirs up old insecurities, and Alex can’t help but worry that Barry’s ex will make an entrance too. With her tidy life a distant memory, will Alex be able to learn from her dog the true meaning of love and acceptance? From bestselling author Jackie Bouchard comes a humorous and heartwarming look at how life creates opportunities to love in surprising ways.
Our thoughts: Smart, sweet and completely satisfying!
Liz & Lisa's Book Club: HOUSE TRAINED by Jackie Bouchard
Oh, man. I could write a book to answer that! My dogs have been my best buddies, my constant companions, my therapists, and my teachers. Our last dog, Abby, had an especially huge impact on my life. She died very young from bone cancer (she was diagnosed when she was only 15-months old, and then we had another fantastic 15 months with her), but she had a huge zest for life. She taught us to make the most of today, because you never know what tomorrow has in store.
You were a very accomplished self-published author before signing with Lake Union. Tell us a little bit about your road to publication.
Back in 2006, I started writing a novel - I needed something to do at night after work while my hubs was busy working crazy-long hours. In 2008, I signed with an agent (I met her at a conference after reading a scene in her workshop), and she helped me polish the manuscript. Then the market crashed, so it wasn’t great timing by early 2009 when we were shopping the manuscript around. I got a lot of nice rejections... but, still, rejections. I started working on two other books, and then had dinner a couple of years later with my agent, and she encouraged me to self-publish my first book. Self-publishing had come into its own by then, so I decided to go for it.
I self-published WHAT THE DOG ATE in 2012, and then in 2013 I self-published RESCUE ME, MAYBE. I didn’t even bother trying to pitch that book to publishers. I just wanted it to be out in the world, so went for it. At one point, I put the book on sale and advertised it, and it sold so many copies it hit the USA Today bestseller list. The sales and the good reviews caught the attention of Lake Union, a publishing imprint owned by Amazon. They contacted my agent, right around the time we were ready to sell HOUSE TRAINED, asking if I’d like to work with them to re-release MAYBE. I said, heck yeah! And then we sold HOUSE TRAINED to them as well.
What advice you would give aspiring authors following your same path?
If you go the self-pub or hybrid route like I have, that advice that you’ve probably heard before *really* is correct: write the best book you can, and get a great cover. It’s so easy to self-publish now, but you have to resist the temptation to publish the book before it’s ready. Have an editor help you whip the story into shape and also look for grammatical/spelling errors. You can also always recruit some friends to help proofread it. When I thought RESCUE ME, MAYBE was ready to self-publish, I waited and had four friends read it solely to look for typos. They each found two - but none of them found the same two! As for the cover, you don’t have to spend a fortune, but unless you’ve got some graphic design experience or artistic talent, don’t try to go it alone. Hire a pro!
When it comes time to market the book, focus on finding your ideal readers and connecting with them. For me, my ideal readers are dog-lovers, so I blog, tweet, and post about dogs to connect with other crazy dog ladies.
House Trained is a wonderful novel filled with some heartwarming moments. What, if anything, was taken from your own life?
Thank you! Really, there’s not that much in the book that comes from my life, other than the most basic starting point, which is that the couple in the book are childless-by-choice and have a dog. The hubs and I are “CBC”ers and are very happy with our familial unit of three, which includes our current rescue mutt, Rita. The hubs would like me to make it clear that (a) he does NOT have a love child out there in the world and (b) he does NOT talk to his private parts (as Alex finds her husband doing in the opening scene in HOUSE TRAINED). (Poor hubs.) Alex is an interior designer, so their house is much nicer than ours, and she’s a great dog trainer, so their dog is much better trained than ours!
There is one scene that is somewhat from my own life. Alex goes to a party her sister throws, and she feels out of place with her sister’s friends who only seem to want to talk about their kids or having babies. I used to be in a book club that really should have been called a “baby club.” All the women in the group had either just had a baby, were pregnant, or were trying to have a baby, so there was very little talk about the books. As a huge book lover, that was bummer enough, but I just really didn’t fit in with that group. I often sat with nothing to contribute to the conversation, and I would come home feeling very sad and out of place. I wanted to write the character of Alex for other ladies out there who feel out-of-place because they don’t want to have kids. Just because we don’t want to have our own children, it doesn’t mean we’re not nice, loving, nurturing people.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on what I’ve been calling “a fairy tale for a forty-year-old.” It has lots of cute dogs in it and I’m having fun writing it. I hope folks will enjoy it when it’s done!
We love Lisa Becker's books--especially her latest! Warm and witty, CLUTCH, is the perfect Fall read! (And we love the classy cover!) If you leave a comment on this post (or on our Facebook page), you'll be entered to win a copy of CLUTCH + a Clutch by Kissy Kissy! (The bag retail for $295!) Contest closes on Saturday, October 31 at 8pm PST.
The scoop: CLUTCH is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” clutch cover finalintense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.
Our thoughts: LOVED. The perfect blend of sassy, smart and stylish!
The scoop on the clutch: Perfect for the lady on the go, the Kissy-Kissy clutch from Sevy Bags is a clean, touchable calf hair clutch with solid complimentary leather on the back. MSRP $285.
To learn more about Lisa Becker + Sevy Bags: Follow @lisawbecker and @sevybags on Twitter
Read more about them here:
Are y'all ready to put on your sweater and boots and read some hot books? (Okay, so it's still 90 degrees in So Cal, but let's pretend for a minutes it's not!) We've hunted down the latest and greatest for you this month and one winner will take them all home! Leave a comment here, or on the thread on our Facebook page to enter! Contest closes Sunday, September 20th at 10am PST.
Read more about them here
We LOVE Emma and Nicola. They are not only great people who blurbed our debut novel and have been kind enough to give us advice along the way, but they are fabulous authors. And we couldn't love How to Be a Grown-Up more! And we have a copy for #giveaway! To be entered to #win, leave a comment on this post or on the status on our FB page. Contest closes Thursday, September 17th at 6:00 p.m. PST. The scoop: From bestselling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus comes a timely novel about a forty-something wife and mother thrust back into the workforce, where she finds herself at the mercy of a boss half her age.
Rory McGovern is entering the ostensible prime of her life when her husband, Blake, loses his dream job and announces he feels like “taking a break” from being a husband and father. Rory was already spread thin and now, without warning, she is single-parenting two kids, juggling their science projects, flu season, and pajama days, while coming to terms with her disintegrating marriage. And without Blake, her only hope is to accept a full-time position working for two full-time twenty-somethings.
A day out of b-school, these girls think they know it all and have been given the millions from venture capitalists to back up their delusion—that the future of digital media is a high-end “lifestyle” site—for kids! (Not that anyone who works there has any, or knows the first thing about actual children.) Can Rory learn to decipher her bosses’ lingo, texts that read like license plates, and arbitrary mandates? And is there any hope of saving her marriage? With her family hanging by a thread, Rory must adapt to this hyper-digitized, over-glamorized, narcissistic world of millennials…whatever it takes.
Our thoughts: So damn witty and smart! As forty-something self-proclaimed technological dinosaurs, we related to Rory and her roller coaster life. This is a LOL funny novel we could not put down.
Liz & Lisa's Book Club: How to Be a Grown-Up by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
When we graduated from college we looked up to the women we worked for who were in their 40s. They were in the corner office. They had great husbands, great kids, and seemed to have figured it out. Fast forward twenty years and there is no corner office—only a bullpen. In New York our friends in their 40s are being eliminated and replaced with kids in their 20s at half the price. The whole idea of job security seems a thing of the past. Add to that our culture’s idea of beauty skews ever you nger and it can leave a women with a serious case of the blues. We wanted to create a character who’s up against all of that—and vanquishes it.
As 41 year old women, we really related to your main character. How much of that character comes from your own experiences?
Emma kept saying to me as she was writing, “Is this actually funny—or just my morning?” Rory is so close to us we kept losing perspective. BUT we are luckier than Rory in two regards—we have not had a 23 year-old boss—YET. And thankfully we are both married to men who are very much grown-ups.
How has your writing changed over the years as you've both gotten older?
You know, for a few discombobulated years after our kids were born we tried to “write to the marketplace”—I think out of fear that we wouldn't be able to support our new families. The results were uneven. We knew this was our last book and we wrote it for the sheer pleasure of it. The lesson being follow the love—write for yourself first and foremost becasue if you write what someone in the industry tells you is “hot” or “on-brand” and it doesn’t sell, you’ll kick yourself.
What are you reading right now?
I (Nicola) just finished The Girl On The Train, which I loved. And Paper Towns. John Greene, man. He sticks the landing every f’ing time. Now I’m reading Anne Lamott’s Imperfect Birds. It was in the cabin we rented and I couldn’t leave it behind!
You've said this book will be your final book together. (Cue tears!) What's up next for both of you?
Emma has returned to organizational development—which is what she was getting her Masters in when I seduced her away to the very not-grown-uo world of entertainment. She has a thriving transition coaching practice. I have a comic book series called The 29ers coming out next year about a group of teens who survive when the world suddenly stops. And I’m writing a self-help book called How To MANifest Your Husband. We are still each other’s kidney donors. Nothing could ever change that. We grew up together!
Thanks, Emma & Nicola!
You guy know how we feel about Jen Lancaster, right? That we have a big fat ol' girlcrush? Then it should be no surprise that her latest release, The Best of Enemies, is our book club pick. And we have a copy for giveaway! Just leave a comment here or on the post on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win. The contest will close on Sunday, August 16th at 6pm PST. The Scoop: Jacqueline Jordan knows conflict. A fearless journalist, she’s spent the past decade embedded in the world’s hot spots, writing about the fall of nations and the rise of despots. But if you were to inquire about who topped Jack’s enemy list, she’d not hesitate to answer: Kitty Carricoe.
