Liz and Lisa's book club

Liz & Lisa's Book Club: The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz

The amazing Brenda Janowitz has a new book out April 12th and we've selected it as our #bookclub pick because it's a must-read for anyone who wants to be thoroughly entertained for 300 pages! Add THE DINNER PARTY to your TBR list for Spring--you'll thank us!

And we have a copy for #giveaway. Just leave a comment here or on our FB page to be entered to #win. Share this post for a second entry. Contest closes on Friday, April 8th at 5pm PST.

Brenda, also the force behind many of PopSugar's must-read lists, stopped by to answer some of our burning questions. (Find out why she's inspired us to use the voice memo app on our phones!) But first, more about her novel!

The scoop: This Passover Seder is not just any Passover Seder. Yes, there will be a quick service and then a festive meal afterwards, but this night is different from all other nights. This will be the night the Golds of Greenwich meet the Rothschilds of New York City.

The Rothschilds are the stuff of legends. They control banks, own vineyards in Napa, diamond mines in Africa, and even an organic farm somewhere in the Midwest that produces the most popular Romaine lettuce consumed in this country. And now, Sylvia Gold's daughter is dating one of them.

When Sylvia finds out that her youngest of three is going to bring her new boyfriend to the Seder, she's giddy. When she finds out that his parents are coming, too, she darn near faints. Making a good impression is all she thinks about. Well, almost. She still has to consider her other daughter, Sarah, who'll be coming with her less than appropriate beau and his overly dramatic Italian mother. But the drama won't stop there. Because despite the food and the wine, despite the new linen and the fresh flowers, the holidays are about family. Long forgotten memories come to the surface. Old grievances play out. And Sylvia Gold has to learn how to let her family go.

Our thoughts: Read. It. Now.


PHOTO BY: Hy Goldberg / Cristina Calvi

PHOTO BY: Hy Goldberg / Cristina Calvi

How did you come up with the idea for THE DINNER PARTY? And on that note, when you think of an idea, do you write it down in a notebook, pin it up on a corkboard, file it away in your mind, promptly forget it and then curse yourself for not writing it down? 

I wanted to write a novel about letting go of the past, and how only when we do that can we move on to the future. The novel originally began at Chapter Fourteen, where Sarah’s boyfriend insists on wearing a “tie substitute.” (I have such affinity for that chapter, and it’s the one that was featured in my PopSugar First Look.)

When I think of an idea, I usually write it down. I’ve done the “file it away in your mind” thing and I always forget it (and then curse myself for not writing it down!). So, these days I live by my notes and the Voice Memo app on my iPhone.

The book is chock full of lively and complex characters that anyone in a family can relate to--especially during the holidays. Did you have a favorite to write? One that you found more challenging than another? 

Thank you! I appreciate that so much. I definitely had a blast writing Valentina, the woman who says what everyone is thinking. I wish I could be the sort of woman who says what everyone is thinking. But alas….

I always find male characters tough to write. I’m such a girly girl, and sometimes my worldview sneaks into their dialogue. In the book I’m working on now, one of my agent’s comments was: “A man would never say that.” And she was completely right! I was saying the line in my own head, when really, I should have been imagining Ryan Gosling, or Henry Cavill, or Joe Manganiello, or… I’m sorry, what were we discussing?

Ooh how we loved the drama in this book! In your own life, how do you handle drama when it comes your way?

You two are seriously making me blush! Thank you!!

I love family drama, but only in novels. In real life, family drama is so much harder to deal with. I think that’s what I love about fiction—you can create this entire world that you control. And you can give it a resolution.

Oh, and how I deftly answered around your question? That should give you a little glimpse on how I deal with family drama. I duck and I swerve and I try not to say anything too incriminating.

You are such a huge supporter of other writers. Why do you feel this is important?
I love reading and I love books. There’s nothing I love more than a good book, so why not talk about it?

What are three things your readers might find interesting about your writing process? 

