Colleen Hoover's 5 Best Evers

This Girl book cover imageToday's guest: Colleen Hoover Why we love her: We are big fans of this Slammed series. (This Girl is book #3.) Warning: You will be addicted (if you aren't already).

Her latest: This Girl

The scoop: There are two sides to every love story. Now hear Will’s.

Colleen Hoover’s New York Times bestselling Slammed series has brought countless readers to their knees with a whirlwind of love, passion, and heartache. Layken and Will’s love has managed to withstand the toughest of circumstances, and the young lovers, now married, are beginning to feel safe and secure in their union. As much as Layken relishes their new life together, she finds herself wanting to know everything there is to know about her husband, even though Will makes it clear he prefers to keep the painful memories of the past where they belong. Still, he can’t resist his wife’s pleas, and so he begins to untangle his side of the story, revealing for the first time his most intimate feelings and thoughts, retelling both the good and bad moments, and sharing a few shocking confessions of his own from the time when they first met.

In This Girl, Will tells the story of their complicated relationship from his point of view. Their future rests on how well they deal with the past in this final installment of the beloved Slammed series.

Our thoughts: Love hearing the story from Will's point of view. Genius.

Giveaway: TWO copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, September 15th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact:You don't have to wait long for Colleen's next novel, Losing Hope! It will be out October 8th. Pre-order here!

Where you can read more about Colleen: Her website and Facebook.


Colleen Hoover author photoSong:

Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise by The Avett Brothers. Really anything by The Avett Brothers. That particular song holds a permanent place in my heart, though. It's all about taking control of your life. My all time favorite lyric is from that song; it says, "decide what to be and go be it". I think that is the best advice anyone can take.


This is a tough one because there are so many. I think I would have to say The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. It's so perfectly imperfect. It's such a great balance of it's happy, sorrowful, romantic, philosophic, heartbreaking and hilarious all at the same time.


The Jerk! Hilarious. I love it, my kids love it, everyone should love it. If you haven't seen it, it stars Steve Martin and is also co-written by Steve Martin, so that's a recipe for awesomeness. It's definitely a movie that will cheer you up on the even the crappiest of days.

Life moment:

Other than marrying the love of my life and giving birth to my three children? The moment I wrote the words "The End" in my first book, "Slammed". My whole life I knew I wanted to be a writer, but never thought I could. I figured it was a waste of my time because the chances of me getting published were so miniscule. I'm so glad I finally wrote that book. I can honestly say that even if it had ended right then and there with those words, "The End", I would be 100% satisfied with my life just knowing I finally did it.

Piece of advice:

If there is something in life you want to do, just do it. Do it for yourself, not anyone else. I know it sounds cliche, but we only get one life to live, so you have to live it. The Avett Brothers said it best: decide what to be, and go be it! Also, stay away from the cans! (If that last part didn't make sense to you, you need to watch The Jerk.)

Thanks, Colleen!

Susanna Daniel's 5 Best Evers

Sea Creatures by Susanna DanielToday's guest: Susanna Daniel Why we love her: We've recently discovered this immensely talented author. Can't wait for her next book!

Her latest: Sea Creatures

The scoop: In Sea Creatures, a riveting domestic drama by Susanna Daniel, a mother must make the unthinkable choice between her husband and her son.

When Georgia Qullian returns to her hometown of Miami, her toddler and husband in tow, she is hoping for a fresh start. They have left Illinois trailing scandal and disappointment in their wake, fallout from her husband’s severe sleep disorder. For months, their three-year-old son has refused to speak a word.

On a whim, Georgia takes a job as an errand runner for a reclusive artist and is surprised at how her life changes dramatically. But soon the family’s challenges return, more complicated than before. Late that summer, as a hurricane bears down on South Florida, Georgia must face the fact that her decisions have put her only child in grave danger.

Sea Creatures is a mesmerizing exploration of the high stakes of marriage and parenthood.

Our thoughts:  Loved this thought provoking novel. A must-read!

Fun fact: She's the co-founder of the Madison Writer's Studio.

Giveaway: TWO copies! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 12 pm PST on Sunday, September 1st.

Where you can read more about Susanna: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Susanna Daniel, author of Sea CreaturesBEST BOOK

When I was fifteen years old, I worked part-time in an independent bookstore in South Miami (back then, these were just called bookstores), and read behind the desk between customers. I will never forget the experience of reading MATING, by Norman Rush, which was that year’s National Book Award winner. In the book, an anxious and self-involved postgraduate student crosses the desert in pursuit of the megalomaniacal founder of an all-female utopian society. The plot was absurdly ambitious, but the writing was electric, and I think that was the first time I really understood the concept of narrative drive -- that a strong voice can carry an entire book.


The Royal Tenenbaums -- funny, sweet, poignant, and doesn’t let its quirk overwhelm its humanity. When Ben Stiller’s character says to Danny Glover’s character, “You know, I’m a widower, too,” and Danny Glover says, with tremendous restraint, “I know it, son,” it’s all I can do not to lose it entirely.


Lately I’ve fallen down The National’s rabbit hole, which means I’ve been familiarizing myself with every album relentlessly and repeatedly, almost to the exclusion of all other music in my extensive repertoire. Predictably, I’m big on lyrics, and The National’s songs are poems. ‘Slipped’ has lodged itself in my head in particular: “I don’t want you to grieve but I want you to sympathize.” Honest, simple, gut-wrenching.


I’m supposed to say the moment my husband asked me to marry him, or when my first son was born, or my second, or some last moment of connection before my mother died -- but everything I so cherish (books, life partner, home, children) balances on a moment in 1999 when a woman named Connie Brothers called me at work in New York and offered me a place in the MFA program at the Writers’ Workshop in Iowa City, a region of the country where I’d never considered living (and now I’m a Midwesterner to this day). I can’t imagine where I would be now if I’d been dumb enough to decline.


This was early-motherhood advice that my editor (mother of two teenagers) gave not to me but to my agent, when my agent was pregnant with her first, and it so perfectly summed up something I believe strongly. She said: When the baby comes, you’re going to want to take care of all of it -- the diapers and the rocking and the feeding and the packing of the bag, all of it -- but you must sit on your hands. Let your partner do it, too. Even if you have more experience and know for a fact that he’s doing it wrong, let him do it and shut up about it unless he asks specifically for your advice or assistance. He’s perfectly capable, and if you take over every time, you’re going to find down the road that you’re doing it all by yourself (and maybe even complaining that he’s not helping). Sit on your hands, and let him develop his own ways of doing things. You’ll be glad in the long run.

Thanks, Susanna!

Amy Gail Hansen's 5 Best Evers

Today's guest: Amy Gail Hansen Why we love her: This debut left us wanting more! We can't wait until her next book.

Her latest: The Butterfly Sister (Out today!)

The scoop on it: A moving Gothic tale that intertwines mystery, madness, betrayal, love, and literature—a fragile young woman must silence the ghosts of her past.

Ten months after dropping out of all-girl Tarble College, Ruby Rousseau is still haunted by the memories of her senior year, a time marred by an affair with her English professor and a deep depression that caused her to question her sanity.

When a mysterious suitcase arrives bearing Ruby's name and address, she tries to return it to its rightful owner, Beth—a dorm-mate at Tarble—only to learn that Beth disappeared two days earlier.

With clues found in the luggage, including a tattered copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One's Own, which Ruby believes instigated her madness, she sets out to uncover the truth.

Our thoughts: A romantic beach read and a thriller--the perfect page-turning combination.

Giveaway: ONE copy. Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winner on Sunday, August 11th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: Read an excerpt of The Butterfly Sister here >>

Where you can read more about Amy Gail Hansen: Her website, Facebook and Twitter


Amy Gail Hansen author photoSONG

“Take it Easy” by the Eagles. It seems to come on the radio just when I need it most, when I’m far too engrossed in the mundane day-to-day worries of life, and I need a good kick in the pants to lighten up. It’s an instant mood booster, an antidepressant wrapped up in a folksy song with simple yet meaningful lyrics. My favorite line is, “We may lose and we may win, though we will never be here again.” It reminds me to slow down and just live in the moment, which I think is the key to being happy.


