Franzen is the Kanye West of Authors…Ramble

When Kayne West approached the Grammy stage to snatch Beck’s golden statue for Best Album of The Year, claiming it should have gone to Beyonce, he tried to make it a joke- at first. We all know the fall out, Kanye (for a completely different POV click on Kanye’s name) wasn’t kidding. He went on to say he doesn’t want to perform again at The Grammys until they change it to reflect popular sales. Hmm, then he went on to say it was an insult to artistry, but he hadn’t even listened to Beck’s album, Morning Phase, which had been hailed as a critical darling in indie circles. I also want to say his intro for Kanye’s own performance said it was his “most personal” and point out there is nothing less personal than using Autotune.

I’m not anti-Autotune, but let’s not kid ourselves. Here’s a link for Kanye and all the other people, who, instead of wanting to explore and make an informed rant, is Beck’s Morning Phase:

Well, now let’s turn to another accomplished, lauded artist, one who has graced the cover of TIME magazine for his work, won the Pulitzer Prize, Mr. Jonathan Franzen. Franzen has chosen to take many jabs at women’s fiction writer, Jennifer Weiner. While he hasn’t read her work, he says no one has told him it is a “must read” and she is using a real issue – the lack of review space given to female writers, as a platform to get attention when she doesn’t deserve it.

Dude. Come on, if you had read her work, I would think you had some valid points, but you are not A) her target demo B) too busy to take the take time to read it the way Kanye, who likes to call himself an arbiter of all things cultural, could have taken the time, pre-Grammys to listen to every album in the category of Best Albums that was nominated. If you never read or listen to music outside of what you like, how can you really know what is good and what is not?

As someone who has been paid to be a music programmer (Yahoo! Music & Vh1), and a writer, I have listened and read works I was not naturally drawn to, and found it not only expanded my knowledge, it expanded my own creativity. I don’t always agree with awards, mostly they are a broken thing, but they do help curate what is interesting.

I have read many award winning literary books which I found to lack a strong plot or interesting characters or deliver a good ending. How is Kanye’s lack of respect any different from Franzen’s? It negates their point, which might otherwise presented have been valid. If you are going to diss someone at least know what you are putting down and acknowledge that’s not going to be given to you as a suggestion because your crowd is caught up in one scene.

When you make statements, that have some merit, but no foundation of their own, it not only disrespects the other artist, it disrespects their fans. How likely am I to buy Kanye’s next album or his ridiculous Adidas lineKanye_3

How likely am I now to read another Jonathan Frazen book? The answer to all those questions, is highly unlikely, even if they have critical acclaim. Why should my cash line their pockets when they clearly value their own taste and are unwilling to leave room for anyone else’s? Fans who started the #whoisbeck Twitter campaign are also in need of some more cultural exposure. Why must we tweet about our own ignorance or make statements in the press about it? Why not show the courtesy to make an informed opinion and allow that while not your taste, it can be very important to other people.

My friend Courtney Smith’s book, Record Collecting For Girls, has a chapter on guilty pleasures. It was inspired by our conversations. I don’t believe in having musical guilty pleasures. If it speaks to you, if it helps you, touches you, makes you dance or feel good in any way, then go right ahead and enjoy it.

9780547502236_p0_v1_s260x420 However, Courtney calls bullshit on that in her book and says anyone who doesn’t say they have guilty pleasures is either boring or lying or an asshole. That was the chapter she read on a book panel we did during her book tour. I started with the question “did you call me an asshole?” We have lively debates to say the least, but during that panel people asked me the most questions because they wanted to know about the popular artists that I got to work with in pop music over obscure indie bands — yes, even in Brooklyn! Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.

Popular doesn’t mean bad. Jennifer Weiner is a fun, great writer who writes heartfelt stories about women that I can relate to, in fact, she is one of the reasons I got a dog. She wrote in her novel “Good in Bed,” every writer should have a dog. So, thank you, Jennifer Weiner for not only providing me and many other women with entertaining fiction we want to read. Thank you for standing up for female authors getting equal press coverage. Thank you for using the platform you EARNED for sticking up for everyone else who does not have it.

