Archive for July, 2023

The Best Mary Kubica Books (Exclusive Author Interview)

Saturday, July 29th, 2023
The Best Mary Kubica Books (Exclusive Author Interview)

Mary Kubica discusses the thriller writing process in this interview. Discover the Mary Kubica books in order & how the author crafted “The Good Girl.”

If there is one thing I love, it is a summer thriller.

Nothing is better to tuck in a beach bag than a book that you can rapidly flip through and sit in suspenseful moments as the story unfolds. 

Those kinds of books that your eyes can’t read fast enough because you just HAVE to know what will happen. 

If you have been waiting for the next big thing since Gone Girl, I have just the book for you! 

The Good Girl Book

The Good Girl Summary

Editor’s Note: The Good Girl has been published since 2014! 

Today I am excited to feature author, Mary Kubica, and her first book, The Good Girl

The book opens with the following words:

“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia is unlike her parents in every way, content with her life as an inner-city school teacher. 

She meets a guy when she finds herself alone at a bar one night after being stood up by her boyfriend. 

Her plans for a one-night stand turn into her life’s worst mistake.

Mary Kubica Author Photo

The Best Mary Kubica Books (Exclusive Author Interview)

The Good Girl surprised me with its plot twists, which is hard to achieve as an avid reader.

But as the writer of these twists, did you always see them coming, or were they equally surprising to you?

The plot twists are often as surprising to me as they are to the reader. 

In the case of The Good Girl, I had written a significant chunk of the novel before the ending came to me. 

This is one of the most exciting parts of writing for me – when I get that clear picture of how the story will end. 

I don’t typically outline or do much note-taking before starting a new manuscript, so I only have a starting point; the rest of the details remain obscure.

I make it a point not to overthink my plot too much and to have faith that the details, plot twists, etc., will come in due time. 

One of my favorite parts of writing this genre is after the entire story comes together in my mind. 

Then I can go back through the manuscript and insert clues to help the reader along or, in some cases, throw them off course!

I relate to Mia’s mother the most in your story because she constantly questions if she did enough to be a good mother. 

Is this something you resonated with too?


Mia’s mother, Eve Dennett, is the character I relate to the most. 

She’s a woman, but more importantly, a mother.

I could put myself in Eve’s shoes and ask myself how I would respond to the situation as a mother: how would I feel, and what would I do or say if my own child was missing? 

I felt for Eve; even the best mother makes choices they may second guess. 

Not only is Eve longing for her missing child, but she’s also desperate for a chance to rekindle her relationship with Mia and amend the poor decisions she made throughout Mia’s childhood. 

I think that as mothers, no matter how hard we try, there’s always the fear that we’ll fall short and not fulfill everything we can for our children. 

That’s why I believe many mothers out there will relate to Eve on some level. 

Initially, I viewed Colin Thatcher as an antagonist, but as the story progressed, I sympathized with him. 

Did you also sympathize with him?

Without giving anything away, The Good Girl is a novel that makes you rethink much of what you know and teaches the reader not to take things at face value.

What you see is not always what you get, which holds true with many of the characters in the book.

 I sympathize with nearly every character in The Good Girl for various reasons. 

They are imperfect and flawed, as most of us are, something that will hopefully make them relatable to the reader.

Your journey to becoming a debut novelist is truly inspiring, highlighting the importance of never giving up on one’s writing dreams. 

How long did you have to wait before seeing your book on bookshelves? 

And even now, does the experience still feel surreal to you?

Yes, it absolutely feels surreal. 

It was 2006 when I first began working on The Good Girl, and 2014 when it was published. 

That’s eight years of hard work, hopes, dreams, and fears – all of it.

After finishing the novel, I submitted it to many literary agencies, and, as you may know by now, it was rejected by everyone. 

I thought that was it; any hope of a writing career was through. 

Two years later, I received an out-of-the-blue email from one of the agencies that had previously declined to represent my novel.

The Good Girl had stuck with them all that time, and they wanted to represent it – proof that writers, or anyone for that matter, should never give up on their dreams. 

Seeing my name on a book at the bookstore still shocks me. I wonder if this will ever feel real and no longer surreal. 

Probably not.

Your book is being compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 

What do you think of the comparison?

Did this comparison help in the selling of your novel?

The comparisons to Gone Girl did nothing but help The Good Girl. 

So many Gillian Flynn fans (including me!) are out there, so I’m thrilled with the comparison. 

That said, trying to live up to such a masterpiece can be a bit unnerving, but early feedback for The Good Girl has been phenomenal. 

I couldn’t be more pleased.

We featured Heather Gudenkauf and her book Little Mercies this past month on the site.

How did you end up partnering with her for your book promotion?

First, let me say that Heather Gudenkauf is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with, and her latest novel Little Mercies, is by far one of my favorites of 2014. 

Heather and I share not only the same publisher – Harlequin MIRA – but the same editor, and seeing as our novels came out just a month apart and we write in the same genre, it’s a perfect match. 

We’ve been able to travel together many times to promote our books and have connected at many conferences throughout the year. 

Heather has been an incredible mentor, and I feel so fortunate for our time together. 

It’s so great to be able to connect with other authors. 

Writing can be an isolated profession, so the more people – authors, readers, etc. – we can connect with, the better!

Can you give us a sneak peek at what you have in store for us next?

*Editor’s Note: Pretty Baby is released!

Yes, I’d love to! I just finished up my second novel Pretty Baby, which will be released by Harlequin MIRA in 2015. 

This is another psychological suspense set in the Midwest, about a Chicago mother who encounters a young homeless girl with a baby. 

She becomes quite taken with the two of them, and as she does, we learn more about these women and what effect this chance encounter will have on both of their lives.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien- Mary Kubica's Favorite Book

If you could recommend one book to anyone, what would it be?

My favorite book of all time is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. 

This is one that I tell everyone to read. 

It’s a Vietnam War memoir, but is much more than that. 

You don’t need to be a history guru to love this book. 

When it comes to my own genre of psychological suspense, though, Before I Go To Sleep is one I often recommend. 

I just loved this S.J. Watson novel.

The Other Mrs. Book Club- MomAdvice Book Club Leader, Amy Allen Clark, poses with Mary Kubica's book.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mary Kubica

Do I need to read Mary Kubica’s books in a particular order?

No, all of Mary Kubica’s books are stand-alone. 

What are Mary Kubica’s best books?

It is so hard for me to choose because Mary Kubica has become a wonderful friend, and I’m so proud of all she does.

My favorites are Local Woman Missing, The Other Mrs., and The Good Girl.

Her seventh book, Local Woman Missing, is her highest-rated novel on GoodReads.

She's Not Sorry by Mary Kubica

What are Mary Kubica’s books in the order published?

  • The Good Girl (2014)
  • Pretty Baby (2015)
  • Don’t You Cry (2016)
  • Every Last Lie (2017)
  • When the Lights Go Out (2018)
  • The Other Mrs. (2020)
  • Local Woman Missing (2021)
  • Just the Nicest Couple (2023)
  • She’s Not Sorry (April 2024)
Mary Kubica Books In Order

Mary Kubica Books

Mary Kubica is the New York Times bestselling author of many suspense novels. Mary’s thrillers have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over three million copies worldwide. 

Mary is a former high school history teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in History and American Literature from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. 

She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children.

Browse this list of all the Mary Kubica books. We also share where to stream the movie and tv adaptations.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Love this author interview? Stream the Book Gang Podcast wherever you get podcasts. We discuss debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book gems with your favorite authors.

Book Gang Podcast

TELL ME: What is YOUR favorite Mary Kubica book?

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The Best Jeff Zentner Books (Exclusive Interview)

Friday, July 28th, 2023

Jeff Zentner discusses his debut novel in this author interview. Discover all of the Jeff Zentner books in order & his writing process for, “The Serpent King.”

