Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Goodbye Girl...

After a few re-assessments and decisions in light of my current situation and the past year, I've decided to take some time out from this blog indefinately so I can get back on track with some of the things I've missed as I've been spending a lot of time blogging and doing other things/other websites which can, if you're like me, turn out to be very counter productive in certain situations. Sharing my story with you has been an absolute delight, and I'll continue to do so in the future!
Thank you so much for showing your support, it really does mean a lot to me. I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas and New Year, and best wishes for 2010 - I sincerely hope it's a good one!
Cleo xoxo

P.S .....
.... this year hasn't been a good one for me.... so i'm hoping 2010 will be much better. It's time to click my heels three times and make a wish..............

Monday, 14 December 2009

Natalie Portman decides to slay Zombies...

Brothers star Natalie Portman has confirmed that she will appear as the lead in the upcoming film adaptation of the New York Times bestselling book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. She is also set to produce the movie.

Released in April 2009, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a mash-up story that puts a modern twist to Jane Austen’s classic 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice, by injecting into the narrative a number of pop-culture elements, including, as the title suggests, hungry and violent zombies. The book was written by American author Seth Grahame-Smith and published by Quirk Books, which, after the book’s surprising success, went on to release Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, another mash-up novel based on another beloved Jane Austen classic.

The film rights to the book was sold to a then undisclosed production company around the same time it was published. The buyer turned out to be either of the two companies tied to the project as producers, Dark Films and Portman’s own company, Handsome Charlie Films.

Portman will produce with Annette Savitch, plus Darko Films’ Richard Kelly, Sean McKittrick and Ted Hamm.

Described as an expanded version of the Austen classic, the book tells the timeless story of a woman’s quest for love and independence amid the outbreak of a deadly virus that turns the undead into vicious killers.

"Natalie and I are longtime passionate fans of Jane Austen’s books and this a fresh, fun and thought-provoking way to approach her work,” Savitch said. “The idea of zombies running rampant in 19th Century England may sound odd, but it lends a modern sense of urgency to a well known love story.”

I also found this article via Oprah about what books are currently on Natalie's bookshelf:

1. the ministry of special cases - nathan englander

In Argentina's "dirty war" in the '70s, the military government had thousands of activists and political opponents "disappeared." This novel is about a mother and father dealing with the disappearance of their son. It's a moving book that also has a lot of dark comedy in it. For instance, the parents accept free nose jobs in exchange for a debt. It also captures the comic absurdity of the bureaucracy of a dictatorship. What's most interesting to me is, as one character makes clear, the truth tellers in life are so often written off as crazy.

2. sun under wood - robert haas

In college, I took a poetry class with Jorie Graham, an amazing poet. She directed me to Hass, and his stuff moved me so much. His writing is very American, spare, clean. And manly. There's a ruggedness to his poems. One in particular I've always loved is called "Dragonflies Mating." It combines a sense of abandonment in childhood with natural images. I don't even know exactly what it means, but I think that's what poetry does—it evokes all these feelings without our really understanding why or how it's done.

3. cloud atlas - david mitchell

This was the present I gave everyone I knew for three years. It's six different stories told in different time periods and genres: One is historical fiction, another is a '70s thriller mystery, the sixth is a post­apocalyptic story. It's one of the most beautiful, entertaining, challenging books—something that takes all your attention. I think the stories are meditations on violence, specifically the necessity of violence. The book ends with a beautiful exchange: "…only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean! Yet what is an ocean but a multitude of drops."

4. what is the what - dave eggers

I read about Sudan every day, and I didn't understand what was going on there until this book. Dave Eggers tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who walked across the country, the largest in Africa. And then Deng spent 13 years in refugee camps before being resettled in Atlanta. It's a powerful story of what he survived. There are lighter moments in the book: He and his roommates buy a tampon box because they think it's so pretty. And there are less-kind instances of American behavior in the book—Deng was held hostage in his home and robbed. I didn't know that church groups had sponsored these men. There's so much anti-immigration stuff going on in the States right now, it's heartening to see that people worked to reach out to others who are in need of what our country has to offer.

5. a tale of love and darkness - amos oz

I'm planning on directing a film of this book, which is essentially an autobiography tracing the author's own family's move from Europe to what is now Israel and the disappointment of immigration. His mother killed herself, and he's spent much of his life creating scenarios of why that happened. The process of meditating on her life makes him into a writer. The book is also about the birth of a language. He talks about his great-uncle, who was one of the architects of modern Hebrew, and how there didn't used to be a word for shirt until he created it, because Hebrew had been a biblical language. It's so interesting to think about what comes before the process of naming something—how you struggle when you don't have the words to say what you feel.

