The Age of Light

The Age of Light is an intriguing historical fiction novel based on the life of Lee Miller. The novel focuses on her life in Europe. Miller first arrives in Europe and begins working as a photographer. She meets Man Ray on her travels through Paris and becomes his apprentice and later, business partner and lover.

The book focused a lot on Lee Miller’s relationship with Man Ray which I found to be puzzling. She only spent three years with him before moving on to become an accomplish photographer and war correspondent. Miller spent her entire life attempting to get out of Man Ray’s shadow. The story weaves between the past and her present (1960s) when she has been asked to produce a piece for Vogue about the art they created together.

The book explores the galleries, the parties, the sexual experimentation and drug experimentation that was pervasive in 1920 Surrealism circles. It was a bit raunchy at times to read and I’m not sure how much it added to the story. However, I don’t know much about these artists. This may have been a tame retelling of their actual lives.

The big takeaway from the book was that Lee Miller was a powerful woman. She had adversity her entire life. Men were constantly trying to sabotage her or hurt her but she never allowed them to derail her. She lived her life on her own terms.

The Age of Light is Whitney Scharer’s debut novel. This was the 2019 February selection for the Odyssey Bookshop First Edition Book Club.

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Fed Up

Most women can understand what Gemma Hartley is talking about in her book Fed Up. She documents how women have been carrying the emotional labor for generations in all spheres of life. And what makes it harder to identify is that for so long, it was just accepted as normal that women needed to carry all of the emotional labor.

I think that it takes a lot to put your own experiences, your own relationship, out to be dissected by the public. I give her (and her husband) a lot of credit for putting their own struggles out into the universe to be consumed. There are points of the book that are not a flattering version of the author but she leans into it. Her honesty is refreshing. Her research is intriguing.

Overall I found the book to be absolutely fascinating. It is a book that should be read by everyone. It was interesting to take an academic look at emotional labor. Hartley did a lot of thorough research and made some interesting connections. I’m glad that she took the time to examine emotional labor and I think people are better for having read this book.

Who has read Fed Up? Did you find it to be as interesting as I did? I’d love to talk about it further. Any men want to chat about their feelings after reading Fed Up?

March Book Dump

March Book Dump is here! I’m continuing to cruise through my goal of reading all my First Edition books from the Odyssey Bookshop. I have high hopes for April. More daylight and warmer weather means lots of time for reading outside.

The Age of Light– A historical fiction about Lee Miller and Man Ray’s romance. Delightful story about two historical figures I previously knew nothing about. It was told from Lee Miller’s point of view.

Those Who Knew by Idra Novey – This is Novey’s second novel and it did not disappoint! We follow three woman who are all tied together by a violent up and coming politician.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – Can I just say damn ladies? Why you gotta be so dark?! This is the team’s second novel and it does not disappoint. If you loved The Wife Between Us, you’ll definitely get caught up in this book.

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark

Let’s start off by saying that I never realized how active my imagination is until I read this book. I had to stop reading this book for awhile because I kept having nightmares about the Golden State Killer. I have no idea how Michelle McNamara spent years researching, tracking and chasing down every single detail about these crimes.

With that being said, it was her obsession with her research that may have killed her. McNamara was haunted by these cases. She had insomnia caused by her research. She passed away in April 2016. Her death was attributed to an accidental overdose of a lethal combination of prescription drugs.

Her book was released two years after her death.

Due to her steadfast commitment, McNamara is the reason the Golden State Killer was finally caught. Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough to see what her research led to. McNamara’s book was published posthumously and the details that she was able to pull together helped to lead the detectives to him. She had the advantage of looking at all the pieces in aggregate, years after the attacks stopped. She was only concerned with finding the truth.

This book is a must read for any true crime fan.

#AlwaysForPleasure

I had the opportunity to hear Laura Lippman at the Albany Book Festival last Fall. She was a funny speaker and she mentioned her twitter account.

She is a prolific tweeter. Recently she started a conversation about doing something for Lent rather than giving something up. She suggested that everyone read 100 pages a day. The conversation was started when she RTed an article from a NY Times author (Article Here) who said they couldn’t read, watch a movie or keep a conversation without being distracted by their phone. Lippman made the commitment to read 100 pages a day throughout Lent.

She gave it a hashtag:

And a movement is born!

It’s really easy to spend your evenings mindlessly scrolling through any number of social media channels. I’ve fallen prey to it. I’ll be spending Lent recommitting to reading instead on scrolling through social media each night.

Join me! Use the hashtag #AlwaysForPleasure and #LLWL tell me what you’re reading!

February Book Reviews

Short month means short list of completed books, right?

**Cringe**

And one of the books I finished I started in 2018.

**Cringes even harder**

I started a handful of books this month but I had a hard time completing anything. Unique to this month is the fact that I highly recommend both of the books I read.

The Best American Short Stories 2018 Edited by Roxane Gay – I already wrote a review on this but THIS WAS GOOD. I haven’t picked up many shirt story collections but when I saw Roxane Gay was the editor I said “TAKE MY MONEY.” She did not disappoint. She selected diverse and thought provoking stories.

Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women and the Way Forward by Gemma Hartley – The article that ignited the internet has become a book. I’ll be writing a long post on this later but the big takeaway is I think this should be required reading for everyone.