The Best Jeff Zentner Books (Exclusive Interview)

Jeff Zentner discusses his debut novel in this author interview. Discover all of the Jeff Zentner books in order & his writing process for, “The Serpent King.”

I love discovering debut novelists, and today’s guest author has been my favorite since his first book, The Serpent King.

I promise you, it will be one of your favorite reads! It’s a gripping YA read that had me laughing and crying (sometimes simultaneously), and I was so sad when this book ended.

It’s as epic as The Fault in Our Stars (read my John Green exclusive interview on The Fault in Our Stars movie).

Be sure to scroll down for the complete list of his books and answers to your most asked questions, including what new book projects the author is working on.

The Serpent King

The Serpent King Synopsis

The Serpent King follows three unlikely friends in the rural South, each battling their personal demons.

Dill’s family struggles financially due to his scandalous, snake-charming Pentecostal preacher father. Travis seeks solace in a book series to escape his abusive father. Lydia plans to start a new life in New York as a blogger but grapples with leaving her loved ones behind. 

Together, they form an unexpected, heartwarming bond to confront unforeseen challenges.

This friendship is beautifully woven with humor and heart.

I could not put this book down and read it in a single day. I had to know what would happen with these three, and I couldn’t wait to chat with Jeff about his incredible writing. 

Jeff Zentner

The Best Jeff Zentner Books (Exclusive Interview)

I know many of us feel like we have a book in us, but we also feel like we never have the time to start one. But you managed to write your book on your phone while commuting to work. Can you tell us a little bit about that process?

It was a process born of simple necessity! I had almost two hours of bus commute each day, plus a day job and family, so I had to squeeze the writing in whenever possible.

So, I’d try to write 500 words on my iPhone 5S on the way to the office, 500 at lunch, and 500 on the way home.

Yes, my right thumb would get very tired.

At night, I’d put my son to bed and then try to write another thousand words or two on my laptop. 

What makes writing so wonderful is that I can whip out my phone at various times and get a little work done. Before writing, my creative outlet was music; I couldn’t use the same process as I do with writing. 

Even in Nashville, bringing your guitar on the bus and trying to work out a new song is frowned upon. 

I grew up in a very religious home, so I could relate to Dill’s need not to disappoint God or his parents.

Yet Dill still had a solid connection to his faith, even under challenging circumstances.

Why did you think it was important for Dill not to turn away from God? Did you want your readers to take away that message?

I gleaned insights about what growing up with less supportive and loving religious parents would look like from my own experience in a conservative religious home.

 Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with faith, and I’ve had to come to my own view of God because I don’t always believe everything I’m told about him.

Faith is not a thing that can be abandoned easily, and I think it would have been dishonest of me to depict it as something one can simply walk away from.

It felt more honest to me to have Dill wrestle with faith until he could come to know a God more concerned with his joy than putting him to constant tests that could harm him.

Tavi Gevinson

Lydia was my favorite character because I could relate to her humor and to her job as a blogger.

As a blogger, I know I am very thoughtful of my brand, and I related to Lydia’s struggle with not sharing photos of her friends to stay consistent with her brand’s message.

Do you think it was wrong of her to do that, and how did you come up with this all-too-true blogger struggle?

I don’t believe that it was wrong of her to do that.

It’s her blog, persona, and brand, so I think she is entitled to craft those things as she sees fit. But even though I think she wasn’t wrong to exclude Travis and Dill, she was right to include them once she felt brave enough.

Though as an author, I lost all power to dictate how people felt about her behavior once I published the book with her in all of her flaws.

So if anyone else thinks she was wrong to exclude Dill and Travis, who am I to say otherwise?

I came up with this struggle sort of by intuition. Lydia was loosely based on Tavi Gevinson and her fashion blog, Style Rookie.

It looked like she associated exclusively with people with equally amazing style.

I thought it unlikely she only knew and loved people with exceptional fashion sense. So there seemed to be some image control going on there.

Also, I’ve maintained Internet presences for years for various musical projects, so I knew that part of crafting an image and persona was selectivity in what you reveal about yourself.

*Editor’s Note: Style Rookie is no longer active, and Tavi Gevinson’s current website is


Dill grows up in a Pentecostal church that believes in snake-handling. What type of research did you do to create your church scenes?

I’ve long been fascinated with the practice of snake-handling, so I’ve done a fair amount of reading on it. The definitive work is a beautiful book called Salvation on Sand Mountain, which I highly recommend. I also interviewed friends who have attended worship services at snake-handling churches.

The nice thing is that there’s no central authority for snake-handling sects. There’s no pope of snake-handling. So I invented the church in the book; no one can say I got it wrong!

One line in your book is, “And if you’re going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.”

I really loved it because it is so true.

I imagine putting your book out into the world took a lot of bravery.

Do you feel like this is one of the bravest things you’ve done? Have you always dreamed of writing, or was this something you discovered you enjoyed later in life?

I do think it’s one of the bravest things I’ve personally done, but that doesn’t mean it’s one of the bravest things that can be done.

But I think what Dill does in the book takes more courage– he endures harsh circumstances, including bullying, unloving parents, and poverty, without letting those circumstances define him. 

For much of my life, the idea of becoming a writer wasn’t even a dream I entertained. It seemed too impossible and daunting, as if books could only descend from ivory towers and be carried by doves.

 However, my perspective has shifted in recent years, thanks to getting to know several published authors personally. This made writing seem like a possibility for me as well. 

Moreover, having a day job that demanded extensive and disciplined writing every day provided the last push of courage I needed to give it a try.

Jeff Zentner at Penguin Random House

You signed a two-book deal with Crown/Random House & Tundra/Random House Canada, which is fantastic and, for me as a writer, a little terrifying too.

Did you have to immediately get to work on the second book after this book was published? Has your writing process changed with this book, or are you still writing on a bus?

It was terrifying for me too! I had no idea what my second book would be, and yet I needed to deliver my editor something she loved as much as The Serpent King, a story I’d thought about for years.

I ran several ideas past them until, finally, something clicked on idea ten or eleven.

It’s not a companion or a sequel to The Serpent King, but it does feature a cameo from one of The Serpent King’s gang.

*Editors Note: This book, Goodbye Days, has since been published!

My process for this book was different than The Serpent King. I gave my full attention to writing The Serpent King– no outside reading, no TV, no movies, nothing.

With book two, I made sure to leave plenty of time to consume the books and shows I loved while writing. 

Since I had now reserved my evenings for reading and shows, I wrote book two on the bus even more than I had with The Serpent King. 

I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, but it seemed like it was left wide open for The Serpent King sequel.

Do you see this story continuing, or do you feel you’ve closed the chapters on these friends?

I can’t envision writing a sequel.

I’m happy with where things end, and I think I gave my readers enough for them to write their own lovely sequels in their heads. 

There used to be an epilogue, but I cut it out because I was unsatisfied with how neatly it tied everything together. I wanted to leave room for imagination.

I’ve had the unique opportunity to interview a few musicians turned novelists over the years. I understand you are a musician (as well as an attorney & youth camp volunteer!).

Are you still writing music too?

Do you find these processes to be similar?

Sadly, I find that the music-writing muse has left me.

But hopefully, only for a time. I’m starting to make friends with my guitar again.

I went a long time without even playing it.

I’m just trying to renegotiate my relationship with music now. It feels like we broke up, and we’re just learning how to be friends again.

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own), what would that book be?

I’m going to cheat and do two.

On the adult side, my all-time favorite book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

It’s so brutal and unsparing yet beautiful and filled with ferocious love. I feel like I can survive anything with that story in my mind.

On the young-adult side, my favorite book is The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter.

It’s so incredibly lyrical and gorgeous and filled with wisdom. It inspires me as a writer to work harder.

Jeff Zentner Testimonial for the MomAdvice Book Club

New to Jeff Zentner? Here are some answers to your most frequently asked questions!

What are the best Jeff Zentner books?

My favorite books are The Serpent King and In the Wild Light.