6. eating animals - jonathan safran foer

Jonathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals changed me from a twenty-year vegetarian to a vegan activist. I've always been shy about being critical of others' choices because I hate when people do that to me. I'm often interrogated about being vegetarian (e.g., "What if you find out that carrots feel pain, too? Then what'll you eat?").

I've also been afraid to feel as if I know better than someone else -- a historically dangerous stance (I'm often reminded that "Hitler was a vegetarian, too, you know"). But this book reminded me that some things are just wrong. Perhaps others disagree with me that animals have personalities, but the highly documented torture of animals is unacceptable, and the human cost Foer describes in his book, of which I was previously unaware, is universally compelling.

The human cost of factory farming -- both the compromised welfare of slaughterhouse workers and, even more, the environmental effects of the mass production of animals -- is staggering. Foer details the copious amounts of pig shit sprayed into the air that result in great spikes in human respiratory ailments, the development of new bacterial strains due to overuse of antibiotics on farmed animals, and the origins of the swine flu epidemic, whose story has gripped the nation, in factory farms.

I read the chapter on animal shit aloud to two friends -- one is from Iowa and has asthma and the other is a North Carolinian who couldn't eat fish from her local river because animal waste had been dumped in it as described in the book. They had never truly thought about the connection between their environmental conditions and their food. The story of the mass farming of animals had more impact on them when they realized it had ruined their own backyards.

But what Foer most bravely details is how eating animal pollutes not only our backyards, but also our beliefs. He reminds us that our food is symbolic of what we believe in, and that eating is how we demonstrate to ourselves and to others our beliefs: Catholics take communion -- in which food and drink represent body and blood. Jews use salty water on Passover to remind them of the slaves' bitter tears. And on Thanksgiving, Americans use succotash and slaughter to tell our own creation myth -- how the Pilgrims learned from Native Americans to harvest this land and make it their own.

And as we use food to impart our beliefs to our children, the point from which Foer lifts off, what stories do we want to tell our children through their food?

I remember in college, a professor asked our class to consider what our grandchildren would look back on as being backward behavior or thinking in our generation, the way we are shocked by the kind of misogyny, racism, and sexism we know was commonplace in our grandparents' world. He urged us to use this principle to examine the behaviors in our lives and our societies that we should be a part of changing. Factory farming of animals will be one of the things we look back on as a relic of a less-evolved age.

I say that Foer's ethical charge against animal eating is brave because not only is it unpopular, it has also been characterized as unmanly, inconsiderate, and juvenile. But he reminds us that being a man, and a human, takes more thought than just "This is tasty, and that's why I do it." He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore's Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don't believe in rape, but if it's what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it).

But Foer makes his most impactful gesture as a peacemaker, when he unites the two sides of the animal eating debate in their reasoning. Both sides argue: We are not them. Those who refrain from eating animals argue: We don't have to go through what they go through -- we are not them. We are capable of making distinctions between what to eat and what not to eat (Americans eat cow but not dog, Hindus eat chicken but not cow, etc.). We are capable of considering others' minds and others' pain. We are not them. Whereas those who justify eating animals say the same thing: We are not them. They do not merit the same value of being as us. They are not us.

And so Foer shows us, through Eating Animals, that we are all thinking along the same lines: We are not them. But, he urges, how will we define who we are?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Books Of The Week...

Here are my [four, yes FOUR!] recommendations for book of the week.... they were all just too good - read them, comment, and tell me what you think! And yes, I am aware that many of my choices are being currently remade for film/tv/theatre picks but there's a reason behind this - it's usually because these gems of literature are just too good to pass up!

1. small island - andrea levy
Small Island is an epic love story about the determined pursuit of dreams in the face of seemingly insurmountable barriers.
Set against the backdrop of the Second World War in a time when landlords would put up signs that read "No Irish, no coloureds, no dogs", Small Island follows the interlocking lives of Londoner Queenie , the young Jamaican couple who become her lodgers, Gilbert and Hortense, Queenie's husband Bernard and the mysterious and handsome Michael.
From the heat and hustle of life in Forties Jamaica through to the devastation of London in the Blitz, Small Island is an ambitious yet personal tale, which deftly touches on the weighty themes of empire, prejudice and war with a gentle touch and a warm, uplifting generosity of spirit.

exclusive questions and answers with author andrea levy:

What was the inspiration for the book?
The arrival of the ship Empire Windrush in 1948 with nearly 500 Caribbean migrants on board, seems to have become a marker for modern Britain's multicultural beginnings. My dad was on that ship, one of the 'pioneers'. That's what first inspired me to write Small Island. I wanted to explore my parents' experiences when they first came to this country from Jamaica, and what it meant to the people they came to live amongst.

