Tag: win a book

Review and Giveaway: “Studio City a Mile of Style” by Joann R. Deutch

Recently I was contacted to take a look at a new book, Studio City a Mile of Style-What’s History What’s Gossip” by Joann R. Deutch. As I read through the mountain of information sent over by her publicist, my interest began to grow. I have had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles twice in recent years, and I was looking forward to learning more about this star studded city. I readily agreed to take a look and they also agreed to provide a hardcopy to giveaway to one of my readers! See instructions below on how you can enter to win this fact filled book.

Studio City Book Cover

Their Summary

Author Joann Deutch – a Studio City based lawyer who served on the Chamber of Commerce Board for over 15 years as the President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary – tracked down the many untold stories which have left their mark not only on her community, but as well on Hollywood. A riveting and fascinating book that reveals the untold story of a more than often under-exposed, under-valued city and its rich and influential contribution to the film industry.

Deutch throws a bright light into a corner of our film heritage that has been habitually, even sinfully, ignored. In “Studio City A Mile of Style – What’s History What’s Gossip” the whimsical and the unexpected accompany the serious history – like seeing John Wayne riding along Ventura Boulevard in an English saddle, or hitch hiking up Laurel Canyon and getting a lift from John Lennon.

Finally Studio City’s real history and true identity is assembled in one book!  Dozens of never-before seen lithographs, broadsides, archival materials and remembrances throw into relief the astonishing development of the Mile of Style as founded by Mack Sennett (a famous film director/producer in the early 1900s) on old-fashioned Progressive Era ideas –  “If you reach for a goal, you can achieve it.”

When we talk about the film industry we all immediately, mistakenly,  think “Hollywood”, but Studio Cityplays a huge and crucial role in the overall history of said “film industry”; not to mention the making of the film & TV studios. That Hollywood is more an idea and a dream rather than a place these days.
It was and still is Studio City with its backlots and open space that truly constitutes the heart of the film industry. Yet we keep defining that city by the one fact that has become common knowledge: the presence of the CBS/Radford lot, but Studio City is the real “Hollywood”.
This is where Joann Deutch comes in. 
Wanting to understand what drove Studio City residents to be so civically committed to the community and what made her city such a special place in a sea of satellite communities in Los Angeles, she took on the challenge of investigating and uncovering the real story, and breaking some of the word-of-mouth stereotypes attached to its history.   
No one thinks of Studio City as a suburb.  Why? Who would have expected that the phrase in America the Beautiful “ from sea to shining sea” would refer to the Battles fought in the Cahuenga Pass, which bought California into the United States? Who thinks about Cahuenga Pass’ role as a Free State as a part of the balancing act to avoid the Civil War? Who knew that Studio City was a petri dish experiment about the Progressive Movement?
Want to know where Jay Leno started his career? Want to see where the Beatles and Rolling Stones hung out in between gigs?  Want to know where Joni Mitchell and Errol Flynn lived?
This is your invitation to dive into the living dream!
My Summary
I was excited when the hardcopy give away came in the mail and my PDF copy was delivered via e-mail. I quickly loaded the PDF onto my nook and packed my bags to head to the most relaxing place to read, Hilton Head Island.
As I began reading I was surprised to find that Chapter One began with the early Native American settlers, and the closest village to modern day Studio City, the Cahuenga village. Before this point I didn’t realize Joann R. Deutch started her research at the very beginning, I expected her to pick up with the growth of the entertainment industry in the west. It was nice to see she started with the real roots of the town, and it was interesting to read about the Native American’s beliefs and traditions, but I quickly realized this was more like a textbook than a novel.
Perhaps I had the preconceived notion this would read more like a story or a novel because that is the style I typically read. However, I was still surprised when I found a book full of bullet points and short stories rather than a continuous storyline. In addition to the formatting I was also a little put off by the way Deutch chose to organize the information in the book.
Although the book does somewhat follow chronological order, Deutch tends to bounce around from year to year depending on what topic she is covering in her chapter. Each chapter reflects a different aspect of Studio City, for example Chapter 5 covers the early history of the city, Chapter 9 covers the music scene, and Chapter 11 covers areas that are named after people. Within the chapters are short stories or bulleted facts about “Studio City’s Architecture”, “Bits and Pieces of Local History”, or whatever other topic the chapter is focusing on.
As I hit Chapter 13-“Gossip, People, and Colorful History” I read interesting facts, funny stories, and learned information about stars I never knew. As much as I enjoyed all of the information provided, I again was put off by the way it was organized. While the overall book does carry a loose chronological order, it still maintains a somewhat chronological order. However, chapter 13 is instead organized alphabetically by celebrity last name. Each new section within the chapter starts off with the name of the celebrity, followed by bulleted information and paragraph style stories. It took me a minute to figure out why I was reading about a modern day star, then suddenly was transported back to silent film actors.
As I read through the first couple of chapters I enjoyed the information I was learning, but came to the conclusion that this is a better coffee table book than a read-through-novel. I would enjoy digesting this better by flipping through the pages, looking at the amazing pictures, and learning facts from time to time rather than sitting down and committing to reading it cover to cover.
I must give props to Joann Deutch for the amount of time, research, and information that was poured into this book. It is chock-full of interesting images, old lithographs, vintage posters, and snapshots of the amazing architecture, studio lots, and celebrities. I learned so much about this small section of Los Angeles and laughed out loud at stories. One of my favorite sections was a story about early filmmakers being attracted to the area for the close proximity to Mexico as an easy hideout to avoid Thomas Edison Patent Agents.
This book is obviously a labor of love, written by someone who appreciates Studio City for everything it is and has become due to its rich history. This book is perfect for any history, film, or Los Angeles enthusiast. It is a great guide for anyone planning a trip to Los Angeles and a visit to Studio City. The last chapter even hits on interesting places to visit nearby! I hope you pick this book up and add it to your coffee table collection!
To enter this giveaway and get your own hardcopy of Studio City a Mile of Style all you have to do is comment below and either link to the giveaway through your Facebook page or Twitter! Please include a link to your tweet or Facebook share in your comment. One week from now the winner will be randomly selected using the plugin And the winner is…
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Review and Giveaway: All Roads Lead West by Paul Matarelli (closed)

