The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Everyone's A Winner Baby

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It has been a week since the Emmys and the fashion buzz has fizzled out, so I can finally look at everything without bias. Overall, I don't think anybody was awfully dressed. Most looks were very good. Very few (if any) were head turners but then again I think that was expected. However, this is the nice thing about the Emmys: We see these stars in our homes everyday (compared to say, The Oscars where to be honest most of us haven't seen half of the Best Picture nominees- even us so called film addicts), and then they turn up on a red carpet in their designer gowns looking all 'aw shucks, it's just me in this little old thing', therefore the Emmys is more of an accessible red carpet.

Anyway, here were a few of my favourites from the event:

Leslie Mann in Naeem Khan was my favourite look of the night. I would love to wear this dress, as it is simple but a little bit quirky (with the intricate beading) but not too outlandish. She looks comfortable and happy, which is always a bonus. Also, the turquoise jewellery is an unexpected treat. 

Similarly, Padma Lakshmi's Monique Lhuillier dress was simple but effective. The colour looked gorgeous against her skin tone. I'm not a fan of the fishtail dress but I did like it on Padma. Finally, Jessica Lange just looked cool in her sunglasses and J.Mendel gown. 

Mindy Kaling (St. John) and Allison Williams (Oscar de la Renta) both rocked emerald green. They proved the colour is flattering on all skin tones. Also, I LOVE Allison Williams' neon pink Oscar de la Renta dress from the pre-Emmys party. It's youthful but sophisticated and I want one similar to it. 

A pregnant Claire Danes shone in yellow Lanvin and Kerry Washington shimmered in Vivienne Westwood. Both leading ladies were radiant on the carpet. 

Finally, these young leading ladies stepped up to the plate in stylish but age appropriate outfits. Kiernan Shipka of Mad Men looked all kinds of classy in Zac Posen and Ariel Winter looked adorable in Katharine Kidd. 

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm not much of a Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants kind of girl. I think I missed the boat. I saw the films and liked them well enough but never read the books until this year I decided to try them. So, I purchased the first one for Kindle and wasn't particularly overwhelmed. However, had I read it when I was sixteen, I would have probably raved about it. I liken the Sisterhood to the Jessica Darling novels. I know some of my friends read Jessica Darling later in life and didn't really see what the fuss was about, however I started reading them when I was about seventeen so ended up being around about the same age as Jess as I read them all. Therefore, they are synonymous with my little bit of growing up. But I digress, this is a Sisterhood review. 

I decided to skip all of the middle books and catch up with the girls on their last (or should I say latest?) outing. Lena is teaching and seems a little bit of a Debbie Downer; Bee is dreadlocked free spirit who still likes to sleep outside; Carmen is a minor celebrity; and Tibby Australia. The friends still keep in contact but the bond is not as strong as life, and everything that comes along with it, proves too distracting. However, they are reunited through Tibby and her wishes for all of them. 

I have to say, I found the first half of this instalment very difficult to get through. Nothing was happening even though something 'big' does happen. The girls all seemed very monotonous and stuck in their boxes. However, I soon started paying closer attention to the quotations that preface every chapter and before I knew it, things started to pick up. The introduction of characters such as Effie, Kostos, train guy and Brian really helped to bring the girls out of themselves and their world started to become a little more three dimensional. By the end of the novel, I was fully invested in all of the characters and was even able to overlook the slightly too cute wrapping up of the story. I think my main issue with this Sisterhood novel is that the girls didn't seem like twenty-somethings, especially compared to the voices of Jennifer Close's 'Girls In White Dresses', which I have recently read. Then again, perhaps this is to do with target audience. Is it for adult readers or young adults? Or is it 'new adult'? This is more about whether or not an adult can realistically review a young adult novel, something I'd like to talk about another day once I get my thoughts in order. 

Anyway, I ended up quite liking Sisterhood Everlasting. 

Soundtrack Suggestion: 

My Hustle, So Russell

Friday, September 14, 2012

The job market in the UK right now is DIRE. Despite reports of unemployment falling it is still hard out there for a recent graduate. Yesterday, I did a stupid thing and roughly counted how many applications I had saved in my documents folder. It surpassed 100. And those were just the CV's and cover letters that I had tailored to specific jobs. I've sent far more standard CV's and completed countless online forms. 

