Sunday, 29 July 2007

The Shopaholic Series

One of my favorite books are the 'Shopaholic' series; they are written by Sophie Kinsella and are a collection of books about a character called Becky Bloomwood. The titles are Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Shopaholic Ties Knot, Shopaholic and Sister, Shopaholic and Baby. They are all riveting books and have developed something of a cult following. Becky is a financial journalist who shares a lovely flat in a lovely part of London and has a pretty charmed life. A few years out of University, she is on the career path and living a life full of fun and challenges just like many other twentysomethings. The problem is that Becky has money issues due to the fact that she cannot stop spending and has amassed thousands of pounds in debt. So what does she do? She burys her head in the sand, hides her credit card and bank statements and carries on spending. I read this book on a very long flight from Sydney to Tokyo in 2000 and take it from me, time flew by very quickly and I was really sad when I finished the book. Confessions of a Shopaholic is a warm, funny, witty and pacy book and most important of all, Becky is very endearing. There are times when you want to strangle her because of the silly things she does but her loyalty to her family and friends win you over. This book proved so popular that it spanned a sequel; Shopaholic Takes Manhattan and after that, three more titles and each one has been as good as the first. We see Becky go from being a single gal about town to a bride to be, wife and a mother and no she does not learn the errors of her ways and still continues to splurge and get herself in scrapes. However, let me tell you, the lady has spirit and she is one of my favourite fictional characters of all time.

Picture from Sophie Kinsella website

Thursday, 26 July 2007

The Clothes Show

The 80s is a decade that will always be dear to me because it is when I spent most of my teens, discovered my love for books and magazines and also when TV was at its finest. There were some brilliant TV shows on in the 80s and one of them was The Clothes Show. It was the ultimate style bible and was showed the latest trends and what was hot in fashion. It was fronted by the frosty Selina Scott, the passionate designer Jeff Banks who apparently runs Graduate Fashion Week and the wonderful TV presenter, Brenda Emmanus. The cool and kooky Caryn Franklin joined a few years later to add an edge to the mix. The demise of the show in the 90s was a complete shock as it left a massive gap in fashion which was never really filled. Thankfully, The Clothes Show has been revived and is now alive and kicking on UKTV Style. Caryn Franklin is thankfully still there but she is joined by Brendan Courtnay and the sweet as apple pie, Louise Redknapp. I managed to catch an episode of the show and I was very impressed. The show is slicker than slick and has many exciting elements to it such as 'Catwalk Challenge' where Caryn is joined by a selection of fashion editors who provide tips on the seasons best buys. There is also stop and search where Louise stops chic looking people in the street to interrogate them about what they are wearing and where they got it from. Now I thought the Brits were a bashful lot when it came to being on camera but the people on The Clothes Show are totally at ease with this. There is also a great slot called 'Body Matters' where Caryn offers valuable advice about how to dress for your body and this week her muse was a young lady who was over six feet tall. Another great segment is 'Stop & Chop', where a celeb hairdresser grabs an unsuspecting punter and treats them to an impromptu new hairstyle. Thsi week we had Nicky Clarke tending to the tresses of a busy PR lady. All this packed in an hour. Whew, I felt pretty exhausted after watching The Clothes Show but very inspired at the same time. The snazzy production values and gorgeous cinematography really capture the excitement and vibrancy of the fashion scene and I will definately be tuning into the next show.

You can catch The Clothes Show on Monday at 10.00am on UKTV Style.

Picture courtesy of UKTV Style press office

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

The Customer is Always Right

A glossy magazine is just what any lady needs to cheer her up, something to read in the bath or curled up on a sofa. Take a look in a newsagent and you will see magazines that cover the walks of life. There are consumer magazines aimed at a particular niche like Marie Claire, Vogue and Elle and there are business publications like Estate Gazette, Media Week and Accountancy Age. There is also the customer magazine; this is where a business like BT or IKEA contract a specialist publisher to produce a magazine that they will send out to their customers or distribute inside their store. Thousands of titles are published every month such as The AA magazine and SKY-The magazine. The ones I like the best are Desire which is produced by Debenhams, Dare from Superdrug and the new ASOS magazine. Dare which was formerly known as Spirit was distributed free in the Superdrug stores every month and kept us up to date with the latest in beauty news. However since early this year it has been revamped, buffed up and now goes under the new name of Dare. Oh and also has a new price of 50p. The ASOS magazine has taken the lead of Glamour and gone for the mini me size; it is cute and packed with news and features on fashion and beauty. These magazines are very top notch and very inspiring.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Wicked Whispers

