Hello my frosted fairies! I’m currently sat in the library after receiving a French manicure. I am also dressed in an all pink outfit and lets just say, I feel like a real-life Elle Woods right now.
Ever since I was a little girl, reading has been something that has provided me with solace and an escape when my world is awry and everything seems to be going wrong. I often find myself within the stories that I read and aside from my passion for reading literature, I also have an affinity with writing.
Whilst studying at University, I was perpetually engrossed in the worlds of captivating characters; from Dickens’ Oliver Twist, set in a bleak and bleary London to the trials and hardships bore by Charlotte Brontë’s protagonist, Lucy Snowe, in Villette. Although I find their stories enthralling, I have also uncovered a love for light-hearted, romantic literature. This type of fiction was something that for years I swore I would avoid at all costs. I am embarrassed to admit that for some time I have been a literature snob… Anyway, I now realise that I was far too judgemental. If you also have reservations towards this type of literature, I urge you to let your guard down and visit your local library or charity shop and pick something out. Don’t think about it too much and go with it. I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised.
In this weeks blog post, I thought I would do a mini review on some of the books I’ve read this year. I usually update my goodreads account weekly; here I have what I’m currently reading, want to read and have recently read listed! Make sure to grab yourself a cup of tea and a sweet treat, it’s going to be a long one.
🌸 Treasure Yourself by Miranda Kerr
I have found Miranda Kerr inspiring for many years, and I would say that she is my favourite Victoria’s Secret angel. From her style and flawless skin, to her sense of spirituality, she always appears classy, elegant and well-spoken. Treasure Yourself is Kerr’s first book and the first half details Miranda’s upbringing and journey into the modelling industry. The second half is dedicated to positive affirmations. Harnessing a positive mindset, practicing mindfulness and being grateful for life’s gifts rests at the core of this book. Once I finished reading it, I was left with a different outlook on my current situation and consequently, I have been trying to incorporate mindfulness into my routine. I reach for this book on a daily basis and I pick out a positive affirmation for the day to keep in mind when I’m struggling. Despite Miranda’s modelling history, she emphasises that being confident and treasuring yourself comes from within. Although we need to treat our external self with respect and care, this journey starts internally. If we can cherish our minds and thoughts then we can look after our bodies.
This is my favourite quote from the book:
“It was the early blossoming of spring and a girl was wandering through a garden when she discovered a cocoon hanging from the branch of a tree. It was almost time for a butterfly to emerge. Fascinated with her discovery she returned to the garden daily, enthusiastic to see all that would happen and hoping never to miss a thing. One day a small opening appeared and the girl saw a butterfly struggling to free itself from its cocoon and enter a new world. She watched intently — until the butterfly seemed to have stopped making progress. It appeared as if it had gone as far as possible and could go no further.
The girl made a sudden decision; she began to remove pieces of the cocoon that were obstructing the butterfly. Excited, she watched as the butterfly emerged, hoping its wings would unfold. But her excitement turned into dismay as the butterfly remained unable to move. It was then that the girl realised what was happening; the cocoon was intended to create the struggle necessary for the butterfly to fly. In fact, it was not trying to escape… this was just nature’s way of making its wings stronger. It occurred to the girl that the butterfly would actually be grateful to the cocoon for the struggle that they would share.”
🌸 The Travelling Tea-shop by Belinda Jones
The Travelling Tea-shop revolves around an avid traveller and baking fanatic, Laurie, who has an interview with Pamela-Lambert Leigh, a British baker whom she looks up to. If she gets hired, Pamela plans to launch a trip the East Coast of America 💗🗽🚖🎀 trading recipes for famous cakes in the region.
The plot interweaves other external dilemmas that the characters face in relation to family, identity and love; with a particular focus on strained mother-daughter relationships which I found very interesting. Laurie is an engaging character and an entertaining narrator. I loved learning about the different cakes/delicacies and the facts woven throughout the book kept it interesting.
