I have to tell you that I liked ASTOR PLACE VINTAGE a lot! A LOT! I carried my e-reader with me everywhere I went. It all starts with vintage clothin...more
I have to tell you that I liked ASTOR PLACE VINTAGE a lot! A LOT! I carried my e-reader with me everywhere I went. It all starts with vintage clothing store owner Amanda being summoned to the home of an elderly woman, Jane Kelly, because she's wanting to sell some of her old clothing. Jane's pretty cranky, but straight forward. She know's she is dying and wants to be rid of some of her things. Of course Amanda bought Jane's lovely vintage clothes! As she begins to examine her purchases for soiled areas, rips to be repaired or loose buttons to sew on, she finds a journal sewn into the lining of a fur muff. The date on the journal is 1907 and was written by a young Manhattan woman named Olive. Of course Amanda reads it...even before telling Jane that she's found it.
And that's where ASTOR PLACE VINTAGE grabbed me. Author Stephanie Lehmann brilliantly weaves a year of Olive's life, her struggle in the Manhattan as it was over a hundred years ago and the struggles Olive has surviving on her own after the death of her father, into the fabric that makes up not quite a week of Amanda's present day life.
Lehmann does everything right, the stories of both women are engaging and thought provoking. So often, when you read a book that takes you back and forth between the present and the past, you are more invested in one character over the other. This didn't happen for me with ASTOR PLACE VINTAGE. I was curious about the life that Olive had to lead, I appreciated that her struggles in the world of 1907 weren't always from the "usual suspects" - the usual road blocks and prejudices that we expect to read about. And I was just as interested in Amanda and her struggles as a woman in Manhattan now, her fights with a landlord's agent and a frustrating love life.
As Amanda absorbs Olive's story, she begins to understand her own life and situations more, she learns that things aren't always as they seem, and that people can surprise you. Without spoiling the story line, let's just say that Amanda learns about life from Olive and from Jane. Olive was at the beginning of her life's story, and Jane is at the end of her life's story. Amanda holds a mirror to own life's story and sees different possibilities for herself.
I can't recommend ASTOR PLACE VINTAGE enough. It's a fabulous read and I think it'll hold your attention the way it held mine. Don't miss it, add it to you "must read" list and suggest it to your Book Club for the next read! Shoot, give it as gifts!
4 1/2 out of 5 stars!
**This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher through Edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com in exchange for a fair and honest review. (less)
OK I admit it, I'm a junkie of the "golden" days of Hollywood. When stars looked like stars and there was a sense of...moreLIFE AT THE MARMONT STILL SHINES!
OK I admit it, I'm a junkie of the "golden" days of Hollywood. When stars looked like stars and there was a sense of glamour and fantasy. And that's as it should be, they were, after all, selling illusions, pretending to be someone they weren't, living fictional lives that were projected on huge screens in places that used to be called movie "palaces."
So I was destined to lap up every page and every story that authors Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten told. And just for the record, I've stayed at the Marmont many times, on various floors, in various sized rooms, and once, just once, in a poolside bungalow. I got upgraded for that treat! And it was swell! So I know the hallways, the back doors, the infamous lobby and the little cubby that's the front desk.
Now, about this fantastic book! Starting in 1977 then whooshing you back to the beginning in 1926, it's gossipy and dishy and full of details, and that's what you want in any book about Hollywood. This book was first published back in 1987, co-author Basten has included a really great afterward that brings more recent thoughts about the Marmont into the mix.
One of favorite parts is when you find out HOW the dishy gossip was getting into the press, back when the hotel was newer. Word of warning that's still true today, never assume. People are never who they say they are. I was intrigued to read the dish about the late Grace Kelly and her uh... friendliness towards men. That blonde bombshell Jean Harlow had a super protective "stage mom," who was also a Christian Scientist and didn't want her daughter hospitalized for surgery.
Over the years since it first opened it's doors, film and theater stars, producers, directors, as well as writers and always the incredibly wealthy, which in more recent time included rockers and TV people, were covered in this book. The sad death of Jim Belushi is tastefully covered too.
