Monday, 18 July 2011

The Musings of Ondo Lady Has Moved Home

It was four years ago when I started my blogging journey and a lot has changed since then. I started out without a clear plan on what I was going to write about but I made a pact that I would write at least once a week. Back then in 2007 the blogging environment was very different from what it is now; there was no real blogging community, no events, awards show and certainly no Twitter in fact Facebook had not really kicked off then. I did really feel that I was writing posts and no-one was reading then but I loved writing so it was not a big deal to keep doing it. Fast forward to 2011 and boy have things changed; bloggers are now hotter than potatoes and they get VIP treatment such as front row tickets to fashion shows, interviews in the media and freebies galore. Some people even blog full time and make a decent living out of it and others have taken it to a new level and nab themselves an agent who brokers their deals. There are loads of fantastic blogging conferences around the world and numerous blog awards events. Even the platforms that we can blog on have increased with Tumblr, On Sugar and Posterous making their debut over the last few years to join Blogger, WordPress and Type Pad. However as blogging becomes more relevant to society more bloggers are growing their brand which often calls for hosting their own content at their own domain name. I have decided to join this group and as of today I have packed up and closed shop at Blogger and moved over to my own home in . Please join me at for all the best in global pop culture. I will see you on the other side. For those of you who have kindly subscribed to my blog please adjust your settings and resubscribe and also update your blogrolls.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Dirty Sexy Things

Perou is one of the world's celebrated photographers who has flown round the world shooting famous, rich and beautiful people. His new project is an exhibition of photographs with eight diverse models which he will launch later in the year but first of all he needs to find the models. He has a criteria in mind such as the bombshell model, the kooky quirky model, beefcake guy, Russian beauty, diva goddess and a strange looking guy. The first thing he does is hold a casting X Factor style where all the hopefuls turn up. Some of the entries have a bit of experience and some are complete novices. Charlotte, 22 is a stunning redhead who resembles Twiggy, she has been working in the industry for two years and has specialised in lingerie. Jessye B, 19 is an African Caribbean model who has done mainstream campaigns such as TK Maxx, ASOS and Vue Cinema. She is described as funky modern and street. Ocean, 24 is the urbanite who is very quirky looking, she has worked for Vogue and walked in one of Kate Moss's shows. Jesse, 19 been described as a young and preppy Jude Law. He has worked for French Connection, Lacoste and Jack Willis. He spends his spare time in an indie band called Lux. Ariella, 21 is the commercial blonde bombshell who is a bit of a veteran, she has been working since she was 14 in Milan and has done several runway shows. Jay, 21 been modelling for two years and has an edgy and urban look but he is recovering from an eating disorder and still fragile. However this has not detered him from landing campaigns with Pure London, Kurt Geiger and Puma. Lord Rob, 28 been modelling for nine years, he is a sports junkie and has a muscular frame which limits his modelling assignments. He is an underwear model and has been in campaigns for Next and Kent & Curwen as well as gracing the cover of Men's Fitness. BB aka Black Beauty, 24 is a professional dancer who wants to model full time - mean while he performs with the likes of Alexandra Burke, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.

Their first assignment is London Fashion Week where they have to go for castings to be selected for fashion shows. Dirty Sexy Things is intriging because you get to find out about the models; their personal lives and their hopes and dreams. Unlike most modelling shows the models are not lumped together in a house instead we see them living in their natural environment. It is interesting seeing the models down at Somerset House which is the HQ for London Fashion Week (LFW). Seeing them milling in and out of castings and go sees. It is also very interesting to see LFW from a male perspective, as the event is very female dominated with only one day out six dedicated to men's fashion this makes it ultra competitive for the male models. Also it is fascinating to hear what a few female models think of LFW - Charlotte breaks it down for us - basically it is badly paid with models taking £50 to £150 per show. So much for not getting out of bed for less than $10,000 a day, Linda Evangelista eat your heart out. This is not a bad documentary because it shows the highlights and lows of working in the model industry. Some of the close up of private parts is unnecessary but if that is your thing then you are in for a treat.

Dirty Sexy Things is aired on Mondays at 10.00pm on E4.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Page One: Inside The New York Times

I will be honest I was expecting this film to be like The September Issue which I suppose was rather unfair as we are talking about a very glamorous industry while the newspaper business is very dry. The fact that this documentary has grabbed the attention of all the media folks speak volumes. Yesterday Gawker even hosted a screening for its staff which took place on their roof garden. Page One is a fly on the wall documentary that follows the staff on The New York Times for a whole year and watches them not just battle to find breaking stories but also struggling to keep their head above water during harsh economic times. The New York Times which has always been revered by hacks from huge media outlets such as NBC who would consult the paper every morning before starting work. Well you don't win 100 Pulitzer Prizes (more than any other news organisation) for nothing. Nowadays the paper has been served with a double whammy; the likes of homing in on job ads and directories like Craigslist and Gumtree taking over the classified ads, combine that with upstarts such as Gawker and The Huffington Post offering an alternative viewpoint. The much loved New York Times is on pretty shaky ground having to make redundancies in order to avoid going the same way as several major newspaper around the country.
The film focuses on key staff such as Brian Stelter, a media reporter who ran a popular blog called TVnewser which got him headhunted by the publication, Tim Arrango who is a media specialist and roving reporter, Bruce Headlam who is the media editor and last but not least media columnist, David Carr who is the rock and roll guy. There has been a lot of buzz about David Carr due to his rather wild past and there is no doubt that he is the Grace Coddington of the film. Filmmakers Andrew Rossi and Kate Novack gained access to the paper where they followed the media desk working on stories and lobbying top editors to have a presence on page one. The timing couldn't have been better because hot topics such as the Pentagon papers, troops in Iraq and Wikileaks broke during this time as well as ironically the launch of the iPad. It was also pretty smart of the producers to concentrate on the media desk considering that The New York Times is being usurped by new media itself. One thing that Page One did leave me with is a reminder of what real gritty journalism is, something that has been forgotten in the midst of fast food news. While viewing the offices of the publication one thing that struck me was the long and rich history that it and every other newspaper in the world has and that is one advantage that it holds against digital publishers.
I felt like I had been taken back to the 80s where men dominated news - there were hardly any women featured in the film. But what struck me is how idealist a lot of the reporters are and how passionate they were to see justice served. Extreme efforts are taken to fact checking, recording interviews, meeting up with sources and going through swamps of data to in order to nail the details. To be honest Page One was not my cup of tea and at times I found the film pretty boring; it was like watching a court case unfold where the lawyers go through every minute detail. I guess I have been spoilt with the glossy documentaries that focus on the big moments and skip over the nuts and bolts. There were some riveting moments such as David Carr on the panel at a seminar at SXSW and brilliantly defending  himself after being attacked by the founder of The Daily Kos. Also Carr's prickly meeting with the founders of VICE is mildly entertaining. Page One may be a hard watch but it shows a more realistic picture of what it is like to work on a daily newspaper.

I watched Page One at a screening from the Open City London Film Festival which took place last week.

Page One is out on release now in the US and hits the UK in September.

