Friday, April 30, 2010

The Heights

The Heights - Hedges's first novel in more than a decade reads a lot like Tom Perrotta minus the satire or Jonathan Tropper with less humor, but Hedges's excellent characterization and writing render it a worthy outing. Tim Welch and Kate Oliver are happily married, living the urban dream in Brooklyn Heights, until the wealthy and beautiful Anna Brody moves in nearby, forcing them to question if happiness is enough. Anna's arrival coincides with the forced retirement of Tim's father, a celebrated women's basketball coach, due to a sexual scandal; a lucrative job for Kate; and the reappearance of Kate's former love, now a television star. And while the entire neighborhood is fascinated with Anna, it's Tim and Kate she pulls into her orbit—intent on taking Tim as a lover—causing the seams of their marriage to fray and forcing them into situations they never would have predicted for themselves, even if the reader isn't exactly surprised at how things play out. The plot tends toward busy, but Hedges (What's Eating Gilbert Grape) keeps it under control, his sympathetically real characters holding down the novel's solid center.
NY Times book review is here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool - I've had this one on my radar for awhile. Looks like great summer reading although I'm not waiting and starting it now. I will report back when I'm finished!

NY Times Book Review is here and I was laughing out loud reading it - always a good sign.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby: 101 Reasons to Love America's Favorite Horse Race - Long shots and closers. Secretariat, War Admiral, Citation, and Seattle Slew. The astonishing ride of Mine That Bird. The lovable spirit of Smarty Jones. Trainers and owners. A sea of spectacular hats. A classic mint julep in a silver cup. The break from the gate. Photo finishes. Holding the winning ticket. These are only a few of the things that make the Kentucky Derby the most exciting two minutes in sports.

The Kentucky Derby offers a compendium of the legendary horses and rich history, the personalities, and the real-life experience of Derby Day from the backstretch to the winner’s circle. With colorful anecdotes and striking photography, Sheri Seggerman and Mary Tiegreen have captured the rivalries, fanfare, and unpredictability that give the Run for the Roses its allure. The third title in a series that celebrates the nation’s most iconic sporting events, The Kentucky Derby captures the pageantry and the passion of this great American race.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Angel Face*

Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox - Despite all the airtime devoted to Amanda Knox, it’s still hard to reconcile the fresh-faced honor student from Seattle with the sexually rapacious killer convicted of the November 2007 murder of her British roommate. Few Americans have heard all of the powerful evidence that convinced a jury that Knox was one of three people to sexually assault Meredith Kercher, brutalize her body, and cut her throat. In Angel Face, Rome-based Daily Beast senior writer Barbie Latza Nadeau – who cultivated personal relationships with the key figures in both the prosecution and the defense – describes how the Knox family’s heavy-handed efforts to control media coverage distorted the facts, inflamed an American audience, and painted an offensive, inaccurate picture of Italy’s justice system. An eye-opener for any parent considering sending a child away to study, Angel Face reveals what really went on in this incomprehensible crime.
*I read this book over the weekend - very quick read. I'd give it a B+. Really interesting if you followed the case even a little bit.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dead End Gene Pool

Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir -- In the tradition of Sean Wilsey's Oh The Glory of It All and Augusten Burrough's Running With Scissors, the great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt gives readers a grand tour of the world of wealth and WASPish peculiarity, in her irreverent and darkly humorous memoir.

For generations the Burdens were one of the wealthiest families in New York, thanks to the inherited fortune of Cornelius "The Commodore" Vanderbilt. By 1955, the year of Wendy's birth, the Burden's had become a clan of overfunded, quirky and brainy, steadfastly chauvinistic, and ultimately doomed bluebloods on the verge of financial and moral decline-and were rarely seen not holding a drink. In Dead End Gene Pool, Wendy invites readers to meet her tragically flawed family, including an uncle with a fondness for Hitler, a grandfather who believes you can never have enough household staff, and a remarkably flatulent grandmother.

At the heart of the story is Wendy's glamorous and aloof mother who, after her husband's suicide, travels the world in search of the perfect sea and ski tan, leaving her three children in the care of a chain- smoking Scottish nanny, Fifth Avenue grandparents, and an assorted cast of long-suffering household servants (who Wendy and her brothers love to terrorize). Rife with humor, heartbreak, family intrigue, and booze, Dead End Gene Pool offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of old money and gives truth to an old maxim: The rich are different.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rooms for Children

Room For Children: Stylish Spaces for Sleep and Play - The first book to present excellent design for children’s rooms, these unique spaces are created by well-known designers, parents, and often even the kids themselves.

Proving that good design is not just for the rest of the house, Room for Children takes children’s spaces with creative seriousness. Whether for a newborn, toddler, or teenager, the rooms shown here enrich the experience of childhood while inspiring with their imaginative design. Showcasing work by top-notch designers, including Kelly Wearstler, Charlotte Moss, Alessandra Branca, Amanda Nisbet, and Thomas Jayne, among many others, the rooms offer a diversity of styles, from traditional to modern, formal to whimsical. Whether in apartments, houses, or country homes, for a single child or for several children, each creates a vision of childhood at its best. In addition to bedrooms, children’s spaces devoted specifically to work or play areas illustrate clever solutions to typical design problems. With stunning photography by top interior photographers, such as Pieter Estersohn, Paul Costello, William Abranowicz, and Melanie Avecedo, Room for Children proves that children’s rooms are a new frontier in design and is sure to appeal to designers as well as kids and their parents.

Susanna Salk is the author of Weekend Retreats and a contributing editor for Bon Appetit magazine,, and Kelly Wearstler is a renowned interior designer and author of several books.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beach: A Book of Treasures

Beach: A Book of Treasures -- Beloved author Josie Iselin's collaged images of the treasures we live with as reminders of the beach—from sea glass to driftwood, shells to stones—evoke the timeless elements of sand, ocean, and refreshing sea air. In her writings, Iselin shares thoughts on the varied ways we experience the beach while also providing fascinating insights into the scientific ecosystem of the ocean, such as how the oyster constructs its shell and the ways in which algae is classified. At once an exploration and a meditation, Beach: A Book of Treasure will delight and inspire anyone who values the unique environment of the seashore and the myriad wonders found therein.

San Francisco-based artist Josie Iselin has exhibited her work at several coveted art spaces, including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and SF Camerawork, among others. She uses a flatbed scanner to create her still life imagery.