Then to make matters worse, I was scrolling down my news feed and saw that a friend had posted about their unemployment. I commiserated silently and was about to continue scrolling when I noticed all the comments. These were not sympathetic comments like my silent one. No, these were job offers- and proper one's at that! Well, if I'd known you could get job offers just by posting on the internet, I would have done it sooner. Except, all of my friends on that site are actually my friends, and surely if they had jobs they would have offered them sooner? So, more than ever, it is about who you know and who you've connected with over time. I am going to have to take advice from Hov and make like Russell Simmons. Here are some pointers for my fellow unemployed grad's feeling a little down today:

First, equip the mind. It is evident that the Tech industry is the place to be these days, so I have started an online Computer Science course over at Coursera (and signed up for a Logic course, which is more for fun). Add new skills. The more you have to offer, the harder it is for them to dismiss you. 

Second step, broaden your circle. I'm wary of social media like Twitter and all that but it seems like more and more people are making their work connections on there. 

Third step, take heed of the wise words written by Emily Dickinson: "Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door". Keep pushing, knock on every door. In fact, burst through it and declare "I'm here!" like Juwanna Mann. Someone will take you under their wing, eventually. 

Finally, just keep on keeping on. It's hard but it's something that has been going on for time immemorial. Your time will come. Just make sure that when it does, you're ready. 

Why Mindy Is My Jess

Whilst I was away, I was able to take advantage of the brilliant service that is Hulu. I caught up with Community and also managed to watch two pilots. One of these was The Mindy Project. 

This time last year, almost to the date, I was browsing the internet and came across some sample chapters from Mindy Kaling's "Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)". First of all I was immediately gripped by the title because that is my motto. It goes through my neurotic little head on a regular basis. I then found myself laughing out loud- at my internship- as I read the samples. So, when I got home I pre-ordered the book (I hardly ever pre-order. I didn't even pre-order the new J.K Rowling. Who's going to sell out of that one? Nobody.) and Mindy and I have been besties ever since. 

So, I was excited-and a little nervous- to watch my imaginary BFF's new show. I loved it. Naturally. My initial thought after viewing was "there's finally someone on the television that I can relate to". I know, from reading Vulture, that Mindy doesn't really want it to be about race and I agree on some level. But when there are little people like me out there who are just so glad to see somebody their colour fronting a show that's not about cops or gangstas or the president (ok it's about doctors but I can work with that), you kind of have to touch on the issue. 

Mindy is not stereotypical- at least where ethnic stereotypes are concerned. No, Mindy is to me what Jess was to all of my friends last year. Except, The Mindy Project doesn't really remind me of New Girl so much as it reminds me of my old favourite Ugly Betty (taken from our screens far too soon. We love you Betty!). Despite being a half hour show like New Girl, The Mindy Project shares Ugly Betty's more grown up approach. I suppose you could say that an ethnic woman (Mindy, Betty, Olivia Pope) has to be shown going above and beyond to serve as an inspiration- whether they like it or not. I don't think an ethnic actress playing Jess' role would ever be received the way Zooey Deschanel has been. 

However, like Mindy, I don't really want it to be about race either. I just want to enjoy a good, hearty comedy with an abundance of pop culture references. But it is nice to finally be able to relate to an onscreen character, isn't it? 

Winter Is Coming...

I've only been home for four days but it is getting increasingly chillier by the hour. So, on that note, I bid farewell to summer by sharing a few of the tunes (new and old) that got stuck in my head whilst the sun dared to show it's face.

Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen

Obviously I got swept up into the hype of this song but boy is it catchy. I hardly ever remember lyrics but for some reason I can recite most of this song.

Gangnam Style by Psy

I will always associate this song with our long trip to the Miami area.

Beamer by Mele feat. Kano

This reminds me of the beginning of the summer and the Euro's as we kept singing "Teach them how to Balotelli". 

Disparate Youth by Santigold

If I could be an artist, I'd definitely want to be like Santigold. Love this track. It's mellow but still has a summer vibe. 

Superstylin by Groove Armada

An oldie but a goody. I managed to hear this live again this year at Lovebox with sis.

I can't really post Youtube videos for all my summer tracks but I've created a Spotify playlist of the rest.

Summer Reading

Whilst on holiday, I managed to burn through five books (one of which I have already reviewed on here) so I thought it would be easier if I wrote mini reviews. 

How To Talk To A Widower by Jonathan Tropper 

After reading This Is Where I Leave You, I purchased this Jonathan Tropper novel. It was similar thematically (death, family, religion, love) but they still felt like two very different books so I was not disappointed. 

