Review: “Citizen Hollywood” by Martin Turnbull

Book Reviews

Have you ever wanted to climb into a time machine and visit Hollywood during its heyday?

Hollywood, 1939: When Tinseltown begins to woo wunderkind Orson Welles, he stashes himself at the Chateau Marmont until he’s ready to make his splashy entrance. But gossip columnist Kathryn Massey knows he’s there.

Kathryn has been on the outs with Hollywood since her ill-fated move to Life magazine, but now that she’s back at the Hollywood Reporter, she’s desperate to find the Next Big Thing. Scooping Welles’ secret retreat would put her back on the map, but by the time she hears rumors about his dangerous new movie, she’s fallen prey to his charms. She needs to repair her reputation, find out if Welles will take on the tycoon, and extricate herself from an affair with a man whose kisses make her melt like milk chocolate.

Hollywood writers are only as good as their last screen credit, but Marcus Adler is still scrambling for his first. His Strange Cargo will star Clark Gable after Gone with the Wind wraps, but Machiavellian studio politics mean Marcus’ name might not make it to the screen. It’s time to play No More Mr. Nice Guy. Opportunity knocks when his boss challenges the writing department to outdo The Adventures of Robin Hood, and Marcus is confident–until the love of his life bursts back onto the scene. How can he write another word until he knows for once and for all whether he and Ramon Navarro will be together? And to make matters worse, it seems like someone in town is trying to sabotage him.

Everyone knows if you haven’t made it in Hollywood by the time you’re thirty, it’s curtains . . . and Gwendolyn Brick is starting to panic. She’s considering moving to a naval base in the Philippines with her baby brother, but she wants to give Hollywood one last go before she gives up. When she saves Twentieth Century Fox honcho Daryl F. Zanuck from an appalling fate at a poker game that goes awry, he rewards her with a chance at a role in a major movie. Gwendolyn needs to win before her ship sets sail.

When William Randolph Hearst realizes Citizen Kane is based on him, he won’t be happy–and when Hearst isn’t happy, nobody’s safe. Marcus, Kathryn, and Gwendolyn need to go for broke, and the clock is ticking.

Citizen Hollywood is the third in Martin Turnbull’s series of historical novels set during Hollywood’s golden age.

Martin Turnbull’s Garden of Allah novels have been optioned for the screen by film & television producer, Tabrez Noorani.


Review
Citizen Hollywood by Martin Turnbull

Martin Turnbull’s third installment of the Garden of Allah series has truly raised the stakes. From the broad spectrum of characters to the close camaraderie of the three main protagonists, Citizen Hollywood has all of the glamour and intrigue we’ve come to expect.

While the past few books in the series have focused on the steamy and sometimes darker side of old Hollywood, with Citizen Hollywood the story arc seemed to focus more on character development rather than furthering the plot involving Citizen Kane, and Orson Welles, and William Randolph Hearst.

Martin Turnbull is a master at historical fiction. He isn’t afraid to name names, air the dirty laundry, or reveal the (literal) skeletons in the closet. Citizen Hollywood is sexy, gritty, and cheeky, yet still retains its moments of tenderness without sentimentality bogging down the text. Well done, Martin!


Want to read Book One?

Download the The Garden on Sunset for FREE across all e-reader platforms here!

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In accordance with FTC guidelines, the writers and editors of Shylock and Shakespeare and its affiliates receive no material or monetary compensation for reviews posted on this website or any social media platforms. All reviews are posted as personal reflections on said titles, and as such do not necessarily reflect the individual views and opinions of the original authors. 

Review: “The Trouble with Scarlett” by Martin Turnbull

Book Reviews

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.


Gone with the Wind, poster from 1939 - featuring the femme fatale red dress.

Review:

“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.

"Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day." - Margaret Mitchell, "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.

Is that a #BaylorProud dress Scarlett O'Hara is wearing in "Gone With The Wind"? #SicEm

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.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara getting fitted into her corset in "Gone with the Wind" (1939)

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 burning of Atlanta See Behind the Scenes of Gone With the Wind on its 75th Anniversary - LightBox

The novel daringly names names, and delves deeply into the private lives of our favorite stars on the silver screen.

Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, and Olivia de Havilland look over a script for Gone With the Wind

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.

Oh I love this quote and Gone with the Wind. @jeniferpessina We were just talking about this! LOL

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.

