Ovidia Yu's 5 Loves and a Dud

Aunty Lee's Delights book coverToday's guest: Ovidia Yu Why we love her: Love her witty writing!

Her latest: Aunty Lee's Delights (Out September 17th!)

The scoop: This delectable and witty mystery introduces Rosie "Aunty" Lee, feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and proprietor of Singapore's best-loved home-cooking restaurant

After losing her husband, Rosie Lee could have become one of Singapore's "tai tai," an idle rich lady. Instead she is building a culinary empire from her restaurant, Aunty Lee's Delights, where spicy Singaporean meals are graciously served to locals and tourists alike. But when a body is found in one of Singapore's tourist havens and one of her guests fails to show at a dinner party, Aunty Lee knows that the two events are likely connected.

The murder and disappearance throws together Aunty Lee's henpecked stepson, Mark, his social-climbing wife, Selina, a gay couple whose love is still illegal in Singapore, and an elderly Australian tourist couple whose visit may mask a deeper purpose. Investigating the murder are Police Commissioner Raja and Senior Staff Sergeant Salim, who quickly discover that Aunty Lee's sharp nose for intrigue can sniff out clues that elude law enforcers.

Wise, witty, and charming, Aunty Lee's Delights is a spicy mystery about love, friendship, and food in Singapore, where money flows freely and people of many religions and ethnicities coexist peacefully, but where tensions lurk just below the surface, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Our thoughts: We're loving mysteries lately! And Ovidia's latest is fun, funny and intriguing--leaving you guessing until the very end!

Giveaway: ONE copy. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winner on Sunday, September 15th after 3pm PST.

Where you can read more about Ovidia: Her website, TwitterFacebook


Ovidia Yu author photoLoves

1. I love hot dessert soups. Most of them are supposed to be ‘healthy’, bringing the body’s hot and cool levels back in balance, so they come with less food-guilt than cake or ice cream. One of my favourites is barley soup simmered with gingko nuts and bean curd skin. This is the taste of my childhood memories. Little girls were told it would give us beautiful complexions. I don’t know if that’s true but it can’t hurt!

2. I love Durian. If you didn’t grow up with durian culture the smell can initially be off putting. But I really love the bitter sweet taste and the soft golden custard pillows encased in slightly stretchy golden skin. In fact some people here say that a good way to test whether a foreigner really loves you is to see how willing he or she is to taste durian!

3. I love my dogs of course. Princess and Hermione were SPCA rescue dogs. When they first came to me all they wanted to do was huddle together under the table. Now they are loving company, exercise prompts and morale boosters. It’s good to know that no matter how badly the writing is going I can make two doglets blissfully happy with a little walk—and that usually clears up my head too.

4. I love reading children’s and YA books as well as cozy mysteries and chick lit. I think that’s because they are what I encountered when I first fell in love with reading. I do read other stuff too (like I try to eat from all the major food groups I read poetry and I buy Man Booker winners with good intentions and sometimes even enjoy them)

5. And I love iPad Games like Plants vs Zombies and Castle Rush. I realise admitting this probably means I’ve lost all credibility as a mature adult but I find they work as stress therapy for me. When I’m bogged down in middle-of-plot tangles it’s very relaxing to focus on the simple task of killing zombies or yetis. I think of it as Massacre Meditation.


Shoes that look great and fit perfectly in the store but turn into cramping, blister causing monsters on my feet. (I have very broad and flat feet so maybe finding shoes that look and feel great is wishful thinking). Recently a friend who knows me well got me a lovely traditional embroidered ‘nonya kebaya’ top (which I really love) and her instructions for wearing it included, ‘not with Doc Martens’!


Thanks, Ovidia!


Tracey Garvis Graves 5 Loves and a Dud

Covet by Tracey Garvis GravesOur guest today: Tracey Garvis Graves Why we love her: We LOVE her books. A LOT. (And she's really cool too!)

Her latest: Covet (Out September 17th!)

The Scoop: What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else? Chris and Claire Canton's marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he's offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire's concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can't weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop and runs into her again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they're spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire's marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn't take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she'll never cross.

Our thoughts: Whew! Hands down, one of our fave books of 2013.  An addicting narrative on love and marriage--you must read this!

Giveaway: Two copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose a winner on September 8th after Noon PST.

Fun Fact: We met Tracey at BEA last Spring and she is delightful!

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


Tracey Garvis GravesCoffee

When I come downstairs in the morning the first thing that hits me is the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. I always get the coffee pot ready the night before because I want – no I need – the coffee to be waiting for me. I have these big mugs that look like bowls with a handle, and I fill one with coffee and a big splash of vanilla soy milk. I used to dump in a packet of Splenda, but I’ve since given it up (and don’t really miss it). I received a lovely gift bag from a book club whose meeting I attended. In it was a bag of coffee called Mississippi Grogg (which is made in Dubuque, Iowa). It has hints of hazelnut, caramel, and butterscotch; it smells and tastes fantastic. I was thrilled to discover it in my local grocery store and now it’s my coffee of choice. I also have a Keurig coffee maker for those mornings when I’m in the mood for a variety (or was too lazy to get the coffee ready the night before). I might start out with a blonde roast from Starbuck’s and then switch to a mocha K-cup if I feel like mixing it up a little.

Extreme weather/change of seasons

I live in Iowa where our motto is, “If you don’t like the weather just wait a minute, it will change.” That’s exactly what I love about my home state. I would go crazy if I lived somewhere where the weather stayed the same all the time. I love a good thunderstorm and nothing excites me more than an approaching blizzard (provided my friends and family aren’t trying to drive in it). I love living in the Midwest because I also love the change of seasons (fall is my favorite). I have certain candles, recipes, and music that I gravitate toward depending on what season we’re in. Now that September is approaching, I’ll be burning cinnamon and pumpkin candles, making chicken tortilla soup, and listening to the Moody Blues and James Taylor.

Room service breakfast

Do I like it when someone else makes the breakfast and delivers it to me right in my room? Yes, yes I do. I don’t even care if they see me in my pajamas, with crazy hair. I’m invisible to room service waiters (no really, they can’t see me). No one ever makes me breakfast at home (except for Mother’s Day), so when I travel I look forward to a lovely meal delivered to me on a tray.

Cardigan sweaters

I love them and think they’re a necessary (and adorable staple) of anyone’s wardrobe. Who doesn’t want to rock the sexy librarian look now and then? I’m especially fond of longer-length cardigans (the softer the better) and I love to cuddle up in one when I’m writing. I just counted and I currently have twenty-seven cardigans hanging in my closet, which sort of makes it sound like I have a problem.

Driving alone. I’ve driven all over the state of Iowa in the last year for book signings and library presentations. I always go alone, and I don’t mind at all. I love music, so I listen to various playlists on my iPod and let my mind wander. I love to plot books when I’m in the car, and if I’m having trouble figuring out a scene I can usually solve the problem with a nice long drive. Sometimes I’m so deep in thought I miss my exit.


Male strippers/dancers. I may need to turn in my girl card because Magic Mike did absolutely nothing for me, and not even Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum could change my mind. I think the concept of watching men dance around while taking their clothes off is hilariously ridiculous, but I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to be laughing. I think the appropriate response is to scream and swoon, but unfortunately I’m incapable of it.

Thanks, Tracey!


Carolyn Turgeon's 5 Loves & a Dud

The Fairest of them All book coverToday's guest: Carolyn Turgeon Why we love her: We love that she created a fresh spin on the classic stories of Rapunzel and Snow White. What little girl didn't love fairy tales and that little girl is still very much inside of us!

Her latest: The Fairest of them All

The scoop: In this kingdom, only one fairy tale can end with happily ever after.

In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by nightfall the prince must return to his kingdom, and his betrothed.Now king, he weds his intended and the kingdom rejoices when a daughter named Snow White is born. Beyond the castle walls, Rapunzel waits in her crumbling tower, gathering news of her beloved from those who come to her seeking wisdom. She tries to mend her broken heart but her love lingers, pulsing in the magic tendrils of her hair.The king, too, is haunted by his memories, but after his queen’s mysterious death, he is finally able to follow his heart into the darkness of the forest. But can Rapunzel trade the shadows of the forest for the castle and be the innocent beauty he remembers?

Our thoughts: A new twist on a classic fairy tale? What's not to love? (Plus, we like that it's a little bit twisted too!)

Fun fact: She went on to graduate school at UCLA, where I studied medieval Italian poetry. (Who knew that was a "thing"?)

Giveaway: Two copies! Just leave a comment to be entered. We'll select the winners on Sunday, August 25th after 12 pm PST.

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


Carolyn Turgeon author photoLoves


I love everything about rain: the sound of it pattering on a sidewalk or a rooftop or a river, the raw smell of it, the feel of it on the skin, the look of it as it lowers this gauzy veil over everything. I love the massive thunderstorms that used to break everything open when I was a kid in Illinois, where we had a big covered porch that looked over the backyard and where I’d sit with my father and watch it raging down. We only lived there until I was eight, so those memories of sitting on that porch, watching the back yard through that haze of rain, sort of define my childhood for me. I love those hot, tropical mid-afternoon rains in Florida, where my grandparents lived, that last for less than half an hour and leave everything wet and sparkling. I love a chilly autumn day where you sit inside by a fire as the cold rain hammers down, shaking the leaves from the trees. I even named my first book Rain Village, after a lush, magical fantastic place where it always rains. That book isn’t about rain, though, but about a tiny misfit girl who becomes a very glamorous star on the trapeze in an old-time circus and side show. Which leads me to my deep love of…


I spent ten years working on my first novel (on and off) and did a ton of research on circuses so that I could get the details right and imagine what it might be like to be in one. I went to a bunch of circuses and read plenty of books, and I also traveled to some of the big circus towns in the U.S, including Bridgeport, Connecticut (where PT Barnum was from), Sarasota, Florida (where the Ringley Brothers settled), and Baraboo, Wisconsin, where the Ringley Brothers were from and where the Circus World Museum is now. I flew to Baraboo from Los Angeles (where I went to graduate school) and my mother flew in from Pennsylvania to meet me and that first night we heard a bunch of buzzing from across the street from our hotel and we realized that there was a huge county fair going on, complete with funnel cakes and Ferris wheel and a full-on tractor pull. How can you resist a town where county fairs are happening and that’s steeped in circus history? Anyway, I loved researching that book, and I still love the idea of the old-time circus, all that magic and razzle dazzle sweeping into town and then up and leaving a day or two later, as if it’d never been there at all.

Road trips.

