Thursday, 31 January 2013

{review} Chanel Bonfire by Wendy Lawless

Chanel Bonfire by Wendy Lawless
Hardcover304 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Gallery Books

A stunning memoir about an actress's unconventional, heartbreaking childhood with an unstable alcoholic and suicidal mother — a real-life Holly Golightly turned Mommie Dearest — and the unusual strength that allowed her to rise above it all.

By the time Wendy Lawless turned seventeen, she'd known for quite some time that she didn't have a normal mother. But that didn't stop her from wanting one.

Georgann Rea didn't bake cookies or go to PTA meetings; she wore a mink coat and always had a lit Dunhill plugged into her cigarette holder. She had slept with too many men, and some women, and she didn't like dogs or children. Georgann had the ice queen beauty of a Hitchcock heroine and the cold heart to match.

In this evocative, darkly humorous memoir, Wendy deftly charts the highs and lows of growing up with her younger sister in the shadow of an unstable, fabulously neglectful mother. Georgann, a real-life Holly Golightly who constantly reinvents herself as she trades up from trailer-park to penthouse, suffers multiple nervous breakdowns and suicide attempts, while Wendy tries to hide the cracks in their fractured family from the rest of the world.

Chanel Bonfire depicts a childhood blazed through the refined aeries of The Dakota and the swinging townhouses of London, while the girls' beautiful but damned mother desperately searches for glamour and fulfillment. Ultimately, they must choose between living their own lives and being their mother's warden.


When I was a teenager, I was more than just a pain in the ass.  It was more than just the usual teenage girl drama - I was a royal bitch.  I thought my parents were insane.  I thought I was insane.  To be honest and fair, we all were.  I had issues they didn't know how to deal with, or even diagnose for a long time.  And surprisingly, my parents were also human and also had issues that THEY didn't know how to deal with.  So we all lived together, ignoring issues and fighting insanely, alternating between tears and hugs like it was a normal thing.

Now, I consider my parents some of my best friends.  If you had told me when I was 14 that I would ever consider my mom my best friend, I probably would have laughed hysterically in my matching wolf sweater and sweat pants.  

This story is NOTHING like that.  

I was ecstatic when NetGalley approved me for this book, as I have a morbid fascination with any stories involving less than stellar childhoods.  Makes me feel less alone, y'know?

Chanel Bonfire does not in any way read like a memoir.  It feels more like your best friend telling you a story, interrupting her constantly to scream "THEN WHAT HAPPENED?" as you sit wide eyed and alert, waiting impatiently to hear what craziness occurs next.

I found myself constantly walking the line of feeling sorry for the insanity Wendy lived with for so long, and never wanting her to stop telling more of her mother's crazy moments.  She tells this story so lyrically that it's more than easy to forget this is above all, a true story.  

After finishing this book, I had a big urge to tell my no-longer-as-crazy parents that I loved them.  Unfortunately, that urge occurred just as my visiting mother and father had a very Constanza-like moment in my tiny apartment, yelling from different rooms about where my new coffee maker should go, and no one heard me say "Um, on the shelf maybe?  And by the way, I love you guys.  "

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

{review} Snowbound With A Stranger by Rebecca Rogers Maher

Kindle Edition73 pages
Published May 28th 2012 by Carina Press

Dannie Marino is hiking with colleagues when a sudden blizzard separates her from her group. She's rescued by Lee, a dangerously sexy stranger who leads her to a remote cabin to weather the storm.

When the night inevitably ends in an intense erotic encounter, Dannie is both shocked and liberated by her response. But being intimate means letting herself be vulnerable, which isn't her style. Lee tries to reach out to her, but she avoids any emotional entanglement by pushing him away.

Snowed in and unable to hide from each other, Dannie and Lee must both face up to their most closely guarded emotions. When the storm abates, will they be able to stop running from the past and live fully in the future

It's no secret that during the initial stages of my divorce, I holed up in the dining slash guest room of my parents cottage in the middle of semi-nowhere.  Cottage is the word we use to dress the place up a bit - it's really a cabin.  A three season one, not really meant for inhabiting during the extreme Winter weather.  Usually, that's when my parents are in Florida and the place is shut off and locked up tight until Spring.  But when their favourite child goes through a horrible time and needs a place to stay, there we are, stuck in a barely winterized cabin in the middle of February.   

It was a lovely time.  Really.  Frozen water pipes and cold toes really just added to the experience of realizing my life just months prior was the biggest load of bullshit I could have imagined.  I spent a lot of my time walking the dogs in the woods, sobbing my eyes out as I trudged through snow banks two feet deep.

This novella was nothing like that.  Thankfully.

There were a few things I quite enjoyed about this book, starting with the setting.  I could almost hear the porch creaking with Dannie's footsteps, or the sound cold wooden walls make when they're met with heat from a fireplace.  

Another enjoyable factor?  The characters themselves.  I liked that both Dannie and Lee were older than the average couple in an average romance.   I liked the realistic emotional baggage carried by both.  

I'm going to admit that I wasn't down with the name Lee as a sexy one - I've only known a handful of Lee's, and one of them had the secret nickname Penis Head - and not just because he acted like a prick.  But as the story moved, I thought less of Penis Head Lee, and more about sexy, quiet, brooding, strong Lee.  Yum.

