Today I’m thrilled to be part of the CLP blog tour for ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES by Rachel Stuhler. I had a great time reading this book, and I’m excited to share it with all of you. Check out my review, and keep reading for an excerpt from one of my favorite scenes.
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A fledgling entertainment writer stumbles into the gig of a lifetime writing a teenage pop star’s memoir and soon realizes that the young celebrity’s squeaky-clean image is purely a work of fiction.
Struggling writer Holly Gracin is on the verge of moving back home to upstate New York when she gets hired to write the memoirs of eighteen-year-old Daisy Mae Dixson, a former Nickelodeon child star who has moved seamlessly into both blockbuster movies and pop music.
Holly quickly realizes that Daisy’s wholesome public image is purely a work of fiction, as Holly finds herself trailing the star as she travels around the world on yachts, gets stalked by paparazzi, and sneaks out of five-star hotels in the dead of night.
As Holly struggles to write a flattering portrait of a teenage millionaire who only eats “nightshades” and treats her employees like slaves, Daisy has a public meltdown—and suddenly, her book is the cornerstone of resurrecting her image. But working at all hours trailing a pop star has taken its toll, and Holly must decide if becoming the ultimate insider is worth losing a starring role in her own life.
Fun, juicy, and inspired by Rachel Stuhler’s own stranger-than-fiction experiences as a celebrity ghost writer, Absolutely True Lies is an entertaining look at how the lifestyles of the rich and famous aren’t always what they seem.
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ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES is a book I knew I needed to read from the moment I scanned the description and saw the cover. As someone who lives in L.A., I knew the story of Holly is one that could very plausibly happen. And if you think a non-famous person who doesn’t work in the entertainment industry suddenly meeting and working for a big celebrity sounds like it couldn’t really happen, live here for a couple of years and you’ll probably change your mind. :)
We’re introduced to Holly Gracin, a writer who’s just barely scraping by in her job at Westside Weekly, which, in spite of its name, is a monthly print magazine that’s out of date before it hits the local L.A. newsstands. When Westside Weekly folds, Holly has nothing waiting in the wings… except for, as it turns out, a connection her uncle has that leads her to a ghost writing job for a celebrity autobiography.
The job is supposed to pay more than Holly ever dreamed of. Just a few problems: she’s never written a book before, Daisy Mae Dixson sure doesn’t seem interested in (or possibly remember) most of the details of her life, and Holly finds herself thrown into a life lived at the whim of her client’s world, jetting off across the country and around the world at a moment’s notice with Daisy and her entourage. An even bigger problem? That would be the love triangle the previously perpetually-single Holly finds herself in.
ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES hooked me from page one. I enjoyed the voice, the pace, and the excerpts from the autobiography Holly is writing as “Daisy” that are used to begin different chapters of the book. Most of all, I appreciated one of the major themes: people and situations aren’t always as they appear, and even the people you think you know can surprise you.
As for the love triangle, without giving anything away, it’s a good one. At first, I wasn’t really sure which guy I was cheering for or what the deal with one of them really was, but I was definitely clear on who I wanted Holly to choose by the end.
This was one of my favorite reads this year, and I give it five stars. If you’re looking for a good book to read at the beach, by the pool, or to keep you awake at night until you finish reading it, definitely pick this one up.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Excerpt from ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES by Rachel Stuhler
By 1:00 a.m., Camille and I were staggering out of the bar at the Chateau Marmont, where, if I hadn’t been drunk off my ass, I might have sworn that we were standing about twenty feet away from Adele. I could have just walked up and talked to her if I’d really wanted to be sure, but you learn quickly to ignore the celebrities in their natural habitats. That, and I’m just too chicken. It’s probably why, after four years, I didn’t have a single really juicy celebrity story.
Cam and I stumbled out onto Sunset Boulevard and got all the way to the curb before it occurred to either of us that we hadn’t called a cab. She pulled out her phone and loaded Uber, squinting at the swirling cars in the area. It’s one of the perks of living in a big city that you can find a local cab in the middle of the night just by pressing a few buttons. At least, you can on a smartphone. Mine only makes phone calls and you have to press the two halves together tightly to get that to happen.
“Do we pay more for a taxi or use UberX? I’m sure there are lots of people out tonight looking for a few extra bucks.”
“Taxi. I’m not getting in some rando’s car.” I couldn’t help but think how many torture porn movies start just this way, two girls alone on dark street, climbing into an anonymous car. Not that Sunset is ever particularly dark or empty, even in the middle of the night.
“Shit,” Camille said, rubbing her eye tiredly and smearing eyeliner down her face. “I told Donovan I’d be home by midnight at the latest.”
Donovan is Camille’s fake producer/poser/live-in boyfriend. He’s forty-two, his real name is Donnie, and the only thing he’s produced in the last ten years is a tuna fish sandwich. But like most people in L.A., he’s always got some “big project” in the works and wants toattach me as the writer. Every few months, he corners me in their apartment and tells me about what he’s supposedly working on, and each time, the roster of producers and so-called investors changes. I’m never sure if these are guys he met down at the Laundromat or if he’s just randomly picking names off the Internet. And though Cam refuses to believe it, Donovan’s been trying to knock her up for the last year, just so he knows he’ll never be alone. The guy’s a real winner.
“Oh, what does he care? He’s just on the couch watching infomercials and eating Hershey’s miniatures.” The man has an unnatural obsession with child-size bars of chocolate.
“He doesn’t like to be alone at night,” Camille whined, sympathy creeping into her tone. “And you know Donovan’s had a lot of trouble with his weight the last couple years. He says he feels more in control of his snacking with the miniatures.”
“He’s not in control if he’s eating the whole bag,” I replied, leaning on a streetlamp to keep from falling off the curb.
“I know, I know,” she said, shaking her head with a level of empathy I couldn’t understand. “It’s just that the financing on his latest project fell apart and he’s very depressed. He says we can’t afford to get engaged this year because he just doesn’t have the money for a ring. Like I care about a stupid diamond.”
They’ve been together for five years. Every year he tells her they can’t afford to get engaged, even though Camille makes well over a hundred grand. Usually I can keep my opinion of that bottom-feeder to myself, but on this night, I was too far into Jäger country to keep my mouth shut.
“What is it with you and that loser? There are, like, four million eligible men in Los Angeles and you can’t get away from a guy who thinks leather pants are appropriate funeral attire.”
Understandably, this riled her up a bit. “Four million eligible men? This from the woman who hasn’t gotten laid since Obama’s first term? Where are all these eligible men? Huh?”
She had me there. I paused for a moment and put on my most serious, contemplative expression. “Well… I’m sure they must be around here somewhere.” I turned my head to the right and left, but all I saw were similarly inebriated Angelenos leaving the bars and clubs, most of them laughing or shouting obnoxiously. It wasn’t doing much for my cause. “If you’ll just give me a minute, I’ll find one for you.”
I spun around just in time to see a forty-year-old guy with slicked back, thinning hair pull up in a Bimmer. He lowered the passenger window and leaned over to talk to us. “Marmont’s played out for the night. Get in and I’ll take you to this after-hours in Silver Lake.”
“Is that the guy you were looking for?” Camille asked.
“Clock’s ticking, ladies.” No lie, the guy even held his wrist out and tapped the face of his watch. I think it was a Rolex, but for all I know, it was a fake—either good or bad. Fifty bucks or fifty thousand, they all look the same to me.
“No one’s getting in your car, asshole,” I told him.
Camille took things one step further, moving to kick the guy’s passenger door. As drunk as I was, I had the presence of mind top pull her back, lest she put us both on the receiving end of an arrest warrant. “And come on, loser, you’re forty! What are you doing at after-hours clubs?”
“Screw you,” Bimmer Man said. “There are plenty of hotter girls than you out tonight.” He gave us the middle finger before swerving back out into traffic.
There was a long moment as we watched him go before Camille gave me the annoyingly smug look I knew was coming. “Please, go on, Holly. You were telling me about these four million eligible men?”
“Shut up and pick a taxi.”
Rachel Stuhler is on tour with CLP Blog Tours from August 3-10 with her novel, ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES. Please visit CLP Blog Tours for all the tour stops!
About Rachel Stuhler
Rachel Stuhler grew up in Rochester, NY, so obsessed with movies and books that she spent as little time as possible in the real world. In her late teens, this obsession led her first to New York as a terrible production assistant and then to Los Angeles, where she spent four years working as a script supervisor (and pining after writing jobs) until one day an actor told her, “If you think you can do it better yourself, just do it.”
Within a year, Rachel had sold TV movies to Lifetime and Hallmark and because she doesn’t know when to quit, began dreaming of writing a novel. After forcing countless crew members, family, and friends to read manuscripts, Rachel came to write Absolutely True Lies. She continues to work on TV movies and plot her next move in world domination, or writing about world domination, which is more fun and a lot less work.
- ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES at Amazon
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