The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott

- Contemporary Fiction

The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott4 Stars

 

Jessie Malloy is on the edge of the Hollywood scene. Her father is a publicist, and she comes in contact with the glamorous world of movie stars.

 

Though I liked Jessie as a character (and her POV as a young girl growing up in Beverly Hills) a lot of the time it felt like she was watching it from afar. Even the scenes with her parents gave the impression she was distant from them. Seeing how her parents did hide a lot of things from her, that’s probably to be expected. For them, their public image was more important, and they wanted to protect her from the harsher realities.

 

I’m a fan of old Hollywood movies, so I was looking forward to “The Hollywood Daughter.” I’ve read accounts of how actors were treated when they rejected their carefully created images, so I wasn’t a stranger to Ingrid Bergman’s story. She (and Elizabeth Taylor after her) were both denounced for their behavior and could’ve had their careers ruined by scandal.

 

But even though I could see the parallels between the choices Ingrid Bergman made, and what Jessie discovers about her own life and family, there was still a feeling of detachment. Finally at the end, when Jessie has a real conversation with her idol, I felt the connection between them.

 

Jessie gets the chance to look back and grow from what she’s learned. Actually I would’ve loved to have read more about her life at that point, seeing how she was able to tie it all together and make a choice for her happiness. There were points where the story dragged a bit, but overall I enjoyed it. Jessie is a likable heroine, and it was entertaining to see the golden age of Hollywood through her eyes. (Received a review copy.)

 

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2wIxzhP

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Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

- Biographical

Queen Victoria is shown as a veryVictoria human young woman who has to deal with family intrigue along with royal responsibilities. She’s not the stiff and imposing queen of popular imagination. We see her from her ascension up to her proposal of marriage to Prince Albert.

 

Even though the book was very detailed, I would’ve liked to have read a bit about their married life. The author did a great job of presenting the historical events in a way that was never dry or boring. It was a very enjoyable read. (Received a review copy.)

 

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2lElJzQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Girl Before by JP Delaney

- Contemporary Fiction

3 1/2 Stars

 

Emma and Jane are drawn into a web of deception when they both end up as tenants at One Folgate Street. Emma was there before Jane, and both stories unfold through the course of the book. What they have in common, in addition to being tenants, is their relationship with its designer.

 

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. But, it was hard to care about the main characters. In fact, more than once I had to skip back to the beginning of each chapter to remind myself which character was narrating? Jane or Emma? Nothing about their voices registered to me as individuals.

 

Even after they both expressed a desire to give up their freedom to the “housekeeper” (and to the mysterious Edward Monkford) they weren’t terribly interesting. They both have their reasons for surrendering, and those reasons made me less sympathetic to them.

 

Unfortunately, I only kept reading to see if my theories about the resolution would be correct. They weren’t. So, I can honestly say the book wasn’t predictable. But I still didn’t like the characters and didn’t feel invested in them.

 

The concept of a house that is programmed (and also conditions its inhabitants to behave in a certain way) is compelling. But that turns out to be just a backdrop for the lies and deceptions of everyone involved.

 

I think comparisons to Gone Girl and 50 Shades are apt since this book does come across like a mash-up of the two. I just wish there had been more to make me really enjoy it. (Received a review copy.)

The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers

- Contemporary Fiction

5 Stars

 

Phoebe and her children are left dealing with the aftershock of her husband Jake’s Wall Street crimes. It’s obvious to the reader that Phoebe doesn’t have all the facts about her marriage. Jake is not the man Phoebe thinks he is.

 

When she finds out the truth, her life comes crashing down. She finds herself at the center of a storm she didn’t create, though most people believe she knows more than she’s admitting.

 

Though I didn’t expect to feel sympathy for Phoebe, I did as the revelations unfolded. The Jake she thought she knew was an illusion, and in the end she and her family were left to deal with the devastation. A very poignant story about betrayal and how society is dazzled by the appearance of success.

 

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2lDteEL

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finishing School by Cary Tennis & Danelle Morton

- Writing

A guide to using goal-setting to get your creative projects completed. Too often we end up with good intentions when we begin, but we run out of steam for various reasons.

 

The book identifies the “six emotional pitfalls” that can stand in the way. They are, Doubt, Shame, Yearning, Fear, Judgement and Arrogance. For instance, doubt that you can finish your project may stop you from getting it done. Or your yearning to become a writer might stand in the way of actually doing the work.

 

There’s a detailed description of the methodology in addition to real-life examples from the authors. They give good examples from their own experiences and dig deeply into each one. Even if you can’t identify with all of the pitfalls, there will be something that resonates.

 

I particularly liked the idea of having a “Declaration of Done,” which is a way to make an actual declaration that your project is completed. The last chapter of the book sums it up best, “Finishing School is a method for reaching a state of completion and moving on.”

 

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/534021/finishing-school-by-cary-tennis-and-danelle-morton/9780399184703/

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I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

- Contemporary Fiction

I almost forgot about you

5 Stars

 

Dr. Georgia Young wants to make big changes. So, she decides to put her house on the market and start a new life. In the meantime, her daughters and friends are going through changes of their own. Georgia’s children are grown up, her business is successful, her life is settled – but is that all there is?

 

I can always count on Terry McMillan to be honest in her work. She’s wonderful at describing thoughts and feelings in a way that never feels contrived.

 

At first I wasn’t sure what to expect from Georgia’s decision to revisit the past. But as the story unfolded, I was pulled into her life. In the process of looking back, she was also making peace with the present. That journey leads her to a life she never expected.

 

A woman’s desire for love (and adventure) doesn’t end just because she’s over a certain age. It’s refreshing to read a story where she’s given the spotlight.

(Received a review copy.)

 

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2llzXGv

 

 

 

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The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti

- Contemporary Fiction

the vanishing year

4 1/2 stars

Zoe Whittaker is living the life with a rich husband and a penthouse. She’s at a society charity event with her husband, Henry, when she runs into someone from her past. It’s revealed that Zoe had another name and another life that has nothing to do with her current one. From that point on the story jumps to the past then back to the present until her two lives converge.

 

It’s obvious that though she believes that everything is fine, Zoe isn’t comfortable in her new life. Her husband is not quite the perfect person she wants him to be and she’s good at rationalizing his behavior. But as her story unfolds it shows why she’s hesitant to rock the boat. She needs protection and she’s willing to overlook at lot to get it.

 

Even though this is a suspenseful read, I figured out what was going on about 2/3’s of the way through. That doesn’t detract from the story at all, and there were a couple of twists at the end that I didn’t expect. Overall I enjoyed the story, though the jumping back and forth between past and present was a bit jarring at times.

 

Actually Zoe’s old identity seemed like a much more interesting person, but we don’t get to see as much of her. When Zoe is finally is able to connect her past and present, she finally takes charge of her life and becomes much more compelling. (Received a review copy.)

 

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2kIZ3Mn

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Now or Never: Your Epic Life in 5 Steps by Alexi Panos & Preston Smiles

- Self-help

Now or Never3 1/2 stars
A book for those who desire motivation to take action in their lives. It features five steps to help you to move from where you are to where you want to be. The writing is very enthusiastic and at times borders on trying too hard.

 

If you’re looking for a self-help book that’s less spiritual and more like a boot camp, then this is one to check out.

 

Otherwise, if you’re looking for more depth and introspection, look elsewhere. (I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2g0ILe9

 

 

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