Oh, there are so many….I’m tempted to say a classic like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or a more recent title like The Last Will or Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh, which serendipitously connected me with my literary agent, Elisabeth Weed. But I’ll go with a more obscure work, Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk. It’s a coming-of-age story about Marjorie Morgenstern, a Jewish girl living in 1930s New York who is on the verge of living an extraordinary life, making it big as an actress and falling hopelessly in love with the enigmatic Noel Airman. I read it first as a teenager and thought the ending was so sad (spoiler alert: she ends up just being an everyday person—oh the horror!)  But when I read it ten years later, after being married and having a child, I thought the ending was happy. Talk about the power of perspective. It’s a reminder that the reading experience is so personalized and unique depending on your age and where you are in life.


Before Sunrise starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, directed by Richard Linklater.  I initially watched the movie because it was filmed almost entirely in Vienna, Austria, a city I fell in love with when traveling Europe for the first time at age 18.  This movie is not for people who want action or car chases or even a complex plot. It’s about two twenty-somethings who meet by chance on a train and spend one amazing day and night together in Vienna, ending on the question: Will they ever see each other again? The whole movie is dialogue, one very long date, and I am enchanted by it every time I watch it. Hawke, Delpy and Linklater teamed up again for a sequel Before Sunset and a third film, Before Midnight, which was just released.


I have three beautiful children, so I have three best life moments, the day each of them was born. I say this for obvious reasons—my children are precious little miracles that make life worth living—but also because birthing them was a very physical and spiritual accomplishment.  I was one of those crazy moms who chose not to have an epidural or pain medication, despite being on Pitocin. I have never experienced worse pain in my life than labor, but I see each birthing experience like running a marathon. Like a long-distance runner, I brought my body and mind to a level I never thought I could. There’s no better feeling.


Never take your wedding ring off. Ever. Not even to wash the dishes or shower or garden. My grandmother-in-law told me this when I first got married and I expressed concern I’d lose the ring. And guess what? It works. I have lost so many things in the almost ten years I’ve been married—including a pair of expensive prescription sunglasses I am still not over losing—but I have not lost my wedding ring.

Thanks, Amy!


Alida Nugent's 5 Best Evers

Dont-Worry-It-Gets-Worse-Alida-Nugent-Cover-198x300Our guest today: Alida Nugent Why we love her: Girlfrin' is snarky as hell!  We LOVE it!

Her latest: Don't Worry, It Gets Worse

The scoop:Alida Nugent graduated college with a degree in one hand and a drink in the other, eager to trade in parties and all-nighters for “the real world.” But post-grad wasn’t the glam life she imagined. Soon buried under a pile of bills, laundry, and three-dollar bottles of wine, it quickly became clear that she had no idea what she was doing. But hey, what twentysomething does?

In Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse, Nugent shares what it takes to make the awkward leap from undergrad to “mature and responsible adult that definitely never eats peanut butter straight from the jar and considers it a meal.” From trying to find an apartment on the black hole otherwise known as Craigslist to the creative maneuvering needed to pay off student loans and still enjoy happy hour, Nugent documents the formative moments of being a twentysomething with a little bit of snark and a lot of heart. Perfect for fans of HBO's Girls and Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half, and based on her popular Tumblr blog The Frenemy, Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse is a love note to boozin’, bitchin’ ladies everywhere.

Our thoughts: Really fun. If you love the series Girls,(or even if you don't) you'll flip for this book!

Giveaway: TWO copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose the  winner after NOON on Sunday, May 19th.

Fun fact: Alida's website, The Frenemy is rad-very funny!

Where to read more about Alida: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.



Alida-Nugent_DontWorryItGetsWorse_cr-LilyCummings-682x1024BEST SONG:

I’m going to have to go with “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette. I sing it every time I do karaoke, which is almost never but still too much. I first heard it when I was a teenager and it was girl-power with such TEETH.. It’s dirty and raw and really great when screaming with friends out a window on a road trip. I know this from experience.

However, if we’re going with new hits, I can’t stop listening to Q.U.E.E.N by Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu. It’s another powerful female anthem that makes me want to dance on the subway and have everybody move out my way.


My favorite book is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I love Oscar. He’s smart and his wit cuts deep. He’s decadent and sad and isn’t afraid to describe every sense. I am nothing like him, my writing is nothing like him, but he still inspires me. My friend Shane wrote my name on his grave. I have a book cover of his tattooed on the back of my neck. Oscar is always with me, which I’m sure he’d hate, unfortunately.

I have to mention my second favorite book---The Beach by Alex Garland. I mention it because it proves I have a penchant for books that have made truly awful movies.


These are hard questions. It’s such a cop out that I’ve said two books and two songs. I have to do one movie now. I’m going to say Jurassic Park because I’ve liked that movie the longest. I love dinosaurs, I love Jeff Goldblum, I can’t believe they thought the idea of a dino park was a good idea. As a kid, I thought the old man’s cane had a ball of maple syrup at the top and I wanted to lick it. Yes, definitely Jurassic Park. But I was considering Heathers. Now I’ve said two movies but I’ve chosen one. That’s less of a cop out, I think.


Holding my book for the first time. I don’t have kids or a puppy, so the book is the closest thing I’ve had to a baby. When that book arrived in the mail, I wanted to go back in time to my middle-school self and say: “hey, keep writing, weirdo! It will one day pay off. Maybe go to a state school."


Bring a jacket with you. Who knows where the day will end up?

Thanks Alida!


Sarah Pekkanen's 5 Best Evers and Crazy Awesome Giveaway!

15803195 Many of you know that we've loved Sarah Pekkanen since the day she exploded on the publishing scene--her books are some of our all-time faves.  Not to mention she's probably one of the NICEST people you could ever meet!  So we can't just have any ol' giveaway when Sarah is visiting--we've got to have a CRAZY AWESOME one!

The CRAZY AWESOME prize package includes:

- A 50 page manuscript critique by Sarah Pekkanen

- A 30 minute PHONE CALL with Sarah about ins and outs of writing and publishing

-A SIGNED copy of The Best of Us

SO rad, right? We think this prize package is priceless!

To Enter:

1. Post this link: to either Twitter or Facebook.  Make sure to tag Sarah! Twitter: @sarahpekkanen Facebook: hit @ and then type Sarah Pekkanen--her fan page will pop up in your post!

2. Include this review with the link: Publisher's Weekly called The Best of Us "A Deeply Enjoyable Page Turner".

3. Come back here and leave a comment telling us where you posted it! You will get one entry for Facebook and one for Twitter. So freakin' easy, right?

But act quickly!  This giveaway closes on THIS THURSDAY, APRIL 4TH at 5pm PST! We will choose a random winner after that. Good luck!

The Scoop on The Best of Us: An all-expense-paid week at a luxury villa in Jamaica—it’s the invitation of a lifetime for a group of old college friends. All four women are desperate not just for a reunion, but for an escape: Tina is drowning under the demands of mothering four young children. Allie is shattered by the news that a genetic illness runs in her family. Savannah is carrying the secret of her husband’s infidelity. And, finally, there’s Pauline, who spares no expense to throw her wealthy husband an unforgettable thirty-fifth birthday celebration, hoping it will gloss over the cracks already splitting apart their new marriage.

Languid hours on a private beach, gourmet dinners, and late nights of drinking kick off an idyllic week for the women and their husbands. But as a powerful hurricane bears down on the island, turmoil swirls inside the villa, forcing each of the women to reevaluate everything she knows about her friends—and herself.

Our thoughts: Our FAVE so far of hers--there's a little something of ourselves in each character and we couldn't put it down.  A MUST READ!


