the rad covers edition:
Aroha, Anaru Bickford (284 pages) – In the year 2019, Māori teenager Aroha lives in the United States with her aunt and uncle, and is tormented daily by the cousin who holds her responsible for ripping their family apart. Aroha also suffers from dreams that have plagued her since her childhood in New Zealand, in which the world ends in a wall of fire. Are these dreams, or premonition? Nightmare, or prophecy? Aroha’s story is a journey to find love and accept responsibility … at the end of the world.
First lines: “There is a myth that attempts to explain the last days. It describes the end of the world as a coming together of two lovers: the earth and the sky reunited, plunging the world once again into darkness. Let me assure you – the end of the world was nothing that any myth or legend could have prepared you for.”
Return to me, Justina Chen (341 pages) – Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She’s weeks away from starting college – at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad’s last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her. And then there’s the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast. Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?
First lines: “If you believed my so-called psychic of a grandmother, she predicted that I would almost die. Her eerie, creepy forewarning made no difference at all. I was seven. I still jumped into the murky lake. I still dropped to its mossy bottom. I still almost drowned.”
Steal my sunshine, Emily Gale (333 pages) – Hannah is a fifteen-year-old girl whose greatest desire is to belong and be loved by her family. However, dark family secrets threaten everything. Combined with Hannah’s contemporary story, is her eccentric grandmother’s painful story about a shameful aspect of Australia’s history and how it affected thousands of girls and women: the forced adoptions that saw ‘wayward girls’ and single mothers forced to give up their babies by churches and hospitals.
First lines: “The morning it started Mum freaked out about the Christmas tree. It had been thirty degrees most of the night and I wasn’t sure if I’d been asleep for any of it. I could tell from the safety of my bedroom that Mum had woken up foul: heavy footsteps in the kitchen, cupboard doors slammed in, the dishwasher drawers yanked out and rammed in again.”
Battle lines, Will Hill (702 pages) – The third installment of the epic Department 19 series promises to promises to deliver higher—and sharper—stakes than ever before! Secret government unit Department 19 is recovering from evil vampire Valeri Rusmanov’s deadly attack on their base. The Department’s newest member, teenage operator Jamie Carpenter, is tasked with training up a new squad, as his friends and colleagues desperately search for ways to try to stop what is coming.
First lines: “In the village of Crawthorne is an alarm. A direct copy of a World War Two air-raid siren, it is bright red, and sits atop a pole two metres above the ground.”
Chosen at nightfall, C. C. Hunter (399 pages) – The cover describes this as Shadow Falls novel as “the magnificent final chapter in the breathtaking series!” And based on the reserve queue, more than a few of you are eager to read it! So here it is: Kylie’s most powerful enemy returns to destroy her once and for all, there’s only one way to stop him–to step into her full powers and make a stunning transformation that will amaze everyone around her.
First line: “Kylie Galen looked up from the slice of pepperoni pizza on the fine china plate and tried to ignore the ghost swinging the bloody sword right behind her grandfather and great-aunt.”
By any other name, Laura Jarrat, (355 pages) – Nobody can know the truth – Holly’s life depends on it. Holly is fifteen years old, but she’s only been “Holly” for a matter of months. Because of something that happened, she and her family have had to enter witness protection and have all assumed new identities. All, that is, except her sister Katie, who is autistic. Starting at a new school mid-term is hard enough at the best of times, and Holly has no clue who she is any more. Lonely and angry, she reaches out to friends – new and old. But one wrong move will put all their lives in danger.
First line: They told me to pick something unobtrusive, then they handed me a book of baby names and a cup of hot chocolate from a machine, and they left me there in the white room.”
Inferno, Sherrilyn Kenyon (451 pages) – the fourth ‘Chronicles of Nick’ book finds our protagonist unable to trust anyone but the being he has been warned will ultimately kill him (Death). If Nick is to survive this latest round, he will have to sacrifice a part of himself. However, the best sacrifice is seldom the sanest move. Sometimes it’s the one that leaves your enemies confused.
First line: “Silhouetted by the setting sun, and completely rusted out on the inside from his hatred of every living thing, Nick stood on the top of what remained of the old Jax Brewery building, watching his once beloved city burn to the ground.”
Unravel me, Tahereh Mafi (461 pages) – Juliette has escaped to Omega Point, the headquarters of the rebel resistance and a safe haven for people with abilities like hers. She is finally free from The Reestablishment and their plans to use her as a weapon, but Warner, her former captor, won’t let her go without a fight. Haunted by her past and terrified of her future, Juliette knows that in her present, she will have to make some life-changing choices. It’s the second in a trilogy though so make sure you read Shatter me first.
