Cody and Meg were inseparable…
Until they weren’t.
When her best friend, Meg, drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.
—Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com
I generally don’t read what is “popular” or “well-received by the critics” when it comes to my novels of choice. It took me quite a long time to get up the nerve to read “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. So it was with Gayle Forman’s novels. Known by her novel duets like, “If I Stay” and “Where She Went,” and “Just One Day” and “Just One Year,” Gayle Forman is a master of bitter and sweet. The “Just One Day” duet novels were easily some of my favorite reads of 2014.
She has dealt with a lot of hard issues about growing up in her prior books, and “I Was Here” dealt with one of the hardest issues a person can deal with: suicide. And being the one left behind.
Suicide has touched so many lives, and broken so many families. It certainly is one of the hardest things to experience, and leaves the brightest scar.
Like so many others, I’ve been one of those people left behind when someone has decided to end their life. Going through the journey of “I Was Here,” for me as a reader it was cathartic and left me with so many questions—and answers— about the suicide that affected my life several years ago.
This novel is classified as a mystery, but that is only a small portion of the overall story arc. Poignant and bittersweet, this is probably Gayle Forman’s grittiest book yet. She is an excellent wordsmith, and one of the finest young adult writers of this generation.
For more information about Gayle Forman, visit:
Summer, 1936: Gone with the Wind is released by first-time author Margaret Mitchell and becomes an international sensation. Everyone in Hollywood knows that Civil War pictures don’t make a dime, but renegade movie producer David O. Selznick snaps up the movie rights and suddenly the talk around dinner tables and cocktail parties across the country is fixated on just one question: Who will win the role of Scarlett O’Hara?
When aspiring actress Gwendolyn Brick finally gets her hands on the book, it’s like the clouds have parted and the angels are singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Only a genuine southern belle can play Scarlett and didn’t she spend her childhood listening to Mama’s stories of Sherman’s march and all those damned Yankees? After years of slinging cigarettes at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, Gwendolyn finds a new purpose in life: to become the silver screen’s Scarlett O’Hara. But isn’t that the ambition of every other pretty Hollywood gal with a deep-fried accent? She knows she’s going to have to stand out bigger than a hoop skirt at a Twelve Oaks barbecue.
Marcus Adler finds himself the golden boy of Cosmopolitan Pictures, the vanity production company set up by William Randolph Hearst for his movie star mistress, Marion Davies. He’s written Return to Sender, Davies’ first-ever genuine smash hit and wins a coveted invitation to spend the weekend at Hearst Castle. The kid who got kicked out of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, is now the guest of the richest man in America, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Myrna Loy, Winston Churchill, and Katharine Hepburn. But the trouble with flying high is that you have such a very long way to fall. When Marcus’ Hearst weekend turns into an unmitigated fiasco, Marcus finds himself sinking fast. He realizes he needs a new idea to impress the studios—real big and real soon—when the Garden of Allah hotel gains a new resident. F. Scott Fitzgerald arrives in Hollywood with a $1000-a-week contract at MGM but no idea how to write a screenplay. “Pleased to meetcha,” Marcus tells him. “We need to talk.”
When Selznick gives the nod to MGM’s George Cukor to direct Gone with the Wind, it’s the scoop of the year and falls into the lap of Kathryn Massey, the Hollywood Reporter’s newest columnist. But dare she publish it? All scoops are the exclusive domain of the Hearst papers’ all-powerful, all-knowing, all-bitchy Louella Parsons. Nobody in Hollywood has dared to outscoop Louella before, but isn’t it about time someone did? When Kathryn plunges ahead with her story, Louella retaliates low and dirty. Kathryn’s boss loses his nerve and leaves her dangling like a limp scarecrow in a summer storm. Then the telephone rings. It’s Ida Koverman, Louis B. Mayer’s personal secretary, and she has a proposition she’d like to make.
—Synopsis courtesy of author’s website.
“The Trouble with Scarlett” by Martin Turnbull
Decadent. Delicious. Divine.
That sums up my thoughts my thoughts on Martin Turnbull’s scintillating sequel to The Garden on Sunset. Full of wit, drama, humor and heart, readers fall in love with the characters in a dance through the Golden Age of Hollywood, specifically in the months and years leading up to the biggest film of the decade, Gone with the Wind.
Turnbull’s three main characters easily tell the story of this dramatic moment in motion picture history, gracefully dealing with issues like humiliation, rejection, and unrequited love that strike a chord with modern audiences.
The characters are funny and endearing, particularly Marcus himself. I personally enjoyed the screen test of Gwendolyn Brick the best, along with the antics that ensued during her pursuit of the role of Scarlett O’Hara herself.
What has won me over with this series is the insight into the film industry’s glory days, and the reimagining of famous legends (i.e. Vivien Leigh’s unexpected on-set appearance during the burning of Atlanta, the termination of George Cukor as director, etc.)
The novel daringly names names, and delves deeply into the private lives of our favorite stars on the silver screen.
