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Thursday, August 6, 2015

On Tour: Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler - Review + Excerpt

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Rachel Stuhler is now on tour with CLP Blog Tours with her book, Absolutely True Lies. Please visit her page for more blog stops.

Absolutely True Lies
by Rachel Stuhler

Genre: Chick Lit, Humor, Romance, Drama
Publication: May 26th 2015
Format: ebook
Source: ARC, CLP Blog Tours, NetGalley
Connect: Website | Facebook
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
A fledgling entertainment writer stumbles into the gig of a lifetime writing a teenage pop star’s memoir and soon realizes that the young celebrity's squeaky-clean image is purely a work of fiction.

Struggling writer Holly Gracin is on the verge of moving back home to upstate New York when she gets hired to write the memoirs of eighteen-year-old Daisy Mae Dixson, a former Nickelodeon child star who has moved seamlessly into both blockbuster movies and pop music.

Holly quickly realizes that Daisy’s wholesome public image is purely a work of fiction, as Holly finds herself trailing the star as she travels around the world on yachts, gets stalked by paparazzi, and sneaks out of five-star hotels in the dead of night.

As Holly struggles to write a flattering portrait of a teenage millionaire who only eats “nightshades” and treats her employees like slaves, Daisy has a public meltdown—and suddenly, her book is the cornerstone of resurrecting her image. But working at all hours trailing a pop star has taken its toll, and Holly must decide if becoming the ultimate insider is worth losing a starring role in her own life.

Fun, juicy, and inspired by Rachel Stuhler’s own stranger-than-fiction experiences as a celebrity ghost writer, Absolutely True Lies is an entertaining look at how the lifestyles of the rich and famous aren’t always what they seem.
Wow! Absolutely True Lies was absolutely fun read. I loved it from the first chapter, and was glad that this book didn't disappoint. I think the author did a very good job with this book. I enjoyed the author's writing. It was fun and easy to get into. The plot was well written.

While Holly sounded like a likeable and relatable character, I have to say that I like the supporting characters more. It was fun to see a bit of the glamorous Hollywood life through Daisy Mae Dixson, an eighteen- year-old former Nickelodeon star. She sounded so sweet at the beginning, and slowly began to show who she really was.

There was a bit of romance in the book between Holly, Vaughn and Ben. I didn't really enjoy the side story, but it was alright. I'm glad that the romance part didn't overshadow the story of Holly and how she was going to write as the ghostwriter for Daisy. 

I like how the book ended. There was a bit of twists that I really did not see it coming. I like this book, and didn't want the story to end. I wanted to read more about the Hollywood glamorous life! Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler is a fun, light and entertaining read. I'm sure fans of Chick Lit, as well as those who enjoyed reading about Hollywood would enjoy this book.

I received a copy of Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler from the author/CLP Blog Tours/NetGalley as part of the book tour.
Excerpt Absolutely True Lies
Rachel Stuhler

By 1:00 a.m., Camille and I were staggering out of the bar at the Chateau Marmont, where, if I hadn’t been drunk off my ass, I might have sworn that we were standing about twenty feet away from Adele. I could have just walked up and talked to her if I’d really wanted to be sure, but you learn quickly to ignore the celebrities in their natural habitats. That, and I’m just too chicken. It’s probably why, after four years, I didn’t have a single really juicy celebrity story.

Cam and I stumbled out onto Sunset Boulevard and got all the way to the curb before it occurred to either of us that we hadn’t called a cab. She pulled out her phone and loaded Uber, squinting at the swirling cars in the area. It’s one of the perks of living in a big city that you can find a local cab in the middle of the night just by pressing a few buttons. At least, you can on a smartphone. Mine only makes phone calls and you have to press the two halves together tightly to get that to happen.

“Do we pay more for a taxi or use UberX? I’m sure there are lots of people out tonight looking for a few extra bucks.”

“Taxi. I’m not getting in some rando’s car.” I couldn’t help but think how many torture porn movies start just this way, two girls alone on dark street, climbing into an anonymous car. Not that Sunset is ever particularly dark or empty, even in the middle of the night.

“Shit,” Camille said, rubbing her eye tiredly and smearing eyeliner down her face. “I told Donovan I’d be home by midnight at the latest.”

Donovan is Camille’s fake producer/poser/live-in boyfriend. He’s forty-two, his real name is Donnie, and the only thing he’s produced in the last ten years is a tuna fish sandwich. But like most people in L.A., he’s always got some “big project” in the works and wants toattach me as the writer. Every few months, he corners me in their apartment and tells me about what he’s supposedly working on, and each time, the roster of producers and so-called investors changes. I’m never sure if these are guys he met down at the Laundromat or if he’s just randomly picking names off the Internet. And though Cam refuses to believe it, Donovan’s been trying to knock her up for the last year, just so he knows he’ll never be alone. The guy’s a real winner.

“Oh, what does he care? He’s just on the couch watching infomercials and eating Hershey’s miniatures.” The man has an unnatural obsession with child-size bars of chocolate.