First lines: “The world might be sunny-side up today. The big ball of yellow might be spilling into the clouds, runny and yolky and blurring into the bluest sky, bright with cold hope and false promises about fond memories, real families, hearty breakfasts, stacks of pancakes drizzled in maple syrup sitting on a plate in a world that doesn’t exist anymore.”
The Subterranean Stratagem, Michael Pryor, (362 pages) – The follow up to The Extinction Gambit finds Kingsley and Evadne, the Extraordinaires, struggling to contain Kingsley’s wolfish side and save their juggling and escapology act. The secret to controlling the wolfishness is in Kingsley’s mysterious past. Was he really raised by wolces? Who were his parents? What happened to them? What begins as a quest to restore Kingsley’s past becomes an adventure that pits the Extraordinaires against forces that could shatter the minds and souls of millions.
First lines: “The giant steel jaws on either side of Kingsley Ward were quivering. Being suspended upside down as he was, it was difficult to judge the trap’s eagerness to close on him, so he ignored the metal monstrosity and focused his attention on wrenching himself free from the straitjacket.”
Emilie and the Hollow World, Martha Wells (301 pages) – While running away from home, Wmilie’s plan to stow away on a steamship go awry. Suddenly she’s on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure. Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine to journey to the dark interior of the planet in search of her new guardian’s missing father. Emilie must take daring action if they are ever to return to the surface alive.
First line: “Creeping along the docks in the dark, looking for the steamship Merry Bell, Emilie was starting to wonder if it might be better to just walk to Silk Harbor.”
I’ll admit it; I have a bit of a crush at the moment. On… flamingos. Yes, you read right. Basically, if I see ANYTHNG with flamingos on it, I need to own it straight away.
I recently bought this dress online and am soooo excited for it to arrive.
I also have a brand new phone cover! Flamingo-themed! Yusss! I have a newly-acquired LOVE for Ted Baker accessories, they are so feminine and chic and shiny. (See here, here and here for my most lusted-after pieces…) This phone case combined my Ted Baker love with the… thing I have for flamingos, so double win.
I have had this fabulously flamingo top for a wee while and I absolutely killed it over summer (with my bangin’ teal pencil skirt – best buy ever). Am already counting down until the warmer months come around so I can start wearing it again! Unfortunately, this is a top which is tricky to make trans-seasonal (cute blazer over top is not gonna cut it on a Wellington winter’s day).
I was also dangerously close to buying this skirt, but bf did not look pleased. Although I wish I had now, because I still love it! So cute. I also have a mad crush on this dress, but when I counted up my digits it was going to be waaaay too short. Alas.
The next items on my list are a silk square flamingo scarf (naturally) and a flamingo wall print (am thinking this one).
And, on a non-flamingo note. We have this sassy new number:
The closet stylist : your guide to personal style / Anna Caselberg.
“Do you have a wardrobe full of clothes but you still can’t find the right thing to wear? Do you find yourself buying the latest season’s styles but then never wear them? Do you put off buying clothes until you can shift those last few kilos? Then fashion stylist Anna Caselberg is here to give you expert advice on how to dress to suit your body shape; mix and match outfits; choose the most flattering styles; shop on a budget; update your wardrobe while including last season’s styles. By following Anna’s style tips and wardrobe advice you’ll discover your inner stylist and learn to create the most flattering looks to suit your body shape and lifestyle”–Publisher information.
I am particularly excited about this book because it’s written by a New Zealand author, which means the things she writes about will generally be available here. Yay! If this sounds like your thang, I recommend you reserve it pronto (beware: wee queue) as it’s proved pretty popular so far.
The ladies edition:
Dreamless, Josephine Angelini (503 pages) – Heartbroken and forbidden from being with Lucas, Helen has been tasked with breaking the curse that keeps them apart by killing the Furies. She spends her nights wandering the Underworld in search of them and, tormented by her worst nightmares made real, she’s beginning to suffer from extreme exhaustion on top of her heartbreak. One night, Helen meets another person in the shadowy Underworld: Orion. Still in love with Lucas but drawn to this seductive stranger, Helen must make a choice that could save her life but break her heart…
First lines: “On Monday morning, school was cancelled. Power still hadn’t been restored to certain parts of the island, and several streets in the centre of town were impassable due to damage done by the storm.”
