Olivia’s Book Club: Maggie Smith, ‘Truth and Other Lies’
(3TV/CBS 5) -- Maggie Smith’s debut novel, Truth and Other Lies, is the fascinating story of three women and the secrets and lies that connect them, shape them, and threaten them. A journalist, psychologist, podcast host and business owner, Maggie joins the podcast to talk about what inspired the book. Maggie talks about using her own life experience writing the relationship Megan and her mother, the political candidate. The book tackles politics, family dynamics, professional identity, and what happens when you look deeper beyond the facades of those you admire, and those you resent.
Margaret and Olivia discuss sharing a name with another person (Maggie Smith the author is not Maggie Smith the actress) with Margaret occasionally receiving emails for THE Martha Stewart, and the show Indefensible.
Margaret recommends other new books released this week: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James and Harlan Coben’s The Match, Nine Lives by Peter Swanson. Olivia recommends I’m So Effin’ Tired by Dr. Amy Shah, a previous podcast guest, now in paperback.
Truth and Other Lies is published by Ten16Press, was released March 8, 2022.
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Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, “The Golden Couple”: “The Golden Couple” is the latest thriller from bestselling writing duo Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Their latest page-turner focuses on therapist Avery Chambers’ unorthodox 10 session treatment program, and her clients, Marissa and Matthew Bishop. Gorgeous and glamorous, the Bishops’ marriage is plagued by secrets and lies that are about to be brought to the surface by Avery. Greer & Sarah talked with Olivia on the podcast about the book, the perks of writing as a team, and share advice for aspiring writers. A Moment With Margaret: Olivia & Margaret discuss other new releases this week that Margaret is interested in, “The Sweet Spot” by Trish Doller, “The Book of Souls” by Kevin Moore, “Smile and Look Pretty” by Amanda Pellegrino, and why we love the TV show “Ghosts.”
Rebecca Serle, One Italian Summer: Rebecca Serle is taking readers to Positano, Italy in her latest novel, “One Italian Summer.” The story follows Katy, who, in the depths of grief after her mother’s death, goes alone on a planned mother-daughter trip to the Amalfi Coast. Rebecca joins the podcast this week to talk about writing the emotional novel about a daughter’s love for her mother, the inevitable future of defining yourself after you lose your parents and her fears of losing her own parents. She talks about curiosities surrounding your parent’s life before yours, “memory is fiction,” she says. Rebecca shares an incredible memory of her own of a trip to Rome with her mother, that even involved meeting a man her mom had dated! Olivia and Rebecca discuss her other works, and the magic that is “The Gilmore Girls” and audiobook narrator, Lauren Graham. “One Italian Summer” is available now from Atria Books.
Eve Rodsky, Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World: When Eve Rodsky applied her expertise in organizational management to making her own household and partnership become more manageable and equitable, she sparked a movement among readers of her first book “Fair Play.” Now, Eve is back to chat with Olivia about her new book, “Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World.” Here, Eve uses this podcast as an example of what a unicorn space can be, involving creativity, connection, and a sense of completion. She talks about the pandemic’s impact on personal space, and the challenge most of us face when claiming time for activities that bring joy. Eve shares why we may want to swap a gratitude journal for a “guilt journal” and strategies when seeking support from others when you’re seeking your unicorn space. “Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World” is available in hardcover now from G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Eve also hosts “Time Out: A Fair Play Podcast” for iHeart.
A ‘Bromance’ with romance novels: Valentine’s Day vibes on this week’s podcast, with Tim Xayasomloth, bookseller at Changing Hands Bookstore. Tim has become known as “The Romance Guy” at the store ever since he challenged himself to read genres outside his fantasy and science fiction favorites, and found he loved the contemporary romance! Comparing a romance novel to a tasty margarita that “goes down easy,” Tim explains to Olivia why he believes men can benefit from reading romance to understand how to be a better guy and better partner. Tim talks about the book that started him off: “The Bromance Book Club” by Lyssa Kay Adams, and why some of the romance tropes like enemies to lovers are so enjoyable. Tim also recommends “The Right Swipe” by Alisha Rai, “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang, and Rachel Lynn Solomon’s “The Ex Talk.” This podcast episode is dedicated to Elizabeth Stewart, Margaret’s sister, who shared her love for books not only with her little sister, but through her career as a librarian. To check out more book recommendations from Tim and his colleagues at Changing Hands, visit: https://www.changinghands.com/page/staffpicks
Lisa Harding, Bright Burning Things: Irish writer Lisa Harding makes her American literary debut with the highly acclaimed novel, “Bright Burning Things.” Harding writes an emotionally powerful story of Sonya, an actress and single mother who is spiraling out of control, battling alcoholism and trauma. Her four-year-old son, Tommy, is simultaneously Sonya’s lifeline and her prison as the pressures of motherhood push her to her limits. The child is heartbreakingly saddled with playing the role of adult, adoring his mother, and anxiously navigating his unstable environment. Lisa joined the podcast from Dublin to talk about this emotionally raw story: her desire to tell a story of addiction authentically, her reaction to both the success of the book and reader reaction who found it too difficult. Formerly a professional actress, Lisa also tells Olivia about her experience recording the audiobook and what fueled the most stunning moments of her performance. After the author interview, Olivia and Margaret discuss “Crying In H Mart” by Michelle Zauner and Rebecca Serle’s “One Italian Summer.” “Bright Burning Things” is available in hardcover from HarperVia.
