Friday, November 30, 2007


Several months ago, I was at a swanky event in Hollywood when I bumped into an acquaintance. We got to chatting and she mentioned she was reading a book called, Eat Pray Love. I made a mental note to learn more about it so I took a look on Amazon when I got home. People were raving about it! What was it about this book with a word written in noodles that captured every one's attention?

Time passed and I read little things about Eat Pray Love here and there. One day I happened to turn the Oprah show on (you know how I only watch once in a while? I swear that's true) and who happened to be on the show but the author, Elizabeth Gilbert. She's not only a writer with a super successful book but she is cute and sweet and funny and smart, all the things I aim to be. I was compelled to get my manicured hands on this book ASAP.

I read it quickly and enjoyed it, devouring the part about Italy (inspiring jealously in many women I'm guessing. After all, when in your entire life can you ever eat whatever the heck you want? in Italy!?) and feeling inspired by the love part. The pray part was a learning experience for me, not knowing much about an ashram. One of the girls in my book club chose this for November's read, so I was a step ahead since I already experienced the Eat Pray Love phenomenon. We gathered to discuss what we thought- everyone enjoyed it. No doubt, it was a good book and if the rumors are true that Julia Roberts will be in the film version, then I will be first in line. A movie of this book would be terrific, especially with the backdrop being Italy, India and Indonesia. Can you imagine? An Oscar contender, I can see it now.

So what's the big appeal about a woman who embarks on a trip to three places? We talked about this in our book group. Who among us can pick up our lives and move overseas for a couple of months to fully immerse ourselves in a culture? Wouldn't it be nice to have a great adventure to shake us from our ho-hum routines? When tough times come, and they always do, most people cannot take a trip that sweeps us to faraway places to heal spiritually and mentally and physically (how could I even leave for 2 weeks with the dogs and the kids and husband depending on me?). The appeal of the book might be that it's got something for everyone: heartache, pain, relationships, life changes, travel, food- oh the food!- a woman's journey and ultimately a very happy ending.

Suffering from a wicked winter cold, I was laying in bed flipping channels and just so happened to watch about five minutes of Oprah. What should appear on the bottom of the screen but a little caption announcing more of Eat Pray Love on Oprah this coming week. What is the universe trying to tell me with all these little mentions of the book? Maybe I should write my own book...I think it would be called either Book Agent Now Please or Mom Tired Nap. Kidding! I am always up for an adventure, especially one that allows me to grow in different ways like a tree sprouting new branches. Be sure to pick up a copy of Eat Pray Love and let me know what you think.

PS. The author lives in New Jersey. If that's not enough for us to become BFF, I don't know what is.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Amy Holman Edelman, Manless in Montclair

This was such a warm, funny book that I have no qualm's about recommending it to you. Manless in Montclair starts with Isabel's husband dropping dead just as she returns from having her teeth whitened. When a book starts with a bang, (or a thud in this case) you know it's going to be good. After waiting a lengthy time to get back into the dating world, Isabel tries several different tactics to find a new daddy, as her daughter requests. Isabel doesn't find love from the blind dates and Internet dating scenes, so she enlists the help of her friends. She offers a vacation to the person who ends up helping Isabel find a husband. The idea is that her friends are great people so they must know great people and so on, and one of those great people might happen to be a single guy who is looking for love with a young widow.

Manless in Montclair is based on author Amy Holman Edelman's real life experience. You can read an excerpt here and read about Amy's own search for a husband here. I enjoyed the quick pace of the book, Amy's humor and I think if we met, we would be friends, she seems very cool. Plus she lives in New Jersey, my home state so she's automatically fabulous.

How much of the book was taken from your real life experiences?

The easy answer is quite a bit, but much of the story has been mixed around, some characters have been combined or made-up completely and my real-life sister was never bulimic!

Everyone knows I'm a Jersey girl. I was through Montclair a time or two. What are some things you love (too strong a word? okay, like) like about NJ?

Well...I'm a Philadelphia girl (although my new husband is a Jersey Guy!), so how about if we start about things I love about Montclair? The diversity, the large creative community (including writers and artists), the architecture, the foliage (it's fall now).

What will we find you doing on a Saturday night?

Hanging with the hubby and the kids (who may or may not have a friend sleeping over).

