I may be the only one in the publishing world who hasn’t read LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE, which shot Jessica Knoll into author superstar orbit. But I did get my hands on her new novel, THE FAVORITE SISTER (Simon&Schuster).

It’s an exciting enough premise: Two sisters on a reality television show aptly called GOLD DIGGERS. One of them dies, the other isn’t innocent, but whodunit? A fast paced thriller? Not my takeaway.

“It is a dangerous thing to conflate feminism with like all women. It limits women to being one thing, likable, when feminism is all about allowing all women to be shades of all things, even if that thing is a snake oil salesman.” The Favorite Sister

It may be because I read the interview with Jessica Knoll at the end of the book first, that I knew what she was attempting to do with THE FAVORITE SISTER. It’s more than just a thriller that’s shot up the bestseller list and has been optioned for a movie.

Jessica Knoll takes a look at the sisterhood and the reality of how society pits women against each other. It highlights how some women act as if they support one another, while keeping one another down. It’s a political statement about how our culture keeps women in “their ” place and a wake up call for women to join together while pushing toward equality.

“I think the feminist sisterhood is a lofty goal to aspire to, but I think it’s disingenuous to pretend it’s all pink pussy hats and pun-y protest signs when women get together. We’re dealing with eight generations of restricted access to positions of privilege and power.” Jessica Knoll

Knoll creates an environment where powerful women are feared, and at the same time, feared by one another.

“THE FAVORITE SISTER acknowledges the reality that people are still uncomfortable with ambitious women. And not just uncomfortable, but afraid. There is a real fear about what an ambitious woman might do, the status quo might change.” Jessica Knoll

I enjoyed THE FAVORITE SISTER and believe you will, too. I just didn’t appreciate the preachy undertones. I thought Knoll was trying to play it both ways – entertainment and message, which is really tough to do. Sometimes it works, other times, not so much.

Ultimately, THE FAVORITE SISTER examines the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a frightening portrayal of the dark side of the sisterhood.




Jessica Knoll is the New York Times bestselling author of LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE, which has been optioned by Lionsgate with Reece Witherspoon set to produce. Jessica has been a senior editor at Cosmopolitan, and the articles editor at SELF. She grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and graduated from The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and bulldog, Beatrice.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster, we have one copy of THE FAVORITE SISTER to giveaways. Just tell us your thoughts about reality shows. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.





ALL THE WAY TO ITALY by Flavia Brunetti is a modern tale of homecoming through generation past.

Until her dad died, Little considered herself a Californian. Now, thanks to half a letter, a symbol she can’t quite remember, and writer’s block, she finds herself back in Italy, the country of her birth. In a headlong rush to return to her beloved San Francisco, Little will journey throughout Italy, hoping to find the answers she needs to move on with her life so she need never look back. She’ll enlist the help of the woman who raised her, Sira, her father’s sister; but Sira has secrets she’s kept for decades, and Little underestimates the power of the country she fled years before.

In this powerful story of mixed cultures in a world trying to globalize, one girl’s struggle to leave her home behind will lead her back to the women in her family and the memories each of them has safeguarded through the generations. From war-torn Italy to the belpaese of today, ALL THE WAY TO ITALY (AliRibelliEdizioniis a tale for those in search of a balance between wanderlust and the necessity to come home, a reminder that although we may be fragments, we are never a lost cause.


Flavia took some time out to answer some of our questions:   

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
I have to say Little, because a bit of her is the me from ten years ago, although as I wrote and the story developed, she became very much her own character.
Your book takes place in places throughout Italy. Any particular favorite city?
The book opens with a map of the places Little travels to during her journey throughout Italy. All of those hold very special places in my heart. But if I have to choose one, I think you know which one I have to go with! My city and the city of my family: Rome. No matter where I go, Rome is always in my heart, and it is the place I truly come home to.

What advice would you give budding writers?
I feel like I’m still very much a budding writer and therefore not yet worthy of this question! I know many writers who are struggling to finish their first book, or are feeling hopeless, or the editing is getting to them, and let me be the first to say that I very often am in that same place. But if there’s anything to remember, or at least what I tell myself, it’s: this is yours. Your writing is something wholly and completely an expression of yourself, and you deserve to see it through. It’s always worth it when you’re holding a finished manuscript, poem, or a completed thought in your hands. No matter what happens with it, you made something, and it’s real.