Victor Fleming and Vivien Leigh on the set of Gone with the Wind (1939)

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. 

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler "Gone With the Wind"

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?

Download the The Garden on Sunset for FREE across all e-reader platforms here!

amazong logoBarnes-Noble-logokobo_logo_FINALPMS

iBookstore logosmashwords

In accordance with FTC guidelines, the writers and editors of Shylock and Shakespeare and its affiliates receive no material or monetary compensation for reviews posted on this website or any social media platforms. All reviews are posted as personal reflections on said titles, and as such do not necessarily reflect the individual views and opinions of the original authors. 

Review: Milk Fever by Lisa Reece-Lane

Book Reviews, Book Reviews

In the misnamed town of Lovely, newcomer Julia Heath is struggling to adapt to life in the country, especially when she begins to suspect that her yoga-teacher husband is having an affair with the butcher’s wife.
But Julia soon falls under the spell of Tom, a handsome, if troubled, dairy farmer who experiences the world through extra-ordinary senses. When Julia’s husband sets out to cure Tom’s migraines and memory lapses all three lives become entwined and changed and Julia is forced to heal the wounds of her past and abandon all ideas of the perfect family.
Milk Fever is an uncommon romance. It is a novel of love, yearning, the fragility of modern family and forgiveness. And of how, despite our desire to remain separate, we are all incredibly precious, connected and, ultimately, necessary to each other.
 

 Synopsis Courtesy of http://lisareecelane.com/milk_fever.html

As a rule, I rarely read adult fiction. As I have found over the years, nearly every adult fiction book I’ve read has been pretentious and over-wordy, as if the author wanted to see just how big their vocabulary really was. Upon receiving Milk Fever, I was still a bit prejudiced against adult fiction in general, even though I have recently loved Dan Brown’s thrillers.

I will be the first to say just how wrong my prejudices were.

Milk Fever is a hidden gem in the literary world. I felt pulled in by Julia’s struggles of maintaining a happy facade for her family and friends, the skewed visions Tom occasionally had about burying his mother, and the heartbreak of discovering Julia’s husband might be having an affair with a vivacious woman in Lovely.

The prose was brilliantly written, love for this work of art etched into every word and phrase, small moments and climactic scenes. I was entranced by the descriptions of the songs the earth made, and feeling that I, too, was not alone in feeling this way about the world around me. Milk Fever makes you feel fragile and strong at the same time. It makes you appreciate every small and sometimes insipid detail about your life that you might take for granted. A child sleeping soundly, grassy fields at the height of summer, the wind upon your face…

It felt like a Polaroid picture of the way our hearts are meant to feel, without our heads getting in the way of our happiness. It made me believe in love truly existing in the perfect harmonic key.

All I have to do…is listen.

———————————————————————————————-

In case you missed it, here is an encore presentation of my interview with Lisa Reece-Lane.

———————————————————————————————-

Interview with Lisa Reece-Lane

Author of “Milk Fever”.

—Tell us a little about Milk Fever… 

I must confess that the best descriptions I’ve read for Milk Fever so far have been written by other people. But here goes:

Milk Fever is a story about all of us and how we interact with each other, how we process the wounds of our past through our current relationships. And ultimately, how we are all flawed and precious. It explores the lives of two characters, Julia an accomplished ballet dancer turned house wife attempting to adjust to live in the dismal country town of Lovely, with her infuriatingly optimistic husband who has started up a yoga school. And Tom, a handsome, yet deeply disturbed dairy farmer. When Julia’s husband, Bryant sets out to cure Tom of his migraines and memory lapses, their worlds and lives are changed forever.

 —What inspired you to write Milk Fever?

It started life is a short story. The idea for someone burying their mother in the night and her showing up at breakfast the next morning just came to me one day out of the blue. Julia came later and perhaps was a way of working through the challenges I was having in my marriage at the time.

 —What was the hardest part of writing this book for you?

Trusting myself. I was lucky enough to work with some amazing people, who gave insights and helpful advice. But with the help came a period of confusion and I lost sight of the overall picture of what I was trying to express. I had to put Milk Fever aside for a couple of months (I wrote a kid’s book in the meantime so I could keep the brain in working order) and rediscover what I wanted the book to be about. More than once, I considered giving up on it. I think writers are sensitive people, so we easily doubt ourselves. What I learned from the whole process was that it’s good to take on advice from others, mull it over, see what fits, but in the end assimilate that knowledge while keeping true to your own inner voice.