Check out the website for Page One.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Think Like a Man

Think Like a Man is based on the book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man which is written by Steve Harvey. I read this book last year after it was recommended to me by a friend and I can quite cheerfully say that it is total pants. I find Steve Harvey's tone very patronising and as a lot of people say it is written for the lowest denominator. My main gripe with Act Like a Lady is that not only does it not tell you anything new but it steals bits from Why Men Marry Bitches by Sherry Argov, He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo and The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider and re-packages the ideas into an urban version. Not clever at all. After I read the book I did hear that Will Packer had bought the rights to and was turning it into a film. It all went quiet until a few weeks back when the casting was announced; Michael Ealy and Taraji P Henson will play the couple in the film whose relationship is on the rocks with funny man, Kevin Hart as their counsellor. Rumour has it that Taraji's character will be a feisty high powered advertising executive with her eye on reaching the top while Michael's character is a laid back dreamer who aspires to work as a culinary chef. Well this should be interesting, Michael Ealy and Taraji P Henson are both known for their roles in quality films and are both stellar actors. Will Packer is a great producer but does not have a track record in making a film about the complexity of relationships. Yes he touched on it in Stomp da Yard and Takers but the love affair always played second fiddle to the main story line. Also I hear that Steve Harvey is down as producer - God help us all because if he has anything to do with it we may have another passion project in our faces. Still I really do like Michael and Taraji so maybe the film will be a great one.

Think Like a Man starts production this summer but no release date has been set yet.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

More Magazine's Facebook Issue

I love to see magazines taking on revolutionary ideas so when I came across a tweet by Nik Thakkar from KARLISMYUNKLE about more! magazine's special Facebook issue I had to check it out. Apparently more! have the largest number of Facebook fans than any UK women's magazine so in order to maximise this they came up with a genius idea of creating a special issue generated by Facebook. more! staff liaised with their fans on Facebook to get ideas for news, features and interviews. They asked them who they would like to be featured inside the magazine and on the cover and they also invited five Superfans to come into the office and help out with headlines, pictures and other elements that involved putting the publication together. So who were more! reader's top choice for the front cover? Well none other than Lily Allen who is the lady of the moment, what with getting married over the weekend and announcing her pregnancy. Good to know that more! readers like to keep things relevant. Well done to more! for coming up with such a novel idea. I swear I have not looked at the magazine for years and only became aware that it was still going a while ago. That will certainly beat Position of the Fortnight.

Have a look at the more! magazine website.

You can check out more!'s Facebook page.

more! 's Facebook issue out in the shops now.

Check out the video below which has an interview with more! editor, Channy Horton.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Made in Chelsea

People laugh at this show but I actually like it. Ok the story lines are lame and the plummy accents can get monotonous but you gotta admit that Made in Chelsea makes very glam viewing. Living the Chelsea set lifestyle which consists of designer shopping, dining out at expensive restaurants as well as jetting away to exotic holidays is pure lifestyle envy. Made in Chelsea launched onto our TV screens in May and apart from coverage in a few newspapers and an extended piece in Grazia there has been little said about it. Inevitable comparisons were made with The Only Way is Essex aka TOWIE but apart from the fact that both shows focus on a specific location they are miles apart. Made in Chelsea is frankly a blatant rip off of The Hills and I love it. We even have our very own Lauren Conrad in the shape of wannabe pop star, Caggie Dunlop who has the same love triangle that Lauren had in The OC. She is still harbouring a crush on her childhood sweetheart, Club PR mogul, Spencer Matthews who still feels the same about her but unfortunately he is very loved up with girlfriend, Funda Onal who is a model, actress, whatever.. Then there is Millie Mackintosh who is Caggie's best friend who is on the dating scene trying to find Mr Perfect. Till then her job as a make up artist keeps her very busy.
In the middle of all this drama is Francesca Hull aka Cheska who is the Carrie Bradshaw of the pack. She writes a column in Matchbox Magazine called Girl About Town which covers the lives of the Chelsea set. She is joined at the hip with Rosie Fortescue who works at an art gallery by day and by nighr runs a fashion blog called At Fashion Forte with Amber Atherton who runs her own online jewellery boutique called MyFlashTrash and is launching a brand consultancy. Ollie Lock is a party boy who runs glam night club, Whisky Mist but has dumped his pop diva, girlfriend Gabriella Ellis after finding out that he is bisexual. He spends most of his time crying on the shoulder of his best friend, Alexandra Felstead aka Binky who works for an investment company while dreaming about an idyllic life in the country. Francis Boule is the most poised of the set, decked out in Thomas Pink shirts, designer suits and matching cuff links his day job is mining diamonds. His best friend is Frederik Ferrier who is a part time model and music and language student. Then there is Hugo Taylor, Spencer's best friend who is also a PR maven and the go to guy who has the inside info on all the hip places. I find watching this show very seductive with the overhead shots of London, flash glimpses of cute boutiques on leafy streets and cosy shots of the cast huddle in cafe bars. It really does reflect what the capital is like for those who are young, gorgeous and living off their trust funds. Glam people leading glam lives - not a bad life if you can get it eh?

Made in Chelsea is aired on Mondays on E4 at 10pm.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Kim Kardashian Perfume Launch

I used to scoff at the Kardashians as I saw them as pretty ladies who only got famous due to Kim's allegedly leaked sex tape. I mist be getting soft because over the last year or so they have grown on me and I now find myself tuning into their many reality shows. I have to admire their hustle because the Kardashian empire consists of TV shows, (Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, Kourtney and Kim take New York and Khloe and Lamar) boutique stores with D-A-S-H in Miami, LA and New York, book deals with Kardashian Konfidential and now they have branched into perfume. Keeping Up with the Kardashians has been a huge hit making the Kardashians millions in the process. It is no surprise that Kim has picked up Entrepreneur at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards this week but really it is Mum, Kris Jenner who is the brains behind the brands. She may pimp out her kids to make a fast buck but she there is no doubting that she is a very canny business woman. Even little sister. Kendall has got in on the money making; she is the face of Forever 21 and is set to star in her own reality show called LA Prep.
I attended the launch of Kim Kardashian's self titled perfume yesterday at the ever so lush Dorchester along with the rest of magazine lovies and beauty bloggers. As you can imagine it was complete opulence all the way, the suite was decked out in light pink and we were served Hors d'oeurve with pink champagne. Earlier that day Kim had launched the perfume at Debenhams where she caused quite a stir. Talking to a few beauty bloggers it was quite overwhelming to see the impact the Kardashians have had on young women and indeed on pop culture. She may have the face of an angel and body of a jezebel but young women are able to relate to Kim Kardashian and her self made fortune and A list lifestyle makes her aspirational. So no surprise that Sas & Company jumped at the chance of working with her. We do not need a reminder of how popular celebrity perfumes are and Kim's fan base is huge. She is also savvy enough to tap into element of social media to interact with her fans. For instance when she was working on the perfume she obtained her fans' input by asking them to tell her what their favourite scents were. She then worked closely with top perfumer, Claude Dir of Givaudan to create the modern fragrance. The whole idea was to create something pretty and feminine.

The perfume bottle is very classic, it is round shaped and in a sexy deep purple. The colour actually reminds me of the one Stella McCartney uses for her perfume. I am fussy about my perfumes and like them light, refreshing and sweet so this perfume ticks all the boxes. It really has a glamorous and pretty smell which makes you feel very feminine. It contains mandarin, honeysuckle and orange blossom mixed with pink jasmine, tuberose, sensual spices and lush gardens. What is so cool is that the perfume comes in a spray which is packaged into a light pink chrome bottle.

The perfumes are prices at 22.95 for 30 ml, 29.95 for 50ml and 39.95 for 100ml.

