Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a smart, humorous look at marriage and relationships.

Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

My Review:

Toby Fleishman is a short, Jewish liver doctor with a few hangups, but a seemingly sincere family man. Newly separated from his wife of 15 years, he unexpectedly finds solace in online dating apps. He is overwhelmed with the attention he is getting, basking in the never before received interest from the ladies.  Bombarded with sexy photos and texts, Toby tries to stay focused on his patients at work and being a good parent to his young daughter and son.

His ex-wife, Rachel, a successful talent agent, drops the kids off to him earlier than he expects one summer morning, based on their separation agreement, and after several days she is not returning messages.  After quite a while of not answering her phone, she now seems to have disappeared, and Toby is left with the question of where she is, and whether or not he truly understood his wife to begin with.  Fleishman Is In Trouble  is easy to follow and so enjoyable; a smart, humorous look at marriage and relationships.

Toby’s best friend Libby, a girl he met on a trip to Israel with his friend Seth when they were young and single, is back in touch after many years and is being a good friend to him, meeting him for lunch and trying to help solve his current problems without mentioning her own personal struggles.

Libby feels compassion and empathy for him, much like the reader is meant to, and we understand Toby’s marriage and divorce situation from his point of view.  Once we are completely absorbed in Toby and his troubles, Libby mentions to him that he is so busy with the dating apps, he hasn’t realized SHE could use a friend, and that she has some problems too.

This is when I realized I got so sucked in to feeling sorry for Toby, I may have been manipulated by the author to see only one side of the Fleishman marriage. And that is one of the many wonderful aspects of the author’s writing as she is able to bring her audience on the ride with her and ultimately sharing different perspectives.  With her story of Toby and Rachel, along with other sub-plots like the one with the patient that has Wilson’s Disease, Brodesser-Akner highlights the idea that we may be able to predict our future if we are observant and look hard enough.

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is an acute observer and talented journalist, known for her profile pieces on famous people like Gwyneth Paltrow and Bradley Cooper.  She has an incredible talent for pulling the reader in to all she writes about, and then tells you something that causes a seismic shift in your thinking!  Speaking to the human condition, she allows you to empathize with each of her characters even though we can clearly see their flaws, not to mention her witty commentary that keeps you laughing out loud. Her sense of humor brings additional charm just when comic relief is needed and I experienced many moments of joy and delight while reading, all the while thinking this would make a great tv show!

The author has no problem getting into the head of a man and providing the male perspective of his relationship.  Toby didn’t really consider where Rachel was coming from or how she might feel – she didn’t clearly communicate it to him, but he had little intuition.  She was having a breakdown, her upbringing contributed to her style of mothering and she was struggling, yet nobody was there to help her get through it.  Because of Toby’s point of view, I disliked Rachel until, through Libby, I learned more about her.  Taffy Brodesser-Akner took over the power of my emotions with her vivid observations, guiding me to feel the way she intended.

I really loved this heartbreaking and hilarious story of marriage, with valuable insights into how men and women think and communicate.  The NYC upper east side references were pure joy, as my husband and I lived in the Wellesley on 72nd St. and ate at EJ”s in the early 1990s, so it was a welcomed walk down memory lane (or 3rd Avenue) for me!  Fleishman Is In Trouble is a smart, humorous and accurate look at marriage, midlife, dating and relationships and reminds us that paying attention now can help us to navigate in the future.

It is worth your time to check out the three links below!

Taffy Brodesser-Akner interviewed by Jake Tapper at Politics and Prose Bookstore

Gwyneth Paltrow NYTimes Article by Taffy Brodesser-Akner-Akner

Bradley Cooper NYTimes Article by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Goodreads Summary

Taffy Brodesser-Akner

About the Author

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine. Prior to that, her work appeared in GQ, ESPN the Magazine, Matter, Details, Texas Monthly, Outside, Self, Cosmopolitan and many other publications. Fleishman Is In Trouble is her first novel.

