Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Book Review: Sex and the City and Us

Author: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

By the bestselling author of Seinfeldia, a fascinating retrospective of the iconic and award-winning television series, Sex and the City, to coincide with the show’s twentieth anniversary.

This is the story of how a columnist, two gay men, and a writers’ room full of women used their own poignant, hilarious, and humiliating stories to launch a cultural phenomenon. They endured shock, slut-shaming, and a slew of nasty reviews on their way to eventual—if often begrudging—respect. The show wasn’t perfect, but it revolutionized television for women.

When Candace Bushnell began writing for the New York Observer, she didn’t think anyone beyond the Upper East Side would care about her adventures among the Hamptons-hopping media elite. But her struggles with singlehood struck a chord. Beverly Hills, 90210 creator Darren Star brought her vision to an even wider audience when he adapted the column for HBO. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha launched a barrage of trends, forever branded the actresses that took on the roles, redefined women’s relationship to sex and elevated the perception of singlehood.

Featuring exclusive new interviews with the cast and writers, including star Sarah Jessica Parker, creator Darren Star, executive producer Michael Patrick King, and author Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City and Us brings us a both a critical and nostalgic, behind-the-scenes look at a television series that changed the way women see themselves.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: The Royal Art of Poison

Author: Eleanor Herman
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Hugely entertaining, a work of pop history that traces the use of poison as a political―and cosmetic―tool in the royal courts of Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the Kremlin today

The story of poison is the story of power. For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns, and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family’s spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots.

Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications, and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with mercury and lead. Men rubbed turds on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings, and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. The most gorgeous palaces were little better than filthy latrines. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don’t see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines.

In The Royal Art of Poison, Eleanor Herman combines her unique access to royal archives with cutting-edge forensic discoveries to tell the true story of Europe’s glittering palaces: one of medical bafflement, poisonous cosmetics, ever-present excrement, festering natural illness, and, sometimes, murder.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: The Book of Essie

Author: Meghan Maclean Weir
Publication Date: June 12, 2018 
Publisher: Knopf

A captivating novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the story of the seventeen-year-old daughter of an evangelical preacher, star of the family's hit reality show, and the secret pregnancy that threatens to blow their entire world apart. 

Esther Ann Hicks--Essie--is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She's grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family's fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie's mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show's producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia's? Or do they try to arrange a marriage--and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media--through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell--Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Book Review: The High Tide Club

Author: Mary Kay Andrews 
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

An instant New York Times bestseller (May 2018) from the author of The Weekenders - a delightful new novel about new love, old secrets, and the kind of friendship that transcends generations.
When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons attorney Brooke Trappnell to her 20,000 acre barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never actually met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter, but why enlist Brooke and not the prestigious Atlanta law firm she has used for years? Brooke travels to Shellhaven and meets the cagey Josephine, whose home is a crumbling pink mansion at the edge of the turquoise sea. 
Over the course of a few meetings, Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, dark secrets, betrayal, and a long-unsolved murder. She is hiring Brooke for two reasons: first, to protect her island from those who would despoil her land, and second, to help her make amends with the heirs of the women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club―so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades―Millie, Ruth, and Varina. To fulfill a dying woman’s wishes, Brooke must find Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met. But in doing so, Brooke unleashes the makings of a scandal that could make someone rich beyond their wildest dreams…or cause them to be in the crosshairs of a murderer….

The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best: a story shrouded in mystery, Spanish moss, verandah cocktails, 1940s dinner dances, love lost, and possibly…love found.