This book won't be for everyone, but if you love old Hollywood or want to read about the way people lived and how Hollywood grew, these are the stories for you. LIFE AT THE MARMONT is told through brief bits and snags, tidbits and quick glimpses, but those are enough to tell the story of the castle on the hill, about LIFE AT THE MARMONT.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
I'll be adding this to my book shelf about Hollywood, you should too!(less)
Here's the blurb from the publisher: The veteran producer and author of the bestseller Hello, He Lied takes a witty and critical look at the new Hollyw...moreHere's the blurb from the publisher: The veteran producer and author of the bestseller Hello, He Lied takes a witty and critical look at the new Hollywood. Over the past decade, producer Lynda Obst gradually realized she was working in a Hollywood that was undergoing a drastic transformation. The industry where everything had once been familiar to her was suddenly disturbingly strange.
Obst writes with affection, regret, humor and hope, and her behind-the-scenes vantage point allows her to explore what has changed in Hollywood like no one else has. This candid, insightful account explains what has happened to the movie business and explores whether it’ll ever return to making the movies we love—the classics that make us laugh or cry, or that we just can’t stop talking about Combining her own industry experience and interviews with the brightest minds in the business, Obst explains what has stalled the vast moviemaking machine. The calamitous DVD collapse helped usher in what she calls the New Abnormal (because Hollywood was never normal to begin with), where studios are now heavily dependent on foreign markets for profit, a situation which directly impacts the kind of entertainment we get to see. Can comedy survive if they don’t get our jokes in Seoul or allow them in China? Why are studios making fewer movies than ever—and why are they bigger, more expensive and nearly always sequels or recycled ideas?
My thoughts: If you've ever found yourself scratching your head in confusion, about why in the world "Hollywood" does anything...then THIS is the book for you! I've loved books and movies since...forever, and I want to thank Lynda Obst for writing Sleepless in Hollywood just for me.
Like a lot of people, I follow movies, I track trends in films. I go to small film festivals, I see movies people have never heard of. Why? Because I love old and new Hollywood, and I love the industry. Let me be honest, I'm a movie junkie. I've spent years slamming my head onto hard surfaces trying to understand why some movies just never happen, why some are made and clearly shouldn't have been and have wondered why on earth "they" are marketing tent pole films to China and Russia? really? yeah, go figure.
After reading Sleepless in Hollywood, I "get it!" I really understand. Obst, drawing on her years of producing and making properties happen, has written an honest, easily understood, fascinatingly hypnotic look at the "behind the scenes" grit that goes into making movies. I read this in about two days, and I have a full time job, so that means I was reading at red lights, sitting in traffic and waiting for my nails to dry at the nail place.
Not in the film business? No matter. If you watch TV, see movies once a week or once a year, take the kids to the newest animated 3-D monster fest on the weekend, then this book is for you! Haven't seen a movie since talkies were the new trend? Just realized movies are now in color? This book is for you, you have a lot of catching up to do.
OK, seriously, this is a well written, fact based, interesting and engaging book. Osbt clearly knows her own business, and she shares her business with us, the wanna-bees, the fans and the admirers of the art of film making. She tells insider stories, bur it's never gossipy, it's smart, informative and entertaining.
Just read it, you'll thank me. You'll thank Lynda Obst for writing it, and the next time you're sitting at a table outside at the Chateau Marmont having a drink, you'll actually understand what they are saying at the table next to you! IMAGINE!
4 1/2 out of 5 big stars!!
I'm going to buy this with my hard earned pennies and add it to my bookshelf library at home!
** This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher through Edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com in exchange for a fair and honest review. (less)
Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic div...moreBlurb from the publisher:
Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be? At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been the one taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again. But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew. Narrated by Grace and Ava in the present with flashbacks into Kelli’s troubled past, Heart Like Mine is a poignant and hopeful portrait about womanhood, love, and the challenges of family life.
