The Girls in the PictureTitle: The Girls in the Picture

Author: Melanie Benjamin

Pages: 422 Pages

Publisher: Delacorte Press

The Blurb

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife, a fascinating novel of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends—screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford

It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.

The Review

Firstly let me thank Samuel Bonner from Pengiun Random House for sending me a review copy of The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin.

I think 2018, for me, is going to be the year of historical fiction. I have recently developed a love of fictional accounts of true events and although we are only half a month into the year this genre has already become quite favourable.

The Girls in the Picture tells the story of the epic birth of motion pictures in Hollywood. It looks at the development of silent movies and how it grew into films that were referred to as ‘talkies’. All of this is told through the eyes of Hollywood legend Mary Pickford and pioneering screenwriter Frances Marion. The golden age of Hollywood was very much a boys club but some women really did have their fingers on the pulses of what was wanted in the world of film.

Pickford and Marion had a working relationship alongside their friendship and this is their story…or at least Melanie Benjamin’s fictional account. The progression of their working relationship led to the development of the film industry as we know it which is discussed in depth in the novel. However, it is the fractured nature of their relationship juxtaposed with the disintegration of Pickford’s career that is the real pull of the novel.

The Girls in the Picture is not a fast passed novel by any stretch of the imagination. It is a slow read which allows you to paint a picture of a time – and indeed the people – that Hollywood has forgot. It also comes at a very poignant time as the #metoo campaign and the equal pay in Hollywood argument is so fervent. The pioneering efforts of Marion and Pickford (and other women during that time period) still have relevance today.

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin is available now.

For more information regarding Melanie Benjamin (@MelanieBen) please visit www.melaniebenjamin.com.

For more information regarding Delacorte Press (@DelacortePress) please visit their Twitter page.

3 Stars

Dead Girl's SocietyTitle: Dead Girl’s Society

Author: Michelle Krys

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Random House Children’s/Delacorte Press

The Blurb

A slick thriller from the author of HEXED, perfect for fans of The CELLAR by Natasha Preston and PANIC by Lauren Oliver.

You are cordially invited to participate in a game of thrills and dares. Tell no one, and come alone. If you dare.

Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mum and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’sgloing to afford college. And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.

When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she just might win some real money.

But the Society isn’t all that it seems…and soon Hope finds that playing the game isn’t a choice – it’s a requirement.

The Review

Oh my wow. What a fantastic YA mystery. Dead Girl’s Society is spectacularly intense. I loved it.

The story centres around Hope. Hope is stuck in the house. She has cystic fibrosis and an over protective mother. She also has medication that costs an arm and a leg. She also has an invitation from a secret society that could solve all her financial woes but also could be very dangerous to a girl with her condition.

Dead Girl’s Society straddled the line of danger and adventure very carefully. There were genuine moments of fear when I read this book and in particular the dramatic climax had my heart racing.

For those who like mysteries but have yet to dip their toe into the YA genre pool then Dead Girl’s Society is for you.

Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys is available now.

For more information regarding Michelle Krys (@MichelleKrys) please visit www.michellekrys.com.

For more information regarding Random House Children’s (@RandomHouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

For more information regarding Delacorte Press (@DelacortePress) please visit their Twitter page.

4 Stars

SourdoughTitle: Sourdough

Author: Robin Sloan

Pages: 262 Pages

Publisher: Atlantic Books

The Blurb

Leavened by the same infectious intelligence and lovable nerdiness that made Robin Sloan’s Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore such a sensation, Sourdough marks the triumphant return of a unique and beloved young writer.

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her – feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.

When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

The Review

Ok, I genuinely don’t know what to write. After nearly four years of book reviews a book has me stumped. I cannot for the life of me tell you what Sourdough was about. I mean on a surface level it is about bread but on a deeper level I don’t have a clue.

I can only say that reading it was an experience but to give an opinion over whether or not I liked it is going to be a bit ambiguous. I would have to go with no I did not enjoy reading Sourdough but mainly because I have no idea what the story was about. That is a very different reason than disliking the writing. Sloan is a good writer and tells the story he wants to tell. That I did not enjoy it is not a reflection on his creativity or writing skills. We just didn’t mesh.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan is available now.

For more information regarding Atlantic Books (@AtlanticBooks) please visit www.atlantic-books.co.uk.

2 Stars

 

Title: Young Girl with a Ukulele

Author: Terence Blacker

Pages: 32 Pages

Publisher: Amazon Media

The Blurb

It all starts with a young girl playing her ukulele in a dingy folk club. There is something different about the song she sings – a song called ‘Life is Beautiful.’

It breaks hearts. It makes money. It might even change the world.

But no story of beauty or success in our cruel modern world can be entirely innocent.

Can it?

Young Girl with a Ukulele is a dark and clever story of music and fame – and the sinister forces which can lie behind them.

The Review

Young Girl with a Ukulele is an unusual little story of one man’s (and indeed the world’s) obsession with a young musician.

The “young girl” in question is Sali – an elusive one hit wonder. In a media saturated society the lure of something original and intangible gets the world gripped. In particular, a fellow musician tries to know more but hits roadblocks along the way.

Young Girl with a Ukulele wasn’t the most interesting short story I have read but I did find the intensity with which Sali captured the world to be quite compelling.

Young Girl with a Ukulele by Terence Blacker is available now.

For more information regarding Terence Blacker (@TerenceBlacker) please visit www.terenceblacker.com.

2 Stars

Title: Messages from Henry

Author: Rebecca Scarberry

Pages: 30 Pages

Publisher: Amazon Media

The Blurb

Henry is special. Evelyn Bury becomes the unlikely victim in a random kidnapping. Henry, her loyal homing pigeon, flies to the rescue. Tammy, Evelyn’s next-door neighbour, the lackadaisical authorities,, and Evelyn’s son assist in Evelyn’s rescue. Henry hurdles many obstacles to the point of endangering his own life in order to save his dear master.

You will find yourself routing Henry on, cheering his progress and praying for Evelyn’s safe return. Read Messages from Henry and lose yourself in a fun, fast-paced suspense thriller written for age twelve up, but mainly adults will find this book extremely entertaining.

The Review

Messages from Henry is a farcical story passing as a mystery.

When Tammy’s neighbour Evelyn goes missing Tammy is alerted to the crime by a note attached to the leg of Henry, Evelyn’s chicken. Now, you would think at this point the premise would be enough to make me put down the book but as a child I loved the movie That Darn Cat so I kind o accepted it and carried on.

What I can’t accept is the ineptitude of the police in this silly crime caper and also the police are constant checking in with Tammy. What investigation keeps civilians in the loop?

None. None is the answer.

Messages from Henry is just plain ludicrous.

Messages from Henry by Rebecca Scarberry is available now.

For more information regarding Rebecca Scarberry (@Scarberryfields) please visit www.scarberryfieldsforever.blogspot.com.

1 star