Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Review of THE BIG BRUSH-OFF by Michael Murphy

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This was a fun find from Net Galley!

I love a retro mystery and this one takes place in the 1930’s.

Description (via Net Galley)

The irresistible Jake & Laura return in Michael Murphy’s witty, fast-paced mystery series—perfect for readers of Dorothy Cannell and Christopher Fowler. In The Big Brush-off, the charming and indomitable duo heads to the Midwest to solve a chilling cold case of a young girl’s murder.

Blackie Doyle is dying. That’s what Jake Donovan’s literary agent tells him. Sales are falling, and the rough draft of Jake’s latest Blackie novel doesn’t look promising. Maybe Jake has been distracted by a recent barrage of real-life homicides, or by his marriage to the beautiful up-and-coming actress Laura Wilson, now slated for a part opposite Clark Gable himself. Whatever the reason, Jake decides to return to his roots. Which is why he and Laura hop the next train to the small town in Pennsylvania where Jake once worked as a Pinkerton detective.

Ten years ago, the murder of a teenage girl interrupted life in quiet, God-fearing Hanover. The unsolved case has always gnawed at Jake, and it seems no coincidence that as soon as he starts digging up old ghosts, he’s once again writing like a dervish. Nor is it surprising that some townfolk would rather see the truth stay buried—and maybe even Jake and Laura with it. But the glamorous crime-solving pair refuse to leave before sorting through a bevy of suspects—and at long last nailing the one who almost got away with the not-so-perfect crime.

Praise for Michael Murphy’s Jake & Laura mysteries

“Glittering with a hint of Nick and Nora, Michael Murphy’s 1930s Manhattan provides a witty setting for murder and mayhem.”—Mary Daheim, bestselling author of The Alpine Yeoman, on The Yankee Club

“[Jake and Laura] are fun, witty, and charming, and [All That Glitters] is filled with the same kind of 1930s Hollywood glamour that made the film of The Thin Man such a classic.”—Popcorn Reads

“The third installment in Murphy’s series is just as much fun as the first. The mystery is full of twists with an ample amount of red herrings, suspects, and action.”—Mystery Please!, on Wings in the Dark

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I loved this story and I loved the characters of Jake and Laura. It’s a cozy, and you know how I love cozies. Mysteries can be thrilling and fun and they don’t need to be gory or nightmare-worthy. I would love to see this series made into a series — BBC style — as I can imagine viewers loving the story lines and the period aspects (costumes, cars, etc.).

While this was my first Jake and Laura mystery, it won’t be my last!

Thank you for my invitation to review it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Audiobook Review: ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS by Adriana Trigiani

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I recently had the chance to get ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS with my Audible credit for the month. I LOVE Adriana Trigiani’s books and I was quite excited to listen to her new one. This is a wonderful story, set in the golden age of Hollywood and involving familiar and beloved classic stars.

Gretchen Young took the screen name “Loretta Young” and spent her life as an actress. Witty and hardworking, Gretchen and her sisters all worked in the movies, supporting themselves and their mother, from early childhood into adulthood. In her early twenties and recently having her marriage annulled, she is coming off an infatuation with the already married Spencer Tracy, when Loretta finds herself drawn to the always irresistible Clark Gable (another married man). Her strict Catholic upbringing makes her unable to engage in an open affair, and she fights her attraction to him, all while they are filming The Call of the Wild together. However, weeks after filming Loretta discovers she is pregnant and has to decide how she will proceed in her life — both personally and professionally.

While I knew Loretta Young from the movies, I had no idea she had a child by Clark Gable (true). The whole story is something Hollywood-esque. (However, there are also stories that she later said she was date raped by Gable — decidedly not exciting/romantic/humorous/okay if that’s true). If you know me, you know I LOVE stories of classic Hollywood, and I love anything to do with movie stars and Hollywood, especially in the old days (I also love plays and theater and Broadway but that’s for another day).

Trigiani does her usual excellent job in evoking a sense of place and personality here — doubling challenging as she is taking on the personas of living legends. Even the minor characters are exciting — Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, etc. (and I want Myrna Loy for a friend!).

The audible version was read by Blair Brown and she does an amazing job in telling the story, pitching her voice with variety, and pulling the reader in. Truly, this was one of the best “aud-itions” of a novel that I’ve experienced.

