Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Review of The Recessionistas by Alexandra Lebenthal

The Recessionistas

The Recessionistas by Alexandra Lebenthal

The blurb:
It's the day after Labor Day, 2008, and the elite universe of New York's Upper East Side is about to unravel along with the economy.  Socialite Grigsby Somerset is barely aware of her changing world and has no idea her investment banker husband, Blake, is about to enter into a devil's bargain with hedge fund owner John Cutter.  As autumn unfolds, Grigsby's fairytale life starts to unwind.  Street-smart Renee Parker has been hired as John's executive assistant and is convinced that something is amiss with her new boss.  Renee enlists her friend Sasha Silver, CEO of Silver Partners, to help her decipher what is happening.  They soon discover that John is nearly ruined, except for the assets he is hiding in the Cayman Islands from his wife, Mimi, and has concocted with Blake a scheme to redeem himself.  This tale of expulsion from a modern-day Garden of Eden captures what happens when economic decline spells ruin for Manhattan's pampered elite.

The Recessionistas can safely be characterized as chicklit set in the middle of the financial meltdown in New York City.    While Lebenthal liberally creates unsympathetic characters like the wives of investment bankers, unscrupulous money managers, and backstabbing bosses,  we meet: 
  • Grigsby Somerset- an Alpha for as long as she can remember.  Surrounded by people who want to be like her, she her occupation is centered towards the right charities, clothes, and getting her daughter into the correct schools.  Her staff includes her personal trainer, stylist, decorator, and she's angling for a personal assistant.  
  • Blake Somerset - Grigsby's husband and a banker at Lehman Brothers.  A former classmate of John Cutter from Harvard Business School. 
  • Sasha Silver - CEO of SAMCO (Silver Asset Management Co) who is regretting having sold her company to the larger BridgeVest Financial.  She's hardworking, glamorous, and savvy with the perfect husband.  Sasha is having the most trouble dealing with Harry Mullaugh, BridgeVest's CEO and a showdown of sorts is inevitable.
  • John Cutter - heads Flying Point Capital, a "hot, new fund" with aggressive bets in the subprime mortgage market.   John is a notoriously difficult boss but a top producer.
  • Mimi Cutter - married to John Cutter and recently a "Greenwich wife".  She's has a art history degree from Harvard and has amassed an art collection that reflects her excellent taste and their unlmited funds.
  • Renee Parker - a Spence and Princeton graduate,  John Cutter's personal assistant, and despite her working class roots (her mother works as Grigsby and Blake Somerset's maid), Renee regularly appears in the society pages and as an active member of several of the "right charities." 
  • Amanda Belden - Renee Parker's nemesis at Spence and Director of Marketing at John Cutter's fund. 
The book's strength is in Lebenthal's coverage of the recession as it slowly unfolds.  She breaks down the events that caused the sudden collapse of the banking system while simultaneously painting a picture of how these events impact the daily lives of her memorable cast of characters.

ISBN-10: 0446563676 - Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (August 9, 2010), 320 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of Amazon:
Alexandra Lebenthal is the socially prominent President and CEO of Lebenthal & Co, and its wealth management division, Alexandra & James Inc. Her father is Jim Lebenthal, who made his name in municipal bonds. She also serves as a board member of the School of American Ballet and is involved with several other leading New York cultural institutions including The Business Council of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Capital Campaign for the Museum of the City of New York, the American Museum of Natural History, and the New York Botanical Garden.

Listen to an interview with Alexandra Lebenthal on Blog Talk Radio. Click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/335bbqv

Thank you to Brianne and Grand Central Publishing for this review opportunity!

Book Blog Tour of Waxed by Robert Rave & giveaway

Welcome to the TLC Book Blog Tour of Waxed: A Novel by Robert Rave.

Waxed: A Novel
The blurb:
Waxed is the story of three relationship-challenged sisters working together at New York's hottest waxing salon, catering to socialites, actresses, and regular folk alike.

Yank.  On the surface, glamorous Carolina Impresario -- big sister and owner of Impresarios--unapologetically wants it all, but secretly she is caught between her successful boyfriend adn teh only man she has ever truly loved.

Pluck.  After a painful divorce, middle sister Anne reluctuatnly reenters the workforce and puts on a brave face while attempting to raise her children, one of whom is decidedly different.

Tear.  Newlywed Sofia is a hybrid of her two older sisters: She loves the idea of a domestic life like Anna's, but is entranced by New York nightlife and a new best friend, resulting in some major complications at home.

Amid the sticky confines of a perfectly manicured world, these three sisters search for love, friendship, and better versions of themselves.

Waxed is a funny and heartfelt novel that illustrates the lengths to which  some people will go to present a seemingly flawless exterior, even when it involves pain. . . .

Looking for a fun, light, New York chicklit novel to bring to the Park or the beach?  Waxed will surely entertain.  The three sisters are interesting in their own right, but the family dynamics and the drama of their love lives keeps Waxed moving at a quick pace.

It might be my current diet woes, but I was drawn to the middle sister Anna who is trying to get back into the workforce and finds herself outdated, overweight, and overwhelmed.   Anna navigates office politics, her new job, and taking care of her kids, albeit there are many misses, she doesn't give up.  Her luck starts to change with her home visit to New York socialite JJ.  

Carolina, the glamorous and successful sister, has her own hangups which manifest themselves in her OCD and controlling nature.  The traits don't hold her back though,  the perfectionist standards have made her salon the undisputed best in NYC.  It takes considerable effort for Caroline to keep everything in balance and relaxing her guard at the wrong time can take her down a rocky path.  Fortunately, even though she doesn't realize it, she has people watching her back.

The youngest and the peacemaker of the family, Sofia is facing the pains of early adjustment in her marriage.  Gorgeous, glamorous, and devoted to her new husband, Sofia occasionally misses the excitement and fun of going out in the City.  But she buckles down and learns to cook, decorate, and all the pastimes that she associates with nesting.  A surprise friendship with a client opens a window to another world and Sofia starts to explore NYC again -- this time without her husband but secure that her new friendship doesn't strain her marriage.

In Waxed Robert Rave gives us characters that we can cheer for and a fun escape from reality.   Friendships, romance, adventure, intrigue, and heartache in NYC -- Waxed is a satisfying read.

ISBN-10: 0312544375 - Trade Paperback $14.99
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (August 3, 2010), 320 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
A former New York City publicist, Robert Rave has worked on numerous public relations campaigns and high-profile special events in the lifestyle, fashion, nightlife, and entertainment industries.  He is the author of Spin, and currently lives in Los Angeles.  Visit his website at www.robertrave.com


To enter, please share one of your beauty rituals.

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
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The contest is limited to US  only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on September 15, 2010.

Thank you so much to Robert Rave & TLC Book Tours for sponsoring this giveaway!