Colleen Hoover's 5 Best Evers

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

Her latest: This Girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Colleen Hoover author photoSong:

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


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


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

Life moment:

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

Piece of advice:

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

Thanks, Colleen!

Susanna Daniel's 5 Best Evers

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

Her latest: Sea Creatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Susanna Daniel, author of Sea CreaturesBEST BOOK

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


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


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


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


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

Thanks, Susanna!

Amy Gail Hansen's 5 Best Evers

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

Her latest: The Butterfly Sister (Out today!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Amy Gail Hansen author photoSONG

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


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


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


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


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

Thanks, Amy!


Wendy Wax's 5 Best Evers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks. Wendy!

Jane Green's 5 Best Evers

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

Her latest: Family Pictures (Out today!)

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

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

Our thoughts: Jane Green's best novel yet! 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jane!

Colette Freedman's 5 Best Evers

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

Her latest: The Affair

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Colette!

Cathy Yardley's 5 Best Evers

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

Her latest: Temping is Hell

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Cathy!


Allie Larkin's 5 Best Evers

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

Her latest: Why Can't I Be You

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Allie!

Cari Kamm's 5 Best Evers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Gravity – Sara Bareilles

Cocoon – Jack Johnson

She left on a Monday – Bic Runga

By Your Side – Sade

These songs are often played on repeat for hours!

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

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

Some of my favorites quotes from Big Fish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Cari!


Jackie Collins' 5 Best Evers

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

Her latest: The Power Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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






Polly Williams' 5 BEST EVERS

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

Her latest: Afterwife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Polly!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Photo credit: Lucy Johnstone

Darien Gee's 5 BEST EVERS

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

Her latest: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Darien! xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Beth Kendrick's 5 BEST EVERS

nearlyweds future typeOur guest today: Beth Kendrick Why we love her: Her books are exactly what you need to get into your 2013 groove!

Her latest project: Her book, Nearlyweds, has been into a TV movie airing on the Hallmark Channel January 12th at 9pm EST/8 CST!

The scoop: They've had the white dresses and the fancy receptions. But now that the honeymoon's over, Stella, Casey, and Erin have each had to face some hard truths about the men they've married and the lives they've chosen. So when the news breaks that the pastor who presided over their weddings failed to file a few critical pieces of paper, none of these newlyweds are rushing down to the courthouse to legalize their vows. Instead, the brides share their hopes, disappointments, and secrets while grappling with that pivotal question: Should they stay or should they go?

Our thoughts: We loved the book and will be glued to the TV on January 12th!

Giveaway:  THREE signed copies of Nearlyweds.

Fun fact: Watch the TV movie trailer for Nearlyweds here.

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


Beth with Naomi Judd, who stars in Nearlyweds!

1. BEST SONG: This is a tough call, but let me just say this: The best song to blast in your office and dance to when nobody’s watching is “Freedom 90” by George Michael. Always and forever.

2. BEST MOVIE: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This film is perfection from beginning to end. It’s hilarious, it’s brilliant, it’s poignant. I still covet Sloane Peterson’s fringed white leather jacket. And it has a great message: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (See also: Best Advice Ever)

3. BEST BOOK: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll understand. Pass the Kleenex.

4. BEST MOMENT:  I cannot lie--going to Vancouver to hang out on the “Nearlyweds” film set was pretty damn awesome. My college roommate/BFF came with me, and we got to sit in canvas director’s chairs and watch real people speaking lines and acting out scenes that I had dreamed up in my twisted little mind. Bonus: hot, shirtless men kept walking up to chat with us. (We picked a great day to visit the set!) The screenwriter, cast, and production team did an incredible job, and the movie is really charming and funny. Naomi Judd plays the diabolical mother-in-law and she owned that role!  Mind = blown.

5. BEST ADVICEDo not back up--severe tire damage.  I have found this to be true in both the literal and metaphorical sense.