“He doesn’t like to be alone at night,” Camille whined, sympathy creeping into her tone. “And you know Donovan’s had a lot of trouble with his weight the last couple years. He says he feels more in control of his snacking with the miniatures.”

“He’s not in control if he’s eating the whole bag,” I replied, leaning on a streetlamp to keep from falling off the curb.

“I know, I know,” she said, shaking her head with a level of empathy I couldn’t understand. “It’s just that the financing on his latest project fell apart and he’s very depressed. He says we can’t afford to get engaged this year because he just doesn’t have the money for a ring. Like I care about a stupid diamond.”

They’ve been together for five years. Every year he tells her they can’t afford to get engaged, even though Camille makes well over a hundred grand. Usually I can keep my opinion of that bottom-feeder to myself, but on this night, I was too far into J├Ąger country to keep my mouth shut.

“What is it with you and that loser? There are, like, four million eligible men in Los Angeles and you can’t get away from a guy who thinks leather pants are appropriate funeral attire.” Understandably, this riled her up a bit. “Four million eligible men? This from the woman who hasn’t gotten laid since Obama’s first term? Where are all these eligible men? Huh?”

She had me there. I paused for a moment and put on my most serious, contemplative expression. “Well... I’m sure they must be around here somewhere.” I turned my head to the right and left, but all I saw were similarly inebriated Angelenos leaving the bars and clubs, most of them laughing or shouting obnoxiously. It wasn’t doing much for my cause. “If you’ll just give me a minute, I’ll find one for you.”

I spun around just in time to see a forty-year-old guy with slicked back, thinning hair pull up in a Bimmer. He lowered the passenger window and leaned over to talk to us. “Marmont’s played out for the night. Get in and I’ll take you to this after-hours in Silver Lake.”

“Is that the guy you were looking for?” Camille asked.

“Clock’s ticking, ladies.” No lie, the guy even held his wrist out and tapped the face of his watch. I think it was a Rolex, but for all I know, it was a fake—either good or bad. Fifty bucks or fifty thousand, they all look the same to me.

“No one’s getting in your car, asshole,” I told him.

Camille took things one step further, moving to kick the guy’s passenger door. As drunk as I was, I had the presence of mind top pull her back, lest she put us both on the receiving end of an arrest warrant. “And come on, loser, you’re forty! What are you doing at after-hours clubs?”

“Screw you,” Bimmer Man said. “There are plenty of hotter girls than you out tonight.” He gave us the middle finger before swerving back out into traffic.

There was a long moment as we watched him go before Camille gave me the annoyingly smug look I knew was coming. “Please, go on, Holly. You were telling me about these four million eligible men?”

“Shut up and pick a taxi.”
Excerpt Absolutely True Lies
Rachel Stuhler

Three steps inside the door, so many things happened at once, I could hardly process them all. On stage, the DJ gave a loud shoutout to Daisy, prompting the crowd to go wild. At the same time, our group was herded up to a VIP level above the dance floor, and before we reached the room, all of us but Daisy were banded with red paper strips and she had a black X scrawled across the back of her hand. This relieved me somewhat, as I hadn’t been able to figure out why an underage girl was parading into a club in full view of the cameras. I figured no one would stop her from actually drinking, but I just couldn’t imagine she’d be dumb enough to do it while people were filming her.

“What is this place?” I yelled loudly to Daisy as we settled into a large red velvet couch.

“New club, just opened,” she shouted back. Jameson walked by us and handed her a large plastic cup with MOUNTAIN DEW on the side. “They paid us fifty grand to show up.”

“Fifty grand?” I asked incredulously. No wonder she could afford to hire a biographer—she could cover my salary with one night’s work. If you could call this work. “What do you have to do?”

“Nothing much,” Daisy said. “We just need to hang out for an hour or two, I’ll walk over to the balcony a couple of times and pretend to dance, and then we can go home.” She seemed to remember something, snapping her fingers for Jameson, who handed her a cell phone without a word. “Oh, and one more thing.”

Daisy set down her cup and turned so that her back was to the main part of the room. She raised her phone and put on a bright, fun smile. I’m sure there was a photo click during some portion of this, but I certainly wouldn’t have heard it. “Selfies!”

I hate the word selfie. It’s a tween’s word, rammed into our cultural consciousness and now spoken by everyone from the president to the Dalai Lama. I know it’s a perfectly legitimate word these days, but I refuse to utter it out loud. “Who are the pictures for?”

“My tweeties,” Daisy answered, never taking her eyes away from her phone. She tap-tapped for all of one second before passing the phone back to Jamie. It was lightning-quick.

“You already got that up on Twitter?” I asked. “You’re fast.”

At this, Daisy and Jamie turned to each other and laughed, sharing their first moment of true camaraderie in front of me. “I don’t handle my own social media. What am I, a hobo? Or a reality star? I have people who handle these things.”

Jamie crossed behind me, leaning in to my ear. Despite the level of background noise, I heard him pretty clearly. “We don’t even give her the passwords. Trust me, it’s for the best.”

