The Love Goddess' Cooking School

What's on Melissa Senate's bucket list?

Do y'all have an author that you can always count on?  You know, someone whose books always deliver on the goods?  The kind of author that has you waiting in anticipation for their next novel as soon as you finish their last?  Well, we have quite a few-and we're thrilled to have one of them sharing their bucket list today. The fabulous Melissa Senate! We first discovered Melissa when we read the best seller See Jane Date and have loved all her books since. (She's written TEN!) Liz chose The Secret of Joy as a hot summer beach read over at a few months ago.  So when Melissa's latest, The Love Goddess' Cooking School arrived on our doorstep, we couldn't wait to dive into it! It comes out TOMORROW-click here to pre-order!

The Love Goddess' Cooking School is a charming story about love, family and discovery.  When thirty-year-old Holly Maguire inherits her Nonna's Camilla's Cucinotta, an Italian cooking school, twelve of the sixteen students immediately drop out. And who could blame them? Holly's grandmother was a seventy-five-old love goddess whose secret sauces had aphrodisiac properties and whose kitchen table fortune telling often came true.  Holly couldn't tell fortunes and wasn't much of a cook, but her determination to keep her grandmother's legacy alive motivates her to teach the class anyway.  Armed with Camilla's hand-scrawled recipe book, Holly and her students create their own recipes for happiness.

Melissa's delicious writing will have you craving the delectable dishes served up each chapter and keep you hungry for more of her heartfelt narrative.  Touching and a bit nostalgic, The Love Goddess' Cooking School is perfect way to reflect on why you loved your grandparents so much. (Liz *might* have shed a few tears about her own Italian nonna while reading...)

And guess what?  We have FIVE copies to give away!  Just leave a comment and we'll randomly choose the winners on Wednesday night!

And it's no surprise that we adored Melissa's bucket list too.  Read on to find out why!


1.  A year in Italy—from the cities to the countryside, learning the beautiful language, taking regional cooking classes, staring in wonder at the frescoes in the Vatican museums, eating outrageously good pasta, sipping cappuccino at a tiny café table and writing.

2.  A tour of the American west. I want to see the red rocks of Utah. The Grand Canyon. A real cowboy. I want to taste some serious chili.

3.  A visit to my childhood homes. I moved often as a kid, and I’d like to go back to those old neighborhoods and see what I remember, what it evokes. I lived in the Bronx, New York till I was 8 and vividly remember the courtyard of my apartment building, where some mean old lady used to pour pots of cold water on the loud kids (I was very loud) from her fourth floor window. I’d like to visit my elementary school in Flushing, Queens, where my love of writing was sparked and nurtured. I’d like to find the spot in that little park in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, where I had my first kiss in junior high school.

4.  Tom Petty in concert. Yes, Tom Petty! I dare anyone to look at my beloved Tom on the cover of Damn the Torpedoes and tell me he’s not beautiful. I want to hear/watch him sing American Girl and Refugee and Don’t Do Me Like That and my favorite Here Comes My Girl from my front row seat.

5.  A world tour. I’m dying to see Spain and Latvia (I’m half Latvian and only time I’ve ever heard anyone else say they were Latvian was on the TV show Seinfeld, so it’s time to see/meet some others) and Australia and everything in between.

Thanks Melissa!  xo, L&L

To read more about Melissa, head on over to her website or click here to follow her on Twitter.

Exclamation Point Whore By Lisa

If you met me, you'd probably definitely never describe me as happy go lucky or bubbly. But if you were to read one of my emails, you'd think you were corresponding with Suzie f***ing Sunshine!

And it's all because of the exclamation point!

Somewhere along the line, I couldn't write a freakin' email without one. And then it was two. And then, before I knew it, I'd officially become an exclamation point whore.

I couldn't stop.

An email just didn't seem complete without one five of them.

A sentence seemed flat and boring without one punctuating it.

I feared the recipient of my email wouldn't understand my excitement if the email didn't include a. String. Of. Them.

I was addicted.

I felt that the exclamation point was the only way I could get my, well, point across.

But then there were some comments about my very excited emails from those who shall remain nameless (hint: Liz wasn't one of said commenters- she's a total exclamation whore too!) and I was forced to take a long, hard look at my use of a punctuation tool that had grown to become, um, a friend. (Note to reader: I really wanted to put an exclamation point at the end of that last email, but I didn't...)

Was it professional? How many were too many? Could I substitute a smiley face or was that even worse? (more on that in a minute.)

And I tried, I really tried to leave them out of my emails. But at this point, typing them was practically second nature.

So before pushing send, I would attempt to edit. Which could stay and which should go?  But I never felt I could get it right. I needed my exclamation points!!! All of them!!! Damnit!!!

But in an effort to curb my habit, I started to use this guy: :)

But he couldn't replace my beloved exclamation point. Smiley just seemed childish and second best. So I dumped him (but keep him on the back burner just in case) and went back to my first love.

But I will tell you that the situation has improved. I'm not as much of a whore anymore. In fact, I only used 14 in this post (and some of them were deliberately for dramatic purposes) and believe me, I could've used many, many more!

Leave a comment today and you'll be entered to win an advanced reader copy of The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate (in stores October 26th) AND The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes. Let me know if you also blatantly abuse any form of punctuation. Tell me I'm not alone :)