Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott narrated by Cassandra Campbell


A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Available in-house in Hardcover


Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Julie Crawford leaves Fort Wayne, Indiana for Hollywood, she never imagines she'll cross paths with Carole Lombard, the dazzling actress from Julie's provincial Midwestern hometown. Although the young woman has dreams of becoming a screenwriter, the only job Julie's able to find is one in the studio publicity office of the notoriously demanding producer David O. Selznick —who is busy burning through directors, writers and money as he begins filming Gone with the Wind.    

Although tensions run high on the set, Julie finds she can step onto the back lot, take in the smell of smoky gunpowder and the soft rustle of hoop skirts, and feel the magical world of Gone with the Wind come to life. Julie's access to real-life magic comes when Carole Lombard hires her as an assistant and invites her into the glamorous world Carole shares with Clark Gable—who is about to move into movie history as the dashing Rhett Butler.

Carole Lombard, happily profane and uninhibited, makes no secret of her relationship with Gable, which poses something of a problem for the studio as Gable is technically still married—and the last thing the film needs is more negative publicity. Julie is there to fend off the overly curious reporters, hoping to prevent details about the affair from slipping out. But she can barely keep up with her blonde employer, let alone control what comes out of Carole's mouth, and--as their friendship grows - soon finds she doesn't want to. Carole, both wise and funny, becomes Julie's model for breaking free of the past.



This review is of the audiobooks
First off I need to tell you I am a huge classic movie fan; I think movies made before 1950 are the best movies out there. That is why I requested this book from edelweiss but then I saw that Cassandra Campbell narrates it so I waited for the audiobook.

I loved all the insider info into the fights, casting, script writing, censors and producers that went on during the filming of this movie. I am so glad Louis B. Mayer didn’t get his way and that David O. Selsnick filmed the ending he wanted because it was the best ending possible!

Julie Crawford a young writer from Indiana comes to Hollywood to write for the movies, on her first job she doesn’t get a message to one of the directors of Gone With the Wind fast enough and is fired on the spot, however she has just met a beautiful woman who says she will help her out. When someone asks if she knows who the lady is she admits she looks familiar but can’t place her; the woman turns out to be Carole Lombard soon to be wife of Clark Gable who stars and Rhett Butler in the film. What I found a little weird about these scenes was if you are going to Hollywood to write for the movies wouldn’t you at least know a little about the stars you hope to write for? But she and Carole become very good friends and I loved all the scenes of them together Carole seemed like a very down-to-earth person. Also on that day she meets Hank Weinstein and they start a relationship even though he is Jewish. This is 1938-39 so Hitler is starting his holocaust of the Jewish people including Hanks grandparents so he is having a tough time of it.

I was impressed with Gable’s civil rights ideals (I really hope they were true) when he sees that the bathrooms and other places are segregated he has a fit and fights for their rights of non-segregation. Including almost not going to the premier because Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen would have to use a back door and sit in the colored section, even though it was Hattie who convinced Gable to go even when she boycotted the event.

This was a fun book it was such an insider’s look into old Hollywood and especially Carole Lombard & Clark Gable’s relationship. I did think Julie could be quite na├»ve but it was the 30’s and she grew up in Indiana so …

Cassandra Campbell’s narration was as always fabulous, I like how she made Clark gruff but didn’t try to imitate his voice, every character had their own cadence and tone and you were never left guessing as to who was talking.


If you are a fan of old Hollywood, and /or Gone With the Wind I think you will enjoy this book very much. I have enjoyed all of Alcott’s books so if you haven’t read anything by her before give her a try you’ll be glad you did!


4 ½ Stars

Monday, April 20, 2015

At the Water’s Edge by, Sara Gruen


At the Water’s Edge by, Sara Gruen


Synopsis from Goodreads:
In her stunning new novel, Gruen returns to the kind of storytelling she excelled at in Water for Elephants: a historical timeframe in an unusual setting with a moving love story. Think Scottish Downton Abbey.

After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.

My Review:
Rich party kids Ellis, his wife Maddie and their best friend Hank could care less that there is a war going on, all they want to do is party, but when a night of partying goes a bit too far and Ellis causes his parents some embarrassment they are tossed from the family home. To try to get back into his parent’s good graces the threesome decides to travel to Scotland to find the great monster that caused quite a stir when Ellis’ parents were involved in the search years ago. What starts out as a whim turns into something completely different.

Both Ellis and Hank are exempt from fighting in the military Ellis is color blind and Hank has flat feet so they both seem so oblivious to the fact that there is a war going on that they travel by ship into Nazi infested waters to the great Loch ness but what they see on the ship and in Scotland still has no effect on the two men but Maddie is starting to see the world, her husband and his friend with very different eyes. Once in Scotland we see a very different side to Ellis and it is not a pretty side he seemed like a happy-go-lucky party boy but there is a dark side a very dark side and Maddie does not like what she sees.