Thanks Beth!  xoxo, L&L

Jennifer Coburn's 5 BEST EVERS

Today's guest: Jennifer Coburn Why we love her: She's a writing machine. Every time we turn around, she's written another hilarious and entertaining novel! You go, girl!

Her latest: Brownie Points

The scoop on it: Sometimes that’s the way the Thin Mints crumble... When Lisa Taylor and her family move from San Francisco to the suburban paradise of Los Corderos, they know their family won’t fit in perfectly. They’re the only interracial family in the neighborhood. Lisa is a snarky sculptor. And 13-year-old Logan is gay. After Logan is repeatedly bullied at school, he finds his niche in an unusual place – his twin sister’s Girl Scout troop. When he tries to join, the organization refuses, so the boy sues for gender discrimination and sets off a firestorm of national media coverage. This only makes matters worse between Logan and his father, a macho firefighter who is already struggling with his son’s sexual orientation. Adding to the strife is Lisa’s increasing distaste for Junta Moms who wish each other “Namaste” while rigging school elections and stealing each other’s husbands. Join the Taylors on their hilarious journey as they face the fight of their lives and, in the process, discover what it means to be a family.

Our thoughts: Loved it. So much fun!

Giveaway: 5 COPIES! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. Winners will be selected after 3pm PST on Sunday, January 6th.

Fun fact: Jennifer's novel, Reinventing Mona is free on Kindle until Sunday, January 6th!

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


Best Song: This is a tough one because I have so many memories associated with music. My father was a lyricist and used to sing “Wild World” to me when I was a little girl. He died when I was 19 years old, so this Cat Stevens song will forever break my heart (in a good way). I can never hear any Simon & Garfunkel song without remembering my trip to Florence with my then-11-year-old daughter, Katie because every night at the steps of the Uffizi Gallery we held hands and listened to a couple singing these classics. But my all-time favorite would have to be the Beatles’ “In My Life.” The music is so simple, the lyrics so nostalgic. I love the sentiment: In our lives we meet so many people and experience so much. In the end, we love them all.

Best Book: Another toughie because I always think what I am currently reading is my favorite book ever. (If I don’t feel that way by page 50, I move on to another.) I am in the middle of Charity Shumway’s Ten Girls to Watch and loving every pageBut last week I was reading Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and I swore her genius memoir was the best book I ever read. Before that I finished Jen Lancaster’s latest side-splitter Jeneration X and guess what? Best ever!

Best Movie: Finally an easy question! Any movie where Ben Affleck takes off his shirt is an instant favorite. But seriously, I loved Argo because I was on the edge of my seat the entire two hours even though I knew exactly how it ended. That is masterful filmmaking.  Close second is Crash. Also great: MoneyballShawshank Redemption and Hoop Dreams.

Best Life Moment: I love getting mail and Facebook messages from readers, so an intensely gratifying moment was when I got a note from an Emergency Room nurse who thanked me because, after a particularly rough day, my book made her laugh. Anyone who says chick-lit is irrelevant should keep in mind that there is an important place in the world for lighthearted, humorous escape.

Best Advice: Don’t compare your insides with other people’s outsides.  Other people may look like they’ve got it all together, but you have no idea what they’ve been through (or may currently be going through). You can’t see their doubts, fears and insecurities. I recently met a woman who was the picture of perfection: successful, poised and gorgeous. I was having a day when everything was going wrong.  I asked the woman what her secret was, and she didn’t miss a beat. “I’m heavily medicated,” she said, then proceeded to tell me about her battle with depression.

Thanks, Jennifer! xoxo, Liz & lisa

Tammara Webber's 5 BEST EVERS

Today's guest: Tammara Webber Why we love her: She nails this "new adult" genre perfectly but will still appeal to a wide audience of readers.

Her latest: Easy

The scoop on it:  A girl who believes trust can be misplaced, promises are made to be broken, and loyalty is an illusion. A boy who believes truth is relative, lies can mask unbearable pain, and guilt is eternal. Will what they find in each other validate their conclusions, or disprove them all?

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.
Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night--but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.
When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

Our thoughts: Her characters are sympathetic and the love story in will resonate with women of all ages.

