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The Selection
The Selection
by Kiera Cass
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.59
79 used & new from $4.98

2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the world of dystopia, Kiera Cass is the new queen!, April 24, 2012
This review is from: The Selection (Hardcover)
Illea adheres to the caste system. Eights are homeless wanderers. Sevens are outdoor workers. Sixes are servants. Fives are artists. Fours are factory, shop, and farm workers. Threes work in services - such as teaching. Twos are privileged. Ones are royals. Seventeen-year-old America Singer is a Five. Her job description is musician - singing, instruments...that is what she is good at. America is in love with Aspen. A Six. Marrying beneath one's own caste is not an option, but America has her heart set on doing just that; until she is prompted by her true love (and her overbearing, caste climbing mother), to place her name into the Selection.

The Selection is a lottery for the girls of Illea between the ages of sixteen and twenty wherein the names of thirty-five girls are drawn at random. These girls will then compete for the chance to be wed to Illea's Prince Maxon, providing the winner with a royal title, and a handsome husband. America has no interest in either. The country of Illea is plagued by rebel attacks from the North and South. Should she become Princess of the country, she would be one of the individuals forced to deal with such violence - and that is out of the question. All she wants (or needs) is Aspen. Or so she thinks.

When America becomes one of the Selected, her world is turned upside down. In the blink of an eye she morphs from a Five to a Three, spending her days surrounded by thirty-four other girls all vying for the chance to become Prince Maxon's betrothed. But palace life is different than what she expected - as is Prince Maxon. And the more time she spends within the palace walls, and the charming Prince; the more she begins to question whether the perfect life for her is, oddly enough, as Princess of Illea.

I'm going to be honest here...I judged this book by its cover (which reminds me very much of those seen in Anna Godbersen's LUXE Quartet); and the knowledge that, before so much as hitting bookstores, the title had been picked up for a TV show on The CW. That fact aside, I was positively enamored with this book from the beginning.

THE SELECTION is a different type of dystopian novel. It lacks the battle-to-the-death found in Suzanne Collins' THE HUNGER GAMES; yet features the reality television, competitive backdrop. It paints a picture of a fairytale; yet couples it against the gritty, harsh realities of the caste system, and how it affects day to day living. It portrays the main character, America, as a swoony romantic; yet counteracts her starry-eyed persona with strength, assertiveness, and intelligence. And it is these very qualities that make THE SELECTION such a powerful novel; and one in which you can scarcely tear yourself away from.

America is what I like to refer to as an `everygirl' - meaning that every girl who is exposed to her character will want to be like her - if only a little bit. America uses her tongue the way in which Katniss Everdeen uses her bow and arrow - as a weapon that brings her intelligence to the forefront. She is gruff at times, and brimming with spunk and bravery; yet it is her charm and compassion that really makes her so appealing. The chemistry she has with Prince Maxon (of whom readers will quickly fall head over heels for) literally sparks off the page, and makes you root for a happy ending between the two of them. Though there is no denying the passion present between she and Aspen - making it obvious that some will be rooting for a union between the former, and some for the latter (for the record, I'm Team Maxon at the moment).

While there are a number of characters present within THE SELECTION - as we are introduced to thirty-five girls, in addition to family members, royals, servants, and many other characters who flit in and out of the story - it is difficult to get to know any of the supporting characters as well as the main trio - Aspen, Prince Maxon, and America - which is understandable. That said, as this was the first book in a projected trilogy, I feel that the sequel will pose both more action, and a closer look at the remaining girls in The Selection - something that I am very much looking forward to, as many of the so-called Elite (the girls who have remained in The Selection up to this point) seem to be hiding things that could change the readers opinion of them. Overall, THE SELECTION is one of the best books I have read in 2012 thus far, and I am counting down the days until I can get my hands on the sequel. In the world of dystopia, Kiera Cass is the new queen!

