Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sweet Little Lies

Sweet Little Lies

How Sweet it is?

Jane Roberts was the average girl next door until she and her best friend, Scarlett Harp, landed their own reality show, L.A. Candy. Now the girls have an all-access pass to Hollywood's hottest everything. But there's more to life on camera than just parties and shopping. . . .

When racy photos of Jane are leaked to the press, she finds herself at the center of a tabloid scandal. She turns to her co-star Madison Parker for help, unaware that Madison is scheming behind the scenes. She might be Jane's shoulder to cry on, but does Madison really have Jane's back?

Scarlett's working on a scandal of her own. She's fallen for someone who's strictly off-limits—which means Scarlett has a big secret to keep . . . from the L.A. Candy cameras, the paparazzi staking out her apartment, even from her best friend.

Of course, nothing stays secret for long for the stars of the newest hit TV series, and all this drama couldn't be better for ratings. But can Jane survive another season in the spotlight?

In television star Lauren Conrad's dishy, entertaining novel about young Hollywood, the lies are only as sweet as the people telling them.

I read the first book L.A. Candy and will probably read this one too! It was a fluffy and fast read.

Friday, January 29, 2010

‘Auntie Mame’ Prevails as Improbable Best Seller in Italian Market

From the NYTimes:

It’s been an unlikely best seller. First published 55 years ago in the United States, where it spawned a hit Broadway show and two movie adaptations, Patrick Dennis’s “Auntie Mame” has recently gained footing in the Italian literary firmament, becoming last year’s surprise hit.

Even after 15 reprints and sales of 280,000 copies since May (30,000 during the pre-Christmas rush), publishing pundits are still puzzling over the book’s popularity.

Perhaps no one is more surprised here than the book’s Italian publisher, Adelphi.

“We’re completely mystified,” said Matteo Codignola, the Adelphi editor who translated the novel. “We thought it would appeal to a certain kind of public, but we didn’t expect this.” On Sunday the novel ranked at 12 on the foreign fiction list of the Milan daily Corriere della Sera. For many weeks last year it topped the general fiction list.

But in Italy, in fact, humorous books rarely make it onto the best-seller list.

“Being funny is not a compliment in Italy,” said Mr. Codignola. “Humor is seen as having little to do with life or death or astrophysics.”

Why a witty Depression era novel about a glamorous, free-spirited Manhattan socialite who teaches her orphaned nephew to live life to the fullest would touch a chord with Italians has been the matter of some debate in the national press.

“We ask ourselves why did this book have success in Italy, in 2009, when Auntie Mames have become nightmarish showgirls and female escorts, or business women without any sort of humor, charm or grace,” the literary critic Goffredo Fofi wrote in the Catholic daily L’Avvenire, in a bleak assessment of the female condition in Italy today. “Is it because we all sense this great need for likeable and non-conformist aunts and uncles in the face of the current conformism of vulgarity?” Or is the opposite true, “that the success of Auntie Mame is part of the great collective lie of national likeableness that Italians recite every day,” Mr. Fofi asked.

Others posited that in the midst of an economic crisis that has prompted comparisons with the Great Depression, a comic novel about a woman who triumphs over a financially adverse situation was sure to draw readers.

A headline about the book in Corriere della Sera read: “Laughter will save us from the crisis.”

The editorial alchemy that produces a best seller out of the thousands published each year has no real explanation. “Auntie Mame” had two previous Italian editions — in 1956 and in 1965 — that sold well enough but were not best sellers, Mr. Codignola said.

What may have helped bolster the book’s fortunes this time around is the fact that Adelphi has a highbrow — even snobby — cachet.

“It became a question of fashion and status symbol, granting readers of this undemanding book access to what is considered the stronghold of the Italian intelligentsia,” said Stefano Salis, who covers publishing for the economic daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

“It became very cool to have the book in your hands,” Mr. Salis said, adding that Adelphi cleverly upped the chic factor by choosing a stylish pink cover. Once the novel became fashionable — especially among women — he said, “You felt obliged to buy it.”

Mr. Salis said he doubted the novel would have been as popular had it been in the catalogue of a more mainstream publisher.

In one of the few critiques of the book, the editorialist Gad Lerner chastised Adelphi for affixing its “undisputable seal of approval” on the novel. Conscious that the Adelphi brand “ennobles everything it publishes,” Mr. Lerner accused Roberto Calasso, the director of Adelphi Edizioni, of taking advantage of this position to “propose a piece of nonsense like ‘Auntie Mame.’ ”

It is not a good sign of the times that Auntie Mame, “a feel-good farce that sold two million copies to traditionalist Americans of a long-ago conformist era has become the fashionable book of Italy in 2009, ” Mr. Lerner wrote. “I hope that if nothing else, the chic editor reinvests profits in more daring publications.”