What is your favorite room in your house? office/sunroom/family room. Tons of sun!!

Where do you go when you want to unwind from life’s pressures?

Also easy...a movie or a trip to the Short Hills Mall (another thing I LOVE about New Jersey!!)

So...who ended up winning that trip anywhere in the world?

First, I should say I capped it at $3 grand. And 2nd, no one! My husband's sister introduced us but it wasn't really contest related. That said, we really should at least buy her dinner!

What is the biggest life lesson you've learned this far?

A few...all big. The first is patience. The second is that there are some things in life you can't control (that's where the trust the universe stuff comes in) and the last (which I kind of knew already) is to appreciate all you have in your life, as opposed to what you've lost.

When you get sad or depressed or frustrated, how do you snap out of the funk?

See above re: life's pressures. Also, hanging with the kids usually helps.

Tell me about your journey to becoming a published writer?

Well, this is my third book. The first, The Fashion Resource Directory, was originally self-published and later bought by Fairchild Publications. The second, The Little Black Dress, is a coffee table book, published by Simon & Schuster in '97. But I guess you would say my journey to becomming a published writer officially began in Fire Island about 30 years ago when I had an idea for a book and someone else had a friend who was an agent. If it wasn't for Lisa Bankoff (still at ICM), the rest might never have happened.

And last- what's next for you? Hopefully another fun book!

I'm not sure what's next, but I do hope it includes another book (or, fingers crossed...a screenplay!).

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Movies to Look Forward to...

I love reading books but I also love going to the movies whenever I can. Recently I saw Lars and The Real Girl (Ryan Gosling was excellent!) and Enchanted (a must see if you love lighthearted movies or Patrick Dempsey) The two movies above, Made of Honor and Fool's Gold look like fun too. Plus I can't wait to see 27 Dresses with Katherine Heigl, a totally cute, funny film which I plan to see with one of my beloved girlfriends. And you know that The Other Boleyn Girl is out soon along with The Kite Runner. Those are must-see films, a nice break from all the December holiday shopping.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Books I want to read NOW

Spirit of Yoga

A Thousand Splendid Suns

YOU Staying Young

I don't ask for much in life, just hot showers and a couple of good books. I'm really into yoga these days and have been finding a lot of great moves in the videos with Ana Brett. My yoga practice might go smoother if my dogs weren't trying to lay beneath my downward dog or lick my face during cobra. The kids are running in and out, dogs are barking, phone is ringing and I'm supposed to be relaxing and meditating? If I can sit and page through a book with some green tea alone, then I'm in heaven. I'd like to read The Spirit Of Yoga with Kathy Philips and Christy Turlington.

It only took me years to read The Kite Runner and now I'm interested in A Thousand Spendid Suns. If its as good as The Kite Runner, then I won't be able to put it down.

Last, the book I want to read and have on my bookshelf is YOU, Staying Young. I'm a pretty healthy person but can always stand to up my knowledge of how to stay young, fit, be energetic and have a positive attitude. And I hate to admit it but I really want this too.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Deceptively Delicious

I just happened to turn the TV on when Jessica Seinfeld was on Oprah. If I have clothes to fold or something to do, I usually tune in to Oprah. Don't think I'm waiting for three o'clock to roll around so I can sit on the couch, eat cookies and watch Oprah.

I was instantly intrigued with Jessica's idea of puree-ing sweet potatoes and other food stuffs to add to meals. How stealthy of Mrs. Seinfeld! And here I've been making my kids eat the veggies I've been steaming, right there out in the open. I have no shame!

In all the years I've been cooking, I never thought to puree anything and add it into a meal secretively. The only time I tried to sneak something healthy into a dinner was when I made Hamburger Helper with soy meat and threw the packaging away, feigning innocence when my husband commented that the meat didn't taste right.

Oprah was all excited about the recipes which were brought out to sample and Oprah herself praised Jessica for her ingenius kitchen tricks. My mouth was watering as chicken nuggets were paraded by. The fact that they were healthy made me even more excited.