Kitty reigns supreme over the world of carpools and minivans. A SAHM, she spends her days caring for her dentist husband and three towheaded children, running the PTA, and hiding vegetables in deceptively delicious packed lunches.
Kitty and Jack haven’t a single thing in common—except for Sarabeth Chandler, their mutual bestie. Sarabeth and Jack can be tomboys with the best of them, while Sarabeth can get her girly-girl on with Kitty. In fact, the three of them were college friends until the notorious incident when Jack accidentally hooked up with Kitty’s boyfriend…
Yet both women drop everything and rush to Sarabeth’s side when they get the call that her fabulously wealthy husband has perished in a suspicious plane crash. To solve the mystery surrounding his death, Jack and Kitty must bury the hatchet and hit the road for a trip that just may bring them together—if it doesn’t kill them first.
Our thoughts: Jen at her best--a clever, insightful story you don't want to miss!
Liz & Lisa's Book Club: The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster
Thanks! I love a good play on words so I wanted something that would look funny on one of those split-heart friendship necklaces we used to have when we were kids. Remember those – you’d get one half and your BFF would wear the other? (I can’t imagine you two in particular didn’t have them.) I’d actually hoped to have the Best of Enemies quote engraved into little hearts for a giveaway (people could be all, “We hate each other! Wear this!”) but I am not that organized.
After I came up with this title, an unrelated, and ultimately more cerebral, entity claimed this title. Now people looking for this book will find a film about the rivalry between William F. Buckely, Jr. and Gore Vidal. This is similar to when Orange is the New Black came out after Bitter. But instead of people wondering when I become a lesbian and go to jail, now they’ll be puzzled as to when the mommyblogger starts dissing Nixon. Argh.
The plot of THE BEST OF ENEMIES is so funny and creative. How did you think of this idea? How do you generally think of your book ideas?
Kitty’s character came to me as I explored the topic of stepping back from social media in my memoir I Regret Nothing. I used her as an example of what I think is wrong with the advent of lifestyle blogging. I actually feel sorry for those women so obsessed with presenting a Pinterest-perfect reality that their real lives are going by the wayside.
I needed a foil for Kitty and thought the polar opposite would be a foreign war correspondent who I called Jack. Then I tied their lives together via a mutual best friend so they couldn’t avoid each other.
My last two novels included magical realism, so I wanted to try something a little more mainstream, with an element of mystery and a good twist. I’d also never written from two opposing points of view, and I was looking to challenge myself. Honestly, sometimes the ideas come not from the characters or the plot itself, but from the parameters I’ve set.
Also, I’m far more apt to write a story where the conflict is interpersonal rather than romantic because I would rather invite a camera crew to my next GYN exam than write a sex scene. Hence, girl fights. Thus far, friends/family/frenemies have been my wheelhouse.
Fill in the blank with the name of a character from any of your novels:
I'd most like to have a drink with LISSY RYDER. (From Here I Go Again; you know that bitch would be hilarious.)
I'd want to set a girlfriend up with BOBBY JORDAN. (From Best of Enemies. Cute as a button and smarter than you think.)
I'd most like to be best friends with KITTY CARRICOE. (I’d like to say Jack Jordan, but she’s just a little too noble for my tastes.)
I'd run the other way if I saw DEVA coming. (From Here I Go Again and Twisted Sisters. Her intentions are good. Her execution, not so much.)
You are a multi-tasker, writing both fiction and non-fiction. How does the writing process differ for each?
Both kinds of writing require the same kind of sit-at-the-desk discipline, but the fiction requires me to spend a lot more time inside my head dreaming up other worlds. I much prefer writing novels because with the memoirs, I have to spend all my time in my head thinking about my damn self. Sometimes it’s like a never-ending bar conversation with the most myopic person in the entire universe, so the fiction is always a welcome break.
What's up next for you?
I have a few other projects in the works that will become more of a priority once summer is over and Poolyball season comes to an end. Poolyball is a volleyball/water polo hybrid game my husband and I created. It’s played in the water on a fun noodle, with cocktails and an elaborate scoring system, while listening to 70s yacht rock. Now, if Poolyball becomes a thing, then I’m just going to turn pro and will likely have to retire from writing.
But just in case the Poolyball thing doesn’t work out, I’m writing a new novel called By the Numbers, working on a travel memoir proposal, and adapting Here I Go Again as a screenplay with my friend Gina.
We have another fabulous round of books to add to your summer reading list! And starting this month, we're switching things up. ONE person will #win ALL of the books in the post! Just leave a comment here or on the post on our Facebook page and you'll be entered to #win. **If you share this post on Twitter and/or Facebook, you'll receive two entries!** The contest will close on Friday, July 17th at 8pm PST. Good luck!
For Charlotte Crawford, the worst part about being dumped after twenty years of marriage is that her husband, Jack, doesn’t want another woman; he just doesn’t want her.
Forty-two and clueless, Charlotte is a fish out of water in a dating pool teeming with losers. Just when she thinks she’s finally put her failed marriage behind her, it comes back to bite her in the ass…hard. Without warning, Charlotte finds herself staring down the barrel of a future she wouldn’t (she would totally) wish on her worst enemy.
Our thoughts: Fabulous!
Julian's fall begins the moment he sets eyes on Julia.
Julia is married and eight years his senior; he is a gifted English student, a life of academia ahead. Ignoring warnings from family and friends, they each give up all they have to be together. Their new life in London offers immense happiness, especially after their longed-for daughter Mira is born.
When Julian hears that Firdaws, his adored boyhood home, is for sale, he sets out to recreate a lost paradise for his new family. Once again, love blinds him. It is only when Mira becomes terrifyingly ill that it is impossible for Julia to conceal from him the explosive secret that she has been keeping at the heart of their lives.
Our thoughts: A gripping read!
The scoop: A fledgling entertainment writer stumbles into the gig of a lifetime writing a teenage pop star’s memoir and soon realizes that the young celebrity's squeaky-clean image is purely a work of fiction.
Struggling writer Holly Gracin is on the verge of moving back home to upstate New York when she gets hired to write the memoirs of eighteen-year-old Daisy Mae Dixson, a former Nickelodeon child star who has moved seamlessly into both blockbuster movies and pop music.
Holly quickly realizes that Daisy’s wholesome public image is purely a work of fiction, as Holly finds herself trailing the star as she travels around the world on yachts, gets stalked by paparazzi, and sneaks out of five-star hotels in the dead of night.
As Holly struggles to write a flattering portrait of a teenage millionaire who only eats “nightshades” and treats her employees like slaves, Daisy has a public meltdown—and suddenly, her book is the cornerstone of resurrecting her image. But working at all hours trailing a pop star has taken its toll, and Holly must decide if becoming the ultimate insider is worth losing a starring role in her own life.
Our thoughts: Wildy addictive!
The scoop: Cape Cod summers are supposed to remain reassuringly the same, but everything falls apart when three sisters and their families come together for their annual summer vacation—and they are carrying more secrets than suitcases.
Maggie is the oldest. She feels responsible for managing the summer house and making sure everything is as it always has been. But she’s hurt that her parents’ recent divorce has destroyed the family’s comfortable summer routines, and her own kids seem to be growing up at high speed. Is it too late to have another baby?
Jess is the middle sister. She loves her job but isn’t as passionate about her marriage. She’s not sure she can find the courage to tell Maggie what she’s done—much less talk to her husband about it.
Virgie is the youngest, her dad’s favorite. She’s always been the career girl, but now there’s a man in her life. Her television job on the west coast is beyond stressful, and it’s taking its toll on her—emotionally and physically. She’s counting on this vacation to erase the symptoms she’s not talking about.
The Herington girls are together again, with their husbands and kids, for another summer in the family’s old Cape Cod house. When their mother, Gloria, announces she’s coming for an unscheduled visit—with her new boyfriend—no one is more surprised than their father, Arthur, who has not quite gotten over his divorce. Still, everyone manages to navigate the challenges of living grown-up lives in close quarters, until an accident reveals a new secret that brings everyone together in heartbreak…and then healing.
Our thoughts: The perfect escape!
The scoop: “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
Our thoughts: Unputdownable!
The scoop: Lawyer-turned-stay-at-home mom Sarah Shaw is struggling to keep it together for her two young sons and law professor husband. Since the death of their infant daughter, her husband has been buried in his career, her friendships have withered, and Sarah remains lost in a private world of grief. Then one day walking in L.A., Sarah’s heart catches at the sight of a young homeless woman pushing a baby in a stroller―and saving them becomes her obsessive mission. An unlikely bond grows between Sarah and the young mother, Josie. When tragedy threatens Josie, Sarah discovers that she is capable of deceptions and transgressions she never imagined. Her lies unleash a downward spiral that will threaten her marriage, family and her sanity. Shelter Us speaks to the quiet joys and anxieties of parenthood and illuminates a place all parents know: that shadowy space between unconditional love and fear of unbearable loss.
Our thoughts: Incredibly moving!
The scoop: A vicious hit. A vengeful enemy. A drug addled Colombian club owner. A sex crazed Italian family. And the ever powerful Lucky Santangelo has to deal with them all, while Max-her teenage daughter is becoming The "It" girl in Europe's modeling world. And her Kennedyesque son, Bobby, is being set up for a murder he didn't commit. But Lucky can deal. Always strong and unpredictable with her husband, Lennie, by her side she lives up to the family motto-Never cross a Santangelo.
Lucky rules. The Santangelos always come out on top. An epic family saga filled with love, lust, revenge and passion.
Our thoughts: Absolutely delicious!
