Isabel Gillies

Best books of 2011 by Lisa

Like Liz mentioned in her best books of 2011 post, we read a f*ckload of books this year. And deciding which books made our favorites list was almost harder than deciding which movie Ryan Gosling looked hottest in this year. (For the record, after careful consideration, I've decided on Crazy, Stupid Love.) And even though it has NOTHING to do with this post...


Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

One more little thing before I get to my list o' books...what kind of end-of year post would this be without another AWESOME giveaway? (Liz gave away ten yesterday so of course I will too!)  Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a BUNDLE O' BOOKS that includes novels from Meg Mitchell Moore to Kristin Hannah to Jackie Collins to Meg Cabot!  Check out the picture below to see all TEN books the winner will receive. We'll choose the winners on Monday December 26th after 6pm PST.

So without further adieu, here's my list.  And don't forget to tell me what YOUR fave novels of 2011 were!


1. The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore You know that feeling you get when a book sucks you in so hard and so fast that you think about the story and the characters when you're not even reading it? That's what happened to me when I devoured Meg Mitchell Moore's debut novel. I found her book about what happens when all of the children come back home to their parent's house at the same time so engaging and powerful that it resonated with me long after I finished reading it. So much so, that I knew it would make this list long before I ever officially created it. The Arrivals makes the perfect gift for any book lover who likes to dive in and barely come up for air until she's reached the last page. (PS: It also has one of my favorite covers of the year.)


2.  A Year and Six Seconds: A Love Story by Isabel Gillies  When I wrote about Isabel Gillies just last month, I was crushing hard. Swooning. In love. All of the above. And let's just say, the crush has only deepened since. (I've re-read the book since writing that post and have to say it was even better the second time.) It's a beautifully written true story about the deep pain and loss of heartbreak and divorce and the deep resilience and sense of humor of love. Ladies, if you haven't yet read this memoir, treat yourself to a copy this Christmas.
3. The Violets of March by Sarah Jio  We named Sarah Jio our Lit IT Girl for a reason. I was so engrossed in this novel about riding a high for ten years and then having to start over that I could not put this debut novel down. And when I say couldn't put it down, that's not an exaggeration. I carried it with me everywhere and, at one point, was reading it while feeding my daughter. This novel makes a perfect gift for anyone who loves a good mystery and a good love story all rolled into one. (And BTW, Sarah Jio isn't done wowing us for 2011, she has a second fabulous novel, The Bungalow, coming out on December 27th. Yes, two in one year! Be looking for her 5 Loves and a Dud and, of course, a chance to win one of 5 copies of The Bungalow later this week!)
4. It's Hard Not to Hate You by Valerie Frankel   In a nutshell, I had a baby at the beginning of this year so I needed a damn good laugh (or a thousand million!).  And with this memoir, the hilarious Valerie Frankel may have just given me the best baby gift of all (sorry, Mom!) In a nutshell, after a health crisis and unlocking years of pent up rage, Frankel discovers that your Bitchy Twin might just be your funniest, most valuable and honest ally. One of the funniest books I read all year (and that's sayin' a lot because there a lot that had me laughing), there was no question this book was going to make my list. Put it in the stocking of anyone who needs a good, healthy LOL.
5. If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster  When one of my favorite authors of all time made her fiction debut, I felt like one of those crazy people that lines up for the latest Apple gadget or to try out for American Idol. I might as well have stayed up all night and slept in the rain on the sidewalk as I waited for this book to come out. And once I got my little mitts on it, I was over 'da moon (me and her million other fans!). It's a story that asks- can your marriage survive a DIY renovation? It follows Amish-zombie-teen- romance author Mia and her husband Mac (and their pets) as they go through the  funny-process of buying and renovating their first home in the Chicago suburbs that John Hughes’s movies made famous...and a lot more! The John Hughes references alone make this novel a must-read!
And one biography pic!
Y'all may not have known that, in addition to being a memoir whore, I'm also a biography whore!
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. In a word, fascinating.








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.