Elle Cosimano, Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead: Grab your favorite soup or sandwich from Panera and settle in for a chat with Elle Cosimano – don’t worry, no spoilers! The beloved Finlay is back and smack dab in the middle of yet another wonderful mess in Elle Cosimano’s February 1st release, “Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead,” the follow up to her hit, “Finlay Donovan Is Killing It.” In this story Finlay and Vero must sort out who is after her ex-husband Steven, and what they can do to protect him, or if they want to. Throw in plenty of secrets, lies, disguises and love triangles and the book is a non-stop mystery full of laughter, friendship, and an adorably relatable heroine. Elle joined the podcast to talk to Olivia about the series, crafting the friendship between Finlay and Vero, and how many more stories are already in the works (more than listeners may expect!) She shares advice on writing, and her delight over the love her book covers have received on Instagram. “Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead” is published by Minotaur Books. “Finlay Donovan Is Killing It” is now available in paperback. In A Moment With Margaret, Margaret and Olivia discuss some of the reading challenges and book club selections that are out there for the start of the year, and Margaret discusses her current reads and TBR.
Katherine Faulkner, Greenwich Park: Katherine Faulkner has an impressive new title to add to an already impressive (or posh) resume. The Cambridge grad is the Head of News Projects for The Sunday Times, and now a debut novelist, with the release of “Greenwich Park” from Gallery Books. The story centers around Helen, a complicated and often socially awkward woman who—after many miscarriages—is pregnant again and carrying her baby to term. Helen falls into an unusual friendship with Rachel, a fellow expectant mom who quickly and deliberately inserts herself into Helen’s life for mysterious reasons. The book is a psychological thriller illustrating that we never know what lies beneath the surface of the shiny veneers of affluent suburbanites. Katherine joins the podcast to talk about the book, the balancing of her news career and what it brings to her creative writing, lends insight into some of settings and backgrounds that prove to be important to the characters in “Greenwich Park” that Americans might not pick up on. A Moment With Margaret: they discuss this book, looking forward to the upcoming release of “The Golden Couple” and get sidetracked from books with a chat about Wordle and other word games. Katherine Faulkner’s “Greenwich Park” is released in the US January 25, 2022.
Colleen Hoover, Reminders Of Him: Colleen Hoover is a publishing phenomenon, dominating bestseller lists with her catalog of novels week after week. She is a writer who breaks the rules, gliding between traditional publishing houses to self-publishing with ease, and who refuses to limit herself to genre or expectations. Her ability to create complex, emotionally relatable characters make her readers a devoted fanbase who would never miss a Hoover release and are committed to sharing their favorites with other readers online, effectively creating a volunteer publicity machine for work. Colleen joins Olivia on the podcast this week to talk about her emotional new novel “Reminders of Him,” the magical effect social media has had on her career, what she does to keep writing fun, and how her roots as a social worker influence her writing and her continued commitment to giving back, through her Bookworm Box : https://www.thebookwormbox.com/. “Reminders Of Him” is available now. In a Moment With Margaret... Margaret checks in from California and talks about Colleen’s books, authors who inspire you to check out their back catalogs, and recommends “The Man Who Died Twice” by Richard Osman.
Rachel Hawkins, Reckless Girls: Rachel Hawkins’ 2020 release of “The Wife Upstairs” was a huge hit. The contemporary thriller inspired by “Jane Eyre” was the first release outside of the YA genre and showed she can craft a page-turner for a variety of audiences. Rachel talks with Olivia about “Reckless Girls” (published January 2022) that tracks Lux and her boyfriend Nico as they sail off from Hawaii in search of Meroe Island, a remote location with a dark, menacing history with other twenty-somethings in search of adventure and packed with secrets. Rachel talks about her recent success under the pseudonym Erin Sterling, choosing a new name, her love of literature, and her next thriller in the works. In a special Moment with Margaret, Margaret Stewart recommends a 2010 book with a nautical theme, “Bloody Jack” by L.A. Meyer, and explains why she has no interest in slowing down her audio speed.
Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt: For the first podcast of 2022, we are joined by an author whose ‘buzzed about’ 2021 debut novel is now available in paperback. Gabriela Garcia’s “Of Women and Salt” was named a Best Book of the Year (2020) by Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, and The Boston Globe. The novel is a multi-generational story of women, taking readers from nineteenth-century Cuba, to present-day Mexico, Miami, and the immigrant detention centers in Texas along the southern border. “Of Women and Salt” explores the experiences of women through the lens of class, privilege, citizenship, motherhood, addiction, poverty and trauma, and with subtlety spotlights the generational damage caused by family secrets. Garcia talks about the ways her work as an immigrant rights advocate can be felt in some of the most moving portions of the book, along with her own personal travels and family history as an American of Cuban and Mexican descent. In A Moment With Margaret, Margaret shares her take on Anthony Doerr’s “Cloud Cuckoo Land” and the challenges with listening to a b
Kristi Nelson, Wake Up Grateful: Kristi Nelson brings her powerful message of the transformative practice of grateful living to the last podcast episode of the year. The author of “Wake Up Grateful” guides readers through the ways you can change your life and perspective for the better, and the ways this shift is proven to improve your life and even your health. Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living talks with Olivia about how to begin the practice, and the ways the lens of gratitude create change in times of sadness. Her inspirational message and practice is healing and powerful, cultivated over decades after a cancer diagnosis decades ago, and can help us all as we head into a new year. Find the “Wake Up Grateful” study guide here. After reading more than 100 books in 2021, it is hard to pick your favorites, but Margaret manages to narrow down the 3 books she’s thought about most this year in A Moment With Margaret. Learn why Vincent Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter,” S.A. Cosby’s “Razorblade Tears,” and “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey stood out in such a tall stack of books, and why Steven Rowley’s “The Guncle” earns an honorable mention by being the book she bought, rather than borrowed. For Olivia, of the nearly 70 books read in 2021, standouts are Ashley Audrain’s “The Push,” Christina Baker-Kline’s “The Exiles,” both of Brit Bennett’s books, and Fredrik Backman’s “Anxious People.”
Mary Kay Andrews, The Santa Suit: Brace yourself for some serious Christmas magic! New York Times bestselling author of 29 novels (and counting), Mary Kay Andrews joins the podcast to talk about “The Santa Suit” the book she calls “a delicious, sweet, peppermint scented goodie.” The novella celebrates the magic of Christmas and second chances with a tale of a new beginning for Ivy Perkins, who is starting over personally and professionally with the purchase of The Four Roses farmhouse. Mary Kay and Olivia chat about Friends & Fiction, which she co-founded and co-hosts, MKA’s skills at treasure hunting, hosting, and design, her early years as a newspaper reporter, how she became tech savvy in the pandemic, and the ritual of self-doubt she still goes through each time she’s set to write another book. In A Moment With Margaret the readers discuss the fun in embracing the Christmas book genre, and Margaret recommends “One For the Books” by Jenn McKinlay, a previous guest on the podcast.
Karen Schaler, A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale: Grab a cup of cocoa and get cozy by the Christmas tree for this visit with Karen Schaler, author of new holiday romance, “A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale.” Entertainment Weekly calls her a “holiday publishing darling” who is equally successful as a novelist and screenwriter, with holiday films like Christmas Camp and A Christmas Prince among her credits. Before she was known as “Christmas Karen” – she had a successful career as a television news reporter. On the podcast, she talks with Olivia about making the transition from covering tragedies to creating festive magic full time. In a Moment With Margaret, Margaret talks about the idea of missed romantic connections in real life and fiction, and the mood of the holiday season when you’re not someone who feels quite so merry and bright, and why “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is her favorite Christmas song. Holiday themed books recommended: “Time Next Year” by Sophie Cousens and David Sedaris’ “Holidays On Ice.”
Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot: Jeff Kinney is the creative mind behind one of the most successful book series for kids of all time. He joins the podcast to talk about his latest projects: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot,” the sixteenth in the series, and the animated film, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” currently on Disney+. He talks with Olivia about why his characters should never grow up, the perks of running a bookstore, and reacts to recent efforts to ban books across the country. In a Moment With Margaret, the two talk about the early books that paved the way for a lifelong love of reading.
Maria Amparo Escandon, L.A. Weather: “L.A. Weather” tells the story of one very tumultuous year in the life of the Alvarado family. Successful Mexican-Americans living and working in Los Angeles, the three adult daughters maintain a commitment of meeting their parents for weekly family dinners to share their passion for food, and commitment to family. Author Maria Amparo Escandon joins the podcast to talk about the narrative technique she uses in the novel: taking the reader through the dramatic year that changes each character profoundly, month my month, and who in her own life inspired the patriarch’s unsettling preoccupation with the weather. Escandon discusses writing the book in what is not her native tongue, her love for Los Angeles, and what she calls “transcreation.” “L.A. Weather” is a New York Times Bestseller, a Reese’s Book Club Pick, and named to the Best Books of 2021 by Harper’s Bazaar. Inspired by the vibrant story showcasing a Latino family that defies common fictional stereotypes, Margaret and Olivia discuss “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Ericka Sanchez’s “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.”