All this could end, Steph Bowe (275 pages) – What’s the craziest thing your mum has asked you to do? Nina doesn’t have a conventional family. Her family robs banks. After yet another move and another new school, Nina is fed up and wants things to change. This time she’s made a friend she’s determined to keep: Spencer loves weird words and will talk to her about almost anything. Spencer and Nina both need each other as their families fall apart, but Nina is on the run and doesn’t know if she will ever see Spencer again.
First lines: “Nina Pretty holds the gun to the boy’s head, her other arm around his neck. Her balaclava itches.”
Alex as well, Alyssa Brugman (223 pages) – What do you do when everybody says you’re someone you’re not? Alex wants change. Massive change. More radical than you could imagine. Her mother is not happy, in fact she’s imploding. Her dad walked out. Alex has turned vegetarian, ditched one school, enrolled in another, thrown out her clothes. And created a new identity. An identity that changes her world. And Alex-the other Alex-has a lot to say about it.
First lines: “There are moments in life where something happens and it changes everything forever. You make one decision, and after that you can’t go back. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing.”
Etiquette & espionage, Gail Carriger (307 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than in proper manners. Unfortunately for her, her mother is desperate for her to become a proper lady. So Sophronia is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But the school is not what Sophronia, or her mother, expect. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage.
First lines: “Sophronia intended to pull the dumbwaiter up from the kitchen to outside the front parlor on the ground floor, where Mrs. Barnaclegoose was taking tea. Mrs. Barnaclegoose had arrived with a stranger in tow.”
New Guinea Moon, Kate Constable (275 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Julie is on her way to meet a father she doesn’t know in a country she’s never been to. What will she find when the tiny plane touches down in the lush tropical highlands of New Guinea? She might expect culture shock, she might hope for first love, but the secret she uncovers makes for a truly unforgettable summer.
First lines: “Julie stands in the doorway of the place. The heat slaps her in the face like a hot, wet towel. Passengers crowd at her back, impatient to disembark.”
Earth Girl, Janet Edwards (358 pages) – In the far future, the universe is divided into two different groups: the Norms, who can portal between planets, and people like Jarra, the one in a thousand born with an immune system that doesn’t allow them to survive anywhere but Earth.
First lines: “It was on Wallam-Crane day that I finally decided what I was going to do for my degree course Foundation year. I’d had a mail about it from Issette that morning.”
Flowers in the sky, Lynn Joseph (232 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Nina Perez is faced with a future she never expected. She must leave her Garden of Eden, her lush island home in the Dominican Republic, to seek out a better life. As Nina searches for some glimpse of familiarity amid the urban and jarring world of Washington Heights, she learns to uncover her own strength and independence.
First lines: “Just about everyone from my country, Republica Dominicana, dreams of moving to New York City, except for me. I did not want to leave my seaside home in Samana on the north coast where the humpback whales come every winter and fill Samana Bay with miracles and tourists.”
Out of the Easy, Ruta Sepetys (346 pages) – Josie Moraine wants out of The Big Easy – she needs more than New Orleans can offer. Known as a brothel prostitute’s daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here. But then a mysterious death leaves Josie caught between her ambition and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans is luring Josie deeper in as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn.
First lines: “My mother’s a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She’s actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.”
Fractured, Teri Terry (421 pages) – Kyla shouldn’t remember anything from before she was Slated, but dark secrets of her past will not stay buried. Caught in a tug of war between Lorder oppression and the fight for her freedom, her past and present race towards a collision she may not survive. While her desperate search for Ben continues, who can she trust in this world of secrets and lies?
First lines: “Rain has many uses. Holly and beech trees like those around me need it to live and grow. It washes away tracks, obscures footprints.”
Mermaid : a twist on the classic tale, Carolyn Turgeon (242 pages) – Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. The man is not only a prince, he is also the son of her father’s greatest rival. Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom but it’s one that could cost her, and the mermaid, everything.
First lines: “It was a gloomy, overcast day, like all days where, when the princess first saw them. The two of them, who would change her life.”
Fire Season, David Weber & Jane Lindskold (287 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Stephanie Harrington and her fellow Provisional Forest Rangers on the planet Sphinx must prevent disaster from befalling a treecat clan caught in a blaze. But Sphinx isn’t the only thing ripe for burning. Stephanie has fallen hard for new arrival to Sphinx, Anders Whittaker. When Anders vanishes without a trace, Stephanie has to choose between her planet and her heart.
First lines: “Climbs quickly’s two-leg was up to something she shouldn’t be doing … again. The emotions surging through her mind-glow made that perfectly clear.”