I'd like to be stranded in my cabin with this Lee.  Unfortunately, the men that live in that area either didn't resemble Lee in any way, or stayed the hell away from the redhead crying her eyes out in the snowy woods.  Smart men.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

{issue 1} Coffee & Conversation

That's a photograph of me.  And the side of my boob.  With my awesome hair all flowy and did, as compared to how I usually throw it on top of my head.  I'm a pretty private person, but in the spirit of the theme of this post, I'm putting it all out there.  Literally.

(photo credit:  Jaclyn Michele)

In my day job, I meet and spend a lot of time with women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds.  I find myself with them during some major life events, and each time, I usually come away amazed by both their inner and outer beauty.  However, some amazing women blow my mind when they tell me they think they're ugly.

Flabby stomachs, arms with wings, big hips, non-existent crows feet, noses that look pretty average to me but "ruin" lives ... The things we nit pick about are insane.

I once asked a gorgeous 55 year old woman what physical feature was her favourite.  This woman was tall, blonde, thin, and looked about 40.  I was convinced she was going to say her legs, since they looked like they belonged to someone in their twenties.  Instead, she told me she hates every part of her body.  Every.  Single.  Part.

Usually when asked this question, we women will usually make a show of saying nothing, and then find something that we actually do adore about ourselves.  I'm sure you've done this at least once in your life, right?

"Ugh, my ass is huge and I have five chins ... buuuuut, if I had to pick something I love, I'd say my hair.  And my tits.  I have really great tits.  "

(That's an actual sentence from my own mouth, FYI)

Although we feel the need to put ourselves down (BAD WOMEN!) first, we still tend to find something we like about our physical selves.  Sad, isn't it?  We'd hate for someone to utter that kind of sentence to us, but we can do it to ourselves every day ("you're gorgeous and funny, buuuuuut you have a big ass.  Wanna get dinner?").  What makes me extra sad though, is instances such as the 55 year old with killer fucking legs - she couldn't name a single thing.  At all.

So, I'm asking you - what's your favourite physical feature?  What do you love most about yourself, physically?  Your tits?  Your eyes?  Something unique, like that fantastically cute gap between your front teeth?   Everything?  There has to be SOMETHING, and I want to know what it is!


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

{review} Allison Hewitt Is Trapped by Madeleine Roux

by Madeleine Roux

Paperback, 340 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN 0312658907 (ISBN13: 9780312658908)

"One woman's story as she blogs - and fights back - the zombie apocalypse"
Allison Hewitt and her five colleagues at the Brooks and Peabody Bookstore are trapped together when the zombie outbreak hits. Allison reaches out for help through her blog, writing on her laptop and utilizing the military's emergency wireless network (SNET). It may also be her only chance to reach her mother. But as the reality of their situation sinks in, Allison's blog becomes a harrowing account of her edge-of-the-seat adventures (with some witty sarcasm thrown in) as she and her companions fight their way through ravenous zombies and sometimes even more dangerous humans.

I wanted to start 2013 off on the right foot, so for book club, I chose a literary classic that's been on my shelf for a long time.  I read about 50 pages, wondered internally (and on Facebook) about the use of the word trifle vs the dessert trifle, read a few more slow pages, and then the Semi-BFF came over with my Christmas present.  She knows me well, so of course part of the present was a zombie book I pointed out to her MONTHS previously.  
After that, the classic didn't stand a chance, trifle or no trifle.  I've been craving trifle ever since, but whatevs.  Trifle the British dessert, clearly.  Not just trifles in my life.
See how it can get confusing?
I love zombie books written from female POVs.  Especially when that female works in a book store, is sarcastic, loves books, and oh yeah, has no idea what the fuck she's doing.  Other than the zombie part, it's practically me - sober.  
I found the action in the beginning a little on the slow side, and definitely not as realistic as I'd like.  The group spent a lot of time holed up in the break room of the book store, which was a good idea at first.  However, they stayed put much longer than I would have.  I would have thought they would try to utilize the rest of the store more than they did - two main entrances would be somewhat easy to fortify.  But maybe it had a lot of windows, which could make it trickier ... 
Where was I?   Trifle?  Oh, zombies.  right.
After the group moved on from the back room, I got more involved and attached.  I found most characters a little hard to get attached to, but luckily most of the focus is on Allison and a select few others.  And, not to give anything away, but I fell head over heels in love with Allison's love interest.  HEAD OVER FUCKING HEELS.  As far as book crushes go, he's probably in my top 3.  Ding dong.  Good job, Madeleine.  
My only real complaint?  I'm a bit confused to a few loose ends.  This book comes across as the first book in a series, but after looking online, I believe the next book isn't an actual sequel to this story, as much as it is to the story of the outbreak.  All fine and dandy, but what happened to some characters in Allison?  The difference between cliff hanger and loose ends is slight, and I'm not sure which side this book falls on.  
But who fucking cares about one or two loose ends?  This book kicks ass.  And it definitely kicked the ass of my poor little classic, sitting all alone on the shelf, neglected and very much still unread.