Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Mad Men Reading List

Lately, most of my days have been spent working, apartment hunting, and marathoning Mad Men on Netflix. The show has me obsessed with all things 1960's. When I wrapped up Season 5, I immediately became sad that I cannot readily watch Season 6, so I gathered a list of books that could keep me in the world of Mad Men. It was also a really good excuse to get some non-fiction books about advertising and marketing, which was my minor in school.

1) Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann by Barbara Seaman : I shamelessly love Jacqueline Susann and her scandalous (for the time) novels that are filled with drama and men who steer clear of commitment. She's had a life close to the lives of the women in her books, so I needed to get her biography.
2) The Age of Persuasion by Terry O'Reilly : I've always been interested in how advertising influences and shapes our society, and this book is just about that.
3) The Receptionist by Janet Groth : A reminder of Peggy Olson's humble beginnings as Don Draper's secretary. Except in this memoir, Janet Groth was a receptionist at the New Yorker. Surely like the girls at SCDP, she has witnessed her fair share of scandals and love affairs.
4) Reborn: Journals by Susan Sontag : These journals of Susan take us through the 50's and the beginning of the 60's as she came to her own in New York City.
5) Rabbit, Run by John Updike : The first in a series, Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom is trying to escape the constraints of daily life and deserts his wife and children. Sound like anyone? Basically every male character on Mad Men.
6) Summer Crossing by Truman Capote : A dangerous romance? Socialites? Truman Capote? Three key-terms to get me to pick up a book.
7) The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe : Another scandalous for it's time read. A tale of five young women working in a publishing company with dreams outside of the typing pool.
8) The Graduate by Charles Webb : The book that inspired the Dustin Hoffman movie...and also full of inappropriate, yet saucy, affairs.
9) From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor by Jerry Della Femina : Jerry Della Femina was head of his own advertising agency and actually called a 'Madman on Madison Avenue.' I've heard that this book is a hilarious and true-to-life look inside of an advertising agency back in the day.
10) Mad Women by Jane Maas : We get a good look at all of the men at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but not too much of the ladies with exception to Peggy and Joan. Jane, like Peggy, was a copywriter at David Ogilvy, and writes this funny and sassy memoir-like perspective on being a woman in the Mad Men advertising age. I started this book already, and it's fascinating to read about the inequalities, work, and home life of a working woman in the 60's.

So that's it! Have you ever read books to stay attached to a television show?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: September 29, 2011
Source/Format: Library book!
Page Count: 328
Goodreads & Amazon

Lola Nolan lives a life that seems pretty awesome: she's a budding fashion designer with a flair for unique style and costume living in San Francisco with her two fathers who run a pie company and has a cute and older punk rock boyfriend who's in a band. Of course her dads hate her boyfriend, and he doesn't start to look any better to them when the Bell family moves in next door--again. Calliope, a world-class figure skater, has been Lola's mortal enemy for years. And then there's Calliope's twin brother, Cricket Bell, a quirky inventor who Lola swears she is over, but isn't quite so sure she believes herself. Lola has to juggle her boyfriend and Cricket all while keeping her ultimate goal in sight: to walk into her school dance in the craziest Marie Antoinette costume San Francisco has ever seen.

Oh-em-gee, Stephanie Perkins did it again! I actually think I liked this one better than Anna and the French Kiss. Lola is talented and vibrant, and I found myself continuing to read even just to see what new and crazy costumes she would come up with. Perkins is a pro at creating unique characters that don't fall into a box of cliches. Lola's voice was strong throughout and I adored her passion for off-the-wall outfits and disregard of what people thought of her. Cricket was also a strong character, very sweet, and in the same lineage of Alexander Graham Bell! And of course, Perkins integrated Anna and St Clair, even though I found St Clair to be a little more clingy and too-present in the scenes he was written into.

And of course, Lola and the Boy Next Door was not short on squealy squishy cuteness. Like in Anna, there was a fair share of drama and conflict to keep it from being too overbearing, which is a good thing because as cute as cute is, it can become overwhelming in just a few words. The conflicts were also realistic and true to the life of a seventeen-year-old girl trying to navigate her way to senior boys and around the mysterious world of boys and men.

Now, I am good and excited for Isla and the Happily Ever After, which is expected to come out this fall!

Rating: 5 / 5

Have you read this series? Am I super far behind on this? 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Review: The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot

The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: October 2002
Source/Format: Library book!
Page Count: 374
Goodreads & Amazon

Mel Fuller doesn't live a very interesting life. She is newly single after her bastard ex-boyfriend cheats on her with a colleague while covering a story overseas, and she is consistently late to her job as a columnist for a New York City newspaper.  Things get a little more interesting though when her neighbor, a rich old woman, is attacked--just next door! Eager to jump at an excuse to continue being late to her job, she takes on the responsibility of walking the old woman's dog while she is in a comatose state at the hospital. When that becomes too much, Mel reaches out to her neighbors only living relative Max. Max is a womanizing, famous photographer who is facing the end of his career, and tells Mel he'll be right over to take care of the dog. But when he arrives, the Max who is now living next door doesn't seem like the high-power fashion photographer she expected, which leads Mel to believe that he is not who he says he is, and discovers there is a bigger story in the attack of her neighbor than she expected.

The Boy Next Door is told in e-mails written from character to character, which is a risk. Cabot was able to inject each of her characters with a strong voice. When I first started reading the novel, it took me a couple of pages to get used to the form. Once I got used to the character's voices, it became easier to differentiate one person from the next. What was gained in voice, was lost in setting and character description. The voices of each character alluded to the type of person they were, but the reader never fully gets to see what each one looks like. Place is only described in generic terms such as 'cubicles' and 'tiny apartment,' and we never get to see the space Cabot's characters inhibit.

This book was loaded with dramatic irony, which kept me hooked on every page. While Mel is trying to figure out just what is going on, we are able to see clues as other character's interact with each other away from Mel. It was full of suspense, and I inhaled this book just waiting for Mel to catch up. It made for a fun, engaging read.

The Boy Next Door lacked description and a sense of place, but the strong character voices and suspense made for a fast and entertaining reading experience.

Rating: 3 / 5