Don’t Miss Out on Great Books From Just a Few Years Ago!

 

My Absolute Darling and All Day

There are so many books to read, sometimes it can be overwhelming to decide what to choose.  For money conscious bookclubs and for those who prefer an actual book over a kindle, it is nice to choose titles that are available in paperback – less expensive and lighter to carry.

Prepare for the fall and pick up a few great reads to have on your nightstand.

A few of my favorites from several years ago are:  My Absolute Darling by Gabrielle Tallent, The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and All Day : A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island, New York’s Most Notorious Jail  by Liza Jessie Peterson.  

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Many leaders and business men and women do a lot of reading and Barack Obama provided his TOP 10 BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS OF 2017 which included great ones like Exit West, A Gentleman in Moscow, Evicted and Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Don’t miss out on great books from just a few years ago…it’s never too late!

Here is MY FULL BOOK LIST FROM 2017.  Enjoy!

Fiona Davis takes us back to the McCarthy era, NYC theater and the Chelsea Hotel in her brand new novel, The Chelsea Girls. Author Q & A included!

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

The McCarthy Era, NYC theater, and the Chelsea Hotel…Fiona Davis has treated us to another wonderful novel, The Chelsea Girls!

I love the historical setting of the Chelsea Hotel in NYC in the 1950s, with writers, actors and musicians in residence; what an interesting place to live during the McCarthy era when there was a threat of blacklisting.

Hazel is a playwright and upon her return from being on tour with the USO in Italy, and against her parents’ will, she moves out of her childhood home and into the Chelsea Hotel to work in theater.  Soon after, she is reunited with Maxine, her actress pal from the tour, when she moves to NY and into the same hotel.  Their friendship is strong and they end up working together on a play that is headed for Broadway just when the red scare casts a shadow over the theater industry.  The hunt for communists becomes prevalent and causes fear and upheaval with the girls and their co-workers. These complicated times presented difficult challenges with friendships that threatened loyalties, and I was rooting for Hazel and Maxine to beat the odds.  I found myself absorbed in each of the young women’s stories through the linear storytelling, and the deep dive into their friendship we learn through narration, conversation and diary entries.  The Chelsea Girls was compelling, interesting, educational and satisfying.

The history Fiona Davis shines a light on is enlightening and google-worthy in all of her novels and The Chelsea Girls is no exception.  Many notable people have lived in the Chelsea Hotel over time…including Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, Jack Kerouac, Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Dennis Hopper, Jane Fonda, Grateful Dead, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Bette Midler, and due to the many deaths that occurred there, The Chelsea Hotel is known for its’ famous ghosts that are present.

A wonderful story that includes history, NYC and friendship, I highly recommend The Chelsea Girls and all of Fiona’s other novels too (The Dollhouse – takes place at The Barbizon Hotel, The Address – takes place at the Dakota, and The Masterpiece – takes place at Grand Central Terminal)!

Jennifer Blankfein of Book Nation by Jen and author Fiona Davis

Q & A with Fiona Davis

Q:  I love the setting of The Chelsea Hotel for your newest novel…how did you come across it and decide to use it as a backdrop for your book?

A:  I knew I wanted to have the plot be about two women trying to mount a play on Broadway during the McCarthy era, and the hotel made the perfect location, as several of its residents were investigated by the FBI during that time, one was even imprisoned, and the place has been a political and artistic hotbed since it opened in 1884.

Q:  The acting and theater challenges Maxine and Hazel faced were authentic and believable.  How has your background impacted how you wrote about them?

A:  I think maybe my background offered specificity when it comes to the details of putting a show up on Broadway, and I have no doubt that having read a lot of plays helped me when it came to writing dialogue. When I acted in a theater company when I first came to New York, we did everything behind the scenes – from costume design to selling tickets – so it was a crash course in how a play gets mounted as well as the many obstacles involved in producing.

