Tag Archive | fashion

Q for KINGS, QUEENS, AND IN-BETWEENS, by Tanya Boteju (book review)

book cover of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, by Tanya Boteju. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Nima’s boring summer takes a twist when the 17 year old visits a drag show at the local arts festival and meets the incomparable diva Deidre and drag king Winnow.

Her white dad moves through life in slow motion since Mom left last year, best friend Charles keeps her from total despair, but when surprisingly straight Ginny crushes her heart, awkward Nima feels completely adrift.

Discovering an amazing drag scene in the next town – that welcomes teens – Nima decides to let her true self shine, with Deidre helping her debut as a drag prince.

Will Mom ever drift back into their lives?
Can Nima and Winnow truly connect?
Why is bully Gordon hanging around the edges of Nima’s new circle?

Love, acceptance, risk, friendship – Nima wants to find her self and her place as a person in this debut novel of change and discovery. Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

How much do we let outside adornments interfere with true personal connections?

Book info: Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens / Tanya Boteju. Simon Pulse, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Stolen from Sinclair’s! MYSTERY OF THE PAINTED DRAGON, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Painted Dragon, by Katherine Woodfine. Published by Kane Miller Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A famous painting!
A locked-door theft!
A dread criminal threatens everyone…

Better than the “Boy Detective” penny thrillers that Billy reads, the cases that the young employees of Sinclair’s (amazing, astounding) Department Store all seem to have terrible villain The Baron at their core – but why is he targeting Sophie and Sinclair’s in particular?

This is third in the Sinclair’s series set in 1909 London, following The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (my review here) and The Mystery of the Jeweled Moth (here).

Many strands come together in the fourth book, The Mystery of the Midnight Peacock (fireworks! hidden passageways! The King visiting Sinclair’s Department Store!), so ask for the whole paperback set at your local library or independent bookstore.

Which friends do you want by your side when there’s a mystery to unravel?

Book info: The Mystery of the Painted Dragon (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 3) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sophie and Lil are on the case again when a famous painting is stolen from Sinclair’s Department Store in 1909, and the investigative teens suspect that London criminal mastermind The Baron is involved.

Snobbish art critic Mr. Lyle allows sudents of the Spencer School of Art to assist with the exhibition at Spencer’s, where a rare dragon painting loaned by the King himself holds a place of honor.

Art school instead of university? Lil’s brother Jack is hiding his enrollment at the Spencer from his parents – scandalous!

Hobbled as much by the expectations of British society as by her crippled leg, Leo eagerly escaped her parents’ country estate to attend art school in London. New friends, new opportunities, an attack in the train station?

Leo and Jack join the team as Sophie (ladies’ hats), Lil (dress model and actress), Jack (stable hand), and Billy (office boy and avid reader of detective fiction) work on their third case together as ruthless crime boss The Baron moves ever closer to his prize.

Fight? No, Jazz Owls only want to dance, by Margarita Engle, art by Rudy Gutierrez (book review)

book cover of Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018 | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Smile and dance and don’t make trouble,
Keep up servicemen’s morale at the USO,
War is overseas and in their own neighborhood!

“The musicians call us owls
because we’re patriotic girls
who stay up LATE after working all day,
so we can DANCE with young sailors
who are on their way
to triumph
or death
on distant
ocean waves,” says 16-year-old Marisela in one of the first poems of Jazz Owls (p. 6)

But everyone of every race dancing together enrages some in power and “nothing sells newspapers as quickly as fear” brags an LA reporter (p. 32).

The papers’ sensationalized speculation questioned the true patriotism of non-whites and encouraged violence by sailors itching to get to war, creating a battle zone in Mexican-American neighborhoods where police blamed residents instead of their attackers.

Equal sacrifice demanded, unequal treatment before the law – how far have we come since 1942?

Book info: Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018. [author site] [artist interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: During World War II, everyone works – from abuelas with their victory gardens to young women dancing with servicemen before their deployment – but all citizens are not equal, and many powerful people want to keep it that way.

