The Invited by Jennifer McMahon #review #suspense #ghoststory

Overview

A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house–they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.

Review

Helen and Nate buy some beautiful property away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They decide to build their dream house all on their own. But, strange things start to happen. Tools go missing, noises in the night, plus an albino deer create havoc for them and their marriage.

Helen becomes obsessed with the history of Hattie, the “town witch.” She even goes so far as to place artifacts of Hattie’s into her new home. These artifacts actually draw her deeper into Hattie’s story. And boy, does Nate fight this tooth and nail.

Then there is Olive. She is their young, teenage neighbor and she has her own issues. Her mother has left and she is being raised by her father. Olive is not one to let things go. She is continually looking for her mother and why she left. The answer will surprise you!

I am big fan of Jennifer McMahon stories. She has fantastic characters and she always has something CREEPY! This one is not her creepiest but it is still a good read. This story grabs you right off with the murder of the town witch…not much is stranger than that! It just escalates from there and creates a unique tale about murder, mayhem and ghosts!

I received this novel from Doubleday via Netgalley for a honest review.

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My April Reads Wrap-Up #reviews #5starreads #aprilreads

Well! This is my favorite time of the year! The honeysuckle is blooming and it is my all time favorite smell! I love to sit outside in the morning and drink my coffee and just inhale!

Now on to my April reads. There were some good and some so-so books this month.

Lost Roses

When We Left Cuba

City of Flickering Light

The Mother-In-Law

The East End

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Reviews are coming up for these soon!

What was your favorite read for April? Comment and let me know!

Thanks for stopping by!

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The Big Disruption by Jessica Powell #bookspotlight

ABOUT THE BOOK

A rip-roaring comedy about big plans and bigger egos at the world’s largest tech company

 

Something is fishy at Anahata—Silicon Valley’s premiere tech company, and it’s not just the giant squid that serves as its mascot. An exiled prince with janitorial expertise is working as a product manager. The sales guys are battling with the engineers. The women employees are the unwitting subjects of a wild social experiment. The VPs are plotting against each other. The yoga-loving, sex-obsessed CEO is rumored to be planning a moon colony, sending his investors into a tizzy, and everyone is obsessed with Galt, their fiercest industry rival. Is it all downhill from here for the world’s largest tech company? Or is this just the beginning of a bold new phase in Anahata’s quest for global domination?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JESSICA POWELL is the author of The Big Disruption: A Totally Fictional but Essentially True Silicon Valley Story. The first novel ever published by the digital platform Medium, The Big Disruption has been read by over 175,000 readers. It was described by The New York Times as a zany satire [whose] diagnosis of Silicon Valley’s cultural stagnancy is so spot on that it’s barely contestable.”

 

Jessica is the former Vice President of Communications for Google and served on the company’s management team. She is the author of Literary Paris, and her fiction and non-fiction has been published in The Guardian, The New York Times, WIRED,and Medium magazine. She is also the co-founder and CEO of a startup that builds software for musicians. You can find her @themoko on Twitter.

 

PRAISE FOR THE BIG DISRUPTION

“A zany satire . her diagnosis of Silicon Valley’s cultural stagnancy is so spot on that it’s barely contestable.”

 Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times

 

“[Powell] wields Bonfire of the Vanities levels of absurdity and social observation to chronicle this particular northern Californian strain of masters of the universe”

— Lauren Smiley, The Guardian

 

Jessica Powell is everything you want in a writer about power and money and lunacy in modern day Silicon Valley. She is an insider who has come outside, an insightful chronicler of the ridonkulous foibles of the digital overlords and a deft teller of tales. She was in the room and has managed to gleefully open its doors and let us see the antic circus inside. Such a view has never been more important as tech’s damage becomes more and more clear.

— Kara Swisher, New York Times Contributing Opinion Writer and Co-founder of Recode

 

“The best books typically prompt us to laugh or think or learn something about the world that we might not have otherwise known. You will do all these things while reading this book, and more. This is a wild, incisive, and incredibly necessary look at the way that Silicon Valley works, and a wonderfully good read as well. The Big Disruption is a book that explains and defines this moment—the kind of book many of us have been waiting for.”

— Tope Folarin, Caine Prize winner and author, A Particular Kind Of Black Man

 

From years of dealing with Jessica Powell during her time at Google, I knew she was witty. But I am sitting at a Starbucks laughing out loud like an idiot at her very smart new book The Big Disruption, a brilliant and funny satire of the male, engineer-driven culture of Silicon Valley where the leaders are cryptic and obtuse to reality.