The sexual content of The Trouble with Scarlett was toned down considerably compared to its predecessor, and lets the reader focus more on individual character development instead.
The dramatic jumps that occur from the end of one chapter to the beginning of the next one can be a bit confusing when a cliffhanger scene is sometimes ended too soon, and it takes a while to find out what happened after the end of a particular scene. This is sometimes the case when dealing with multiple narrators in alternating chapters, but like in my review of The Garden on Sunset, I still believe a chapter preface of the month/year (i.e. June 1939) would help the reader with following the timeline.
Martin Turnbull is a delightful author to read, and I feel his voice is genuinely captured in the prose of his Garden of Allah novels. His writing contains a precious commodity: in the commercial publishing market where an author’s individual voice is lost in the muddle of multi-million-dollar book deals, (Ahem, I’m talking to you, James Patterson!) Turnbull’s voice rings clear and true.
The Trouble with Scarlett is a gem, and a wonderful, rich tale of the bygone days of Tinseltown. Readers will certainly have no “trouble” reaching for the next book in the series, Citizen Hollywood.
Want to read Book One?
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The Novel Writing Inspiration feature is a weekly meme begun right here on Shylock and Shakespeare highlighting visual inspiration as writing prompts.
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Review: The Garden on Sunset by Martin Turnbull
In 1927, violet-eyed Alla Nazimova, the highest paid and most famous actress in the world, converted her Sunset Boulevard movie-star mansion into a hotel and dubbed it ‘The Garden of Allah.’ Before you could say Prohibition-Schmohibition it became a fabled residence-of-choice for hopeful and ambitious arrivals in Hollywood. The likes of Tallulah Bankhead, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Bogart & Bacall, Gary Cooper, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Errol Flynn, Harpo Marx, Orson Welles, and others walked, wobbled, wandered, and wafted through its doors and sometimes into its pool. Drunk. Or naked. Or both. And rarely alone.
Drawn to this hallowed haven is Marcus Adler whose own father has run him out of Pennsylvania. There is only one address he knows: 8152 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood–the home of the luminous Nazimova, a vision in diaphanous lavender tulle who once visited him when he was a child sick with diphtheria. “Come visit me any time,” she whispered into his ear. He takes her at her word but finds her home is now a hotel. With nowhere else to go, he checks in and thinks, Now what? There he meets Kathryn Massey who has run away from her overbearing stage mother to pursue a career as a journalist–God forbid a girl in Hollywood would actually want to use her brains–and Gwendolyn Brick, a hopeful actress from ‘The Other Hollywood’–Hollywood, Florida–who has come to try her luck in Glitter City. The girl is blessed/cursed with a pair of lips that the men in this town are going to be lining up to have a go at. She won’t be able to fight them off on her own.
They band together: three naïve hopefuls madly dog-paddling against a tidal wave of threadbare casting couches, nervous bootleggers, human billboards, round-world Zeppelins, sinking gambling boats, waiters in black face, William Randolph Hearst, the Long Beach earthquake, starlets, harlots, Harlows and Garbos.
THE GARDEN ON SUNSET is the first in Martin Turnbull’s series of historical novels set during Hollywood’s golden age.
Synopsis Courtesy of the Author’s Website.
After coming off a recent reading high after finishing “Love Me” by Rachel Shukert, (review coming soon) I found the perfect solution in “The Garden on Sunset” by Martin Turnbull, book 1 in the Garden of Allah series. This self-published novel was pretty hard to track down, but eventually my library found just one copy in a library in Illinois and sent it my way.
Needless to say, I eagerly devoured this unknown gem in a few short days. It had everything I wanted in a novel about the Golden Age of Hollywood: exotic film stars, intrigue, and excellent descriptions of locales that were familiar to me via other books and movies like Schwabb’s, the Brown Derby, and the Paramount lot. Although some of the content was surprising, it fit very naturally in this plot, and I’m left wondering why this book hasn’t found a home with a traditional publishing house.
My only criticism would be about the timeline and pacing. As a reader, I was not sure if the plot had jumped forward a day, two days, a month or six months with each chapter. A little more time could have been taken for character development and I believe a little subscript at the top of the new chapters like “Six weeks later” or “Christmas, 1934” might have helped to keep readers a bit more oriented with the timeline.
For fans of the Starstruck series by Rachel Shukert, although definitely intended for an older reader, this series surely has the ability to go further in the publishing industry with some well-placed publicity.
Book 2: The Trouble With Scarlett
About the Author:
Martin Turnbull has worked as a private tour guide showing both locals and out-of-towners the movie studios, Beverly Hills mansions, Hollywood hills vistas and where all the bodies are buried. For nine years, he has also volunteered as an historical walking tour docent with the Los Angeles Conservancy. He worked for a summer as a guide at the Warner Bros. movie studios in Burbank showing movie fans through the sound stages where Bogie and Bacall, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and James Cagney created some of Hollywood’s classic motion pictures.
