Friday, November 17, 2017

Book Review: The old 80s standards, Lace and Lace 2



As with Valley of the Dolls, three quarters of this book was terribly boring and terribly long. The good part only started in the last quarter, and had me crying. The other bad part, I was still thinking about this book a day later and couldn’t wait to read the sequel to see what happens. It actually had me caring what happened to these people. Probably because my own life is such shit.

The stories of five women all entwined throughout the book starts in 1963 with the prelude, it’s sad, it sucks, and sets the story for the rest of the 751 pages of this very 80s covered edition. The story is told across 63 chapters and 12 parts with chapter 1 being told in the present of 1978. Chapter 2 is when the backstory starts, way back to 1948.

The story ducks, weaves, and leaves you confused as to ages and times. The timeline is dodgy and I had to go back and check the years in order to get this review straight. Finding, that they missed the important part altogether, which, to tell the story, needed to be told at the end.

Pagan, Kate and Maxine are schoolmates in Switzerland, 1948. Judy works at the local hotel and they befriend her, and her non-beau Nick, who is later killed in war. Sex abounds and I suppose the common day comparison would be Gossip Girls. High school girls drinking and having sex, not caring about getting pregnant. In fact, the sex scenes disturbed me as many were actual rapes which the girls put out of their minds as bad experiences, or which they thought was normal for first time experiences.

Kate was incredibly weak, having an abusive father she ended up with abusive men, one who later came out as a transvestite. She ended up a journalist and then a magazine reporter. Pagan went through several relationships and became a drunk and hermit before marrying a Lord and throwing herself into raising money for cancer research, Maxine ended up with a Count and three sons, and a massive career in interior design, and Judy moved to New York and became a PR publicist.

Lili, the antagonist, the fifth woman, the child, had her own horror story to contend with, and not only was it incredibly sad and made me cry, it also made me angry that she didn’t fight harder. She was fostered as a baby, but her foster mother married a Hungarian and a year later went with him to Hungary before the revolution started. They were hunted down and only Lili managed to escape. Her life was spent in a camp until she was fostered by an ungrateful couple in Paris. At 13 she became pregnant and had an abortion (this is the prelude which sets the scene for the whole book) and to pay for it posed nude for a leery guy called Serge who rapes and abuses her when he’s not happy. She stays with him for years, becoming a huge star in sex movies until a rich Greek tycoon takes her away, but he dies after three years together and his lawyer is a crafty sod who takes advantage of the situation and her. Thankfully, she has money of her own, and makes a life for herself. Until it leads her to New York in 1978, in a hotel room where she has asked Pagan, Kate, Maxine and Judy to attend.

The end felt…rushed. There was no big dramatic scene which Lili had always imagined. There was no hug, no love, no nothing, except a half truth and a lie. I presume that will all happen in Lace 2. It ended with an epilogue, but that was only the definition of Lace, which is what Judy’s company is called, and then the author, Shirley Conran went on to tell us who the characters were based on. Quite a story in itself.

The book’s lead-in line is “which one of you bitches is my mother?” So you know exactly where it’s going and I won’t tell you anything else.

Books like Lace were the tried and true of the time. Just as Dolls was very 60s, Lace is very 80s in its blockbuster, sweeping way. Many a miniseries came from massive bestselling 80s books, and sadly, many did not follow the actual book storyline, so I will not be watching the movie of the same title. But I will be reading book 2 to find out what happens when Lili finds out who her real father is…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I read book 2. 

What a convoluted, disjointed, bloody mess it was.

First off, right from the prologue they say Judy was sixteen when she was pregnant, even though the first book said fifteen. Once again it jumped all over the place, hence being disjointed. And suddenly, there are three other potential fathers.

After Lili is kidnapped in chapter one (the book's timeline jumps around again), three men get letters demanding ransom. All three, apparently, are potentially her father. As it turns out, Judy finally reveals all near the end to Sandy, the winner of the beauty contest Lili was judging. God knows why she’d confide in her, only because Sandy pushed the question about Lili’s father.

Second, there are way too many people who mean nothing in this book. Besides the three men who are suddenly potentially her father, there’s a new man for Judy who crushes on Lili, then there’s Gregg the racing car driver Lili’s seeing after she dumped the boyfriend of two years, Simon, because she found out he was gay.

Then Prince Abdullah comes back and woos Pagan after her husband dies from injuries sustained from a car accident, and a week after his death her dog dies. Little does he know he’s Lili’s real father.

But you get this convoluted backstory of these boyfriends Judy had at the age of 15. She’s raped by Abdullah, then a month later has sex with a new guy Curtis, and when he dumps her a month later has sex with some British kid who turns into a rock star in his later years. There are all these people who could be the culprit, but it ends up being the personal trainer Judy hired at her work to get the staff healthy.