Gal-Entine’s & Valentine’s Day Gifts…Ramble

One of the coolest holidays Parks & Rec gave the world (aside from Treat Yo Self), is Galentine’s Day (spellcheck has yet to acknowledge this holiday), celebrating the gift of female friendship and love for girlfriends, on February 13th. 276f28c93e7e7aa7fc0bcb3f8f51981e

I love this idea and isn’t Valentine’s Day, in current form, about love? One of my best friends was lamenting to me about having the double whammy of being single and it is also her birthday. Having a birthday a few days before Christmas I can relate, especially when it now includes a toddlers wrapping paper frenzy on Christmas Day. What to give?

SINGLES:

1. BOOK:  YOU by Caroline Kepnes, a stalker novel that will make anyone jump up and down with joy to be single. Endorsed, and not surprisingly when you start reading it, by Stephen King, YOU is told in first person, tells the story of Joe Goldberg, a high school graduate who runs a bookstore. When a Natalie Portman look-a-like, named Beck flirts with him, he goes into hyperdrive, starting with Google and easily locates her social media profiles. She is his sole focus, but in this casual dating world, Beck’s interest ebbs and flows the way life does in a city offering so many opportunities and distractions. (NA)

2. DRINKS: It seems cliche, but a little rose can go a long way. Why not have a Galentine’s bottle of brut rose? Chocolates optional.

HEALTH ENTHUSIAST:

3. Skip the dark chocolates with sea salt caramel….wait, what was I writing about? Lost in a yum moment, and try making these healthy oat treats that are perfect for a post-workout and only take five minutes to make:

1 cup rolled oats
4 tablespoons of almond butter
1/4 cup of honey (you can use 1/3 but I find that overly sweet)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup dried cranberries (substitute/add-in 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
2 tsp chia seeds
1/4 cup chopped almonds (optional)

Combine all ingredients, roll into 1″ balls, put in the fridge to solidify for five minutes (or just pop one in and see if you need to) and you are good to go and thoughtful!

COOL, DISTANT TEEN:
4. BOOK: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer is perfect for that teen who thinks you can’t understand the intensity of their feelings, or anyone who has ever defined themselves by an act that was life-changing, but if it happened as an adult, might not have lead to such a disconnection with society as a result. The journey through a semester at The Wooden Barn, a special school for ‘fragile’ teens (no drugs), studying Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar, is riveting.

THE KIDS:
5. Those goofy hearts, well, they want them. Grab a little box and eat the younglings in your life to a little corny love to let you know they care. candyhearts

HAPPY GALENTINE’s DAY!

Entertainment to Keep You Warm…Ramble

While today I was informed it is warmer in Antarctica then New York, I was glad  I stocked up on supplies at Trader Joe’s yesterday, including a few protein bars that will help me fend off my need to order Chinese food on Seamless. (*Note, Seamless sending me a 2014 wrap-up that 68% of my orders are Chinese food.) I did go out to the soft opening of Hook and Cleaver on Greenpoint Avenue (yes, I took the Ghost train there and back) and now I’ve done my part for the New York scene for this week. So what’s entertaining me at home besides deciding which DIPTYQUE candle to light to combat my French bulldog’s gas? Here’s the scoop.

NETFLIX:

Marco Polo:
Get stuck in to a softer (less gore and sometimes the ‘good’ guys win), Asian version of “Game of Thrones.” Politics, breathtaking locations, cultural exposure to Geishas and, of course, war, love and spies make this an exciting epic journey. I love seeing this diverse cast of Asians and mixed race casting. Aside from Marco, the leads are all gorgeous mixed race and Chinese stars. Being mixed, this is the first cast I felt like I could walk on set and blend right in simply by showing up with some braids in my hair. I felt the same way in Hong Kong. Aside from that China is beautiful. The blending of the Mongolians and the Chinese cultures takes you deeper into each culture than the black and white “evil” vs. “good” of Disney’s Mulan.