There is nothing I like more than being in a car, on the highway, either with friends or by myself, with the whole road stretching out in front and something like Johnny Cash playing and everything just full of possibility. Maybe it’s from moving around so much as a kid, but I love the open road. One summer in my 20s, my sister and I took six weeks to get from New York to Los Angeles and we followed an elaborate route that took us through Dollywood and Nashville and Graceland and down to Dallas, Texas, where we’d lived after we left Illinois and where we remembered the Traildust Steakhouse as being the most magical place in the world, since there was a dance floor where we did the Cotton-Eyed Joe and a slide that swooped down into the dance floor. It was funny, seeing that place with adult eyes, how much it seemed to have shrunk.

Old movie palaces.

I went to high school and college in Pennsylvania and I was this huge film buff who constantly lamented the lack of a real at cinema in my town. When I finally moved to New York City for a brief spell after college, I gorged on movies and loved going to little art houses to see all those indies and foreign films my town never got. But then I moved to Los Angeles for graduate school, a city full of old-time movie palaces. I was dazzled by them, the velvet seats and curtains, the swooping art deco curves, the sheer glamour of all of it. Going to the movie felt like a spectacular event, and I loved that after a day of classes (I was studying Italian literature, of all things, in that surreal city) and teaching I could escape into a dark room with soft chairs and get lost in another world completely.

Scuba diving.

I didn’t grow up around the ocean and always found it sort of terrifying and full of gross things that might bite me. I was also super pale and burned easily and had body issues and so basically avoided beaches and the ocean, and being in a bathing suit generally. But then I wrote my novel Mermaid and ended up creating a mermaid blog, which led to all kinds of experiences and encounters I never could have anticipated, including me in a bathing suit and a mermaid tail participating in mermaid camp at Weeki Wachee Springs. Once I started talking to all these mermaid-loving women, I couldn’t help but want to get in the water myself. A few months after that camp, I got scuba certified. Being 50 feet under the surface of the ocean, surrounded by the most strange, colorful fish, and sharks, and eagle rays, and sea turtles—it’s all just mind-blowing, like being on another planet. Now I have a whole list of places I want to dive and magical creatures I want to encounter!


I am very opposed to parsley, celery, and green peppers, those devilish greens that sneak their way into many dishes and sabotage them completely. It’s not right.

Thanks, Carolyn!


Tina Reber's 5 Loves and a Dud

Our guest today: Tina Reber Why we love her: She's fab with a capital F!

Her latest: Love, Unscripted (out TODAY!)

The Scoop: An A-List Movie Star. . .Ryan Christensen just wanted to be an actor. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine a life where fans would chase him, paparazzi would stalk him, and Hollywood studios would want to own him. While filming in Seaport, Rhode Island, Ryan ducks into a neighborhood bar for a quick escape from legions of screaming fans . . . and finds much more than he expected. A Small-Town Girl. . .Nursing a recent heartbreak, Taryn Mitchell believes men are best kept at a safe distance. But when Ryan Christensen unexpectedly bursts through the front door of her pub, she can’t help but be drawn in by his humor, charm, and undeniable good looks. At six foot two, with dirty blond hair, blue eyes, and an incredible body, Ryan has every girl in Seaport swooning. But Taryn isn’t every other girl. A Relationship That Doesn’t Follow the Script. . . Despite her better judgment, Taryn soon finds herself falling hard for Ryan. But is their bond strong enough to survive the tabloid headlines, the relentless paparazzi, and the jealous fans who seem determined to tear them apart?

Our thoughts: We think this book is a perfect way to start 2013 out right!

Fun fact: Tina is a NYT and USA Bestselling author!

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


1. Reading.  I always frown a bit when people tell me they don’t have time to read.   I tend to follow up their responses with “why?” just to see what kind of excuses they can come up with.  I can’t imagine my day without reading something.  A good romance novel is like the word version of a drug to me.  I love being able to escape into different times, different worlds, different cities, and feel as though I’ve lived through an entirely new situation.  I’ve fallen in love hundreds of times, felt the deep emotions of hate and loss and longing, and have the craziest gang of imaginary friends.  Why live just one life if you can have the experience of trying on many?  I’d like to think I’ve improved my reality from lessons learned in fiction.

2. A quick-witted good sense of humor.   I really appreciate someone who can keep up with my level of sarcasm and finds amusement in the quirky parts because life it too short to be so serious all of the time.  If you have a dirty mind to go with it, even better.

3. The simple things.   * Seeing the amazing things my son builds out of Legos or designing the best paper airplane with his dad.  * Camping with friends.  * Watching a herd of deer walk through my backyard.  * Spending a few moments wondering what the dog is dreaming about.  * Shoes that don’t kill my feet.  * Running around in the rain.

4. Mashed potatoes and gravy.  If stranded on a deserted island with only one staple food, this would be my choice.  If I had an endless supply of sweet corn to go with it, well that would just be a bonus.  It’s my ultimate comfort food and rates higher than chocolate (which is a tight second).

5. Electronic gadgets.  I know – it’s a total contrast to my “simple things” love but once you learn to work with the electronic appendages, they do make life simpler.  My e-reader allows me to carry hundreds of books in my purse at a fraction of the weight (can you imagine toting all those books around?)  My cell phone allows me to stay in contact no matter where I am on the planet and has this totally awesome navigation feature that helps me find the local Hobby Lobby store.  I must pay homage to my laptop, which gives me the freedom to write wherever and whenever the inspiration strikes.   Oh, and I must give a shout-out to the inventors of flat screen TVs, WIFI thingamabobs, Netflix, and to Amazon for having the latest episodes of Sons of Anarchy, White Collar, and Burn Notice available at the power of a click.


Guys who wear their pants around their thighs.  Okay, I get the fact that some boys/men have straight hips and a flat butt, but seriously, I do not want to know what type and brand of underwear you are wearing today.  Pull your damn pants up, go to one of the many stores that sell pants in different sizes, and buy a pair that fit your body.  It’s not hard.  You’re already in the store.  Mosey on over to the wall of jeans.  While you’re there, find a belt, too.  Cinch that puppy up.

Thanks, Tina!  xoxo, L&L

Eve Marie Mont's 5 Loves and a Dud

Today's guest: Eve  Marie Mont Why we love her: She mixes it up. She can write women's fiction and YA.

Her latest: A Breath of Eyre her debut YA novel. (Out today! Happy publication day, Eve!)

The scoop: Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre

Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…

Our thoughts: We love us some solid YA!

Fun Fact: A Breath of Eyre is the first in a series of three books.

Book trailer: A Breath of Eyre

Giveaway: Three copies! Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win! We'll randomly select the winners after 6PM PST on Sunday, April 1.


1. Doctor Who I will admit this up front: I am a Doctor Who neophyte. I have not watched the series from its inception, I don’t have strong feelings about whether Tom Baker or David Tennant made the best Doctor, and I don’t really even understand the concept of a time lord. All I know is that last spring, my husband and I discovered Season 5 on Netflix Instant, and we have loved every bizarre and frenetic minute of it. The show is sort of like Blackadder meets Star Trek, with a healthy dose of The X-Files mixed in. Matt Smith’s Doctor is refreshingly naïve, boyish and charming, and best of all, infectiously optimistic. Amy Pond, his fiery redhead sidekick, is tough talking and smart, although I’m annoyed with her penchant for running all over time and space in very short skirts. Nerd that I am, I bought my husband a desktop TARDIS for Christmas last year.

2. Angsty teen television from the 90’s I have recently discovered that when I’m going through a bout of writer’s block or am feeling generally down about life, a few hours spent with the gang from an angsty 90’s TV drama is the perfect antidote. All the conventions of YA storytelling existed even in this pre-Twilight era: absentee parents, love triangles, emo dialogue. My favorites are My So-Called Life (which captures my actual teen years the best), Dawson’s Creek (I’ll never forget the episode when Joey sings ‘On My Own’ for the Miss Windjammer Pageant and Dawson finally sees her as more than ‘the girl next door’), and Felicity (am I the only one who wanted Felicity to end up with Noel instead of Ben???). I realize these shows are a guilty pleasure best consumed in small doses, but for a cynical Generation X-er like me, they’re like hot buttered toffee for the soul.

3. Rhode Island For some reason, I’ve always felt my heart belonged in Rhode Island. I know it may sound strange to love the tiniest state in the nation sandwiched between tony Connecticut and progressive Massachusetts, but there’s something special and timeless about Rhode Island with its down-to-earth fishing towns and rugged coastline. My favorite places aren’t the most bustling or commercial (like Newport or Providence), but the ones off the beaten track (like Tiverton, Jamestown, and Little Compton), the towns with quaint marinas, seafood shacks, and homey pubs where they serve clam strips with Narragansett beer or a Dark and Stormy. Nothing would make me happier than to move to a cottage on the Rhode Island coast and write books at a desk overlooking the sea.

4. Shelter dogs Anyone who read my women’s fiction novel, Free to a Good Home, will know I’m a sucker for shelter dogs. If I had a bigger house and yard, I’d be in trouble because I’d probably adopt one a year and become crazy hoarder dog lady. Maggie, my fifteen-year-old Jack Russell-boxer mix, is probably my best friend in the world. Nothing beats coming home from a long day of work and being greeted by her big soulful eyes and her wagging tail, even though arthritis has made it increasingly difficult for her to stand on her own. I know I will always own dogs, and I will always adopt them from shelters because it saves lives in two ways: 1) by rescuing a dog from being euthanized; and 2) by not supporting the puppy mills, which emphasize profit over animal welfare.

5. Men with manners Call me old-fashioned, but I love me a polite, well-mannered gentleman. That’s not to say he can’t be masculine or rugged or passionate, too. But it’s the guys who are chivalrous and respectful who really get my heart racing. Maybe this is why I love the heroes of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, or almost any character played by Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper. This is one of the reasons I married my husband, a southern gentleman who became a northern transplant but never lost his gracious manners and gallant charm.


Cell phone etiquette Yes, I know this topic might seem a little outdated, but the increasing lack of cell phone etiquette continues to confound me. As with any new technology, there is always a lag during which people must adapt to the new advance and learn to deal with the ramifications of its use. But here we are about seven years into the cell phone age, and our etiquette seems to be getting worse instead of better. Friends check their phones for incoming texts multiple times while they’re in the middle of a conversation with you. Students communicate during class by texting inside their hoody pockets. People whip out their phones in bathrooms and elevators with the intensity of smokers jonesing for a cigarette. And I will never understand why people at a coffee shop seem to prefer sitting alone looking at a digital screen rather than engaging with the person next to them. I know I may be a bit of a Luddite, but I’m hoping for a massive technological crash that will send us back a few generations to that quaint era when “quality time” meant talking to an actual human being. Boy, do I sound old and crotchety!