—Walt Mossberg, former Wall Street Journal columnist and Co-founder of Recode

 

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April Audible Reads #audible #audiobooks

I did not listen to very many audible books this month. I have no idea why not. I will have to step it up in May!

The best out of this bunch is definitely My Oxford Year. I loved this read! Plus it is narrated by the author and she could not have been any better.

The Sound of Rain is also a good read. I enjoy Greg Olsen and he did not disappoint.

Now…The Silent Woman was my least favorite. The author repeats phrases and just was not as well written as I expected.

Purchase Here

My Oxford Year

The Sound Of Rain

The Silent Woman

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The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms #review #tallpoppywriter #tallpoppy

Overview

An Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestseller.

“A laugh-out-loud funny, pitch-perfect novel that will have readers rooting for this unlikely, relatable, and totally lovable heroine, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is the ultimate escape—and will leave moms everywhere questioning whether it isn’t time for a #momspringa of their own.” —New York Journal of Books

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.

Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.

Review

Amy is a single mom and not by choice. Her husband left her and her two young children three years ago. She had to learn to cope. She got a job, she refinanced her house, she even got food assistance. So, to say she is stressed is an understatement. Then she sees her “runaway” husband in the drug store. Yep! You guessed it. He wants to visit the kids. After much debate Amy agrees to let John keep the kids for a week. Amy runs off to NYC! Then the fun begins.

I adored Amy! She has had so many obligations and she has carried such weight on her shoulders that she has put herself on the back burner. When she gets to NYC she has a hard time letting go. With the help of her friends Talia and Lena (Lena is a nun!), Amy realizes she can be something other than a librarian and a Mom! Her transformation just made my day! I wanted her to succeed on so many levels and boy did she ever!

Y’all! This book is super! It hit me at the perfect time and was exactly what I needed to read! There were places I laughed out loud and places I wanted to cry and scream. Add in the literary references, book nerds and the Litsy app and I am head over heels in love with this book.

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The East End by Jason Allen #review #fiction #authorinterview

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THE EAST END

Author: Jason Allen

ISBN: 9780778308393

Publication Date: 5/7/19

Publisher: Park Row Books

Buy Links:

Harlequin

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @EathanJason

Facebook: @jasonallenauthor

Goodreads

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Author Bio:

Jason Allen grew up in a working-class home in the Hamptons, where he worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy estate owners. He writes fiction, poetry, and memoir, and is the author of the poetry collection A MEDITATION ON FIRE. He has an MFA from Pacific University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University, and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches writing. THE EAST END is his first novel.

Book Summary:

THE EAST END opens with Corey Halpern, a Hamptons local from a broken home who breaks into mansions at night for kicks. He likes the rush and admittedly, the escapism. One night just before Memorial Day weekend, he breaks into the wrong home at the wrong time: the Sheffield estate where he and his mother work. Under the cover of darkness, their boss Leo Sheffield — billionaire CEO, patriarch, and owner of the vast lakeside manor — arrives unexpectedly with his lover, Henry. After a shocking poolside accident leaves Henry dead, everything depends on Leo burying the truth. But unfortunately for him, Corey saw what happened and there are other eyes in the shadows.

Hordes of family and guests are coming to the estate the next morning, including Leo’s surly wife, all expecting a lavish vacation weekend of poolside drinks, evening parties, and fireworks filling the sky. No one can know there’s a dead man in the woods, and there is no one Leo can turn to. With his very life on the line, everything will come down to a split-second decision. For all of the main players—Leo, Gina, and Corey alike—time is ticking down, and the world they’ve known is set to explode.

Told through multiple points of view, THE EAST END highlights the socio-economic divide in the Hamptons, but also how the basic human need for connection and trust can transcend class differences. Secrecy, obsession, and desperation dictate each character’s path. In a race against time, each critical moment holds life in the balance as Corey, Gina, and Leo approach a common breaking point. THE EAST END is a propulsive read, rich with character and atmosphere, and marks the emergence of a talented new voice in fiction.

Review

Corey is a year round islander wishing for more.  His mother is a hard working woman trying to make ends meet.  She is working for some of the very wealthy summer residents.  Corey likes to break into the summer homes and pull pranks and other mischief, until he witnesses something he would rather forget.  The decisions made after the fact can have a lasting impact on everyone’s lives

Corey is a little punk! As a matter of fact, I really did not like any of these characters.  They were either spoiled or a crook or both! However, I still enjoyed this story.  I loved how the author incorporated the diversities of the mega rich and working class. These well developed characters (even if I disliked them) are the reason this story works!