I found many of the descriptions quite dreamy too. As an avid baker myself, this kitchen description sounds so darling and idyllic ~ “the entire upstairs level has been kitted our with a chintzy-fresh, Cath Kidston-style Kitchen – there’s a baby pink oven and fridge, an immaculate white preparation area lined with mixers and bowls and assorted lacy cake stands” 🍥🎂💓 I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light-hearted read – you won’t be disappointed!
🌸 What Would Audrey Do? by Pamela Keogh
Anyone that knows me well will also be aware of my love for Audrey Hepburn. I have watched her films religiously, absorbed as many documentaries about her as possible (my favourite is Darcey Bussell’s: Looking For Audrey), travelled to Rome and experienced some of the famous locations she and Gregory Peck explored in Roman Holiday (going to The Mouth of Truth and Via Margutta 51 are probably the highlights), seen her own pair of ballet slippers in person, and of course, diligently read as many books about her that I could get my fingertips on!
Prior to reading this book, I had heard a few mixed opinions surrounding it. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to let these reviews sway me from giving it a go. Compared with other Audrey books, Pamela Keogh’s account is notably distant and lacks the depth which I experienced whilst reading ‘The Audrey Hepburn Treasures’ and ‘Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit.’ This book is not a typical biography, but rather, a light-hearted guide on how to be classy, elegant and compassionate like Audrey! The text is adaptable as Keogh makes references to popular culture and other stars, similar to Audrey, whom we can take inspiration from.
Nonetheless, what I adored about this book was its simplicity. I found that I could unwind each evening whilst reading it. It didn’t require too much attention and I also discovered a few things about Audrey which I wasn’t aware of; her favourite chocolates were ‘Li-lac chocolates’ (dark, of course), she had a rose named after her, ‘The Audrey Rose’, she had no affiliation with any particular religion, as she once proclaimed ~ “Nature is my religion.” p.84
A few of my favourite passages:
(about her close relationship with Givenchy and his clothes) ~ “wearing your blouses makes me feel protected” p. 245
“It was like the rest of her life, she was thoughtful and loving and full of care. I remember one Easter, she arrived here, and she had this huge box from a great chocolatier in Lausanne, and the box of little eggs, the most beautiful thing, and she lugged it all the way from Switzerland! And flowers, and letters. She was just, as they say, the perfect friend.” p. 69
Audrey’s legacy, warmth, strength and grace are unmatched. I think Gregory Peck summed this up beautifully when he expressed; “I found her a singular person. Unique is a very overused word, but she was unique – there was no one like her before, and there’s been no one like her since.” p. 214
After I finished reading the book I felt compelled to make sure that I donate to UNICEF annually and I really want to visit La Paisible, her 1740s era home, it sounds like a complete daydream! I recommend this book to any Audrey fan out there who wants to add a little bit more Hepburn in her step 🎀
🌸 Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage by Milly Johnson
‘Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage’ is the first book from Milly Johnson which I have encountered. At first glance, I picked this up as a light-hearted, springtime read. Although the book begins with a seemingly jovial and chipper tone, it also lives up to the message to “not judge a book by its cover.” As an avid reader, I think it’s always important to remain open-minded and curious about what you’re reading – remembering not take everything at face value.
The tale revolves around love, friendship and most importantly, mother-daughter relationships. The focal kinship is the one between Viv and her mother, Stel. Milly Johnson bases her text around the daily goings-on of both mother and daughter as they lead their lives away from one another. The text employs a third-person narrative, and has an omniscient narrator which aids the reader through navigating each of the characters’ lives and delving into their internal thought processes. Viv is situated at Wildflower Cottage, where she is pursuing an admin job at an animal sanctuary. At first, it is not clear why Viv has taken this job as she displays a strong aversion to animals, and more specifically, birds. Nevertheless, we later discover that she has an ulterior motive in the works which is sure to keep readers tantalisingly intrigued! Back at home, Viv’s single mother, Stel is unlucky in love but she can always rely on her best girlfriends for moral support. They call themselves The Old Spice Girls which I found endearing and a great contribution to the running narrative.
I think the main feature of the book which had a lasting impression on me was the loyalty and sense of rapport between the female characters. Overall, there were more integral female characters than male, which I found to be very refreshing. Ultimately, I found that Milly Johnson captured the essence of camaraderie between women and interweaves the book with the ways in which friendships are everlasting.
