My City, My Los Angeles by Jeryl Brunner

My City, My Los Angeles by Jeryl Brunner, author of My City, My New York (my review), is another book, published in April 2013, that offers some stunning sights and out-of-the way places for tourists to visit.  In Los Angeles, Brunner finds that the actors, actresses, and other celebrities that live there have a lot of advice and stories to share.  Shaun White and Luanne Rice are just some celebs offering their advice in the section on Beaches, Gardens, Hideaways, and Secret Spots, while Lisa Ling and Josh Groban are among those offering advice on the best places to eat.  There’s also advice from nocturnal places to stores, markets, and spas, and sexy spaces to saunters, sails, rides, hikes, and drives.  What’s interesting is that more than one celebrity has said that it takes about 20 years to get used to living in Los Angeles, including Ruth Vitale.

For a newbie to Los Angeles, Brunner’s guide will likely make them feel like an insider, while still ensuring that they hit all the top touristy spots.  In addition to information about each location discussed by the celebrities, readers are given an inside look into the impressions and reasons why celebrities enjoy a particular space and what that space provides them.  Molly Shannon says about the Annenberg Community Beach House, built by William Randolph Hearst for his mistress, “I love the idea that I’m swimming in the mistress’s pool.” (page 4)  Readers will enjoy the back stories as actors and others talk about how they came to Los Angeles, and how they take stay-cations with their spouses to enjoy the sights around them that they normally don’t get to see because they are too busy.

Pink’s has the best hot dogs.  I like the spicy polish because I’m spicy Polish,” says Richard Dreyfuss.  (page 37)

From producers to city councilmen, Brunner has interviewed a wide range of Los Angeles residents to ensure readers get the most varied information possible.  What’s clear from all of these accounts is that LA is right in the middle of everything from beaches to mountains and hiking as well as museums, gardens, some of the best food, and more.  In the more category is the one story of how Celebrity Autobiography began with Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel just reading out loud at a fun space from memoirs of celebrities for fun, and then it grew organically from there.  This story and others seem to be a testament to how artists can create fun and a rewarding project without realizing it — all in a space devoted to nocturnal fun, mingling, and most likely drinking.

One of my favorite openings to a section is in Stores, Markets, & Spas, where Brunner quotes Patti Smith’s plea that we not abandon the paper book and Natalie Compagno’s connection to books from a young age and her determination to buy a closing bookstore devoted to books on travel.  Readers will want to sink into Mandy Patinkin’s Beverly Hot Springs and visit any of the farmer’s markets in the LA area, as well as the unforgettable The Cheese Store of Silver Lake.

My City, My Los Angeles by Jeryl Brunner will make readers’ mouths water for the food in the city and for the relaxation to be had on the beaches and in the mountains.  But more than that, she provides an insider’s look at an American icon.  It makes me want to visit LA, how about you?

***Now I’d love to see one about Washington, D.C.***

About the Author:

For author and journalist, Jeryl Brunner, a good interview is like a tango – complex, soulful, fiery, exciting and illuminating. And she’s been dancing for years, contributing to a variety of publications including O, the Oprah Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Delta Sky, Elle.com, ForbesTraveler.com, Four Seasons, People, Us Weekly, Brides, Parade, AOL and Huffington Post.

Mailbox Monday #216

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Chaotic Compendiums.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received for review:

1.  Come Late to the Love of Birds by Sandra Kasturi from Tightrope Books for review in April.

Sandra’s first collection, The Animal Bridegroom featured an introduction by Neil Gaiman and has sold out. This collection expands on her themes of abject romances, deformed fairytales gone and the astonishing delights of life in glorious 21st century.

Kasturi’s latest poetry book fuses nature’s continuous emotional offerings, our desire to understand ourselves with our passion to be free, devoid of the burden of modern thought.

2.  Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende for a TLC Book Tour in May.

This contemporary coming-of-age story centers upon Maya Vidal, a remarkable teenager abandoned by her parents. Maya grew up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandmother Nini, whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating from Chile in 1973 with a young son, and her grandfather Popo, a gentle African-American astronomer.

When Popo dies, Maya goes off the rails. Along with a circle of girlfriends known as “the vampires,” she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime–a downward spiral that eventually leads to Las Vegas and a dangerous underworld, with Maya caught between warring forces: a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol.

Her one chance for survival is Nini, who helps her escape to a remote island off the coast of Chile. In the care of her grandmother’s old friend, Manuel Arias, and surrounded by strange new acquaintances, Maya begins to record her story in her notebook, as she tries to make sense of her past and unravel the mysteries of her family and her own life.

3.  Market Street by Anita Hughes from St. Martin’s Press for review.

Cassie Blake seems to lead a charmed life as the heiress to Fenton’s, San Francisco’s most exclusive department store. But when she discovers her husband, Aidan, a handsome UC Berkeley professor, has had an affair with a student, she flees to the comfort of her best friend Alexis’s Presidio Heights mansion, where she wonders if she should give their marriage one more chance.

Whether or not she can forgive Aidan is not the only choice Cassie has to make. Cassie’s mother is eager to have her oversee the opening of Fenton’s new Food Emporium, which Fenton’s hopes will become San Francisco’s hottest gourmet shopping destination. Cassie’s true passion has always been food, not fashion, and Cassie suspects her mother might be trying to lure her into the Fenton’s fold by entrusting her with such an exciting opportunity. And then there is James, the architect designing the Emporium, who is quietly falling in love with her.

4.  My City, My Los Angeles by Jeryl Brunner for review.

What do famous people love to do during their free time in Los Angeles? Angelenos and other notables have their rituals that connect them to the city in a unique way: favorite restaurants, museums, beaches, parks, markets, landmarks, haunts, and hideaways. The activities are as diverse and eclectic as the city itself. My City, My Los Angeles gives readers something truly unique––a chance to experience L.A. the way the city’s most notable luminaries do.

Here’s what I purchased/picked up at Novel Places:

5.  One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf, which was on the free book table.

In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town’s children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again. Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.

6.  Everyman Dies Alone by Hans Fallada, translated by Michael Hofmann, for book club in March — yes, I’m behind in reading this one for the club discussion.

It presents a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front. With nothing but their grief and each other against the awesome power of the Reich, they launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in.

In the end, it’s more than an edge-of-your-seat thriller, more than a moving romance, even more than literature of the highest order—it’s a deeply stirring story of two people standing up for what’s right, and for each other.

7.  2017 by Olga Slavnikova, translated by Marian Schwartz.

In the year 2017 in Russia-exactly 100 years after the revolution-poets and writers are obsolete, class distinctions are painfully sharp, and spirits intervene in the lives of humans from their home high in the mythical Riphean Mountains.

Professor Anfilogov, a wealthy and emotionless man, sets out on an expedition to unearth priceless rubies that no one else has been able to locate. Young Krylov, a talented gem cutter who Anfilogov had taken under his wing, is seeing off his mentor at the train station when he is drawn to a mysterious stranger who calls herself Tanya. A scandalous affair ensues, but trouble arises in the shape of Krylov’s ex-wife Tamara and a spy who appears at the lovers’ every rendezvous. As events unfold, Krylov begins to learn more than he bargained for about the women in his life and realizes why he recognizes the spy from somewhere deep within his past. Meanwhile, Anfilogov’s expedition reveals ugly truths about man’s disregard for nature and the disasters stemming from insatiable greed.

What did you receive?