This is a superbly written tale with an escalating intensity not to be missed. There were actually some times I was holding my breath until a character got out of trouble (mostly Corey!)…did I mention he is a PUNK! And what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!

And boy, I need to visit Southampton!

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Q&A with Jason Allen

Q: How would you describe your writing process? (Do you write at night? During the day? Alone or out in public at a cafe?)

A: On the best of days, I’m a marathon writer. I’m always most productive when I can devote an entire day to novel pages, ideally starting the moment I wake up, or right after the coffee is in the cup anyway, and then working until at least dinner time. I used to write very late at night, sometimes all night until the sun had risen and the birds reminded me I should finally sleep, but in the past few years I’m more a morning writer overall. I also teach at a university and have a heavy teaching load, so some days I can only spend an hour or so working on my writing before grading papers or heading to campus. I’ve found that I can’t work on a novel in public. I have to be in total solitude and quiet, at least when working on a novel. For shorter pieces, especially essays or poems, I sometimes like the energy in a coffee shop or a diner because it can spark a new thread of strange associative thoughts or odd metaphors, but as far as the novels go, I need to be a hermit for large blocks of time in order stay immersed in the prolonged dream of the fictional world.

Q: What physical settings do you find most conducive to writing?  Where did you write the bulk of this novel?

A: I wrote a lot of the early draft of The East End while living in Upstate New York, mostly while on my old couch, looking out the window throughout a few full cycles of the seasons and many days while snow was falling. I revised it while living in Atlanta and renting a first floor apartment in an old decrepit house that had a porch. I usually brought my laptop outside to the couch that was on the porch. During the hottest, most humid, most mosquito-thick parts of the year in Atlanta, I worked way more at night when it was cooler and less buggy and quieter.

Q: How did writing a novel compare to your previous experience writing poetry?

A: Writing poems is much more spontaneous for me than the novel writing process. The scale is also so dramatically different. A poem is a distillation of image and emotion, sort of like carving and polishing a figurine of a baby elephant from a palm-size piece of limestone, while writing a novel takes years of chiseling marble slabs, and then rearranging and questioning how all the animals in an acre of the African savannah should be positioned to tell their larger interconnected story. Most of the poems in my collection A Meditation on Fire connect to personal experience, the initial drafts written with a sense of urgency. The East End was a constant process of exploration, until the characters felt so real to me that I truly cared about each of them.

 

What I love about writing poetry is that I can spend one day on a first draft and feel I have something that is at least close to finished. What I love about novel writing is that I can only plan so much, and at a certain point during the years it takes to reach the end, there is sure to be at least a hundred ah-ha moments, so many surprises, and overall it’s so satisfying to complete a work that took hundreds of days, sometimes thousands of hours, and to discover something about the characters’ journeys that makes me think more deeply about my own experience in this world. Whether it’s through the short form with poems or essays or short stories, or the long form with novels, I can’t consider a piece finished in any form until I feel the same sense of emptiness—and I mean that in a good way. Each medium allows me to empty my consciousness to a certain extent, to empty out the static of daily life that we all cope with in our own ways.

Q: What inspired you to write THE EAST END?

A: Initially, I mainly wanted to illuminate the inner lives of the working class people of the Hamptons. I grew up there, and as a working class person in a seasonal resort area that attracts the wealthiest of the wealthy, as the Hamptons does, it’s impossible not to compare what “they” have versus what “we” have. I’d always been fascinated by just how extreme the disparity was between the multi-millionaire visitors and those of us who scraped by year after year, and that tension played out in so many ways each summer season. So I wanted to explore class, but also addiction, secrecy, obsession, and to do my best to write a complex story that highlights that tension among the disparate classes of people in the Hamptons. What I found over time, after delving into the depths of each character’s psyche, is that I truly believe that we are all more than the assumptions others might impose upon us.

Q: What are some of the main themes in the book or some of the key takeaways?

A: The main themes are class (specifically class-divide), alcoholism and addiction, secrecy, obsession, loneliness and longing, and identity (including sexual orientation/ identification). The key takeaway, I hope, is that we should try our best not to judge any book by its cover. I had an easy time empathizing with the teenaged character, Corey, even as he starts breaking into houses, and also for his mother, Gina, even as she’s hitting bottom with alcohol and pills and is relatively absent from her two sons’ daily lives. I was surprised to find how much I cared about the billionaire character, Leo Sheffield, when in the past I could have easily written him off as just another greed-driven destroyer of the world, someone who deserves no empathy—but it was gratifying to care about them all, despite their flaws and bad decisions.