Jessica, the sneaky little minx, purees spinach and adds it to brownies. She grinds up beets and puts it in chocolate cake. Chick peas, yes chick peas go unnoticed in chocolate chip cookies! I have a really, really hard time imagining Jessica, wife of multi-millionaire Jerry Seinfeld, pureeing vegtables late into the night in her gourmet kitchen, working fingers to the bone to ensure her family eats their five recommended servings. No, I believe that she tells Maria or Lupe or whoever to not only buy the vegtables but to puree them and bag them, appropraitely marked with a sharpie and promptly frozen for later use.

I can imagine Jessica telling her chef how to add cauliflower to mashed potatoes. And that's okay because if I could have a chef and a maid and maybe even a nanny at my beck and call, I would. At least part time. I have to say Jessica seemed really cute and sweet and down to earth -maybe she doesn't have a chef. But a housekeeper, I'm sure.

I love the idea, I love the beautiful book and the way it's written easily and clearly with illustrations. The recipes are simple to follow and if I can get nutricious foods into my children's bodies, then I am all for the idea.

I know there's been a kerfluffle about the book and Jessica perhaps taking someone's else's idea but all that aside, it's a great way to get vegtables into kids without crying and yelling and threats. We all know children don't naturally gravitate towards things that are green and grown in the ground.

Mrs. Seinfeld was not available to be interviewed for Conversations With Famous Writers and that's too bad because we would have hit it off and become BFF and would have traded many a recipe, thinking up new ways to fool our kids and perhaps husbands. We would have collaborated on some cookbooks and then would have gone on Oprah together!

Deceptively Delicious is worth your time to check out.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Other Boleyn Girl

Click here to see the movie trailer, it's finally up. The film won't be out until 2008 but the trailer gives a good idea of how wonderful the film will be! I am so excited for the movie, the book was a wonderful read. It was long but well worth your time if you haven't read it. If you start now, you'll be done before the movie is out in the theater.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If you haven't seen it...

I'm doing a lot of work on Hello Dollface, bringing back some celeb news and pictures. Not as much as Conversations About Famous People but a bit of celebrity stuff. If you haven't seen Hello Dollface, please go see it now and bookmark it. Every day, makeup and celebrities, what a combination!

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Books to Film, Love in the Time of Cholera

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Books to Film, Atonement


Borat's Book Signing

I saw the movie and was at once appalled and disgusted. Yet I had a mild interest in seeing how this atrocious film played out. Now the book is on the shelves! So rush right out and buy a copy for the significant other in your life, or as a wonderful White Elephant type of gift. Here is the news, fresh from Variety:

The first thing to be learned at a Borat book signing is that security is really important.
Sacha Baron Cohen inscribed his book "Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A. and Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" for two hours on Nov. 7 at the Westwood Borders.

Borat had two, suit-wearing British bodyguards with a slightly military demeanor lay down strict guidelines about how the signing should proceed.

At first this seemed like overkill until the signing began and one hulking gentleman who looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger mixed with Dolph Lundgren arrived wearing a brown muscle shirt embossed with a red Soviet star and demanded that Borat sign a movie contract on the sausage he slammed on the table.

"I am director!" he yelled. "I am his brother!"

He was neither and was dragged away as the book signing proceeded.

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Books and more books...

I just finished reading this book earlier today. I didn't want it to end but I had to find out what happened to Angela Russo. The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline is the story of Angela, an event planner in New York City who lusts for a rustic cabin in Maine. On a whim, she registers with an online dating community where she meets MaineCatch, a fisherman in Maine. What could possibly be better than a handsome rugged fisherman who lives a charming life in Maine? When she loses her job, Angela packs up and heads to Maine to live out her fantasy.

As you might guess, the life Angela envisioned for herself doesn't quite play out the way she intended. MaineCatch is handsome and ruggeed but is playing to a whole string of other women. Not exactly the romantic soul mate she had hoped for. An excellent cook who learned from her beloved Nonna, Angela whips up a little group of friends, a new job and a four legged buddy who keeps her company in her cozy home. It may not be what Angela wanted but it's a charming life on her own terms.

When I was a little girl, my parents took me to Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida. Somewhere there is a photo of me posing on a seahorse, my hair is short and bleached by the sun and my little face is tanned and smiling. Fast forward many years later when I read a snippet about Swim to Me by Betsy Carter, I knew I had to read it. The book takes place at Weeki Wachee, a mermaid inspired park with real live mermaids performing in the water complete with fish tails.