What makes your book different from all the other books about Italy?
Every book is different and worth reading, I think, and I’m honored to have All the Way to Italy stand among such wonderful other books about my country. In terms of what makes it different, I’d say it is a travel tale for the new generations—a love story to Italy and to cultures everywhere, a celebration not just of what has come before us, but of what is to come. The book uses the past and present to weave together the memories of the women in an Italian family, and with short, poignant stories throughout, highlights the beauty and struggle of a country and a people trying to globalize without losing what makes them unique. It ties together the bonds of a family and a nation, first generation immigrants to the second, third, fourth generations that come after. It takes a new look at
something we’ve all felt at some point.

Any hobbies?
I’m an espresso hunter. One of my favorite things to do in the world is walk through a new city, find a cozy chair in a coffee spot I’ve stumbled upon, whip out a book, and test out the espresso. I’m still looking for the perfect one, though several places have come close!



Meet the Author: 

Born just outside of Rome, Flavia Brunetti grew up bouncing back and forth between Italy and California, eventually moving back to the Eternal City and confirming her lifelong commitment to real gelato. Flavia holds a Master of Arts degree in Government and Politics from St. John’s University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from John Cabot University. Today she travels the world working for an international humanitarian organization and spends her free time writing and wandering around her beloved Roma in constant search of bookstores and the perfect espresso. You can find her city blog on Rome at and her portfolio of published writing at

Connect with Flavia: Website ~ Blog on Rome ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram


ALL THE WAY TO ITALY is available in bookstores and on-line now.

THE MERMAID by Christina Henry & GIVEAWAY


Once there was a fisherman …

Christina Henry’s new novel, THE MERMAID (Berkley) is a fantasy about a mermaid who is able to turn into a human and walk and talk among people. She considers herself first a mermaid, a woman of the sea. If that sounds preposterous, trust me I totally believed in Amelia Douglas and her wise ways, shortly into the novel through to the ending.

“It was her eyes. Those eyes were not human. and they never would be, no matter how long she lived among them.”
Henry creates a fictional P.T. Barnum character, who wants a mermaid in his NYC museum. There are rumors there is such a woman-mermaid living in Maine. P.T. sends his assistant, Liam Lyman to make her an offer she can’t refuse. That is, if the rumors are true. Liam travels north begrudgingly, but quickly becomes a believer. But Amelia is not ready to talk about leaving Maine. She’s mourning the death of her fishermen, husband who she lived with as a human. She sends him back to NYC and continues to live in a small cottage above the ocean. But after some time, she sees NYC as a way to make money and then travel the world.
In NYC, Liam recognizes her and takes her to P.T. who immediately doubts she’s a mermaid. Everyone in the family except daughter, Caroline doesn’t believe. But once she proves herself to P.T. an act is created, complete with a tank full of salt water. The act shocks and amuses NYC. Suddenly there are reporters, fans, but also a disbelieving “Christian groups” who believe she is evil.
“It is not a comforting thing to realize that many people think the world a better place without you in it.”
There have been myths of mermaids in different cultures all over the world forever. Henry does a brilliant job marrying history with fantasy. The book is also used to explore feminism and how the reality and boundaries of being human aren’t easily defined. THE MERMAID delivers readers a profound message, without being preachy.
CHRISTINA HENRY is the author of the CHRONICLES OF ALICE duology, ALICE and RED QUEEN, a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as well as LOST BOY: THE TRUE STORY OF CAPTAIN HOOK, an origin story of Captain Hook from Peter Pan.

She is also the author of the national bestselling BLACK WINGS series (BLACK WINGS, BLACK NIGHT, BLACK HOWL, BLACK LAMENT, BLACK CITY, BLACK HEART and BLACK SPRING) featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle Beezle.

ALICE was chosen as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year in Science Fiction and Fantasy for 2015. It was also a Goodreads Choice Award nominee in Horror and one of Barnes & Noble’s Bestselling Science Fiction and Fantasy novels of 2015.

She enjoys running long distances, reading anything she can get her hands on and watching movies with samurai, zombies and/or subtitles in her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

You can visit her on the web at,, and

THE MERMAID will be published June 19th, so you have plenty of time to pre-order a copy on-line or at your favorite local bookstore.