I loved Maddie's journey throughout this book from party girl without much will of her own to a strong woman on her own two feet. I really enjoyed this book and read it very quickly, I enjoyed the growing friendships Maddie made in Scotland and the side stories about the locals.

The writing of this book, the descriptions of Scottish countryside and how the war affected the locals were so good it gave a bit of a day in life of these people so affected by the war. Plus we have the loch ness monster and who doesn’t enjoy a loch ness story.

All in all I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it.


4 Stars

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran


Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Available In-House and on in Ebook from Library2Go

Synopsis from Goodreads:
When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the 1850s, it expects a quick and easy conquest. After all, India is not even a country, but a collection of kingdoms on the subcontinent. But when the British arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, expecting its queen to forfeit her crown, they are met with a surprise. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male, one female—and rides into battle like Joan of Arc. Although her soldiers are little match against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi fights against an empire determined to take away the land she loves.

Told from the perspective of Sita, one of the guards in Lakshmi's all-female army and the queen’s most trusted warrior, The Last Queen of India traces the astonishing tale of a fearless ruler making her way in a world dominated by men.


My Review:

Wow Michelle Moran does it again. Such an amazing story about a time and place I really knew nothing about and am now completely mesmerized with. I want to read anything else I can find about this time period, even though they probably won’t compare to how this is written.

These were absolutely amazing women and as always with Moran's books it made do more research the first thing I searched was images of the clothing how gorgeous they must have been. The way they dressed was amazing and seeing the pictures even made it more real. The freedom these women had in Jhansi was extraordinary especially compared to the village women who could never leave the house, which is how Sita grew up plus she had an overbearing grandmother to add to the stresses of daily life. Having a girl child in India in the 1800’s was not a happy occasion if it was not a son then it just didn’t matter, girls were sometimes killed, given away to who knows where and kind of horrible circumstance they would end up in. (prostitution, slavery, nunnery etc.) But Sita was lucky her father loved her even after her mother dies her father never thinks of getting rid of her in one of these horrible ways, though his mother has other ideas (she is an awful person!), so to keep his mother from doing anything bad to Sita he decides she should become a Durga Dal for Queen Lakshmi or the Rani as she is called. The Durga’s are women soldiers and guards of the Rani who dress in beautiful silks but fight better than most men. This is such a fascinating chunk of history that I knew nothing about and if you love books with strong female characters look no further than this one.

Every character in this book is drawn to perfection, there are no one dimensional characters to be found, everyone has a distinct personality and background. There are some great characters in this book even the ones you don’t like; you will find you are still fascinated by their actions. Sita is the person telling the story of what happened during those fateful times when the British decided to just take over India and India and their culture and traditions be damned they just wanted it. The end of the book is heartbreaking, well, so are a few parts in the middle!

I of course had to love that Sita loved to read and because in her Village women didn’t leave the house very rarely going outside this is called purdah, but Sita lived many lives through books she read as she says, “Even prisoners can escape if they have books.”

I was completely and thoroughly enthralled with this story, I learned so much and felt completely immersed in the sights, sounds and clothing of this time. Michelle Moran always writes so beautifully that you feel like you are there with the characters and this book is no exception.


5 Stars

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mademoiselle Chanel by, C.W. Gortner



Mademoiselle Chanel by, C.W. Gortner

Available in-House
And as an E-Book on Library2Go

Enthralled, captivated, fascinated, enamored, I'm not even sure if these words come close to explaining how great this book was and how captivated I am with this woman. This book was impossible to put down I needed to know more and more and more. This is one of those books that when you get finished you want to go back to the beginning and start again because you don't want it to end.

She was definitely a woman before her time she was an absolutely fascinating woman, what she did, not only as a designer but as a single woman in France in the early 1900’s is awe inspiring, she did what she had to do and look what she accomplished, and when you learn where the famous trademark stems from and the origins of her famous perfume it is so interesting. Her rise and how she got there and the people she met along the way is so interesting I am just awe-struck by this woman. I am far from being a fashionista but I want to go see these older dresses and see more of her life.

This book also made me look up everyone she meets along the way and to look at her styles and the scary lobster dress by her rival Schiaparelli . I love Chanel’s more conservative simple dresses; really without her we wouldn’t have the little black dress. And that she stopped women from wearing fruit and birds on their heads that was a great thing.

But above all she was a woman ahead of her time; independent, opinionated, beautiful and rich, but she didn’t start out that way and everything she had was from her hard work, yes, yes men helped her along the way but she paid every one of them back and without her talent she would have never become the icon that she became.