Indeed when it first hit bookstores in 1955, Auntie Mame stayed on the best-seller list for more than 100 weeks. Though the author is listed as Patrick Dennis, who happens to be the protagonist, it was actually penned by Edward Everett Tanner III, an idiosyncratic social observer and satirist who wrote under several pseudonyms.

Mr. Tanner lived large. Born in Chicago in 1921, he served in World War II, married and had children but eventually left his wife after acknowledging his bisexuality. He wrote novels, traveled, moved to Mexico City, and spent the final period of his out-of-the-ordinary life in Palm Beach, where he worked as a butler. He died in 1976.

In the intervening decades, Mr. Tanner was “unjustly forgotten,” said Mr. Codignola. “He was courageous and authentic, and tried to do different things from the usual minestrone.”

Auntie Mame was his most successful book, and it translated well to the stage and screen too. Celebrated Hollywood Mames of the past include Rosalind Russell, Angela Lansbury, Ethel Merman and Christine Baraski.

Now an Italian version may be in the making.

After reading the book, “because it was the summer phenomenon,” the Italian director Luca Guadagnino, best known for his 2005 film “Melissa P,” set his heart on a film remake that would star the British actress Tilda Swinton in the title role.

“Our idea is not to do a period drama but to shift it from the 1929 crisis to the fall of the Berlin Wall and Obama, it would still be very funny but also hip,” said Mr. Guadagnino, who directed Ms. Swinton in last year’s “I Am Love,” which will open in the United States in June. His agent has contacted Warner Brothers to discuss the film rights, he said.

Larger-than-life figures will always have their appeal, said Mr. Codignola in his office at Adelphi’s Milan headquarters. When Adelphi published Mordechai Richler’s “Barney’s Version” — the rollicking autobiography of the fictional Barney Panofsky — in 2000, it sold 400,000 copies.

And that may provide another explanation for the book’s success.

“People read the book and say ‘Auntie Mame’ is me,” said Mr. Codignola. “You’d be surprised how often I hear this from women who are not particularly sparkling or elegant. They say: I can’t understand how this man who lived 50 years ago was able to write about me.”

The Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club

The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club-- For every woman who has ever dreamed of starting over, or being a better mother, or just knitting a really nice scarf . . .

When her husband dies in a car crash-not long after announcing he wants a divorce-Jo Mackenzie packs up her two rowdy boys and moves from London to a dilapidated villa in her seaside hometown. There, she takes over her beloved Gran's knitting shop-a quaint but out-of-date store in desperate need of a facelift. After a rough beginning, Jo soon finds comfort in a "Stitch and Bitch" group; a collection of quirky, lively women who share their stories, and their addiction to cake, with warmth and humor.

As Jo starts to get the hang of single-parent life in a small town, she relies on her knitting group for support. The women meet every week at the shop on Beach Street and trade gossip and advice as freely as they do a new stitch. But when a new man enters Jo's life, and an A-list actress moves into the local mansion, the knitting club has even more trouble confining the conversation to knit one, purl two.

The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club is an uplifting, winning tale about the healing power of friendship and new beginnings. It's a charming novel that will delight all passionate knitters-and win over befuddled, would-be knitters, too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rich Again

Rich Again -- Walk-in closet full of designer everything? Check. Private Caribbean island? Check. Connection to the aristocracy? Working on it. Cunning, malicious stalker? Double check.

Welcome to the world of the Kents, a charismatic, ambitious, and fabulously wealthy English family with two sisters – one as strong and sparkling as the other is delicate and wounded – who must somehow put their differences aside to keep an unknown enemy from bringing them down. Wild and beautiful Emily Kent has had the world laid at her feet by her ruthless mother and billionaire father – but it's not enough. Gifted with her mother's to-die-for looks, her father's hard-scrabble business sense, and both of her parents' lust for control, Emily is determined to make her own luck by seducing the only man she’s ever wanted, a man who can make her dreams of attaining the heights of old-money English society come true. By contrast, Emily's step-sister, Claudia, is a fragile soul—her mother died when she was five, leaving her to the unkind reign of step-mother Innocence. In an uncharacteristic burst of rebellion, Claudia trades her gilded lifestyle for an ordinary flat and daytime job where she meets the man of her dreams… or so she imagines.

