5-star review from San Francisco Book Review!

Easily one of my favorite reviews so far! As of right now, I’ve only seen it on amazon, but I’m hoping they add it to their website and even the print publication. If it does make it into the print publication, I’m going to be prevailing on some kind SF-ista to pick up a few copies for me!

I especially love the Carmen comparison line. It’s something that hasn’t been mentioned quite enough– maybe I was too subtle with it? But give that there’s a slew of Carmen books at the moment, I wouldn’t mind STARS getting a little more press from that standpoint.

Anyhow, the review:

5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting tale of talent, determination, and love, March 2, 2011

By San Francisco Book Review (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

This review is from: When the Stars Go Blue: A Novel (Paperback)

Soledad, a talented and strong-willed Miami teenager with a Cuban heritage, is about to graduate from a competitive high school for performing arts. She has a promising professional dance career in front of her, and while she is deciding on what to do after graduation, a male classmate makes her an offer she cannot resist.

Caridad Ferrer gives an honest and intense portrayal of the often mind-altering experience of first love, and she shows us how first love can make the most determined and dedicated young woman question herself. In //When the Stars Go Blue//, Ferrer invites us into the passionate world of professional dancing, a world where even the strongest dedication of talented dancers cannot always conquer the physical demands of the profession.

This is a riveting young adult novel that puts a new twist on the classical story of Carmen. It will keep you reading until the end, as it is full of suspense and unexpected surprises. The Spanish dialogue scattered throughout the novel gives it a very authentic feel of the multicultural life in South Florida, and it also gives the reader a peek into Soledad’s connection to the Cuban community.

Reviewed by J Rodney

Oscar fashion recap

Oh, there are so many places to begin. From my early perusals of the fashion round-ups, I’ve come to the conclusion that either the paid fashionistas have far better taste than I do, or they’re blind. Because the gowns I love are uniformly winding up on the Worst-Dressed lists and the ones I find myself going “WTF?!?” over are on the Best-Dressed lists.

But yanno, my blog, my opinion, so here we go.

Oh, and let’s get this out of the way– James Franco… not during a major awards telecast, man! Seriously.

Anyhow…

I know everyone was wondering what Helena was going to wear. She went with a slightly Elizabethan all black number with a Union Jack garter and what I’m guessing was a Lulu Guinness purse. But while she looked fairly well put together (for her) I simply don’t care. Because this was just the cutest picture I saw all evening:

Now, co-host Anne Hathaway sported an array of looks during the telecast from gold fringe to stunning burgundy to an inexplicable blue foil, but my favorite look of hers during the evening was in vintage Valentino. I mean, this is a gown you can take one look at and know that hours of work went into crafting it, probably by little Italian ladies named Philomena and Giuletta and Carmela who will cut you if you don’t stand up straight. Anne played it right with her lipstick taking center stage with the makeup. And she wasn’t orange, bless her!

Anne certainly wasn’t the only one sporting shades of red on the carpet. Sandy Bullock looked absolutely smokin’ and all “Jesse James, who?” in a beautifully fitted Vera Wang.

Now, for a new mother, Penelope Cruz looks amazing. The color was spectacular on her. The gown itself, however? Oh, sweetheart. Just… no. The sequins drew attention to areas where you really didn’t want the attention wandering. And the Girls are a bit more bodacious than usual– you came close to a couple of wardrobe malfunctions walking down the red carpet just because the strap wasn’t fitted quite snugly enough. I will reiterate again, though– we should all look so good a little over a month after giving birth. (Of course, she also had quite the nice accessory as well…)

Jennifer Lawrence was also in red, but it was boring. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great, it was just sort of… there. Apropos for a country club party in Florida, not the Oscars, IMO.

Now, I’ll freely admit, I don’t like Jennifer Hudson. She grates on my nerves and every time I see her Weight Watchers commercial where she’s torturing “Feelin’ Good,” I imagine Nina lunging out of her grave and slapping her stupid.

However.

That’s besides the point. I think she does look fabulous and the color of this gown is tremendous on her. And the fit was mostly good. Mostly. Because oh, God, I could not stop staring at her boobs and flinching. The Girls just shouldn’t be put through that. There are so many seamstress tricks that could have helped with that and no one did anything? Once again (like the year she won the Oscar), I have to think she pissed someone off. They let her go out the door saying, “Yeah, girl, you look bangin’,” while laughing quietly in the background.

Moving to the purple end of the spectrum, oh, ScarJo. And this is one of the ones where I’m seeing various lists putting her on the Best Dressed side of things while I’m going, “huh?” Because seriously, it’s a tablecloth. Or drapes. It’s just wretched. I’ll freely admit I’m way, WAY picky about my lace, but this is just wrong. And I won’t even touch her hair. Apparently, no one else did, either. The one saving grace for this gown was the open back. I’m a sucker for the beautiful open back and this one is framed beautifully.

