Posts Tagged ‘i heart NYC’

16th June
2010
written by Steph

Tom Wolfe is one of those authors whom I’ve heard tons about, but up until recently, I’d never read. You know the type: John Irving, Stephen King, and others of that ilk. A couple of years ago, I picked up a copy of Bonfire but then was immediately put off by its 600+ page count, because I am scared of books that weigh more than I do. Other than its impressive size, I knew pretty much nothing about this book when I picked it up. I recall that I read somewhere that it’s one of those books that often goes overlooked and that this was a shame, but that’s about it. I didn’t even know why it was purportedly so egregious for the book to be the perpetual wallflower. For those of you who need a little bit more to go on in order to take a book out on a first date, the gist of the book is as follows: Sherman McCoy is a highflying Wall Street bond trader who has it all: the designer apartment in Manhattan, the perfect family, not to mention the mistress on the side. One night when he picks up his lady on the side, the two wind up taking an unforeseen detour through the Bronx… a side trip that has disastrous consequences. As Sherman struggles to do the right thing, he soon finds the life he’s built and the power he’s earned is more fragile than he ever imagined. (more…)
1st March
2010
written by Steph

My review for the March issue of BookPage is now online and can be read here!  This month I covered the third novel by Oscar-nominated screenwriter, Peter Hedges.  The story deals with a youngish couple struggling to raise a family in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, all while trying to fulfill their own goals and dreams and keep their relationship on solid ground.  Naturally, something’s gotta give, but I’ll leave it up to you to read and find out what that thing is. The book reminded me a lot of Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road in terms of its scope and the issues it deals with, but the tone could not have been more different.  While I found Yates’s novel unrelentingly sad and pessimistic, I appreciated the light touch Hedges uses here, and his witty sense of humor was necessary to counteract some of the rather dark and grim moments.  Rather than feeling this novel dragged me down, I instead read it compulsively, finishing it in a single day and pretty much in one sitting.  I can’t remember the last time I did that with a book, so that should tell you something about how addictive this book is.  It was kind of like sitting down to eat a big bag of M&Ms (or whatever your candy of choice is), but without feeling you’ve ODed on sugar afterwards.  In some ways this book is brain candy, but it's still got some vitamins and is plenty good for you. Anyway, I enjoyed the novel a good deal and highly recommend it especially if family melodramas are your thing.  Check out my official review if you’re interested in more coherent thoughts! If I were reviewing this (FREE) book on the site, I would have given it a 4 out of 5.
27th January
2010
written by Steph
I believe this is a darn good read!

I believe this is a darn good read!

I can’t remember which post a few months ago compelled a whole slew of readers to leave comments suggesting I read Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller, but needless to say the recommendation, while overwhelming, came in loud and clear.  I’ve been trying to limit my book buying this year because I really do have so many books that need to be read, but when Trish emailed me asking whether I’d like to participate in any of the upcoming TLC Tour stops and I saw The Believers by Heller was on the list, I jumped at the chance to do so (which, yes, this means that I received this book for free).  One way or another, I wanted to know what all this Heller hype was about! The Believers is the story of a family, the Livitnoffs, who have more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet.  Joel and Audrey were left-wing activists, fighting for socialist causes back in the ‘60s.  They have tried to instill their extremist beliefs on their children (Rosa, Karla, and Lenny), but things haven’t turned out exactly as they might have hoped.  Lenny is a layabout who only really excels at developing addiction problems; Karla is overweight, infertile, and in struggling marriage; and Rosa has suddenly decided to embrace their Jewish heritage and is dabbling with orthodoxy.  Things take a turn for the worse when Joel collapses during a trial (in which he was defending someone brought up on charges of terrorism) and winds up in a coma, only to have some of his shady secrets finally creep into the light… Oy vey! (more…)
1st December
2009
written by Steph
Was delighted by the dog and the town!

Was delighted by the dog and the town!