Q:  The age of McCarthy and the witch hunt for communists took a toll on the people in the entertainment business in the Chelsea Girls- can you tell me a little about what happened during that time period in real life?    

A:  One of the best books to read on the subject is Lillian Hellman’s Scoundrel Time. She describes the initial reaction that the witch hunt as a joke. They figured since they were innocent of anything illegal, it would all disappear in time. Instead, the circus grew stranger and stranger and more threatening, and her account of testifying before Congress will send a shiver up your spine.

Q:  I love the how the chapters alternate between the two main characters.  Did you write them in the order they appear in the book?  Why did you choose to have only Maxine keep a diary?

A:  I wrote the book in order, going back and forth between Hazel’s perspective and Maxine’s. I liked the way that their perspectives offered up a different viewpoint as to what was going on, depending on their own opinions and backgrounds. I wanted to have only Maxine keep a diary so we could get deep into her head, and have a recorded account of the events.

Q:  Hazel and Maxine had struggles and I enjoyed both of them so much!  Even though there was deceit, their friendship was powerful and necessary in order to sustain composure during those times.  Who do you identify with most?

A:  I think I identify with Hazel most, as while I loved acting, it wasn’t suited to my more introspective nature. She feels the same way, and finds herself by writing plays just as I discovered so much joy in writing books.

Q:  Do you see hints of McCarthy era parallels in reverse today with accusations toward our president of having Russian connections?  Is it equally as damaging?

A:  It’s amazing how history repeats itself, but I think the way that people are bandying about the term “McCarthyism” today requires a hard look at what really happened, which is one of the reasons I wanted to write about it in the first place. Back then, politicians were trying to find an “other” to demonize, a way to find a common enemy and thereby consolidate their power. My hope is by taking a close look at the past, we can avoid going down the same road again.

Q:  After your book tour for The Chelsea Girls, What is up next for you?

A:  I’m hard at work on the next book, which is called The Lions of Fifth Avenue and set in the New York Public Library. It’s a big endeavor but I’m enjoying it immensely.

Q:  What is on your nightstand to read next?

A:  I have two books that are coming out next year to read: Red Letter Days by Sarah-Jane Stratford (which is also about the blacklist, I like to think I started a trend, although I’m sure she’s been working on it for years), and The Girls in White Gloves by Kerri Maher. 

Goodreads Summary

Fiona Davis author

About the author:

Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of THE MASTERPIECE, THE DOLLHOUSE and THE ADDRESS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction. Visit her at www.fionadavis.net, facebook.com/FionaDavisAuthor/ and on Instagram and Twitter @fionajdavis.

Is There Still Sex in the City? Author Candace Bushnell says the answer is YES!

Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell

My Review:

Decades after Carrie Bradshaw, a young and hopeful writer for a NYC newspaper, and her girlfriends took on the challenges of sex and dating in the big city, author Candace Bushnell re-examines life in her new book, Is There Still Sex in the City? with a new group of female friends as they navigate the highs and lows of middle age today, along with the challenges of mating.

Twenty years ago, Candace Bushnell reshaped the landscape of pop culture, first as a reporter for the New York Observer and then with her book Sex and the City.  It became a huge tv hit and spawned two movies, developing a loyal, female following. She published nine books in total, including The Carrie Diaries, a prequel to Sex and the City, and Lipstick Jungle, about successful business women friends and their lives with challenges, perks and sacrifices, both of which were popular tv shows.

Is There Still Sex in the City? is inspired by real happenings, based on Bushnell’s and her friends’ escapades with men, their female friendships and the ups and downs of midlife.  A keen social observer, her stories are delivered with distinct style and humor.

I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing Candace Bushnell on the eve of the release of her latest book, Is There Still Sex in the City? at the Westport Library in Westport CT in front of a crowd of more than 300 people and we learned how her new book came about and some of her findings when researching middle age dating trends!