BEST BOOK: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I first read this book in college, and was stunned by how Capote took a real event - the murder of a Kansas family - and wrote a book that was every bit as seamless and riveting as the best fiction. Capote's genius inspired me to try to write narrative non-fiction myself, and eventually I began working as a reporter in the features department for The Baltimore Sun, spending weeks or even months on a single story, shaping and crafting, learning techniques like foreshadowing and micro-tension. It was terrific training for becoming a novelist!

BEST MOVIE: I love chick-lit flicks, like "Four Weddings and a Funeral" but for some reason one of my all-time favorites is "The Terminator"! Recently I got to read the treatment James Cameron created for the film, and it's an incredible piece of storytelling. The film hews really closely to Cameron's initial vision, but there's one big change I noticed. Instead of the class line, "I'll be back," the script originally has Ah-nold saying, "I'll come back." I guess "I'll be back" sounds more menacing!

BEST SONG:  "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. Whenever life throws me a curveball - and we all get hit by them now and then, don't we? - something about this song helps get me through. Plus, when life is going well, it's really fun to sing.

BEST LIFE MOMENT:  Each of the three times I held my new babies. There are no words.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE: Trust your instincts. This actually saved me and my children once: I was at the National Zoo in D.C. early one November morning, and it was nearly deserted. I went into the small reptile house, which was empty, and after we'd been there for a while, I noticed a man coming down the hallway toward us. Instantly I knew he meant to do us harm; my instincts were screaming. But my nice-girl mind tried to talk me out of taking action. "Oh, don't be silly, he just wants to ask you if you know what time it is," I told myself. Luckily, my primal instincts won out over my nice-girl mind. I had my infant in my Baby Bjorn, and I lifted my two-year-old onto my right hip. I couldn't outrun him, so I got ready to fight. When he was within two feet of me, my left arm shot out and I screamed at the top of my lungs, "STOP!" We locked eyes and I let him know with my expression that I would fight him - and win - because he was not going to touch my kids. He turned around and walked away without another word. Later I analyzed why my instincts had issued a warning (my "nice-girl" mind was still trying to tell me I'd overreacted). And I realized he had walked very quickly toward me, down a narrow hallway, without looking at the exhibits in glass cages on either side of him. And just before he reached me, he turned around for a quick look behind him. He wanted to make sure no one else was coming. I'm trying to teach my kids to listen to their inner voice and respect its warning. What's the worst thing that could happen if we're wrong? We'll be embarrassed. But that's a small price to pay, given the alternative. So to all the women reading this: Please, please, please let's vow to trust our instincts, in situations big and small, and keep ourselves safe. They're trying to protect us!

Thanks, Sarah!



Wendy Wax's 5 Best Evers

9780425263310_p0_v2_s260x420Our guest today: Wendy Wax Why we love her: Ever since The Accidental Bestseller, we've loved Wendy and her fabulous novels!

Her latest: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey (Out April 2nd!)

The Scoop: When the concierge of The Alexander, a historic Atlanta apartment building, invites his fellow residents to join him for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey, four very different people find themselves connecting with the addictive drama, and—even more unexpectedly—with each other…

Samantha Davis married young and for the wrong reason: the security of old Atlanta money—for herself and for her orphaned brother and sister. She never expected her marriage to be complicated by love and compromised by a shattering family betrayal.

Claire Walker is now an empty nester and struggling author who left her home in the suburbs for the old world charm of The Alexander, and for a new and productive life. But she soon wonders if clinging to old dreams can be more destructive than having no dreams at all.

And then there’s Brooke MacKenzie, a woman in constant battle with her faithless ex-husband. She’s just starting to realize that it’s time to take a deep breath and come to terms with the fact that her life is not the fairy tale she thought it would be.

For Samantha, Claire, Brooke—and Edward, who arranges the weekly gatherings—it will be a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through some of life’s hardest moments—all of it reflected in the unfolding drama, comedy, and convergent lives of Downton Abbey.

Our thoughts: Even if you don't watch Downton Abbey, You'll fall in love with this book!

Giveaway: FIVE copies! (US only, please) We'll choose the winners on Sunday March 31 after 10am PST.  Good luck!

Fun fact: Wendy used to host a live radio show in the eighties called Desperate and Dateless!

Where to read more about Wendy: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


WendyPhoto1. Favorite Song: Sorry, but songs are kind of like M&Ms and Lays Potato Chips for me. I’ve never been able to eat just one, and I don’t know how to pick one favorite song. There have been different ones at different times in my life.

“Stairway to Heaven” – I danced my very first slow dance to this song with a boy I had a major crush on, and I flash back to that moment every time I hear it. I also remember it from my days starting out in radio; it was long enough to leave the control room for a potty break!

Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” because it’s all about girl power. Disco may be over, but every time I hear it I want to go find all those guys who ‘done me wrong’ and tell them off.

My current favorite is Alicia Keyes’ “This Girl is on Fire” because it’s so powerful and because it’s exactly what I write. Women finding themselves. Discovering just how strong they are. Taking charge of their lives. It doesn’t hurt that it’s the final song played at my Zumba class, which means it’s time to cool down!

2. Favorite book: I have read and loved a lot of books in my day, but I will still give Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind first place. To be honest I like the first half best—before the war decimates everything and Scarlett throws so much of her life away mooning over Ashley Wilkes who could never make her happy instead of Rhett Butler who totally could. That woman could have eaten Ashley Wilkes for breakfast!

3. Favorite Movie:  Sorry, but I’m going to have to go with Gone with the Wind again. It’s one of the few movies I’ve seen that stayed emotionally true to the book. I used to watch it once a year and still resurrect it on occasion. I fell in love with Clark Gable the first time I saw it and was crushed to discover that he’d already been dead for a really long time (and thus unavailable for dating) by then.

4. Life moment: Hmmm…this is another rough one. Happily there have been a number of them: the birth of both of our sons, the sight of my first published book on a shelf. But I think it would have to be accidentally meeting the stranger who would become my husband on the Carey Bus in New York almost thirty years ago. Partly because when my mother, who was afraid I’d never get married kept asking, “Do you think you’re just going to be walking down the street one day and meet someone you want to marry?” I was finally able to say yes! : )

5. Piece of advice:  I may have said this here before, but I still think it applies. It’s advice I’m trying to follow myself, and that is, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff!’ So much of what stresses us out and makes us unhappy on a daily basis is really small and unimportant. Unfortunately, we understand this best when the really big stuff happens.

Thanks. Wendy!

Anita Hughes' 5 Best Evers

MarketStreetToday's guest: Anita Hughes Why we love her: Her books provide the best escape--dive in, read and forget!

Her latest: Market Street (Out today!)

The scoop on it: Cassie Blake seems to lead a charmed life as the heiress to Fenton's, San Francisco's most exclusive department store. But when she discovers her husband, Aidan, a handsome UC Berkeley professor, has had an affair with a student, she flees to the comfort of her best friend Alexis's Presidio Heights mansion, where she wonders if she should give their marriage one more chance.

Whether or not she can forgive Aidan is not the only choice Cassie has to make. Cassie's mother is eager to have her oversee the opening of Fenton's new Food Emporium, which Fenton’s hopes will become San Francisco's hottest gourmet shopping destination. Cassie’s true passion has always been food, not fashion, and Cassie suspects her mother might be trying to lure her into the Fenton's fold by entrusting her with such an exciting opportunity. And then there is James, the architect designing the Emporium, who is quietly falling in love with her…

Giveaway: 2 copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, April 1 after 12pm PST.

Fun Fact: She was born in Sydney, Australia!

Where you can read more about Anita: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.



BEST BOOK:  Old Sins by Penny Vincenzi. Penny Vinenzi is a British author who writes big fat books that move so fast you open the page and you are lost. I admit to having read Old Sins three times (and all her other books) and I can't wait for her new one.

BEST MOVIE: Les Ripoux starring a young Thierry L'Hermitte. It's a French movie about two detectives and was one of Thierry L'Hermitte's early roles. I admit it wasn't the movie as much as his blue eyes and French accent. He went on to star in Le Divorce with Kate Hudson - another of my favorite movies.  I still remember Les Ripoux and I have probably written at least one  male character who bear a resemblance to the male lead!