How closely does it mirror your family's experience?
My research for the book began with chatting to my mum. From there I read lots of books, talked to my mother-in-law, interviewed men who had been in the services during the Second World War, etc. Some of my family's experiences certainly appear in the book, but other material was gleaned from sources outside the family.

What do you think appealed most to people?
The book tells a familiar story but from a different perspective. It's a tale of human endeavour, endurance, pain, triumph and, most of all, love.

Did the characters' experience resonate with many of your audience?
I have received many letters from people kindly telling me how the book resonated with them. And all kinds of people, too – young, old, black, white, male and female. That has surprised me the most – the breadth of people who have responded as if this was their story, too.

2. le misanthrope [the misanthrope] - moliere

This work centers on the protagonist Alceste, whose wholesale rejection of his culture's polite social conventions make him tremendously unpopular. In the first act of the play, he states: “…Mankind has grown so base, / I mean to break with the whole human race”. However, this conviction manifests itself in the primary conflict of the play, which consists of Alceste's intense love for Célimène, a flirtatious young woman who pays great attention to social appearances and conventions. Alceste's determination to reject society and its supposed dishonesty is countered by his desire to share a life with Célimène, whose actions oppose all that he stands for. Alceste has other women pining for him, such as the moralistic Arsinoé and the honest Eliante. Yet his preference lies in Célimène. His deep feelings for the latter primarily serve to counter his negative expressions about mankind, since the fact that he has such feelings includes him amongst those he so fiercely criticizes. Judging by his bold assertions, the reader may initially take him for a strong, deliberate man who will let nothing stand in his way of implementing his decision. But his reaction to Celimene’s treatment of him reveals his inherent frailty, and the reader learns that he may wish to leave mankind behind, but mankind will not leave him so easily. The plot then thickens to involve a court justice that results from Alceste's refusal to praise Oronte's paltry love poem. Alceste typically refuses to dole out false compliments, and this practice lands him in court. Some of the most memorable parts of the play are the constant plays on words and the humorous jibes at society and its rules. Acaste and Clitandre are the comedic people for this show. They love to gossip with Celimene. Philinte represents a foil for Alceste's moral extremism, and speaks throughout the first act of the play on the necessity of self-censorship and polite flattery to smooth over the rougher textures of a complex society. Alceste, on the other hand, believes that people should be completely honest and should not put on pretenses just to be considered polite in society. Eventually, Alceste's inability to cope with society and its inescapable affectations causes him to forsake Célimène. He tells Célimène that he will forgive her and marry her if she runs away with him to exile, but she refuses because she believes that she is too young and beautiful to leave society and all her suitors behind. Philinte, for his part, marries Eliante and the pair receives Alceste's blessing.

Damien Lewis and Keira Knightley take on the two central leads [Alceste] and [Celimene/Jennifer] at the Comedy Theatre, starting this month until March '10.

3. conversations with god; book 1; an uncommon dialogue - neale donald walsch

Walsch described the inception of the books as follows: at a low period in his life, Walsch wrote an angry letter to God asking questions about why his life wasn't working. After writing down all of his questions, he heard a voice over his right shoulder say: "Do you really want an answer to all these questions or are you just venting?" Though when he turned around he saw no one there, Walsch felt answers to his questions filling his mind and decided to write them down. The ensuing dialogue became the Conversations with God books.
Even if you're not religious, it is an refreshingly good read, and answers many questions with a sincerity that is incredibly heart warming. britney spears and nikki reed have also read the books, and if you're a fan of celeb trivia like me, these things are good to know :-)

4. the second sex - simone de beauvoir
the second sex is one of the most renonwed works of feminist literature, and in it, simone breaks down why women are 'women.' essential for tracking how far we have come as women in a predominantly male society, and helps to define what women really are all about. an awesome read.