This morning, a beautiful new book landed on my desk and I can’t wait to read it. But, alas, when I went to reserve it, there were 27 people in the reserves queue! 27!!!! So if you are also wanting to read this book, I recommend you reserve it prooooonto.
Grace : a memoir / Grace Coddington with Michael Roberts.
“Coddington, creative director of the American Vogue magazine, has much to impart. Fashionistas, rejoice, because not only does she chronicle the life and times of a former model turned editor; she also discusses those whose names appear in any celebrity column. What saves this from becoming a download of the activities of the rich and famous is, first, her amazing candor. We learn, for instance, that marriages don’t agree with her, that her sister Rosemary died of a combination OD-hospital malfeasance issue, and that editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is not as portrayed in The Devil Wears Prada. And, second, her charming and lively pen-and-ink illustrations grace every chapter and almost every page. Just what you would ask for from a revered behind-the-scenes magazine editor is what you get here.–Jacobs, Barbara Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)
I SO enjoy and admire Grace Coddington’s work – cannot wait to read this one! If you can’t wait either (and, sadly, the 27 people in the reserves queue means you’ll probably have to), then check this in the meantime:
Grace : thirty years of fashion at Vogue / [edited by Grace Coddington ; essay by Michael Roberts].
“Grace Coddington’s celebration of fashion has danced along its cutting edge for over 30 years. Abandoning a highly lucrative career as a leading model on the 60s London scene, Coddington signed on in 1968 as a junior fashion editor at British Vogue. She quickly established herself on the other side of the camera, coordinating photo shoots with David Bailey, Cecil Beaton, Helmut Newton, Sarah Moon, and the eccentric Guy Bourdin. A close working relationship with royal photographer Norman Parkinson produced a series of startlingly vibrant location shoots that have come to be considered classics. At British Vogue, Coddington also introduced the sweeping narrative epic, a familiar feature of her work nowadays at American Vogue, where she has been creative director for the past 14 years. GRACE: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue is not only a collection of Coddington’s greatest work, it is a visual reminiscence of her life in fashion.” (Amazon.com)
She also features predominantly in this DVD* (which I loved, by the way!) Watch it, watch it, watch it.
The September issue [videorecording] / an A&E Indiefilms production in association with Actual Reality Pictures presents a film by R.J. Cutler.
An unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the making of the coveted September Issue of Vogue in 2007, which was the largest and most sold to date. An intimate, funny and surprising look at the legendary editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and her team of larger-than-life editors. This is the captivating story of how they create the must-have bible of fashion. At the eye of this hurricane is the two-decade relationship between Anna and Grace Coddington, incomparable creative director and fashion genius.
So, there’s your Grace crisis sorted! Now, to the see-through…
Am wondering what ya’ll think of the see-through clutch trend? It is huge at the mo and am guessing it will hit us next spring / summer. I am torn on it, to be honest… I think they can look a bit cheap and nasty. They need to be signicantly adorned and blinged out in order to be beautiful – otherwise, they can end up looking like a pencil case. I love the top two in this pic – so pretty! Valentino, Chanel and Gucci have all done them with enough glam appeal to keep it luxe, although I feel this Prada one is walking a fine line between cheap and chic… the elaborate diamond clasp only just saves it, methinks.
Accessorising intensifies. Matching your handbag contents to your outfit… pressure!
However, have just seen an idea which may explain some of their appeal. This one here, by Charlotte Olympia, has a range of different inners available, so you can completely change the look of it to match your outfit. Genius! But what do you think? See-through for the win?
* $4 for one week.
Catalyst, Laurie Halse Anderson (231 pages) – Eighteen-year-old Kate, who sometimes chafes at being a preacher’s daughter, finds herself losing control in her senior year as she faces difficult neighbors, the possibility that she may not be accepted by the college of her choice, and an unexpected death.
First lines: “I like to run at night. No one watches me. No one hears my sneakers slipping in the loose gravel at the side of the road.”
Quicksilver, R. J. Anderson (314 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Tori had everything she could want; popularity, money, and beauty. And a one very valuable secret. Now, she must use every ounce of her considerable hacking and engineering skills to escape those who want that secret and live the normal human life she wants to. Sidenote: it’s the companion to Ultraviolet.
First lines: “On June 7, the year I turned sixteen, I vanished without a trace. On September 28 of the same year I came back, with a story so bizarre that only my parents would ever believe it and a secret I couldn’t share even with them.”
