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Laura Hartley (London)
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Shopaholic to the Rescue
Shopaholic to the Rescue
by Sophie Kinsella
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little different from the other stories but good all the same!, 5 Nov. 2015
Shopaholic to the Rescue is the latest book in Sophie Kinsella’s best selling Shopaholic series. This time Becky is galavanting around the West Coast of America, trying to find her Dad and her best friend’s husband, who have gone off on a secret mission together. After Becky’s behaviour in LA, Suze is no longer speaking to her and has become best friends with Alicia (a total bitch). Her Dad refuses to tell his family what he’s up to and Suze’s husband, Tarkie, refuses to contact Suze at all. They know that this mission has something to do with setting something from the past right but they have no idea what it could be and are all very worried about the pair. They follow a trail from what they know of Becky’s dad’s past but all leads end up being dead ends. As per usual, Becky has a plan…

I’ve only read the first book in the Shopaholic series so I was a little worried about diving in again at book number eleven. Yes, there are a grand total of eleven books in the Shopaholic series so far. The great thing about this series is that you can pick up any book at random and read it as a standalone novel. There were occasional references in Shopaholic to the Rescue to things that had occurred in the previous book but these were minor details, all of which had been seamlessly integrated into this story and properly explained without detracting from the new story in any way. This means that existing and new fans of Rebecca Bloomwood can enjoy this story, which can’t be said for a lot of other longstanding series.

Kinsella’s writing is light and fun as usual and this story is very easy to read. I’d say some of themes dealt with in this book are slightly more ‘serious’ than in her other novels e.g. divorce, family etc. but she still manages to tell the story in a light-hearted manner. The story can be a little ‘silly’ at times, but let’s be honest, Rebecca Bloomwood has always been a bit of ridiculous character. She uses lots of cunning strategies to try and find out more about her dad’s whereabouts, which, when you take a step back, seem farfetched, but when you’re engrossed in the story it seems entirely normal! I guess that is the magic of Kinsella’s writing.

There’s an element of mystery in this novel which I don’t think the other Shopaholic books had and Becky turns into a bit of a detective. All their leads seem to point towards one thing though nothing is certain, however, in the end the story turns out to be something completely unexpected. You would think that this sort of chick lit would be entirely predictable but in actual fact this is not. There are a few twists and turns along the way and whilst they’re not the most dramatic of plot twists, you’ve got to give Kinsella credit for keeping the ending hidden throughout the story.

What is slightly disappointing is that this story seemed a little less about Becky herself. Of course, she is still very much the protagonist but the entire story is about helping others as therefore we get a little bit less of Becky herself, which is a shame. She’s also not much of a shopaholic in the story but I guess she had to grow up one day. That said, she is just as determined and strong-headed as she’s always been and she’s still an inspiring young lady. She’s now a mother and wife and has responsibilities but this is balanced with the old frivolous Becky we first met to make a quirky and very ‘real’ character.

All in all, this is a fun, girly read that is perfect for anyone looking to unwind for a few hours. You’ll flip through the pages quite easily, eager to find out more about Becky’s dad’s adventures, but there’s nothing you have to think too hard about. This is a story about family and friendship, about righting wrongs and doing good for other people. It’s a heartwarming tale and you will no doubt be rooting for Becky and her friends and family throughout. This is a slightly different Rebecca Bloomwood story but it is a good read nonetheless and I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for an easy, relaxing afternoon read.

House of Windows
House of Windows
by Alexia Casale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing and a beautiful story, 29 Oct. 2015
This review is from: House of Windows (Paperback)
What attracted me to House of Windows was the fact that it’s a book set at Cambridge university and I’m always curious about the way that Oxbridge is portrayed in literature and on screen. This portrayal can often be skewed or very stereotypical, as in films such as The Riot Club, so I was curious to read Casale’s interpretation, particularly as she actually attended the university herself. This book is about Nick, a fifteen year old boy who is admitted to Cambridge. Nick didn’t fit in at school but he finds socialising at Cambridge even harder given that he’s 15, well below the drinking age, and smarter than his tutorial partners. He joins the rowing team as a cox and things seem to be going well, but of course it wasn’t meant to last…

The book I read before this was Luckiest Girl Alive (see review here), a book in which there are no likeable characters and no one you can really relate to. I found the complete opposite in House of Windows. This book is all about character; much more so than plot. The protagonist, Nick, is a smart arse. He insists again and again that he’s not a genius, he just works hard and he isn’t satisfied that his work is graded with greek letters instead of percentages. At first you find you find him a little irritating, but then you get to know Nick better, you understand where he’s come from and how he’s got to where he is today and you start to feel for him. His Dad is never around and he finds it difficult to make friends so he works very hard to keep himself occupied. He is slightly strange but he’s not so strange that he shouldn’t be able to find friends, but the odds (mostly his age) are stacked against him.