In fact, I selected Jeff’s book for the 2022 MomAdvice Book Club and it was voted as the Best Book of the Year by our readers.

His fourth book, In the Wild Light, is also his highest-rated novel on GoodReads.

In the Wild Light with 2022 MomAdvice Book Club Books.

What are Jeff Zentner’s books in the order published?

  • The Serpent King (2016)
  • Goodbye Days (2017)
  • Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee (2019)
  • In the Wild Light (2021)
  • Colton Gentry’s Third Act (April 2024)
  • Sunrise Nights  (July 2024)

What new projects is Jeff Zentner working on?

Jeff’s adult debut romance, Colton Gentry’s Third Act hit store shelves in April. You can hear the author discuss this novel on the Book Gang podcast.

Sunrise Nights

Jeff Zentner and Brittany Cavallaro’s upcoming novel is his next new book. It’s a poetic tale of two individuals who form a profound bond during Sunrise Night at an arts camp that will hit store shelves on July 9th, 2024.

Jeff Zentner Books

Jeff Zentner Books

Before becoming a writer, Jeff was a musician who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry.

He is now the author of New York Times Notable Books. He has won the ALA’s William C. Morris Award, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award twice, the Muriel Becker Award, and the International Literacy Association Award.

He has also been longlisted twice for the Carnegie Medal.

He lives in Nashville, and is frequently a speaker at schools offering advice to aspiring writers.

Browse this list of all the Jeff Zentner books and don't miss our frequently asked questions that share big news about two new projects the author is working on.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Love this author interview? Stream the Book Gang Podcast wherever you get podcasts. We discuss debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book gems with your favorite authors.

Book Gang Podcast

TELL ME: What is YOUR favorite Jeff Zentner book?

Colton Gentry's Third Act by Jeff Zentner
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Maggie Shipstead Exclusive Interview On Astonish Me

Thursday, July 27th, 2023
Maggie Shipstead Exclusive Interview On Astonish Me

Maggie Shipstead discusses her novel, “Astonish Me.” Discover all the Maggie Shipstead books, including the shortlisted Booker Prize novel “Great Circle.”

I’m so excited to discuss one of my favorite literary fiction novel’s, Astonish Me.   

Shipstead’s ability to write character-driven pieces makes this author’s writing such a treat.  

When you are done with her books, it is as though you know her characters inside and out. 

With a backdrop of ballet and what life is like to be a ballerina, the novel immediately pulled me in until the final pages.

Astonish Me Book

Astonish Me Book Synopsis

In this book, a young American dancer named Joan decides to help a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. 

Although they had a passionate love affair, Arslan soon moved on to other things, and Joan realized that she was destined to remain in the background onstage and off.

After her relationship with Arslan ends,  Joan decides to take her life in a different direction and marry the man that had always been in love with her, raises their son, and leaves the ballet for a quiet suburban life. 

However, Joan soon realizes that their son, Harry,  is a prodigy in more ways than one.

Through this discovery, Joan is pulled back into the world of ballet and Arslan’s life again.

Be sure to scroll down for a list of all the Maggie Shipstead books in order.

Maggie Shipstead Exclusive Interview On Astonish Me

Maggie Shipstead Author Photo

This novel is so different from your first novel, Seating Arrangements. Still, the one element I found similar was your ability to write well-developed character-driven plots. 

Have your stories always been very character-driven, and how do you shape them so well?

Well, thank you! I’m glad you think so. 

My relationships with characters vary from project to project. 

Seating Arrangements exists pretty much only because I had what I’d describe as strong chemistry with the protagonist, Winn Van Meter, who is the 59-year-old father of a pregnant bride. 

He’s nothing like me as a person–I’m female, 30, from California, and no one would accuse me of being emotionally withholding–but I thought the idea of him was interesting and also like I understood him. 

The book started as a short story, but I felt I had lots more to say about Winn and also like I knew what he would do or say in almost any situation. 

As I expanded the story into a novel, I incorporated more characters’ perspectives, too.

Astonish Me was a little different in that I didn’t conceive of Joan as a fully-formed person in the same way as Winn, but I started out wanting to write about someone who’s very talented (enough to be in a major ballet company) but who will never be the star she wants to be. 

So in a way, Joan evolved out of the circumstances of her life–the incredible discipline needed to be a dancer, the frustration of encountering her own limitations, the stubbornness she has about her doomed love affair with a Soviet superstar dancer. 

Sometimes when I’m having trouble writing, the problem is that I’m not connecting with my characters, and I’ll take some time to just stop and close my eyes and try to actually engage with these imaginary people. 

Being a novelist is kind of a weird job in that way.

As a kid, I took ballet, so I was captivated by this story.

Did you also do ballet? How did you do your research for this setting for your book?

I did ballet very, very briefly–for a year when I was five. 

But my mother and I both love to watch ballet, and she took me to about four performances a year from kindergarten until I left for college. 

She danced more than I did and knew a ton about ballet, so I learned a lot from her over the years. 

I wrote Astonish Me mostly over five months while I was traveling abroad, and I dragged a hardback ballet reference book around with me but also relied heavily on the internet. 

I have to say that YouTube is an incredible resource for dance.

I watched multiple versions of every variation I wrote about, and some companies, especially New York City Ballet and The Royal Ballet, post lots of backstage videos of rehearsal and class online, which I found incredibly helpful. 

I watched full-length documentaries as well and read interviews with dancers and things like that. 

In the end, though, it was all a bit of a leap of imagination because I’m never ever going to know what it’s like to exist in a dancer’s body.

It can be very difficult, definitely. 

Many technical decisions go into figuring out the chronology of any narrative and a boggling, infinite number of places and times you can take the story at any moment. 

So that can be overwhelming. 

The structure of Astonish Me, though, for some reason, evolved organically from the beginning.

I would write along chronologically, and then, when I got to a point in the story where I felt like a piece of information was missing, I would jump back in time to fill in the gap. 

The book is written in the present tense, and it’s meant to feel immediate and episodic, sort of like a ballet.

In the book, Joan gives up on her dream of being a ballerina because she believes she isn’t good enough to be a prima ballerina.

Did you ever give up on anything because you didn’t think you could be the best?

When I was in high school and for some years afterward, I was a really serious horseback rider. 

I trained most days and had two horses I was obsessed with and missed a lot of school to compete, but I wasn’t particularly talented. 

I really, really, really wanted to qualify for certain events that took place at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden or at another big show in D.C., but I never did.

I have to say, as frustrating as that experience was, I think it was ultimately good for me to understand that the process was worthwhile, even if I had absolutely no chance of ever being the best.

I liked spending time with horses, and I liked the pursuit of a physical skill and the excitement of competing, especially when I won, which did happen occasionally. 

And, generally, the idea of being the best is tricky, right? 

I hope I mostly try to do the best I can.

Americanah: Book Recommendation from Maggie Shipstead

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own), what would that book be?

I just finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I loved. 

That’s the book I’m talking up to everyone right now.

What do you have in store for us with your next writing project?

I’m working on a third novel–about a female pilot after World War II–and I have a bunch of short stories I’d like to finish.

Editor’s Note: She finished that project and it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Learn more about Great Circle in our book list below.

Browse the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 Longlist

New to Maggie Shipstead? Here are some answers to your most frequently asked questions!

What are the best Maggie Shipstead books?

Astonish Me was my favorite book by the author, but I still need to read Great Circle. It is on my reading bucket list this year. 

Her highest-rated novel on GoodReads is, by far, Great Circle.

What Maggie Shipstead Movies Are Coming Out?

Former Lionsgate executive Erik Feig’s production company, Picturestart, is developing a series adaptation of Maggie Shipstead’s novel Great Circle

Picturestart won the rights to the book in a competitive bidding war and plans to have Shipstead serve as an executive producer while seeking a writer to adapt the novel into a series.

Is it necessary to read the books in a specific order?

No, each book is a standalone story.

