Monday, February 25, 2008

It's Oscar Time!

Since it is Oscar time, I went looking for books featuring the Academy Awards. Lucky for me two were published just this year! I found Celebutantes by Amanda Goldberg & Ruthana Hopper and Oscar Season by Mary McNamara. Both books are written by authors with the right creditials: Amanda Goldberg is the daughter of one of Hollywoods biggest producers; Ruthana Hopper is the daughter of actor Dennis Hopper; and Mary McNamara is an LA Times reporter who has "written extensively on the inner workings of Hollywood". Both books give the reader a glimpse into high-powered Hollywood during this chaotic time in Tinsletown.

Here are my reviews of both:


Oscar Season by Mary McNamara is a fast-pace mystery novel set during Hollywood’s most tumultuous time of the year: the time period between the Academy Award nominations announcement and Oscar night. At first, Oscar season at the hotel seems to be business as usual for PR Director of the Pinnacle Hotel, Juliette Greyson. Well, as usual as can be for one of Hollywood’s hottest hotels hosting all of the big name celebrities who come to stay for Oscar week. That is until a series of mysterious deaths start to seem all too connected to be coincidence. Is someone trying to sabotage the Oscars? And if so, why?

Mary McNamara spent time with the people who run the Four Seasons in Los Angeles to get a real insiders view of the preparations that go into making a high end hotel run smoothly during Oscar season. Her attention to detail makes this novel compulsively readable and intriguing.

Where this book fails is as a mystery novel. The mystery that propels the story line in Oscar Season falls flat in the end. The ending was anticlimactic and dull. McNamara never manages to truly spin a suspenseful thriller.Pick up this book for a fun behind the scenes glimpse of the inner workings of a Hollywood hotel during this glittering time of year in LA but not to indulge in a real mystery story.



Celebutantes is everything you would expect it to be. It is fun, salacious, entertaining, predictable, and formulaic. In short, it is fun fluff filled with TONS of name-dropping. Celebutantes gives an insider’s look into the madness and weirdness that is life in Hollywood.

Celebutantes centers on the trials and tribulations of Hollywood royalty spawn, Lola Santisi during Oscar Week in Los Angeles. Lola is a mid-twenties failed actress who happens to be the daughter of one of Hollywood’s biggest directors. Lola is suffering from a malady that could only be diagnosed by an LA psychotherapist: Career Deficit Disorder, or as Lola calls it, CDD. Lola is also a recovering “Actoraholic”. Her penchant for affairs with Tinsletown’s hottest actors has left her heartbroken and bitter. Thank goodness for Lola she has the support of her BAF (Best Actress Forever), Cricket, who is waiting for her big break; her BFF, Kate, an upcoming Hollywood agent desperate to work for CAA and whose ungrateful bratty client has just been nominated for his first Oscar; and her BGF (Best Gay Forever), Julian.

Lola is finally given the chance to turn her life around when her best friend, hot new designer Julian Tennant, hires her to be his “ambassador”. Ambassadors are the people hired by designers to whoo and cajole actresses into wearing their designs on the red carpet on Oscar night. This job is easier said than done when dealing with actresses who want their dogs dyed to match their dresses, speak in the third person, and take “bathroom” breaks every five minutes.

Of course, Celebutantes wraps up in the last few pages with Lola and her entourage having a true Hollywood ending and everything ending perfectly. For thoroughness’ sake, I should mention that Celebutantes is filled with mentions of every brand of makeup, hair product, shoe, bag and designer; as well as the names of almost every major Hollywood star. It is THAT kind of book. It is also the kind of book that will have you laughing out loud and flipping pages faster than Julia Roberts can rip open the envelope containing the name of this year’s Best Actress award.

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