How To Talk To A Widower follows Doug who has become a widower and a step-dad before he has even hit thirty. Doug is trying to come to terms with losing the love of his life whilst: writing a column for a magazine on his stages of grief; trying to start dating again; and dealing with his family who all have their own paritcular forms of baggage. His closest confidante and champion is his twin sister and with her help Doug realises he has to start living again.

The characters were fun but full of humanity, which is a difficult thing to accomplish. Jonathan Tropper seems to be gifted when it comes to writing about life and death, as he manages to make it poignant and hearfelt without an abundance of tears and wallowing. 

Once again, it was so easy to picture the main characters (definitely Bryan Greenberg for Doug). I'm sure this will be turned into a film too- although I think it would be better as a mini series. Overall, I was very impressed with this book and would reccomend it to people who, like me, might fancy a break from the YA and don't necessarily want chick-lit but also aren't quite ready to delve into one of those bigger tomes (Cloud Atlas- I'm looking at you). 

Soundtrack Suggestion: Days Go By- Dirty Vegas

North Of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley 

Terra is a high achieving high schooler who happens to have a big birthmark on her face. After trying another round of laser treatment, she heads off to China and tries to come to terms with her life. 

I struggled with this one. I almost didn't bring it on holiday even though I was halfway through it. I really, really wanted to like it because the subject matter makes you feel like you should like it. However, I think I just didn't get the main character, Terra. It seemed like the birthmark was going to be the main story and the main issue but it wasn't. Instead, it just seemed to be about her "high status man candy". her "hot body", and her "army of skanks"- ok not really 100% true but I like to get a Mean Girls reference in whenever I can. 

Anyhoo, the story just didn't seem to be going anywhere for me. What was it supposed to be about? I read it, so I should know, right? But I don't. I think there were too many elements- art, birthmarks, high school, boyfriends, China, distant brothers, angry dad... I could go on. In addition, I didn't think the relationship between Terra and her fancyman was very believable. Also, I think if a book is going to focus on a year in the life of teenager X then teenager X needs to be very bloody interesting. A good example, in my opinion, is a book I read recently called Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

However, I will say that Terra's mother's story was very compelling. In fact, her story would have made for a much more interesting novel, which is now making me wonder if Justina Chen Headley has written any adult books. I will have to take a look. 

All in all, it was not my favourite but that's ok. You can't like everything. 

Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close

I do enjoy these twentysomething coming of age dramedy novels. If I were a marketing exec at Amazon or whatever I would sell this in conjunction with the HBO's 'Girls' box set.

Girls In White Dresses follows three best friends (Isabella, Laura and Mary) as they navigate the rocky territory between graduating from college and "adulthood". Mostly, this involves moving to new cities, getting new jobs and of course, attending all of the weddings. 

First of all, I liked that this book had proper chapters. Chapters that weren't too long, had substance and were titled. I also liked that it spun out from the main characters into their peripheral friends every now and then without seeming too random. It must be difficult to control three characters and all the emotions and events they are going through but Jennifer Close always seemed in control and never out of her element. This was probably helped by her simple, reported style of writing which was refreshing. It kept the lenght in check too. I don't need to be bogged down by too much description. 

Girls In White Dresses definitely won't appeal to everybody, in fact it will probably only appeal to a small minority due to the subject matter but I liked it. There were lots of observations that rang true for me and that's what usually tips a book from just being ok into your well liked pile. 

Soundtrack Suggestion: All My Friends- LCD Soundsystem

Bond Girl by Erin Duffy

Like Girl In White Dresses, Bond Girl will not be everybody's cup of tea, especially as people seem to equate Wall Street/City workers with devil spawn right now (which is not really true but too big of an issue to go into here). However, I loved it. 

The blurb/the press/someone of Goodreads compared it to The Devil Wears Prada, and it was similar in the sense that we get a glimpse into a world that is generally still mysterious to the general public. However, the aims of the two novels are different I think and I preferred Alex to Andi. This is mainly because I know Alex's world more than Andi's. I could nod and simle knowingly at Alex's descriptions of the games, the pranks, the nicknames, the lingo. 

It was more of a thinly veiled memoir than a full on novel. There didn't seem to be much of a story, no themes to speak of, no great arcs resolved at the end (except for maybe the colleague storyline, which was handled well), yet that still didn't seem to matter as I raced through the pages. The supporting characters were all very good and you can tell they were 100% based on Erin Duffy's friends and colleagues. Chick was a great boss. 

Overall, I found this to be highly compelling. However, if you're looking for a beach read and you're not interested in government bonds then perhaps this is not for you. 