"Delores, eager to escape her dismal family life, heads to Florida, where she is hired as a mermaid for an operation that has fallen on hard times, losing business to the recently opened Walt Disney Resort. Weeki Wachee is run by Thelma Foote, a lonely but tough businesswoman who is all too aware that the tattered, kitschy costumes and tired swim routines are in need of a touch of pizzazz." ---booklist

The author does a great job of painting a picture of life at this Tampa attraction during the 70's. I liked the transformation of Delores from wallflower to star of the show. It's a kind of quirky story about a place that I remember fondly as a child.

Alison Pace is one of my favorite authors. Her books are all good and the characters are like likable with issues and problems we can all identify with. I especially liked Through Thick and Thin because well, the book takes place in my old stomping ground, Ridgewood, New Jersey and talks about my latest obsession, yoga and features an adorable dog named DB Sweeny, reminding me of my own heroine's dog, Johnny Depp.

Sisters Stephanie and Meredith each have their own set of personal problems but they have one thing in common- their quest for an effective diet. Stephanie is married, living in suburban New Jersey with her infant daughter and a husband who may be a prescription drug addict. She is still overweight with pregnancy pounds and is feeling lonely and depressed.

In New York City, Meredith is a restaurant critic who longs to lose weight but can't because how can you count calories when you are dining in the best restaurants in the city? She is also frustrated by her single status. The book is about the relationship between the sisters, through thick and thin- literally. Weight loss, men, jobs, dogs, yoga, sisters- the book has it all. Well done, Alison!

Look Me In The Eye is by John Elder Robison, the older brother of Augusten Burroughs. John struggled through his early life tagged as an odd kid. He didn't know quite what to do in social situations and was awkward and clueless with other kids on the playground.

It took years for him to be diagnosed with having Aspergers, a form of Autism. During his childhood, his father was abusive, his mother mentally unstable. John began to work in the audio-visual department at school in junior high where he was more at home with the broken AV equipment than with other kids. Having a very high aptitude for electronics and mechanics, John went on to work with the band Kiss (reading about the pyrotechnics, circuits and lights made my head spin!) and he went on to work in development at Milton Bradley. It was not until age forty that John was diagnosed with Aspergers. By this point, he was successfully running a company fixing expensive automobiles. It's that brilliant mind which enabled him to understand the complicated workings of the world's finest cars.

The book was thoughtful and at times, funny. Other times, my heart broke for John. This book is a quick read and enjoyable. I appreciated having the chance to read about Aspergers and to remind myself to keep an open mind about those I meet who might be a bit "different".

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Wife in the Fast Lane, Karen Quinn

You probably know author Karen Quinn from her fantastic debut novel, The Ivy Chronicles. Now Karen brings us Wife in the Fast Lane, a story of former Olympic gold medalist, Christy Hayes, a woman who has it all. Jetsetting around the world, running a multi million dollar company and marrying a successful, gorgeous businessman is all in a days work for Christy.

Her charmed life gets messy when she "inherits" eleven year old Renata, a precocious child who is left in Christy's care after the child's grandmother passes away. Now Christy must juggle her new husband, corporation and all of life's other duties while trying to schedule time to be a mother to Renata. But you just can't hand off responsibilities and treat your child like a business! Speaking of business, Christy's company Baby G is not doing well and to complicate everything, Christy's husband wants nothing to do with Renata. Everything gets worse and worse for Christy but the story has a happy ending. With the authors sense of humor, you will keep reading to find out how the unsinkable Christy will manage all the curveballs life throws at her.

A former Olympic athlete, wealthy business woman, married to a very successful and handsome man, the character of Christy is far from average. Would the story have worked if she was a checker at the local grocery store married to a handyman?

It probably would have worked because every woman is juggling more than she can handle, no matter what her status in life, and that is the theme of Wife in the Fast Lane. But it's more fun to have Christy married to a wealthy CEO because they get to hop on private jets and travel to exotic locations and make love in the back of a limo on top of a luscious mink coat.

I really enjoyed The Ivy Chronicles and know that you have a movie deal, congratulations! I read that none other than the amazing Catherine Zeta Jones is attached. What do you think of her as the lead role? Have the two of you become BFF's yet?

