Look Review (6): Austenland

Goodreads synopsis:

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.
Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

This is a deceptive book. At first it seems like cotton candy – fluffy, sweet, and fun, with very little substance.It’s filled with lovely little witticisms:

He had a dashing smile. It nearly dashed right off his face.

Then you realize that Hale put tremendous effort into researching Austen and the Regency period. My favorite parts were when the MC, Jane,  compares herself and others to real Austen characters. It’s a fun romp for Austen fans!

Ick, thought Jane, as she realized she was turning out to be poor Fanny Price in Mansfield Park–the plain girl, the lower-class girl, the one with no one to take her arm. Just now she wouldn’t turn down that naughty nugget, Henry Crawford.

The film version is hilarious! Keri Russell is an adorable Jane, but the supporting actors really steal the show. Jennifer Coolidge, James Callis, and Georgia King chew the scenery with abandon, and JJ Feild is a perfect Mr. Nobley.

Henry Nobley

Now for the look!

She was feeling sassy in her street clothes, freshly laundered, bra and panties replacing corset and drawers. Jeans felt wicked to her, tight and strange, and yet so comfortable she hugged her knees to her chest.

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So, skinny jeans are obviously required. I’ve also created a faux empire waist (very Regency) and included “dancing slippers”, a.k.a. ballet flats. Lastly, I’ve topped the whole look with a blush cardigan, which is the closest approximation I have to the cream blazer Jane wears on the book jacket.

Look Review (5): A night in with Audrey Hepburn

Goodreads synopsis:

A hilarious and heart-warming debut and the perfect girl’s night in. For fans of Sophie Kinsella and Lucy Diamond. LOL funny!!
Unlucky in love, failed actress Libby Lomax has retreated into the world of classic movies, where the immortal lives of the screen goddesses offer so much more in the way of romance than her own life.
After a terrible day on the set of a cult TV sci-fi series where she has proved herself to be the antithesis of feminine poise and embarrassed herself in front of heartthrob actor Dillon O’Hara, she plonks herself down in front of her trillionth viewing of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Relaxing on her battered old couch, salvaged from the props department by her best friend Olly, Libby is gob smacked to find actual Screen Icon, Audrey Hepburn, sitting beside her. Dressed in her little black dress, wearing her trademark sunglasses, Audrey proffers advice to the hapless Libby between ladylike puffs on her vintage cigarette holder.
And so, Audrey becomes Libby’s confidante and friend – but has Libby got what it takes to turn her life from a Turkey to a Blockbuster? With a little bit of Audrey Hepburn magic, she might just pull it off…
A Night in With Audrey Hepburn is the first in a series of three books following the life and loves of Libby Lomax as she blossoms from Z-lister to A-lister and all of the stages in between with a little bit of help from some very special friends.

In honor of Audrey Hepburn’s birthday yesterday, I’m reviewing a book about her (sort of).

First, I have to admit to being smitten with the book’s cover! It’s gorgeous, and the covers for the other 2 books in the trilogy are equally lovely:

I’m torn about this book. There were aspects that I enjoyed, and others that I detested.

The introduction shows us a young Libby Lomax, leading a very Gypsy Rose Lee childhood. Her stage mother drags her along to her prettier, more talented little sister’s auditions. Her father is barely in the picture, and poor Libby is lonely. This was a great setup for the novel and may have raised my expectations too high.

The first chapter skips ahead 16 years, where we learn that Libby hasn’t changed one, single, eensy, beensy, micro-peensy, little bit. Eye-roll. She clueless about men, still stuck at home with her stage mother, being dragged along in her sister’s wake, etc.

By the end of the book, with Audrey’s magical help, Libby has begun to mature a bit. Thank God.

I loved the Britishness of the book – tonne instead of ton, pongy, whilst, podgy, gone three o’clock, etc.

I loved Audrey’s pep talks:

I wasn’t qualified to act opposite Gregory Peck. I wasn’t good enough to dance with Fred Astaire. But I damn well got on with it and gave it my all, because that’s the only way a girl is going to find her place in this world.

However, the book has some serious issues. There’s the aforementioned immaturity of the MC, the often unsuccessful attempts at humor, and the editing problems. Oh, man, the editing problems! I had to read the following sentence 5 times before I figured out what she was saying:

I scramble off Dillon, doing up shirt buttons as I do so that I had no idea he had managed to undo.

 I think I’ll give the second book a shot, but I’ll be wary.

 The look:

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‘Now, the right shoes, of course, always make or break any outfit. Do you have a nice simple pump?’ Audrey asks me. ‘Something with a kitten heel, perhaps?’

 My Audrey tee, green circle skirt, some bling, and, of course, kitten heels.

 

Look Review (4): I Work at a Public Library

 

 

Goodreads synopsis:

Straight from the library–the strange and bizarre, ready to be checked out!
From a patron’s missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan’s circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, “What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?” Whether she’s helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn’t have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan’s bizarre tales prove that she’s truly seen it all.
Stacked high with hundreds of strange-but-true stories, I Work at a Public Library celebrates librarians and the unforgettable patrons that roam the stacks every day.

Next week is National Library Week, with Tuesday, April 12 being National Library Worker’s Day. What better time to review this book?

 First, I love the formatting of the book. The chapter titles are Dewey Decimal numbers and their corresponding subjects, i. e. Chapter 4 031.02 Curiosities and Wonders. Each anecdote is then filed as if under an author’s name, such as Experience, Firsthand. It’s a fun, clever way to keep with the theme.

 I think this book will appeal most to current and former library workers and avid library patrons, but there is plenty of humor anyone, especially bibliophiles.

 Everything, Ruining

A disgruntled woman approached the desk.

Woman: I cannot believe the nerve of some people, dog-earing the pages of the books! Do they think they own the books? I think you should give a bookmark to every single person who checks out a book. I mean it. They are ruining everything! I will help make the bookmarks if that’s what it takes.

 This story cracked me up because, A) I detest people who dog-ear books (especially library books), and B) my local libraries have free bookmarks at the checkout desks (some are program advertisements, others are DIY from old calendars).

Now for the look(s):

Up, Dressed

As I was walking by the computer area around closing time, one of our more complicated regulars stopped to “compliment” me.

Woman: [with perturbed tone] Well! You look nice. It must be dress-up night at the library. You’re in a prom dress and here I am in my ratty old T-shirt, thanks a lot! I’m only kidding. But you do look nice. You’re complexion is much better these days, too. You must be drinking enough water. Well, goodbye.

Me: Thanks very much, bye. [Looks in befuddlement at “prom dress,” a cardigan over a black dress.]

Librarian look: Faux LBD (lace tank + circle skirt) with a houndstooth cardigan – when I worked as a library associate, way back when, we had to dress this way (although I usually wore slacks or long skirts because I was shelving). Nowadays, the librarians’ dress code is more casual.

Patron look: “Ratty” tee with plaid button down, jeans, and sneakers – this is exactly how I dress when I go to the library!