I'm in the read By Liz & Lisa

We’ve been trading books since high school. Back then, we'd exchange juicy Danielle Steel novels like Secrets, Changes and The Promise. Even back in the day, we loved a happy ending.  And if there were some steamy sex scenes on the way to that happy ending?  Even better! But even now that we've traded in our shoulder pads and skorts for underwire bras and Spanks, we still love to swap a good read. Well, most of the time, anyway...

Let’s just say sometimes one of us is in the mood for a darker and intense memoir (*cough* Lisa) and the other would rather just stay in her happy place (*cough* Liz). Or someone (Liz!) might BONE OUT over the entire Twilight series and the other (Lisa!) might, well, still be stuck back on New Moon. (Note to Twilight fans: before you unleash your inner vampire, she hasn't given up on Edward and Bella just yet!)

We think book choices boil down to how you’re feeling when you're ready to pop open that novel. So, whether you’re PMS-ing, feeling fat and depressed; or you’re perfectly caffeinated, having a great hair day and happy as a freakin’ clam (without the help of a little xany!), there’s always a book that fits your mood.

So, in honor of National Give a Girlfriend a Book Day, here are the books we’d give our moody girlfriends.


Candy Girl by Diablo Cody

This memoir about Diablo Cody’s year as a stripper will inspire any Bored Betty out there to try something new and exciting. It probably won't send your girlfriend out to get naked for money (although Diablo's “adventures” sure made for a freakin’ good story) but maybe she'll at least finally give skydiving a try?

Diablo Cody's writing is smart and funny; her way of describing a scene so you feel you’re right there in the strip club is incredible; and her ability to tell the story without judging an industry that the majority considers to be seedy and lowbrow is, well, cool.  So if you need to ignite a little spark in your life, read this book! And follow her on Twitter, she's hilarious! @diablocody


The Manny by Holly Peterson

If you want to turn your brain off, forget about your problems and escape into the fun lives of women looking for love and happiness, we say Chick Lit is the way to go, yo! And if we had to pick just one (and not the one we wrote :) ) we'd give The Manny to any friend stressed out of her mind.

It's a breezy read about an overworked NYC mom who decided to hire herself a Manny to help her out with the daily demands of trying to be the perfect mom, wife and corporate climber all at the same time. Oh, and did we mention that her Manny is one yummy piece of eye candy?  Uh-oh.

Overworked and underappreciated wife + Hot Manny= BIG TROUBLE!

No wonder Liz's husband said N-O  when she begged him for a Manny of her own after reading this.  He knows better!

Click here to become a Facebook fan of Holly Peterson.


The Divorce Party by Laura Dave

If you're up, down and all over the place, we say any book by Laura Dave will bring you back to center. So to our emotional friend, we'd recommend her latest, The Divorce Party. This is a dual-narrative told by two women who both ride an emotional rollercoaster as one of them faces her upcoming wedding and the other faces her upcoming divorce.  But like any strong women, they navigate their way through it. It's a great story (who knew about these divorce parties that go on?!) that will remind you that no matter how crazy and overwhelmed you feel, you can always come out on top.


Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Wrap this one up for your favorite robot and watch the tears flow! Seriously, Liz hasn't cried that much since her daughter spilled grape juice all over her brand-new white Juicy Couture sundress!

It's a wonderfully engaging story about lifelong friendship. (Gee, I wonder why we related to it so much?)  Firefly Lane follows two women from adolescence to adulthood and touches on what it truly means to be a friend. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry.(Liz!) And it will make you call your mom and best friend the minute you're done reading to tell them how much they mean to you.


Happens Every Day By Isabel Gillies

Even though this memoir is about the sad and unexpected end of Isabel Gillies' first marriage, it's a beautifully written example of how even when things seem completely hopeless; when the rug is pulled out from under you; you do have the power to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and freakin' get through it! (If she can survive serving her husband and his mistress a dinner over candle light, you can find your inner muscle man too!)

Isabel Gillies brilliantly writes the story of getting through a devastating time in her life with the help of her friends and  family; all while doing everything she can to protect her two small children. If we had a friend who was feeling down about her life, we'd give her this book. Because, it reminds you that, in the end, everything will work out--if you believe that it will.

So buy your friend a book today! While you're at it, we'll shamelessly suggest you throw this one in your cart ;) It's a good call for the "Need to freakin' LOL" friend.


Liz & Lisa