Kim Kardashian is available to buy from Debenhams now and will be available to buy from other stores in July.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Malin+Goetz Tobacco Candle

I do love a candle. Ever since I bought my home over five years ago I have been entranced by candles; whether it is the vanilla ones from IKEA or the cherry ones from Wilkinson for the coffee ones from the now defunct The Pier, their delicious smells are welcome in my house. Of course I would love to aspire to the lush candles from Jo Malone or Diptyque on a regular basis but at £38 I am not quite there yet. I came across Malin+Goetz when Pure Public Relations announced their press preview on Twitter. The lovely, Deborah invited me down to their offices for a one to one preview of their new collections and this is where I came across the candles. I was generously given the tobacco one (which has just launched with the geranium leaf) to take home and try and I was pretty impressed. They say you get what you pay for and you can really tell the difference from a cheaper candle to a more expensive brand. Not only does it last a lot longer but the smell is much more aromatic and leaves a much longer lasting trace. The tobacco one has a really sweet nutmeg smell that is perfect for evenings when you just want to relax. The Malin+Goetz candles are a really great gift for someone special (or yourself) as they come in a really cute box that is stylishly designed and is presented in an eco friendly glass tumbler.. There are also eight difference fragrances such as cannabis, dark rum, mojito, neroli, vetiver and otto. Each candle burns for around 60 hours which should give you more than enough time to savour the scent. For better effects you should burn the tobacco and geranium leaf candles together in order to obtain that unique healing ambiance of relaxation and sensory balance. In my opinion this is a candle that any self respecting guy can have in their home without being ridiculed. Malin+Goetz is owned by Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz who are based in New York; aside from candles they do ranges in shampoo, cleansers, moisturizers, deodorants, lip balms and perfume,

The candles costs £37 each and are available to buy from Liberty of London and Space NK.

Check out the Malin+Goetz website.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Face of Fabulous

As a well known magazine junkie I am often amazed by the quality of the free publications available with newspapers. YOU that comes with The Mail on Sunday, Style that comes with The Sunday Times and Stella that comes with The Sunday Telegraph. All of those magazines are stylish, well written and have the right balance of entertainment and factual news. When the News of the World launched Fabulous magazine a few years ago I was intrigued to see what they would come up with and I was pleasantly surprised. The magazine was very glamorous, glossy and full of news and features about celebrities, fashion and beauty. I have not seen the magazine for a while but you could have knocked me down with a feather when I received an invitation to attend a blogger launch event for Fabulous. It took place at their headquarters at News International which is the home for The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times and of course the News of the World. As soon as Wendi from Wendi B Writes and I arrived we were greeted with champagne served on trays, cupcakes and lots of savoury snacks. There were also different sections where you could get your make up done, a wardrobe section for you to try out the latest style in clothes and shoes and to top that off you could have a photo shoot to show off your new look. Dotted around the room were blown up placards of previous covers of Fabulous which demonstrated how much the magazine has changed over the years. Fabulous has lost its wholesome feel and is now slick, sleek with a slight edgy feel to it. Previous cover stars have been Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Cheryl Cole, The Saturdays, and Lacey Turner aka Stacey Slater from EastEnders. It is no surprise to hear that they took the award for Supplement of the Year at the British Press Awards. The staff from Fabulous were in attendance as well as editor, Rachel Richardson and it was great mingling with other bloggers Yinka from Vex in the City, Reena from Fashion Daydreams, Frankie from Swell Vintage, Louise from Get Lippie and Michelle from Beauty and the Blog.
The whole point of the event was to celebrate the launch of Face of Fabulous which is a new competition to find a cover star for Fabulous. The winner of the competition will nab a global modelling contract with Next Model Management and will appear on the cover of the publication. What is so unique about this competition is that it will be hosted on Facebook. Readers will be able to upload their pictures and the public will be able to vote for the final ten model. The winner will be picked by Fabulous editor, Rachel, Fabulous fashion director, Tracey Lee Sayer and Next Model Management's Head of New Faces, Ross Young.

The deadline for the competition is 23rd June and you can enter here.

You can check out the Fabulous website here.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Ranting and Raving

Christiana Mbakwe is a lady who is not afraid to speak her mind which is evident from her opinionated posts on her blog, Christiana Rants as well as her ever so entertaining tweets. She has been blogging since 2008 and covers topics such as friendship, relationships, politics, self esteem and careers. However it was her epic blog post Growing up African which has really caught the attention of Twittersphere where she discusses the perils of growing up in a Nigerian household and all the quirks that come with it. When she is not blogging, Christiana she is working on her other baby The Tip Online which is an online lifestyle magazine that covers fashion, beauty and celebrity news. Her day job is as a social media manager so it seems that social networking is a huge part of her life. I caught up with her to find out about blogging and ranting.

What made you start blogging?
My cousin from LA was over in London for the summer and we'd spent much of our time together debating and me winding everyone up with my opinions. He challenged me one evening to chronicle my thoughts and start a blog. So I did. It was a bet that spiraled out of control, initially it was just for my family and friends, but after a few months it began to expand.

Describe the concept behind Christiana Rants?
Essentially it's a blog built on discussing ideas, challenging concepts and gaining something from going through that process. My mantra is 'Engage. Entertain. Educate', I try to keep the posts as intellectually rigorous as possible, but still quite light. It's a difficult tightrope to walk, but I don't want a lowest common denominator blog. I figured if my blog is filled with stupidity, I'll constantly have to engage with stupid people. So I deliberately position my blog in a manner that forces myself and my readers to wear their thinking caps when they read it. I started blogging at 21, now I'm 24, so my readers are following me on a journey and in many ways we're on a journey together.

Over the last few years bloggers have really made their mark in blogsphere, how do you think they will continue to push the boundaries over the next few years?
I think the rise of the blogger has been a predominately western thing, as it's occurred in regions where there is mass internet access . In our cultural space it's pretty much the norm to see bloggers begin to penetrate the media and to a degree exert influence in the media and beyond. Though this influence is often overstated it's an interesting phenomena. My feeling is that there won't be much boundary pushing from bloggers in the West. However assuming that there's is economic growth in the developing world and internet access begins to spread south of the equator, I suspect the real innovation and boundary pushing will come from the bloggers that come from the developing world. Their addition to the blogsphere will make it more pluralistic and interesting.

How do you get your inspiration for your posts?
Honestly? My (overly) complicated love/dating life. LOL! And the love lives of my friends. On a serious note I find inspiration in a variety of places. I read obsessively and like hearing what people have to say and analysing why they behave in the manner they do. I try and find inspiration wherever I can.

What do you do when you are not working on your blog?
I'm probably reading, writing or playing my piano. If not that spending time with my family and friends.I spend a lot of time looking at shoes on the internet.

Describe a typical day in the life of Christiana.
I work as the social media manager of an international humanitarian relief organisation so from 9 to 5, they have my time. I'll get home and then work on The Tip Online whether it's organising features, shoots, interviews or general research. If it's not The Tip, then I'm editing or writing a piece for Christiana Rants or whatever writing project I'm involved in at that time.

What are your favourite glossy magazines?
I've always preferred books!

Name five blogs that you read religiously.
I only check three blogs religiously. Leftsetz Letter, The Awl and Karla's Closet. Any others I dip in and out.

How do you see your blog evolving over the next two years?
I can't predict the trajectory of its evolution. However I hope whatever the blog is and whatever space I'm operating in there will be a significant improvement in my quality of writing and a lot of progression.

You can read Christiana's blog here.