Fun fact: She originally self published Easy as an ebook and it spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Then Penguin snapped it up and released it in paperback.

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners this Sunday after 3pm PST.

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


1. BEST BOOK: In my late twenties, I vowed to read every classic novel I could swallow. Some went down more easily than others, of course; Dostoevsky nearly killed me. But every Jane Austen novel was a treat, and Pride and Prejudice was the best of them all. My husband commented, “That’s probably been used to death, though,” and I agreed that undoubtedly, it had – for good reason. For thousands of readers over two centuries (fun fact: the birth date of P&P was January 28, 1813), this story has embodied the quintessential romance, and Darcy has been the definitive brooding hero – a beta guy with an alpha center, which for all of his superiority or reserve will not stay put in the presence of one particular girl.

2. BEST MOVIE: The most-lauded Norah Ephron/Meg Ryan pairings are When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. These are both wonderful films, but for me, it’s You’ve Got Mail. My fondness for it traces back to the Darcy appeal – the guy who cannot help but be enchanted with the last person he should find fascinating. I don’t care how dated it is (A dial-up modem! With sound! Almost quaint?) or what the flaws are, I love this movie. I tear up and sigh every single time when he says, “…how about some coffee or, you know, drinks or dinner or a movie… for as long as we both shall live?”

3. BEST SONG: I’m not musical – in the sense that I’ve never been able to create music, but the compositions of others often affect me profoundly. It’s difficult to narrow to one song, because different songs fit different moods, but I connect to Alanis Morissette’s That I Would Be Good at such a deep level that I don’t have to be in the mood for it – it will pull me into the mood. When the album came out, almost fifteen years ago, I was having a tough time personally. Lots of internal questions and anxiety about who I was and what I was meant to do. Lots of self-doubt. This song didn’t answer those concerns – but it helped me define the fears that caused them. I started writing again that year.

4. BEST ADVICE: Indirect advice, in the form of a quote: “You’re never too old to be what you might have been.” (George Eliot) Mary Anne Evans didn’t let her age or gender stop her from reinventing herself as a novelist in the middle of the nineteenth century. Using a male nom de plume – George Eliot – she published her first novel the year she turned forty. I took her advice as though it was meant for me, and I’m always happy to pass it on to anyone who needs it.

5. BEST LIFE MOMENT: This has to be my husband’s and my first kiss, because it was the most spontaneously romantic thing that ever happened to me. Paul and I had been friends for a year. We were close friends – the type who hug goodbye when parting. Except this one time, we hugged, heads turned simultaneously, mouths lined up, and for no reason and with no warning – we were kissing. I don’t mean like “peck” and then “Oh, jeez, heh-heh, what was that?” I mean flat-out full-body-contact, “I will have you right here! Oh wait. It’s daylight and we’re in public. Ahem.” We were 16 and 17, and at school. He was my ex-boyfriend’s best friend. The first thing he said after was, “Why’d we do that?” Still clinging to him (because my legs were jelly, and also I was too mortified to look him in the eye), I mumbled, “I don’t know.” Little did we know the metamorphic shift our lives took with that one impulsive lip-lock – though given our ages at the time, that’s just as well. We celebrate the date every year.  (Want to read the full story of this romantic first kiss?  Head over to Tammara’s blog here.)

Thanks, Tammara! xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Sere Prince Halverson's 5 BEST EVERS

Today's guest: Sere Prince Halverson Why we love her: She's a beautiful writer who inspires us to up our game.

Her latest: The Underside of Joy (Now available in paperback!)

The scoop on it: To Ella Beene, happiness means living in the Northern California river town of Elbow, California, with her husband Joe and his two young children. But one summer day Joe drowns, leaving Ella alone with Annie and Zach—until his ex-wife, Paige, shows up at the funeral. For three years, Ella believed that Paige had selfishly abandoned her family. Yet—as the custody fight between mother and stepmother ensues—Ella realizes there may be more to the story than Joe ever revealed.

