29

Non-Fiction November: Be the Expert

It’s already Week 3 of Non-Fiction November! This month long celebration of all things non-fiction is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Julie at JulzReads, Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves, Lory of Emerald City Book Review, and Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness.

And this week it’s Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness hosting Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert:

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I’ve elected to Be the Expert again this year. Because this year I wanted my non-fiction reading to be more frivolous than it’s been recently, I’ve decided to focus on Hollywood this week. And while there is tons of interesting non-fiction on modern aspects of Hollywood (I do really need to get my hands on some of those Scientology books one of these days…), I’m looking at old Hollywood Stars.

My love of Hollywood Stars started on Sunday  afternoon movie marathons with my grandmother. Which led to reading biographies of Shirley Temple and Audrey Hepburn when I was a tween. Before I became obsessed with Royal Women, Hollywood Movie Stars were my jam.

So if you’ve  been looking for some delicious, gossipy books, read on!

marilyn

If you’re going to read biographies about Hollywood you cannot go wrong with anything written by J. Randy Taraborrelli. He is one of my absolute go-to biographers. His portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor really stand out for his ability to actually get to the person at the centre of their myths. The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth are really worth your time. (I also wholeheartedly recommend his biography of the Hilton family – the Zsa Zsa time alone is worth it).

 

 

avaAva Gardner: Love is Nothing by Lee Server. Oh this one was full of scandal! Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney, Howard Hughes – Ava Gardner bewitched them and then some. Ava was a firecracker who was ahead of her time in many ways. I had an idea of Ava going into this book and finished it feeling like she’d been misrepresented for years and years.

 

 

 

natashaIf tragedy is more your thing, might I suggest Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood by Suzanne Finstead? A child star whose mother was ultra protective after being told her daughter would die in dark waters, burdened with being the bread winner in her family, and ever after seen as a precocious child star, Natalie Wood’s life was ably and sensitively covered in this book. I’ll never forget the detail that Christopher Walken was on the boat the night she died.

 

 

me and my shadowsSpeaking of family tragedy, Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir by Lorna Luft was one of the early celebrity memoirs I bought for myself. Lorna Luft is Judy Garland’s daughter and her telling of growing up with her beautiful, talented, but ultimately damaged mother is one that will stick with you for years.

 

 

 

joan

This summer, thanks to Feud: Bette and Joan, I became obsessed with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. I cannot recommend The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine enough as it was the inspiration for the show and contains the most delicious gossip I’ve ever read in a biography. I haven’t yet read a book about Bette, but the one I read about Joan, Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford by Donald Spoto made me see Ms Crawford in a completely different light. Incidentally, Spoto has also written a biography of Audrey Hepburn that I read years ago.

 

In keeping with my brand, there are no male movie star biographies listed here. It’s just not as interesting to read about the white men who had the world at their feet. It was like reading about Grace Kelly – so beautiful, so boring. She did everything she was supposed to her whole life.

So there you have it: an old Hollywood biography starter pack. Are there any you’ve read that you think I should give a spin? I’m always looking for more.

And don’t forget to check out Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness to see what other Non-Fiction Novemberites are reading about!

8

Rolling My Eyes

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

When I first saw the title of the book I’m talking about today I had a moment of maybe I won’t read that. The title, No Cure For Love, makes me laugh, which is probably not the reaction you’re looking for when you’ve written a book about a stalker with a murderous streak. Because that’s what No Cure For Love is about.

Sarah Broughton is a transplanted Brit in Hollywood. She plays a cool, efficient detective on TV and is living the Hollywood life in an oceanfront beach house. But then she starts receiving strange letters that are addressed to Sally, which happens to be her real name. At first Sarah shrugs them off but when she’s convinced that someone is watching her on the beach she calls on her friends to help. See, Sarah had a breakdown about a year earlier and these letters are threatening to undo all the hard work she’s been putting in.

This book actually came out 20 years ago – the version that I have is an anniversary edition. That means that the story happens like it would have 20 years ago: barely any cell phones, databases, security cameras or high tech anything. And I’m not going to lie, when I first started reading this I rolled my eyes a few times. Sarah is a beautiful blonde actress,  the casting director is an older, overweight guy who has all the power, the cops are no nonsense tough guys out to catch bad guys.

In other words, it starts out very formulaically. And I don’t think this would have bothered me at all if I hadn’t just read the forward that was all about how authentic this book is.

Against all odds I became completely invested in this book though. Once the cast of characters is introduced, Peter Robinson seems to take his foot off the descriptive pedal and allows the story to move forward. Quickly. One minute Sarah is being interviewed about the letters by Detective Arvo Hughes, the next she finds a body on the beach. In pieces. And from there the story moves along fast. In the end, the fast pace, the red herrings, the clever ending and the balls-to-the-wall story really redeemed it from it’s eye-rolly start.

I loved going back in time with the investigation. The police don’t have the internet, there are no Facebook or instagram accounts to  watch. They have to go out and interview people, drive out to other towns to talk to more people – there’s a lot of legwork involved.

If you’re looking to tap out of a more serious read and just enjoy something because it’s fun, this is the kind of book you’ll enjoy. If you love fast paced thrillers, I’m pretty sure that you will like this one. I really did and no one is more surprised by that than me right now.