Friday, May 16, 2014


Inspired by my very clever friend Laura Chapman's recent post about her 2014 Summer Reads, I have decided to create my own list of books I'm hoping to tackle during the sure-to-be steamy months ahead. Let it be known that I have no vacations planned this summer, so I won't be partaking of these reads by the pool or beach, but that's okay because I'm certain these talented authors' words will transport me to a variety of exotic and fascinating places. As I am really behind on my reading right now and my virtual TBR pile is reaching heights comparable to Mount Everest and the Empire State Building, it was difficult to narrow my list down to just ten books, which is why I cheated and included three "extras." ;) Will I be able to get through all thirteen of these books in three months' time while trying to finish writing my own book? My Magic 8 Ball says "Very Doubtful." Okay, so maybe I'm being overly ambitious, but it's good to have goals, right?

I present this list in alphabetical order. There's no telling what order I will actually read them in as I always choose books based on my mood of the moment.

Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr
Genre: Chick Lit
Release Date: Already out 
Why I Want to Read It:  This book has all the elements needed for a perfect summer read - a rootable protagonist with a fun side job (blogging about books!), a hiss-inducing nemesis from her past to cause conflict, and a scruffy co-worker for the heroine to make a love connection with. I read an excerpt from Blogger Girl a few months ago that really cracked me up, so I'm excited to dive in and enjoy this one!

Blurb:  What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out. With her blog “Pastel is the New Black" Kim works tirelessly to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that “chick lit is dead." Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm. While Kim’s day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that’s turning heads—and pages—a cross the land. It’s also popped into Kim’s inbox—for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim’s coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.

Desperately Ever After by Laura Kenyon
Genre: Women's Fiction/Fantasy
Release Date: Already out
Why I Want to Read It:  It has been well-established that I am a freak for anything fairy tale-related and I think the premise of this book is incredibly clever! Clearly, the author has a great imagination, and I can't wait to see how she's adapted these characters to a modern-day setting. A little steam factor is always a plus in a summer read, too. Bonus points for the gorgeous cover art!

Blurb:  Imagine what might happen if our most beloved fairy tale princesses were the best of friends and had the dreams, dilemmas, and libidos of the modern woman. How would their stories unfold after the wedding bells stopped ringing? Set in a fictional realm based on New York City, Desperately Ever After sprinkles women’s fiction with elements of fantasy, and encourages readers to rethink everything they know about happy endings.

Years after turning her husband from beast back to man and becoming his queen, Belle finds out she’s finally going to have a child. But before she can announce the wondrous news, she catches him cheating and watches her “happily ever after” go up in flames. Turning to her friends for the strength to land with grace, she realizes she’s not the only one at a crossroads:

Cinderella, a mother of four drowning in royal duties, is facing her 30th birthday and questioning everything she’s done (or hasn’t) with her life.

Rapunzel, a sex-crazed socialite and one-woman powerhouse, is on a self-destructive quest to make up for 20 years locked away in a tower.

Penelopea, an outsider with a mother-in-law from hell, is harboring a secret that could ruin everything at any moment.

One part Sex and the City, two parts Desperate Housewives, and three parts Brothers Grimm, Desperately Ever After picks up where the original tales left off—and reimagines them a la Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. With the wit of authors like Jennifer Weiner and the vision of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, the women of
Desperately Ever After rescue each other from life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a scandalous new take on happily ever after.

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
Genre:  Women's Fiction
Release Date:  May 27, 2014 
Why I Want to Read It: I always enjoy books about authors and the genesis of their stories, so I'm very intrigued by the concept of this book. Jio is a masterful writer, who always surprises, so I expect great things from her latest offering.
Blurb:  The New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter imagines the inspiration for Goodnight Moon. 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Songs) is an adored childhood classic, but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June, Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the “great green room” might have come to be.

June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature.

Genre:  Young Adult
Release Date:  Already out
Why I Want to Read It: Divergent was one of my favorite reads of 2013 (see my rave review here.) I decided to hold off on reading the second book in the series until after I saw the movie, which I absolutely loved (a rare case of a film doing the source material justice.) I am interested to see how Tris and her yummy, kick ass boyfriend, Four, deal with the aftermath of Book 1 in Insurgent. I have no doubt that the sequel will be just as compelling and emotionally-wrenching as Divergent.

Blurb:  One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. 

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature. 