The Underside of Joy is not a fairy-tale version of step-motherhood, pitting good against evil, but a captivating story of two women who both claim to be the mother of the same two children.

Our thoughts: A riveting debut novel that kept us guessing all the way until the end.

Giveaway: FIVE copies. Just leave a comment to be entered. We'll select the winners this Sunday after 3pm PST.

Fun fact: Contest alert! Win a picnic for your bookclub! Just contact Sere by January 7th. Click here for the deets!

Where you can read more about Sere: Facebook, her blog and her website


BEST SONG: I know you all understand this: I have hundreds of favorite songs. So on this day, at this moment, I’ll say that my favorite song is…(drawing from a hat)…”2000 Miles” by The Pretenders. Reminds me of a road trip to Washington with my sons.

BEST BOOK: Same caveat as above. Today, my best book is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Or maybe Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Or maybe…

BEST MOVIE: I also have many favorite movies, but my all-time favorite, the one I’ve seen a bazillion times and never get tired of, the one that makes me break out in song and break out in tears (yes, watching it with me is an experience in of itself) is The Sound of Music. It was the first movie I ever saw. I was four years old. I remember getting dressed up for a special night with my parents while my little sister stayed home with the babysitter. I remember a red velvet curtain and sitting between my parents in big plush seats. And I remember crying at the end, saying, “I want to go with Maria and the kids.” Ha! That must have made my parents feel great. I love this movie so much that it even worked its way into The Underside of Joy.

BEST MOMENT: I’m not just saying this because it’s the expected answer: The moment I became a mother. I was in a traditional hospital with a traditional doctor, but he asked me, right before my son was born (though I didn’t know if he was a son or a daughter at the time), if I wanted to help deliver him. I reached down and pulled him onto my stomach. I looked down into his squished, pure angel face and fell in love. I said, “Hello sweet baby. You’re so beautiful, but are you a boy or a girl?” Because I’d delivered him, the doctor hadn’t held him up and declared, “It’s a boy!” We had to turn him over and check for the evidence ourselves.

BEST ADVICE: “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” This came from a dear family friend who’s like a very cool aunt and wise big sister wrapped up into one. Sully grew up in the fifties and early sixties and was considered “a career woman” who married later. She gave me this advice in the mid-nineties. I’d married young and had a couple of little kids at that time and was sort of floundering in my career and going through a divorce.

But I know lots of women who have great careers and marriages while their kids are little. It’s not just about that. It’s about the ins and outs and ups and downs, the phases of life, and how there’s always something challenging or missing and there’s always something miraculous going on too. She was advising me to not miss the miraculous while pining for the missing piece. Because the missing piece could very well show up later down the road, but the miracle at hand will soon only be a memory.

It goes something like this: The kids fill my life and heart to overflowing but I have no me time. I have tons of me time but I miss the kids. The bank account is fine but the relationship is not. The relationship is wonderful but work is not. The house is a mess and everyone’s coming over. The house is clean! Hey, where is everybody? The childhood dream finally comes true. But my dad doesn’t live to see it happen.

But when I look at the whole sprawling miraculous picture? It’s all there. My dad is there, big as life itself. And so are his grandkids, in all their different glorious ages, and me in all mine.

Liz and Lisa, thanks so much for having me on your wonderful blog. So appreciated!

Thank YOU! xoxo, Liz & Lisa



Lisa Genova's 5 BEST EVERS

Today's guest: Lisa Genova Her latest: Love Anthony

Why we love it: She writes about autism beautifully. And her heartwarming novel reminds us of what's important: family.

The scoop on it: I’m always hearing about how my brain doesn’t work right. . . . But it doesn’t feel broken to me.

Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a “normal” life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Understanding the world from his perspective felt bewildering, nearly impossible. He didn’t speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony died.Now she’s alone in a cottage on Nantucket, separated from her husband, desperate to understand the meaning of her son’s short life, when a chance encounter with another woman facing her own loss brings Anthony alive again for Olivia in a most unexpected way.Beth Ellis’s entire life changed with a simple note: “I’m sleeping with Jimmy.”
Fourteen years of marriage. Three beautiful daughters. Yet even before her husband’s affair, she had never felt so alone. Heartbroken, she finds the pieces of the vivacious, creative person she used to be packed away in a box in her attic. For the first time in years, she uncaps her pen, takes a deep breath, and begins to write. The young but exuberant voice that emerges onto the page is a balm to the turmoil within her, a new beginning, and an astonishing bridge back to herself.In a piercing story about motherhood, autism, and love, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Genova offers us two unforgettable women on the verge of change and the irrepressible young boy whose unique wisdom helps them both find the courage to move on.

Our thoughts: Lisa Genova is a beautiful writer. You will love this book!

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners this Sunday after 3pm PST.

Fun fact: Watch Lisa talk about Love Anthony here.


BEST SONG: There are way too many!  Anything by Paul Simon and Ani DiFranco. My recent favorite song is “Stars and Meteors” by Sarah Swain.

BEST MOVIE: My favorite movie is probably Before Sunset starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, directed by Richard Linklater.  It’s about regret and love and real connection.  The dialogue is incredibly smart, it’s gorgeously shot, and the acting blows me away.  Many of the scenes are done in one long shot (from the perspective of one camera without cutting away) which gives the film an immediacy and intimacy that I love.

BEST BOOK: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks.  This was the book that initially inspired my passion for neuroscience.  I went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard 10 years after I first read this book.  The neurological conditions and diseases presented in this collection of true stories are fascinating, but what hit me the most with Dr. Sack’s writing was the compassion and humanity contained within his descriptions of each patient. He says, “In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology.  In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.”  This singular quote has guided every book I’ve written so far.

BEST LIFE MOMENT: The day I met my husband.  I was instantly attracted to him, but what I remember most is a peace that settled over me.  I actually felt these words--he is part of whatever was next for you.  I felt chills—and butterflies.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE: After my first marriage fell apart, I was a divorced, unemployed single mother (my daughter was 3).  I should’ve gone back to work as a strategy consultant for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Or even back to brain research.  I’d loved my job (I quit when my daughter was born to be home with her), I was good at it, it paid well, and it came with health benefits.  It was the responsible, sane decision.  But, along with the heartbreak of the divorce came the idea that this was an opportunity to start over, that I was facing the possibility of something new.  I’d started asking myself questions:  What do I want my life to look like now?  Why do I have to go back to my old job?  If I could do anything I wanted to do, what would that be?

I was sitting in my aunt’s living room with two of my five aunts when I asked this question aloud for the first time:

“Should I go back to work, or should I write a novel instead?”

Without hesitating, they both said, “Write the novel!”

Best advice of my life.  And of course, if we generalize, the advice is this:  Go for your dreams!  Do it now!

Thank you, Aunt Laurie and Aunt Mary!

And thank you, Lisa! xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Marian Vere's 5 BEST EVERS

Our guest today: Marian Vere Why we love her: Her writing is fun AND she's a self-proclaimed carb lover!

Her latest: Once Upon A Second Chance

The scoop: Julia's life seemed to be falling perfectly into place. She had burgeoning job prospects in the finance industry, an exciting life in New York City, and a wonderful fiancé, Nick Kerkley, who she was totally in love with. Nick however, while being completely devoted to Julia, did not have the career potential or financial stability to be worthy of someone like her -- or at least that's what she came to convince herself. Hesitantly, Julia ended the relationship, forcing herself to believe it would all be for the best. Little did she know, that one decision would lead both their lives to spiral away from each other, only to converge again. What happens to your fairytale when you let someone else wave the magic wand? Will your dreams of love and enchantment still come true, or will your 'happily ever after' pass by without you?

Our thoughts: A fun and frothy read!

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners after 3pm PST on Sunday November 18th.

Fun Fact: Liz gave a blurb for Once Upon A Second Chance. Check it out on the front cover!


