Review: The Little Pink Book of Elegance by Jodi Kahn

EleganceTitle: The Little Pink Book of Elegance

Author: Jodi Kahn

Pages: 160 Pages

The Blurb

Enhance your world, one elegant touch at a time!

The Little Pink Book of Elegance: The Modern Girl’s Guide to Living with Style includes fabulous tips on clothing, colors, accessories, jewelry, fragrance, your home, closets, entertaining, correspondence, and more.

Learn how to manage all the aspects of your life with poise and self-confidence, and discover how to develop and refine that ”true-to-yourself” style!

The Review

I’m not someone who style come too easily. However, one thing I have always wanted to be is elegant. You don’t have to have the best style to be elegant or classy so I was intrigued to find out what The Little Pink Book of Elegance by Jodi Kahn described as being elegant.

It was quite an interesting read. You were told: what clothes to wear, how to wear your make up and how to host a dinner party. Ok, somewhere in the middle the book did somehow lose its way and grasp at straws but overall it was good.

This little pocket read is worth a read just for the section on wardrobe “must haves”.

The Little Pink Book of Elegance by Jodi Kahn is available now.

3 Stars

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Review: It by Alexa Chung

ItThe Blurb

Alexa Chung’s IT: the Top Ten Bestseller from the international fashion muse and Vogue contributing editor

Now a Penguin paperback, this one-off collection of Alexa Chung’s writing, doodles and photographs combines stories of early style inspirations such as her grandpa and the Spice Girls with discussion of figures of obsession like Jane Birkin and Annie Hall, reflecting on heartbreak, how to get dressed in the morning, the challenges of taking a good selfie, and more. Interspersed with pages from Alexa’s notebooks and many a photo of a good night out, It is now perfectly sized for any bag – handbag or otherwise. Witty, charming and with a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude, It is a must-have for anyone who loves fashion, worries about growing up, or loves just about everything Alexa Chung.

‘If you love Alexa Chung, buy it. If you are interested in fashion and style, buy it. If you’re after a book full of pretty pictures and inspo, buy it’ – Cosmopolitan

Alexa Chung is a model and contributing editor to British Vogue. The recipient of numerous style awards, Alexa has won the prestigious British Style Award (voted for by the public) three years in a row. She currently lives in New York City.

The Review

Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of Alexa Chung. Personally, I have never understood the charm of her as a presenter but even I can admit that she has style. She is type of girl that manages to wear the clothes, they don’t wear her.

With this in mind, I decided to give her book It a try. I have to admit, I have mixed opinions. Whilst it is written well – by this I mean the actual words on the page – the actual narrative is so very disjointed and erratic. It veers from memoir to fashion advice in a rather willy-nilly fashion. It was interesting to learn more about Alexa Chung from her own perspective rather than the catwalk personality.

Overall, It is an interesting and quick read. The photographs are quirky and appealing but it is far too disjointed for my personal taste.

It by Alexa Chung is available now.

3 Stars

Review: The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia

Little Black Book of StyleTitle: The Little Black Book of Style

Author: Nina Garcia

Pages: 141 Pages

The Blurb

From Nina Garcia—fashion judge on Bravo’s hit Project Runway and author of Style Strategy and The One Hundred—comes her wildly popular New York Times bestseller The Little Black Book of Style. Here, in one indispensible volume, are Nina’s ultimate rules of style to help you uncover your own signature look.

The Review

I’m not a lover of fashion. If you saw me day to day there is no way that you would question that statement. Black pants and black top – standard. However, I am very intrigued and impressed by style. Some people have it and I wish that I was one of them.

I know how to recognise nice things and love some of the classic looks that Nina Garcia discusses in The Little Black Book of Style. See, it isn’t just an advert (or indeed a catalogue) for this designer or that designer. Garcia genuinely loves clothes and encourages style that doesn’t break the bank.

She offers you tips on how to dress up an outfit, how to add little elements and touches, tips on how to make you feel more feminine. But what Nina Garcia – and indeed all the designers and fashionistas who contributed to this book – encourage is feeling confident in who you are because confidence in yourself if the sexiest thing.

I really loved the historical element of fashion that is discussed in The Little Black Book of Style. I was enraptured by the description of Audrey Hepburn and Bridget Bardot. It really is a delightful book. The illustrations by Ruben Toledo are gorgeous and add a little pizzazz to the book.

