Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Four Favorite Things

A few of the things increasing my summer enjoyment and distracting me from things I need to be distracted from:

White Lotus
Are you watching HBO’s White Lotus yet? It is everything I have been wanting in a TV show and I am – and I never use this word, I hate when people use this word, but here I go – obsessed. It is dark and disturbing and hilarious and creepy and I love it. Shot in beautiful Hawaii, accompanied with a terrific musical score that literally hits all the right notes, White Lotus presents deeply flawed characters misbehaving in delicious and often salacious ways. This is a thriller, a suspense. We know, in the first episode, that someone has died, and each episode brings us a little closer to finding out who, how, and why. HBO has done a terrible thing and not released the whole season at once, making viewers wait a whole week between episodes, and while this isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s kind of up there with climate change, anti-vaxxers, and mosquitos.

Nordic Sweet Salty Licorice Fish
I picked these up on a whim at a store in Chicago when I was visiting last month and immediately was like, “OMG, where have these been all my life?!” I insisted everyone I interacted with over the course of the next few days try one, and reviews were very mixed. You either love these or hate them. If you are a fan of salt, anise, and black licorice, you will fall in the former category. I ordered two other brands of this kind of candy and neither was nearly as delicious as the Nordic Sweet ones, which have become an instant favorite sweet (and I consider myself a sugar connoisseur).

Fierce Little Thing
My friend, Miranda Beverly-whittemore, a NYTimes bestselling novelist, wrote this book during quarantine (with no childcare and her kids doing school 100% remotely for over a year!). That would be impressive enough, but this also happens to be a really good book that is getting rave reviews from all over the place. I’m about halfway through it and finding it hard to put down. Fans of Donna Tartt (The Secret History) and Gone Girl, take note: Fierce Little Thing is being compared to these cult thrillers, and rightfully so. It’s deeply suspenseful, beautifully written, and a page-turner in the best sense.

What books have you loved recently?

Mr. B’s Organic Golden Jojoba Face Serum
I have a monthly candle subscription that always includes a non-candle product from various small business partners. Usually, the stuff is kind of meh, nothing special: a loofah sponge, organic chocolate, a foldable reusable straw, stuff like that. But one time a sample of this lip balm was included that was actually really good. I liked it so much that I ordered some face oil from the company to sample. OMG. It’s the best face oil I’ve ever tried, hands down. I love it. I apply it maybe three or four nights a week and wake up with the softest skin, my face feeling so hydrated and smooth (but not oily). It’s been a solid work horse in my skin care regimen, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

14 comments… add one
  • anonymousse August 10, 2021, 2:54 pm

    I love The White Lotus! I just started watching it last week and I can’t wait to see what happens.

    I had to back off thrillers for awhile but I’m fully back on to them. I’m reading The Push by Audrey Audrain right now- I’m only part way through, so take this with a grain of salt because I truly don’t know how bad or disturbing it gets, but I would say not for the faint of heart (there is inherited trauma and abuse) or new mothers but really good! I’ll check your friends book out soon.

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    • anonymousse August 19, 2021, 8:17 am

      Wendy, I saw your friend’s novel featured in The NY Times today, digital edition! I have it on my list to be read.

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        Dear Wendy August 19, 2021, 5:51 pm

        Yes – so exciting for her!

  • ktfran August 10, 2021, 3:48 pm

    Thank you for both the book rec and the White Lotus rec!! I’m intrigued by both.

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    Copa August 10, 2021, 4:21 pm

    Of the books I’ve read this year, I’ve particularly liked the following:
    – The Great Believers
    – Evicted: Poverty & Profit in the American City
    – The Office of Historical Corrections

    Currently reading The Guncle for a book club I recently joined, and after that have some different-for-me reads lined up that are about things like body image. I’ve been trying to get as fa-haaar away from diet culture as I possibly can over the past few years and think I’ve done a pretty good job but hope these will be another step in that direction.

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  • Mel August 10, 2021, 5:59 pm

    I’ve been watching the White Lotus too! I love/hate the once a week release since it does force me to reflect a bit more, but I’ve also gotten impatient after all the bingeable shows.

    I make my own facial oil and it is surprisingly simple and highly affordable. I use a mix of 3 parts jojoba or sweet almond oil to 1 part rose hip seed oil (very anti aging), and add drops of lavender and cedar oil (maybe 20 of each for drops for a 4oz batch). The lavender is anti redness /anti-aging , and cedar oil gives me good dreams. I use it every night before bed, after face wash, toning, and serums (rotate between retinol and an acid of some sort). In the winter, when it’s dry here, I add one part castor oil so it’s 3:1:1 jojoba/almond:rose hip:castor. It takes longer to absorb but keeps my skin so soft.

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  • Ange August 10, 2021, 7:00 pm

    I haven’t watched White Lotus yet but it’s definitely on my list, the cast along makes it worthwhile.

    Sounds weird but I recently re-read the YA book Playing Beatie Bow. It’s by an Australian novelist named Ruth Park and features a young woman who accidentally ends up back in 1873 Sydney. It was written in 1980 so it’s very much a product of its time but the way she paints a scene is so evocative, you really feel like you’re smelling the gross smells and seeing the broken people desperately trying to survive. It’s a good blend of history, magic and teen troubles.

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    Bittergaymark August 11, 2021, 8:54 am

    Fierce Little Thing I have not heard about at all. And it sounds right up my alley. I’ll have to check it out.

    Meanwhile I have heard nothing but great things about White Lotus. I need to get HBO… But yeah… Everybody I know is obsessed with White Lotus and semi complaining about its slow, weekly trickle out…

    Something I can relate to with my own pick for television right now. Physical also came out weekly via appletv. This 1981 nostalgia trip is as dark and brilliant and amazing as Rose Byrne’s riviting performance. She’s always struck me as a pretty remarkable actress. (Especially on Damages.) But here she has at last found a role as bold and daring as her talent truly is. She knocks this one out of the park. Wow. Just wow.

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    • Rangerchic August 12, 2021, 1:22 pm

      I don’t have HBO either but I do have appletv+. I haven’t seen Physical yet but I do like Rose Byrne so I’ll have to give it a go! If you like comedic musicals, I have enjoyed Schmigadoon. Each episode is only about 30 minutes and it’s very tongue-in-cheek but I like it! My husband and I also like Ted Lasso – we just recently got into that one.

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      • Anonymous August 14, 2021, 1:32 pm

        It’s brilliant.


        I’d like Schmigadoon more if the male lead was better. He’s just woefully miscast here. So bland. Everything he does reads like an early rehearsal. He’s just walking through every scene.

        Miss Strong, however, is fantastic!!!

  • Buttery August 11, 2021, 7:15 pm

    Funny- I had a surgery yesterday and one of the lovely docs in post op asked what I planned to binge during my recovery and he recommended White Lotus.
    For book recs I loved The Final Revival of Opal and Nev but you have to listen to the audio book which is performed by a cast of voices.

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  • allathian August 12, 2021, 4:18 am

    I’m glad you like the salty licorice, Wendy! They’re pretty much my favorite candy that isn’t chocolate. I’ve grown up with them, but most non-Scandinavians, apart from the Dutch, tend to think they’re poison…

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  • Peggy August 12, 2021, 9:08 am

    The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is a wonderful fiction read. Very thought provoking too, especially in these strange times. Themes of life and death and finding meaning and purpose. Very intriguing premise.

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    • anonymousse August 12, 2021, 12:43 pm

      I read and enjoyed that book, too. I like his Instagram account. He’s sometimes very cheesy but I like him.

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