While this book released recently, it is EVERYWHERE! Get yours pronto and let me know how you like it!

 

 

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HFVBT for THE FORGOTTEN FLAPPER by Laini Giles

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I’m a stop on the historical fiction blog tour for Laini Giles’ novel: THE FORGOTTEN FLAPPER. I absolutely loved this creative novel which focuses on Olive Thomas, a real life star of stage and early film. In the novel, the ghost of Olive is living at the New Amsterdam Theater in NYC. She delves into her past and tells her story, from growing up in the midwest to becoming a star, to her work with some of the biggest names of the day. She focuses on her marriage to Jack Pickford (Mary Pickford’s brother) and then her untimely death. Her character and voice is so strong throughout this story, that I looked up Olive Thomas afterwards and found out more about her. Here’s a picture of her, taken from google images:

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I found Olive fascinating and just like the novel’s ghost, she continues to haunt me. I love just about any story about the early days of Hollywood and the heyday of big name classic movie stars, but this one is a stand out. It looks like it’s the start of a series of books about actresses so I can’t wait for the next one! Thank you for my review e-copy and making me part of the tour!

Here’s what HFBVT has to say:

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The Forgotten Flapper: A Novel of Olive Thomas (Forgotten Actress Series, Volume 1)
by Laini Giles

Publication Date: August 1, 2015
Publisher: Sepia Stories Publishing
Formats: eBook & Trade Paperback
Pages: 411

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical

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A presence lurks in New York City’s New Amsterdam Theatre when the lights go down and the audience goes home. They say she’s the ghost of Olive Thomas, one of the loveliest girls who ever lit up the Ziegfeld Follies and the silent screen. From her longtime home at the theater, Ollie’s ghost tells her story from her early life in Pittsburgh to her tragic death at twenty-five.

After winning a contest for “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York,” shopgirl Ollie modeled for the most famous artists in New York, and then went on to become the toast of Broadway. When Hollywood beckoned, Ollie signed first with Triangle Pictures, and then with Myron Selznick’s new production company, becoming most well known for her work as a “baby vamp,” the precursor to the flappers of the 1920s.

After a stormy courtship, she married playboy Jack Pickford, Mary Pickford’s wastrel brother. Together they developed a reputation for drinking, club-going, wrecking cars, and fighting, along with giving each other expensive make-up gifts. Ollie’s mysterious death in Paris’ Ritz Hotel in 1920 was one of Hollywood’s first scandals, ensuring that her legend lived on.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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A native of Austin, Texas, Laini Giles grew up the daughter of bookworms, and became a Nancy Drew devotee early on. When she realized there might be no escape from hairy tarantulas and bad guys with guns, she put her detective dreams on hold and wrote about them instead, finishing her first mystery novel with custom illustrations when she was eight. It was this love of mystery combined with a love of old MGM musicals and The Marx Brothers that led her to check Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon out of the library during her formative years. Ideas began to simmer.

A graduate of the University of North Texas, she put the writing on hold for a while when real life got in the way (i.e.—she met and married her Canadian husband and headed north for maple-flavored goodies and real beer). She highly recommends moving to another country and not being able to work for a year for finishing any novels you may have laying around.

Laini and her husband live in Edmonton, Alberta with their three gray girl cats, nicknamed The Supremes.

For more information visit Laini Giles’ website and blog. You can also find her on Twitter andGoodreads.

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, August 3
Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 4
Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, August 5
Book Blast/Spotlight at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, August 6
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, August 7
Book Blast/Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, August 10
Review at Book Babe

Tuesday, August 11
Book Blast/Spotlight at Room With Books

Wednesday, August 12
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, August 13
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, August 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read

Saturday, August 15
Book Blast/Spotlight at Please Pass the Books

Monday, August 17
Book Blast/Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, August 18
Book Blast/Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, August 19
Review at A Book Drunkard

Thursday, August 20
Spotlight & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse

Friday, August 21
Book Blast/Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, August 24
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, August 27
Book Blast/Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

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Review: ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES by Rachel Stuhler

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The fine folks at Touchstone (Simon and Schuster) kindly sent me a review copy of ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES several weeks ago. I love, love, love stories about Hollywood and celebrities (I find them fun). This one centers on a young woman who is hired (rather haphazardly) to be the ghostwriter of a famous teen star’s autobiography.

