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

Greetings!

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 

◊ ◊ ◊

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!

Dracula
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

Stagecoach
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!

◊ ◊ ◊

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 «

Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog

Hollywood Week: Rachel Shukert Welcomes You

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!

Hollywood Week inspired by Starstruck series at Rather Be Reading Blog

Hi everybody!

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

Estelle: Love Me by Rachel Shukert

Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog

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 ShukertLove Me by Rachel Shukert ( web | tweet )
Part of the STARSTRUCK series.
Publication Date: 2/11/2014
Publisher: Random House Kids / Delacorte Press
Pages: 336
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.

Rather Be Reading Buy It Icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on B&N | Buy on Amazon

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!

◊  ◊  ◊

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.

Sandra

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.

◊  ◊  ◊

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

AndiABCs

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