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The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd
The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd
Price: £17.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Born Under a Bad Sign...?, 2 Nov. 2015
Thelma Todd was a superb comedienne, appearing opposite movie greats like Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton. Under contract to Hal Roach, she made numerous comedy shorts, paired with the likes of ZaSu Pitts and Patsy Kelly. She also starred in pre-code dramas such as Call Her Savage (with Clara Bow), and the original Maltese Falcon. Unfortunately, Todd is mostly remembered today for her untimely death, aged just 29. As a highly intelligent, and well-liked woman, who trained as a schoolteacher and later managed a successful Los Angeles cafe, she does not fit the stereotype of a Hollywood victim. However, her early life was dogged by tragedy, and she was also unlucky in love (to say the least.) In the last year of her life, Thelma was the victim of sinister threats. There is a distinctly Noirish feel to this book, and author Michelle Morgan combines a cool-headed, investigative approach to Todd's shadowy life with a warm sympathy towards the actress. Morgan also dispels some of the myths that have been propagated over the years, presenting new, compelling evidence about Todd's mysterious death while allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. Published just before Halloween, 'The Ice Cream Blonde' is the perfect read for wintry nights ahead. Even the most sceptical reader cannot help but feel that the talented, likeable Thelma Todd was born under a bad sign. Most troubling of all, perhaps, is how willing everyone involved in the case of her death seemed to simply let the matter drop - whether through grief, or fear, we may never know.


Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modelling Years
Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modelling Years
by Astrid Franse
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Norma Jeane: the Model, her Mentor, and Marilyn, 13 July 2015
Books about Marilyn Monroe are practically a genre among themselves. Astrid Franse, owner of the archive of the Blue Book Modelling Agency, has collaborated on this book with Michelle Morgan, author of one of the best biographies, 'MM: Private and Undisclosed.' Emmeline Snively, who founded the agency, kept a detailed file on her star pupil, Norma Jeane Dougherty. While many people - usually men - claimed to have 'discovered' Monroe, Snively (who had more input than most) always saw their work together as a collaboration. This is both a biography of Snively, a self-made career woman in an era when that was still rare, and a study of a hopeful, relatively untroubled period in the future Marilyn Monroe's life. After reading it, I had a much better understanding of Marilyn's modelling career, and her relationship with Snively. It provides a much-needed backstory to her early photo-shoots, and also includes a handful of images never seen before. Beautifully written and presented, this book has both style and substance, and while it may not tell the full story of Marilyn's life, it will be a must-have for dedicated fans.


Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe (Intellect Books - Fan Phenomena)
Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe (Intellect Books - Fan Phenomena)
by Marcelline Block
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Study of Marilyn and Her Fans, 14 April 2015
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Part of an ongoing series on various fandoms, 'Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe' combines academic essays about how Marilyn is being represented today – including her Youtube presence and influence on contemporary fashion, and recent portrayals in the biopic 'My Week With Marilyn', and the TV series 'Smash' – and interviews with fans. Editor Marcelline Block shows the utmost respect for both Marilyn and her admirers, understanding that fans are not just ‘geeks’, and their knowledge and creativity helps to keep art alive. The result is a quirkier, more personal take on Monroe's legacy than is generally depicted. While 'Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe' is not a biography, it brings new insight about her enduring appeal, and provides an up-to-date companion piece for earlier cultural studies like 'American Monroe' and 'The Immortal Marilyn'.


Madonna
Madonna
by Michelle Morgan
Edition: Flexibound
Price: £15.90

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 Years of Madonna, Revisited in Style, 9 April 2015
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This review is from: Madonna (Flexibound)
Published to tie in with the 30th anniversary of Madonna's first tour - and happily coinciding with the release of her latest album - Michelle Morgan's 'Madonna' is a sumptuous pictorial tribute to the queen of pop herself. It begins with a charming introductory chapter in which the author recalls her youthful discovery of Madonna, singing 'Like a Virgin' in a pink wig on Top of the Tops back in 1984. With over 200 high quality photos on alternate pages, each accompanied by a full page of text, this book celebrates La Ciccone's extraordinary life, from her childhood in Michigan and early New York years to her long reign as the world's most successful - and controversial - female recording artist. Along the way, Morgan covers not just the major events, but also takes a more intimate glimpse at the woman behind the diva. While this is not a full-scale biography, Morgan is a thoughtful writer, providing enough detail to satisfy even the die-hard fans. The book ends around mid-2014, but although the unfolding Rebel Heart era isn't yet featured, it's easy to imagine this wonderful book being updated in a few years.


