The Hollywood Life in Fiction

The Hollywood life is a glamorous one – at least that’s what it looks like on Oscar night. However, in three recent novels we’ve read (and loved), it seems celebrity is far more fleeting.

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty gives us a slightly different look at the Hollywood life – an outsider’s look at the early life of silent film star Louise Brooks. It’s 1922 and Louise Brooks needs a chaperone while she goes to New York City to attend the Denishawn School of Dance. Cora Carlisle has her own need to visit New York City so decides to take the opportunity to accompany the free-spirited fifteen-year-old Louise. After the trying summer with Louise is over, we follow Cora throughout the rest of her life and catch glimpses of Louise’s success and failures along the way.

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub takes us on a journey spanning decades from rural Wisconsin to the bright lights of Hollywood. The book follows Laura from her childhood in Wisconsin in 1929 when she was simply Elsa Emerson to the height of her career during the “Golden Age” of Hollywood and finally to her later years filled with struggle and heartbreak. While Laura Lamont is a fictional starlet, while reading you get the sense that this is the story lived by many women that went to Hollywood with big dreams.

We’ve mentioned this one before, but this just goes to show how much we enjoyed it. 😉 Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter opens in 1962 with a beautiful American actress – Dee Moray – appearing on the rocky beach of a small Italian inn owned by Pasquale. A bond forms between the innkeeper and the actress, but they’re separated and decades later Pasquale appears at the office of a film producer in search of Dee. As the story unfolds, we visit the movie set of Cleopatra, a film studio in Hollywood, and a small theater in Idaho and along the way we learn of the missed opportunities and loss experienced by each character.

Interested in non-fiction? Try…

Do you have a favorite Hollywood story (fiction or non-fiction)? Share it with us in the comments.


Retelling Fairy Tales: Cinderella

Aschenputtel. Cenerentola. Cendrillon. Cinder Maid. Yeh-Shen. Tam. She’s known by many names in many cultures and she’s the star of one of the most popular fairy tales: Cinderella. The tale of a girl rising from the ashes is still popular in literature today (and on the big & small screens) with many Cinder-girl remixes published over the years. We’ve got descriptions of some of our favorites below and more titles on our Fairy Tales board on Pinterest. And remember, fairy tales make children more intelligent! Albert Einstein said so. 😉

Twisted Cinderella Tales:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A cyborg Cinderella featuring all the basics: a ball, a “slipper”, an evil stepmother/caretaker, step sisters, a prince, non-human friends, and a “godmother”. Of course, the bonus is that there’s also an evil Queen! Cinder is the first book in a four-part series called the Lunar Chronicles. Rumor has it the other books will be based on fairy tales, too. (Cinder is also available for your listening pleasure in our downloadable audiobooks collection.)

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli
In a novel based on Chinese Cinderella tales, fourteen-year-old stepchild Xing-Xing endures a life of neglect and servitude, as her stepmother cruelly mutilates her own child’s feet so that she alone might marry well.

Bewitching by Alex Flinn
Tells the story of Kendra, a witch (we first met her in Beastly), and the first three-hundred years of her life, including takes on a classic fairy tale, the 1666 plague in Britain, the Titanic disaster, and the story of a modern-day, plain stepsister.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
At birth, Ella of Frell was given the gift of obedience by a fairy. Ella soon realizes that this gift is little better than a curse, for how can she truly be herself if at any time anyone can order her to hop on one foot, or cut off her hand, or betray her kingdom–and she’ll have to obey? Ella’s quest to break the curse and discover who she really is, is both funny and poignant. (Ella Enchanted is also available via OneClickDigital.)

Ash by Malinda Lo
In this variation on the Cinderella story, Ash grows up believing in the fairy realm that the king and his philosophers have sought to suppress, until one day she must choose between a handsome fairy cursed to love her and the King’s Huntress whom she loves.

Also check out: 

More fairy tale fun:

Are we missing your favorite retelling of Cinderella? Tell us in the comments!

New Non-Fiction eAudioBook Titles!

Nonfiction gets a bad reputation. Many assume non-fiction is full of boring, dry facts, but not all nonfiction is as dull as the dictionary! We have some great non-fiction titles in our downloadable audio book collection that are fascinating listens.

Take a look at the titles below — each a mix of psychology, business, & advice — and see if anything strikes your fancy!

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
A fascinating look at the habits we have and how we can create new habits or break old ones. Duhigg includes anecdotes about successful habit  breakers, changers, & keepers (including Michael Phelps), plus Duhigg’s website includes excerpts, infographics, and tales of habits in government, business, and life.

Additional formats: Hardcover | Audio Book CD

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Demonstrates how introverted people are misunderstood and undervalued in modern culture, charting the rise of extrovert ideology while sharing anecdotal examples of how to use introvert talents to adapt to various situations. A great listen for educators and parents. Cain’s website also includes great bonus content like an introvert/extrovert quiz and links to her TEDTalk.

Additional formats: Hardcover | Audio Book CD

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom
Lindstrom presents the startling findings from his three-year, seven-million-dollar neuromarketing study, a cutting-edge experiment that peered inside the brains of 2,000 volunteers from all around the world as they encountered various ads, logos, commercials, brands, and products. Sound interesting? You might also like Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill.

Additional formats: Hardcover | Audio Book CD

Want more interesting & informative non-fiction listens? Try these:

New SciFi & Fantasy eAudioBook Titles!

We’ve added some great new titles to our downloadable audio book collection. In addition to already popular titles like The Hunger Games and The Help, we’ve added even more bestselling titles for your listening pleasure. Below are a few of the Sci-Fi & Fantasy titles we’ve added!

11/22/63 by Stephen King – On November 22, 1963, three shots changed the world. What if it never happened? Jake Epping is a 35-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane, and insanely impossible, mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. Also listen to King classics: Misery and The Stand.

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin – The fifth installment of Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. Haven’t listened to the first four books? We’ve got those available, too!

1. A Game of Thrones
2. A Clash of Kings
3. A Storm of Swords
4. A Feast for Crows

Wither & Fever by Lauren DeStefano – The first two books in the Chemical Garden trilogy. Listen to the tale of Rhine – a 16-year-old girl forced into marriage in an effort to keep the population growing. A great listen for fans of The Hunger Games and Delirium.

Starters by Lissa Price – To support herself and her younger brother in a future Beverly Hills, sixteen-year-old Callie hires her body out to seniors who want to experience being young again, and she lives a fairy-tale life until she learns that her body will commit murder, unless her mind can stop it. (Another good one for fans of The Hunger Games!)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Are you an Elizabeth Moon fan? Give RPO a listen! It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS–a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be… (And the audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton!)

Don’t forget you can browse the collection by genre, just use the drop-down menu to glance through Romance, Suspense, and History titles.

Bossypants Readalikes

Did you read Tina Fey’s hilarious memoir, Bossypants, last year? Are you looking for more laughs from female comediennes to help you get through the upcoming hot desert summer? Good news! There are more great reads out now from funny ladies and I’m not talking about just more from Chelsea Handler (though we do love her, too).

Also check out the works of these wonderfully witty women:

We’ll keep you up-to-date on more books like these on our Pinterest Board: Funny Ladies — Be sure to follow us!

For even more humorous memoirs and essays, check out this printable readalikes list for Bossypants.

Are we missing your favorite funny lady? Tell us in the comments!

Listened to a good book lately?

Audio books are a great way to pass the time on road trips, morning walks, house cleaning, and long commutes. We have a great collection of audio books available on CD and Playaway, plus we have downloadable audio books for your iPods and MP3 players (there’s even an app for iOS)!

Here are just a few of the titles available for your listening pleasure: