Friday, July 10, 2020

All That Heaven Allows by Mark Griffin

All That Heaven Allows by Mark Griffin
Release Date - December 4, 2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 469 pages
My Rating - 5/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The definitive biography of the deeply complex and widely misunderstood matinee idol of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Devastatingly handsome, broad-shouldered and clean-cut, Rock Hudson was the ultimate movie star. The embodiment of romantic masculinity in American film throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, Hudson reigned supreme as the king of Hollywood.

As an Oscar-nominated leading man, Hudson won acclaim for his performances in glossy melodramas (Magnificent Obsession), western epics (Giant) and blockbuster bedroom farces (Pillow Talk). In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hudson successfully transitioned to television; his long-running series McMillan & Wife and a recurring role on Dynasty introduced him to a whole new generation of fans.

The icon worshipped by moviegoers and beloved by his colleagues appeared to have it all. Yet beneath the suave and commanding star persona, there was an insecure, deeply conflicted, and all too vulnerable human being. Growing up poor in Winnetka, Illinois, Hudson was abandoned by his biological father, abused by an alcoholic stepfather, and controlled by his domineering mother.

Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Hudson was determined to become an actor at all costs. After signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson, the young hopeful was transformed from a clumsy, tongue-tied truck driver into Universal Studio’s resident Adonis. In a more conservative era, Hudson’s wholesome, straight arrow screen image was at odds with his closeted homosexuality.

As a result of his gay relationships and clandestine affairs, Hudson was continually threatened with public exposure, not only by scandal sheets like Confidential but by a number of his own partners. For years, Hudson dodged questions concerning his private life, but in 1985 the public learned that the actor was battling AIDS. The disclosure that such a revered public figure had contracted the illness focused worldwide attention on the epidemic.

Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions, All That Heaven Allows finally delivers a complete and nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating stars in cinema history.

Author Mark Griffin provides new details concerning Hudson’s troubled relationships with wife Phyllis Gates and boyfriend Marc Christian. And here, for the first time, is an in-depth exploration of Hudson’s classic films, including Written on the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, and the cult favorite Seconds. With unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, Griffin pays homage to the idol whose life and death had a lasting impact on American culture.
After watching Ryan Murphy's Hollywood I was particularly excited to read All That Heaven Allows. I was intrigued by that television's fiction version of a Hollywood star I knew little about. This book offers a look at the life and career of Rock Hudon that, perhaps fittingly, keeps the reader at arms length.

My biggest takeaway from this book is that Rock Hudson was a kind, flirtatious man who loved acting and had a strong drive to succeed. He was shaped by his manager Henry Wilson (who is infamous for being awful) into a glamorous movie star but never lost his small town boy nature.

The author, Mark Griffin, is meticulous when it comes to Rock Hudson's career. He goes through each role Rock played and offers some anecdotes about each one. It is sure to please the fans of his film career as that is where most of the details are held. This had the double edge sword , however, of eventually feeling repetitive. It may have given a through account of his career but it left me wanting to know more about the man behind those performances.

Rock Hudson wanted to hide a lot of himself from the public. He was open with those in his circle but was mostly a private person. This is particularly true with his sexuality. It way have been an open secret in Hollywood that Rock Hudson was gay but it was not something the general public knew. Rock Hudson is perhaps most associated with the AIDS crisis for most people as he was one of the first celebrities to be diagnosed and die from the virus. This book, I felt, did a decent job at not giving that fact the focus of the book. It feels more like a celebration of his career than a look at his death.

Those looking for a salacious sexual tell all will not find that here. Rock's various relationships (and some casual hookups) were peppered throughout but they are mostly included to give nuance to Rock's mindset and other events that were happening.

I left this book feeling like I knew more about Rock Hudson than I did before starting it and so in that respect the author has succeeded. However, I feel this is a surface, brief outline portrait of a man who was surely more complex than what is painted within these pages. Those wanting an overview of his career are going to be satisfied but those wanting more of a picture of the man behind the movie star will probably end up reading another biography after. I personally finished wanting to watch more of his movies, and something tells me that Rock Hudson himself may have wanted it that way.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Empire High Untouchables Release Day Celebration!

Today we are celebrating the release of EMPIRE HIGH UNTOUCHABLES by Ivy Smoak! This is a contemporary romance, standalone title that is available now in Kindle Unlimited.

Join Ivy's Group for access to bonus content from the book.

Read it Here (Kindle Unlimited)

Join Ivy's Facebook Group for Details.

