Hollywood Week: A Taste of New York + A Recap

Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog

The finale of Hollywood Week brings us cross country to New York City in 1939. Amanda Farraday is making one final leap to get the man she loves back into her life, and this includes escaping the ghosts of Hollywood and arriving in that city that never sleeps. As a New Yorker myself, nothing brings me greater joy (setting wise) then seeing this great town through the eyes of one of my book characters, and I was more than thrilled to be getting a taste of vintage NYC in Love Me.

To get you in the Starstruck spirit, I took a little walk through the city yesterday (I wore a light jacket; this feels like progress, folks) to bring to life some of Amanda’s initial reactions to this lively place.

She didn’t resent these swift-moving, smartly dressed people quite literally too busy to give her the time of day. Not at all. She wanted to be one of them.

Waldorf Astoria Love Me NYC Tour

“People come and go so quickly here,” she said aloud.

Welcome to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Isn’t it beautiful? It’s personally one of my favorite places to walk past (especially during the holidays). I’ve never stepped foot inside but I basically have it memorized from watching Serendipity every year since it came out. Back to Love Me – Amanda’s stature is pretty convincing because she can look the part of a wealthy young woman, which is why the cabbie brings her straight to the Waldorf. She gets a room so quickly; it’s uncanny.

Martin Beck Theatre Love Me NYC Tour

Up next — where better than to confront your lost love than at his place of work? Harry is working on a new place at the Martin Beck Theatre (pictured on the left in 1955 and now renamed the Al Hirschfield Theatre) called An American Girl.

Obviously, I didn’t realize you’d be in rehearsal or I’d never have dreamed of interrupting like this. But I thought as long as I was here, it would be terribly rude not to say hello.

Sure, Amanda, sure.

21 Love Me NYC Tour

“It was a little bit of a letdown.”

Harry agrees to meet Amanda for a drink so they can “talk”. Amanda has just gone shopping at the Hattie Carnegie Boutique (which, coincidentally, was located near my current office) with a quick stop at the Elizabeth Arden Spa to ensure she knocks off Harry’s socks and arrives unimpressed at 21. (Harry mentions the lawn jockeys in his description of the place so it’s pretty fun that they are still guarding the place.)

21 from Afar for Love Me NYC Tour

She sips a ginger ale and Harry orders a scotch and well, you’ll have to read the book to see what happens from there… it’s crazy and dramatic and oh-so-very juicy.

And just like that, our tour is over — short and sweet like this troubled starlet’s jaunt to the big city. This is yet another reason why I enjoy Shukert’s work so much. Even though this characters spends so little time in New York City, Shukert doesn’t skimp on the details and instead brings this setting to life.

The sharp scent of diesel filled her nose as she pushed through the throngs of people waiting to embark for destinations north, skirting the uniformed porters struggling with piles of luggage, the little vignettes of joyous reunions and tearful farewells playing simultaneously around her. Like everyone is in their own movie.

Will Amanda return to NYC in book three of the Starstruck series? Will skyscrapers ever rank above palm trees? There’s so much to look forward to (and more) in the upcoming book! So much.


Thanks so much for following along with Hollywood Week! It was so much fun to change up the routine, spotlight a great series, and also share the spotlight with some of my favorite bloggers. In case you missed any of the posts, here’s a quick run down of how it all went:

» Nailed It: Starstruck + Reality Boy
» Andi ABC’s Styles the Stars for the Oscars
» My review of Love Me (Book 2 of the Starstruck series!)
» Hollywood Tour from Rachel Shukert
» Hollywood to Your Bookshelf: Lea Michele + Jonathan Groff
» Pop! Goes the Reader + Films of the Dirty Thirties
» Author Rachel Shukert Meet + Greet

Thank you thank you thank you to Andi + Jen! Huge hugs to Rachel from Hello Chelly for making this gorgeous header!

And one final bonus: your chance to win Starstuck + Love Me! It’s easy to enter + open to U.S.  readers only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


» For info on STARSTUCK: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Rachel Shukert «

Hollywood Week: Meeting the Star a.k.a Author

Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog


Honest truth: I always forget to do recaps of author events on Rather Be Reading. It’s so so terrible of me because I’ve gone to some great ones and never seem to get them written in time. But by a huge stroke of luck, Starstuck and Love Me author Rachel Shukert was in town around the time I brainstormed Hollywood Week (in the Notes app on my phone over a drink with my husband).

