An intriguing, well-rounded portrait of a fascinating woman whose many important contributions to art and fashion remain...

COCO CHANEL

PEARLS, PERFUME, AND THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS

In a warts-and-all biography, Rubin introduces readers to Coco Chanel, one of the most well-known fashion designers in the world, whose brand epitomized elegance and good taste.

Beginning with the difficult years Chanel spent in an orphanage, Rubin traces her development as a designer and focuses on the obstacles Chanel faced as a financially independent woman in an era when women were expected to marry. Rubin highlights some of Chanel’s memorable firsts for the fashion industry, including the little black dress, the quilted purse with gold chain, and the perfume Chanel No. 5. She also chronicles Chanel’s intense competition with Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Rubin does not hold back in discussing the unpleasant aspects of her subject. She was an outspoken anti-Semite throughout her life; Rubin traces this to Chanel’s stay at the orphanage during a time when Catholic institutions taught children to hate Jews. While France was occupied during World War II, Chanel dated a German intelligence officer and demonstrated little sympathy for French Jews facing persecution but did not suffer the consequences of other collaborators after liberation. Fittingly, the design of the book is gorgeous, with herringbone-tweed backgrounds to the text pages and Art Deco–inspired flourishes framing pull quotes; it is amply illustrated with archival photographs.

An intriguing, well-rounded portrait of a fascinating woman whose many important contributions to art and fashion remain popular today. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2544-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing.

THE AMAZING BOOK IS NOT ON FIRE

THE WORLD OF DAN AND PHIL

A couple more YouTube stars write a book.

Howell, who goes by "danisnotonfire," and "AmazingPhil" Lester are the latest YouTube stars hoping to cross over to the world of books. Instead of crafting a memoir or adapting their videos into a fictional series, the duo have filled these 225 pages with bold graphics, scatological humor, and quirky how tos that may entice their fan base but will leave everyone else out in the cold. It contains a wide variety of nonsense, ranging from Phil's chat logs to information on breeding hamsters. There's an emoji-only interview and some Dan/Phil fanfiction (by Howell rather than a fan) and even a full double-page spread of the pair's unsuccessful selfies. All this miscellany is shoveled in without much rhyme or reason following introductory pages that clearly introduce the pair as children, leaving readers who aren't in on the joke completely out of the loop. The authors make no attempt to bring in those on the outside, but in all honesty, why should they? The only people buying this book are kids who already love everything Dan and Phil do or clueless relatives in desperate search of a gift for the awkward teens in their lives. The book's biggest fault is its apparent laziness. It feels like something slapped together over a weekend, with no heart or soul.   

A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-93984-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2015

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