Interview with Haley Hill author of It’s Got To Be Perfect: the memoirs of a modern-day matchmaker

I recently had to opportunity to interview Haley Hill. Her book, It’s Got To Be Perfect: the memoirs of a modern-day matchmaker, is currently available on promotion for $0.99 and will be free on Valentine’s Day!  http://www.amazon.com/Its-Got-Perfect-modern-day-matchmaker-ebook/dp/B00F9BQXTC7074684

 

 How long did it take you to write It’s got to be perfect: the memoirs of a modern day matchmaker. How did you come up with the idea for it?

 A- This is my debut novel. Before writing it, I had spent six years working as a matchmaker in London. The day I sold my business, I vowed to document all that I had learned. I wasn’t sure what format that would take but I began writing. I wrote three drafts and then discarded them all. The fourth draft was beginning to take the shape of a half-decent novel so I edited it (about twenty times) and then finally I was happy with it. I think the title ‘It’s Got to Be Perfect’ was a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Q- Tell me a little bit about where you’re from. Do you still live there now? 

A- I’m a London girl, born and bred. Aside from four years at University, I haven’t strayed from my home city. I love it. I love the buzz, the people, the buildings, the food. Despite my constant frustration with the weather, I doubt I’ll ever leave…

Q- What advice can you give to other self-published authors?

A- Never give up. It took me three years and many, many rewrites to produce my first novel. And I still have a long way to go. Write from your heart and before you put finger to keypad, make sure you have something meaningful to say.

Q- What is your all-time favorite book?

A- It has to be Bridget Jones’ Diary. It is the funniest book I have ever read. Helen Fielding did such an amazing job of capturing the zeitgeist (and female neurosis) of the time.

Q- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Why?

A- I love London. It’s vibrant, multicultural and full of fascinating people. However, despite my earlier conviction that I would never leave, I have to admit that I spend many a day gazing out through drizzle-splattered window panes, dreaming of a life in Provence. I imagine wearing white linen and writing a stream of bestsellers from under an old oak tree. When I wasn’t working, I’d most likely swan around village markets or sip Rose wine on a sun-dappled terrace.

Q- If you were to pick a character in a book that is most like you, who would it be?

A- Well, it would have to be Ellie the protagonist from my own novel, It’s Got to Be Perfect.’ Even though she is a fictional character, I think as an author it’s hard to differentiate yourself emotionally from your characters. In fact, I think there is a piece of me in each of my characters.

Q- What are you currently working on now?

A- When I get any free time, between wrangling twin toddlers and a disobedient dog, I’m working on the sequel of ‘It’s Got to Be Perfect.’ Even though, I’ve already devoted an entire novel to the topic, I still feel as though I’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to exploring modern-day romantic love. And besides, I have tonnes more fodder from my matchmaking days!

 

Check out Haley’s GoodReads page for more information about her work- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7074684.Haley_Hill and her personal web-site http://matchmakermusings.com/book/

Book Review: Then Came You

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

Reviewed by Jessica Morgan

Synopsis-

India, Jules, and Annie are at different stages in their lives but when decisions they each make bring them into each other’s lives, they are forever changed.

India is a young wife married to Marcus, a wealthy businessman. She desires to become a mother for reasons she doesn’t want to admit. Her step daughter, Bettina, suspects that she is only in it for the money and uncovers secrets about India she was never meant to find.

Jules is a student at Princeton faced with financially supporting herself and maintaining her scholarship. When her Dad’s battle with addiction reaches a new level, she plans to sell her eggs in order to raise the money for his care.

Annie is a stay at home mom whose family is feeling the weight of their financial struggles. When she decides to carry a child for another family for the renewed sense of purpose and financial gain, she is forced to manage the outcome of her choice.

Then Came You is a story that explores the reality of our circumstances and the complexities of our choices.

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This novel is a depiction about how our presumptions, responsibilities, and desires cultivate our lives. The tale of these three women is layered and full of discoveries.

India is the great mystery. Just about the time you think you might dislike her, the motivations behind her actions are revealed calling into question your presumptions about her. Annie is the heart of the story. Throughout the entire book, I battled with my feelings about the risk she took and the impact it had on her own family. At the same time, you can’t help but to have some admiration for Annie. Jules is the character I found myself rooting for and hoping that she found a happy ending.

There are aspects of these three characters most women could relate to based on your own experiences or because of a woman you know. You will laugh, cringe and explore your own ideals of motherhood.

3.5 Stars

Interview with Dangled Carat author, Hilary Grossman

 

I was recently able to interview Hilary Grossman, author of the book Dangled Carat- One girl’s attempt to convert the ultimate commitment-phobic man into a doting husband with a lot of help from his family and friends.DangledCarat-BarnesAndNoble-1600x1000 (1)

Here’s a synopsis-

Hilary had gotten used to dating the commitment-phobic Marc, thirteen years her senior. They had a great relationship—why rush into things? She saw no need to pressure him for marriage, believing that when the time was right, he would propose. But after they had been together for four years, their friends decided to take matters into their own hands, pushing Marc to propose and making Hilary realize how much she really did want to marry the man that she loved. Unfortunately, Marc still wasn’t ready—and their friends’ meddling in the form of a faux engagement party led to a disastrous New Year’s Eve that brought their relationship to an inevitable turning point. In this relatable, lighthearted, and playful memoir, Hilary reminisces about her life before Marc—from the insecure and awkward teenage years she spent in a back brace and dealing with the loss of her father, to her early relationships and, finally, to the day she met Marc and realized that she really wanted to see him again. Through their first date—even though Hilary was technically seeing someone else at the time—and the ease of their early time together until Marc first decided that they were moving too quickly, up until that fateful New Year’s Eve, Hilary shares the details of their relationship and how Marc’s inability to commit led her to find an inner strength and confidence she didn’t know she possessed. For anyone who has ever dated a commitment-phobe, who has found their patience wearing thin with the one they love, or who has sat around wondering if he is ever going to pop the question while trying to remain the very picture of patience and grace, Hilary’s humorous and honest story will hit home.

 

How long did it take you to write Dangled Carat? How did you come up with the idea for it?

It took me about eight months (weekends only) to write the first draft of Dangled Carat. After I finished I knew it needed work so I looked for a professional editor to help me. I was fortunate to be able to work with Christina Baker Kline, New York Times and USA today bestselling author of Orphan Train.  Christina had my manuscript for a few months, and then it took me about three more months to incorporate her changes and suggestions. Unfortunately in the midst of the process my home and life was slammed by Hurricane Sandy.  In all, from start to finish, it took about two years to complete. Dangled Carat is a memoir about my attempt to convert a commitment phobic man into a doting husband with a lot of help from his family and friends.  While many of the things that happened to me (two faux engagement parties, for example) were very unique being involved in a relationship with a commitment-phobic man is a very common situation.  I felt that my story was something so many women could relate to which is what prompted me to write this book.

Is this your debut novel as an author? If not, what other books have you written?

This is the first book I have written, and it is totally a dream come true!

Who is your biggest inspiration in your life?

My mother, she is an amazing lady. She has gone through a lot of things in her life and she has always been a pillar of strength while keeping a sense of humor. My dad passed away when I was fourteen years old. It was a very difficult time for both of us, but she was selfless in helping me cope.  She also worked tirelessly to make sure that I didn’t miss out on anything because my dad was no longer alive.

                                           

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What is your all-time favorite book?

This is a hard one!  I have so manyJ!  But I have to just pick one I have to go with Bitter Is The New Black by Jen Lancaster.  Not only did I love this book, and find it hysterically funny, this book changed my life.  Before reading it I didn’t know what a blog was or what a memoir was.  Yes, I am bowing my head in shame.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Why?

It sounds corny but right where I am… I am very fortunate, I live in an amazing town on Long Island and my home is on the beach.  For a beach bum like me it doesn’t get any better…

Tell me about your website, feeling beachie.

