Book Review: Confessions of a Beauty Addict

Confessions of a Beauty Addict ($14) is the newly-released fictional novel by the famed former-beauty-editor-turned-power-blogger Nadine Haobsh. Being a fan of her blog, Jolie Nadine, I was excited to pick up her first foray into fiction. Ms. Haobsh has previously written a nonfiction book, Beauty Confidential, filled with her top beauty recommendations--something she should know about, having worked as a beauty editor for several top magazines before becoming a full-time beauty blogger.

The story behind her leaving the magazine business is as dramatic as one could imagine and clearly inspired the plot of Confessions. Our main gal, Bella Hunter, is a 28 year old beauty editor at the top of her game when she unwittingly discloses the dark, dirty secret of the beauty publishing industry: they get tons and disgusting tons of free stuff. Not only do they get free products to sample, but designer purses, scarves, sunglasses, unlimited salon and spa trips and all-expense-paid vacations to exotic locations several times a year all in the name of "research."

This innocent disclosure does not make Bella a favorite in her industry and she promptly loses two cushy jobs within the day. The rest of the book is devoted to Bella's struggle to continue doing the work she loves in an industry in which she is universally regarded as a pariah. Along the way she works to reconcile her true self and her less-than-glamorous origins (in Ohio, natch) while enduring shunning from former "friends" and negotiating a tricky work relationship with her oh-so-hot boss.

I'll admit that I struggled initially to get into this book. The first chapter is a bit rough because Bella is mid-crisis and it's hard to really join with someone who is in a crisis. Other objections may be because I'm not really familiar with the cannon of Chick Lit and perhaps some of the things I disliked are standard conventions. There is the cast of friend characters who provide distraction and occasional comic relief but are generally one-dimensional, unsympathetic and kind of boring. The dialogue is somewhat immature and the phrase "We dissolve into fits of giggles" is used about ten too many times.

But beyond some stylistic concerns, the book has many redeeming qualities and generally hits the mark for light entertainment. I especially liked the description of magazine culture that it provided. Trying to guess which real-life magazines corresponded to the fictional pseudonyms was fun as well. As befitting a true beauty addict, she peppers the book with details on which products she is using at any given moment, which is a nice touch. If nothing else, we know Nadine (ahem, Bella) loves her some NARS Orgasm. Bella is, at her core, a likable main character and you do really feel for her as she grapples with love and work. The pacing is good and it moves along without much interruption and manages, despite all the drama and glamour, to be fairly believable.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I am a fan of Nadine's blog and her real strength is in beauty writing and blogging. She is working on a second fictional book and we can only expect her talent to grow in that area as well. Confessions of a Beauty Addict is available at Amazon and Harper Collins.



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