Greetings and welcome to the Flower Bomb Edition of You are What You Read.
First some housekeeping!
In the battle between Punxsutawney Phil (who predicted another 6 weeks of winter) and Staten Island Chuck (who said nope, not happening c’mon Spring!) I am calling Phil still in the lead. You all had the four letter S word while I was gone so that’s a W in the Phil column but the past week has been not totally hideous, so I say Chuck wins this one. The Official Score is therefore Phil 2 – Chuck 1. I know that I am pulling for Chuck. I think we all are.
From the Hopeful Signs Department I am happy to report that the Witch Hazel on the corner of Thorndal and the Post Road is blooming and that the tulips in front of Nielsen’s are up about an inch. And yes, every year someone writes in to remind me that this Witch Hazel is not our native Witch Hazel. Whatever People. Get over it. It’s a plant and it’s showing signs of life. Be happy and grateful for it. Also it is still light for my walk to the train at night. So there is no excuse for not seeing me in crosswalks. Thank you in advance for not hitting me.
While gone I only sort of encountered two of you. Sort of. I saw a Darien Soccer t-shirt wearing Dad walking down Vanderbilt one morning and I met the loveliest mother belonging to one of you one morning while waiting for Nordstrom’s to open. So whoever you all are, I hope you had as terrific time chasing the sun as The Traveling Companion and I did.
People! This time of year we are all thirsting for something of beauty to adorn our gloomy environs. This life on the Tundra can be hard, bleak, gray, and unrelenting. The news isn’t much help in creating a positive outlook. I know for myself, I always try to make sure that there is a plant or some flowers at home to greet me. Lemon Pig can’t carry this burden all on his own! That’s not fair! It helps me trudge through this awful leaden period when it feels like spring will never happen. This is why when I stumbled across this new Thing I knew I had to share it with you all.
Flower Flashes are a new Thing.
Lewis Miller is a very chi-chi floral designer in New York. He is responsible for the fabulous flowers at some very chic venues and he is the author of the book Styling Nature that you all may remember from Diane’s rave review a while back. When Mr. Miller is not putting together feasts for the eyes and noses of the rich and famous, he may be plotting his next Flower Flash which he considers love letters to the people of New York who may never get a chance to see his work in their everyday lives.
A Flower Flash is a delightful act of Guerrilla Beauty where Mr. Miller and his minions turn a lowly garbage can, lofty monument or even a plain old subway stop into a thing of floral beauty. In the predawn hours, they pounce and create ginormous floral arrangements using thousands of stems. The creations, once planned, take about 20 minutes to execute and are stunning in their loveliness. I highly recommend those of you on Instagram adding him to the list of folks that you follow. Once a Flower Flash is complete, it is tagged with Miller’s signature of LMDXNYC in chalk and off they go into the sunrise.
Isn’t that the best?
If you want to learn more about the wonderfulness that is Lewis Miller and his random acts of love and beauty there is this terrific piece on The New Yorker website for you all to enjoy. And it’s totally worth an Instagram follow. I promise. Can’t we all use some more love and beauty in these crazy ugly times?
This week we have Taiwan, teeny tiny party foods, Romance, time travel, Jackie O!, some diving, and some goons.
Let us begin!
Mia the Teen Wrangler has a new favorite. “When I start a book thinking ‘just fifty pages and then I’ll go to bed’ and it turns into ‘okay just read half and then definitely bed’ and then it’s almost two in the morning and I’ve finished the whole thing, I know it’s something special. The Astonishing Color of After is the debut novel of author Emily X.R. Pan, who tells the story of Leigh, a 15-year old who is convinced that her mother who has recently died has come back as a great red bird. The bird comes to visit her and pushes her to travel to Taiwan to visit the maternal grandparents she’s never met, which helps her unravel the mysteries of her family. It is a beautiful story that weaves family relationships, history, grief, and love together to form a truly unique book. It doesn’t come out until March, but I’m predicting it’s going to be a major hit.”
Diane is reading pretty tasty this week. “Peter Callahan's Party Food is filled with many wonderful hors d'oeuvres, buffet ideas and bar cart suggestions. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and even easier to replicate in presentation. What I enjoyed most about this book was page after page of photos of the food assembled and presented. Mini lobster cones, mini meatball subs, mini deserts like the banana split and mini milk carton milkshakes, totally fun. The book also has recipes for plated meals and family style entertaining. Two fun favorites were the choux table which has mini pastry puffs and pastry guns filled with different flavored cream fillings ready for guests fill the puffs themselves and the second is croquembouche towers of different types of fresh melon. The last pages of the book are filled with sources of where to buy the supplies to make these great food presentations.”
