Starlet's Web by Carla J. HannaAuthor: Carla J. Hanna Website|Twitter
Published: 2 November 2012 (CreateSpace)
Format: Kindle e-book
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Source: Received free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
A-list actress, 17-year-old Liana Marie Michael struggles to find herself when Hollywood's obsession with youth and power threatens to destroy her future. Used to talking and thinking in scripts, can Lia find her own voice? Can she and a Latino Tim Tebow overcome Hollywood's web of lies?
Liana is dating Hollywood's hottest heartthrob while filming her seventh motion picture with sexy co-star Byron. Surrounded by a culture of casual sex and adult responsibilities, Lia feels lost and confused. With her film soon to wrap, her acting contracts up for renewal, her high school graduation looming and growing tension between her and smart student athlete, Manuel, life feels overwhelming. Will Lia find the courage to share her love for Manuel, a guy unimpressed with Hollywood? In the eternal quest for youth, what life-shattering secrets has Lia's mom been keeping from her? Can Manuel accept Lia's role?
Starlet's Web follows seventeen year old actress Marie, who's grown up in the industry with an actress for a mother and attending award shows left, right and centre. She has a pretty tough life and it gets tougher when she's dumped by her Hollywood boyfriend as part of a media stint.
What struck me when I started Starlet's Web was just how horrible Marie's life was. I was really shocked by some of the stuff she's been through and seen over the years, and the way she's treated by those around her. I really love books about the celebrity lifestyle and usually they're sort of glamourised to the point you feel jealous of the characters, but that definitely wasn't the case in that book. I love that the author has taken a more gritty angle and explored some really tough issues with Marie.
As a main character, I was completely on side with her. Instantly I felt sympathy for her for the way she's been used and abused and I was really rooting for her to stand up for herself! The relationships with her divorced parents were really interesting. I loathed her mother who seems to use her as a puppet and had real admiration for her dad and stepmother for seeing what Marie really wanted and helping her to decide what to do with her future.
I liked that we got to see the contrast between Marie's celebrity lifestyle and the normal, everyday teenage things. She still has to worry about school and I thought it was really sweet that we got to see her go to prom, something every girl worries about and wants to be perfect! Then there was the fact she had to cope with turning eighteen and what that meant for her career and life going forward. It was so much responsibility for her to have.
I loved the metaphor about the "web" of Marie's life and how she felt like the fly trapped in it. It was referenced throughout the book and I thought that was really clever. I also really liked reading about the locations. I thought the descriptions of Santa Monica were really beautiful and helped me escape into the story.
Where the book lost me a little was the romance side. We're very quickly introduced to a lot of male characters in Marie's life, and I mean a lot. There was ex-boyfriend Evan, love of her life Manuel, as well as Byron, Matthew, Grant, Alan... I just couldn't get my head around all these guys and why they needed to be there. On the one hand it showed how Marie was treated like a piece of meat because basically all these boys were creeping on her and trying to get with her. I respected the fact she didn't want to get involved with any casual relationships and stood up for her views on that. I think of all the guys Manuel is obviously the sweetest of the bunch and the one you're supposed to root for, but sometimes I felt even their relationship was a bit clingy and needy.
Just when I was losing hope a little, Starlet's Web hit me with the biggest and most amazing plot twist that blew my socks off. I just sat there reading with my mouth hanging open and practically shouting at the book! I really loved that exciting, devious twist and it made me want to carry on with the rest of the books in the series to find out what happens, because I realised as the characters were put in danger that I'd really become invested in their lives and what happens to them.
The first half of Starlet's Web was a little slow and frustrating at times for me but by the end I was completely gripped to the action. I think as the first book in a series it has a lot of potential, and I'm hoping I'll enjoy the second book even more. If you like books about celebrity lifestyle then I'd recommend this one as it comes from a bit of a different angle.
What to read next: Starlet's Run by Carla J. Hanna, the second book in the Starlet series
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