The Little Black Book of Style is a must read for fans of fashion.

The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia is available now.

35 Stars

Review: The Soundtrack to My Life by Dermot O’Leary

The Soundtrack to  my LifeThe Blurb

Dermot O’Leary has always loved music. Throughout his life and career, music has been a constant companion, best friend, confidant and at times, tormentor.

The Soundtrack to My Life is Dermot’s personal memoir of a life in music told through the songs that were playing at key moments in his life. With a wonderful gift for storytelling, Dermot describes his journey from a childhood in Colchester with his Irish family, to some of the biggest jobs in TV and radio in the UK. It’s a story which is accompanied, in every scene, by music.

Dermot would be the first to admit, they are not all great songs. This isn’t Desert Island Discs; the songs chose him, not the other way round. Dermot went to his first gig at the age of nine, and saw Irish troubadour Brendan Shine, he roller-skated to Baby I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz and got his first job in TV while the Macarana was playing everywhere. Constantly.

But, other songs playing in the background to his life – songs by The Smiths, Elbow, The Pogues or Bruce Springsteen, are tracks & artists which he truly loves and will always love, and not just for the memories they evoke.

Funny, engaging and full of surprises, this is Dermot’s memoir and his essential soundtrack to his life.

(Amazon)

The Review

Let’s face it, we all love Dermot O’Leary and if you don’t then a) you’re in the minority and b) what the heck is wrong with you?

In his brilliant memoir The Soundtrack to My Life, Dermot tells tales of his growing up and associates them with songs (some good, some downright awful) that have shaped his existence. Now some might say, why has this fresh faced presenter of TV and Radio wrote a memoir, he only, like, 12 (I’m possibly being a tad hyperbolic here) but believe it or not but Dermot is in fact in his forties. Furthermore, his career – which makes up a large portion of his memoir – took years of hard graft, perfecting a craft that we, as audience members, take for granted. I know for one I couldn’t present live TV….that doesn’t mean that I don’t pretend to…at home…to my audience of no one….anyway…awkward.

What is really good about this memoir is that you can hear Dermot O’Leary throughout. I know that sounds a little obvious but I have read memoirs that have been written by ghost writers and you get the sense that the subject of the memoir hasn’t really had much input. Not The Soundtrack to My Life. It screams Dermot O’Leary. His little asides seem natural and truly make you smile. Dermot comes across as self-effacing, humble and most importantly (to me, anyway) a true lover of music.

This is a brilliant memoir, even if Dermot is not your favourite person The Soundtrack to My Life makes you think of your own personal soundtrack. Keep your eyes peeled for my soundtrack post coming soon on LisaTalksAbout.com.

The Soundtrack to My Life by Dermot O’Leary is available now.

Follow Dermot O’Leary (@radioleary) on Twitter.

4 Stars

Review: The Harm in Asking by Sara Barron

The Harm in AskingThe Blurb

Welcome to the perverse and hilarious mind of Sara Barron. In “The Harm in Asking,” she boldly addresses the bizarre indignities of everyday life: from invisible pets to mobster roommates, from a hatred of mayonnaise to an unrequited love of k.d. lang, from the ruinous side effect of broccoli to the sheer delight of a male catalogue model. In a voice that is incisive and entirely her own, Barron proves herself the master of the awkward, and she achieves something wonderful and rare: a book that makes you laugh out loud. Simply put: if you read it, you will never be the same.*

*That’s not true. You’ll probably stay the same. But you’ll have laughed a lot. And you’ll have learned a fun fact about Jessica Simpson’s home spray. See? You didn’t even know she had a home spray! The learning has already begun.

The Review

Admittedly, I bought The Harm in Asking on the recommendation of one of those articles that pop up on facebook. You know the ones: “30 Books to Read Before You Turn 30/Once you have Finished College/If you have Ever…” see you know the ones. I saw the cover of The Harm in Asking and thought it looked interesting. I didn’t know anything about the premise of the book besides the tiny recommendation blurb; I didn’t know the author and if I am really honest I think that to appreciate The Harm in Asking I really should have known more about her.

It isn’t that The Harm in Asking isn’t good; it really is. It is just that reading a memoir of someone that I don’t know makes the writing seem a bit self-indulgent. Books life this have been written before and I have accepted them graciously because I’ve had some knowledge of the writer – Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler etc.