2019 January Book Dump

January found me with stacks of half finished books. This usually isn’t my MO however, I have had outside forces influencing me. I’ve hired someone to help me clean my house and she picks up my books and stows them away. She is a lifesaver in getting me and keeping me organized. She has made finishing books difficult.

In addition to the large pile of half finished books, I am trying to work my way through all the books I purchased in the past year. Most notably all of my Odyssey Bookshop First Edition selections. I also had some time off from work and visited friends. Each friend I saw gave me at least one book to read. Sharing books you love with people you care about really is the best.

Little by Edward Carey is a delightful historical fiction novel about the origin of Madam Tussaud. Madam Tussaud left conflicting information about herself. Carey creates a lovely tale about how he imagined her life was. Note: This was an Odyssey Bookshop First Edition Selection

Girl Wash Your Face– Everyone loves it. I did not. She did have some interesting takes but some of them were wildly off. I find the origin story of her and her husband to be the most disturbing. Look for my blog post later this month about it.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – This is my book club’s February selection and it was GOOD. Moriarty pokes fun at the wellness industry showing how crazy it can be but you can also see yourself in any one of the characters. Or at least I can.

It was a wild January and I’m looking forward to a more relaxing February. What did you read in January?

Becoming by Michelle Obama

To be completely candid, I don’t even remember why I put her book on my wish list for the library but it arrived. I figured I might as well give it a shot. The result? Hands down one of the best books I read in 2018. 

Why did I love it so much? Because of her willingness to share so much of her journey with the public. I only had an inkling of who Michelle Obama was outside of being the First Lady and Barack Obama’s wife. I knew she was a lawyer but I had no idea of any of her professional accomplishments or what her life was like.

She is an extremely driven and accomplished woman. I think what I respected the most about her book was her describing her realization that corporate law was not for her. She did all of the “right” things and still wasn’t happy. It is a difficult concept to grasp when you have achieve your dreams and realize they are not what you thought it would be. I also think that it shows tremendous courage to leave a financially secure job to find a job that makes you happy.

Furthermore, her willingness to talk about her struggles with infertility and in her marriage. Marriage is hard work. Infertility is something that so many women struggle with.  For a woman like Michelle Obama to come out and talk about her struggles helps the to make it acceptable to talk about these difficult topics. I think it’s important to talk about our struggles as well as our successes.

Okay. I’ll stop gushing now. Go out and read the book. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

I like to use the New Year and my birthday as the times to reflect and refocus. It also helps that they are about 6 months apart from each other.

I am proud of myself for starting this website. I have grown my audience on the website, instagram and twitter from zero to about one hundred. I’ve been able to keep up a semi-regular posting schedule on all of the platforms. This has been a great project for me.

Which brings me to 2019 and my goals for the Literary Lady with Libations site. My goal is to post at least three posts on a month on here, grow my followers on Twitter and get my Instagram feed on a more regular posting schedule.

In terms of my personal, I am ready to crush some books this year. I really want to focus on reading more diverse books. I have a tendency to read a lot of fiction. I want to read more non fiction. I want to read more authors from different backgrounds than mine. I want to read more short stories. More poetry! And the only way to accomplish that is by making a conscious choice to pick books that are a little bit outside of what I would normally pick up.

And lastly, I want to get out more and explore the different offerings my community has. I have to up the libations game! There are so many new places popping up. I have to get out there and frequent them.

What are your goals for 2019? Reading or otherwise. Travel goals? Let me know in the comments! Let me know if there is anything different you would like to see on here too! I’d love to have suggestions of what you want to see here other than book and restaurants posts.

#FashionVictim

Anya St. Clair is a fashion assistant who finally has her dream job. Now all she needs is Sarah Taft to realize that she is her best friend. Sarah is the person who inspired Anya to join the fashion world. Her boss throws a wrench in those plans when she dangles s promotion between Anya and Sarah. If Anya secures the promotion, she knows she will finally get Sarah’s approval. She will stop at nothing. Thus begins Anya’s dark descent into securing her promotion. Pretty soon, all of Anya’s enemies (real and perceived) begin dropping like flies.

This book is a hilarious satire about the fashion world and female competition. It also looks into hidden female rage. Women are not allowed to be angry. It is drilled into our head that we can’t be angry or upset ever. Women are taught to always smile. Furthermore, it is drilled into women’s head that they need to be thin and young looking in order to be successful. While this is true across industries, it is especially true in the fashion world. As Anya guides us through her world, she observes that many of these standards are unfair but she still works to fit into the standards. Even though her methods are far from conventional, she manages to get the end result she wants.

Seeing as we are about to embark on the holiday gorge of extreme consumer spending, this book is the perfect book to review this week. I found this book in the Cosmopolitan magazine monthly book recommendations. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I think the blurb said something about fighting your best friend for a job promotion. Similar to our unreliable narrator Anya, that blurb is not quite how I would describe the novel if only given three sentences.

Final Thoughts: Big props to Amina Akhtar for coming up with this story and sharing it with the masses. It’s definitely a dark twist on what type of people the fashion industry breeds but it is  highly entertaining. Thank you Amina for spinning your fashion world observations into a wickedly funny novel.