You can follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Goodbye to International Chick Lit Month

Well that was the month that was, the first ever International Chick Lit Month took place in May. Celebrated avidly by Chick Lit is Not Dead, Chick Lit Club and Novelicious, I decided to mark the occasion as well. The event saw interviews with the wonderful ladies from Chick Lit is Not Dead, I asked some of my favourite bloggers to tell me about their favourite Chick Lit title, I also caught up with publicist, Hannah Hargrave who told me what it was like to promote Chick Lit books and I also got the chance to interview one of my favourite authors, Lisa Jewell who talked about her new book, The Making of Us. I have had a blast and learnt lots about the genre and this event had made me appreciate it more. It is really great to know that so many people love Chick Lit books. Roll on next year.

If you missed out on the event them just click here to read all the past International Chick Lit Month blog posts here.

Fire in Babylon

I have never been a real fan of cricket, when I was growing up it was all about athletics, gymnastics and figure skating. In fact my only direct exposure to the sport was a few years ago when I attended a hospitality event in Manchester with a bunch of cricket stars such as Sir Viv Richards, Curtly Ambrose and Henry Olonga. It was a great day and I sort of got an idea of how massive cricket really is. I heard about Fire of Babylon a few weeks ago by chance through an email from a mate and the promo copy gave me an insight into what  it was about. Fire in Babylon captures the spirit of the West Indian cricket team and how their performances united countries from the West Indies and inspired them during traumatic times. The documentary features cricket super stars such as Viv Richards, Joel Garner, Clive Lloyd, Michael Holding and Colin Croft who made up what is now regarded as one of the best West Indies team the world has ever seen. Armed with lots of talent, determination and a hell of a load of pride, this team brought the world to its knees and a nation to its feet. This amazing team played during the era of the mid 70s and early 80s and experienced daunting times such as playing to an aggressive and racially abusive Australian team and audience. As well as a condescending and superior English team and public who deemed the West Indian players to be nothing more than clowns.

The gallant West Indian players rose to the occasion and gave both teams thrashings that they would never forget and as a result not only earned them the respect of the Australian and English players but their friendship as well. Ian Botham and Viv Richards went on to become great friends and many of the Australian players are still mates with that West Indian team. On top of this they were playing during the turbulent era of apartheid in South Africa; race riots in England and civil unrest in the Caribbean. They sure as hell kicked ass and turned cricket into a power sport. I loved watching this film because it really showed a beautiful side of cricket and I am a sucker for a good sport documentary and this one really lived up to the hype. I have always been fascinated by the run and jump that the players adopted when they approach the batsmen and this is shown in great detail with slow motion and still footage. The cinematography which is mostly taken from the 70s and 80s is magically remastered and set to an electric soundtrack which I just need to get my pretty hands on. The West Indian cricket team are interviewed and shared their experiences with us. Seriously, the 90 minutes went bit too quick and it left me wanting more. Stevan Riley does a thumping job and really conveys the feeling and deep emotion of that era. I am so getting this on DVD when it is released next week.

Check out the fabulous Fire in Babylon website.

Fire in Babylon is released on DVD on 6th June and you can get it from there outlets.

Check out a clip from the premiere in London with interviews from some of the cricket team and crew.

Monday, 30 May 2011

The I'mPOSSIBLE Conversation

Michelle and Barack Obamas took the country by storm last week during another trip to the UK and they set off to France leaving us all longing for more. However it was their first visit in 2009 that made us all fall in love with them particularly Michelle who won the hearts of women around the world when she uttered those words that it is cool to be smart. Michelle O telling women to embrace their smartness was a real moment and taught us that we needed to claim our power. As well as sport stars, singers and actresses we need to start worshipping women who have done well in the workplace. Enter The I'mPOSSIBLE Conversation which is a series of intimate events which bring British women of colour together to share their experiences. Imagine Inside the Actor's Studio meshed with Oprah's Legend Luncheon and you get the gist. The event will be hosted by actress, Tameka Empson who plays Kim Fox in EastEnders and she will be chairing a fantastic panel that consists of critic and author, Bonnie Greer, journalist, Charlene White, comedienne and playwright, Angie LeMar, journalist and author, Precious Williams and ex Channel 4 daytime time commissioner, Angela Ferreira.

Sponsors on board are Mizani which is L'Oreal's global premium range for afro hair and B.Hive where the event is taking place. Set up by PR guru, Lynne Franks, B.Hive is an innovative workspace for women entrepreneurs to run their businesses and meet like minded women. "The I'mPOSSIBLE Conversation is a groundbreaking event for the UK and women of colour as it puts their stories, unabridged into the public domain in a way that's empowering and inspiring," says Simone Bresi-Ando who founded I'mPOSSIBLE in 2009. I am really looking forward to this event because not only is the B.Hive a gorgeous venue that I have been meaning to explore, it will be amazing to be in the presence of such amazing women and hear what they have to say. I expect the event to be sensational.

The I'mPOSSIBLE Conversation takes place on Wednesday 15th June at 6.15pm at B.Hive, 26-27 Southampton St, WC2E 7RS. Tickets are £25.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

In the Editor's Chair - Cynthia Lawrence-John

I do love conceptual magazines although they can be a little out there, they are very beautiful and inspirational. Enter Volt magazine which is a biannual publication that is a creative hybrid that shows off the work by from some of the directional fashion talent from all over the world. Volt covers British fashion, beauty and talent the work of photographers, stylists and artists. It was launched in 2007 in the midst of a very glamorous party in London and this was followed by a launch in Berlin a year later. Volt's online editor is Cynthia Lawrence-John who is a top stylist who was has worked with Sugababes, the Ting Tings, Kanye West, VV Brown, Lady Gaga and Rihanna. She took five minutes out of her busy schedule to tell me all about the publication.

How did you get into magazines?
I have worked in the magazine world since I was about 24, when I graduated with a photography degree from LCP (London College of Printing). My first job in a magazine publishing company was at Natmags/ Hearst publishing, as a Picture Editor which taught me a tremendous amount, much of which I still use today. I was also the Fashion Director of Sleaze magazine. Volt magazine was the original idea of Rui Faria, who is the editor-in-chief and also a beauty photographer. My initial job was fashion director but now I also work on the marketing side.

Describe the concept of Volt magazine and the idea behind the name.
Volt magazine is a biannual and is published as a Spring/Summer edition and an Autumn/Winter edition. The concept is for each image to stand up in its own right, as a beautiful image. It is unbound and over sized so that the magazine does not have the same format and constraints as traditional print magazines. Volt magazine aims to 'slow down' the viewing process...the large unbound format forces the viewer to actually 'LOOK' at the pages and content, as opposed to 'skim' the content. In each issue we like to commission well-established photographers and image-makers, as well as upcoming talent. We also like to feature well established brands alongside new design talent.

The design is very slick and very modern, how did you decide on the art design of the publication?
The art direction of Volt magazine has been a very organic process. Volt is not about following trends in design or a grid. Each story is designed with the concept of the story in mind, however the design does not take over from the story. In terms of the style of photography, it varies from issue to issue. I love photography, which has a cinematic feel and also documentary/reportage. Rui loves full on glamour fashion. I guess Volt is really a combination of the two. I love models that are ‘real’, with an inspiring personality. I love fashion and clothes, but it is important to me, particularly in my work that the models own ‘person’ comes across even if they are playing a character in a story.
Who is behind Volt magazine?
Volt is a surprisingly small team; Rui Faria came up with the original concept, he is a beauty photographer as well as running a photography agency called Areia. I am the fashion director, as well as working on the marketing and special projects alongside Rui. Jason Leung is the menswear fashion editor, Linda Ohstrom is our incredibly talented and wonderful beauty editor, Katie Baron is our features editor and on the design side is Angelo Pandelidis. Voltcafe, the online sister title to Volt magazine is very important, Anna Bang is the features editors on Voltcafe. We also have a team of amazing interns and students who are absolutely vital to the magazine.