Now, wearing the same color and finally looking comfortable is Natalie Portman. It’s graceful and flowing– a gorgeous color and it looks like it might have actually been comfortable for the pregnant lady. And unlike most, I loved her tassled earrings. I also thought the ruched and beaded detailing on the neckline was stunning, showcasing her lovely shoulders.


Also in a shade of purple, albeit toward the lighter lavender end of the spectrum, was Mila Kunis. This was half a dress. In a lot of respects. Again, unlike many, I loved the peekaboo bodice, but I thought that the boudoir look went too far with the skirt. It should’ve ditched the lace panels in favor of all chiffon and it would have made the bodice that much more striking. Otherwise, I thought the color was fabulous with her coloring (and again, no spray tan look there, thank goodness).


Also in a very pale lavender/pink shade with a healthy dose of WTF is the normally incomparable Cate Blanchett. I know she’s fearless with fashion and normally, I applaud that and God knows, she can wear things that mere mortals simply can’t, but in this case, I have to wonder if she lost a bet. Because I just can’t imagine any scenario where she thinks wearing this cross between a Viking maiden & a Mr. Bubble ad campaign costume would be a good idea. Oh, and let’s not forget the horseshoes on the hips.


Another one that’s going to be on every Best Dressed list and that I’m going to be left lukewarm on is Gwyneth Paltrow. Like Jennifer Lawrence, I don’t hate it or love it, it’s just kind of there. It’s classic Calvin Klein, but just didn’t work for me. Interestingly enough, I think Cate could’ve pulled this sleek minimalist look off with major panache, but Gwyneth just missed it.

However, I think one of my biggest WTF moments was reserved for Melissa Leo. Who was utterly charming and fabulous when she won and I’m so glad she did, but holy cats, did she have to win in this gown? Again, a tablecloth, but in this case, it was a tablecloth draped over Jiffy-Pop foil. With short sleeves. (What was up with that trend? I hate it.) And a big, stiff collar. And a plunging neckline. Just too much going on and none of it working really well for me. But she gave a F*%#in’ awesome acceptance speech.


Amy Adams was an “almost” for me. Love the color. So much. I wish her hair had been a deeper red. Love the jewelry because I’m a sucker for green against that deep deep blue. Love the fitted column. Loathe the cap sleeves. A lot. So much, that it distracts me from the good things.

Almost, Amy. Almost.

Most people are going to hate Nicole Kidman’s gown, but I don’t. I don’t love it, either, but in terms of being a couture, off-the-runway look, I much prefer hers to Cate’s. What I noticed about Nicole’s was that it was a gown that looked better from some angles than others. (Looked terrible from the side, but lovely from the front and three-quarters, I thought.) I also really loved the fun pop of the red/orange shoes. So not quite a win, but not quite as head-scratching as Cate.

So, some of my favorite looks of the night…

While I’m not much for feathers as a general rule, I really liked Hilary Swank’s gown. Again, the ombré shading is something I’m always going to be a sucker for and I liked the silver to deep, pewter gray shading. I also liked that it was sleek but growing to some volume which gave the gown some movement without being completely over the top. Well played, Hilary.

Marisa Tomei rockin’ the navy blue 1950 vintage Charles James Couture. Yes, I love it. Yes, I’d totally wear it.

And winning the totally appropriate gorgeous look, 14-year-old Haillee Steinfeld in a gorgeous tea-length gown that was totally Audrey Hepburn/Grace Kelly inspired and just looked lovely on her.

(Pics via HuffPo & WireImage.)

Lil’ snippet o’ somethin’

Just came to me and I scribbled it down. It might be the beginning of a new project:

“Don’t look back, somethin’ might be gainin’ on you.”
~Satchel Paige

New Orleans, Louisiana August 28, 2005

His entire life he’d heeded those words. His daddy’s mantra, borrowed from the great Satchel. “That’s as good advice as any given by a man, no matter what color his skin is.” So no, he’d never looked back. Always looked forward. Always forged ahead. But the joke was on him now. Because that thing that was gaining was coming from ahead, rushing headlong towards them with speed and fury and an unforgiving wrath that roared and howled at the injustice, but refused to let up, to divert its course. Oddly, he wasn’t frightened. No, if anything, he was hopeful. Hope. A simple word holding so much weight. There was hope it would all be swept away—the dirt and filth and lack of decency. Hope that the demons and monsters would be swallowed whole and erased—leaving nothing in their wake but perhaps the merest spun sugar dust sparkling in air washed clean and new. Evidence that once, they’d been good.

Despite appearances to the contrary, they’d been good.

Once upon a time.

It had all once been so very, very good.

Sunday Adventures

Been meaning to get up to Deception Pass for some time. The last couple of days have been so glorious, I finally decided to shove crowbars under everything and get them and out on an adventure. Once there we hiked a couple of trails, the Diva and I making our way down to North Beach so I could take pictures of the bridge from that perspective. Down there, we made a lovely discovery: several roses left scattered on the beach, presumably in memorial.

