Category: Books

L’appart by David Lebovitz

L’appart by David Lebovitz

 L’appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home, by David Lebovitz

As charming as it is informative, L’appart offers a chef’s eye view of the beauty and bureaucratic madness that is France.

After moving from San Francisco to Paris, Lebovitz spent a decade living in a tiny top-floor flat with a magnificent view of the City of Light. When he finally decided to buy his own place, he had no idea what he was in for. In this fresh, funny memoir, sprinkled with insider knowledge about Paris life (sales only happen once a year, for example, and baguettes always come wrapped in tiny paper “because excess is ground upon in France”), Lebovitz chronicles his attempt to buy and remodel a Paris apartment amidst miles of red tape and misunderstandings. Each chapter ends with a recipe, which, for the culinarily untalented among us, may prove as daunting as dealing with the Parisian real estate agents and electricians. Even if you can’t imagine pulling off a pain perdu caramelise, you’ll be happy to learn that pain perdu got its name because it “takes lost (Peru) bread and turns it around, making it something marvelous.”

Leibovitz’s love of his adopted city, as well as his passion for the bounty of the Parisian marche, comes through loud and clear. An utter delight.

The Inspiration for The Marriage Pact

The Inspiration for The Marriage Pact

The Marriage Pact on Entertainment Weekly Must ListOne of the questions I’ve been hearing the most at readings over the last couple of weeks is, “Where did you get the idea for this crazy book?” (The second comment I get a lot is, “But you seem so much nicer than I expected.” If you can’t figure out why anyone would say that, you probably haven’t gotten to the part about Fernley yet.) So here, it is, in black and white: the inspiration for THE MARRIAGE PACT, which is really three inspirations:

Inspiration #1: LOVE

I’ve been married for 16 years (thanks, Kevin!), and I’ve written about marriage (and divorce) before in novels like Golden State. This time, I wanted to write about two people who are deeply in love and trying to make it work. I didn’t want to write a story of husband against wife, but rather a husband and wife together, struggling against a powerful outside force.

Inspiration #2: CULTS

The second inspiration was my longstanding fascination with cults–in particular, organizations that lure people in with the promise of helping them to live fuller, happier lives and be better versions of themselves. Some fashion themselves as religions, while others purport to be self-help movements. I wanted to explore why educated, reasonable individuals get drawn into these organizations and become so enmeshed that they leave behind family members, spend massive amounts of money to take seminars or courses, and even sign extreme contracts committing themselves to the organization for life and beyond.


The third piece of the puzzle was The Federal Criminal Code, a massive tome, comprised of over a thousand pages of tiny print. The book, issued annually, outlines every crime you can think of, along with many you can’t, and the corresponding penalties. I wondered: What would happen if there were strict rules for marriage, and penalties for those who broke the rules? What if there was an organization that took marital “crimes” as seriously as other types of crimes? I wanted to put that concept under the microscope, take it as far as I could, and see what happened.

I talked about inspiration and more with Joe Hartlaub for Bookreporter. Read the author interview.

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P.S. The Marriage Pact is on the Entertainment Weekly Must List this week!

Get The Marriage Pact.

How far would you go to protect your marriage?

How far would you go to protect your marriage?

Hello, Friends. It’s time! My new psychological thriller The Marriage Pact hits shelves on July 25th. Around publication day, the only thing more exciting than a book party is seeing friends at a book party. We’re launching the book at The Booksmith on Haight Street in San Francisco on July 25th. View the Booksmith invitation on facebook. We’ll have wine, beer, my husband’s locally famous chocolate chip cookies, and great conversation. I’d love to see you there!

Here are other events at great bookstores around the Bay Area:

  • 8/1/17   Kepler’s Premier Event, with Ellen Sussman, bestselling author of A Wedding in Provence and Paradise Guest House. Kepler’s Literary Foundation, which does amazing work in the community, is billing this as “the literary event of the summer.” I’m so looking forward to sitting down for a conversation with her about The Marriage Pact. Get your tickets here.
  • 8/2/17  Join me at the iconic Marin bookstore, Book Passage in Corte Madera
  • 8/3/17  This will be my third “Read it and eat” luncheon at Towne Center Books. These are always so much fun, and Judy always manages to cook up something delicious related to the books! Join me and Gin Phillips, author of Fierce Kingdom. Make your reservations by emailing or calling (925) 846-8826. Get 15% off one book or 20% off both books with your reservation.
  • 8/9/17  My friend Meg Waite Clayton, bestselling author of The Race for Paris and The Wednesday Sisters, will join me at my neighborhood store, Books Inc., Burlingame, for conversation. If you want to meet Meg and my awesome book club (and perhaps see them ask me embarrassing questions), this is the place to be!
  • 8/11/17  Kick back and relax with coffee, me, and other avid readers at Cafe Society at Copperfield’s, Santa Rosa. Get 10% off the book when you make a reservation.