Holly Gracin is out of luck and out of a job when she gets a phone call from a friend of her uncle about a writing project. The next thing she knows, she is the ghost writer for a famous teen pop star and part of the inner circle of the entertainer’s daily life. But nothing is easy for poor Holly, and she finds herself chasing after Daisy and her entourage and often in the spotlight herself (not in a flattering way either!). Holly has to figure out a few things about her own life’s direction, too.

I just loved this book, which was laugh-out-loud funny. Holly’s “voice” and her humor come through strongly, yet you can tell that she is a good person at heart – and not incredibly mature herself either. Poor Daisy is a bit of a puppet, held by those who make money off of her. Stuhler used her own experiences as a Hollywood ghost writer as inspiration for the novel. I found it to be a quick read – I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to put it down. This is Stuhler’s first novel, and I’m sure there will be more.

It looks like this may be just the first of number of Holly Gracin stories. I look forward to the next!

You can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

Absolutely True Lies: A Novel

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Review: A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott

I found this fun story on Net Galley. I’ve always been a fan of classic movies and this story sounded so neat: a young woman moves to Hollywood from Indiana since she wants to be a screenwriter. She becomes a personal assistant to Carole Lombard and spends time with Lombard and Butler as the filming of “Gone with the Wind” is taking place.

I’ve read Kate Alcott’s other two books — both I actually listened to as audiobooks in the car (The Daring Ladies of Lowell and The Dressmaker). I liked this novel more than either of those two (which I also enjoyed). TOUCH OF STARDUST focuses on Julie Crawford, who I was rooting for throughout the story. She is seeking independence and wants to be a screenwriter in a male-dominated industry. She meets a young man, Andy, whom she is drawn to and starts dating. Andy is Jewish and this ties in to the more global story of the war in Europe (it is 1938) and Andy’s concern for his relatives. The portrayal of Carole Lombard and the other movie people, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, David O’ Selznick, etc. is what made the story for me. They truly come alive on these pages. Alcott has done her research and homework into events of the time, issues in the making of the movie, life in Hollywood in the pre-war 30’s, and mostly the personalities of these movie icons.

An enjoyable and fun read that I highly recommend if you, like me, are a fan of classic Hollywood.

Thank you for my review copy, Net Galley and Doubleday Books!

Find this book at an indie near you! (I am an Indie Bound affiliate).


Find it at an Indie!

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Quick Review: AS YOU WISH by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden

I was more than thrilled when Maria at Simon and Schuster asked me if I’d like to review Cary Elwes’ new book, the full title of which is As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. I just love that movie, and I figured it would be a fun read.

This book starts with Elwes getting cast to play Westley and goes through the entire filming and creation process. Interspersed throughout are pictures, along with quotes and snippets from other cast members, often sharing their view of the same incidents that Elwes writes about. His book is not a self-serving bit of megalomania (a worry I had since it is written by a Hollywood star!) but more of a tribute and a very touching personal recollection of what could be described as the best job of his life. Throughout it you come to intimately know the real people behind the characters, along with Rob Reiner, the director (apparently one of the greatest and most lovable guys in Hollywood). This book was a lovely and fun read, paying homage to a film classic that many of us count in our top ten favorite flicks of all time.

If you love this film, don’t miss reading AS YOU WISH.

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

 

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Quick Review: QUEEN OF HEARTS by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness mystery)

I love all the Georgie mysteries, and this one was no exception. Somehow I missed that it was publishing, and so I found it for my kindle a few weeks ago. In this installment, Georgie and her mother head to the US to get a quickie divorce for her mum in Reno. While they are waiting, they go to Hollywood so her mother can take part in the filming of a movie (they met a movie mogul while coming over on the boat from England). Who should show up but best friend Belinda and boyfriend Darcy (who is sleuthing around for a jewel thief). Georgie of course ends up stumbling over dead bodies and it seems like everyone is a suspect, but no one had the means to commit murder.

Will Georgie figure it all out in time? Will Darcy and Georgie ever move forward in their relationship? Will Georgie ever get a proper lady’s maid??

You will have to read it to find out.

Always a pleasure, Ms. Bowen’s latest is the eighth in this series. Added to the fun is the addition of “real” character Charlie Chaplin.

You can see it on Amazon where I got mine and where I am an Associate:

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