The image of him is everywhere I look, and impossible to escape from. I thought I would be in extreme pain, but all I feel is nothing.
I looked up slowly. "I'd like some more nothing." I said, without any emotion in my voice and held my glass out expectantly, waiting for it to be refilled as I stared down at the carpet beneath me. Jude looked at me, and filled my glass up again with vodka, before quietly putting the half empty bottle back down on the floor between us, my legs crossed underneath me. Jude sat quietly, waiting for me to speak as the atmosphere filled with silence.
"I should have known all along.... it was all just too good to be true."
"Have you had any contact with him since? Has he tried to phone you, give you some clue as to why..." Jude started to babble to make up for the overwhelming silence but soon trailed off as I looked up from under my lashes and gave him a cold, blank stare.
"You're his best friend, Jude. If he could talk to anyone about all of this, he'd talk to you." I said, not looking at him.
It was now the evening after the dinner party, and I hadn't been able to move throughout the afternoon. Jude had stayed with me and made sure I got in the shower, changed my clothes, even forced me to eat something, which I flatly refused to do. My mind had been working on overdrive thinking about what had actually happened, whether it had been an actual reality or a dream, and why Daniel had left me with nothing but a cryptic clue which did nothing but contradict his actions.
I was covered up with a blanket, and wore black leggings and a black oversized Ramones T-shirt that I had had ever since I was a teenager. The first thing I had reached for that morning was one of Daniel's many large shirts which I wore around the house all the time, but this would only make the throbbing pain of losing him flare up all over again; a rekindled flame that would only grow bigger and bigger, and prove difficult to fully extinguish.
"What did he mean...... stay away from Sonja...." Jude started again, and I could only hope and pray he would take the hint that his efforts were being wasted on me, but I no longer had the energy to speak.
"I..... I.... need to get out of here.... I need to clear my head. I'm going to go for a walk. Thanks.... for everything." I said to Jude, as I started to get up and slowly start to compose myself so I could brave the elements outside. Jude slowly got up and stood still in front of me. He gave me a smile full of sympathy and nodded his head slowly. He walked away from me and out into the hallway. I followed him, and reached for my trench coat and a scarf which I wrapped around me absent-mindedly. We walked towards the door together, before Jude stopped in his tracks and turned and looked at me.
"Are you sure I can't drop you anywhere.... we could go to get something to eat... coffee maybe? I'm not sure you should be on your own."
"I haven't been on my own. You've been here all this time, watching me slowly combust with alcohol, but right now, I just need to be on my own. I could use the fresh air."
"Sure." Jude said, putting a hand on my shoulder. As his hands landed on my skin, I closed my eyes and breathed in. Somehow, I wanted to take comfort, reassurance, and optimism from this small show of comfort. When I breathed out and opened my eyes to see Jude again, I realised that he had made me feel a lot better, more than I had given him credit for. I gave him a small smile as we both walked through the doorframe, closing the door hard behind me. Jude walked back towards his car and I watched him for a matter of seconds before I turned away from him and walked in the other direction.
I looked up and could see the dark clouds rolling in as the sky began to slowly change from blue to grey, and before long, I could feel small droplets of rain start to fall lightly around me and on my face. I looked down to find that my boots were far from waterproof, but somehow I could feel myself in the mood for a challenge, and wondered exactly for how long and for how far I could weather the upcoming storm and its elements before I had had enough. With everything that had happened, I needed something simple, effective, and uncomplicated to focus my energy on.
I wrapped my trench tighter around me and started to walk faster. I walked past gramercy park, bryant park, and through the meatpacking district to get to one of my favourite places in the world - a favourite place of mine from childhood that I shared with my brother Darren - Phoenix Point was always the first place I went to when I needed to escape, find relief, hide away from the world, relax, or when I needed somewhere to think - it had always been one of those places where if something was bothering me, looking out at the view and the scenery of the rest of the city would always help to lighten my load.
Fast forward 30 minutes, and I'm there, staring out at the skyline in front of me, when I realize someone has interrupted my precious moments of time up here, alone.
I turn around, infuriating, not being able to understand why this city never sleeps and allows me some time alone, I look around, only to find Daniel staring back at me, unmoving, and perfectly still.
My heart skips and my mind starts to race, and I quickly remember that I need to breathe. Quick gasps of air escape my throat and I can only imagine that he is here to taunt me, to remind me what I can't have.
"What are you doing here?" I say to him slowly. "How did you find me?"
"I just thought you would need some time to think.... and I imagined you'd be here. I had to find you. I just wanted to see you. Now that I know you're OK, I can leave now..." Daniel said, his eyes avoiding mine.
He turned away from me, but something inside of me snapped. I ran towards him and grabbed him by the arm, using all of the strength inside me to turn his body back towards mine, and whether he wanted to look at me, to face me or not, I didn't care. I didn't care what he wanted, I wanted him, a small part of me had always wanted him, even when the damage like now, seemed irreperable.
"Look at me....." I said, searching for any emotion in his face, which he struggled to keep blank.
We faced each other now, stony and silent in our expressions and body language.
"You came to find me for a reason. Why have you come back?" I said, wanting to know the truth.
"I don't love Sonja. I never have, and I never will. What I said to you that night was true. You need to stay away from Sonja. But I can't stay away from you. I can't leave while you stay here alone."
"What are you saying Daniel?"
"Sonja called me the night of the party and said that if I didn't break up with you for good, she would kill you. She promised that she would, and having seen the look in her eyes, I believed her. I had to say anything I could think of to break up with you, and you're pretty gullible, and I'm a good liar when I want to be, so it wasn't difficult. But we need to get away. Its been killing me, not being able to be with you. But we need to leave. I don't know if we can come back.