Nick isn’t the only character that I loved in this book. There’s also Tim, a PhD student who keeps an eye on Tim and Professor Goswin, a tutor at Trinity Hall who was also around when Tim’s father and god-father attended the same college. Both are unique characters with stories and troubles of their own and Casale manages to give us enough information about them to make them fully padded out characters, but not so much that the plot deviates from Nick’s own story.

The story is a little slow and it takes a while for anything to happen as a lot of the book is description and Casale setting it up, but I think it’s well worth the wait. There are a few twists and turns that are unexpected and you can see Nick’s character develop throughout the novel in face of these challenges and his new life in general. By the time I’d passed half way, I was tearing through this book at quite a pace. As a reader I felt really attached to Nick and I was desperate to find out how his story ends. He’s not the most ‘likeable’ character but he’s one of those people that you grow fond of, and then grow to love.

All in all, the portrayal of Cambridge in this novel seems pretty accurate. Obviously Cambridge and Oxford are still unique places but a lot of the systems and language is the same, or at least, similar, so I think it’s fair for me to say that Casale has captured the spirit of Cambridge as a university perfectly. There’s quite a lot of description of how the Cambridge system works, which I really enjoyed and I think is important for those reading it that don’t already know anything about it. It’s a strange world, one that takes time to wrap your head around, but Casale’s beautiful writing makes it easy to get to know this small town and university.

This is a coming-of-age drama, but an atypical one, given that it’s about a 15 year old ‘coming of age’ at university. Through Nick, we learn about friendships family, new beginnings and saying goodbye. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who’s is either at university or going soon as Casale captures the sense of isolation and insecurity that most of us have felt at some point or another. However, the two things that really make this book a winner are Casale’s writing and Nick. I’ve never read anything by this author before but I was stunned by how well she captured the Oxbridge environment and her characters’ feelings. Casale is now one of my favourite YA authors and I can’t wait to read The Bone Dragon!

*This book was received for free in exchange from the publisher for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Magnitone London BareFaced! Cleansing & Toning Brush, Pastel Green
Magnitone London BareFaced! Cleansing & Toning Brush, Pastel Green
Offered by Hello Healthy
Price: £70.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are you ready to go BareFaced?, 27 Oct. 2015
What is Magnitone BareFaced?

Magnitone BareFaced is a Vibra-Sonic daily cleansing brush that empties out pores and tones skin. In just one minute a day, your skin is left feeling super clean and firm.

What’s in the Box:
– Two Mode Vibra-Sonic™ Facial Brush
– Wireless USB Travel Charger
– Splashproof Travel Pouch
– Active Clean Brush Head
– 12 Month Warranty
– MyMagnitone Membership

So how do I use the Magnitone BareFaced?

I aim to use Magnitone once a day, usually in the morning to really wake myself up! I’m also usually very late for work so giving my face a once over with the Magnitone BareFaced gives me really clean skin without any faff. It’s incredibly simple to use – first, I wet my face with warm water, then I apply my cleanser all over my face, then you wet the brush and off you go! I use Estee Lauder’s cream cleanser (a non-foaming one) and that seems to go pretty well with this routine. You’re supposed to use this on your cheeks, T-zone and neck area but I tend to skip this last one out and spend the extra time working around any areas of the face I’ve missed.

There is also a toning option and sometimes every couple of days I use this setting instead. The vibrations are much more jagged and you can really feel it working your skin, which is why I don’t believe in using this setting too often. A workout for your skin is definitely the right way to describe this setting!

What did I think?

I have very sensitive skin so I’ve always been a little nervous about using a daily brush as I was afraid it would cause some serious irritation. Some people don’t recommend using cleansing brushes daily but I personally have not encountered any problems with this so far. Magnitone warns that as your skin adjusts to this new method of cleaning you may experience some irritation, which I did, but this lasted for a day or two and now my skin is silky smooth everyday. The thing I love most about Magnitone BareFaced is that the results are immediate. As soon as the vibrations turn off, I can feel that my skin has had a good workout and it feels a little tingly for a little while afterwards. I feel like my skin absorbs my moisturiser a lot better after giving my face a once over with BareFaced and I assume this is because it’s lifted all the dead skin and other gunk in the way off my skin.