‘English only’ at the cannery, or teen sisters Marisela and Lorena will lose their jobs, be trapped at home with Mama, not allowed to do their patriotic duty by dancing with sailors at the USO club.

Because Nico is serving overseas (somewhere), little brother Ray must accompany his ‘jazz owl’ sisters to and from the USO, pachuco strutting in his wide-shouldered zoot suit.

Afro-Cuban drummer Manolito brings hot Caribbean rhythms into jazz, dances with Marisela, only she keeps him from leaving this hate-filled place to the fake Cuban musicians.

Fame-hungry LA reporters twist facts, sensationalize truth, fan flames of suspicion that Mexican-Americans might be enemies instead of citizens, that jazz musicians are dangerous.

Told in poems by many voices over a year’s time, starting with the Sailor Riots against zoot suiters in 1942, Jazz Owls shows how the fear of Others splintered an American city which needed to stay united during wartime.

Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow in 1909 London, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, published by Kane Miller Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSuch a fancy new department store!
How lucky that Sophie landed a job there in Ladies’ Hats!
How dreadful that the prized Clockwork Sparrow was stolen…and that Sophie is a suspect!

And how very fortunate that orphaned Sophie finds allies in the store who help her solve the mystery and are willing to risk crossing paths with the evil Baron of 1900s London’s crime underworld!

The author introduces her Sinclair’s Mysteries in this video (love listening to her British accent!) and takes us to real-life London locales which inspired them.

How do you stand by your friends in difficult times?

Book info: Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 1) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked-room mystery, mysterious strangers, and even stranger deliveries make Sinclair’s Department Store of London an intriguing place to work in the early 1900s, but teens Sophie (Ladies’ Hats, recently orphaned) and Lillian (dress model, between acting jobs) discover that a missing clockwork bird holds dangerous secrets within its jeweled feathers.

How can apprentice porter Billy help the police?
Is the Clockwork Sparrow more than a beautiful music box?
Why is underworld crime boss The Baron involved?

First in the series featuring our determined young ladies and their friends in high places and low neighborhoods as they deal with ciphers, codes, churlish villains, and social class.

F = fantastic Fashion Rebels, by Carlin Cerniglia Beccia (book review)

book cover of Fashion Rebels by Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia published by Beyond Words  | recommended on BooksYALove.comHigh heels, short skirts,
Sky-high hairdos, hats tall and wide,
Fashion is always in flux!

I was really pleased to see this informative and fun book as a finalist for the CYBILS Award for Middle-Grade Nonfiction, where I got to read and discuss it as second-round judge this year.

Take the Fashion Rebels quiz to see which fashion icon you trend toward, then be your own person!

What fashion trend of the past would you like to see today?

Book info: Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World Through Fashion / Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia. Aladdin/ Beyond Words, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fashion trends have signaled rebellion, improved international understanding, and raised parents’ eyebrows for centuries, as this sketch-filled book shows, celebrating Fashion Rebels past and present.

Meet queens Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette, artist Frida Kahlo and dancer Jacqueline Baker, along with Audrey Hepburn, Ellen DeGeneres, and many more as you examine essential components of each woman’s style and discover how you can use their inspiration to make your own fashion statement.

Filled with accurate histories that sound like the best kind of celebrity gossip, lots of DIY techniques and tips for adding signature fashion elements to your wardrobe, and current fashionistas to watch, every section of Fashion Rebels reminds you to be you!

Meow meets wow in photos – Men & Cats, by Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud

book cover of Men & Cats by Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud published by Perigee | recommended on BooksYALove.comIf kitty pix make you go “Awwww” and photos of gorgeous guys make you go “Rawr!” then this is your book!

Add it to your favorite indie bookstore wishlist (search here for a great bookstore near you: http://indiebound.org) or just go buy it now as a gift for the person who appreciates cat cute and masculine musculature.

And, yes, the French photographers are adding more fellow and feline picture-pairs to their tumblr!