Her “work” now done, Daisy picked up her cup and leaned back on the couch, yawning. I used to feel sorry for celebrities who couldn’t take two steps without a bodyguard and a camera in their faces, but my sympathy died in that Miami club. In fact, I was pretty angry. I practically lived in gangland, and she was getting paid to sit on a couch, drink soda, and fake-smile for her millions of fans on the Internet. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so obligated to waste my night keeping her company.

Axel and Sharla, already with drinks in their hands, ran over to me.

“Dance?” Sharla shouted, holding out her hand to me. Axel hadn’t waited for us; he was twirling right there in the VIP section.

“No, thanks,” I answered her. I thought I had refused loud enough, but Sharla grabbed my hand and yanked me up off the couch. Either I was screaming for nothing or it didn’t matter what I wanted. I looked back at Daisy. “You coming?”

“Can’t,” she said. “Security issues. No one in their right mind would put a celeb in the middle of a dance floor.”

Perhaps some tiny bit of sympathy should have returned, but it didn’t. Maybe Daisy was forced to be bored out of her mind for a couple of hours, but it was for money. And I was stuck in a smelly, sticky, hundred-degree club where I didn’t know anyone and I hadn’t eaten in twelve hours. I seriously wouldn’t have cared if cleaning the toilets was a requisite for Daisy collecting her fee.

So I made my way downstairs and out onto the dance floor, completely sober but wishing I was blackout drunk. I was tempted to grab a drink—Axel and Sharla sure seemed to be mixing business with pleasure—but I didn’t really know the rules for this sort of thing. If there were any rules. I was also afraid of getting wasted and calling Jameson a weirdo or, worse, telling Daisy I was starting to think she was a moron.

I was dancing for less than five minutes when a sweaty guy with a ponytail and a shirt open to his navel sauntered up to me and starting grinding against my leg. I resisted the urge to vomit on him, but the floor was so packed, I really had nowhere to go. It was even hotter out on the floor than upstairs, and as my body swelled a bit, I suddenly couldn’t catch my breath. People began looking wavy and out of focus, and their crazy gyrations didn’t help.

Axel spotted me trying to squirm away from Mr. South Beach and fought his way over. Without a single look to the other guy, Axel wiggled between the two of us and began dancing with me. He had just put an arm around my waist when everything went black

Author Bio:

Rachel Stuhler grew up in Rochester, NY, so obsessed with movies and books that she spent as little time as possible in the real world. In her late teens, this obsession led her first to New York as a terrible production assistant and then to Los Angeles, where she spent four years working as a script supervisor (and pining after writing jobs) until one day an actor told her, “If you think you can do it better yourself, just do it.”

Within a year, Rachel had sold TV movies to Lifetime and Hallmark and because she doesn’t know when to quit, began dreaming of writing a novel. After forcing countless crew members, family, and friends to read manuscripts, Rachel came to write Absolutely True Lies. She continues to work on TV movies and plot her next move in world domination, or writing about world domination, which is more fun and a lot less work.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Review: On the Road with Del and Louise: A Novel in Stories by Art Taylor

On the Road with Del and Louise: A Novel in Stories
by Art Taylor

Genre: Mystery, Short Stories, Fiction, Drama, Romance
Publication: September 15th, 2015 by Henery Press
Format: ebooks
Source: NetGalley
Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Del’s a small time crook with a moral conscience—robbing convenience stores only for tuition and academic expenses. Brash and sassy Louise goes from being a holdup victim to Del’s lover and accomplice. All they want is a fresh start, an honest life, and a chance to build a family together, but fate conspires to put ever-steeper challenges in their path—and escalating temptations, too.

A real estate scam in recession-blighted Southern California. A wine heist in Napa Valley. A Vegas wedding chapel holdup. A kidnapping in an oil-rich North Dakota boomtown. Can Del and Louise stay on the right side of the law? On one another’s good side? And when they head back to Louise’s hometown in North Carolina, what new trouble will prove the biggest: Louise’s nagging mama or a hidden adversary seemingly intent on tearing the couple apart? Or could those be one and the same?

From screwball comedy to domestic drama, and from caper tale to traditional whodunit, these six stories offer suspense with a side of romance—and a little something for all tastes.

I'm not sure what to expect when I first read this book, but, the title and the cover look fun, and I decided to give it a try. Del and Louise met when Del robbed the convenience store where Louise was working at, and he asked her out. All they wanted was a fresh start and an honest life. That was when their journey began. But it wasn't easy. Trouble seemed to follow them wherever they go, and forcing them to break the law again.

I really like how the story begins. The author's writing was easy to read. The characters were fun and interesting. I love how Del and Louise met at the convenience store, and I wanted to read and find out what will happen to Del and Louise. But, after a while, I got bored. This is probably because I have a short attention span, and the chapters (or stories) were a bit too long. I might enjoy the story a bit more if it weren't for the long chapters.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy the Del and Louise's journey in the story. I love the romance between them. They may not have that fairytale romance, but, they always have each other. And I like that a lot about them. I wanted to cheer for them no matter what they're going through. There were some laugh-out-loud moments, as well as moments that made me teary. If you're a fan of mystery, and you don't mind reading books with long chapter, you will definitely love On the Road with Del and Louise.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.

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