The scoop: In the summer of 1975, Samuel Ryder sets off to hitchhike to the Grand Canyon where he realizes life is very good. Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona the road ahead appears to be one never ending smooth ride full of fun, adventure, and pretty women. Late at night in a vacant hotel lobby in South Florida, decades later Sam finds himself trying to come to peace with the fact that plans do not always work out and the life you imagined is not always the life you end up living. Alone at the front desk, he writes novels and communicates via email with his wife who has left him and now runs a food truck in Colorado. The two of them alone but at the same time together, trying to work things out, trying to hold onto a marriage that has moved just out of reach. With a sharp eye for the world around him, Sam’s memories wander through the decades of his life as a traveling salesman, husband, and father. His story takes the reader on a journey from 1960’s New Hampshire where he writes letters to his brother in Vietnam, to Boston and New York where he and his wife raise their young family during the tumultuous years at the turn of the century, to South Florida during the Great Recession. Against the backdrop of the conflicts and anxieties of a changing world, Life Is All This is the story of a modern American family facing life’s hardships with hope, optimism, and humor while discovering that pain, loss, and distance can strengthen their love and enrich their lives.
Our thoughts: A page-turner!
I’m familiar with it.
I’ve had to leave behind everyone I cared about—my sister, my best friend, my band, and my high school sweetheart—in order to chase my dream of making it in Nashville.
But when Robyn Breeland walks back into my life, it’s as if the universe has decided to give me a second chance. I’m just not sure it’s one I’m willing to take.
I practically majored in it.
Dallas Lark was the first boy I ever loved and the one who'd shattered my heart into pieces. But I’ve moved on. Working in promotions at Midnight Bay Bourbon, I’m too busy to sit around moping over my ex. But when my company decides to sponsor his tour, I’ll have to face him whether I’m ready to or not. Dallas is determined to drive me to distraction, and my body begs me to let him.
Trouble is, my heart can’t tell the difference between a second chance and making the same mistake twice.
Our thoughts: A sexy read!
Sure, her husband, Gabe, is ambivalent about fatherhood. But she knows that once he holds their baby, he’ll come around. He’s just feeling a little threatened, that’s all. Because once upon a time, it was Gabe that Adrienne wanted more than anything; she was willing to do anything. . . . But that was half a lifetime ago. She’s a different person now, and so is Gabe. There are lines she wouldn’t cross, not without extreme provocation.
And sure, she was bitten once before by another birth mother—clear to the bone—and for most people, it’s once bitten, twice shy. But Adrienne isn’t exactly the retiring type.
At nineteen, Leah bears a remarkable resemblance to the young woman Adrienne once was. Which is why Adrienne knows the baby Leah is carrying is meant to be hers. But Leah’s got ideas of her own: Her baby’s going to get a life in California; why shouldn’t she? All she wants is to live in Adrienne’s house for a year after the baby’s born, and get a fresh start.
It seems like a small price for Adrienne to pay to get their baby. And with Gabe suddenly on board, what could possibly go wrong?
Our thoughts: Utterly thrilling!
The scoop: Twenty years ago, Emma Michaels, Mackenzie Hayes, and Serena Stockton bonded over their New York City dreams. Then, each summer, they solidified their friendship by spending one week at the lake together, solving their problems over bottles of wine and gallons of ice cream. They kept the tradition for years, until jealousy, lies, and life’s disappointments made them drift apart.
It’s been five years since Emma has seen her friends, an absence designed to keep them from discovering a long-ago betrayal. Now she’s in desperate need of their support. The time has come to reveal her secrets—and hopefully rekindle their connection.
But when a terrible accident keeps Emma from saying her piece, Serena and Mackenzie begin to learn about the past on their own. Now, to heal their friendship and their broken lives, the three women will have to return to the lake that once united them, and discover which relationships are worth holding on to . . .
Our thoughts: Riveting!
The scoop: Leila Massey, a young L.A. screenwriter, is on the verge of hitting it big when she falls into the grip of drug and alcohol addiction. Her descent into the narcotic underbelly of the city leads her to a commune in the desert, a filthy room at the Chateau Marmont, and, eventually, rehab. Will Leila continue down the dark path of addiction? Or will she make it as a successful writer? Based on the author’s own life, Liana Maeby’s brilliant debut novel is raw and haunting, and simultaneously incredibly astute and humorous. South on Highland explores true identity and questions our culture’s response to addiction and sensationalism.
Our thoughts: Wonderfully unique!
The scoop: A kiss is just the beginning…
Pinterest Perfect. Or so Annie Carson's life appears on her popular blog. Reality is ... messier. Especially when it lands her back in one-cow town Brightwater, California, and back in the path of the gorgeous six-foot-four reason she left. Sawyer Kane may fill out those Wranglers, but she won't be distracted from her task. Annie just needs the summer to spruce up and sell her family's farm so she and her young son can start a new life in the big city. Simple, easy, perfect.
Our thoughts: The ultimate beach read! (ebook)
The scoop: Set in the rapidly changing world of 1920s America, this is a story of three people from very different backgrounds: Henry “Schuler” Jefferson, son of German immigrants from Midwestern farm country; Cora Rose Haviland, a young woman of privilege whose family has lost their fortune; and Charles “Gil” Gilchrist, an emotionally damaged WWI veteran pilot. Set adrift by life-altering circumstances, they find themselves bound together by need and torn apart by blind obsessions and conflicting goals. Each one holds a secret that, if exposed, would destroy their friendship. But their journey of adventure and self-discovery has a price—and one of them won’t be able to survive it.
As they crisscross the heartland, exploring the rapidly expanding role of aviation from barnstorming to bootlegging, from a flying circus to the dangerous sport of air racing, the three companions form a makeshift family. It’s a one-of-a-kind family, with members as adventurous as they are vulnerable, and as fascinating as they are flawed. But whatever adventure—worldly or private—they find themselves on, they’re guaranteed to be a family you won’t forget.
Our thoughts: Fascinating!
When April Vogt's boss tells her about an apartment in the ninth arrondissement that has been discovered after being shuttered for the past seventy years, the Sotheby's continental furniture specialist does not hear the words "dust" or "rats" or "decrepit." She hears Paris. She hears escape.
Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder's repository. Beneath the cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine, and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there's a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April's quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It's about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.
With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan's private diaries, April tries to uncover the many secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into Marthe's life, April can't help but take a deeper look into her own. Based on real events, Michelle Gable's A Paris Apartment will entertain and inspire, as readers embrace the struggles and successes of two very unforgettable women
Our thoughts: Flawless!
The scoop: The truth could cost her everything. Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is wonderful. Or is it? When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss. If only Ava could believe her own excuses. Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys. Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town, Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game?
Our thoughts: Completely gripping!
The scoop: We think of the past as a more innocent time. But in these stories of California teenagers acting out in the last years of the '70s, it's easy to see that love, loss, and heartbreak are even more poignant when viewed through 15- or 16-year-old eyes. Surrounded by friends and family who are spinning with their own losses and heartache, these teenage girls navigate the terrors and tenderness of life in the only ways they know how. In this touching and moving pair of coming-of-age stories, best-selling author Jessica Anya Blau makes it clear that once you step over certain lines, there's no going back.
Our thoughts: Smart and sassy! (Audiobook)
Does this Beach Make me Look Fat?: True Stories and Confessions by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
The scoop: The unstoppable, irreverent mother-daughter team presents a new collection of funny stories and true confessions that every woman can relate to. From identity theft to the hazards of bicycling to college reunions and eating on the beach, Lisa and Francesca tackle the quirks, absurdities, and wonders of everyday life with wit and warmth. As Lisa says, "More and more, especially in the summertime when I'm sitting on the beach, I'm learning not to sweat it. To go back to the child that I used to be. To see myself through the loving eyes of my parents. To eat on the beach. And not to worry about whether every little thing makes me look fat. In fact, not to worry at all."
So put aside your worries and join Lisa and Francesca as they navigate their way through the crazy world we live in, laughing along the way.
Our thoughts: Hilarious!
Summer is here! And you know what that means! Sunshine, cocktails with pretty umbrellas, and BOOKS. And there are a lot of great reads out there right now. So we decided to combine all of our faves into a #summer #beachreads list for June! Our novel, The Status of All Things, is in amazing company this month and we'll be honored if it ends up in your beach bag next to any (or all!) of these fabulous reads!
To celebrate this month's books, we're giving away one copy of each! To be entered to #win, leave a comment here or on our Facebook post. Contest closes on June 27th after 6pm PST.
The scoop: In high school, everyone has their secrets. Even well-brought-up Emma Fraser. Emma’s sophomore year started out all wrong. First, her best friend Andy confessed to losing his virginity in the back seat of a car, leaving Emma all alone in the V-Club. Then the rest of her friends got weird and, suddenly, Emma found herself feeling like a stranger. Now, struggling to find her new place, Emma wonders if things could get any worse. When Deegan Burke, a rich, gorgeous senior, asks Emma to be his date for the prom, Emma thinks her luck has begun to change. But rather than being able to celebrate, her whole world starts to unravel. And when secrets that once seemed so innocent start to take a very dangerous turn, Emma discovers that friends are friends no matter what…and some secrets aren’t worth keeping.
Our thoughts: We tore through this delicious novel!
The scoop: The Forgiveness Stones craze is sweeping the nation—instantly recognizable pouches of stones that come with a chain letter and two simple requests: to forgive, and then to seek forgiveness. But New Orleans' favorite talk show host, Hannah Farr, isn't biting. Intensely private and dating the city’s mayor, Hannah has kept her very own pouch of Forgiveness Stones hidden for two years—and her dark past concealed for nearly two decades. But when Fiona Knowles, creator of the Forgiveness Stones, appears on Hannah’s show, Hannah unwittingly reveals on air details of a decades-old falling out with her mother.
Spurned by her fans, doubted by her friends, and accused by her boyfriend of marring his political career, Hannah reluctantly embarks on a public journey of forgiveness. As events from her past become clearer, the truth she’s clung to since her teenage years has never felt murkier. Hannah must find the courage to right old wrongs, or risk losing her mother, and any glimmer of an authentic life, forever.