Detracting from my lack of knowledge of the author, some of the stories in the collection are humorous and they did wiggle a little chuckle from me. However, I still was left with the overall feeling of what is the point? I began to feel like The Harm in Asking because an arduous task to read.

Give it a try yourself folks and see if you are of the same opinion.

The Harm in Asking by Sara Barron is available now.

3 Stars

Review: Hot Dudes Reading by Anonymous

Hot Dudes ReadingTitle: Hot Dudes Reading

Author: Anonymous

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Atria

The Blurb

Humans of New York meets Porn for Women in this collection of candid photos, clever captions, and hilarious hashtags about one of the most important subjects of our time: hot dudes reading.

Based on the viral Instagram account of the same name, Hot Dudes Reading takes its readers on a ride through all five boroughs of New York City, with each section covering a different subway line. Using their expert photography skills (covert iPhone shots) and journalistic ethics (#NoKindles), the authors capture the most beautiful bibliophiles in all of New York – and take a few detours to interview some of the most popular hot dudes from the early days of the Instagram account.

Fun, irreverent, and wittily-observed, this book is tailor-made for book lovers in search of their own happy endings – and those who just want to get lost between the covers for a while.

The Review

Oh, I’m a little torn about this book. We can look at the book one of two ways.

The first is that Hot Dudes Reading is just a bit of fun. It is a cheeky use of social media that allows the anonymous author and its followers (all 848k of them) to have a sneaky perv at, essentially, hot dudes reading. Like Ronseal, this does what it says on the tin.

The second way to look at Hot Dudes Reading is a little less favourable. If we slightly change the context of this book it becomes a little sinister. Let’s call it Hot Chicks Reading. Offended yet? I certainly would be. I would feel a little bit creeped out. I would find it to be lascivious and a little bit voyeuristic as well as feeling like all the people in the book are seen as is a piece of meat.

The latter makes Hot Dudes Reading a quite degrading read when you think about it.

So let us air on the side of caution and just see Hot Dudes Reading as a little bit of fun. The word play is witty and sharp, the choice of ‘Dudes’ are not personally to my taste but I can see how they are generically handsome. Mostly though – and please make room for my inner geek – I wanted to have a closer look at what books they boys were reading rather than their biceps.

Hot Dudes Reading can be seen as a harmless bit of fun, however, if you are going to see it this way then you have to accept the opposite ‘Hot Chicks Reading’ if that ever comes out. Tit for tat, people.

Hot Dudes Reading by Anonymous is available now.

Follow Hot Dudes Reading (@hotdudesreading) on Twitter and visit their official website www.hotdudesreading.com

35 Stars

Review: Letters to my Fanny by Cherry Healey

Letters to my FannyThe Blurb

In this hilarious and candid memoir about twenty-first-century womanhood, Cherry Healey shares outrageous, poignant and eye-wateringly funny confessions.

“This book is a love letter, to my body. In fact it’s several letters – to every part from my brain to my belly. I spent most of my life hating by body. I forced it to survive on a diet of ham; I squeezed it into asphyxiating support pants; I accidentally cut my delicate area whilst trimming my lady garden. But now I’ve realized that it deserves some well overdue TLC.

This book is the story of how I’ve come to understand some vital life lessons, and started to love being a woman. I hope you enjoy it. Except you, Mum and Dad. You should stop reading now. It’s for the best. I promise.”

Warm, honest and heartfelt, Letters to my Fanny will have you gasping in recognition. (Amazon)

The Review

Firstly, I have to get this off my chest. I absolutely detest the word ‘fanny’. Much in the way some people find the words ‘succulent’, ‘moist’ and ‘juicy’ to be repulsive I find fanny much the same way. Unless it is used as a verb. I am strangely ok if someone is ‘fannying’ about but the noun ‘fanny’ turns my stomach and I can’t explain why.

With that in mind, every time the word ‘fanny’ came up in Cherry Healey’s Letters to my Fanny I visibly recoiled but I am nothing if not determined so I persevered; I am awfully glad I did. Letters to my Fanny (shudder) is a really funny, warm and entertaining memoir which exudes the message of positive body image.

There are some graphic descriptions of childbirth that, as someone who is physically terrified of the thought of going through labour, I should probably have veered away from (to be fair Healey did give a warning at the beginning of the chapter).