Q: What are the commonalities you discovered between the elite and the middle-class characters?

A: Everyone suffers. Everyone loves. Everyone longs for something or someone. We’re all so flawed, all bumbling along through our lives; we’re all having a human experience, no matter our socioeconomic status. It just so happens that it will always be a bit harder for working class people in general—hardest of all for the poorest of the poor.

Q: What was the hardest part about writing your debut book?

A: Maintaining relationships, maybe? It’s understandable that it might not be easy for most people to be in a relationship with someone who wants to spend days off from work in their pajama pants, shut away in a room for hours at a time. The work itself, I honestly love it—even when it feels like hard work. It’s incredible that after many years of writing, now I get to work on my next novels as others are reading The East End. I guess the hardest part is what happens after the writing is finished. I want everyone to like it… haha.

Q: Your author bio says you grew up in the Hamptons and worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy estate owners.  How much did you draw from personal experience when writing this book?

A: I mined lots of lived experience for both the setting of the novel and the characters. My mother worked for a millionaire family at their summer estate in Southampton for more than a decade, and while the plot and characters are fictional, the setting is closely based on the estate where she worked (and where I worked with her for one summer). I also worked for the mega-rich in the Hamptons as a pool guy, a carpenter’s helper, lots of labor jobs in my teens and twenties.

Q: What is your favorite genre to read?  Have any authors you’ve read influenced your work?

A: Literary fiction is definitely my favorite, but all of the best genre fiction always transcends its genre, so I love discovering an especially strange novel with magical realism elements, or one that introduces a dystopian world in a new and fascinating way (think the original Twilight Zone episodes, Rod Serling’s brilliant social commentary through sci-fi). Whatever the genre, the characters will always matter most to me, but also I find that I’m most grateful when an author obviously took the time to pull me through the story with relatively constant plot complications and tension—all the books I love, all the ones I just couldn’t down, have so much character complexity and tension throughout. I’m sure that every author I’ve read has influenced my work to varying degrees, and I’m always looking for that next book that will trick me into forgetting that I’m reading—the best novels always achieve this seemingly impossible magic trick.

Q: What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

A: I’m currently reading an advanced reader copy of a debut novel called The Tenth Girl, by Sara Faring, which is a brilliant, funny, twisted gothic story that takes place in a haunted girls’ prep school in Argentina, and at the same time I’m in the midst of another advanced copy of a wonderful literary debut novel Goodnight Stranger, by Miciah Bay Gault. I’ve also just finished Winter Loon, by Susan Bernhard, and loved it for its rich characters and the author’s bravery to show the true struggles of working class characters. Some other recent favorites include: The Boat Runner, by Devin Murphy (if you haven’t read that yet, buy it immediately—it’s amazing); Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh (so unique, both dark and funny in all the most interesting ways); and I just reread All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, which I can only describe as a masterpiece, a novel in my top two or three of all-time.

Q: Do you have plans to write more novels in the future?

A: Yes, absolutely. I plan to finish my second novel this summer. It’s a story set mostly in Portland, Oregon, where I also lived for ten years. It takes place during the winter of 2008, during the start of the Great Recession and the Housing Crisis, also during an especially cold winter. The characters are all down-and-outers, with addiction and family and desperation as the central themes. I’m also looking forward to revising my first memoir manuscript, as well as my first feature-length screenplay, and in the next year or so I will begin fleshing out my third novel. I have the novel-writing bug, and realize now that I always have. I’m not hoping for a cure, either.

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Tiny Hot Dogs A Memoir in Small Bites by Mary Giuliani – BOOK SPOTLIGHT #spotlight #recipe #excerpt

ABOUT THE BOOK

From awkward schoolgirl to Caterer to the Stars, Mary Giuliani weaves together a collection of hilarious memories, from professional growing pains to her long journey to motherhood, never losing her sense of humor and her love for everyones favorite party food, pigs in a blanket.

 

Marys utterly unremarkable childhood was everything she didn’t want: hailing from a deeply loving yet overprotective Italian family in an all-Jewish enclave on Long Island. All she wanted was to fit in (be Jewish) and become famous (specifically a cast member on Saturday Night Live). With an easy, natural storytelling sensibility, Mary shares her journey from a cosseted childhood home to the stage and finally to the party, accidentally landing what she now refers to as the breakthrough role of a lifetime,” catering to a glittery list of stars she once hoped to be part of herself.

Fresh, personal, and full of Mary’s humorous, self-deprecating, and can-do attitude against all odds, youll want to see where each shiny silver tray of hors doeuvres takes her next. You never know when the humble hot dog will be a crucial ingredient in the recipe for success, in building a business or simply making life more delicious.

Pizza in a Cup

I first watched Carl Reiner’s film, The Jerk, starring Steve Martin, when I was eight years old, and it changed nearly everything about my sweet suburban life (let’s go with “for the better,” although I suppose you should read this and decide for yourself).

As I was watching The Jerk nearly nightly and well past my bedtime, mornings were rough. They would usually begin with my mother shaking me violently, pulling off the covers, and yelling at me to brush my hair and teeth, get dressed, and come to breakfast.

Eventually I would make it to the breakfast table, where my sister, Nanette—whose perfect barrettes matched her perfect dress (perfectly)—would be finishing the last few bites of her cereal while quietly reading another American classic (electively). Nanette my mother understood, whereas she often looked at me with love, yes, mixed with something mystified, like “Really? This came out of me?” as she shook her head and prodded me to finish my pancakes. A honk in the driveway, and there was Bus 24 idling by our house, waiting to take us on our long journey, forty-five minutes away, to the next town and to school.

We lived in Great Neck, Long Island, a predominately Jewish neighborhood, and we couldn’t be more Italian if we tried. My father had a moustache (as did my sister and I). Since neither yeshiva nor the public school down the street was an option, my parents sent my sister and me to the Catholic school in a neighboring town, where we were the only students from Great Neck and were thus quickly labeled “those weird girls.”

I dreaded every minute of that forty-five-minute bus ride. My sister would always get on the bus before me, take the first seat to the right, and bury her face back in her book. I would follow behind, with my crazy hair, half dressed in a dirty uniform with pancake syrup on the side of my face. But unlike Nanette, I opted for the back of the bus. Since we were the only students on the entire bus who came from another town, we were mysterious, and with mystery came a lot of whispers, stares, and speculation. We were teased and made fun of relentlessly, until one day I realized that since there was already a big mystery surrounding who we were, it was my obligation to fill in the gaps. If we were going to be the talk of the bus, I was going to give them something to talk about.

My exaggerations (okay, lies) were easy to get away with, as my sister had mastered the art of ignoring me and mostly stuck to her studies. So while I held court in the back of the bus “big fishing” it, my sister was conveniently too far away to interfere. The film The Jerkserved as the inspiration for my tall tales.

Me: “Yes, Anna Maria Russo, we have a bathtub shaped like a clam and a red billiards room.”

“What’s a billiards room?” a boy named Tom would ask.

“It’s a place to play pool and where you display your stuffed camel collection.”

As “wows” and “ahs” and “what elses” were thrown my way, I was loving the attention.

“Mary, do you really have a tennis court and a pool?”

“I have three pools, Vinny, and a water cooler that dispenses red and white wine, and sometimes I sneak a little vino.”

This went on for weeks, the crowd on the bus growing larger each day. At one point, I had the entire bus believing that I had a disco in my basement, that my father drove a yellow Lamborghini, and that I had a dog named Shithead who could smell danger from miles away.

And then one day, the unthinkable happened: a girl at school actually wanted to have a playdate with me! Me, the girl with one eyebrow from a faraway town who smelled like pancake syrup. I remember being excited and terrified at the same time. I quickly told her yes, and a date was set.

In the days leading up to her arrival, I did my best to fill in the gaps between my boasting and reality. I put two blow-up pools next to our existing in-ground pool (I never told them what kind). I begged my cousin Scott to bring over his mini pool table and created a makeshift billiards room in my basement. I put a blinking flashlight in our spare “junk” room, stuck a tape in my boom box, and poof! I had a disco.

My mother asked what I was doing as I moved a fern from the living room into my bedroom to create a jungle for my “pet monkey.” I told her I was setting up for my friend Anne Marie’s arrival.

“Mom, please please please please serve us our pizza in a cup like in The Jerk!” I pleaded. The Look, a muttered response, and she returned to the kitchen.

