Skipping a Beat

Best Books of 2011 by Liz

We love this time of year!  Warm hats, scarves, sassy boots and a reason to curl up by the fire with a good book and drink hot chocolate.  And it's been a great year here at CLIND-we've had so many fantastic authors on and have enjoyed every single one. (Thank you authors!) We also launched our own e-book, The D Word and relaunched I'll Have Who She's Having this past June-Thanks for all your support-we truly appreciate each and every one of you. We also read a shitload of books in 2011.  And there were so many wonderful ones that making a short list was was VERY difficult.  In fact, Lisa and I had such a hard time deciding that we each decided to come up with our own list.  Look for her's later this week!

And what kind of end-of year post would this be without an AWESOME giveaway?  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a BUNDLE O' BOOKS that includes novels from Cecelia Ahern, Josie Brown, Jenny Nelson and Joanne Rendell, among others!  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. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close I read this debut while on vacay in Hawaii over the summer and let's just say that I'm pretty thankful neither of my kids drowned while I was engrossed of this witty, refreshing tale of a group of friends after they graduate from college and struggle with heartbreak and career changes, all while attending endless bridal showers. A MUST read if you were a big SATC fan-the narrative really captures the spirit of Carrie & co.  It's not too late to pick this up for your stocking!


2. The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan Another great debut!  When Marissa's BFF Julia gets hit by a cab and suffers brain damage, it changes the dynamic of their friendship forever. As Julia struggles to regain her memory, things come up that Marissa would much rather forget and things get a bit complicated.  A engaging story about friendship and forgiveness that I couldn't put down.  I highly recommend you grab a copy for you and your bestie TODAY.  One of my favorite covers of the year too!


3.  Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekkanen I. Loved. This. Book! As a self-delared emotional robot, I found myself bawling like a freakin' baby during the last few chapters of this delightful novel.  When Julia's husband Michael has a near-death experience, he rewrites the rules of their struggling marriage, forcing her to choose whether to stay and take a leap of faith or leave forever. Insightful but also with with a healthy dose of Pekkanen's trademark humor, you won't be able to put it down- I PROMISE!


4. The First Husband by Laura Dave When Annie's long-time boyfriend suddenly leaves her, she rebounds with a vengeance, marrying a down-to-earth chef after three short months of dating. Soon Annie finds herself in a small Massachusetts town and wondering if she was too quick on the trigger.  When her ex returns and wants her back, things get really complicated...  Laura Dave is one of my fave writers, her narrative on love and life always hits home and The First Husband is no exception.  I devoured this book in four hours flat-a new record for me. The perfect gift to give yourself this season!


5. Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany Cadence thought she had it all-good job, successful husband and adorable son-until her marriage went off the rails and the stress of single motherhood drove her to start drinking heavily. It's only when her five-year old son is taken away that she realizes that her best kept secret has been discovered. Will she ever be able to find her way back and earn back the trust she's lost? Honest and thought-provoking, I promise you'll be thinking of Cadence long after you finish this fantastic book.

And one YA bonus pick!

Y'all know I have love for those young adult's my fave of 2011.

Bumped by Megan McCafferty- When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, things get a little bit CRAZY.  Would-be parents pay top dollar for teens to conceive and carry babies, making them the most prized citizens in society-and the most genetically blessed are in the highest demand and considered celebrities. I LOVED this book-very high concept about the business of having babies, and our increasing desire for genetic perfection. I'm anxiously awaiting a sequel!



Thanks for such a great year and here's to a wonderful 2012!  Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered to win a BUNDLE O' BOOKS!  xoxo, Liz

The First Word Is Always The Scariest

This past weekend, I got a ton of shit done.  I channeled my inner OCD'er and finally put away the mass amount of birthday presents from both kids' birthdays the week prior. (Bounce house party overload, anyone?) I cleaned out my inbox.  I cleaned out my outbox.  I ordered my Christmas cards. I put my books in alphabetical order by genre.  All to avoid the one thing that I HAD to do. Write the next chapter of our third book.

You'd think I'd be dying to dig in.  I'm loving the concept and what we've written so far.  In fact, dare I say that I think this is by far the best work we've ever done?! We've finally learned to say more with less and for once we aren't making writing decisions based what we think others want to read-we're writing what WE WANT to read.  And it's surprised us both what a huge difference that small change is making.

So then why the hell did I have to practically reorganize my entire house before I could sit down and write?


As many of you know, there's so much fear that goes into writing.  Fear that you won't be able to create the magic you did last week.  Fear that your writing partner is going to tear the shit out of it.  Fear that you're pouring your heart and soul into something that may not ever see the light of day.

