August 14, 2011

Book Review: THE MEMOIR OF MARILYN MONROE by Sandi Gelles-Cole

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Sandi Gelles-Cole imagines the life the screen legend and enduring cultural icon might have led -- from the opening scene (below) to her 85th birthday on June 1, 2011.

DRAMA QUEEN: June 1, 2011 They say only the good die young and I guess it s true because I m still here. Today is my eighty fifth birthday. During these years I have lived three lives: Before Marilyn, Being Marilyn and After. I created Marilyn Monroe and then men molded her: studios, agents, and husbands. Ever since the night I did not die, I have tried to leave her behind, but wherever I went, the creature followed. I tried to run. I tried changing my name, my country of residence, my hair color, body type, career and sexual preference. I went to college for coursework in Humanities and studied Russian Literature. But there was no escaping her. The character I created became my own personal monster and devoured me in the 50s, and even after she died I could no more be someone else than I could grow a penis, change my skin color, or stop being a movie star. My so-called death scene is always described the same: My housekeeper, Eunice Murray, finds my wasted, naked body tangled in a sheet, wet from secretions better left unexplained. I am face down with one hand hanging over the telephone. This detail is discussed often; am I answering a call or making one and if I am calling, then whom? But it did not happen that way. I cheated death. . .


The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe by Sandi Gelles-Cole is an interesting take on what could have happened had Marilyn Monroe not died that night in 1962 and instead, lived on in relative obscurity. 

As a lover and someone who obsesses over old Hollywood, this book is right in my literary wheelhouse.  I love the Hollywood connection and I love the "what if" of questioning if Marilyn, like the urban legends surrounding James Dean, Elvis and Jim Morrison, to name but a few, faked her death and went underground.

The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe is written as a first person account from Marilyn herself, beginning with her eighty-fifth birthday this year and covering not only her three marriages and affairs with John and Robert Kennedy but also the night she overdosed.  No one is spared, from her husbands (Joe DiMaggio is presented as a controlling and physically abusive brute; Jim Dougherty and Arthur Miller as weak) to her doctor and housekeeper (both presented as bitter people using Marilyn for their own gain and both willingly involved in permanently quieting her . . . or so they thought).  Marilyn herself is not spared either.  She's shown as an addict and alcoholic and incredibly selfish, particularly when it comes to relationships, be it with men or women.   

Diehard fans of Marilyn's may not appreciate the creative license that Ms. Gelles-Cole takes with the icon.  I didn't mind the author's use of creativity; however, a few times I did find Marilyn's switching from Marilyn to Norma Jean to Cherie a bit tedious.  I would have liked more information on Hollywood and Marilyn's movie making; a majority of the book focuses on Marilyn's drug and alcohol abuse and rehab.  

The biggest problem with The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe?  In my opinion, the gramatical and typographical errors sprinkled in the book.  Grammatical errors are a huge pet peeve of mine; the story is interesting but not strong enough to keep me from noticing the mistakes.  

On the up side, The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe illustrates how a person can become strong on their own and how he or she can leave fame and fortune behind and only then find true happiness.  It's inspiring to think of how, had Marilyn herself survived, she might have turned her life around and become the person that Ms. Gelles-Cole writes of here.  

For readers who prefer their books on the slim side, The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe will be a good fit, coming in at under 200 pages and with relatively larger than normal type.  

For fans of Marilyn Monroe and old Hollywood, who don't mind unique spins on fictionalized accounts, I'd say to give The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe a try.  Although I personally liked The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe and found it an interesting read, and I liked the Marilyn at the end of the story, I didn't like Marilyn herself as much during the journey.

The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe is available for purchase at major booksellers now, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.


Review copy of this book provided by the author and Pump Up Your Book in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review. 

 







Giveaway Winner: THIRTY-ONE MINI ORGANIZER





And the luck winner of a brand new Mini Organizer in her choice of color from Thirty-One  is . . . 





Congratulations, Nikki!  I know you will love your new Mini Organizer and I hope you will share with me and my readers how you decide to use it.  A picture, maybe?  

I will be emailing you directly to get your mailing address, as well as your choice of color for your new Organizer.

