Books With a Side of Coffee Table

Friday, September 19, 2014

I want all the the coffee table books!

I know this seems like it's going to be a 'best of' list of sorts but really this is a just a wish list of books I want for my my coffee table display. Display, you ask? Well, yes, because instead of using my coffee table for normal purposes (what are coffee tables used for again?), a large gold tray sits in the middle of mine complete with flowers, remotes and other trinkets. I'd show you but that's another post now, isn't it?

There are a few books that I want that are quite pricey (like the $85 Chloé or the $300+ Cutting A Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture), but I consider these ten to be much more affordable. As I can't pile up all of the books on my table - this is no bookcase afterall - I have to choose one or two. Which would you suggest?

(1) Pride & Prejudice (Mr. Boddington's Penguin Classics) 
Sure, no one's gonna read an entire novel while lounging on my sofa. But I just love this novel so much, I have to display it somewhere. With this stacked on my coffee table, guests will think "Wow, she must really like this book." And why, exactly, yes I really do.

I've always said that if I didn't live in New York, I'd want to live in Paris (or London!). This comparison book is totally different from any other on my list because it's all cartoon like drawings of the cities. Vahram Muratyan compares the street signs, female fashion icons and coffee preferences through pictures in his book. Any book with coffee in it makes a good coffee table book, right?

A guide for everything a woman must know regarding what to wear and where to wear it. Christian Dior teaches some of us and reminds others of the 3 fundamentals of fashion: simplicity, grooming and good taste.

The author Siobhan Wall uncovers London's most peaceful locations, taking us along with magnificent photographs. The 100+ pages of this hardcover exposes bookshops, beautiful gardens, and more hidden gems in lovely photos taken by Wall. 

This colorful little baby's been on my wish list for a few months now. Nichole Robertson's photographs are color-coordinated; each page dominated by a bold color running throughout the photos. There's also a follow-up called Paris In Love. I may just need both :)

My goodness, it's beautiful. The photographs are amazing and artistic, and both the decor and fashion in it is just so... chic. 

Google these books and you'll see how outstanding these photographs are. Most of them seemed to be of moments from all over the world, pulled right out of everyday life: fog creeping in over a city, an eagle prepared for flight in Mongolia and gauchos relaxing in Brazil. Something about these books just feels important. 

Lauren Conrad is one of my fashion inspirations. This book gives tips about your wardrobe, beauty and hair styles from a celebrity who blends classic looks and modern trends so beautifully.

Chanel is cannon, for sure. With over 100 illustrations, its pages track style from 1920s to the present, reminding us of the magic of Chanel - as if we didn't know!

I have a major sweet tooth! And how cute would it be if a friendly visit turned into trying out some dessert recipe from this book? Perfect Girl's Night In!

Which coffee table books do you like best? Have any favorites? I need haallppp!

An Excuse To Use Gifs

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Okay, so I had a 'storytime' post all cued up and ready to go, but (1) it turned out less funny and more controversial and I wasn't sure if I was ready to go there today, and (2) I realized that it's Confession Wednesday and I can't remember the last time I did a confessions post and I'm sure I've never participated in a Confessions Wednesday linkup. Plus, I've been a reader (albeit silent reader because I'm a creep and a shitty blogger) of Kathy's blog for too long not to have linked up.

So with that lame intro...

++ I've been watching episodes of Grey's Anatomy back to back like it's giving me life because, well, it kinda is. (Correction: Shonda Rhimes gives me life.) So, if I go missing for a while, I'm just over here tv binging like they're gonna take it away.

++ The Maze Runner comes out this Friday and I'm mostly excited to see it because of who's in it. Because, hello, Dylan O'Brien?

++ The fact that I'm decorating for fall this weekend is also making my entire week.

++ I may or may not have skipped ahead 100 pages in Crown of Midnight, just to see if my ship ever becomes a thing. I'm knee deep in Sarah J. Maas' world of Erilea (Throne of Glass series) and I ship Chaol + Celena so hard.

++ If I'm doing something I really want to do and I have to pee, I hold it until I absolutely cannot any longer and then I dash towards the bathroom like a mad woman. I'll have bladder issues by 30. TMI, I'm sure.

++ I've been in a Tuesday night slump since Pretty Little Liars ended, so, even though I'm super sad this season is the final ride, I'm really, really happy Sons of Anarchy is back on.

++ I miss smoking. I'm sure this is a shit confession and who actually says this shit, but I do (say it and miss it, that is). Sure, it's a crap habit, and yeah, I'm glad I don't anymore. But sometimes I see someone with a cigarette and I remember the grind of law school and how it kept me somewhat calm back then, and damn it, I miss serenity.