My thoughts :
Heart Like Mine, such a simple title, yet...who's heart is like mine? Ava's, the grieving and angry teen? Grace's, the instant "mom", almost wife and struggling career driven woman? Or Kelli's, relating to her daughter's, her hard nosed mother, or her daughter's soon to be step-mom? I started this book thinking I'd have a clear answer when I finished. You know what? It really doesn't matter who the title references. I'm one of those readers who likes to find the truth behind the title. And while my truth may be different from the truth you find? They're both truthful, and both right.
Hatvany has created such real people! I know we often hear and read things like that, but I really mean "real". No matter what character is speaking, you know them! They are in your world. I think one of the hardest things for an author, is to accurately speak for different ages and to have it be honest, and most importantly, believable. One of the most honest scenes for me was between Grace and Victor, (her fiance and Ava's dad). They are discussing the incredibility of Kelli's parents not wanting to have anything to do with their daughter and grandchildren. OK, that's a pretty strange thing on its own, but the scene quickly turns to Grace being hurt because her fiance was remembering what traits he liked in his ex-wife, Kelli. Smartly, Hatvany quickly gave Grace the humility and love to realize that Victor, at one time, loved his ex, just as he loves HER now. That Victor is human.
Hatvany's Heart Like Mine is scattered FULL of these quiet moments, where the characters are clearly defined, where she wants you to feel for each of them, and when you do? You struggle with the events of this story even more. You're pulled in the direction of the three women, and also pulled by the two main guys, Victor, and his son the adorable, Max.
Hatvany has made the women the focus and also the characters who hold and also solve the mysteries. We don't get too much from the males, Victor, Max or Kelli's father. While Victor and Max figure in the stories, we hear little from them, but what little we hear is powerful. Kelli's distant father is around, but her mother's is the voice that we, as readers, have the most interaction with.
For me, the author wrote a fast paced and engaging book, you wanted to read faster to keep the pages turning. Her dialogue for all of the characters is spot on and the voices clear in your head as you read. You quickly get to know these people and have no problem at all keeping up with the story, as Hatvany's superb story telling propels you forward.
I won't give you too much more, as I don't want to spoil the ride that the author gives you.
I give this 4 out of 5 stars, I really enjoyed Heart Like Mine, and recommend it highly. My only little quibble, so to speak, is that it all wrapped up pretty quickly. The ending is believable and satisfying, but it happened oh-so-fast! Now, if that's the only complaint I have? This is one fine book!!
Heart Like Mine is in stores and for sale online today!
**This e-galley was provided to me, in exchange for an honest review, by the publisher through NetGalley. (less)
1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amids...moreSynopsis from the publisher:
1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society in this stunning series starter that fans of Downton Abbey will love. Rowena Buxton Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “underclass” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie. Victoria Buxton Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret—Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever... Prudence Tate Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as lady’s maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey.
I'm a rabid Downton Abbey fan! I can't ever get enough of the Crawleys and their help, so when I read the synopsis of Summerset Abbey, I knew I had to read this galley!
This is the first in a trilogy by T.J. (Teri) Brown. Sommerset Abbey was released in January of this year, and I thought this would be a perfect time to post my review, as the second book in the trilogy, A Bloom in Winter, has just been released. I'm a firm believer in reading the books in order. So before you jump into A Bloom in Winter, please start with Summerset Abbey.
Summerset Abbey had me on the first page! It's 1913, the year after the Titanic sank, and the modern world doesn't know that a great and terrible war is on the horizon. Their cozy existence is soon to be torn apart with a death. In the first paragraph, when Prudence and Victoria enter the church, the description of the sanctuary as being filled with ladies' black feathered funeral hats that resembled a "flock of ravens" was perfect! You knew exactly what that sanctuary looked like and I had the picture in my mind! I love this kind of writing, when the author can use a few simple, well thought out words to give you the big picture of what was happening!
T.J. Brown wastes no time in throwing her characters into a spin, sisters Rowena and Victoria (both under twenty) and their late governess' daughter, Prudence, have been raised together thanks to the sisters' forward thinking father. No "upstairs-downstairs" distinction in his home. Well, that is, until he dies, leaving his two daughters in a royal mess. But then, if there wasn't any drama, we wouldn't have this wonderful book!
