Hello, hello! Today we are very excited to welcome STARSTRUCK author, RACHEL SHUKERT, to the blog. She’s discussing all things Hollywood, which means many of the wonderful spots featured in the first two books of her young adult series. If this doesn’t make you want to jump on a plane (or even better, pick up Starstruck — the fiscally responsible option!), I don’t know what will. Palm trees, celebrities, fancy drinks… sigh.
Take it away, Rachel!
When I started writing the STARSTRUCK books, my life was totally different. I was living in Manhattan, in an apartment in the East Village above a pizza place that used to blast music through our bedroom floor at 4 in the morning. I never slept, because there was so much to do, so many people to see. I was a New York girl through and through, who could count the number of days I’d actually spent in Hollywood–my imagination is another story—on my fingers. I loved it.
Four years and two and a half books in (I’ve turned in the first draft for Number 3!) and everything has changed. I’ve made it to what my friend calls: “the end of America.” I’m living in Los Angeles now, in a Spanish-style stucco house built in 1926, probably to house some of the very first employees at the nearby Paramount Studios. I’ve got a hibiscus tree filled with hummingbirds that I see every morning through my bedroom window. I spend most of my days on the phone or at my computer, dealing with notes on television projects, and I go to bed by 11 at the latest. I don’t drive anywhere without seeing the Hollywood sign looming in the middle distance, reminding me and everyone who sees it just what’s at stake here. I love it.
There’s a lot to love about LA after so many years as a New York City girl—the weather, the ocean, the ability to go to Target and the grocery store and the post office and the bank not only all in one day, but all before lunch (seriously, the first few months I was there, my only answer to anyone when they asked me what I liked best so far was: “Is it weird if I say running errands?”)
What I love most of all is how so much of it feels preserved. LA is a town with real nostalgia for the past. Sure, many of the places I researched and described as the STARSTRUCK girls stomping grounds have made way for the new—Schwab’s Pharmacy, where Margaret Frobisher (soon to be Margo Sterling) is discovered over a sandwich and an ice cream soda, was torn down to make way for a shopping complex; the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub, where Gabby, Margo and Amanda get up to so much glamorous trouble, was demolished along with the Ambassador Hotel in 2005, despite all efforts by some of Hollywood’s leading lights to save it.
But the majority of places on the Starstruck grand tour are still alive and thriving, and I’m so excited to take you on a little virtual tour!
First stop is the gorgeous Beverly Hills Hotel, a place I have been in love with every since Phyllis Nefler took the rain-drenched Wilderness Girls there in Troop Beverly Hills. (Roughing is one bathroom for 9 people!) It’s been restored completely to its former glory, complete with the iconic Martinique pattern of lush green palm leaves on every wall. And the pink tufted couches. And the white wrought iron chairs. And I’ve gotten a little obsessed with interior design now that I’m living in more than 500 square feet. Please excuse.
But the hotel is amazing, truly. You can have the famous McCarthy salad at the famous Polo Lounge, where Margo fights with her leading man Dane Forrest and desperately tries to fend off the leading inquiries of the malicious gossip columnist Perdita Pendleton, or you can pretend to be a hopeful young starlet desperate to be discovered at the counter of the totally vintage and museum-quality Fountain Coffee Room in the basement (it’s not exactly Schwab’s but it’ll do, pig, it’ll do. And yes, I am unable to use the phrase “that’ll do” or “it’ll do” without an allusion to Babe.) And the pool, my God, the perfect turquoise pool where you get that very particular kind of LA light that makes you feel very tan and like you have very red lips and your life is perfect.
Or for something a little sexier, the Chateau Marmont, where Margo discovers Jimmy in one of the poolside bungalows doing something they never told her about at the Orange Grove Academy for Young Ladies, is just a short drive down Sunset. Decadent and gothic as ever, it’s still full of celebrities doing things they shouldn’t. (I maaaaayy have been a secret witness to a screaming fight there once between a certain blonde female rock star and her teenage daughter. If I hadn’t been cleverly concealed in the stairwell I might not be alive today.) For food you can actually afford, the original Barney’s Beanery, where Amanda likes to go drown her sorrows and not run into anyone, is still there on Holloway Drive. The televisions blasting sporting events are not strictly vintage, but the famous chili is, and it’s amazing. (Chasen’s famous chili, so good Elizabeth Taylor used to have it overnighted to her in London when she was married to Richard Burton, is sadly long gone. But you can pretend.) Speaking of Amanda, Bullock’s Wilshire, where she indulged in so many bouts of ill-advised retail therapy, isn’t actually a store anymore (she might have put them out of business,) but the gorgeous and landmarked art deco building is still there, at 3050 Wilshire Boulevard. Pay homage, and then go shopping for real at Saks Fifth Avenue, in the original Beverly Hills location that opened in 1938, just in time for Margo’s mother to buy her the blue serge suit she wears to her very first screen test. (It was supposed to be for her debutante luncheon…but, you know.)
