Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, I started by reviewing two releases by FaithWords, their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of  and have been blessed to start reviewing for them.
I received a complimentary copy of “How to be a Hepburn in a Kardashian World” direct from the publisher Center Street (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
A conversation with Jordan Christy
Whilst reviewing this new release, I had a few questions I wanted to run past the author giving me the opportunity to feature both my thoughts on the book itself and this lovely convo!
As the the back-story of your writing career is being a champion of those of us who are bullied, how did you infuse your own story into a cathartic release of philosophical insight to inspire young girls who are on the verge of understanding – your past isn’t vindictive of your future? Or to put another way: being bullied isn’t the sum of who you are but something that happens to you. You define who you are and you and only you can be the light that shines the truth of your soul.
Christy responds: I’ve always been of the mindset, ‘If it helps even one person, it would be worth it.’ I remember writing a “survival guide” of sorts when I was 14 and going through a really rough time at school. Even though those pithy chapters were probably silly and arbitrary, I really did have a heart to help other girls who might be going through something similar. My mom constantly encouraged me and said, “You’re still you. No matter what they say about you, you’re still this smart, fun, beautiful person and you have a wonderful purpose in life.” That really encouraged me to not let others’ opinions affect who I am and to just be myself.
Why do you think there has been a dynamic shift in perceptive reality rooted more in the superficial than the bolts of what is deeper than what is only seen on the surface? Why do you feel there are more ‘Kardashians than Hepburns’ in today’s society in other worlds? Why is everyone trying to keep up with everyone else and forgetting to just be themselves? *here I am not trying to contrast anything but personalities, as your book is more of a metaphor of life approaches and self-advocacy than critical analysis of ‘they vs us’. I was attempting to use the names to refer to the personality rather than the individual.
Christy responds: Superficial beauty is everywhere. Whether its filtered photos on Instagram or airbrushed ad campaigns, the illusion of perfection is hard to avoid these days. So, it’s easy to mistake “that” kind of beauty with real beauty. I love that verse in Proverbs 31 that says, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting…” The chapter goes on to describe the traits we should be celebrating in each other: a woman who works hard, a woman who lives a life of honesty and integrity, a woman who loves and respects those around her…when I think of the people I admire the most, those are the kinds of characteristics that come to mind—not their dress size or hair color. So, while the sheer magnitude of superficial beauty suggests that clothes and body size are the most critical components to success in life, I would suggest that your intangible attributes (work ethic, sense of humor, faith, etc.) are much more important in the long run!
I love how you broke down your chapters as a ‘guide’ for a 21st Century girl (especially pre-teen or teen) to use as a resource guide of how to ‘react’ or rather, not react to what might distract her from seeing herself as worthy in the eyes of her peers. Bullies find ways to enter our lives by trying to pull apart our defences and finding ways to break down our emotional resolves. You’ve given girls a blueprint of how to ‘subtract’ negativity and share ‘something’ other than a retort, a hasty emotional reaction and have given true thought to show how ‘all actions’ have consequences; even those done in defense. How did you formulate how you wanted to layout the book and make the information relatable to today’s youth? How did you funnel your own learning curves (in other words) into the book?
Christy responds: Okay, confession: even though I was an English major, sometimes I prefer a magazine to a 1,000-page novel. I enjoy works that can be feasibly finished in two days at the beach, so the format of the book is most likely a result of my inability to stick with a huge, lengthy work of literature! As far as communicating the message of how to turn a negative experience into a positive one, my mom pretty much gets the credit for that one. She encouraged us to never wallow in self-pity and defeat; yes, bad things happen, but God has a plan and He can use that thing for good, if you let Him.
Chapter Four is one of my favourites – how language and word usage are nearly falling out of sight – everyone is in such a hurry to text, to tweet or to exchange a paltry few words with each other, they are losing their ability to communicate. You see it everywhere – from people texting over lattes to people walking blindly into traffic. Words used to be such cherished creatures – little discoveries of how to invert and reflect something we felt or wanted to express. Literature was founded on the joy of ‘words’ and ‘phrases’; of finding ways to paint worlds with ‘words’. Why do you think younger generations are losing tactile connection with literature and finding an absence from using ‘words’ which can inspire them?
