Bearly a Lady: A Novella Review

Zelda had made peace (mostly) with transforming into a werebear once a month. Luckily she has her amazing vampire roommate and her dream job at a fashion magazine to balance that out. Then, of course, there’s her excellent wardrobe–if only more of it was werebear sized!

Things get complicated when Zelda has to juggle a date with with her high school crush Jake (alpha werewolf of Kensington) and the charms of Benedict the fae nobleman (and nephew of her boss) that she’s been assigned to bodyguard for two whole weeks. Then there’s Janine, Zelda’s longtime crush at work and maybe the one who could take Zelda’s almost perfect life to completely excellent in Bearly a Lady (2017) by Cassandra Khaw.

Khaw offers a frothy homage to chick lit and fantasy in this charmingly cute novella (part of the Book Smugglers Novella Initiative). Zelda’s first person narration is breezy, fun, and just the slightest bit madcap as her life goes from fairly mundane (for a werebear) to bearly (pun intended!) under control. Set over the course of a tumultuous week for Zelda Bearly a Lady offers a contained story with some fascinating world building.

I won’t give away too much about the OTP here but Zelda’s chemistry with her love interests throughout this novella is off the charts. After you finish the story, be sure to read Khaw’s short essay on her inspiration and influences. It’s a great take on how this author, previously known more for her horror efforts, turned her attention to chick lit and something a bit lighter.

Bearly a Lady is a lighthearted novella filled with an inclusive cast of characters, comedy and romance–highly recommended for anyone seeking a much-needed dose of escapism in these trying times.

I have been promised cuteness and werebears and vampires in this novella by Cassandra Khaw (from Book Smugglers Publishing). Based on the cover I am not disappointed! Excited to have this as my next read. đź’— Zelda had made peace (mostly) with transforming into a werebear once a month. Luckily she has her amazing vampire roommate and her dream job at a fashion magazine to balance that out. đź’— Things get complicated when Zelda is juggling a date with with her high school crush Jake (alpha werewolf of Kensington) and the charms of Benedict the fae nobleman (and nephew of her boss) that she's been assigned to bodyguard for two whole weeks. Then there's Janine, Zelda's longtime crush at work and maybe the one who could take Zelda's almost perfect life to completely excellent. đź’— #bookstagram #goodreads #instabook #instareads #bibliophile #books #reading #currentlyreading #amreading #bookworm #bookish #bookgram #booktography #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookphotography #books #bookstagramit #bspnovella #novella #werebear #fantasy #cassandrakhaw

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*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

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The Fashion Committee: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Find something that makes your heart sing and your brain expand, and let it carry you past all the ugliness and low spots.”

“Measuring someone is borderline invasive. You have to touch them and record their physical presence in the world. It’s a pretty specific way to understand someone.”

Charlie Dean lives and breathes fashion and she strives for style in all things. John Thomas-Smith is a metal sculptor and he could not care less about clothes. They have one thing in common: they desperately want the chance to attend the Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design on full scholarship.

When Green Pastures announces that this year’s scholarship will be awarded to a fashion design student, Charlie thinks the stars have finally aligned to make her dreams come true. John, meanwhile, is disappointed that the scholarship isn’t for metalwork but he also knows that fashion is a joke. How hard can faking his way into the competition really be?

Charlie and John have nothing in common except for art and ambition. They are both determined to win and they won’t let anything stand in their way. Not a soul-killing job at Salad Stop or an unsympathetic girlfriend. Not a dad’s girlfriend’s drug-addicted ex-boyfriend. And definitely not a very minor case of kidnapping.

Two very different artists. One life changing competition. And only one winner in The Fashion Committee (2017) by Susan Juby.

Although set in the same world as The Truth Commission, Juby’s latest novel is a standalone contemporary with an entirely new cast of characters (and illustrations by Soleil Ignacio).

This epistolary novel features alternating chapters from Charlie and John’s fashion journals written over the course of the competition. Charlie’s sections each start with one of her signature bright ideas (“Dress for the life you want!”) while John’s sections finish with quotes from the fashion industry and his own scathing indictments. Although Charlie and John often share physical space, their narratives have little overlap as the plot focuses on their own paths through the competition from developing their concepts and designing their garments to the final fashion show.