Now onto the practical stuff…

When you first get your BareFaced cleanser you need to charge it for a solid 12 hours. It already comes with a bit of charge but if you want to make your BareFaced last for as long as possible then it’s much better to give it a full charge before you use it. I have to admit I was a little retarded when it came to figuring out how to charge this product. I knew that it was a magnetic USB charger but I still managed to get it all wrong. What you are supposed to do is plug the USB cable into a power source, attach it to the small magnetic block and then place the magnetic block on the handle of your BareFaced as shown below. When it is fully charged, the light will stop flashing but remain on.

As for the brushes, you can take these on and off your BareFaced and even swap your brush for a different style. You’re supposed to replace the brush every 3 months as obviously the brush will get dirty over time but you can get another one from Magnitone’s website very easily.

Other pros include: It’s small enough that you can take this with you on your travels and it even comes with a plastic travel wallet. It’s 100% waterproof so you can use it in the shower if you want to, which can’t be said for a lot of other electronic beauty products.

All in all, I’m so thankful that this opportunity came along as I never would’ve tried this product otherwise. It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who isn’t that prone to spots, I’m not either, but this has still made my skin feel brighter, fresher and softer! Using BareFaced once a day makes my skin feel just as smooth as it does after a face mask which is a) effort and b) time consuming.

Where can you get one?

These retail at £70, which is a little pricey, but it’s not particularly expensive for what it does. Some of its competitors such as the Foreo Luna Mini do the same job but cost even more. The brushes should be replaced every 3 months and one brush will set you back another £16 but you’ll get £5 off if you registered your product on the website.

*I received this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 13, 2015 8:04 PM GMT

Look Who's Back
Look Who's Back
by Timur Vermes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book about Hitler? That's funny? - A very important book, 20 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Look Who's Back (Paperback)
I’d seen a lot of hype about Look Who’s Back on Instagram so when I finally walked past it in Foyles, I had to buy it. Translated from German, Look Who’s Back is the story of a world in which Hitler exists again. Hitler wakes up in 2011, having inexplicably time travelled from the 1940s. He has no recollection of the end of the war and is incredibly confused by modern Berlin. He is recognised instantly by those he crosses but nobody takes him seriously and they think his political rants are all a joke. It’s not long before he’s a YouTube star with his own television programme and a worrying number of fans.

Timur Vernes presents readers with a satirical story that tackles the most taboo of subjects: Adolf Hitler. He has created a character who is absolutely ridiculous, downright hilarious at times, that somehow manages to turn himself into a celebrity. Whilst most of the things that Hitler says are outrageous, some of the comments he makes about modern society are shockingly accurate and force you to take a step back and reconsider today’s world. Obviously Hitler doesn’t understand modern technology or society and this lack of comprehension means that he gives us a fresh perspective on items and customs that we are all very familiar with today. The world as a whole is obsessed with the internet, social media and celebrities and these are all important themes in Look Who’s Back.

Something to note is that it is incredibly difficult to translate humour. As a languages student who is currently living abroad, I can tell you that it is so difficult to convey something funny in another language and a different culture. This book has you sniggering at Hitler’s confusion in the modern world and his comments about society and different cultures are nothing short of hilarious. There is a very fine line between something being humourous and inappropriate but Vernes has tread carefully and is on the right side of funny. A lot of credit must also go to the translator, Jamie Bulloch, who helped bringed this story to life in English.

Whilst many have criticised Vernes for writing what they deem to be a completely inappropriate and insensitive book, he has touched upon something very real. Take for example, the recent election in the UK. Many people think that Nigel Farage (UKIP) is an idiot and that his policies are extreme, and yet in the end he managed to gather 2 million British votes. This is but just one example of how dangerous ‘ridiculous’ people can be once they’re put into a position of power.

This book is more about making people think and exploring ideas rather than plot. Hitler’s mysterious appearance in the twenty-first century is never explained. When I finished reading this book, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a little unfinished. I wanted to know more and instead leaving us with a cliffhanger, I felt we had an unfinished story. Vernes creates a fantastic character and his story is all set up very well, but I think it needed to go a little deeper. Having read the blurb of the book, there were no major plot twists or shocking events, which I think were needed for that extra umph.

All in all, I was slightly disappointed in Look Who’s Back. There was simply too much hype about this book which inevitably created very high expectations and unfortunately it didn’t quite reach them. The idea behind this story is very original and it raises some interesting (and important) questions about the role of social media in society and how dangerous it can be; however, I think the story needed more than just an original idea. That said, I still think this is a very important book and is one that should be read by all. The idea that someone like Hitler could rise again in modern society through ‘jokes’ and manipulation of social media is a very worrying thought. More and more YouTube celebrities are being made each year and young people are starting to look up to them. Arguably, these people have more power than say actors or singers, because they are marketed as ‘real’ people, and should they abuse that power, there could be serious repercussions. For those interested in history and politics, or just original thinking, this is still well worth a read.

