Blog Archives

BBC: ‘Born a Crime’.

Hey yoooo! I have been on a waiting list at the library for MONTHS for my latest read. I guess everyone wanted to get their paws on Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood”.

I will admit I wasn’t jumping for joy at first about this book, but I do watch “The Daily Show” religiously, so I was looking forward to learning more about this daily host. Here’s the scoop on the book from Amazon.com:

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

…Now I will say, I wouldn’t describe this book as “hilarious”, but it did include some funny stories. Was it gripping and unable to put down? No. But I will also admit I’m not really a fan of short stories.

If you’re interested in South African history, or the tales of Trevor Noah, add this book to your list!

The book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading next is “Head for the Edge, Keep Walking” by Kate Tough.

And I know said I loved three-day weekends, but this four-day week sure did kick my ass! Maybe it was all of the adventures I had last weekend? I feel a whole lotta loungin’ coming on… see you all on Monday!

BBC: ‘Big Little Lies’.

Hey, hey! We all made it to Friday! I’m actually working from home today, so the fact that I get to stay in my comfy pjs and have the TV on is basically like I’ve already made it to the weekend.

Last night, I finished reading the latest installment in Blanche’s Book Club: “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty. I read “What Alice Forgot” by Moriarty last year and loved it, so I was really excited to read this book, especially before the HBO series on the book begins in mid-February.

Here’s the book’s description from “Big Little Lies”:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…
A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly?  
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

…As you can tell, there’s a lot going on in this book! I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ll say a little about it. 1. The first chapter was a little weird to get into just because I wasn’t really sure what kind of story I was about to jump into. 2. Once things get going, it was a difficult book to put down. 3. This is going to make for a dramaaaaatic TV series!

Without being obvious about it, this book really talks a lot about society in terms of class/financial status, the behavior of children, marriage, and keeping up appearances. I would definitely recommend this book!

So, I’m not sure if this is weird or not, but I actually purchased this book (I usually get all of my books from the library), and since I’m dabbling into minimalism, I was going to put it in my donate pile. But if I’ve got a reader out there that would like my (very gently used copy) – simply become a fan of The Bitter Lemon Facebook page, and leave a comment that includes a book recommendation for me, and I’ll draw a number this weekend for the winner. Cool?

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Today Will Be Different” by Maria Semple. Want to read along with us? Simply start reading and leave comments on the blog, or contact me through social media @OrangeJulius7 to get the book chatter going. The joys of non-committal book clubs!

Before I go for the weekend, I do want to say that I didn’t have enough time this week to gather my thoughts on the passing of the beloved Mary Tyler Moore. My mom has always been a big fan of hers, so I grew up knowing about her and have always loved her as Mary Richards.

Much like any pioneer woman, Mary did things before her time, and normalized the things women take for granted today – like being single, successful, independent, and confident. Here’s a bit of info I wrote about “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in a previous blog post (read the full post here):

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ran for seven seasons, beginning in 1970 — a time when America was going through political change, and women were beginning to experience economic freedom. Feminism was spreading, women were granted the right to vote, and in 1973, women were granted the right to an abortion.

But as the show premiered, the idea of women having freedom was new, so a show about a girl — a single girl — moving out on her own to establish a career was a fresh idea. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was the “Sex and the City” of its time.

Starring Mary Tyler Moore (obviously), Valerie Harper (Rhoda), Cloris Leachman (Phyllis), Ted Knight (Ted Baxter), Edward Asner (Lou), and Gavin MacLeod (Murray), the show is centered around Mary and her adventures in working and dating.

What I love about the show is that, aside from its already shocking plot (single woman on her own!!!), the show covers issues that are relevant today, even 40 years later, including equal pay for women, premarital sex, addiction, homosexuality, divorce, infidelity, prostitution, death, adoption, infertility, and heart health.

She was a voice – in many ways – for women that would come after her. And she always will be.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend – and don’t forget to comment on the Facebook page if you want the book! See you all Monday – xoxo!

Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it’s you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it
 
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can never tell, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all.

BBC: ‘Scrappy Little Nobody’.

Howdy! Is anyone else still having trouble adjusting back to life post-holidays? I’m not sure what my deal is, but I’m still finding I can’t quite get things together – it’s a slow process, and it just might be February before I’m fully ready to tackle 2017.

But, I am having a pretty good time getting back into the groove of reading, and I think you’ll really enjoy the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club: “Scrappy Little Nobody” by Anna Kendrick. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like PitchPerfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

Sounds good, right? I know there are people out there who are OBSESSED with Anna Kendrick. I’ve never really understood this, until I read this book.

She’s pretty, funny, talented, and seems pretty damn real and humble. She’s just like us!! Her on-screen humor is definitely read on the page, as well. The book is essentially a collection of short stories from her life, all strung together in an organized way.

I’ll admit, I completely forgot she was in “Up in the Air” with George Clooney, and had absolutely no clue that she got started on Broadway, let alone at 12 years old! Damn, girl!

I’m basically obsessed with her take on men and dating, presented in the “Boys” chapter: “If a guy can convince me he has the answers or a better plan than me, I will follow him anywhere.”

Hells yes! Totally adding her to my list of spiritual leaders (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Trevor Noah, Anderson Cooper…).

I think my favorite part of the book (although there were many to choose from) was when Kendrick admitted to not really enjoying award shows, but relishing in getting home afterward, keeping her borrowed diamonds on, while sitting in her sweatpants and eating mac n’ cheese. Sounds pretty awesome!

So yes, definitely add this book to your list if you’re even the slightest bit of an Anna Kendrick fan – or really just interested in the stories behind successful actresses.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty, in preparation for the HBO limited series based on the book! The series premiers on February 19, and looks pretty awesome. Here’s the trailer:

I’m on the road today, heading to the Rio Grande Valley for the weekend, and I packed the book for (hopefully) some relaxing down time. You can follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see all the adventures I come across.

I hope you all have a great weekend, whatever you end up doing! See you right back here on Monday!

BBC: ‘Paris, He Said’.

I’ll say this right now, I am not a big fan of just going to the library, getting lost among the stacks, and stumbling upon books I want to read. For years, I have kept a reading list of books I want to read – and it’s only gotten more intense over the last 6 months as I listen to podcasts and hear people talk about books they’ve read.

I keep my running list, and each time I go to the library (which is usually once each week), I look to see what books are in. And for the first time a few weeks ago, they didn’t have any of the books on my list. I hate to leave empty-handed, so I started roaming the aisles.

And somehow, I stumbled upon the BBC’s latest read, “Paris, He Said” by Christine Sneed. I was drawn in by the watercolors on the spine, and then I read the back:

“Jayne Marks is questioning the choices she has made in the years since college and is struggling to pay her bills in Manhattan when she is given the opportunity to move to Paris with her wealthy lover and benefactor, Laurent Moller, who owns and operates two art galleries, one in New York, the other in Paris. He offers her the time and financial support she needs to begin her career as a painter and also challenges her to see who and what she will become if she meets her artistic potential.

Laurent, however, seems to have other women in his life and Jayne, too, has an ex-boyfriend, much closer to her own age, whom she still has feelings for. Bringing Paris gloriously to life,Paris, He Said is a novel about desire, beauty, and its appreciation, and of finding yourself presented with the things you believe you’ve always wanted, only to wonder where true happiness lies.”

I mean who doesn’t want a wealthy man to promise them a life in Paris? Yes, please! This book opens up a world to the arts, as Jayne is a painter, and Laurent owns the art galleries, where he wants Jayne to display her work.

So, she gets to paint during the day, and spend any spare time exploring Paris. But soon enough, she catches on to Laurent’s lifestyle – with other women, and although she doesn’t seem too bothered by it, I found it difficult to relate to Jayne, because that would really piss me off.