Jennifer Blankfein of Book Nation by Jen

After her unexpected divorce, Candace left New York to take some time away and she retreated to CT where she had a house.  When Tina Brown asked her to come back to the city and write about middle aged dating she refused, but soon after she received an email from a young woman reporter begging her to help.  All of this young woman’s friends were on Tinder and they were unhappy – they needed Ms. Bushnell to jump in and find out what was going on.  And so she did.

Back and forth between NYC and the Hamptons, Candace and her middle aged friends were the source of information on how things go over 50.  Parents die, kids leave home, people get divorced, jobs are lost and opportunities for reinvention are created during the tumultuous time for women which Ms. Bushnell calls Middle Aged Madness.

She read a funny excerpt from the book about how she was peer pressured into going out on a date with a former Ivy League football star who said he was in his late 60s but turned out to be 75, closer to her dad’s age, and all he wanted was sex.

Author Candace Bushnell with Book Nation by Jen Blogger Jennifer Blankfein

We talked about technology and its impact on dating today, and Candace referenced her book when saying how there is a whole group of young men in their 20s and 30s who are interested in dating women 30 plus years their senior – this trend is called Cubbing and it can happen to the most unsuspecting of middle aged women!

In her book, she says, “Society colludes to tell men they’re a little bit better than they actually are while it tells women they’re a little bit worse.”  She agreed that the MeToo movement has allowed women to stand up for themselves more than before but believes men and women both feel the pressure to stay youthful.  There are special surgeries and luxurious creams available to keep women looking and feeling young, but ultimately everyone has to make choices on what they want to invest in based on their own personal comfort level.

We talked about how in the 1990s working for The New York Observer, she was asked to investigate Jeffrey Epstein due to some suspicions about a private plane and models, but was warned by someone close to him to stay away and stop asking questions.

Around the same time Charlie Rose asked her which was more important to her, writing or a relationship and back then her answer was writing.  Candace Bushnell’s priorities still stand, as she is passionate about her work and disciplined to accomplish her goals every day.  She enjoys spending time with her current boyfriend but they maintain their own residences and alternate time together and time apart.

Jennifer Blankfein of Book Nation by Jen with Candace Bushnell author

If you loved Sex and the City and the dating adventures of the iconic women friends in NYC, you will love Candace Bushnell’s new book that is a satirical tale based on her life after divorce and how she and her single, divorced and widowed friends tried to get back in the game in middle age.

Earlier this year the WSJ came out with an article about the new rules of middle age and Bushnell was quoted as saying “We are not going to do our 50s the way everyone is telling us we’re supposed to.”  She believes after our reproductive years we are reinventing ourselves, starting new ventures and taking chances and learning new things more than ever before.

Recently the NYT published an article about Bushnell’s Sunday routine which included snuggling with and walking her standard poodles, surfing the internet, writing, exercising and eating.  Maybe not what you expected from an ex-party girl, Candace admits to wearing the same pair of pants all the time and going out in NYC without makeup.

When asked which reality show is her favorite, she enthusiastically answered “Married at First Sight“.  She believes it is beneficial to have therapists meeting with the couples to give them tips on relationships and coaching throughout the early weeks of marriage.

Filled with heartbreaking and humorous anecdotes revealing adventures and challenges, Bushnell tells it like it is, sex and dating over 50 in all its glory and ugliness… she introduces us to labels she developed to categorize types of men, like the Hot Drop, Bicycle Boy and the Spouse-Child. And of course there are the well preserved Super Middles (middle aged people that are like they were before, only better)… and then everyone else. It’s not easy looking for love and Candace Bushnell keeps up chuckling through disappointments as she and her friends face the challenges of new hopeful romantic relationships and the settling for status quo companionships. Do the vibrant and experienced women over 50 today have strong relationships and good sex in their future?

When asked if there is still sex in the city, Candace says Yes, but probably a lot less.  And is the sex good?  She says it’s probably the same as it was before – if you enjoyed sex when you were younger you would feel the same over 50.