Saturday, 5 December 2009

sweet little lies...

If you picked up 'LA Candy' last year from Lauren Conrad, you might be interested to know what happens next as her bittersweet saga continues in her Sophomore effort 'Sweet Little Lies'. Well, today is your lucky day, as TBAE has an exclusive excerpt just for you:


Just before 9 a.m. on Monday morning, Jane pulled into her usual parking spot behind Fiona Chen's building. She turned off the engine and carefully searched the entire lot through the window. Good—no photographers. She’d had to fend off two of them outside the apartment earlier. They were so obnoxious, shouting questions at her about Braden and Jesse—"Jane, why did Braden move to New York?" "Jane, what do you think of Jesse's new girlfriend?"—and snapping picture after picture of her while she gritted her teeth and tried to ignore them. She hadn't heard anything about Braden going to New York or Jesse having a new girlfriend. But she knew better than to talk to paparazzi.

Still . . . the thought of Braden and Jesse moving on without her, and so quickly, made her heart feel heavy. Neither had tried to contact her since the Gossip story broke. Obviously she hadn't tried to contact them, either. She knew she had to at some point. She owed Braden an apology—for hooking up with him when she was so mixed-up about everything, and for inadvertently getting him involved in this whole mess. And she owed Jesse an even bigger apology. She had no idea how she could possibly make things right after cheating on him, and in front of the whole world, too.

There was one guy she didn't owe anything—and he seemed to have no problem getting in touch with her: Caleb had texted her yesterday, from Vail—something about the awesome powder, and did she remember when they went to Tahoe during her senior year, and she wiped out on her new snowboard, like, twenty times? A few minutes later, he had texted her a photo of her lying in a pile of snow and laughing hysterically. Jane had no idea why he was sending her this stuff. It was nice that he was thinking about her. But confusing. And she didn't need "confusing" right now, on top of everything else.

Riding up to her office in the crowded elevator, Jane felt butterflies in her stomach. And not the good kind. She hadn't been to work in over a week, and she was really nervous about facing Fiona. She had sent her boss a quick email yesterday, saying that she would be back in the office on Monday. Fiona had responded right away, writing simply: SEE YOU TOMORROW AT 9 SHARP.

So what was in store for Jane at 9 sharp? A furious Fiona waiting with a long lecture? A pink slip, telling her that she had two weeks to find new employment? Maybe one followed by the other. Can't wait. To make things worse, the L.A. Candy cameras were up there already, prepared to shoot Jane's return to work. When Trevor had called Jane yesterday, Jane had felt compelled to pick up after ignoring him for so long. He asked her if it would be okay for them to shoot her at work the following day. After going MIA on him, what could she say but yes?

Much to her surprise, Trevor had been really sweet on the phone and didn't sound angry at all about the Gossip thing or her disappearing to Cabo. Which was weird, since he'd sounded so stressed in his messages. He told her that he was happy she was back, and that everything was going to be fine. He said that he'd been thinking about how to present "recent events" on the show, and thought her story line should be that she had cheated on Jesse (without naming Braden, of course), and that she wasn’t sure who had spilled the news to Jesse. Maybe she could confess to someone, like her coworker and friend Hannah Stratton, that she felt really bad about the whole thing. It would be Jane's opportunity to tell her side of the story. He promised her that after people saw her side, everything would be better. And that was that. Trevor added that he would talk to each of the girls—Madison, Gaby, Scarlett, and Hannah—to clue them in on his ideas.

Jane was relieved that Trevor was being so nice about everything. At the same time, she wasn't sure how she felt about his interpretation of "recent events." Trevor's story line wasn't exactly accurate. On the other hand, it sounded a lot more PG—and more protective of Braden’s privacy—than what had really happened.

Jane also didn’t like the idea of Trevor talking to Hannah about his ideas. Hannah wasn’t one of the main girls on the show—just someone who was lucky or unlucky (depending on your perspective) enough to have a desk across from Jane, which meant that she was almost always shot as part of the office “scenes.” Hannah wasn’t used to dealing with Trevor and Dana. Couldn’t he leave her out of this?

Trevor had also emailed Jane some short scripts he wanted her to record later that day, at the recording studio. They were the voice-overs that Jane always narrated for the show, recapping previous episodes for each new episode. Months ago, before the series premiere, Dana had told Jane that she had been chosen for the voice-overs because she was thought to be the most relatable of the four girls. Whatever that meant.

Jane pulled out her blackberry, opened the e-mail and glanced over the lines briefly as several people got out on the fourth floor. (The elevator was moving soooo slowly today—and Jane didn’t want to be late on her first day back.) One of the lines caught her attention: Last week at the gym, Scarlett and Gaby met a couple of cute guys from Texas. Will there be a double date in their future?