Erika Sorocco
Freelance Writer
Café Fashionista Book Club


Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel
Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel
by Juliet Grey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.98
116 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sparkling tale that leaves you thirsty for the sequel!, April 12, 2012
"Others wage wars; you, happy Austria, marry." This is the motto of the Hapsburg dynasty, and the words which young Maria Antonia hears from her mother, Maria Theresa, the Empress of Austria, more often than she'd like. But it is not until she is ten-years-old that she realizes just how much these words will affect her, and her future; for it is at that time that she learns that her hand in marriage has been promised to Louis Auguste, dauphin of France - a union that will paint her as dauphine of France, until the two progress to King and Queen.

Though still a mere child of ten, Maria Theresa begins the grooming process of Maria Antonia, enlisting the assistance of tutors to fill her brain with French facts, and her mouth with French words; hiring dance instructors to teach her how to properly do the Versailles glide and move as if she is walking on water; schooling her on proper etiquette; and, ultimately, changing her appearance drastically with the implementation of a personal hairdresser, and a painful contraption to straighten her teeth. For four years Maria Antonia undergoes these modifications; and then she is sent away to take up her position as dauphine of France, wife of Louis Auguste. But when a change is so drastic in one's life, it is impossible for things to go smoothly - and they don't.

Louis Auguste, while a kind, sympathetic soul, is painfully shy, and keeps his distance from Maria Antonia - now Marie Antoinette; except for the evening hours when he is forced into her bedchamber in the hopes that the two will produce an heir. His days are spotted with hunts on horseback, making locks, and eating; while Marie Antoinette is expected to follow court etiquette, spending countless hours with the kings matronly, spiteful, spinster-like daughters, and being generally bored. Until she begins to wizen up to some of the political corruption surrounding her, and strives to change things to the best of her ability.

While incredibly enjoyable, I found it devastating to read this book, as I know the fate that Marie Antoinette ultimately meets; and when you see the way she is painted within the pages of BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE you realize that she did not deserve that end. She was a pawn used within her mother's political games to gain security for an entire country, while being sacrificed herself; and through her naiveté and trust she, unfortunately lost her life. Even worse is the fact that she has, for centuries, been viewed as a heartless individual who proclaimed "Let them eat cake!"; which is, without question, an unjust portrayal of her character.

Juliet Grey is a masterful storyteller. She has taken the bare bones of an era, a story in history, and woven it into an incandescent volume that educates the reader, just as much as it pleases them. She has treated the characters of Marie Antoinette and Louis Auguste with the utmost respect, showing sides of their personalities that history oftentimes overlooks, or leaves out; making the reader empathize with them, even as some of their actions create frustration, from start to finish.

Since Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, I have harbored an undying obsession for this historical figure; and that adoration has grown twofold since having turned the last page of Juliet Grey's BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE. The descriptions held within literally leap off the page at you, and make you feel as if you are doing the Versailles glide through the gilded corridors right alongside Marie Antoinette. I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel; for it promises to be just as sparkling as its predecessor!

Erika Sorocco
Freelance Reviewer
Café Fashionista Book Club


On Pointe
On Pointe
by Lorie Ann Grover
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.41
47 used & new from $4.74

4.0 out of 5 stars One to be read by the whole family!, March 30, 2012
This review is from: On Pointe (Paperback)
Clare has sacrificed much of her youth for her love of ballet; forgoing the freedom of childhood for the strict rehearsal and practice schedules of dance, and suffering pain and injuries to her feet all to reach her goal, her dream, of dancing for the City Ballet Company. Only sixteen are selected for such an honor, and Clare is determined to be one of those sixteen. But sometimes being a great dancer isn't all that is required to make it as a professional. Sometimes a tiny obstacle that is beyond one's control is there to dash it all. For Clare, that obstacle is her height.

In the midst of tryouts for the City Ballet Company, Clare is pulled aside and dismissed from the Ballet Conservatory that has become like a second home to her. According to Madame, she has no chance of becoming a professional ballerina given her towering stature. Clare is trying to grapple with this devastating blow to her dreams, her goals, when something even further unexpected happens...her grandfather, the very person she has been living with all summer, suffers a stroke that leaves him partially paralyzed, forcing him to do the very same thing that Clare has been attempting - reevaluate everything he has ever known, and adjust his life accordingly.