To find out more about the fabulous Eve Mont, follow her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her website.

Thanks, Eve! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa

Lauren Baratz-Logsted's 5 Loves and a Dud

The inner teenage in us jumps with joy for good YA.  Especially Liz-she's the biggest YA whore this side of the Mississippi. Maybe it's all those Sweet Valley High's she devoured in middle school or all the Judy Blume novels she read over and over.  Either way, she's a sucker for YA! So we're excited to have the lovely Lauren Baratz-Logsted sharing her 5 Loves and a Dud.  And don't worry, if YA isn't your bag, she writes adult fiction too!  In fact, her latest, The Bro-Magnet sounds really fabulous! But today we're highlighting Little Women And Me.

Here's the dealio on Little Women and Me: Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister. So when she gets an assignment to describe what she'd change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can't change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!) But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the 1860s world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won't be easy. And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily-not the four March sisters-who undergoes the most surprising change of all.

Sound good? Then leave a comment yo!  We have FIVE copies to give away.  We'll choose the winners on February 19th after 6pm PST. Good luck!




1. General Hospital. I've watched on and off for 33 years. It's my daily break from writing and I still get caught up in the storylines, no matter how insane. It was just revealed that Johnny's dead sister Claudia was really his mother...even though the actress who played Claudia is only four years older than the actor who plays Johnny - how crazy is that???

2. Adele. As I'm writing this, the Grammy Awards were just given out the night before with Adele winning all six awards she was nominated for. Not only is she an amazing singer, but her very existence and success are proof positive that a woman doesn't have to diet her way down to waif status or do anything but just sing brilliantly to succeed.

3. Toenail polish. Yes, to some that might sound like a minor thing. But for someone like me who wears almost no makeup - except for eyebrow pencil so I'll actually have eyebrows and lipstick in winter so I don't look like the possessed girl from The Exorcist - having pretty toenails is a very big deal. Right now they're sparkly.

4. My cat, Yoyo. I've had seven other cats before Yoyo over the course of my life, and I've never seen a cat do the things he does. Just to give two examples out of many, one time, when he couldn't get to his litter box because someone had closed the door to that room, we caught him straddling the toilet because he didn't want to leave a mess on the floor. The other thing is that no matter how long my daughter might hold on to him and no matter how awkward the position, he never bites or scratches or tries to get away from her, even when the expression on his face is one of "Seriously? Oh, the indignities!"

5. Reading. Need I tell you why?


Elitists. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's good. But by the same token, just because something is popular it doesn't mean it's automatically bad either. And it just makes me crazy when I come across someone who is across-the-board against everything - be it books, TV, film, or music - that's popular. It always seems to me like people like that doth protest too much. And then it makes me want to say, "Insecure much?" And then that makes me want to say, "Fine. You just sit there with your Dom Perignon and your sushi and your PBS documentary on the history of the doorknob. I'll just stay right here with Yoyo on my lap, eating Cheetos and watching GH."

Thanks Lauren! xoxo, L&L

To learn more about Lauren, head on over to her website or find her on Twitter.

Catherine McKenzie's 5 Loves and a Dud

We don't know about you, but the two or three paragraphs on the back of a book make it or break it for us.  Liz, the ultimate skimmer, makes a decision in about 1.3 seconds whether she wants to commit to 250+pages. So we she read the back cover on Spin by Catherine McKenzie, she knew she was IN!  It sucked her in right away-and she was thrilled to discover that the inside of the book did the same! And that's why we are singing from the rooftops because Catherine has agreed to share her 5 Loves and a Dud on CLIND. Bottom line? SPIN is a fun romp that we think you won't be able to put down.

The scoop on SPIN:When Kate Sandford lands an interview at her favorite music magazine, The Line, it's the chance of a lifetime. So Kate goes out to celebrate—and shows up still drunk to the interview the next morning. It's no surprise that she doesn't get the job, but her performance has convinced the editors that she'd be perfect for an undercover assignment for their gossip rag. All Kate has to do is follow "It Girl" Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop—and complete the thirty-day program—they'll reconsider her for the position at The Line. Kate takes the assignment, but when real friendships start to develop, she has to decide if what she has to gain is worth the price she'll have to pay.

Okay, so see what we mean?  Doesn't it sound FAB?  Then leave your comment ladies!  Because we have FIVE copies to give away and will be choosing the winners after 6pm PST on February 12th.  Good luck!



1. Montreal – the city where I grew up and still live holds a special place in my heart. The locals say that we have two seasons: Winter and Construction. While it’s true that we’re famous for our extensive summer-long construction projects (think Boston’s Big Dig, but everywhere), Montreal is lovely at any time of year. Well, except November. Anyway, one of the great things about Montreal is the food: from Chinese to Thai to Italian to Lebanese to just about anything you can think of, Montreal does it well, cheaply and all over the city. Even most New Yorkers I’ve met who’ve been here will admit that it rivals NYC on the restaurant front. And though they might not admit that our bagels are better, they are. Trust me.

2. Jackson Hole, Wyoming – one of my other favorite places on earth, I’ve had the great fortune to be in Jackson in both summer and winter. Summer means insanely blue skies, views that will take your breath away, and visits to Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Bears and bison amble by on the roads just outside of town, and there are some truly excellent restaurants. Winter, of course, means skiing, not only at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (which is awesome), but in the backcountry and on the local hill, Snow King (one of the steepest hills I’ve ever skied). The screensaver on my phone is a shot I took from there last summer. I sent it to my editor. Her response: That’s so beautiful it doesn’t even look real. If you have the chance to get there, go. And if you’re a writer, the Jackson Hole Writers’ Conference that takes place every year at the end of June is an excellent experience.

3. Food – I’m sorry but you know those people who say: I was so busy that I forgot to eat? I don’t understand those people. I never forget to eat. In fact, I’m usually thinking about what I’m going to eat next about two hours after I finish my last meal. A particular favorite of mine is pasta; I could eat it every day and often do. This might make some of you hate me, but I make up for all that eating with number 4.

4. Running – It’s probably no exaggeration to say that if I wasn’t able to run on a regular basis I might be completely crazy by now. Assuming, of course, that I’m not already, actually, crazy. There are two great places to run in Montreal: on Mont Royal, where running uphill gets rewarded with a beautiful view of the city, and on the canal where you can run all the way to the old city or out into the suburbs. Running helps calm my brain, lets me think out plot problems and allows me to eat all that pasta.

5. Reading – Ever since I was a child I’ve always been in search of the perfect book. The perfect book for me is one where I’m so absorbed in what I’m reading that if you talk to me, I don’t hear you. It’s harder to get there as an adult, but some books that have taken me there in the last couple of years include: Andre Agassi’s Open, Jessica Z. by Shawn Klomparens, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Innocent by Scott Turow and Moneyball by Michael Lewis. I read eclectically, but good writing is good writing.


People who do not seem to have flown since 9/11 – Admit it, you’ve all been stuck behind this person in the security line. They don’t know that they have to take off their shoes, so they’re wearing the most complicated shoes to take off possible. They are angry and confused when they have to give up their nail clippers, water bottles, shampoo etc. (Dude, these are small $ items. Is all that anger really worth it?) Their clothing is full of metal, or they’re wearing every piece of jewelry that was every given to them. These people should all be sentenced to watch Up in the Air (an excellent movie), and follow George Clooney’s example. Please people, for the rest of us?

Thanks Catherine! xoxo, L&L

To read more about Catherine, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Amy Hatvany's 5 Loves and a Dud

We have three words for you. Outside. The. Lines. Amy Hatvany's latest novel. To give you an idea of just how good it is--it's already in its second print and was selected by Target as the February book pick! Amy is blowin' up! Outside the Lines is available TODAY and we're thrilled to celebrate the release with Amy.

So what is Outside the Lines about?

When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life. Twenty years later, Eden runs a successful catering company and dreams of opening a restaurant. Since childhood, she has heard from her father only rarely, just enough to know that he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately there has been no word at all. After a series of failed romantic relationships and a health scare from her mother, Eden decides it’s time to find her father, to forgive him at last, and move forward with her own life. Her search takes her to a downtown Seattle homeless shelter, and to Jack Baker, its handsome and charming director. Jack convinces Eden to volunteer her skills as a professional chef with the shelter. In return, he helps her in her quest. As the connection between Eden and Jack grows stronger, and their investigation brings them closer to David, Eden must come to terms with her true emotions, the secrets her mother has kept from her, and the painful question of whether her father, after all these years, even wants to be found.


And now, without further adieu, heeeeere's Amy Hatvany sharin' her 5 Loves and a Dud!

LOVES 1. The Body Shop’s Satsuma products: I’m telling you, this is the BEST fragrance - almost as good as the fruit itself! I’m always packin’ in my purse - I have the body butter, body scrub, shower gel, and perfume oil. I cannot get enough of it!

2. The Food Network: Seriously, this channel is like crack for me. My husband is a military channel fanatic and gives me a hard time when I’m watching my Barefoot Contessa and Drive-ins, Diners, and Dives, but I tell him food porn is way better than war porn. Am I right?!?

3. My girlfriends: I have one of the best groups of down-and-dirty, tell-it-like-it-is, don’t-take-no-crap-off-me women. Quite simply, they keep me sane, and I could not live without them.

4. Social Networking: Before BEST KEPT SECRET and OUTSIDE THE LINES, I had two books published almost a decade ago, before the dawn of social media, and I cannot tell you how different the experience has been this time around. What a glorious thing to connect not only with other writers, but the beautiful, funny, supportive, amazing readers out there! It sometimes makes me want to weep with gratitude. (Yep, total sap.)

5. My kids: Maybe that’s an easy one, but honestly, I am so in love with them right now! At 12 and 10 they are full of such funny - sometimes even brilliant - bits of perception and wisdom. I adore seeing shades of the grownups they will be mixed in with the babies I cradled. I’m bracing myself for the teen years (yikes!), but until then, enjoying every moment!

DUD Kardashian-mania: Ugh. I can’t tell you how much this overexposed family gets under my skin. I’m a huge reality TV fan, too! Love my Housewives, Top Chef, and the Bachelor - but these people just make me feel like I need to take a shower.

To get your hot little hands on a copy of Amy's book, click here. To find out more about Amy, head over to her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks, Amy! xoxo,


Alyssa Goodnight's 5 Loves and a Dud

We love a good love story y'all.  Well, make that a sassy love story. And with Valentine's Day around the corner, we'd thought we give you a little sweet treat to sink your teeth into. No, not those truffles, a really great book! We think you'll adore Alyssa Goodnight and her lovely novel, Austentatious.  It's fun, it's sassy.  And it has a MAGICAL journal.  What more do you freakin' need?!  It drops TODAY so run on over to get your copy.