I had never heard of this series by J.F. Englert, featuring a mystery-solving black lab named Randolph until Jill of Rhapsody in Books mentioned it in passing in the comments of one of my posts.  I said the premise sounded fun and like something I would be interested in checking out, and the author himself came to my aid!  He offered to send me the first two books in the series for my perusal, and I am so glad that I took him off on his generous offer.  I found the first book in the series, A Dog About Town, a delightful and diverting read and will happily avail myself of the rest of the series in the future. The basic premise of A Dog About Town is that Randolph, a black lab, and his owner Harry live in downtown Manhattan.  Harry is an artist of sorts, who has had middling success, but has largely given up on his work ever sine the disappearance of the love of his life, Imogen.  Randolph is anything but your run-of-the-mill black lab, instead gifted with uncanny cognitive abilities, being able to reason and read, and is just as likely to quote from Shakespeare as he is to discuss the nuances of the variety of canine compatriots who frequent the Bull Moose Dog Run near the Natural History Museum.  In this first novel, Randolph put his remarkable powers of detection to work when Harry attends an ill-fated séance in which author Lyell Overton Minskoff dies of what appears to be a heart attack.  Despite all appearances, Randolph doesn’t believe that Minskoff’s death is as innocent as it seems, and worries that something more sinister – like murder – may be at play.  He soon narrows the suspects down to three strangers who were linked to the séance, but is saddened to discover that one of Harry’s good friends (and financial benefactors) may also be somehow involved.  It’s up to Randolph to figure out whodunit (and how to get Harry to realize it!) before another victim is claimed! (more…)
24th November
2009
written by Steph
While we were in New York City, I received an email from my awesome friend Laura (not that I have a non-awesome friend named Laura and I am trying to distinguish between the two… just that my friend Laura is awesome, that’s all!) keying me in to the fact that there was a Jane Austen exhibit taking place at the Morgan Library while I was in town.  Normally I am a crazy trip planner when we go on vacation, obsessively researching every possible attraction and thing to do, but I admit, NYC overwhelmed me and I made the decision to go with the flow and just do whatever struck our fancy and figure out our options when we got into town… so I had not done my homework and the fact that there was something Austen-related going on in town that I didn’t know about me shook me to my core!  I mean, what if we had gone all the way to New York and returned home only for me to have then discovered the exhibit existed?  I shudder to even contemplate the possibility! Anyway, once I realized there was an exhibit on, I told my friend that we were visiting in New York that we had to go.  The day was gray and drizzly, but that did not stop us in our pursuit for Austen (even if we did walk many blocks out of our way to first go and lunch at Prêt à Manger, which is WAY better than Panera, by the way, so why can’t we have one in Nashville already?  Oh right, because it’s Nashville… I’m always trying to forget that… The roast turkey sandwich with stuffing and orange-cranberry sauce was a game changer, is all I’m saying!).  At other museums, I balked at the expensive admission prices — don’t get me wrong, the Metropolitan Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim are hella amazing, but $20 PER PERSON is just a tad pricey — at the Morgan library, I practically shoved my $8 into their hands before tearing off into the bowels of the building in search of Austen. (more…)
28th January
2009
written by Steph
Ghost Town (2008)

"Your ghost hands is cold!"

What do you get if you cross the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol with the D-grade Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle The Ghost Whisperer and The Sixth Sense?  Pretty much, you get Ghost Town, a movie starring Ricky Gervais as a dour, and misanthropic dentist living in Manhattan (for a guy who hates people, way to pick one of the most heavily populated ISLANDS…).  Through a twist of fate, Ricky (I can’t remember his name in the movie) winds up with the ability to see all of the ghosts of the city, and all of them have some bit of unfinished business they want for him to resolve.  Enter Greg Kinear’s character (although to be truthful, the movie starts off with him), who was two-timing his wife when he was alive and wants Ricky to break up her current relationship, because he’s convinced the guy is bad news.  So, naturally Ricky and Greg decide the best way to make this happen is for Ricky to offer himself up as a more suitable option!  Only, this is going to be tricky because of how he’s not a people person and has been unforgivably rude to the wife (played by Tea Leoni) in the past (who, as fate would have it, lives in the same building as him). I know I’m being all glib, but take that as a reflection of my writing style rather than one of the movie.  The premise might not be all that original, and certain elements of the plot are pretty predictable (do you think that cold-hearted Ricky will wind up ultimately having a change in perspective and helping the poor beleaguered ghosts find closure?), but overall it was a light and fun comedy, perfect for a chilly Sunday afternoon.  Tony & I both laughed aloud several times, which sometimes is all you can ask for in a movie.  I do think most of the film’s success rests upon Gervais, who is pretty much perfectly suited to the role (and therefore shines), and who very convincingly sells himself as a rude, uninterested jerk (must have been all that practice over on the British Office…).  Also, it must be said that Gervais has great comedic timing, and there were a lot of little moments that had us giggling, even though I think we wouldn’t have found them nearly as funny had another actor been playing the part.  I am not convinced that he wasn’t just playing David Brent as a dentist, but I guess, stick with what you know (and with what works).  This isn’t one of those comedies that’s edgy or brash, but overall I’d say it works.  I mean, it's billed as a comedy, and we laughed quite a bit.  That's a success, right?  Plus, I really enjoyed the soundtrack (although strangely it seems it was never officially released for purchase... at the very least, I can't find it on Amazon, which seems like enough proof for me!), so there's that to look forward to as well (as opposed to Dan in Real Life, where the soundtrack was pretty much the ONLY good thing about the movie.  Here it's just an added bonus.). Rating: 3.5 out of 5