Luckiest Girl Alive
Luckiest Girl Alive
by Jessica Knoll
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comparing this to Gone Girl was a marketing error but this is very good nonetheless, 6 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Luckiest Girl Alive (Hardcover)
Luckiest Girl Alive is the story of quite the opposite – TifAni FaNelli had a rough start in life to say the least. When we are first introduced to her, she is planning her wedding to a rich blue-bood, working at a top women’s magazine in New York and she seems like she’s living the dream life. However, it soon becomes apparent that that is not the case at all. Ani doesn’t come from a wealthy or prestigious family but is born to an incredibly ambitious mother. Ani gains a scholarship to a top private school but things aren’t at all plain sailing. Ani is hiding demons from the past but they’re about to be brought to the surface again in a new documentary about her school. Ani finally has the chance to share her side of the story to a shocking incidence that took place when she was a teenager but it could cause everything that she has built for herself since to crumble down.

Ani (pronounced Ah-nee) is quite a character. On the surface it looks like she has it all but her bitchy internal monologue make it apparent that she’s something quite different on the inside. At first you think she’ll a superficial bitch, then you’ll read more about her and realise that she’s actually quite vulnerable, but then you keep reading and you start to get confused as to whether she’s actually still just a superficial bitch. She’s a tough character to figure out and I’m sure everyone who’s read the book will have slightly different opinions on her but I personally thought she was an awful character. She went through something traumatic as a child and I appreciate that her adult life was shaped by brutal things that happened to her when she was young but I just couldn’t get over how manipulative and self-absorbed she was. TifAni isn’t a likeable character in the slightest. She’s not the sort of character you’re supposed to like but neither are any of the other characters to be honest. This meant it was a little difficult to connect with the characters and I felt a little distanced from the story. That said, they were all still interesting to read about, but this book really needed a strong plot to carry it through to make up for the lack of character connection and it fell (slightly) short.

I read Luckiest Girl Alive pretty quickly because I was desperate to find out what the big twist in the story would be. However, as page after page went by, I started to think that maybe there wasn’t such a big twist and that I’d already gone past it. This is when the disappointment started to sink in. I was still interested to see where the story ended up but it was evident that I had been misled into thinking this was next Gone Girl. This, in my opinion, is the main problem with this story as the comparison to Gone Girl prepares the reader for the most disturbing of thriller’s and unfortunately that’s not what Luckiest Girl Alive is. There are undoubtedly similarities between Amy Dunne and TifAni Fanelli but TifAni has her own story to tell and thinking that this is going to be the next Gone Girl caused me to be a little disappointed in this book.

In conclusion, Luckiest Girl Alive is a great debut novel, but thinking that this is the next Gone Girl will only leave you disappointed. If you manage to stave away from all that marketing that I’m sure you’ll find the story gripping and exciting. I’m still not entirely sure what the ‘big secret’ was in all honesty. There were a few shocking revelations but once you’ve got into the story and the sort of vibe Jessica Knowles has created then you have an idea of what to expect. There was no one big secret for me and the anticipation for this is what kept me reading, but is also what meant I was disappointed when I finished. There are some disturbing scenes such as bullying, rape and violence these hit you hard so this book definitely isn’t for everyone but if you like a strong female lead (albeit a hated one), and an intriguing story then this is the book for you.

Thank you to Simon Books for sending me a complimentary review copy.

by Rainbow Rowell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as great as I was expecting, 19 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Fangirl (Paperback)
Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell. One of the most hyped books of 2013, and was it worth it? Worth the read? Definitely yes. Worth all the hype? Probably not. Fangirl is the story of Cath who’s moving away from home and going to college with her twin sister Wren. Cath and Wren (Catherine, geddit?) have been inseparable since birth, sharing a room and doing absolutely everything together. Where Wren goes – Cath goes. They’ve always been a package deal, but that’s all about to change. Although they’re off to the same college, Wren decided it was time to spend some time apart and is sharing a room with a complete stranger, forcing Cath to do the same. Cath is a massive nerd. She loves Simon Snow (ahem, Harry Potter), and spent most of her high school years writing fan fiction under the name ‘Magicath’. Being at college doesn’t change that and Cath refuses to let go of her Simon Snow obsession. Wren has always been the sociable twin, with Cath preferring to curl up in her bedroom reading books and writing fanfic but whilst she desperately tries to resist growing up at college, of course, a boy comes along to change that. Fangirl is the story of Cath growing up and settling into her first year of college – navigating new friends, new relationships and a new environment.

