These Girls

Lisa's Favorite books of 2012

Echoing what Liz said yesterday, there have been so many awesome books this year. In fact, let's have a round of applause for the fabulous novels and memoirs we were so lucky to devour! But because there was such a long list of exciting reads, selecting only a handful of my favorites was so not easy. (It made the past two weeks of dealing with my sick toddler waking up at all hours suddenly seem like a cinch).  So here goes...

And hey, we want to hear what books you LOVED in 2012.  Don’t forget to leave a comment and let us know!

1. The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch I instantly fell in love with Nell, who loses her memory after being one of two survivors of a horrific plane crash.  She must then attempt to navigate the stories that her loved ones are telling her about herself and her past--stories that aren't exactly adding up.  Nell not only must figure out who she was, but who she is going to be as she moves forward. The Song Remains The Same (coming out in paperback on December 31 with this fabulous new cover) is my fave from Allison thus far, a sparkling page-turner that I was not able to put down.


2. Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio  This is not only one of my favorite books of the year, but it's also my favorite Sarah Jio book so far (she's written two others). It's a powerful and emotional story of two women who've never met, but are connected in unimaginable ways. In 1933, single mother Vera Ray loses her son the night of late-season snowstorm in Seattle--a cold-weather phenomenon called Blackberry Winter. Almost eighty years later, Seattle Herald reporter, Claire Aldridge, is assigned to cover a similar snowstorm that hits in May and learns of the unsolved abduction of Vera's son. She vows to find out what happened... Warning: Once you pick it up, will not be able to put this New York Times bestseller down. As you turn the pages, it's one unexpected twist after another right up until the shocking ending. (PS: Jio's upcoming novel, The Last Camellia, is out May 28, 2013. I cannot wait to read it!)

3. Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster This is hands down, Lancaster's funniest memoir yet. Not to mention the most hilarious book I read this year. (And yes, I'm more than a little in love with her sense of humor!) From the full title of her book alone,  Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult's Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development; Or, Why It's Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner, you know it's going to be a highly-entertaining page-turner. But it's the comedic tales she shares that suck you in for a wild ride as you hungrily devour chapter after chapter of her witty moments. This book appeals to all, but in particular the Gen Xer (ahem, me!), who will laugh and relate as Lancaster explores what it means to finally decide to grow up — sort of. I particularly enjoyed the stories about perimenopause and a home waxing kit. (PS: I've already read Jen's upcoming novel, Here I Go Again, out January 29, 2013, and it's fabulous!)

4. These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen Ah, Sarah Pekkanen. Where do I begin? Her books always top my favorite lists because she is such a brilliant writer. I swear she can give you the full picture of who a character is in just a few words. That's talent! So not surprisingly, what I love most about These Girls are the three main characters, roommates Cate, Renee and Abby. Cate has just been promoted to the editor of a fashion magazine but quickly realizes her new job comes with as many problems as perks. Renee, who is vying for a promotion of her own at the same magazine, turns to a bottle of diet pills after she overhears snide comments about her weight. And Abby is their newest roommate who is tight-lipped about what caused her to flee her nanny job in the suburbs. And as these girls help each other bring their truths to light and overcome their personal battles, I was reminded of the power of female friendships.  (PS: I've just finished Sarah's next book, The Best of Us, coming out April 9, 2013, and she nailed it--uh gain.)

5. Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany This is one of the most moving and thought-provoking books I read this year. Hatvany is a beautiful writer and proves her skill, once again, at tackling tough subjects. In Outside the Lines, Eden searches for her father who left her two decades before, when she was just 10 years old.  After a series of failed romances and health scare from her mother, she knows it's time to face the emotions she's had bottled up all this time. Her journey to find her father, who she isn't even sure wants to be found, had me on the edge of my seat as I flipped the pages wondering how the story would end. (PS:My next read will be is Amy's upcoming book, A Heart Like Mine, out on March 19, 2013! The buzz? It's sensational!)

Man Candy bonus pick!