Hooray for us loyal fans… the fascinating conversation about women and dating over 50 will be played out on the big screen in the future – Paramount Television has picked up the rights to turn this one into a show!

It was a joy to learn more about Candace Bushnell, her life, career and new book, Is There Still Sex in the City?  Pick up a copy today for tips and insights about life, love and sex after 50, and enjoy some good laughs!

Goodreads Summary

Candace Bushnell

About the Author:

Candace Bushnell is the critically acclaimed, international best-selling author of Killing Monica, Sex and the City, Summer and the City, The Carrie Diaries, One Fifth Avenue, Lipstick Jungle, Trading Up, and Four Blondes. Sex and the City, published in 1996, was the basis for the HBO hit series and two subsequent blockbuster movies. Lipstick Jungle became a popular television series on NBC, as did The Carrie Diaries on the CW.

4 Benefits of Reading… This Is What I Know.

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Reading helps us to examine our world in new ways.  It provides us with opportunities to become more educated on an infinite number of topics and allows us to look at issues ways we may never have before.  Reading gives us insight into relationships and helps us understand people, teaches us empathy, and presents opportunities to ask questions.

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Here are 4 benefits of reading, and 30 book suggestions for you to enjoy!

1.  LEARN ABOUT INTERESTING TOPICS

Exploring places around the world and going back in time through reading gives us access to infinite knowledge.

Different Aspects of World War II

At The Wolf's Table

Women were chosen to be food tasters for Hitler in At The Wolf’s Table by Rosella Postorino.

Challenges of Assimilation

A Place for Us

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza explores a Muslim Indian American family and their religion and traditions.

Performance Art at MOMA

The Museum of Modern Love

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose is a fiction story centered around Marina Abramović and her performance art exhibit in 2010.

South Africa and Apartheid

Hum if You Don't Know the Words If You Want to Make God Laugh

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais tells stories of women and family brought together through tragedies.

Rwandan Massacre

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya is a memoir about a girl who survived the genocide in Rwanda and the aftermath.

Death Row and Prison Life

The Last SuppersThe Sun Does Shine

The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak and The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton give a dismal picture of what goes on behind bars and the strength needed to overcome.

The Korean War

PachinkoIf You Leave Me

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim teach us about the lives of Korean refugees.

AIDS in the 1980s and 90s

The Great BelieversNow Everyone Will Know

The AIDS crisis devastated so many and deeply impacted families in the  The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai and Now Everyone Will Know by Maggie Kneip.

Famous People

LittleWhite HousesSong of a Captive Bird

Little by Edward Carey is a story based on the imagined life of Madame Tussaud, Eleanor Roosevelt and her unconventional relationship is depicted in White Houses by Amy Bloom, and the life of the strong female poet, Forugh Farrokhzad is revealed in Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik.

Strong Women That Were Wronged

Lilac GirlsRadium Girls

These are devastating stories of women in the past who were not protected by the government, like the rabbits in The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly,  and the factory workers in The Radium Girls by Kate Moore.

Grand Central Terminal History

The Masterpiece

Fictitious stories about the actual art school located above Grand Central Terminal are depicted in The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis.

2.  EXAMINE COMPLEX RELATIONSHIPS

Reading can provide different prospectives, helping us see a story from all sides.

AsymmetryThe Only Story

Loosely based on the author and Philip Roth, we read about a young girl in a relationship with an older male in Asymmetry  by Lisa Halliday. 

A look back on the memories of the narrator’s first love, there is a young male in a relationship with an older female in The Only Story by Julian Barnes.

The Sunshine SistersThe Husband Hour

Complex mother, daughter and sister relationships play out in Jane Green’s The Sunshine Sisters and Jamie Brenner’s The Husband Hour .