++ Speaking of calmness and serenity, I need some of that these days. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just now going crazy or perhaps I've been cray all along. I just feel totally restless.

++ I'm one of those impatient people who hates giving pedestrians the right of way, but is quick to cuss out a cabbie for turning in my path when I have the light.

++ Oh and I can't do a confessions post without gifs. It just feels unnatural. This post was pretty much an excuse to use gifs.

What you confessing today?

Thirteen Years.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Keep those that suffered and lost during this day thirteen years ago in your thoughts. Remember where you were at the very moment you heard the news.

I'll never forget that day. I was in my 7th grade classroom, just twenty minutes outside of New York City. It was someone's birthday and we were waiting for the extra cupcakes to be raffled off. I remember kids being called out of the classroom one by one until there were only half of us left. And I remember thinking "Good. Less competition for the cupcakes." That is until they called my name. But no one was waiting for me in the office, instead I picked up the phone. "Keep your cellphone near you," my dad's voice came through the receiver. "Something's happened in the city. Mommy is fine. But you are going to stay in school. You are not to be afraid, mama. No man, no woman..." he began. " beast alive can beat me," I finished the phrase we always said to remind us to be strong, to be fearless. I'm not sure if I was fearless or if I simply endured that fear, but I remained in class for the rest of the day, and by the time my dad picked me up at the normal time, I'd learned a valuable lessons:


Thirteen years later. Never forget. We are stronger than we think.

1, edited by me

Frustrations of Writing A Novel [Part II]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Okay, so the first post (click here!) wasn't exactly named "Part 1" so this isn't technically a "Part 2", but I didn't have a better title, okay! :\ The creativity is running low these days and I'm pouring every ounce I can find into said novel. That being said, as before, I've compiled these writing frustrations over time into a single post as I'm sure many of my non-writer readers appreciate being able to efficiently skip the one post (please don't!). Here are a few of the things bugging me recently:

I'm obsessed with my 'story bible.' I originally just had all my outlines, character sketches, research etc. as files on my computer. But switching from .doc to .doc really slowed down the writing process, so I decided to print it all out. Cue me, running out to the 24hr Staples at like 1am for a binder and labels because I'm excited and I can't be a normal person and put a lid on said excitement until a reasonable hour. The good thing is that I've really fleshed out my story in the past weeks in a way that I wouldn't have done electronically. And filling in/outlining my story chapter by chapter has made all the difference. Seriously, I may just do an entire post on story bibles because I feel like I must pass on this miracle.
The downside? I'm so into making my story bible into this encyclopedia of everything WIP that I'll spend 1/2 my allotted writing time playing with it :\

The mushy middle. Outlining chapters has been a lifesaver but also revealed a major issue. The mushy middle. After outlining about 1/3 of the story, I realize there is so much missing from the middle. It's a soggy mess of information and disjointed events, and I haven't the slightest clue how to get through it. Halp!

The 'juicy' scenes keep calling me. They say it's best to write the novel chronologically. Why? I don't really remember. The writing gods just say so!! Really, all I know is that multiple sources state that it's the best option. But what's a girl to do when the scandalous, romantic parts are much more interesting than the scenes that lay the groundwork? I fight daily with the urge to jump into Chapter 5. I'm nowhere near Chapter 5, btw.

Still being a perfectionist. Nothing new here. Writing 101 says to plow ahead and avoiding looking back, but I get caught red-handed editing last night's work all the time. Moving along, nothing to see here!

My characters. Sebastian still insists he's not a smoker, much to my dismay. But he has let me know he prefers the drums to the electric guitar, and his Grammy is the wildest woman of the not-so-wild West. Lea's still watching people like a creeper, but I'm starting to think that's just who she is. So that's progress. I still haven't figured out all the details (like why Chase took a year off or what's wrong with Harper's brother), but at least shit's happening now. Baby steps, people!

Are you currently writing anything? Got any woes you wanna complain about?

Dark Lips & Weekend Trips, I'm Ready For You, Fall!

Monday, September 8, 2014

I've notoriously created seasonal bucket lists chalked full of tons of activities. So many that, of course, I rarely completed every item on my list. It's almost laughable how much of a fail those bucket lists became. You'd think I'd learn my lesson and not be so overzealous this season. Well, kinda. While those lists had 20+ items, this season I've aimed for 15.