BEST SONG: The One by Elton John. I remember listening to it, driving from Santa Cruz to San Francisco with the top down and the Pacific glistening. Every time I hear it I can see myself in that car. It was a time when I had few responsibilities and a lot of dreams.

BEST LIFE MOMENT: When you're married with children it is impossible to pick one moment, but there is a time that stands out in my head. I had just arrived at Bard College and didn't know anyone. I enrolled in a class in 20th century Women's Fiction and the first book was The Group by Mary McCarthy. I remember sitting on the grass reading The Group and suddenly not worrying if I made friends. I was reading a great book and getting to sit around a big oval table discussing it with my professor and other students. I knew I was right where I belonged!

BEST ADVICE: I think you receive advice at different times in your life that really resonates with you. The best advice I've had recently is to write the book you want to read next. I love to travel to gorgeous locations but with children in school I don't get the chance. So I set my books in beautiful settings - Laguna Beach, San Francisco, Lake Como, and it's like taking mini vacations when I write each day - I hope my readers feel the same when they read my books!

Thanks, Anita!

Ellen Sussman's 5 Best Evers

ParadiseGuestHouse_o-1Today's guest: Ellen Sussman Why we love her: She hooked us with her engrossing novel, French Lessons!

Her latest: The Paradise Guest House (Out March 26th!)

The scoop on it: A riveting and poignant novel of one woman’s journey to Bali in search of love, renewal, and a place to call home—perfect for readers of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Alex Garland’s The Beach.

It starts as a trip to paradise. Sent on assignment to Bali, Jamie, an American adventure guide, imagines spending weeks exploring the island’s lush jungles and pristine white sand beaches. Yet three days after her arrival, she is caught in Bali’s infamous nightclub bombings, which irreparably change her life and leave her with many unanswered questions.

One year later, haunted by memories, Jamie returns to Bali seeking a sense of closure. Most of all, she hopes to find Gabe, the man who saved her from the attacks. She hasn’t been able to forget his kindness—or the spark between them as he helped her heal. Checking into a cozy guest house for her stay, Jamie meets the kindly owner, who is coping with a painful past of his own, and a young boy who improbably becomes crucial to her search. Jamie has never shied away from a challenge, but a second chance with Gabe presents her with the biggest dilemma of all: whether she’s ready to open her heart.

Our thoughts: Big fans of Eat, Pray, Love, we also loved this novel about a woman searching for love.

Giveaway: 1 signed copy! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. The winner will be selected on Sunday, March 24th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: You can read an excerpt of The Paradise Guest House here.

Where you can read more about Ellen: Her website and Facebook.


Ellen_SussmanBEST SONG: Hey Jude. The Beatles. Who else? I was a crazy Beatles fan when I was a kid. I carried Paul’s photo in my wallet and told everyone he was my boyfriend. And then I grew up with them, changing my musical tastes with each of their albums. When Hey Jude came along I was knocked out by it. I played it over and over again until I had it memorized. It still plays in my mind in the middle of the night.

BEST BOOK: This is the hardest one for me. Every year I’ve got a few new best ever books. As a kid it might have been Nine Stories by JD Salinger. Let’s go with that one because it was probably the most influential. I learned so much about writing by reading those stories. And I read them many times, waiting for their secrets to be revealed.

BEST MOVIE: I’m going to cheat a bit here. My husband’s favorite movie is The Usual Suspects. He has watched it so many times that he knows every line by heart. I don’t re-watch movies – I see them once, love them and let them go. So I’ve seen Usual Suspects more than most movies (just to keep him company once in a while) and I’m wowed by it each time. Beside, I’m a little in love with Gabriel Byrne.

BEST LIFE MOMENT: My first day in Paris. Age 33, husband and baby in tow, second baby in the oven. Crazy time to move to Paris but why the hell not. I remember walking down those gorgeous streets, ogling those beautiful people, and thinking: this is my home. I live here.

And it felt like that almost every day for five years.

BEST ADVICE: Go Big or Go Home. A student of mine said that in class; I think I was the only one who had not heard the expression before. In my life I go big. In my writing I wasn’t challenging my characters to go big. So this one became my writing mantra.

Thanks, Ellen!




Jane Green's 5 Best Evers

Family_PicturesToday's guest: Jane Green Why we love her:  We've been in love with Jane since Jemima J, one of our all-time favorite books.

Her latest: Family Pictures (Out today!)

The scoop on it: New York Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed.

From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes Family Pictures, the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined.  Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school.  They're both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like.  They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected.  But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart.  As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves?

Our thoughts: Jane Green's best novel yet! 

Giveaway: 3 copies! Leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners On Sunday, March 24 after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: Jane was once our mystery author and made a special video just for us!

Where you can read more about Jane: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


BEST SONG: Go or Go Ahead by Rufus Wainwright. Somewhat obscure, I know, but this was the soundtrack to the freedom I felt after my former marriage ended. I used to drive around the Connecticut countryside in my old pick-up truck, and whenever the terror threatened to strike I'd turn Rufus up loud, and feel a soaring wave of optimism.

BEST BOOK: The ones I turn to again and again when I need to feel comforted and in the company of old friends are the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. It makes me want to live in San Francisco in the 70's and 80's, and failing that, at the very least pack everything up here and go and live in California.

BEST MOVIE: I'm not a huge movie-goer, so anything I mention is likely to be at least ten years-old. I always loved Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House with Cary Grant, and continuing along the theme of dream houses, must have watched Something's Gotta Give at least twenty times in a bid to mimic the interiors of that glorious beach house as closely as I could.

BEST LIFE MOMENT: Marrying for the second time. My first was a huge white wedding, at Claridges, filled with tons of people I barely knew and didn't care much about. My second had 19 people, six of whom were our children. This time I was marrying for all the right reasons instead of all the wrong ones, and it was a tiny, intimate, cosy wedding filled with love and warmth, and all the people we love best in the world.

BEST ADVICE: Trust your instincts. I have always prided myself on having excellent intuition, but sadly common sense or good manners too often got in the way, and I ended up ignoring those initial feelings of distrust or uncertainty, only to have myself proven right in end. One of the great gifts of growing older has been learning to trust that intuition - if someone, something, feels 'wrong', walk away, however ridiculous you think it may be.

Thanks, Jane!

Amy Hatvany's 5 Best Evers

Heart_Like_MineToday's guest: Amy Hatvany Why we love her: She's not only a wonderful author but a lovely person!

Her latest: Heart Like Mine  Out tomorrow! March 19th!

The scoop on it: Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again. But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover that there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

Our thoughts: Our favorite yet. It was also the first book we put On Our Radar!

Giveaway: 3 copies. Leave a comment and be entered to win. Winners will be selected this Sunday, March 24th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: Amy offers great tips for writers on her website.

Where you can read more about Amy: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Amy_HatvanyBest Song: This is a ridiculously hard one to pin down! Okay, outside of pretty much every single hair band song from the 80’s, I love Pink’s F***kin’ Perfect. The first time I heard the lyrics, they totally choked me up and made me think about how rough I can be on myself and how damaging that is to my psyche. The lyrics also made me think about my own daughters - we sing them at the top of our lungs in the car (swear word and all when we listen to that version – bad mom moment?) because I want so much for them to be inspired and believe deep down in their souls how very perfect they are, flaws and all.

Best Book: I thought this would be the most difficult to answer, but then I realized that it has to be Elizabeth Berg’s TALK BEFORE SLEEP. It is the book I read when I was twenty-four, stuck in a horrible, boring job, completely unsure of whether or not I had what it takes to write a novel. It is a spare and poignant story – her style spoke to my heart and I thought, “This is the kind of book I want to write.” Emotional, affecting, full of simple truths. I am proud to have a signed first edition, and it is my go-to read when I’m struggling and need to be reminded of how much I love what I do.