Our thoughts: We love this clever plot!
The scoop: In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.
But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.
Our thoughts: Layered with rich characters, this novel kept us guessing until the very end!
The scoop: Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.
A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the façade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.
As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.
Our thoughts: A suspenseful page turner that kept us up past our bedtimes!
Tormented by self-doubt, Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control her. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue family; to provoke them, and to protect herself, she consumes everything in sight. Opal longs to be included in her glamorous, adventure-seeking mother’s dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous older brother by allowing him to take away the choicest morsels from her plate—and from her future.
As their stories and appetites collide, these women make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood—but each must first find strength and her way in the world.
Our thoughts: Loved this one just as much in paperback as we did the first time around. The perfect poolside read!
The scoop: In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.
In the Unlikely Event is vintage Judy Blume, with all the hallmarks of Judy Blume’s unparalleled storytelling, and full of memorable characters who cope with loss, remember the good times and, finally, wonder at the joy that keeps them going.
Our thoughts: There are no words to properly describe Judy Blume's talent. We'll just say this novel was definitely worth the wait!
The Scoop: Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.
But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.
Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets….
Our thoughts: Laura Dave is an extraordinary writer who has crafted a rich, well-researched story full of twists and turns with a very satisfying ending!
The scoop: On the surface, Sloane has the perfect life—an adoring husband, a precocious daughter, and enough financial security to be a stay-at-home mom. Still, she can’t help but feel as though something—or someone—is missing....
Hillary has a successful career and a solid marriage. The only problem is her inability to conceive. And there’s a very specific reason why....
As the wild-child daughter of old family money, Georgina has never had to accept responsibility for anything. So when she realizes an unexpected life change could tie her down forever, she does exactly what she’s always done: escape.
When these three women unite for a three-week-long summer vacation in beautiful Lake George, New York, even with the idyllic location as their backdrop, the tensions begin to mount. And they quickly discover that no secret can be kept forever....
Our thoughts: A page-turner about friendship and family that should be in everyone's beach bag.
The scoop: This unforgettable debut novel asks us to look up from our screens and out at the world . . . and to imagine what life would be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no Tweets, no pins, and no posts
Evie Rosen has had enough. She's tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She's over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it's time to put down her smartphone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear—she's done that too!)
And that's when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn't mean you can also unplug from life.
Our thoughts: We enjoyed unplugging for this witty read!
The scoop: Fifteen years ago, seventeen-year-old Vanessa Moran fell in love and lost her virginity but not to the same boy. Pregnant, desperate, and humiliated, she fled friends and family and Whisper Beach, New Jersey, never breathing a word about her secret to anyone. She hasn’t been back since. Now a professional Manhattan organizer, she returns to the funeral of her best friend’s husband. She intends on just paying her respects and leaving—though she can’t deny she also wants the town to see how far she’s come as a successful business woman. But her plans to make this a short visit fall by the wayside when her girlfriends have other ideas.
Dorie, the owner of the pier’s Blue Crab Restaurant where Van and her friends worked as teenagers, needs help. Dorie’s roving husband spends every penny they make and now their restaurant is failing.
Joe, the boy Van left behind without an explanation, has never stopped loving her. While he’s wary of getting hurt again, he also can’t help wondering what would happen if they took up where they left off.
As the summer progresses and the restaurant takes on a new look, trouble comes from unexpected sources. For Van, this summer will test the meaning of friendship and trust—and how far love can bend before it breaks.
Our thoughts: Noble is the master of the beach read!
The scoop: The perennial New York Times bestselling author returns with an emotionally resonant novel that illuminates the power of friendship in women’s lives, and is filled with her trademark wit, poignant and timely themes, sassy, flesh-and-blood characters, and the steamy Southern atmosphere and beauty of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry.
Few writers capture the complexities, pain, and joy of relationships—between friends, family members, husbands and wives, or lovers—as beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank. In this charming, evocative, soul-touching novel, she once again takes us deep into the heart of the magical Lowcountry where three amazing middle-aged women are bonded by another amazing woman’s death.
Through their shared loss they forge a deep friendship, asking critical questions. Who was their friend and what did her life mean? Are they living the lives they imagined for themselves? Will they ever be able to afford to retire? How will they maximize their happiness? Security? Health? And ultimately, their own legacies?
A plan is conceived and unfurls with each turn of the tide during one sweltering summer on the Isle of Palms. Without ever fully realizing how close they were to the edge, they finally triumph amid laughter and maybe even newfound love.
Our thoughts: This poignant novel about friendship really resonated with us!
Now Greer has been given one more chance--a shot at finding the perfect undiscovered beach town for a big budget movie. She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida panhandle town. There's one motel, a marina, a long stretch of pristine beach and an old fishing pier with a community casino--which will be perfect for the film's climax--when the bad guys blow it up in an all-out assault on the townspeople.
Greer slips into town and is ecstatic to find the last unspoilt patch of the Florida gulf coast. She takes a room at the only motel in town, and starts working her charm. However, she finds a formidable obstacle in the town mayor, Eben Thinadeaux. Eben is a born-again environmentalist who's seen huge damage done to the town by a huge paper company. The bay has only recently been re-born, a fishing industry has sprung up, and Eben has no intention of letting anybody screw with his town again. The only problem is that he finds Greer way too attractive for his own good, and knows that her motivation is in direct conflict with his.
Will true love find a foothold in this small beach town before it's too late and disaster strikes?
Our thoughts: An unputtdownable summer read!
The scoop: American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.
Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become.
Which is how she gets into trouble.
Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.
Our thoughts: So fabulously addictive we didn't want it to end--ever!
The scoop: When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired “the gray hairs,” put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can’t tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve’s reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop—hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and “fun” means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice—pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.
Our thoughts: We laughed through this sassy and smart novel! And we are now #teamimogen all the way!
The scoop: “Honey, you are 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring.” When New York Post writer Stephanie Smith made a turkey and Swiss on white bread for her boyfriend, Eric (aka E), he took one bite and uttered those now-famous words. While her beau’s declaration initially seemed unusual, even antiquated, Stephanie accepted the challenge and got to work. Little did she know she was about to cook up the sexiest and most controversial love story of her generation.
300 Sandwiches is the story of Stephanie and E’s epic journey of bread and betrothal, with a whole loaf of recipes to boot. For Stephanie, a novice in the kitchen, making a sandwich—or even 300—for E wasn’t just about getting a ring; it was her way of saying “I love you” while gaining confidence as a chef. It was about how many breakfast sandwiches they could eat together on future Sunday mornings, how many s’mores might follow family snowboarding trips, how many silly fights would end in makeup sandwiches. Suddenly, she saw a lifetime of happiness between those two slices of bread.
Not everyone agreed. The media dubbed E “the Internet’s Worst Boyfriend”; bloggers attacked the loving couple for setting back the cause of women’s rights; opinions about their romance echoed from as far away as Japan. Soon, Stephanie found her cooking and her relationship under the harsh glare of the spotlight.
From culinary twists on peanut butter and jelly to “Not Your Mother’s Roast Beef” spicy French Dip to Chicken and Waffle BLTs, Stephanie shares the creations—including wraps, burritos, paninis, and burgers—that ultimately sated E’s palate and won his heart. Part recipe book, part girl-meets-boy memoir, 300 Sandwiches teaches us that true love always wins out—one delicious bite at a time.
Our thoughts: A delicious memoir!
The scoop: Madeline King and Grace Pancik are best friends and the envy of Nantucket for their perfect marriages, their beautiful kids, their Sunday night double dates with their devoted husbands. But this summer, something's changed, and if there's anything Nantucket likes better than cocktails on the beach at sunset, it's a good rumor.
And rumor has it...
...that Madeline, a novelist, is battling writer's block, with a deadline looming, bills piling up, and blank pages driving her to desperation--and a desperately bad decision;
...that Grace, hard at work to transform her backyard into a garden paradise, has been collaborating a bit more closely that necessary with her ruggedly handsome landscape architect;
...that Grace's husband, successful island real estate developer "Fast Eddie" Pancik, has embarked on quite an unusual side project;
...that the storybook romance between Madeline's son, Brick, and Grace's daughter Allegra is on the rocks, heading for disaster.
As the gossip escalates, and they face the possible loss of the happy lives they've worked so hard to create, Grace and Madeline try mightily to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it.
Our thoughts: This novel is so much fun!
The scoop: On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiancé willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won't be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore's It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia's most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it's like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.
Our thoughts: Kevin Kwan is a master at weaving vivid stories while also making us laugh! We didn't think it would be possible, but we loved this even more more than the first!
The scoop: Two little girls banished from a neighborhood birthday party find a stroller with an infant inside on an unfamiliar Baltimore street. What happens next is shocking and terrible, causing the irreparable devastation of three separate families.
Seven years later, Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller, now eighteen, are released from "kid prison" to begin their lives over again. But the unanswered questions about the original crime continue to haunt the parents, the lawyers, the police, and all the adults in Alice's and Ronnie's lives. And now another child has disappeared, under freakishly similar circumstances.
Our thoughts: Loved the book when it first came out and are now very excited to see the movie!
The scoop: When a shocking family secret is revealed, twenty-something journalist Cat Coombs finds herself falling into a dark spiral. Wild, glamorous nights out in London and raging hangovers the next day become her norm, leading to a terrible mistake one night while visiting family in America, on the island of Nantucket. It's a mistake for which she can't forgive herself. When she returns home, she confronts the unavoidable reality of her life and knows it's time to grow up. But she doesn't know if she'll ever be able to earn the forgiveness of the people she hurt.