I did feel that some of the chapters lost its way a little bit. Sections of the book discuss feminism and the inequality of wages between men and women but then slips in to a discussion about diet made me a little sceptical. However, by the end of Letters to my Fanny I realised that the overriding message was just to feel comfortable in your own skin and that, for me, is a very powerful message.

I really enjoyed this memoir and – title aside – it made me feel good.

Letters to my Fanny by Cherry Healey is available now.

Follow Cherry Healey (@cherryhealey) on Twitter.

4 Stars

Review: Remember My Name by Abbey Clancy

Remember My NameTitle: Remember My Name

Author: Abbey Clancy

Publisher: Harlequin (UK) Limited/Mira UK

Pages: 352 Pages

The Blurb

From the moment Liverpool teenager Jess stars in the school musical, she knows that she’s GOT to be a star. Fast forward a few years and the closest the now 22 year old Jessica has got to stardom is as a children’s entertainer – which is where she meets Jack, uncle to the spoiled 5 year old birthday princess, who spots Jessica’s talent and offers her a job with a record label. But that means that she’ll have to leave her family and her home and move to London – where she quickly finds that the streets aren’t quite paved with gold. And as she spends her days making tea for bitchy PR girls and her nights in a mouldy studio flat, Jessica wonders if leaving Liverpool for London has been a terrible mistake.

Attending an industry party – unfortunately only to serve canapes – Jessica’s fortunes suddenly change when Vogue, the singer due to perform at the event drops out. Before she knows it, Jessica volunteers to stand in and takes centre stage. After a dazzling performance, she is surrounded by people wondering who this amazing new talent is. What’s more, her star turn has been captured by the press and she has become an overnight sensation.

Plunged into the crazy world of glitz and glamour, Jessica’s life is transformed but as her star rises, she loses touch with her roots. Jessica’s teenage dreams of stardom may have come true, but at what cost?

The Review

Now, I may be biased because I come from the greatest city in the world but I do love a good book set in Liverpool. And that is exactly what you get from Abbey Clancy’s debut novel Remember My Name.

The story centres on Jessy Malone, a young girl with a big dream and who unfortunately has never had a chance to have her talents seen…except by children as she performs at birthday parties dressed as Disney princesses. Hardly rock and roll. However, a chance encounter changes all that and Jessy’s life is changed beyond comprehension.

Suddenly Jessy has to figure out who she is: Jessica, the down to earth family girl from Liverpool or Jessika the newest musical sensation?

The great thing about Remember My Name (besides the celebration of Liverpool) is that the whole “fish out of water” storyline reads so truthfully. You totally buy into the fact the Jessy’s head is turned by all the madness and that it would be easy to forget the person that you once were. I think it also helps that we live in a world of instant (and social) media. It is no longer a hard slog for a lot of singers who are plucked from obscurity and thrown inn at the deep end. Furthermore, we are allowed to see Jessy at her most vulnerable and (arguably) her most real.

Remember My Name is a really enjoyable read and it is a rags to riches story that really packs a punch. It is a must for summer. It is as essential for your trip to the beach as your sun lotion!

Remember My Name is a rags to riches story that really packs a punch.

Remember My Name by Abbey Clancy is available now.

Follow Abbey Clancy (@OfficialClancy) on Twitter.

Follow Mira UK (@mira_booksUK) and Harlequin (@HarlequinBooks) on Twitter and for more titles visit www.mirabooks.co.uk and www.harlequin.com

4 Stars

Review: Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher

Always With LoveThe Blurb

Sophie’s got used to being the girlfriend of Billy Buskin, the biggest movie star in the world. Sort of.

But when she and Billy take a trip to visit his family in Los Angeles, she quickly discovers she’s totally unprepared for the chaos of Hollywood, the paparazzi and Billy’s controlling mother.

And when Billy extends his stay in LA, leaving Sophie to fly home to Rosefont Hill alone, it seems there’s more than just miles between them.

Now Sophie must decide if they can overcome their differences for good. Because not every love story lasts the distance . . .

The Review

Ahhhh Always with Love.

Always with Love is the latest release from Giovanna Fletcher and revisits previous characters that she created. We are reunited with Sophie May and Billy Buskin. I’m a fan of reading about the same characters. I think it stemmed from my childhood when I loved reading about Mildred Hubble and the girls at Miss Cackles Academy, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield in the Sweet Valley series and I loved saying hello to my friends at The Babysitters Club so for me I was overjoyed to find that I got to read about Sophie and Billy again. I had every reason to be. Always with Love is a sweet story that I finished in two sittings.