3. LEARN TO EMPATHIZE

People are always saying reading encourages empathy and it is really true…When you are reading you are made more aware of other people’s feelings and given the opportunity to understand people that are different.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineThe Extraordinary Life of Sam HellA Boy Made of BlocksWe Loe Anderson Cooper

Eleanor Oliphant by Gail HoneymanThe Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Bob Dugoni and A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart are about those that just don’t fit in; similar to the characters in the short story collection We Love Anderson Cooper by R.L. Maizes.

4. EXPLORE THE UNKNOWN

Some books provide opportunities to ask ourselves WHAT IF? 

The CircleReady Player OneThe FarmVox

The Circle by Dave Eggers examines the power of social media.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline shows the future of video games.

The Farm by Joanne Ramos explores surrogate farms.  

Vox by Christina Dalcher takes a dystopian look at government control.

globe and people

Learn about interesting topics.  Examine complex relationships.  Learn to empathize.  Explore the unknown.

 What are you reading today?

An Undeniable Spark Between An Unlikely Twosome Creates Serious Heat In The Play, Burn This by Lanford Wilson

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My Review:

In anticipation of the Broadway production of Burn This starring Adam Driver and Keri Russell, I chose to familiarize myself with this emotional story of loss and love, and I am so glad I did!  In the late 1980s, in NYC, a female dancer, Anna, along with her gay roommate, Larry and her rich screenwriter boyfriend, Burton, are together mourning the loss of a friend, Robbie.  The deceased’s brother, Pale, shows up and looks to Anna to learn more about his younger sibling’s recent past, and amidst overwhelming emotions of grief, a physical relationship develops.  Anna ad Pale’s chemistry is undeniable and their relationship grows.  The connection is evident, but timing is not right and she denies them both the opportunity to continue by shutting him out.  To combat the pain of loss, Anna devotes herself to her work as a choreographer, developing a dance that represents this relationship she has turned her back on. 

Thank you to Lanford Wilson, the playwright, for giving Anna’s roommate, Larry, the understanding of the depth of her feelings for Pale…Larry sets them up to be alone in the apartment together without either of them knowing… and it was just what they both needed. I expect this play to be powerful and steamy.  The original cast in 1987 included Joan Allen and John Malkovich, and I think the current cast with Keri Russell and Adam Driver will have equal success.  I cannot wait to see the limited engagement, Broadway production at the Hudson Theatre in May!  

Interview with playwright Lanford Wilson about the writing of the play Burn This.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Playwright:

Lanford Wilson was born in Lebanon, Missouri on April 13, 1937 and died March 24, 2011.  He was an American playwright, considered one of the founders of the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1980, was elected in 2001 to the Theater Hall of Fame, and in 2004 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Reading, Writing and Pretty Revenge with Author Emily Liebert: women’s fiction with a healthy dose of psychological suspense is sure to grab you!

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My Review:

You will surely be hooked from the get go when you dive in to Emily Liebert’s upcoming emotional thriller, Pretty Revenge!  Eighteen years ago, Kerrie’s life was turned upside down.  Hurt by the betrayal and disappointment she once felt, and having never fully recovered, she is stuck in a bad relationship with no job and feeling disappointed.   After coming across the person she blames for her sad life on tv, old memories rise to the surface and retaliation becomes her goal.  She takes a job and reestablishes her life in the city with the sole purpose of revenge.

Jordana is a sophisticated New Yorker who seems to have it all.  She is a sought after wedding expert with a handsome, wealthy, successful husband and a beautiful apartment in the best part of town.  With dark secrets, she is running from her past while keeping herself busy with wedding plans for her wealthy clients.  When the job demands become overwhelming, she hires a much needed assistant who is agreeable to everything she is asked to do and seems to be extremely competent.   Focused on the details of expensive weddings and client management, the two women seem to develop a solid working relationship; but are they truly who they say they are, and how well do they really know each other?

