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Each week, we'll be letting you know about the new releases the editors of O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. This week, we're obsessing over the new mystery:
Princess Elizabeth's Spy
By Susan Elia MacNeal
Maggie Hope, an American-raised Briton with outsize math skills and heaps of grit, has risen from her position as a typist at 10 Downing Street to a job as a spy for MI5. Her first assignment is pretty grand—she's sent to Windsor Castle to root out a German spy, who's planning to harm the young Princess Elizabeth. Maggie integrates into the palace rapidly, earning the clever young royal's trust and learning to deal with the surprising difficulties of living in a castle, which it turns out is "like living in a very cold museum in the off-season." But there's not much time to focus on all the frozen finery. Dangers to the princess proliferate rapidly, and Maggie races to find their instigator before it's too late. The ensuing chase is terrifying, but the true accomplishment of this book is the wonderfully complex Maggie, who is at once a brilliant heroine fighting against the Nazis, a young woman stuck in the middle of a painful love triangle, and an inexperienced professional trying to figure out her extremely difficult job. With deft, empathic prose, author Susan Elia MacNeal creates a wholly engrossing portrait of a coming-of-age woman under fire. Whether you read Mr. Churchill's Secretary, the first installment in this series, or you're just making Miss Hope's acquaintance, she'll draw you in from the first page. By the end, you'll be her loyal subject, ready to follow her wherever she goes—especially through the pages of a third installment.
More Fantastic Page-Turners
In Judy Fox's studio, a mermaid stands in the corner. Instead of a fanciful tail, she has iridescent legs, tinted bluish purple. Her hair floats above her shoulders as if swept by the ocean's current, her gaze dreamy, if a little sad. The sculpture is part of Fox's exhibition Out of Water, opening October 25. It will be surrounded by ceramic sea worms and cephalopods, including an octopus with eyes "slightly more human than they should be," says Fox—whose genial, easily amused nature belies the eerie intensity of her work.
For more than three decades, she has drawn from art history, mythology, and world events to create beguiling sculptures, like a series of cultural icons (Friar Tuck, Albert Einstein, Saint Theresa) imagined as babies, or an interpretation of Snow White in which the dwarves embody the seven deadly sins. In the current exhibition, at New York's PPOW gallery, Fox turns her playfully subversive eye to the sea, sculpting oddly sexual worms and mollusks a few surreal degrees removed from nature. "Creating these animals felt like intelligent design," she says. "I got to run my own little version of evolution."
Fox first discovered her affinity for sculpture when she experimented with the form as a teenager during summer camp, and honed her technique as an art major at Yale. "I felt at home in sculpture," she says. She is particularly excited by improvisation, incorporating her models' peculiar traits into her sculptures. The mermaid's awkwardly bent fingers, for instance, derive from the model's own double-jointedness. "That kind of discovery is an almost mystical thing," Fox says. "The model becomes a coauthor of the work."
Fox begins her sculptures of humans by photographing a model in a predetermined pose, then shapes, carves, plasters, and paints terra-cotta in a process so intensive that each adult-size sculpture takes roughly a year. "I spend a lot of time getting the curves right, because they create the rhythm and the mood," Fox says. "Sculpting is like standing on a mountaintop before you ski the slope, thinking about how you'll curve your way down."
It's Friday! We're grateful for so many things this week, starting with...
Military dad surprises family at a football game for one of the sweetest coming home videos around [via Mashable]
Fingertip portraits. Silly, brilliant, awesome.
An "F" student, who was told his dreams of being a scientists were ridiculous, is now a Nobel Prize winner [via Anderson Cooper 360]
A rescued dog and cat make an inseparable pair [via The Huffington Post]
On the day of their incarcerated father's possible release, Iyanla makes her way to Chicago to help four grown children heal from their family's tumultuous past. Watch as they break down emotional barriers on Saturday, October 13, at 10/9c on OWN.
A: Yes, you can get better eye makeup if you pay more for it—up to a point, says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer, founder and president of Mix Solutions in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. There are terrific options at the drugstore, home of big brands with great research and development teams. Because they're vying for your loyalty, these companies are constantly developing cutting-edge applicator and pigment technologies. At the department store, says Hammer, you'll see diminishing returns on your money: What you get is very similar to high-end drugstore brands.
Very similar, maybe, but not the same, says Anne Carullo, senior vice president of global product development at EstÉe Lauder. "The arsenal of ingredients and processes available to us aren't available to less expensive brands," she says. "We create our own pigments and coat them in a way that makes the application smoother and the wear longer, and we use a higher concentration of color." Department store brands are also likely to have more-durable packaging and include more bells and whistles. (A weighty gold compact does not equal better eyeshadow, but pulling it out of your bag can feel pleasingly luxurious.)
Keep in mind: Whether you're thrifty or extravagant, don't forget to replace your mascara every three months and your eyeshadows every two years, because they can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
As her new album, The Art of Renée Fleming, hits stores, the celebrated soprano talks about the City of Light, the secret to weight loss, and what comes after her final bow.
1. You Have to Make Time For Joy
You can't just focus on shoulds. You have to also do whatever makes your heart feel full. Maybe it's cooking for your friends, being with your children. For me, it's a sunset walk around Paris—where I keep an apartment—listening to jazz and Joni Mitchell on my iPod. It's like having my own soundtrack.
2. And You Have To Make Other Things, Too
It enriches you to enjoy music and art and writing, but creating something yourself is even more important. Ask yourself what it can add to your existence to write, to paint, to sing. It's so easy to leave creativity out of your life because you don't have time. But I know I wouldn't feel fully alive if I couldn't put forth some expression of myself.
3. Success Is Nine-Tenths Elbow Grease
I once said to the photographer Annie Leibovitz, "You've met so many incredible people. What have you learned from them?" She answered, "Everybody works really hard." That's the key.
4. Changing Your Body Means Changing Your Thinking
My whole life, I've struggled with my weight. Many people in my profession do—"It's not over till the fat lady sings," as they say. But I've learned that weight loss, like a lot of things, starts with your mind. If you don't look inside and examine how food is protecting you from dealing with something difficult, and why some inner voice is undermining your resolve, no diet in the world will help.
5. Nothing Lasts Forever
A singer's career is like an athlete's—short. It would be easy to view this negatively, but instead I try to think about what my legacy will be, how I'll give back, and all the new things I'll get to try. Like spending less time in airports, for example.