Juby introduces two very different characters in The Fashion Committee. Charlie Dean has been curating and shaping her own persona from a very young age. She values fashion above most else and she believes in deliberate sartorial choices to create a facade to present to the world. Charlie uses that facade to offset some of the things she’d prefer to forget like her father’s struggle with drug addiction. John, meanwhile, considers himself a straight shooter with a hard knock upbringing. He is very aware of the privileges of those around him (especially those attending Green Pastures) but turns a blind eye to his own good fortune being raised by two loving and conscientious grandparents. Despite their differing opinions of fashion (and almost everything else), Charlie and John’s journeys mirror each other well with a variety of ups, downs, and even a littler romance for both protagonists.

Charlie and John both have to deal with some stereotypes and preconceptions about themselves and, through meeting the unique group of students competing in the fashion show, they also learn to acknowledge their own biases. Does everything go perfectly in The Fashion Committee? No. Not even with Charlie’s efforts to impose beauty and positivity on the world through sheer force of will or John’s deliberate choice to always expect the worst.

The Fashion Committee is a thoughtful novel about fashion, privilege, and perspective where Charlie and John learn to appreciate what they have and also strive to get what they deserve. A must-read for fashionistas of all levels of expertise and anyone who seeking a book that will leave them laughing. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer, Don’t You Trust Me? by Patrice Kindl, Black Friday: The Collapse of the American Shopping Mall by Seph Lawless, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Flannery by Lisa Moore, Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, Volume 1 by Hope Nicholson (editor), Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith, D. V. by Diana Vreeland, Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Be sure to check out my interview with Susan about this book too!

The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic: A Review

timetravelfashionistatitanicTwelve-year-old Louise Lambert loves all things vintage. Her mother and her best friend Brooke don’t see the appeal of wearing someone’s old, used clothes but Louise adores the charm and glamor that comes from putting together the just-right vintage ensemble.

When Louise receives a strange invitation to a vintage fashion sale, she knows it will be the perfect place to find a dress for the upcoming school dance. While the traveling vintage isn’t exactly as sleek or well-organized as Louise thought, she does find the perfect dress.

After trying on a beautiful pink dress Louise finds herself magically transported through time to a luxurious cruise ship. Louise is more than willing to leave her boring, everyday life behind for a little while as a first class passenger with a promising acting career. The only problem is that Louise isn’t on just any ship–her magical dress has landed Louise on the Titanic in The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic (2011) by Bianca Turetsky with illustrations by Sandra Suy.

The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic is Turetsky’s first novel as well as the start to her Time-Traveling Fashionista series.

This book is a delightful blend of historical details with a time travel fantasy. Turetsky brings the world of the Titanic to life as readers experience the luxuries of first class travel on the cruise ship through Louise’s eyes.

Suy’s lush illustrations and the gorgeous book design add another special touch to this reading experience.

With adventure, fashion and a couple of crushes this is a fresh story that is ideal for both teen and tween readers.

Although many questions about the traveling vintage sale are left unanswered The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic is still a great standalone which even wraps up some of the story lines that were started on the Titanic in addition to Louise’s more immediate concerns with the school dance. This book promises many exciting things to come in future installments.

Possible Pairings: Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer, The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi, The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove, Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Check back starting tomorrow for my interview with the author!

Lola and the Boy Next Door: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsLola Nolan’s New Year’s resolution was to never wear the same outfit twice.

She wants to attend the winter formal dressed like Marie Antoinette, but not quite. She wants a wig so big a bird could live in it. She wants a dress so wide that she’ll need to enter through a set of double doors. She also wants everyone to see that she’s punk-rock tough under the frills when they notice her platform combat boots.

She wants her parents to approve of her boyfriend, Max. Sure, Max is twenty-two and Lola is seventeen. But so what? Her father Nathan was significantly younger than her other dad, Andy, when they started dating. Isn’t that further proof that Max is the one? Not so much according to Nathan and Andy.

