Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, August 1, 2014

French Twist / French Toast by Glynis Astie (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for French Toast by Author Glynis Astie!

Author Guest Post

80s Movie Wisdom

There are certain moments in our lives that we remember with absolute clarity. One of mine occurred when I discovered that many important lessons could be gleaned from the stellar collection of movies that I watched in the 1980s. I was writing my first book, French Twist, and I found my mind continually wandering to my favorite John Hughes and Cameron Crowe movies from my childhood. I giggled as my fingers flew over the keyboard, peppering the dialogue of my characters with indelible quotes from these cinematic gems. Suddenly, I realized that these movies were jam packed with critical life lessons for future generations to come.

At first, it may seem like a bit of a stretch, but if you really think about it, you will see that there is much knowledge to be acquired from your favorite movies from the decade of excess…

Lesson #1: Don’t Lie

This may seem rather obvious and is definitely one that our parents told us over and over again, but with his script for Pretty in Pink, John Hughes was able to convey this idea in a way that seemed decidedly less lame. Just cast your mind back to the wonderfully idealistic and honest Andie, played by Molly Ringwald. She is not naïve enough to miss the socioeconomic differences enforced en masse by the students at her high school, but she will not allow herself to be treated poorly by any of the “in-crowd” and values telling the truth above all else. In the end, Blaine, played by the gorgeous Andrew McCarthy, realizes what an idiot he has been, sticks it to his heinous best friend Steph, played with such delightful creepiness by James Spader, and begs Andie’s forgiveness. Even as a teenager I could see that the massive amount of lies told by the popular kids were bringing them nothing but pain. I was totally ahead of my time!

Lesson #2: Money Isn’t Everything

This is a lesson that takes YEARS to learn and some people will never truly take it to heart. Admittedly, it is exceedingly hard to grasp - especially when you are a kid and money appears to be a very simple solution to every problem. But again, our man John Hughes comes through with some serious brilliance in Some Kind of Wonderful. Here we meet Keith, played by the dreamy Eric Stoltz and Amanda, played by Leah Thompson, both high school students from the “wrong side of the tracks.” While Amanda essentially sells herself to “run with the rich and the beautiful” (Thank you, Mary Stuart Masterson!), Keith is content to hang with his other economically challenged friends, stumbling through the usual teenage insecurities and big dreams for the future. Amanda picks up the scraps of her rich friends, but it is only after she sees the true nature of her revolting ex-boyfriend, played so effectively by Craig Sheffer, that she understands that money cannot buy happiness, only a very small approximation of it.

Lesson #3: Crazy Things Can Happen

Crazy things certainly happen far more often in the movies, but real life has its moments. (French Twist is the true story of how I met my husband and it is full of crazy happenings!) Enter once again, the amazing Mr. John Hughes, with the Sixteen Candles. Here we find Samantha, played by Molly Ringwald, torn between being angry with her family for forgetting her SIXTEENTH birthday and mooning over THE Jake Ryan. Every girl had a Jake Ryan in high school. You know, the incredibly hot guy, who was also sweet, charming AND athletic? Fictional Jake is also wealthy and interested in a moderately dorky girl rather than his smokin’ hot girlfriend; why wouldn’t we be enamored with the idea of such a thing? OK, OK, so there is a degree of suspension of disbelief at work here, but Sixteen Candles reminds kids of the very important lesson that these crazy things CAN happen. Let’s not shatter their dreams with the fact that the odds are not ever in their favor. (Points for cross generational reference!)

Lesson #4: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

I find this lesson a bit funny considering that at this point in time, I spend a lot of time thinking about cover design, since people most definitely judge them before buying my books, but we are going with the metaphorical sense on this one. In another of his cinematic triumphs, The Breakfast Club, John Hughes warns us about the dangers of stereotyping. We are presented with John – the criminal played by Judd Nelson, Andrew - the athlete played by Emilio Estevez, Claire – the princess played by Molly Ringwald, Allison - the basket case played by Ally Sheedy and Brian - the brain played by Anthony Michael Hall. Each character comes with a corresponding image and background and it would be easy enough to pigeon hole these kids based on their roles. However, as the movie progresses, we see why this is such a colossal mistake. We quickly learn that no one’s life is ever really what it seems – good or bad – and we all have a lot more in common than we thought. And though the future of John and Claire’s relationship is absolutely doomed, at least their short stint together removed the deep rooted animosity that was based on good old fashioned assumptions.