Miss Elisabeth of the CL is having some fun with Jasmine Guillory's delightful debut The Wedding Date. “The book is a romantic confection, perfect for picking up the spirits in these dreary February days, especially as it takes place in sun-drenched California. Alexa Monroe, the Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Berkeley, gets trapped in an elevator for 20 minutes with Drew Nichols, a hot, distressed pediatrician. Drew is in town for the wedding of his ex-girlfriend and his former best friend and his date just ditched him at the last minute. Sparks fly in the dark, and Alexa agrees to be Drew's pretend girlfriend for the wedding festivities that weekend. Will this fake affair blossom into something real? That was a trick question - have you ever read a romance before? Sweet, sexy, and packed to the brim with tacos, donuts, pancakes, and pizza, this book brightened my day.”
Sweet Ann finished How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. “Tom Hazard has lived for hundreds of years and he is a member of the Albas, a small group of people just like him. They move around every eight years and begin their life anew as someone else so people will not notice that they do not age. Even thought they also are told not to fall in love, Tom does fall in love in the 1600's and he and his wife have a daughter who will be just like him. He has to leave them behind when people believe he is ‘possessed’ and want to kill him. The novel follows his life during different time periods and his quest to find his daughter who he last saw three hundred years ago. Tom will have to decide whether or not to stay in the Albas or to live in the present and find love again. I thought this book was okay. It was interesting in the beginning but then I thought it began to drag a bit. If you are interested in another book with time travel, I recommend The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger."
Spunky Jill M has some words about a community favorite The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. ”I loved jumping into 2018 with a suspenseful psychological thriller! The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn portrays Anna, a child psychologist who suffers from agoraphobia which is an irrational fear that keeps her trapped in her five-story townhouse. Anna’s days primarily revolve around her camera, her fascination with her neighbors, watching old black and white movies, and healthy glasses of wine to chase down her cocktails of pills. But wait! Did she just witness her neighbor committing a murder?!? Could this really have happened!? No spoilers here. Sorry. The Woman in the Window is a captivating story filled with suspense reminiscent of many Hitchcock thrillers. It’s definitely on my recommended reading list! Bonus: AJ Finn is featured at the Library’s Novel Tea fundraiser in March. Ah, the questions we can ask him!"
The Amazing Amanda found a Regency romance perfect for the keep it sweet crowd. "Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey. I was intrigued to read this book when the blurb compared it as a 'hilarious homage to Jane Austen.' The book follows an unconventional scientist, Juliana Telford, who accidentally gets tangled up with a spy. They conspire to help their friends hook up while pretending to be in love themselves. There's lots of intrigue as they doubt each other's true purposes, danger with flying bullets, and this pesky feeling that says they can't stop thinking about the other. This isn't love, right? It's perfect for teens and those who want pure romance with none of the grown up stuff."
The Always Fabulous Babs B is having a high old time with Jackie, Janet & Lee by J. Randy Taraborrelli. “I know, another book about Jackie, but this one is different I promise! This traces the fraught relationship between Jackie and her celebrity sister Lee Radziwill as they dueled for popularity, men and the approval of their overbearing mother, Janet Auchincloss. She would constantly tell her daughters that the secret to happily-ever-after is ‘money and power’. They followed in their mother's footsteps after her marriages to the philandering socialite ‘Black Jack’ Bouvier and the fabulously rich Standard Oil heir Hugh D. Auchincloss. This is an intimate look into the intertwined lives of the Bouvier, Auchincloss, Kennedy, and Radziwill families. This family saga had me burning the midnight oil many nights!”
Jeanne is just doing one thing at a time. “I read Jennifer Egan’s new novel, Manhattan Beach, a richly detailed story that takes place along the New York waterfront in the 1940s. People, especially women because men are off to war, are scrambling for work. They are now working in machine shops, sorting parts and operating machines. But Anna Kerrigan has bigger ideas. She wants to be a Navy diver fixing parts on Navy ships. A woman diver wearing 200 pounds of equipment! She may also want to escape her broken life. Egan treats us to plenty of scenes involving gangsters and their tough-guy goons. Who knew that the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning A Visit from the Goon Squad would write a historical novel? I had to read this one, too, after Manhattan Beach and I was thrilled with its crazy collection of connected stories with characters whose paths intersect. The book features aging punk rockers, music executives and various people on the road to destruction, mostly self. Egan uses music to move and energize the stories. I recommend both!”