The Great Gatsby

The 20s have always been a source of wonder and excitement — Ziegfield Follies, flappers, gin rickeys… All of the nostalgia has reached new heights with the release of Baz Lurhmann‘s take on The Great Gatsby. With typical Lurhmann spectacle, the movie is an event not to be missed. That being said, it’s certainly not for everyone. Fans of the Redford version will be sorely disappointed  gone are the jazz beats and floaty dresses. Lurhmann has interpreted the story in a way that is simultaneously closer to Fitzgerald’s original and strangely modern. The music throughout is a source of great contention — NPR’s take here. Rather than sticking to typically jazz age music the movie is laced with rap beats and indie tracks. At times the effect is jarring; Gatsby’s great parties seem an ill fit for Beyoncé. The great exception is Lana del Rey’s Young and Beautiful. Appearing several times throughout the film it perfectly captures the haunting romance between Daisy & Gatsby and Myrtle & Tom. Without further ado, here’s Young and Beautiful:

Just in case you need more enticement to see the film, here’s my favorite trailer:

If you’re looking for even more 1920s immersion, check out these books. I’m partial to Tender is the Night myself but all of them come with my highest recommendations.

  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald: One of Fitzgerald’s later novels, this book is delicious! Filled with affairs, flappers and movie stars it’s a great beach read.
  • Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: How could I not include one of the books Rory read on Gilmore Girls?! This is a bit more serious with less story and more historical discussion but it’s still a fun read.
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker: This gem of a book is constantly in my reading rotation — I just can’t get enough of Parker’s short stories and hilarious poems.
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald: The latest addition to my collection, Z is shaping up to be a favorite. I highly recommend the audio version for a true “Zelda Sayer” experience.

Book Review: Once a Witch and Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Once a Witch Always a Witch

Once a Witch and Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Looking for a light-hearted read with a little supernatural flare? Look no further than Carolyn MacCullough. Her characters are lovable and her plot is quick and easy. I read both in the course of an afternoon, and was completely absorbed in the story.

Tamsin Greene is the odd one out in her family of Talented people –she’s dreadfully normal. When a stranger asks for help believing she is her Talented sister Rowena, Tamsin starts off on an adventure that takes her to the past and back. Along the way she experiences power, love, and friendship greater than she thought possible.

Rating: 3/5

Sarah Dessen Book Tour

I’ve been a Sarah Dessen fan for most of my reading life. Sure, I loved running through Avonlea with Anne and frolicking in Mary Lennox’s secret garden but the real fun came when I discovered the town of Colby. Dessen’s fictional town is filled with lovable characters you wish were real — and now that I live in Chapel Hill, they are!

At the reading Dessen talked about how most of Colby is based on sights around Chapel Hill, just renamed. She let us know that she’d originally tried writing books set in the real Chapel Hill but her writing workshop quibbled over her sense of geography saying, “It takes longer to get from Southern Season to UNC!” or “There’s not a gas station on that part of US-15.” Good tip to file away for future novel writing adventures!

The audience was a mix of teenagers, who’d been enchanted with Dessen’s latest offering What Happened to Goodbye, and those of us who grew up with Hailey, Colie, and Haven. To me this speaks to her ability to write books that stand up even after the home lines mentioned in them have long gone —

I went back and reread Keeping the Moon this week and found it every bit as lovely as I did 13 years ago.

Book Review: The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker


The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker

This is a book where the subject matter and the writing style align beautifully. Parker’s sleepy prose evokes the ocean so well that I often wondered if it was intentional…moments before I dozed off. This is in no way a reflection of the book’s somnolence; the story itself is riveting! The best way that I can describe it is Faulknerian. High praise for any author, no?

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Sybil Exposed

Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case by Debbie Nathan

Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan

It’s no secret that I love psychology — pop or otherwise. After Professor Levine‘s abnormal psychology class I began to thing more critically about the books I had once love (Girl, Interrupted, Prozac Nation). Chief among the offenders was Sybil. A classic story of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) it sparked a craze that led the American Psychological Association to add the diagnosis to the DSM.