Here's the scoop on Austentatious: It started innocently enough. While browsing in one of Austin's funky little shops, Nicola James is intrigued by a blank vintage journal she finds hidden among a set of Jane Austen novels. Even though Nic is a straight-laced engineer, she's still a sucker for anything Austen-esque. But her enthusiasm quickly turns to disbelief once she starts writing in the journal—because somehow, it's writing her back. . .

Miss Nicola James will be sensible and indulge in a little romance. Those twelve tiny words hit Nic like a thunderbolt, as if her diary was channeling Austen herself! Itching for a bit of excitement, Nic decides to follow her "Fairy Jane's" advice. The result: a red-hot romance with a sexy Scottish musician who charms his way into Nic's heart in about five seconds flat.

Sean MacInnes is warm, funny, and happens to think Nic is the most desirable woman he's ever met. But a guy like Sean doesn't exactly fit into her Life Plan. With no one but Fairy Jane to guide her, Nic must choose between the life she thought she wanted—and the kind of happy ending she never saw coming...

Sound fab?  Then leave a comment, yo! We have FIVE copies to give away.  We'll choose the winners on Monday February 6th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!



1. SWIMMING.  It's possible my love of swimming can be traced back to my childhood.  But not in the way you would assume.  As a kid I rarely visited the neighborhood pool.  My brother and sister and I used to hole up in our rooms and whisper about the possibility that maybe, just maybe, today was the day our mom would take us to the pool.  It didn't happen often, but when it did, my day was totally made!  I loved the cerulean blue of the pool water lapping in all its tiny waves against the sides.  I loved gulping in deep breaths of air and dipping under the water to peek at another world.  You could disappear underwater, sneak up on people, go exploring, and then float back to the surface to start all over again, and I loved every minute of it.  Every summer it's exactly the same: my first glimpse of the pool, that color, those waves, the mysteries that lie beneath.  I can't wait to dip my head below the surface and just swim.

2. CHIPS & SALSA.  Sheer genius.  Crispy, salty, fried corn tortilla chips and zesty, spicy, fresh-flavored salsa--a match made in heaven!  If the chips weren't so darned high in fat, this would be the perfect snack.  Honestly, I could probably even make a meal out of this delicious combination.  I think the presence of chips and salsa on the table in Mexican restaurants makes a meal more fun, more festive, and way more relaxed.  Once you've shared chips, dribbled salsa, and witnessed each others awkward chip/mouth manuevers, you're friends.

3. DR. PEPPER.  Dr. Pepper feels just a little bit magical.  The can itself is marked with the information that the sofa is an 'Authentic Blend of 23 Flavors.'  23??  I can't even imagine hitting on something delicious after messing around with twenty-three different flavors.  But they did it (way back in 1885), and it's done.  No other soft drink holds the same appeal for me.  I'll drink Coke, and it's fine, refreshing, but it's not special like Dr. Pepper.  I tried giving it up--those 150 empty calories and 40g of carbs (I have a can right in front of me--these stats aren't memorized, although they probably should be), but I couldn't do it.  Dr. Pepper is my writing companion.  Almost every afternoon I sit down with one and escape to another world...

4. JANE AUSTEN.  A love that many of us share.  I read Pride & Prejudice in high school and loved it.  I read it again in college and loved it some more.  But it wasn't until years later that I gobbled down her other five novels (not to mention a good number of spin-offs and retellings) that I came to truly adore her.  I love that her novels elevate everyday life, the focus of which is romance, to literature.  I adore her narrative voice, adding snark and humor and wisdom beyond the stories themselves.  Despite her limited circumstances and experiences, she understood the world so well that modern day retellings remain fresh, and quotes from her novels, journals, and letters are relevant today.  She is inspirational, and given the option to invite anyone in history to dinner, I just might choose her.

5. USA NETWORK.  Much like Greek mythology's Athena, popping fully formed (and armed) from Zeus's brain, the USA Network seems to have done the same (although I'm not sure which brains are responsible).  All of sudden, the USA Network began producing programming that was fun, fresh, and different.  I was totally on board with a pretend psychic detective and his kooky sidekick.  I was intriged by a burned spy and his brand of vigilante justice.  And I admit to having crushes on a certain White Collar criminal and a blind CIA analyst.  I love the USA Network...for creative programming (I regularly watch Psych, Burn Notice, White Collar, Covert Affairs, and In Plain Sight), for embracing the sidekick, for infusing every show with humor, and for loveable characters.  If you're not watching, you're missing out!


Inefficency.  I fight (I think valiantly) against it everyday in my own life, and it irks me to be thrown into situations that positively teem with inefficiency.  I want to step behind the counter at the local movie theater and reorganize their whole strategy.  It shouldn't take 20 minutes to get a popcorn and a soda if the line is only eight or ten people long and everyone in it pretty much wants just wants a popcorn and soda.

Thanks Alyssa!  xoxo, L&L

To read more about Alyssa, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.


Get Married This Year

With a title like Get Married This Year: 365 Days to "I Do", it's no wonder that Dr. Janet Blair Page's book is a hit. We were more than curious to dive in and see what advice she had for how to find "The One"- easily one of the top questions any single girl has asked herself- a question we DEFINITELY asked ourselves for years before finally walking down the aisle. From designing the ultimate Spouse Shopping List to getting the right guy to commit, she offers a blue print on how to find love in 12 months or less. Here's more about Get Married This Year: Your To-Do List This Year:

Today: Get to know yourself.
 Next Month: Figure out what you really want from your man.
 Month 3: Learn how to get out of your own way. 
Month 6: Take the field and find the right guy.
 Month 10: Make the big decision.
 Month 12: Get married!

Does it work? We'll let you be the judge! We've got 5 copies (US only) to give away. Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners on after 6 P.M. PST on Sunday, January 29.

So what does this author of how to find love, well, love? We asked...


LOVES 1. My fiancé -- my biggest treat is enjoying loving him with the comfortable knowledge that he is imminently capable of staying in love with me forever. Appreciating him and letting him know it is great for our relationship. It's also a really great feel good boost for me that has fantastic spill over into the other areas of my life. My family, friends, and clients benefit from the warmth of my having someone in my life who makes it so wonderfully easy to practice daily appreciation.

2. My daughters and son-in-laws -- spending time with them is a joy and I know I'm very lucky that everyone is so comfortable and anyone can be with anyone else when we're together without any edges. I was conscious of keeping fun in the family when they were growing up as a good lure for the rest of our lives. They choose mates that enhanced our family so all is made easy.

3. My goddaughters, friends, brother, sister-in-law, and mother -- give me fuel whenever I am with them. As a shy pre-teen who forced her way into being expressive and social, I've never gotten over gratitude for the pleasure being with people brings me. I am an extrovert convert. I have tried writing with no people breaks or forcing myself to get all tasks done without playtime but I just get miserable, less creative and start spiraling down into feeling like dull stuff.

4. Working in a fulfilling career -- I can't retire . . . ever. Last year I was hemmed in during a sudden Atlanta snowstorm and it was a shocker because I didn't have a clue about what I did with the three days. It just seemed to evaporate. I think of plenty to do if I am already doing something and I can't imagine any more interesting or satisfying base than my practice, writing, and speaking. 5. Physical activity -- I only excel at consistency in the area of sports and exercise but if it's hiking, biking, walking, tennis, yoga, or weights, I love the feeling of my blood circulating. Whether that's a primal or peculiar high, I don't care: it works for me. Any day with some exercise even if it is walking up multiple flights of stairs is a better day.


My dud is my own attitude -- I'm capable of being bleak and if even though it is for short snatches, it feels too long and completely unnecessary. My goal this year is to eliminate worry. Cautionary tactics are a good thing but my irritating times of thinking things won't work out will be countered with the aim of spending 100% my time believing they will. How's that for a New Year's resolution?

To find out more about Janet Page Blair, PhD, visit her website.

Thanks, Janet!



Kate Rockland's 5 Loves and a Dud

Weight.  We're a country obsessed with it.  We have magazine cover devoted to it.  Some of us (Liz!) talk about it constantly. So when we saw that Kate Rockland's next novel was titled 150 Pounds, well, we knew we had to get our hands on it ASAP! We're thrilled that Kate's returning to the site today(we crowned her as our VERY FIRST Lit IT Girl last year!) to share her 5 Loves a Dud.  We think you'll find them as hilarious and insightful as her novels, even if now we're a bit scared to visit New Jersey. (um, total California girls over here!) Regardless, we think you'll love her latest, 150 Pounds.  It's fabulous and fun-it's a must read for all you weight obsessers (don't deny-we know you do it too!).

Here's the scoopage on 150 Pounds: In the fast paced life of blogging, two women stand out: Alexis Allbright, of Skinny Chick, and Shoshana Weiner, who writes Fat and Fabulous. Both have over five million loyal readers. Both are hungry for success. But the similarities stop there.

With over 100 pounds on the scale separating them, weight isn't their only difference. Alexis is a loner who is so bitchy the only person who can stand her company is her gay best friend Billy. She gives neurotic New Yorkers a run for their money with her strict daily workout routine, and weighing of food. Shoshana is Alexis’s opposite. Living in Jersey with rowdy roommates, she is someone who “collects friends,” as her mother puts it; and treasures a life of expanding circles...and waistlines.

When both appear as panelists on a popular talk show, their lives intersect in ways neither could have imagined. In turns comedic, heartwarming—and familiar to any woman who's ever stepped on a scale—Alexis and Shoshana realize they have far more in common than either could have possibly imagined, and more importantly, something to offer.

Sound fun? Then leave a comment and you'll be entered on of FIVE copies.  We'll choose the winner after 6pm PST on Sunday January 22nd.  Good Luck!


1. Other People’s Weddings I know everyone likes to complain about having to book hotel rooms, buy silver bridesmaid shoes, or stop eating their lobster to stand up when a couple gets announced as husband and wife for the first time. Me? I frickin’ love weddings. From the moment I get the invitation in the mail and affix it to my fridge, to stumbling back to my room buzzed off the free champagne, I have had a ball at every wedding I’ve ever been lucky enough to be invited to. I love noting which traditions the bride and groom included or discarded, love embarrassing speeches by fathers when they tear up, love the surprise of which appetizers and entrees a couple chose when they’re placed before me, and I especially love the moment the bride enters the room, chapel, church, synagogue, or beach to walk down the aisle and everyone sucks in their breath at how beautiful she looks. As you can imagine, I started planning my own wedding the minute I met my husband. My friend Marissa used to joke she was afraid to open my bedroom closet, lest six wedding dresses fall out.

