Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review: A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott

Being a huge fan of Gone with the Wind, I felt like I would either love or hate this book - which takes place largely on the set of the movie and involves the lives of those who put this masterpiece together.

Well, turns out, I loved this book. I'd recommend this to anyone who loves Gone With the Wind or old movies and stories about old Hollywood.  I couldn't put it down.  Last night, I went to bed after reading a little bit, couldn't stop thinking about the book, and got up and read until 6 a.m.

This is a novelization about the making of Gone With the Wind, told from the perspective of Julie, a young woman from Indiana who moves to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of being a screen writer. The book begins as she's doing one of her first jobs in Hollywood, delivering a message to David O. Selznick on the day he's burning Atlanta (as big GWTW fans know, this was the first scene shot, even before the part of Scarlett had been cast.)

Soon after, Julie's hired as Carole Lombard's assistant - because keeping Carole happy would keep Clark Gable happy.  Lombard plays quite a big role in the book, acting as Julie's mentor and serving as the sort of woman Julie wants to be - fierce and independent and not afraid to go after what she wants.  Julie's a wonderful character, as she struggles to make it in a world dominated by men without compromising herself.  There's also a really nice romance happening in this book, as Julie falls for Andy - one of Selznick's top men (though I'm not sure of his exact title, but it's mentioned he's very important to Selznick).  Andy's keeping her at a distance, worried she's too young and fragile and that Hollywood will destroy her - like it has done to so many other people.  He's also not certain she can handle the pressure of being with a Jewish man as the world watches what is happening across the ocean on the verge of what would become World War II.  Julie has to prove to Andy - as well as herself - that she does have what it takes to withstand the cruel fiction of Hollywood, as well as love someone as complicated as Andy.

This book reads like a really great classic romance movie, complete with interesting side characters, and a dramatic setting, intertwined with social issues and of course, what I consider a must in my favorite stories - a woman who finally figures out what she wants out of life and goes after it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, didn't want it to end.  I highly recommend it.

I received a review copy via Net Galley.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Review: Shoulda Been a Cowboy by Maisey Yates

I'm not a big fan of cowboy stories, but I am a big fan of Maisey Yates' books, which is why I decided to go ahead and read a book with the word "cowboy" in the title.  But I didn't love this story.  For some reason, what I find attractive in the Harlequin Presents books isn't so attractive in a small town contemporary.  That probably makes me a bad person - rich guy in a suit can be an arrogant jerk, but not a mechanic on a motorcycle?  (At least I'm aware of my flaws, right?)  I didn't like the guy in this book, and Cassie just seemed very sad and a little desperate.  I found myself thinking she probably could have done a lot better if she'd tried looking.  (I may also have an issue with stories that involve high school crushes re-connecting, maybe because the guy I thought was so wonderful and attractive in high school is now bald and fat, so these stories ick me out a bit.)

Another problem I had was that I started reading this on the same day I finished reading Victoria Dahl's So Tough to Tame, and the set up was way too similar.  Girl had big crush on guy when she tutored him in high school, he had problems with his dad, now they re-connect after all these years, neither realizing they liked each other way back then.  Now they lived right next to each other, thin walls and she can hear what is happening in the shower.

I'm also noticing that I tend to not like a lot of romance novellas, the stories are too short for so much intensity.  Maybe I need a little more build-up.

Shoulda Been a Cowboy is the prequel to Yates' Copper Ridge series - and the guy in this book isn't actually a cowboy - hence the title.  I do have every intention of reading the other books in this series because, as I said, I am a huge fan of Maisey Yates and love almost everything she's written.  This was a rare exception.

I received a review copy via NetGalley.