It makes you wonder, though, to what extend of bullshit would you put up with to essentially live your dreams? On one hand, I feel like I’d do a lot to live expense-free, and write all day, while exploring a cool city. But would I be able to lay in bed next to a man that was off with other women? No. No, no.

And for that, I can’t say this book was a favorite. However, Sneed is also the author of another book, “Little Known Facts“, which has really great reviews. Here’s the description:

“The people who orbit around Renn Ivins, an actor of Harrison Ford–like stature―his girlfriends, his children, his ex-wives, those on the periphery―long to experience the glow of his flame. Anna and Will are Renn’s grown children, struggling to be authentic versions of themselves in a world where they are seen as less-important extensions of their father. They are both drawn to and repelled by the man who overshadows every part of them.

Most of us can imagine the perks of celebrity, but Little Known Facts offers a clear-eyed story of its effects―the fallout of fame and fortune on family members and others who can neither fully embrace nor ignore the superstar in their midst. With Little Known Facts, Christine Sneed emerges as one of the most insightful chroniclers of our celebrity-obsessed age, telling a story of influence and affluence, of forging identity and happiness and a moral compass; the question being, if we could have anything on earth, would we choose correctly?”

I think I’ll add it to my list, although I don’t know if the library carries it – which will most likely send me into a tailspin.

And just to note, I actually reserved my first book on Sunday. I didn’t want to start reserving things, because I feel like I’m taking them away from other people that want to read the book. But there is this ONE book that’s been on my list and it’s always checked out. Not anymore!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” by Robert Kolker. Want to read it with us? We’d love to have you! Share your thoughts on the book with us via the blog comments, email (holly@thebitterlemon.com) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.

BBC: ‘Kitchen Confidential’.

Introducing… drumroll… Blanche’s Book Club! I have been thinking for a few months that maaaaybe I should join a book club. After all, it would serve as a way to meet people AND read a few books.

But then I realized, finding the right book club actually takes work, and what if they read books that I don’t want to read? Plus, there’s that whole commitment thing, and I’m not really into it.

So, my genius friend was all, “Why don’t you just have your own book club and you pick the books?” Uh, YEAH. So, Blanche is hosting the book club, but we’re only going to read books I approve of.

We’ve already read one book, and it’s up for discussion until I finish reading the next book on my list (which I’ll mention at the end of this post in case you want to read it, too). Did I mention this book club is completely non-committal?

If you want to contribute to the discussion, leave a comment, email me at Holly@thebitterlemon.com, Snap me or DM me @OrangeJulius7 or whatever you have to do. Or, you can send me a book title to read, but I’m not making any promises, folks.

So, the first book of BCC is “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” by Anthony Bourdain.

Even if you’re not a foodie, you may recognize the name from TV: “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” and “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” …yes?

Bourdain is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and served as the Executive Chef for many kitchens, but is most well-known for his work at Brasserie Les Halles, which is based in Manhattan.

His book, “Kitchen Confidential” (published in 2000) was wildly popular,  and I was really amped when I came across it in the Half Price Books just down the street from my apartment a few weeks ago.

It’s written from the standpoint that, professional kitchens are not a joke and they aren’t often the places we imagine them to be, or see in the movies. According to Bourdain, they are hectic, often unpleasant, and full of characters.

Bourdain has often been pegged as the rebel of the culinary world – he’s not afraid to tell it like it is, and has been known to bash some of the more popular chefs we all know, for not being authentic to the food world.

But, his sense of adventure is why I enjoy watching him! He’ll eat anything, and he’s got an interesting way of looking at the world.

Grilled Oysters with Spiced Tequila Butter

Grilled Oysters with Spiced Tequila Butter

One of my favorite parts of the book was when Bourdain described the first time he had a raw oyster. He was a child, and he ate it as a challenge – he was determined to eat whatever was passed his way. To this day, a raw oyster remains one of Bourdain’s favorite foods.