What are the Maggie Shipstead books in the order published?

Seating Arrangements (2012)

Astonish Me (2014)

Great Circle (2021)

You Have a Friend in 10A: Stories (2022)

Maggie Shipstead Books

Maggie Shipstead Books

Maggie Shipstead is the New York Times-bestselling author of three novels and a short story collection. 

She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction.

She lives in Los Angeles.

Browse this list of all Shipstead's books. We also share where to stream the movie and tv adaptations.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Love this author interview? Stream the
Book Gang Podcast wherever you get podcasts. We discuss debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book gems with your favorite authors.

Book Gang Podcast

TELL ME: What is your favorite Maggie Shipstead book?

This post contains affiliate links.

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Guide to the Celeste Ng Books and Exclusive Author Interview

Wednesday, July 26th, 2023

Celeste Ng discusses her debut novel in this author interview. Discover the Celeste Ng books in order & her writing process for “Everything I Never Told You.”

Let’s dive into the behind-the-scenes story of Everything I Never Told You with an exclusive interview with the author. 

Everything I Never Told You Book

Everything I Never Told You Book Synopsis

Everything I Never Told You is a beautiful character-driven debut novel set in 1970s Ohio.

When a family’s daughter goes missing, the lives of her family members begin unravel through Ng’s beautiful storytelling. 

From the inception of the parents’ relationship to the intricate dynamics of every family member, including the missing Lydia, this novel presents a profound exploration of untold stories.

Within its pages lie the unspoken narratives of each character – the parents’ feelings of disappointment, the challenges of belonging due to racial differences, and the burdens of fulfilling expected roles within the family, regardless of their desires.

This novel is an excellent choice for book club discussions, as it delves into significant themes like parental roles and expectations, the heartache of youth, and the struggles of fitting in.

However, it’s essential to clarify that this work leans more towards being character-driven story rather than a conventional mystery or thriller.

It is such an honor to have Celeste Ng join me today. in this special interview 

Guide to the Celeste Ng Books and Exclusive Author Interview

Celeste Ng Author Photo

You open with the death of Lydia in the very opening sentences of the book and then build the story from there. Why did you decide to start with her tragic death and then work your way out in the story?

In earlier drafts, the book began quite differently: “At first, they don’t know where Lydia has gone.” 

And neither did the reader until about thirty or forty pages in. 

What I realized, eventually, was that this pointed the reader in the wrong direction. It prompted the reader to focus on whether Lydia was alive or dead rather than on what happened within the family to lead to her death.

So in the last draft of the novel, I changed the opening and put Lydia’s fate right up front. Once you know that Lydia is dead, that information colors everything you read afterward.

Race plays a big part in this novel. I was embarrassingly unaware of racial discrimination among Asians in the 70s, particularly in the disapproval of the relationship between the white mother (Marilyn) & the Asian father (James) in the Lee family.

Was this something that you had heard about, researched, or have you experienced this discrimination firsthand?

Unfortunately, discrimination among Asians isn’t just limited to the 1970s. 

It still happens today, both overtly and in what we might now call microaggressions: small actions, often not intended as malicious, that remind people of their otherness. 

With one exception, every moment of racism or racial tension in the novel is something that I or someone I know personally has experienced firsthand. 

And these moments aren’t rare: every person of color I’ve spoken with has experienced something similar, no matter where they live.

How did you react when you learned that your debut novel was chosen as the Book of the Year on Amazon in 2014? 

And now, do you face greater expectations to produce a follow-up that matches the same level of greatness in your next book?

Here’s how I found out about the Amazon pick: I was sitting in my living room drinking tea and playing with my son when someone tweeted “Congratulations!” at me. 

I actually had to tweet back, “On what?!” So the whole experience has been surreal, and I’m very grateful to Amazon’s editorial team for championing the book.

I do feel some pressure to deliver another book that will live up to the response for this first one—how could I not?

But honestly, the expectations have an upside as well. 

Writing is such an uncertain job; you work for years on a single project and hope that when it’s done, someone will read it. 

Having so many people read and respond to the book makes me more optimistic that people will want to read the next one, too.

The title of your book, Everything I Never Told You, is the anthem of every character in this book, as they all have their own secrets and struggles that they can’t seem to share with others. 

Was there anything you have never shared with someone that you wished you would have, and what message do you hope your readers will walk away with from reading this book?

My father passed away unexpectedly over a decade ago, and I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye properly. 

(None of us did.) 

I think about that a lot, about what I’d have said if we’d had another chance to talk. 

And even now, I often think of things that I’d like to share with him—not important things necessarily, just jokes he’d have enjoyed or observations he’d have gotten a kick out of. 

 More than the Big Important Topics, those kinds of small things are the glue that holds a relationship together. 

I guess I hope that readers will close the book thinking about how life is short—and precious—and will make a conscious choice to never take the time they have with loved ones for granted.

As a mom, I really struggled with Marilyn leaving her family behind in this book because she felt she did not get to pursue her own dreams.

I admit, I was pretty angry with her as this family hobbled along in her absence. I think being a mom does mean sometimes we have to put our dreams on hold in order to make our family lives work. 

Did you sympathize with Marilyn? Have you ever had to put anything on hold in your own life because of your family?

It’s totally okay to be angry with Marilyn! (She makes some questionable choices, as do all the other characters.) 

But you’re right, being a mom, you’re in a constant juggling act trying to balance the needs of your family and your own needs. 

This is true for any parent, of course, but in today’s world, it’s especially true for mothers.

As a working mom myself, I end up putting my family before my own wants a lot of the time—as do most parents, I think. 

Sometimes these are small things: maybe I’d rather have chicken one night, but I cook spaghetti because that is what my kid will eat. 

Sometimes they’re larger: for example, I’d love to go on a writing retreat, like the ones at McDowell (where someone brings you your lunch every day while you work!). 

But that would be a huge strain on my family, so it’s off the table, at least for a while.

And in fact, I’d miss them too much if I were away for so long.  

That’s the thing that makes it hardest: you’re not just choosing between something you want and something they want; you’re choosing between something you want and something they want that you want too. 

Your desires get all mixed up with your family’s and it becomes hard to even tell what you yourself want.  So yes, I have a lot of sympathy for Marilyn.

What can we expect from you in your next book?

The next book is still very much in draft form, so I won’t say too much about it yet—I’m still working out the details! 

But it takes place in my hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio. It focuses on a family living there and a mother-daughter pair (with some secrets in their past) who move in from out of town and the ways those two families get entangled and stir up trouble for one another.

Editor’s Update: Can you guess what book this is? It’s Little Fires Everywhere! 

If you could tell anyone to read one book right now (other than your own) what would that book be? (read all the recommendations from authors HERE)

Just one? 

That’s a very hard choice to make. 

I’d go with The Bluest Eye, because Toni Morrison is one of my all-time favorite authors and that book says so much about race and culture, identity and love, and it’s beautifully written.

New to Celeste Ng? Here are some answers to your most frequently asked questions!

How To Pronounce Celeste Ng

If you don’t know how to pronounce her name- check out her X handle

What are the best Celeste Ng books?

My favorite books by Celeste Ng are Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere.

Her highest-rated novel on GoodReads is her second book, Little Fires Everywhere.

What Celeste Ng Movies Are Coming Out?

Two of Celeste Ng’s books have been optioned for the tv screen, but no films yet. 

Little Fires Everywhere became a Hulu series and Everything I Never Told You series is currently in development. 

We have provided more information in the book list below. 

Is it necessary to read Celeste Ng’s books in a specific order?

No, each book is a standalone story.

What are the Celeste books in the order published?

Everything I Never Told You (2014)

Little Fires Everywhere (2017)

Six Shorts 2017 (2017)

Our Missing Hearts (2022)

Fourteen Days: An Unauthorized Gathering (2024)

Celeste Ng Books

Celeste Ng Books

Celeste Ng is an Asian American author known for her critically-acclaimed novels.