Christine Pride and Jo Piazza, We Are Not Like Them: When an unarmed Black teenager is shot by police while walking home from school, the grief and outrage ripples through the city of Philadelphia in the novel “We Are Not Like Them.” The shooting calls for changes in policing, revealing deep divisions among those who experience systemic racism and those who deny it exists. For lifelong best friends Jen and Riley, the shooting is a deeply personal crisis that threatens to rip them apart for good. Christine Pride and Jo Piazza join the podcast to talk about writing this deeply moving book together, navigating their own obstacles to openly discussing race, and the value of exploring divisive issues through the storytelling lens of friendship, forgiveness, and what it takes for two different people to take their shared history into the future. In a Moment With Margaret: discussion of other recent books that tackle race, including Zakiya Dalila Harris’ “The Other Black Girl,” Brit Bennett’s “The Vanishing Half” and Emmanuel Acho’s “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Boy.” “We Are Not Like Them” is the first novel Piazza and Pride co-authored today. The book was published in October, 2021 by Atria Books.
Eric Rickstad, I Am Not Who You Think I Am: Eric Rickstad is a New York Times and international bestselling author of novels including “What Remains of Her” and “The Silent Girls.” He joined the podcast to talk to Olivia about his latest dark, psychological mystery, “I Am Not Who You Think I Am.” It’s a tale that starts in 1976, with a tragic act of violence witnessed by then 8-year-old Maynard, who is not only shaped by the trauma and loss, but by the mounting pressure of keeping a secret from that day he grows to regret. The core of the story focuses on a teenage Maynard, convinced he has a mystery to solve, while navigating complicated teenage friendships and desires that drive him to hold new, even darker secrets. Rickstad talked about the book’s unique narrative that begins with a letter from the police chief to the community, how his life in Vermont and love of the outdoors influences both what he writes and the way he writes it, and reflects on his early love of books and memories of first joining a book club where he was the only boy. Margaret and Olivia discuss similar, darkly affecting psychological thrillers involving younger characters. Margaret recommends “The Chalk Man” by C.J. Tudor, and Olivia reflects on Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History.
Vera Kurian, Never Saw Me Coming: Seven psychopaths enjoy a free ride to a prestigious east coast school, in exchange for being participating in a psychopathy study. What could go wrong? For one, students keep getting killed. One study participant, Chloe, isn’t at worried for her safety because she considers herself the dangerous one. Debut novelist Vera Kurian joins the podcast to talk about “Never Saw Me Coming,” and why readers find her protagonist irresistible, in spite of her homicidal plotting and lack of empathy. Kurian discusses what it was like to achieve the dream of publishing a novel during a global pandemic, and in a Moment with Margaret, Margaret Stewart recommends “56 Days” by Catherine Ryan Howard.
Emily Itami, Fault Lines: Emily Itami is a debut novelist who uses her expertise as a travel writer to transport her readers to Tokyo in “Fault Lines.” The book focuses on Mizuki, a wealthy and beautiful Tokyo wife and mother, who is profoundly bored. Her witty internal dialogue reveals there are cracks beneath the shiny surface which, like the fault lines running through the city, threaten to damage or destroy. Emily joined the podcast from London to reflect on her experience living in Tokyo, the expectations women face, and how motherhood changes everything. Margaret discusses a recent novel she enjoyed, “Heard It In a Love Song” by Tracey Garvis Graves.
Riley Sager, Survive The Night: Fans of Riley Sager’s work know that he is a master at delivering twist after twist in suspenseful thrillers like “Home Before Dark,” “Lock Every Door,” and his latest, “Survive The Night.” Sager joins the podcast to talk to Olivia about the novel, its protagonist Charlie, and why the film student fears she may be the Campus Killer’s next victim. He set the book in 1991, the same time that Sager was a college student, allowing him to reference his own favorite music and movies to bring the story and tension to life. Sager talks about how post-pandemic readers may tap into their own feelings of being trapped as they journey along in the car next to Josh, not knowing when or how the road trip will end, or who will survive the night. Olivia admits to the author that this is her first time reading his work—another reliable recommendation from Margaret! In a Moment with Margaret, they discuss the Spotify playlist (and movie list!) the author crafted as companions to his latest book. Margaret also recommends “Summer of ‘69″ by Elin Hilderbrand, a different genre, but a book that also taps heavily into music to set the scenes and the period.