Christy responds: Oooo, I love books and the written word so I’m particularly partial to this subject. Overall, I think our modern culture is very visual-centric—every phrase and emotion has a visual shortcut (think emojis). While it’s a convenient way of communicating, it’s probably not the most mentally stimulating. So, I think it’s a matter of challenging yourself—for some, that might mean picking up a book rather than reading an online article; for others it might be writing out a math equation instead of using the calculator on your phone. I love learning and personal growth, so I’m a little nerdy when it comes to this subject!
Having published two books with a similar title and premise, what has been your greatest takeaway by having a ‘second chance’ at publishing a book which you can fondly look back on and recognise as being a positive contribution to books for girls? What do you hope will inspire the girls who pick this book up and recognise hidden personal truths of their own? of their friends? of those in their circle?
Christy responds: These have been great questions! Thank you for a wonderful interview! My first book…oh my, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to uphold this impossible standard of perfection. This second edition has been much more cathartic; in that, I’ve allowed myself to say, ‘I don’t have it all together, but I know The One who does…’ The second edition is the real me—flaws, quirks, imperfections and all.
I hope readers will be inspired to take the road less traveled…even if all your friends abandon you for your beliefs, even if your boyfriend breaks up with you because you don’t dress a certain way, even if you’re the only one who refuses to do something just because ‘everyone else is doing it’…don’t compromise. Stay on the road less traveled. Eventually you’ll meet up with someone else who feels the same.
Though fashions may change, certain things never go out of style--like your favorite little black dress that can take you from a business meeting to a dinner party to a night on the town. But what makes it work is not the dress, it's how you present yourself while wearing it. A woman who is polite, well spoken, gracious, charming, and thoughtful is always welcome-though such women appear to be in short supply these days! Despite the headline-grabbing antics of certain flashy celebutantes, most of us would rather have respect--for ourselves and from our family, friends, and colleagues.
In this fully revised and updated edition, you will learn how to:
Appear polished without sacrificing your personal style,
Develop skills and discover interests to boost your self-confidence,
Find your true friendships and make them stronger,
Date Mr. Right instead of hooking up with Mr. Right Now,
Land the perfect internship and your first job,
Have a fun night without the risk of a social media faux pas.
With this insightful guide you'll be loving life with style, class, and grace in no time!
Places to find the book:
Published by Center Street
on 4th April, 2017
Format: Hardcover Edition
Formats Available: Hardcover, Audiobook and Ebook
Previous release: How to be Hepburn in a Hilton World
Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #Hepburn + #Kardashian, #NonFiction, #SelfHelp
Book’s tag: #HowToBeAHepburn
About the curious title:
When I first learnt of this book, I must confess, I was curious in which direction the author might take her story – as although I did not follow the Kardashian’s reality series, I did watch all two seasons of ‘I am Cait’, wherein I loved the lively conversations which emerged out of the women who travelled on the bus to various locations on the road trips throughout the series. It was an interesting series from that point of view, where topics of current events were broached and you had the chance to get to know those women on a personal level whilst becoming introduced to who they were as well. Out of the series I came to find a new author I will start reading this year: Jenny Boylan, of whom I now follow on Twitter.
As I broached the surface of the book’s message, I started to ascertain the heart of the story Ms Christy is attempting to leave behind for her readers. As I had mentioned in our conversation it’s not a title wherein to take sides between two iconic namesakes but rather, it’s a stepping bridge towards having a conversation about different ideals, motivations and curating different personalities. There are a lot of perceptional issues in today’s world – many of which have been around for quite a long time, including in Audrey Hepburn’s era. Women for a long time have been trying to define themselves and to find the confidence in being themselves inasmuch as girls and women are today. If you are different from the standard ‘impression’ of the ideal woman, you tend to have a harder road to walk as superficial prejudices tend to rise around you by those who do not seek to accept differences but rather turn a bit snarky when faced with someone who isn’t exactly like them.
The title is both curious and thought-provoking – and I must confess, when I first saw it my initial reaction was: I’m a Hepburn! Quite ironically, I found a lovely tin box celebrating Audrey Hepburn’s infamous role on Breakfast at Tiffany’s shortly thereafter and I found the whole affair quite kismet. The reason this was my first reaction is because I love classic style and tend to be more traditional than some of my peers; but on the opposite side of it, I am a bit more Katherine Hepburn than Audrey (not that their related!) on the level that I have a lot of spunk and a bit of rebellious side as well! I like to set my own standard for fashion and mix influences together by pulling pieces from different styles of origin together. I also have an artistic side of my character which also transfuses outward through clothes and jewelry. I’m open-minded and love to breathe in different cultures, religions and traditions whilst acknowledging the different lifestyles of those who live in my community. What makes me traditional in regards to fashion, as although I like to be creative in my personal style, I love the influences of classic pieces such as the kinds created by Edith Head, Ives Saint Laurent and Bob Mackie, all of whom I love for being daringly original whilst celebrating women.