2. Coffee Some people have a morning exercise routine. I have a morning coffee routine. From the minute I wake up, I start looking forward to my medium hazelnut, extra cream, and two sugars. I go to a local café four blocks from my apartment. I know the owner, and we usually chat for a few minutes each day. This gives me hope, that should I ever die and my husband doesn’t notice, this store owner will call the police and not let my cat eat my face off. I don’t mind standing in line, as I usually do a heaping dose of people-watching. I like imagining what profession everyone is in, where they’re running off to. I try and spy on people working on their laptops, to see what they’re typing. I like the sacks of beans that decorate the store, and the funny names of the beans like “Obama blend.” That first sip is heaven.

3. Cranky Northern New Jerseyans and New Yorkers  I lived in Colorado once and didn’t trust anyone I met. They were too earnest, too helpful, too laid-back. After two years I hastily packed my bags and moved home to the East Coast. I’m from Northern New Jersey, right across the river from Manhattan. People here tell it like it is. If you’re acting like an asshole, people will tell you. If you leave your car double-parked too long on the street, someone will smash in your window. That’s just the way it is. I don’t trust friendly people, and when I travel, I miss loud Jersey women who can make you laugh in five minutes. I like it that if someone falls on the sidewalk in Manhattan, no one helps them up. I mean really, get better walking shoes. I keep thinking my husband and I have to move to the suburbs, but I’m terrified of someone breaking into our house. My family thinks I’m crazy; aren’t I scared to live in a city? I’m not. I like that there’s always someone standing outside their building smoking, or walking down the street in front of me. No one’s ever bothered me in the city. I don’t trust the rest of the country. I feel like there’s never been a serial killer from New Jersey.

4. The Smell of My Son After a Bath Because one of my son’s favorite pastimes is smushing avocado into his ears, digging in the dirt with his fingers, or sticking banana up his nose, by the end of the day the kid needs a bath. I don’t so much enjoy the act of giving him a bath, as it’s physically draining to lift him in and out of the tub, fill it with fancy California Baby soap, stick in all his colorful bath toys, undress him, and lay out his bath towel. However, the end result is divine; the day gets washed away, and all the minor stresses I’ve had melt when I kneel down and make sure he has no toe lint between his toes from his socks. I love how his hair gets a tiny curl to it after a bath, and how his skin shines like pearls, the avocado gets removed from his ears, and his skin smells simply divine. I like that even though I don’t always get it right when it comes to mommyhood, I can give my son this small gift of a bath every night, and send him off to sleep clean and happy.

5. Reading a Murder Mystery Some of my favorite mystery writers, P.D. James, Elizabeth George, and Ngaio Marsh my mom got me into from high school on. I love nothing more then settling down into bed and scaring the bejezus out of myself. I know it’s a genre I could never write, and that fascinates me. To be a mystery writer one has to know not only how to solve puzzles, but how to come up with the original puzzle in the first place, one that hasn’t been penned already by another author. Figuring out plot extends to other pop culture loves I have, like watching The Closer or seeing a really good film with a winding plot. I like characters that might not be who they seem. When I was younger, there were times I needed to know who the murderer was so badly I’d cut class and sit on the toilet in the ladies’ room, hastily speed-reading through the pages. My husband teases me because I sometimes will scan the last page of a mystery novel to make sure I’m on the right track as to who the killer is, and then I’m bummed out when I’m right. I’m getting better at resisting this urge.


Couples Buying Homes on HGTV’s “House Hunters” I’m addicted to HGTV’s show “House Hunters.” Mainly, because I can’t afford to buy a house. It’s also why I read fashion magazines, and consider whether the $1200 Marc Jacobs sweater would look good with my skin tone: It’s a fantasy. However, the couples who agree to be filmed as they buy their dream home really piss me off. They seem to have no concept what “small” is, to start. I have been living in a 650 square foot-apartment with two other people and a shy cat for six years. We have closets narrower then my body if I stand with my back to them, which are so jam packed there is one in the living room that no longer opens. Nothing makes me angrier then when I watch a couple stroll into a four-bedroom house in Texas and state that the walk-in closet off the master bedroom is “too small.” Girl, that closet is the size of my entire apartment. How much space do Americans think they need? Someday I’ll move into a house and it’s going to feel like a castle, no matter what size it is. And I won’t complain about the size of my walk-in closet. At least the door will open.

Thanks Kate! xoxo, L&L

To read more about Kate, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

Cooper Lawrence's 5 Loves and a Dud

Can you guys believe it's 2012 already?  And since this may or may not be the final year of our existence according to that pesky Mayan calendar, we better make it count by reading LOTS of awesome books! We'll be switching things up a bit this year-look for lots of pop culture talk (The Bachelor, anyone?) and more shit-talking posts from us.(And we want to hear from you too!)

And of course, all the VERY best authors and giveaways.  Because that's how we roll in 2012, bitches!

We're kicking off the New Year with the fabulous Cooper Lawrence and her latest, The Yoga Club.  Cooper is our type of multi-tasker-not only does she co-host The Big Show with Scott & Todd in New York, you can also catch her on Fox's Dish Nation.  She's also written several other books.  See?  Serious Multi-tasker! And she does it well-The Yoga Club is a lot of fun-the perfect way for you to kick off 2012!

Here's the skinny on The Yoga Club: Chatting it up with bendy WASPs is the last thing on Coco Guthrie’s mind during her 8:30 a.m. yoga class. Having made her fortune as the world-renowned inventor of Butt-B-Gone derriere cream, Coco still doesn’t feel like she belongs among the upper class— until she attends the swankiest Halloween soiree in Greenwich, Connecticut, where three of her fellow morning yogis shared her brilliant idea to appear as Sarah Palin. Soon it’s clear that a love of stretching isn’t all this accidental sorority—which includes a single mom with echolalia, an entertainment reporter who charms the pants off handsome stars, and a drama-prone producer with a taste for drag— have in common.

When the four mischievous Sarahs wander away from the party to sneak a peek at the mayor’s neighboring estate, they are stunned to find him adorned in leather and latex, and rolling up a woman’s body in a Persian rug. To make matters worse, someone has spotted the spying Palins. Someone who threatens to expose their torrid affairs in business and the bedroom. Now the unlikely foursome must use all their wits and wiles to get to the bottom of the kinky crime. But will their budding friendship be strong enough to protect their deepest secrets?

Sound good?  Well then you'll be stoked to know we have FIVE copies to give away!  You know the drill-just leave a comment and we'll randomly choose the winners after 6pm PST on Monday January 9th.  Good luck!


1. Thick and thin friends.  No, no, not your friends with canckles and food issues, but the ones who go through it with you…and I mean….ALL OF IT! My closest friends are people I have known for twenty years or more who know me better than I know myself, will call me on my “stuff”, and are people I have relied on at various times in my life without question. As Marlene Dietrich said, “It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.”

2. Marconi, the inventor and the puppy. Since I have spent the bulk of my career in radio I would be remiss not to be grateful for Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor, known as the father of long distance radio transmission.  Radio is my second love, the first being my 96lb Italian Spinone puppy aptly named….you guessed it…Marconi (which is only funny if you know I’m in radio). What makes my Marconi special is that he is a pet therapy dog through the Delta Society. We visit at our local hospital on a weekly basis and its great to see him working with the patients.

3. The greatest channel on TV.  Investigation Discovery Hollywood crimes, murder and forensic investigations, oh my! When you’re relaxing on your couch and eating dinner, what’s better than watching a cold case solved by DNA of an assailant’s 30 year old semen? I can't get enough of Deadly Women, Wicked Attraction, and Solved: Extreme Forensics.  In this one episode they had to get the help of a NASA scientist…but I don’t want to ruin for you. If you don’t get the ID: Investigation Discovery channel, call your local cable provider.

4. Living in NYC. I would love to regale you with stories of the hustle and the bustle, or the museums and cocktail soirees on exotic rooftops but my real love for this city is that anything can be delivered to you at any time of the day. Groceries, burritos, laundry, furniture, shoes…you name it they’ll bring it. You don’t have to get out of your sweatpants….ever!

5. Being Single. Read the first four. Is it any shock?


WAR. No disrespect to them but I got their greatest hits for Christmas and I was really underwhelmed. “Spill The Wine” is ok once it gets to the chorus but the whole spoken word thing that leads up to it is so hacky.

Thanks so much Cooper! xoxo, L&L

To read more about Cooper, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

Sarah Jio's 5 Loves and a Dud

Happy Holidays!  We can't believe this is our final author post of 2011.  And just in case you were wondering, we saved the best for last! Loyal visitors of CLIND probably already know that we crush HARD on Sarah Jio.  We loved her debut earlier this year, The Violets of March(Lisa has it on her Best Books of 2011 list!) and we were VERY excited to get our hands on her latest, The Bungalow. (out on Tuesday, December 27th so be sure to pre-order TODAY!)  And to our delight, it was just as wonderful as we'd thought it would be. Romance with a bit of mystery and hot men in uniform equals YUM!

It's been chosen as a Pulpwood Queen book club pick, a Target “Recommended Read” and a Kroger featured title for January. And her third novel is on the way! Blackberry Winter will be published on September 27, 2012.

We think Sarah's pretty easy to crush on. Not only is she a fabulous author and so freakin' adorable, she also writes the popular health and fitness blog Vitamin G  over at Glamour.com.  C'mon, admit it, you're crushing a little bit on her too!  So you understand our excitement when she agreed to share her 5 Loves and a Dud with us. (PS, We TOTALLY agree with her dud!)

So here's the dealio on The Bungalow: In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.

Sounds delish, right?  Then you'll be thrilled to discover we have FIVE copies to give away!  Just leave a comment here and be entered to win, we'll choose the winners after Monday, December 26th at 6pm PST.


1. Nespresso. Last Christmas, my husband got me a Nespresso coffee machine, and I have to tell you, honestly, that it has changed my life. Too strong of words? Let me explain: I’m a mom to three little boys (all under the age of 5), and I am chronically sleep-deprived. A double Americano made with perfect shots of espresso is what I think about first thing in the morning when the baby wakes me up at the crack of dawn, and it’s also the thing I reach for in the afternoons when I need to get 10 pages of my next novel during naptime. My secret weapon is definitely Nespresso. And my pod of choice right now is Indriya.