Lola also never ever ever wants to see the Bell twins ever again. Ever.

When a moving truck rolls up next door, Lola realizes she isn’t going to get what she wants. Not where the Bell twins are concerned anyway.

After steamrolling through Lola’s life two years ago, Cricket Bell–aspiring inventor and snappy dresser–is back along with his talented, figure-skating twin sister Calliope. While Calliope chases an elusive spot at the Olympics, Cricket is starting college and seems to be chasing . . . Lola.

But Lola doesn’t care about Cricket anymore. She wants different things now. Things like her boyfriend Max and her Marie Antoinette dress. And that’s enough.

Except it really isn’t. After years spent wanting to never see the boy next door ever again, Lola is starting to wonder if she’s been wanting all of the wrong things in Lola and the Boy Next Door (2011) by Stephanie Perkins.

Lola and the Boy Next Door is a companion to Perkins’ debut novel Anna and the French Kiss.* (Readers of both books might recognize some characters from the first book in this one but it’s most definitely a standalone if you want it to read this one first.)

As much as I enjoyed Anna and her story, I loved Lola so much more. With her vibrant outfits and quirky personality Lola is all win. With their witty banter (not to mention having style in spades), Lola and Cricket shine as a couple you’ll want to root for–even when Lola’s own feelings are mixed at best. Perkins vividly recreates San Francisco in the pages of Lola and the Boy Next Door with well-realized settings that complement her dimensional characters.

Without revealing too much, Perkins takes what could have been a conventional romantic story in a different direction with the pacing and structure of the story as well as some clever diversions with other characters. Combined with Lola’s obvious transformation throughout the story all of that makes Lola and the Boy Next Door a book well worth checking out.

*The final companion Isla and the Happily Ever After is due out in 2013 and if it goes the way I think it’s going to go–it is going to be soooooooo awesome!

Possible Pairings: North of Beautiful by Justina Chen, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, When It Happens by Susane Colasanti, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby, Don’t Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough, After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy, Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Summer in the Invisible City by Juliana Romano, Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan, The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott, Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altedbrando

Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S. (Ball of Yellow String): A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S. by Cherise Mericle HarperWhat do marshmallows, yellow string, the Eiffel tower and Super Sticky Spray have in common? Not much really, except that they all have a key role in Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S (Ball of Yellow String) (2011) by Charise Mericle Harper.

Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S. is Fashion Kitty’s fourth adventure, but it is my first experience with the fashion forward cat whose family has two secrets: (1) they have a pet mouse and (2) Kiki Kittie is now a superhero called Fashion Kitty.

Although the content is necessarily different, this book follows the tradition of Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid books (and even Brian Selznick and other books that I’m not as familiar with) in combining a written story with illustrated segments interspersed throughout the text.

The really nice thing about this book, being part of an established series, is that Harper does a good job bringing readers up to speed quickly. It was easy to read this book as a standalone without the earlier installments.

Apparently the earlier books in the series were more traditional graphic novels and some readers miss that format. I can’t comment on that since I haven’t read the other books, but I liked the text/image format. This could also be a good stepping stone to more text-based books for readers who are growing with the series, but it’s really a matter of personal preference.

Harper’s writing is clever with a bit of fairy tale quality–it’s easy to imagine sitting around a story hour being told this story by the author instead of reading it as a book.

I like the emphasis on helping friends here and the illustrations are a lot of fun. Really, the whole premise is fun–a cat who is a superhero and helps cats with fashion emergencies? What’s not to love? I was also happy to see the inclusion of a lot of boy characters instead of keeping the book girly and fashion-centric. Fashion does, obviously, play a role but it’s also just a vehicle to help people out.

T-shirts and marshmallow art  play a role in the story and Harper even provides craft ideas at the end of the book making this one the full package. With the humor, short chapters, and illustrations Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S. is a great choice for fans of the series, reluctant readers, and anyone in between.

*A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher/author. (This is totally unrelated to the review and did not impact my opinion of the book, but thanks to Dema Neville for the lovely packaging of the said review copy which included the book as well as some marshmallows and yellow string–which as it turns out tie back to craft ideas at the back of the book.)