Hahahah! No, we're not best friends yet, but I'd gladly kick off my current BFF if CZJ would consent to take her place (just kidding). I think Catherine Zeta Jones is a wonderful comedic actress who would make a hysterically funny Ivy.

Her (Catherine's) daughter and I were born at the same hospital (although about 30 years apart) in Ridgewood, New Jersey. I feel that really bonds us together.
You two are practically sisters!

I have cruised many times and read on your blog that you like to cruise too . I want to hear about the Mediterranean cruise you went on! Did you enjoy it? Did you gain a few pounds with the fabulous food? What did you see that will remain in your memory forever?
I adore cruising. To write Holly Would Dream I was forced to take two Mediterranean cruises for research purposes. What can I say? I'm a stickler for accuracy. We were on the Crystal Symphony the first time and then the Silver Whisper the second time. Both were absolutely amazing. I love cruises because the ship becomes a Peyton Place and all the passengers start gossiping about each other. I've seen some wild things happen between passengers on cruise ships, let me tell you.

I put some of the craziest things I witnessed in the new book. Anyway, I loved the cruises and gained weight on both, but it was worth it. They are so much fun because you get to see so many places without having to pack and unpack. I especially like European cruises.

Do you ever take a person from in real life and turn them into a character in your book?
Absolutely. The Ivy Chronicles is based on a business I had helping NYC families get their children into the best schools. The clients in the book were based on real clients we had, but I'd combine two or three together so no one recognized herself. Ivy was based on me, except I didn't catch my husband with another woman and I'm not as unethical as she is.

There was a character in Ivy based on a particular client I had. He was the client from hell and lived to torture me. When I wrote the book, I used his real name throughout because I knew what bad thing he would do at every opportunity. Then I changed his name at the end. After the book came out, he called me and said that he had read the book, but wanted to know why I didn't include him in it. The wicked don't recognize themselves.

What kind of music will I find on your ipod (assuming you have one) or cd player? What song instantly puts you in a good mood?

I have thousands of songs on my ipod. I especially like songs that remind me of growing up - Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Carole King. But I like a lot of today's music too. I have two teenagers so they keep me up to date.

What is the last book you read?

Right now I'm reading Ken Follett's A World Without End. His book, Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorite books of all time. This is the follow up. It's wonderful. I'm on page 520 and there are over 1,000 pages. I've read this in about 3 days.

If you are home all day, do you turn on the television for Jerry Springer, soap operas, Rachael Ray or Oprah?

I wish I had time for that, but I don't.

Who are your favorite movie stars? Do you ever get star struck if you happen to see a famous person on the street?

I love stars from the 50's - Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Cary Grant. I see stars a lot in NYC. I'll look at them and act like it's no big deal, but inside, I'm squealing like a teenager at a Beatles concert.

Ten years ago, what did you think you would be doing in 2007? Has real life exceeded your dreams? What could make it even better?

In 1997, I had no idea I'd be writing books now. I couldn't have imagined it. So yes, life has exceeded my dreams. Ivy has been optioned as a movie. I'd love to see my other books optioned as movies. I can't imagine what it must feel like to see a book you have written played out on the silver screen. It must be an awesome feeling.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Five Minutes with Maggie

I have a confession: I judged this book by its cover. An iron-clad knight on a straining horse, galloping across a burning wasteland… it's not usually my thing. Once I started reading, I slogged through the first few chapters as dozens of characters were introduced, and I frequently referenced the book's glossary for the definitions of words from the Middle Ages. But after a few chapters, I was hooked.

The plot unravels in a series of action-packed, high-stress confrontations, both in battle and between friends From the multitude of characters introduced early on, several primary characters emerge, a love story develops, and a mystery is revealed. In the mid-1200s, during the Crusades, young Will Campbell is in training to become a knight, but a rift in his family plagues him. After his best friend betrays him and he discovers the fate of his estranged father, revenge consumes Will. The novel follows his journey from Europe to war in the Holy Land. All the while, a long-kept, dark secret bubbles under the surface, threatening Will's livelihood.

The language in Brethren is dense, so the book is not a quick weekend read. However, the plot is exciting enough to carry the reader through. The book is the first of a trilogy, and the book surprised me enough that I will probably pick up the next two installments! -Maggie Marton

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