Lisa Jewell, The Night She Disappeared: Halloween is creeping up and it is time for some suspenseful reads, and no one does it better than Lisa Jewell. This time, Jewell takes us to a posh boarding school in the English countryside where many secrets lurk in the beauty, in her latest thriller, The Night She Disappeared. The author joins the podcast to talk about the book and tells Olivia the surprising way she approached the novel: beginning with the setting and a “Dig Here” sign, rather than a crime or even a character! She talks with Olivia about recent travels to Spain, getting her daughters to read her books, and switching her book tour to virtual. She also lends her opinion on who readers should and should not tell, when they don’t love a book or a moment in her books, hint: it is NOT the author! After the interview, Olivia and Margaret discuss their obsession with British accents, how charming Lisa is, and why Jewell’s catalogue is so worth a deep dive, Halloween themes, and another fan favorite Taylor Jenkins Reid and her latest novel, “Malibu Rising.”
Paula McLain, When The Stars Go Dark: Bestselling author of The Paris Wife, Paula McLain, tackles a new genre in her powerful, emotionally-charged thriller, When The Stars Go Dark. Following a personal tragedy, Detective Anna Hart launches herself into a missing persons investigation that takes her down a path right into her own painful past, wrestling with what it means to be a woman, a mother, a victim, survivor, and savior. McLain joins the podcast to talk about crafting the layered mystery, and her painful personal history that shapes this work of fiction, a book she feels she was destined to write. She shares how and why she wove in elements of true crime, the allure of setting the book in the 1990s, and her personal skills as a talented cook and mixologist— skills she puts to good use in her friendship with other writers. She talks about nature and the powerful connection she feels in the outdoors, which is palpable in this novel. In a Moment With Margaret, Margaret recommends Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia and Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson, which each have elements to appeal to fans of When The Stars Go Dark.
Jenn McKinlay, Wait For It: Jenn McKinlay is a prolific writer who is best known for the Library Lover’s and Cupcake Bakery Mysteries. McKinlay is quickly building a loyal following for her women’s fiction and romantic comedies, and her latest is “Wait for It.” When the protagonist, Annabelle, moves from Boston to Phoenix, McKinlay brings readers a slice of life in the desert, a setting the author calls home. She talks about writing, the ways the pandemic cramped her style, baking, travel, and who is the boss of her house (hint: not a human.) Her next Library Lover’s book, “Killer Research” is available November 2. A Moment With Margaret: Margaret and Olivia discuss a few other books with subtle character connections or crossover characters in stand-alone books. Margaret recommends Roni Loren’s “Yes & I Love You” and “What If You & Me,” and Olivia recalls old favorites by Emily Giffin, including “Something Borrowed” and the fun finding easter eggs between books, like Jennifer Weiner’s “Big Summer” and “That Summer.”
Laura Lippman, Dream Girl: “Dream Girl” is NYT bestselling author Laura Lippman’s latest suspenseful novel. Lippman calls it “a book lover’s book.” Told from the perspective of an acclaimed novelist, Gerry Anderson, whose literary relevance was cemented with publication of a book called “Dream Girl.” The story finds Gerry bed-ridden and isolated, recovering from physical injury and the passing of his mother, when he starts receiving mysterious phone calls from his book’s fictional character. Is he losing his mind? Or is someone out to get Gerry, and if so, why? A fresh look at life post #MeToo from the perspective of a man who may have a very unreliable take on his own past. Lippman talks with Olivia about the novel, a crossover from Tess Monaughan, her early days as a journalist, #MeToo, and her friendships with millennials. In a A Moment With Margaret, Olivia and Margaret discuss revenge themes and Margaret shares why she recommends both Joshilyn Jackson’s “Mother May I?” and S.A. Cosby’s “Razorblade Tears.
Allison Larkin, The People We Keep: Allison Larkin’s novel The People We Keep takes readers back to the early 1990s, with teenage April lives mostly alone in a motorhome in a rundown town in rural New York. The People We Keep is the coming-of-age story of a talented young woman who seems to always go without- without a mom, often without a dad, without opportunity, without understanding, without stability, without much of a safety net. Larkin joined the podcast to talk about about writing the story of a traveling musician who spends life on the road, a character that first came to mind fifteen years ago. She shared the journey of the book, the work she put in to hone her own musical skills, and her passion for encouraging other writers. In a Moment with Margaret, Margaret and Olivia discuss how Instagram-worthy the gorgeous cover of The People We Keep is, and their affection for all things 90s. Margaret recommends The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Olivia admits to having binged (and loved) Freeform’s Cruel Summer, also set in the 90s and streaming on Hulu.
Chandler Baker, The Husbands: In “The Husbands,” Chandler Baker takes readers to a suburban, Stepford-inspired, impossibly idyllic Texas community of Dynasty Ranch, which seems to offer Nora Spangler everything she needs. The New York Times bestselling author of “The Whisper Network” joins the podcast to talk about her new novel, her career as an attorney that inspired the character, the sexism women face in the corporate world, and how she feels about her legal colleagues reading her work. Margaret and Olivia talk about other novels that revolve around planned communities or notable neighbors, including “The Therapist” by BA Paris and Megan Miranda’s “Such a Quiet Place.”
