Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Audiobook Review: STORIES I ONLY TELL MY FRIENDS: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Rob Lowe




Description:   A wryly funny and surprisingly moving account of an extraordinary life lived almost entirely in the public eye.

A teen idol at 15, an international icon and founder of the Brat Pack at 20, and one of Hollywood's top stars to this day, Rob Lowe chronicles his experiences as a painfully misunderstood child actor in Ohio who was uprooted to the wild counterculture of mid-70s Malibu, where he embarked on his unrelenting pursuit of a career in Hollywood.

The Outsiders placed Lowe at the birth of the modern youth movement in the entertainment industry. During his time on The West Wing, he witnessed the surreal nexus of show business and politics, both on the set and in the actual White House. And in between are deft and humorous stories of the wild excesses that marked the 80s, leading to his quest for family and sobriety.

Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind encounters with people who shaped our world over the last 25 years. These stories are as entertaining as they are unforgettable.







My Thoughts on Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

As a teen of the 80s, I was superficially familiar with Rob Lowe, the actor.  I knew him as Billy from St. Elmo's Fire, Sodapop from The Outsiders and a handful of other roles.  I knew him as the one-time boyfriend of Melissa Gilbert and Princess Stephanie of Monaco.  Who could forget the details of his sexcapades during the 1988 Democratic convention in Atlanta?  Not this former Atlanta resident.  I wasn't a fan but I wasn't opposed to him either.  He was just another Hollywood actor in my book, albeit a stunningly good looking one. 

I purchased this audiobook for a road trip, thinking it would be entertaining and likely a piece of fluff.  Imagine my surprise when after listening to this audiobook, not only do I consider myself a fan of Mr. Lowe's but I can also add "author" to my mental description of him.

Put aside all of your previous opinions of this former (and, honestly, still) pretty boy and read or listen to this book.  It's worth every moment.  Mr. Lowe gives a painfully honest account of his background, from his family to his rise in Hollywood to his days of being in the Brat Pack.  He is never mean, he doesn't throw anyone under the proverbial bus but he also doesn't mince words or spare details. 

He speaks openly about his dysfunctional early family life and his mother's myriad of quests for living all naturally (to the point of hysteria) and dealings with depression.   He talks of knowing from a very early age that he wanted to be an actor, but having a strong attraction to politics, and of arriving in Malibu and being an outcast for years.  Unlike today, back in the 1970s it was not cool to be an actor.  Even friends, and future thespians, Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen and the Penn brothers, were not necessarily the popular kids.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Lowe's recounting of Malibu and Hollywood in the 1970s - - how fascinating was it to hear that he was present at one of very early shoots on the then unknown Star Wars?  That Charlie Sheen's first love wasn't acting but baseball and that he hoped to be drafted and play major league ball?  And that Mr. Lowe himself had already decided to throw in the towel on his minor career and attend college when he was cast in The Outsiders

Did anyone know that Mr. Lowe and John F. Kennedy, Jr. had met and spoken about John's decision on marrying?  I certainly did not although Mr. Lowe begins his book with a recounting of meeting the one person he was most excited and humbled to meet - - yes, John F. Kennedy, Jr.  In Mr. Lowe's retelling, Kennedy is a down to earth, all around nice guy who loved the sneak peek he was given of The West Wing and demanded that Rob Lowe, and Rob Lowe alone, be given the cover of his new magazine George.  It is somehow shocking to know that Mr. Lowe was doing the same as the rest of the nation back in July of 1999 . . . waiting to hear news on the plane crash and being shocked and saddened over the loss.

Serious Rob Lowe fans may already know this but Rob Lowe has lived a heck of a life so far.  He has met scads of famous people, from trying to meet Telly Savalas (unsuccessfully) as a child in Ohio to getting future career advice from Liza Minnelli to the pre-career and teenage Darryl Hannah to the aforementioned Princess Stephanie of Monaco (whose lifestyle will make you scratch your head in wonder.) Despite the many connections, the women, the alcoholism and career success, Mr. Lowe manages to come across unscathed.  He's your next door neighbor, the father of a child in Little League, someone who is incredibly humbled by the good fortune bestowed upon him and who ultimately holds himself to a high standard.    Surely I wasn't the only one feeling triumphant over his comeback with The West Wing.    

Perhaps this is the most surprising part of Stories I Only Tell My Friends. . . Rob Lowe can write.  No, really.  He is as blessed with the pen as he is with looks.  From the first chapter, his prose draws the listener/reader in, inviting you into his world and his story.  Listening to the audio version of this book versus reading it, I was privileged to hear his own voice and his incredible impersonations.  He is a gifted narrator, from the pleasantness of his voice to verbal inflections.  His impersonation of Tom Cruise had me giggling in the car.

There was one thing I didn't like about Stories I Only Tell My Friends and that was the book had to end.  It was so good and so enjoyable I did not want to part company with Mr. Lowe.   The upside is that he has generously written a follow up memoir, one I will be picking up to savor.

I would not hesitate to recommend Stories I Only Tell My Friends.  It's the perfect celebrity memoir -  interesting, fun and dishy without being catty or cruel. 