I actually started the blog four years ago with Dangled Carat in mind. I wanted to “practice” writing.  Feeling Beachie is a very eclectic blog – it has a little bit of everything going on.  I write a lot of humorous daily life type stories.  I also host a weekly Wordless Wednesday blog hop as well as a weekly “Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun Blog Hop”.  The Friday hop is blast. I always have a co-host and together we come up with 4 fill in the blank statements for all participates to answer on their own blogs. It is amazing to see how similar we all are.  Finally, I have frequent guest posts by my cat, Lucy.  She is the feline version of me and always has  a lot to say :)

I saw that you live in New York. I am a native New Yorker myself. Are you a native or a newcomer?

I am a native New Yorker. I was born in Brooklyn and moved to Long Island when I was two years old. I still live on the island, about 15 minutes from where I grew up.

Which character of your novel are you most like?

Since this is a memoir, I am exactly like me…. But the interesting thing is when you write a memoir you have to relive a lot of experiences in your life.  To accurately portray the story you have to really look inside yourself to understand your feelings and motivations which led you to do the things you did and make the choices you made.  In this process I learned a lot about myself as well as shared feelings that I never expressed anyone before.

Learn more about Hilary at her website http://www.feelingbeachie.com . You can also follow her on Twitter @feelinbeachie

Book Review: Me Before You

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Reviewed by Jessica Morgan

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Synopsis- Me Before You is the story of two characters that unexpectedly meet when their lives are interrupted and they are forced to consider a different future for themselves.

Louisa Clark has been leading a comfortable life in her hometown. Clark has her world challenged when the cafe she has been waitressing at closes its doors. Not knowing what awaits her, she takes a job, out of desperation, as a caregiver for Will Traynor.

Will Traynor had a big life in London; the perfect job, the perfect girlfriend, and adventure at every turn. His life is interrupted by an accident which leaves him unable to care for himself.

Throughout this story, you will be wondering who these character were before each other and who they will be after.

Review:

From the moment the story began, I felt engulfed in the lives of the characters. Louisa Clark is the average girl next door, content with what she knows; unaware that life could look differently. She has a lackluster career and a mediocre boyfriend until life intervenes and she is thrust into a new way of life. Her character is endearing and you root for her as you watch her discover, rebel, and create a new life.

When Will Traynor enters the plot, intrigue and mystery direct your thoughts. He previously had an adventurous life that many would envy, but now confines himself to his home. Traynor is complex and deeply broken by the brutality life can sometimes deliver. From the beginning of the novel until the end, you are captivated by the uncertainty of this character.

Each page unveils a new piece of the story that captivates you. The character development unfolds in the most delicious way, constantly leaving you hungry for more. The intersection of these two characters and their families is spellbinding as you battle with your own sense of right and wrong. Throughout the novel, you are constantly challenged to think about what sacrifices you would make for a loved one.

Louisa and Will steal your heart, then break it, and then make you fall in love with them all over again. Neither of them were the one the other one wanted nor saw coming, yet they were exactly who they needed. I found this to be a beautiful story about the complexity of love and life. As soon as I finished the book, I wanted to start it over again.

5 stars

Check out more about Jessica on her web-site My Grits and Gravy! http://mygritsandgravy.blogspot.com/

You can also follow her on Twitter at @mygritsandgravy

Review: I’m So Happy For You: A Novel About Best Friends

I’m So Happy For You: A Novel About Best Friends

By Lucinda Rosenfeld

Reviewed by Jill

 

Synopsis- What if your best friend, whom you’ve always counted on to flounder in life and love (making your own modest accomplishments look not so bad), suddenly starts to surpass you in every way? 
Wendy’s best friend, Daphne, has always been dependably prone to catastrophe.  And Wendy has always been there to help.  If Daphne veers from suicidal to madly in love, Wendy offers encouragement.  But when Daphne is suddenly engaged, pregnant, and decorating a fabulous town house in no time at all, Wendy is…not so happy for her.  Caught between wanting to be the best friend she prides herself on being and crippling jealousy of flighty Daphne, Wendy takes things to the extreme, waging a full-scale attack on her best friend-all the while wearing her best, I’m-so-happy-for-you smile-and ends up in way over her head. 
Rosenfeld has a knack for exposing the not-always-pretty side of being best friends–in writing that is glittering and diamond-sharp. I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU is a smart, darkly humorous, and uncannily dead-on novel about female friendship.6164083