Soundtrack Suggestion: Opportunities- Pet Shop Boys
                                       Mo Money Mo Problems- The Notorious B.I.G

Growing Up Is Hard To Do (Especially With A Baby Face)

Friday, September 7, 2012


Those of us who trawl the gossip blogs on a daily basis will be well aware of this film as we were constantly bombarded with candids from the set of Spring Breakers. At first everyone was shocked to see the tween queens cavorting around in neon bikinis and then interest turned to bemusement as candids of a James Franco in some K-Fed 2.0 get up hit the interweb. The IMDBers and other film lovers were anxious and excited to see what Harmony Korine was creating. I haven’t seen anything from him before (to be honest, I’ve never heard of him) but I have to say I was-and still am- intrigued as well. The consensus from critics at the festival seems to be that it is not as controversial as the on set pictures would suggest but it is a decent enough film.

However, all of this background chatter is kind of irrelevant for the tween queen’s as they will be hoping this film is the bridge for them to crossover into more adult roles- the life raft out of teeny bopper land. This is what fascinates me the most. I want them all to do well. I have a soft spot for Selena Gomez because, like me, she unfortunately has a baby face (well unfortunately for now anyway. She will be grateful for it in twenty years time, I’m sure). As a result, people are often quick to forget that she is actually twenty years old (it also doesn’t help that she is constantly papped with The Biebs). Therefore, it’s about time she starts to shed her Disney persona and begins to branch out. The same goes for Vanessa Hudgens who I often, inexplicably, feel sorry for. I think she was done over by the whole Zac Efron thing and it’s high time she got her chance to shine again. 

But enough amateur gossip analysis, onto the style transformations that solidifies this whole Time To Grow Up campaign. 

Selena Gomez attended the photocall with a nod to Autumn's luxurious brocade trend in a decadent Dolce & Gabbana number. She then glammed up in Atelier Versace for the premiere. Both looks are mature without being too try-hard. 

However, my favourite has to be Vanessa Hudgens. Such a nice surprise, particularly as she won this year's Fug Madness over at Go Fug Yourself. The Blumarine dress she wore for the photocall is elegant and very Emma Stone. Her bob has grown out nicely too. Every time I see this wavy do, I'm tempted to head down to my hairdressers. Yet, it is the gorgeous Temperley London dress she wore to the premiere that is my absolute favourite. It is definitely one of the best dresses I have seen this week. Ah, good old Temperley London. 

But for now, good luck Selena, Vanessa and Ashley- may the odds be ever in your favour. Will you be watching Spring Breakers?

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Luckily I received my advanced copy from The Reading Room just before I left for holiday. Being on holiday, I started The Girl You Left Behind with the intention of taking things slowly, reading a few chapters a day, however I soon found myself sucked into Sophie’s world and then Liv and the painting came along and my initial plan dissolved. 

First and foremost, I do not read many novels set during the First World War (or any war for that matter) so I do not have much with which I could compare The Girl You Left Behind. However, I thought it was a wonderfully crafted novel and Jojo Moyes cleverly balanced the historical perspective with a wonderful story of love and loss. I felt like I learnt a lot about a period I should probably know more about. 

I loved all the characters at the beginning in France. Jojo Moyes really created a community full of colourful characters against such a grim background. I particularly enjoyed Sophie’s memories about meeting her husband in Paris. Also, I was immediately on Sophie’s side because of her name- childlike and narcissistic, I know, but I could not help it. 

The time shift was a bit of a bump in the road the first time it occurred. I didn’t really connect to Liv at first and even throughout the novel my feelings toward to Liv wavered between cold to lukewarm. However, that was neither here nor there once the real story was properly introduced through Paul and his work for TARP. 

I have read a few books and seen a few television shows where the subject of the stolen art during WWII has been addressed and it is something that really interests me. Here, the story changed from one of survival and love to the greater themes of justice and restitution and even selfishness. Throughout the second half, I was constantly asking myself what I would do if I were in Liv’s position. I thought the court scenes were very well written, constantly juxtaposing the real fate of Sophie and the modern day lawyers using the relevant parts of the truth to win the case. 

Overall, it was quite a complex story- more so than I expected if I am truly honest and for this reason I could even overlook the ending. It is a novel that can be enjoyed by a broad spectrum of readers- I would not hesitate to recommend this to my 16 year old cousin or my mother. 

I am now going to find some more literature on the stolen artwork of WWII, try again to read Me Before You, and also buy a copy of The Girl You Left Behind for my friend.