Fuse, Julianna Baggott (461 pages) – Book two of the Pure Trilogy which is set in a post-apocalyptic world where those who dwell within the Dome are safe, and those who live outside struggle to survive. Pressia decodes secrets from the past in an effort to set the Wretches free of their fusings forever while Partridge, in order to save millions of innocent lives, must risk his own by returning to the Dome to face his most terrifying challenge.
First line: “Lying on a thin coat of snow, she sees gray earth meeting gray sky, and she knows she’s back.”
Sever, Lauren DeStefano (371 pages) – With time ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.
First lines: “In the Atlas the river still flows. The thin line of it carries cargo to a destination that no longer exists.”
Life in Outer Space, Melissa Keil (305 pages) – Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.
First lines: “I start this Monday by falling flat on my arse. A normal guy might think his day could improve from here. I seriously doubt this is going to be the case.”
Asunder, Jodi Meadows (406 pages) – In the second book of the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Asunder explores the beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.
First lines: “My life was a mistake. As long as I’d been alive, I’d wanted to know why I’d been born. Why, after five thousand years of the same souls being reincarnated, my soul had slipped through the cracks of existence”
Shadows in the Silence, Courtney Allison Moulton (469 pages) – This is the final installment of the Angelfire trilogy in which Ellie must fight to save Will, humanities and herself from the demonic forces of Hell. It’s a quest that will take her and her allies to the world’s darkest and most ancient regions. Courtney Allison Moulton brings her dark world of epic battles and blistering romance to a blazing conclusion.
First line: “The demonic had tried to break me over and over again, but even with my dress drenched in Will’s blood, I stayed standing.”
Cinders & Sapphires, Leila Rasheed (389 pages) – Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All these secrets are waiting … at Somerton.
First line: “Lady Ada Averly leaned on the rail of the steamboat Moldavia, feeling the hum of the ship’s huge engines through the steel, a rhythmic shudder like a giant’s breathing.”
The Last Minute, Eleanor Updale (268 pages) – There’s a sudden explosion in the middle of an English town, creating terrible destruction, confusion and panic. The Last Minute tells the stories of the people of Heathwick, in which there may be clues as to what happened, and why.
First sentences: Dust. A cold wind. The first shards of icy rain.
The Madness Underneath, Maureen Johnson (290 pages) – this is the second in the Shades of London series – the first (The Name of the Star) got librarian’s choiced. Rory returns to London to discover she’s developed the power to extinguish ghosts on contact. The Ripper copycat is gone, but there’s a series of new, unexplained deaths in the city, and Rory’s sure they are linked. But can she convince the Shades that something awful is going on? We do hope so.
First sentence: Charlie Strong liked his customers – you don’t run a pub for twenty-one years if you don’t like your customers – but there was something about the quiet in hte morning that pleased him no end.
Passion Blue, Victoria Strauss (342 pages) – “In fifteenth-century Italy, seventeen-year-old Giulia, a Count’s illegitimate daughter, buys a talisman hoping it will bring her true love to save her from life in a convent, but once there she begins to learn the painter’s craft, including how to make the coveted paint, Passion blue, and to question her true heart’s desire. Includes historical notes and glossary.” (catalogue description)
First sentence: The clouds broke apart and sunlight flooded down, burnishing the rough bark of the apple trees and tossing their shadows across the grass.
Miss Fortune Cookie, Lauren Bjorkman (276 pages) – Erin is the brain behind the advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. All’s going well, and the blog is really popular, but things turn a bit custardy when her former best friend writes in for advice, and then acts on it. Erin tries to fix the ensuing mess, which leads to more craziness (but possibly also love).
First sentence: My friends and I were riding home from school on Muni, clinging to an assortment of slippery handholds, when Linny almost blew my secret identity.
Elemental, Antony John (326 pages) – In the near future, Thomas thinks himself unspecial: he’s the only child born into the Outer Banks colony without the power of an element. When pirates capture the colony’s Guardians and threaten to take over the island, Thomas and his friends run, fighting for survival in an abandoned settlement. There he finds secrets that will turn his world upside down.
First sentence: Thunder rattled the aging wooden cabins, but no one stopped to listen.
Hidden, Marianne Curley (325 pages) – Ebony is snatched at birth from her midwife and brought to earth to be hidden from her relatives who are searching for her. She’s grown up blissfully unaware of her origins, but things are about to change. When Ebony comes of age, she will be “visible” – to both her family and the one who stole her. “Who will find her first?” is the question the cover is asking.
