An Excellent Cupcake:

HFVBT Book Tour Review: The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee

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My Review:

First, of all-I absolutely loved the title and cover of this book!  I’m a huge fan of artwork, and when it represents the storyline so perfectly-it immediately grabs my interest!

In the beginning, Betsy is just a “typewriter girl”.  Typing away, with all the other women in a factory.  It reminded me of the stories my MIL has told me, when she lived in Mexico and trained as a receptionist.  Every day, she had to wear heels, a little hat, black skirt with a white blouse, and gloves…just like Betsy (minus the hat).  It was all about appearance, as much as it was work ethic, so I was instantly able to picture the factory that Betsy worked in- long hours, little pay, and no recognition.  To this day, she still remembers how to write short hand!

I loved the book from the start.  The setting is during a time when women were working, but really just “staying busy”, until they are married and have children.  Betsy Dobson is the girl that breaks all the rules, finds her way amongst a male dominated world, and rises to the top because of hard work and sheer determination.  Betsy had a canary, that she takes with her everywhere. I cringed every time she called his name, “Thief”, but in some way it seemed quite fitting.  While Betsy isn’t a thief, she definitely changes her life, her story, to get a job that will hopefully change her future because her past is a place she doesn’t want to revisit again.  In her past, she had to give so much of herself, that in her future- she is not willing to give any of herself that she doesn’t want to.  It’s on her terms, this time.

What was most interesting, is that Alison Atlee writes this story from the Victorian era, but aside from the dresses and formal wear- Alison peels away the curtain and shows the gritty side to that time period with the language, the complex characters who are trying to make a better life, and fit in during a time when appearances were everything.

An interesting note, is that Alison creates a new place: Idensea (although I kept reading it as Indonesia), reminded me of the Grand Hotel (from the movie, Somewhere in Time).  The magical feel of the place, the different activities, and big events…just made me want to go there!

An excellent book with complex characters, who are misfits, trying to find their place and move up in their world!

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*Thank you to HFVBT for providing me the opportunity to read this book, in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author03_Alison Atlee

Alison Atlee spent her childhood re-enacting Little Women and trying to fashion nineteenth century wardrobes for her Barbie dolls. Happily, these activities turned out to be good preparation for writing historical novels. She now lives in Kentucky.

For more information please visit Alison Atlee’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

The Typewriter Girl Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, August 4
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Mina’s Bookshelf
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 5
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews (Print)
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, August 7
Book Blast at Mari Reads
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, August 8
Book Blast at Book Blast Central

Saturday, August 9
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Sunday, August 10
Book Blast at Book Nerd

Monday, August 11
Review at Just One More Chapter (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books

Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, August 13
Review at Historical Tapestry (Audio Book)
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, August 14
Review at A Bookish Affair (Print)
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Friday, August 15
Review at Brooke Blogs (Audio Book)
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Saturday, August 16
Book Blast at Broken Teepee

Sunday, August 17
Interview at Closed the Cover

Monday, August 18
Review at The Maiden’s Court (Audio Book)

Tuesday, August 19
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Always with a Book

Wednesday, August 20
Book Blast at Literary, Etc.

Thursday, August 21
Book Blast at Bibliotica

Friday, August 22
Review at Bibliophilia, Please (Audio Book)

Saturday, August 23
Book Blast at Reading Lark
Book Blast at Ageless Pages Reviews

Sunday, August 24
Book Blast at Passages to the Past

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, August 26
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, August 28
Review at Luxury Reading (Print)
Review at The True Book Addict (Audio Book)
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (Print)

Friday, August 29
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Books in the Burbs (Print)

 

The Typewriter Girl Swag Giveaway

One copy of The Typewriter Girl (Audio Book or Print)
Set of earbuds in a cute typewriter print pouch
A Typewriter Girl Happily-Ever-After t-shirt (features last lines from famous novels)
A vintage style postcard “from” Idensea, the setting of The Typewriter Girl
A “dream wildly” ribbon bookmark with typewriter key charms

To enter, please click on this link.