Can’t make it to a party? Pre-order The Marriage Pact.

About the Book 
When therapist Jake and musician-turned-lawyer Alice receive an unusual wedding gift–an invitation to join an exclusive, secretive organization called The Pact–they sign on. After all, The Pact promises to help them have a lasting, happy marriage. But they soon discover that The Pact is far more powerful and more dangerous than it seems. Every member must abide by the rules of a thick, detailed manual, and there are punishments for breaking the rules. As Jake and Alice are pulled deeper into the secret society’s dark center, they must find a way to protect their marriage–and even their lives–from The Pact. How far will they go?

The Marriage Pact is a tense, twisting, quirky novel of growing dread—and a love story with a richly imagined relationship between a wife and husband…Gripping, through-provoking, and irresistible.” Dean Koontz

“A truly chilling thriller . . . It ranks with The Stepford Wives andGone Girl as a terrifying look atwhat it really means to say ‘I do.’”—Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Guilty Minds

“With strong writing, intriguing characters, and a compelling conceit, this psychological thriller seems destined for the top of summer reading lists. Recommended as a fresh voice for readers of Gillian Flynn or Ruth Ware.” Library Journal, starred review

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – A Memoir of Mother & Son

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – A Memoir of Mother & Son

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie

Fans of Sherman Alexie’s short stories (The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven) and his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will gravitate to his new memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, an intimate and often painful glimpse at the relationship between the author and his mother when he was a child growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Like so much of his work, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is a hybrid creation, including poetry alongside prose; the humor for which Alexie is known gets to the heart of the pain and grief experienced by the author and those he loves.

Publisher’s Description

When his mother passed away at the age of 78, Sherman Alexie responded the only way he knew how: he wrote. The result is this stunning memoir. Featuring 78 poems, 78 essays and intimate family photographs, Alexie shares raw, angry, funny, profane, tender memories of a childhood few can imagine—growing up dirt-poor on an Indian reservation, one of four children raised by alcoholic parents. Throughout, a portrait emerges of his mother as a beautiful, mercurial, abusive, intelligent, complicated woman. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is a powerful account of a complicated relationship, an unflinching and unforgettable remembrance

Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

Why I’m recommending Spaceman of Bohemia

Spaceman of Bohemia, the debut novel by Czech writer Jaroslav Kalfar, is a magical narrative about solitude and longing, in which the unexpected and unexplained are beautifully intertwined. Yes, it is about space, but it is also about politics, love, dreams, and the imagination. Kalfar’s tale of a man alone–yet not alone–in space is wise, humorous, and intellectually playful. Kalfar’s memorable debut belongs on the shelf with the best of Czech literature.

~Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of THE MARRIAGE PACT, THE YEAR OF FOG, and GOLDEN STATE


 Publisher’s Description

Orphaned as a boy, raised in the Czech countryside by his doting grandparents, Jakub Procházka has risen from small-time scientist to become the country’s first astronaut. When a dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him both the chance at heroism he’s dreamt of, and a way to atone for his father’s sins as a Communist informer, he ventures boldly into the vast unknown. But in so doing, he leaves behind his devoted wife, Lenka, whose love, he realizes too late, he has sacrificed on the altar of his ambitions.

Alone in Deep Space, Jakub discovers a possibly imaginary giant alien spider, who becomes his unlikely companion. Over philosophical conversations about the nature of love, life and death, and the deliciousness of bacon, the pair form an intense and emotional bond. Will it be enough to see Jakub through a clash with secret Russian rivals and return him safely to Earth for a second chance with Lenka?

Rich with warmth and suspense and surprise, Spaceman of Bohemia is an exuberant delight from start to finish. Very seldom has a novel this profound taken readers on a journey of such boundless entertainment and sheer fun.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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