Gabby’s a Downtown girl, and while the Dunbar Hotel, where Eddie Sharp takes her to take in some jazz (and some other things) is now a private residence apartment building, the Central Avenue Jazz Festival still swings every July. And there are so many amazing restaurants around there now (although I can’t promise that any of them serve chili.) Or if you’re hungry in Hollywood, check out Harry Gordon’s favorite hot dog stand, Pink’s on La Brea, which has had lines snaking around the corner onto Melrose since 1938. And the price is right (Harry’s a cheap date.)
For a taste of old Pasadena the way Margo experienced it, check out the Gamble House as in Proctor & Gamble (not to mention Evelyn Gamble), an architectural masterpiece that makes you wonder why she ever wanted to leave. And finally, Griffith Park at sunset. Named after early Los Angeles grandee Griffith J. Griffith, it was also where the legendary film director D.W. Griffith (no relation, if you can believe it!) shot his landmark (and super creepy racist) silent film Birth of a Nation. Olive Moore probably had an affair with him, back in the silent era. You can see her house from your cliff-top perch. It’s whichever one you want it to be.
Happy reading, and LA loves you!
For more on Rachel Shukert » Website | Twitter | Our interview with Rachel | Starstruck / Love Me on Goodreads
Beware: since this is book 2 in series, there may be a few spoilers from STARSTRUCK.
Keep in mind I’m going to try really hard not to let this happen because I so so so want
you to experience this series and get excited to pick it up.
Love Me by Rachel Shukert ( web | tweet )
Part of the STARSTRUCK series.
Publication Date: 2/11/2014
Publisher: Random House Kids / Delacorte Press
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Hollywood, Oscars, friendships, romance
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)
Summary: After an overabundance of drama, romance, and Hollywood glamour, Love Me picks up where Starstruck left off: Margo is dying of anticipation as a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination, Gabby is trying to break out of her “little girl” persona the studio continues to push on her, and Amanda is lost — without her man and without her career. Where will she turn?
What struck me the most in Love Me is just how much Margo, Gabby, and Amanda were willing to sacrifice for what they wanted. Margo wants to be well-known in the industry — a leading lady, while Gabby wants to be seen as a woman with needs and true talent, and Amanda just wants to be in love with her man and be taken care of.
Margo allows her relationship with Dane gradually dwindle because of her ambition (but she still remains so sweet) and she lets the studio’s demands navigate her love life and her future. She’s a measly puppet, and when Dean tries to be honest with her (I loved him for that because it couldn’t have been easy) — she was still the new girl on the block, that momentous occasions in their relationship should be THEIR decisions and theirs alone, that she needed to give everything time to breathe and grow — she just wouldn’t listen.
Gabby, who spends her time flirting with older guys and making love to bad habits, wants what Margo wants. (Or what she thinks Margo wants?) She finished playing the sidekick. She wants to make a splash. If only someone would let her. She lies to her mother, uses her friends, and falls for Eddie Sharp, who shows her a whole new side of Hollywood. But is he just another horrible addiction? Does he really care for her?
And lastly, Amanda — she’s desperate to escape her past and is equally desperate to get the love of her life back. She’s spending more money than she is making to guarantee looking like a million bucks every time she goes out and to make an impression, to get word back to the only guy who treated her well. She thinks a guy can save her. From everything. Wipe the slate clean. Is she in total denial or is it possible?
It’s tough to be a headstrong lady and to want what you want in this world, where everyone wants a piece of you and everyone knows the right way to manage you. When do you take your life back? When do you regain control? There was so much at stake — everything each of these ladies worked for — but it wasn’t exactly making them happy either. Did that even exist? Being happy and getting what you want? It’s hard to say at this point in Love Me.
And what about friendship? I so wanted to believe in the bonds that Margo, Gaby, and Amanda had with one another. But how can you truly be friends with one another when in the back of your mind you are always competing with one another and always trying to stand out? Is there a balance? Sure. But I don’t think these three found it yet. It made me think about just how tough it is to be a good friend when you don’t even know who you are. When part of you is always jealous, always comparing. Being a girlfriend can be so complicated.
As you can see, there’s a ton happening in Love Me. An absolute ton. But Shukert, once again, treats her readers with respect and makes them think, makes them earn the good parts. I’m amazed by how compulsively readable these books are, especially because they aren’t exactly action-packed, just lovingly detailed, subtly sexy, and so thought provoking. While I could have used some more dialogue between the characters, my love for this series grew even more with book 2. (Plus it was nice to have a few reminders from book 1 folded in so I didn’t feel like Ms. Forgetful.)
For multi-dimensional female characters and a lively (and complicated) 1930s Hollywood setting (gorgeous outfits!), you must pick up Starstruck and Love Me as soon as you can.
Add to Goodreads | Buy on B&N | Buy on Amazon
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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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.
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.
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.
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 «
Welcome welcome welcome to an absolutely fun week at Rather Be Reading Blog! We’ll be hosting an entire Hollywood Week, inspired by the Starstruck young adult series by Rachel Shukert. Hollywood in the 1930s, three strong (yet flawed) ladies trying to make their marks in showbiz, and all the road blocks that get into their way. With the recent release of Love Me, book two in the series, we’ve decided to take a break from our “regular programming” and bring you a week of original features, guest posts, and more!