First sentence: Do you ever stare at your reflection and wonder who that person is looking back at you?
Bad Hair Day, Carrie Harris (228 pages) – “Future physician Kate Grable is thrilled to shadow the county medical examiner, but when he is arrested for murder and Kate is left to run the morgue, she discovers that something is killing students – something very hairy and strong.” (catalogue)
First sentences: “Braaaains!” After all the zombie attacks, even the word made me twitchy.
Live Through This, Mindi Scott (289 pages) – Coley Sterling’s life appears to be perfect, and she works hard at this appearance. Underneath, she’s hiding a dreadful secret she’s kept for ten years. When it looks like her crush on Reece might turn into a real romance, the secret threatens to come out and turn her life into a nightmare.
First sentence: I’m on my bed, under the covers, and my boyfriend is kissing my neck.
I have a… treat for you this week. My utterly fashionable and very well-read workmate, Emily, did what I wouldn’t couldn’t – she read this book:
She’s kindly written a wee spiel about it for us, so read on and conquer!
Confession: I’m addicted to cheap fashion. Despite an otherwise strident sense of social justice, I’ve tended to block off the part of me that worries about where my clothes are coming from in favour of snapping up bargains.
It was with a sense of trepidation that I picked up Elizabeth Cline’s Overdressed, nervous that my worst fears would come true. Cline explores the dangers of the way that we shop, exploring the phenomenon of fast fashion, dwindling quality of construction, conditions for garment workers and the afterlife of our charity shop donations. Conversations about cheap fashion are hard, often coming across as preachy and striking fear into the heart of those, like me, who relish the fun and creativity that comes with clothes. Overdressed isn’t going to make you feel good. At first. But Cline manages to turn a dour subject into something of a manifesto for the ethical fashion enthusiast, acknowledging the fun that comes with dressing well even as she addresses the problems with our taste for ever-cheaper goods.
There are too many scary trends highlighted in the book to recount in detail but the most striking point for me was the huge slump in quality in modern clothing. Amazingly, a bargain basement woman’s outfit at the turn of the twentieth century was around US$200. In today’s money, a huge investment! Well into the 1960s and 1970s clothing prices for the everyday outfit strike the modern reader as staggeringly expensive. Modern clothing has ditched the sharp tailoring and quality fabrics that make the outfits of Mad Men so covetable in favour of simple, synthetic pieces with pretty shoddy sewing. It’s not just the planet, workers and retailers who are getting a rough deal from modern fashion, it’s the fashionistas themselves. Future generations will begrudge us the gorgeous quality vintage that we can snap up now when we leave behind a legacy of raggedy, polyester clothes.
The good news is that Cline’s recipe for becoming a more ethical shopper doesn’t involve the dire commandment to build capsule wardrobes stocked with crisp white bamboo shirts and tailored pants. Here are some tips that I picked up and (hopefully!) want to put into practice:
• The most important point! Get a feel for quality. Next time you’re shopping take the time to feel fabrics, check out buttons and seams and read labels. I had a neurotic trip to the mall after reading Overdressed in which I madly felt up clothes all over the place, it really helped to curb those impulsive spends on cheap, throwaway items. Set your own benchmark and don’t settle for the barely sewn on buttons and seriously flammable looking polyesters.
• Work out roughly how much you spend on fashion each year and figure out how you could make the same amount of money go further on items from quality retailers and secondhand or vintage buys. Stores like Savemart offer secondhand gems without the pricetag.
• Shop what’s already in your wardrobe and have fun experimenting with outfits and unusual combinations. Organising your wardrobe into shirts, skirts, dresses etc will help reduce the “I’ve got nothing to wear” panic that causes constant shopping trips.
• Think carefully about charity shop donations as they receive a lot of broken and flimsy donations that are no good for anyone. Repair any flaws in the garment, try it out in different combinations with your other clothes or offer to your friends before donating.
• Learn how to sew! Girls in the past would alter most of their clothes to get that perfect fit whereas now we tend to accept clothes the way they come. Our library is full of guides for the absolute beginner. Learning how to repair and alter your wardrobe is a huge asset and Overdressed already has me lusting after my own sewing machine. If you’re not into DIY sewing look out for alteration services.
Get your stitch on!
The moral of the story: something needs to change pretty soon but ethical fashion doesn’t have to be uninspiring. Face your fears and give it a read.
Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher (293 pages) – Zoe has a terrible secret that she can’t share with anyone, but secrets need to be shared. She learns about a prisoner on death row in Texas, who would seem to be the ideal recipient of a letter from Zoe, confessing her secret. “These are the letters that she wrote” announces the inside cover of the book, which just makes you extremely curious, right?
First sentence: Dear Mr S Harris, Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner.
Creepy & Maud, Dianne Touchell (202 pages) – Creepy and Maud (not their real names) live next door to each other, indeed their bedroom windows are practically opposite. A perfect scenario for the romance of the century perhaps, but Creepy and Maud (as the names suggest) are both social misfits, for different reasons. Will love conquer all, we wonder? Goodreads.com puts it like so: “Creepy & Maud is a blackly funny and moving first novel that says; ‘You’re ok to be as screwed up as you think you are and you’re not alone in that.’” Nice.
First sentence: My dad has trained our dog, Dobie Squires, to bite my mum.
The Cup and the Crown, Diane Stanley (344 pages) – Handsome King Alaric asks Molly to go in search of one of her grandfather’s loving cups, which bind people together (we think emotionally rather than literally). This quest takes Molly and her friends to the hidden city of Harrowsgode, which – like Hotel California – is hard to leave once you’ve entered. If you’ve read The Silver Bowl, then you’ve probably met Molly.
First sentence: The Great Hall was much as she remembered it: the tapestries, the massive iron candle stands, the enormous fireplace, the great gilt screen behind the dais.
The Wrap-up List, Steven Arnston (236 pages) – Gabriela, out of the blue, receives a letter from Death announcing that she’s got a week to live. She’s shocked and unprepared, but it’s possible that Death has a weakness that, if exploited, could mean he’ll have to let her go.
First sentence: Some people die from heart attacks, and some from falling off ladders.
Colin Fischer, Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz (229 pages) – Colin Fischer is a freshman who has Aspergers Syndrome. He notices every little detail. So, when a gun goes off in the cafeteria, and everyone thinks it’s the school bully who is responsible, Colin turns detective, following the leads that don’t occur to others, even if the school bully is Colin’s especial tormentor.
First sentence: Colin clutched his precious, dog-eared Notebook to his chest.
A Girl Named Digit, Annabel Monaghan (187 pages) – Farrah “Digit” Higgins is a bit of a geek genius. This might mean being not so popular at high school, but it also means being extremely handy at unlocking ecoterrorist codes. The fact that she knows maths is not lost on John, the hot FBI guy. But the world of espionage is a serious place – is Digit up for the challenge? We think she probably is.
First sentence: On the morning of my kidnapping, my mom’s makeup was perfect.
Hostage Three, Nick Lake (368 pages) – Amy is on a luxury yacht with her family in the Indian Ocean – the Maldives, the Seychelles, Comoros… Somali pirates. When their yacht is over run by said pirates, the family is taken hostage, her father Hostage One… Amy Hostage Three. Just like that, their lives are tradeable commodities. A tense thriller!
First sentence: We stand on the diving platform of our yacht, in the brutal sunlight.
Into the River, Ted Dawe (New Zealand author, 279 pages) – Here’s the way the cover excellently puts it: “When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with no-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river” .
First sentence(s): There was a tap on the window. Te Arepa sat up.
Flash Point, Nancy Kress (501 pages) – the Collapse has happened, and the economy is a mess. Amy now has to support her family, but it’s hard when there are no jobs. When an opportunity comes up for her to go on a reality TV programme and get paid – called ‘Who Knows People Baby – You?’ – she jumps at the chance. The show’s premise seems okay – put a bunch of teenagers together and see what they do in various crises – but the producers up the ante whenever the ratings drop, and soon it’s life and death.
First sentence: All the other girls were better dressed and prettier than she was.
The Dead and Buried, Kim Harrington (297 pages) – Jade and her family have moved to a new town and new house, which Jade loves, until strange things start happening. The house is haunted, doh. The ghost is that of the popular girl in school who died mysteriously last year. Jade decides to investigate, and her nice new school friends (including the guy with the “dreamy blue eyes”) appear to be keeping secrets…
First sentences: I’m not stupid. I know half of them only worship me because they fear me.
Sea of Whispers, Tim Bowler (214 pages) – “Hetty’s always been a bit of a loner, preferring to keep to the outer edges of the close-knit island community. But when a strange woman is washed up on the shore, Hetty finds herself under increasing scrutiny from the islanders. There’s a connection between Hetty and the woman that makes people suspicious, so when death comes to the community the woman is branded a bad omen and Hetty has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. As she heads out to sea, a storm is breaking and the whispers that she’s heard before are louder than ever. Voices from the very depths of the sea… and they’re calling her name” (goodreads.com)
First sentence: They told her she was a dreamer, that the pictures she saw were an illusion, that sea glass could not tell a story; but this was a different kind of story.
