May 31, 2009

May reads

May was a particularly good reading month for me. I was quite happily employed with a few great new books and even a much-loved oldie but goodie from my childhood. And I have to say that the book covers looked extra cool this month. There is something about a gorgeously designed book cover that just grabs me. Thankfully, the stories themselves were so transporting that I was able to be pulled into the book completely. That's what I love most about books, the fact that I can get utterly lost in them.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. This fictionalized account of a very real-life love affair between architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the wife of one of his clients, Mameh Cheney, was absolutely mesmerizing. Frank and Mameh shirk the conventions of the day by falling in love and fleeing to Europe, abandoning their respective families, and some would argue, their good sense. It's in Europe where they endeavor to live a more truthful existence together, basking in their love and shared sense of beauty and passion for life. Horan portrays what is essentially a tragic story in a way that is very beautiful and sensitively handled. I found Mameh to be a fascinatingly complex woman who was not only fiercely independent and educated at a time when most women couldn't boast of such accomplishments, but who was also very human and empathetic. I don't recall ever feeling so astonished by an ending before; I'm still reeling from it, actually.

The Perfect Plot by Carolyn Keene. One of the great pleasures of being an adult is re-discovering books from childhood. When I was growing up, I was obsessed with Nancy Drew and her myriad mysterious exploits with her two best gal pals George and Bess. For some unknown reason, I ended up giving away all my Nancy Drew books save one, The Perfect Plot. In the novel, Nancy and George drive out to the country estate and museum of a late mystery writer for a mystery-themed weekend. But when a fellow guest dies unexpectedly and curiously and a case of jewel-encrusted figurines go missing, the weekend turns out to be more mysterious than Nancy and George signed up for. The house itself is one big puzzle comprised of all sorts of secret passageways (which is really just the sort of thing I like in a book. Note to self: I really need to dig into more mystery books this summer) and the book is peopled with characters from the publishing world (i.e. authors, editors, literary agents), which also happens to be the industry I work in. Interesting that my predilections haven't changed much over the years! I so enjoyed re-visiting this Nancy Drew mystery that I've actually checked out a couple more from my local library to satiate my hunger for more Nancy Drew.

Northanger Abbbey by Jane Austen. Another re-visited book. A novel about books by a young writer whose writing career was in its infancy, Northanger Abbey was Jane Austen's first completed novel but wasn't published until after her death. The book was the author's satiric response to the popular Gothic novels of the day, most notably Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, which is heavily referenced in Austen's book. Ms. Austen has inspired me to seek out the aforementioned Udolpho. With its brooding villains, castles, and exotic Europeans landscapes, I cannot wait to dive into this one. I'm already noticing a theme for my summer reading...

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. I read countless reviews praising the brilliance of this book. And while I don't deny that it was well-written, there were parts that didn't exactly move me and felt disconnected in certain places. I kept having to re-read certain pages again because I felt I missed something, and as a result the story dragged a little. Having said that, I will applaud Krauss for creating one of the most heartbreakingly lovable characters I've ever had the pleasure to meet in the pages of a book, Leopold Gursky. A man who is so lonely and in need of love that he takes to making scenes in public places, like spilling his milk at Starbucks, in an effort to arouse attentive stares from strangers. Leo shares the spotlight with a few other characters, but I sorta wish the book was solely Leo's journey, as his was far more interesting than any other character's in the novel. But then again, the ending would have been very different. As it is, the ending is particularly gut-wrenching, in a completely good way.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I don't think I came across one review of this book that didn't claim it to be utterly charming and delightful. And really that is just what this book is. An epistolary novel set on the isle of Guernsey shortly after WWII, the book is comprised of letters between Juliet, a spirited and successful London author, and the kooky but completely lovable island inhabitants who relate their individual accounts of life under the German Occupation on this little British island. At once funny (there were several moments when I downright giggled at the islanders' shenanigans) and incredibly fascinating and moving (many facts about what life was like at that time are woven into the characters' letters), this is a book not to be missed.

Next up, a pulitzer-prize winning novel and some long overdue books of the mystery kind....

May 18, 2009

Meet G and Z

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting not one but two dashing, ridiculously handsome young men. How many women can make such a claim? The proof is in the pudding below.

Exhibit A: Meet Baby G. Baby G wakes up from a restful slumber and can't help but notice a large camera the size of his head angled precariously too close to his face. He's not sure he likes what he sees.

Baby G decides he doesn't like the bloody paparazzi one bit and tries to thwart the photographic agenda of said pap by fidgeting and waving his hands to and fro, thereby producing the blurry shot below. Score one for Baby G.

Baby G and the paparazzi make up, and Baby G celebrates by falling spectacularly asleep on the aforementioned pap's shoulder. Notice his cool stegosaurus hairdo. Brave soul he is for attempting and pulling off what most dare not.

Exhibit B. Meet Baby Z.

Baby Z likes to pretend he's a mummy; he's already displaying a vivid imagination. Not to mention an uncanny knack for playing possum.

Baby Z, like G, can't take the paparazzi and the insanity of it all. More important, he's rocking the owl onesie he scored at his baby shower (given by moi). Like G, Baby Z is pulling off what most--including myself--dare not.

As you can see, I'm pretty smitten with both men. T better watch his back.

May 12, 2009

Back on the farm

This Mother's Day weekend, I took a trip up to central California--to the countryside of my youth--to spend the weekend with a few of the moms in my life. It was a nice little break from the city and I got the chance to pay some long overdue visits with family and friends. I spent a lazy Sunday lounging around with my mom and watching classic films like How to Steal A Million with the devastatingly stylish Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. Don't they make a fetching pair? We also caught Freaky Friday with Jodie Foster, which surprisingly, my mother had never seen before. The movie is a lot funnier than I remember and had my mother in stitches. The acting is superb, too.

I also got to meet a very special person, who will make a first appearance on my blog in the days to come...

Photo via imdb.

May 7, 2009


You know how sometimes when you have a really crappy day, when you're confused and apprehensive about which path to take and wondering if you're not taking enough risks in life and you feel like a failure and you want to just give up because you can't deal with it all? Can you tell I've had one of those days recently? My boyfriend certainly did and he had just the ticket for pulling me out of my little self-imposed funk, hence the jolly flowers stage right. I love how they pop out against the dark wood of my new coffee table. T knows me SO well. Flowers do wonders for my mood, which is so girly of me, but it's so true!

May 5, 2009

Workin' up an appetite

I have officially moved into my new apartment. Hallelujah! All that heavy lifting and walking up and down stairs worked up an appetite. It helps when you have a boyfriend who knows how to use a kitchen. On Sunday, T whipped up a scrumptious frittata, courtesy of the Martha Stewart cookbook I got for Christmas. That Martha sure knows her stuff.