2. Running. For years, I couldn’t understand why anyone in their right mind would want to run. Then, shortly after my second baby arrived, desperate for a little peace and quiet, I laced up my running shoes and went for a jog. I sputtered and panted—and I think I actually tripped and fell on my hands and knees on the sidewalk—but a funny thing happened: I kind of loved it. It wasn’t until the sixth or seventh time out that I could actually run a whole mile without stopping. Now, a few years, and one more baby, later, I run every day, usually about three miles (four if I’m feeling it). Running has proven to be the single most effective fitness tool for me (I’ve whittled myself down to, almost, my wedding-day weight) and it’s also done amazing things for my creativity in fiction. I’ve imagined new novel titles, thought up entire plot twists and turns and solved character problems while running. I always take my Blackberry with me (in a black Lululemon fanny pack—don’t judge!) so I can send myself emails when a particularly good idea strikes.

3. Jazz. There’s a little jazz station here in Seattle called 88.5 KPLU FM. This station is always on in my house. They don't play any of that modern, elevator-esqu jazz, just the real stuff—old standards and new classics, from Ella to Diana Krall. In fact, music has been a huge inspiration in my novels. The Violets of March was partially inspired by the song “The Waters of March” by the late Susanna McCorkle (a gorgeous, gorgeous song that haunts me), and my third novel, Blackberry Winter, was inspired by the song—you guessed it--Blackberry Winter by the gorgeous singer Hilary Kole. I can’t wait to tell you more about this novel—coming September 27, 2012!

4. The Ergo Baby Carrier.  I’m sort of an old fashioned mama. I like to keep my kids close, bake a lot of cookies, and be the one to kiss their owies. My boys, who are now 5, 3, and 11 months old have spent the majority of their first years snuggled up next to me in the Ergo baby carrier contraption. After putting my back out wearing the Baby Bjorn with my first baby, the Ergo (which is a lot more, you guessed it, “ergonomic”) saved my life. It’s comfy and snuggly, and I have the fondest memories of going about life with my little guys strapped to my chest in a perma-hug position. I’m getting a little sad thinking about the day (coming soon) when my youngest boy won’t fit in the Ergo anymore (sniffle, sniffle).

5. My garden. We live in Seattle, and our city backyard isn’t huge, but I’ve packed it with all kinds of plants that I love: a Japanese maple that my husband got me one Mother’s Day that turns the most stunning shade of orange; a rose bush that I transplanted from the home I grew up in just before my parents sold the house (I have never smelled a rose so fragrant); an unruly herb garden that gives me more sage, mint, oregano and chives than I can ever use; a row of lavender that attracts the most amazing hummingbirds; a fig tree that, every year without fail, produces exactly one fig (we’re thinking about having a party this summer to celebrate our lonely fig). Any vegetables I try to plant, my rascally golden retriever eats (during plum season, she snacks on two Italian plums every morning, and leaves the pits on the deck right before coming back inside.) Anyway, my garden is a source of joy, peace and inspiration to me (in fact, it’s where I first discovered the little purple wood violets that inspired The Violets of March)!

DUD Married men who don’t wear wedding rings: Sorry, but this really annoys me! If you love her, then put a ring on it!

Thanks so much Sarah! xoxo, L&L

To read more about Sarah, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Samantha Sotto's 5 Loves and a Dud

Confession:we're total title whores.  That's right-we can never resist a book with a fab title!  And thankfully for us, most of the titles that have grabbed us have also turned out to be great books. And we'll just come out and say it-Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto had us at hello.  Something about that title made us just know that it was going to be GREAT.  It was really different than anything we'd read in a while-so refreshing!  We give it two enthuiastic thumbs up- a little mystery, history and a bit of magic-an awesome combination. So you can imagine that we were super stoked when Samantha agreed to share her 5 Loves and a Dud with us.

Here's the low down on Before Ever After:Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

Sound great? Then leave a copy and you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies.  We'll choose the winners on Sunday December 18th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!


1.  Doctor Who - 950 year old Time Lord from the Gallifrey travels through time in an old fashioned blue police box, saving mankind from ultimate destruction using only his wit, charm, and a sonic screwdriver. And did I mention that the 10th incarnation of the Doctor was played by David Tennant? What’s not to like about this campy British tv series?

2. Purple Yam Ice Cream – I know, I know. Stringing these four words together sounds like a crime but believe me, this ice cream flavor tastes better than it sounds. Pinky swear.

3. Bread Pudding – Bread. Cream. Raisins. Butter. Brown Sugar. Brandy. Enough said.

4. Baby Feet – Chubby, kissable, little round toes. God’s reward for mommies. You can nibble on them all day long without getting fat.

5. Angry Birds – This is a judgment-free zone, yes?


Can I name three?

1.)  Hairy backs

2.)  Hairy backs

3.)  Hairy backs

Thanks Samantha!  xoxo, L&L

To read more about Samantha, head on over to her website or find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Talli Roland's 5 Loves and a Dud

When we're in the mood for some good ol' Chick Lit, we love nothing more than to dive into a Talli Roland novel. And her latest e-book, Build a Man is nothing short of sassy, fun and funny. Just like she is! (Her 5 Loves and a Dud are also humorous and honest- our favorite combo!) Here's the skinny on Build a Man: Slave to the rich, rude and deluded, cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland longs for the day she's a high-flying tabloid reporter. Unfortunately, every pitch she sends out disappears like her clients' liposuctioned fat, never to be seen again. Then she meets Jeremy Ritchie -- the hang-dog man determined to be Britain's Most Eligible Bachelor by making himself over from head to toe and everything in between -- giving Serenity a story no editor could resist.

With London's biggest tabloid on board and her very own column tracking Jeremy's progress from dud to dude, Serenity is determined to be a success, even going undercover to gain intimate access to Jeremy's life. But when Jeremy's surgery goes drastically wrong and Serenity is ordered to cover all the car-crash goriness, she must decide how far she really will go for her dream job

Not only is Build a Man fun, but it's also full of deeper emotion. You'll truly enjoy it! Want an e-copy? Just leave a comment and be entered to win one of five e-copies. We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm PST on Sunday, December 11.


1.  Oh wine, how I love you. There’s something about its velvety smoothness at the end of a long writing day that just soothes the soul. I’m not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination – in fact, I’ve been known to tell waiters ‘whatever is cheapest’ – but if I had to choose, I’d go with Merlot. Or, if it’s a rare hot summer’s day in London, a nice cool rosé. Cheers!

2.  Continuing on the liquid theme, I can’t imagine my life without coffee. Every morning, I toddle bleary-eyed to my espresso machine. Although my coffee is so strong the spoon practically stands up in it, I love the thick black tar-like slurry. The stronger, the better. I need to get geared up for the day ahead! The best coffee I’ve ever had is from a small shop in Borough Market called Monmouth Coffee. If that doesn’t get you going, nothing well.

3.  One of my favourite places in the world is London’s South Bank. It’s right on the River Thames and it’s the cultural centre of London, but it has a much more sentimental importance to me: it’s where I first met my husband on a blind date; where we got engaged; and where we got married. With fabulous views over Waterloo Bridge and on to Saint Paul’s, it sums up everything wonderful about my life in London.

4.  This might sound like a strange thing to love, but my favourite time of the day is snuggling into bed with a fabulous novel before going to sleep. I love pulling my comfy duvet around me and losing myself in a book, bathed in the soft glow of the bedside lamp. It’s a moment of perfect contentedness.

5.  Sticky toffee pudding has got to be on my list for sure! A moist, sponge-like base with melted toffee topping = YUM. Add a scoop of double cream or vanilla ice-cream, and I’m in food heaven. If you haven’t tried this, you really must get yourself some straight away. Once you have a taste, there’s no turning back.


There’s nothing I hate more than taking London’s subway (the Tube) on a warm summer’s day during rush hour. Why? Well, picture a closet-like space rammed with men in polyester business suits . . . men who have yet to discover the joys of deodorant. Now imagine your face just inches from one of those men’s armpits, with no room to move away. Turn the dial to thirty degrees Celsius and you have a hellish scenario even Dante couldn’t dream up!

To find out more about the talented Talli Roland, visit her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

And be sure to download a copy of Build a Man currently available for only .99!

Thanks, Talli!

xoxo, L&L

Michele Gorman's 5 Loves and a Dud

Wait...it can't be December already!  This year has flown by and we're thrilled that you've spent your valuable time with us in 2011.  Later this month we'll be revealing our top book picks for the years and giving away some great reads, don't miss it! Today we're happy to have Michele Gorman visiting with us and revealing her 5 Loves and a Dud.  Michelle is the author of Single in the City, a fun, sassy read that we think is the perfect remedy for in-law overload this holiday season (we'll be keeping a copy close by for sure!).

Here's the skinny on Single in the City: Recipe for changing your life: Take one twenty six year old American, add to one two thousand year old city, add a big dose of culture clash and stir. To think Hannah ever believed that Americans differed from Brits mainly in pronunciation, sophistication and dentistry. That’s been the understatement of a lifetime.

She lands upon England’s gentle shores with no job, no friends and no idea how she’s supposed to build the new life she’s dreaming of. How is supposed to make new friends when she has no idea about the rules of engagement? How can she win over her poisonous boss when she’s not even trusted to arrange the paperclips? And could her nationality give her an exotic edge in the dating game over Britain’s home-grown lovelies?

Armed with little more than her enthusiasm, she charges headlong into London, baffling the locals in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself.

Sound up your alley?  Then leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of two E-book copies.  We'll choose the winners on Sunday December 11th after 6pm PST.


1. Smells. I was blessed (and cursed) with my Mom’s acute sense of smell and from childhood many of my memories have been evoked by scents. While this olfactory overdrive means that taking out the rubbish is only on my to-do list under extreme duress, it also means that many smells have power. Ground coffee, freshly cut grass or chocolate chip cookies evoke lovely memories of mornings at home, Saturdays in the summertime (when Dad mowed the lawn) and Grandma Gorman (baker extraordinaire). Once, in my twenties, a woman passed me at work wearing my Mom’s signature perfume. I nearly followed her down the corridor, sniffing as I went. Luckily I didn’t, so HR didn’t need to be involved.

2. Laughing till it hurts. My friends, and boyfriend, are among the funniest people on the planet. And Living in London for almost 15 years has given me a whole new vein of humour to tap into. Brits have a way with words that often has me on the floor, and nights in with a group of friends, cooking a meal and talking about everything and nothing, is one of my favourite ways to while away the hours.

3. Hong Kong. A few years ago I took a sabbatical from work and moved to Hong Kong to research my next book. It was a case of life imitating art. Since I write about fish-out-of-water experiences I figured it was unfair to readers to try doing so if I’ve never lived in the city! My love of Hong Kong really surprised me because I hadn’t liked it the first time I visited. I’d stayed in a 5* hotel in Central then and went out to the world-class restaurants. I know I know, it sounds like hell. This Hong Kong felt just like other big modern cities, but when I moved there I saw a completely different place - the steep winding little alleys that lead to small wonders, the wet markets, dried seafood sellers and ancient-looking traditional medicine shops, noodle restaurants where men came every morning to right the wrongs of the world. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the city.