In Sybil Exposed Debbie Nathan looks into the science behind the book and makes some shocking discoveries. The real story of abuse may be more violent and underhanded than the story presented in Sybil. Dr. Wilbur injected Shirley (the real name of Sybil) with “truth serum” many times a week. The substance is shown to cause hallucinations, nausea, excessive sleep and is only recommended for a maximum of three doses. This drug in combination with the others Dr. Wilbur prescribed for Shirley kept her from pursuing any life independent from therapy.

Nathan presents the story from three different perspectives: Shirley, Dr. Wilbur and Flora Rheta Schreiber. By doing so she is able to create a story that parallels the fragmentation of Sybil’s creation.

Rating: 4/5

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Loving on Valentine’s Day

In honor of Valentine’s Day I thought that I’d share a few things that I’ve been loving recently. Because the number of books I’ve enjoyed would be far too large for a single post*, these favorites are primarily food and beauty related.

Bunheads Dancers


First up, a television show that has quickly made its way to the top of my “must watch” list. Bunheads is the newest offering from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman Palladino. It centers around a showgirl (Sutton Foster) who has moved to a small town and taken over the dance school. Bunheads has all the elements that made Gilmore Girls so beloved: quirky characters, fast-paced dialogue, witty references and lovely musical cues. For those who loved Gilmore Girls, Bunheads is like a trip back home to Stars Hollow complete with some familiar faces.

DaVinci Flavor Syrup

Vanilla and Hazelnut Syrup

I spotted these at Sam’s Club whilst I was home for the holidays and I’ve been using them ever since. Though not quite as good as a Starbucks latte, coffee with these babies is pretty darn great. They’re the perfect morning indulgence!

Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder

Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder

I can’t take the credit for this discovery – one of my favorite youtubers raves about it all the time! This powder is incredible at setting makeup without making you look too cakey. Best of all, coming in at under $6 you can’t beat the price.

Revlon Colorstay Foundation

Revlon Colorstay Foundation for Combination/Oily Skin

Another great drugstore product, this foundation easily outperforms the high-end foundations I’ve tried in the past year (I’m looking at you Smashbox!) If you’re looking for a lightweight foundation this is NOT it! However, for someone who wants a foundation that will last all day with a medium coverage it’s the cat’s pajamas.

Maybelline Color Tattoo Metal

Maybelline Color Tattoo Metal in Barely Branded and Inked in Pink

I’ve been looking for a good dupe for the MAC paint pots for quite some time. These new offering from Maybelline might be the silver bullet – they’re gorgeous and long-wearing. Unlike their regular Color Tattoo counterparts, these two shades are very neutral and wearable for everyday.

 Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Cavaliere

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in # 65 Cavaliere

The nude lip trend looks absolutely amazing on some but it just makes me look washed out. This lipstick from Chanel is the perfect solution – a hint of neutral color that allows my natural pink undertones to shine through.

Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me

Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me

Another great “your lips but better” product! Cherry Me looks exactly as the name suggests: like you’ve had a cherry popsicle. The formula is very moisturizing making it great for throwing in your back pocket or purse.


What have you been loving lately?








*Keep your eyes out for “The Library of Alexandra Book Awards” next month!

Mourning the loss

When e-readers first came out I was among their loudest critics. How could they possibly simulate holding a book? Wouldn’t reading on a device take away the essential “readingness” of the experience?

Kindle 2nd Generation

During my freshman year at Kenyon, a student was selling a brand new kindle for about half-price; I took this as a sign that I needed to try it out before I ridiculed ebooks any more. Color me surprised when I ended up loving it!
Though it doesn’t exactly replicate reading a physical book, e-readers are surprisingly lovely to read on. I have a definite preference for the kindle because of its e-ink/non-backlit design; to me it is a lot more like reading a paperback.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Earlier this week I reached into my backpack to read an ebook between classes, only to find my kindle screen hopelessly broken. After calling Amazon and confirming that it was indeed beyond repair I set up my pity party, complete with a trip to the library to check out books to fill the void. While I am being a bit over dramatic, the truth is I already miss my kindle dearly and I might just have to bite the bullet for a new one.

Know where I can get one gently used?