Book info: Men & Cats /Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud. Perigee Books, 2015.  [authors’ tumblr]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Photos of men and cats in matching poses prove that no words are needed to communicate the concepts of “cute plus captivating” as the creators of the wildly popular Des Hommes et des Chatons tumblr have created 50 new combos for this book.

Whether shirtlessly lounging in the sunshine or dually dapper in bowties, each pair of pix has a particular shared visual element (the one with blue eyes!).

Praying and yawning, serene and playful – enjoy men, enjoy cats, enjoy this preview of the book:

Adorable adornments – maker books for Slow-Down Sunday

Slow down the pace today, as you craft unique summertime styles for yourself and your home with expert instruction.

book cover of Junk Box Jewelry by Sara Drew published by Zest Booksbook cover of Stitch It Simple by Beth Sheard published by Taunton PressJunk Box Jewelry  leads you from tools and materials to finished fashion as you transform found items into unique bracelets, earrings, and necklaces – my recommendation here.

Peek into Stitch It Simple (my recommendation here) for patterns that you can adapt to create pillows, wall hangings, and giftables that you’ll be proud to share.

What craft books would you suggest for summer?


Geek Girl, by Holly Smale (book review) – a beauty of a geek?

book cover of Geek Girl by Holly Smale published by Harper CollinsAnimals? Adores them!
Fish anatomy? Fantastic!
High heels? Huh?

Aspiring natural scientist and focus of every school bully, clumsy Harriet reluctantly goes with lovely Natalie to a fashion tryout – and is chosen! What??

I just loved Geek Girl when I read an advance copy in 2013 and was so sad that it was only available in the UK then. At last, Harper Collins has brought freckled Harriet here – just out this week!

Read the beginning of Harriet’s headlong rush into modeling here on the publisher’s site for free.

The second book in the series, Geek Girl: Model Misfit, will be published in the US this July – whatever will Harriet get into next?


Book info: Geek Girl (Geek Girl, book 1) / Holly Smale. Harper Collins, 2015.   [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Harriet is just fine with being a geek and so are her best friend Natalie and smitten Toby – it’s everyone else at school who hates her for being smart. Tricked into attending a mall fashion show, it’s ginger-haired, freckled Harriet who’s chosen as a model, not beautiful Nat! And wanting to change from despised geek to anything else, Harriet says yes.

From her suburb to the London modeling agency, Harriet’s dad is excited, her lawyer stepmom is skeptical, and Harriet is about to pass out from nerves. This is not part of the plan – she wants to be a paleontologist! It’s Natalie who’s always dreamed of being a model. At least the cute dark-haired guy from the mall is there, rescuing her from outside the agency where she’s hyperventilating.

The flamboyant modeling agent who discovered her (that’s Wilbur with a –bur not an –iam!) calls her Plum-cake and Treacle-Nose. Harriet doesn’t recognize the name of the very influential designer who wants to meet her, but she does know that this clothing brand is top-of-the-line (online research about fashion modeling last night paid off).

Suddenly, a gawky fifteen-year-old geek is the new face of Baylee, slated for a photo shoot in Moscow in the morning! Her stepmother disapproves of teen girls modeling or missing school, but Harriet and her dad are determined to pull this off anyway.

How could she know that getting to Moscow was the easy part?
Why didn’t Wilbur tell her that cute Nick would be there?
Will Nat ever forgive her for stealing her dream?

Every detailed plan that Harriet makes after that fateful mall trip seems to go awry in this funny tale of friendship, family, fashion, and wondering why high heels were ever invented. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

My Faire Lady, by Laura Wettersten (book review) – can Ren Faire cure a broken heart?

book cover of My Faire Lady by Laura Wettersten published by Simon Schuster BFYRTankards of mead and turkey legs!
Bold knights and comely maidens!
‘Tis the Renaissance Faire, indeed!
(p.s. no cell phones in the Middle Ages!)

Trying to cure her wounded heart, Rowena leaves town to become a face painter at King Geoffrey’s Faire, discovering more about herself as she spends the summer with knights, troubadours, jugglers, artists, and musicians.

Read for yourself just how Ro gets herself out of the house and into the Faire  in this free excerpt.

Been to a Ren Faire lately?


Book info: My Faire Lady / Laura Wettersten. Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:  Rowena takes an out-of-town summer job to avoid seeing her cheating boyfriend and finds herself growing as an artist among Ren Faire performers, catching the eye of a handsome knight and a whip-cracking genius.

Kyle’s “I like someone else” makes Ro’s job at the small town mall unappealing, so she becomes a face painter and serving wench at King Geoffrey’s Faire, living onsite all summer, trying to stay in medieval character.

Clad in corset and flowing skirt, Ro works on her art beyond face painting, flirts with Christian the knight, and even learns to ride a horse. Her new friends Will, bullwhip performer heading to MIT, and Suze, who works in the tavern with Ro, are second-generation Ren Faire folk who show her the ropes.

Her friends think she’s just running away from Kyle , her parents think she’s looking for unique experience for her college application, and her own foot-in-mouth might  lose Rowena the summer fling that could heal her battered heart.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Gorgeous, by Paul Rudnick (book review) – beauty more than skin deep?

book cover of Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick published by Scholastic
Red dress, white dress,
duckling becomes swan!
One day will she awaken
to find the magic gone?

Stepping cautiously out of her trailer park and into Tom Kelly’s heady world of high fashion and celebrity, shy Becky puts on the first dress he creates for her and instantly becomes Rebecca, the most beautiful woman in the world. Of course, such a magical transformation comes at a price…

Paul Rudnick has written essays, plays, movies (Addams Family Values and others), but this is his first young adult book – and he nails it! Read the first two chapters here for free, and you’ll be hooked! Find Gorgeous at your local public library or independent bookstore to see if Rebecca/Becky succeeds.

If you had one year to do something extraordinary, what would you choose to do?

Book info: Gorgeous / Paul Rudnick. Scholastic Press, 2013 [author NPR  interview]  [publisher site] [book Facebook page]

My book talk: After her mom dies suddenly, Becky calls the mysterious phone number she left, and designer Tom Kelly swears he can transform the shy teen into the most beautiful woman in the world – how could she say no? If she’d only foreseen the consequences…

What made her sweet, funny mom hide in their trailer house and overeat herself to death, Becky never knew. As she gathers up Mom’s clothes for charity, the 18-year-old finds a ring box containing just a phone number. When she dials it, the lady answering sends her a plane ticket to New York – the world’s most famous designer must see her, right now!

Her first plane trip, first limo ride, first time out of Missouri – suddenly Becky is swept into a sophisticated glass mansion overlooking the New York skyline. Tom Kelly knew her mother (why didn’t Mom ever tell her?) and promises that if Becky will wear the 3 dresses he designs for her then she’ll be the most beautiful woman in the world. There is a catch – she must fall in love and get married within one year.

Agreeing to his idea, she finds herself being measured, fitted, and fabulously attired in the most amazing red dress as Rebecca. When she accompanies Tom into the city, the reporters and bloggers go wild – who is she? The reclusive designer escorts Rebecca to her Vogue cover photo shoot, to the opera where her unearthly beauty upstages the diva. When anyone else is around, Rebecca is stunningly beautiful, but when she’s alone, the mirror shows shy, dumpy Becky is still there.

Whisked away on a motorcycle by her teen idol Jate, Rebecca effortlessly becomes a movie star in his latest action adventure. Her best friend Rocher from home joins her as she tours the world as the face of Tom Kelly Designs. When Rebecca meets and charms Prince Gregory as they open a London children’s hospital, she decides that he’s the one for her.

Will Gregory fall in love with her, too?
Could the British public accept an American as wife of the royal heir?
Can Rebecca slow down time so her year lasts long enough?

More than a Cinderella fashion story, Gorgeous  takes aim at our insatiable appetite for who’s who, beauty,and the latest style in everything, as Becky/Rebecca tries to discover her true self during twelve too-short months. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.