There’s not much story on him (his mother is domineering and controlling and he's under her thumb) which is why it’s so pathetic. So is the ending.

They figure out where Lili is probably hidden and go looking for her. Pagan falls from a roof, and Judy tries to talk Tony down while getting her daughter out of the room he has her trapped in.

The book ends badly, quite frankly. They all get outside where Tony is shot dead and Judy frees Lili from her handcuffs and hugs her, then Lili says, “You did come for me. My real mother did come for me, in the end.”

Seriously?

That’s all we get? After investing in this hideous 80s crap, that’s all we get?

We find out that Maxine had figured out Lili’s heritage, and in the end Pagan did too. Kate wasn’t even in the book that much as her character disappeared to the middle of a war to write about it.

But that’s all we get? What a crock of shit!

Clearly Shirley Conran didn’t bother re-reading her first book to get the details right when she wrote this, and clearly she had no idea what the story was going to be when she did write it. This is a mixed up, mess of garbage that is really disappointing.

Don’t except the mother daughter relationship to be there. It isn’t. And while Pagan figures out why, Lili was born from rape not love, it really doesn’t focus on the bond that should be growing between Judy and Lili. And that would be because a year later there is none.

I’m disappointed. As much as book 1 was crap, I invested enough to read book 2 and was bitterly let down by the conclusion. Which is crap! I was considering reading Shirley’s other books, but if this is the way she writes, I’ll go back to Jackie Collins, thanks very much.


Would love to know if you’ve ever read these books and what you thought.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Book Review: Valley Of The Dolls


I figured since Jackie Collins was once likened to Jacqueline Susann, that it was time I read that book...

You could definitely tell it had been written in the 60s, it had the tone and feel and it made me feel as if I was in a Mary Tyler Moore show, a working girl gets her first job at an office, finds an apartment and gains a social life and friends quickly.

The book starts with long-winded conversations about everything, making it, in my opinion, incredibly boring. And these conversations go on for pages.

There is not a lot of description of characters, not a lot of details about background, it comes in certain parts, but by then, you’ve forgotten about them.

The scenes jump around a little, the text doesn’t flow smoothly, being stunted in most sections, there’s no explanation of things, not much detail in conversations, and you have to try and keep up with the story.

Anne is so insipidly boring for a twenty-year-old. She cannot stand up for herself, and finds herself engaged while not having the balls to tell the guy no. She doesn’t take the ring off, doesn’t give it back, doesn’t put her foot down until she’s cheating on him when she insists he takes it back and he tells her to keep it. She does hook up with Lyon Burke…

Jennifer uses people to get what she wants, even women, and is stuck trying for the affections of singing sensation Tony Polar, who has a mysterious past that only his sister knows about.

And Neely…for some reason I thought she was a black girl, I think she's white, but she’s just a teen on the verge of stardom.

The first sex scene doesn’t crop up until page 116 in this edition, and the first mention of Seconal, a.k.a the dolls, aren’t mentioned until page 179.

So far, it’s boring. It may have been right at home in the 60s, but it’s incredibly dated now. I was actually left wondering why this was so popular, unless it’s because there was nothing else for women about women, written by a woman.

And for a book titled Valley of the Dolls, what valley are they talking about? Is it a metaphor for the ups and downs the pills give you? It’s certainly not about any valley in California, which I always thought it referred to since everything I’ve ever heard or seen about this book talked about actresses and pills. So my assumption was it’s about actresses taking pills in California. Valley of the Dolls. Apparently not.

I read up to page 194 when I started reading, and all of the above is what I got out of it. Now here’s the rest of the book…

After a tumultuous nude acting career in France, Jennifer eventually found love with a senator in Washington, however, after seven abortions, she’s developed polyps and has a lump in her breast. The doctor removes it and wants to do a mastectomy. She refuses, and slips away in the middle of the night to overdose on Seconals in her hotel suite because her boyfriend loves her breasts so much he’s glad she can’t have kids over losing her boobs. So she kills herself, in no great detail, and I had to read the page twice to make sure she was actually dead. Jesus, imaging killing yourself over losing your boobs these days…It was sad that she did that, and I cried.

Lyon breaks up with Anne to go and live in England to write his book. (Let me tell you people, you don’t need to quit your job or go live in another country to write a book). She ends up in a relationship with Kevin Gillmore, owner of a cosmetics company that makes Anne famous in their ads. Eventually, Lyon comes back and Anne breaks up with Kevin and marries Lyon, after secretly loaning money for him to buy out the firm he works at. Things go well, Anne finally has a baby which she names Jennifer, but in the mix of all this is Neely…

Neely went from a fat lazy husband to a fag (in the book’s words) husband and has two kids she really does not give a shit about. He divorces her after she’s admitted into what is commonly known as rehab, but known back then as a sanitarium.

