May, 2014


29
May 14

The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby

Book: The Pink Suit: A novel of hope, heartbreak and the American Dream
Author: Nicole Mary Kelby
Publisher: Virago
Available: 5th June 2014
If you enjoy this book you might like: Girl with a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
Summary: Kate is an Irish seamstress working in the back room of Chez Ninon, an exclusive Manhattan atelier entrusted with creating much of Jackie Kennedy’s wardrobe. As Kate creates pieces for Mrs Kennedy, she starts fashioning identical garments for her niece, and finds her life becoming intertwined with the First Lady’s iconic wardrobe. 

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Hi everyone,

I escaped the dreary weather this week and headed off for a mini break, taking Nicole Mary Kelby’s The Pink Suit along with me.

One thing I love as much as books is fashion, so I was excited to read some fiction based around Jackie Kennedy’s iconic pink suit. While I did really enjoy the novel, on the fashion side I was a bit disappointed. I think if you’re interested in the technical side of how clothes are put together, it’s a brilliant novel. There’s a lot of detail in how Kate creates the pieces, and it was really interesting but sometimes it took me out of the story a bit.

What I did really love about the book was Nicole’s writing – she’s wonderfully descriptive. Without giving too much away, there’s a particularly dramatic scene involving a fire, and Nicole creates so much chaos you find yourself panicking alongside the characters. She knows how to set the scene, but she also has a great way of presenting her characters. For example, Kate’s bosses are known as ‘The Ladies’, and while we do get to see some of their individuality, the way Nicole writes about them as one unit gives you a real sense of how they run their business: they work together, make the decisions together, and ultimately, they have the final word. They were my favourite characters – really vibrant and powerful!

The way Nicole presents Jackie Kennedy was particularly brilliant. Throughout the novel, she is simply referred to as ‘The Wife’. For a novel focusing so heavily on this fashion icon and her famous clothing, I loved that we still get a sense of mystery around the First Lady. We see her so much in the story, and yet when I thought about it, there aren’t actually that many passages in which she features. I love that about Nicole’s writing – you get so much information and detail, but it doesn’t take over – she leaves enough room for some mystery, so the plot isn’t predictable.

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who loves the technical side of fashion, or who is interested in what goes on behind the iconic clothes we see celebrities wearing! Have you read a great book about a fashion icon? Let me know!

Have a lovely weekend,

Julie xxx

 


22
May 14

How to Lose Weight and Alienate People – Ollie Quain

Book: How to Lose Weight and Alienate People
Author: Ollie Quain
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Available: 16th May 2014 , in paperback format for £7.99
If you enjoy this book you might like: The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
Summary: Vivien Ward is in total control of her life. Actually scrap that – she’s thirty-five, estranged from her family, a failed actress and working in a London members’ club to pay the bills. Even her boyfriend doesn’t know the real her. Truth is, the only thing she’s in control of is what’s on her plate. But then she meets movie star Maximilian Fry, who’s just as screwed up, and journeys into a world of celebrity even faker than the one she was already living in. Will image triumph, or will she realise that some of her answers lie within? 

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Hi everyone,

Hope you’ve been enjoying the sunny weather recently! I’ve spent the last few days reading in the park – bliss!

One of the books I read this week was Ollie Quain’s debut novel How to Lose Weight and Alienate People. From the title, I assumed it would be a bit of a light-hearted read (Maybe because the title made me think of that film with Simon Pegg!). While the book has some funny moments, it was definitely a lot more intense than I expected. Any insecurity you have, any doubt you’ve felt – the protagonist Vivian has the same thing. Never have I met a character with SO many insecurities.. it was quite refreshing!

Without giving away spoilers, I love that there isn’t a magical fix for Vivian. Throughout the book she’s very self-aware of her various obsessions (for example refusing to eat certain foods if they’re not brown, white or green), and her refusal to try and fix them can make her frustrating at times, but also makes her relatable. At the beginning of the book, I didn’t like her at all. I found her self-obsessed, vain, neurotic, and to be honest, a bit of a spoiled brat. But then the more Ollie gave us glimpses of Vivian’s insecurities, the more I began to absolutely love her. She’s a fantastic character – sharp, witty, and delightfully sarcastic at times.

At the heart of the story is Vivian’s struggle with her weight. These passages were the ones I found particularly difficult to read, as  there’s graphic description of the bullying she went through, not to mention her family’s horrific reactions. (Seriously, no wonder she’s estranged from them). Ollie touches on some serious issues, but I liked that this book doesn’t preach or blame others. Instead, it’s about a woman who knows she has a lot of things she needs to deal with, but who doesn’t know how to.

I was really impressed that this is Ollie Quain’s debut novel – her writing is to the point and yet when I put it down, I felt exhausted – in a good way! It’s the kind of book that’s difficult not to get engrossed in – in fact, I almost missed my stop a few times during the commute!

I’d definitely recommend you read this book, although maybe not for a holiday, as I think it might be a bit too intense to casually read by the pool…

Have you read a book that you found particularly intense? Let me know!

Enjoy the bank holiday weekend!

Julie xxx

 

 


14
May 14

A Summer to Remember by Victoria Connelly

Book: A Summer to Remember
Author: Victoria Connelly
Publisher: Avon Books
Available: 5th June 2014 (In paperback, £6.99)
If you enjoy this book you might like: A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian
Summary: Nina is not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way, she lost track of where it was all going. So one fateful day, she makes a brave decision: she’s going to leave it all behind. She accepts a job deep in the English countryside with the Milton family, working as a researcher for aspiring author Dudley. With endless summer days ahead of her, she couldn’t be happier. But her quiet life is soon interrupted when the handsome Milton boys return home…

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Hi everyone,

Hope you’re all having good weeks! I’ve started getting very excited for the summer, so it seems apt that this week I’ve been reading Victoria Connelly’s A Summer To Remember. It’s turned out to be what I think is a perfect holiday read. It’s got everything I want for a fun summer read – sunny weather, romance, gorgeous countryside, and great characters.  The plot is fairly straightforward, but Victoria throws in a few twists you don’t really see coming – I won’t spoil anything, but I was really pleasantly surprised!

The main character, Nina, is brilliant. Despite having a few romantic interests throughout the book, I really loved that this wasn’t how she was defined as a protagonist. Sometimes I find that this type of novel can turn a female lead into a bit of a love-obsessed romantic, but not Nina. For a start, there’s a bit about her heartbreak over a failed relationship, but Victoria writes in a way where it’s left in the past: it gives just enough character depth so we understand Nina’s reactions throughout the novel, but at the same time allows you to move forward with her in the story.

As the Milton brothers Dominic and Alex try to seduce Nina, I loved how Victoria kept the plot uncomplicated – this isn’t the kind of story full of misunderstandings and dramatic declarations of love, it’s a story about a woman finding herself and making the decisions which are best for her. We get an insight into what is going through Dominic’s mind as he falls for Nina but also struggles with his emotions for his ex, Faye, and I think this was a great addition as it meant that you could relate to him a bit more, rather than seeing him as the desperate and lonely love interest.

One of my favourite characters was Dudley, the aspiring author for whom Nina works. While he is quite temperamental, it’s difficult not to absolutely love him! There’s a particularly great passage where he discovers the Internet, and it made me think of the time we introduced my grandparents to the world wide web.. basically, it’s endearing and hilarious at the same time.

I’d definitely recommend getting your hands on this book if you’re off on a beach holiday, or even if you’re off on a mini break to the countryside. Such a great holiday read!

Have you got any books you’re excited about for the summer? Let me know!

Happy reading,

Julie xxx

 


5
May 14

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Book: The Fault in our Stars
Author: John Green
Publisher: Penguin
Available: Out now
If you enjoy this book you might like: One Day by David Nicholls

Summary: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

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Hi everyone,

Hope you all had lovely bank holiday weekends! This week I finally got around to reading John Green’s The Fault in our Stars, as I’ve heard such great things, and wanted to read it before the film’s release.

I really wanted to love the book, but I have to admit that I was pretty underwhelmed, which I think is partly down to the fact that I’d had it built up to me so much, but also because I just couldn’t connect with Hazel and Augustus.

Their story is incredibly tragic, but there are other fictional love stories I’ve been much more involved in, for example David Nicholl’s One Day. I understand that Hazel and Augustus are so young and that their situations are undeniably devastating, but I still couldn’t relate to the way they viewed the world (and I really did try).

That’s not to say that it’s not worth a read – John Green’s writing is very eloquent, and there are some particularly heart-wrenching passages. The final few pages were very touching, but overall I wasn’t a huge fan.

Have you read it? Let me know what you think!

Julie xx

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