🌸 Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Sam Wasson
The first time I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I remember being completely in awe with Audrey Hepburn. It was the first film I saw her perform in and my admiration continued to grow thereafter. Consequently, Holly Golightly will always hold a special place in my heart. Captoe’s heroine is headstrong, “a kook”, stylish and chic but underneath this façade she is also innocent (maybe not morally but emotionally), vulnerable and terrified of being trapped; I find these characteristics extremely relatable. She is lost and ceaselessly attempts to convince herself that she would rather be on her own. However, once you have read Captoe’s book and seen the film, you can start to unravel the significant disparities between the depiction of Holly in both pieces.
In many cases, the Jurow-Shepherd representation of Holly is softened (this was greatly due to objections from the censors.) Sam Wasson’s discussion of the making of Tiffany’s begins with its birth in the form of Capote’s novel. Wasson goes on to discuss Babe Paley, the original inspiration for Holly Golightly and he highlights the social and political troubles the studios and writers were facing at that time. It becomes clear that placing a call girl at the forefront of a motion picture was an extremely precarious notion. Despite this possible setback, the screenplay’s writer, George Axelrod, carefully sculpted the picture into a romantic-comedy. Many attempts were made to play down the prostitution angle through euphemism; “trips to the powder-room” etc. Furthermore, the decision to provide Miss Golightly with a humble upbringing by portraying her as a naïve kook from Tulip Texas with a heart of gold worked like magic on the censors.
I found the process of reading through the roles of each individual and the difficulties they faced in the making of the film abundantly interesting. I also came to understand how Holly changed the vision of what a woman ought to be in the 1960s. She was free-spirited and independent; with her iconic Givenchy little black dress she stood out from the prim and proper, pastel clad Doris Day’s and the voluptuous Monroe’s. Audrey represented something revolutionary and eternally iconic. I definitely recommend reading this book if you are a fan of Audrey and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Nevertheless, if you are also interested in the 50s and 60s, I think you would find Wasson’s account to be very informative. ☁️🌸🐱💎
🌸 Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes
After recently re-watching the film version of Me Before You, I decided to read the novel for the second time. I first read Me Before You last summer and I remember falling in love with the story and characters. Moyes’ book centres around Louisa Clark, who, after losing her job at her local café, ‘The Buttered Bun’, finds herself in need of work. Moyes presents us with a heroine who is hard-working and also extremely relatable. I found her quirks and clumsy nature utterly endearing. Desperate for a job that pays well, Louisa finds herself having to look after Will Traynor, a young man who developed quadriplegia after a pedestrian-motorcycle accident. From their first meeting it is clear that Will is reluctant to strive beyond his condition and try to bring some sembalance of happiness into his life.
Will’s resentment surrounding his disability traps him internally and externally, thus hindering any psychological progress. Nevertheless, it is Louisa who facilitates Will’s re-engagement with life. Despite these minute improvements, Will is determined to end his life through Dignitas, a Swiss-based-suicide organisation. Once she learns about Will’s possible fate, Louisa sets out to try to persuade Will to choose life. This book will definitely break a few hearts; it poses difficult and controversial questions in a subtle and carefully crafted manner. In many ways Moyes attempts to humanise the subject of euthanasia by emphasising the right to have control over ones own life. It has also taught me to be grateful for what I already have rather than what I lack. We often take for granted the things our bodies do for us on a daily basis. It is only when those special things are taken from us that we realise how lucky we truly are.
A few of my favourite passages:
“You only get one life.” Will tells her. “It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
“Paris. I would sit outside a cafe in Le Marais and drink coffee and eat a plate of warm croissants with unsalted butter and strawberry jam.”
“It’s a little district in the center of Paris. It is full of cobbled streets and teetering apartment blocks and gay men and orthodox Jews and women of a certain age who once looked like Brigitte Bardot. It’s the only place to stay.”
All In Good Taste by Kate Spade
Kate Spade has been one of my favourite clothing brands for quite a few years. Consequently, I was deeply saddened to hear about Kate’s passing in June.