A big THANK YOU to all who entered and who took the time to visit my site and browse the products.  I enjoyed reading about the products and the fabrics that each of you liked and I appreciate the time you took to do so and post here.  I hope that you will stick around for future giveaways, reviews and interviews.  

Compliments to randomizer.org for selecting the lucky winner.







August 11, 2011

Giveaway: THE TRAITOR'S WIFE by Kathleen Kent

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  This novel was originally published under the title The Wolves of Andover.


In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and his mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of the role he played in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves-in many forms-who hunt for blood. At once a love story and a tale of courage, The Traitor's Wife confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories from the dramatic background of America's earliest days.

I don't know about you but I think The Traitor's Wife sounds fascinating!  In fact, I will have a review of this little gem here on September 15, along with an interview with author Kathleen Kent. 

Thanks to the lovely Anna Balasi at Hachette Book Group and Little, Brown and Company I have THREE copies of The Traitor's Wife to give away to lucky readers!  As an added bonus, I also have ONE copy of The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent up for grabs as well!

To enter, simply leave me a comment with your name and email address (or at least indicate that your email address may be found in your profile). NO EMAIL ADDRESS = NO ENTRY!

For additional entries:

+2 New blog followers
+1 Current blog followers
+2 New subscribers to Psychotic State Book Reviews via Feed Burner
+1 Current subscribers to Psychotic State Book Reviews via Feed Burner
+2 New Psychotic State Book Reviews Facebook follower
+1 Current Psychotic State Book Reviews Facebook follower
+2 New Twitter follower
+1 Current Twitter follower
+5 Repost or re-Tweet giveaway (leave link)

Please be sure to note if you are a current follower, new follower, etc. so that you get proper credit. Please leave a separate comment/post for EACH entry and a valid email address with each entry.

No P.O. boxes. No Military APOs. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada only. My apologies to my overseas friends. Only one copy per household.

Contest to end on Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 11:59 P.M. PST and the lucky winners drawn by randomizer.org on Sunday, August 28, 2011.

Good luck!

August 10, 2011

Author Interview: VICTORIA CONNELLY

It is my pleasure to welcome Victoria Connelly, author of the recently released A Weekend With Mr. Darcy, to Psychotic State Book Reviews today to discuss her new release, what it is about Mr. Darcy that keeps the readers coming back and, most importantly, Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen!

Hi Victoria!  Welcome to Psychotic State Book Reviews.  Thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers.   You have a new book out - A Weekend With Mr. Darcy.  I recently read it and absolutely loved it.  What can you tell us about it? 

VC:  It’s a romantic comedy about two couples who meet and fall in love at a Jane Austen conference in Hampshire.  But not everybody is telling the truth about who they really are…

Why Jane Austen? 

VC:  Jane Austen is such a special writer.  I love her warmth and her wit.  I adore her characters and the family relationships she portrays, and I love that they make mistakes but are allowed second chances at happiness.   Oh, and I love a handsome hero on horseback!  

The Austenesque genre is a busy one and full of rabid fans!  Do you feel an added sense of pressure by taking on such a task?   

VC:  There are some fabulous books out there but I think mine is different because it’s about the fans and what it’s like to be an Austen addict in the modern world.  Mine isn’t a sequel or a spin-off and it doesn’t time travel back to Regency England – it’s set in the here and now about modern people obsessed with Austen.   

Why do you think it’s Mr. Darcy at the top of the Austen male food chain versus other Austen heroes, like Henry Tilney, Captain Wentworth, Colonel Brandon, etc.?   

VC:  Austen has created some of the very best fictional heroes, hasn’t she? But there’s something special about Mr Darcy.  He’s willing to change for the woman he loves and there’s something incredibly sexy about that.  I think we’ve all made mistakes just like Elizabeth and it really makes you think about how we are often mistaken about people.  

Who was your favorite character from A Weekend With Mr. Darcy to write about and why?   

VC:  I think I enjoyed writing about my hero, Warwick, the most.  Without giving too much away, he is so naughty and just digs himself deeper and deeper into trouble and I was dying to know how his story was going to end.  He’s also a writer and writers love writing about other writers!  