Because of this, I’ve included a recipe for Grilled Oysters with Spiced Tequila Butter just for you, in case raw oysters aren’t your thing. If you’ve never tried them – you should!

“Kitchen Confidential” became a New York Times Bestseller, and also has a sequel, “Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook“. In 2001, Bourdain was named “Food Writer of the Year” by Bon Appetit Magazine for “Kitchen Confidential”.

While I’ll definitely be adding “Medium Raw” to the BBC reading list, that’s not our next book. Instead, we’ve started reading, “The Liar, The Bitch & The Wardrobe” by Allie Kingsley. It’s a book I’ve had for way too long and it’s time to read it, and report back! We’d love to have you join us, but it’s non-committal, so no pressure.

Don’t worry, be happy. Now.

Cheer up, Buttercup.

Cheer up, Buttercup.

The “Winter Blues” are a real thing (often referred to by smarter people as Seasonal Affective Disorder), and I’m here to report that there’s a way to rid yourself of these doldrums and turn that frown upside-down!

Truth-be-told, I got to thinking about things that make me happy, and things that make other people happy. I feel like I’m constantly on a mission to improve my mood, in order to just… enjoy life.

Of course, it’s really easy to sit back and say, well if I had this, lived there, worked over there, did this, met someone – you fill in the blank – then life would be better. But how about just living in the NOW? Because that’s all we have.

And, if you read yesterday’s post, I feel like a totally changed woman, and I’m learning to work with what I have, instead of moping over the things I’m missing. So, for the record, here’s what I’ve got:

  • A crazy cat
  • Great friends
  • Supportive mom
  • Pretty cool job
  • Apt in an awesome city
  • Jeep I love to drive
  • Working coffee pot
  • HBO
  • Half-full bottle of mood support

Sounds pretty good, right? But, we all have bad days or bad moments when we lose perspective and can’t focus on the good things that are right in front of us. And that’s what this list is for. Nine things you can do RIGHT now to perk up your spirits and crush the day – maybe this Bitter Lemon has gone a little sweet (okay, not a chance, but you get the picture)!

  1. Get caffeinated. I’m a coffee lover, and I drink it every morning, but if tea is your thing, or Red Bull, whatever, get your buzz on.
  2. Jam out. Listening to positive music can flip your mood in a second. If you don’t have a certain playlist that’ll do the trick, put on your favorite song. Personally, I’ll take any Queen song, any day.
  3. Just dance. Speaking of music, why not bust a move? There’s a 100% chance all of my neighbors have seen me twerking in my kitchen while waiting for my coffee to brew, and everyone on Mopac South at 8:30 M-F has seen me perfecting body-rolls while driving. Just try it!
  4. Close all social media apps. It pains me to say this, because I love a lot of things about social media, hell, a majority of my job is digital. But, people always post the happy shit online and a lot of times it’s not even true. However, it makes us compare and we start to feel like everyone else has it better. They don’t, but close the app, anyway.
  5. …Okay, but not YouTube. Hop over to YouTube to watch a funny video. My go-to? Shark-cat. Never lets me down.
  6. Remember photo albums? Open up a box of old photos. Apparently, looking at old pictures boosts your mood more than eating chocolate. I don’t know if I believe this, so you should probably eat chocolate WHILE going through pictures. But really, who needs a photo album when you can just Google that amazing pic of Bieber’s ass?

    You're welcome.

    You’re welcome.

  7. Go somewhere. Okay, so maybe this isn’t something you can do right now, but planning an experience or a trip will bring you more pleasure than spending your cash on material things.
  8.  Treat yourself. I don’t want this to come across as me saying that materialistic things bring happiness. Most of the time they don’t. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit just how much a trip to Walgreen’s brings me joy. Or even a scoop of frozen custard. So, treat yourself, even if it’s something small.
  9. Get lost. Maybe a walk would do you some good, or perhaps curling up with a good book to forget about reality for awhile. Sometimes, turning off my phone makes me feel like I’m on a vacation.