Lesson #5: Never Underestimate the Impact of a Grand Gesture

Now it is time for us to hand the reigns over to Mr. Cameron Crowe and his extraordinary film, Say Anything. Simply hearing the title of this movie instantly evokes the image of Lloyd Dobler, played by John Cusak, holding a boom box over his head that is blasting the unforgettable Peter Gabriel song “In Your Eyes.” I can easily picture him standing in front of his blue Chevy Malibu in that borderline skeevy trench coat, with a look on his face that was part determination and part anguish. Whether you are a teenager, or perhaps a little, um, older you can easily appreciate the bravery it takes to put yourself on the line like that. And really, would we all swoon over magnificent scenes like this in both movies and books, if we did not desperately want them to happen in real life? I think not.

I hope that you enjoyed my musings on the wisdom of my favorite 1980s movies. I could have droned on and on for pages, but I know that you have a busy life to lead! If you have any interest in reading about a few real life grand gestures executed by my incredibly romantic husband of twelve years, please check out my French Twist series!

About The Author

Glynis Astie never expected in her wildest dreams to be a writer. After thirteen years in the Human Resources Industry, she decided to stay at home with her two amazing sons. Ever in search of a project, she was inspired to write the story of how she met and married her wonderfully romantic French husband, Sebastien, in six short months. The end result became her first novel, French Twist.

As this novel is only the beginning the story, Glynis has just released the sequel, French Toast and has begun writing the final chapter in the trilogy, French Fry. When she is not writing, she is trying to keep the peace amongst the three men and two cats in her life, finding missing body parts (Lego pieces are small!), supervising a myriad of homework assignments and keeping a tenuous hold on her sanity by consuming whatever chocolate is in the vicinity.


Book Review

French Twist by Glynis Astie
Book 1: The French Twist Series
Publisher: Tikinou Publishing 
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Format: Paperback - 295 pages
             Kindle - 487 KB
ISBN: 978-0615874043
Genre: Chick Lit / Romantic Comedy

BUY THE BOOK: French Twist

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Sydney Bennett had spent her life in pursuit of perfection. She planned, weighed her options and made careful choices based on calculated outcomes. Through all of her efforts, she had come pretty close to perfection, if she didn’t say so herself. She had fled the cold winters in New York for sunny California, found a job that she loved and lived in the same town as her sister, and best friend, Kate. The one area of perfection that had always eluded her was her love life. No matter how hard she tried, she always ended up with a broken heart. After a particularly traumatic breakup, Sydney vowed that she was done with love.

Just as Sydney threw herself into her new plan to forget about men, a handsome Frenchman tossed all of her intentions out the window as he swept her off of her feet. Louis Durand had lived a life filled with excitement and adventure. He was impetuous, intelligent and incredibly charming. So naturally, he scared Sydney half to death. From the moment they met, Louis and Sydney’s romance progressed at warp speed. Sydney did her best not to run, but her deep rooted relationship anxiety threatened to provide an easy exit. When Louis mentioned marriage before Sydney even knew his favorite color, she was more than tempted to reach for her running shoes. Will she be able to put her fears aside to follow her heart? The one thing that Sydney will learn is that sometimes perfection comes with a twist...

Book Excerpt:

Meet Sydney Bennett

Repeat the mantra, Sydney. Breathe. “Good enough is not nearly as wonderful as perfect, but it is good enough.” How often had my mother said those words to me? Countless times. She would always look at me with her warm brown eyes, smile reassuringly and squeeze my hand. During a particularly traumatic period in high school, she went as far as framing the words for me and asked me to read them (and take them to heart) at least once a day. Though I believed in the truth of these words, on this day as I had on every other day, one thought kept occurring to me. Shouldn’t your wedding day be the one day where perfection is expected?

I had tried to stay calm, but things kept going wrong and I REALLY don’t like it when things go wrong. I am definitely not a “roll with it” type of person. From a very early age, any divergence from the plan I had formulated in my head was enough to send me into a tailspin. I thought that if anything happened outside of what I had planned for, I would lose control. And losing control was not something that I enjoyed. I therefore planned for every possible scenario and worried obsessively that I had not planned enough. My father had always told me that if worrying were a sport, I would be the champion of the world.