How did you get into writing?  

VC:  I’ve always written.  My first attempt at a novel was when I was fourteen but I wasn’t published until I was thirty-five – that’s a long apprenticeship!  I had many, many rejections but I didn’t want to do anything else so I kept on writing and sending my work out to agents and publishers.  The first book I got published was actually made into a film so it was worth all the work and the waiting!  

Do you have a special place where you write?  

VC:  I write at a Victorian pine table in a study I share with my husband but I have to make sure he’s out of the room before I begin!  

Take me through a normal day in the life of Victoria Connelly . . . 

VC:  In the summer, I like to get up early.  I open the hen coop (we recently rescued some ex-battery hens) and then switch the computer on and fiddle around with emails, blogs and Twitter and Facebook.  I then walk the dog, take care of the hens and settle down to a good day’s writing.  For me, that means about 1,000 words.  I take a good long lunch break, walk the dog again in the afternoon and continue working into the evening.  What I love about being my own boss is that there isn’t a rigid timetable to observe so, if it’s a gorgeous day, we’ll go out and work will get done another day.  Sometimes, the computer can stay on until midnight.  That’s one of the downsides of being self-employed and working from home – you never really switch off from your work!  

Do you have any advice for struggling writers? 

VC:  Don’t give up!  If you love writing and want to be published, keep going no matter how many rejections you receive.  Read loads and write lots.  Most of all, enjoy your writing time – your love and enthusiasm will see you through the tough times.  

When you’re not penning your own novels, what authors do you enjoy reading? 

VC:  I adore the romantic comedies of Sophie Kinsella, the novels of Miss Read and H E Bates, Deborah Wright, Cathy Woodman and Freya North.  I also enjoy a good thriller and love Scott Mariani, Robert Goddard, James Rollins, and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  

What can your fans expect in your future works?  

VC:  There are two more Austen addicts books to come over the next few months: Dreaming of Mr. Darcy comes out in January and then Mr. Darcy Forever in April 2012.  (Note from Lori:  Hooray!)

If Jane Austen were to wake up tomorrow morning in 2011, what do you think she would be most amazed by?  

VC:  The huge industry surrounding her books – that we’re still reading them all and adapting them for TV and film.  I love to know what she’d make of it all!  

Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen?   

VC:  Colin Firth but I wouldn’t ever say no to Matthew Macfadyen, you understand!  

And lastly, what one word would you use to describe A Weekend With Mr. Darcy?    

VC:  Fun!

Thank you so much, Victoria, for stopping by and best of luck with A Weekend With Mr. Darcy

For more information on author Victoria Connelly, please visit her website.  

To read my review of A Weekend With Mr. Darcy, please go here.  

To purchase A Weekend With Mr. Darcy, please visit my Amazon store.  

A WEEKEND WITH MR. DARCY BY VICTORIA CONNELLY
AVAILABLE NOW!  


Full of characters obsessed with Jane Austen and set in Jane Austen locations in England, this lively modern Jane Austen romantic comedy trilogy features two pairs of lonely hearts who find each other and themselves at a Jane Austen Addicts weekend.

Dr. Katherine Roberts is a Jane Austen lecturer at St Bridget's College, Oxford, who secretly loves the racy Regency novels of Lorna Warwick. But Lorna is really a man who's slowly been falling in love with Katherine. He's hoping that the Jane Austen Addicts weekend will be the perfect opportunity to declare his feelings...

A fair (and hotly debatable) question for you, fair readers.  Does Colin Firth top your list as Mr. Darcy or do you prefer Matthew Macfadyen?  Do tell!   (I am Colin Firth all the way!) 

August 9, 2011

HAPPY BOOK LOVERS DAY!


And you thought the only day that was just yours was your birthday!

Book Lovers Day* encourages you to find a good place in the shade to relax with a good book.  Which is exactly what I did during my lunch hour and I cannot tell you how much I adore my lunch hours now that I spend them almost exclusively catching up on my reading.