Though presented as a book about ballet, at the very heart of ON POINTE is something far deeper...family, dreams, goals, failure, sacrifice, and acceptance. Written entirely in free verse, ON POINTE introduces us to a diverse mixture of characters, all of whom are dealing with a different struggle that, more often than not, the reader can identify with - from overbearing stage mothers and eating disorders to obesity, growth (physical and mental), and facing one's fears head on; presenting them to the reader in a way that makes the characters feel like old friends. ON POINTE is just as much a teacher as it is a tale of enjoyment - and one that should be experienced by all, regardless of gender or age. One to be read by the whole family!

Erika Sorocco
Freelance Reviewer
Café Fashionista Book Club


Dancing Through Fire (Portraits #1)
Dancing Through Fire (Portraits #1)
by Kathryn Lasky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $9.99
193 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars ...a book that is meant to be passed down from generation to generation, March 22, 2012
The year is 1870. Nineteenth-century Paris is alight with art, culture, and, above all, dance; and the tiny, yet ultra-talented thirteen-year-old Sylvie Bertrand is at the height of it all.

Since the age of seven, Sylvie has been a pupil at the Paris Opera Ballet; floating across the slightly slanted hardwood floors on the tips of her toes, and dreaming of becoming a prima ballerina - or at least a full-fledged member of the Paris Opera Ballet Company (a feat that she has been unable to accomplish given the fact that she is three-quarters of an inch too small). But what she lacks in stature, Sylvie makes up for in heart and spirit - two traits of which the artist Monsieur Degas picks up as he is sketching the dancers in class. But just as Sylvie is approaching her dreams, something petrifying dashes it all...war.

Just as Sylvie's dancing is truly being recognized, the Paris Opera Ballet is closed down due to the start of the Franco-Prussian War. For the entirety of Sylvie's existence she has never known anything outside of the walls of the Paris Opera Ballet; and for the first time, with Paris under siege, and the food supply low, her eyes are opened to the harsh cruelties of the world around her - the suffering and starvation of innocents, the dangers that lurk around every corner.

For Sylvie, this new awareness is a stark contrast to the fairytale dance world she has forever lived in; and with her petite mere Mademoiselle Leontine as a brave example, Sylvie joins the cause to help those around her. But as she works everyday to better the lives of others, Sylvie begins to question her own life, and her love of dance - attempting to differentiate between her own passion for ballet, and that of her mother.

I purchased this book years ago, yet sadly never read a word until a few days ago when I found it on my bookshelf. Despite the fact that I am not the target audience for this title, I could not put it down. From the very first word I felt as if I was transported back to 1870, dancing alongside Sylvie, carrying the weight and burden of her tragedies, yet cheering on her triumphs.

Kathryn Lasky has created such a spirited little character in Sylvie. She is selfless in every sense of the word, doing what she can to protect her mother from the harsh realities of her somewhat estranged older sister's behavior and affiliations; lying so that she can help those who are less fortunate then herself; and bringing joy and pleasure to the world through her dancing in the face of such turmoil in the world.

Lasky has managed to transcend generations and genres with this piece of fiction, making it enjoyable for young and old, dancer or non-dancer. But, even more impressive, she has managed to pen a story that juxtaposes the beauty of dance with the ugliness of war - never allowing one to overshadow the other; instead allowing them to 'pas de deux' harmoniously alongside one another. Portraits #1: Dancing Through Fire is a book that is meant to be passed down from generation to generation; and read frequently.