Holding a Good Thought for Marilyn: 1926-1954 The Hollywood Years
Holding a Good Thought for Marilyn: 1926-1954 The Hollywood Years
by Stacy Eubank
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.58

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Labour of Love, and the Ultimate Source on Marilyn's Hollywood Years, 22 Mar. 2015
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This 500-page tome covers Marilyn Monroe's tumultuous early life and rise to fame. What makes it different to most biographies is the in-depth focus on how her career was chronicled in the media. The wealth of material on how Marilyn was perceived in her own time is unprecedented, and even the most well-read Monroe fan will learn many significant facts that have been overlooked by other authors. The reader is also able to understand how Marilyn's public image shifted from one-dimensional sex object to beloved American icon in just a few years. And the private Marilyn - sensitive and intelligent - is not neglected. A full chapter is devoted to her trip to Korea, to entertain the US troops who helped to make her a star. Reading the many tales of her kindness and generosity, one is impressed by her being clearly so at ease with ordinary men - much more so, in fact, than she would ever be in Hollywood. Fittingly, a percentage of the profits from sales of this book will be donated to Korean War veterans. The book is illustrated with drawings of Marilyn, giving it a unique charm. An accomplished artist herself, Stacy also examines Marilyn's work with still photographers. Having started out as a model, she was more confident, and able to take control in a way that simply wasn't possible on the sets of her movies. While some of her early photo shoots were formulaic, with her best photographers - including Andre de Dienes, Philippe Halsman, and Milton Greene - Monroe posed for images that would establish her as one of the 20th century's defining beauties. A second volume, covering 'the New York years' - is forthcoming, but while this might be a heavy read for new or more casual fans, 'Holding a Good Thought for Marilyn' deserves to be known as one of the best, and most fully-researched volumes ever published about the ultimate screen goddess.


Icon: The Life, Times, and Films of Marilyn Monroe Volume 1 1926 to 1956
Icon: The Life, Times, and Films of Marilyn Monroe Volume 1 1926 to 1956
by Gary Vitacco-Robles
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Iconic: the Most Ambitious Monroe Biography Yet?, 10 Oct. 2014
There have been countless biographies of Marilyn Monroe, and yet rather than clarifying her story, this intense scrutiny has only created more mystery.

In terms of sheer girth, 'Icon' is the most ambitious biography yet - a two-volume opus, with this first tome covering Monroe's first 30 years, and clocking in at 788 pages. Analogous to Peter Guralnick's works on Elvis Presley, or Victoria Wilson's ongoing study of Barbara Stanwyck.

'Icon' is in many ways an aggregate of 50 years of scholarship. Not only does the author comb each major biography, but also reams of archive documents and more recent media coverage. With a background in psychotherapy, the author is also able to provide his own perspective, and this is where 'Icon' comes into its own.

This approach gives a panoramic overview,and sheds new light on details hitherto ignored - although at times there is a risk of reader fatigue. And at this point it is very difficult to bring genuinely new information to the table.

The second volume will cover the final 6 years of Monroe's life over around 1,000 pages. In many ways this is the most contentious and intriguing period, and I look forward to reading more of this author's take on the highs and lows of Marilyn.


Loving Amy: A Mother's Story
Loving Amy: A Mother's Story
Price: £4.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the Beehive, 27 Sept. 2014
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This is probably the best book published about Amy Winehouse to date, and given her mother's unique insight I'm not sure it can be improved upon. Unlike Amy's father, Janis has largely stayed out of the limelight. And while Mitch Winehouse may have been more involved in the tabloid drama of Amy's final years, it's clear that Janis was the main caregiver during Amy's childhood and adolescence. So even if she wasn't 'in the thick of it' later on, she remained a grounding influence until the very end. Ultimately this is a sad book, but with her wisdom and compassion, Janis Winehouse brings a clarity to her daughter's life story that has been lacking for so long. All profits go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which is making great strides in helping other young people struggling with addiction.