1. BEST SONG: This one is going to have to be two-fold. The music degree in me says ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Elliot Del Borgo, based on the poem by Dylan Thomas of the same name.

The rest of me is going to kick it old school. ‘Your Wildest Dreams’ by The Moody Blues, ‘Uptown Girl’ by Billy Joel, and ‘We Belong’ by Pat Benetar are my three fallbacks that can always lift my spirits. (Scoff if you’d like, but I bet you’re humming one right now, aren’t you?)

2. BEST BOOK: Jane Eyre. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a romance, and this has to be one of the best of all time. It has everything(not the least of which is two average-looking protagonists, something more romantic stories could do with), it will always be relevant, and never fails to make me happy.

3. BEST MOVIE: Oh, that’s hard, as it really depends on the mood I’m in. The Scarlet Pimpernel(1982), Moulin Rouge, and Somewhere in Time are some of my favorites. And while I love a romance, I am also a huge Disney fan and have seen pretty much every animated movie they have ever released. But then who doesn’t like a little Toy Story now and then?

4. BEST LIFE MOMENT: Skipping the obvious (marriage, children, etc.), I have to go with walking with my now husband on his birthday about five years ago. There was really nothing all that special about the evening itself, but we took a walk that evening around a small lake that had both a beach and a boardwalk on it. It was so nice, and for some reason, that evening has always stuck out in my mind.

5. BEST ADVICE: “My goal in life is to live forever. So far, so good.” Okay, I know that’s more of a quote, but it reminds us if we take it one day at a time, nothing is impossible.

Thanks Marian! xoxo, L&L

Juliette Fay's 5 BEST EVERS

Our guest today: Juliette Fay Why we love her: We love to curl up by the fire with her books!

Her latest: The Shortest Way Home

The Scoop: Sean has spent twenty years in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s much-loved Shelter Me. There, he discovers that his steely aunt, overly dramatic sister, and quirky nephew are having a little natural disaster of their own. When he reconnects with a woman from his past, Sean has to wonder if the bonds of love and loyalty might just rewrite his destiny.

Our thoughts: We think you'll fall in love with this one!

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win.  We'll choose the winners on Sunday November 4th after 3pm PST.

Fun Fact: Smarty Pants alert!  Juliette has a master's degree in Public Policy from freakin' HARVARD.

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


First, I have to say that I have many favorites of all of these things -- I'm sure most people do -- so the following is just the first thing that jumped to mind. In that sense I guess it's my subconscious favorite, and as close as I'll ever come to the truth.

BEST SONG: Maybe I'm Amazed by Paul McCartney The most honest love song ever written. He wrote it for his wife, Linda, to whom he was utterly devoted, and it's about the panic-laced awe you feel when love truly has you in its clutches.

I remember lying on my bed in the dark, late at night as a preteen, listening to this song on the radio, and praying that someday someone would feel this way about me. (Post-script: someone eventually did, and I married him.)

Current Alternate: Beautiful Soul by Jesse McCartney

I am a complete sucker for this song, which always makes my teenage daughter crack up. Maybe a little part of me is still that preteen girl . . .

BEST MOVIE: The Family Stone My go-to Christmas movie about a quirky family celebrating together -- the love, the friction, the way they know one another so well . . . and yet there are secrets and surprises. It's hilarious and heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful. The acting is fantastic and there's a scene that involves raw eggs and brotherly brawling that always has me gasping with laughter.

BEST BOOK: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson Written from the perspective of a 76-year-old man with a much younger wife and a 6-year-old son. He knows he'll die soon, and the son, whom he loves desperately, will barely remember him, so he's compiling the family history for the boy. It's slow and beautiful and thoughtful. Reading it felt like I was witness to something verging on the miraculous.

I know it sounds weird and overly gushy to say a book is a miracle, but that's how it felt.

BEST LIFE MOMENT: On a bus in Seattle Okay, really? On a bus? Let's start with the obvious choices: the day I married a really  great guy, the births of my four children, the day my first book was published. But after those highlights, what jumps to mind is . . .