Erika Sorocco
Freelance Writer
Café Fashionista Book Club


Bunheads
Bunheads
by Sophie Flack
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.86
137 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A truly sparkling debut - bravo Sophie!, March 15, 2012
This review is from: Bunheads (Hardcover)
Hannah Ward was fourteen-years-old when she said goodbye to her parents and life in Boston to strike out on her own in the Big Apple as an apprentice in the prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company. Flash-forward five years, and Hannah is now a nineteen-year-old accomplished corps dancer, doing everything in her power to make herself stand out from the rest of the `bunheads', and earn a coveted spot as a soloist - a transition that will morph her from dancer to full-fledged ballerina and star. But this is the dream of every corps dancer - including Zoe, Bea, Daisy, and Leni, the girls she shares a dressing room with, and who have become her close friends and confidantes over the years.

Though Hannah attends the daily grueling rehearsals, and lives and breathes ballet, just like the rest of the `bunheads', she is plagued with the desire to experience something more than dance. She wants to read books, and date, and see New York City for once (a city she has called her home for five years, yet knows nothing about). Enter ultra-adorable Jacob Cohen.

During an off-night, Hannah meets musician-slash-NYU-student Jacob Cohen who is everything she has always wanted, yet never knew she needed. Jacob is a `pedestrian' (a non-dancer) who knows nothing about ballet, but is worldly in his own right, having seen the city that Hannah has been oblivious to for so long; but Jacob is not a part of her ballet life. Her schedule allows time for one thing and one thing only - dance. In order to make time for one (Jacob), she would have to compromise the other (dance) - something that Hannah has never had to do before.

Though Jacob tries to understand Hannah's commitment to the world of ballet, he can't help but to feel neglected; thus resulting in turmoil between the two, which pushes Hannah in the direction of well-to-do `balletomane' (a huge ballet fan) Matt, the son of one of the Manhattan Ballet's biggest supporters and benefactors, who is more understanding of her commitment, yet less interesting to Hannah.

It is not until Hannah's slightly increasing weight is pointed out by a dance mistress that Hannah truly takes a step back to evaluate her options and choose which direction her life should move in from here on out - dancer (though she feels as if her spark of passion is wavering), or non-dancer.

I was enamored with this book from the moment I finished page one; and, though it was only published in October of last year (2011), I truly wish that I would have discovered it sooner. I am not a dancer myself, though I took ballet classes for years as a child, and have always been fascinated and in awe of the world of dance. The beauty of Sophie Flack's writing is that she has taken a dancer's story, and adapted it in a way that is understandable for `pedestrians'; yet can be wholeheartedly enjoyed by those who are a part of the dancing world themselves.

Hannah is an inspiring character who is headstrong, determined, and multifaceted; but this is not just her story. Through Hannah's eyes, the reader has the chance to meet Bea, Daisy, Leni, and Zoe (the girls she shares her dressing room with), who are every bit as enchanting as the main character herself.

The unique dynamic displayed between these characters is intriguing all itself. Though these five girls are so incredibly close, and loving and supportive of one another, beneath the surface there is a hint of cutthroat competitiveness, jealousy, and hate, that is understandable, given the situation they are in. Their interactions are scathing, yet laced with sweetness, and truly give new meaning to the term `frenemy'. I do hope that Flack will, perhaps, write a follow-up to this novel that focuses on Zoe, as I found the brief glimpses into her life interesting, and feel that she has a far bigger story to be told.

This is not a dance story; it is a story about dance. Dancers will see themselves in these characters, and identify with the situations and competitiveness presented; whereas non-dancers will feel as if they have been handed a backstage pass to one of the most beautiful art forms on earth. BUNHEADS is a tale that goes beneath the glamour of ballet, showing the grittiness that accompanies each rehearsal, performance, and off-day. Once a star in the dance world, Flack is now a star in the YA world. A truly sparkling debut - bravo Sophie!