It is lovely to see how a relationship develops. So often in romantic literature the couple get together at the end to the chorus of trombones and a win machine so it is always refreshing to see the ‘happily ever after’ rather than just ending a story at that point.

Always with Love shows the progression of Sophie May and Billy Buskin’s relationship as they begin to battle the turmoil of a working relationship when things like family, distance and newcomers try to keep you apart.

If I am honest, during the first part of the story a particular story thread had me unsettled (involving someone trying to keep Billy and Sophie apart – that is all I will say so I don’t spoil anything for readers) and I thought to myself that it was just a déjà vu storyline from Billy and Me but Fletcher throws a curveball and quickly you realise that it will take more than this incident to keep Billy and Sophie apart.

What came next were the trials and tribulations that you get in relationships; Fletcher has her characters try and keep their love alive when they keep coming across obstacles. I have to say, she does it really well. We feel the anguish of both characters who are dealing with forces bigger than they are.

I must admit that I found Sophie to be a little bit difficult to love at times. I probably shouldn’t say that about the protagonist but at times she did come across as a little selfish. I only say this because I find myself in a similar situation as she does (although mine does not happen to be with a Hollywood hunk like Billy Buskin) and I found that at times she was a little uncompromising. However, the flip side is that I could see what she was dealing with ad empathised with her situation.

This all sounds rather cryptic so you will have to read Always with Love to understand…and while you are at it read the rest of Giovanna Fletchers novels. They will make you warm and fuzzy inside.

Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher is available from 4th June 2016.

4 Stars

Review: Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams

Anne WilliamsThe Blurb

‘Mum…’ This was the last word that 15-year-old Liverpool fan Kevin Williams spoke as he lay dying, one of the 96 tragic victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

Kevin’s mum, Anne, was not there to answer his call but she never let her son down. From that fateful day, April 15, 1989, she embarked on a remarkable 24-year battle to see justice done.

Convinced of a cover-up by the powers that be, she left no stone unturned in her quest to uncover the truth. It was a campaign that she fought to her dying day, succumbing to cancer at the age of 62 in April, 2013. Anne’s efforts had not been in vain. Just months earlier, a historic breakthrough saw the original inquest verdicts quashed, following a public apology to the Hillsborough families by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Her daughter Sara, Kevin’s sister, was with Anne every step of the way. Now, with the help of personal recollections penned by her mum in her final months, she tells the real story of Anne’s remarkable journey – her spirit in the face of the many setbacks and her defiant refusal to accept defeat. Anne’s final message before losing her fight for life was ‘I never walked alone’. This book is dedicated to everyone who has ever fought for justice in the name of the 96.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

In 1989, I, along with my sister, was taken by our parents to lay flowers in memoriam for 96 people who had died at a football match. I don’t remember this, I was only five and in fact my first really knowledge of the Hillsborough disaster didn’t happen until much later. As I said, I was baby. In 1996, I watched the Jimmy McGovern docudrama on ITV and afterwards I openly sobbed for what had happened. From that moment on I noticed things about my city (Liverpool) that I had never been aware of before.

With the recent news of the Hillsborough Inquiry coming in favour of the families of the 96 people killed at Hillsborough I picked up a copy of Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams. Anne Williams was the mother of Kevin Williams, a young fifteen year old boy who was one of the 96 victims. Anne Williams fought for over 25 years to have the truth revealed about what happened to her son on that fateful day. The massive cover up operation meant that the South Yorkshire Police publically accused the fans of Liverpool Football Club of causing the disaster taking none of the blame themselves.

In 2012, the truth was revealed (through Anne Williams and the other families tireless campaigning) and a new inquest into the deaths was to be opened.

Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams is Anne Williams Story. It is told in such concise detail and with such heartbreaking emotion – in both Anne Williams’ words and her daughters. Sara Williams does her mother proud with the release of this truly amazing book about the resilience of one woman whose life was torn apart by the death of her son.

Everybody should read Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams. It is important. The most heartbreaking thing about this book is the knowledge that Anne Williams passed away before she could see the blame apportioned to the right people and the hard work and the courage of her conviction paid off.

The world needs more people like Anne Williams. Justice for the 96.

Anne Williams – With Hope in Her Heart by Sara Williams is available now.

5 Stars