Refugee Radio Times
Refugee Radio Times
by Lorna Stephenson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transformation from Below, 26 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Refugee Radio Times (Paperback)
Refugee Radio is a Brighton-based human rights charity. Their projects include a weekly radio show, live events and media training, as well as mentoring, a post-traumatic resilience panel, and a cookery group. Refugee Radio Times, a new book, was compiled by Stephen Silverwood, the charity’s chief executive, and Lorna Stephenson, who also edits a monthly newsletter of the same name. The book includes personal testimonies from refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants, alongside journalism and analysis by human rights campaigners.

Refugee Radio was founded in 2008. ‘It was a deliberate choice to call it “Refugee” Radio,’ Silverwood explains, ‘as I wanted to reclaim the word as a positive thing and to resist the new-speak of “Asylum Seeker”, which had emerged laden with negative connotations…It was to become something of a barrier to some people, though,’ he admits, ‘and keeping it was an example of my personal belligerence.’

Silverwood goes on to list ‘Refugee Radio’s Top Seven Asylum and Refugee Myths.’ Perhaps the most bizarre (and unfounded) claim – that refugees eat swans – has appeared on The Sun’s front page more than once. But the most pernicious myths are far more mundane. The allegation that ‘Britain is the Number One destination for refugees’ is wildly (and provably) inaccurate, yet many in the UK still believe it to be true.

‘There’s a lot of violence, danger, threat, uncertainty,’ says psychologist Shawn Katz, an expert in trauma. ‘There are many things that are wonderful; there are a lot of movements and positive social things. But I think there are a lot of really destructive things happening at the same time.’ In ‘Stories of Trauma and Strength’, Nina Yeo – group facilitator of Refugee Radio’s Resilience Panel – includes flashbacks, nightmares, and survivor guilt among the major symptoms of PTSD.

‘It has become a journalistic cliché to refer to the life of an asylum seeker as Kafkaesque,’ Stephen Silverwood observes, in an essay comparing the Czech author’s nightmarish vision to today’s asylum process. Older contributors remind us how diversity has enriched British life, while younger migrants - such as Gharghasht of Afghan Voice Radio - can also help others to build a new identity.

‘The political background to refugee lives continues to get harder,’ Lorna Stephenson writes in the concluding chapter. She advocates a grassroots approach, or ‘transformation from below.’ Refugee Radio Times combines human interest with progressive debate, casting a firm gaze upon a turbulent world.


Public Battles, Private Wars
Public Battles, Private Wars
by Laura Wilkinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remembering the Women of the Miners' Strike, 1 April 2014
This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the most rancorous industrial dispute in modern history. The Miners' Strike began in March 1984, ending twelve months later. 'Public Battles, Private Wars' takes us to a fictional Yorkshire village, home of Mandy Walker, a mother of four. On the same day that her husband is injured in an accident at the coal mine where he works, a familiar face reappears – Mandy’s best friend from her schooldays, Ruth. As the strike begins, she persuades Mandy to join an action group headed by her formidable mother-in-law.

At first, Mandy puts to use her natural flair for cooking at rallies and meetings. But when a journalist interviews her for the local newspaper, she becomes a plain-speaking, if reluctant, voice for the miners and their families. For Mandy, who had lost much of her youthful spark amid the pressures of child-rearing, this proves to be a lifeline.

Mandy’s story is based on the experience of many others like her, in what quickly became a national movement. Women Against Pit Closures – as these groups were collectively known – offered miners’ wives like Mandy the opportunity to make their voices heard in what was primarily a male-dominated sphere.

Laura Wilkinson does not ignore the many hardships suffered by mineworkers and their families in a struggle to preserve a way of life that would ultimately vanish. Most crucially, the lives of women like Mandy and Ruth were changed beyond recognition. The days of housewives unquestioningly standing by their men were numbered. 'Public Battles, Private Wars' recalls this turbulent time in a direct, unpretentious style, bringing women’s experience to the fore where once it was marginalised.


Unholy Joy: 50 Years On - A Short History of the Profumo Affair: Including an extract from A Little White Death
Unholy Joy: 50 Years On - A Short History of the Profumo Affair: Including an extract from A Little White Death
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fine read, but poorly formatted, 17 Jun. 2013
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A thoughtful, well-researched essay about the Profumo Affair by John Lawton, followed by an extract from A Little White Death, his crime novel which was partly inspired by the scandal. (Unfortunately, the formatting of this ebook is so shoddy that it's near impossible to read at times - this is not a criticism of the author's work, but the publishers need to fix this promptly as it's extremely off-putting.)


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