Erika Sorocco
Freelance Writer
Café Fashionista Book Club


Airhead Book 3: Runaway
Airhead Book 3: Runaway
by Meg Cabot
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.89
201 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling conclusion which proves that Cabot can commandeer any genre she sets her mind to!, April 26, 2010
Em Watts thought that things were finally taking a turn for the better when she learned that Christopher (her best-friend-slash-crush-slash-boy-she-wants-to-marry-and-spend-the-rest-of-her-life-with) was in love with her - not the girl whose body her brain is currently lodged within...stunning supermodel Nikki Howard. She should have known better. Em has never been on the receiving end of a happy ending; and her current predicament is indicative of that. Nikki Howard? The beauty whose body Em currently inhabits? Yeah...she's alive, and she wants her body back...now! Em would love to do nothing more than to runaway and forget everyone and everything from her past, but, as tempting as it sounds, it's downright impossible; for while Nikki knows all of Stark's secrets, Em is completely in the dark.

During the time Em has been leading Nikki's life, Nikki has been hiding out, uncovering everything shady about Stark Enterprises. Now that she has the information she needs to expose them for what they've done to her, she is ready to make her grand entrance and reveal it to the world; Em just knows that the day in question will be the Stark Angel event - a live fashion show that will take place on New Year's Eve - but there's nothing she can do to stop it...except lie in wait until the day of reckoning arrives. Patience, however, has never been one of Em's strong points. Action is more her style.

With the help of Christopher, Lulu, and Gabriel Luna, Em is determined to get to the bottom of the science fiction fairytale that has become her life; but on top of the adventures in computer hacking, and a series of unbelievable events that require some serious quick thinking, Em will have to face the facts regarding her mother's take on beauty head on to give her the courage to return to her normal life and continue on as the nerdy girl she has always been.

I can honestly say that the thing I loathe most about Meg Cabot's book series' is that they must always come to an end which can be devastating to diehard readers; however, when they are as fast-paced, action-packed, and full of answers as Runaway (Airhead) is, you can't help but to welcome the conclusion with open arms.

As per usual, Cabot's trademark self-deprecating humor, and penchant for the unexpected and fantastical is found in large quantities within the pages of Runaway (Airhead); yet so is a lot of heart. After three books, you can't help but to find yourself attached to these characters, and cheering them on as you devour each paragraph.

Em has grown up right before our eyes, transforming from nerdy girl to a confident individual with the ability to stand up for herself, speak her mind, and steal the spotlight - whether in Nikki Howard's body or her very own. Whereas Nikki, who has forever been viewed as vain, vapid, shallow, and unintelligent is portrayed in a cunning, conniving new way which adds more depth to her personality; making her more relatable to readers. A thrilling conclusion which proves that Cabot can commandeer any genre she sets her mind to!

Erika Sorocco
Café Fashionista


The Last Song
The Last Song
by Nicholas Sparks
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $5.99
844 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing tale that will not soon be forgotten, April 9, 2010
Seventeen-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller curses the fact that her birthday falls at the end of August. If she had been born just a few months earlier, she would have been a legal adult, and could have avoided being shipped from the comforts of her rebellious life in New York City, to the quaint, beachside locale of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina to spend the summer with her father, a man with whom she has been estranged from for three years, since he up and left his life and family in New York to start anew. But birthdates aren't something you can change with the wave of a magic wand; thus, reluctantly, Ronnie leaves behind the beloved New York City nightclubs she's known for frequenting for the beachside town notorious for its fishing, with only her younger brother Jonah along for the ride.

Though new acquaintances may think of the all-black wearing Ronnie as nothing more than your typical troubled teen, there is a story behind her bad behavior that stems from her father's departure. Once a promising pianist with hopes of attending Juilliard, Ronnie packed up the memory of her craft the moment her father (and piano teacher) fled from her life, proclaiming that she would never play or compose again. Being reunited with the individual who caused so much pain, and changed her world so prevalently riddles her with fear; leaving her spewing threats of returning to New York City before the summer is out. That is, until she meets Will Blakelee.

Will Blakelee embodies everything that Ronnie loathes about the opposite sex. Sure, he's absolutely gorgeous to look at; but he has that pompous air about him synonymous with the Park Avenue prep school set she has become well-acquainted with over the years - at least from external appearances. Underneath his façade is someone completely different and unexpected. A gentle soul with a soft spot for nature, and true ambitions for life, whom she can really open up to, and vice versa. With his presence, Ronnie starts shedding the rough exterior she has built up over the years, letting down her guard, showing her vulnerable side, and opening herself up to the possibility of falling in love for the very first time.