I have been reading a fabulous book that I cannot put down. I started a few days ago and have devoured every word. What is it called, I hear you cry. The book in question is called Wicked Whispers and it is written by former gossip columnist, Jessica Callan. Jessica was one of the 3am girls which included Polly Graham and Eva Simpson who wrote a very popular gossip page in The Mirror - one of Britain's popular tabloid. In fact the column was so popular that the high and mighty Vanity Fair not only sent over a journalist to shadow the showbiz ladies in action but they also devoted several pages in the magazine to them. During her five year reign at 3am, Jessica rubbed shoulders with many celebs, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, The Beckhams, you name em, Jessica and her pals got in there. As you can imagine Jessica was witness to many celeb shenanigans during her stint at the scandal sheet, sorry The Mirror and these are her memoirs and boy does she name and shame. I was actually quite shocked by some of the things that some of the celebs got up to and believe me I do not shock easily. Wicked Whispers is wicked in every sense and I enjoyed every page of it. The former 3am girl shows her journo skills with her infectious and hilarious writing style and I am sure she has a great future ahead of her as an author.

Picture from Penguin website

Tuesday, 10 July 2007


Never before have the lives of celebrities been under so much scrutiny. They are everywhere from magazines, newspapers, TV and websites. Film stars, models, pop stars and athletes, it doesn't matter what they do - the intimate details of their lives are up for grabs. This has been illustrated by the success of weekly gossipy magazines such as Look, Heat and Hello. In keeping with this trend a new programme started yesterday called, Dirt and it stars Courteney Cox who is better known as Monica Geller from Friends. If like me you are a fan of the comedy don't get excited because Lucy Spiller who Cox plays is nothing at all like our anal retentive mate. Cox plays the editor-in-chief of a sleazy gossip magazine named Dirt that concentrates on the lives of the celebrity A List. Lucy is ambitious, calculating and totally ruthless, she will stop at nothing to get the next exclusive. Rather akin to the character Cox played in teen slasher, Scream, Lucy is a total bitch but you know what - I love her! I am so addicted to this series that I watched the first three episodes back to back on Dirt is aired on Five on Monday at 9.00pm.

Picture courtesy from Five TV press office

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Gossip Girl

Did any of you like The OC? I loved it, the story about a boy from the wrong side of tracks who is thrown a lifeline and taken in by a kind lawyer and his family and begins a new life in the opulent suburbs of the Orange County in California. Sounds absurd right but that was what I liked about The OC, the over top storylines and eccentric characters. The programme starred Benjamin McKenzie as the troubled teen Ryan and his sidekick, Seth, played by the quirky Adam Brody, Summer played by the gorgeous Rachel Bilson and Marissa played by style queen Mischa Barton. The oldies ie the parents were played by Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan. The programme ended last year and only ran for four years but was one of the most popular teen dramas of its era. A lot of comparisons were made with the now defunct Dawson's Creek particularly with the witty dialogue that was used. I would say that the banter between Ryan and Seth is the best thing in the show. The OC is created by screen writing whiz, Josh Schwartz who at 26, was the youngest person in network history to create a network series and run its day-to-day production. Similar to Kevin Williamson who created Dawson's Creek and based the lead character on his life, the character Seth is actually based on Schwartz. While Dawson's Creek was earthy and a bit like apple pie and ice cream, The OC was slightly edgier and had a much-needed cooler factor. This is down to Schwartz who brought his retro geek influence into the show; skateboards, trendy t-shirts, guitars, iPods, cartoons and indie rock bands. Pretty soon, The OC became known for its music in particular the theme tune, California that is performed by alternative group, Phanton Planet. So tuned in was Schwartz to popular culture that the last season of the show is now available on iTunes.

With the huge success of The OC you could not blame Schwartz for putting his feet but would you know it, he has been working on another teen drama. It is called Gossip Girl and like The OC it is about the lives of the rich and wealthy but it is set in the big apple. The programme is based on the popular novel by Cecily von Ziegesar which has the same name. It follows the lives and mayhem of glamorous socialite teens on the upper east side of Manhattan. In particular Serena van de Woodsen, the ultimate goddess, beautiful and sophisticated she is idolised by everyone. On the other side of Manhattan is the sensitive Dan Humphreys, the son of a rock star living in a run down apartment in the Upper West Side and an outsider. A chance meeting with Serena brings the two as well as Dan's sister, Jenny into each other’s lives and where the wealthy jet setters find themselves embroiled with their lower peers. However there is a twist here; the series is narrated by an anonymous character known as Gossip Girl who happens to run a website where she blogs about the scandals and rivalries of the circle of friends. Who is Gossip Girl? No one knows. Think about what would happened if you meshed teen flick Cruel Intentions with Desperate Housewives and this is what you would get. If Gossip Girl is anywhere as successful as The OC then it will send Blake Lively who plays Serena catapulting into the same dizzy heights of fame as a certain Mischa Barton. The series airs in the states in the autumn and like all good things, I am sure it won’t be long before it comes over here as well.

Picture from