Empire High Untouchables by Ivy Smoak

A Contemporary Romance | Available now in Kindle Unlimited
Add it to Goodreads

Book Blurb: The Untouchables. That’s what everyone calls the Hunter and Caldwell brothers. At least, it’s my best friend’s nickname for them. And since she’s the only one that talks to me at my new school, I’ll take her word for it. The nickname probably comes from the fact that they’re exorbitantly wealthy. Old wealth. The kind that isn’t flaunted around. But you can tell by the way they carry themselves. Or maybe the name just refers to the fact that they’re so beautiful it’s almost hard to look at them. No matter the reason for their nickname, it’s an ironic one. Because I’ve only been going to this school for a week and I already want to touch.

Read it Here (Kindle Unlimited)


 ★★★★★ “My favorite book this year!!”
★★★★★ “Gahh! My heart. I adored this book.”
★★★★★ “Oh my, plot twist! I did NOT see that one coming!”
★★★★★ “It’s literally IMPOSSIBLE to put down.”
★★★★★ “Buckle in for this emotional roller coaster!”

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Ivy Smoak is the international bestselling author of The Hunted series. When she's not writing, you can find her binge watching too many TV shows, taking long walks, playing outside, and generally refusing to act like an adult. She lives with her husband in Delaware.  


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Waiting On Wednesday ... The Project

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is The Project by Courtney Summers

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The next pulls-no-punches thriller from New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author Courtney Summers, about an aspiring young journalist determined to save her sister from a cult.

"The Unity Project saved my life."

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo's sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there's more to the group than meets the eye. She's spent the last six years of her life trying--and failing--to prove it.

"The Unity Project murdered my son."

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its charismatic and mysterious leader, Lev Warren, he proposes a deal: if she can prove the worst of her suspicions about The Unity Project, she may expose them. If she can't, she must finally leave them alone.

But as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members, and spends more time with Lev, it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her--to the point she can no longer tell what's real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn't know if she can afford not to.

Welcome to The Unity Project. 
It should not come as a surprise that I, as someone with an interest in true crime, would also be fascinated by cults. It is the psychology behind them that I find most fascinating.

It should also come as no surprise that I would be very interested in a book about cults written by Courtney Summers. If you've ever read a Courtney Summers book before you know that she is capable of ripping your heart out in the best possible way. I am expecting that her version of a cult leader is going to be a thing to behold and I cannot wait to meet him.

The marketing of this one has been really clever (the video tease was amazing) and I am looking forward to see what else the publisher has in store as the release date approaches.

This doesn't come out until February. Just go ahead and consider it your anti-Valentine.

Expected release date - February 2, 2021

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy
Release Date - July 7, 2020
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’, comes the first in a two-book origin story of Faith, a groundbreaking, plus-sized superhero from the Valiant Entertainment comics.

Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove.

So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly….

When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her.

But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school.

But when her investigation puts the people she loves in danger, she will have to confront her hidden past and use her newfound gifts—risking everything to save her friends and beloved town.
The moment I heard that Julie Murphy was writing a superhero story featuring a plus sized female superhero I knew I had to get my hands on it. Faith: Taking Flight is an origin story that hits all of the superhero genre tropes while making them fit the story being told in a way that feels fresh.

I had no clue that this book is based off a comic. I should not have been surprised as this is revealed in the synopsis. It means that this story comes with some expectations for those who have read the comics. I have no clue how close this sticks to those comics, but it is an origin story. This focuses on Faith getting and learning about her powers. It is her journey to embracing her power and I think that makes the story relatable for anyone wanting to pick it up.

This book's tone is lighter and more fun than I was expecting. It does get a little more serious but it never loses that tone of fun and wonder. Faith's personality reflects the tone of the novel in a lot of ways and I found they complicated each other well.

This book really is Faith's journey of getting to know herself and who she is. She is testing out her powers and learning what having them means for who she is and how she sees herself. She is also, however, just learning about who she is in general. It drives a lot of the book including the romance/possible love triangle. Faith is still figuring out her sexuality and what label feels right to her and that is reflected in the connections she is making.

The romance (one of them at least) is more complicated than it first appears and I love how it eventually ties things together. It made the inclusion of this story arc feel integral to both the story and the character development. Most of the angst comes from relationships (both romantic and otherwise) so it is very on brand as most superhero stories pull their emotional beats from the relationships within them.

Every superhero needs a good sidekick and Faith has two of them. Ches and Matt are her best friends. They are all (mostly) supportive of one another even though they do not know Faith's secret. I love that all of Faith's relationships were all important to her. Her family, friends, and potential love interests all mattered and influence who she is as a character.

This is a duology so expect the book to end in such a way that will propel the story into the next book. It is not a cliffhanger per say but something that will pique your interest in the follow up. It is just as fun and joyous as the rest of the book (mostly) is.