From an early age, Martin was enchanted with old movies from Hollywood’s golden era–from the dawn of the talkies in the late 1920s to the dusk of the studio system in the late 1950s–and has spent many, many a happy hour watching the likes of Garland, Gable, Crawford, Garbo, Grant, Miller, Kelly, Astaire, Rogers, Turner, Welles go through their paces.
When he discovered the wonderful world of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs, his love of reading merged with his love of movies and his love of history to produce a three-headed hydra gobbling up everything in his path. Ever since then, he’s been on a mission to learn and share as much as he can about this unique time.
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Martin moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90s.
Author Website: http://martinturnbull.wordpress.com/
Title: The Fault in Our Stars
By: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books
Release Date: 1st edition (January 10, 2012)
Format: Library copy/audiobook
Rating: 9 out of 10
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.
—Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com
I was a little late jumping on the bandwagon of The Fault in Our Stars. I’m usually not one to read what is popular, but rather what appeals to me content-wise. There was about a 10% chance that I would read a book about cancer, and less so one about kids with cancer. As many people have been touched by the hands of cancer, it still is a difficult subject to think about and talk about, let alone read about.
This was my second venture into listening to audiobooks, as I felt a greater sense of story while listening to Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater than the first time I read it. So I felt that I should try The Fault in Our Stars in audio book format, as I could multi-task while listening.
However, John Green’s words had other plans for me.
The Fault in Our Stars was engaging and witty, sharp-tongued and unique. I adored the way Augustus called her “Hazel Grace” instead of just “Hazel.” I was surprised with the sincerity that John Green wrote Hazel’s character, and the honesty of Augustus’s life and metaphors. There was a true appreciation of young adults in this novel that is hard to find, and John Green does it perfectly. He wrote two extremely smart teenagers that were realistic and three-dimensional. Young adults are the intellectuals of our generation. They feel everything and say what they mean with earnestness. This book tore at my emotions, something books are rare to do for me, and I do think that this was enhanced by the wonderful performance given by narrator Kate Rudd.
This was the very first book I’ve read/listened to by John Green, and I can’t be more excited for the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars to be released in June 2014.
Author Website: http://johngreenbooks.com/
If you haven’t checked out Epic Reads, do so now! They have an amazing team over at Harper Collins and Epic Reads is just another reason to love this publishing company. Here is a sneak peek at all of the fantastic titles coming from them in January, featured in their #ARCParty: December 2013 Editionhttp://www.epicreads.com/
I usually post a photography feature for novel writing inspiration, and I would like to share my thoughts on how inspiration in the form of a snapshot can become a window into something spectacular.
There are countless ways to bottle inspiration. Reading a Jane Austen book, going for a walk along the Seine, watching an Italian film, or a whirlwind romance with a handsome stranger you met in Trafalgar Square. I’m asked quite often, “Where does inspiration come from?”
My answer, “I harvest it.”
That usually stumps the inquirer.
Many writers are faced with this question daily. Where does inspiration come from?
Can you buy it in a store, like bread and eggs? Is it a commodity to invest in? Or is it simply a far away muse that can only be tapped into if the diva allows it?
Inspiration for writers, both young and old, is not tangible. It is different for each person. We experience the world through a pair of eyes, and a pair of hands. Photography has provided a glorious window for a moment in time to be captured, and many authors will say a certain photo grabbed them so intensely that they wrote an entire book trying to explain it all.
Lois Lowry, who is most famous for writing “The Giver” was inspired by bunch of unwanted photos in an antique store, that she purchased them all and wrote a book surrounded the exact photos she’d found. That book became “The Silent Boy.” And although inspiration, like love, can’t be bought, but it can be found in the strangest of places.
Where would J.K. Rowling be if she hadn’t ridden on that train and found the nucleus of the Harry Potter series dropped into her lap?
Where would Stephenie Meyer be without the dream about an ordinary human girl falling in love with a vampire?
Where would most of the publishing world be without these tiny sparks of inspiration?
Photography allows me to “harvest” inspiration in the forms of little scenes, captured in time. One day, it may be the right time, the right moment, when a pretty picture could spark the beginnings of a book idea.
Harvest your inspiration like you harvest love.
Sow the seeds and search out your inspiration in the beautiful world out there, and you’ll reap inspiration in the most unlikely places.
An interesting read about young Maggie Stiefvater’s journey through mythology at her childhood library, and coincidentally my childhood library as well.
Originally posted on Whimsically Yours:
Hello Everyone! It’s a very rainy, New England day over here which doesn’t help to improve my Monday spirits. However as a plus, well…as a major plus, I have the honor of participating in Maggie Stiefvater’s “mini” blog tour for THE DREAM THIEVES (The Raven Cycle, #2)!!!
Oh, and be sure to read the amazing guest post (the perfect post for a lifelong mythology buff/nerd like myself)…on the mythology in the book!
The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of…
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The Novel Writing Inspiration feature is a meme begun right here on Shylock Books highlighting visual inspiration as writing prompts.
Feel free to post links to your own NWI memes in the comments!