Best Movie: I think “Juno” is one of the most smartly-written, brilliantly-acted films I’ve seen in years. The characterizations and dialogue were just so perfect, the relationships and struggles completely authentic. I love it.

Best Life Moment: This is going to sound totally cheesy, but honestly, it was the day I married my second (and FINAL!) husband. We had a party in my mom’s backyard where we just happened to get married – it was relaxed, easy, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so right about a decision in my entire life. Our children were part of the ceremony (we had a Bouncy House!), and at the end of the day, my niece took a video recording of Stephan and I dancing and singing “I’m a Little Teapot” together  like the total goofballs we are. (I think we did it on a dare, and I’ve never laughed so hard.) He is truly my partner in every sense of the word.

Best Advice: This is one I’m likely going to have to keep re-learning for the rest of my life, but it’s so, so true: “What other people think of me is none of my business.” When I was younger, I tried to please everyone – I couldn’t stand it if a person thought poorly of me (whether it was for good reason or not) and I would do everything in my power to try and change their mind. It was exhausting…and pretty pointless.

After going through some fairly rough circumstances in my life, where there were so many people judging me and trying to tear me down that I wasn’t sure I would make it to the other side, I realized something very simple – I cannot control what other people think of me. Their perceptions, their beliefs systems are just that – THEIRS. The only thing I can control is what kind of person I am and how I choose to treat people. Their response to me is totally up to them.

Thanks, Amy!


Jamie McGuire's 5 Best Evers

Walking Disaster Final CoverOur guest today: Jamie McGuire Why we love her: She's a total rock star with an inspiring self pub to traditional publishing story.  Not to mention she's an awesome writer too!

Her latest: Walking Disaster (our April 2nd!)

The Scoop: Finally, the highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster.

Can you love someone too much? Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees. Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.

Our thoughts: Whether or not you've read Beautiful Disaster, we think you'll love this.  Makes you feel like you're in back in college. (and who doesn't want to feel 21 again?)

Giveaway: FIVE copies BEFORE you can buy them!  Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win. (Remember: our giveaways are US/Canada only).  We'll choose the winners on Sunday March 24th after 8am PST.

Fun fact: Jamie is married to a REAL cowboy and lives on 30 acres of land in Oklahoma!

Where to read more about Jamie:Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Photo credit: Trisha Johnson

Song: My dad was a member of the Nashville song writer’s association, and when I was little, he wrote a song called Jamie Dail. To hear my dad sing about how much he loves me … that is my all-time favorite song.

Book: Twilight is the only book I’ve read more than once. Even the hardback is well worn. The love story told in those pages is beautiful and simple and special, and it inspired me to write my first novel, Providence. Twilight inspired a lot of novels.

Movie: When I was in grade school, my mother was the manager of a video rental store. I used to lay on a pallet on the floor and pop in whatever VHS tape hadn’t been rented. I fell in love with scary movies during that time. Halloween, Cujo, Nightmare on Elm Street. But my favorite movie of all time has to be Aliens. I can recite almost every word of dialog in that movie. Sigourney Weaver is the baddest of all bad asses. I wanted to be Ripley when I grew up.

Life Moment: I can’t have just one. I have three children.

Piece of Advice: “Do what scares you.” I say it so often that my best friend made me a shadow box with that adage to put in my office. From sharing my stories with the public to transitioning into traditional publishing, something amazing came of my audacity.

Thanks, Jamie!

Gwendolen Gross's 5 Best Evers

WSWG_ final cover Our guest today: Gwendolen Gross Why we love her: Her writing is beautifully lyrical!

Her latest:When She Was Gone

The scoop: What happened to Linsey Hart? When the Cornell-bound teenager disappears into the steamy blue of a late-summer morning, her quiet neighborhood is left to pick apart the threads of their own lives and assumptions.

Linsey’s neighbors are just ordinary people—but even ordinary people can keep terrible secrets hidden close. There’s Linsey’s mother, Abigail, whose door-to-door searching makes her social-outcast status painfully obvious; Mr. Leonard, the quiet, retired piano teacher with insomnia, who saw Linsey leave; Reeva, the queen bee of a clique of mothers, now obsessed with a secret interest; Timmy, Linsey’s lovelorn ex-boyfriend; and George, an eleven-year-old loner who is determined to find out what happened to his missing neighbor.

As the days of Linsey’s absence tick by, dread and hope threaten to tear a community apart. This luminous new novel by the acclaimed author of The Orphan Sister explores coming of age in the shadows of a suburban life, and what is revealed when the light suddenly shines in. . . .

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday, March 17th after 10am PST.  Good luck!

Fun Fact: Gwendolen LOVES horses--read her best life moment below to learn more!

Where you can read more about Gwendolen: Her website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


gwendolen gross author photoBEST SONG: This is a complicated thing, music in general. I grew up listening to loud classical music, NPR, and the Beatles. I sat on the living room rug and mourned the fab four since I was born too late. I studied opera in college and loved it—but also loved a good U2 fest in the ‘sco.

Brandi Carlile’s “That Wasn’t Me” is a whole novel and makes me strong and weepy each playing. I’m a sucker for lyrics, I guess, but also for a hopeful melodic resolution. Folding up childhood and now, I’d say today’s favorite song is already almost an oldie, but so beloved for the lyrics and Jack Johnson’s absurdly sexy voice: “Do You Remember?” The locked bikes in the song, the piano that took up the living room—well, I met my husband in college, when we still rode bikes to class and cooked for 45 at the co-op, so I’m in love with that song every time I hear it the way I’m in love with my husband every time I see him.

BEST BOOK: This question stumps me every time, because books are like friends, and I don’t like to pick out a best. Still, here’s a best book I am considering this second: The Wife by Meg Wolitzer. Meg’s writing is so smart, funny, sly, and specific; I love all her books. But The Wife has the kind of slow-build-to-a-twist that makes me slap my thigh with delight just remembering it. She has a new one coming out soon—The Interestings. I can’t wait.

BEST MOVIE: “Singin’ In The Rain,” despite the odious apostrophe. I sing along, I dance it whenever there’s rain. So much lightness, so much joy in someone running up the walls and across the ceiling. I wanted to be in that movie. I was a short girl with a terrific voice and relatively little glamour, so Debbie Reynolds and her scarf wooed me. Funny faces and Moses Supposes—it never gets old to me.

BEST LIFE MOMENT: Many, many, especially birth of children and marriage proposal, but I’ll write about another one because I just watched the Budweiser Clydesdale commercial and it makes me ridiculously mushy:

When I was fourteen, my dad leased a horse for me for a month ($50, for you horse people out there). We didn’t have a trailer, so I rode George home from the farm to our summer house in Vermont, where I kept him in a cow barn at a neighbor’s house and rode him bareback every day. George was a huge, out of shape quarter horse, and I had to climb atop the hood of the car to get on his back. There was a lot of creative boredom in Vermont—my sisters and I read everything we could from the Greensboro library and concocted our own ginger ale (spicy! Exploding bottles!) and made face paint by grinding up rocks with other rocks. My sister was away the summer of George, and I remember one ride in particular (the visiting the neighbor’s new baby trip where he got stung by a whole swarm of bees does not rank in the best column!) where I went down the dirt road and over Barr Hill on a dirt track where we cross-country skied in winter. There was an old apple orchard where we stopped for a rest, the smell of timothy grass and banks of Shire-worthy moss, hills like green-back bears, and when George jumped over a fallen log, it felt like flying.

BEST ADVICE: Make mistakes. Having studied music—which, like many arts, has a history of perfectionist pedagogy, I know that sometimes the mistakes are the most beautiful interpretations. Sometimes they’re mistakes. Sometimes all the colors muddled together just doesn’t look good and you end up with mud, but sometimes the mistakes are where the joy lives. Also, I love being a beginner, because it gives me permission to screw up, and with permission to screw up, I’ll try jumping log to log and make it over the whole river in one breath. I seem to have lost my metaphor here, but what I mean to say is that fear of mistakes can keep you from ever leaving the ground. This works with kids, too—sometimes they have to do for the joy of doing, not because they’re always striving for best, most perfect, strongest, fastest, winning. Those things are not always the most interesting or enduring.