As the years pass, Cat grows into her forties, a struggling single mother, coping with a new-found sobriety and determined to finally make amends. Traveling back to her past, to the family she left behind on Nantucket all those years ago, she may be able to earn their forgiveness, but in doing so she may risk losing the very people she loves the most.
Told with Jane Green's keen eye for detailing the emotional landscape of the heart, Summer Secrets is at once a compelling drama and a beautifully rendered portrait of relationships, betrayals, and forgiveness; about accepting the things we cannot change, finding the courage to change the things we can, and being strong enough to weather the storms.
Our thoughts: A sharp, smart and satisfying summer read!
The scoop: Jo Waldman lives to her own soundtrack — working by day while pursuing her music career in NYC’s downtown clubs at night. So when Jo is fired and her boyfriend breaks up with her, Jo doesn’t get upset — she just wants to rage. Dusting off her computer, Jo writes a blog entry, pouring her heart out about the shortcomings of love. But as Jo hits “publish,” she accidentally sends a mass e-mail to the entire mailing list for her former almost-famous band The Lonely Hearts Club, announcing to everybody that she's been brutally dumped. To her surprise, supportive e-mails start flowing in — many of them from complete strangers. Apparently, her anti-love rant has struck a chord. The Lonely Hearts Club Blog develops a huge following and Jo becomes an icon for all things anti-love. Now the poster girl for lonely hearts and writing music again, Jo has one problem: the web programmer developing her site is simply dreamy. Jo's never been very good at depriving herself of anything, but if this budding romance is exposed, she'll be revealed as an anti-love fraud and risk losing the fans who have found a voice in her music.
Our thoughts: The perfect blend of music, relationships and love!
This month's book club pick is IT'S YOU by the fabulous Jane Porter. It's the perfect book to throw in your beach bag this summer! (It's in ours!) And we have a copy for giveaway! Just leave a comment here or on the post on our Facebook page and you'll be entered to win. The contest will close on Thursday, June 18th at 6pm PST. The scoop: In the wake of a tragedy that tore her life down to the foundations, Dr. Alison McAdams has lost her way. So when she’s summoned to Napa to care for her ailing father, she’s not sure she has anything to offer him—or anyone else.
What Ali finds in Northern California wine country is a gift—an opportunity to rest, and distance from her painful memories. Most unexpectedly, she finds people who aren’t afraid of her grief or desperate for her to hurry up and move on.
As Ali becomes part of her father’s community, makes new friends of her own, and hears the stories of a generation who survived the Second World War, she begins to find hope again. In a quest to discover the truth about another woman’s lost love, she sets off on a journey across oceans and deep into history. And in making sense of that long-ago tragedy, Ali is able to put together the broken pieces of her heart and make new choices that are right for her.
Our thoughts: One of Jane's absolute best!
Lix & Lisa's book club: It's You by Jane Porter
I did feel Ali’s grief, which was still manifesting as anger in the beginning of the story, because she didn’t understand why he was gone, and she couldn’t move on. But on the other hand, it wasn’t hard to write because her love was very pure---she loved him. Period. And the challenge for her was learning how to live, while learning to let go of the anger and pain so that what her love could live on...even though he was gone.
You are a pro at writing characters that a reader can instantly empathize with and relate to. And for someone who has written as many books as you, that's a gift! What's your secret?
I don’t write fast...and I think about a story constantly, sometimes a year to two or three years before I begin to write it. I can’t start writing until I understand the characters inside and out but they literally grow within me until they’re ready to step out...into the world, onto a page, full formed. I know my agent and editor wishes I could hurry the process but because I’ve written so many books now (over 50!), I need more time for each new project, not less.
You write romance novels and women's fiction. How do you switch gears from one to the next? Do you ever write more than one book simultaneously?
I actually waste a lot of time going back and forth...weeks, and then months. I do more and more pre-writing in my head, and then I world build with photos and Instagram, and then more world building with music. I often read tons of books on a subject related to what I’m writing—in the case of It’s You—lots of stories about WWII, and seniors, and those that had lived through WWII—creating a rich inner world and then finally the words come. I do the exact same thing whether it’s a romance or a fiction novel....I have to fill my head and imagination with stories and history and pictures and ‘stuff’ and then I mix it all up, mash it around, and a story comes out. And because of the process, I generally only write one story at a time, although I am always pre-writing another story in my head. In fact, most of my great ideas for a future book come while writing the current book.
You're very connected with your fans and always offering fun giveaways "just because." How does this connection with your readers help you to be a better writer?
I love my readers. I love all readers. Book girls make sense to me. Women work so hard, and give so much, and they are my heroes. It’s important to me to reach out to women and try to lift them up. To thank them for being so selfless. To recognize the important things they do on a daily basis. And I feel good when I give...so I love giveaways and shout outs, and creating warm fuzzies because life should also have feel good moments and if I can make one woman smile or feel happy, then I’ve done something good.
It's you came out on June 2nd. What's up next for you after that?
I’m working on another fiction novel, Wait for Me, but its still in the very early pre-writing and rough writing stage. But I’m enjoying this story. It’s a powerful story and it’s kind of scary sometimes being alone with the words and this character’s intense thoughts and her family’s reaction and emotions but this fierce, raw, and yet real story is the kind I’m drawn to now. Hopefully readers like them, too.
Our book club pick of the month is THINGS YOU WON'T SAY by Sarah Pekkanen, one of our favorite authors, who is also published by Atria. (In fact, we're lucky to be doing a joint book event with her in Chicago on June 4th! Come and see us!) Sarah's book publishes tomorrow, May 26th, just in time to throw in your carry-on or beach bag for your summer vacay! We have one copy of THINGS YOU WON'T say for giveaway. Either comment here or on the post on our Facebook page, and you'll be entered to win. Contest closes Wednesday, May 27th at 8pm PST.
The scoop: How far would you go to save your family?
Every morning, as her husband Mike straps on his SIG Sauer and pulls on his heavy Magnum boots, Jamie Anderson tenses up. Then comes the call she has always dreaded: There’s been a shooting at police headquarters. Mike isn’t hurt, but his long-time partner is grievously injured. As weeks pass and her husband’s insomnia and disconnectedness mount, Jamie realizes he is an invisible casualty of the attack. Then the phone rings again. Another shooting—but this time Mike has pulled the trigger.
But the shooting does more than just alter Jamie’s world. It’s about to change everything for two other women. Christie Simmons, Mike’s flamboyant ex, sees the tragedy as an opportunity for a second chance with Mike. And Jamie’s younger sister, Lou, must face her own losses to help the big sister who raised her. As the press descends and public cries of police brutality swell, Jamie tries desperately to hold together her family, no matter what it takes.
Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Things You Won't Say by Sarah Pekkanen
Fifteen years ago, I was a new reporter for the Baltimore Sun newspaper. One of my first assignments was to write an article about police officer Harold Carey Jr., who died in the line of duty. As I conducted interviews, the story that unfolded stunned me: Minutes before his death, Harold had been eating breakfast with a group that included Officer Lavon’De Alston, a close friend who’d encouraged him to join the force. Then a summons came in from their dispatcher: An officer was in trouble a short distance away. Few calls inspire such urgency among the brothers and sisters in blue, and the officers sprinted to their vehicles and sped, sirens blaring, to help.
At an intersection a couple of blocks away, the van being driven by Harold’s partner collided with the cruiser being driven by Lavon’De. Harold died at the scene. Lavon’De, who was badly injured in the crash, was devastated. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t stop thinking about Harold, the big, lovable man who’d nicknamed her “Shorty” and gobbled the rest of her pancakes when she couldn’t finish them.
Her anguish – as well as her sensitivity and strength – made a deep impression on me. It was wrenchingly unfair: How could this happen to a police officer who was committed to helping people, to doing good, to saving lives? How could she endure the pain and guilt? Although the circumstances in my novel are different, my newspaper article “Officer Down!” was the inspiration for this book.
In it I wanted to explore what would happen to a good police officer who did the worst thing imaginable –shooting a teenager. In my novel, my police officer happened to be white, and the teenager happened to be Hispanic.
Now, my deadlines require me to turn in my manuscripts a full year before publication, so THINGS YOU WON’T SAY was already in the copy-editing stage when Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. In THINGS YOU WON’T SAY, Michael Anderson, a white police officer, shoots Jose Torres, who was a Hispanic teenager, and some of the questions that arose for characters in my book – Would Anderson have fired if Jose Torres had been white? – echoed some of the questions swirling around the Ferguson case.
You always have a lot of fun with your fans--specifically, you have involved them when you're planning your book tours. Last year, you had a cardboard cut out of Ryan Gosling with you. Any fun ideas planned for this year?
I love book signings, and am hoping to play some games with the audience. Winners will get giveaways for things like chocolates and copies of upcoming books! And I'm really looking forward to the event in Chicago on June 4, because it'll be a joint appearance with Liz & Lisa!
You've written six novels! Which of your characters would you:
A) want to have a drink with - Savannah from THE BEST OF US, because she lacks a filter when she talks and she's hysterical
B) want to be best friends with - Jamie from THINGS YOU WON'T SAY. She's a frazzled, funny, real mom who deals with the same problems and issues I always discuss with my own girlfriends
C) want to set your girlfriend up with - Trey from THESE GIRLS (he's a total hunk, and sensitive to boot!)
You've talked about juggling motherhood and writing--even penning parts of a novel while at soccer practice. Do you have a secret to to how you'll get your writing accomplished this summer, when the kids are out of school?
No. Any suggestions???? I need help!
Your seventh will publish May 2016. Can you share any details about it?
It's the story of a group of women who live in a small, close-knit neighborhood… and each woman is holding close a secret.