She pursued higher education at Harvard University and honed her writing craft through an MFA from the renowned Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan. 

Her writing extends beyond novels, with fiction and essays showcased in esteemed publications such as the New York Times and The Guardian

Notably, she has received several honors, including the Pushcart Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, all celebrating her exceptional contributions to literature.

Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio. 

Browse this list of all the Celeste Ng books. We also share where to stream the movie and tv adaptations.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Love this author interview? Stream the Book Gang Podcast wherever you get podcasts. We discuss debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book gems with your favorite authors.

Book Gang Podcast

TELL ME: What is your favorite Celeste Ng book?

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The Exclusive Ruth Ware Interview You Need to Read

Tuesday, July 25th, 2023
The Exclusive Ruth Ware Interview You Need to Read

Ruth Ware discusses her debut thriller in this author interview. Get the Ruth Ware books list and discover the books in order, including “In a Dark, Dark Wood.”

Thrillers are my jam in the summer, and today I am sharing a very special interview with my favorite thriller writer, Ruth Ware. 

Be sure to scroll down for the complete list of Ruth Ware books and answers to your most asked questions.

We also share where to stream the movie adaptations of her upcoming films.

In a Dark, Dark Wood Book Cover

In a Dark Dark Wood is Ruth Ware’s intriguing debut novel.

Leonora, a reclusive writer, receives a surprise invitation from an old friend inviting her to a weekend away as one last hurrah before she gets married. 

Set in a glass house in the woods, the four acquaintances share revelations and begin to realize their party is not alone.

 Forty-eight hours later, Leonora (Nora) awakes in a hospital bed, knowing that someone is dead. 

Nora desperately tries to piece together what happened, forcing her to revisit times in her past that she would instead leave buried.

I’m pretty picky about thrillers, and this one delivers beautifully.  

The pacing is perfect and reads like a great Agatha Christie whodunit mystery. 

Enjoy the ride, and then get ready to see this one brought to life on the big screen by Reese Witherspoon’s production team.

The Exclusive Ruth Ware Interview You Need to Read

Ruth Ware author headshot

I understand that the idea for this novel came to you when a friend said, “I’ve never read a thriller set on a hen night.” 

As an American, I had no idea this was what these were called! 

Did your wheels immediately start turning when you heard this story idea? 

Yes, it was like a little light bulb went on in my head! 

I immediately started thinking of characters and settings, and I knew this story was begging to be written.

One of the fun things about writing the book has been finding out all the different bachelorette traditions around the world and how they vary.

Rights have been sold everywhere from Sweden to Indonesia and as you can imagine, the local hen party traditions are very different – sometimes it’s small stuff like I had no idea that Americans don’t use L-plates as part of their bachelorette celebrations, whereas in the UK, they are an essential part of the bride-to-be’s outfit.

In case you didn’t know, L-plates are the signs that learner drivers put on their cars to show they are not experienced road users.

I have NO idea what they have to do with weddings!  

Sometimes there are very wild and weird traditions – in Sweden, brides are often “kidnapped” for their hen party, sometimes in a worryingly realistic fashion! 

However, differences aside, I think it’s a surprisingly universal celebration – most countries have some kind of pre-marriage send-off.

You created a hen night in the middle of nowhere, in the woods, in a glass house, with no phone reception. Hello, nightmares!

Why did you put these poor people in a glass house and did any books or movies help inspire your scary premise for the story?

Actually, initially, the glass house was very different; when I wrote the first few chapters, the setting was a tumbledown cottage, much closer to the croft that Flo’s aunt demolished to make way for her modernist house. 

But then, a few chapters in, I started to realise that one of the themes of the book is about having your public persona stripped away and people seeing the real you, and the idea of not having anywhere to hide from scrutiny. 

So I thought how much more interesting to make the house an extension of that?

I was definitely inspired by watching too many scary movies as a kid – there’s something so vulnerable about a house with a lot of windows where the inhabitants are being watched without knowing it!

How challenging was it for you to switch between your two plots? Did you write each separately from start to finish, or did you switch back and forth?

I wrote it almost exactly as you read it – swapping back and forth as I wrote it.

I think many people are surprised at that, but it’s the only way I know how to write – I find it too hard to keep up with what the reader knows if I write out of sequence. 

I need to keep pace with their experience as I write, or I get the tension and the moments of revelation wrong.

Ruth Ware Posing With In a Dark, Dark Wood Billboard

Your debut novel succeeded tremendously, becoming a New York Times bestseller and a Sunday Times bestseller.

Notably, it also caught the attention of Reese Witherspoon’s production team, who secured the film rights for the book. 

What has this experience been like, and what has surprised you the most about the success of this novel?

Oh – I mean, just insane. I honestly have no words for how much this has gob-smacked me, and I’m not a person who’s usually lost for words. 

I would have been delighted if a few hundred people in the UK bought my book – the fact that it’s sold in America, let alone places like Thailand and Estonia… I find it very hard to remember when I’m walking the kids to school or loading the dishwasher!

The thing that feels most surreal is probably the film stuff. 

I used to work in publishing, so it’s a world I feel pretty comfortable in.

Whereas I know absolutely nothing about the movie business – that really does feel like something that happens to other people, not my little book!

You were one of the first three books to be published under Scout Press, which I can only imagine was a huge honor.

Did this help in the promotion and success of your book?

Scout have been indescribably amazing to work with. 

I actually didn’t know the whole deal about the new imprint when I signed up with Simon & Schuster, and I remember when I found out I had this butterflies-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach moment where I suddenly realised they were putting so much trust in my book, making it one of their launch list.

Publishing a book is a sort of weird experience because although writers often compare their books to babies, the truth is, you create this thing, but you’re not really responsible for sending it out into the world – that’s down to the publisher. 

They decide the look, how it’s marketed, and often even the title. 

And I’ve worked in this business long enough to know how painful it can be when a writer has radically different ideas about what their book is, compared to their publisher.

But from the moment I saw that incredible cover that Scout produced, I just knew I was in safe hands, and I couldn’t have been more right. 

They’ve been amazing to work with.

There is so much bravery in putting your work out there since writing is very personal. Did you struggle with this, and what would you say to another writer struggling with unleashing their work into the world?

I did struggle with this – I wrote a lot of books growing up and in my early twenties, and they all went under the bed because I was basically too chicken to show them to anyone. 

But in the end, I just got to a place where I realised that however bad I might feel if I failed, I’d feel worse if I didn’t even try in the first place.

I don’t know what I would say to another writer because I didn’t have the magic confidence pill back then, and I still don’t. Ultimately I think I wrote a book that I couldn’t bear to shelve.

But maybe… maybe my advice would be baby steps. 

Share your book with a trusted friend – someone who knows you well enough to be honest as well as supportive, the kind of person who you’d take clothes shopping and trust to say “you know what, that dress isn’t flattering on you.”

Or, if that’s too scary, find a writing group online.

And above all, try not to take it personally. Writing is personal, it has to be, but rejection rarely is.

I understand you are terrified of reading scary books.

What is the scariest book you have ever read?

Do you feel more in control of things, writing your own scary book, or did you end up terrifying yourself?

Yes, I’m a terrible coward! I’m getting sent a lot of books to blurb now, and I’m realising that there’s a whole swathe of crime that’s just waaaay out of my comfort zone in terms of horrible things happening to people.

It’s mainly prolonged violence and torture I find I can’t read – I skipped over all the Theon chapters in Game of Thrones, for example.

For plain scariness… maybe Black House by Peter Straub and Stephen King, which I read while on holiday in a very remote Dorset village, and it scared the daylights out of me. 

We were staying in a converted church, a fairly spooky location in itself, which probably didn’t help.

Two of my favourite scary books are The Haunting of Hill House and The Woman in Black, which are my kind of scary – nail-biting but nobody gets locked in a basement and tortured.