I don’t think there is one definition for ‘who’ we are as individuals but if I had to cross-compare the surface of what Hepburn (in reference to Audrey) and Kardashian names ring true to me by understanding their natures and personalities, then I would always lament I’m a Hepburn! I think what is quite brilliant about how Ms Christy approached her book is by disclosing how to determine who you are by a definition of society vs how you personally define yourself on your own terms. She knits out the heart of the subject from different angles but let’s the reader decide what they feel and believe at each turn of the page, which truly is the best benefit of the book itself. It’s motivating girls to be free thinkers and to ascertain what is their own living truth.
My Review of How to be a Hepburn in a Kardashian World:
In the beginning of the book, you get a full introduction about the author herself and what motivated her to write this second edition as her first was titled quite similarly: How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World. The premise is closely the same too, but the tone and voice of the two are apparently quite different as Christy goes on to explain how she made a few mistakes in the past which she wanted to correct now in the future. It wasn’t entirely wrong to position a cutting edge topic about body image, self-confidence and self-advocacy into a cleverly titled book but apparently, (according to the author) she wished she had made a few changes in how she approached writing the first installment. In this, I can understand her reasons for wanting to improve on the latter and to seek redemption in the second release. There are oft-times where we think we are on the right path for sharing our minds about something important to us but perhaps, the method of delivery isn’t quite what it should be and if we can find a way to redeem ourselves, than we’ve not only learnt a lesson but we’ve proven we can rectify something we did in error.
Since I didn’t know of this author previously, I do not know all the mishaps and missteps of the former incarnation of this title, but I could tell by Ms Christy’s explanations, she wanted to try to recapture her intent and to prove she could solidify it in a way that is both uplifting and self-motivating to others without pitting ‘they vs us’ in a way that would go against the principles of her message. (she expressed this in a #PubDay tweet as well)
Right in the opening pages, I found a hearty list of solid advice for healthy living and one thing I felt was quite lovely about the included list is how Christry strives to re-highlight the best path to walk throughout her book. Here are the things she mentions should be on the forefront of your mind as you walk through life:
- Stay in the Light
- Find a way to Laugh
- Go to your happy place
- Make the most of it
- Don’t let yourself become bitter
- Step out of your comfort zone
- Forgiveness can be a four-letter-word
On the first two points, I completely agree with her and have made them a firm part of my life already! Mostly as without being in the Light and keeping a heart focused on prayerful living I would surely be lost! The second of course, is true for everyone: if they wish to stay sane! We’re living in an incredibly changing world – where everyday there is something truly horrible to despair over and circumstances in our personal lives which can become upended at the drop of a hat; the only thing we have as a saving grace for our psyche is: humour! Humour allows us to boomerang back from the tides of life and endeavours to keep us on the ‘lighter side’ even if adversity and strife are ready companions! You have to find a reason to laugh, life is difficult enough without having a release from the pressures of living. Humour I think is cardinal company for everyone because it also reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously whilst finding the hidden little joys life affords us all.
The second best advice she gave (if you combine the first two points I appreciate mentioned) is not to become embittered by life itself. It’s one of the hardest lessons to live and one of the hardest issues you might face if adversity knocks you down quite a heap but it’s also the most rewarding to overcome or to avoid (depending on your point-of-experience). Being bitter doesn’t accomplish a whole lot except to drag yourself to far down where Light cannot penetrate and where your moods are less than optimistic. All of these self-focused pathways to live are good advice and each of us should always seek to encourage their presence in our everyday lives. Especially never to forget how powerful forgiveness can be and how actively we should remind ourselves to be ‘gentler’ with ourselves not just with others! Forgiveness is not just about how we affect other people’s lives but how we affect our own self-health.