Kristin Harmel, The Forest of Vanishing Stars: As a former journalist, novelist Kristin Harmel fully embraces the research required to craft accurate and immersive historical fiction. Harmel became more deeply immersed in World War II Poland and the Jews who her protagonist, Yona, helps to hide and keep alive in the forest against the odds. Along the way, Harmel discovered that she is directly descended from the Polish Jews. Sharing personal and historical revelations, along with telling Olivia about founding Friends and Fiction, and how she started a professional career as a journalist as a teenager, her passion for writing is contagious. In a Moment With Margaret, we discuss the Most Read Books so far on the Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge, including “The Forest of Vanishing Stars” and our other favorites, “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley, and Rachel Hawkins’ “The Wife Upstairs.”
Zakiya Dalila Harris, The Other Black Girl: One of the most talked about books of 2021, Zakiya Dalila Harris’ debut novel is a genre-bending, searing look at race, office politics, and the micro-aggressions that people of color endure when working in a predominantly white industry. Harris’ “The Other Black Girl” is the story of Nella, a publishing assistant who is used to being the only black voice in the room. When Hazel arrives, dynamics change dramatically, but not at all in ways Nella would expect or desire. A thriller that is full of surprises, “The Other Black Girl” gives a dramatic look at how easily a young professional can lose her footing when she’s the target of gaslighting. Harris talks to Olivia about writing a debut novel that earned so much buzz, the Spotify playlist she crafted to accompany the book, and working on the adaptation for Hulu. Margaret and Olivia discuss other books they’ve recently read and loved, including “We Are the Brennans” by Tracy Lange, and “Fault Lines” by Emily Itami.
Lisa Taddeo, Animal: Witnessing a suicide of a married lover, while at dinner with another married lover, is the moment that sends Lisa Taddeo’s “Animal” narrator, Joan, out of New York and headed to California. A dive into grief, rage, and sexual power, the novel is powerfully written and in moments deeply moving and even disturbing. Taddeo reveals she’s far from the darkly intense author many expect is behind her work, shares how she juggled the novel while parenting her six-year-old, and how the pandemic didn’t change her. Listen for the hilarious comment her daughter had for her at a book-signing, and what Olivia said that Lisa jokingly called “the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.” “Animal” is published by Avid Reader Press and has been optioned by MGM and Plan B Entertainment. In a Moment with Margaret, Margaret recommends two other novels with complicated characters: “Pretty Girl” by Karin Slaughter and Jodi Picoult’s “Spark of Light.”
Jennifer Deibel, A Dance in Donegal: Jennifer Deibel spent nearly a decade living in Ireland and Austria, building a family and a deep love for all things Irish. That passion for the Emerald Isle and the Gaelic tongue is still with the Arizona schoolteacher, and fueled her passion for writing her debut novel, “A Dance in Donegal” from Revell Books. Jennifer talks to Olivia about making a “perfect cuppa”, life in the desert as compared to a land of green, and how she identifies with her protagonist, Moira. “A Dance in Donegal” follows Moira from Boston to Ireland in 1920, following through on her mother’s dying wish for her daughter to teach in the village where she once lived. There, Moira finds a missing piece of herself, and discovers mysteries surrounding her family’s past. In a Moment With Margaret, they talk about books where the setting is as important as the characters. Margaret recommends “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, Olivia recommends Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend.”
Sophia Benoit: Well, This is Exhausting: Essays: Be honest, it IS all exhausting! Over the years, Sophia Benoit has sharpened her fierce wit as a means for survival: dealing in with life as a woman in a sexist world, finding love in the age of apps, accepting yourself even when society considers you fat, the push and pull of life as a child of divorce… Benoit, a relationship and sex columnist discusses her collection of essays with Olivia, reflecting on the value of telling her unfiltered truth, and her hope that after readers laugh out loud (and maybe shed a tear or two) at Benoit’s expense, they’ll feel a little less alone and exhausted. In a Moment With Margaret, Margaret makes the most of having the Bustle advice columnist’s expertise available and gets her beneficial dating advice (a can’t miss for anyone currently on the apps!)
Christina Baker Kline, The Exiles: Christina Baker Kline talks about the research and writing of her powerful work of historical fiction, THE EXILES. The novel tells the story of Evangeline, Hazel, and Matthina, three women who must tap into incredible resilience in the face of oppression and injustice. The setting is “the land beyond the seas,” Van Diemen’s Island, a penal colony established by the British, where 25,000 British women were exiled, by way of a former slave ship, The Medea. The ORPHAN TRAIN author shares with Olivia the parallels with modern day, and her interest in telling stories that focus on the power of female friendship. She shares which famous authors she’s friends with, and recommends mixing up a Dark & Stormy for THE EXILES book club night. Margaret recommends two books she loved this year: THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab, and GREENLIGHTS by Matthew McConaughey. In addition to THE EXILES, Olivia recommends both novels by Brit Bennett, THE VANISHING HALF and THE MOTHERS.
