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American Spy Book Review + This Week’s Joyful Things

American Spy Book Review

August 28, 2020

I’m Michelle.
A modern maker with a classic approach to design. Ever in search
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In this post, I share a book review of American Spy, plus four joyful finds, including makeup, a tv show, my new office couch, and a great article on refrigerator organization.

I had been looking forward to reading American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson, all summer. Every time I passed my bookshelf, its cover would catch my eye, and motivate me to finish my library books, so that I could finally open it up, and dig in.

Before I get into the contents, I need to talk about the cover. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I always do.  I’m a designer, I can’t help it! Cover designer and illustrator Caroline Teagle Johnson made some fantastic choices: the yellow background color, the strong typography, the simple illustration, and a suggestion of what you can expect to find inside. To me, the best designs are the ones that use the fewest amount of elements in order to communicate its message, and this cover nails it. The story is great, but the exterior truly added to my reading enjoyment. Take note, publishers. Covers matter.

American Spy Book Review

American Spy Book Review

If you can tear yourself away from the front flap, inside, you will find the story of Marie Mitchell, a Black intelligence officer trying to navigate her career during the Cold War. I don’t typically read spy novels, but the premise was intriguing and from the beginning, this story went in an unexpected direction.

What I loved most was Lauren Wilkinson’s writing. It was hard for me to believe that this was her first novel. Way to set the bar high, Lauren! The story is told in a very dynamic fashion, flipping back and forth between Marie’s present-day (1992) and points in her past.

Part 1 was especially intriguing to me because it involved a lot of family backstory. I also enjoyed reading about how Marie came to work for the FBI. Even though she’s a fictional character, I found her tenacity to be so inspiring. It’s challenging enough to be a woman in an old boys club organization, today, but in 1986, the world was even less “woke,” as the kids say. Marie’s race put her at an even greater disadvantage, but she persevered, nonetheless.

In Part 2, Marie takes an opportunity that sends her on a mission to bring down the leader of Burkina Faso, to prevent the spread of Communism. Like all good stories, this one is complicated and brings a lot into question. To me, this book was a reminder that issues are rarely black and white. It’s easy to classify individuals as “good” or “evil” but the reality is, we are all shades of grey. This story shines a light on that concept and prompts you to question your truths.

If you, like me, aren’t really into spy stuff but enjoy a well-written story, American Spy is a fantastic novel to check out. Even if you don’t get around to reading it, buy it for the cover.

Here are a few more things that are bringing me joy this week:

Sephora Products, plus an American Spy Book Review

New hair products and makeup from Sephora

The influencers made me do it. This month, Sephora was running a great sale, and I stocked up on my favorite hair products from Bumble + Bumble. Not only are they great for adding volume, but they smell SO GOOD. I’ve also been on the hunt for a new eyeshadow palette and Tartelette In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette kept showing up on my radar. It absolutely lives up to the hype. After months of quarantine, and living in sweatpants, this haul was a refreshing pick-me-up and made me feel like a new gal.

Love Life TV show from HBO Max, plus an American Spy Book Review

Love Life on HBO Max

I can’t pass up on a RomCom, especially in series form. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve treated myself to Love Life, a new series on HBO Max, starring Anna Kendrick. While I didn’t love everything about the plot, I appreciated its modern storytelling and fresh writing.

What I loved more than the show, were the roundtable discussions about Love Life, with executive producers Bridget Bedard, Sam Boyd, Anna Kendrick, and Paul Feig (side note— Paul Feig has a delightful Instagram account). I’m always fascinated by learning about the thoughts and stories that inspire art. If you, like me, enjoy behind-the-scenes more than the scenes, you can watch the roundtable discussions on Anna Kendrick’s YouTube Channel.

Blue Velvet Couch from Wayfair, plus an American Spy Book Review

My New Office Couch

I am in love. We moved into our home almost four years ago and I have been decorating my home office at an excruciatingly slow pace. I finally found a couch that fit the space and my style, and it arrived this week! It is velvety and chic and makes such a great statement. The room has taken on a whole new vibe, and it’s exciting to feel it start to come together.

Organizing Your Refrigerator, from The New York Times, plus an American Spy Book Review

An NYT article on how to organize your refrigerator

I should really call this segment within a segment, “Laura’s Corner” because my sister is always serving up the best recommendations. This week, I was bemoaning my inability to keep my refrigerator organized, and she pointed me to this great article. Inside, you’ll find great tips for keeping things pretty and functional, which is my favorite combination. If you’re looking for a long-term solution to keeping things tidy, this is the article for you.

Refrigerator photo by @squared_one, from Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links.

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