Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Sometimes I dip into a YA book and synch with teen yearnings for a different better life--and realize I'm an adult, a fact I can easily forget in an imaginative treasure like The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky (Little Brown and Co.) I have collected vintage clothes for decades and given them on to owners they better suit, so this is a book for me. And for girls and moms who love adventure, the mysteries of time and timeless design. Louise is a skinny 7th grader with braces on her teeth, frizzy hair, and weird parents--a Brit mom who boils food in vinegar a "Stepford" lawyer dad. Her life in Connecticut is made okay by her best friend, Brook, with whom she carefully navigates the awful indignities of Middle School. These include the inept boy, who somehow can't figure out how to ask her to the dance. The last time, she scurried away, embarrassed, wishing he'd get some social skills. But she's more interested in shoping for the perfect dress and fantasizes about a fantastic one of a kind vintage dress by one of the old masters, like Luceil, whose dresses she studies and draws, along with her own creations. A discerning devotee of thriftshops, Louise is thrilled when she receives an intriguing invite to a vintage sale. She dreams of rare finds and gets her friend, Brook to come with her, though she's more a devotee of whatever's new at the mall. Louise at first is put off by the rummage sale atmosphere, lack of price tags, and the two witch-like women running it. They practically refuse to let her try on a pink gown with a long draped skirt, an empire waist detailled with shimmery gold thread and a tiny silver beads. I'm giving details because the dresses illustrated in this book by Sandra Suy, are like characters. As Louise tries on the pink dress in the dark dressingroom, she soon finds herself on the moving floor of a cruise ship. Outside waits Ann, her maid. Louise is in the year5 1912 on the White Star Line, inhabiting the body of a glamours teen actress, Miss Baxter. She loves the amazing gowns she gets to wear as Baxter, but not so much the claustrophobic life of a celebrity who is dressed, waited on, and escorted. But she meets the handsome Mr. Guggenheim and the real Luceil, the pivotal fashion designer, and enjoys the extraordinary luxury of the ocean liner, until she discovers it's the Titanic! Then her time-travelling takes on a nightmarish cast. Louise and Ann try to convince Captain Smtih to change his course and get branded as hysterics. Realizing she can't change history, Louise has a visitation by the vintage witches who explain she needs the dress to go home. After the ship hits the ice, Louise undergoes a crazy race against the rising water to find the dress in the ship's laundry. Ann decides to stay with a handsome officer and save people, so Louise uses the dress to return to the 21st century. She finds the life she has is one she can appreciate, where women can speak their minds and vote and she has a comfortable wardrobe of jeans. But her love and appreciate for the history carried in Vintage clothes intensifies. And while she's recovering from her ordeal, she sees another invitation to the time-travelling vintage store. This is the first in a series that combines history and magic with a knowledge of the grace and purpose of fashionable clothes--which may retain the souls of the wearer. The story of a teen becoming more comfortable with herself, is familiar, but the route to that end is unexpected and charming.

