Saturday, November 26, 2016

1 Star - My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Publisher: Europa Editions
Fiction, Family Saga
Buy: AMZ


About the Book

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. 

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. 

Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila. Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a trilogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.

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Have to count myself among those who didn't care for this one. The story plods and I couldn't feel for the characters. I likely won't read the rest of the series.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

4 Stars: Twisted Boulevard by Martin Turnbull

Self-Published
Historical Fiction, Saga
Buy: AMZ


About the Book

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

When the Red Scare ends, paranoia lingers. Can Tinseltown recover to take on television? 

After an exile from MGM, ousted screenwriter Marcus Adler is looking for his way back into the biz. When he hatches a plan to start over with a disgraced movie star, a Hollywood censor reminds Marcus that the misdeeds of the past aren’t soon forgotten. 

Hollywood Reporter columnist Kathryn Massey is always looking for a hot tip. She never expected it would come from Lauren Bacall, and point her toward a new career high. But when a trip to the set of Sunset Boulevard reveals a haunting glimpse into her past, Kathryn isn’t sure who to trust, especially when a hot new rival hits town. 

Gwendolyn Brick thought her new store would be a hit, but she never realized it could become a target. Threatened by Los Angeles’ most notorious madam, Gwendolyn will need a Hollywood-style miracle to keep her store alive. 

Twisted Boulevard is the sixth installment in the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah saga. If you like richly woven details, the Golden Age of Hollywood, and characters who come to life, then you’ll love Martin Turnbull’s captivating historical fiction series. 

~

One of the few series of late that I've followed and looked forward to the next installments. I understand this is the last book, and it does have a note of bittersweet to it. This story takes the main trio into the 50s and the changing industry - blacklists, the advent of television, hints of regime changes among celebrities. 

I was under the impression this was to be the last book in the series, but the author messaged me on Goodreads to let me know he's working on more books. I'm very glad to hear it; I look forward to reading more.

Monday, November 7, 2016

4 Stars - A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

Publisher: Kensington
Contemporary, Suspense
Buy: AMZ


About the Book

Dr. Nikhil 'Nic' Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.

Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.

Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy.  She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.

Delving beyond the surface of modern Indian-American life, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s page-turning novel is both riveting and emotionally rewarding—an extraordinary story of human connection, bravery, and hope.

~

What I like about Dev is how she handles certain topics/themes in her stories. Her books have romance and conflicts but also deal with heavy and sometimes dark subjects. Divorce, mental illness, and in this book the hero and heroine are working together to find evidence to bring down an organ theft ring. Heavy stuff to weave into a romance, but it's suspenseful and you want to read to see where the story goes.

There are dark moments in this story, and as this book is tied to Dev's The Bollywood Bride I don't want to give too much away. It's about a grieving man who finds a sliver a hope in a stranger who inspires memories, and how they come together in the middle of danger to love each other for who they are. It's a heavy story, but worth it.

ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

Thursday, November 3, 2016

4 Stars - Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai by Jim Colucci

Harper Design
Non-Fiction, Entertainment
Buy: AMZ


About the Book

The complete, first-ever Golden Girls retrospective, packed with hundreds of exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes and never-before-revealed stories, more than two hundred color and black-and-white photos, commentary, and more.

They were four women of a certain age, living together under one roof in Miami—smart and strong Dorothy, airhead Rose, man-hungry belle Blanche, and smart-mouthed matriarch Sophia. They were the Golden Girls, and for seven seasons, this hilarious quartet enchanted millions of viewers with their witty banter, verve, sass, and love, and reaffirmed the power of friendship and family.

Over thirty years after it first aired, The Golden Girls has become a cult classic, thanks to fan fiction, arts and crafts, podcasts, hundreds of fan blogs and websites, and syndication. Now, Golden Girls Forever pays homage to this wildly popular, acclaimed, and award-winning sitcom. Drawing on interviews with the show’s creators, actors, guest stars, producers, writers, and crew members, Jim Colucci paints a comprehensive portrait of the Girls both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.

~

Given the choice between trying a new show or watching Golden Girls reruns, I take the latter. GG is one of my go-to TV binges when I'm feeling down, so definitely I picked up this book when I knew the Hallmark Channel planned a hiatus for the show during the winter. I enjoyed reading the story behind its development and the oral histories from people involved in various episodes deconstructed by the author. The one takeaway you get from GG, which the book affirms, is the show's timelessness. I'm reading about the many people who have appeared on the show and realize so many have passed away...yet they don't seem like old people. Then you remember The Golden Girls' original run was 30 years ago. o.O

While I enjoyed the book, I'll take off points for the section where various celebrities talk about their favorite Girls and such. I would rather have seen that space go to more episode analyses. 

Really, though, it's a book for die-hards.