July, 2014

Jul 14

Ishmael’s Oranges by Claire Hajal

Book: Ishmael’s Oranges
Author: Claire Hajal
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Available: Out now in hardback
If you enjoy this book you might like: O Jerusalem – Larry Collins & Dominique LaPierre
Summary: One minute seven-year-old Salim is dreaming of taking his first harvest from his family’s orange tree, the next he is swept away into a life of exile and rage. Seeking a new beginning in 1960s’ London, Salim find unexpected love with Jude , a troubled Jewish girl with her own devastating family history. But before long, childhood conflicts and prejudices reawaken to infringe upon their life together.


Hi everyone!

Apologies for the long break from posts – I was lucky enough to escape to the South of France for a week or so, and while I got a lot of reading done, I wasn’t able to post.

This week, I’ve been reading Claire Hajal’s beautiful novel Ishmael’s Oranges. It gives you a deep insight into the conflicts in the Middle East, contrasting a really sweet love story between Salim and Jude, who come from different sides of an ongoing battle.

It’s a story about identity, family and trying to let go of a deep bitterness in order to move on. There are some truly heartwrenching passages, especially at the beginning when we see Salim’s childhood drastically change when his family suddenly lose everything, having been betrayed by their friends.

The love story between Salim and Jude is wonderfully written. It’s not at all like Romeo and Juliet – Salim and Jude’s families object but don’t stop them from being together. I love that their relationship isn’t kicked off with in a dramatic way – they simply meet, fall in love, and they decide to try and make it work despite the powerful barriers they face.

Salim at times I found to be a bit selfish, but Claire writes in a way that you understand his motivations, so I never found myself disliking him. Jude was a brilliant character – I found her really interesting because she hasn’t got a defining character trait, for example she’s not overly shy or much too confident. I think that was one of my favourite things about this novel – there’s no exaggeration, it’s all very matter-of-fact, so you really feel for all of the characters.

Definitely a great read if you want to learn a bit more about this conflict without having to hit the non-fiction books.

What have you all been reading this week?

Julie x

Jul 14

More reviews coming soon!

Hi everyone,

Apologies for the lack of posts – I was away on holiday with very little access to the Internet, so while I had a blissful 10 days of nonstop reading, it did mean that I couldn’t post! Some exciting reviews coming up very soon!

In the meantime, what have you all been reading?

Julie xx

Jul 14

How I Nailed It! By Leighton Denny

Book: How I Nailed It!
Author: Leighton Denny
Publisher: Leighton Denny
Available: Out now in Kindle format
If you enjoy this book you might like: D.V by Diana Vreeland
Summary: Building his multi-million pound empire from scratch, Leighton went from forklift truck driver to inventor of the world‘s most expensive manicure and launching his luxury clinic in one of UK’s most prestigious establishments, Harrods. His roller-coaster life from school dropout to multi award-winning entrepreneur is never short of drama, intrigue and showbiz encounters, but above all, it is an inspirational story of how one boy’s unyielding determination led straight to success!


Hi everyone,

How are your weeks going? It’s been so lovely to get some sunny weather – actually feels like summer!

As I’ve mentioned before, my biggest love after books is all things fashion and beauty, so I was very excited to receive a copy of nail artist Leighton Denny’s autobiography. He’s done manicures for Kate Moss, the Spice Girls, Dita Von Teese, Jade Jagger, Mariah Carey… the list is endless! It was so interesting to hear the backstage stories he has, although I really liked that he didn’t reveal too much – he was very respectful of the fact that this is his autobiography, not a book about what other celebrities get up to.

The whole book is very glamorous, from wanderlust-inducing holidays to meeting some of the world’s biggest celebrities. It made me feel like I should stop reading, get off the sofa and go and start my own business! (But then of course I immediately decided I would prefer to read so I didn’t move an inch hehe). This is definitely a great book to take on holiday – I got a major case of the stay-at-home-blues (yes, they’re a thing) because of all the amazing things that Leighton has done over the course of his career.

It was really interesting to read about how Leighton went about setting up his business, starting off as a mobile nail therapist to eventually owning his own global brand. I would have liked to read a bit more about what was going through his mind – there’s a lot of detail of what he had to do, for example getting more clients and picking colours etc, but it would have been great to get a bit more of his thought process, i.e why he picked certain polish colours etc.

One of my favourite things about the book is Leighton’s complete honesty with his readers. He reveals setbacks he faced, whether he was to blame or not. The start of the book is his description of a particularly low point in his life, and it was so refreshing to have someone admit that actually, the glamorous life does have its downsides.

If you’re really into beauty and nail art, you definitely want to give this a read!

What have you all been reading?

Julie xxx

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