Describe a day in the life of Cynthia Lawrence-John.
A day in my life is very varied! Which is why I love what I do. Aside from working as fashion director on Volt and Voltcafe, I am also a freelance stylist. One day I may be prepping for a fashion editorial, the next day researching photographers and new talent for upcoming issues of Volt or Voltcafe. The next day I may be doing a fitting for a music video or film, the next consulting for a brand, my days are never the same and I do not get bored, which is very important to me. I do not like to feel in a rut whether it be a creative rut or a career rut. I like to feel I am always learning something new.

Which blogs do you check out regularly?
To be honest, I must confess I don’t really check blogs on a regular basis. Maybe I should as there are some great ones. I do look at Lulu Kennedy’s blog and Sharmadean Reid as I find them both very inspiring and I like their take on life. I love The Sartorialist but when I do have time to read, I am more likely to pick up a book than to check blogs maybe I am just old fashioned?

What magazines do you read?
I love I-D, Fantastic Man, Twin, Another and Another Man, Teen Vogue, L’official and BUTT, although I do read others but I don’t want to go on.

What tips do you have for anyone who wants to become a magazine editor?
For anybody who wants to become an editor on a magazine I guess the main thing is to have a voracious appetite for all facets of the magazine world. I never studied fashion, my background is more in the theoretical side of image making and fashion, as opposed to the practical side of things. But I      enjoy both equally. I always want to keep learning and it is important to me to continue evolving. I learn as much from the young interns who come into magazine as they do from me. In any field always be open and ready to learn and take on board new ideas.

Issue 9 of Volt magazine is out now.

Check out the Volt website here.

You can follow Cynthia on Twitter.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: Why I Hate Bridget Jones

The most famous Chick Lit of all time and the one that really set it all off. Bridget Jones's Diary is named by The Guardian as one of the ten novels that defined the 20th century. The now iconic book written by Helen Fielding was inspired by her very popular single girl about town column in The Independent. Not too dissimilar from Candace Bushnell who also kicked off her career at the same time, where she penned her own column for The New York Observer. Well I never got round to reading Bridget Jones but I did watch the film when it was released back in 2001 (my god that was ten years ago) and how appropriate was that film to my life and state of mind back then. Bridget Jones, played by Renee Zellweger is a curvy, nice middle class girl who works for a publishing company. Work is an interesting word as Bridget seems to spend most of her time dreamy over Daniel Cleaver played by Hugh Grant who she believes is her Mr Right and obsessing over her weight. She keeps a diary that monitors every pound she has lost and or put on and also how many glasses of wine she has consumed. She meets Mark Darcy played by Colin Firth at her parent's Christmas Party and despite encouragement by both their parents, the two fail to hit it off. Mark thinks Bridget is a ditzy bimbo and Bridget writes Mark off as a stuck up snob. After spending New Year's Eve alone she decides to turn her life around by losing weight, drinking less wine and finding herself a nice man. I totally loved this film when I first saw it but now I can barely watch it without cringing. I really feel that Bridget Jones gives single women and chick flicks a bad name with her constant scatty and needy ways.

Below I have listed he things I dislike about Bridget Jones's Diary:

It reinforces the stereotype that women need a man in order to complete them and if they never find the one then they are destined for a life of loneliness and will eventually turn into a psycho.
This notion that we all need a man to complete us is frankly patronising and out of sync. More and more of us live alone and also lead content lives without a man and children while managing not to have an emotional breakdown.

That the Brits are upper class twats who say fuck, bollocks and bugger a lot. 
Seriously? Who talks like that? Britain comprises of England, Scotland and Wales, three countries that have very different accents and that is not taking into consideration all the different regional dialects. To portray Brits as people who only talk like they have tomatoes in their mouths is just ridiculous.

That single women are ditzy airheads who make bad decisions and cannot cook and live in domestic chaos. 
This never fails to annoy me. Most single females are not all airheads who can barely find their way out of a paper bag, we are strong, independent women who juggle careers, family, friends and a mortgage - and we cook too.

That Hugh Grant needs to be in every Brit movie in order for it to be a success. 
There was a time back in the day when Hugh Grant was a serious actor but that all changed when Four Weddings and a Funeral became a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It is amazing what success does to a man, since then Hugh had elevated his then girlfriend, Elizabeth Hurley to celebrity life, hooked up with a prostitute and is now the figurehead for Brit romcoms. Someone send him his pension book.

That modern women smoke like chimney pots and drink like fishes. 
Strangely enough some of us actually value our bodies and apart from the odd drink here and there we like to look after it. This does not include drinking more booze than your body weight and smoking like a fish wife.

Overall Bridget Jones's Diary leaves a lot to desire and really sets women back a few decades.I pray that they do not make another movie.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: Promoting Chick Lit

Working for a book publishers is a dream for a huge book lover like me; imagine being surrounded by gorgeous titles all day. Brings me out in trembles as I write. A good few years ago I read Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith which gave me a real indicator about how the publishing industry works and how crucial the departments such as sales, editorial, marketing and PR are to the success of a title. Because She Can by Bridie Clark also provided us with a pop cultural view of the book industry and how they analyse trends in order to shift books. I was introduced to the Sphere clan at the launch of From Notting Hill with Love Actually and I was struck by how much passion they had for the books they were working on. I caught up with Hannah Hargrave, the acting publicity manager at Little, Brown Book Group (which owns Sphere) and she gave me the lowdown on the publicity department and what exactly goes on in there.

Describe your role at Sphere.
As Acting Publicity Manager at Little, Brown Book Group – looking after the Sphere list primarily – I work in an incredibly busy publicity department. Everyday I handle a huge number of media enquiries, with requests for review copies, interviews and features with our many authors coming in from the national and regional newspapers, magazines, websites, TV and radio stations. I plan and carry out publicity campaigns for around four new titles a month, and this involves writing press releases, sending out review copies to all the literary editors and key reviewers, and pitching to journalists in order to persuade them to feature our authors. I also need to stay in constant contact with my authors and keep them updated on any news of coverage, as well as manage their interview and events schedules, which can involve promotional book signings and festival appearances across the country. With so many amazing authors on our list it can get very hectic!

How do you define Chick Lit?
Chick lit is often dismissed as being formulaic, sentimental froth – the desperate single woman seeking a Mr Darcy figure has her happy ending, all bound together with a pastel pink cover! However, the genre is as strong and as vibrant as ever, with an incredible range of themes, characters, dilemmas, humour and romance. Books published today need to offer readers more than the usual girl-meets-boy story, and our key authors, including Jenny Colgan, Fiona Walker and Dorothy Koomson – to name but a few – write books that are genuinely funny, compelling, gripping, emotional and intelligent. And I think that good chick lit is defined in the same way.

