First, can I kvell?
There is an amazing billboard of my new book!
My book! On billboards! Hold me!
Thanks to @AmayaWritesNYC for the picture. When I’m in New York, the week of the 9th, I’ll for sure pose in front of it…but meanwhile, if any of you New Yorkers want to send me a shot of you doing the same, I’d love to post them!
Also, a reminder-- you can still win me for your book club! Details and contest rules here.
THE NEXT BEST THING comes out a week from today. The tour starts a week after that. You know what it’s time for? Praying for no horrible breakouts between now and then, making sure my Spanx and my shoes and my Sharpies are in order, and loading my e-reader with enough books to keep me happy as I make my way from New York City to Pasadena (you can find my tour dates here).
1. BETWEEN YOU AND ME by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
I picked this up (okay, snatched it off my editor’s shelf) expecting it to be delicious, dishy fun, a perfect poolside read. And it was…but it was so much deeper, so much darker, so much more than that. (It also has, hands-down, one of the best book trailers I’ve ever seen. I don’t normally believe that book trailers do squat for selling books, but this one? Is great.
Kelsey Wade is a child-star turned star-star, a singing, dancing, world-beating show-stopper of a girl. Logan is her cousin, struggling with the usual miseries of trying to make it in NYC (the bad first job, the guy who doesn’t call, then sends you thirty peonies. In January). She hasn’t seen cousin Kelsey in years, until she gets the call…and quickly gets sucked into the madhouse that is Kelsey’s world, standing by horrified and helpless as Kelsey slowly falls to pieces.
If you read the tabloids (and you bet I do), a lot of this will sound awfully familiar: the starlet who cheats on her former child-star boyfriend, marries one of her backup dancers, has (and loses custody) of a baby, and eventually ends up with her father as her conservator. But beyond the guess-who-don’t-sue element, there are the characters of Logan and Kelsey, who come alive on the page, existing as flesh-and-blood young women, each struggling with their own past, their own families, their own conflicted feelings about fame and love and what makes a good life.
2. YOU TAKE IT FROM HERE by Pamela Ribon
Ribon, better known to her fans as Pamie, was one of the flagship contributors to TELEVISION WITHOUT PITY, and a writer for Samantha Who? On July 3, she’ll publish her fourth novel, about two BFFs from a small Southern town. One of them escaped to Hollywood. The other stayed behind in Ogden, Louisiana. When they reunite for their annual girls’ vacation, Smidge tells Danielle a secret: her cancer’s come back. It’s terminal. And she wants Danielle to move back home and take over Smidge’s family after she dies.
This sounds like a book with all the elements I love: best friends, “found” families, Ribon’s trademark humor and vivid writing (the description of Smidge’s cancerous cough is heart-stopping). I can’t wait to dive in.
3. I COULDN’T LOVE YOU MORE by Jillian Medoff
You’ve heard me raving about this one for month, and with good reason: Medoff has assembled an unforgettable cast of characters, then thrown them an unwinnable dilemma, a Sophie’s Choice that no parent should ever have to face. Eliot is happily partnered, mother to one, stepmother to two, who starts questioning her choices when an old flame reappears, kicking off a chain of events that culminate in a gasp-out-loud twist. You can read more about it on Jillian’s website (www.jillianmedoff.com), but trust me: this book? Is that good.
4. OFF THE MENU by Stacey Ballis
Yes, another pub-mate! I loved Stacey’s last book, GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT, about a woman who loses half her body weight – and, in short order, her husband –and has to build a new life from the ground up. This book looks just as lovable. It’s the story of Alanna Ostermann, assistant to a celebrity chef, a woman with a demanding job, an adorable dog (named Dumpling!), and a busy life that only gets busier when she meets a hot Southern transplant named R.J..
5. THE MIDDLESTEINS by Jami Attenberg
One of the perks of being a writer is you get to go to Book Expo America, where, if you are patient and persistent, you can wait in line and get signed copies of early editions of books that won’t be out until the fall. THE MIDDLESTEINS, boasting a blurb by Jonathan Franzen (!) won’t be out until October, and I feel like a little bit of a tease telling you how good it is, so I’ll just say: come fall, remember this title.
6. Molly Ringwald: WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU
Okay, I’m a sucker for a celebrity memoir/novel/whatever (see: earlier confession about tabloids), and I cannot wait to dive into Ringwald’s first collection of stories, set in Hollywood, that deal with infertility, failing marriages, a former child star trying to make a comeback. After my own year in Hollywood, I expect I’ll find plenty that will feel familiar…and, come on, it’s Molly Ringwald! How am I not going to read it?
7. THE UNDERSIDE OF JOY by Sere Prince Halverson
Another stepmother story that isn’t what you think. Take one happily-married wife, and her two stepdaughters, who’ve been essentially abandoned by their biological mother. Take her husband away from her. Then start unpeeling the layers, learning that things weren’t ever as simple as they seemed; that there are no monsters and no saints, just lots of flawed people and secrets. Kirkus called UNDERSIDE “a poignant debut about mothers, secrets and sacrifices…Halverson avoids sentimentality, aiming for higher ground in this lucid and graceful examination of the dangers and blessings of familiar bonds.”
8. THESE GIRLS by Sarah Pekkanen
Ever since Bridget Jones sailed to our shores, fretting about her extra lbs and whether handsome Mark Darcy liked her, someone in print or on the air has been declaring that quote-unquote chick lit is dead, dead, DEAD I TELL YOU DEAD!
Except, weirdly, even though the shelves aren’t as crammed with pink as they once were, there’s still an audience for stories about young women trying to make it in a big city – their jobs, their bosses, the men in their lives.
I’ve loved everything Sarah P has written (full disclosure –we share an editor. What can I say? My editor’s got great taste!) But this book took it to a new level. It’s about two women who work at a fashion magazine, and a third, a former nanny, running from a painful secret and an even worse family tragedy.
I loved this book. I especially loved the character Renee, who wants to be the beauty editor. She has to compete for the slot by running a blog full of helpful fashion tips…and ends up with anonymous commenters savaging her for her weight, and a problem with the black-market diet pills her model roommate left behind. As any woman who’s ever expressed an opinion on the Internet, only to be met with “how dare you tell anyone anything, fattie?” that part felt stingingly familiar (except for the model-roommate-illegal-diet-pill stuff). Engrossing characters, sharp writing, hot guys…what more could you want for the pool?
9. Jeff Abbott, THE LAST MINUTE
My fourth 7/3 pub-mate, Jeff writes thrillers…and, because I love me some Robert Crais and Jonathan Kellerman, I can’t wait to give THE LAST MINUTE a try. It’s already getting raves, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which called the book “outstanding…genuinely moving…hits full stride early on and never lets up.” And Jeff’s website has a countdown ticker!