With women and secrets, lies and deceit, friendships and forgiveness, Pretty Revenge delivers a suspenseful dose of crazy you won’t want to miss!  From her bestselling women’s novels focused on complex female relationships to this psychologically thrilling suspense, where we see a slightly darker side of those relationships…Liebert’s new spin is a huge success!  Easy to read with humorous, witty language, the novel’s impending dread constantly builds as it brings us to the truth, and appealing to my pollyanna side, we are lead to believe everything will tie up in a bow after the last page – perfect for a weekend away!  A most enjoyable read – available July 2019 – preorder a copy so you can have your own Pretty Revenge this summer!

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Q and A with Emily Liebert

You have been greatly successful with your women’s fiction novels, what made you decide to try psychological suspense this time?

EL: Writing women’s fiction novels was fun and fulfilling, but—ultimately—I wanted something edgier to sink my teeth into. I started reading a lot of psychological suspense and became motivated to challenge myself to try something new and bigger. With that said, I think both PRETTY REVENGE and the novel I’m writing now still have a women’s fiction element to them. I’m not going too far to the dark side, at least not yet! I also moved publishing houses to Simon & Schuster for these next two books, which I hope will be a major relaunch for me.

Are your characters in Pretty Revenge based on anyone you know?  Do you think people you know have recreated themselves and are hiding big secrets?

EL: I rarely base my characters directly on people I know, but there are always circumstances and stories from my life or from my friends’ lives that meander their way in. I don’t believe I know anyone who’s hidden his/her past life and is pretending to be someone else. I do, however, believe that everyone has at least one secret, some bigger than others.

The cheating husband of the woman who appears to have it all is not a new idea…why do you think we love to read about those types?

EL: Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, and I think people relate to them. They see their own lives reflected in the characters and plot. I always say, even if it’s not a revolutionary idea, there’s a fresh spin on it.

I was a fan of Kerrie’s from the get go but I felt compassion toward Jordana as her real life was revealed.  Who did you root for in Pretty Revenge, Jordana or Kerrie?

EL: As the author of the book and the creator of the characters, I have to say I was rooting for both of them in different ways. You think Kerrie is the underdog at first and you understand why she wants revenge. But then, my hope, is that people will realize how broken and vulnerable Jordana is too.

Your writing is very witty and fun to read.  Do you add descriptive phrases and detail afterward or does it just come out on the page as we see it?

EL: I love this question, and I get asked often about the humor in my writing. That is me! I’m funny (if I do say so myself). Also, I think you have to be able to laugh in life, even when it may not seem like the right moment. A big bucket list item for me would be to do standup comedy just once. I imagine it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m not sure I’d be able to go through with it, but stay tuned!

When you are starting a new book, do you develop your characters first, assigning them a past, present and future, or do you write the storyline and their details develop along with the plot?

EL: There’s always a nugget of an idea to begin with and maybe one character who I assign to that. Then, as I start fleshing out the idea, I’ll establish who the 2-3 main characters are and begin defining their personalities. After that, I’d say the storyline and the characters’ pasts/presents/futures unravel together.

What 3 books have you read lately that you recommend and what is on your nightstand right now?

EL: Three books I’ve loved recently are advanced copies of The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine and The Night Before by Wendy Walker (both pub in May), and Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. On my nightstand are an advanced copy of Jane Green’s The Friends We Keep and Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Emily Liebert is the USA TODAY Bestselling Author of five books.

PRETTY REVENGE, her forthcoming novel, will release on July 2, 2019.

Her first book Facebook Fairytales is available across the globe.

In 2012, Emily wrote her debut novel, You Knew Me When (Penguin), which published on September 3, 2013. Her second novel, When We Fall, published on September 2, 2014. Those Secrets We Keep, her third novel, released on June 2, 2015, and her fourth novel, Some Women, came out on April 5, 2016, all with Penguin Random House.

Emily is featured often in the press, by outlets such as: Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Anderson Cooper, FOX News, Good Day New York, The Couch, Oprah Radio, Martha Stewart Radio, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, InStyle, OK!, Nylon, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s World, WWD, Woman’s Day, The New York Post, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, and The Huffington Post.