But, I digress. Let’s get back to the problem at hand. It all began with my wedding party. In my infinite wisdom, I had asked six women to be my bridesmaids. My older sister and best friend, Kate; my sister-in-law, Zoe, and four of my closest friends. All six had gladly accepted the role, but a week before the wedding all hell broke loose. First, my friend Maya came down with mono. Who has SHE been kissing lately? I saw her every day and the identity of the infector was a complete mystery to me. Three days before the wedding, my friend Amanda got the chicken pox. I’m sorry, but who didn’t get that as a kid? The parents in the neighborhood where I grew up actually took their kids to “parties” to make sure that they had the chicken pox when they were young. Then the day before the wedding, my friend Holly broke her leg in four places and had to be immobilized for an unforeseen amount of time. She has yet to tell me exactly what she was doing when she broke her leg, but I get the feeling that it was highly embarrassing. Seriously??? THREE bridesmaids down? Was this a bad omen for anyone involved in our wedding party? Focus, Sydney. No problem; Kate and I would reformat the ceremony along with the new bridesmaid/groomsmen ratio.

Then the breathtakingly beautiful gown that I had planned to get married in was MISPLACED two days before the wedding. The fitted bodice was intricately beaded and the full tulle skirt hung perfectly. When I wore it, I felt like a princess, as every woman should on her wedding day. The hotel manager told me that he was extremely sorry that my dress had been misplaced (um….lost!) and would be happy to put in a good word for me at the costume rental shop down the street. He felt that the Juliet gown would give “an exciting period feel” to our “incredibly lackluster” wedding. I informed him, as my fiancé held my arms back that he would have a much better idea of what sorry was once I was through with him. He seemed to be completely nonplussed, leading me to assume that he had dealt with many a bride in his time. I sat in the hotel lobby in a state of shock for an hour before I was able to move. I closed my eyes and tried to slow my breathing, but my mind wouldn’t stop racing. Was this really happening to me? What had I done to deserve this? And most importantly, what in the hell was I going to wear?

French Toast by Glynis Astie
Book 2: The French Twist Series
Publisher: Tikinou Publishing
Publication Date: April 2, 2014
Format: Paperback - 335 pages
             Kindle - 897 KB
ISBN: 978-0615974880
Genre: Chick Lit / Romance

BUY THE BOOK: French Toast

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Naïve to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over. Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met?

As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife. Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months.

With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast…

Book Excerpt:

Meet Sydney Durand

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. She couldn’t possibly be serious. Could she? I opened my eyes, looked over at Louis and tried to smile. I can only imagine the look that registered on my face, but I highly doubt it was anything remotely positive. Louis had just finished telling me about his mother’s latest plans for our wedding. I took another deep breath and reminded myself, yet again, that I had agreed to let her plan the wedding in its entirety (with the exception of choosing my wedding dress.) Why would I agree to something so completely insane? It might have had something to do with the fact that this would be our third wedding.

That’s right, I said THIRD wedding and no, I do not have an Elizabeth Taylor complex. And I can prove it! Allow me to give you the short version. After a disastrous romantic history dating back to college, I, Sydney Bennett, was swept off of my feet by the incredible Frenchman, Louis Durand. Louis was in California on business, but following our first week together, he accepted a transfer from his company’s Paris office to the San Jose office. To the great shock of our families and friends, we became engaged a few weeks later. We began planning a beautiful wedding in Monterey for the following September, only to be thwarted by Louis’ unexpected job loss in January. In order to avoid his deportation, we were married shortly thereafter in my home town of Haverstraw, New York. So that my dreams of a beautiful wedding would not be crushed, we elected to have the originally planned event in Monterey as well. Everyone needs gorgeous wedding photos! The first wedding was definitely more practical than gorgeous.

One would think that two weddings would be more than enough for one couple in love, but due to Louis’ status as an only child with an extremely large extended family and his mother’s dream of a wedding that his whole town (population four hundred) would attend, we simply had to have one more wedding. Besides, a wedding in the beautiful French countryside sounded amazing, right? This way my family and I would have the opportunity to experience the wedding customs of Louis’ country as he and his family would experience the customs of ours at the wedding in Monterey. (The first wedding was kind of light on customs as it was predominantly a vehicle to keep Louis in the country.) My mother and siblings were thrilled at the prospect of a trip to France, while my father bemoaned the fact that he would have to set foot in traitorous territory. He is German and likes to complain. Although I was absolutely sure that he was practically drooling at the prospect of the gastronomic experiences in his future.