In general, I am not a Nicholas Sparks reader. I have read exactly three books by Sparks, all of which piqued my interest only after having seen trailers for the films. In all three cases, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome; though not one of the previous Sparks books I have read in the past could compare with The Last Song.

Two parts A Walk to Remember, one part The Catcher in the Rye, The Last Song is a true tale of first love, complete with the heartbreak, hurt, and happiness known for accompanying such an experience; yet retains characteristics that establish it just as much as a coming-of-age novel in the mind of the reader.

Told in alternating chapters in the voices of Will, Ronnie, Steve (Ronnie's father), and Marcus (the town bad boy), Sparks sucks the reader deeper and deeper into the tale with each passing page, leaving you cheering for some, and frowning upon others. The chemistry between Ronnie and Will literally flies off the page, making your viewing of their interactions with one another seem like a welcome treat that places you in this peaceful mindset; whereas Marcus' presence is so frightening that you literally get goosebumps when his character pops up.

For those familiar with Sparks' A Walk to Remember, there are many visible similarities between the two stories; yet, no matter what, they are still their own entities. And even if you've read one, it is highly-recommended that you read the other, as they are both charming tales of first love perfect for welcoming in the first days of summer, or waving goodbye to the very last. An engrossing tale that will not soon be forgotten.

Erika Sorocco
Café Fashionista


One Fifth Avenue
One Fifth Avenue
by Candace Bushnell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.07
396 used & new from $0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stock up on supplies; you won't be leaving the house until you've read every last word!, April 1, 2010
This review is from: One Fifth Avenue (Paperback)
If you haven't heard of One Fifth Avenue, chances are that you've been living under a rock somewhere in the middle of the desert, for everyone has heard of New York City's One Fifth Avenue. It is the singular address on the East Coast, where only the true crème de la crème of society hang their hat. A building which people stop in their tracks to admire, hoping that they'll catch a mere glimpse of a celebrated actresses gloved hand as she scurries through the oversized doors dividing those who belong from those who do not; or expecting a chance encounter with a screenwriter who holds the power to launch their career. There is one resident, however, who will never allow this to happen; and that is Mindy Gooch - head of the board.

Mindy Gooch and her journalist husband James are not of the same type of breeding as the rest of the One Fifth Avenue residents; thus the reason Mindy spends so much time trying to stop each and every idea they try to implement. And as the head of the board, Mindy has the ability to put up a good fight; but not good enough.

When Louise Houghton, a true Queen of New York Society passes on, leaving a vacant apartment within One Fifth, Mindy wants nothing more than to scoop it up; but alas, she lacks the funds. Hedge-funder Paul Rice and his beautiful, if not slightly plain, attorney wife Annalisa, on the other hand, are quite well-endowed. For them, $15 million dollars is pocket change; and so, they invest in the swankiest apartment in the building. Mindy could not be more pleased; after all, if she can't have it, the highest bidder should. But when Paul attempts to install a wall-unit air conditioner in his new abode, Mindy doesn't let it fly, and Paul, unused to being told no, wages a war that slowly but surely drags each and every One Fifth resident into battle. Something that aging actress Schiffer Diamond wants absolutely no part of.

Schiffer Diamond was all the rage years ago, but she fled New York City for the bright lights of Los Angeles under the guise of furthering her career. In all actuality, her goal was to escape from the up and down relationship she shared with screenwriter Philip Oakland - a man whom she still carries a torch for. When the opportunity to work on a new TV show presents itself, Schiffer leaves her LA life behind to head back to the Big Apple, One Fifth, and...old flame Philip.

Philip Oakland has never gotten over Schiffer Diamond. Women have come and gone from his life over the years, but it is Schiffer who has forever stayed on his mind. When he learns that she's returning to New York - specifically, One Fifth - there's a small flicker of hope that the two of them may have the chance to rekindle their romance; until twenty-something Lola Fabrikant enters the picture.