PEAKY BLINDERS

Speaking to the Irish half of my gene pool, Cillian Murphy’s blue eyes lead you down the path of a family of gangsters in Birmingham, England. Aussie Sam Neil (yet, another side of my heritage), plays an Irish cop from Belfast determined to put an end to them. There are two seasons of six episodes here and this one, like Marco Polo, is also produced by The Weinstein Company. Beautiful, dark and they may be “bad men, but your our bad men.” Oh yes. The great thing is that Aunt Polly ran the show for five years while the men were off in France fighting. She is formidable with a dark secret of her own. She caters to the family’s finances and matters of the heart.

BOOKS

The delightful Kristin Harmel has a wonderful new book “The Life Intended,” which I have only just started and finding hard to do anything but read it. Her previous book. “The Sweetness of Forgetting” also a beautifully written book which tells the secrets across generations and has mouthwatering recipes. Don’t think I wasn’t all about the desserts when I went to Paris because of it.

MUSIC:
Whilk & Misky “The First Sip” is a sexy EP complete with some spoken French that’ll have you looking around for a winter romance to declare “Babe, I’m Your’s.” Pucker up.

” target=”_blank”>Nicki Minaj “The Pinkprint” – don’t let the singles dictate the vibe of the album. ‘Anaconda’ is fun to listen to during Zumba, but uh we’re all about getting those butts tight, but feels jarringly out of place with the rest of the album, which is a more personal, introspective traditional hip-hop album, cool vibe with insights to Nicki’s personal life with fun guest vocals. I have to SMH in wonderment of how Drake and C. Breezy wound up on a track together. Dudes can put anything behind them, but does it say something about the blatant money business part of the endeavor? The track was not as interesting to me as “The Crying Game,” without any other big names. I love “Four Door Aventador” and the overall vibe here so, if you haven’t given Nicki a chance in a while, it might be time to revisit and feel the wind in your hair as you blast “The Night Is Still Young” getting ready to go out on a Friday night cause “my only motto is don’t lose.” Get it girl.

RENTAL:
“Gone Girl,” which was a hyped book worth it. Yes, you saw the twist coming, but once it was revealed (in the printed version), it was fascinating how it all unfolded. Though I love Neil Patrick Harris, he was miscast in the David Fincher film version. That is a minor note because perfectly cast were perennial All-American boy, Ben Affleck, and the master of playing an ice princess, English actress Rosamund Pike (remember her as ‘Jane’ in ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and as a Bond girl? Kills it with ice.)

“Guardians of The Galaxy” a film I had no expectations for, except I knew that the main character’s last name was Quill, just like mine. I saw this on a plane that was jam-packed and it was my mental savior.  I needed something that was going to make me laugh and this certainly delivered, so if you’re inside, had a long day and need a mental vacation this fun film will do the trick.

Happy New Year! Snuggle up, layer and give yourself a hug from moi. Spread smiles, not hate in the world.

xx

Summer Reads: August…Ramble

A few months back I received a Klout perk in the form of a novel. My apartment is basically a small library- whatever you read, I’ve got a book for you. One of the money saving tips I’ve picked up along the way is to read all the unread books you have in your apartment before you buy anymore. Of course, there’s also the actual public library (for now, they might close down the one near me but then I’ll go to another one.)

Picked up this book and now I’m having a week of ‘book hangovers’:

HIGH:  THRILLER: I AM PILGRIM by Terry Hayes. Mr. Hayes is a journalist who moved to Australia and co-produced one of my favorite films of all time – Dead Calm. This is his first novel and wow, mind blown. It’s riveting. Sometimes I don’t read book jackets so there are no preconceived notions going into a book. I only knew it was a thriller going in and the twists and turns have been completely amazing. A former head of a deep undercover pre-9/11 team (think Scandal Papa Pope’s job) who investigated the spy community, is drawn back in to locate an elusive terrorist who wants to unleash biological warfare on the United States.