Review-

I originally read this book because I thought it would be a cute/ funny story about the complex relationship between ”frienemies”.  Not that all Chick-lit books have to be about Macarons and Manolo’s, but the book was described as an “uncannily dead-on novel about female friendship”. So I assumed some actual friendship would be involved.

Overall, the book seemed hollow and empty. I’m So Happy For You didn’t seem as if it was about friendship at all. In fact, it seemed like Wendy hated Daphne. It didn’t make sense to me why, if she felt so insecure and miserable by this person, Wendy would have continued to be friends with Daphne at all. At one point in the novel she genuinely believed that Daphne was sleeping with her husband, and continues to passive aggressively be cordial with her. Even though at the end, it turned out to be a misunderstanding (of course).

The one thing that the book did get right, is how some friendships in NYC can be either one-sided, or make it through the years strictly out of convenience, but I am sure that can happen anywhere you live.

I felt it lacked any depth or real emotion behind the characters. The book is described as “darkly-humorous”. I can agree with the first part, it definitely was dark.

 

2 stars.

Giveaway

Hey everyone! Jill here- I am hosting a giveaway of my novel, Chase on Goodreads.com for 5 lucky winners. If you are in the U.S, U.K, or Canada you are eligible to enter!

If you love Chick-lit, NYC, single girl life, love triangles, and best friends then you should enter!

Here’s the link- Good luck!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18478999-chase

Review: The Shiksa Syndrome

The Shiksa Syndrome

By Laurie Graff

Reviewed by Jill

Synopsis- Manhattan publicist Aimee Albert knows a good spin, but she’s the one who winds up reeling when her gorgeous, goyishe boyfriend breaks up with her—on Christmas! For a stand-up comedian, you’d think he would have better timing. But Aimee’s not about to let a man who doesn’t even have a real job get her down. She dusts herself off and decides to seek companionship with a member of her own tribe. There’s just one problem: all the shiksas are snapping them up!

So when the very cute, Jewish, and gainfully employed Josh Hirsch catches Aimee’s eye at a kosher wine tasting and mistakes her for a shiksa, what’s a girl to do? Hey, her heart was broken, not her head! Unfortunately, the charade goes on longer than Aimee planned, and her life becomes more co

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mplicated than a Bergman film. To make matters worse, Josh and Aimee aren’t exactly on the same page as far as their attitudes toward Judaism go, creating tension in the relationship. But as Aimee begins to discover that her identity isn’t as easily traded as a pair of Jimmy Choos, she must decide if having the man of her dreams is worth the price of giving up so much of who she is. 

Review-

Oy, it’s so hard to find a nice Jewish boy in New York, right? At least that’s what your mother keeps saying (if you’re Jewish that is). If you’re not Jewish, I think you’ll still get a kick out of this book.

I had a great time reading this book. It was well written, funny, and at times extremely relatable. For those of you who may not know, a shiksa is a non-jewish woman. In the novel, the main character Aimee gets an impromptu make over- which includes making her hair a little lighter, and getting green contact lenses. She meets a well-to-do attractive Jewish man who mistakes her for a non-Jewish woman. The Jewish guy, wants a shiksa girl. She goes on pretending for a little bit too long until she gets herself into a situation where the truth come out. 

So I have to say, I loved this book… up until the end. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I feel like through out the entire book, the character was fun, smart, and independent. At the end, she makes a choice that I do not agree with, and I felt like it erased any progress she made through out the novel. She appeared weak and needy to me, and I felt like the book really could have used a sequel to tie some loose ends up.

My over-all assessment, is that this book is a fun read, I wouldn’t skip it just because the ending could be better.

 

3 stars

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