On Color by David Scott Kastan with Stephen Farthing




My Review:

David Scott Kastan, a  George M. Bodman Professor of English at Yale University and Stephen Farthing, an artist and elected member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London and Emeritus Fellow of St. Edmund Hall, the University of Oxford have collaborated on this beautiful, and educational book about the history of color and how it plays out in the world through art, politics, perceptions and more.

On Color encourages us to think about what we see, what each color symbolizes  and how it makes us feel.  According to the authors, scientists believe there are more than 17 million different colors.  Red is known to be the color of roses, yet is the rose red or does it just appear to be red? In trying to understand what each individual actually sees, Kastan discusses how length, an objective property, is something that can be proven and verified by measurement, while color is perceived and can only be classified as an aspect… a vague property. 

Did you know there was no Orange before oranges came to Europe?  Van Gogh celebrated the depth of the color in his Basket With Six Oranges, while other artists utilized Orange differently.  How did Yellow become associated with asians and what does color have to do with racial identity?  Green may be a political color in Ireland but in the United States it has become the color of our environmental movement, and ecological concerns.

About 20% of people choose Green as their favorite color (I am one of those people).

For centuries, Blue has been the color of despair. Paintings from Picasso’s Blue period depict his depression.  In the 1670s Newton named the color Indigo – at the time, it was a dye to color things blue.  He also changed ROYGBIP (Purple) to ROYGBIV (Violet) and then, in the late 1800s Impressionism embraced Violet.  Controversy surrounded the use of Violet in art because it did not represent the truth, only the trick of the light.  Black is the color of funerals, the fashionable LBD (little black dress) and the color of darkness.  Is White a mixture of all colors?  Does it mean purity?

“Color doesn’t tell us what that meaning is.  We tell the color; and whatever we say it means, we make it mean…”

So much to enjoy and absorb in this insightful and sophisticated exploration of color, art and history within each chapter, along with current perceptions and discussions… 

This beautiful book wouldn’t be complete without mention of the infamous black and blue/white and gold dress that brought color discussion to the forefront and became an internet sensation!  

I highly recommend this book to history lovers, artists, and all who see in color!  The hardcover edition makes a beautiful gift!

On Color is part of the Bedside Reading program and will be complimentary for guests at the Conrad Hotel in NY later this year.




Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie


My Review:

An emotional and timely novel, Home Fire is a compelling story about Muslim families in crisis.  Isma is the responsible older sister of twins Aneeka and Parvaiz.  Their mother and grandmother have passed away and the twins are now 18 years old, so Isma, having previously put her ambitions on the back burner to look after her siblings, is leaving her home in London to travel to America for a work opportunity.  Aneeka is beautiful and intelligent and will be studying law in London, and Parvaiz vacates the country on a quest to learn about his father, a known jihadist, who fought in Chechnya and Afghanistan.

In the US, Isma meets Eamonn, the son of a British politician who has a Muslim background like she does, but values that appear to be very different.  It seems like a spark is developing between them but then Eamonn returns to London and gets involved  with younger sister, Aneeka.  Parvaiz is unfocused and becomes radicalized by a friend who under false pretenses convinces him to go to Syria where he is told he will learn more about his estranged father but has really been recruited to a terrorist group.  When he decides he doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps but wants to return home to London, the law is not on his side and Aneeka is desperately hoping for help from Eamonn and his powerfully political father.

Government, loyalty to family and religious beliefs all come into play as author Kamila Shamsie skillfully writes about the Muslim immigrant struggle and the difficulties the innocent communities face due to extremists.   I loved this book and believe it has great movie potential.

As Seen on Goodreads:

Home Fire is the suspenseful and heartbreaking story of an immigrant family driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences.

Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.

Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?


About the Author:

Kamila Shamsie is a Pakistani novelist, who writes in the English language. She was brought up in Karachi and attended Karachi Grammar School.

She has a BA in Creative Writing from Hamilton College, and an MFA from the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she was influenced by the Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali.

Kamila wrote her first novel, In The City By The Sea, while she was still at UMass, and it was published in both India and England in 1998. It was soon shortlisted for the ‘John Llewelyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday award in the UK’, and she received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literature in Pakistan in 1999. Her second novel, Salt and Saffron, followed up on her success, and was published in the United States, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Italy. in 2000 she was selected as one of Orange’s 21 Writers of the 21st Century. Her third novel, Kartography, received widespread critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the John Llewelyn Rhys award in the UK. Both “Kartography” and her most recent work, Broken Verses have won the Patras Bukhari Award from the Academy of Letters in Pakistan.

Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota


My Review:

Hilarous and smart, Alisyn Camerota gives us a peak behind the scenes of politics and journalism in the newsroom.  No doubt, inspired by real life experiences on broadcast television, this charming, fictitious debut, Amanda Wakes Up, follows Amanda Gallo, the ambitious cable news journalist as she lives the exciting life of a reporter, struggling with the concept of unbias reporting, always being available to report breaking news and remaining profesional and respected in the workplace while on the home front, managing her mother’s expectations along with challenging boyfriend issues.  Amanda is the anchor at FAIR News and things heat up during the election season when the political candidates have air time.  If you follow politics and watch the news, you will thoroughly enjoy this humorous story that brings to my mind the saying “Life imitates art”!