The life she lived and the people she knew is a who’s who in the artistic world of the time, she was accepting of everyone from the snobs of the British aristocracy, to gay men and women, to the drug addled artists, dancers and musicians, she accepted everyone despite their flaws, she was also a very caring woman though her outward attitude didn’t seem that way I believe from this book that if Coco liked you she would do just about anything for you. Some of the things she did during the war are tough but I believe this version she never wanted to hurt anyone and a person had to survive. I do hope that she was able to find some peace and love at the end of her life.

Okay, I could go on and on about this book but I will stop now and just say read this book the minute it comes out, you will not be disappointed!

5 Stars (if I could give it more I would)

This review is crossposted on MissSusie’s Reading &Observations



As I have said in previous reviews I love a historical fiction book that makes me want to do research and boy howdy did this book make me want to look stuff up, everything from pictures of the clothes to learning about the people she met along the way so here are some of the sites I found with great picture of Coco and her crowd:


CW Gortner's--- Pintrest page:



Pic of Chanel is from:  http://www.dmoda.uy/coco-chanel/

This is a great site to see pictures of some of the people and places you will meet in this book

An article about Coco and the ballet with a picture of her and Serge Lifar

A neat tribute to Misia Sert as muse to so many artists in the early 1900’s

Picture of Boy

This is a great site to see some pictures of some of the people and places you will meet in this book

Bendor

Monday, February 9, 2015

Crash & Burn by, Lisa Gardner


Crash & Burn by, Lisa Gardner

Synopsis from Goodreads:

My name is Nicky Frank. Except, most likely, it isn’t. 

Nicole Frank shouldn’t have been able to survive the car accident, much less crawl up the steep ravine. Not in the dark, not in the rain, not with her injuries. But one thought allows her to defy the odds and flag down help: Vero.

I’m looking for a little girl. I have to save her. Except, most likely, she doesn’t exist. 

Sergeant Wyatt Foster is frustrated when even the search dogs can’t find any trace of the mysterious missing child. Until Nicky’s husband, Thomas, arrives with a host of shattering revelations: Nicole Frank suffers from a rare brain injury and the police shouldn’t trust anything she says.

My husband claims he’ll do anything to save me. Except, most likely, he can’t.

Who is Nicky Frank, and what happened the night her car sailed off the road? Was it a random accident or something more sinister given the woman’s lack of family and no close friends? The deeper Wyatt digs, the more concerned he becomes. Because it turns out, in the past few months, Nicky has suffered from more than one close accident. . . . In fact, it would appear someone very much wants her dead.

This is my life. Except, most likely, it’s not. Now watch me crash and burn

My Review:
Man alive this woman knows how to write a I can't put this down, edge of my seat thriller. I devoured this book in one day I could not stop reading.

This book once again features Tessa Leoni and Wyatt and also features DD Warren in an interesting side story which makes me anxious for the next DD book to see where her life goes after this book. We also get an update on Bobby Dodge & Annabelle.

This was such a different story, it kept me guessing even though I was able to figure out a couple things that didn't stop my complete enjoyment of this book.

Is it memory or delusion or a bit of both? What do you do when you can't trust your own mind and what it is telling you about your life? We have a completely and wholly unreliable narrator in Nicky Frank the book starts out with a car crash and her complete belief that a little girl named Vero needs saving and was with her but does Vero even exist? Nicky doesn’t seem to know what is real, what is a memory or is it a delusion, she has had 3 concussions in a short amount of time and her brain is mixed up she keeps looking for the girl Vero is she lost, gone, dead or just a figment of her imagination. Was Nicky her savior or her killer? And what of Nicky’s husband Thomas is he the caring husband he seems to be or is there more behind the 3 “accidents” that have happened to Nicky, her car crash being just the latest.

This case starts out with a bang and gets weirder and weirder and poor Wyatt can’t seem to make heads or tails out of the information he is being given by Nicky while he investigates her car accident. Hopefully Tessa can help him out but she seems a little on edge and won’t tell Wyatt what is going on however they do work well together as they did on the last case that they have to put their personal feelings aside to try to get to the bottom of this very odd case. They even bring DD in to help them out.

This book will grab on and not let you go but that’s okay, just hang on, and enjoy the ride. Lisa Gardner does it again with another fantastic thriller!


5 Stars

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What She Left Behind, by Ellen Marie Wiseman


What She Left Behind, by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Available on Library2Go in Ebook And in-house

Description from Goodreads: In this stunning new novel, the acclaimed author of THE PLUM TREE merges the past and present into a haunting story about the nature of love and loyalty—and the lengths we will go to protect those who need us most.

