Marisa de los Santos' 5 Loves and a Dud

We have mad love for New York Times bestselling author, Marisa de los Santos. And are still pinching ourselves that she accepted our invitation to share her 5 Loves and a Dud. (And when we saw that french fries was on her list of loves, we knew she was definitely our girl!) Her latest novel, FALLING TOGETHER has been called one of the hottest books for fall and we couldn't agree more. Here's the skinny on FALLING TOGETHER: It’s been six years since Pen Calloway watched her best friends walk out of her life. And through the birth of her daughter, the death of her father, and the vicissitudes of single motherhood, she has never stopped missing them.

Pen, Cat, and Will met on their first day of college and formed what seemed like a magical and lifelong bond, only to see their friendship break apart amid the realities of adulthood. When, after years of silence, Cat—the bewitching, charismatic center of their group—e-mails Pen and Will with an urgent request to meet at their college reunion, they can’t refuse. But instead of a happy reconciliation, what awaits is a collision of past and present that sends Pen and Will, with Pen’s five-year-old daughter and Cat’s hostile husband in tow, on a journey across the world.

As Pen and Will struggle to uncover the truth about Cat, they find more than they bargained for: startling truths about who they were before and who they are now. They must confront the reasons their friendship fell apart and discover how—and if—it can ever fall back together.

Sounds fabulous, right? Want to win a copy? There's 5 to be won! Just leave a comment and be entered. We'll randomly select the winners after 6:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 6th.



There’s something almost mystically beautiful about a food that, apart from the way it tastes, has not a single redeeming quality.  They are so pure in their badness, like those irresistible boys in high school who were dumb and unfunny and entirely self-absorbed but just so stinkin’ gorgeous.   In order to eat fries, you have to check every bit of wisdom you have ever acquired at the door.  Having said that, I won’t just eat any fry.  I don’t need organic blue potatoes, a French chef, and sea salt (although I never say no to that!), but I do need crispness and just the right amount of greasiness (I’m pretty sure that they serve flabby fries in hell), and then I leave my self-respect in shreds in the dust and just go for it.


As a kid, I abandoned ballet early on for gymnastics, a monumentally bad decision since I am tallish, have zero upper body strength, and way too much fear, but as an adult, I am a ballet addict.  I take adult classes as often as I can, usually three times a week, and every time, I leave class a better, happier person than when I got there.  When I tell people I do ballet, usually they say something like, “Wow, I bet that’s a great workout.”  And I suppose it is, but for me (for once!), the way it makes my body look is not the point.  I love the discipline, mental and physical, the way you start every single class with tendus and plies, the most fundamental movements.  I love the sense that I am participating in the beautiful, even when I am not beautiful (which is often).  And I love (for once!) not having any goal beyond joy and getting better at a hard thing.  I will not be tested.  I will not be taking the world stage by storm.  I will never audition for anything.  Which is just the way I like it.


And when I say Anne of Green Gables, I’m talking about the whole series, people.  Eight books, but especially the first five.  Intellectually, I know they might be sugary and old-fashioned and overwritten and mostly plotless, but the truth is that I don’t experience them this way, ever.  I love them.  I love how almost everyone in them (except Josie Pye) is trying so hard to be good.  I love the endless nature descriptions and how Anne and her friends can go on long rambles through fields and woods and never get bitten by one mosquito.  I love the rampant optimism and romance.  I open one book and, boom, I am right there, inside of my childhood.  When I think of my favorite childhood place, I don’t think of any of the houses I lived in; I think of Anne’s east gable room with the flowering cherry tree outside the window.  A chronic bad sleeper, I read these books before I turn out the light.  I am almost never not reading one of them.  I read them to pieces, literally.  Do I know that this is weird?  Yes.  Do I care?  Nope.


Give me a well-written, character-driven mystery and I am happy as a clam.  Kate Atkinson, Tana French, Alexander McCall Smith, Dorothy Sayers, Jacqueline Winspear, Raymond Chandler, Alan Bradley, Cornelia Read, Agatha Christie.  I try hard not to be envious of other writers, and mostly I succeed, but I am dead jealous of mystery writers.  I want to learn to plot like that, to end every chapter with a cliffhanger.  I want to write people into dark, dark places and to ruthlessly examine the ugly side of humanity.  I want to create detectives that are complicated, vulnerable, and wicked smart.  So far, no dice, but I am not giving up hope!


I don’t just mean the actual driving, although I do love that.  There is a certain kind of closeness and a certain kind of conversation that only happens in minivans (and I do have one) on the way to swim practice or ballet class.  But I mean the whole shebang.  It’s one of the chief complaints of the modern parent:  the time-suck of their kids’ sports and activities schedules.  But mostly, I don’t buy it.  Mostly, I think we all secretly love to not only drive there but to be there.  My kids swim year-round, and, yes, indoor pool facilities (or natatoria, cool word) are kind of miserable:  hot, humid, loud.  But I am never miserable in them.  I look forward to swim meets, to getting up and getting the kids up while it’s still dark outside, driving through the cool dawn with the sun coming up and my travel mug of coffee in the cup holder and the kids eating breakfast in the back.  We listen to inspiring kid music:  Katie Perry’s “Firework”, The Black-Eyed Peas’s “I Gotta Feeling” and we get inspired.  Then, my husband and I sit (or time or officiate) with the other swim parents and watch our children spend their hearts on the thing they love.  I could be writing books.  I could be doing a lot of things.  But here’s what I know:  it is the great privilege of my life to be there, and at the end of my life, I’ll be glad I was.



I know that as soon as I say “I hate reality shows,” my fun factor takes a nosedive, but oh my gosh, I detest them.  Actually, in saying that, I’m breaking my rule about not panning anything that I don’t finish because I can’t get through more than seven minutes of any reality show, but, rule be damned, I loathe them.  They bring out my inner cranky grandma (“That girl has no business wearing that skirt!”), my inner snob (“I have been studiously avoiding these people my entire life; why would I want to watch them now?”), and my inner high-horse-sitter (“Making fun of the mentally ill is just cruel.”).  Those housewives with their terrible lips!  The abusive dance moms!  Those wretchedly unhappy hoarders!  Those rich, famous, insufferable no-talent families!  And what about the writers?  What about the actors?  They’re talented!  They have gifts they’ve spent years and energy cultivating!  Employ them!  Give your time to something that’s worth it!  (See?  High horse!).

Thanks, Marisa!


Liz & Lisa

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