4. Glorious food. I will never be one of those women who passes up cake and ice cream, or stinky cheese or tangy bowls of pasta for the sake of my waistline! I love love love food and a Saturday spent at Borough Market in London searching out that evening’s fresh ingredients is as wonderful as indulging in those treats later.

5. The buzz of talking to book lovers. Every time a reader gets in touch to say she liked Single in the City I have to fight the urge to ask for her home address to put her on my Christmas card list. I love to talk to readers, and get excited every time I get a facebook friend request, twitter follow or email. I thought that writing was its own reward, but talking to those who read my book is even better! So please do get in touch on facebook (www.facebook.com/michele.gorman3) or Twitter or send an email (www.michelegorman.co.uk).


Shovel thumbs. I suspect this is a fairly rare dud, so let me set the scene for you. Let’s say you’re talking to a perfectly nice, funny, intelligent man, marvelling at how handsome he is. Thick, beautiful hair, piercing eyes, full lips and a stubbly jaw, tall, broad-shouldered and fit. You look at his strong hands … and notice that he’s got thumbnails where his fingernails should be. Big, flat nails covering the entire end of his thumbs. This anatomical deformity makes me wretch. No doubt there’s some psychological answer that hypnosis could uncover but that would involve my having to pay someone to visualize shovel thumbs. And I can’t imagine anything worse. So he could be the man of my dreams. Those grotesque thumbnails aren’t coming anywhere near me.

Thanks Michele!  xo, L&L

Anna Lefler's 5 Loves and a Dud

You know when you just want to laugh? Just want to have a damn good chuckle?

Just want to forget the things that stress you the eff out- even if for just a few minutes?

Well if you're in that kind of mood, you need to read the smart, sassy and deliciously saucy, THE CHICK-tionary: From A-Line to Z-Snap, the Words Every Woman Should Know by the hilarious Anna Lefler.

Eff Websters. Been there, done that. This is the dictionary we really need.

From Bat Wings to Food Porn to Skinorexia, it's a collection of 450+ words and phrases we all need to know.

And if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win one of five copies! We'll choose the winners this Sunday, December 4th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!

And read on, because Anna's 5 Loves and a Dud are just as entertaining as her book.

Anyone who says this about Vegas is our girl: I love the seizure-inducing lights, I love the watered-down drinks, I love the deeply disturbing people-watching , and I even love the blast-furnace summer weather when the Strip is so arid that it reaches into your nostrils and sucks the air right out of your kidneys.  Love it!



1. The Moji Neck+.   I discovered this fantastic item last fall and have been addicted ever since.  It’s like a shrug that fits around your shoulders, but it’s filled with these little pellets that heat up in the microwave.  At the end of the day, I zap that baby for about two minutes, then slip it on and it bathes my neck and upper back in delicious moist heat for half an hour or more.  The perfect relaxer after a day of sitting at the computer, you can pretend it’s a secret, inappropriate hug from your favorite teen vampire or, you know, your mother-in-law.  Whatever works for you…

2. Vegas.  I love the seizure-inducing lights, I love the watered-down drinks, I love the deeply disturbing people-watching , and I even love the blast-furnace summer weather when the Strip is so arid that it reaches into your nostrils and sucks the air right out of your kidneys.  Love it!  (But why, Anna…why?)  The best way I can explain it is to say that going on vacation to Las Vegas is like going on vacation to Mars – it’s the exact opposite of my regular life.  And sometimes that’s exactly what I’m in the mood for.

3. Trees.  It has been pointed out to me by others in this house that I have a thing for trees.  Sheesh, you hang a couple dozen paintings and wall sculptures around the place and suddenly you’re a zealot.  Okay, yes!  I love trees.  They make me happy and I find them soothing.  I only recently made the connection between this affinity and the fact that I spent much of my youth sitting in a tree in my front yard in Houston.  I loved being up there in the swaying branches, shrouded from view while keeping tabs on our neighbor as she stood on her porch in caftan and curlers watching her dog Pierre poop in our front yard.  Anyway…trees.  I’m a fan.

4. 60s Jazz.  I love 60s jazz, especially West Coast and Brazilian.  There’s just something about it that makes me want to crank open the sunroof and take an impromptu road trip to a place where all the women wear scarves in their hair yet don’t look like dorks (which is what I look like when I try to wear a scarf in my hair).  I have always felt I was born too late, and 60s jazz is just more evidence of that fact.

5. Room Service.  What’s not to love about having your perfect breakfast rolled into your room on a little table before you’ve even brushed your teeth?  No, forget your teeth – you’re still in full-on Bride of Frankenstein mode…yet here is stack of crispy bacon and a shiny silver pot of coffee with – wait, is that cream?  And a bud vase with a white rose in it?  *swoon*  And, even better than breakfast, is room service dinner.  So decadent, so downright lazy, that I find it irresistible.  In fact, it is quite likely that my last words on this earth will be, “Can you call and see what’s holding up that cheeseburger?”


Narcissists.  Say it with me:  “It’s not all about you!”  I am so over self-absorbed people that sometimes I feel I might levitate.  Whatever happened to the polite back-and-forth of adult conversation?  Whatever happened to asking the other person how they’re doing, or what’s going on in their life?  I once sat next to this Hollywood writer/blowhard (a dad at our elementary school) for two hours at a dinner party – and not once did he ask me a single question about what I did with my time.  At the end of the meal, I made a point of calling him by the wrong name to let him know that he’d left no impression on me at all, regardless of all the names he’d dropped.  I encourage you to do the same:  mess with the narcissists’ heads – and maybe they’ll pull them out and realize there are other people in the room!  Heh.

Thanks, Anna!



To find out more about Anna Lefler, check out her website and her blog  and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.





Marilyn Brant's 5 Loves and a Dud

Ahhh...Europe.  How AWESOME would it be to spend a summer there?  Eating french bread and brie in France and red wine and pasta in Italy.  And calories don't count there, right?  Is that why European women can eat carbs and not gain weight?! Damn them! Today we've got the lovely Marilyn Brant sharing her 5 Loves and a Dud.  Her latest novel, A Summer in Europe makes us want to hop on the next plane there.  (Seriously, let's go!)  It's delightful and fun, we think you'll enjoy.

Here's the scoop on A Summer in Europe: On her thirtieth birthday, Gwendolyn Reese receives an unexpected present from her widowed Aunt Bea: a grand tour of Europe in the company of Bea's Sudoku and Mahjongg Club. The prospect isn't entirely appealing. But when the gift she is expecting--an engagement ring from her boyfriend--doesn't materialize, Gwen decides to go.

At first, Gwen approaches the trip as if it's the math homework she assigns her students, diligently checking monuments off her must-see list. But amid the bougainvillea and stunning vistas of southern Italy, something changes. Gwen begins to live in the moment--skipping down stone staircases in Capri, running her fingers over a glacier in view of the Matterhorn, racing through the Louvre, and taste-testing pastries at a Marseilles cafe. Reveling in every new experience--especially her attraction to a charismatic British physics professor--Gwen discovers that the ancient wonders around her are nothing compared to the renaissance unfolding within. . .

Sound good?  Then leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday December 4th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!



1. Great Movies I love classic movies like "The Philadelphia Story" and "Roman Holiday" and more recent films that are, in my opinion, just as classic, like "When Harry Met Sally," "Shakespeare in Love," "While You Were Sleeping," "A Room with a View" and just about every cinematic production of "Pride and Prejudice." I love the way I can lose myself in films like these...find myself in the drawing room with Darcy and Elizabeth or hanging out at the deli with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan or listening in (alongside Jimmy Stewart) while Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant banter by the poolside. I also love movies like "Footloose," "Dirty Dancing" and "La Bamba" that make me want to sing and dance along. And I especially love watching really well-made films of any era -- everything from "It Happened One Night" to "The Princess Bride" to "The King's Speech" -- with family and friends, so we can experience it together and talk about it for hours afterward. Often over dessert.

2. Food  Yeah, real specific, huh? Just so you know, I TRIED to narrow it down to a single edible item like, say, Thai spring rolls, which I really love (especially with plum dipping sauce), or even just one particular cuisine, like Italian, which I also love -- and not only because I grew up with Sicilian friends and married a man whose family comes from the Tuscany/Liguria regions. No. The sticking point was that it just didn't seem fair to talk about my adoration of crisp garden salads with freshly chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and romaine...without also mentioning desserts that I can't imagine my life without, like gelato, baklava, English trifle or brownies. How do I say, "Oh, I love dips like roasted-red-pepper hummus," and callously ignore my deep affection for thin-crust sausage-and-mushroom pizza or garlic mashed potatoes or grilled jumbo shrimp? You see how that's a problem, right? So, really, with very few exceptions (see my Dud below), I love ALL food, and I embrace this.

3. Traveling  I've had a pretty insatiable case of wanderlust since I was a kid and have spent much of my life plotting out where my next trip was going to be and how long I'd have to save my allowance (or my paycheck) to get there. When I was in high school, I was an AFS exchange student in Brisbane, Australia for three months, and it really changed the direction of my career. Up until then, I had my future planned out until I was about 80. After the trip, I didn't know what, exactly, I was going to do with my life...LOL. It made the end of high school and the first couple years of college more confusing, but I think it was important for me to go into those years with an open mind. In college, purely on impulse, I auditioned for a folk dance group and ended up performing with them for 2 years, including going with them on a summer-long European dance tour when I was 19. That, too, was a life changer because I really fell in love with Europe and knew I had to go back. Which I did, a few years later, with this world-history teacher I was crazy about...and he proposed to me there, on London Bridge. That was almost 20 years ago ;). Together, the two of us backpacked abroad quite often before we became parents. Since then, our trips have all been much closer to home and much shorter (!!), but I still really love going on roadtrips, taking long walks through other cities and getting a new perspective simply by being in a different place.

4. Music and Musicals  The first film my parents let me stay up late to watch was "The Sound of Music" when I was in 3rd grade. I was absolutely mesmerized by it. At age 8, I wanted to BE Julie Andrews -- well, once she stopped acting like a nun. (I'm Catholic, so I knew enough about nuns not to overly romanticize...) But that musical fueled my desire to learn how to read music and to play my first instrument. It also hooked me on stage musicals. Going to see live productions of "The Music Man" and "My Fair Lady" and, later, "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Miserables" -- plus listening to several hours of pop songs every day, which drove my parents nuts! -- was a huge part of my music education. These days, I can't write a character without knowing what kind of songs they'd listen to and, for my own amusement and for any readers who are music lovers, I always have a soundtrack for each of my books.