There's a story there...

Close up:

Rose on North Beach

Shot of the bridge from the beach:

DSC01326

Totally glorious day ending with pizza, dark chocolate brownies, and puppies cuddled on at the foot of the bed. Good day.

SAG Awards Fashion Roundup

I should’ve put this up last night as I was watching, but I was lazy, so I decided to wait until this morning. It was interesting because it was quite the sea change from the Golden Globes, stylistically, but some constants remain. Natalie Portman, gorgeous as she is, can’t seem to find a decent pregnant look. The GLEE girls continue to surprise. And even when January Jones gets it… better, she finds some way to kill the impression.

At any rate, we started with her for the Globes, it seems apropos to begin with her again:

Okay, this should totally be proof that Helena’s just messing with people’s heads when she comes out looking like a train wreck. Last night, she had it completely going on, looking elegant and lovely, and yet– the hair? Well, nice to see our Helena’s still there.

All right, Ima just get this one out of the way. Who decided that crack-addled flamingo was a good look, Angie? I mean, really, did you look in the mirror and say, “Yeah, that’s hot?” Because seriously, sister, there comes a point in a woman’s life where she has to accept that pastel pink and ostrich feathers are just not the way to go. Like… ever.

Lot of plunging necklines last night. A lot.

Not a one of these worked for me, although Sofia Vergara’s perhaps came the closest—probably because she has the right Girls to put in her gown. The worst, by far, was Eva Longoria. She looked regrettably lopsided in hers. Christina Hendricks made me want to weep, because simple black with her complexion and hair should work beautifully, but the wrap dress just looked like a sequined bathrobe and the shoes looked like she stole them from her grandma’s closet. And Melissa Leo’s was just a hot mess– but that may be my cap sleeve prejudice adding to the dislike.


Continue reading

It’s the time of the season…

I’ve just discovered that my books have seasons.

Adiós, Accent, and Stars are all summer books. Not only does their action primarily take place over the course of a summer, I wrote them all during summer months. I also lived in Florida when I wrote all three, which is the Land of Perpetual Summer, but that’s besides the point.

Now I’ve got a couple new stories I’m toying with, a YA and an adult, and they’re both what I’d call “winter” books in terms of the time period during which their action is taking place. Admittedly, I started working on the YA during the late summer, but I’ve done the most work on it in the last month or so.

I never really gave it much thought, but when I set my books has a real effect on its overall tone. The “summer” books, even though they can have some serious underpinnings tend to have an overall lightness and definitely happy-ish endings. The winter books are darker, more somber, the pace and tone of the language a little slower—to use musical terms, adagio (slow and stately) versus allegretto (moderately fast). Maybe most telling, the endings, while they’ll still be hopeful, aren’t going to be of the obviously happy variety. There are too many variables involved for there to be a simple solution but it will be a satisfying one.

And that’s how I like it. Not only as a reader, but as a writer. My endings don’t have to be tied up in happy, sparkly bows. I’m not the reader who’s going to fling a book against the wall if the characters aren’t riding off into the sunset together. One of my favorite book endings ever is from Anne Rivers Siddons’ HEARTBREAK HOTEL.

There’s a line on the last page– it’s not the final line, but it’s the most telling line of the ending: “Lucidity that trembled on the edge of something radiant that could not be looked at, yet.”

There. Right there, the reader has all the answer they need. You know she’s broken through the boundaries that have been holding her hostage throughout the majority of the book and that while she’s not quite ready to face the future breaking free promises, you know there’s something ahead. Something better than what she’d ever allowed herself to imagine. That she even knew she was permitted to imagine. Of course, the reader knows this because of how masterfully Siddons crafted the story leading up to that last scene.

And that’s enough for me as a reader. Yes, I have questions and oh, my heavens, what I wouldn’t give to poke Siddons’ mind to find out what future she envisioned for Maggie, the lead character, but the story she told in that book was complete to my way of thinking.

But, I digress. This is what happens when I haven’t blogged regularly in yonks. Sorry about that. Guess I just haven’t had much to say, even when being attacked by book pirates as an “odious woman.” (Yes, that really happened, no, I’m not going to link because what’s the point?)

Anyhow, I’m finding it kind of surprising that I’ve not written a true “winter” book before now. I guess it’s because outside of the occasional surprisingly cold temperatures, I hadn’t lived anywhere with winter for over seven years. There’s no denying, though that fall and winter are definitely my time—when I perk up and start moving faster as the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter. Unlike so many others, I’m comforted by that early blanket of darkness and I find it gives me a greater appreciation for spring and summer when they roll around.

Regardless, I’m enjoying the evolution of my “winter” books and looking forward to seeing where they take me. Already, I’m exploring styles I’ve not ever considered before, so that’s another new experience.

Onward.