Turf, John Lucas (360 pages) – Jay is a member of the Blake Street Boyz gang in London. He has the opportunity to become a gang senior, but he must first stab and kill a rival gang member. (or face the consequences).
First sentence: When you’re fifteen, everything matters.
Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend, Cora Harrison (335 pages) - take it away goodreads: “Jane wants to meet a hero worthy of her extraordinary imagination: a gentleman who is dashing and daring and handsome and brave; who can dance like a viscount and duel like a king. Jane and Jenny are whiling away the season in Bath and there are plenty of dances, rumours and scandals to entertain them. But a good reputation, once lost, is gone forever; and Jane is in danger of becoming the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons…” (nicely put).
First sentences: ‘I hate Jane Austen! I really hate her!’
Gilt, Katherin Longshore (406 pages) – Kitty has always been the wind beneath Cat’s wings, so to speak, living in her shadow. Then Cat finds herself in King Henry VIII’s court – and his heart – and invites Kitty to join her. Soon Kitty is enjoying the glitz and glamour, and the interest of dashing men. But not the shady side of court life, the secrets, treachery, and the possibility of one losing one’s head, literally.
First sentence: “You’re not going to steal anything.”
When We Wake, Karen Healey (291 pages) – Tegan wakes up one day to discover it’s been 100 years since she was last awake. As the first cryonically frozen human, she’s an instant celebrity. When she learns appalling secrets about her new society she must choose between keeping her head down and learning how to fit in, or fighting for a better future.
First sentences: My name is Tegan Oglietti. One of my ancestors was a highwayman, and another was a prince.
Vortex, Julie Cross (360 pages) – Tempest is the division of the CIA that deals with time travel-related security threats. Jackson is an agent for Tempest, a role he’s dedicated his life to after losing Holly – who he altered history in order to save. When a rival organisation called Eyewall starts up, Jackson finds both he and Holly are under threat: his little history-tweaking is no longer a secret.
First sentence: The only things that gave me the strength to pull myself off that grassy spot and walk farther from Holly were the images that flashed through my mind – Holly, sitting in that orientation, hiding the book in her lap with her name carefully written inside, her hair twirling around the pencil she was using to take notes.
If you enjoy beautiful photos, impeccable outfits and a dash of vintage glamour, then I have a treat for you! Check here to visit my new favourite blog. I totally realise I’m more than a bit late to the party with this – after spending aaaages ogling the deliciousness on this blog, I decided to follow wishwishwish.net on EVERYTHING – instagram, facebook, pinterest, the lot. This talented lady has some serious followers - 1,645 on pinterest, 11,000 on instagram and 6,767 on facebook. Yeow! So clearly I’m totally late with this, and I apologise if you’ve been revelling in the awesomeness of this site for some time.
However! I totally recommend you have a look, it is beautiful. (Fair warning – be prepared to want stuff! This site inspired a serious shopping lust for me. Not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely something to be aware of.)
We also have some beautiful books here all about vintage glamour, and how to use it in your daily wardrobe. I recommend these in particular:
Wearable vintage fashion / Jo Waterhouse & Clare Bridge.
“Wearable Vintage Fashion presents desirable, affordable and accessible vintage clothing and accessories in a new and fun format. Covering the looks of the twentieth century from the 20s to the 80s, this insider’s guide will feature the clothing, accessories and styling to recreate the looks of each decade. By presenting timeless, classic vintage pieces, the items will always be stylish regardless of the era they came from or the fashion trend of the moment. The book will, therefore, serve as a visual reference guide to collecting as well as to wearing classic vintage clothing.” – adapted from Amazon.
Vintage menswear : a collection from the Vintage Showroom / Douglas Gun, Roy Luckett & Josh Sims.
Classic workwear, sports, and military apparel. Curated by connoisseurs of vintage clothing, The Vintage Showroom is a vast collection of rare 20th-century pieces that fashion designers and stylists pay to view, using the cut and detailing of individual garments as inspiration for their own work.
This stylish introduction to vintage fashion showcases the key designs and styles of the main vintage eras of the twentieth century. It includes photographs of film stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly modeling classic designs, as well as garment illustrations and authentic model photo-shoots from all eras. It will be an inspiration to vintage enthusiasts and general readers alike. – Amazon