What? Scar and Gaby were going to the gym together now? Scar couldn’t stand Gaby, or at least, that was what she had always claimed. Jane couldn’t picture Scar and Gaby working out together—much less going out on a double date together. Had the world turned upside down while she was in Cabo?

The elevator doors finally opened on the fifth floor, and Jane stepped out. She was disoriented for a moment when she saw that the waiting area—usually so peaceful, with its dark gold walls, soft lighting, and miniature Zen garden complete with trickling waterfall—had been overrun by the PopTV crew. A couple of guys were running around with equipment, while Dana and Matt, one of the directors, were having a conversation by the receptionist’s desk.

Dana snapped to attention when she saw Jane. “Good morning, Jane! Hope you had a great Christmas. Not to rush you, but we gotta get a mike on you right away.”

“Not to rush you”? “Good morning”? Had someone slipped a Prozac into Dana’s morning coffee?

“Fiona’s all ready for you in her office,” Matt added. Matt was a nice guy, even though Jane had been confused by his presence the first time they met. After all, L.A. Candy was a reality show. Why was a director necessary? Like someone had to “direct” her getting a cup of coffee or chatting with her friends? Jane had quickly figured out that he was there to direct the shots, not the girls. His job was to watch all the cameras at the same time on his portable screen and make sure they got the necessary footage.

Matt frowned into his headset. “Or . . . not. What, Ramon?” he said to the person on the other end. “Well, fine. Let me know when she’s done with hair and makeup.” Jane knew that Fiona called in her own hair and makeup stylist on shooting days. The boss lady pretended not to care about things like her TV image, but she did.

One of the crew members came over and handed Jane a small silver microphone attached to a wire. “You wearing a bra under that?” he asked, nodding at her pale blue halter dress. That question used to make Jane blush. But she was used to it by now.

“No, it’s got, like, this built-in bra. But I can tape it onto the dress.”

“Great. You know the drill.”

As Jane worked on the mike (it created a little humpback under her dress, which she covered with her hair), she saw the receptionist out of the corner of her eye giving her a little wave. Naomi was petite, blond, stylish, and whispered most of the time, not because she was naturally soft-spoken but because she was terrified of Fiona and took her philosophy of keeping a calm, tranquil atmosphere very literally. Which was pretty hilarious, given the chaos Jane and the PopTV crew brought to the office. Jane waved back. It was nice to see a friendly face.

“Okay, Fiona’s ready for you now,” Matt called out to Jane. “Let’s get a quick shot of you coming out of the elevators and saying hi to Natalie.”

“Naomi,” Naomi whispered.

“What?” Matt frowned.

“Her name’s Naomi,” Jane said helpfully.

“Naomi. And then Naomi will tell you that Fiona wants to see you, and you’ll head on back,” Matt went on. After shooting the exciting scene for twenty minutes—they had to let several crowded elevators go by, and then a FedEx delivery guy wandered into the frame, requiring a retake—Jane was ready to go face Fiona. Well, readyish.

Fiona sat behind her desk, busily typing on her computer. Two camera guys were in opposite corners of the room, filming. Forty-something and striking, Fiona was wearing one of her trademark all-black ensembles. Her freshly done hair and makeup looked lovely, especially with the help of the muted lighting, which Jane knew had taken the crew about two hours to achieve. They always had to go through this when filming in Fiona’s office. The fact that she insisted they leave her office exactly the way they found it meant they couldn’t leave the enormous lights in there and had to bring them in and out every time they filmed. “Good morning, Fiona,” Jane said with a nervous smile.

Fiona stopped typing and glanced up. “Good morning, Jane,” she said simply, nodding toward the chair on the opposite side of her desk.

Jane sat down on one of Fiona’s prized Eames chairs, set her bag on the floor, and waited. She mentally braced herself for the worst: Your behavior has disgraced this entire company! You’ve made one mistake too many! You’re fired! You’re—

“I have a new assignment for you,” Fiona announced. “Crazy Girl has hired us to do a Valentine’s Day party to launch their new drink flavor. I’m putting you in charge of it, and Hannah will be helping out. Ruby Slipper will be doing the PR, so you and Hannah will be coordinating with Gaby Garcia.”

Jane was stunned. No chastisement from Fiona for leaving without notice? It was as though nothing had happened. It was business as usual. And a new assignment? With a major client like Crazy Girl?

Also, how was it that she was going to be working on the assignment with Gaby, who happened to be on L.A. Candy, too? Had Trevor intervened somehow?

“The budget will be . . . Why aren’t you writing this all down?” Fiona demanded sharply.

