Review: The Last Collection

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Berkley Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

This was a really fascinating book. It combined pre-WWII and WWII historical fiction with the cut throat world of haute couture fashion. It took me a little longer to get interested in it, but once I was, I was hooked! 

Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are two very intriguing women and this book does a great job showcasing their legendary rivalry. As the author writes, “Men who persist in the belief that women are soft, sentimental creatures have never worked in the fashion industry” (pg. 134). 

The added backdrop of WWII created even more drama between the two. I liked that the book did not shy away from Coco’s affair with a famous Nazi. 

The novel utilizes a third party, Lily Sutter, to highlight the complexities of both women. Lily ends up befriending and spending time with both of them and in doing so, we are shown a more intimate view of these two remarkable women. 

Lastly, there was a really wonderful quote about fashion as a means of resistance. The book states, “Dressing well is resistance, revenge, pride, a form of control over forces trying to control us. That’s why, when taken prisoner, he first thing your enemy takes is that outer layer of your identity and independence: your clothes. That is why prisoners are put in identical uniforms. They no longer exist as individuals” (pg. 274). 

Overall, this is an enthralling portrait of two headstrong fashion designers in the years leading up to World War II. 

Review: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from BookSparks as part of their YA Winter Reading Challenge. 

I just want to preface this review by saying that I haven’t read Six of Crows, which everyone has been comparing this book to. Since I haven’t read it, I can’t speak as to how similar this book is to SOC. Personally, I got a tiny bit of an ACOTAR inner circle vibe. 

I have to admit that I was pretty confused at the beginning of this book. There was a lot going on and I didn’t quite understand the forging and the dynamic of the houses. But after about 50 pages I slowly started to get it and from then on I really enjoyed the book.

The best part of this book is the diverse cast of characters. There is so much diversity and the author highlights it so well. She showcases the struggles each of the characters face in a nuanced way. I also loved the interactions between the characters and their friendship and blooming romances. So. Cute. 

My favorite character is of course, Enrique, the bisexual biracial (half Filipino, half Spanish) historian. As a half Filipino myself, I’m always thrilled to see any Filipino representation and I loved that there was even some Tagalog words. There was one line in particular that I loved: “Enrique muttered something in Tagalog that would have made his grandmother smack him with her slipper” (65). I read this line and thought it was such an accurate Filipino response. 

As for the storyline, it is your typical YA book so no surprises there. There wasn’t anything that I haven’t seen before but that’s not a bad thing. I liked that it was historical, as opposed to being a straight up fantasy novel. By adding that historical touch, it allowed the author to comment on the time period and the reality of the “La Belle Epoque” era which I think is super important. 

Overall, I enjoyed this diverse fantasy take on historical France and am looking forward to the next book in the series!

Review: The Fashion Intruder

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

I was so excited to read this because it was about a transactional lawyer who leaves the legal world for the fashion world. As a law student who loves fashion, this book was right up my alley!

The book started off a bit messy. There were a lot of little one or two paragraphs from other characters’ viewpoints which made the book a little confusing in the beginning since I had no idea who they were. But once the book and the story got going, it all became much clearer.

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I loved how the book showcased the intricacies of the fashion world and all the politics that go into it. The fashion world is definitely tough and this book showed that.

I also enjoyed the jet-setting atmosphere. The main character was always traveling somewhere glamorous. As an American, I envy how easy it is to travel from one country to another in Europe. 

There was a reference to Lana Del Rey that I just have to mention because it was just so perfect. The novel states, “Although Sofia could swear she’d put her phone on silent, she suddenly heard the loud sound of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Salvatore’” (156). That song was so perfect for the character since she’s Italian and “Salvatore” is such a dreamy song that makes you wish you were in Italy.

Overall, this was a fun look into the European fashion world. It’s has a The Devil Wears Prada vibe but set in Europe. 

Blog Tour: Saved in Paris! The Teddy Bear Chronicles (Vol. 1)

I am so excited to be a part of my very first blog tour!

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Synopsis:

In this highly-rated first volume of the extraordinarily unique suspense series (for ages 16+), unexpected, sweet narrators tell how a young educated Chicago woman, Kelly Donovan, must escape from her luxurious home to get away from her sociopath boyfriend, Mark Flannery, before he takes her to a woodsy cabin for a little “anniversary get-way.” She must plot, lie, and pretend to be happy before she can flee her relationship and her own home, alive. Unforeseen obstacles frustrate Kelly’s efforts to escape, and her family and friends, strangers to one other, must perfectly work together to help her live a life free from threat. The diverse group includes an insecure drama teacher, a brilliant pharmaceutical engineer, and an international businesswoman with a secret that comes in very handy at one critical point.

This story is uniquely narrated by inanimate household teddy bears, which, notwithstanding their immobility, have interesting thoughts and perspectives on the shocking events and intriguing relationships which form before their plastic eyes. These plush bears also get a healthy dose of an entertaining blooming romance when Kelly’s plight takes everyone overseas to Paris. While in France, more scheming, racing to stay steps ahead of Mark, and even physical violence ensue – violence which does not always involve a damsel in distress. To complicate matters further, some of the characters are not necessarily what, or who, they seem. Once the plot’s feverish pace decelerates, the group starts to feel some hope, but is the race really over? The genre-mixing, mind-bending narration style make this novel a sensational ride. Enjoy!

Donnalyn VojtaAuthor Bio: After 44 years on this Earth, the one constant, in terms of my strengths, is writing. From college to law school to legal writing to lesson planning, and now fiction writing, it is my favorite and strongest skill. I have a B.A. in Philosophy, including a minor in Literature. I also have a J.D. When I am not writing, I am working as an Academic Private Tutor in all subjects related to English. I love stories that put me on edge, surprise me, scare me, make me laugh, and make me cry both tears of pain and tears of joy. I want all of it in one book or movie! Finally, I want to truly fall for the characters and want them and their experiences to leave me wanting more, more, more! I will start working on the second volume soon. I believe that the unexpected narrators of my series are what will set my novels apart from others suspense thrillers.

The exciting news is that Vol. II CHLOE’S CRUSADE! is launching in June. 

Check out the author’s website for purchasing links (for the book and candle!), updated info on release dates, merchandise, event info and critic reviews.