If you are looking for a fun superhero read with a character who is just trying to figure out who she is (while also learning to fly) I would recommend picking up Faith: Taking Flight.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli

Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli
Release Date - June 30, 2020
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 128 pages
My Rating - 5/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Fall in love all over again with the characters from the bestselling Simonverse novels in this highly anticipated epilogue novella. Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli, the movie Love, Simon, and the new Hulu series spin-off, Love, Victor!

It’s been more than a year since Simon and Blue turned their anonymous online flirtation into an IRL relationship, and just a few months since Abby and Leah’s unforgettable night at senior prom.

Now the Creekwood High crew are first years at different colleges, navigating friendship and romance the way their story began—on email.
Love, Creekwood is a book I never expected to get. It wasn't something that Becky Albertalli thought she would write and we had already been given the gift of Leah On The Offbeat which left our beloved characters on the cusp of college. It felt right and like the natural ending to their story. I didn't think we needed one last check in with these characters and I am so glad to be wrong.

Love, Creekwood is a novella written as emails between the Simonverse characters. It is a short, quick, but emotion packed read that gives fans of these books exactly what they are hoping for.

Becky Albertalli nails the different voices that are used here. They all sound really unique and recognizable as the characters. It felt like the author effortlessly slipped back into Simon's perspective because his voice felt so natural. These may be emails but a sense of who these characters are and what they are dealing with come through this narration style.

The emails in question range from humourous, to beautifully romantic, and everything in between. They are often all of those things at once. It is the achingly romantic parts that will thrill readers most of all. These are some good emails. They are so swoony that I predict many readers will want their own love letters after reading this. It is hard to not be completely enamored with this gift to the fans because ever single word is written for them.

A story that feels like it offers the perfect final chapter on the story of Simon and his friends. It leaves the group in a place that is filled with hope, and maybe some nervous excitement. It doesn't answer every question but that is how it should be. They are still growing, learning, and finding themselves and that is what rings the most true in this story.

Fans will absolutely love this novella that feels like it was written specifically for them. It is filled with everything you love in a Becky Albertalli book and more. If you missed Simon and the gang as much as I did I highly encourage you to pick this up immediately.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Monthly Wrap Up and TBR

So we're at the beginning of another month. Everything feels so upside down because June was a really strange month. Things have slowly been reopening here and while I haven't been going out a lot I have ventured out to get things a bit more, and have gotten to see family. It's both extremely nice and extremely weird at the same time.

Before I get into what I am hoping to read in July I have to wrap up June. I read more than I expected I would based on how strange this month has felt and what it has meant for my focus.

The books that were on my list are:

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (goodreads)
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (goodreads)
Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre (goodreads)
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (goodreads)

Plus I had some ebooks on my list:

She Died Famous by Kyle Rutkin (goodreads)
All That Heaven Allows by Mark Griffin (goodreads)
The Falling In Love Montage by Ciara Smyth (goodreads)
Seasons of the Storm by Elle Cosimano (goodreads)
You Say It First by Katie Cotugno (goodreads)

I managed to read a few books this month and most of them were not on my list at all. At this point I am just accepting that I am not very good at this.

Here is what I managed to read in June:

Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Kim (goodreads)
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (goodreads)
Seasons of the Storm by Elle Cosimano (goodreads)
All That Heaven Allows by Mark Griffin (goodreads)
Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli (goodreads)

My #2020PopCultureResolution book for June was All That Heaven Allows by Mark Griffin and the movie was Rear Window. My review of the movie was already posted if you were interested in checking that out.

Here is what I hope to read in July:

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (goodreads)
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (goodreads)
The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (goodreads)
Who Killed These Girls by Beverly Lowry (goodreads)

I also have some ebooks I am hoping to get to

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson (goodreads)
Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy (goodreads)
More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn (goodreads)
Mayhem by Estelle Laure (goodreads)

My July #2020PopCultureResolution choices are Who Killed These Girls by Beverly Lowry for the book and Penny Serenade for the movie. I have heard really good things about Penny Serenade so I am especially looking forward to watching that this month.

What books are you reading this month? Have you read any of the ones on my list? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Waiting On Wednesday .... Spoiler Alert

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Olivia Dade bursts onto the scene in this delightfully fun romantic comedy set in the world of fanfiction, in which a devoted fan goes on an unexpected date with her celebrity crush, who’s secretly posting fanfiction of his own. 

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he's known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster.  Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.

Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled? 
This books just sounds really cute. I love the idea of a book that incorporates fanfiction in some way. I also love romance novels so this mixing both of those is a bonus.

It just seems like a sweet, really fun read. It doesn't come out until the fall but I predict it'll be an excellent pairing with a warm blanket and hot beverage to make the perfect cozy fall day.

Expected release date - October 6, 2020

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