“What? Oh, I’m sorry!” Flustered, Jane reached into her bag and pulled out a small notebook and pen. Despite the unanswered questions in her mind, Jane couldn’t help but feel kind of excited. Crazy Girl was a new brand of energy drink designed to appeal to a female market that might be put off by seemingly macho energy drinks like Katapult and Dragon Fuel. Even though it was new, the Crazy Girl name seemed to be all over the place. Now it would be all over a Valentine’s Day party organized by her, Jane Roberts. It was pretty amazing.

Fiona proceeded to give Jane more instructions about the assignment, while Jane took notes in her nearly illegible shorthand. When Fiona was finished, Jane said, “Great. I’m on it. I’m really excited about working on this project.”

“Crazy Girl is a very important new client for us, Jane. I need your full attention here.”


“I haven’t had a chance to discuss this with Hannah, so please fill her in.”

“No problem.”

As Jane put her notebook away, she remembered something. “Isn’t . . . didn’t we have another party scheduled for Valentine’s Day? Anna Payne’s wedding or recommitment ceremony or something?”

“Recommitment ceremony. And no, that’s been canceled. She and her husband split up.”

“Really? What happened?”

“Apparently she cheated on him with his best friend while he was in rehab.”

Jane felt heat rising to her cheeks. “Okay, well, um . . . is there anything else?”

“No, that will be all,” Fiona said without looking up from her computer screen.

As the camera guys started to move their equipment to film in her and Hannah’s office, Jane gathered her stuff and stood up. And sat back down again. She had a few minutes between scenes, and she had something she wanted to say to Fiona off-camera. She waited as the room slowly emptied.

“Um, Fiona?”

“Yes?” Fiona picked up her cell and began punching in a number.

“I’m . . . well, I wanted to apologize. For everything that happened, and for disappearing last week. It was really unprofessional of me, and I’m really, really sorry.”

Fiona stared at Jane, then clicked her phone shut. Her dark eyes softened. “Apology accepted,” she said gently. “You’ve been through a lot. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for you. But you’re a strong, smart girl, and you’ll survive this. I have faith in you.”

Jane blinked. Had Fiona, the world’s scariest boss (in Jane’s opinion, anyway), just decided to be human?

“Thank you,” Jane gushed. “Thank you so much, it’s really nice of you to—”

“Yes. Well, sorry, but I’ve got to take this,” Fiona cut in as she brought her phone to her ear. Her voice was hard again.

Jane scrambled to her feet. She’d better get out of there before Fiona decided not to be so understanding, after all. No point in pushing her luck!

“I’m so glad you’re back. Things haven’t been the same without you,” Hannah said. She hooked a long strand of honey-blond hair over her ear. “Did you have a good Christmas?”

“Yeah, it was nice to see my parents and my sisters,” Jane said. She glanced briefly at the two camera guys filming in the corners, then at the top of her desk, which was cluttered as always with files, fabric swatches, and magazine clippings. There was a vase of frilly peach tulips next to her Mac. “Where’d these come from?”

“Oh, I picked them up on my way in. I thought they’d cheer you up.”

“Wow. That was really sweet. Thank you!”

“You’re welcome!”

Jane smiled at Hannah. Hannah had started working at Fiona Chen Events shortly after Jane. She was one of the nicest people Jane had met in L.A., and she was a good listener, too. In fact, Jane used to confide in her a lot about Jesse—not just because of her listening skills but because she was one of Jane’s only friends who actually liked Jesse. Madison, Gaby, Scar (especially Scar), and even Braden had all advised her to stay far away from him because he was trouble. Hannah was the only person who had encouraged Jane to follow her heart. And back then, before everything blew up, Jane’s heart had told her that she was falling for Jesse. That they belonged together.

“So we’re gonna be working on the Crazy Girl party together,” Jane said. “It’s gonna be amazing.” “Definitely,” Hannah agreed.

“We need to go over some details, then set up a meeting with Ruby Slipper.”

“Yes! Anytime is fine with me. My schedule’s pretty clear.” Hannah peered at her computer monitor. That girl was always on IM at work.

Jane felt her phone vibrating and fished it out of her bag. It was a text from Dana.


Jane ignored the text and shoved the phone back into her bag. Guess that’s confirmed, she thought. Trevor had obviously intervened, convincing Fiona to pair Jane and Gaby up for the Crazy Girl party. The PopTV cameras would be all over their entire event-planning process from beginning to end.

“Soooo. Have you, um, talked to Jesse lately?” Hannah asked, breaking the silence of the room.

Jane shook her head. “No. I’ve been meaning to call him, but . . .” Her voice trailed off.

“You really should call him,” Hannah told her. “I’m sure he wants to talk to you.”

