Book Review: Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre

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I recognize that it’s been a little while since my last book review, but rest assured that it isn’t because I haven’t been reading! I have been trying to focus more on writing my writing/life related posts, and you know, MY actual novel, when I can get the time and motivation to co-occur. However, I decided to make the time to post this review because I thoroughly enjoyed this story!

The story itself is centered around the two main chracters, the first of which is Summer Jenkins, a good ‘ol sassy southern girl from the super small town of Quincy, Georgia. You get a very clear picture of her life there, with hints of a past drama that has essentially turned her into the town ‘black sheep’ (that gets explained, and is unfortunate in a hilarious kind of way). What I found really interesting though was that the town almost felt like a character in itself. There is an interesting backstory about Quincy, as it was the home of the few original investors in Coca Cola. Consequently, the town of only 7,000 people houses at least 50 millionaires and billionaires who never left. Heck, I’d read a story just about that probably, but I digress.

Summer is very relatable and likable in a ‘stands up for herself and is quite possibly crazy but you’re not sure yet’ kind of way. She’s very close with her mother, whom she lives with, and they sit on their front porch drinking sweet tea that they bought from the small grocery store where everyone knows everyone else after eating big home-cooked meals. It sort of makes you want to live in a small southern town…minus the gossipy, ever-judging townspeople.

Then there is Cole Masten, the very famous heart-throb actor from Hollywood. He is married to another Hollywood actress-one that, from the feeling I got, rode her way up the fame ladder by hanging on his back. You also get the idea that as a couple, they have amassed a large amount of attention like popular celebrity couples tend to do, uni-nickname and all. To be honest I didn’t really care for him at first, but I suspect that was part of the authors plan, she’s great at character development!

Cole is funding a new movie about the initial investors of Coca Cola that is going to be shot in, you guessed it, Quincy. The pre-production scout, Ben (Bennington- great name), heads down there and ends up meeting Summer who he quickly befriends. These two are fun, you want to be friends with them so you can sit in baby pools drinking beer together. He enlists her expertise of the town to help find perfect shoot locations, and she is more than willing because she needs the money to save up for her “grand exit from Quincy” plan. 

Fast forward to Cole, ever so dramatically, walking in on his wife sleeping with another man. (somehow not shocked) Then, enter his lawyer, Brad Deluca. Brad is a tall, handsome, commanding Alpha-type who takes no shit and pretty much has Cole by the reins, as you suspect he probably has everyone else he comes into contact with on as well. Brad is awesome. You’ll want more of Brad. (Fortuitously, Brad has his own series: The Innocence Series, read those after this one) Brad banishes Cole down to Quincy to get him out of the PR nightmare he creates by sleeping with any willing woman in Hollywood in an attempt to get over the end of his marriage. He’s given strict rules not to get involved/sleep with any women while he’s there…spoiler (but not really because it’s clear the book is about their relationship) he doesn’t so much follow that one. 

Cole meets Summer through Ben (the location scout) and is immediately struck by her confident, stand-offish, unimpressed with him demeanor. He thinks she’ll be perfect for the leading role in the movie opposite himself. Yep, he offers her-someone with no acting experience-a starring role in a blockbuster movie. She’s no dummy, she negotiates herself a sweet compensation deal and accepts. Let the drama -literally and figuratively-ensue!

The story proceeds to follow them through their interactions in preparing for the filming, the actual filming, and after. Their relationship really is love/hate-mostly the latter in the beginning- and their very opposite and equally as hard-headed personalities clash at every turn.She also, at one point, gets him a pet rooster. He decides to name it “Cocky”, and he keeps it in the house and attempts to treat it like a dog. It’s ridiculously hilarious. 

You really feel the push and pull between them, and there are definitely a few situations that you’re not quite sure they’ll overcome, but that’s part of what makes it a good read! 

As I normally do with books, I saw this story in my head as a movie while I read it, which is very meta in this case because the story is about a movie being made-and coincidentally they are now making the story into an ACTUAL movie. It’s like ‘Inception’ and the buildings of my mind are folding in on each other. Well,that’s a bit dramatic….but thats okay, because show business!

 

*If you want more info about the movie check out the official Hollywood Dirt Movie Facebook Page

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

*Words of warning: do not start reading this book unless you have nothing else to do in the time it would take you to finish it- because you’re not going to want to put it down until you do.*

No, really. You owe my kids an apology, Colleen Hoover. They were in their play room playing “princesses attack Shopkins” -those Shopkins should have seen it coming, Cinderella has unresolved abandonment issues and it was bound to come out at some point. Just saying. I digress.

So there they were playing nicely amongst themselves (minimal screaming), and I thought “Oh hey, let me just take these few minutes to start my new book.” Two hours of parental neglect, three episodes of Peppa Pig, and one completed hostile Disney princess take-over later I came out of my book-fog. I forced myself to resume parenting by reminding myself there were only a few more hours until I could put them to sleep for the night and get back to the book. It was HARD. I briefly contemplated how they might fare making themselves dinner, but neither of them are over the age of 5, so the book stayed closed.

