Friday, March 16, 2018

Book Review: The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

Hi all,

I loved The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (see link below) so when I had the chance to read her latest novel, The Girls in the Picture, I jumped at it. Below is more about the book and my review.

The Girls in the Picture

Melanie Benjamin

Book Description:

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.

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My 5-Star Review:

When artist/writer, Frances Marion, is introduced to silent screen star, Mary Pickford, it is a meeting of souls. Two ambitious women working in a man’s world in 1914, dream of success and riches and the ability to call their own shots. Alone, neither may have had the courage to succeed, together as a team, they are unstoppable. And so begins a journey of both a great friendship and great success.

Author Melanie Benjamin captures the era and the larger-than-life characters perfectly in her new novel, The Girls in the Picture. Using both fact and fiction, we follow each woman through her successes and failures, and watch as they each obtain the careers and lives they dreamt about, only to find that one should be careful what they wish for. Benjamin writes wonderfully fleshed out characters in a well thought-out story, and intrigues the reader with the highs and lows these women experience. I highly recommend to star-struck readers who love stories of old Hollywood.

About the Author:

Melanie Benjamin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. An avid reader all her life--as a child, she was the proud winner, several years running, of the summer reading program at her local library--she still firmly believes that a lifetime of reading is the best education a writer can have.

While attending Indiana University--Purdue University at Indianapolis, Melanie performed in many community theater productions before meeting her husband, moving to the Chicago area and raising two sons. Writing was always beckoning, however, and soon she began writing for local magazines and newspapers before venturing into her first love, fiction.

By combining her passion for history and biography, she has found her niche writing historical fiction, concentrating on the "stories behind the stories." Her most recent novel, THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE, a novel about Truman Capote and his high society Swans, is a New York Times, USA Today and Indiebound best seller, as was her novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, THE AVIATOR'S WIFE. Her first novel, ALICE I HAVE BEEN, was a national bestseller; this was followed by the critically acclaimed THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB. Her next novel, THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE, a novel about early Hollywood and the creative friendship between Mary Pickford and Frances Marion, will be out in January 2018.

She and her family still live in the Chicago area; when she's not writing, she's gardening, taking long walks, rooting for the Cubs--

And reading, of course.

Read my review of Melanie Benjamin’s novel, THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: For This Moment (The Gentrys of Paradise Book 3) by Holly Bush

Hi all,

As a big fan of Holly Bush’s work, I am always thrilled to have the opportunity to read an advance copy of one of her novels. Here is my review of her latest novel in The Gentrys of Paradise series – FOR THIS MOMENT.

For This Moment

The Gentrys of Paradise Book 3

Holly Bush

Book Description:

1871 Born to privilege and duty, Olivia Gentry comes of age as women begin to find their social and political independence. The youngest child, and only daughter, of a successful Virginia family, she has been raised and educated to carry on the family horse breeding business with her brothers. Having been deceived in love as a young woman and unsure of her instincts, she is wary to commit to marriage, but she cannot deny her long-buried feelings for a family friend. 

Jim Somerset has been in love with Olivia Gentry from the moment she gazed up at him as a young girl. A farrier by trade like his father before him, and Olivia's brother's closest friend, he is inexorably entwined with the Gentry family. He has watched her be courted by statesmen and considers her and her goals out of the reach of a common workman. Can he purge Olivia from his mind and his heart? Or has the moment come for him to reveal his passion for her? 

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My 5-Star Review:

Olivia Gentry has the advantage of coming from a wealthy family and the disadvantage of having older brothers who are constantly, and annoyingly, looking out for her. While she understands they only want to protect her, she has grown weary of not being her own woman in charge of her own life. After having fallen for the wrong man once, she now feels that she may never find love. Except for one man, someone she’s known her entire life, who she has feelings for, but she believes he doesn’t return her affection. What she doesn’t know is he secretly does love her, yet doesn’t feel he can give her the life she deserves.

FOR THIS MOMENT is a sweet and tender love story with a few willful moments as Olivia tries to prove to her family that she is no longer a child, but a grown woman. As we watch the two lovers dance around each other, neither understanding how the other feels, the reader can’t help but hope that they will eventually get past their differences and fall in love.

As an avid Holly Bush fan, I’ve read all of her novels and I can’t say enough good things about this latest series. You will fall in love with this family and these wonderful characters, and can’t help but want to learn what will happen to them next. I highly recommend this series. You will enjoy each and every book.

(The author provided me with an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.)

About the Author:

Holly Bush’s books are set during the turbulent and transformative years of the late 1800’s. The first two books in her newest series, The Gentrys of Paradise, will release in the spring of 2017, beginning with Into the Evermore where readers will meet Virginia horse breeders, Eleanor and Beauregard Gentry. The following books will feature their children, Adam, Matthew, and Olivia. For the Brave is Matthew’s story and is the first full length book of the series. 

The Crawford Family Series following the fortunes of the three Boston born Crawford sisters and includes Train Station Bride, Contract to Wed, Her Safe Harbor, and companion novella, The Maid’s Quarters. Cross the Ocean and Charming the Duke are both British set Victorian romances. Fan favorites stand-alone historical romance novels include Romancing Olive and Reconstructing Jackson. Her books are described as ‘emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance.’

Holly makes her home with her husband, one happy Labrador Retriever, and two difficult cats in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Connect with Holly at:
Twitter @hollybushbooks
Facebook at Holly Bush.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

New Release ~ Night Music by Deanna Lynn Sletten


I'm so excited to share my new release, NIGHT MUSIC. It's been a long time coming, and I'm thrilled that it is finally available to readers. 

Readers' Favorite gave Night Music 5 stars and said: "The central characters are bold and courageous as they seek their place in the world. Beautifully written, not easily forgotten."

Midwest Book Review said "Successfully captures the nuances, influences, and cultural and social turmoil of the Vietnam era.” 

Night Music
Cover by Tugboat Design
A Novel

Deanna Lynn Sletten

Book Description:

Charlotte Parsons is devastated over losing her brother in the Vietnam War. Desperate to learn more about the war, she joins a group of college women who send letters to soldiers and befriends Joseph Russo, a young soldier. But a few months after they begin corresponding, his letters stop coming, and Char moves on, still conflicted over why so many young lives are being lost so far away from home.

Two years later, Char begins college in her small Illinois town of Grand Falls. She’s been dating her brother’s long-time best friend, Deke Masterson, who is a senior in college and is deep into the anti-war movement. Char is still confused over how she feels about the war. Then a stranger comes to town and changes everything.

Joseph Russo served in the Vietnam War, earning a Purple Heart for his injury as well as a life-long limp. He’s ready to put the war behind him. While in Vietnam, he’d corresponded with a girl from Grand Falls and he enjoyed reading about her idyllic life. When he’s discharged, he moves there to attend college. And when he meets Charlotte in person, he’s taken with her sweetness, intelligence, and beauty.

The battle lines are drawn as Deke resents Joe’s presence around Char. What started out as a well-deserved escape to a small town for Joe soon turns into a battle of wills between him and the idealistic Deke. And there stands Charlotte, right in the middle.

Night Music is a story about a moment in time when the world was chaotic and nothing was completely clear. In the midst of all the chaos, can Char and Joe find enough middle ground to fall in love?

Buy now:

Barnes & Noble:

Amazon Paperback:

Amazon Audiobook:

Audible Audiobook:

Amazon Canada:

If you read NIGHT MUSIC and love it, please consider leaving a review on the site you purchased it from. Thank you!

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