I'd like to make a little project out of this, so I'm going to attempt to document the completion of items on the list by taking lots of pictures and by blogging and using social media to track progress. That way, at the end of the season, I can dedicate a post to my results.

Last fall I was really behind the season, posting my fall bucket list in October. This year, I'm getting ahead of the curve. As usual, I've been ready for fall since mid-August, and thinking about all things fall and my plans for October (!) get me excited. It's like I can't sit still.

By the way, how gorgeous is that scene above? Fall, where are thou?
Do you have a bucket list for fall? What's on it? Inquiring minds want to know. And my inquiring minds, I, of course, mean me.

To Fill Up & Live | Big Little Lies

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A week later than expected but here we are, reviewing the book of the month on the first Thursday instead of the last. It's our third month and I say we're 3-for-3 on choosing pretty good novels. Click here for more information or check out the 'Books' link in my navigation bar up there. There's a lot going on in this post, so hold on.

Title: Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarty

Publication: Putnam Books, 2014

Major Characters: Madeline, Jane and Celeste

Main Plot: Meet Madeline, Jane and Celeste. The only thing the three have in common is that they each have children who attend the Pirrewee Public School, where a murder has taken place on Trivia Night. Between ex-husbands, terrible twins, single mothers, absentee fathers and the 100 attendees, it's a mystery as to who's dead, who did it, and who saw.

Favorite Quote(s):
"You had to register the existence of evil, do the little that you could, and then close your mind and think about new shoes."
My Rating: 4 stars (maaybbeee 3.8)
I'm going to refrain from saying too much because, like most mystery-laden novels, the element of surprise is key. But I will express a few key thoughts about what I think worked and what didn't.

There were so many great things about this novel. Starting with the obvious, it continually had me guessing. From the first five pages, we know that someone died during Trivia Night at Pirrewee Public School, and then we are thrust back 6 months in the timeline, to get to know all the players involved. Every other chapter I found myself yelling at the book, "____ died! No, it was _____! OMG, it was _____, I know it!". For the record, I was always wrong :) I really loved the three main characters, specifically Madeline and Celeste. Strangely in fact, I disliked Madeline in the beginning. Then, I realized how much she reminds me of, surprise, me. She's talkative, inappropriate, very nosy inquisitive, easy to excite and even easier to anger. I'm making myself sound incredibly unattractive right now, but she's also fashionable, lively, emotional, a fierce friend and hilarious! Not only was I basically cry-laughing during her chapters but I read a line or two to my boyfriend one night. "Yeah, that sounds like you," he responded, it was insta-love. I was very appreciative of Celeste and her character. The way Moriarty wrote from Celeste's point of view was perfectly done. I understood Celeste's thought process and felt connected to it, and I could imagine how someone in her position would think the way she does. Each woman in the novel had a specific "cross to bear" and I really loved Moriarty's characterization of the way Celeste carries hers.

Although the novel started out a tad slow, despite the death in the first chapter, it picked up speed at around 100 pages and never let up. The pacing from then on was perfect, and after finishing the novel, I understand that the slower pacing at the start was necessary to set the stage, so to speak. I really enjoyed Moriarty's writing and her sass which displayed through a variety of her characters. She's excellent at creating characters with distinct voices. Most chapters are capped with a short dialogue about the murder investigation between an officer and community members. By the middle of the novel, I could tell who was speaking without reading the tag because the voices were that strong.

I had two "issues" so to say with this novel. Nothing huge as I still gave the novel four (ish) stars, but enough to knock it down a star without question. First (it's definitely a personal problem) it was difficult for me to relate to completely. I'm not a mother or a wife. It was difficult for me to fully appreciate the drama of a political kindergarten classroom or the horror of having an ex-husband you can't stand. Many of the interactions were hilarious, but some of the nuances went over my head. Again, it doesn't detract from the quality of the book, just my enjoyment of it. Secondly, I have to say it - I hated the ending. I really did. Trust me, I'm wincing as I say this because I really don't want to hate it. It was such a wonderful, funny book otherwise. But, sigh, I do. It's just... I won't give too much away (skip the rest of this paragraph if you want to go in completely blind), but I thought it was really cliché and damn frustrating. It felt like Moriarty ran out of creativity, and it felt totally forced. I didn't see it coming because it came out of nowhere, literally and in a bad way, and it made it not only unbelievable but implausible. I screamed my way through the last 50 or so pages, especially the last chapter.

Have you read Big Little Lies? It's definitely worth a read. What did you think of it? If you wrote a review, link it down below!