I AM PILGRAM

I AM PILGRAM

There are times in life when I’ve seen reports and thought ‘Why did you show the weak points in a public location so someone could blow it up?’ This book has a few of those moments and since I didn’t read the description I was confronted with 9/11 memories of my own (insert tears), and yet, this is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in the thriller genre. I used to review thrillers and had to stop because I was becoming afraid to leave my apartment! I could hear the ‘dunt dunt’ of Law & Order when turning the lock. Aiya, the hazards of a writer’s imagination. This book is good enough to make me turn Mac Culkin again, but no, I read it whenever I can. The other night I was leaving a party and this guy, who had been flirting with me asked “Wait, you’re going home now (it was 1 A.M.) to read?” I pulled out I AM PILGRIM, told him it was riveting and made my exit. Doesn’t every New Yorker have reading material on them for transit time? (Okay, Candy Crushers, try reading more than a few paragraphs once in a while.)

The point is, this book is incredible. I want to write this well, this intricate, weaving together various elements that surprise the reader and keep them on edge. If you know anyone who likes thrillers, get them this book! Four 1/2 of out of five stars (1/2 star taken off for scaring the crap out of me!)

EH: LIFE ADVISER: Stirring The Pot by Jenny McCarthy – this is her 8th book. I’m going to preface this by letting you know I’m not a parent, so your right to choose and her right to choose what to do about vaccinations for kids, is not my battle. One of my friends sent belligerent tweets after I posted a photo of myself with Jenny, who was bright and charming in person, as I had known her to be pre-parenthood. (Yes, I have worked in entertainment and met her back in the day.) I privately responded to her and understand where she is coming from, but I wish she had not lumped me in there like I was supporting Hilter in a public forum. Everyone is welcome to their beliefs. That’s not what this book addresses and at least Jenny takes a stand, unlike so many watered-down celebrities.

The outgoing, bubbly blonde bombshell proves she is still a ringleader who can hold her own with Howard Stern. Reading a Jenny McCarthy book feels like spending time with that one girlfriend who you always had an amazing night out with, followed by her holding your hair back and then made you eggs and bacon to cure the hangover in the morning. McCarthy explains overcoming her fear of public speaking, mastering motherhood or at least a few life hacks to doing the best you can and not beating yourself up about it and also comes strong with TMI.

While entertaining, about 3/4 of the way through it seemed to go off the rails and I couldn’t finish it. The subjects didn’t flow naturally and were too random for me. I didn’t see the point in learning about her practically debilitating monthly periods. It wasn’t endearing, it was like, oh shit, that sounds really awful, but what does it have to do with girl power? There are fun moments that made me giggle so if you need a good beach read that even you with the A.D.D. can handle, this one is for you. (2 stars)

3. YA/SCI-FI RED RISING by the handsome (okay, sorry but he really has great eyes and that’s worth noting and he has a soap opera worthy name!) Pierce Brown is the first in a trilogy.9780345539809_p0_v1_s114x166 It took a few chapters for me to get into this book, there’s a lot to set up and take in, i.e. similiar to The Hunger Games, instead of districts, humans are given status by color *okay, yes that happens in our society but this is the future so colors are Red for Miners, and Gold for the Elite Class.

According to YA novels, the future is very totalitarian and we’re heading for more overt (hello NSA and yeah, hope you love my tweets) government ruling. Yet, this novel, once engaged is hard to put down, extremely hard. The main character, Darrow is a member of the Red race (thus the title), who’s wife is executed by the government and thus, he is recruited into a rebel group aiming to take down the Gold group. You might be thinking, hey future + violence + last man standing = Lord of The Flies/The Hunger Games and you’d be right, but you haven’t read this book and it is really great. Brown has met his calling as a writer and weaves a tale that combines all these elements of survival into a heart pounding read.

P.S. the sequel, Golden Sun

is out in January.

