Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Starlet's Web: The Starlet Series #1

Author's Synopsis–Starlet's Web
Love. Lies. Acting. A novel about celebrity influence & teens in Hollywood. What makes a star shine? Humility empowers the spirit. Sometimes.

Discover the Starlet Series for new adult & college readers and uncover the life of a talented actress caught in Hollywood's web of lies.

I'm actress Liana Marie Michael. I won an Oscar at 17 but whatever. Celebrity is what it is: marketing a product. I'm part of a tight-knit group. I keep to myself and don't complain about my life. I've been happy until lately.

Evan dumping me leveled me. Matthew shocked me. I knew he couldn't hurt me with my bodyguard so near, but his eyes...so I have trust issues. Dating super-hot Byron didn't help clear the confusion either. I'm torn between going to church on Sunday and making a living from pop culture.

But experience builds perspective. My days of shutting up needed to end. First, I told Manuel. Then I told my mom. It turned out awesome until I learned the truth.

Now I'm screwed. Totally. Let's face it: Hollywood's web entangles everyone.

Hall Ways Review
"I was not the fly in the spider's web. I was the web and the spider and the fly and the force keeping the web strong and in place." Such is the life of eighteen year old celebrity Liana Marie Michael.  As Lia navigates Hollywood while trying to stay true to herself and her beliefs, she encounters more than her fair share of obstacles including exploitation, manipulation, and betrayal -- often from unexpected, but familiar places.  Lia desperately wants to be a regular high school senior, going to prom with her lifelong best friend and hanging out with friends, but removing herself from her Hollywood personae proves nearly impossible. As she tries to make a new life for herself, intending to have boyfriend Manny by her side, Lia wonders, "Will I always be a jigsaw puzzle that loses pieces every time it is moved from one surface to another?" 
In this start to The Starlet Series, author Carla J. Hanna introduces us to a cast of characters whose issues are as diverse as their ethnicities, religions, and circumstances. Readers get the most insight into main character Liana, as she is the narrator, but there are enough behavior illustrations and dialogue with the secondary characters to form opinions. (For the record, I am not a fan of Manny and hope that: 1) he grows up; or 2) Lia whips him in shape; or 3) Lia breaks-up with him. There are some red flags.) Liana is confused, and who can blame her? She's been left to be raised by a staff of people because her mom is too consumed by her own acting career and her dad left them to escape Hollywood.  The only real comfort Lia can find is in enjoying nature, which can only be done from her back porch.  Searching for answers, Lia questions the existence of God and real love, and with the Hollywood influence, believes she must have a man in her life and have sex to keep him there. Careful readers will pick-up on author Hanna's foreshadowing to see the major plot twist coming, which is a game changer for Liana and preps the stage for the next book, Starlet's Run.
Starlet's Web is a bit heavy on dialogue, which often felt unrealistic, and it has a few typos, but it's enjoyable if readers will push plausibility aside and just read for the guilty pleasure of the peek into the Hollywood scene. I originally thought this was a young adult book, but I'd recommend it for older teens or even the new adult crowd, despite the main character's age.  There are sexual situations (not graphic), considerable reflection on sexuality, explicit language, drug and alcohol use by minors, a near rape, and mixed messages about love and sex that could be confusing/misleading for younger girls. 

Thank you to the author and Masquerade Book Tours who provided me an eBook copy in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $
$25 for Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Book Depository; One Necklace (based on cover image)

About the author: Carla J. Hanna lived in Santa Monica, CA where her children played with the children of celebrities. She mingled with plenty of nannies and a few good celebrity moms. Her award winning books, The Starlet Series, include Starlet's Man, Starlet's Web, Starlet's Run, & Starlet's Light. Starlet's End is scheduled to release September 2015, subject to change from publisher interest.
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Review coming soon!