Customer Review

436 of 453 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In a word: bland, July 11, 2012
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This review is from: Cupcakes and Cashmere: A Guide for Defining Your Style, Reinventing Your Space, and Entertaining with Ease (Hardcover)
The thing I love best about this book is its name. Cupcakes and Cashmere brings to mind a frothy femininity, a combination of childlike delight and sophisticated luxury. I am always up for defining my style, reinventing my space and entertaining with ease, so this book shot to the top of my "must preorder" list. Emily Schuman's blog is a charming combination of fashion, decorating, cooking, and all the usual blogging arts. This seemed like a sure thing!

Alas, it's the kind of book you give an awkward preteen so she learns to put on eyeshadow correctly without looking like a raccoon. (Except it also talks about spiking Kool-aid with tequila, so don't actually give this to a kid.) The advice is painfully basic. If we didn't know that evening sandals are more formal than sneakers, Ms. Schuman lays this out in a chart for us. We also learn how to put on our lipstick, blow-dry our hair and paint our nails. ("I usually try to do one [coat] down the middle and one on either side," she coaches.) Perhaps in a future volume she'll share secrets on tying our shoelaces or brushing our teeth.

Well, perhaps I'm being unkind. I'm obviously not the intended audience for this book. The photography is lovely, if a touch blurry. I was pleased to see a section on handwritten thank-you notes, and I enjoyed the section on posing for photographs. The colors are soft and lovely throughout, as you'd expect from the pretty pictures on the blog. Ms. Schuman comes across as a sincere girl-next-door who genuinely wants to help bring out the best in others. I also liked that this book isn't overly brand conscious; you won't come away feeling like you have to rob a bank if you want to live the lifestyle presented here.

The real issue is that Ms. Schuman is not extraordinarily good at any of the things she writes about. She is pretty and dresses well, but she hasn't got the experience to walk other people through a top-to-bottom makeover. Her makeup and hair look fine, but she hasn't got any pro tips to share. The simple recipes are undoubtedly delicious, but she's hardly a chef. ("Summer pasta with tomatoes, basil and brie" sounded so promising, but the instructions are basically: cook pasta. Add tomatoes, basil and brie.) The author simply is not an authority in any of these areas, nor does she have that special spark that can make a novice perspective fresh and enchanting. She gives instructions where she should be giving insight and advice; this book is all what and no why. There is a play-it-safe timidness throughout.

By the way, cupcakes do make an appearance towards the end; they're made from a box mix. "I always keep one yellow and one chocolate on hand," she confides. I think that pretty much sums it up!
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 12, 2012 1:32:14 PM PDT
R. Williams says:
No, what the title brings to mind for me is people fetishizing sugar while goats are being tortured.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2012 1:57:43 PM PDT
moi surtout says:
I guess "Sunflower Seeds and Sackcloth" was lacking fashionista appeal.

But point taken - recommend me some good vegan style books?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2012 2:31:21 PM PDT
R. Williams says:
Haha.. like that.

Let me see if I can find. I don't have anything against cupcakes, and I should have up voted your review, because I do appreciate when people help sift out the books that are really just mercenary rehashes.. thanks.

Posted on Jul 18, 2012 12:52:51 PM PDT
A. Moore says:
While I too love her Cupcakes and Cashmere blog and was considering this book - your review definitely cleared up that. Thank you so much for the very well written and highly informative review. I'll continue to follow her blog....just not buy her book.

Posted on Jul 28, 2012 3:43:24 PM PDT
J. Nguyen says:
you pretty much summed up how i feel about her blog. everything is very simple and nothing very original. I don't think she's ever posted her own original recipe to my knowledge. i guess when you have to pay actual money to read it is where the problem lies for most people.

yet i am strangely addicted to her blog O_o

Posted on Jul 28, 2012 10:23:12 PM PDT
nevey says:
Perhaps in a future volume she'll share secrets on tying our shoelaces or brushing our teeth.

Thank you - that bit made me laugh out loud! :)

Posted on Aug 1, 2012 7:33:07 AM PDT
While I enjoy the blog, I was hoping she would give more in the book that we did already know but I'll admit I'm not surprised. Thanks for your honest and entertaining review, I think I'll wait until it's on clearance!

Posted on Sep 18, 2012 9:40:24 AM PDT
N. Vu says:
I knew it. I would never buy her book. Reading her blog is enough - i am not looking for any real makeover, only inspirations here and there. I like her commitment as a full time blogger, the time she puts in every post and the consistency of everything. That's good enough for a daily blog read.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2012 7:25:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2012 7:38:50 PM PDT
Arjaween says:
Thank you for this great review! Her blog is bland as well.

Posted on Dec 1, 2012 5:24:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2012 5:26:01 PM PST
Scandia says:
I would add also: the Summer Pasta with Tomatoes and Brie is lifted right out of the Silver Palate cookbook. And frankly (this is a rather petty thing -- so sue me) I was irritated by the fact that she is in the EXACT SAME contrived pose in practically every single full-length photo. The leaning left/ head tilted right / one foot turned in pigeontoed stance is obviously what she thinks is flattering and cute -- but to me, it makes her look like she has curvature of the spine!
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