5. Math I know, I know. You're wondering if, maybe, Liz & Lisa accidentally switched this Love with my Dud since I know a lot of writers who'd probably prefer facing a cold virus over an algebra equation. But I genuinely love math. (Note: I did not say I always understand it!) One of the big reasons is because math correlates strongly with music (see Love #4) and, when I was a junior in high school, I had an amazingly cool algebra teacher/amateur guitarist who shared my love of both. My senior year, after having just been to a physics class where we'd had a lecture on acoustics, I saw my old algebra teacher in the hall, and he and I got to talking about the number of oscillations per second of major musical notes, like the A above Middle C (which is 440 Hz, in case you were dying to know and, yes, in answer to your silent question, I AM a geek). This led me on a fascinating side project of figuring out -- by using an equation I totally can't remember now -- what the vibrations would be for every note on the piano. Seriously, I calculated all 88 of them one night, charted them out and gave a copy of it to my old teacher. It wasn't for extra credit or anything. I wasn't even in his class anymore! It was Just For Fun. (See? Card-carrying levels of geekdom.) But that's when I knew that absolutely any subject on earth could be thrilling for kids if it could be made relevant to their lives and could tap into a passion. A priceless insight for someone who later became a teacher herself...and the parent of a kid whose favorite subject is -- you guessed it -- math.



Cold viruses As I write this, I'm up to my elbows in crumpled Kleenex tissues which, no doubt about it, influences my choice for this particular Dud. I have had this very bad cold for six days already, and it was one of those types that hit me with the force of an express train -- immediate, unrelenting and painful. I. Hate. It. For what it's worth, I also don't like celery or sardines. I find mean-spirited gossips highly annoying. And I'm not a big fan of driving around in busy parking lots, particularly during the holiday season. But I will deal with all of these (okay, not the gossips) almost cheerfully if I don't get another cold like this one EVER again. Hope all of you are staying healthy ("Wash your hands! Get lots of Vitamin C! Go to sleep at a reasonable hour!" Do I sound like my mother yet? *grin*) and here's wishing everyone reading this a wonderful end of the year.

Thanks, Lisa and Liz!!

Thank YOU Marilyn! xo, L&L

To read more about Marilyn, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Robert Rave's 5 Loves and a Dud

We love us some Robert Rave. And not just because he's cute! (Although he is very cute!) But because he's hilarious, writes sassy books and loves his mother! Awwww....

On that note, his latest memoir Conversations and Cosmopolitans: Awkward Moments, Mixed Drinks and How a Mother and Son Shared Who They Really Are is co-written by mama Rave (Jane). How sweet is that?

Here's the skinny on Conversations and Cosmopolitans:  After moving from the Midwest to New York City at the age of twenty-one, Robert Rave finally found the resolve to mail a letter to his parents informing them that he was gay.  Once Robert was “out,” both he and his mother Jane felt a newfound freedom to be more honest with each other.  From the discrimination Jane experienced as a pregnant teenager in a small town, to Robert’s “manscaping,” almost no topic was off-limits in their conversations.  Soon, Robert was creating a “gay glossary” so that Jane could understand the lexicon and Jane was giving Robert the same dating advice that she used to give Robert’s older sister (“men are jerks”).

Sounds like a must-read memoir, right? Well, it could be yours! And you know the drill! Leave a comment and be entered to win one of FIVE copies! We'll randomly select the winners on Sunday, November 27th after 6PM PST.



1. HGTV.  Yeah, I realize this might not be groundbreaking or even remotely sexy.  However, I love this network.  It’s aspirational, it’s escapism, it’s everything.  From “Income Property” to “Design Star” and yes, the anchor of the channel and my favorite—“House Hunters.”  (It goes without saying that “House Hunters International” falls under that same umbrella.) It pretty much is the only channel that I leave on constantly.  Although, “Extreme Couponing” on TLC is so riveting and truth be told makes me panic when they’re standing in the checkout line. I also don’t find it a coincidence that “Hoarding: Buried Alive” is on the same network.

2. Jenna Lyons—Creative Director for J Crew.  I loved J Crew back in the early nineties, but then when I moved out of the Midwest my love affair with the clothing company ended. When Jenna Lyons came on board (and also Andy Spade) they took the brand to an entirely new level.  I know basically the world at large loves her, particularly the female demographic, but I have to speak up for the guys and also profess my love and loyalty to her. There’s really something for every guy in the J Crew men’s store.

3. Capri Blue Jar Candle.  I have two French Bulldogs and let’s just say they have very sensitive stomachs.  Also, I’m presently single.  Therefore, should I ever want to change my relationship status on Facebook again, I need to keep these candles burning constantly.  They smell that good. I’ve only ever seen these sold at Anthropologie, but you might be able to buy them elsewhere. I don’t know, Google it.

4. Frank Sinatra.  I’m really late to the party on this one, I know.  Maybe it’s because I’m thirty-seven and it took me a minute to wise-up, but now I’m hooked.  He’s really great for every occasion: lazy Sunday afternoon, the holidays, an intimate dinner, or my personal favorite—drinking wine!

5. Pinterest.com.  It’s basically an online pinboard, or inspiration board, and as well as a vision board (what’s up The Secret?).  I love finding new things online and what inspires other people—this website is all of that and more.  I’ve really made some awesome discoveries on there: stores, photos, and interior design ideas to name a few.


People who create Facebook profiles for their pets…And then friend request me.  I’m not lying, this has happened to me on several occasions.  I love my dogs.  In fact, they’re the closest thing that I have to children at the moment.  However, the most social networking they can and should have is humping my neighbor’s dog.

To find out more about Robert Rave, follow him on Twitter.




Isabel Gillies' 5 Loves and a Dud

Warning: Major girl crush alert! New York Times bestselling author and actress, Isabel Gillies is in 'da house. And we are giddy as a couple of school girls running around the playground. After reading her memoir, Happens Every Day: An All-To-True Story, which ended up on the New York Times bestseller list (no surprise as it was candid, ridiculously honest and beautifully written), we fell for her. And when we read the last page and closed that book, we wanted more.

And apparently we weren't the only ones who felt that way. Because Gillies has written a follow-up memoir, A Year and Six Seconds: A Love Story.  And dare we say it's even better than her last? You know when you're rooting for someone so much that you can actually feel it in your gut? That's how we felt for Isabel when we read her latest memoir about picking up the pieces after her husband leaves her for another woman. And even though by the title we pretty much knew it was all going to work out, we were still fully invested, riding the roller coaster with Gillies, her two young sons and even her parents. (Plus, she weaves the story in such a way that although you know it's coming, you have to wait for the love! But, don't worry, it's well worth it.)

And one guess what we're going to tell you next!

Yup. You got it. If you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win one of five copies of A Year And Six Seconds: A Love Story. We'll randomly select the winners on Sunday, November 9th after 6p.m. EST.



1. Aquaphor. I discovered Aquaphor (the most perfect solution on the planet) when I had babies. I don’t know who told me to get it, a doctor, another parent, a magazine, but when I did my life changed. It’s like Vaseline but with a magic ingredient in it. I used to rub the viscous, smooth ointment into whatever red, chapped, questionable mark that was on the baby and it would just go away. I started putting it on my lips, rubbing it into my hands, having it on my bedside --  and now there is not a drawer or purse that you won’t find a little or big tube of it -  this genius, inexpensive, healer of all things. Sometimes even a bad mood.

2. Nora Ephron and Woody Allen.  I put these two together because I love them both so much. The other night during a snow storm (in October, please) my husband Peter and I watched Hannah And Her Sisters, a Woody Allen film from the eighties, and I tell you, I went to sleep thinking all is right with the world. Same thing happens if I read or watch ANYTHING that Nora Ephron has a hand in creating. Yes they make the most intuitive observations, yes they are smart and funny, yes they predominately write about New York, but it’s something about their tone that speaks to my soul. Their point of view is very often right along side mine, not always, but a lot. I am just so happy they do what they do. I will never get enough of it.

3. Cook Books!  Goodness how I love to read cookbooks. First of all they usually are so beautiful and heavy. If I didn’t need them in the kitchen I would keep all of mine in the bedroom (and in fact I have about five at all times in there as many nights, I read them before sleep). My mother had lots of wonderful cookbooks. I can picture her in front of her red shelf perusing each spine for one she wanted to pull out and use. I think sometimes her fingers even fluttered in anticipation of one of her old friends tumbling into her arms to be brought into the kitchen. I am the same. I love my cookbooks like friends. I know all of them, visit them on a weekly basis and thank them when they have done something awesome for me, like help me cook for my family. Love them! I also LOVE getting them as presents!

4. The Weather.  Yup. Love the weather. To me the weather is one of the best ways to feel in touch with this amazing universe we live in. Sometimes it’s dark, heavy and full of anticipation. Sometimes it’s bright, vivid and invigorating. Sometimes it makes you stay inside and play Monopoly, sometimes it makes you jump into an ocean. I love how it changes and I love how we are all utterly affected by it. It’s an equalizer. It’s more powerful than us. It’s the first thing most people think about. It’s something to hope for and something to work with. And in the North Eastern part of The United States, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change.

5. LOVE.  The last love has to be love. I almost don’t know what to say because the word is so big, it’s so complex, it’s what I like to write about, it’s what we are all consumed with, and I think it is what keeps the world going.

How are we so amazing that we can feel love? How did we get so lucky? To me, it’s the most interesting and phenomenal part about being human (I’m not saying animals don’t feel love, I think they do, but I’m talking about humans). Just writing about all these things I love is making me feel so good and changed from a half and hour ago, when I was not thinking about love. Love changes you and usually for the better. What about FALLLING IN LOVE? That is like a hurricane of amazing. I could go on, but definitely the last “love” is love.


ANXIETY.  I am plagued with anxiety. I think I might have a bit of a disorder. How I wish I was very calm and steady, but alas, lots and lots of the time I feel it’s all not going to be okay. Now, I have spent my life trying to fix this, and I have made progress. But it still can disturb my sleep, make me get in a fight or worry until I have trouble breathing. Anxiety is a little worse than a dud. I think of a dud more like a bad movie, but a bad movie can give me anxiety. Waste of time! Waste of money! What if I wrote a dud movie or book!!! See, anxiety.

Thanks, Isabel!


Liz & Lisa

To find out more about the lovely and talented Isabel Gillies, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.