But yes, it’s very different writing my own books – so much of the scariness is suspense, not knowing when the curtain will get ripped back, so I think it’s very difficult to scare yourself to the same extent. 

The element of surprise isn’t there.

Editor’s Note: Ruth Ware also shares her FAVORITE BOOKS with our readers. You’ll love discovering her favorite Agatha Christie book.

We never give away spoilers, but how hard was it to craft In the Dark, Dark Wood ending of your book?

Did you try different endings out, or did it all come together quickly?

This is really hard to write without spoiling, but I had the ending in mind right from the beginning, but it slightly changed in the way it played out. 

And certain characters who were going to die, didn’t, and vice versa.

What can we expect from you next? Any involvement in the film writing?

Are you working on your next book or taking time to savor the success of this first one?

No one’s asked me to write the film, but that’s probably a good thing since I know precisely zip about screenwriting! 

However, I am not good at sitting on my hands, and I find the only cure for pre-publication nerves is writing another book, so I am currently working on book three. 

My second thriller, The Woman in Cabin 10 is already written.

Editor’s Note: Ruth Ware has NINE books now!

New to Ruth Ware? Here are some answers to your most frequently asked questions!

What are the best Ruth Ware books?

I loved In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Turn of the Key. Ruth’s highest-rated book on GoodReads, however, is The It Girl

You can’t go wrong with an author who has been heralded as the Agatha Christie of our lifetime.

What Ruth Ware Movies Are Coming Out?

Several of Ruth Ware’s books have been optioned for the screen. 

In a Dark, Dark Wood had film rights acquired by New Line Cinema. Reese Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard is attached to produce.

 The Woman in Cabin 10 movie rights were acquired by CBS, who are set to produce the film with Gotham Group.  

Is it necessary to read Ruth Ware’s books in a specific order?

At this time, each of her books can be enjoyed as a standalone story. 

What are the Ruth Ware books in the order published?

We have listed all of the descriptions of each book below!

Ruth Ware has nine books, currently.

In a Dark, Dark Wood (2015)

The Woman in Cabin 10 (2016)

The Lying Game (2017)

The Death of Mrs. Westway (2018)

The Turn of the Key (2019)

One by One (2020)

Snowflakes (2020)

The It Girl (2022)

Zero Days (2023)

Authors Like Ruth Ware to Check Out

If you like Ruth Ware, try Clare Mackintosh, Lisa Jewell, Alice Feeney, or Gilly McMillan for some other great thriller writer options.

Ruth Ware Books (in order)

Ruth Ware Books

Ruth Ware is an international number-one bestselling author. Her books have been optioned for film and TV and published in over 40 languages. A graduate of Manchester University, Ruth lives near Brighton with her family.

Browse this list of all the Ruth Ware books. We also share where to stream the movie adaptations.

Love this author interview? Stream the Book Gang Podcast wherever you get podcasts. We discuss debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book gems with your favorite authors.

Book Gang Podcast

TELL ME: What is your favorite Ruth Ware book?

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How to Make a Slushie (In Blender)

Saturday, July 22nd, 2023
How to Make a Slushie in Blender

Learn how to make a slushie in blender with sugar, ice cubes, and a Kool-Aid drink mix. Pick your favorite flavor and blend these up on a hot summer day.

Have you been looking for an affordable recipe for slushies at home? When we were struggling financially, we were always looking for the best bang for our buck, and this cheap dessert with a bowl of popcorn was always a crowd-pleaser.

Few recipes in my house have earned me more fame than this easy summer dessert. If you need a dairy-free dessert option is, this is the perfect alternative to an ice cream treat.

The best part is that I created this summer drink is made with an inexpensive drink mix powder. 

If your family loves the Sonic slushes or 7-11 gas station Slurpees, I know they will love this inexpensive recipe just as much.

How to Make a Slushie In Blender

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this slushie recipe:

How to Make a Slushie With a Blender

Honestly, these are as easy as they sound! You will blend a packet with ice water, crushed or cubed ice, and sugar.  

High-speed blenders offer a more robust motor and sharp blades that can handle even the toughest ingredients, giving you smoother and finer textures.

I’ve found it perfect for all sorts of tasks, like making smoothies and soups, and you know what’s really cool?

It crushes ice effortlessly, making it a total winner for whipping up slushies!

Over the years, I have had great success with this my Ninja Blenders. You can usually find these more affordably at places like Costco or Sam’s Club.  

How Do I Make This Smoothie With Fruit Juice?

We recommend trying this watermelon ice smoothie recipe. It is reminiscent of those Slurpees & Icees, but an all-natural homemade slushie option instead. 

Kool-Aid Packets for Homemade Slushies

Can I Make These With Sugar-Free KOOL-AID?

Unfortunately, we do not recommend this method. The consistency drastically changed. If you substitute with the sugar-free KOOL-AID, it will have more of a shaved ice consistency. 

Can I Replace the Water With Club Soda? 

Yes, you can substitute this ingredient with club soda, tonic water, or even Sprite. 

To make a soda slushie, follow these instructions, but keep in mind that Sprite will add more sugar to your drink. 

How Do I Make Wine Slushies? 

I recommend blending this rosé and strawberry wine slushie recipe. These can be blended into wine pops or you can pour the wine slushies with fresh fruit into a plastic bag with the mixture and freeze until it reaches your desired consistence. 

How Can I Keep My Smoothies Colder Longer?

Serve these up in a double insulated cup to help this frozen treat last longer. 

How to Make a Slushie in Blender

What is the Best Slushie Machine?

If you have a blender, you do not need a Slushy machine for this recipe. 

There are a variety of slushy machines and shaved ice makers for treats on Amazon, including individual slushy cups. Shop these slushy makers here.

How to Make Slushies With Kool-Aid

Keeping Homemade Slushes Cold With a Double-Insulated Cup
How to Make a Slushie With Kool-Aid

Testing flavors is the best part. It can be a fun summer project to try new combinations.

I am always tweaking my recipes and have tried everything from sugar-free Kool-Aid packets to make slushies (they did not turn out for us) to reducing the sugar in our slushies to see if the kids notice a taste difference. 

How to Make Slushies With Kool-Aid

We decided to drop the sugar to a 1/2 cup in our batch (originally 2/3 cup) and we found that we didn’t notice a big taste difference, but I felt better about sharing this treat with my kids with the lower sugar content. The recipe below is our new lower-sugar verison.

I hope you love this recipe as much as our family! Let me know in the comments below and what your favorite flavors are!

How to Make Slushies With Kool-Aid

How to Make a Slushie With KOOL-AID

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

An easy slushie that you can whip up anytime for a fun treat! Stock up on a variety of KOOL-AID flavors for this easy 5-minute treat.


  • 2 cups ice water
  • 1 packet KOOL-AID drink mix (use your favorite flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups or 1 full tray of ice cubes


  1. Put all of the ingredients into your blender.
  2. Process until well blended.

    Recommended Products

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    As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Love these frozen treats? Here are a few other recipes we think you will like!

    easy fruit-infused waters (endless combos and healthy!)

    Fruit-Infused Water Recipes With Ice

    blend up strawberries and wine for this fun adult push pop

    Wine Slushie With Fresh Fruit in a Push Pop

    stock your freezer with these make-ahead smoothie packets

    Make-Ahead Smoothie Packets for Your Freezer from

    Happy blending!

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    The Magic of Old Hollywood Books

    Friday, July 21st, 2023

    Molly Fader discusses her remarkable historical fiction novel, The Sunshine Girls, and collection of Old Hollywood books as captivating as the silver screen.

    The Magic of Old Hollywood Books with Molly Fader

    If you have a nurse in your family, this show is dedicated to you! In today’s episode of Book Gang, we have the pleasure of hosting Molly Fader, an award-winning author who wrote one of my favorite historical fiction novels this year, The Sunshine Girls

    The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader

    The Sunshine Girls intricately weaves together the themes of three friends navigating nursing school, Hollywood adventures, and the Vietnam War in one delicious soapy escape. 