Name a few of your favourite Chick Lit books.
I have a very long list, but it would definitely include The Imperfect Girlfriend by Lucy-Anne Holmes, Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding (classic!), Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson and I am currently loving Victoria Fox’s Hollywood Sinners (although technically this is more of a bonkbuster!).
What sort of tactics do you use to promote a Chick Lit novel?
It does depend on the book I’m working on, but I’m always willing to give anything and everything a go, and authors always have lots of good ideas themselves. At the moment I am fully embracing digital strategies – using Twitter, Facebook, blogs and websites to create as much buzz as possible. I’ve also sent out treats with review copies (cakes and chocolate always go down well!), created themed parties with costumes and props, and wrapped books in luxury paper and ribbon to make them look and feel extra special. If it will give us an extra national review – and more sales – it’s always worth a try.

Tell me about your most recent campaign.
At the moment I’m working on a debut publishing in June – Laura’s Handmade Life by Amanda Addison - an irresistible cross between Slummy Mummy and Kirstie Allsopp's Homemade Home, with all the chaotic humour of family life combined with everything crafty - sewing, patchwork, knitting. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and there has already been a lot of interest from the women’s magazines. The editor, Caroline Hogg, who acquired the book, is a huge fan of crafts and she organised people in the office to get together and make some adorable flower brooches: They are all unique and hand-sewn, and will be sent out with a copy of the book to all the literary editors and reviewers across the national press, which will hopefully make it stand out from all the others they receive for that month. Amanda Addison is a graduate of the Chelsea School of Art, so I’ve been putting her forward for interviews and features as well. We will also be launching an incredible competition to win a sewing machine and some other crafty goodies. Caroline has created a Blue Peter style ‘how to make a book bag’ video, and we’re hoping that all those people who love sewing and making things will join in and send us pictures of their own creations! Again, websites and blogs are incredibly important to this campaign, and I’ve been contacting quite a few who are keen to review the book or run competitions - and help us with ours. Amanda will also be popping into local shops to sign copies.

How much input do the authors have in promoting their book?
Authors are essential to the publicity campaign. Early on we brainstorm ideas for features and news hooks, and I make sure they are happy to take part in interviews or events with bookshops, festivals and libraries. We also encourage authors to set up websites and Twitter feeds so that they can engage with their fans on a daily basis. I check press releases with authors, and make sure that any useful contacts they have in the media, or famous friends, get sent a copy too.

How would you say social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging have played a part in marketing the genre?
Social networking sites are vital in generating word of mouth excitement and getting your message straight to the fans. I always make sure that every book and author I work with has an online presence, and bloggers who review books are becoming increasingly powerful. Whereas a magazine will have one slot a week for a book review, websites can run limitless amounts of reviews and comments from fans. Increasingly chick lit readers are using these sites to determine which book they buy next, and I need to make sure that Sphere books are in all the right places.

You can follow Hannah on Twitter.

Friday, 20 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell

Despite the catastrophe that was Sex and the City 2 I still have an ongoing love affair with the TV series. Nothing can keep me away from that lovely pink boxset as I relive many memories of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte painting the city of NYC bright red. Despite what many short sighted people may think S&TC was not just about sex, it was about a deep friendship between four women. We saw how they bonded over the years and shared their lives with each other each and accepting one another's flaws without question. It was really quite beautiful to watch. I always wondered how Carrie and co met but strangely it was never discussed in the show. The second movie did give us an insight into this which to be honest was the only highlight but they did not go into much detail. This precious information is laid out to The Carrie Diaries which is a series of books written by Candace Bushnell who penned the book, Sex and the City. The series introduces us to Carrie as a teen when she is making her way through her last year at school, experimenting with boys, fashion, make up and her ideology. One thing she is not experimenting with is her dream to be a writer and she puts this into fruition by enrolling on a writing course in NYC. Summer and the City is the second book in the series which takes off where the first book left off with Carrie being mugged in New York as she arrives from her home town of Connecticut. With no money or clothes and no family or friends in the Big Apple she calls the cousin of her close friend - a Samantha Jones. Samantha takes her in for the night and of course takes her out to a party and from there on sort of acts as her guide around New York. Samantha is only a few years older than Carrie but with her own apartment, sexy clothes and a job in PR she is worlds apart. A few days later Carrie's luck takes a change for the better when she gets a call from a young lady saying she has found her bag. They arrange to meet so Carrie can collect it.- enter Miranda Hobbs. It is kind of delightful seeing Carrie meet the women who will turn out to be the most important people in her life, you feel like you are on a personal journey with her. We don't get to meet Charlotte in this book but she is spotted in Summer and the City so I guess she will make her appearance in the next title. This book may be written for teenagers but adults will enjoy it just as much.

Summer and the City is available to buy now.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: My Favourite Chick Lit by Keysha Davis

Welcome to the My Favourite Chick Lit series where a few of my favourite writers and bloggers tell me about their best loved Chick Lit book is and why it is so important to them. This week I am featuring the lovely Keysha Davis, the editor of Black Hair and also the owner of The Cocoa Diaries which covers the UK entertainment scene.
When I discovered I was pregnant with my first child in late 2004, overnight I transformed from a career focused, go-getter, into a neurotic, baby obsessed mama to be. I’d immerse myself in book after book that would document in painstaking detail all the physical, emotional and psychological changes that I’d no doubt encounter on the journey to motherhood. It didn‘t stop there. Every evening I would arrive home and virtually fling myself on the sofa, packet of Jacobs crackers in hand (that’s all I could eat for four months) getting lost in episode after episode of pregnancy reality TV shows (this was before the days of One Born Every Minute). So in other words - I was pretty prepared. Right? The survey says (cue Family Fortunes buzzer) *Uh uh*. Fast forward nine months later and the baby arrives (yay). But after the adrenaline and euphoria wears off, I find myself spinning in a maelstrom of endless feeds, leaky nipples, irrational thoughts, sleep deprivation, chronic insecurity, and just a general laundry list of feelings that weren’t listed in those BLADDY BOOKS! 
On one particular lonesome trip with me and my bubby to Bromley I stumbled across a book in Waterstones. “Amy Crane is in crisis. Six months after giving birth, she’s still struggling with the transition from independent thirty something to muffin-middle mum. She can‘t remember the last time she had a wax. Or an orgasm” Wow, there’s my life on the back of a paperback, I thought to myself. Needless to say I quickly grabbed a copy, made my way to the cash point and that was it. Over the next five days or so I could be found within the pages of The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy by Polly Williams. Everything I needed to understand and fully process my experience of becoming a mum could be found in the pages of my new companion. Like me, Amy was struggling to navigate in her new role as primary caregiver. A professional in her early 30’s, up until this point Amy hadn’t really had to deal with much responsibility. Not only was she overwhelmed by the enormity of her new role, but there was also the insecurities she felt trying to live up the ‘yummy mummy’ description that has become the burden of the modern day mother, fuelled by unobtainable images of post natal celebrities in weekly glossies.
So Amy, trying to resurrect some semblance of her former life, starts hanging around with a woman named Alice who fits the yummy mummy prototype to a tee. With a healthy bank account, a hot hubby, a fancy pad and a cavalier attitude towards motherhood, Alice takes Amy under her wing and gives her an insight into what motherhood could be like if she were to up the ante on the fabulousity stakes. Amy attempts to do so to comical consequences. From replacing her drab Primark wardrobe with designer garb, joining a Pilates class and becoming enamoured by the charms of her instructor, to getting botox much to her husband’s dismay - Amy is relentless in her pursuit of ‘hot mama-hood’ and things become rather complicated in the process. Like all good chick lit books, the tone of The Rise & Fall of a Yummy Mummy is down to earth, light-hearted with a solid moral fable for you to ponder on. Polly Williams is a wonderful writer. I really like her short, snappy sentences, comedic timing and her ability to talk about the modern malaise of contemporary women without portraying us as martyrs and victims. I truly wish I had discovered this book before becoming a mum. If you’re currently up the duff, I’d strongly urge you to do away with the pregnancy manuals and make amazon your friend.
You can read Keysha's blog here and follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: Jenny Lopez Has a Bad Week by Lindsey Kelk