 

Novels Meant for Teens, Adults Eat Up…Ramble

1. eleanor + park by Rainbow Rowell.

Set in the ’80’s in the Midwest, this NY Times seller, draws a crowd of females readers 18-34. Seriously. The musical playlists Park gives Eleanor are irresistible to the female demo who attended high school in the 80’s because who doesn’t love The Cure when Robert Smith was hot & his mascara went on straight? (see also her new book FanGirl).

2. 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

Perhaps this book falls more the ‘new adult’ genre but since it is ‘fan fiction’ based on the teen-aimed Twilight series, just go with it. Soccer moms to grandmothers pick up the racy, sexed-up version and read it over and over and over again. Apparently it gets better the more you read it. While in Twilight, Edward was worried a kiss could lead to Bella’s death, due to that tricky vampire blood lust, Christian Grey desires to have Anastacia Steele at every possible moment, even at the dinner table. Kids, make sure the adults keep their hands where you can see them before you take those peas from them.

3.  The Fault Is In Our Stars by John Green

Insert any John Green novel in here and you’ll spot it on the subway faster than you catch someone trying to shove ’50 Shades of Grey’ into their handbag when a shady guy makes his way towards a woman reading it. Greene connects with positive messages and crushable, flawed male characters with big hearts. Women of all ages want to know how a man’s brain works, especially a sensitive one who cares. Swoon.

4.  Divergent by Veronica RothTwilight and The Hunger Games made trilogies a must for adults looking for good fiction. The Divergent series (coming to the silver screen) shows teens having to decide, much like in real life the SATS determine your future, which virtue –Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent)- they will cultivate and dedicate the rest of their lives to & this idea of having that one choice, that one value is what draws in the adult crowd. Life just gets more complicated, boiling it down to a few paths is very appealing. And, as Robert Frost said “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Which teen novels do you think adults should read?

My Current Reads…Ramble

There’s nothing more perfect than finding a nook and a blanket to snuggle up in with a great book on a stormy day. Better yet you can lay a towel down on your couch, but on your bathers and pretend you are reading on a beach- the point is reading is one of the greatest forms of entertainment since the first book was written. 

I’ve made a pact with myself to read the books that I’ve bought which have thus far been unread before I run out and grab any new ones. It’s a revolution I tell you and I almost jumped for joy with my ‘inner goddess’ (ugh! I never wanted to take a Sharpie to black out words prior to this!) when I realized I had finally reached the last page of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, a book I started reading at the insistence of a friend who’d read it multiple times. Ok, fine, I’ll read it and see what the fuss is about and there wasn’t anything to fuss about until one hundred pages in and by then I had already been subjected to the ‘Inner Goddess’ nonsense I had to go off and read other books. I did this several times and now look at me, because of the pact 8 months later I am FREE! Hurrah, joy, jump, laugh be free of the ‘rapey’ like thug Christian whipping her with a belt. Of course, I know, it’s a trilogy but I am happy my pact is working because I’m discovering a whole bunch of really great books I already had but not made the time to read.

Right now I’m reading Emma Donoghue’s ‘Slammerkin’ and it’s highly entertaining, set in the 1700’s in London when our young lady, Mary Saunders becomes a street walker. Now, yesterday my mother and I were watching an episode of ‘Downton Abbey’ (Season 3), where Ethel, former maid turned prostitute (‘Oh my, that’s not a word you hear in this house very often’- you are right Mrs. Hughes, not often!) decides to pack off her child and give him to his less than gracious grandfather and grandmother to raise while she ‘takes the road to ruin’. My mom then raised the point they live in a small village so would there be so many women like that? I mean, apparently enough that Mrs. Crawley has a room full of them she is single-handed saving! Oh my. 

Back to the books, here are some recent releases I have consumed:

1) Liza Palmer’s “Nowhere But Home”- yes, Liza is one of my favorite ‘chick’ lit authors. She keeps getting better and her characters are so relate able I can see myself being friends with them in real life. This one is set in Texas and is a perfect spring/summer read so get it now! (HEART!)

2) Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good” cook book has been keeping me quite deliciously occupied in the kitchen! I love the anecdotes. Favorites so far: The vegetarian version of the turkey chili, Best Green Juice, Almond & Kale Smoothie, Bummer Bars, Bernado’s Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, Cleo’s Afternoon Smoothie… okay you get the idea. I also loved the Beet, Apple & Fennel soup. Yum. This is a fun read while you are cooking and I even learned how to make a poached egg, which is not something my mother ever made. (KITCHEN)

3) Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”- this one is for career girls who should be leaders at the table but are in the door, head down, letting men run the show. It’s not time to lean back it’s time to be more forceful, put your empowerment to use and take what’s your’s. Sandberg gives an honest look back at her career and how she herself has to change her own habits in her career. (CAREER) 

4. John Green “An Abundance of Katherine’s” is a must for those who like teen drama. Our hero is looking for his ‘ah-ha’ moment of brilliance. He must hurry and recover from being dumped by his 19th girlfriend named Katherine because the clock is ticking on his child genius status. This was love able from the get-go. A nerdy math kid who is a hopeless romantic and just wants to be loved!? Get it, read it, and enjoy. You’re welcome. (SWEET AND FUNNY)

A recent bad date had a very good suggestion which is next in my queue “Motherless Brooklyn” which just goes to show there is redemption in the written word. 

Book Suggestions for Gifts This Holiday Season…Ramble

As Christmas and the holiday season is upon us, the gifting has commenced! If you shopped like millions of Americans on Black Friday yesterday, then got home, realized you hitting the book store was the last thing you wanted to do and half the stuff you bought is of no use to anyone, well it’s time to buy, buy again. Here are some great books for your holiday gifting:

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub is about the life of a small town Midwest girl who gets into the Hollywood Machine in her early 20’s driven by the loss of her sister. Taking place in the 1940’s-60’s it is an interesting tale which will draw the reader in whether you are 15 or 55. I really had to stop myself from finishing the last fifty or sixty pages because I didn’t want my time with Ms. Lamont to be finished. 

I picked up this gem when Emma had a co-book signing event with the ever amazing, Molly Ringwald, who is just as cool as you thought she’d be and then some. Molly’s book When It Happens To You is also a great read especially for fans who are literary lovers. Her intelligent insights to human behaviour facing everyday challenges of life and betrayal are so vivid I wondered if she knew all these people in real life. 

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway was one of my favorite suprise reads of the year. Her main character, Gal Garner is so different than most  women’s fiction works. Gal isn’t on a man hunt, oh no, she wants something bigger- to breed a new and original type of rose. I learned so much in the most fascinating way about rose breeding through Gal’s voice. A wonderful story that is far from typical fare. 

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin is now in paperback. Snap this one up for the Downton Abbey fan you know immediately. I read online there is a potential movie for Downton which will depict the evolution of Robert & Cora Crawley (aka the parents!). I say, why wait? Scoop up The American Heiress now which cannot be too far off since it is about that exact subject- a rich American who is married off for a title to pump some much needed money back into an English estate. 

For Your Best Friend:
50 Shades of Grey Trilogy. What? I know how much I’ve complained about my struggle to get through this book. In fact I’ve 7 books while trying to get through 50 Shades, however, my friend who insisted I read it says you can’t read ‘high brow’ all the time. And yesterday I was discussing it with another friend, also a working mother, who has read the series 9 times.

Caveat: I’m still trying to get through the first book which I want to read with a Sharpie to vehemently cross out the words “inner goddess” which would never come out of a 21 year old’s subconscious on a regular basis. Another friend found the sex closer to forced than on the consensual side of on the border.

Teens: So, you’re teen likes series? If they haven’t already tried the Switched novels  by Amanda Hocking, it’s time to be the cool relative and call this one…. a wrap. Bwahaha. 

Happy Holidays!!!!!