But, Emily and Claudia are caught up in a desperate situation that may be beyond their control. As for their father, disgraced tycoon Jack Kent, and his wife Innocence, they are too obsessed with the fight for supremacy over their vast empire to see that a mighty and sinister opponent is plotting to ruin them all.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Prada is the first book that documents three decades of ground-breaking fashion, architecture, film and art by the Prada company, including the work of the design studio and the workshop; extensive creative partnerships with photographers, designers, architects and film directors; and large scale architectural commissions, the Fondazione Prada, and the development of a new museum.

Among the many features of this rich innovative book with its thousands of images are a photo-essay by renowned photographer Brigitte Lacombe, stills taken from short films documenting the craftsmanship of the factory, images of the unique fashion show environments, an overview of all Miuccia Prada's collections with thumbnail pictures of 3,885 different “looks,” collages of the most influential shoe and bags, photographs of the final product on the runway, celebrated store designs in New York and Los Angeles by Rem Koolhaas/OMAand in Tokyo by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, a film collaboration with director Ridley Scott, Koolhaas’s radical “Prada Transformer” pavilion in Seoul, costume designs for a Japanese manga heroine, Prada found on the street and celebrities photographed on the red carpet, and blogs expressing the almost fanatical devotion of lovers of the brand.
Prada both chronicles and epitomizes the achievements of one of the world's most influential and enlightened fashion and design companies.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart -- Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister's behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn't looking for Mr. Anyone. She's been dating Neil -- a nice if a bit negligent -- sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen's Pride and Prejudice -- in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy -- leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author's own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil's unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire's journey to finding her own romantic lead. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn't logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places.

Also by this author: Jane Austen Ruined My Life

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shoo, Jimmy Choo!

Shoo, Jimmy Choo!: The Modern Girl's Guide to Spending Less and Saving More-- You're a latte-in-the-morning, closet-stuffed-with-shoes, can't-resist-a-sale kind of girl. What's the big deal? If you ever want to buy a house, stop paying astronomical interest on your credit card, and have a retire-in-style fund, you need to set out on the path to financial security. And who better to lead you down that path than Catey Hill?

Catey Hill, the money editor for the New York Daily News web site and a recovering shoe addict, will help you:

* Evaluate why you spend
* Tweak your spending habits
* Get out of debt
* Create a savings and retirement plan that even lets you splurge sometimes

Plus, included in these pages are real-life success and horror stories from women who have tamed their financial demons. So shoo, designer shoes: you're taking control of your spending today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Three Weissmanns of Westport

The Three Weissmanns of Westport -- In Schine’s story, sisters Miranda, an impulsive but successful literary agent, and Annie, a pragmatic library director, quite unexpectedly find themselves the middle-aged products of a broken home. Dumped by her husband of nearly fifty years and then exiled from their elegant New York apartment by his mistress, Betty is forced to move to a small, run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. Joining her are Miranda and Annie, who dutifully comes along to keep an eye on her capricious mother and sister. As the sisters mingle with the suburban aristocracy, love starts to blossom for both of them, and they find themselves struggling with the dueling demands of reason and romance.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Privileges

The Privileges -- Smart, socially gifted, and chronically impatient, Adam and Cynthia Morey are so perfect for each other that united they become a kind of fortress against the world. In their hurry to start a new life, they marry young and have two children before Cynthia reaches the age of twenty-five. Adam is a rising star in the world of private equity and becomes his boss's protégé. With a beautiful home in the upper-class precincts of Manhattan, gorgeous children, and plenty of money, they are, by any reasonable standard, successful.

But the Moreys' standards are not the same as other people's. The future in which they have always believed for themselves and their children—a life of almost boundless privilege, in which any desire can be acted upon and any ambition made real—is still out there, but it is not arriving fast enough to suit them. As Cynthia, at home with the kids day after identical day, begins to drift, Adam is confronted with a choice that will test how much he is willing to risk to ensure his family's happiness and to recapture the sense that the only acceptable life is one of infinite possibility.

The Privileges is an odyssey of a couple touched by fortune, changed by time, and guided above all else by their epic love for each other. Lyrical, provocative, and brilliantly imagined, this is a timely meditation on wealth, family, and what it means to leave the world richer than you found it.

NY Times book review can be found here.

Note: As of today it is unavailable via Kindle but you can get it digitally if you have a Nook which is really annoying me!