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Pretty In Ink

Pretty In Ink
Lindsey Palmer

When Hers magazine announces they have hired Mimi as the new editor in chief, the magazine staff is understandably shaken. Over the next few months, many of them will find themselves without a job. Those who remain at the magazine will have to adapt to the new work environment. Some of the staff struggle, torn between loyalty to their old boss and coworkers, and wanting to gain Mimi’s favor. The new staff, hired by Mimi, are sometimes oblivious to the tension their presence causes.
Palmer writes this workplace drama with a light touch and humorous perspective. It is obvious that she has experience in the magazine industry and professional world. She is able to move the story forward by writing about a day here and a day there.
Pretty In Ink is narrated by Leah, Jane, Victoria, Deborah, Abby, Drew, Liz, Ed, Zoe, Erin and Laura. Each voice is interesting, but having so many makes it hard to get invested in the characters. I personally enjoyed Leah, Jane, Abby and Ed the most. Leah, Jane and Abby all had multiple chapters, so I was able to get the clearest view of them as people. Ed, as the lone male narrator, and a mailman at that, provided a fun outsiders perspective. I think the story could’ve been told just as well with only those characters as narrators, and might have been a little easier to follow.

Pretty In Ink  is a fun read. I will be recommending it for beach reading this summer! 

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You might like The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (of course) and Bond Girl by Erin Duffy. 

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Vintage

Vintage
Susan Gloss

For Violet, running her shop Hourglass Vintage is more than a job – it is the fulfillment of dreams she had as a small-town girl and abused wife. So when lease issues threaten her business, she is frantic to find a solution.
April bought her wedding dress at Hourglass Vintage, but returned it when her engagement to an upper-class boy fell apart. Now she is left pregnant and heartbroken.
Elizabeth, a mentor to both women and a patron of the arts, has the idea that the women should work together. But can they each get past their own struggles to become friends.
Amithi comes to Hourglass Vintage to sell some of her clothes from India after her long marriage falls apart. She is hoping for some kind of fulfilling career but has no idea where to start. Violet’s business gives her inspiration.
Each of the women in Vintage has her own story to tell. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was how the women were all different ages and at different stages of love and success.
Vintage: A Novel

You might like: A Vintage Affair, Isabel Wolff. The Perfume Collector, Kathleen Tessaro. The Shoemaker’s Wife, Adriana Trigiani.

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The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd

During the Civil War era, sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimpke were widely known not only as abolitionists but also as feminists. When she was a young girl, Sarah had been gifted a young slave named Hetty for her birthday, and Sarah taught her to read.
From the bare bones of these historical facts, Kidd has brought to life an outstanding novel, remarkable for its human characterization and insight.

In Kidd’s novel, Sarah is a restless girl with big dreams of becoming a lawyer and freeing her slave, Hetty. Her teen years sharpen her awareness of the inequalities faced by women and people of color (both slave and free.)
Hetty’s alternate chapters provide an unflinching look at the harsh realities of life for a female slave. Her mother, Charlotte, is a gifted seamstress who passes on her family’s African oral traditions through the art of her quilts.
Although it is illegal, Sarah is determined to give Hetty a tiny freedom in being literate. Neither of them can forsee the long-ranging consequences of this descision.

As an adult, Sarah is free to travel, and encounters the Quakers, who have radical ideas about freedom for slaves and women. She soon discovers that some of these ideas are more theory than practice.
Hetty, meanwhile, gets drawn into plans for a slave revolt. These plans, too, might never become a reality.

When she was only 12, Sarah was made the godmother to her sister Angelina. Their relationship is at once close and volatile. As a young woman trying to find her own way, Sarah is ill-equipped to help her sister in her own rebellion against societal expectations. But when both sisters are adults, they grow into an unexpected partnership. The differences that drove them apart as girls make them an effective pair in the fight for equal rights for all people.

Hetty’s mother taught her to always make quilts with black triangles,  representing blackbird wings. Like Sarah and Angelina, Hetty never gives up hope that someday she, too, can fly free.

The Invention of Wings is an outatanding book. Kidd has done an excellent job with both historic detail and character development that make the story come alive.
Having already read most of Kidd’s previous works, I recognize many common themes from her: anti-slavery and racial equality, as well as equal rights for women- especially in the church- being the most obvious. The importance of contemplative prayer, art, and symbolism of nature are others.
In the context of Sue Monk Kidd’s other books, The Invention of Wings is clearly a natural progression as well as a pinnacle of her writing

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You might like: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Franklin.

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I Am Malala

I Am Malala
Malala Yousufzai

Malala is a teenage Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban because she stood up for education rights for girls and women. Miraculously, she survived. She recieved treatment in England, where she now lives with her family. She has gone on to achieve global fame, including being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and continues to speak out for education.

Of course I knew all this from the news, and actually didn’t plan to read the book, but I picked it up and next thing I knew, I was in chapter 3…so of course I had to bring the book home.

What struck me most about Malala’s story was how she came to be an education advocate in the first place. Her father was a teacher and activist in Pakistan. The school he founded grew large, altho not necessarily prosperous because of all the scholarships he gave away. When the Taliban came to Pakistan and started enforcing Islamic extremism, he lead activist groups and spoke out in the media. He refused to sucumb to pressure and threats, and kept his school open to girls. He treated his daughter Malala like an equal to his sons, which helped develop her freedom and confidence, as well as her love of learning.
Malala’s mother played a role that was less obvious but equally important. She was a housewife, not an activist- but its clear that she enjoyed more freedom and influence than many women in her culture. She had a role in family financial descisions and opened her home to many family members in need. Without her support, her husband would not have been as successful.
Malala obviously is a person of extraordinary courage, but its clear that she was rooted in a strong loving family. Her love of learning was instilled from both parents all her life.

The tone of this book’s writing was very inviting. Malala had a co-author, so I’m not sure how much of the style was hers, but it felt like sitting down and talking to a friend. Malala’s voice came through as direct and uncomplicated. She offered explanation and background for many things that would be unfamiliar to a Western reader, but the story doesn’t slow down. Overall, I found the book somewhat charming.
Malala shares little details of her home life and family to paint a vivid picture of her life. She is quick to point out her failings, including her worst subjects in school, her disagreements with friends and fights with her brothers.

In the end, the book invites us to see Malala not as an extraordinary person, but as an ordinary person who has had extraordinary experience and opportunity. She says she doesn’t want to be known as “Malala the girl who was shot in the head” but as “Malala the girl who stood up for education.” Thanks to the teaaching of her father, the support of her mother, and the story in this book- I think we will all remember Malala that way.

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You might like: And the Mountains Echoed, K. Hosseini. Kabul Beauty School, D. Rodriguez.