We’re covering both coasts today — from a novel set in New York City high society to a memoir by a Los Angeles paparazzo.
Perhaps all I need to say about The Heiresses is the name of its author, Sara Shepard. Given the success of her novels and of the television series based on them, teen fans are sure to be seeking out her latest adult book. Like Pretty Little Liars, The Heiresses is a mystery. Members of a very wealthy and famous family are being murdered — and there’s a curse involved! Pure summer escapism.
Readers fascinated by celebrity culture will be interested in Shooting Stars, Jennifer Buhl‘s memoir of her years working as a paparazzo in L.A. As controversial as her (now former) profession is, there are different sides to the work. Some stars invite the attention, others work hard to avoid it. For teens curious to know more, this is the book!
SHEPARD, Sara. The Heiresses. 308p. HarperCollins. Jun. 2014. Tr $25.99. ISBN 9780062259530. LC 2014015748.
Four heiresses to a diamond company live a privileged New York City life, but when the favorite daughter turns up dead, it appears that the sisters are being targeted one by one because of some questionable family behavior. There is a storied history behind the Saybrook jewel dynasty, which became especially prosperous after World War Two, and there is no shortage of people who feel bitter toward the family whose actions can often be found on “Page Six”. Shepard writes in a breezy style, covering the scandals of the heiresses and the mystery of who might want them dead. Teens who enjoyed the gossipy plotlines of the author’s “Pretty Little Liars” books (HarperCollins) will gladly graduate to a similar, if more grown-up, story. While it may come at the expense of elements like character development, the novel will be enjoyed by those who crave to know more about luxurious lifestyles and will particularly appreciate the details about extravagant parties and the label dropping. With no shortage of despicable personalities to choose from, details are slowly and carefully revealed, implicating each character and leaving readers on the edge of their seat trying to figure out who has the greatest motive in wanting the heiresses dead. A doozy of a cliff-hanger hints at more to come in what is sure to be a hugely popular series.—Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ
BUHL, Jennifer. Shooting Stars: My Unexpected Life Photographing Hollywood’s Most Famous. glossary. maps. 326p. Sourcebooks. Apr. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781402297007. LC 2013046457.
For a few years, Buhl served as one of the very few female paparazza in Hollywood. This memoir, if not quite a tell-all, is a “tell-quite-a bit” of her years on the glamorous celebrity beat. The author had an interest in photography, but not much of one in taking snapshots of the stars. But she had a keen sense of adventure and experience, so when she stumbled into a shoot, she decided to give it a try. In the ensuing chapters, readers learn how celebrity weeklies get their pictures, why the “upscale” ones don’t publish unattractive shots, and which celebrity is a “get” and who “never gives it up.” Buhl recounts how she wrestles with the ethics of what she’s doing, but mostly justifies her profession as part of the system that keeps the stars famous. She tells tales of actors who alert the “paps” to their every move, and know how to pose when the cameras get there. Ultimately, after a few profitable years, the tick of Buhl’s biological clock drowns her desire to continue on this adventure. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the Hollywood system as it exists today, and the symbiotic relationship between the stars and the paparazzi —with guest appearances by tipsters and the police. Most pop culture fans will enjoy the read, and will be excited to discuss whose side they’re on. An interesting point of discussion for a journalism classes.—Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library, MD