JellyBaby's Blog

Chick lit may have a bad reputation, but if you ask me there’s nothing better than curling up at the end of a long day with something light, frothy and romantic. Here’s my pick of some of my favourite chick lit novels…

Secret Dreamworld Of A Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella is like the Queen of chick lit. Her novels make most women who read them go “that is so like me!” – and her Shopaholic series will have most girls nodding furiously in agreement with Becky Bloomwood, the ditsy but loveable protagonist. Addicted to shopping, she is in terrible debt but can’t resist the lure of new clothes. Full of romance; friendship and fashion this is a staple chick lit novel!

The Devil Wears Prada – Lauren Weisberger

Want to know what goes on behind the scenes of your favourite fashion magazines? Now you can find out. Weisberger wrote this novel after working at Vogue, and it’s a no-holds-barred account of life for Andrea, who works as an assistant to fearsome editor of fictional Runway, Miranda Priestley. If you’ve ever had an evil boss you’ll love this book!

Johnny Be Good – Paige Toon

Paige Toon can do no wrong in my eyes. Her debut novel, Lucy In The Sky, was so romantic it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside; but I’ve chosen Johnny Be Good as my favourite. Meg heads off to L.A to work as an assistant for rock god Johnny Jefferson, and (predictably) ends up with a massive crush on him! His best friend Christian keeps Meg’s feet on the ground, but can she handle life with the bad boy of the music world? Set amongst the at times glamorous and at times seedy world of the music industry, this is never slushy, often funny, and always entertaining.

Around The World In 80 Dates – Jennifer Cox

If you can’t find your True Love locally, you might start hanging out in a new pub or join a club, but Jennifer Cox went one further and travelled the world to find a man! Fed up with Brits, she travelled the world with the aim of dating men of every nationality. This book is hilarious throughout, but also has some touching moments and, being based on a true story, is inspiration for single ladies who feel they’re never going to meet Mr.Right.

Unsticky – Sarra Manning

Sarra Manning is my new favourite author, and her debut adult novel is utterly engrossing. 23 year old Grace has just been dumped and is in way over her head with debt – but then mysterious older man Vaughn offers to become her sugar daddy. She gets £7000 a month to be his arm candy; but what’s the difference between being a trophy girlfriend and being a prostitute? And what happens when she starts falling in love? A love story with a twist that is never too sweet, this book will have you hooked.

Tease – Immodesty Blaize

Celebrity novels are everywhere. Usually ghostwritten and usually crap, they might hit the best seller lists but they won’t become classics. However, burlesque star Immodesty Blaize is completely different. You’ll forget that writing isn’t her full time job as you read Tease, a glamorous, exotic bonkbuster about Tiger Starr, a burlesque superstar. Filled with drama, sex and intrigue, you’ll be absolutely hooked from the first chapter. Immodesty Blaize’s forte is her evocative descriptions of Tiger’s stage routines that will have you booking tickets to see burlesque for real as soon as you close the last page!

Fashion Babylon – Imogen Edwards Jones

From the creator of Hotel Babylon, this is another book that may look like fiction but is actually glamorous, scandalous fact! Detailing the process of creating a fashion show through a period of six months, it will have any fashion fans salivating and any wannabe fashion designers changing their minds faster than you can say Louboutin!

What’s your favourite chick lit?

I recently read Jodi Picoult’s latest paperback, Handle With Care. Anyone who’s read her books will know that she loves writing about tragedy and doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. In her previous books she’s discussed paedophilia, rape and even a school massacre, and in her latest offering she looks at the moral dilemmas of abortion, disability, parenting and friendship.

Charlotte O’Keefe is struggling financially to look after her daughter Willow, who suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bones). But then a lawyer tells her that she has a case for wrongful birth – she could win a sum of money that would help with the medical bills for the rest of Willow’s life, but she would also have to stand up in public and tell the world that if she’d known of Willow’s condition before she was born, she would have had an abortion.