Lauren Layne, To Sir, With Love: Can you fall in love with a stranger? Is anything a mystery anymore? “To Sir, With Love” is a romantic comedy written by Lauren Layne who serves up a satisfying look at modern love in Manhattan. Part “Love Is Blind” meets “You’ve Got Mail,” the novel’s protagonist Gracie Cooper is holding down the fort of her champagne shop/ family business, while falling for anonymous stranger on a dating app she only knows as “sir.” Lauren talks to Olivia about delivering a feel-good story when readers need it the most, and why her own life in Manhattan is so important to her writing. For a reader who loves “To Sir, With Love” Margaret recommends other easy, breezy romantic comedies: “Yes & I Love You” by Roni Loren, “The Real Deal” by Lauren Blakely, and two books by Katharine McGee, “American Royals” and “Majesty.” All pair nicely with a chilled glass of Cava.
Cameron Hamilton & Lauren Speed, Leap of Faith: Falling in love and getting engaged without ever looking at each other? That’s the premise of the Netflix hit reality show, Love Is Blind. The unique dating show was a huge hit and launched not only a marriage but new careers for Lauren and Cameron. Fans follow their video content and now they can read about their relationship. Olivia talked with the duo about their book, “Leap of Faith” which is part memoir, but also a useful guide for couples navigating new dynamics, who will take inspiration from the familiar pair as role models in how to define their paths as a couple. Olivia & Margaret both LOVE reality TV as much as they love their books, so they chat about other enjoyable reads from Tan France, Andy Cohen, Jonathan Van Ness, Margaret Josephs and Stassi Schroeder.
Ashley Audrain, The Push: Even the casual reader who glanced at the lists of the Best Books of 2021, or Most Anticipated Fiction of ‘21 knew of THE PUSH. Ashley Audrain’s debut novel explores a women’s greatest fears about motherhood through the suspenseful, gripping story of Blythe and her daughter, Violet. She talks with Olivia about how her professional experience as a literary publicist both shaped and shook her as a writer, and the moments when she deleted nearly ¾ of her manuscript. She also previews her second novel, THE WHISPERS. Margaret and Olivia discuss other highly hyped debuts and their follow-up novels from Gillian Flynn, Kevin Kwan, Alex Michaelides.
Steven Rowley, The Guncle: If you didn’t already know what a guncle is, the character of Patrick in Steven Rowley’s “The Guncle” is here to help. As the Palm Springs dwelling, mimosa loving, sitcom celebrity gay uncle to Maisie and Grant, Patrick opens his heart and his home to the kids in a time of crisis. Olivia talks with the author of “Lily and the Octopus” and “The Editor” about this heartfelt and humorous novel of grief, growth, and finding the people you need right at the right time. Margaret shares some favorite novels that uniquely touch on grief: “Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward, “The Weekend Wedding Assistant” by Rachel Gladstone, and “Long Bright River” by Liz Moore.
Bookseller turned Best Seller T.J. Newman: T.J. Newman’s life changes dramatically this summer. The author is a former indie bookstore bookseller, turned flight attendant, turned novelist. “Falling” is already a bestseller in the UK and is poised for a huge release at home July 7th. Overcoming dozens of rejections from literary agents to get here, Newman’s suspenseful tale of a kidnapping plot targeting the family of an airline pilot ultimately landed her seven-figure deals for the book, and the movie rights. She talks to Olivia about the failures that paved the way, and why her mother has earned the right to say “I told you so” forever. In a Moment With Margaret, T.J. joins Margaret and Olivia to talk about their love for local bookstores and libraries, and new options for audiobooks.
Dr. Amy Shah, I’m So Effing Tired: In I’m So Effing Tired, wellness expert Dr. Amy Shah tackles what we’re doing that’s making us feel fatigued, outlining a plan for readers to implement changes that will create an energy surge. From what you eat, to when you eat, to managing stress, Dr. Shah talks to Olivia about the energy trifecta, and the personal moment that led her to make a change. From surviving shift work to evaluating what, and sometimes who, to let go of, this is an eye-opening chat that will make listeners want to dig deeper into her book. Margaret recommends a work of fiction that focuses on exhausted moms called “Happy & You Know It” by Laura Hankin, and admits to what is making her personally exhausted (late nights with Love Island UK.)
