Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Review: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Scholastic Press, 2008; 281 pages; ISBN 0439903467
My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Last week I tried out Revlon's Fire & Ice lipstick and that reminded me of the cover of a young adult book I read about a year ago. I have to say that the cover was what really drew me to the book. It has a very noir look, with a young brunette girl applying red lipstick and looking mysteriously to one side. The book is set in 1947, post-war America, but I don't think that diminishes the appeal for teen readers. Evie Spooner is 15 (almost 16) living with her mom and stepdad Joe. Her mom is a "looker" (I love that word, along with Daddy-O and dame), and although Joe is boisterous, he is a great choice for Evie's mom as a replacement dad. The war is over and Joe is back home. Then some phone calls seem to rattle him into traveling to Florida in the off-season. After they arrive another guest named Peter checks in and he is apparently a war buddy of Joe's. Evie falls for Peter, who is 23, almost 7 years her senior, but that doesn't detract from Evie's attraction towards him. They get along well and Evie starts to realize that she isn't a plain-Jane as she once thought. She has inherited some of her mom's looks and starts to relish in this new-found beauty. At the almost-deserted hotel where they are staying there is another couple, the Graysons, who soon become friends and companions to Evie and her family. I won't go beyond that because that would spoil the story, but it's filled with just enough historical references, red lipstick, full skirts, and fleeting kisses to satisfy both adults and teens. It's also a page-turner that I read in very little time. Well-written and pretty much great from beginning to end. Since I'm a sucker for vintage, especially from this era, I enjoyed it even more. In other words it really razzed my berries.

The book is a 2008 National Book Award winner

Photo: From website

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fire and Ice and Everything Nice

So recently I fell in love with Dorian Leigh. But first let me start at the beginning. I’ve had this screensaver of a picture taken by Cecil Beaton on my computer for ages. I switch it out every so often, but I always come back to it because I love, love, love the feeling that it captures for me. The photograph features about ten women, completely gussied up in gorgeous satin gowns in muted pastel colors. The draping on the gowns is exquisite. They are all in a very well-appointed room with high ceilings, beautiful mouldings, and a to-die-for crystal chandelier. The ladies are drinking what I can only imagine is coffee, tea, or espresso, and they are chatting and observing themselves whilst they do it. I want to be in that room. So apparently this photograph appeared in Vogue magazine in June 1948. The gowns are by Charles James. When I found the picture I didn’t bother to jot down the source, but I finally found the source only because of my renewed interest in finding a really great red lipstick. I searched for “the best red lipstick” and came across Revlon’s Fire and Ice Super Lustrous Creme Lipstick. I was further intrigued by the fact that the lipstick has been around since 1952 and that’s when I discovered Dorian Leigh. She was this fabulous model (some might say, one of the first “supermodels”) who did several advertisements for Revlon cosmetics in the late forties and early fifties. She was drop dead gorgeous is what she was. So I went out and bought myself a tube of Fire and Ice because it was touted to be great for all skin tones, and heck, if it had been around since the fifties, I just had to have it.
When I went to the drugstore I actually snatched up the last tube of the lipstick, and I even had a $1 dollar off coupon, so how lucky was I. I immediately tried the color and was pleasantly surprised. It is definitely more on the coral side, but still a very brilliant and crisp red. The texture is creamy indeed and it didn't feel heavy or uneven. It glides on easily, and it doesn't have any weird smell, which I've found with other drugstore lipsticks. I took two pictures, because the color really varies depending on the light. I don't think I will need any lip liner, but I'm sure it is one of those lipsticks that needs reapplying throughout the night, especially if I will be drinking or eating. Overall I am extremely happy that this lipstick has withstood the test of time, and I completely understand why.
And what does this have to do with my screensaver or my new found love for Dorian Leigh? Well it just so happens that Dorian Leigh is one of the models in said photograph. She stands pretty close to the center in a one-shoulder gown, with dark hair, looking off to the right (she's actually the 4th model from the left). It’s kind of a shame that we don’t see her face, but then again, she would have probably outshone all the other women (not to say that they aren’t beautiful as well). In any case, I was delighted to find out this little tidbit, and I’m even more excited to don my Fire and Ice tonight when I hit the town with some girlfriends.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Nostalgic Librarian

Pronunciation: \nä-ˈstal-jə, nə- also n-, nō-; nə-ˈstäl-\ 
Function: noun 
Etymology: New Latin, from Greek nostos return home + New Latin -algia; akin to Greek neisthai to return, Old English genesan to survive, Sanskrit nasate he approaches 
Date: 1729 
1 : the state of being homesick : homesickness 
2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition; also : something that evokes nostalgia  

I never thought I would actually be blogging, but here I am starting this "nostalgic" blog. I'm a librarian. I'm nostalgic. I'm even nostalgic for things, places and times from before I was born. I'm in love with the past I guess you could say. I like the second definition from Merriam-Webster the best. I sure do yearn for the past, but not in the sense of, "the good old days of my youth" type of yearning. I yearn for the swish, swish of a ballgown I never wore in 1952, or the glacier blue paint job of a Plymouth convertible in 1954 that I never drove, or even better yet the rosy and vanilla-scented smell of Soir de Paris perfume in 1928 that I never applied behind my ears. I search, research, and search again in my professional and personal life, and quite often I find myself fascinated with past eras, especially the 30's, 40's, and 50's. So more than anything I'm now going to keep track of my random musings on all things of the past, and I'll throw in some book reviews here and there, since I do read a ton of books. Whether or not anyone ever reads this, I sit here ready to be nostalgic, which is not hard since I'm already thinking I need to go to my nearest perfume counter to seek out a rosy, vanilla-scented smell.