It's Raining Men by Beate Boeker and Gwen Ellery
Genre:  Chick Lit
Release Date:  Already out
Why I Want to Read It:  I came across this book on Twitter and was instantly entranced by the cover art and blurb. The premise really appeals to the romantic in me, and I look forward to seeing how the authors interweave all the characters' stories.
Blurb:  “Grandma must have been out of her mind.” This is the prevailing sentiment among the four cousins in the Lemont family when they hear that their only heirloom is an ancient umbrella—and each of them must carry it around for three months to receive their inheritance. However, they stick to the rules and soon realize the umbrella has magic powers: When two people share it, they fall in love!

Travis in California, Ainsley in Edinburgh, Carlo in Florence, and Josie in Paris go through the most amazing year of their lives and meet up again a year later. Join the cousins during this tender, amusing, touching and romantic year, and you’ll finish their story with a happy feeling deep within.

This sweet and clean, contemporary romantic comedy includes links at the end to two free ebooks: a cozy mystery story and a short romantic comedy. 


Let's Be Frank by Brea Brown
Genre:  Chick Lit
Release Date:  Already out
Why I Want to Read It: I've been singing the praises of Brea Brown's writing ever since I read her book Daydreamer last year (see my rave review here), so of course I'm psyched to check out her newest release. I've never read a Chick Lit novel written from the POV of a male protagonist before, so I'm incredibly curious to see how that works. How much fun is it that Nurse Nate is a closet writer? I love stories about writers, which makes me a narcissist I suppose. ;)

Blurb:  Nate Bingham’s successful career as a pediatric nurse provides plenty of personal satisfaction (and an endless supply of lollipops), but at the end of every day, he comes home to an empty house. He claims he wants domestic bliss—a wife, some adorable booger-munchers, and a pooch—but so far, a picket-fence existence has eluded him. Is finding The One really that difficult, or is Nate sabotaging his own chance at happiness?

When his obnoxiously perfect older brother, Nick, announces his engagement to the only woman Nate ever came close to marrying, Nate decides he’s ready to do just about anything to secure his own happily-ever-after… even if that means sliding on some skinny jeans and a pair of fake specs and tricking the chick lit reading public into believing he’s their latest overnight success. It thrills his new high-maintenance girlfriend, the real writer of the books, but her interests soon become Nate’s smallest motivator in the venture. And that’s a major complication that doesn’t fit into Nate’s tidy five-year plan.

Genre:  Young Adult/Time Travel
Release Date:  Already out
Why I Want to Read It:  Being transported back in time to some romantic era has been a fantasy of mine since I was a child, so books with time travel plots are catnip to me. And Italy (both past and present) is a great setting! Throw in a nefarious villain, a cute love interest for the heroine, and adventures galore and this sounds like great summer escapism! I'm excited to read all the books in this series! 

Blurb:  On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

Genre:  Young Adult/Fantasy/Historical Fic
Release Date:  Already out
Why I Want to Read It:  I read the first book in this series, Ruby Red, a few years ago and absolutely adored it! A heroine who talks to ghosts and gargoyles, time travel, adventure, family secrets, and romance! What's not to love, right? The first book ended with a pretty shocking reveal that threw me for a loop, so I can't wait to see what happens to Gwen in the sequel. I really wish a studio would snap up the film rights to this book, because I think the story would be awesome translated to the big screen.

Blurb:  Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

Scared Scriptless by Alison Sweeney
Genre:  Chick Lit
Release Date:  June 3, 2014  
Why I Want to Read It:  Obviously, I have a great fondness for books about all the crazy types in Hollyweird (see my first novel, Blame It On the Fame), so the title and premise of this one immediately caught me eye and it tickles me that Sami Brady from Days of our Lives is now a novelist! No doubt Ms. Sweeney was inspired by some of the real-life shenanigans she's seen on set over the years, so I look forward to a fun and juicy read! 

Blurb:  Maddy Carson is a mass of contradictions. She loves her job as Script Supervisor on a hit TV show, but hates "Hollywood." Super-organized and down-to-earth, Maddy is clearly one of the best at her job, and her strict dating rule - "No Actors!" - helps her keep focused on her career. However, a budding relationship with Craig, one of the executives at her company, may even propel her into the big leagues. Could Wolf County, her beloved hometown in the mountains, be saved from a financial crisis by creating a reality show featuring the eccentrics in the small ski village? Maddy is determined to try, even when she learns that Craig's agenda doesn't exactly line up with her altruistic goal.

Meanwhile, Maddy still has a full-time job to manage, her family to deal with, and a gorgeous new actor, Adam Devin, determined to wear down her resistance. Eventually Maddy must learn to break all her self-imposed rules and simply follow her heart.