Giveaway is open to residents in the US, Canada, and the UK.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 30th and notified via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

TLC Book Review: Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes

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My Review:

This book is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary!  For a book to be 10 years old and to still be ever so funny and relevant, says a lot about Plum Sykes quality of writing.

the perfect book to read between some serious reads!  I loved this book, as it reminded me so much of one of my all time favorite books: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann.  It’s a book about the kind of people that “people like us” are sickened by because of how fake they are, but yet we still watch those reality shows about them and read the tabloids. Told with wonderful 1990’s detail, readers will love the way Plum Sykes brings a modern twist to living in New York.  I couldn’t help but think of the NY heiresses, Paris and Nicky Hilton, Aly Hilfiger, the Clarin sisters, etc.

The storyline is funny-trading a handbag for a PH (potential husband), and trading crystal facials for a fiancé to get that “glow”.  I love how quickly the storyline moves, the characters are really interesting, which makes for a fun read, and it’s a book that many will love who enjoy the Chick-lit genre and love books told in a comedic way about the tales of the “oh-so glamorous”, who are really just girls with lots of money trying to have it all.

The only issue is the overuse of acronyms.  It’s was hard to understand initially, but after awhile, it was easy to figure out.  Just stay with it, it is worth the light read!

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*This book was provided through TLC Book Tours and its publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Plum Sykes

Plum Sykes was born in London and educated at Oxford. The author of the novels Bergdorf Blondes and The Debutante Divorcée and the Kindle Single memoir Oxford Girl, she is a contributing editor at American Vogue, where she writes about fashion, society, and Hollywood. She has also written for Vanity Fair. She lives in the English countryside with her husband and two daughters.

Plum’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 19th: A Bookish Way of Life – Bergdorf Blondes

Thursday, August 21st: booknerd – Bergdorf Blondes

Friday, August 22nd: Drey’s Library – The Debutante Divorcee

Monday, August 25th: Carpe Libros – The Debutante Divorcee

Tuesday, August 26th: Books in the Burbs – Bergdorf Blondes

Wednesday, August 27th: Book by Book – Bergdorf Blondes

Thursday, August 28th: Reading in Black & White – Bergdorf Blondes

Thursday, August 28th: From the TBR Pile – Bergdorf Blondes

Monday, September 1st: A Bookish Way of Life – The Debutante Divorcee

Tuesday, September 2nd: Drey’s Library – Bergdorf Blondes

Wednesday, September 3rd: Reading in Black & White – The Debutante Divorcee

Thursday, September 4th: booknerd – The Debutante Divorcee

Monday, September 8th: Mom in Love With Fiction – Bergdorf Blondes

Tuesday, September 9th: Staircase Wit – Bergdorf Blondes

Wednesday, September 10th: Reads for Pleasure – Bergdorf Blondes

Thursday, September 11th: BookNAround – Bergdorf Blondes

Tuesday, September 16th: Cruising Susan Reviews – Bergdorf Blondes

Wednesday, September 17th: A Book Geek – Bergdorf Blondes

Thursday, September 18th: Books à la Mode – Bergdorf Blondes

Thursday, September 18th: Book by Book – The Debutante Divorcee

TBD: Books in the Burbs – The Debutante Divorcee

TBD: Cruising Susan Reviews – The Debutante Divorcee

Book Review: Nest by Esther Ehrlich

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my book thoughts

It has been awhile since I’ve read a Middle Grade/Children’s book.  I was drawn to this book because of the synopsis, which you can read by clicking on the book cover.  The book is told through the point of view of Naomi (who is called by her nickname “Chirp).  Chirp is obsessed with birds and loves reading about them, studying them, and locating them by her house.

Chirp is the typical 11 year old girl, who develops a friendship with one of the boys down her street, which she handles delicately because he is known as the school bully.  Her mom, a beautiful dancer, that she strives to please is diagnosed with a disease that in the 70’s wasn’t as treatable as it is today.  Chirp, her sister (the rebellious teenager), and her father (the psychiatrist).

At first, I didn’t feel the book had enough detail about the mom’s emotional and physical issues and how it truly impacted the marriage and parent/child relationship.  Why? Well, because I am so used to reading YA and Women’s fiction.  Then, I remembered this is for young children, middle school readers, and even high schoolers.  Although, I have a feeling anyone will love this book because Esther truly captures the youthful spirit and hopes/desires of a young little girl, who shows us how she makes sense of what is happening to her family.  Chirp is so innocent, so precious, that you just want to hold her and never let her go.