Another truth tidbit: I was absolutely so nervous to meet her. After all, she’s written two awesome books, and she used to write fantastically funny recaps for Smash (the deceased NBC show about theatre that I had a total love/hate relationship with) for New York Magazine so there’s sort of kind of a degree or two of separation between her and Jeremy Jordan (my just-below-Zac-Efron celebrity crush).

Anyway! Last Sunday afternoon, I headed over to McNally Jackson in Soho for a pre-Oscars launch party for Love Me. Truly impeccable timing because the opening of Rachel’s latest book started with main character Margo freaking out over the Oscar nominations. All bets are on her getting a nod for her first starring role, but until she knows for sure, she opts to be a total wreck.

McNally Jackson Soho

Nestled in a cozy corner of McNally’s second floor, I had a seat next to one of my (other) favorite books.

Books I Sat Next To McNally Jackson

Couldn’t be more fitting since Rachel is a huge Muppet fan too.

Rachel Shukert Book Event at McNally Jackson

To kick the event off, Rachel read a great bit from Love Me. I kept thinking WHY ISN’T MY INSIDE VOICE AS ENTERTAINING AS HERS because it’s so interesting to hear someone read from a book that you read  alone on your couch or on the subway. I’ve decided that Rachel will have to read part 3 of the series outloud to me.

In a Q&A afterwards, the crowd learned a few of these tidbits:

  • Most of her research for the 1930s Hollywood setting was done spur of the moment because she had accumulated so much “useless” Hollywood knowledge over the years.
  • She tried to write the book as realistically as possible but had to edit some minor details to fit in her fictional characters. (Like omitting a person from an Oscar category.) It made her think a lot about what actors and actresses we would be remembering 70 years later.
  • Rachel is a pro at Oscar speeches. She was even quoted in the New York Times last week.
  • Book 3 of the Starstruck series (out next year) will bring readers into the 1940s and into a war.

Afterwards, Rachel was sweet enough to chat, sign a copy of my book, and even draw something very special.

Rachel Shukert at her Book Signing

Yes, I took a very up close shot. Of course.

Can’t say I’ve ever had an author draw a Muppet in my book before.

Obviously, she’s the best.

It’s been so long since I’ve visited McNally Jackson (which Rachel called her favorite bookstore in NYC) and I’m so glad I stopped in to celebrate the release of Love Me! I’m pretty much dying to find out what happens with Margo, Amanda, and Gabby in the last book of the trilogy. Let’s hope I can keep my patience in check.

Until then, there’s time for you to experience the Starstruck series! The books are a total guilty pleasure but they are also so smartly written and I think it brings them to a whole new level in the young adult genre!


» THIS IS HOLLYWOOD WEEK! For info on STARSTUCK: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Rachel Shukert «

Pass The Popcorn: The Dirty Thirties

You’ve made it to Friday, which means you are probably looking forward to putting your feet up and relaxing with a good flick this weekend! Hollywood Week continues with this fun contribution from Jen at Pop! Goes the Reader. I was clued into Jen’s love for classic Hollywood based on some of her recent book purchases and she was gracious and enthusiastic enough to put together a list of some of the most renowned films of the 1930s. Have you seen any of these? Do you love black and white films too? Be sure to leave your thoughts and have a super weekend!

Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog 

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Pass the Popcorn! Jen from Pop! Goes the Reader Suggests Movies of the 1930s

The 1930’s have long been regarded as one of the most successful and illustrious decades of the film industry. Known more simply as the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood, it was responsible for producing some of most iconic films in Hollywood’s history that remain critically-acclaimed favourites to this very day. In the wake of the stock market crash of 1929, the resulting Great Depression, the aftermath of World War I and the rise of threatening totalitarian regimes abroad, people increasingly sought out forms of escapist entertainment with which to distract themselves from a bleak and increasingly more threatening reality, and no institution offered more of a respite than the film industry.

The ten films I’ve chosen below are what I consider some of the best and brightest the Dirty Thirties have to offer, often laying the groundwork for what was to follow in their respective genres. These range from the big budget blockbusters to more specific niche genre pictures and re-makes of beloved classics. This decade also saw the launch of the careers of a number of stars who have since become household names now synonymous with Old Hollywood glitz and glamour like Errol Flynn, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Jean Harlow, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Vivien Leigh, John Wayne and Shirley Temple. I hope you’ll enjoy what I consider to be the perfect introductory compilation of movies in a decade of film that was as exciting as it was enduring!