One: I dictated full chapters of this book on my Voice memo app on my iPhone. (See, above, regarding not losing ideas when they come to you!)

Two: I don’t have a set writing routine—I basically write whenever and wherever I have the time. Sometimes it’s the nursery school parking lot (thank you, Voice memo app!), but I prefer it to be in my office.

Three: I’ve always had vivid dreams and nightmares, but I think it’s a big part of my creative process. I keep a pad next to my bed at night since I often wake up in the middle of the night with an idea.

Have you recently discovered any debut authors you'd recommend? 

So many!

In the past year, I loved EVERYBODY RISE by Stephanie Clifford, SWEETBITTER by Stephanie Danler, EVERY ANXIOUS WAVE by Mo Daviau, A WINDOW OPENS by Elisabeth Egan, HUGO AND ROSE by Bridget Foley, LOVE AND MISS COMMUNICATION by Elyssa Friedland, MAESTRA by L.S. Hilton, BE FRANK WITH ME by Julia Claiborne Johnson, THE THE TWO-FAMILY HOUSE by Lynda Cohen Loigman, MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS by Catherine Lowell, THE ASSISTANTS by Camille Perri, THE NEST by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, and DIETLAND by Sarai Walker.

What's up next for you?

I’m working on my sixth novel and doing lots of freelance work. I’m getting ready for the launch of THE DINNER PARTY and reading seemingly a million galleys for my PopSugar Best Reads of Summer list. Maybe somewhere in there, I’ll work in a nap, but it’s doubtful.

Thank you so much for having me here! 

Thank you, Brenda!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

MIAL_coverWe adore Taylor Jenkins Reid and her novels. And her latest, Maybe in Another Life (out today, July 7th) is definitely her best yet. It was the obvious choice for our book club pick this month! (Can you imagine being able to live out two versions of your life? Such a great concept!) And because we love you guys, we have a copy of her book up for grabs! Just leave a comment here or on our Facebook page to be entered to #win. Contest closes Thursday, July 9th at 8pm PST.

The scoop: From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

Our thoughts: The movie, Sliding Doors, is such a great concept. Taylor translates this idea into book form in such a unique way. All we can say is we loved, loved, loved this book! And you need to read it ASAP if not sooner! :)

Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid author photoWe love the movie Sliding Doors and your book hits on that idea of what could happen if you'd made one single different choice in your day. Without giving anything away, we really appreciate how you handled it in your book. How did you come up with the idea? 

I have been preoccupied with the debate of fate vs. chance my entire life. I remember back in the 90s watching a trailer for Sliding Doors and deciding right then and there that it was my favorite movie even though I hadn't even seen it. I just loved the very concept. Personally, I wonder, "How different would my life be if..." on a regular basis. So, going into this book, I already knew exactly how I wanted everything to end.

We're curious about your writing process, especially with this novel and the dual storylines. Do you write your chapters in succession? Do you outline? Do you know the end before you begin?

I write everything in succession with no real outline. I start with where the character is at the beginning and I write toward how I want the book to end. Anything in the middle is up for grabs. It means that my first draft is excruciating. I wake up every day knowing I have to write a certain amount of pages and having no idea what they will be. But it also means I'm surprising myself sometimes with what the characters do and say -- which is the most fun part.

Congrats on FOREVER, INTERRUPTED being optioned for film. When you write your novels, do you picture the book as a movie? 

Thank you! Yeah, I think every book I write feels cinematic to me. I just see it all so clearly and because my first job out of college was in feature film casting, I often see characters as actors.

You also developed a show for HULU. Do you ever sleep? Ha. Tell us about how you juggle your day jobs!

Oh, my God. Sometimes I'm positively exhausted. It's not the 'hours in the day' problem so much as the creative energy. It can be hard to replenish once you feel like you've spent it all. I'm just now starting to really tap into what inspires me and learning how to harness that inspiration to fuel my work.

What's up next after MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE publishes?


Another book out next year and hopefully a few more project announcements! Every day I'm hustlin'.