To kick off this week’s feature, here is a Hollywood-inspired Nailed It featuring two books that share the ups and downs of “glamorous” celebrity life. Thanks so much for stopping in! (And enjoy the Oscars tonight!!)
Avery | Alice | Mona
With spring (hopefully) arriving soon, I am loving this color palette. Pink, purple, and a great gray (to match the cover character’s eyes). I wish I had found the perfect blond to go with this lady’s locks but unfortunately I couldn’t. (Isn’t it great how there are so many shades in the hair detail, btw?) Since this book series inspired this Hollywood Week, I won’t tell you how good it is again (okay, I will… it’s super good) and I love how the gal on this particular cover looks so hopeful. Hollywood is a little tougher than she thought it was going to be.
Sheila | Jet | Lena | Catrina
Compositionally, I think the cover for Reality Boy is so visually appealing. It catches my eye every single time I stare at my bookshelves. (I really, really need to read this soon – especially after Estelle’s awesome review.) These days, “Hollywood” is composed of so, so many reality TV stars: musicians, housewives, waitresses, etc. You name it, there’s a television show for it. Though I hang my head in shame, I find myself watching these ridiculous (read: brainless) shows as much as the rest of America. (Especially when Mamma needs a little drama to keep her awake during baby girl’s 3 A.M. feeding. Can I get an amen?) Though my choice doesn’t focus as much on the glamorous side of Hollywood, I think it’s super fitting for what’s trending right now. And the color palette? I’m still not entirely sure about yellow on my own nails, but sign me up for all the other colors, please.
What color are you coveting this spring?
(big thanks to rachel from hello chelly for the amazing banner for this series!)
How often do you research authors you read and liked a long time ago? For me, not so much. Unless I happen to see a familiar name, I don’t actively seek them out. But after two authors who I once loved so fiercely made their way on my radar again, I decided to take a look back and see what was new with some of my old favorites.
Today is a “double the pleasure” sort of post. On one hand, you are getting a highly recommended backlist title and on the other, a newer or upcoming book that might strike your fancy. I hope you enjoy the list as much as I enjoyed putting it together!
Book I Loved: Rise & Shine | New Title: Still Life With Bread Crumbs (1/2014)
I actually lent Rise & Shine to Magan many moons ago. It’s a strong story about family, sisters, different paths and it really resonated with me. (I have no idea why I picked it up at first. Paperback table?) I haven’t read a Quindlen since but her newest is about a photographer who hits tough times and escapes her life in NYC for a quieter one in a cabin. Sign me up!
Book I Loved: What Remains (memoir) | New Title: The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating (2/2014)
I remember reading What Remains waiting in line for a musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom one summer. I had sweat rolling down my back and tears rolling down my cheeks. It was a moment. What Remains is Carole’s memoir about her marriage soon to be cut short by cancer, and her friendship with JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette. (Carole’s husband was JFK’s cousin.) It’s a beautiful book about endearing unexpected tragedy in a short period of time, and it’s stayed with me all of these years. (Tip: the eBook is under 10 dollars — go buy it!) This year, Carole released her fiction debut: The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating. It sounds semi-autobiographical but I’m interested to see what she can do in this genre. (And someone compared her to Joan Didion, who is my writing idol! Big deal.)
Karen Joy Fowler
Book I Loved: The Jane Austen Book Club | New Title: We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves (pb 2/2014)
I am so surprised over how low the ratings are for JABC on Goodreads. So incredibly low. It’s been a long time since I read it, sure. But it’s a paperback that I’ve kept in my collection even after I’ve culled time and time again. I loved the characters and their relationships. (Plus who doesn’t like a book club!) Fowler’s newest release actually came out in 2013 but the paperback is out in stores as of February, and the reviews were solid! Sounds like an interesting family dynamic that I need to experience for myself. (I should probably reschedule a re-read for JABC too.)
Book I Loved: The Gap Year | New Title: Above the East China Sea (May 2014)
First, The Gap Year is one of the first books I reviewe on RBR. It holds a dear place in my heart and I’m sad I’ve sort of forgotten it because I was over the moon when I first read it. (It’s since come out in paperback and I love the cover.) Mother daughter relationships in books never get old for me. But oh gosh, I love that Bird is taking on a semi-historical fiction set during World War II for her next book. I cannot wait to read this one. It sounds intense, and I do like stories that alternate between present day and the past.
[ BONUS PICK ]
New Title: The Good Luck of Right Now
The truth is I own 3 (three!) books by Matthew and I haven’t read any of them yet. Two YAs (Sort of Like a Rock Star and Forgive Me Leonard Peacock) and also Silver Linings Playbook (I saw the movie twice; does that count?). I am the worst. This is why I go on book buying bans. His new novel came out two weeks ago and it was a very nice birthday present from a friend. Quick is a writing machine, isn’t he? Synopsis? A guy loses his mom, discovers she had been writing to Richard Gere, and as he sets off on a “new life” he continues to write to him as well. Sounds quirky, right? I need to get a move on with Matthew’s books!
Have you read anything non-YA lately? Leave your suggestions below! And thanks for stopping in today!