The 500 by Matthew Quirk (Because we read great books by men too!) This book is a complete departure from the novels I usually gravitate toward.  In the vein of John Grisham's The Firm, I was gripped from page one and felt more like I was watching an action movie than reading a story (in a good way). Mike Ford lands his dream job at Washington's most powerful consulting firm which turns out to be a world filled with lies, cheating and stealing. While rubbing shoulders with "the 500," the group of elite men and women who really run Washington, Ford is expected to join in on the fun. But even though he comes from a world of con men, he isn't sure he's cut out for the job. Can't wait to find out what's up next for this debut author.

xoxo, Lisa


Sarah Pekkanen's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Today's guest: Sarah Pekkanen Why we love her: Her books fit women like the perfect little black dress.

Her latest book: These Girls (Out tomorrow: April 10th!)

The scoop: Cate has just been named the features editor of Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. It’s a professional coup, but her new job comes with more complications than Cate ever anticipated.

Cate’s roommate Renee will do anything to nab the plum job of beauty editor at Gloss. But snide comments about Renee’s weight send her into an emotional tailspin. Soon she is taking black market diet pills—despite the racing heartbeat and trembling hands that signal she’s heading for real danger.

Then there’s Abby, whom they take in as a third roommate. Once a joyful graduate student working as a nanny part time, she abruptly fled a seemingly happy life in the D.C. suburbs. No one knows what shattered Abby—or why she left everything she once loved behind.

Our thoughts: As BFF's for 25 years, to say we relate to the novel's central theme of friendship is an understatement. Hands down, this is Sarah's best book yet. Our question: How does she keep topping herself?

Fun fact: She was the first author we hosted on Chick Lit is Not Dead over three years ago.

Giveaway: 5 copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners on Sunday, April 15 after 6pm PST.


1. You're not as dorky as you suspect you are.  Stand up straighter and smile and talk to some of the people milling past you in the hallway. I promise they're not all laughing at you behind your back. In fact, many of them are every bit as insecure as you. Even the mean girls. Especially the mean girls! Okay, so don't talk to them, but your high school is bursting with interesting, smart, funny, quirky people. One of them, a blonde girl who also loves to write, will become your best friend two decades after you graduate. Go over and say hi to her - you can do it! (I'm nudging my teen self  in the shoulder now).

2. That spiral perm you're saving up for? Oh, dear God, no - back away from the hair salon, slowly, and your 9th grade pictures won't make you cringe forever. I know you think fun, bouncy curls will make a zippy change from your stick-staright hair. But you're going to end up with a head full of frizz, a look that will not be improved upon when your hair begins to grow out and the top half is stick-straight and the bottom half is a mass of frizz. For the next few months, people will come up to you and say, "Oh... you got a perm." And then there will be a long, painful silence as they desperately try to come up with something positive to say about your new 'do. They will be unsuccessful in their attempts. If you really want a change, put more lemon juice in your hair and sit out by the pool. Yes, I realize that doesn't work, but I'm trying to distract you from the perm horror that awaits you.

3. Keep doing sports. You're on the track team and the field hockey team, and there's no better way for a teenage girl to spend her time. You're checking out the bruises on your shins (admit it, you're proud of them) instead of the size of your ass in the mirror, and that's pretty wonderful. You're learning about teamwork, and commitments, and losing when you want to win more than anything in the world, and giving it your all until you're about to collapse. Those lessons that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life.

4. The local Saks Fifth Avenue that hired you as a teen model? Um, one of the first jobs they're going to call you for will involved you putting on a giant, fuzzy, Winnie-the-Pooh costume. You're not really going to understand why, but they're paying you, so it's all good. Except for the fact that you invited a guy to come see you model, and he will instead witness you lurching around Saks dressed as a bear named Pooh. This may not help your reputation.

5. Stay open, stay hopeful, stay positive. And always follow your heart, kiddo. Like everyone else, you're going to have your share of heartache and sadness. But your'e also going to have a really good life.

Thanks, Sarah! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa

To find out more about the lovely and talented Sarah Pekkanen, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.