Over the last year or so Lindsey Kelk has found her way into my heart and become one of my favorite authors. Her fantastic I Heart series has really caught the imagination of Chick Lit lovers all round the world with her protagonist, Angela Clark who moves to New York to start a brand new life. Oh how we have lived vicariously through her life as she lands a plum job on a magazine, nabs a herself a cute hipster boyfriend and travels to exciting cities such as LA and Paris to cover stories. Lindsey has been a very busy lady not only is she working on a new I Heart book she has also written a stand alone title called The Single Girls To-Do List which is released in June and she has also found time to write a spin off of the I Heart series. Jenny Lopez Has a Bad Week is a short digital download which follows Angela's best friend as she struggles to restart her life after moving back to NYC from LA. A native New Yorker, Jenny's dream came true when she landed a cool gig as a stylist in La La Land and where she rubs shoulders with starlets. Also she had Angela for company so the two would explore LA night life and get into all sorts of mischief. However Jenny's luck ran out when she found out that her flat mate was a high class hooker and it was time to head back east.

So she is back in the Big Apple but at her lowest ebb with no job, flat mate or boyfriend so she sets out to rectify this and fast. Pretty soon she has sorted out a viewing with a potential flat mate and has booked two dates with exciting prospects. It looks like the job situation has been sorted when her mate Erin hooks her up with a job to babysit a supermodel. Piece of cake she thinks after all one thing she is good at is is dealing with people, except she finds out that the supermodel is a real handful. It looks like Jenny is going to have a really bad week. We always take the lead protagonist in a book to our hearts but it is often the supporting characters that often steal the show and with the I Heart series, Jenny Lopez with her sassy wit stole the show. After all it was she who got Angela back on her feet when she first landed in NYC and looking fabulous in her designer and vintage outfits. So it is only right that Jenny should get her own spin off book where we get to know the little minx much better. It has been a while since I last read an I Heart title so it was really great to catch up with Jenny and Angela, after all they do lead the most fabulous lives. In a nutshell Jenny Has a Bad Week was short but very very sweet.

Jenny Has a Bad Week is available for FREE on Kindle from amazon for those in the UK till 23rd May so hurry and download your copy. After that it is £1.99. You can also get it at iBookstore, right now it is FREE but I am not sure how long for. Readers outside of the UK can download the Kindle version from amazon here.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: Something Borrowed

There is a famous saying called look at your friends and you see yourselves, in other words we are drawn to people who are just like us. But what about the other flip of the coin where opposites attract? Attractive and vivacious girl is best buddies with a dowdy and demure girl who let's her friend shine and take all the attention. How many times have we seen that scenario? Something Borrowed delves into this situation in the film adaptation of the best-selling book by Emily Giffin. Rachel played by Gennifer Goodwin is thoughtful. caring and generous yet she has always played second fiddle to her best friend, Darcy played by Kate Hudson. Darcy is drop dead gorgeous and has the sort of charisma that draws people in yet her manipulative ways means that she won't stop till she gets what she wants even if it is at the expense of others. When Darcy hooks up with Dex played by Colin Egglesfield who is Rachel's hot friend from law school, Rachel does nothing despite the fact that she really likes Dex and when Dex goes on to propose to Darcy, Rachel is still waiting on the sidelines like a spare tool. Then one drunken night after Rachel's 30th birthday party the unthinkable happens, she does the dirty on Darcy and sleeps with Dex. The morning after both best friend and groom are mortified but decide to keep it a secret. Next thing we know they are having a torrid affair while trying to keep up pretences with Darcy. However, Rachel decides that she needs more from the relationship and gives Dex and untimation to come clean with Darcy or call it off with her.
I have read the book of this film and it is not your run of the mill chick lit. A lot of the characters are very complex and there are a lot of grey areas that are covered. While Darcy is portrayed as a self obsorbed ditzy bimbo in the film, the book presents a more calculated character. The medium of film does not allow us to show the intricacies that are involved with female friendships especially long term ones. Women interact with each other very differently with men and to an extent a female can be like a relationship. It has its highs and lows and there are times when both parties involved can detest each other and this is all without getting into the competitiveness and rivalry that can cloud things. The casting was a bit off; in the book Darcy is a sultry brunette so the last person I would have picked to play her is Kate Hudson and Dex is described as being drop dead gorgeous so I would have expected someone like Ryan Reynolds or Bradley Cooper as opposed to Colin (who) Egglesfield. Still I heard that Emily Giffin is pleased with the result and thinks the casting was spot on so I suppose she is the real expert as it is her baby. Something Borrowed was an enjoyable film but it left me feeling very underwhelmed. There were some nice touches in the film such as a cameo by Emily Giffin sitting in the park reading the sequel, Something Blue which focuses on Darcy's side of the story. Also watch out for the short scene right at the end where we what looks like a potential trailer for Something Blue.

Something Borrowed is out in cinemas now.

I actually got introduced to Something Borrowed at the Yoruba Girl Dancing book club which I am part of and you can read what we all thought about it here.

Friday, 13 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: Is Chick Lit Simply the Romance Novel?

Shade Lapite is a writer who runs Just Before Bed which is a fantastic book blog so I was delighted when she offered to write a guest post for me. The post is a light hearted look at the comparisons between Chick Lit and romance novels.

It’s not hard to spot the Chick Lit section in a bookshop. The pastel-coloured, cartoon-illustrated cover has become as ubiquitous as the perma-tan hero - big hands, big pecs, big…everything was once reserved for romances. The story lines are becoming pretty standard too. Housewives being abandoned by their husbands and falling for handsome farmers, (The Sweetest Thing by Cathy Woodman) career women being passed over for promotion then falling for the snobs who stole their coveted job (Unlike a Virgin by Lucy Anne Holmes) and organised girl Fridays forced to babysit out of control rock-star comedians then falling for their charges (Lizzy Harrison Loses Control by Pippa Wright). There’s an awful lot of falling in fact they sound curiously like the romance novel circa 1970 with a sense of humour. While the 21st century Chick Lit novel showers us with unfulfilled women toiling in underpaid job (nannies, secretaries, assistants) leaning on family and friends until a man provides that happy ending, the romance genre has done some serious growing up. The scowling, cynical hero is still wealthy and strong jawed but tends to refrain from taking his woman against her will. The women are still achingly beautiful and innocent but they’re not sitting around waiting for an invite to the nearest aisle. Instead they're strong-willed careerists, occasionally even contemptuous of the whole love thing.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this; when a pudgy, beer-swilling, nicotine-addicted Bridget Jones stumbled on to the literary scene she was supposed to usher in a richer more varied representation of womanhood. And for a while she did; from Melissa Bank’s, Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, to the feisty heroines of Candace Bushell’s Sex and the City. Along with the ditsy Bridgets, Chick Lit encompassed capable women at the top of their game, navigating life and love, friendship and family. You see, there was variety. Now the parameters of the genre seem to be narrowing. Yes the books are still well written, hilarious, moving but the underlying message is consistently - singledom sucks and life’s pointless without a steady man. We already have the romance, and it’s doing pretty well. so it would be a shame if we landed ourselves with an imitation genre. So let’s stop treating singledom like a disease, occasionally ditch the pastel-coloured cover and get back to embracing the full potential of women.