So for me, it's all about writing that first word.  If I can get past that, then I know I'll find my sweet spot again.  That's why it's the scariest.  On the way to our writing retreat a few weeks ago, I sat on the plane, fingers poised, doubting myself, thinking my time might be better served getting drunk with the cute guy sitting next to me. The fear I felt about that first word was so overwhelming that I felt physically sick, and it wasn't from the all the Barcardi and coke drinking going on around me. (Btw, Barcardi? Really? The year 2000 called, they want their drink back...)

But on the first day of our retreat, I finally did it. I wrote the first word of the first chapter of what will hopefully be our breakout book.  And you know what?  Once I got over that hump, the words flowed from my fingers for two days straight.

So when I found myself in the same position a few weeks later, I knew the drill.  Just put on those earphones with my new favorite song, drown out MarioKart and SpongeBob and start writing.  Simple, right?

Maybe.  All I know is my house is always the most organized when I'm writing a book.  But maybe next time I'm faced with fear, I can pop over, read this post, and remember it's all gravy after that first word.

In honor of NaNoWriMo, we want you tell us what the hardest part of the writing process is for you.  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a copy Skipping A Beat by one of our favorite authors, Sarah Pekkanen.  We'll choose the winners on Sunday, November 20th after 6pm PST.



Sarah Pekkanen's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We. Love. Sarah. Pekkanen. There-it's out in the open now.  We've been huge fans since her off-the-charts debut, The Opposite of Me. (Fun fact: she was our first author interview EVEH on CLIND!) Since then, we've been eagerly anticipating her follow-up, Skipping a Beat. And it did not disappoint!  We couldn't put it down and someone (Liz!) may have even bawled her eyes out for the last three chapters.  But even though Skipping a Beat can reach even the most emotionally unavailable robot with it's pitch-perfect insights on love and marriage, it's also a funny and heartwarming story that will have you thinking about it long after you finish.  Check out the book trailer for it here!

What would you do if your husband wanted to rewrite the rules of your relationship?

Julia Dunhill, a thirty-something party planner, seems to have it all: Married to her high school sweetheart and living in a gorgeous home in Washington D.C., she imagines her future unfolding very much as it has for the past few years, since she and her husband Michael successfully launched their companies.  But in her darker moments, she worries that her marriage has dissolved from a true partnership into a façade, but she convinces herself it’s due to the intensity of their careers and fast-paced lifestyle.

So as she arranges the molten chocolate cupcakes for the annual Opera benefit, how can she know that her carefully-constructed world is about to fall apart? That her husband will stand up from the head of the table in his company’s boardroom, open his mouth to speak, and crash to the carpeted floor… all in the amount of time it will take her to walk across a ballroom floor just a few miles away. Four minutes and eight seconds after his cardiac arrest, a portable defibrillator jump-starts Michael’s heart. But in those lost minutes he becomes a different man, with an altered perspective on the rarified life they’ve been living and a determination to regain the true intimacy they once shared.  Now it is up to Julia to decide — is it worth upending her comfortable world to try to find her way back to the husband she once adored, or should she walk away from this new Michael, who truthfully became a stranger to her long before his change of heart?

We LOVED Skipping a Beat-do yourself a favor and pre-order it RIGHT NOW (or pick it up at your favorite bookstore tomorrow, Tuesday February 22nd).  And check out her Do's and a Do-Over and you'll understand why Sarah had us at hello.

We also have FIVE copies to give away to lucky readers!  Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win-how damn easy is that? We'll pick the winners on Thursday night after 6pm PST.


5 Do's

1. Backpack through Europe After college, I threw some clothes and a Eurorail pass into a backpack and set off alone for three months. I was too young to be nervous; I was certain I'd have an amazing adventure, and I did! I slept on a sidewalk in Portugal with a group of Canadian travelers (we woke up to find stray dogs nuzzling up with us); arrived in Switzerland at a deserted train station late at night only to realize I had no money, had taken in the last train, and had no idea how to get to the hostel; and watched sunsets in Greece with a handsome rugby player from New Zealand. Sigh.

2.  Ask a girl out I'm not getting all Katy Perry on you - I mean it in a platonic way. There was a Mom at my kids' preschool who seemed like so much fun. She was always smiling and I loved chatting with her in the hallways, but I never took it to the next level. One day my husband said, "I think Rachel likes you. You guys should go out!" So I invited her out for drinks, and we spent the whole night laughing. Now she's one of the closest friends I've ever had.

3. Get a two-hour massage Pure decadence. It seems counter-intuitive, but there's nothing quite as relaxing as having a complete stranger rub your naked body with hot oil. After I sold my first book, I lay down on a table and experienced a hundred and twenty minutes of bliss. I felt like I was floating for days afterwards!

4.  Rescue a dog Stop counting calories - adopt a dog instead and keep eating cupcakes! You'll get an hour or more a day of brisk walking and you'll love doing it. My lab Bella is the sweetest creature alive, and even on cold winter mornings, I look forward to taking her out. I've gotten to know my neighbors and I notice little things in nature that I'd otherwise never see.

