Monday, September 24, 2018

good books part 6

the memoir edition....

I read most of these memoirs months and months ago. I don't recall that anyone recommended them to me with gusto, I just stumbled upon them and one memoir led to another. I am passionate to recommend them now. These women are candid, confident, bold, hilarious and more. I felt like I was getting to know some underground celebrities, some really cool yet controversial women. There is one male author in the mix. His story Alligator Candy is the most devastating of the memoirs I've read. 

Mandy Stadtmiller
My story is not unique. Single girl comes to New York; New York eats her alive. But what does stand out is my discovery that you can essentially live a life that appears to be a textbook manual for everything one can do wrong to find love—and still find Mr. Right.

 Mandy's story is told with unflinching candor and brilliant hilarity as she recounts failed romances and blackout nights. There is a deep level of rawness and pain. Just when you think Mandy's out of the woods - she spirals. She totally keeps you on edge - is she going to make it? Will she ever be wifeable?

The Rules Do Not Apply
Ariel Levy
Wow, Ariel. This book is complicated, wrenching, engrossing. There's grief, infidelity, alcoholism, ambivalence and estrangement. Years later, she finds herself at a friend’s birthday party, where a stranger asks her: “Are you the Ariel who all the bad things happened to?”

You'll Grow Out Of It
Jessi Klein
Jessi Klein is hilarious. I don't remember laughing out loud at any book as much as I did with this one. I think the fact that I had no expectations and no idea who she was/is going into this might have helped with my level of enjoyment. A lot of reviews wreak of disappointment and call her out for various reasons, lets just say her readers expected more. I didn't judge the writing on a structured level. I simply enjoyed for what it was; candid, real and FUNNY!

Alligator Candy
David Kushner
David Kushner grew up in the suburbs of Florida in the early 1970s, running wild with his friends, exploring, riding bikes, and disappearing into the nearby woods for hours at a time. (Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Even though I came of age in the 90's in Cape Cod, New Hampshire and Vermont, my childhood was certainly one of adventuring wild and free in the woods.) One morning in 1973, everything changed when David’s older brother Jon took a short bike trip to the local convenience store and never returned. 

How does one family survive the worst thing? It's a dedication to a brother tragically deprived of his right to live and a reflection on how to live in a world riven by pain, suffering, and evil. It was agonizing and disturbing, but so worthwhile to read.

Look Alive Out There
Sloane Crosley
As I started this collection of essays I'm scratching my head- why does this authors name sound so familiar? I don't think I read her first set of essays I was Told There'd  Be Cake (but then why am I reading this book if she's so forgettable?!) It finally hit me I read her novel The Clasp years ago - it never made it into any of my good book reviews. The Clasp was actually a great book, maybe it fell somewhere in the middle of the road for me, at the time?

Anyways, this woman is not forgettable. Sloane Crosley is one of a kind. With a trademark hilarity and wit, you will laugh out loud at her stories and observations. I found myself thinking - wait - this really happened to you? or hold up - you really thought this was a good idea?  I read a funny quote about her that resonated: "shes someone who shoots for the stars and hits the ceiling." Some essay subjects become more serious, and there's a deeper insight to be gained from her sharp, perceptive words.

When reading memoirs, I like to alternate. I couldn't have read Ariel, Mandy and Jessi all in a row. Is anyone else like this? I'll read a memoir, a thriller, a novel and so on as to not tire of one genre or style of writing. Let me know your thoughts or if you have read any of these!

Monday, September 17, 2018

good books part 5

It has been over a year since I shared the books I've read! I chalk it up to wedding planning and buying a house - that year when the blog fell off my radar. I have easily read 30+ books since last August. Plus now that I'm pregnant and I've got a lot more down time, I'm flying through them! 

{I think this is the first time I've mentioned a house purchase and my pregnancy on the blog. Just two life altering moments I've casually decided to drop ;) Hopefully more on both those here soon, but in the meantime, Instagram has you covered!}


I could not put down the second and third books in New York Times bestselling author L.S Hilton's erotic psychological thriller series. Beginning with Maestra, this trilogy will hook you and shock you - these books are ruthless, extravagant, sharp and provocative ~ "like a ritzy 50 shades meets Da Vinci code." Femme fetale Judith Rashleigh returns in Domina and Ultima with enough murder, sex and European glamour to leave you riveted. 

The Dollhouse 
The Address
Fiona Davis

I've become a big fan of Fiona Davis's impeccably structured novels - both The Dollhouse and The Address take place in New York City - alternating between different periods in history at famous residences. The Dollhouse was her debut set in mid-century and present day NYC. The Address takes on different historical eras - The Gilded Age in 1884 and the Regan-Era in 1985. 

Both of these novels appeal with mystery, love, and beautiful tributes to a bygone era. There are captivating settings, historical descriptions and architectural details. The storytelling intricately overlays the past and the present, where ultimately the time periods and characters are tied together in suspenseful, unexpected ways. I'd recommend both but space them out. (Not sure if that's just me but I like to read a few books in between the same author to mix it up.)

The Light We Lost
Jill Santopolo
I flew through this novel depicting the love story of one woman, Lucy, and her two meaningful relationships. It involves a deep look at the choices she makes and the what ifs she lives with. The authors prose have a simplicity and a beauty to them. This book was emotional and it irritated me on so many levels! I mean this in a good way. I loved reading it, but throughout it I found myself just clawing with emotion and opinion towards Lucy, I wanted to shout to anyone who would listen. It made me cry, it made me think, it frustrated me, it made me feel deeply.