(Ironically, Jacqueline Susan’s own child ended up in one after being born autistic. There are a few threads of her personal life in this book, Jennifer’s first husband, Tony Polar, had convulsions as a child, so is still a child, and deteriorated so much he ended up in the same sanitarium as Neely. Jennifer aborted their baby so it wasn’t born with the same metal issue.)

Back to Neely. Anne and Kevin organise for Neely to be put into the sanitarium for help as she has been self-destructive for over a decade, and it was the second time she had tried committing suicide. Apparently, back then, if you tried suicide, it was an automatic trip to the nut house. She got herself better and Lyon’s agency took her on for a comeback.

Unfortunately, that comeback made her incredibly selfish and demanding, demanding Lyon leave a very pregnant Anne so he could travel with her.

Unfortunately, that meant the two of them started an affair Anne soon found out about. And what did Anne do? Nothing except to start taking the god damn Seconals. Lyon didn’t even make it for his own child’s birth. The affair lasted for two years until he finally dumped Neely from the company and they took on an up and comer to their company.

Insipidly weak Anne, still not doing anything about her cheating cunt of a husband, says nothing. Not even after the New Year’s Eve party when she finds out he’s now cheating with the new talent, because the little girl loves him sooo much!

Once a cheating cunt, always a cheating cunt!

Quite frankly, the end made me so freaking angry I was shaking. The fact that a friend could fuck your husband and not have a care in the world because she’s a selfish cunt, made me want to kill her. And him.

I wouldn’t tolerate it. I sure as fuck wouldn’t put up with it, and regardless of the fact if she had’ve told him to get out, he wouldn’t have lasted with Neely that long because she was a demanding bitch.

So, Anne just took a Seconal and went back to the party, becoming the typical rich wife, of a typical cheating rich husband, who will do nothing because she is too fucking weak to do it.

Diet pills were brought up on page 210, they’re green, Neely’s taking them, and then yellow ones get mentioned on page 215. That’s three kinds of pills, along with Demerol that are the drugs of choice. Jennifer takes the red ones to sleep, Neely takes red to sleep, green to diet and yellow to wake up. Anne takes them because she’s being cheated on and wants to feel better. What a crock! What a fucking cop out of life. I can’t confront my husband on his cheating cunt ways because I love him so much and we have a baby and so I’ll just take these sleeping pills to ease the pain. God, how fucking weak! I really don’t understand taking a pill to cop out of life. Which is what Anne does.

My overall thoughts on this books are the same as above. It’s definitely a 60s book. It jumps around and you really need to concentrate to figure out you’ve changed scenes, places and times. Anne is so fucking piss weak, and I know the book starts in 1945 and goes till 1965, but I was so bored with this until the last quarter when you started seeing that Lyon was cheating and Neely saw Tony in the sanitarium. I think Jacqueline left the good bit until last and made me sit through bullshit to get to it.

Once Jennifer divorced Tony, you didn’t hear of him again until the sanitarium, so that storyline was abruptly ended. You never really got why Jennifer killed herself now she was finally happy, even though the boyfriend wanted her boobs. She didn’t even tell him she had to have it removed, so didn’t give their relationship a chance. Could he have left her? Sure. But maybe he would have stayed as well. She didn’t know, just copped out of life because her looks and her boobs were what made her. Which just goes to show, you really do need a good job to back you up if acting doesn’t pan out. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket because looks fade.

And Anne…oh, god, how I want to punch you in the face for being so weak.

If you like 60s women’s fiction, give it a chance. Jacqueline wrote other books, bizarrely, all of which Jackie Collins hade in her collection, but I won’t be giving them a go.


I did look up the movie after reading this book as I was going to watch it. But upon reading that it’s completely different to the book, there’s no point. I hate it when movies don’t portray books properly.


Friday, November 3, 2017

L.J. Diva now has her very own dedicated author website!

This dear old blog has been my blog since the first of January 2009.

It started as a blog to whinge and moan about all things celeb and what-not, and then moved into a website in roughly 2012.

But now, I have bitten the bullet and gone for a new-ish look, in my very own author website.

It's simple, plain, and uses the Swank wordpress template from Pretty Darn Cute. It's just a website to cater to my books, has no blog, but a link to this one here, as well as the new porn star brothers website, and has some fun facts.

This is the mock-up I did of the layout that I wanted. I simply used Canva to do it.




This was the layout I created in the template. I can only do so much code wise, so this is what I did do. 




This is the layout I gave the support desk and asked for help. Simply colouring the text to red and black, adding in sections, had to copy/paste a few things in.




I did ad an image widget for the new book above the slider before she tackled it, simply to advertise the new book, so it's not in these pics but you'll see it in the finished item.


Here's a closer look at both parts





And here is the end product!


A closer look here






you can see it live now at www.ljdiva.com

This makes the seventh website I have to deal with, out of eight (eighth is to come later in the year, and one is a webstore) and third under this author name.




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