    Inspired by Molly’s mother’s nursing career in the 1960s, we delve deeper into the charming friendship story that overlapped with her mother’s, as well as how she wanted to capture the traditional yet, sometimes sexist aspects of nursing school with the contrasting opportunities for independence it offered to women in these careers. 

    Molly also addresses her unique writing experience under pen names, with over 50 romance novels published. If you are curious about series writing for Harlequin, she explains how this taught her to be a better writer while managing her larger-than-life role as a mom. 

    If you want to dive deeper into the best Old Hollywood book stack, we have you covered in the second part of our conversation. Molly is a seasoned reader of the golden age of Hollywood. From real-life movie stars to science fiction explorations in the film industry, you will find more than a few movie stars to love in your book stack today. 

    The Best Books About Old Hollywood to Get Swept Away

    Today’s BONUS BOOK LIST celebrates our favorite classic Hollywood moments in our fiction and nonfiction stacks, so don’t miss this special list we have crafted for our summer series. 

    Author Molly Fader

    Meet Molly Fader

    Molly Fader is the author of The McAvoy Sister’s Book Of Secrets. As Molly O’Keefe, she is the USA Today Bestselling author of over 50 contemporary romances. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, two kids, and a rescue dog.

    The Magic of Old Hollywood Books

    Listen to the Book Gang Podcast:

    Listen below or listen on your favorite podcast listening platform!

    Mentioned in this episode:

    Joining the Patreon community is an affordable way to support the show and gain access to a wealth of resources, including our monthly FULLY BOOKED buzzy new release show, exclusive author interviews, music playlists, and more! 

    2023 MomAdvice Summer Reading Guide

    The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader

    Elizabeth A. Allen

    When I Die I’m Going to Heaven ‘Cause I’ve Spent My Time in Hell by Barbara Kautz

    Home Before Morning by Lynda Van Devanter

    Molly O’Keefe

    M. O’Keefe

    The Petticoat Kid

    Stuntman! by Hal Needham

    Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

    The Greatest Showman

    The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    Amy’s interview with Taylor Jenkins Reid

    Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    Taylor Jenkins Reid Writes Her Own Hollywood Success Story

    Writing Nuanced Queer Protagonists: A Q&A with the Taylor Jenkins Reid

    Tab Hunter

    Tab Hunter Confidential by Tab Hunter

    Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? by Crystal Smith Paul

    Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


    Interview: How Jess Walter Became a Bestselling Author

    The Zero by Jess Walter

    Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

    Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

    Interview with an Author: Nghi Vo

    The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore

    Shop the above (Amazon) links or through my Book Gang Bookshop Page!! They pay a 10% commission on every sale and give a matching 10% to independent bookstores.

    Connect With Us:

    Connect with Molly on Instagram or her Website

    Connect with Amy on Instagram, on TikTok, or MomAdvice

    Join the MomAdvice Book Club

    Shop Our Bookish Shirts to support the show

    Buy Me a Coffee (for a one-time donation)

    The Best Books About Old Hollywood to Get Swept Away

    Friday, July 21st, 2023

    Looking for books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? These books about old Hollywood are for you! This book list celebrates the silver screen moments.

    The Best Books About Old Hollywood to Get Swept Away

    This week we celebrate the golden age of Hollywood in our fiction and nonfiction lives. These classic Hollywood tales explore the larger-than-life adventures in the film industry and the movie stars that created them.

    If you missed the Book Gang podcast, Molly Fader joined me to share her favorite Hollywood moments in her book stack. We also discuss how she created her fictional Hollywood set in her historical fiction novel, The Sunshine Girls

    Listen to the full episode (the show notes are located here) below and subscribe to the Book Gang podcast for more episodes like this one.

    For today’s topic, I made a list of recommended fiction and nonfiction books to explore this week’s topic.  

    As a book curator, finding top-rated books for one curated stack takes a lot of work. This list should satisfy your craving for a memorable and glitzy summer set. 

    Remember, you can find our book club member recommendations at the end of our book lists!

    If you love this list, you can support my work through a one-time donation on Buy Me a Coffee or join our Patreon community for book fun all year long. The financial support helps us keep the lights on in our online space. 

    The Best Books About Old Hollywood to Get Swept Away

    Best Fiction Books About Old Hollywood

    Dive into the best fiction books that transport you to a bygone era of the silver screen. This list includes recommendations from today's guest author, Molly Fader.

    Best Nonfiction Books About Old Hollywood

    Uncover secrets, scandals, and untold stories of Hollywood's legendary stars in this nonfiction book stack.

    Looking for more books from books about Hollywood? Here is a short list from the MomAdvice Book Club community.

    The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

    Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner 

    The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

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    love this post? don’t miss our FREE 2023 Summer Reading Guide!

    2023 Summer Reading Guide from

    What is your favorite book about the early days of Hollywood? Let us know in the comments below what this list is missing!

    Andy Weir Exclusive Interview on The Martian

    Thursday, July 20th, 2023

    Andy Weir discusses his science-fiction debut novel, The Martian. Get the list of all the Andy Weir books and learn how The Egg brought him internet fame.

    Andy Weir Exclusive Interview on the Martian

    Andy Weir, a now widely acclaimed author, became a household name because of his remarkable science fiction debut, The Martian.

    Did you know that this novel was initially self-published in 2011 but only gained widespread recognition after its rerelease in 2014?

    Weir’s exceptional talent also earned him the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the Hugo Awards! 

    Now a New York Times bestselling author, this mission to Mars is just the start of his career. It also was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Matt Damon in the lead role. 

    The Martian Book

    In this suspenseful and thrilling story, astronaut Mark Watney becomes one of the first to set foot on Mars. 

    Little does he know that he’ll face the daunting possibility of being the first person to die on the red planet.

    After a devastating dust storm nearly claimed his life, Mark finds himself stranded and utterly alone on Mars. 

    With no means of communication with Earth and limited supplies, he must battle against the harshest environment to survive.

    But Mark refuses to surrender to fate. 

    Armed with his ingenuity and engineering skills, he tenaciously confronts each seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Will his resourcefulness be enough to bring him home?

    Readers have loved his ingenious ideas for survival that enthralled the science geek in all of us.

    The novel also has lots of unexpected humor, making Mark a character you can’t help but cheer for.

    Andy Weir Exclusive Interview On The Martian

    Having hit the front page of Reddit with your short story, The Egg you shared feeling sad that this debut novel wasn’t receiving as much attention. 

    Now that The Martian is finally gaining the recognition it deserves, is the project proving more rewarding?

    Oh definitely. That was before The Martian really took off.
    Since then, it’s become more well-known than The Egg. It’s been a very exciting ride.

    Some of my favorite scenes in your book are when Watney discovers what fills his crewmates USB drives. 

    I love that they brought disco music and fabulous shows like Three’s Company. What would you put on your USB drive to take with you to Mars?

    Probably a bunch of 1980’s music. And I’d bring the entire archive of Doctor Who. You may not have noticed, but I’m a nerd.

     Any thoughts on commercial space flight? Any plans to purchase a ticket?

    It feels like it’s just around the corner. The trick is getting the price down. 

    Most people can’t pay $200,000 for a trip to space. 

    But if that were brought down to $10,000 it would probably have millions of customers. 

    As for myself, I’m afraid to fly in ordinary planes; I certainly wouldn’t be able to go to space.

    Do you see us putting a man on Mars in your lifetime?

    That’s a tough one to predict. With our modern technology, we can make extremely effective rovers. 

    It makes people ask why we should risk human life. 

    There are many solid reasons to send people instead of robots, but that fundamental concern, and the tremendous cost increases associated with manned spaceflight, will always be a factor. 

    Considering we haven’t returned to the moon yet, I’m honestly not sure if we’ll see anyone on Mars soon.