I hadn’t done much riding since George when my daughter decided she wanted to take lessons. Five years later, we have become crazy horse people, and we own a large pony/small horse who has dumped us in the dust because he’s afraid of a noise, or he doesn’t want to jump that crossrail, just enough times to remind us that it’s a collaborative process, flying across the earth. When I’m afraid of mistakes, he knows the minute I come to collect him in the paddock, and he is nervous, too. Confidence begets confidence, as long as there are no scary blue tarps rustling unexpectedly in the wind…

Thanks, Gwendolen!

Colette Freedman's 5 Best Evers

TheAffair_coverToday's guest: Colette Freedman Why we love her: Her writing draws you in immediately and keeps your attention until the very last page.

Her latest: The Affair

The scoop on it: Playwright Freedman presents a realistic and deft tale of infidelity, miscommunication, and conflicting emotions in her structurally compelling debut novel. She relates the same story from the perspective of the wife, the husband, and the mistress, respectively, to reveal each party’s gaps in understanding. Robert Walker is torn between two women; he has been with his wife—and business partner—Kathy for 18 years, and though he loves her, he feels as if they’ve grown distant and disengaged. Meanwhile, his vibrant, exciting mistress of 18 months, Stephanie, loves him but wants more. In the days leading up to Christmas, Kathy begins to suspect the affair and, through a colleague of theirs, soon discovers that it is true. Robert had chosen to leave Kathy and marry Stephanie, but Kathy shows up at Stephanie’s house to confront her, and the women talk. When Robert appears with gifts for his mistress, the women confront him. It becomes clear that Robert and Kathy still love each other, but face a communication impasse that they must fix. In this resonant, enjoyable tale, Freedman demonstrates a keen understanding of relationships, and her formal choices enrich the narrative, allowing readers to sympathize with each character.

Our thoughts: We read this book in one day. A deeply satisfying read about love and trust.

Giveaway: 5 copies! Leave a comment to be entered to win. Winners will be selected this Sunday, March 10th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: Freedman is a former playwright with over 25 produced plays! With Jackie Collins, she co-wrote the play: Jackie Collins Hollywood lies which is gearing up for a national tour.

Where you can read more about Colette: Her website and Twitter.


Colette_Freedman_307BEST BOOK- Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. This is also about a marriage gone terribly wrong; however, it takes the premise in a completely different direction. I love Flynn's razor wit and her thriller masterfully keeps one on the edge of one's seat the entire read.

BEST MOVIE- Little Miss Sunshine. A dysfunctional family on a family road trip screams black comedy, my favorite genre. Everything from the writing to the acting to the directing came together in a singular vision which was quite fantastic. Michael Arndt is one of my favorite screenwriters (he also did Toy Story 3) and I'm excited that he's penning both the next Hunger Games film Catching Fire and the next Star Wars installment.

BEST SONG- Kelly Clarkson's Stronger. Every time I hear this song it makes me smile. It could be Kathy's theme song for The Affair.

BEST MOMENT- Spending a month at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, acting in my play Sister Cities. There is nothing better than acting in a play with five of your favorite people and feeling the laughter and applause of an appreciative audience, especially at such a prestigious festival.

BEST ADVICE- "Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself." This is a quote from Truman Capote which is essentially saying, learn the rules and then break them. Some of the greatest novels, plays and screenplays don't follow conventional rules; however, the writers clearly have a strong grasp of the rules before taking their own liberties with the material.

Thanks, Colette!

Cathy Yardley's 5 Best Evers

Temping_is_hellToday's guest: Cathy Yardley Why we love her: We've been fans since we read her non-fiction book, Will Write for Shoes.

Her latest: Temping is Hell

The scoop on it: WORST. JOB. EVER. Kate O'Hara can't wait until this temp assignment is over. The woman who hired her is a psychotic pageant queen, her coworkers are convicts-turned-clerks, and it's so boringly corporate it makes her skin crawl. Even her sexy-as-sin boss, famed billionaire Thomas Kestrel, isn't enticement enough to keep her there. Once she makes enough to pay off her bills, she's out. Or so she thinks...

WHAT THE HELL? Next thing she knows, she's accidentally signed over her soul. Literally. And she's discovered Thomas's real mission: to kill thirteen bad guys in one year, in order to get his—now his and Kate’s—souls back.

IT'S NOT JUST A JOB. IT'S A MISADVENTURE. From learning to boost the morale of some paper-pushing demons to navigating her way through blood-red tape, Kate has to work closely with her super-hot supervisor and get her flaky act together, before somebody clocks her out—permanently!

Our thoughts: Such a fun and entertaining read! A perfect book for a cold, winter day!

Giveaway: 5 e-copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 12pm PST on Sunday, March 3rd.

Where you can read more about Cathy: Her website, Twitter and Facebook.


CathyYardlyBEST SONG:  I think it’s got to be Block Rockin’ Beats, by the Chemical Brothers.  It reminds me of my club days, in a good way – and it’s now something I can rock out to with my six year old son.

BEST BOOK: Ever read the quote by Neil Gaiman, who says (I’m paraphrasing) that choosing a favorite novel is like choosing which limb you’d most like not to lose?   Still, if I’m going to say one – I’m still going to cheat! It’d be a series: specifically the Dresden Files series, by Jim Butcher.  A little bit of a slow start, but by the time he hit the fourth book, SUMMER KNIGHT, I was sunk.  Now, I rush out to buy them in hardback, muttering “My precious! My precious!” and stroking the dust jacket.  The guy is frickin’ brilliant.  He’s still unfolding a story/series arc, fourteen stories out, and you let him.  He’s still developing characters, still raising stakes, still introducing new information while keeping old characters lively.

Genius. Jim Butcher is my homeboy.  He’s also the main reason I decided to match my chick lit voice to Urban Fantasy in my latest novel, TEMPING IS HELL.

BEST MOVIE:  The Avengers.  It takes all the love I have for Joss Whedon, and mashes it up with my adoration for Marvel comics.  It’s heaven.

BEST MOMENT:  Part of me feels like I should say the birth of my son, but I’ll be honest – that was a twenty-four-hour drug addled thrill ride of doom, and while funny in retrospect, not so much “yeah, that’s my favorite! I’d do that again in a hot second!”  (As in prescribed drugs.  Wait… okay, I’m not helping my case here.)

Anyhow, my favorite life moment  would probably be when I moved to Seattle – which is funny, since it was such a tiny moment.  I was standing in the kitchen with my husband, it was midnight or so on our first night in the new house, and I just felt this moment of yes, here, I am finally home.  Like I’d spent thirty-five years to finally find out where I was supposed to be.

BEST ADVICE:  My grandmother used to always say “Don’t go to hell for a quarter.”  Apparently she meant “don’t get in trouble over something stupid” but my brother and I always took it as “if you’re going to be stupid, be epic in your stupidity.”  As a result, I have quite often found myself in some, shall we say, epic situations.  :D

Thanks, Cathy!


Allie Larkin's 5 Best Evers

41RBv6xyW4L._SL500_SS500_ Our guest today: Allie Larkin Why we love her: Her novels are a PERFECT escape after a long week.

Her latest: Why Can't I Be You

The scoop: At one time or another, everyone has wished they could be someone else. Exploring this universal longing, Allie Larkin follows up the success of her debut novel, Stay, with a moving portrait of friendship and identity.

When Jenny Shaw hears someone shout “Jessie!” across a hotel lobby, she impulsively answers. All her life, Jenny has toed the line, but something propels her to seize the opportunity to become Jessie Morgan, a woman to whom she bears an uncanny resemblance. Lonely in her own life, Jenny is embraced by Jessie’s warm circle of friends—and finds unexpected romance. But when she delves into Jessie’s past, Jenny discovers a secret that spurs her to take another leap into the unknown.

Our thoughts: We couldn't put this sparkling novel down!  Make sure to grab yourself a copy.