Advance look! The King's Arms by Sonia Taitz

In The King's Arms is published by McWitty Press and won't be out until October. It's a fun read. This book manages to be light and funny, serious and passionate and yet is wise, witty and deep. Class and identity, Oxford intellectuals and the Holocaust, theater, tradition and assimiliation are all probed here in a tale of love at first sight that actually has a satisfying happy ending. Here goes. Lily Taub is a marvel. She's academically gifted, the beautiful and articulate daughter of Holocaust survivors. She grows up in NY and is raised never to take safety or her status in life for granted. But Lily, who grew up with the devastating stories of her parents' life in the death camps, yearns for great romance, fun and frivolity, as well as respect in the world beyond the insular community of survivors. When Oxford offers her a scholarship to study, she happily escapes, savoring her new status, while fearing it will somehow be taken away, because she is a Jew. At first, Oxford proves a lonely place, where she is an outsider less because of religion, than her status as an American foreigner. Instead of a glorious time in the hallowed halls, she's in a depressing room or roaming gray rainy streets, while the entitled ones, whose families have belonged here for generations, go their merry way to pubs, parties and theater. She was taught religious piety, but London in the 70's is about youth reinventing the world. Unlike the Europe of the 1940's, the horrific present of her parents, Lily wants to join the privileged youth around her but finds she is an interloper, a voyeur to grand tradition. Then she meets Peter Aiken, a talented student and aspiring actor with an intellectual's biting wit and a kind heart underneath. Stunned by her intelligence, her repartee in what he thinks of as a NY "gangster" accent, and appreciative of her looks, Peter introduces her to his group and becomes her best friend. Then one night she is struck by the most handsome boy she has ever seen and follows him into The King's Arms, a pub, staring mesmerized. She learns his name, Julian, before fleeing the pub and her intense reaction to him. Later, she finds he's Peter's younger brother, the "black sheep" of his aristocratic family, who didn't get into Oxford. When Peter invites her to stay at the family mansion over break, Lily finds her welcome tepid, but then Julian arrives. And she can't resist his sweetly insistent desire. His mother, however, views Lily as the evil "other," taking advantage of her son. And she communicates her distrust to the young son of her second marriage, who views Lily as a threat. The situation comes to a climax when the family goes to a New Year's Eve party, leaving Lily home to babysit. Julian sneaks home to be with her, but there's an acccident. Lily is blamed, even by Peter, and undefended by Julian. She has to leave but at Oxford, finds her room is occupied. Homeless and friendless, she learns she is pregnant and decides to go back to New York. Her memory goes back to her namesake, the Lily of the camps, raped by an officer and abandoned, when she was carrying his child--a half Nazi/Jew. Lily compares that world and herself at Oxford. And she yearns for Julian, because her dual vision is something she has shared with him. With his poetic sensitivity, he understands her conflict and loves her for it. But he's unreachable and she is set to sail for him, when Peter intercepts her and convinces her to come to his parents' house. Julian arrives and finally comes to accept the reality of becoming a father. He declares his desire to make her people his and join her in New York. And for Lily, assimilation is not a fearful loss of identity but bravely forging ahead with a combined heritage for the new life she is carrying...Love does conquer all.

The King's Arms by Sonia Taitz (McWitty Press)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tell me about a book you would like reviewed

If you would like to suggest a book, tell me about it and I'll reply. Leave it on the Facebook page for Tales of the Mer Family Onyx. Thanks. Susan Weinstein

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tales of the Mer Family Onyx

confession goes with this post. Tales of the Mer Family Onyx is my book. It's got some great reviews on Amazon. And people who have read it like it, though it's a far cry from E. Nesbitt (my ideal) the Brit author who inspired Lewis' Narnia series and Frank Baum's Oz books. While this book is certainly not in that class. It is, readers say, fun.

These are stories I told my son for years, as he was infatuated with his own private mermaid cult.
I reconstructed them from years of car trips to the ocean. It's got his drawing on the cover and it's fun to have this book, now that he's in the nasty tween years, quickly becoming a teen.
Mermaids have been replaced by shrunken heads in his fantasy world, a darker land. But for a while
the Onyx family of mermaids was our place, parents Glendora and Neptune, two sets of twins, the boy and girl tweens Rainbow and Bowrain, mer twins Emerald and Saphire, Baby Ruby and Pink of the race of mini-mermaids. Reviews on Amazon describe it better than I can. One person called it a new classic. I'd like that...

And am I doing this to sell books? Well since I get about 2.00 for every 10 on Amazon, probably not, but I would like this book to get read and enjoyed by children from 8 to 11, adults of a certain age, and read to 5 and 6 year olds. It is an "all in the family" mermaid book. And of course any agents or publishers that would like this serious--send me an e-mail! Thanks. Susan W

Tales of the Mer Family Onyx

A full confession goes with this posting. This is my own