I met the vibrant and eloquent Alisyn Camerota at a book talk where she spoke about her career as a journalist and some interesting tidbits about news, politics and her book.

Fake News

Camerota believes not all news is created equal.  She said CNN, WSJ, NYT, Washington Post, for example all have rules.  Vetted sources are required (at least 2) and if something reported was found to be not true, it must be retracted immediately.  On blogs and news websites there may be no rules, so check your sources.

Learning the Truth

Camerota said she makes the effort not to share her opinions on air and tries to be open during interviews, looking for the information.  When she knows she is being lied to she challenges the guest.  Often times guests come on tv to spin the truth and deflect; she tries to get them to refocus by redirecting.


When asked how important leaks are Camerota said at the moment they are very important.  Today there are more leaks than ever, not national security leaks, but just insiders revealing the way things work in the government.

Amanda Wakes Up

Camerota was a weekend anchor in 2011-2012 and at that time, during the presidential race, where there were nine republican candidates, she started taking notes for posterity.   Seeing how personal relationships color the news and how the news colors the relationships she decided to write more.  She wanted to capture the breathless quality of working in live news; an anchor needs to understand the facts and be prepared for the unexpected when on the air.  Amanda Wakes Up is based on her 25 years of being in the news.


Currently Alisyn Camerota goes to bed at 8pm and is up at 3am to co-anchor CNN’s New Day.  From 3:30-4:30am she catches up on all that has happened overnight emailing with her producer to request information she needs to challenge the scheduled guests.  At 4:30am she arrives at the studio, gets dressed, hair and makeup done, eats breakfast and is on set for 6:00am.

I enjoyed Amanda Wakes Up and the inside look at broadcast journalism as Camerota brings to light the challenges the media faces today when it comes to honest and unbias reporting, breaking news, fake news and news leaks, along with the perils of women working in early morning tv, and the struggle of life and work balance.

As Seen on Goodreads:

When Amanda Gallo, fresh from the backwater of local TV, lands the job of her dreams at FAIR News—the coveted morning anchor slot—she’s finally made it: a six-figure salary, wardrobe allowance, plenty of on-air face time, and a chance to realize her dreams, not to mention buy herself lunch. Amanda Wakes Up takes off as Amanda feels for the first time that she can make her mom and her best friend proud and think about an actual future with her boyfriend, Charlie. But she finds her journalistic ideals shredded as she struggles to keep up with the issues in a ratings-crazed madhouse—battling for hair and makeup time, coping with her sexist (but scathingly handsome) coanchor, Rob, mixing up the headlines with pajama modeling on the street, and showing Benji Diggs, her media maestro boss, that she’s got what it takes.

As the news heats up in a hotly contested election season and a wild-card candidate, former Hollywood actor Victor Fluke, appears on the scene, Amanda’s pressure-cooker job gets hotter as her personal life unravels. Walking a knife’s edge between ambition and survival, and about to break the biggest story of her career, Amanda must decide what she’s willing to give up to get ahead—and what she needs to hold on to save herself.

About the Author:


Alisyn Camerota is a journalist and cohost of CNN’s morning show New Day. Prior to joining CNN, Camerota was cohost of FOX News Channel’s morning show FOX + Friends Weekend. She has been a national correspondent for NBC’s morning magazine show Real Life and the crime show America’s Most Wanted. She has also worked as a reporter at several local stations, including WHDH in Boston, WLNE in Providence, and WTTG in Washington, D.C. She lives in the New York area with her husband and three children.


Nasty Women

According to Madeline Berg, Forbes staff: When Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman”, he didn’t mean it as a compliment. But subsequently, many women have been embracing the term – if Clinton is nasty, well they want to be nasty, too.

Elizabeth Holliday, lead designer at e-commerce site Swanky Press says, “It has morphed from the insult that Trump intended to a badge of honor for accomplished women.”


Here we have Nasty Women, A Collection of Essays and Accounts On What It Is To Be A Woman In The 21st Century published by 404 Ink, a new, alternative, independent publisher based in the UK. Issue 1 of their literary magazine was published in November 2016 and Nasty Women, their first book, funded on Kickstarter, will be available in March 2017.

Complex issues of being a women in today’s day and age are discussed in this compilation of essays by a diverse group of women from all over the country. Topics include Trump, Brexit, pregnancy, contraception, body heath, mental illness and gun safety along with sexual orientation, harassment, rape and gender violence. Each essay is unique in voice and provides personal opinions specific to the author but is relatable in some way.

A few of my favorite essays in this collection are:

Independence Day by Katie Muriel, a Puerto Rican Feminist
The Difficulty in Being Good by Zeba Talkhani, a writer and production editor educated in Saudi Arabia, India and the UK
The Dark Girl’s Enlightenment by Joelle A. Owusu, a British writer and poet from Surrey

Nasty Women powerfully highlights a wide range of issues and is a must read for all nasty women out there! A great gift for any female in the 21st century!  Available March 8th.