Jess Riley

What's in Liz & Lisa's Beach bag?

July is finally here! As we get ready to head out on vacation this month, we're stuffing our kindles and beach bags with TONS of fab books.  Because nothing makes us crankier than when we have nothing to read!  Here's what we're excited about this month:

freuds_mistress book coverFreud's Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman

The Scoop: A page-turning novel inspired by the true-life love affair between Sigmund Freud and his sister-in-law.

It is fin-de-siècle Vienna and Minna Bernays, an overeducated lady’s companion with a sharp, wry wit, is abruptly fired, yet again, from her position. She finds herself out on the street and out of options. In 1895, the city may be aswirl with avant-garde artists and revolutionary ideas, yet a woman’s only hope for security is still marriage. But Minna is unwilling to settle. Out of desperation, she turns to her sister, Martha, for help.

Martha has her own problems—six young children and an absent, disinterested husband who happens to be Sigmund Freud. At this time, Freud is a struggling professor, all but shunned by his peers and under attack for his theories, most of which center around sexual impulses. And while Martha is shocked and repulsed by her husband’s “pornographic” work, Minna is fascinated.
Minna is everything Martha is not—intellectually curious, engaging, and passionate. She and Freud embark on what is at first simply an intellectual courtship, yet something deeper is brewing beneath the surface, something Minna cannot escape.
In this sweeping tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal—between a husband and a wife, between sisters—fact and fiction seamlessly blend together, creating a compelling portrait of an unforgettable woman and her struggle to reconcile her love for her sister with her obsessive desire for her sister’s husband, the mythic father of psychoanalysis.
Our thoughts: Looking for something a little different from your usual fare? Then pick up this beautifully written book.

mandatory-release-amazon-coverMandatory Release by Jess Riley

The Scoop: Recently paralyzed in a car accident, thirty-year-old Graham Finch spends his days trying to rehabilitate a caseload of unruly inmates and his nights on one bad date after another, attempting to rehabilitate his heart—

—until his high school crush Drew Daniels walks through the prison gates one hot summer morning. On the run from a painful past that’s nearly crushed her faith in love, Drew is a new teacher at Lakeside Correctional. Graham, smitten all over again, tries to redirect his unrequited feelings. But when your heart keeps looking back, it's not easy to turn it forward.

Amidst escalating violence at work, Drew is forced to confront her secrets, find a way to forgive old sins, and learn how to listen to her heart and her head when it comes to men. Graham must also learn to make peace with his own past. Together they realize that if you’re going to save yourself, sometimes the best way to do it is by saving someone else first. If only finding their way to one another was easier than working with convicted felons.

Our thoughts: We loved this hilarious read!

HusbandsSecret_frontonly.inddThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Scoop: Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . . Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

Our thoughts: Liane is one of our fave authors, and this one is one of her best--pick it up July 30th!


15810888Down and Out in Bugtussle: The Mad Fat Road to Happiness by Stephanie McAfee

The Scoop: When her dream life in Florida with her now-ex-fiancé goes south, so does Ace — she moves back home to Bugtussle, Mississippi, and into her late Gramma Jones' little house. But even though her best friends, Lilly and Chloe, are thrilled that she's returned home, not everything is smooth sailing. Ace wants her job back as art teacher at the high school, but the beautiful Cameron Becker has no plans to relinquish that position. Although Ace wants to run Miss Becker out of town, she accepts a job as a substitute teacher. On top of her job woes, Ace's friends keep setting her up on blind dates when all she really wants is for people to stop meddling in her love life.

In her quest to find inner peace, Ace takes up gardening and discovers old love letters in her grandmother's well-worn gardening book. With her faithful chiweenie, Buster Loo, by her side, Ace is determined to get to the bottom of her Gramma's secret life, all while hoping her own doesn't implode.

Our thoughts: You'll feel anything but down and out while reading this!


14838452Table For Seven by Whitney Gaskell

The Scoop: On New Year’s Eve, Fran and Will Parrish host a dinner party, serving their friends a gourmet feast. The night is such a success that the group decides to form a monthly dinner party club. But what starts as an excuse to enjoy the company of fellow foodies ends up having lasting repercussions on each member of the Table for Seven Dinner Party Club.

Fran and Will face the possibility that their comfortable marriage may not be as infallible as they once thought. Audrey has to figure out how to move on and start a new life after the untimely death of her young husband. Perfectionist Jaime suspects that her husband, Mark, might be having an affair. Coop, a flirtatious bachelor who never commits to a third date, is blindsided when he falls in love for the first time. Leland, a widower, is a wise counselor and firm believer that bacon makes everything taste better.

Over the course of a year, against a backdrop of mouthwatering meals, relationships are forged, marriages are tested, and the members of the Table for Seven Dinner Party Club find their lives forever changed.

Our thoughts: Delightful!  Pick up a copy for you vacay today!

Jess Riley's 5 BEST EVERS

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

Her latest: All The Lonely People

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jess!  xoxo, L&L