Ten years ago, Izzy Stone’s mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Devastated by her mother’s apparent insanity, Izzy, now seventeen, refuses to visit her in prison. But her new foster parents, employees at a local museum, have enlisted Izzy’s help in cataloging items at a long-shuttered state asylum. There, amid piles of abandoned belongings, Izzy discovers a stack of unopened letters, a decades old journal, and a window into her own past.
Clara Cartwright, eighteen years old in 1929, is caught between her overbearing parents and her love for an Italian immigrant. Furious when she rejects an arranged marriage, Clara’s father sends her to a genteel home for nervous invalids. But when his fortune is lost in the stock market crash, he can no longer afford her care—and Clara is committed to the public asylum.
Even as Izzy deals with the challenges of yet another new beginning, Clara’s story keeps drawing her into the past. If Clara was never really mentally ill, could something else explain her own mother’s violent act? Piecing together Clara’s fate compels Izzy to re-examine her own choices—with shocking and unexpected results.
Illuminating and provocative, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND is a masterful novel about the yearning to belong—and the mysteries that can belie even the most ordinary life.

My Review:

Wow, just, wow, this book is great! I wasn’t expecting so many holding my breath moments. It always fascinates and horrifies me to learn of the treatment in some of these so called hospitals and the reasons so many women were put into these places. Poor Clara all she did was fall in love with a man her father didn’t approve of so she was locked up and lied about and left there with no-one to turn to, in 1929 this was okay for a father to do to his child. Clara starts out in a little better place at least she had one nice nurse but when the crash hits and her father can no longer pay the bill Clara ends up in Willard hospital a state run home that is an awful, awful place!  In the present day we have Izzie, she is a foster child whose mother is in prison for killing her father her foster parents are doing a project on Willard for the local museum and when Izzie finds Clara’s diary she becomes fascinated with learning more about this woman. Both of these stories are interesting Clara’s more so but there are parts of Izzie’s story that will break your heart too.

This book grabbed me right from the beginning and didn’t let go till the end it was never boring and there were times I was yelling at my ipod because of things that happened to Clara and Bruno. I was surprised at how invested I got in these characters and that there were some really intense scenes I wasn’t expecting.  

Loved the ending …Oh Clara!

If you are a fan of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox I’d say to give this one a try, you won’t be disappointed.


5 stars

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Girl on the Train: A Novel By Paula Hawkins Narrated By Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher


The Girl on the Train: A Novel By Paula Hawkins Narrated By Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher

Available in house in hardcover

And on Library2Go in both e-book and audiobook format- This review is based on the audiobook

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A debut psychological thriller about a woman who becomes emotionally entangled in a murder investigation because of something she witnesses on her daily commute.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every night. Every day she rattles over the same track junctions, flashes past the same stretch of cozy suburban homes. And every day she stops at the same signal and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof deck, living the perfect life that Rachel craves for herself—a lifestyle she recently lost. She looks forward to observing this household every morning, even makes up names and narratives for its residents. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden, and soon after, the woman who lived there disappears.

Unable to keep this information to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and in the process is drawn into the lives of the couple she thought of as Jason and Jess but whose names—she has learned from the news—are really Megan and Scott Hipwell.

But the police accuse Rachel of being unreliable, and it’s true that her memories can’t always be trusted. Plus there are the stories that her ex-husband’s new wife has been spreading about her. By the time Megan’s body is found, Rachel is in over her head, intricately entangled in the details of the investigation, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she put others in danger? Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.


My Review:
This book has had so much hype that I was honestly a little worried that it wasn't going to live up to it but holy cow did it ever.

This was a twisty turny, keep you guessing to the end kind of book, with completely unreliable narrator's all three of these women were unreliable narrator's which is kind of fascinating because you never knew who was telling the truth or the truth as they saw it or are just lying completely. Every time I thought I had it figured out it would turn a different way, I thought I had it figured out many times and I never did.

Told by 3 women:
 Rachel- alcoholic, scorned woman, she is the girl on the train and honestly quite a mess.
 Anna- Rachel’s ex-husbands new wife and mother of his child, self-centered and paranoid of Rachel.
Megan- missing, confused, self-centered and craves attention.

The three audiobook narrators Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey and India Fisher all did such a fantastic job they truly brought these women to life and endowed each with such emotion. These were all new to me narrators and I will definitely be looking for other books any of these women have narrated!

This book was amazing, it was great from beginning till end never bogged down and kept me guessing all the way through. I don’t want to give any more away because this is one of those books where the wrong word could be a spoiler, suffice it to say Just Read This Book! Now!

5 stars
Cross-posted on MissSusie's Reading