As the girl's uncle takes over their lives and things get turned around and upside down, Brown skillfully twists and turns the readers, as we all fight with the horrid class distinctions that cause issues for the three girls and those around them. Again, author Brown, while telling the story from different character's perspective, manages that difficult balance, keeping true to the character and also true to the over all story arc.
I don't like giving too much of the plot away, and this book came with a big fat bit from the publishers. Let me suffice it to say that I can't wait to get my grubby little fingers on Brown's next installment, A Bloom in Winter.
I do recommend this book, it's well crafted, the characters are defined and complex, and the story has enough twists, turns and secrets guessed at, to make all of us lovers of Edwardian fiction happy!
I give it a big old 4 out of 5 stars! Go get it, or download it now, THEN get T.J. Brown's second in the trilogy, A Bloom in Winter.
**This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher, Gallery Books, through Edelweiss, above the treeline in exchange for an honest review. (less)
“Happiness at someone else’s expense came at a price. Tia had imagined judgment from the first kiss that she and Nathan shared. Al...moreFrom the publisher:
“Happiness at someone else’s expense came at a price. Tia had imagined judgment from the first kiss that she and Nathan shared. All year, she’d waited to be punished for being in love, and in truth, she believed that whatever consequences came her way would be deserved.” Five years ago, Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption. Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother. Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He promised he’d never stray again, and she trusted him. But when Juliette intercepts a letter to her husband from Tia that contains pictures of a child with a deep resemblance to her husband, her world crumbles once more. How could Nathan deny his daughter? And if he’s kept this a secret from her, what else is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl. And before long, the three women and Nathan are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted."
Randy Susan Meyers has crafted a heartwarming but seriously affecting book. Not much happens in the way of action, this is more like a play, where the action is driven through words and character interactions. Don't let that scare you off! This book is truly crafted so well, so seamlessly, that you quickly turn page after page, watching these women learn truths, discovering lies, and begin to question their own reasons for their feelings,actions and reactions.
Three women thrown together because one, Tia, had an affair with a married man and that affair produced a baby. Three women who control each other's lives, whether they want to or not. In the center of them all is the little five year old. I love that the author made adoption an option here, my favorite family member was adopted and so I am aware of the joys and complications that come with adoption.
The Comfort of Lies brings us together as a family or group of friends. See, I really liked each of the women, Tia, Carolyn and Juliette. Author Randy Susan Meyers has written real people, we know women like them, we are women like them. We make bad choices for the wrong reason, we make good choices for the wrong reason, we make good choices for the right reasons and we all make good choices for the best of reasons. We do the best that we can. Who's to know how our choices affect people we don't know? We have to live with those choices, and I like the way the characters dealt with and worked out their emotions, in real and believable ways. I haven't read a book that dealt with real live issues in such an honest way, no fantasy endings and no fairy tale unreality. But I can promise a strong, believable ending.
The Comfort of Lies takes the reader in a wonderful, thought provoking journey, I can see this being a great book club selection because the situations and the women are so wonderfully written, it automatically opens the door for discussions.
I can't drag you to a book store or an online book seller, but I can tell you that I think it's worth your time and money to add this to your "need to read" list. Matter of fact, bump it to the top. I did.
I'm adding it to my own book club selections, I hope you read it, it's heart warming and heart breaking. Both in a good way.
I sure hope Ms. Meyers' agent is actively looking for someone to option The Comfort of Lies for a movie or a play adaptation, it'd be perfect!
Synopsis: After her first assignment in Venezuela goes disastrously awry, rookie case officer Kyra Stryker is brought back to Langley to work in the R...moreSynopsis: After her first assignment in Venezuela goes disastrously awry, rookie case officer Kyra Stryker is brought back to Langley to work in the Red Cell, the CIA’s out-of-the-box think tank. There she’s paired with Jonathan Burke, a straitlaced analyst who has alienated his colleagues with his unorthodox methods and a knack for always being right, political consequences be damned. When a raid on Chinese spies in Taiwan ends in a shoot-out and the release of a deadly chemical, CIA director Kathy Cooke turns to the Red Cell to figure out why China is ready to invade the island nation without any fear of reprisal from the US Navy. Stryker and Burke’s only lead is the top CIA asset in China, code named Pioneer. But when Pioneer reports that Chinese security has him under surveillance, Stryker is offered a chance for redemption with a highly dangerous mission: extract Pioneer from China before he’s arrested and executed.