 —Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was a young girl I used to write horse books; heaps of them. But I put that aside as my passion for music grew. After I quit music, I discovered a creative hole inside me, which writing filled up very nicely.

—What is your typical day of writing like? Do you use the same set of “tools” everyday or does it vary depending on mood? (i.e. computer, listening to music, writing with quill and ink…)

Good question. I think it’s an excellent idea to have rituals for creativity. Coffee is my brain stimulator of choice. I love making the perfect cup with my espresso machine and then I take it into a little shed at the back of my house and stare out of the window until I feel the words begging to be written. I very much like the idea of quill and ink though. I think that poetry begs for ink, rather than a keyboard, but the poets would be a better judge of that.

—Who are your main literary influences? I already know you like Jane Austen… 🙂

I adore Jane Austen, you’re right!! I love her restraint, I love her bantering prose, I love Jane full stop. But there are so many writers. I love Tim Winton, and Sonya Hartnett, I think Markus Zusac is a master. I’m a huge fan of Rose Tremain and Belinda Haynes. The common link? They all are such individuals. Not a cliche in sight. I aspire to be a quarter as good as any of these.

—What do you hope your readers will take away from Milk Fever?

I hope readers will feel uplifted. Especially those that beat up on themselves. I hope readers will realise how precious they are. We are all of us flawed, we’re all making mistakes, we’re stuffing up, and yet we are beautiful beyond measure. If a reader likes themselves a little better after reading my book, I will be content.

 —Are any personal experiences hidden in this book?

Ah, yes. Here are the personal experiences: I moved to the country, but unlike Julia I made sure that the town I went to had some decent cafes in it! I love coffee. My marriage went crash. I trained as a yoga teacher (before Pilates) and finally, I can hear that this world is all music

—If you could cast the film version, who would you cast in the lead roles and why?

Oh, what a delicious question. Can I have anyone? Right, male lead would have to be Ioan Gruffudd, simply because I have the most ridiculous crush on that man (it doesn’t really matter that he doesn’t quite fit any of the character roles). Female lead, Cate Blanchet, because she can do ballet and is a stunning actress. And of course, me: I will give myself a walk on part, whenever Ioan is on screen, just so that I can stare at him.

—What do you think is the most important part of the writing process that novice writers don’t know about?

The balancing acts: trusting your own voice and yet be willing to take on advice; having a thick skin to deal with the rejections, and yet retaining enough sensitivity to be open to the world; having confidence, and also humility; being an introvert so you can create in solitude and an the extrovert necessary to promote what you’ve written. And finally, having restraint and also wild abandon and knowing what the writing calls for in each moment.

 —Any plans on a sequel to Milk Fever?

Not just yet, but maybe one day…

—What is your next project?

 I’ve written my next novel and am in the process – long process, I might add – of editing.

—How can your fans find you on the web? Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, etc.

Ooh, I like the idea of fans. If there are any out there they can drop me a line through my website:

www.lisareecelane.com

 Or leave a comment on the blog at: http://milkfever.wordpress.com

 –Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

I loved writing Milk Fever, although there were a few tears of frustration shed, and I enjoy feedback, so let me know what you think. I hope to meet you one day. :-))

————————————————————————————

Shylock Books wishes to thank Lisa Reece-Lane for her candid interview.

Please visit her on the web at :

www.lisareecelane.com

www.milkfever.wordpress.com

Her Publisher: Murdoch Books

http://www.murdochbooks.com.au/

Interview with Lisa Reece-Lane, Author of “Milk Fever”

Uncategorized

Interview with Lisa Reece-Lane

Author of “Milk Fever”.

—Tell us a little about Milk Fever… 

I must confess that the best descriptions I’ve read for Milk Fever so far have been written by other people. But here goes:

Milk Fever is a story about all of us and how we interact with each other, how we process the wounds of our past through our current relationships. And ultimately, how we are all flawed and precious. It explores the lives of two characters, Julia an accomplished ballet dancer turned house wife attempting to adjust to live in the dismal country town of Lovely, with her infuriatingly optimistic husband who has started up a yoga school. And Tom, a handsome, yet deeply disturbed dairy farmer. When Julia’s husband, Bryant sets out to cure Tom of his migraines and memory lapses, their worlds and lives are changed forever.