In all honesty, I already love Colleen Hoover as an author, so I knew this one was going to be good. But I was absolutely not prepared for the wave of emotions I’d feel reading it. I went from sympathy, to excitement, to sadness, to amusement, to anger, to hopefulness, back to anger, and finished off with relief-laced disappointment co-occurring with a confusing sense of contentment. I literally closed the book and stared at my husband (who was trying to gauge my reaction and failing) before answering his “So, how was it?” with, “I….I’m not….it was good…I think?” I was still mid-process, I didn’t know how to feel. My feels had feels. 

I don’t think this book is good, I know this book is good. It’s great. It’s thought provoking, and it’s important. It tackles the very complex and tragic issue of domestic violence, but it does it in a way that opens up your point of view to not just anger for the abuser, and not just sympathy for the victim, but a raw and honest glimpse into the absolute struggle that can rage inside both parties.

I almost don’t want to even give a breakdown of the plot of this story because the importance of what happens and the twists that unfold are a huge part of what makes this book what it is. Okay no, not ‘almost don’t want to’, I’m not going to. That’s how strongly I feel.

If you’re looking for a light, surface-level romance read, this one might not be for you. Although the romance in it is also fantastic (#teamatlas- you’ll get it when you read it). The relationships that develop are incredibly believable and realistic, which is not always how things go in romance novels…but it is if they’re done right. However, if you’re looking for a story that is compelling, and for characters that you end up feeling so invested in that you want to be friends with them in real life (the main character, Lilly, writes to Ellen DeGeneres in her journals, how awesome of a character detail is that) then give this one a try. Bravo, Colleen. I was a fan before, but I’m your fangirl now. I’m going to write to YOU in my journals.

Click here to find “It Ends with Us” on Amazon

Review: The Girl in 6E (Deanna Madden #1) by A.R. Torre

Let me start by saying that reading “Erotic Suspense” is not my norm, but I have always loved a good psychological thriller (the occasional mind-F* is great when it’s done of your own free will) so as I was perusing the B&N website for nook book deals this one grabbed my attention with its intriguing cover and description (Take a look here)

“My life is simple, as long as I follow the rules.

1. Don’t leave the apartment.
2. Never let anyone in.
3. Don’t kill anyone.

I’ve obeyed these rules for three years. But rules were made to be broken.”

Whaaaat? Well, see what I mean? I had to. The story starts out being told by 21 year old Deanna (but is known by her alias, Jessica) who lives alone in her small apartment and is, of her own free will, locked in. No literally, she set up a deal with a junkie neighbor where she gives him prescriptions of pain killers and he keeps her locked in from the outside with a crazy deadbolt system. Seems legit. So, she buys everything online and has the UPS man (Jeremy-who she sort has feelings for in an “I like you, but I also kind of want to stab you with your box-cutter” kind of way) leave her packages outside her door and forge her signature because she won’t open it for anyone, ever.

But how does she make money to pay for this apartment and online purchases you ask? She’s a sex cam worker. Yep. Skeezy guys pay by credit card to watch her and have “cam sex” with her, on the reg. This works out for her pretty well because she makes bank doing it and it allows her to not have to have any human interaction, which she avoids at all costs because she’s pretty convinced that if she DOES have any human interaction she’ll kill said human. Oh, yes, another tidbit of information about Deanna- she fantasizes and obsesses about killing someone, so she’s orchestrated her entire life around avoiding being able to touch anyone. Again, whaaaat? Intrigued yet?

This was a pretty quick read for me, and that usually only happens when i’m really drawn into a story. I tend to be someone who, if bored by a story, will have to literally force myself to finish it “just in case it gets better”. That or i’ll just put it down in my “books to finish when I literally have nothing else to do in life” pile.

The book then starts to alternate between Deanna’s POV, the third-person POV of an unidentified man, who it’s quickly apparent is a stage 5 creepy,perverted,pedopheliac-sociopath (I’d use more adjectives, but I think you get the idea) and Annie- a six year old girl. It also highlights some of Deanna’s more entertaining cam clients, which is pure “I feel kind of gross for reading this but i’m going to anyway” gold.

The plot twists and turns, alternating between the different points-of-view, resulting in Deanna’s inability to stop herself from becoming involved in-and trying to stop-what she believes is about to be a tragic crime. She struggles with her own murderous compulsions along the way, and deals with the masses of baggage from her own past that are drawn out in the process. *Spoiler Alert*—She leaves her apartment. ruh-roh.

Overall I definitely recommend this book to anyone that’s looking to be entertained and likes sort of dark, kind of creepy stories that keep you compelled to read until you figure out what the actual F*ck is happening. This is some ‘Dexter’meets ‘Rapunzel’ next level shit. And I loved it! Oh, and I recently heard they are going to be making this one into a movie, so you’ll definitely want to read it before that happens. What says “date movie” more than a homicidal sex-cam worker with psychological problems? Me thinks nothing.