Thinking about how nice it would be to be able to honor this day by camping out at the local Barnes & Noble (also known as The Mother Ship in my household) got me nostalgically remembering the days before the big superstores, before Amazon and before e-readers.  I remember saving up my birthday/Christmas/pocket money and going to Little Professor bookstore, next door to the Eckerd Drug Store and Big Star, and selecting the best read for my hard earned money.  In those days, there was no coffee shop, no pastries, no music department and no chairs for lounging about - - you could literally walk the length of the store in probably less than thirty steps.  But the intimacy was nice - - the owners were a husband and wife and they knew their regular customers (and basically everyone was a regular customer).  Their overstock consisted of the two or three paperbacks stacked behind the front copy on the bestseller shelf.  If they didn't have it, you had to order it and then wait for it to come in.  Unless you wanted to head over to the mall and to B. Dalton, which was massive by comparison.  B. Dalton provided a longer shopping experience, more browsing and it allowed you to head to the Food Court after your purchase to snack on some fries or a Hovan roll while you browsed through your purchase (which oftentimes for me was the newest V. C. Andrews release - - don't judge). 

It's these little things that I really miss when comparing the new technology to the good old days.  I absolutely love the smell of a new book and I found not only the smell of B. Dalton or Little Professor comforting but also warm and inviting.  As much as I love The Mother Ship, the coziness simply isn't there.  (Not surprising given 30,000+ square feet).  Nevermind the internet. 

So as I celebrate this day (which, let's be honest, I do just about every day) it's with a wistful longing that maybe modern technology wasn't so modern or moved so fast and that in this world it was still possible to grow up and have your own little bookstore one day (yes, I do love You've Got Mail). 

How do you plan on celebrating Book Lovers Day?

*Thank you to Amy at Passages to the Past for the heads up on this holiday!

Book Review: THE INTRIGUE AT HIGHBURY: OR, EMMA'S MATCH by Carrie Bebris

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are looking forward to a relaxing stay with dear friends when their carriage is hailed by a damsel-in-distress outside of the village of Highbury. Little do the Darcys realize that gypsies roam these woods, or that both their possessions and the woman are about to vanish into the night.

The Darcys seek out the parish magistrate, who is having a difficult evening of his own. Mr. Knightley and his new wife, the former Miss Emma Woodhouse (the heroine of Jane Austen's Emma) are hosting a party to celebrate the marriage of their friends, Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Jane Fairfax. During dinner, Mr. Edgar Churchill, uncle and adoptive father of the groom, falls suddenly ill and dies. The cause of death: poison.

When the Darcys and the Knightleys join forces to investigate the crimes, they discover that the robbery and Edgar Churchill's death may be connected. Together they must work to quickly locate the source of the poison and the murderer's motive—before the killer can strike again.

Author Carrie Bebris continues her literary love letter to Jane Austen with book five of her Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series and, let's be honest, I consider this book to be equally a love letter to me because I love, love, love this series so much.   If you haven't picked up any of the books I cannot encourage you enough to do so.  They can be read out of sequence although the first book does pick up immediately after the wedding of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. 

The best thing about Ms. Bebris' series of books is not only that they remain true to the original characters that Jane Austen conceived but they are delightful cozy mysteries of their own.  You won't find anything objectionable in this book, or any other in the series, and even the most diehard Jane Austen purist will have difficulty finding fault with Ms. Bebris' take on the beloved Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. 

In The Intrigue at Highbury, Darcy and Elizabeth are traveling and passing through the village of Highbury, allowing them to be introduced to the wonderful characters from Emma, and allowing us readers to be reintroduced to them after the joyous marriage of Mr. Knightley and Emma Woodhouse.  The book begins roughly a month after their nuptials and we find Emma just as scheming in her matchmaking plans, Mr. Knightley just as dashing, Mr. Woodhouse as much of a worrier, Miss Bates as much of a talker and Mrs. Elton as pretentious as ever. 

As with the previous books in the series, a mystery abounds and who better than Mr. and Mrs. Darcy to solve it?  No complaints here.  Despite the setting in Highbury, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are most definitely the main characters and they carry this book with aplomb.  The mystery is satisfying, leaving you feeling pleasantly satiated at the conclusion of the book.

I tore through this book quickly, anxious not only for the answer to "whodunnit" but also immensely enjoying the těte á těte with the Darcys.  Ms. Bebris continues to defy the concept that sequels get weaker as they go and she continues to breathe new energy into the busy Pride and Prejudice variation/sequels genre.

As happy as I was to read The Intrigue at Highbury I was sad to bid my beloved Darcys goodbye once more, until Ms. Bebris gifts us with another book.  And good news on that front - - the next book being a take on Persuasion!

I would not hesitate to recommend The Intrigue at Highbury to any reader who is partial to Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and/or cozy mysteries.  In fact, I would highly recommend this book, or any of the books in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries series, and without hesitation.

The Intrigue at Highbury (Or Emma's Match) is available for purchase at major booksellers now, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Carrie Bebris, please visit her website.

To read my review of Pride and Prescience (Book 1 in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries series), please go here.

FTC Disclosure: This book was borrowed from my local public library. I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.

August 8, 2011

MAILBOX MONDAY: August 8, 2011




Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house during the previous week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists! Mailbox Monday was started by Marcia and each month a new blogger hosts the memo.  During August, Staci at Life in the Thumb will be hosting.  

Here are the goodies I received last week: 

Creep by Jennifer Hillier (received from Gallery Books for review)

SYNOPSIS:  Pulsing with the dark obsession of Radiohead’s song “Creep,” this taut thriller—Jennifer Hillier’s superb debut—rockets from its seductive opening to a heartpounding climax not easily forgotten.  

If he can’t have her . . . 

Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren’t, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she’s finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she’s taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won’t let her walk away. 

. . . no one else can. 

Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancé discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn’t resist—who is now the monster who won’t let her go.

The Psychopath Test:  A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson (borrowed from my local public library)

SYNOPSIS:  In this madcap journey, a bestselling journalist investigates psychopaths and the industry of doctors, scientists, and everyone else who studies them. 

The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues. And so Ronson, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, enters the corridors of power. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud in Coxsackie, New York; a legendary CEO whose psychopathy has been speculated about in the press; and a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane who insists he's sane and certainly not a psychopath. 

Ronson not only solves the mystery of the hoax but also discovers, disturbingly, that sometimes the personalities at the helm of the madness industry are, with their drives and obsessions, as mad in their own way as those they study. And that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their maddest edges.

Hmmmm, I'm sensing a theme with the books I received last week.  A psychotic one, maybe?  Certainly does go with my site name, doesn't it?  

What goodies arrived in your mailbox last week?  






August 3, 2011

Giveaway: MINI ORGANIZER

In addition to my proud book reviewer status, I am also a proud new independent consultant with Thirty-One.  I love their bags, totes, wallets, accessories and organizers - - the products are attractive, durable and most can be personalized. 

The Mini Organizer in Paparazzi Dot
To kick off my new business, I am giving away a Mini Organizer to a lucky reader!  The Mini Organizer is absolutely fabulous - - a roomy inner compartment, with multiple outside pockets, allowing you to carry your books, arts and craft supplies, gardening supplies or you can even use yours as a small diaper bag or carry all for the kids.  The Mini Organizer also makes a darling gift for a baby shower, bridal shower or even for a new teacher - - simply fill it with baby products, bridal goods or school supplies.  Options are limitless!  The Mini Organizer comes in a choice of four fabrics - - Black Parisian Pop, Paparazzi Dot, Pin Dots or Pink Circle Spirals - - the lucky winner gets to choose the fabric of his or her choice. 

How to win this great little bag?  Simple!  Visit my Thirty-One site and let me know what item from our fall/winter collection is your favorite and why.  Comment on this post with your choice and you're entered to win. 

Visit my site at www.mythirtyone.com/70333

The Mini Organizer in Pin Dots (accessories not included)
U.S. residents only, please.  No email address with entry = NO ENTRY!

If you repost or Tweet this giveaway, you will get 5 extra entries. 

Contest to end on Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. PST and the lucky winner drawn by randomizer.org on Sunday, August 14, 2011. 

Good luck!