While three weddings did afford a certain amount of stress, in the end, I think that it helped me. My mother had planned the first wedding (in the span of one week), I was planning the second wedding (in the span of one year) and Louis’ mother was planning the third (in the span of Louis’ lifetime.) This allowed for all parties to end up with a wedding they were happy with. I must admit that the idea having three different wedding dresses is kind of fun. Hey, now! There is no need to judge! The three events are very different levels of formality. The first was an informal town hall wedding, the second would be a formal evening wedding and the third would be an afternoon wedding in the French countryside. If you really think about it, you will realize that having three wedding dresses is an absolute necessity.

Now that my seemingly ludicrous statement of three weddings has been explained, we can return to the problem at hand. Louis has just informed me that his mother, Simone, has purchased an ensemble for me to wear to the rehearsal dinner. (Honestly, this is becoming comical. This will be our THIRD rehearsal dinner.) Let me remind you that Louis’ mother has a very...particular fashion sense. All of the garments she wears are short, tight, brightly colored and/or bedazzled. Given the fact that she is sixty years old, my hat goes off to her. I hope that I have the guts to wear miniskirts into my sixties. She is my hero! Having said that, I have never been one to dress do I put this? Let’s just say that my taste is slightly more conservative.

Louis was practically in tears from laughing so hard as he described the dress to me. Simone had chosen a gold sequined halter mini dress with red satin roses on the straps and red satin ruffles along the bottom of the skirt. She also saw fit to purchase red satin stilettos with matching red satin roses on the toes. I resisted the urge to strangle my husband and began to pace the room. Clearly I made a serious error in judgment when I allowed Simone to make all decisions for the wedding except for my wedding dress. In my defense, I really didn’t think that her purview extended to my wardrobe choices for pre wedding events. It was becoming quite obvious that I had a lot to learn about her… 

My Book Review:

Inspired by her real life whirlwind six month romance and marriage to her French husband, Sebastien, author Glynis Astie weaves an entertaining romantic comedy series called The French Twist Series!

In French Twist, the first book in the series, the reader is introduced to Sydney Bennett, a single twenty-something New Yorker who has moved to San Francisco. Sydney hasn't been lucky in the romance area, but when she meets handsome Louis Durand, who is town on business, Sydney is swept off her feet and finds herself in a whirlwind love affair that leads to marriage in six short months!

In French Toast, the second book in the series, Sydney's story continues after her civil ceremony to Louis. She makes plans for a fairytale wedding in California that she has dreamed of having since she was a child, only to have her mother-in-law planning a rival wedding in the France! Suddenly their whirlwind love affair and impulsive wedding is anything but romantic when drama, mishaps, and real life trials and tribulations stand in their way to happily ever after!

The French Twist Series is a thoroughly entertaining set of romantic comedies. The reader can't help but get drawn into Sydney and Louis' whirlwind love affair, and follow their martial adventures as they deal with the crazy antics, drama, and mishaps that ensue when real life catches up with them. I loved that the author uses the inspiration from her own real life whirlwind romance and marriage to her French husband to create a series that has a wonderful mix of humor, romance, wit, and sarcasm. I look forward to reading the continuation of their story in French Fry, the upcoming third book in the series. Both French Twist and French Toast are a lighthearted fun read that will keep you in stitches and make you a believer that fairytale romances really do exist ... even when real life puts obstacles in the way!


Contest Giveaway

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Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

July 7 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post
July 8 – Chick Lit Goddess – Q&A & Excerpt
July 9 – Book Reviews by Dee – Guest Post & Excerpt
July 10 – Chicks That Read – Guest Post & Excerpt
July 11 – Two Children and a Migraine – Review & Excerpt
July 14 – Jiha’s File – Excerpt
July 15 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Excerpt
July 21 – Ski-Wee’s Book Corner – Review
July 21 – Ski-Wee’s Book Corner – Excerpt
July 24 – Steph the Bookworm – Review
July 25 – Annabel and Alice – Review
July 28 – AJ Book Club Review – Review 
July 29 – Sky’s Book Corner – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
July 30- Book Suburbia – Excerpt
July 31 – Book Mama Blog – Review
August 1 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
August 4 – The East Village – Review


  1. Thank you so much for having me as a guest, Kathleen! I"m so glad that you enjoyed the books! :)

    1. Hi Glynis! Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. I look forward to reading the 3rd book in the series. :)