Monday, June 26, 2017

Review: Leading Lady

Leading Lady; Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker

Leading Lady
Stephen Galloway

This biography charts the life of Sherry Lansing, the first female to head a Hollywood film studio. Mrs Lansing first tried her hand at acting but, soon found it wasn't what she wanted to do. She then turned her attention to reading scripts and eventually became a producer before rising in the ranks to head a major studio and finally becoming the chairman of Paramount Pictures. She was behind some of the best known films of her time including Indecent Proposal, Fatal Attraction, Braveheart and many others. But after a long career in Hollywood and the film business in particular she decided to reinvent herself in the world of philanthropy, where she was successful raising money and awareness for numerous causes.

This was an interesting book, which told me not only about Mrs Lansing's life and work but also quite a lot about how Hollywood works behind the scenes. It isn't often that I read about the role of a female producer and film executive. I felt this book provided me with another view of the film business, particularly regarding the extensive work and financing that goes on to produce a film. It was interesting to see what goes into the making of a film and the changes that have taken place in the industry over time.

I think film buffs and anyone interested in a “behind-the-scenes” look at a dynamic and often hard charging industry will appreciate this book.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: The Child


The Child
The Child
Fiona Barton

When the body of a baby is discovered in an area of London slated for redevelopment, three women become linked in a psychological drama to determine the identity and the mystery behind the body. Kate is a reporter trying to get a good story for her newspaper and she's got a hunch that the body could be linked to an old case concerning Angela, whose baby was stolen from the hospital at birth. In order to find out how the body came to lie in an area of town, unfamiliar to Angela, Kate will have to find former residents of the area. This leads her to Emma who grew up in the neighborhood. But Kate will have to unravel a lot of old secrets before the truth about the baby is revealed. The truth may be more than anyone could have imagined.

When I first sat down to read this story I was intrigued. But, a few chapters in I thought it was going to be a rather sad tale and I almost put the book down. Luckily, I didn't, because it was at that point that the story took a turn, which ramped up the tension and I found that I could hardly put it down. I really wanted to know how things would turn out for all of the women. Clearly, the author knew just when to draw me in, and like a moth to a flame I was hooked. This suspenseful tale was one which got right into the heart of the characters and under my skin. It was skillfully written and thoroughly entertaining.

Thanks to Shelf-Awareness and Berkley Publishing for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review: Driving Miss Norma


Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey Saying "Yes" to Living
Driving Miss Norma
Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

What do you do if you're 90 years old and your doctor tells you that you have cancer and will therefore need an unpleasant round of radiation and chemotherapy? Well, if you are Norma Bauerschmidt, you tell the doctor, no thanks I'm hitting the road with my son and his partner. Then you move into an RV and take off across the country on an adventure.

Driving Miss Norma, told by son Tim and partner Ramie is a look at Norma's quest and determination to live the remainder of her life the way she wanted, with dignity and in the company of her family and in a place she could call home, instead of an impersonal and unfamiliar hospital. From the tales and accounts in this memoir it seems they all had a whale of a time. Norma was always up for an adventure and as a result gained a legion of fans on the families Facebook page.

Tim and Ramie presented an open and honest account of life on the road, and the challenges of being a caregiver. But most of all, I think this story shows that it's never to late to enjoy the life you have, while it is still yours to enjoy.

Thanks to Shelf-Awareness and the Harper One Team for allowing me to read this book in exchange 
for an honest review.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Review: The Story Cure

The Story Cure: A Book Doctor's Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir

The Story Cure
Dinty W. Moore

I've read a lot of books about writing books recently and, I can definitely say that The Story Cure is one of the more useful ones. It's written with wit and humor which makes it fun to read, rather than a chore. The chapters, which range from focusing on issues such as character and dialogue to plot and structure, each contain useful exercises. I especially like the focus on trying to keep a magnetic river running throughout a story to keep the reader involved. I think the author has a knack of providing examples and suggestions which really opened my eyes about how to create a more engaging piece of work.

What I particularly appreciated, is that this book is short, sweet and to the point. It doesn't take a lifetime to read it and work through the exercises. In the end, its very helpful and it lets the aspiring writer get back to his or her own story, which will hopefully be much improved.


Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: Cruel Winter: A County Cork Mystery

Cruel Winter (County Cork #5)

Cruel Winter: A County Cork Mystery
Sheila Connolly

Maura Donovan arrived in the village of Leap in County Cork, Ireland less than a year ago. She hadn't intended to stay but, with the help of her recently deceased Gran, she inherited a cottage and the village pub. While winters in County Cork are not as harsh as those in Maura's hometown of Boston, an unusual snow storm is about to shut down the transportation in and around Leap.

Maura and her staff decide to keep the pub open during the storm. They are joined by friends, neighbors, and a few strangers who get trapped in the village. One stranger, Diane, was once a suspect in an unsolved murder that happened in Leap twenty years ago. Maura decides to rehash the unsolved case with her guests, partly to provide some entertainment for her stranded guests and also because, if Diane didn't do it, as she insists, then there is a murderer still on the loose. But will Maura and her guests be able to solve a cold case the police haven't been able to work out in twenty years, all in one night?

This story had everything that makes for a good read: a great plot, interesting characters, an atmospheric setting, and a sense of intimacy that made me feel like I was there in the middle of the action. I can't think of a better cozy mystery to curl up with on a rainy day.

This review was written by me and originally published by City Book Review.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: Death at the Yoga Cafe: A Mystery

A Death at the Yoga Café (Keeley Carpenter #2)

Death at the Yoga Café: A Mystery
Michelle Kelly

Keeley Carpenter has a lot on her plate at the Yoga Café in Belfrey, England. The mayor of the village has been murdered, her difficult mother has just arrived in the village, and her boyfriend, local detective Ben Taylor, suspects the mayor's girlfriend and Keeley's nemesis, Raquel, of the murder. Keeley isn't so sure about that. While she doesn't care for Raquel, she can't actually see her as the murderer. Meanwhile, Ben is determined to stop Keeley from investigation on her own, but Keeley just can't stop what comes naturally - - until there's another death. Balance at the Yoga Café is soon shattered, and it might take more than a few yoga poses to help Keeley find the murderer.

This charming, cozy mystery has it all: eccentric characters, a likable heroine, and enough twists and turns to keep mystery readers turning page after page. The inclusion of the cafe's recipes and a few yoga poses just adds to the fun.

This review was written by me and originally published by City Book Review

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: Jefferson's America

Jefferson's America: The President, the Purchase, and the Explorers Who Transformed a Nation
Jefferson's America
Julie M. Fenster

Jefferson's America, follows the path of expansion into the American west. Its full of tales and adventures undertaken by well know explorers, such as Lewis and Clark as well as others that were unfamiliar to me. It also covers Jefferson's desire to stake a claim to territory west of the Mississippi river and his need to gain control over New Orleans, as a gateway to trade. While this is a well written book, that goes into a lot of detail, it did at times seem a bit dry. I would have appreciated more maps and charts in order to follow along the routes more closely. I also think this book would have been strengthened with more coverage and details about the Spanish and French officials, who were a large part of this story.

Overall, I think history buffs and anyone interested in the exploration and expansion into the Western territories and the prominent role played by Thomas Jefferson and his band of explorers will find this work of interest.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.