Cath is probably a pretty accurate description of most people reading Fangirl (or at least what fangirls claim to be like). She’d rather be alone in her room, reading a good book, than making out with guys and getting drunk at frat parties. She likes having her own personal space and doesn’t like it when people she’s not familiar with encroach on it, so having a stranger as a roommate in college is an issue for her. Cath evidently suffers from social anxiety and the description of this seems pretty spot on and gives a great insight into the minds of those that we perceive to be ‘anti-social’. The problem with this is that it really slowed the plot down and not a lot happened for the first part of the book. I found it really hard to get into because there weren’t really any major developments and I was expecting this to be a ‘plot’ book. This book really is all about Cath and as a coming of age drama, I think this book has hit the nail on the head. I’m sure many readers will be able to relate to Cath which is why this book is so popular, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get over the slow pace and Cath’s character development wasn’t enough for me.
Of course, there is some romance in Fangirl, but this (surprisingly) isn’t the main event. It was nice to read a young adult novel in which the young girl’s sole was not to find a boyfriend and have her first kiss. Of course, lots of these exist, but there are many more that don’t. Cath is trying to figure out everything in Fangirl, boys is just one of the things on a long list of developments and whilst the relationship between Levi and Cath is adorable, it’s more about how Cath develops as a result of this.

Friendship is an equally large theme in this story as Cath is almost as completely new to making friends as she is to talking to boys. Cath’s relationship with her roommate is a funny one, but it felt genuine. I find stories in which two girl roommates immediately become best friends incredibly annoying and unrealistic. I had a roommate last year, someone who I was already friends with, and I still found the first two weeks of living with him incredibly difficult and weird. The relationship between Cath and Reagan, her roommate, develops slowly and to be honest you’re never really sure whether they’re going to become best friends or enemies. Reagan really helps Cath come out of her shell and their relationship demonstrates the power of true friends.
All in all, Fangirl was a great read, but the internet prepared me for an incredible read and unfortunately, that’s not what I found. It is undoubtedly a great read for those who are currently going through change as themes such as moving away from home, trying to navigate college, making new friends etc. are discussed. I think it was the slow pace that really brought this book down in my opinion, but for others that might not be a problem. There were some bits that I really enjoyed and sped through, but there were also a lot of passages in which I felt myself becoming disinterested. This book is really about character development, rather than plot development and evidently at the time of reading this, I was looking for something a bit more exciting. This book fell short of my expectations, but I can certainly see why so many other people were such big fans of it. I’d highly recommend Fangirl to young girls who are still at an age where they’re trying to find themselves and figure out who they are and, of course, to fangirls.

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Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider's View from Inside the Fashion Industry
Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider's View from Inside the Fashion Industry
by Amy Odell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fresh and funny insight into the fashion industry, 1 Sept. 2015
I couldn’t have been more excited when I received an email asking me if I’d like to review Tales From the Back Row, a book written by’s editor, Amy Odell. This book is a first hand account of how Amy rose from being the party reporter for New York Magazine to the editor of the largest community of women online.

The book is split into several snappy chapters detailing the different stages of her ascent and the people she met at each one. It starts with Bloggers, which as a blogger myself, I found incredibly interesting. After Bloggers, we move onto Trendsetters where we learn about Amy’s hilarious antics when it comes to figuring out high fashion; then Designers where she reveals what happens when you write snarky pieces about important people. Next up we’ve got Celebrities, including anecdotes from her interactions with people such as Sarah Jessica Parker; and Editors, where she talks about her interview with the one and only Anna Wintour. I can only imagine what it must’ve been like to be interviewed by her. The next chapter is Models, where Amy talks about the infamous Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and her interaction with the ‘angels’. Then, it’s Everybody Else where she talks about some shoots she’s been featured in and then finally, You and Me, where she talks about what it’s like to find a wedding dress, probably the most important item in any woman’s wardrobe. As you can see, there’s a heck of a lot of content for one small book, and there’s even a quick recap at the end with 10 tips for people who want to work in fashion.

Now onto what I thought…

In general ‘tell all’ and non-fiction books about various industries, particularly the fashion industry, tend to be clichéd and rarely offer readers anything they haven’t heard or seen before – but not Tales From The Back Row. Amy Odell’s book is fresh and funny, very funny. I had seen a few reviews of this book around so I had high hopes for this book before I even sat down to read it, but this book was even better than I thought it would be. It’s rare that book that is ‘hyped’ actually ends up exceeding expectations but she’s only gone and done it…

Odell continuously reminds us throughout the book that she is not part of the world of high fashion and whilst I wouldn’t agree that she is completely an ‘outsider’, she does have a real human touch that (stereotypically) those in fashion don’t. She’s not afraid to admit that whilst she loves fashion, working at a place like Vogue and dressing in pricey designer clothes everyday isn’t for her and that’s a great thing. She’s not the sort of writer than reviews everything thrown at her favorably and I guess that’s what great about this book, because the same applies to her stories about the media and the fashion industry. Certain anecdotes she’s used don’t portray certain big names in the best light, but she was honest enough to include them and it’s great that she didn’t just fluff over these bits.

Of course, there are also stories about fantastic opportunities Amy has been fortunate enough to have thrown her way in this industry. She’s honest about the good things and the bad, talking about getting drunk with Chelsea Handler in between shopping for wedding dresses as well as getting beaten down by Harvey Weinstein. Whilst the fashion industry makes everything look effortless, everyone knows that it’s anything but, however it’s rare that someone really unpicks what goes on behind the scenes. If you want to know about the ups and all the downs you need to go through to get to the ups of the fashion industry, then this is the book for you.

What really comes across in the book is how hard Amy worked to get where she is today. This isn’t because Amy toots her own horn and goes on and on about how hard she’s working, it’s just something that becomes evident through her stories, her anecdotes, her thoughts and feelings. A career in fashion has never been a particular desire of mine and having read Amy’s account I’m even more sure that it’s not the right path for me. That’s not at all because the things she said were horrifying or anything like that, but simply because reading her personal account and her motivations made me realise that I, personally, don’t have the same aspirations, but others may feel differently. This is an absolute must-read for those interested in a career in fashion as it’s probably the most truthful account you’ll find out there.

Tales From The Back Row is the sort of story you can pick up and put down without losing track of what’s going on, but I’d be surprised if you found yourself wanting to put it down. It’s a fairly quick read, one that you could definitely make it through on a lazy Sunday, and yet there are so many stories packed into it. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more about how she landed her jobs at Buzzfeed and The focus of the book is how Amy garnered a sufficient amount of success to really get the ball rolling but it’s a little sketchy on the details of her career once she’d ‘made it’. I would’ve loved to have heard more stories about life at Cosmo etc. but perhaps that’s for another day and another book! (Tales From the Front Row anyone? *wink wink* Amy).

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Laundrapp - On Demand Dry Cleaning & Laundry (Greater London, Birmingham & Edinburgh)
Laundrapp - On Demand Dry Cleaning & Laundry (Greater London, Birmingham & Edinburgh)
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “The Future of Laundry & Dry Cleaning Starts Here“, 10 Aug. 2015
I’m sure that many of you out there, just like me, hate doing your laundry. I bet you want someone else to do it for you (probably your mum), and now that Laundrapp exists, you don’t have to. Laundrapp is a laundry service that collects and delivers your laundry for you. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

So how does Laundrapp work?
First you’ve got to figure out whether you actually live in the right area. Laundrapp currently only operates in London, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Simply enter your postcode on their website to see if you are eligible. If you are lucky enough to live in an area in which they operate, then it’s really very simple. You download the app to your smartphone, pick which items you want to be washed, pick a time for your dirty to laundry to be picked up from your house, and then pick a time for your clean laundry to be delivery back to you. It really is as simple as that.

Who is it aimed at?
Laundrapp is aimed at those who either can’t be bothered to do their laundry, or those that simply don’t have the time i.e. students, businessmen/women, or people who are just plain lazy.

What do they offer?
Laundrapp offers numerous different services and packages to suit a range of laundry-needs. For general laundry, you can get a bag (up to 8kg!), washed at 30 degrees, tumble dried and delivered back to you, all for £15. Laundrapp are very specific about the sort of care that they give to different items of clothing and different material so you’ll find there’s even different categories for a dress, a dress with trim, a silk dress, a skirt, a skirt with trim and a silk skirt. Pretty much every other type of clothing is also categorised in this incredibly specific manner so you can rest assured that Laundrapp know what they’re doing with your more valuable pieces. They even offer to clean tea towels, table cloths, all sorts of bed linen, dressing gowns, towels, bath mats – they’ve really thought of everything!

When will they collect/deliver?
Laundrapp collects and delivers at a time to suit you! They are available at anytime between 12pm and 11pm at night and you pick a 1 hour slot in which you want them to deliver. If the slots already been taken, it will be greyed out, but usually there’s still a few good spots left each day.

How much does it cost?
At first I thought Laundrapp was incredibly expensive, particularly if you’re a student. However, once you take into account the service that you are paying for, it seems much more reasonable. What’s more, I compared the price of Laundrapp to the laundry service offered by my boyfriend’s company, and Laundrapp actually came out cheaper by a few pounds! For example, you can get 5 shirts iron and hung for £10 or two dresses for £18. Please note, there is a minimum order of £15.

My experience with Laundrapp
1. I put an order through to Laundrapp through my phone (normal shirt, dress shirt, dinner jacket). I arrange for the laundry to be picked up from me at 11pm on Monday night and delivered back at 10pm Wednesday night.
2. At man arrives at 11pm on the dot on Monday with a bag for me to put my laundry in and then off he goes with my dirty clothes.
3. At 9:55pm on Wednesday evening, I receive a text saying that the delivery man is running 5 minutes late. At 10:01pm he arrives at my door, clean laundry all on hangers and wrapped in Laundrapp bags. Hardly late and very apologetic. In fact, I am actually the one that is late, but the Laundrapp man is patiently waiting at my door when I arrive a few minutes after him. There’s a summary of my order attached to one of the hangers and the items that have been cleaned have been ticked off.
4. The Laundrapp man goes on his way and I am left with clean, folded and ironed laundry. The port stain on my white shirt is gone and I have clean work clothes without having done… anything!

Final thoughts?
I’m going to give this company an extra special shoutout for cleaning a bow-tie free of charge because it had hidden itself away in the suit jacket’s pocket. Thanks for saving me a fiver! It also got its own hanger and bag!! My only concern with Laundrapp is that it may be out of the price range of the average student and would probably suit young workers more. However, I don’t think this will deter the laziest of students from giving it a try. The service was pretty much perfect with nice people, punctual deliveries and nicely folded clothing – I’m not sure what more you could want more a laundry service such as this.

How can I get the app?
Download the app to your Apple iPhone here. Alternatively it can be found on Google Play and Amazon Apps.

*A voucher was provided by Laundrapp so that I could write this review. All opinions are my own.

How to be both
How to be both
by Ali Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Requires a lot of effort on the part of the reader, 27 July 2015
This review is from: How to be both (Paperback)
There are two editions of How To Be Both: one with George's part first, and the other with Francesco del Cosso's part first. I was fortunate enough to have George's part first, and thank god I did. I'm not 100% sure I would have even continued reading this book from start to finish if I had started with del Cosso's narrative. In George's narrative we learn about her life in Cambridge with her father and younger brother after the devastating death of her mother. George's father chooses to deal with the pain by drinking away his sorrows and so George is left to deal with her sense of loss and grief, and that of her brother's, by herself and predictably she finds herself lonely and confused. The other half of the book follows del Cosso, a painter in the 1460s who is desperately trying to get his work recognized - but del Cosso has a secret, and not all is as it seems.

The two stories might seem completely unrelated, but Ali Smith knits the two together with some very clever crafting. We move backwards and forwards through time in this novel as a whole and in the individual's narrative so we see del Cosso's paintings in a museum in George's world, but George is also becomes a part of del Cosso's world in the 15th century. This book is all about how everything is both one thing and another and this movement through time demonstrates how time means both nothing and everything. For example, George's mother is both constantly present, and yet never present and this is something that poor George has to learn to cope with.

I really enjoyed George's part of the story - she's a character that you grow to love and you feel a deep sense of sympathy for her. She's feisty and strong-willed, even in her grief, and she's a great female lead. del Cosso's part was far less interesting in my opinion and I often found myself incredibly bored. The writing doesn't have much structure and I found myself swimming in a load of words that had no meaning to me. This was incredibly disappointing and really ruined the story for me. His narrative wasn't all bad, of course there were also some very intriguing passages and many interesting questions were raised but the frequent lapses into (what I thought were) incomprehensible passages makes it quite hard work getting through his half of the story.

Whilst the point of releasing these two editions was to reinforce the fact that this book can be read it either order and that both ways are fine, I would have to disagree with this strongly. George's part of the story really sets the story up and explains how the two different stories fit together. Yes, the two stories are linked in such a way that both of them regularly make references to the other half of the story; however, to begin reading del Cosso's part would put the reader at a huge disadvantage and leave a lot more questions unanswered. Any mention of George and her life would have very little meaning in del Cosso's part if you did not already know a bit about her situation. No matter which way round your edition of this book is, I think it would be a good idea to read the first half, then the second half, then the first half again, to truly understand all the links between the two novels and pick up anything that you may have missed the first time.