And thanks to Berkley Publications, we have one copy of THE MERMAID to giveaway. Just tell us your thoughts about mermaids. I love the concept of mermaids. I have a coffee mug that reads, “In my first life I was a mermaid.” I’ve also been to WeekiWacheeSprings in Florida where there’s a “live mermaid show.” It has existed since 1947.

We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.



Congratulations to more May THOUGHTS on THIS ‘n THAT blog winners!







We have two MOTHER’s DAY winners: CAMILLE DM   and REANNE L.






Look for more giveaways this week! Have a fantastic Monday!




Ruthie has the perfect life, but she has to give it up every summer, so she can keep it.
On Long Island, New York, whether you’re on the south shore in the Hamptons or the North shore, on the Sound, THE HIGH SEASON begins Memorial Day and ends Labor Day weekend.

Author, Judy Bundell sets her sight on the rich and not necessarily so famous of the North shore in her novel, THE HIGH SEASON (RandomHouse). It puts the microscope on those who live to wine and dine and spend the money they have and don’t, in order to get a really great tan. (just kidding) It’s social-climbing on steroids.

Ruthie Beamish has the house. But in order to keep it, she has to rent it out during the best time of the year – the summer season. No matter what the world throws her way, at least Ruthie Beamish has the house. It’s on the north shore, right on the Long Island sound, two ferry rides from the glitzier Hamptons. The house is her nest egg, the retirement account she shares with her ex-husband, Mike. They plan to leverage it so they can send their daughter, Jem to college.

This year, the flashier Hamptons set decide to crash the North shore. A-list Adeline Clay rents the house and brings along her rich, connected lifestyle and is about and to put the North shore on the map.

Adeline decides to help herself to Ruthie’s life, which she finds quaint and hers to take. The widow of a blue-chip artist, living in a world defined by luxury and ease, Adeline demonstrates an uncanny ability to help herself to Ruthie’s life.

In a novel packed with indelible characters, crackling wit, and upstairs/downstairs drama, Judy Blundell emerges as a voice for all seasons—a wry and original storyteller who knows how the most disruptive events in our lives can twist endings into new beginnings.

I could picture myself walking along the shore, in the sand, with the waves gently coming on shore and a copy of THE HIGH SEASON in my beach bag. Afterwards, it’s time to stop for a nice chilled Sauvignon Blanc and caesar salad with shrimp.



Judy Blundell is a New York Times bestselling author. Her novel What I Saw and How I Lied won the 2008 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The High Season is her first novel for adults. She lives on Long Island with her husband and daughter.

THE HIGH SEASON will be published May 22nd. Be sure to pre-order your copy on-line or at your favorite local bookstore.

Thanks to Random House, we have one copy of THE HIGH SEASON to giveaway. Just tell us what you love most about summer.

We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck. Have a fabulous weekend.

GIVEAWAY: USA only, please.




“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”       Leonardo DaVinci

Ciao, bella! Author, Gabriella Contestabile has written THEE book for women about Italian women. SASS, SMARTS and STILETTOS (SumisuraPublications) is all about how Italian women make the ordinary, extraordinary.

Ah, that inimitable Italian style. It’s embedded in an Italian woman’s DNA. Fashion doesn’t define her. She defines herself. She knows an extraordinary life is not about status, money, or achievement. The only mastery it requires is one her heritage has given her, the irrepressible passion to make art of life itself.

Ask an Italian woman where she gets her sense of style and she will tell you it’s not about labels. It’s tethered to humble roots; humanity, community, conscious consumerism, and a profound appreciation for art in all its forms.

SASS, SMARTS & STILETTOS takes readers on a journey from the humble hill towns of Abruzzo to the revered fashion capitals of Milan and Rome, into the artisan workshops of Florence, and the humanistic business practices of Luisa Spagnoli, Brunello Cuccinelli, and Alberta Ferretti, from the emergence of Italy’s fashion industry after WWII, to slow food and sustainable fashion initiatives taking root around the world.

Life lessons echo in the words of the author’s mother and grandmother, in the voices of Italian film divas, designers, tastemakers, writers, and artisans across generations, from the first Sala Bianca in Florence to the game changing design ethic of Franca Sozzani, Miuccia Prada, and Donatella Versace.

We were fortunate that Gabriella found some time to tell us about her writing and reading life:

  1. What is the last great book you’ve read?

‘Leonardo DaVinci’ by Walter Isaacson.  No one does biography like Isaacson. He reveals Leonardo’s perspective on how one should live; through passionate curiosity, careful observation, and playful imagination. This is one of those books you sink into the way we did before computers and social media, when the joy of learning and discovery led us to question, observe, and live fully in the moment.