 —What inspired you to write Milk Fever?

It started life is a short story. The idea for someone burying their mother in the night and her showing up at breakfast the next morning just came to me one day out of the blue. Julia came later and perhaps was a way of working through the challenges I was having in my marriage at the time.

 —What was the hardest part of writing this book for you?

Trusting myself. I was lucky enough to work with some amazing people, who gave insights and helpful advice. But with the help came a period of confusion and I lost sight of the overall picture of what I was trying to express. I had to put Milk Fever aside for a couple of months (I wrote a kid’s book in the meantime so I could keep the brain in working order) and rediscover what I wanted the book to be about. More than once, I considered giving up on it. I think writers are sensitive people, so we easily doubt ourselves. What I learned from the whole process was that it’s good to take on advice from others, mull it over, see what fits, but in the end assimilate that knowledge while keeping true to your own inner voice.

 —Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was a young girl I used to write horse books; heaps of them. But I put that aside as my passion for music grew. After I quit music, I discovered a creative hole inside me, which writing filled up very nicely.

—What is your typical day of writing like? Do you use the same set of “tools” everyday or does it vary depending on mood? (i.e. computer, listening to music, writing with quill and ink…)

Good question. I think it’s an excellent idea to have rituals for creativity. Coffee is my brain stimulator of choice. I love making the perfect cup with my espresso machine and then I take it into a little shed at the back of my house and stare out of the window until I feel the words begging to be written. I very much like the idea of quill and ink though. I think that poetry begs for ink, rather than a keyboard, but the poets would be a better judge of that.

—Who are your main literary influences? I already know you like Jane Austen… 🙂

I adore Jane Austen, you’re right!! I love her restraint, I love her bantering prose, I love Jane full stop. But there are so many writers. I love Tim Winton, and Sonya Hartnett, I think Markus Zusac is a master. I’m a huge fan of Rose Tremain and Belinda Haynes. The common link? They all are such individuals. Not a cliche in sight. I aspire to be a quarter as good as any of these.

—What do you hope your readers will take away from Milk Fever?

I hope readers will feel uplifted. Especially those that beat up on themselves. I hope readers will realise how precious they are. We are all of us flawed, we’re all making mistakes, we’re stuffing up, and yet we are beautiful beyond measure. If a reader likes themselves a little better after reading my book, I will be content.

 —Are any personal experiences hidden in this book?

Ah, yes. Here are the personal experiences: I moved to the country, but unlike Julia I made sure that the town I went to had some decent cafes in it! I love coffee. My marriage went crash. I trained as a yoga teacher (before Pilates) and finally, I can hear that this world is all music

—If you could cast the film version, who would you cast in the lead roles and why?

Oh, what a delicious question. Can I have anyone? Right, male lead would have to be Ioan Gruffudd, simply because I have the most ridiculous crush on that man (it doesn’t really matter that he doesn’t quite fit any of the character roles). Female lead, Cate Blanchet, because she can do ballet and is a stunning actress. And of course, me: I will give myself a walk on part, whenever Ioan is on screen, just so that I can stare at him.

—What do you think is the most important part of the writing process that novice writers don’t know about?

The balancing acts: trusting your own voice and yet be willing to take on advice; having a thick skin to deal with the rejections, and yet retaining enough sensitivity to be open to the world; having confidence, and also humility; being an introvert so you can create in solitude and an the extrovert necessary to promote what you’ve written. And finally, having restraint and also wild abandon and knowing what the writing calls for in each moment.

 —Any plans on a sequel to Milk Fever?

Not just yet, but maybe one day…

—What is your next project?

 I’ve written my next novel and am in the process – long process, I might add – of editing.

—How can your fans find you on the web? Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, etc.

Ooh, I like the idea of fans. If there are any out there they can drop me a line through my website:

www.lisareecelane.com

 Or leave a comment on the blog at: http://milkfever.wordpress.com

 –Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

I loved writing Milk Fever, although there were a few tears of frustration shed, and I enjoy feedback, so let me know what you think. I hope to meet you one day. :-))

————————————————————————————

Shylock Books wishes to thank Lisa Reece-Lane for her candid interview.

Please visit her on the web at :

www.lisareecelane.com

www.milkfever.wordpress.com

Her Publisher: Murdoch Books

http://www.murdochbooks.com.au/