A few months ago I was contacted by author, Paul Matarelli, about reading, reviewing, and giving away a copy of his new novel, All Roads Lead West. With summer almost upon me and no new books in my stack on the bedside table, I decided to give his book a go, and now you can as well! All you have to do is comment on this post and link to the giveaway on either twitter or your facebook page to enter to win an electronic copy!

All Roads Lead West is a recently published book, December 30th 2012, by new author, Paul Matarelli. He is a current New York native, living in Brooklyn, where his main character, Jamie Hayden also resides. Warning, this book is for adults only, full of drugs, sex, and other adult adventures.

All Roads Lead West by Paul Matarelli

His Summary:

How do you know when you’re supposed to stop what you’re doing and change course? I did everything they tell you to do: I went to college, got my degree, and landed a great job. I get wined and dined in the best restaurants New York City has to offer, I do the minimum amount of work that’s required, I take long lunches, I meet celebrities, and I negotiate multi-million dollar television ad deals hung over. If I continue on this path, I will become a wealthy corporate executive…and miserable. What they don’t prepare you for – in all of the canned speeches you hear about your future – is truth about what you’re getting yourself into. The truth is you will be dealing with disgruntled bosses, office politics, vindictive colleagues, and the crippling reality that you are going to spend the best years of your life chained to a desk doing work that will ultimately leave this world worse off than when you arrived. I’m Jamie Hayden, and that’s allabout to change.

My Summary:

When I first read Matarelli’s summary of the book I was intrigued. After all, so many people get caught up in the “rat race” of life. So many are swallowed up by the glitz and glamour of city life, the possibility of hitting it big, and I was curious to find out how his main character, Jamie Hayden, was able to step back from this life and ultimately decide to leave it. I agreed to read his book, and was looking forward to cracking it open when my summer officially started.

I was very excited when I received the notification from Barnes and Noble: “You have received a gift from Paul Matarelli”. I very easily opened up the book on my Nook and got to it. The intro definitely set the tone for the rest of the book, with a pot clouded mind, attempting to seduce a married woman, and on going trains of thoughts that I quickly discovered is typical of Jamie.

As I rounded out the intro I was wondering what this book was really going to be about, I got no sense of future change from this sex driven character, but the last line intrigued me: “I’m Jamie Hayden and I will be your guide through this story; or as I like to call it, my path to enlightenment”. This very direct statement to the reader was a shift from the sense of viewing Jamie’s life secondhand, through his mind. The shift in writing style and statement were enough to hook me, and keep me reading. I was intrigued by this possible “enlightenment”.

The remainder of the novel follows the 27 year old account manager working in the world of television, living in New York City, struggling to decide if New York is where he needs to be. Jamie narrates his tale of trying to find himself, while spending time experimenting with drugs, bar hopping, and sleeping with a range of women. While amidst this intense partying it’s difficult to convince himself to leave it all, after all it seems like any man’s wet dream.

After the intro I expected to read about more of Jamie’s “adventures”, I fully expected more experimentation with drugs and sexcapades, but I was looking forward to the moment that would snap him out of this somewhat unrealistic haze, and into real life. Thinking the other half of the book would be about him finding himself, his true passion, and actually heading west to pursue it, I read on.

After reading 3/4 of the book I realized this was not going to delve into Jamie’s journey west, but instead focus on the final month he spends in New York before leaving. In between the pot, cocaine, and acid use mixed with sleeping around, it did hit on three major events that pushed Jamie to realize it was time for him to leave his corporate 9-5 and try to find his true passion. With A Catcher in the Rye-esk undertone, Jamie spends his last weeks partying, free from responsibility to anyone or anything other than himself, until his eventual departure.

Going into the novel I had to adjust to Matarelli’s writing style. Essentially the book is Jamie’s ongoing train of thought, and often breaks away from what is happening and into thought tangents about past memories, opinions of people, and other unrelated asides. At times it got on my nerves, I wanted to stick to what was going on without getting caught up in the ADD mind of this eccentric character. However, by doing this Matarelli is giving you a true sense of the character. You are literally entering the mind of a drug and sex driven 27 year old man, which I must admit was a hard adjustment to make as a much more settled down woman.

At times I was also a little perturbed by how easily women fell for Jamie’s seduction. I felt the women were portrayed as somewhat one sided, and a bit shallow. But again, this is the interpretation and view of Jamie, and my interpretation is probably driven by my more “settled down” self, already married for three years at age 26. Overall the book was an entertaining read, a good book to take to the beach as a nice, quick, and naughty read. Matarelli has piqued my interest with this novel, and I plan to continue to keep up with his writing career. I am very interested to see what Matarelli writes next, perhaps he will pick up where he left off and give me the enlightened and changed Jamie I so desire.

To enter this giveaway all you have to do is comment on the post and link back to the giveaway through Twitter or Facebook, please include a link to your tweet or facebook page in your comment. The winner will be randomly selected using the plugin And the Winner Is… one week from today (7/22/13). Check out a trailer for the book here and an excerpt on Amazon here!

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