Lola is a gold-digger of the worst possible kind. A supposed Southern Belle from Atlanta, Lola is a cunning girl who will do anything and everything to claw her way to the top and claim her title as the next Carrie Bradshaw; and if she happens to snag herself a billionaire during her climb...even better. When she begins successfully seducing Philip, Lola believes that she is on the road to accomplishing her goal. But there's someone who won't let that happen...

...gossip columnist Enid Merle, Philip's Aunt and fellow One Fifth resident can see right through Lola Fabrikant. As a wealthy individual who built herself up from scratch, she has no respect for a girl who uses her body to get what she wants, and refuses to give the budding relationship between Philip and Lola her blessing. Rather, she is determined to push Lola as far out of the picture as possible; and, while she's at it, bring Schiffer and Philip together once and for all.

One thing that I have come to associate with Candace Bushnell during the course of the years that I have been reading her work is that she never ceases to amaze you. While the characters who star within the pages of Sex and the City, Lipstick Jungle, Trading Up, and 4 Blondes all share common traits and characteristics; not a single one of them has mimicked another, where you feel as if their persona has been done before. Each and every one of them has a uniqueness about their personality, even if it's just a single trait, that sets them apart from one another, and keeps the storyline fresh, fun, and fabulous - as visible within One Fifth Avenue.

As per usual, Bushnell has crafted a story not unlike a soap opera, with an eclectic cast, all of whom draw out such powerful emotions in the reader, making you feel as if you are a part of the story; something that doesn't happen everyday. You love them, you loathe them, you want to see them fail, you want to see them succeed. Bushnell brings these people to life in a way that makes them seem real. As if you'll pass them in the hallway on your way to the office or the corner store. They are not simply characters, they are true individuals; and it is that quality that keeps you turning the pages. Stock up on supplies; you won't be leaving the house until you've read every last word!

Erika Sorocco
Café Fashionista
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2011 5:47 AM PST


Cook the Books (Gourmet Girl Mysteries)
Cook the Books (Gourmet Girl Mysteries)
by Susan Conant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.96
66 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filling and fabulous...what more could you possibly ask for?, March 24, 2010
Having finally made it to her second year of graduate school, you'd think that Boston's Chloe Carter would be over the moon and showering herself with praise, presents, and blissful desserts - after all, she is a food connoisseur with a healthy appetite. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. Yes, she may have her education under control, but every other aspect of her life is in complete disarray.

As if it isn't bad enough that her beloved boyfriend Josh basically abandoned her by picking up and fleeing Boston's brutal weather to take up residence in sunny Hawaii working as the personal chef to a couple sitting pretty on a pile of money; Chloe has now found herself in the throes of financial trouble courtesy of the lavish gifts she finds herself incapable of bestowing upon her godson Patrick. Rather than cutback on her spending habits, however, Chloe decides to do the unthinkable and snag herself a part-time job - and she finds the absolute perfect one as the assistant to handsome Kyle Boucher, a cookbook writer putting together a recipe book featuring cooking secrets from some of Boston's most brilliant chefs.

Despite the fact that she is forced to deal with some of Josh's best buddies, Chloe is convinced that the position was tailor-made with her in mind; and believes that she can contribute a great deal to the project. That is, until she finds herself in a gruesome situation when she arrives at the apartment of Josh's loudmouth pal Digger, only to find his humble abode, and his body, burnt to a crisp.

Chloe knows Digger well enough to feel certain that he would never allow himself to fall victim to a grease fire. In her mind there's no question about it...Digger was murdered; and she's determined to uncover the killer. But with so many people harboring ill will towards the lovable ladies man, doing so may prove to be more challenging than anything Chloe has ever encountered before; not to mention dangerous. For if Chloe doesn't catch the killer soon, the killer may just catch her.

