Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mortal Friends - A Novel

It's summertime and the perfect time for a juicy read.

And thanks to Harper Collins Publishers, I had the opportunity to dive right into one.

Mortal Friends: A Novel
, by Jane Stanton Hitchcock

Bitchy society women, men in power with their brains in their pants ... politics, serial killer on the loose, a few plot twists that weren't completely predictable plus the fact that the protagonist/narrator is a woman my age ... what more could one want? Well, humour, and there was a bit of that too.

Reven Lynch, our storyteller, is an antique shop owner/decorator, who shows us the workings of the inner circle of the chi-chi Georgetown neighbourhood of Washington. Although she is not a top-tier socialite, her best friend, Violet Bolton, wife of the president of the bank, happens to be. So there are a lot of parties, and we get a glimpse into what dinner conversation might be like at these gatherings. ( It is in these scenes that the author really shines, as she has quite a knack for describing how awkward these moments could be in real life, and also injects the conversations and the situations with some pretty funny lines.)

To keep things even more interesting, there happens to be a serial killer who they call the Beltway Basher, who is committing vicious murders in the neighbourhood park where the ladies frequent for their walks and jogs. Violet also has a most interesting hobby, a fascination with all things murder. Yes, she is quite different.

There are other main characters that round out the story. There's the new woman in town, a character you just love to hate, who is throwing her millions around. Then the philosophical detective who keeps just showing up at Reven's shop. He convinces Reven to become an ally to help him solve the mystery of the serial killer. And finally just to keep things interesting, Reven gets involved with a bad boy in the scene, who is potentially a suspect in the murders. Dating for a single woman in her 40's? I thought this was a refreshing and welcome storyline written very neatly into the whole plot.

I'll be quite honest that it took me a little while to get into the book. However, once I got past the ninth chapter (and it helped that the chapters were short, making it possible for this mom/chauffeur to slip them in between pit stops), I couldn't really put it down.

There were a plethora of characters that weren't central to the plot that I could have lived without; that being said, they didn't interfere overall. I just knew where I could skim without losing critical information.

So my rating on this book? Well it kept my interest, it moved at a quick enough pace, and I finished it in a matter of days. I was entertained.

A solid thumbs up, 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair - Party, Pretty Party

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Launch Event. Make sure you check out the roundup to find out what the other lucky BlogHer reviewers had to say about their evening at the Estée Lauder Night Repair Event at Macy’s

BlogHer '09 in Chicago - WHOO-HOO!!!

And what better way to start the festivities off than with a party at Macy's Chicago hosted by Estée Lauder, who launched their New Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex on July 23, 2009.

Yes, the very product that I have had the pleasure of using for the last several weeks, and which has now truly become a part of my regular nighttime skin regimen. At this point, I have noticed a visible improvement in my skin, and I am starting to believe people when they tell me that I look younger than my years (and thank you to those who do, you have no idea how amazing that makes me feel).

Upon my arrival at the hotel, I was whisked off by luxury bus, along with several lovely bloggers, to experience first hand "America's Night to Repair" which included the Ultimate Skincare Giveaway, on Thursday July 23rd. I looked forward to some girlie time at the cosmetic counter.

The product display was impressive, and we were given a lovely welcome by the staff. Evelyn Briley introduced the bloggers to Estée Lauder's mission and Theresa Selvaggio spoke a little on the life of Mrs. Estée Lauder. After Evelyn continued on to the DNA aspects of Advanced Night Repair, I became ever more fascinated as we were told about the incredible story of Estée Lauder, the founder of her namesake company. She was a pioneer in the cosmetic field, not only for the products and her marketing prowess (I had no idea that she was the first in the industry to start product sampling), but also for the very fact that she was a woman.

Estée Lauder, a woman, a mother, an innovator and a real force to be reckoned with. The breadth and the quality of the products, the continual improvements and the longevity of the brand which never ceases to become tired... these are all qualities that are reflective of Estée Lauder herself. How abundantly clear this was to us as we learned more about her, and of her life's work.

After the wonderful inspirational talk, (which served to pump me up as we acknowledged that as strong modern women we can do pretty much anything we set our minds to), we were treated to a few minutes of "me" time with the make-up stylists.

This was the super fun part. Having my face done professionally is something that I've only experienced once in my life, and that was before my wedding. Not even on my actual wedding day, as the makeup artist I found back then who was perfect...was already booked.

So here I was almost 16 years later, all giddy again to have my face beautified. And on a "bachelorette" weekend, even. Better late than never again, I say.

My stylist was the lovely Mary, who reminded me of Elizabeth Banks. What a beauty, she didn't know who Elizabeth Banks was, but I think she looks quite a bit like her, don't you?

And the best part? As she prettied me up with some perfect match foundation, did the lovely work on my eyes (great trick, blend in a dark eyeliner with cover-up and presto-chango, you've got a durable eyeshadow base that DOES NOT CREASE!), lipstick and mascara... when she told me I looked beautiful, I felt it.

I was recharged, and ready to take on the world. Or at least, the gazillion BlogHer cocktail parties that were to follow shortly thereafter.

Thank you Estée Lauder, for the opportunity to try this great product, for the lovely swag (makeup galore, as in eyeshadow and lipstick and mascara, oh my…) and finally for making "America's Night to Remember", an unforgettable evening.

I really hope that some of you were there or at other Estée Lauder counters to experience the launch first hand. If you were, I bet you're enjoying the trial size of the Advanced Night Repair.

Let me know what you think of the product and if you like it as much as I do. And if you haven't yet given it a try, what are you waiting for?