When Anne Marie arrived for our playdate, I was panicked. I took her quickly on a tour of the house to see all the things I had fabricated, making excuses for why Iron Balls McGinty (my bodyguard and another character from my beloved film) wasn’t there to play with us and how the arcade I’d boasted about having, with its very own Ms. Pac-Man machine, had been destroyed in “the flood.”

“It was just terrible, Anne Marie, just terrible. Our giraffe drowned in that flood, too.”

Slowly Anne Marie started to realize that the only thing drowning was me in my sea of lies. In the nick of time, my mother called us upstairs for lunch. She had cut up our pizza and put the pieces into little cups with forks, just as I had described. Anne Marie smiled, sat down, and began to eat her lunch.

I sat there waiting for her to get mad or angry, to call me a liar, to tell me that she was going to expose me to the entire school. I waited and waited as, piece by piece, Anne Marie quietly noshed each bite of her pizza in a cup.

When she was done she placed the empty cup down, looked at me, and said, “Mary, this pizza is really good. Can I come back tomorrow?”

My lucky break with Anne Marie created a monster; because from then on I was deeply wedded to the idea that my fantasy life would always trounce the real world. I’ve continued to believe this theory to this day, which explains why I’ve made a pretty nice living creating unique party experiences for clients who have seen it all. I encourage those on the fence, whose imagination is perhaps… lacking… that turning their garage into a disco is always a great idea, or I encourage them to take a chance by serving only hot dogs and martinis at their next soiree, and when I suggest that we try to contact the real Elton John to play at the end of their event for the ultimate party Wow!, I really do believe I can make that happen. Point is, nothing is impossible. If you can dream it, you can do it (or at least some variation of it, like my makeshift billiards room).

Many years later, at the moment I felt I had finally “made it,” I went on eBay and purchased my very own Ms. Pac-Man machine. Anne Marie, feel free to stop on by anytime and take me up on that game I promised you thirty-five years ago.

Deconstructed Pizza Skewers with Roasted Tomato, Fried Mozzarella, and Basil Aioli

MAKES 24 PIECES

As good as I am, it’s quite hard to convince my clients to eat pizza out of a cup, so here is how I pay homage to my favorite childhood meal.

¾ cup light mayonnaise

 cup basil leaves

¼ cup baby arugula leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1½ teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

1 half-pint container red or yellow grape tomatoes

1 package small mozzarella bocconcini (24 pieces)

½ cup breadcrumbs

1 egg

For the aioli, blend mayonnaise, basil, arugula, lemon juice, garlic, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a food processor until completely smooth.

In a pan, warm a teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat.

Add the tomatoes and stir to lightly cook and slightly blister their skins. Remove and cool.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Dredge the mozzarella in the egg and then in breadcrumbs. Fill the frying pan with olive oil, heat until 400 to 450 degrees, and fry the mozzarella balls approximately 30 seconds each or until golden brown on all sides. Set aside on a paper towel to cool.

Once the mozzarella is at room temperature, use a toothpick or skewer and poke through one tomato then one mozzarella ball, dotting the tops with the basil aioli. Repeat.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Giuliani is an author, party and lifestyle expert, and founder and CEO of Mary Giuliani Catering and Events. Mary has appeared on The Barefoot Contessa, The Chew, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Moltissimo with Jimmy Fallon, and is a regularly featured guest on The Rachael Ray Show. Mary’s first book, The Cocktail Party (Eat, Drink, Play, Recover) came out in 2015. 

 

CONNECT WITH MARY

Website: http://marygiuliani.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mary-Giuliani-Catering-Events-116391656664/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Marygiuliani

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mgcevents/

 

PRAISE FOR TINY HOT DOGS:

“Mary Giuliani is not a name: it is a promise. Like a guarantee on the box, her name attached to an event, a book, a menu, a meal, is a golden ticket to good times. Mary makes me smile, laugh, cry happy tears, and she always leaves me hungry for more of her wisdom, her humor, and her stories. I raise my glass in a toast to the hostess with the mostest to celebrate this, her most personal, touching, and delicious work yet!” 

—Rachael Ray

 

“No one tells a story like Mary Giuliani and she does it with great recipes, too! To read her deeply personal memoir is to feel that you’ve connected with a dear friend who’s thoughtful, funny, and truly unique. I love this book!” 

—Ina Garten

 

“Giuliani’s entertaining memoir is packed with satisfying stories and recipes that readers will guiltily enjoy.”

—Publishers Weekly

 

“Giuliani has chutzpah to spare in these life-filled, rib-sticking (and-tickling) stories.” 

—Booklist

 

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