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose winners after Noon PST on March 3rd.

Fun Fact: Allie's beautiful dog, Argo, graced the cover on her debut novel, Stay.

Where to read more about Allie: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


STAY.AllieLarkin.Face_BEST SONG– Hannah & Gabi by The Lemonheads. Short, sweet, and simple.  An all-purpose song.  It’s had different meanings to me over the years and because of that, it’s the only song that ends up on nearly all of my project playlists. If I skip over the bar chords, I can almost play it on the guitar. Almost.

BEST BOOK– Song of the Lark by Willa Cather.  One of the books I read over and over again in high school (when I should have been reading assigned books for English class).  I re-read it as an adult and found it even more compelling. She’s my favorite author and it’s said to be her most personal work. It’s a complex (and somewhat sad) statement on artistic life and sacrifice.

BEST MOVIE – Doc Hollywood.  I adore old movies and would love to tell you that my favorite is something classic and classy like Charade or Arsenic and Old Lace, but the truth is when I’m having a cruddy day and I need to crawl in bed with ice cream and a movie, the movie is always Doc Hollywood.  It makes me feel better.

BEST LIFE MOMENT – Meeting my husband. I’d gotten roped into going to a picnic. In the course of mingling, I kept seeing the same guy over and over again.  He said “hi” and I thought immediately, ‘he’s important.’ It was a very specific thought, even though I didn’t know what it meant yet. And, of course, he turned out to be the most important.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE – Just make icing. Years ago I read a brilliant blog post (and I wish I could remember where and who wrote it). The basic gist was: why bother making cupcakes if you really just want to eat the icing. It changed my life. I try to give myself permission to think about the core of what I need or what makes me happy and cut straight to it.

Thanks, Allie!

Cari Kamm's 5 Best Evers

ForInternalUseOnly_cover_smallToday's guest: Cari Kamm Her latest: For Internal Use Only

The scoop on it: Chloe Kassidy has just been accepted into one of Manhattan's most exclusive art exhibits, Love Through Light. However, with her singular dedication to her career, she soon realizes that in sacrificing her personal life, she has never been in love. A hopeless romantic who is terrified of heartbreak, Chloe begins to enlist the help of her circle of friends to learn about love through their very different stories and experiences.

In Chloe's emotional rollercoaster to having the greatest love story ever told, she'll learn that like her photography she must use the negatives in life to develop and prove that she's a strong woman who found her way to love through light.

Inspired by the notion that women grow up with ideas of true love and destiny, For Internal Use Only approaches those ideas with a decidedly twenty-first century viewpoint. A humorous love story with an edgy and dramatic twist, For Internal Use Only is a vastly entertaining novel that gives each of us a new fairy tale to look forward to: our own.

Our thoughts: We love books with a love story! You'll be hooked immediately as you follow along with Chloe on her funny and emotional journey to understand love.

Giveaway: 2 e-copies. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 12pm PST on Sunday, February 24th.

Where you can read more about Cari: TwitterFacebook and her Website.


BEST SONG: This is a tough one. The only way for me to decide was to check my iTunes account and view my ‘top 25 most played’ list. These are my top four:

Gravity – Sara Bareilles

Cocoon – Jack Johnson

She left on a Monday – Bic Runga

By Your Side – Sade

These songs are often played on repeat for hours!

BEST BOOK: Sophie Kinsella Can you Keep a Secret? inspired me to write. Mark Nepo The book of Awakening. Nepo calls it, "a book to help people meet their days and inhabit their lives.” I’ve read this book for the past three years. Each day has a designated read. This book keeps my perspective in check. It’s definitely a life changer!

BEST MOVIE: I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies. Pretty Woman, Serendipity, When Harry Met Sally and Love Actually are on the top of that list. But, I’m going to go with Big Fish. The main theme in Big Fish is reconciliation. The film is full of color. It inspired me. It reminded me what it’s like to be a child again and to believe in fairytales. A great reminder that our imagination has endless possibilities!

Some of my favorites quotes from Big Fish:

Young Ed Bloom: Now I may not have much, but I have more determination then any man you’re ever likely to meet.

Karl: I don’t want to eat you. I just get so hungry. I’m just too big.

Young Ed Bloom: Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you’re not too big? That maybe this place is just too small?

Will Bloom: A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.

Young Ed Bloom: You don’t know me, but my name’s Edward Bloom… And I love you.

Will Bloom: [to Ed] You’re like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny combined – just as charming, and just as fake.

BEST LIFE MOMENT: Saying Yes. I moved to New York City twelve years ago and immediately connected to a special area in Central Park called Literary Walk. It’s the only straight line in the park, lined with American elm trees and decorated with statues of prominent writers such as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. I had no idea I would be a writer one day and that this landmark would mean more to me today than it did twelve years ago. It’s now a meaningful spot that I will never forget for the rest of my days. On January 27, 2013, I walked there proudly with my new novel in hand, ‘For Internal Use Only,’ and my boyfriend to take a picture with my book. I walked into the park as a proud author and walked out as his fiancé. It was a sparkling moment with all things love.

BEST ADVICE: “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

Thanks, Cari!


Jackie Collins' 5 Best Evers

Power-Trip-HB-USOur guest today: Jackie Collins Why we love her: She is sexy and SASSY!

Her latest: The Power Trip

The scoop: A luxurious yacht in the Sea of Cortez, a birthday cruise for one of the world’s most beautiful women and an invitation no one can refuse.   The Power Trip—take it if you dare.

From Hollywood icon and mega-seller Jackie Collins comes a thrilling new novel, The Power Trip, set on a state of the art luxury yacht off the coast of Cabo San Lucas.  A tropical getaway with a cast of global power-hungry elites turns sour when they find out maybe they don't control as much of the world as they thought . . .

In The Power Trip you will meet Aleksandr Kasianenko, a billionaire Russian oligarch, as he sets sail on The Bianca. You’ll meet his sexy supermodel girlfriend, whom The Bianca is named after, and five dynamic, powerful, and famous couples invited on the yacht’s maiden voyage: Hammond Patterson, a driven Senator, and his lovely but unhappy wife, Sierra; Cliff Baxter, a charming, never-married movie star, and his ex-waitress girlfriend, Lori; Taye Sherwin, a famous black UK footballer and his interior designer wife, Ashley; Luca Perez, a male Latin singing sensation with his older decadent English boyfriend, Jeromy; and Flynn, a maverick journalist with his Asian renegade female friend, Xuan.

You will also meet Russian mobster, Sergei Zukov, a man with a grudge against Aleksandr. And Sergei’s Mexican beauty queen girlfriend, Ina, whose brother, Cruz, is a master pirate with orders to hold The Bianca and its illustrious rota of guests for ransom.

Our thoughts: We can never resist Jackie's books, and The Power Trip is no exception!

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners after Noon PST on Sunday, February 17th.

Fun Fact: Want to discover Jackie's favorite recipes?  Click here!


JackieCollins_3_533x800BEST SONG: What's Going On by Marvin Gaye. What a voice! What a man!

BEST MOVIE: ARGO. A brilliant edge-of-your-seat movie.

BEST BOOK:  The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Strong, sexy and gritty.

BEST LIFE MOMENT:  The birth of my three daughters. Magical!

BEST ADVICE: If you want to be a writer stop talking about it and just do it!






Jane Porter's 5 Best Evers

TheGoodDaughter_comp.inddToday's guest: Jane Porter Why we love her:  Jane has written some of our all-time faves, including She's Gone Country & Flirting with Forty!  And we felt she was the perfect author to help us celebrate CLIND'S 4th birthday! (PS: As a part of our celebration, don't forget to enter our CONTEST to win ANY 4 books of your choice!)

Her latest: The Good Daughter (The second book in her Brennan Sisters series.) Out today! Happy pub day, Jane!