Scared Scriptless offers an engagingly relatable heroine, laugh-out-loud humor, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how television is made.

Genre:  Mystery/Fantasy
Release Date:  Already out
Why I Want to Read It:  I am embarrassed to admit that this book (yes, the actual made-from-paper book) has been sitting on my closet shelf for four or five years. I've heard such great things about this series and the premise is  incredibly smart and imaginative (Does being a literary detective not sound like the most amazing job ever?), so I have no excuse for not having read it yet. I really hope to get with the program and rectify this situation in the next few months.

Blurb: The first installment in Jasper Fforde’s New York Times bestselling series of Thursday Next novels introduces literary detective Thursday Next and her alternate reality of literature-obsessed England.

Fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse will love visiting Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, when time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously: it’s a bibliophile’s dream. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë's novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career. Fforde's ingenious fantasy—enhanced by a Web site that re-creates the world of the novel—unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix.  

Genre:  Young Adult
Release Date:  Already out 
Why I Want to Read It:  I am a huge fan of this series, which has been aptly  described as "The Bachelor Meets The Hunger Games," so much so that I have e-mail discussions with a group of friends after we've read each book (We're all madly in love with the dreamy Prince Maxon, find feisty heroine America equal parts frustrating and impressive, and don't understand what she sees in her childhood love Aspen.) This will be the last book in the trilogy and while I'm desperate to find out how Cass wraps up the series, I'm also sad to see it end and scared that she might kill off Maxon or have America choose Aspen (If either of those things happen, I will be inconsolable and dress in black for a week!) 

Blurb:  The highly anticipated third book in Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is perfect for the fans who have followed America's whirlwind romance since it began—and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth's Divergent, Ally Condie's Matched, or Lauren Oliver's Delirium. 

The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Genre:  Romantic Comedy
Release Date:  Already out 
Why I Want to Read It:  Two friends whose opinions I value highly loved this book, and the male protagonist reminds me of my beloved Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, so I'm very keen to see for myself what all the fuss is about. I'm sure that reading this novel will make me feel smart by osmosis (Fingers crossed that I just used that term in the correct context. I've never been very science-y.) ;) 


MEET DON TILLMAN, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut will resonate with anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of great challenges. The Rosie Project is a rare find: a book that restores our optimism in the power of human connection.

Genre:  Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Release Date:  Already out
Why I Want to Read It: I waxed rhapsodic about Splintered, the first book in this series, in a blog post last year and have been saving the sequel as a special treat to read when I finish work on my third book. I was hopeful that this literary reward would motivate me to write faster, but alas I am slower than the proverbial tortoise and I can't wait any longer to rejoin my fictional friends, Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus, and find out what's happening in Wonderland. So, I will be going down the rabbit hole once again this summer and I'm excited to see what fun, new adventures A.G. Howard has in store. Let's hope nobody's head ends up in a box this time!   

Blurb:  Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole. She was crowned Queen of the Red Court and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the boy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly appealing Morpheus. Now all she has to do is graduate high school. That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn't show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland -- where she (partly) belongs. Could she leave Jeb and her parents behind again, for the sake of a man she knows has manipulated her before? Will her mother and Jeb trust her to do what's right? Readers will swoon over the satisfying return to Howard's bold, sensual reimagining of Carroll's classic.

So, now you know all about my reading plans for the summer. What are yours? Do you have any books gathering dust on your e-reader that you'd like to finally tackle, or are there some new releases you have on your Wish List? If so, please give me all the deets. I love to discover talented, new writers and add more great books to my rapidly increasing TBR pile!

Wishing all of my readers and followers a safe, happy, and story-filled summer!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Today, I'm delighted to host Julia Dorning, the heroine of Becky Monson's bestselling Chick Lit novel, Thirty-Two Going on Spinster, here on Books by Banister. I feel like Julia and I are pals since I just spent a few days in her head while I was reading 32GoS, so I had a few questions for her. Non-spoilery ones, of course, because I wouldn't want to ruin the book for anyone. Read on to learn some fun tidbits about Julia and her life and be sure to grab a copy of Thirty-Two Going on Spinster, which has 100 5-star reviews on Amazon!

And when you're done here, hop on over to Becky's blog to read her interview with the heroine from my book, In Need of Therapy!

1) What would you say are your best qualities? And your worst?

Oh wow. Best qualities. Um… I keep thinking of possible good qualities and then think no, that actually falls under my worst qualities. Like my work ethic, or my determination, or my ability to procrastinate on just about anything. I guess for my best quality, I would say my listening skills. I’m a good listener. Maybe. Hopefully. 