    Which do you think is harder- the first time we put a man on the moon or when we put a man on Mars?

    Putting a man on Mars is definitely the larger challenge. 

    Even when you account for the technology level of the Apollo era compared to now. 

    The Moon is just so much closer and easier to work with.

    Do you have other great book suggestions for readers just jumping into the science fiction genre?

    Yes, I recommend Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. 

    It’s my favorite book of the decade so far, and it has excellent crossover appeal. 

    You don’t have to be a “sci-fi person” to enjoy it.

    Do you think you would survive if you were stranded on Mars?

    I doubt it. It would require great bravery and fortitude and exceptional strength of character. 

    I’m just a normal guy.

    John Young

    Who would you invite to dinner if you could dine with one astronaut, living or dead?

    John Young. He’s the consummate astronaut. 

    He was on numerous spaceflights, including Apollo 16, when he walked on the Moon. 

    Fun fact: Apollo astronauts wore bio-monitoring equipment, so their heart rate was recorded throughout their missions. 

    As you can imagine, during the launch, their heart rates tended to spike, usually to around 140 or 150 beats per minute. 

    John Young’s heart rate never got above 70 during the Apollo 16 launch. 

    Nerves of steel.

    I understand that you started your computer programming career at 15. What came first, your love of computers or your passion for space?

    Definitely my love of space. 

    I grew up with it. I can’t remember any time when I wasn’t interested in space travel.

    I am building a passion for science in my children. Do you have any suggestions for fostering that passion in them?

    First, find their passion. 

    Whatever it is. 

    Art? Music? Fast Cars? 

    Doesn’t matter. 

    Then show them how science makes those things possible. 

    Because in the modern era, everything is a science. 

    If they like art, show them the science of computer modeling. 

    If they like Music, show them how musical instruments are made with modern machinery and precision. 

    If they like cars, well you get the idea.

    If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own), what would that book be?

    I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time.

    New to Andy Weir? Here are some answers to your most frequently asked questions!

    The Martian Movie Poster

    Where can I Watch The Martian movie?

    You can stream the movie on Prime Video or wherever you rent your films for purchase.

    Director Ridley Scott and stars Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, and Jeff Daniels made this book a fan favorite. 

    Below we have also included important Andy Weir movie updates, including the Project Hail Mary movie information. 

    Is it necessary to read Andy Weir’s books in a specific order?

    Each of his books can be enjoyed as a standalone story except the books in The Martian series.

    Diary of An AssCan is considered The Martian #0.5 prequel.

    What are the Andy Weir books in order published?

    • The Egg (short story), 2009
    • The Martian, 2011
    • Diary of an AssCan, 2015 (The Martian #0.5)
    • Artemis, 2017
    • Cheshire Crossing, 2019
    • Randomize, 2019
    • Project Hail Mary, 2021
    Andy Weir Books

    Andy Weir Books

    Andy Weir, a former software engineer, turned his dream of writing into a reality.

    A lifelong space nerd, he now resides in California, captivating readers with his compelling stories and passion for space exploration.

    Browse this list of all the Andy Weir books, including his self-published works. We also share where to stream the movie adaptations.

    Love this author interview? Stream the Book Gang Podcast wherever you get podcasts. We discuss debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book gems with your favorite authors.

    Book Gang Podcast

    TELL ME: What is your favorite Andy Weir book?

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    John Green Exclusive Interview: The Fault In Our Stars Movie

    Wednesday, July 19th, 2023

    John Green joins us to discuss The Fault in Our Stars movie adaptation. Get the entire young adult book list of the John Green books in this interview post.

    John Green Exclusive Interview: The Fault In Our Stars Movie

    Have you ever wondered about the adaptation process for an author? John Green is the first author we have featured whose book is adapted into a movie.

    We discuss the process of book adaptation, casting, and what it would be like as a writer to watch your book evolve into this format.

    Make sure to scroll down for books by John Green (FULL LIST)!

    The Fault In Our Stars Book

    The Fault in Our Stars Book

    The Fault in Our Stars is the story of an unlikely group of friends that meet through their Cancer Kid Support Group. 

    Hazel has experienced a medical miracle, and her tumor has been shrinking, buying her a few more years, but she finds that she is depressed despite the good news. Her doctors encouraged her to participate in a support group that permanently alters Hazel’s path. 

    When she meets Augustus, they quickly form a deep bond that neither could have ever anticipated.

    John Green Author Interview

    John Green Exclusive Interview: The Fault In Our Stars Movie

    John Green Author Interview

    In our interview, John opened up about his initial apprehensions regarding selling the film rights of this novel, emphasizing his fear of “sentimentalizing his story.” 

    Green candidly shared, “I was worried that the characters would be defined by their disability. I didn’t want it to be the defining feature of their lives.”

    He also expressed a deep appreciation for the magic of books remaining untouched by the filmmaking process, acknowledging the powerful connection readers form with the characters and their stories.

    Green laughed and shared, “For the rest of my life, when I close my eyes and think about Harry Potter, I will see Daniel Radcliffe just because the image is powerful and overwhelms the text.”

    However, the genuine commitment and passion displayed by producers Wyck Godfrey and Isaac Klausner ultimately convinced him.

    He commended their efforts to incorporate fan-favorite lines and passages, contributing to the movie adaptation’s authenticity and emotional depth. 

    The Fault in Our Stars Movie Poster

    The Fault in Our Stars Cast

    When asked who he envisioned for the cast, Green described his detachment from imagining this casting. 

    He said, “I’m really bad at looking at faces and understanding faces. So, I don’t see faces that clearly when I’m writing.”

    The casting process proved serendipitous when Shailene Woodley auditioned and effortlessly personified the character of Hazel Grace Lancaster. 

    The role of Augustus Waters, portrayed by Ansel Elgort, initially posed a hurdle but became an embodiment of the character once he shared the screen with Shailene.

    John Green’s involvement allowed him to witness firsthand the passion and dedication of the production team and the cast. 

    Although he had no official role, his presence on set was part of his daily routine. Seeing the profound impact of bringing his cherished story to life on the big screen was so rewarding.

    Green ended our interview with this statement, “I felt like I was being given such a tremendous gift just to be able to be there and watch them make this movie, to make it so carefully and thoughtfully.”

    John Green Movie and TV Shows (Full List)

    Where can I Watch The Fault In Our Stars movie?

    Currently, The Fault in Our Stars movie is available for streaming on HBO Max. 

    For those interested, renting or purchasing options are also accessible via Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Google Play, and iTunes.

    Below we have also included where to stream ALL the John Green movies and tv shows.

    New to John Green? Here are some answers to the most asked questions! 

    Is it necessary to read John Green’s books in a specific order?

    John Green has eight stand-alone books with their own set of characters and storylines. 

    However, some readers choose to follow the publication order.

    What are the John Green books in order?

    • Looking for Alaska
    • An Abundance of Katherines
    • Paper Towns
    • Let It Snow
    • Will Grayson, Will Grayson
    • The Fault In Our Stars
    • Turtles All the Way Down
    • The Anthropocene Reviewed
    John Green Books

    John Green Books

    John Green is a  New York Times bestselling author. Green's book has received many literary achievements, including a Printz medal in 2006 and winning an Edgar Award in 2009, with two nominations for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

    His books have achieved global recognition, having been translated into more than 55 languages and selling over 24 million copies worldwide. 

    With his brother Hank, John created the vlogbrothers YouTube channel, which fostered a community of "nerdfighters," advocating for positive changes worldwide. They also launched Crash Course, an educational YouTube channel, where they teach humanities and science courses to millions of subscribers.

    John Green currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.

    Browse this list of all the John Green books with recommended ages for reading from the publisher. We have also included where to stream the movie and tv series adapations for each book.

    Love this author interview? Stream the Book Gang Podcast wherever you get podcasts. We discuss debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book gems with your favorite authors.

    Book Gang Podcast

    TELL ME: What is your favorite John Green book?

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