The scoop on it: Love was given to all, except herself . . . Kit Brennan has always been the most grounded of her sisters. A Catholic school English teacher for seventeen years and a constant giver, her decisions have been sound—just not very satisfying. Her fortieth birthday is right around the corner, causing Kit to consider some wilder notions, like skipping right past the love and marriage to raising a child all by herself . . .

A girls’ weekend away is just the reprieve Kit needs from school, Mr. Wrongs, and life-changing decisions. It’s there that she meets a man who’s dangerous; a man who challenges who she thought she was, or rather should be. Kit wants to indulge herself this once, but with one of her students in crisis and the weight of her family’s burdens weighing heavy on her heart, Kit isn’t sure if now is the time to let her own desires take flight . . .

Our thoughts: Loving this series! Jane has such an incredible talent for creating characters we fall in love with.

Untitled-4Giveaway: A copy of The Good Daughter and The Good Woman--both SIGNED by Jane! Plus, a $5 Starbux gift card & some yummy chocolates. Good books +caffeine +chocolate= perfection! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, February 10th after 3pm PST.

Fun fact: She also writes romance novels! She's a super star!

Where you can read more about Jane: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.




JanePorter_BEACHphoto16_1200px_300dpiMY ALL-TIME BEST, MUST DANCE-TO-IT SONG: Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry.  This is the song I must dance to.  My surfer guy does not dance, but when this song comes on, I must get down....and groovy.  I will dance with anyone I can to make sure I’m moving.  (A close second for best dance is Brick House by Commodores...).  I feel fifteen when I hear it, and in my mind I look hot when I’m shaking everything.  My kids say I’m just embarrassing myself but that’s just their opinion.

MY BESTEST FAVORITE AUTHOR is Jane Austen.  Yes, I know, I’m not original.  But  I do love comfort reads and I love Austen’s characters and stories.  My favorite re-invented Jane Austen is Georgette Heyer.  And she might not be taught as part of the classics, but she wrote a lot more books than Austen, which means I have a lot more gorgeous stories to get lost in, and sigh over, and daydream about.

MY BEST EVER TOOL TO HELP ME WRITE is a lit candle.  I like vanilla, pear, melon, and mango for writing.  I will burn the candle all day—for as long as I’m writing and it makes my office smell really good and keeps me relaxed.

MY BEST EVER ALBUM: It would probably be a toss up between U2’s Joshua Tree and Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell.  I struggle between being spiritual and evolved and corny and emotional as hell.  Usually corny and emotional wins out.  I was born with a massive soft spot on my head that’s not gone away.  Family and close friends know if you can survive my prickly exterior, I’m a total mush head....crave good, kind people who are funny, but ultimately champions of the underdog.

BEST EVER MOMENT IN REAL LIFE: It would probably be the news that I was pregnant with my first son.  All three of my kids are either IVF or ART, and have taken years of fertility treatments, shots, appointments, hope, faith , $$ and pain, and discovering I was pregnant with Jake—I was at school, in the middle of teaching my 7th grade class—just blew me away.  Learning I was pregnant with the other two was great, but then I ‘expected’ to get pregnant.  The first time was so new and experimental that I was in a fog of joy for days.

Thanks, Jane!





Polly Williams' 5 BEST EVERS

AfterwifeToday's guest: Polly Williams Why we love her: Her writing is smart and funny--the perfect combo for books, and all things really.

Her latest: Afterwife

The scoop on it: Sophie Brady is a force of nature—funny, beautiful, and devoted to all the people in her life—even in death. After a traffic accident cuts her life tragically short, Sophie finds herself attending her own funeral (on time, no less) and watching the reactions of those she holds most dear.

Sophie’s darling, gorgeous husband Ollie is heartbroken, trying to father their young son while working out how to use the washing machine. Furthermore, he’s absolutely clueless about his new status as most eligible bachelor in the neighborhood. Sophie is determined to help her husband find love again, with the right sort of woman, of course.

Luckily, she’s not the only one looking out for Ollie. Her best friend Jenny is ignoring her own pain by helping him navigate the murky waters of widower-hood. But as she grows closer to Sophie’s husband, Jenny unearths secrets that make her question how well she knew her friend, and where the line between loyalty and love ends…

Our thoughts: Hilarious. A page-turner. The best break from the mayhem of everyday life.

Giveaway: FIVE copies. Just leave a comment & be entered to win. We'll pick the winners after 3pm PST on Sunday, February 3rd.

Fun fact: Her debut bestseller was titled The Rise and Fall of the Yummy Mummy. Such a great title!

Where you can read more about Polly: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Williams - portrait high res - credit Lucy Johnstone(1)BEST SONG: Harvest Moon by Neil Young. A song that features in Afterwife - it is played at my heroine’s funeral! I’d like to go out to it too actually. Listening to Harvest Moon makes me think of a bonfire on a warm starry night, friends, wine and acoustic guitars. Heaven.

BEST MOVIE: I think it must be the soppy romantic in me but my favorite movie is A Room With a View, based on the wonderful EM Forster novel, starring Helena Bonham Carter. It’s really quite dated now but somehow it satisfies on a deep level. Everything comes right in the end. Love and passion triumph. The rightful order is restored.

BEST BOOK: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen is one of my all time favourite reads – I loved every word - although I do adore poetry too and dip in and out of it quite regularly. I particularly love the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. She had an artist’s eye, a scalpel-sharp pen.

BEST LIFE MOMENT: I think it has to be the birth of my first child. He came almost seven weeks early. It was all quite traumatic but I was so overwhelmed with relief that he was born healthy, and awe-struck that I’d created another human being, however tiny. He’s nine now and not much smaller than me but I remember his birth like it was yesterday.

BEST ADVICE: Collette’s ‘What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.’ It always reminds me to be grateful for the small things. That life itself is the gift. In other words, you’re a long time dead, honey!

Thanks, Polly!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Photo credit: Lucy Johnstone

Darien Gee's 5 BEST EVERS

AvalonToday's guest: Darien Gee Why we love her: We fell in love with her book, Friendship Bread, and plan to devour anything else she writes--ever.

Her latest: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

The scoop on it: Welcome to Avalon, Illinois, Pop. 4,243. At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, local residents scrapbook their memories and make new ones. But across town, other Avalonians are struggling to free themselves of the past: Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.

Enter Bettie Shelton, the irascible founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. But when the group receives unexpected news about their steadfast leader, they must pull together to create something truly memorable.

By turns humorous, wise, and deeply moving, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is a luminous reminder that the things we hold most dear will last a lifetime.

Our thoughts: A charming novel we couldn't put down. We simply love the way she writes!

Giveaway: FIVE copies (US only). Just leave a comment & be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 3pm PST on February 3rd.

Fun fact: You might also know Darien as Mia King, the author of more fabulous books!

Where you can read more about Darien: Facebook, Twitter , Pinterest and her website.


Darien_GeeBEST SONG: Love Song by Sara Bareilles. I loved the song the first moment I heard it, but it was the video of her listening to her song playing on the radio for the first time (you can do a search on YouTube) that really did me in. I think she’s a great songwriter and artist.

BEST BOOK: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb, which really taught me about great characters, great plot, great writing. It was a book that really spoke to readers, and it changed the way I viewed literary and commercial novels.

BEST MOVIE: Baby Boom starring Diane Keaton and written/directed by Nancy Meyer. I have a lot of respect for both of them, actress and writer. My novels, especially my Mia King work, follows in the same vein. I would follow Nancy Meyer to the ends of the earth (Something’s Gotta Give is another favorite).

BEST LIFE MOMENT: My third child was born at home. My first birth had been a Cesarean section, and there’s not a lot of respect for natural birth after a surgical birth. I’m also a chicken when it comes to pain and obviously there are no meds with a home birth. So this was a game changer for me on a lot of levels, the least of which was that I really learned to trust myself, my body and my own instincts.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE: “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” Steve Jobs. I think this is especially great advice for women, who are consummate multi-taskers. Just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should, and learning to deliberately choose where we put our time, energy and heart can make the difference between happiness and unhappiness, success and failure.

Thanks, Darien! xoxo, Liz & Lisa