I have been cheering Chloe on since we were first introduced to one another via Steamed (A Gourmet Girl Mystery) in 2006. In the four installments prior to Cook the Books (Gourmet Girls Mysteries), mother-daughter duo Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant have painted the classy Chloe as a feisty firecracker; Cook the Books (Gourmet Girls Mysteries), however, greets us with a slightly different side of Chloe, highlighting her compassion towards her friends, in addition to a softer side of her personality courtesy of her recent heartbreak - all of which appears more prominent based upon the darker storyline.

Cook the Books (Gourmet Girls Mysteries) takes readers behind the scenes of the restaurant business, showcasing the spite, bitter feelings, and hostility that underlie the niceties which take place in the world of cooking; yet despite the animosity and anger found upon each page, Conant-Park and Conant put forth a story that is not only engrossing, but brimming with a cast of characters that you truly can't help but to love - and, at times, loathe. Filling and fabulous...what more could you possibly ask for?

Erika Sorocco
Café Fashionista


Airhead: Book 1
Airhead: Book 1
by Meg Cabot
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.30
231 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars ...prepare to be won over!, March 17, 2010
This review is from: Airhead: Book 1 (Hardcover)
Unlike the hordes of screaming teeny boppers vying for a glimpse of British heartthrob Gabriel Luna and teen supermodel Nikki Howard, sixteen-year-old Emerson "Em" Watts had absolutely no desire to find herself being pushed and shoved at the grand opening of the SoHo Stark Megastore; nevertheless, as the bearer of a male name bestowed upon her at birth by an eccentric English literature professor father who desired a son yet wound up with a daughter, Em is quite well-versed in the fact that one does not always have a say in what life has in store for them. And for Em, the powers that be apparently had misery in mind; for when her younger sister Frida announces that she wants to attend the event, Em is saddled with the task of looking after her. If only she had known back then that she was the one who needed looking after.

A tomboy and self-professed nerd who has never been kissed, Em would far rather spend her hours playing video games, or gazing in adoration at her best-friend-slash-secret-crush-slash-love-of-her-life Christopher than waste precious moments beautifying herself so that she can resemble the "Walking Dead" (her pet name for the popular crowd at Tribeca Alternative High School); so when she wakes up in the body of gorgeous Nikki Howard after a period of being dead, not only is she plagued with issues regarding identity, but must now attempt to learn a lifetime's worth of beauty secrets so that she can play the role of Nikki to a T - something that Em is unsure she wants to do.

Nikki is everything that Em aspires not to be. As the new face of Stark, Nikki is the designer dress wearing Queen of the Walking Dead, with a bevy of cute boys following in her footsteps, and a jaw-dropping bank account. At sixteen-years-old, she may have the ability to effortlessly sashay in six-inch heels, but she is the epitome of vain, vapid, and self-obsessed - at least as far as Em is concerned. But, as with so many other things in life, Em has no say in the matter; she must be Nikki, because her former self...is gone.

As someone who has literally grown-up alongside Meg Cabot's fictional characters, I have seen the author try her hand at every genre from modern-day fairytales a la reluctant Princess Mia Thermopolis of The Princess Diaries to (my personal favorite) historical/paranormal fiction in the form of Avalon High. In my opinion Cabot has succeeded in all venues; Airhead, her first attempt at science fiction, is no different.

More America's Next Top Model - Cycle 1 than Frankenstein (Penguin Classics); Airhead brings disbelief to the forefront via subject matter that is farfetched and unrealistic - yet, as with all of Cabot's literary efforts, proves to be both engrossing and captivating courtesy of its winning cast of characters.

Em is quite likable, displaying a slightly defiant, brazen attitude like that of Kat Stratford of 10 Things I Hate About You (Two Disc Special Edition - Includes DVD & Digital Copy); mixed with Lilly Moscovitz's (The Princess Diaries) sharp tongue; though it is Nikki's BFF Lulu who truly steals the show with her offbeat views and philosophies on everything from skin care to romance. Yes, the storyline is bizarre. Yes, the storyline is outlandish. But it's Meg Cabot; therefore, prepare to be won over!

Erika Sorocco
Café Fashionista


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