Young readers will relate to Chirp, love the relationship between her and her sister, understand how she feels about her mom’s diagnosis, and enjoy the friendship she develops with Joey.

Older readers will love the innocence Chirp brings, love the nods to the 70’s and vinyl records, and have a better appreciation for the way Chirp understands and experiences the family challenges and shifts in the family dynamics.  Most importantly, it will open a window into the eyes of a child and hopefully have families talk more, share more, and learn more from one another.

This is a book of hope, in the midst of tragedy, and is a beautifully written story!

 

excellent cupcake 5  *This book was provided through NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

Book Review: The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

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I loved this book! There was so much mystery surrounding the truths behind the “suicide” of Riley’s sister, Lisa.  It was a novel that definitely kept me turning each page, with increasing curiosity, as I learn the truth behind Lisa’s suicide and fatal accident, Riley’s mom, and the many secrets that the MacPherson parents died with.

It’s definitely a page turner and will keep everyone on their toes, trying to connect to the missing pieces as Diane Chamberlain slowly reveals little hidden truths along the way.  I read this book in about a couple of days and loved that the ending didn’t end so nicely.  Rather, there are some loose ends and I do hope that Diane Chamberlain will consider writing a sequel.

The only thing I didn’t like too much was the title.  I didn’t feel the title reflected the storyline because both sisters were not very quiet, rather the opposite.  Although, one sister was more hidden.  Nonetheless, it’s a fantastic book!

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She Reads July Book Club of the Month: That Night by Chevy Stevens

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Click here to win a copy of this fantastic book!

Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 384
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller

Synopsis:

They said she was a murderer.

They said she killed her sister.

But they lied.

As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

my book thoughts

Have you ever read a book that was from a genre you don’t typically read, and when you do, it’s the book that busts wide open your interest in that genre??  Well, this book absolutely did!  I do read Mystery Thriller books, but it’s not often, so I was amazingly surprised at how incredible this book was.  Chevy Stevens delivers a brilliant book to readers, who will be on the edge of their seat the whole time!
The storyline is real, raw, and the character development is detailed.  While each character is developed, the action and drama is what drives this book home.  It’s a book that will definitely deals with complex issues of: family, parenting, perfect child vs. troublemaker, mean girls, social injustice, abuse of power, sexual abuse, and murder.

Tori is the “troublemaker” daughter, who has been recently released from prison.  She and her boyfriend, charged with the murder of her younger sister, and is shunned by her community and family.  While Toni just wants to move on with her life and forget about the past, Ryan wants to know who framed them and why.  The secrets that are unveiled are unexpected, sad, horrific, and in the end…the readers are left with a little hope.

Brilliantly written, it’s a book that deserves to be a “Summer Must Read!” I would love to share more about Tori’s family, but doing so, would give too much away to the storyline.  This is the book your book club needs to read, because the discussions will be endless!!!

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*A huge thanks to the publisher and She Reads for allowing me the opportunity review this book!

 

Chevy Stevens. Photo Credit Poppy Photography

CHEVY STEVENS grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for Still Missing.Chevy eventually sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. Still Missing went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.  Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.

Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.

 

 

Quick Reviews for Books I’ve Read This Summer

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It doesn’t always happen, but with the recent health issues I’ve had, being homebound has allowed me the opportunity to read more than I have in a long time.  Reading has been the silver lining, this summer.  Usually, summer is the time when I read from my TBR list, which I have yet to touch! I think most readers can relate-but it seems my TBR list is always expanding!!!  With new releases each week, it can be overwhelming to keep up with!

Below are some books I’ve read-so far!  If you click on the picture of each book, it will take you book page, so that you can read the synopsis.

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This is a story that reads almost like a mystery, because Olivia has to piece together the events that happened before the fatal death of her estranged friend, Sally.  I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Sally and Olivia (before they became adults), and could certainly relate to having that “crazy friend”-who goes off the edge.  Eleanor Moran doesn’t give all the details in order, with the story changing from past to present, which made the book even more fascinating to read!  I love a great mystery, wrapped up in a novel that has a little bit of everything: widowhood, survivor’s guilt, infidelity, friendships, lies and betrayal, and a little romance.  The reader is given one piece of the puzzle, in random order, as each piece slowly takes shape to reveal the hidden truths that were there the whole time.