All In Good Taste is the brands third book and it functions as a chic guide on how to be a successful and stylish hostess! It contains nifty tips and tricks on how to execute the perfect celebration; with personal essays, anecdotes and recipes, this book is a pleasure to read and looks effortlessly pretty on any bookshelf.
I particularly adore the stunning typography that filters throughout the book. The ideas sparkle and gleam like the artwork adorning each page! I definitely recommend this gem if you’re in need of some inspiration.
🌸 Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes
I’m always looking for ways to enhance my beauty and skincare regimes and Sali Hughes’ ‘Pretty Honest’ has now transformed into my ‘go-to’ beauty companion. What struck me about Sali’s manner and approach to beauty was her integrity and clarity. For once you can clearly discern that she has no ulterior motive other than to help a gal out! She cleverly debunks the abundance of myths imbuing the beauty industry and she addresses the reader like a best friend would. She is not patronising in any way and you always feel like she has your back and wants the best for you and your skin.
Within each chapter Sali focuses on a particular topic. These range from… managing your daily skincare routine and creating your make-up kit to discussing salon etiquette, her beauty icons, bridal beauty and more. All areas are covered in Sali’s book and once finishing it I was at a loss…I wanted more!
There are so many little tips and tricks I’ve acquired whilst reading. For instance… I will avoid waxing my brows and using rose-tinted foundations like the plague, I now accept that there is a red lipstick out there for everyone (I’m going to try my best to beat my fear and find my perfect shade…) and that receiving a compliment shouldn’t be a painful experience.
The chapter that I found most touching was one called ‘Beauty in Illness.’ I found it to be so much deeper and enlightening as Sali discusses how makeup isn’t “shallow” and that in many ways, when we are going through something difficult it is the only thing that can make us feel like ourselves again…we can take back control when everything else seems chaotic.
Here are a few important quotes from the book I’d like to share…
“Anyone who dismisses beauty and make-up as an irrelevance pursued by the vain not only knows nothing about women, but has zero understanding of the complex effects of illness. During the darkest times, beauty takes on an extra significance and, for many, can become one of our most effective coping mechanisms. Our appearance is so much a part of our identity. When this appearance changes through accident or ill-health, there can be a process of grief and a great deal of adjustment and adaptation” p. 266
“Over the years, I’ve found the issue of control also seems to be critical for many women. The ritual of applying makeup, the dignity in maintaining pride in one’s appearance, can also be a way of reclaiming your own body…” p. 267
“While no one has any reason to be ashamed of their cancer, they have every right not to be defined by it either. No one should be forced to declare their illness every time they nip out for a paper.” p. 268 🌸👸🏼🎀💄
🌸 Cath Kidston Mug Cakes, Cupcakes and More!
I’m always looking for new sources of baking inspiration and on my recent trip to the library I was overjoyed to find this baking book from Cath Kidston. It has been on my ‘to read’ list for quite some time and I spent this afternoon flicking through for some baking inspiration.
From cosy, Cherry and Almond Christmas mug cakes to delectable Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes, this little book is filled with delightful treats that you can whip up in a jiffy! I can’t wait to try making these bakes over the next few weeks and I’m definitely going to purchase their ‘Teatime’ book 🌸🍰🍥🙊
🌸 Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson
The Queen of Wishful Thinking is the second book from Milly Johnson that I have encountered and it is a gem so far! The book primarily focuses on two key characters, Bonnie and Lewis whose lives gradually intertwine. Lewis runs ‘The Pot of Gold’, a quaint antique store which he took ownership of after a sudden health scare. Bonnie was brought up in the antiques trade but decides to leave the shop she works in to escape her tyrannical boss. On a whim she steps into ‘The Pot of Gold’ and at once she is whisked away and determined to start something new. Bonnie yearns to break away from her mundane, loveless marriage but will ‘The Pot of Gold’ provide her with what she needs?
I really hope you enjoyed this post angels and remember to leave your book suggestions in the comments section below! 🌸📖
I’m sending lots of love to you all and I hope you have a whimsical week filled with dreamy viennese whirls and endless cups of lemon drizzle green tea! 💗✨🍋🍰🍥