Let's agree on something. We are all guilty of uploading a photo to Instagram or Facebook that, with just the right angle, lighting and filter makes the image look damn near perfect. What we don't post are the twenty pictures we took just to get the one that we then triple filtered and cropped before we uploaded it. Understandably so, we all want others to see us in the best light (pun intended) whether we're nestled up to our spouse looking hopelessly in love on our anniversary or our child is smiling angelically in her Sunday best or the rescue dog we adopted is greeting card cute as he pants for the camera. And while there's nothing wrong with wanting to put our best self out there, the photos we share typically represent the way we want our lives to appear, not the way they actually are. So in honor of our upcoming novel, THE STATUS OF ALL THINGS, about a social media obsessed woman who gets the chance to literally re-write her fate on Facebook, we decided to post the photos that we'd typically delete faster than you can say #nofilter or #blessed. This, is our #reallife.
Oh Lily. Look at you batting your big brown eyes for the camera. I'm going to post this shot for my followers because I know they will think you're all as cute as I do.
But what you and I both know is what they're never going to see. The shoe you chewed like it was a tennis ball that had done you wrong. #damndog
It's our fifth wedding anniversary and while, yes, we are still in love, we only posted the shot of us at the restaurant (aren't we so cute?) that the twenty-year-old hostess had to take seventeen times because she was shooting up at us (and that is not a good thing when you are forty).
What we didn't post was the shot of us just thirty minutes later when, instead of going out after dinner as planned, we called the sitter and told her there was going to be a change of plans. We headed home, put on our sweat pants and binged on Netflix. #becausewearelame #andanoldmarriedcouplealready #pleasenotemydoublechins
And then there's my four-year-old. Doesn't she look sweet? Posing in her princess best? As if every time I ask her to do something, she says, yes, mommy, whatever you say. Well, this was the picture I took after. After she got her way. #sheusuallywins #makethatalways
The next picture was taken before. When she had the tantrum that would make Mike Tyson shake his head. Here's a freeze frame from the video I took and plan to use as leverage when she really is the teen she acts like now. #apicturereallyisworthathousandwords #iamnotabovebribery
Wow-Doesn't my hair look UH-amazing? And, look, I'm kind of smirking and half-smiling like I have a really fantastic secret that I only share with other really wonderful people. And it only took me seventeen shots and five filters to get this picture just right! So there!
What I didn't show you was the nasty pic, with dye smeared all over my face (and eyebrows!) and the clock showing I'd been stuck in that chair for FIVE hours. Because my hair starting growing gray when I turned thirty, of course. But don't tell anyone, okay? It will just be our little secret.
OMG, aren't they so cute! They went from being strays on the mean street to sleeping in a warm bed each night and playing tug-o-war! Aren't I the BEST person EVER, because I rescue dogs and take adorable pictures of them living their new lives?
What I didn't reveal was how one of them (And I can't figure out which one?) thinks it's hilarious to poop on the one piece of carpeting in the entire house. Yep, we have one two foot rug and that's where's they leave the stinky presents. And puke. And dead rats they find in the yard. And now I need to buy a steam cleaner.
Not only do I have amazing low maintenance red hair and well-behaved rescue animals, I'm also an fantastic cook! See this? You may thing it's greasy, unhealthy fried rice, but it's actually cauliflower DISGUISED as fried rice! Yes, I'll accept the Mother of the Year award now. Please and Thank you.
What I didn't show was what my kitchen looked like afterward. And yes, that's ketchup. Those little effers put KETCHUP on my beautiful creation and didn't rinse one of these dishes. #howdoesthatevenmakesense
Is it just us, or are there so many good books out there right now? It was hard to narrow down our list this month--we wish we could include everyone! And we have one copy of each for giveaway. Just leave a comment here or over on our FB page and you'll be entered to win! Contest closes Thursday, May 21 at 5pm PST. xoxo
The scoop: When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril. Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.
Our thoughts: Sarah McCoy left us with our chin on the floor. Such a talent!
The scoop: One baby girl. Two strong Southern women. And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make. Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us—and that families aren’t born, they’re made…
Our thoughts: This moving debut has opened our eyes to the fabulousness that is Southern women's fiction!
The scoop: Karen, Melinda, and Joanna have never met until the morning they witness an accident outside a local diner—and rush to help. As a single mom whose sweet-faced boy has become a misguided young man, Karen immediately sets aside her own concerns and moves into action. Emergency first responder Melinda also calmly steps up to the plate, as she does every day; no one would ever suspect the insecurity that threatens her marriage to the man she loves. And blond, beautiful, bohemian Joanna is hiding—from her friends, her family, and, most important, herself. Yet she’s first on the scene. The accident leaves another, mother to be, Maddie, crushed by grief. But rather than retreat, Karen, Melinda, and Joanna open their arms and hearts. During the next nine months they’ll return to the diner over and over. They’ll come to find Maddie. They’ll end up finding themselves—learning what it means to be a mother, lover, wife, and friend. By reaching out and holding on, these four women will unite to show us life can be transformed at the most surprising moments.
Our thoughts: We were completely entangled in this story!
The scoop: Fresh from college, irrepressible Vivian Schuyler defies her wealthy Fifth Avenue family to work at cutthroat Metropolitan magazine. But this is 1964, and the editor dismisses her…until a parcel lands on Vivian’s Greenwich Village doorstep that starts a journey into the life of an aunt she never knew, who might give her just the story she’s been waiting for. In 1912, Violet Schuyler Grant moved to Europe to study physics, and made a disastrous marriage to a philandering fellow scientist. As the continent edges closer to the brink of war, a charismatic British army captain enters her life, drawing her into an audacious gamble that could lead to happiness…or disaster. Fifty years later, Violet’s ultimate fate remains shrouded in mystery. But the more obsessively Vivian investigates her disappearing aunt, the more she realizes all they have in common—and that Violet’s secret life is about to collide with hers.
Our thoughts: Out in paperback now, if you inhale this mesmerizing novel last summer while sitting by the beach (or even if you did) do it this year, girl!
The scoop: A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It's supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother's even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can't imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen's well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.
Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen's own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.
Our thoughts: If you loved Wild by Cheryl Strayed, you'll devour this novel. In the spirit of running from yourself to ultimately find yourself, Center draws you in with every page.
The scoop: Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings—cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss. Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of—and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told. Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.
Our thoughts: Such an original idea! We gobbled up this debut!
The scoop: Che Milan’s life is falling apart. Not only has her longtime lover abruptly dumped her, but her eccentric, demanding mother has recently died. When an urn of ashes arrives, along with a note reminding Che of a half-forgotten promise to take her mother to Canterbury, Che finds herself reluctantly undertaking a pilgrimage. Within days she joins a group of women who are walking the sixty miles from London to the shrine of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, reputed to be the site of miracles. In the best Chaucer tradition, the women swap stories as they walk, each vying to see who can best describe true love. Che, who is a perfectionist and workaholic, loses her cell phone at the first stop and is forced to slow down and really notice the world around her, perhaps for the first time in years.Through her adventures along the trail, Che finds herself opening up to new possibilities in life and discovers that the miracles of Canterbury can take surprising forms.
Our thoughts: Kim Wright took us on an adventure we never wanted to end!
The scoop: The Balance Project is a story of loyalty, choices, and balance that will resonate deeply with all women who struggle with this hot-button issue. Loyal assistant Lucy Cooper works for Katherine Whitney, who seems to have it all: a high-powered job at a multibillion-dollar health and wellness lifestyle company, a successful husband, and two adorable daughters. Now, with the release of her book on work-life balance, Katherine has become a media darling and a hero to working women everywhere. In reality, though, Katherine’s life is starting to fall apart, and Lucy is the one holding it all together, causing her own life―and relationship with her boyfriend Nick―to suffer. When Katherine does something unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy must decide whether to change Katherine’s life forever or continue being her main champion. Her choice will affect the trajectory of both of their lives and lead to opportunities neither one could have imagined.
Our thoughts: A must-read for any woman who's struggled to find balance! (Um, all of us!)
The scoop: Move over Bridget Jones… here comes Mimi Finnegan! Thirty-four year old, Mimi Finnegan is the third of four daughters and in her eyes, by far, the most unremarkable. She has no singular accomplishment that can stand up to any of her sisters. And if that isn’t enough, she is the only single sibling in her family. Mimi’s sisters decide that it’s time she gets serious about husband hunting, so they begin a campaign to find Mr. Right for her. Considering her most recent dating encounters include a night club owner who stuffs bratwurst in his pants and a WASPy trust fund baby, living happily under his mother’s thumb, Mimi is more than ready to meet THE ONE. Enter celebrated British novelist Elliot Fielding. Sexual tension and anger heat up between the duo and it isn’t until Mimi discovers that Elliot is almost engaged to another that she realizes she is head-over-heels in love with him. The journey will make you laugh, cry and want to pull your hair out from frustration! Mimi eventually learns that she is quite remarkable in her own right and never needed to worry that she lived in her sister’s shadows. The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan is the perfect laugh-out-loud, feel good book for any woman who has ever felt that she wasn’t good enough.
Our thoughts: Hilarious. Just the laughs we needed to kick off our summer!
The scoop: After three years of dating and trading nights at their respective New York City apartments, Emma Feit and Nick O'Hare are moving in together. Or they will be, as soon as they find the right place. For two happily-in-love professionals--Nick's a teacher, Emma tutors college-bound teens--with good credit and stellar references, how hard can it be? As it turns out, very--in ways that are completely unexpected. Suddenly Emma is filled with questions about cohabiting, about giving up her freedom--not to mention about who's going to clean the toilet. And while her best friend plans a dream wedding to her wealthy fiancé, and her older brother settles into suburban bliss, Emma must figure out what home means to her--and how on earth to get there.
Our thoughts: A witty and relatable read!