From here you can move through the book indirectly from how it’s written as you might want to seek out different sections at different points of time where they speak to you more directly. This is one of the beauties of how the author broke-down her book to be an easy reference guide for those seeking advice to where they can readily return to this whenever the mood strikes them to find inspiration. It’s cleverly divided into sections which focus on how to be the ‘best you’ whilst stepping forward in your community and in society itself, whilst grounding inspiration with faith-based sage advice as well.
As I entered into the context of the book, I found myself moving in different directions rather than focusing on reading this straight-through as it was laid out. I skipped over the first section about perfection illusions as I never had the issue myself – I know most young girls who read fashion zines might struggle with this as they see a photograph of what they deem to be realistically true when in effect it’s a doctored up version of the truth; when I read those zines myself, I would envision the clothes in my own size for my own body. Something I didn’t realise others were not doing themselves until I was late into my teens and noticed conversations surrounding fashion were bent a bit differently than I had perceived them to be. It was a startling discovery as I never would have fathomed girls’ in my peer groups would have an unhealthy perception of those clothes which goes to show you we all process information differently. I do agree with Ms Christy in this section that the best rule of thumb is define your style by your own standards because we are all beautiful just as we are without any additions!
Chapter Four proved to be one of my favourite chapters simply because it engages in the joy of ‘words’ and ‘language’ whilst encouraging girls’ to use their words to be more representative of who they are by definition of ‘character’. Too often in this world words are shortened or not readily available to be expressed due to the hectic way ‘chatter’ has replaced bonefide conversations! Engaging through communication is now a bit faster than it once was as tweets and texts are now readily exchanged in lieu of voiced conversations to where we are losing sight of portions of which make us human. To encourage technology into our life but at the sacrifice of our humanity isn’t a healthy prospect but if we use technology as an additional tool to engage with others whilst using our words to express ourselves, than we are living in harmony.
I grew up with a fond appreciation for words and the histories of how words were formed – seeing this section was a heart-lift as aside from my dear friends in the book blogosphere who are as giddy as I am over a well-written novel by a wordsmith who delivers such a solid entry into literature full of phrases and words which enlighten our minds with the beauty of their scope, it isn’t often you find people who celebrate ‘words’ for the sake of acknowledging how beneficial they are to our lives.
Christy even goes as far to give you a quick takeaway suggestion for enlarging your world-view and for encouraging girls’ to seek out information to help them understand their positions on a variety of topics. She is encouraging them to seek past the superficial layer and to find the heart out of everything they appreciate and enjoy. Such is the benefit of a well-lived life where you encourage multiple points of view and step outside your own sphere to be emphatic to another perspective. This is one of the examples of how she is ‘teaching as she writes’ the lessons she’s learnt over the years herself. She also makes it easier on girls’ who are not self-starters (like me) who might not understand ‘what to do next’ or how best to seek out what they do not yet understand. She does this in a variety of ways, from the forementioned lists of suggestions to quick self-assessing quizzes to a prompt of ‘what are your thoughts’ on this topic type of inclusions.
She centers in on how to focus on healthy relationships and dating practices, the best way to understand if your circle of friends are the best fit and how to lead forward into your career with a positive outlook and a confident style. Each time Christy draws you into one of her book’s sections she is continuously giving out advice whilst leaving room for the reader to choose their own opinion on the topic at hand. She wants to encourage and inspire but doesn’t want to say there is one right answer for every person who reads the book. If anything, she presents the topic in such a heartfelt way, it is like reading it alongside your older sister who wants to impart the lessons she’s learnt so you might not have to re-live through her mistakes. This is the best advantage I think to how the book was written as it does have a healthy tone of guidance intermixed with personal antidotes and solid advice for young women on the verge of adulthood.
I believe she’s made good on her promise to redeem herself from her past, even without reading the previous volume, I can tell by how careful she was to tread lightly to allow self-discovery and self-education to flourish whilst grounding everything through a faith-lived perspective and pathway. Christy has written a handy guidebook for girls’ who want to re-define how modern beauty is understood and how best to add layers to your personality to where your not as superficially charged as keeping up with fads but are grounded in an appreciation of living a well-rounded life.
This is a delightful book for today’s girls who are emerging out of girlhood and are finding their wings of confidence as young women. I loved how it can be served as a inspirational ‘go-to’ reference for future readings whilst providing nuggets of wisdom in a way which inspires you to make small changes today.
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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!
Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.
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