Amazon

Audible

Author Website

Twitter

FTC Disclosure: This audiobook is from my own personal collection and was purchased by me. I was neither paid nor compensated for this review. You're welcome. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Giveaway Winner: MY SISTER'S GRAVE



The lucky winner of a copy of My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni is . . .


Jennifer Ricketts


Congratulations, Jennifer!  I hope you enjoy your new book.  I will be emailing you directly to get your mailing address for your new goodie.

A big THANK YOU to all who visited Psychotic State Book Reviews and entered this giveaway.  I appreciate each and every one of you taking the time to visit and to post your entries. I hope you will stick around for future reviews, giveaways and interviews. 



Thank you to TLC Book Tours for making this giveaway possible.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Ball at Pemberley!



Have you RSVP'd for the Pemberley Ball this weekend? 

Lady Vee at vvb32 reads is hosting a ball at Mr. Darcy's lovely estate Pemberley and all are welcome! 

Stop by, partake in the food, dancing and socializing.  Will you take a dance with Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Wickham or Mr. Collins?  What mischief will Lydia Bennet be up to?  And how will Mrs. Bennet's nerves fare?

In addition to the wonderful ball, there is also a Darcy Surprise Prize Pack to be won!

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Rules on Writing


The rules are . . . there ain't no rules!



You have to write about what you know.

You have to write every day.

You have to outline.  Everything.

You have to start on Chapter 1, page 1.

You have to know how your story will start and end when you begin.


Sound familiar?  I'm sure you have heard at least one of the above "rules", if not all of them.  What do they have in common?  They all start with "you have to" and as the old saying goes, the only thing you have to do is pay taxes (well, you should!) and die. 

I have been writing in some form or another since I was eight.  I remember hearing all these rules at some point while in school or while reading various books on how to write. 

There are no set rules in writing.   Some authors write every day, without fail, because it works for them (paging Stephen King!).  Others write every other day, or write Monday through Friday giving themselves the weekends off.  Still others write only on the weekends. 

Some writers never write an outline or use index cards while others get heart palpitations thinking of going without them.  By the same token, you will find authors who swear by knowing every detail of their work before putting pen to paper while others enjoy the adventure of seeing what happens as they go. 

Stephenie Meyers, the author of the Twilight series, began her successful first book not with Chapter 1 but writing a scene that ended up happening in the middle of the book because she dreamt it and it was vivid in her mind.  After she wrote that scene, she went from there and went back and sketched out the beginning of the book. 

I find that starting can be hair-pulling at times but simply writing a random scene in your work can not only be fulfilling but successful in helping you to find your book's voice and flesh out your characters.   There doesn't seem to be the same pressure or weight that may paralyze you when starting on page 1. 

I took a creative writing class last year and one of the first things the instructor said was "Just sit down and write."  It's probably the best piece of writing advice you can have.  Don't think too hard about it and don't read too much about it. (When I think of the sheer number of "how to" books I've read over the years, I shudder).  Just do it.

In short, there isn't one right way or one wrong way.  Whatever works for you is the way to go.

As the great quote from Grease above says, remember that the rules of writing are that there are no rules.

Isn't that thought insanely liberating? 




Monday, November 10, 2014

MY SISTER'S GRAVE by Robert Dugoni



Description:  Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.




My Thoughts on My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni

I have been a fan of Robert Dugoni's for many years, since picking up my first novel by him.  I found him then to be an engaging writer with tight plots and heroes you could root for and his newest installment, My Sister's Grave, does not disappoint. 

Mr. Dugoni wrote a fantastic hero in David Sloane (first introduced in The Jury Master) and he manages to conceive an equally awesome heroine with Tracy Crosswhite.  Our gal Tracy is no helpless woman.  She's a Seattle detective who's strong willed and determined and while she's unmarried, she's no man hater.   Plus girlfriend has been seeking justice for her sister for twenty years so she's definitely loyal.  I have found that a number of female "leads" are written as nearly unlikeable but I liked Tracy.  A lot. 

Additionally I felt a kinship toward the fictional town of Cedar Grove, written so vividly that I could picture the downtown street, the houses with the wraparound porches and the friendly neighbors.  As far as I'm concerned, Cedar Grove was a supporting character in this book.

Mr. Dugoni's background shows with the courtroom scenes and legal terminology but the book  definitely falls under the mystery/thriller umbrella versus the legal one.   There is also a decent amount of forensics but this reader found it just enough to be of interest and not necessarily tutorial or educational in nature. 

The actual mystery itself was extremely well thought out and executed, making it difficult to put this book down.  I was surprised by the reveal and was quickly turning the page to get to the outcome.  I found the resolution satisfying and was pleased. 

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend My Sister's Grave and look forward to another literary encounter with Tracy Crosswhite.  Bravo, Mr. Dugoni.

Amazon

Author Website

FTC Disclosure: The review copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.    

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for allowing Psychotic State Book Reviews to be part of this tour.



After reading the synopsis and my review, would you like your own copy of My Sister's Grave?  Of course you would! 

Use the Rafflecopter entry below and leave me a comment letting me know what one mystery you would solve if you could.   Me?  I would like to know once and for all the true identity of Jack the Ripper.  (Yes, I have a dark mind.)

Enter now.  U.S. and Canada only.  Giveaway ends Monday, November 17! 


http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/3d34989f2/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway