Jess Riley's 5 BEST EVERS

ATLP AMAZONOur guest today: Jess Riley Why we love her: Her writing has some bite to it--it's sharp and sassy.

Her latest: All The Lonely People

The scoop: WANTED: a whole new family to share holidays with. Please have a good heart and be a thoughtful, polite person. No sociopaths, no pedophiles, no fans of the Kardashians. We're not weirdos, I promise. I love old Steve Martin movies, new Steve Martin banjo tunes, Indian food, and reruns of Bob Ross painting happy little trees. So if you're looking for something other than the typical family dysfunction this Christmas, drop us a line." After losing her beloved mother to cancer, 37-year-old Jaime Collins must confront the ugly fact that she and her siblings don't actually like one another. At all. Fueled by grief and an epic argument at Thanksgiving dinner, Jaime decides to 'divorce' her siblings and posts an ad on Craigslist for a new family for Christmas. What happens next is a heartwarming, funny, and surprising journey to forgiveness and healing. Is blood really thicker than water? And how far do we have to go to find our way back home again? Dedicated to anyone who has ever wanted to unfriend a relative on Facebook, ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE is about family: those you make ... and those you make peace with.

Our thoughts: We think you'll love this novel about a seriously dysfunctional family--it will make you feel better about your own!

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment here and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners after 3pm PST on Sunday, January 20th.

Fun Fact: In college, Jess worked briefly at a medium-security men’s prison, which inspired her next novel.

Where you can read more about Jess: Her website, Facebook, or Twitter.


Jess Riley 2Best Song: If you’re someone I just met in real life, I’ll probably tell you I listen to The Middle East, or The Avett Brothers, or Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. And much of my iPod is indeed devoted to these artists. But when I’m driving alone in my car, what do I crank up and sing along to? “Say it Isn’t So” by The Outfield. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot. “Save a Prayer” by Duran Duran. Anything by Journey. Even “Master of Puppets” by Metallica, which I was belting out just the other day. Basically anything that would make you instinctively turn the volume way, way down when you pull up to a stoplight. Maybe when I turn 40 in a few years I won’t care so much what strangers in crosswalks and other cars think of my taste in music, but for now, I just don’t want to deal with the weird looks. (But here’s something: will I still listen to songs like Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” when I’m 60? Or will I listen to The Black Keys on the oldies station?)

Best Book: Here I will list the books I read in 2012 that inspired dramatic emotional reactions:

Made this old cynic sob uncontrollably: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Made me laugh out loud on nearly every page: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Made me insanely jealous, because I wish I could write like that: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Made me wish I had a better attention span so I would actually read it: The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach

Best Movie: I love a very specific kind of sappy movie, and It’s a Wonderful Life meets the mark, hands-down.  Funny, quirky, corny, with a surprising dark edge that ultimately leads you to a happy ending and positive message.* I watch it every Christmas and have to pretend I’m not actually crying at the end every time.  *This also happens to be the tone I try to strike in my own writing, except without all the “Hee-haws!” and insinuation that life as a spinster librarian is about the worst end you could meet.

Best Life Moment: I LOVE hearing from readers—nothing is more gratifying, but another author recently said that in answer to this question and I don’t want to copy her … so I’m going to go with the nostalgic golden years of my childhood, when my mom and I lived with my grandparents inside a state park on the shores of Lake Michigan. I was trying to soothe my five-year-old nephew to sleep the other night, and this is what I told him about living with my grandparents when I was his age, in a soft, gentle voice: “Some of my aunts and uncles still lived at home, so there was never a shortage of people to read to me or play with. There would be epic badminton games on the lawn, and when cousins came to visit we’d build sandcastles on the beach. Grandma would take me for long walks through the woods, and in summer I fell asleep listening to the waves washing onto the dunes, hearing the whippoorwills cooing in the trees. The air smelled like wild raspberries and majestic white pines, and—”

Nephew, interrupting, sleepy but wired from the Little Debbie oatmeal pie he’d eaten before bed: “Did you know … that the largest state in South America is … BRAZIL!?”

Best Advice: Never rollerskate backward in a skirt, and never get a perm at Cost Cutters. Also, quitters always win (if you’re quitting smoking and negative thinking patterns).

Thanks, Jess!  xoxo, L&L