2) Do you have any guilty pleasures?  

Oh yes! All things that fit under the “dessert” category, and Grey’s Anatomy. Okay, and sometimes a good smut novel. But don’t tell my mom I said that. 

3) What’s your life motto? 

I would like to say something like “If at first you don’t succeed, try again”, but really it’s more like: “Why do it today, when it can be put off until tomorrow?” 

4) Describe your dream man.

My dream guy would have to be funny, patient (to deal with me), handsome – like Ryan Reynolds handsome. Actually, I could have said Ryan Reynolds and just summed it up with that. I heart him. 

5) Favorite curse word? 

Probably “crap”… but in truth, it’s the S word. But don’t tell my mom I said that. 

6) On which reality show would you excel and on which would you fail miserably?  

I would love to be on Cupcake Wars. But I would probably fail miserably. I know I would fail at Survivor. I mean, how would I survive without chocolate for that long? Or running water… or electricity… Just, no.

7) Are you a dog or a cat person?  

Cat… of course. It goes along with my whole trailer-park-muumuu-wearing future.

8) Worst date you ever had – give us all the gory details!

It’s been a looooooong time since my last date. But that happened to also be my worst date. It was in college… so ten years ago. Yikes. That sucks to admit. Anyway, I went on a date with this guy named Michael and the whole time we were out, he kept hitting on our waitress, which was horribly awkward. In the end, he actually asked her for her number. She gave it to him. So I guess it wasn’t that awkward for her. I picked a real winner there, didn’t I? 

9) Your life story is being turned into a movie. Who should play the role of Julia Dorning?  

That’s a toughie… maybe Keri Russell? I always liked that show Felicity, until she cut her hair off. Then I didn’t like it so much. So Keri Russell with long hair. 

10) You just won a million dollars in the lottery. How would you spend it?  

Oh, on so many things! Travel would be on top of my list. I haven’t ventured out much. I would totally love to go to Paris and just eat pastries. That would be amazing. I’d also probably buy myself a place to live. My parents would appreciate that.

Author Bio:  

By day, Becky Monson is a mother to three young children, and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. In her debut novel, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc.), and wishes she had a British accent. She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful this time will last... but it probably won't.

Book blurb: 

Julia Dorning is a spinster, or at least on the road to becoming one. She has no social life, hates her career, and lives in her parent’s basement with her cat, Charlie.

With the arrival of Jared Moody, the new hire at work, Julia’s mundane life is suddenly turned upside down. Her instant (and totally ridiculous) crush on the new guy causes Julia to finally make some long-overdue changes, in hopes to find a life that includes more than baking and hanging out with Charlie.

But when the biggest and most unexpected change comes, will the new and improved Julia be able to overcome it? Or will she go back to her spinster ways?

Buy Thirty-Two Going on Spinster

Connect with Becky Monson

Monday, May 5, 2014


May is finally here! The weather's warming up, your cute new bathing suit's all ready to go, and you've got the kitchen stocked with fixins for your favorite fruity cocktails. The only thing missing is the perfect book to read while you're soaking up some Vitamin D at the beach or pool. Good thing May is also International Chick Lit Month! To celebrate, some of the genre's funniest and most talented authors are offering their lighthearted, romantic reads for $0.99 each! So, load up your eReader and slather on the sunscreen, because your new book boyfriends are waiting for you under the umbrella . . .

This sale will last through Mother's Day on May 11th! 

Find all 26 of the Chick Lit books that are on sale on Pinterest or click on the Amazon links below:

A Heat of the Moment Thing by Maggie Le Page
A Questionable Friendship by Samantha March
Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr
Breaking the Rules by Cat Lavoie
Dangled Carat by Hilary Grossman
Divine Moves by Ellyn Oaksmith
Exactly Where They'd Fall by Laura Rae Amos
For the Love of Cupcakes by Anita Kushwaha
French Twist by Glynis Astie
Good Intentions by Kathryn Biel
Hard Hats and Doormats by Laura Chapman
Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda
In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister
Let's Be Frank by Brea Brown
Lila's Choice by Laura Brown
Mail-Order Groom by Cindy Flores Martinez
Mr Right and Other Mongrels by Monique McDonell
Open My Eyes by Jennifer Collin
Reframing Emma by Missy Kierstead
Speaking of Love by Ophelia London
Tear Stained Beaches by Courtney Giardina
The Accidental Prophetess by Michelle Lam
The Bad Girls' Club by Kathryn O'Halloran
Whiskey and Gumdrops by Jean Oram