I don’t know about you, but I certainly pick and choose what parts of myself I share with the world. I’ll check in at Nobu faster than you can say cucumber martini, but I’ve never publicly declared my love for Jack in the Box’s tacos. (How are they SO good?) I’ll post the video of my son’s homerun at his baseball game, but omit his strike out and depression in the backseat on the way home. And I’ll send over the perfect selfie I captured with my girlfriends at our GNO but skip the bloated hangover pics the next morning. And it’s made me realize: what we don’t post online is almost as telling as what we do.
Recently, my father fell ill. And while I’d been quick to document my own trip to the ER the year before (I cut off part of my finger slicing cheese, long story!), it didn’t even cross my mind to share my location or state of mind as I sat with him at the hospital. The next day, I posted about a skirt that didn’t quite fit me right, and left out what was really going on in my life—that I was heading back to the hospital for another long day at my father’s bedside. And the next day, as fought back tears when I was called to fill out his DNR paperwork just in case, I bantered with my online peeps about how upset I was about the venti iced Americano I’d dropped on the sidewalk earlier that morning.
It probably isn’t surprising to anyone who knows me well that I would lament publicly about my lack of caffeination rather than the acute descent of my father’s health. But it got me thinking how our online interactions define us. How I tended not to post things that might make me appear weak. Or worse, have others pity me.
God forbid, I pull back the curtain to show you my real weaknesses (I’m horribly stubborn! Emotionally unavailable! Distracted to a fault!), not the cute, self-deprecating ones. (I’m a bad driver! I have a Starbucks addiction! I’m clumsy and cut off parts of my fingers on occasion!)
Not that there's anything wrong with doing that—but we all develop a social media persona and then go out of our way to stick within the boundaries we set to be that person. And I discovered when my father passed away where mine was. I had no problem revealing seemingly personal details as long as they never scratched further below the surface than I wanted people to see. I went on and on about the death of my iPhone on my daughter’s 4th grade trip (dropped in the toilet while panning for gold, in case you were wondering), but declined to reveal how I was in denial of the very real death of my father just two weeks prior, and that I still couldn’t even bring myself to open the pile of sympathy cards that were sitting on my desk at home. In short, I wanted your LOLs, not your sympathy. I wanted your comments, your likes, your approval to distract me. (And it did, thank you very much!)
To celebrate the release of The Status of All Things, we’ve challenged y’all to post about your #reallife. Admittedly, for the reasons detailed above, I’ve struggled with it. Just a few days ago, I rear-ended a very annoyed man on a freeway off ramp, then stepped in dog poop while wearing my favorite pair of Uggs an hour later. I yelled at my son and made him cry, and then I cried a little bit myself after forcing myself to open one of those sympathy cards on my desk. And I didn’t post a damn thing about any of it. Until now. Because even though my #reallife isn’t always pretty, it’s still mine, and in good or bad times, I’m thankful for that.
Tell us—what does your #reallife look like? Because we all know that you can’t always look that good. (And if you can, you need to hand over your beauty secrets ASAP!)
Honey can you pleease smile? Mommy promises this is the last one!
Can you hold the phone higher? It makes us look better! But we’re not old, we’re just saying’…
These are just some of the recurring statements we made while on our week-long trip to Hawaii.
From Oahu to Maui, we island hopped from one movie set-like back drop to the next.
Palm trees swayed in the warm gentle breeze, pina coladas adorned with brightly colored umbrellas rested in our palms, and the most gorgeous sunsets imaginable kissed the ocean nightly.
And with such a picture-perfect locale comes the need to document. To post. To share. (At least for us!)
In this digital age, it’s almost impossible not to look at this beauty through the screen of our iPhones first. Before we even have a chance to suck in a breath, we’ve whipped them out of our back pockets and started taking pictures of said beautiful Hawaiian thing. Already mentally composing the status we will write to go along with it.
Is our desire to not miss the moment, causing us to miss it? Should we be stopping and taking in the beauty with our eyes first? Is our need to share with our online community causing us not to spend enough time living in the moment with the people who are right next to us? Or are we simply living in a time where it’s common to click, filter and share before we think?
We know there is a balance. And we can recognize when maybe our need to document the trip became a bit obsessive. Like when we were zip lining and had no pockets to put our phones in. So we stuck them in our bras as to not miss the opportunity to “get the shot.” This was probably a bit extreme. Especially when it started pouring down rain and we kept taking video. (But we got it!) Or when we considered chasing a tiki torch lighter in a loin cloth across the hotel grounds to get a selfie. (We didn’t!) Or perhaps when we asked our kids to take just one more photo so we could get one where they were actually smiling? (Guilty as charged.)
But if we're being completely honest, we didn't show you any of the questionable shots, the ones where someone captured us with resting bitch face. Or we looked like wet dogs after ziplining in the rain. Or our kids were scowling because we'd asked them to pose again. We showed you the "winners."
We came up with the idea of our forthcoming novel, The Status of All Things about a social media obsessed women who gets the chance to literally rewrite her fate on Facebook, because we wanted to tackle this obsession with social media that so many people have, this need to show life only through a perfectly filtered lens. We wanted to look at why we believe other peoples’ lives are more perfect than our own simply because of the blemish-free photos they post. We wanted to explore this jealousy that’s so easy to have as we watch people post incredible update after incredible update. We wanted to look at why it’s so easy to forget that everyone posts the good stuff! Even us!
So in an effort to be a little more like we hope our main character, Kate, will ultimately become, we are going to start showing you a little less "pose" and a little more "candid". We're using the hashtag #reallife and are peeling back the filtered veil to show you what our lives really look like. It actually feels surprisingly good to select “normal” before we Instagram a picture. It is quite liberating to show you the pictures we would have never posted. And we'd love for you to join us and share your #reallife as we head toward the publication of STATUS.
C'mon, we'll show you ours if you show us yours! Or at least ask you to "like" our photos so we don't feel totally lame when we post them!
Our latest book club pick is the riveting THE FAR END OF HAPPY by Kathryn Craft (Out May 5th) based on a real event that happened in Kathryn's life. And we have one copy for giveaway. Just leave a comment to be entered. Contest closes Thursday, April 23rd at 8pm PST.
The scoop: Ronnie's husband is supposed to move out today. But when Jeff pulls into the driveway drunk, with a shotgun in the front seat, she realizes nothing about the day will go as planned.
The next few hours spiral down in a flash, unlike the slow disintegration of their marriage-and whatever part of that painful unraveling is Ronnie's fault, not much else matters now but these moments. Her family's lives depend on the choices she will make-but is what's best for her best for everyone?
Our thoughts: A chilling, page-turner. One that will stay with you for a long time.
Liz & Lisa's Book Club: The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft
At first I just wanted to jot down the facts pertaining to my first husband’s 1997 suicide before memory scrambled them. After writing an unrelated first novel, I drafted what I thought would be a memoir about my first marriage, its horrific end, and how my sons and I moved on. It was a healing exercise to tame the chaos of that time into manageable arcs with beginnings, middles, and ends.
While moving on to a second novel I continued to work on the memoir but no matter what chapter I was working on my thoughts kept snapping back to the day of the standoff, and how my knowledge that it was coming colored my perceptions. The best way to convey this effect, I started to think, would be to constrain the novel to its twelve hours.
To suggest my main character’s story arc and explore the standoff’s effect on others, I’d have to use more than one point of view and compress the timeline of true events so that more could happen on that one day. The challenge of doing so refreshed my interest in revisiting this difficult material.
But now that I’ve worked on framing my experience both ways, I can see that both memoir and fiction rely on the power of story to reveal universal truths. They are simply alternate routes to the same destination.
The cover for THE FAR END OF HAPPY is gorgeous. What’s the story behind it?
Isn’t it? The Sourcebooks design team is amazing. I didn’t think they could top my cover for THE ART OF FALLING—and then I found this in my in-box. It was perfectly conceived, with that lovely old farmhouse on the shore and the creepy, broken-down one reflected in the water. There is no pond or lake in the book so that was simply a stroke of cover art genius, as many things aren’t as they seem to be in the story. The Interlude Group loved it so much they used it as the basis of my trailer.
You talk a lot about the importance of authors connecting with and supporting one another and you host writing retreats for women. How has this helped enhance your own writing process?
I discovered long ago that I am a socially motivated person, and that I will often do for others what I won’t do for myself (case in point: make nutritious dinner if my husband is home, eat popcorn on the fly if it’s just me). I’ve used that self-awareness to my advantage, and have found a way to live a pretty social life, for an endeavor that must be pursued alone. For several years I’ve met every Wednesday with a group of other writing women in the café of a local grocery store to write. It’s a kind of witnessing, I guess, tapping away on our computers all morning and then solving problems and sharing tips over lunch. If it weren’t for my winter Craftwriting workshops and summer writing retreats I would never force myself to write from prompts, which stretch me to think about craft anew.
As for my many years of leadership in the writing community, that was a carry over from my dance life: without volunteers, the arts world would quit turning and we’d all fall off. It’s always been that way and will continue to be that way—each of us stands in a lineage between our own mentors and those behind us to whom we offer a hand. When you volunteer to keep a writing community going, you bring quality teachers to yourself while creating paying gigs for authors. If you support those authors and buy their books you are ensuring the health of the industry you hope will support you.
And voila! You have a network. People who know someone who knows someone who can help you one way or another. A street team invested in your success. I’m even in a marketing cooperative of women’s fiction writers, the Tall Poppy Writers. To go it alone these days is like being a guppy in an ocean of killer whales. We become more powerful when we band together. A fun exercise to do is to list how many “communities” you are a part of. The longer the list, the farther your reach.
What is something your fans might be surprised to find out about you?
Um—that this is the first time I heard I had fans? Readers may be surprised to know that I studied Russian for seven years, simply because I was fascinated to learn another alphabet. I even majored in it for a year in college, but after reading the memoir by ballet dancer Valery Panov, that detailed all the grievous mayhem the KGB imposed on him for fear that he and his wife would defect, I was too afraid to ever think of traveling to the USSR. I loved college. I would declare five more majors before getting a bachelors in biology and a masters in health and phys ed, but never ended up working in fields that required either degree.