This is an unconventional story that requires a lot of effort on the part of the reader in order for them to really enjoy it. Through the movement in time, many interesting questions are raised about identity, gender, sexuality, friendship, morality - lots of hard hitting topics that can really be quite mind boggling if you're not paying attention. I can imagine this being studied in schools or literary book groups, but I think for the average reader, this might be a bit too stylistic. If you're not willing to commit to this book, you're not going to get the full experience and you probably won't enjoy it. There are many, many complex layers to this story and it's quite easy to just skip over all of these which will result in the reader being incredibly confused. When I finished this book, I don't think I really understood it at all, but then I went to a book group meeting about it and my eyes were opened. Without the interpretations of these other bookish people, I no doubt would've put this down as a dead-loss, one that just wasn't for me. However, now that I have a greater understanding of it, I can appreciate Ali Smith's style and content so much more.

Everyone who I've spoken to who has read How To Be Both said that they have a love/hate relationship with it. I guess that's funny since the title, and the contents, is all about to be two contrasting things at once. I was actually doing work experience at Penguin Random House at the time that this book was being prepared for release and it was being set up as the big release of the year. Since it went on to win a heck of a lot of awards, I guess their predictions were correct. However, prizes do not always equal reader enjoyment and I have to admit that at some points during the novel I was incredibly bored, and at others I was really engrossed. This book is what you make of it - if you're willing to put in the time and effort to properly explore all the different themes and layers that Ali Smith has created, then you will no doubt enjoy it. If not, well, good luck my friend.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2015 7:02 AM BST

How To Be Parisian: Wherever You Are
How To Be Parisian: Wherever You Are
by Anne Berest
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you're buying this for the glossy pages, then you won't be disappointed, 16 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I picked up this title because it kept cropping up on bloggers' pages and since I've just moved to Paris for my year abroad, it seemed like an appropriate title to get me into Parisian life. The book itself is very glossy - hardback, thick glossy paper, lots of large high quality pictures and illustrations and funky formatting. This book is evidently meant to please the eye and that it most certainly does. Some passages of this book are quite long and others are very bitty and short. Some parts are written in prose, others are simply bullet pointed ideas. This means that's book is easy to pick up and put down, you don't need to dedicate a chunk of your time to reading it. You don't even need to read it in order as there isn't much of a structure to it. For the most part, each two page spread has a discusses a certain part of Parisian life, so each part is short and snappy, and you can dive in and out of different sections whenever you please.

All the random aspects of life that you probably didn't think you needed advice on are covered in this book so you get a very rounded view of how the Parisian women lives her life. There are tips on how to dress, how to shop, how to eat, how to act on a date, how to woo a man, which perfumes to wear, which colors to wear in winter etc. etc. etc. At the end of the book there are also lists of recommended places to visit, eat and shop at, which will no doubt be handy for those that are actually visiting Paris.

How To Be Parisian doesn't seem to be aimed at any particular age group of women so is sure to be enjoyed by teenagers and retirees alike. There are some passages detailing how to behave in your youth, and others about how to behave so that you age gracefully. There are a lot of timeless tips in here, which I genuinely found to be rather inspiring. They're the sort of tips that are handed down from mother to daughter for generations and you can get quite a good picture of the respect that these women have for their mothers.

There were some parts that I didn't particularly agree with, especially those concerning love as the advice given almost seems to condone, and indeed encourage cheating. All the romantic advice is along the lines of 'treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen' and seems to involve a lot of hiding who you really are for the sake of Parisian 'etiquette'. These parts are a little frustrating to read and I can only assume the authors haven't heard of a little thing called feminism. Their portrayal of Parisian women as incredibly independent women is something that I really liked, but in some passages they took it a bit too far and made it sound like all Parisian women were downright arrogant. Confusingly it seems to advocate both being yourself and keeping yourself in check on a date. This book is full of contradictions, but apparently that's the way that Parisian women are.

Really this is just an insight into the lives of four particular 'Parisian' women and their thoughts on how to go about life's daily business and no more than that. The content is lighthearted and funny, this book doesn't take itself seriously and it is by no means a true guide to the Parisian woman. A lot of the 'advice' is incredibly clichéd and plays off a stereotype that probably doesn't fit most Parisian women and I think a lot of this book is just four women having fun with writing. This book would make a good gift for those who love Paris and makes for a nice, quick Saturday afternoon read.

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