Date: 1931, Directed by: Tod Browning, Starring: Bela Lugosi & Helen Chandler
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes

The Public Enemy
Date: 1931, Directed by: William A. Wellman, Starring: James Cagney & Jean Harlow
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes

Duck Soup
Date: 1933, Directed by: Leo McCarey, Starring: The Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico & Zeppo) & Margaret Dumont
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes

It Happened One Night
Date: 1934, Directed by: Frank Capra, Starring: Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes

Top Hat
Date: 1935, Directed by: Mark Sandrich, Starring: Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
Date: 1937, Directed by: William Cottrell & David Hand, Starring: Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne, Et. Al
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes

Date: 1939, Directed by: John Ford, Starring: John Wayne, Claire Trevor & Andy Devine
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
Date: 1939, Directed by: Frank Capra, Starring: James Stewart, Jean Arthur & Claude Rains
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes

Gone With The Wind
Date: 1939, Directed by: Victor Fleming & George Cukor, Starring: Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes


The Wizard of Oz
Date: 1939, Directed by: Victor Fleming & George Cukor, Starring: Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton, Et. Al
IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes

So, what are you waiting for? Dim the lights and pass the popcorn – We have some movies to watch!

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Big big hugs to Jen for contributing to our Hollywood Week series!
(She had all of these lovely graphics, too!)
For a combination of snazzy graphics, thoughtful book reviews, and more,
be sure to visit her at Pop! Goes the Reader!


» THIS IS HOLLYWOOD WEEK! For info on STARSTUCK: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Rachel Shukert «

From Hollywood to Your Bookshelf: It’s a Best Friend

Last July, Alexa and I teamed up in double posts about Hollywood stories that would make awesome YA books. We were so so excited about everyone’s responses, and have been anxious to serve up another Hollywood to Your Bookshelf post. Well, what’s better timing than Hollywood Week? That’s right — nothing!! (Refresh your memory: McGosling + Taylor Swift.)

Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog

Because I feel like we are friends, I can comfortably confess to you that I’ve been a little obsessed with Lea Michele lately. It’s a problem. Is it her perfect bangs? Her new album? (Which I downloaded Sunday night at midnight, and like a lot.) Or is the fact that I have no idea how this girl has made it through what had to be the toughest year and can still be so productive in her career, and have that brilliant smile on her face? It’s almost baffling to me. She is one tough lady.

I could probably sit here and write a million words on why I think her and Cory Monteith’s story would make a great YA novel but honestly, the wound is still too fresh and I can’t really talk about it. (All these clips from her recent interviews promoting her album have gotten to me.) So today I’m focusing on BEST FRIENDS. Lea met her best friend (Broadway star, recent Frozen supporting actor and friend to all reindeer) Jonathan Groff back in 2005, when they were starring in the off-Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, and remain just as close today.

Young Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele

Originally, when the image of the two of them popped in my head, I was like: female main character with her gay best friend. Ding ding ding! I couldn’t even think of many examples in my YA lit of this kind of relationship. (Of course, I turned to Twitter for some suggestions: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover; Something Real by Heather Demetrios [ sister + brother characters]; Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally.) Is there the risk for a friendship like this to become stereotypical? Absolutely, but if it reflects the intimate and easy-going nature of Jonathan and Lea’s relationship — it could definitely work.

I’ve never had a best friend like you. I never had the person who’s the person. The person you call, the person who’s there, the person who gets you, the person who makes you laugh. You know, that person… for the first time, I feel like I’m number one on the list. You are my first best friend. There is so much relief when you’re with the person who gets you the most. — lea on jonathan, teen vogue (march 2014)

So many times the emphasis is placed on the romance in young adult books and I think the longevity of Lea and Jonathan’s relationship through so many changes (careers, distance, partners) can definitely play into how their connection can grow and change through the years. Were they ever competitive with each other? Did they ever not like who the other was dating? Did some people just not get their friendship?

Since Glee, she’s inspired people across the world with her unapologetic ambition, insane talent, and astonishing grace. Me, especially.” — jonathan on lea, teen vogue (march 2014)

In the wake of a horrific situation, it’s obvious (even from a distance) that Jonathan stepped in as kind of protector, and has been there to support his best friend. I really admire that because it can’t be easy to see someone you love in so much pain, and be powerless to stop any of it. And on the other hand, even though Lea has displayed so much personal strength … everyone needs to accept help sometimes. They compliment each other well.

Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele Teen Vogue

Anyway, enough with the sad stuff. I want more best friends and they don’t even need to be a female character and her gay best friend. How about just best friends of the opposite sex? Or best friends in general? Because they make really, really good stories and make us appreciate the people around us who we can lean on, and who believe in us and love us just because.

Until that time comes, here are a few suggestions to tide us over:

From Hollywood to Your Bookshelf Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff

The Vow by Jessica Martinez | Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna | Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg


Would you like to see more friendships like Lea and Jonathan’s in books? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Be sure to stop by Alexa Loves Books to check out her From Hollywood to Your Bookshelf pick!


Thanks to Betty, Judith + Ellice, and Racquel who tweeted in title suggestions!

Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog

Hollywood Week: A Book Blogger Turned Celeb Stylist

Welcome to Day 2 of Hollywood Week, celebrating Rachel Shukert’s STARSTRUCK series. I am beyond thrilled to welcome Andi from AndiABCs to Rather Be Reading today! She was one of the first people to pop into my head when I was planning this blog event because 1930s Hollywood was all about the fashion and Andi is the queen of shopping, trends, and has a great weekly feature called ABCs — sharing accessories, books, and clothes each Wednesday.

Big thanks to her for playing stylist and dressing some incredible leading ladies in 30s-inspired fashion!

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Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog

I can’t confirm or deny this, but I may have done a little dance with Estelle asked me about doing a guest post for her Hollywood themed week on Rather Be Reading. One because Estelle is awesome, two because I love all things Hollywood, especially the Hollywood Glam that the Oscars bring, and three, this is my first ever guest post on a blog and what an awesome blog it is.

Since this week is geared towards a Hollywood theme, 1930s inspired ideas and the Oscars happened this weekend, one idea came to mind after reading Estelle’s “pitch”, dress some of the best actress nominees in 30s inspired garb for the Oscars. I will admit it was easier in theory as finding 1930s looks that are modern is hard. But I am really pleased with what I ended up with. I think each look speaks to the 4 actresses I selected and I could see each and every one of them in these looks.  I pretty much stuck to the silhouettes of the 1930s and kept accessories minimal and to the same time period. I found pictures of each actress with a hair style I think would work and voila, 4 modern actresses, Academy nominees, in 1930s inspired looks.

Sandra Bullock is almost always stunningly put together during award season. She hardly ever has a miss and I love that about her. She is all about detail and clean lines. Based on her body shape I thought this dress would be perfect for her. It has just enough sparkle to show off her gorgeous shoulders and arms and the silky material with the loose draping seemed to go with her laid back vibe. The shoes and the bag fit with everything nicely. Plus who doesn’t love a good Whiting and Davis clutch?? And the ring was to add a little color for show.


Amy Adams has been rocking the low cut front this award season, as she should in my opinion. When I saw this dress I just knew it was for her. The loosely draped back screams 1930s. Add the art deco clutch and shoe not to mention the ring and earrings and you have Amy Adams. A little daring and risqué, but also done so the look doesn’t come off as cheap.

Amy Adams

Cate Blanchett can pretty much wear anything and I have seen her do just that. I wasn’t really going to dress her when I started off, but I came across this gorgeous dress in my research and she was the one and only actress I could see pull it off. The draped top and tighter bottom silhouette are perfect examples of modern 1930s glam. And every girl needs a little red bag to add a punch.

Cate Blanchett

And what kind of Young Adult Reader would I be if I didn’t include the girl everyone wants to be friends with, Jennifer Lawrence. Not going to lie, I was a little scared to “dress” her. I know it is pretend and all, but her style is so her and she always looks AMAZING!(yes I was one of the ones that liked her Golden Globes dress). But when I saw this dress I couldn’t help but picture our little Katniss is it. It’s fun without being trendy. The art deco pattern is what makes this dress 1930s and since Jennifer can rock just about anything I added a fun hand bag and some more sparkle with her jewelry.

Jennifer Lawrence

I may be bias, but I think these ladies look fabulous. 🙂 Thanks for having me. It was fun.

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 Don’t forget to stop by Andi’s blog and say hello (hold on to your wallets too because she has great taste)!


» For more info on STARSTUCK: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Rachel Shukert «