The best thing about Picoult’s writing is her ability to look at situations from all sides. Perhaps the characters do things you consider to be morally terrible, but Picoult’s talent lies in the way she can make you feel sympathy to even the most tainted individuals.

Her research into the subject is evident. Osteogenesis Imperfecta was something I’d never heard of before I picked up the novel but it’s clear that Picoult believes that getting the facts right is of the utmost importance. However, she writes about medicine and law in a way that’s interesting. Rather than falling asleep in the court scenes I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know the outcome.

This book will make you question your feelings about medicine, genetics and disability, and will stay with you long after you’ve read the final sentence.

So Dannii Minogue has announced she’s pregnant – and the baby’s due in the middle of the X Factor auditions. There has been no official word yet of whether she’ll be back mentoring for the next series, but rumours abound that she’ll be giving it all up to look after the new arrival.

This got me thinking of who I’d love to see judging on the show…

Perez Hilton

Blogger Perez may be one of the world’s most hated gossip columnists, but he’d definitely be entertaining on the show. With his own record company and a big interest in new music (it was through his website I first heard of the Saturdays and Marina and the Diamonds) he has the passion and the experience, and he would never shy away from being outspoken about acts he loved or hated.

Chris Moyles

Big mouthed Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles may seem like an odd inclusion on my list but he has the experience (he took part in a celebrity version of the X Factor) and with his DJ-ing background the knowledge of what sells and what won’t. On his breakfast show, he regularly comments on the show and he wouldn’t shy away from giving bad news.

Charlotte Church

Charlotte’s name is often thrown about when rumours start as to new judges, and I reckon she’d be a fab addition to the panel. Having sung since she was pre-pubescent, and grown up in the public eye, she has all the background knowledge of fame. Nowadays she’s a mum-of-two, but she is still opinionated and honest – two qualities needed in a mentor.

Mel B

Already rumoured to be on the panel of the new X Factor USA, Mel is an outspoken Leeds lass with plenty of experience of fame. Having taken part in Dancing With The Stars in the United States, she knows what it’s like to face a judging panel, so would have sympathy with the contestants, but her Northern attitude means she wouldn’t go given any no-hopers an easy ride.

Katy Perry

Singer Katy was a guest judge on American Idol and showed she was just as honest and frank as you’d expect from a girl who sang “I Kissed A Girl”. Perhaps coming over to the UK to judge X Factor wouldn’t be too far fetched an idea…after all, her fiance Russell Brand is British.

Zac Efron

Us girls have it hard with X Factor…while men have Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue to lust after every weekend, we have to make do with Simon Cowell or *shudder* Louis Walsh. So my final inclusion on my dream X Factor judge list is Zac Efron of High School Musical fame. He can sing, dance and act – OK, I’m not going to make any excuses, he’s only on my list because he’s good looking 😉

Who do you reckon should join the panel?

Apple recently unveiled their newest gadget – the iPad. A mix between a laptop and an iPod Touch, it enables the user to surf the internet, send and read emails, watch movies and read books, all on the same screen.

Nowadays, browsing the internet wherever you are, on phone or wi-fi enabled laptop is something pretty common, but reading books on a handheld gadget isn’t such a usual sight. Depsite the Kindle and Sony Reader making this kind of technology more and more available, most people are sticking with the traditional. It seems that readers prefer holding a proper book.

Me – I’m a big reader and I love settling down at the end of the day with a nice book. I can’t see myself relaxing in bed with a mini computer! I also do a lot of reading in the bath. There’s not much that relaxes me more than a hot bubble bath, some girly tunes playing and a favourite chick-lit novel! I wouldn’t dare take an iPad into the bath with me – I’d be far too scared that it would slip in the water. At least a book can be dried out.

But I can see that e-books would come in handy. For example, if I go away on a beach holiday I usually pack piles and piles of trashy novels to enjoy while I’m sunbathing. It’s always hard to pick out what I’m going to read and carrying four or five books in my suitcase always eats into my precious weigh allowance. Having an e-book would be great. Likewise, when travelling by train or plane it would be much handier than carrying a hefty hardback.

Will the iPad change the way we read, much like the iPod has changed the way we listen to music? I look back to when I was a teenager, before the age of the MP3, and I can’t believe I even managed to listen to music on the go – carrying round a portable CD player and a case full of different CDs. Now I carry my entire music collection on a contraption smaller than my palm.

Perhaps in ten years or so I will look back to my life nowadays in disbelief – thinking of all the books on my shelf. As for now, I can’t imagine even owning any sort of e-book. There’s something special about buying a crisp new book; or picking up an old favourite with a creased spine and dog eared pages, that would be lost if this new technology took over. Maybe I sound like an old lady reminiscing about the olden days, but when it comes to books, I think they’re fine the way they are.

Heidi Montag has shocked the gossip world after revealing she had 10 plastic surgery procedures and almost died of them last November.

The fame-whore, who became a zeleb after appearing on The Hills, is no stranger to plastic surgery. But she has now sparked fears that she is obsessed with going under the knife after showing off her new face and body in an American magazine.

Dr. Frank Ryan, who performed her 2007 surgery, claims she actually had 30 procedures, including botox and breast augmentation.

She is now barely recognisable, with sky-high eyebrows and big boobs. Even her cheekbones look more refined.

She has also claimed that she almost died after the surgery. “I had too much Demerol like Michael Jackson did and my breathing was five breaths per minute which is like almost dead.”

“The nurses … had to put oxygen on my face and called my plastic surgeon to come in for an emergency.”

However Dr. Ryan denies that this happened.

Many are concerned that Heidi could be becoming addicted to plastic surgery. Tom Horvath, a psychologist who operates an addiction treatment centre in La Jolla, California, disagrees: ‘”Even though you had ten surgeries in one day, that doesn’t seem very far down the continuum [of addiction].”

To me, the most shocking part of this story is the fact that 23 year old Heidi has already had botox.

At 23, surely the only wrinkles you get are the odd crinkle around the eyes when you smile? Surely no-one would even consider it, let alone get it, before they’re at least in their late 30’s or early 40’s and start noticing a few lines?

Not that I even understand the obsession with botox. Why inject yourself with poison, freezing your face until no-one can tell what mood you’re in because you constantly look surprised?

Simply looking younger won’t help you when you start getting aches and pains from old age. It won’t save you from alzheimers, dementia, arthritis, diabetes or cancer. Will having skin like a 20 year old make you feel any better when you can’t move without a walking stick and need assistance to get in and out of the bath? No.

Heidi has said she had her surgery to remain c0mpetitive in showbusiness, as her album, ironically named Superficial, only sold 700 copies. And she’s already considering another boob job to take her up to a whopping H Cup (the H is for Heidi, by the way).

It’s a pity really. All that money spent on surgery, but it can’t buy her the two things she really needs – talent or brains!

If you’re not a Welsh speaker the title of this blog will look like gibberish.

If you are, of have ever attended a Welsh lesson, you’ll have probably heard this sentence. Roughly translated it means “it’s better to speak bad Welsh than good English”, and it’s an often repeated phrase in Welsh classes.

A friend of mine should have repeated this to his Welsh teacher the other day. Despite being a fluent Welsh speaker, he is required to take Welsh lessons as part of his PGCE course and recently had a good moan to us about the fact that his teacher would prefer that three people spoke perfect Welsh, than all the class spoke average Welsh.

This attitude really annoys me. Welsh isn’t an easy language to learn but when someone tries to learn it they should be encouraged not criticised. Most people learning Welsh simply want to be able to use it in day-to-day situations; they don’t need to know every single grammar rule. I’ve been speaking Welsh for about 16 years and even though I have a GCSE in it I still don’t know all my treigladau. That doesn’t matter, though, because I can speak Welsh when I need to and I’m understood. My Welsh is definitely not perfect, but nor is my English and that’s my mother tongue!

