October 16, 2012 · 8:56 am
Wear This Now: Your Style Solution For Every Season and Any Occasion by Michelle Madhok with Eileen Conlan (Harlequin Nonfiction, $12.99, 304 pages)
The field of self-help fashion books is crowded. The first gurus on the scene were Trinny Woodall and Susanna Constantine, whose What Not To Wear book and television series in Great Britain came to the U.S. in the delightful form of the TLC series of the same name starring Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. There have been countless other books and shows along the way, some targeting how not to look old or how to shop your closet. If you take the no-nonsense, truly caring approach that the What Not To Wear teams have taken in helping the rest of us to get dressed, and add an internet shopping and blogging factor, you’ll arrive at this charmingly illustrated book.
Michelle Madhok and Eileen Conlan have earned their expertise through years of shopping (bricks and mortar and on-line) along with reporting on fashion. Respectively, they are the founder and senior editor of SHEFINDS MEDIA which encompasses several blogs. Michelle has appeared on numerous television shows and Eileen is widely published.
The audience for this book seems to be women between the ages of twenty-five and forty whose lives are busy, primarily at work and out with friends after work and on weekends. The first chapter was a bit more choppy and bouncy than this reviewer anticipated. Considering the age range for the targeted readers, it probably isn’t a deal breaker for these readers. Fortunately, I stuck with the read and was rewarded with very helpful and specific advice. From seasonal shopping lists and advice on how to score the best bargains, to several outfits for each event likely to be part of the reader’s life.
The beauty of this book is that it has a life beyond the initial read. A set of tabs or flags posted at the chapters would be a sure way to streamline its use throughout the year.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Wear This Now was released on September 1, 2012.
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July 31, 2012 · 5:26 pm
Now You See Me & Dead Scared (Lacey Flint Novels) by S. J. Bolton
Now You See Me (Minotaur Books, $14.99, 400 pages)/Dead Scared (Minotaur Books, $25.99, 384 pages)
Have you ever been afraid to read a second book by an author? If the first one is as convoluted, terrifying and overwhelming as Now You See Me, you’d understand this reviewer’s hesitation to begin reading author S. J. Bolton’s latest novel, Dead Scared. Bolton knows how to reach that deeply-hidden vulnerable spot in her reader’s emotions. She has also perfected the scene switch that moves the story line beyond mere entertainment to fully conscious attention. The locations for the book make like a travel guide for Britain which balances nicely with the sinister and often gory action.
The two books bode well for an engaging series; however, main character Lacey Flint will have to tone down her activities if she wants to reach middle age. Flint’s shady past is revealed in Now You See Me and her career as a detective constable in England evolves as do her detecting skills in Dead Scared. There’s a love interest, albeit experienced more as longing and yearning than romance. The plot lines are not as important as the lessons Bolton puts forth regarding trust, loyalty and vulnerability. What you see is not always what you get.
Perhaps the best indicator for the success of a book is the affinity a reader develops for the characters. This holds true for Lacey Flint’s effect on this reviewer. At least one or two more tales from Bolton that feature the spunky detective would be most welcome. Let’s hope Lacey keeps her energy level high and finds more baffling mysteries to solve.
Review copies were provided by the publisher. “Readers will be caught up in the twists and turns that leave them hanging until the final paragraph.” Library Journal
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December 2, 2010 · 5:54 pm
Paul McCartney: A Life by Peter Ames Carlin (Touchstone, $16.99, 384 pages)
“Take a sad song and make it better…”
Peter Ames Carlin wrote what was likely the second-best biography of Brian Wilson, Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. It was very good but a bit dry in places, especially when compared to The Nearest Faraway Place by Timothy White. White’s earlier biography masterfully blended the migration of the Wilson family from the Midwest to Torrance with the history of Southern California itself. (The title referenced the phrase used by Brian’s mother whenever she wanted to escape to the not-so-close and not-too-far-away community of Ventura.)
This time Carlin has come closer to fashioning a definitive, lively and warmly human account of the man they call Macca in Great Britain. More than half of this bio covers the story of the Fab Four, which seemed to have had its last good moment with John Lennon and Paul – just the two – recording The Ballad of John and Yoko. Said Paul, “It always surprised me how with just the two of us on it, it ended up sounding like the Beatles.”
This is far from a totally fawning tale of Sir Paul, and Carlin does well in picturing the band as a dysfunctional family. In Carlin’s eyes, John was the wild husband, Paul the responsible mother figure trying to keep the family on track, George the often brooding and secretly rebellious son, and Ringo the “What, me worry?” older brother. And yet… Yet they all came to realize – in one way or another – that they had destroyed the household too soon. The break-up came too early.
Carlin illustrates several times how much Paul came to miss John once he was suddenly gone: “I really loved you and was glad you came along/and you were here today, for you were in my song.” This is the Paul who was subsequently again destroyed by George Harrison’s untimely death: “To me he’s just my little baby brother. I loved him dearly.”
The one caution with Carlin is that you should certainly feel free to disagree with his musical judgments, as when he praises the disastrous – to this listener’s ears – remixes of the Beatles songs on albums like Yellow Submarine, 1s (Ones) and Love. They’re louder and brasher, but not better nor true to the original recordings. He also fails to understand the simple genius of the album called McCartney – which contained Maybe I’m Amazed, Every Night (the alternate version of You Never Give Me Your Money) and That Would Be Something.
But in the end, we see here a musician who carried on quite, quite well even after the loss of his two quasi-brothers and two wives (one by death, one through a bitter divorce). If you love Paul McCartney, you will feel the same way about him once you’ve finished A Life. If you’ve never much liked Beatle Paul, you may grudgingly make your way through this bio and find that he’s earned a bit of your respect. “Take it away…”
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
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