I loved Madeline and felt her emotions were true to that of a child, who deals with the loss of her parent.  She is angry, distant, reluctant, and slowly opens her heart to the possibilities of loving and honoring her mother, while also accepting a new beginning.  My heart ached for her, as she struggles to balance her faithfulness to her mom, while also learning to accept someone else in her life.  It isn’t until the very end that Moran reveals to the reader and Sally’s family-the reason for Sally’s demise and “crazy behavior”, which came as a shock but then made sense!  Eleanor Moran nails the psychological issues Sally faces and the internal struggles she dealt with and the demons that she faced.

While there were times that it seemed Olivia was in a trance and did whatever William wanted, it seemed that in some cosmic weird way that Sally wanted things to evolve as they do and that in the end, she could rest in peace knowing those she loved were all together.

It’s an excellent read!  I read this one quite quickly because  I wanted to know what happens!  Most of all, I love the style of writing Eleanor Manor has in this book-as it was a puzzle that slowly connects and reveals all the hidden secrets that the characters have.  Those who love books about mental illness, family secrets/relationships, and friendships, will certainly love this book!

excellent cupcake 5  *A huge thank you to the publisher for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

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Let’s face it.  The book cover doesn’t scream, “READ ME!”.  But….don’t let that deter you from reading it!  Once you’ve read it, you will completely understand the cover and appreciate it that much more.  This book is a traditional thriller book.  It has mystery, electric energy that intensifies as each chapter is read, murder, possible suspects and motives, and psychological drama that will have your head spinning!  It’s definitely one of my best picks for 2014, because it the kind of book that any reader will enjoy.

You love history? Check.

You love murder mystery? Check.

You love reading about an underdog protagonist that has a secret? Check.

You want to read a book that you won’t be able to put down? Check.

You want a book that has to deal with sociopaths, psychological issues? Check.

You want a book that intensifies as each chapter is read? Check.

This book has it all.  There is so much detail, that Lisa Unger leaves no stone uncovered.  She weaves this incredible story, with two alternating voices.  Whose voice is the second? That ‘s one of the mysteries!  I absolutely loved this book, couldn’t put it down, and read this book in 1 day.  That is really unheard for me, and being sick, I actually read this book with a migraine.  I literally read with one eye closed at times because my head hurt….but I needed to know what happened! Yeah, this book is that fantastic.  Add it to your TBR list, or better yet, just stop what you are reading and grab this book!  It’s that good.

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided for review, courtesy of the publisher.

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This is a book that starts out quite intense.  Clarissa is a girl that people either can relate to because they see parts of themselves in her, or know someone who is like her.  Either way, Clarissa will be someone that will bring out strong emotions in the reader.  Clarissa is the typical victim: she is isolated, wants to have a relationship but doesn’t know how to set boundaries because she has self-esteem issues, and doesn’t know who to trust.  There are so many issues Clarissa is challenged with, because of the torment she endures from her predator (Rafe).  The reader is taken on a journey of the psychological trauma and prison a person can get entrapped in, and how it slowly strips everything from the victim, to a point of panic.  It’s an incredible book that shows that cycles repeat, until the victim takes control and makes a shift mentally.

If you or someone you know is feeling threatened, in an unsafe situation, or needs to talk to someone, please call the Crisis Hotline!

1.800.273.8255

24/7, anytime, anywhere.

great cupcake 4  *This book was provided through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

She Reads May & June Books of the Month

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May turned out to be one crazy, busy, but wonderful month! My youngest son received his driver’s license!! My oldest son graduated from high school, with honors, and we had many celebrations for that!  We had a wonderful visit with family, from Tennessee, and it seems that before I knew it-May had already come and gone!

With that, I did not do much reading that month! However, I sure have made up for it, during the month of June!  Below are the book reviews for the books of the month, through She Reads.

 

May Book of the Month:

Synopsis:

On a sultry summer’s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again.