April is finally here! Hallelujah! And along with it, we have LOTS of amazing books! We have one copy of each to giveaway--leave a comment to be entered. Winner chosen randomly. Contest closes on April 19th at 8am PST.
Married to a wonderful man and a mother to two strong-minded teens, Rachel hasn’t returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Drew, her younger sister, followed her passion for music but takes side jobs to make ends meet and longs for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Hikari, is diagnosed with dementia and gives Rachel power of attorney, Rachel’s domineering father, Killian becomes enraged.
In a rare moment of lucidity, Hikari asks Rachel for a book in her sewing room, and Rachel enlists her sister’s help in the search. The book—which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan—reveals truths about Drew and Rachel’s relationship that resonate across the centuries, connecting them in ways that turn their differences into assets.
Our thoughts: Another thoughtful and engaging novel from Margaret! Pick it up! (And the giveaway copy is signed!)
The scoop: Serena has the job she's always dreamed of and Chase, the man her heart never dared to. As a new editor at Vogue, she bags the biggest interview of the year with Yvette Renault, the infamous former editor of French Vogue, in The Carlton-InterContinental Hotel during the Cannes Film Festival. She eagerly jets off to France while Chase stays home, working with her father, a former senator, on his upcoming mayoral campaign.
Everything feels unbelievably perfect...until it doesn't. The hotel loses her reservation hours before her big interview. Serena fears that she'll have to go home without her story, but then she meets Zoe, a quirky young woman staying in the suite below Yvette's who invites Serena to stay with her. Serena is grateful for her mysterious roommate's generosity, but it seems that there's more to her story than meets the eye. To make matters worse, soon after arriving in Cannes, Serena learns a shocking secret about her parents' marriage, and it isn't long before she begins to question her own relationship.With her deadline looming and pressure mounting, Serena will have to use her investigative journalism skills, new friendships, and a little luck to get her life and love back on track. Fast paced and impeccably written,
French Coast will draw readers in to the intoxicating world of the Cote D'Azur. Hughes' beautiful prose and sense imagery bring the food, fashion, and feel of the ocean to life in this audacious new novel.
The scoop: Our fave so far from Anita--the perfect beach read!
The Scoop: Burned-out and completely broke, twenty-two-year-old single mother Anna Jennings moves to her grandparents’ rural Wisconsin home for the summer—her four-year-old, David, in tow. Returning to Salsburg reminds Anna of simpler times—fireflies, picnics, Neapolitan ice cream—long before she met her unstable ex and everything changed. But the sudden appearance of shadowy dinosaurs awakens Anna from this small-town spell, and forces her to believe she has either lost her mind or can somehow see her son’s active imagination. Frightened, Anna struggles to learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon, but what she uncovers along the way is completely unexpected: revelations about what her son’s imaginary friends truly represent and hidden secrets about her own childhood.
Our thoughts: Cleverly written with a perfect touch of magic, Imaginary Things will take you on a journey of the unexpected, and leave you contemplating the power of your own mind.
The scoop: Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.
Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?
As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.
Our thoughts: Thought-provoking! A must read!
The scoop: When a fourteen-year-old runs away, her parents turn to social media to find her—launching a public campaign that will expose their darkest secrets and change their family forever, in this suspenseful and gripping debut for fans of Reconstructing Amelia and Gone Girl.
Don’t try to find me. Though the message on the kitchen white board is written in Marley’s hand, her mother Rachel knows there has to be some other explanation. Marley would never run away.
As the days pass and it sinks in that the impossible has occurred, Rachel and her husband Paul are informed that the police have “limited resources.” If they want their fourteen-year-old daughter back, they will have to find her themselves. Desperation becomes determination when Paul turns to Facebook and Twitter, and launches FindMarley.com.
But Marley isn’t the only one with secrets.
With public exposure comes scrutiny, and when Rachel blows a television interview, the dirty speculation begins. Now, the blogosphere is convinced Rachel is hiding something. It’s not what they think; Rachel would never hurt Marley. Not intentionally, anyway. But when it’s discovered that she’s lied, even to the police, the devoted mother becomes a suspect in Marley’s disappearance.
Is Marley out there somewhere, watching it all happen, or is the truth something far worse?
Our thoughts: We LOVED this mystery. Fans of The Good Girl will eat this up!
After finding success as a singer on the road, Beau Yates returns to Harmony to make peace with his dying father—only to find the woman he’s been dreaming of for years. But the secrets they discover might be too much for him to bear…
When Johnny Wheeler is charged with his wife’s murder, he turns to the only person who believes he’s innocent. Fortune teller Kare Cunningham’s life has always danced around reality—but Johnny is able to ground her like no other…
As their paths cross in new, captivating directions, the townspeople of Harmony need to learn to love and let go in order to live together in their little slice of heaven.
Our thoughts: Relax at the pool with this intriguing novel!
The scoop: Sarina Mahler thinks she has her life all nailed down: a growing architecture practice in Austin, Texas, and an any-day-now proposal from her loving boyfriend, Noah. She’s well on her way to having the family she’s hoped for since her mother’s death ten years ago. But with Noah on a temporary assignment abroad and retired Olympic swimmer—and former flame—Eamon Roy back in town asking her to renovate his new fixer-upper, Sarina’s life takes an unexpected turn. Eamon proves to be Sarina’s dream client, someone who instinctively trusts every one of her choices—and Sarina is reminded of all the reasons she was first drawn to him back in the day. Suddenly her carefully planned future with Noah seems a little less than perfect. And when tragedy strikes, Sarina is left reeling. With her world completely upended, she is forced to question what she truly wants in life—and in love.
Our thoughts: In her charming debut novel, Bethany Chase reminds us about the one that got away, and makes us wonder what would have happened if he hadn’t.
The scoop: Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.
Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.
Our thoughts: A gorgeous novel! We loved it!
At the end of a long winter in well-to-do Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of a newborn is found in the woods fringing the campus of the town's prestigious university. No one knows the identity of the baby, what ended her very short life, or how she came to be found among the fallen leaves. But for the residents of Ridgedale, there is no shortage of opinions.
When freelance journalist and recent Ridgedale transplant Molly Sanderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the disturbing news for the Ridgedale Reader—the town's local paper—she has good reason to hesitate. A severe depression followed the loss of her own baby, and this assignment could unearth memories she has tried hard to bury. But the disturbing history Molly uncovers is not her own. Her investigation reveals a decades-old trail of dark secrets hiding behind Ridgedale's white picket fences.
Told from the perspectives of three Ridgedale women, Kimberly McCreight's taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth behind the tragedy, revealing that these women have far more in common than they could ever have imagined: that the very worst crimes are committed against those we love. And that—sooner or later—the past catches up to all of us.
Our thoughts: We are SO into mysteries right now! LOVED it!
The scoop: England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up on the beautiful estate of the Marquess and Marchioness of Penselwood. The beekeeper’s daughter, she knows her place and what the future holds—that is until her father dies. Her childhood friend Freddie has recently become her lover, and she is thankful when they are able to marry and take over her father’s duties. But there is another man who she just can’t shake from her thoughts…
Massachusetts, 1973: Grace’s daughter Trixie Valentine is in love with an unsuitable young man. Jasper Duncliffe is wild and romantic, and in a band that might hit it big. But when his brother dies and he is called home to England, Jasper promises to come back for Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him. Grace thinks that Trixie is surely abandoned and tries to support her daughter, but Trixie brushes off her mother’s advice and comfort. She is confident that Jasper’s love for her was real…
Our thoughts: Don't miss out on this beautiful novel!
Lisa Scottoline is one of our favorite authors and we're thrilled to be part of the Every Fifteen Minutes blog tour giveaway to celebrate the release of her latest novel of the same name on April 14th! On April 14th, every fifteen minutes, a blog will be giving away an audio copy of Lisa's book as well as another exciting prize. If you leave a comment on this post by 10:15 a.m. EST on April 14th, you'll be entered to win an audio copy of Every Fifteen Minutes as well as an audio copy of Lisa's novel, Don't Go.
We'll be announcing our winner on April 14th at 11:15 a.m. EST.
The scoop: Dr. Eric Parrish is the Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital outside of Philadelphia. Recently separated from his wife Alice, he is doing his best as a single Dad to his seven-year-old daughter Hannah. His work seems to be going better than his home life, however. His unit at the hospital has just been named number two in the country and Eric has a devoted staff of doctors and nurses who are as caring as Eric is. But when he takes on a new patient, Eric's entire world begins to crumble. Seventeen-year-old Max has a terminally ill grandmother and is having trouble handling it. That, plus his OCD and violent thoughts about a girl he likes makes Max a high risk patient. Max can't turn off the mental rituals he needs to perform every fifteen minutes that keep him calm. With the pressure mounting, Max just might reach the breaking point. When the girl is found murdered, Max is nowhere to be found. Worried about Max, Eric goes looking for him and puts himself in danger of being seen as a "person of interest" himself. Next, one of his own staff turns on him in a trumped up charge of sexual harassment. Is this chaos all random? Or is someone systematically trying to destroy Eric's life? New York Times best selling author Lisa Scottoline's visceral thriller, Every Fifteen Minutes,brings you into the grip of a true sociopath and shows you how, in the quest to survive such ruthlessness, every minute counts.
Our thoughts: Lisa's books just keep getting better! The audio version is awesome too. It's narrated by George Newbern, a film and television actor best known for his roles in Father of the Bride and Scandal. A prominent voice-over performer and award winning narrator, Newbern’s previous audiobook credits include several novels by Carl Hiaasen and Seabiscuit by Lauren Hildebrand, among others.