My thoughts: Let me ask a question...Mark Henshaw, did you write RED CELL just for me? Because you must have already known exactly what I love in a thriller and what types of characters I want to read about and that I love attention to plot details, and authors that allow their characters to think a bit outside of the usual "character box of tricks." So, I guess you don't have to answer my question, because I just did! THANK YOU MARK!!
No kidding people, RED CELL opens with newbie officer Kyra Stryker along side the Guaire River in Venezuela, on a foot bridge, attempting to meet an asset. Then the worst thing that can happen to any agent happens. It's a trap and there's no one to help her. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?
Within the first five pages, to use a scary term, I became Mark Henshaw's biggest fan!
RED CELL opens with action that keeps building as Kyra, severely wounded, makes her way to a "safe" house. Or is it?
Page after page after page Henshaw builds the tension and then gives the reader a bit of a rest. But, don't be fooled. Within the pages where normal actions and interactions of agency people, on all sides, take place, don't be fooled, don't skim a paragraph or skip a page. You never know where Henshaw has buried a detail that you'll need to know later.
Henshaw's written RED CELL rather like a ride on a great old roller coaster, he knows when to turn you on your side to bank a curve and when to let the action be calm for a bit, because you know you're about to dive head first on a free fall into a whole different arena.
I loved this book! So much so that I don't want to tell you much more. Really, I don't need to tell you much more other than, go buy it. Download it. Whatever you like to do when you read. But a word of warning, don't start RED CELL thinking that you'll just read a few pages to get started...not gonna happen. Too late. You're already hooked.
Boy howdy, I sure hope we see Stryker and her team again soon! Can you say "series"? I hope so!
Johnny Depp's Infinitum Nihil has optioned this one, and I hope they've locked in Henshaw to work on the screenplay, he sure has the chops to produce a white-knuckle fantastic thriller of a screenplay. Ill be first in line at the box office to buy a ticket.
* This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. (less)
I've read that the author burned highly perfumed candles while crafting this hypnotic story and I can s...moreMy thoughts about The Book of Lost Fragrances:
I've read that the author burned highly perfumed candles while crafting this hypnotic story and I can see why. Layer upon layer of stories and characters, drifting back and forth over two thousand years of fragrances make this a winner.
I was intrigued by the synopsis of this book as I've always been someone who associates fragrances, scents and smells with people and memories in my own life. Whenever I smell juniper trees it reminds me of a treasured great aunt, whose old house on a hill was surrounded by them, and in the air, after a rain, the scents of the junipers that filled the air were like perfume to me. Fresh baked bread always takes me back to my grandmother's kitchen as us kids waited for the bread to cool so she could slice into it and then thickly smear on the lusciously fragrant home made strawberry jam. I'll never pass a fragrance counter without stopping at the Joy bottle and spritzing a bit on my wrist so the wafts bring my Mom back to me.
These are the sorts of things that permeate M. J. Rose's The Book of Lost Fragrances. It wasn't until I had finished the book and sat down to write this review that I learned that this is part of M.J. Rose's Reincarnationist series, don't let that scare you away from this book, it's fabulous on its own.
I liked that Rose told the story from multiple perspectives as it helped the story flow a bit easier. Sometimes the many plots and stories could get a bit confusing, but I was so entranced with the book that I just kept reading. I don't believe in reincarnation, but I accepted it as a plot device that made the ancient Egyptian plot lines easy to buy into, even though I easily saw some twists and turns coming.
All in all, I would have liked a bit more character development as I really like to know the characters, but I suppose the author gave us what she felt the readers needed. It's sure a mystical read!
I give this one 4 stars out of 5.
**This was provided to me by the publishers through NetGalley and that in no way affected my ability to write an honest review. (less)