The September book of the month is The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, a young adult book that proves super powers aren't so super when they can get you killed. I've been wanting to read this for so long and the final book of the series comes out this month! I hope you'll join us :) Click the book to find out more!

And lastly, I bought a lot of books and I wanted so share them with you! Embedded below is a book haul video that I recorded. It's my first ever video so be nice :) But I wanted to show you all the books & didn't want to write a post because who wants to read a book haul? Grab a snack if you end up watching, it's a long one!

Squatting Over a Subway Vent

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

So remember that time I mentioned late night walks with the city as backdrop in that post I wrote about loving NYC (aka yesterday's post)? Remember how inspiring and dazzling I claimed it to be? Well, I forgot to mention that sometimes, some really weird things can happen as well.

Walking around my neighborhood late at night is one of my favorite things to do. I have a favorite block and everything. For the most part, walks around my neighborhood are pretty uneventful. That is until they're not.

I walk up the street, listening to my playlist for such purposes. If there is something more extreme than tunnel vision, I have it. I look straight ahead, but not really looking at anything at all. Just thinking - about what I want out of that evening, the next few days, my life. I remember this because it would've taken something pretty unique to break me from my revere. As I pass over a vent, my playlist switches songs, and in the lag between one song and the next, a sound floats up to my ears. I immediately identify it as the notes of a saxophone. Grow up with a jazz-crazed father, and you learn to make out an instrument by the blow of a single note. But where was this music coming from? I check Spotify to see if it had switched stations. Nope. Beneath my feet is a subway vent and when I turn my ear to the ground I hear it more clearly. The closer I get to the vent, the louder it becomes. I want to memorialize the moment, to record the melody streaming from underground (to post on IG, which of course I did). So there I am squatting over a subway vent with my cellphone hovering above it on one of the busiest streets in the city. Not my finest moment. And then this happens.

Listen closely :)

Did you hear that? While I am, you know, squatting over the vent like I'm trying to piss on a subway train, someone bends down near me and asks me "What's down there?" 

After I tell him about the music, he says "Oh yeah, you're very astute." He then proceeds to tell me (not on the recording) that he is a studier of music and all things of beautiful and artistic. 

"Be careful with your phone, but be sure to capture magic," he says before he stands up and walks away. I smile because, quite frankly, it was a sweet gesture, and continue to record. 

Fifteen seconds later, I hear "Are you available? Are you available?" being repeated over my shoulder and growing louder. I stand up and whirl around and the same man is standing in front of me. Now, I can see him clearly: he's in tattered jeans, stained with work, a plain white tee and work boots; there's a bag slung over his arm and he runs his free hand over the surface of his crewcut. He's cute in that sweet sort of way, and he's staring at me while he waits for an answer. Not nervously or expectantly, just confidently.    

"For what?" I respond, not impolitely. Now, he looks a little nervous, "To grab something to eat," he adds, "On me. There's a place just around the corner."  

"I'm not really available. I'm sorry," I wince in discomfort, because I'm awkward and I don't know how to let people down easily. He seems unperturbed, "Oh, you just came from the gym, right?" I look down at my ensemble. I've unknowingly dressed myself in gym clothes. Should I tell him the truth? That I'm in a committed relationship and I'm not interested? Should I say it like that, or should I just say 'I have a boyfriend. Sorry.' and smile wistfully? Or should I just lie?

Um, yeah," I say, and smile awkwardly, not wistfully, "I was just walking home." I attempt at looking sorry, which I am, but I'm not sure it registers on my face. I opt for the latter choices in my inner monologue. You've never seen him before, you'll never see him again, I think. Why shut him down?

"It was still wonderful to meet you..." he waits for me to fill in my name, "Kari. If only for a moment. Next time?"

Sah-woon. I nod dumbly because I don't know how else to react, and watch his retreating figure. He bops down the street in this really endearing way, the gait I'd imagine for a character with stories to tell, and it makes me smile. As I walk home, I think about not only how gosh darn sweet that was, but how much courage that took. (I also glance over my shoulder to make sure he's not following me, because sweet or not, let's be real.) I wonder briefly what it would've been like if I had been in the position to say 'yes'. Would we have hit it off? Would he continue to say things that made me smile? Would he be able to make me laugh? Would we have ended up going our separate ways or would I have seen him again? Would we get married in 2 years and raise children in Northern New Jersey? (Just kidding.) The point is he put himself out there, so he won't wonder. I won't either, but it made me think of how many other things I wonder about because I didn't put myself out there. Just a thought.   

I wish I could have captured that moment. I probably should have titled this blog "Capture Magic." But where's the fun in that?