JoJo Moyes, The Giver of Stars: For so many fiction readers, JoJo Moyes is a household name. The British novelist and screenwriter talked to Olivia and Margaret about the research that went into her latest novel, “The Giver of Stars.” The book is now in paperback, and to write it, the British novelist made numerous trips to America’s heartland for research. She shares why it was important to ride horses in rural Kentucky (combining two of her passions), and some of the wild news headlines that helped her craft Alice, Marjery and the other Pack Horse Librarians. Moyes previews her next book that’s headed to the screen, the trilogy that made her famous, and why readers today are making previous releases best-sellers again. Inspired by Moyes and the Pack Horse Librarians, Olivia and Margaret discuss other novels featuring librarians. For those into suspense, Margaret recommends “All the Devils are Here” by Louise Penny. A novel with a dark and mysterious network of women, there’s “The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penner. Olivia and Margaret also mention popular books “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, and a children’s classic: “Matilda” by Roald Dahl. For those who haven’t read Sally Hepworth’s “The Good Sister,” Olivia suggests now is the time, as one of the main characters is as a librarian! Olivia talked to Hepworth about this novel in Episode 5 of the podcast.
Dr. Kevin Leman, 8 Secrets to Raising Successful Kids: Best-selling author (more times than even he can count with certainty,) Dr. Kevin Leman likely wrote a book on any issue in your family you’d like to address and improve. From parenting, to romantic intimacy, to his theories on birth order that still have people talking decades later, Dr. Leman is a deep well of common sense who delivers hilarious truth bombs in a way only he can. Leman talks to Olivia about his recent book, “8 Secrets to Raising Successful Kids,” why mom is the most influential figure in her son’s life, and why putting away the toaster is his secret to a happy marriage. In “A Moment with Margaret”: Olivia & Margaret discuss self-help titles that resonate with them. They discuss “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle, “More Than Enough” by Elaine Welteroth, and “Give Them Lala” by Lala Kent.
Katherine Center, Things You Save in a Fire: Katherine Center is all about the joy, writing characters and stories that pull at your heart. The author of “What You Wish For”, she talks to Olivia about “Things You Save in a Fire,” now in paperback. The effervescent artist shares where she goes to meet writing deadlines, the fun she has with her newsletter, how she researched life as a firefighter, and Olivia discovers she and Katherine have Duran Duran and Frances Hodgson Burnett in common! Visit www.katherinecenter.com to shop her books and swag. In A Moment With Margaret, Olivia and Margaret discuss three other books that highlight trailblazing ladies or an unexpected workplace romance: CJ Tudor’s “The Burning Girls,” “The Ex Talk” by Rachel Lynn Solomon, and “Madame Tussaud” by Michelle Moran.
Sally Hepworth: The Good Sister: When Sally Hepworth’s “The Good Sister” was released in April, it became an instant New York Times bestseller. Available now in paperback, this suspenseful thriller about twin sisters Fern and Rose is summer escape at its finest (be warned, you may chew your nails.) Sally spoke with Olivia about crafting the dual narratives, how organically the character of Fern came to the story, the part of her writing process that is like “a dagger to the heart” for other writers, and self-expression through fashion. “The Good Sister” is published by St. Martin’s Press. In A Moment with Margaret, Margaret shares which thrillers she’ll be reading this summer from authors she’s enjoyed in the past: “The Maidens” by Alex Michaelides, “Survive the Night” by Riley Sager, and “The Perfect Family” by Robyn Harding. These books are released in June, July, and August, respectively.
Samantha Ettus: The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction: Harvard MBA, CEO, and bestselling author Samantha Ettus shares with Olivia her secrets to building a thriving personal and professional life, as outlined in her book, “The Pie Life.” She tells Olivia about her strategies for making the most of home life, what shouldn’t be talked about at work (from the CEO’s perspective), and the true cost for women who step out of the workforce. Samantha is like the best friend you always wanted, ready with supportive, practical advice you’ll want to share with friends.Margaret and Olivia talk about other books with life lessons they’d recommend.
Jennifer Weiner, That Summer: The queen of the beach read returns with That Summer. Novelist Jennifer Weiner talks to Olivia about writing women’s stories through the lens of the #MeToo movement. She shares about life on Cape Cod, why Beatrice is one of her favorite characters yet, and the importance of body image in her writing. When thinking of how she fell in love with reading, she shares how an essay by Nora Ephron may have changed her life. Margaret shares her beach read recommendations: Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, and Libby Hubscher’s Meet Me in Paradise.
Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds: Olivia interviews Kristin Hannah, No. 1 New York Times Bestselling author. Hannah reveals why she makes us “ugly cry” and shares two shocking surprises about changes she made to both The Four Winds and The Nightingale. She also shares the book series that hooked her on reading. Olivia and Margaret each recommend a book and movie guaranteed to make you ugly cry. For Olivia, the book is When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi and the movie Stepmom. Margaret’s makeup will run watching Steel Magnolias and reading Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.
Donna Freitas, The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano: Olivia interviews Donna Freitas about her adult fiction debut about a woman who doesn’t want children, and all the challenges that surround her choice. Donna talks about her relationship with her mother, personal moments that make their way into this book, and why switching genres left some with a funny misunderstanding of her work. Olivia and Margaret discuss other “what if” stories. Margaret recommends The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver, and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
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