By criticising those who can’t speak Welsh perfectly my friend’s teacher is discouraging those who find it hard and I’m sure this happens all over the country. It’s better to have a country where the majority can speak conversational Welsh with a few mistakes, than a country where Welsh speakers decline even more, although those speakers are excellent.

So, if you’re a Welsh speaker getting fed up with some people’s poor grammar, cut them some slack. “Gwell Cymraeg slac…”

For some, it’s a symbol of segregation and inequality. For others, it’s a way of life. In France, it is banned in schools and could soon be banned on the streets, and here in the UK there are calls for it to be outlawed.

The burkha is a full length covering worn by Muslim women, which covers the entire body and face, leaving only the eyes visible. It was originally worn in desert times as a protective covering against sand, and also has a security aspect. During raids, women of child-bearing age would often be kidnapped, but behind a veil it was impossible to tell the age of the women, and the chances of being taken was substantially reduced.

The burkha was originally not meant as Islāmic dress, but is now synonymous with the religion. According to the Qur’an, both men and women should dress and behave modestly in public. For some Islāmic women, this means wearing a scarf, but for others, it means wearing a full length burkha to cover their entire body and face outside the home, something that is not specifically mentioned in the Qur’an. Like a number of requirements in all religions, it is open to interpretation.

The UK Independence Party has now said that they believe the burkha should be banned in Britain.

Neil Farage, the party’s former leader, said: “What we are saying is this is a symbol. It is a symbol of something that is used to oppress women. It is a symbol of an ­increasingly divided Britain, and the real worry – and it isn’t just about what people wear – is we are heading towards a ­situation where many of our cities are ­ghettoised and there is even talk of Sharia law becoming part of British culture.”

The party claim that the burkha shows a lack of integration into British culture, and is also a threat to security. Farage told the BBC politics show: “I can’t go into a bank with a motorcycle ­helmet on. I can’t wear a balaclava going round the District and Circle line.”

Perhaps surprisingly, a number of British women, including Saira Khan, a former contestant on The Apprentice, support a ban on the burkha. A Muslim herself, she despises the burkha, saying “it is an imported Saudi Arabian tradition, and the growing number of women veiling their faces in Britain is a sign of creeping radicalisation, which is not just regressive, it is oppressive and downright dangerous.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1195052/Why-I-British-Muslim-woman-want-burkha-banned-streets.html#ixzz0dFjkatkx

Despite these concerns, I feel uneasy about the idea of controlling what women can and can’t wear. Here in the UK we enjoy freedom, unlike many other countries. We are free to wear what we like, when we like. If it’s hot, I can go to the beach in a bikini or wear a mini-skirt and vest to the shops. I am allowed to choose between trousers or a dress; I could even strip off on a nudist beach if I wanted. Go out to any city at night and you will see clubbers dressed in miniscule outfits. Every morning, when I look in my wardrobe, my decision of what to wear is completely my own. I am not forced to wear something I don’t feel comfortable in. Surely this is a fundamental British right? By banning the burkha, the 200,000 British women who choose to wear it on a day-to-day basis, will be forbidden the chance to choose.

Of course, there is a dark side to the burkha, and that is that some women are forced into wearing a burkha. But is this reason enough to force those who have chosen to wear a burkha, to wear something they are not comfortable in?

Perhaps the history behind the burkha could be taught in schools to allow all children the chance to decide whether they want to wear it?

I will never get behind an argument for banning a burkha, as I believe every British person should have the right to wear exactly what they want. If the burkha was banned, what would be banned next? Cross necklaces? Saris? I wouldn’t want to live in a country where the government dictates what we can and and can’t wear. I agree with Schools Secretary Ed Balls when he said “I think that’s not British. It is not ­consistent with our traditions of liberty and freedom.”