She has also served as a spokesperson for Microsoft, appearing on TV and radio stations nationwide.

 

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

My Review:

The Lost Family is a beautifully written novel by Jenna Blum, author of the bestseller, Those Who Save Us.  The story begins in 1965 Manhattan.  World War II is over but the haunting memories are omnipresent for Peter Rashkin.  He survived Auschwitz but tragically lost his beloved wife and twin daughters, and Peter is  trying to start a new life for himself.  His extended family, the few that are still alive, have encouraged him to meet a nice Jewish girl and get on with life.  He owns and runs a restaurant called Masha, his lost wife’s namesake, and with a hole in his heart, emotional damage beyond repair, and physical scars on his body to prove it, Peter presses on.  He develops a relationship with June, a beautiful model twenty years younger, and although he cannot escape his torturous past, he hides his emotional and physical scars and gives what he can toward this new and exciting relationship.

Two decades later, Peter, his wife June and their daughter Elsbeth continue to struggle with Peter’s ghosts, the scars of war, and the legacy of the Holocaust and all the victims.  This emotional story touches upon many things, including the difficult restaurant business, high fashion modeling, the excitement and pitfalls of infidelity and the disturbing effects of eating disorders, but the basis of the emotional grief and ongoing challenges that engulfs the Rashkin family stems from personal loss, suffering and the terrors of World War II. Such a compassionate and engaging novel, don’t miss this great read.

Additional note:

Our past becomes part of who we are and we cannot separate out parts of ourselves.  Close family and younger generations may inherit the pain and suffering of oppressed and tortured relatives and Peter Rashkin’s family is no exception. Here is an article that talks more about this…CNN report discusses the possibility.

Goodreads Summary

Jenna Blum

About the Author:

New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US (Harcourt, 2004) and THE STORMCHASERS (Dutton, May 2010) and the novella “The Lucky One” in GRAND CENTRAL (Berkeley/Penguin, July 2014). One of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers. Novel THE LOST FAMILY was released from Harper Collins JUNE 5, 2018!

A Marriage in Dog Years by Nancy Balbirer

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My Review: 

A Marriage in Dog Years author, Nancy Balbirer takes us with her on the rocky journey of life as we see her joy filled marriage filled with hopes and dreams blossom then fizzle, at the same time her beloved, terminally ill beagle, Ira struggles to defy the odds and live another day.  From LA to NYC, single to married with a child, from puppy to old dog, and dreams of second chances, so much of life’s ups and downs happen and Nancy keeps you laughing through your tears.

A Marriage in Dog Years is a touching true story is told with honesty and humor, stirring up so many different feelings including love, anger, forgiveness and hope, well written in the author’s unique voice. Balbirer’s story is reminiscent to Sarah Jessica Parker’s hit show, Divorce on HBO – the good, the bad and the ugly truth about the slow death of a marriage, a complex relationship crumbling with regrets and infused with hope for peace and a bright future, with the added bonus of actual puppy love – unconditional and unwavering mutual support and devotion in man’s/woman’s best friend. If you love love, and if you love your pet, this emotional ride is for you!

As Seen on Goodreads:

When Nancy Balbirer learns her beloved eleven-year-old beagle has kidney failure, she’s devastated. She and her husband had gotten Ira as a puppy—a wedding gift to each other, and their first foray into “parenthood.” Now, her dog is terminal, her marriage is on life support, and Nancy is desperate to save them both (whether they want it or not). In a single year, she loses her two best friends, but Nancy’s life is about to take yet another unexpected turn.

With humor and heart, Nancy Balbirer shares her story of relationships, loss, and canine friendship in this illuminating memoir about the lengths people will go to keep love alive…and the power of finally letting go.

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About the Author:

Nancy Balbirer is a writer and performer of stage and screen. She is the author of “Take Your Shirt Off and Cry.” She lives in Los Angeles with her family.