5.  Sing with a rock band I went to see the Rock Bottom Remainders - a surprisingly good band made up of authors Dave Barry, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, and guest singer Jennifer Weiner - in Philadelphia last year. It was a charity concert, and one of the auction items was a chance to sing back up on "Wild Thing." I won it and even though I can't carry a tune, I got up there and sang my heart out, then threw my kazoo into the crowd. (Surprising trivia: Amy Tan wore a Lady Gaga-style wig and at one point, began spanking the male members of the band. Had not expected to see that side of her!) One of the best nights of my life!

1 Do-over

I'd appreciate college so much more if I could do it again! I'd pay attention in classes instead of staring at cute boys, get to know more people, and learn more about myself. I went to college at 17 and was pretty young emotionally, and only now do I realize how much more I could have gotten out of the experience.

Thanks Sarah!  xo, L&L

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

Mommy Monday: An extra hour a day away keeps the b*tchface away

So far, I'm loving 2011.  I'm ROCKING those damn bangs like nobody's business and Lisa's bundle of joy arrived late last week. (More details from Lisa to come later this month-so all I'll say is that both Mom and baby are healthy and gorgeous!)  The Bears are heading to the playoffs(this makes the hubs happy) and I've already lost those annoying Wii-induced 5 pounds that were giving me the worst muffin top EVEH. And we all know that it's freakin' IMPOSSIBLE to rock jeans with boots when you have muffin top. So how did I lose them so quickly you ask?  Did I finally open up the P90X?  Did I decide to take the stairs?  Did I get swine flu?  Nope.  I lost the weight the old-fashioned way.


Don't worry-it's not the things are going terrible and I can't eat stress.  It's more like I'm so busy that I can't breathe or text or eat stress.  I knew 2011 was going to be crazy but it still knocked the wind out of me last week.  I found myself wishing for just one more hour in the day to get things done.  And when I fell into bed Friday night, I began daydreaming about what I would do with that hour.  Oh, the things I would get done! I would be so much nicer!  So relaxed!  Because let's face it: An extra hour a day would keep the bitchface away. You know, that secret bitchface that lives inside all of us?  Don't even try to pretend like you don't have one.

And here it is, so just in case I actually ever get that extra hour-I'll be ready!  Or maybe I'll just play Wii. (Damn you Grandma and Grandpa for buying the kids that time suck!)

If I had an extra hour a day, I would....

1. Get a mani-pedi with extra massage. I'd even finally let them draw that flower on my toenail they're always bugging me about.

2. Pour a huge glass of wine and watch the latest The Millionaire Matchmaker . (Did any of you see the one recently with the PR millionairess that looked like a crayola exploded on her face and the gold digger?  Dude! You. Must. Watch.)

3. Put on super cute workout clothes and pretend I was going to the gym and then find something else to do instead. Because it's the thought that counts, right?

4. Take my new dog to an animal psychic. Because I just have to know why that bitch keeps running away.  She went from a cold animal shelter and horrible mange to belly rubs, treats, walks and two kids that worship the ground she walks on. I don't know how to convey to her that it's not getting any better than this.

5. Tackle my TBR pile. Oh Vey.  Super Mario Brothers has really set me behind on this one. But I have three ARCS that I'm excited to read in the next two weeks- Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany(out in July), The Violets of March by Sarah Jio(out April 27th) and Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda(out in May).  Oh, and speaking of ARCS, you're going to LOVE Sarah Pekkanan's Skipping A Beat(due February 22).  I read it one day last month-I laughed, I cried, I loved it. Do yourself a favor and pre-order it.  And Leave a comment here to win an ARC of Sarah Jio's The Violets of March!

6. Read the stack of Entertainment Weeklys sitting on my desk. Because drooling over Jake Gyllenhaal half-naked on the cover is not actually considered reading.

7. Learn how to bake. Because I'm tired of my daughter saying, Oh, Mommy! when I pull lopsided, burnt cookies out of the oven.

8. Shop by myself. I don't care where.  Although for some reason I find Target very relaxing(until I get to the cash register and realized I've spent $200 and bought NOTHING I actually need).

9. Have happy hour with the girls. Because an hour with good friends, a Grey Goose dirty martini and an onion ring stack can make just about any problem melt away.

10. Have a conversation with my hubs that has nothing to do with snot, poop, time out, or Wii. Is that really too much to ask? And if I got an another hour, I might actually kiss him with some tongue.  In fact-let's declare 2011 the year of the married make-out session! All I need is a shot of tequila to help me forget about all the other things I should be doing instead and I'm in!

What would YOU do with your extra hour? Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win an ARC of Sarah Jio's upcoming debut, The Violets of March.  I'll pick the winners on Wednesday night after 6pm PST.  Good luck!

xoxo, Liz