You can read Shade's blog here and you can follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: Interview with Lisa Jewell

I have always been a fan of Lisa Jewell's books and along with Sophie Kinsella, Robyn Sisman, Matt Dunn and Jane Fallon, Lisa Jewell is one of my favourite Chick Lit authors. She has been writing books since 1999 when her first novel, Ralph"s Party became the bestselling debut of the year. Since then her other novels, Thirtysomething, One-Hit Wonder, Vince & Joy,  Friend of the Family, 31 Dream Street, The Truth About Melody Browne and After the Party (the sequel to Ralph's Party) have hit the Sunday Times bestsellers list.  Her new book, The Making of Us is about Daniel who is dying at a hospice and is thinking about his legacy which consists of four kids that he fathered from four different women. They are strangers to him and each other but all share a common bond which is difficult challenges in their lives. However slowly they begin to find their way into each other's lives. I caught up with Lisa to find out about her new book and what she really thinks about Chick Lit.

Describe the concept of your new book, The Making of Us.
The book is about three strangers, all in their twenties, all living completely disparate lives, unexpectedly find each other when it transpires they share an anonymous donor father. I wanted the book to have the feel of one those gripping ITV three night drama mini-series (possibly starring Suranne Jones ;)) where all the loose threads slowly come together.

What do you think of the term Chick Lit? Is it something you find offensive of quite cute?
I find the term neither offensive, nor cute. I mostly find it annoying. I have been answering this question for twelve years now but the issue never seems to die. There are probably people out there who would enjoy my books but don't buy them because they are put off by the chicklit tag. Equally, there are probably people out there who buy my books precisely BECAUSE they are classed as Chick Lit, so maybe the numbers balance themselves out.

Tell us what your favourite Chick Lit books are.
I loved Jemima J by Jane Green and Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, but probably the best Chick Lit book I ever read was One Day by David Nicholls.

What sort of projects are you working on currently?
I am writing my 10th book. Wow. Hard to believe. After books about neglected children, dead babies, failing marriages and sperm donors, I wanted to see what it would be like to go back to basics and write a good, old-fashioned love story, so that is what I am doing. I think I may be a bit rusty though – I am 175 pages in and my couple have only just said hello to each other.

Quite a few Chick Lit books have been made into films, if you could have a Lisa Jewel book turned into a movie which one would it be?
Well, as I type there are people trying to get 31 Dream Street made into a movie. They have the finances in place, which is half the battle, so hopefully it might come to something. But if I was to choose one, I think maybe Vince & Joy, which is my favourite of all my books.

The Making of Us is available to buy now.

Check out Lisa Jewell's website and you can join her Facebook Fan Page.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: My Favourite Chick Lit by Wendi Bekoe

Welcome to the My Favourite Chick Lit series where a few of my favourite writers and bloggers tell me about their best loved Chick Lit book is and why it is so important to them. This week I am featuring the lovely Wendi Bekoe, a journalist who run a great blog called Wendi B Writes which covers her musings, political and social issues.
Thus far, my absolute favourite chick-lit books are the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. I was introduced to them by one of my close friends, and slowly each book consumed all of us in our group. The stories centre around Becky Bloomwood and follow her through her life as an uncontrollable spendaholic. There are six books in total called The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic Abroad, Shopaholic Ties The Knot, Shopaholic & Sister Shopaholic Baby and Mini Shopaholic which I am yet to read. The way in which Sophie Kinsella has written the books has had me hooked, because she's simply hilarious and not corny with it. Becky thinks almost exactly the way I do in many parts, to the point that at times it made me say to myself "I thought I was the only one who thought that way!" The stories are like a little bit of a fantasy for me, because Becky is pretty much a normal girl living a normal life, except she manages to accidentally land a dream job in New York (something I'd love for myself), she manages to land the guy unexpectedly (something I'd love for myself), she gets married (something I'd... well you get the gist!). Although things like that are generally considered fantasies, to me they are realistic/possible fantasies, and I think that is why I enjoy Chick Lit. They take you to places that, if you're a girly-girl, you've already been dreaming about.
You can check out Wendi's blog here and you can follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: Retro Review - Waiting to Exhale

For many people Bridget Jones was the first Chick Flick movie but as far as I am concerned it was  Waiting to Exhale that put the genre on the map. Based on the best-selling book by Terry McMillan, this movie set the world alight when it was released in 1996. I was in the cinema watching with my bestie the first night it was released and you could feel a real frenzy in the air. Waiting to Exhale is the story of four African American friends called Bernadette Harris played by Angela Bassett, Savannah Jackson played by Whitney Houston, Robin Stokes played by Lela Rochon and Gloria Matthews played by Loretta Devine who are at different stages of their lives. Bernadette's perfect life is turned upside down when her husband of ten years ups and leaves her and their two kids for his secretary and she is forced to go to court to fight for what is rightfully hers. Savannah has it all, great looks, independence, fabulous job and apartment but the only thing that is missing is the right guy. Robin is a high powered executive who is blessed with stunning looks and a smart brain yet lacks serious judgement when it comes to picking guys. Gloria runs her own successful salon and spends the rest of her time keeping an eye on her teenage son and has more or less given up on the idea of finding romance.

To me Waiting to Exhale set a precedence in the way women related to each other in films and TV - we had independent and sassy women who juggled careers, family, love lives and friends and who also spoke frankly to each other about their desires. It was a trend that was later emulated in Sex and the City, Lipstick Jungle, Soul Food and Girlfriends. That film was really ahead of its time and when I watch it now it still has a really fresh feel to it. All the issues that are covered are relevant today and the dialogue is as sharp as ever. Also it is one of a few films where the adaptation is just as good as the book. The first person narrative in the film worked amazingly well and gave us a real insight into the four women's personalities. Waiting to Exhale has it all, humour, love and friendship all wrapped up in a fantastic package. Much to my delight a sequel to the book was released last year which is rumoured to be turned into a film hopefully with the original cast. I can't wait.

Friday, 6 May 2011

International Chick Lit Month: Destiny by Louise Bagshawe

I used to be a real Louise Bagshawe fan back in the day and  I still love her earlier books such as Career Girls, The Movie Set, Tall Poppies, Monday's Child and Tuesday's Child. She really was one of the first authors to bring blockbusters into the 21st century and was quite rightly dubbed the new Jackie Collins. I stopped following her books when they dropped off the boil around the time when she was making political moves (cough cough) because they seemed to lack the spark that made me fall in love with them. However, it looks like Louise is back in the game with her new book, Destiny. The novel is about orphan, Katie Fox who is born into riches and rags but is gifted with great looks and an abundance of ambition. Katie is determined to make it in life and one way of doing that is to marry media mogul, Marcus Baker who is big player on the scene. Sophisticated, powerful and wealthy he is just the kind of guy to make Katie's dreams come true. Pretty soon she has the life she always dreamed of; wearing designer clothes and fabulous jewellery and attending glittery events with her uber rich and glam friends with all the time in the world to lunch and shop. However her lifestyle begins to lose its shine and Katie decides she wants more out of life such as a career of her own and a man she actually loves. Alas she soon finds that leaving her marriage is not as easy as she thinks and she finds herself with a fight on her hands to keep her independence and reputation.

Destiny by Louise Bagshawe is available to buy from today on amazon.

You can check out Louse Bagshawe's website.