  1. In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or a laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

Yes.  To get my thoughts flowing I first write in my journal. There is something honest and grounded about a pen scrawling across paper.   I’m forced to write more slowly, think more clearly, and connect all the sensory elements in the chapter I’m working on.  Settings are important in my work.  I want to place the reader in the scene so she feels she is on the Ponte Santa Trinita’ with gelato in hand, or on that train ride through the Alps. When I hand write I don’t edit myself and I’m not tempted to check emails or social media.

  1. How long have you been writing?

Since I was eight years old, living in Ottawa, Canada, and failing miserably at penmanship. My mother made me sit at this big round table overlooking the park I was not allowed to play in until finished, and practice writing rows upon rows of each letter. I got so bored I started to write stories instead, and I haven’t stopped.

  1. Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

“Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos’ is non-fiction so all the characters are real. The hardest part was writing about myself.  My publisher recommended I talk about our immigrant experience, my mother’s stories, and our life in Italy.   I wanted to make it more about the reader’s experience vs. my own, so I re-worked multiple drafts to weave relatable life lessons into the narrative.  Turns out most readers said they liked the personal anecdotes.

The easiest character was my mother Clelia to whom the book is dedicated.  She lives with us now that she’s 95, and still goes to work two days a week. Care giving brings challenges, but many gifts. I’m convinced the book would not have resonated had Clelia not been part of our daily lives. I felt that palpable connection every time I sat down to write.  Images and childhood memories came alive, as if I were re-living them, and inspired me to keep writing.

  1. How did you do research for your book?

One of the best parts of writing this book was that I got to research subjects I love, and explore passions instilled during my formative years. I created a binder with individual chapters so I could go to whatever chapter I felt inspired to work on that day and added my research notes broken out in topics (fashion, slow food, art, Italy after WW II, etc.) and rough drafts. So if on a particular day, due to something I’d read or heard, I wanted to write about the evolution of Italian fashion after World War II that’s what I did.

  1. Do you snack while you write?

Rarely.  I may treat myself to an espresso and a piece of chocolate for a boost in the middle of the day. I do get up regularly to stretch or walk outside since I trouble staying indoors and sitting for long periods of time.

And when it comes to food, mealtimes are so sacred to Italians and Italian Americans we rarely snack or eat on the go. Even when I worked long hours for Prada we would stop, leave our desks, and enjoy lunch and conversation followed by espresso in a nicely appointed room away from computer screens and distractions.



Gabriella Contestabile is the author of the novel, The Artisan’s Star, and owner of Su Misura (Made to Measure) Journeys; a boutique travel concept for the female traveler who relishes off-the-beaten-track adventures that celebrate the Italian way of life.

​The book/travel initiative has its roots in her pre-writer life as a foreign language teacher, later as Executive Director and Vice President of International Training in a number of global companies (including Estee Lauder, Shiseido, and Prada Beauty) where she would create immersive and unconventional learning experiences in unique settings around the world.

One of her favorite pastimes, wherever she is in the world, is to scout out the best, and most ‘Italian’ espresso in the hood. It requires multiple tastings, but that’s the idea. Gabriella was born in Italy, and raised in Ottawa and New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, her mother, and a furry Shih Tzu named Oreo.

FYI: I’d like to introduce Oreo to my Shih Tzu, Sunshine!


Connect with the Author: 

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ LinkedIn


Thanks to Italy Book Tours,we have one copy of SASS, SMARTS and STILETTOS to giveaway. Just tell us what’s your favorite Italian meal? Mine is spaghetti and meatballs, but it’s really all about tasty meatballs.

We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck!


GIVEAWAY: USA only, please!


mother's day

We have a special giveaway for you this upcoming Mother’s Day. We have carefully curated note-cards with beautiful floral images on the front by photographer, Wendi Blair. We’re giving away two gift packets to one lucky winner.

The inside of the cards are blank, so you can write your very own special message. Wendi’s photographs are not digitally altered. They will fit into a 4×6 frame after you finish writing or reading the message.


Wendi’s beautiful cards are available on-line at her website:

To win one of our two gift packets, just tell us what Mother’s Day means to you.

We’ll announce a winner Sunday, Mother’s Day. Good luck.