21. 100 Ideas That Changed Fashion, by Harriet Worsely. Really enjoyed this look at the defining moments of fashion, some of which I'd never considered. One, it's hard to overstate, and this book drives it home, how much the two World Wars changed the fashion scene, particularly for women. Many trends listed here have a direct or indirect connection to those world-shattering events. The brief articles are chock full of interesting information on fashion, trends and trendsetters. This would be a great book for anyone wanting a quick primer on the fashion world, or your "reluctant reader" who follows Project Runway religiously. A couple minor nits. One, in the article on the white wedding gown, it mentions Queen Victoria as the one who slowly ushered in the concept, making it sound like she was doing this as a romantic and revolutionary. Actually, her white wedding dress and eschewing a crown of jewels for a garland of flowers were a sign of austerity- plain fabric was less expensive than print, certainly less expensive than brocade. The country was facing financial difficulties at that time, and the new queen's white gown was her way of scaling back on costs. Also, in the same section, it mentions that most women wore pink or blue at their weddings. Blue, yes, but at that time pink (and red) were considered men's colors. You occasionally see a portrait of a woman in a pink print dress but not often. In another section, it makes mention how much World War I changed women's fashions, and how military uniforms impacted women's wear. This is very true, and as I said earlier, the World Wars did more than anything in completely turning women's fashion on its head. But the way the article is written, it makes it sound like war never had an impact on women's fashion. Certainly not true. In the Civil War, women often used military-inspired braiding on hems and sleeves, and the fashion of slashing garments in the middle ages to allow undergarments to show through was a result of war. Still, all in all an entertaining and enlightening read. Especially loved the sections on the impact of technology on fashion.
22. In the Shadows, by Kiersten White, with illustrations by Jim DiBartolo. This novel actually tells two related stories, in two different formats, and the effect is quite ingenious. It opens with a series of illustrations, then goes into a seemingly unrelated chapter. As the book goes on, the pieces of the dark mystery come together. The story centers on five teens living at a boarding house in a remote town- Cora and Minnie, who run the house with their recently widowed mother; Thomas and Charles, brothers who have been sent there for the summer by their father for Charles' health- and perhaps darker reasons; and Arthur, who harbors several closely-guarded secrets but who knows more than he lets on about the mysterious happenings in the town - happenings that threaten to ensnare all five of them. This is a quick read, with an engaging mystery. The five main characters are well done. My only nit is I wonder if this would have worked even better as a series, so we can get more into the back stories on several of the other characters, including Mary. Also, I do wonder if the ending was wrapped up a bit too neatly and quickly. All in all, though, I really liked it. The illustrations are just gorgeous, detailed and dark. This would be good for preteens and teens looking for a good mystery or a quick summer read.
Currently reading: Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas; Cleveland in the Gilded Age, by Dan Ruminski and Alan Dutka; and A Curious Man, by Neal Thompson