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can t she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her?my book thoughts

The title and cover didn’t grab my interest too much, so it’s not a book that I would have gravitated towards on my own.  However, I am SO glad that She Reads selected this book as our May selection.  This is one of those moments: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!

From the moment I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. I read the book in about 2 nights, with me sneaking a chapter or two throughout the day.  While the setting is 1980, it felt more like 1960/1970’s.  I think that is why the book seemed real to me, because I kept imagining the time period a little more dated.  With 5 college friends deciding to turn away from the world, they decide to live on a lake, in a run down cottage.  With drug infused moments and “free” love, the group of 5 all find themselves in a situation that will challenge their friendships and loyalties.

Told in alternating viewpoints, Hannah Richell weaves together this incredible story that will make readers stop doing chores, not want to go on Disney rides, and be willing to sit in the heat for hours, if only to read a few pages.  Oh wait….that was me!  LOL!

Okay, back to the review….

One of the main characters, Kat, is disillusioned with her love for Simon, will do whatever she needs to so that she earn his love and will risk the lives of those closest to her.  She will definitely not be someone that readers will align themselves with-which I love that Richell creates this character whose voice readers have to hear-in order to know what happens next! Readers won’t be able to just close the book without knowing what happens next.

Lila is a character that many will feel compassion towards to and will root for, as she figures out the fate of her marriage, comes to terms with her miscarriage, and finds answers to what happened during that “Shadow Year”.

This book can easily have a sequel, as I would love to know what happens! It’s an excellent book for book clubs to discuss, dissect the characters, and find closure with what happens at the end!  This is a book that will stir emotions for readers, will keep them up late at night reading, and will ultimately be a fantastic summer read!

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* A huge thanks to She Reads and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

June Book of the Month:

During the month of June, She Reads gave the bloggers a month off!  However, we also had the opportunity to read a book, from a selection of titles.  I chose one that I loved!

 Synopsis:

A novel based on the true story behind Jacqueline Kennedy’s iconic pink suit.

On November 22, 1963, the First Lady accompanied her husband to Dallas, Texas, dressed in a pink Chanel-style suit that was his favorite. Much of her wardrobe, including the pink suit, came from the New York boutique Chez Ninon, where a young seamstress, an Irish immigrant named Kate, worked behind the scenes to meticulously craft the memorable outfits.

While the two women never met, Kate knew every tuck and pleat of the First Lady’s polished, perfect image. When the pink suit Kate created becomes iconic for all the wrong reasons, her already fragile world–divided between the excess and artistry of Chez Ninon and the traditional values of her insular neighborhood–threatens to rip apart.

The Pink Suit is the unforgettable story of an ordinary young woman with extraordinary access to glamour and fashion, living in an America on the brink of transformation.

my book thoughts

I love Coco Channel and have read books on her, seen movies about her, and even have her perfume: Coco Mademoiselle!  So, it was a real treat to find her among the pages of this fantastic book!  I am not a fashionista, by any means.  I am not the shopper, who can look at clothes for hours on end.  I don’t even like looking at the magazines, with just pictures of fashion.  I just love to read the articles! I love to read, period.

So, this book was a departure of books I typically am interested in.  However, I have always been fascinated with “The Kennedy’s”, especially Jacqueline Kennedy.  Nicole Kelby writes an incredibly amazing storyline that really does revolve around the making of the “pink suit”.  However, this book also has more!  The story also includes a love story, the struggles of an Irish immigrant couple, and the beginning of unions, in the streets of New York.

Told with such vivid detail, this book comes to life as readers are introduced to Kate.  She is the seamstress, who is assigned to replicate the masterpiece, that was first crafted by Coco Channel.  As the country deals with employment hours, wages, and job availability, “The Wife” buckles under the pressure of buying French couture.  Her staff hires Chez Ninon, an American stylist, who then has to find a way to remake the iconic suit.

I was amazed at the detail the garment took, the fittings that took place in secret, and how this suit becomes the garment most people associate with The First Lady.  There is so much interesting information, weaved into a fantastic storyline, that it is a book many will certainly enjoy!! Readers do not need to be fashionistas.  The storyline becomes a way to capture this one suit in time, and thread by thread, weaves the story with a love story and a way to celebrate American art.

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