“I’m pretty sure he doesn’t,” Jane said. “I don’t think he’ll ever forgive me.”

“You made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes.”

“Yeah, well, this wasn’t just a mistake. I really screwed up, Hannah.”

Then, before Jane knew what was happening, her eyes welled with tears. She wiped a tear off her cheek. “I really screwed up,” she repeated, whispering.

Hannah got up from her desk and hurried over to Jane. She wrapped her arms around Jane’s shoulders and gave her a big hug. “We all screw up once in a while,” she said. “Call Jesse. Apologize to him. You’re gonna feel so much better if you do.”

“I’ll think about it,” Jane said, wiping away another tear.

Jane remembered then that the cameras were still rolling. She had just confessed to Hannah on-camera how bad she felt about cheating on Jesse. This was what Trevor had told her to do when they spoke on the phone last night, wasn’t it? Did that mean he’d put those words into her mouth? No, they were her words. So why did she feel a strange sense of . . . what? Being directed somehow? And had Trevor directed Hannah, too? No, that’s crazy, she told herself. Trevor’s suggestions were no different from Dana’s text-messaged requests. They were simply meant to help shape the girls’ conversations while they were on-camera. To make things more interesting for TV. After all, they couldn’t just sit there and talk about nothing, right?


For more from "Sweet Little Lies", make sure to get it when it gets its release date in the UK, as well as a special edition of "LA Candy" in Paperback, with behind the scenes information, photos, and twitter extras.

P.S Lauren's Favourite Book is The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald - Again, a classic and a must read so go pick it up!!

mellow music [monday]

hello everyone....
although its not monday yet.... i wanted to introduce every week [whilst i'm constantly tied up with rewrites and job hunting] what i'm listening to for inspiration and happy mellow moods.......
so here we go....... [big drum roll please........]

norah jones - the fall
miss jones returns with her fantastic new album 'the fall' and her new sounds don't disappoint one little bit, reminding us all of why we fell in love with her sultry, soulful sound in the first place. standout tracks are brand new single 'chasing pirates' where she takes some inspiration from pirates of the caribbean and johnny depp [sporting a 'johnny forever' on her arm in the video] other tracks include 'you've ruined me now' and especially 'waiting' are particular favourites of mine.... listen to it on spotify!

Chasing Pirates

Norah Jones | MySpace Music Videos

colbie caillat - colbie coillat is one of those rare talents that on the odd occasion, manages to fly undetected under the radar before making their mark. colbie's probably best known so far for her track 'breathe' where she collaborated with country singer taylor swift. her new album 'breakthrough' is full of get happy melodic sounds that is reminiscient of a long, lazy summer day. stand out track is 'fallin' for you' and 'lucky' where she collaborates with the awesome jason mraz. other significant tracks are 'bubbly' and 'realize' which was featured on the hills during a lauren conrad /stephen colletti segment from her 2007 album 'coco.'

Fallin For You - Colbie Caillat

Carmen | MySpace Video

3. marie digby - marie digby has been around for ages and has been a huge hit on youtube for a long time since her awesome acoustic cover of Rihanna's 'Umbrella'. since releasing her debut album 'unfold' on which her standout track 'beauty in walking away' is a must hear, she has gone on to release her sophomore album 'breathing underwater' which includes the singles 'avalanche' and 'feel.'

4. tamar kaprelian - OK, so i did watch the hills finale to discover this particular singer/songwriter but that doesn't make her lame by any standard. Her single 'new day' is pretty cool, both through the mix of the melody and her voice, as well as acoustically. I'm going to borrow the video below from my friend fiona who put the video up on her own blog a couple days ago - [sorry - it's just too good a video to pass up - but if you want to see more of fiona's musical musings, head over that way http://www.acousticdreamshardcorescreams.blogspot.com

5. Bon Iver - Bon Iver has become a bit of a favourite mellow choice for me. Since he blew me away with his track 'woods' which is featured in the gritty teen E4 drama 'skins', he's also teamed up with St Vincent to write and produce the fabulous 'roslyn' track for the twilight saga: new moon soundtrack. can he get any more cooler? I highly doubt that. Plus, he looks quite clever and intellectual and someone you could just sit for hours and have a good conversation with. I'd want to be his friend.

6. Lykke Li - 'little bit' is an absolutely awesome track. please spotify it or 'toob it and see if you don't fall in love with it. their track for new moon 'possibility' was also good, but it somehow doesn't quite manage to live up to this track. cool and understated, and ever so cute!

7. john mayer - continnum - the two songs i love on this particular album is 'i don't trust myself [with loving you] and 'say.' on his recent album, he also teams up with miss taylor swift to do a
song called 'half of my heart' on his new album 'battle studies'.