I worked as an emergency shelter counselor in Seattle right out of college, and then started a daycare for homeless children. Our Place Daycare was housed in donated space right by the Space Needle. It had been a particularly exhausting day, and I stood at the bus stop, wearing a white shirt (I can still see it -- I loved that shirt!) covered in spit-up and snot and baby drool.

The bus came and I got on. Waiting for it to pull away from the curb, I looked out the window at the springtime-bright green leaves against the perfect cerulean blue of a cloudless sky. And a thought came to me: For all its heartbreak, this world is a beautiful place, and God is watching, and it's going to be okay. It was a moment of utter peace that I'll never forget.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE: "Just keep swimming." -- Dory, from Finding Nemo It's the last best thing to do when nothing is going right. Some days it's all you can pull off, and on those days, it's enough.

Thanks Juliette! xoxo, L&L

Julie Klam's 5 BEST EVERS

Today's guest: Julie Klam Why we love her: We first fell for her when we read her hilarious and lovable memoir (with the cutest dog you've ever seen on the cover!), You Had Me At Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secret of Happiness and we've devoured everything she's written since.

Her latest: Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate and Can't Live Without Out today! (Which also happens to be Julie's bday! Happy Birthday!)

The scoop on it: With her inimitable wit and disarming warmth, Julie Klam shares with us her experiences, advice, and insight in Friendkeeping, a candid, hilarious look at some of the most meaningful and enjoyable relationships in our lives: our friendships.

After her bestselling You Had Me at Woof, about relationships with dogs, Klam now turns her attention to human relationships to great effect. She examines everything—from the curious world of online friendship to the intersection of friendship and motherhood. She even explores how to hang on to our friendships in the toughest circumstances: when schadenfreude rears its ugly head or when we don’t like our friend’s mate.
Klam relays a mix of brand-new and time-tested wisdom—she finds that longtime friends really can grow up without growing apart; that communication is key; that friendship is one of life’s great, free sources of happiness; that you’re not a friend, just a doormat, if you don’t get back what you give—and her discoveries range from amusing to deeply important.

Our thoughts: As BFF's for over 25 years, this laugh-out-loud funny and heartwarming book.

Giveaway: FIVE COPIES. Just leave a comment & be entered to win. We'll select the winners at 3pm on Sunday, October 28th.

Fun fact: Remember VH1's Pop-up Video? Julie not only wrote for that show, but earned an Emmy nomination.

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


1. song- Baker Street by Gerry Raferty. I was looking at my itunes the other day and thinking I've probably bought that song a million times. It reminds me of being on the floor of my brother Matt's room in our house in Katonah and we were just groovin on our coolness -- I was 11 and he was 13 so all of the coolness was invisible

2. book - I've answered this question a lot lately - it's Fraud by the great David Rakoff. There just is no voice like his, he is the funniest writer ever. The first time I met him I gushed about it and he was so genuinely touched and moved and I thought 'wow, this must not happen to him a lot.' And then I learned half the world told him that.

3. movie- Close Encounters of the Third Kind - I loved it when I was a kid and then it was the first movie I bought as an adult. I'd just watch it over and over and over and over. I used to see Richard Dreyfuss in our diner and I felt like he was an old buddy. I once saw him eating with Richard Masur. I don't know if he had friends that weren't named Richard.

4. piece of advice - If someone is paying you to do something then it's a job and you have to do it the way they want it and on time. I think my pet peeve is people who get all artiste-y about their work. People pay you and people need your product to make money. And they count on you. Don't be a jerk. I think when I first started freelancing my aunt told me, no one wants to hear you bellyache.

5. life moment -First time I held my daughter - I had given birth c-section and had pre-eclampsia and she was a premie. So she was born and they whipped into the NICU and I was sent to a recovery room. It was 22 hours before I got to see her and hold her. I was ready to rip out my cords Hulk style and go get her but someone took pity on me. I couldn't believe her existence and how much I desperately loved her.

Thanks, Julie! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa

Photo credit: Sarah Shatz