Girls Burn Brighter
Shoba Rao
I get a few of my book recommendations from A Cup of Joe. (I just realized I've read 4 of the 7 on her spring 2018 list; which will in turn all make my list!) This book was the most surprising of recommendations I've taken. Here's what Joanna quotes “This is the best book I’ve read in a long time,” my best friend texted one night. (She edits books for a living, so when she likes something, I pay attention.) An hour later she texted again, “Maybe the best book I’ve read, ever.” Later that night, yet another text popped up. “I can’t stop reading, you have to borrow it as soon as I’m done.” 

Well that settles it! A must read...or is it? This novel was heavy and disturbing. I'm not sure it's for everyone. We enter the lives of two best friends growing up in rural India, Poornima and Savitha, who encounter unfathomable misogyny and prejudice in countless ways. An act of devastating cruelty splits them up, and the story remains a quest to find one another. "So what, I asked said friend, did she love so much about it? “Every page served as a reminder of what a gift our friends are, and all the ways a deep love between female friends can sustain us during the most difficult times.” Sounds good to me. Me too. Heavy as it was, it stuck with me. I'm glad I read it. 

Crazy Rich Asians
Kevin Kwan
Jumping on the bandwagon here! I want to see the movie so I figured I better read the book first. It started out slow for me, but it quickly picked up and I did really enjoy it. CRAZY RICH is like, mind blowing, unfathomably, obscenely wealthy. And snobby!! God so snobby. Brilliantly obnoxious and fun at the same time, I'm looking forward to the next two in the series. 

Have you read any of these seven books? What did you think?

I still have a stack of recommends with a lot of memoirs in the mix. Lots more book coming your way.

Friday, September 14, 2018


The food photos are dispersed with scenes from Madrid - about a 45 minute drive from Santa Fe; a once coal mining and railroad town - turned ghost town - brought back to life by a small artist community. We loved our time spent in Madrid and highly recommend a couple hours out there to check out the shops, the Railroad museum and Mine Shaft Tavern. Also pictured - Some of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings and a selfie of me at the museum. I ventured to the museum solo as none of the girls had much of a desire to see it. O'Keeffe is a legend in not only Santa Fe but the art world in general - I was glad to have spent some time immersed in her world.

Breakfast: Cafe Pasquales - located one block south of the plaza in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. The bright and festive dining room features Kelly green furniture, hand painted tiles and murals. One of my favorite meals overall, I had Huevos Motulenos - two scrambled eggs, sauteed banana, feta, green peas, roasted tomato-jalapeno salsa, green chile tomatillo salsa, black beans + a corn tortilla. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring house baked bread, hand churned ice cream, and organic and naturally raised beef, pork, eggs and more. 
Tune Up Cafe - casual counter service cafe for a quick + hearty breakfast featuring a cute outdoor patio, just outside of downtown. I kept it simple with delicious Cornmeal Pancakes and maple syrup. 
Lunch: El Farol - In the Canyon Road neighborhood, hailed as Santa Fe's most historic + iconic restaurant and bar since 1835. El Farol came highly recommended and while we had a nice lunch - we had a bone to pick! Three of us ordered meals (BLT, Grilled Cheese, Cheeseburger) that advertised as coming with French Fries, naturally! We received our lunches with boring old chips and were pretty disappointed, mainly because the waiter didn't think to mention that the restaurant was out.of.french.fries (what?!!) One of us would have legitimately changed our lunch orders. Two of us would have opted for the  salad. My El Farol Grilled Cheese with cheddar cheese, piquillo peppers, smoked papriki aioli, bacon + avocado on pan rustico was good, but I think we'd have to experience dinner here to understand the hype. 
Dinner: All of our dinners were a stones throw from the Plaza in downtown Santa Fe. 
The Shed features traditional New Mexican cooking that won a James Beard award for excellence in 2003. The Sheds chili comes directly from the farm and is ground on the premises to guarantee freshness. I had the Blue Corn Bean Burrito in what they call "Christmas" style, meaning its smothered in both Roasted Green chili and Red chili. It was SPICY and sublime.
La Boca - Funny story. Via a message on Instagram I learned that 8 time James Beard Award Nominee, Chef James Campbell Caruso is a good friend of mine from high schools Uncle! He came out to greet us and chat so that was a neat connection. Serving Modern Spanish Cuisine La Boca offers contemporary tapas in a space with a lively European wine bar feel. A fanfare of plates starts with Piquillo Peppers (same idea as Shishitos but OMG the spicy ones are pure fire, I got one first bite and wow) and ending with a delectable Paella. In between - everything from my favorite tapas Patatas Bravas to a juicy Watermelon Salad to creative Cantimpalitos - grilled spanish chorizos presented on vertical sticks!
Sazon - Chef Fernando Olea hails from Mexico City and Sazon is his interpretation of contemporary and traditional Mexican dishes. The space heralds captivating pieces of artwork, stunning decor and beautiful tile. This dinner was tricky - we could only get a 5 pm reservation and as much as we tried to time it right, no one was hungry! The tasting of five moles to kick off the meal was marvelous - I truly appreciate a good mole and had never tasted so many creative interpretations. I had a very good Spoa de Amor and Timbales - a trio of mini corn, beet and spinach cakes with mandarin habanero foam, creamy sauce of chile poblano and gruyere cheese. 
Drinks: most everywhere had live music, from Jazz to cover bands. We visited Tonic (the art deco bar pictured), Evangelo's, Dragon Room Lounge and Cowgirl BBQ

Once again, the girls and I had the best time discovering another really cool city. Thank you, Santa Fe!

Where should we go next year?!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Meow Wolf | Santa Fe

Meow Wolf is an art collective based in Santa Fe - and coming soon to Denver and Las Vegas. Just let yourself be immersed....


Theres something wildly entertaining about an immersive art installation. I highly recommend checking this out if you visit Santa Fe. I promise my pictures don't give it all away; this is truly just a little sneak peak of what's in store!