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VINE VOICEon 8 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
On one hand, Lindy DeKoven's debut is an entertaining and escapist read that gives a fascinating insider perspective into the misogynistic and hectic world of TV development. On the other hand, like 'The Devil Wears Prada', its obvious model, it ostensibly challenges some sexist stereotypes while confirming others - and I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with Alexa's story as it developed, despite the 'empowering' ending.

Alexa Ross is vice president of comedy development at 'HBS', a primetime channel, and is proud of her ability to progress and compete in such a male-dominated industry. But when her old boss, Jerry Kellner, comes to work at HBS, all Alexa's worst nightmares seem to have come true. Jerry makes it clear that he's not only after Alexa's job, but wants the top prize, the role of president of entertainment. Alexa is determined to prove that she's a better executive than Jerry, despite his outward charm and his use of male bonding and 'schmoozing' to get ahead. However, as she embarks on a fragile new relationship with sixth-grade teacher Gordon and commits to mentoring one of his students, Marisol, retaining a work-life balance becomes harder than ever. Will Alexa choose her career or commit to her friends and family?

That question, in fact, is the problem, just as it was with 'The Devil Wears Prada'. If either Alexa or 'Prada's' heroine, Andy, had been shown to be truly ruthless or uncaring in their pursuit of promotion, I would be more sympathetic to this plotline. However, Alexa, at least (jury's probably out on Andy) clearly retains her moral centre while trying to get the top job. The most she can be accused of is working too hard, and as she clearly warned both Gordon and Marisol about the craziness of 'pilot season' beforehand, I didn't feel that she had been dishonest with either of them. In this context, Gordon's comment that Alexa is 'becoming just like Jerry' seems whiny and unjustified, not honest. DeKoven seems to have been aiming for a Miranda Priestly-esque 'You remind me of myself when I was your age' but it falls flat, especially given that Alexa goes out of her way to be supportive of her female coworkers and defend them against the worst of the men's sexism. As for Marisol, her close relationship with Alexa is simply unrealistic, given the short periods of time they have spent together, and the little that Alexa actually does to gain Marisol's trust. Given that work does not seem to be adversely affecting Alexa's personality, I could only read this as another version of the tired 'women can't have it all' trope.

This indicates a deeper problem in the novel. DeKoven is commendably clear about the damaging effects of the sexist culture at HBS and the power of the 'glass ceiling'. However - and I think, unconsciously - she confirms another set of gender stereotypes in doing so. The novel rightly suggests that it's not just outright sexism that is the problem, but a work environment that doesn't recognise women's strengths, focusing instead on the shallow glamour of somebody like Jerry. As Alexa comments to a female colleague: 'Women just don't think like that. We kill ourselves to do the best we can. We believe that if we do a great job we'll be rewarded.' While DeKoven is absolutely right that work environments should recognise both traditionally 'masculine' and 'feminine' qualities, where I think she goes wrong is in ascribing 'feminine' strengths to all her female characters, and failing to recognise, for example, that women can be good at 'guys' stuff' and some men might reject this macho culture. Alexa notes that she is good at her job because she is creative and great at communication, which is fine, but in a book that deals so heavily with gender issues, I felt that a more well-rounded, less female-coded skillset might have been appropriate for the heroine. While this might sound a tall order, it can be done - the fantastic Jojo in Marian Keyes's 'The Other Side of the Story', who also suffers sex discrimination at work, is a case in point.

While it may seem beside the point to have discussed the feminist issues that this novel raises in such detail, unfortunately these problems really hindered my enjoyment of the story, so I felt that I had to mention them in my review. For other chick lit novels that deal with similar themes in a more interesting way, I would recommend 'The Other Side of the Story' or Erin Duffy's 'Bond Girl'.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2017
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Took this book with me for a relaxing spa day, and was looking forward to a mind numbing, easy read. Whilst I enjoyed the book it was slightly more involved than I had thought. I centres around Alexa, a television executive and her climb up the career ladder, the glass ceiling and sexism that exist. Whilst I enjoyed the story, there were elements that felt contrary to what I felt the author was trying to portray. For example in trying to beat her male colleague she becomes more ruthless and more like him, one of her friends then copies Alexa's behaviour but blames her because she wouldnt have done this if she hadnt seen Alexa acting like this- . We are also led to believe that Alexa cant cope at the top, and she ends up quitting- for a feminist novel it struggles in parts not to portray Alexa as weaker than the men, or that her behaviour is unacceptable, when those aspects have been accepted in male colleagues- eg working hard and expecting their spouse to understand and support them. It also portrays all of the male executives as being in the same vein- I've never worked in American TV but would like to believe that although there may still be some sexism that this isnt as widespread and all pervasive as this book- the only 'decent' male was the non TV exec boyfriend. Despite this I was able to overlook this and did enjoy the book.
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on 3 August 2016
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The writing style is quite poor which is saddening for a lover of romance fiction. I also thought that the language used was quite crass throughout the book, almost like it was used to bring something to the story. I also found it a bit plodding.
I found the story line quite slow and over descriptive in places which made you think "get to the point". I did find that sometimes It read like a transcript rather than anything entertaining which was rather annoying. I was very surprised I made it to the end of the story and then I was disappointed with the ending.

I was expecting this story to have a very ballsy independant woman but it just doesn't have it. Every woman seems to be struggling in a mire of male inappropriate behaviour. Kind of thought it was a bit stereotypical of a women struggling in a mans world kind of story line.
It would have been nice to see a strong independent women making a success of herself without the need of a mans help because let's face it not all women need a man they want a man and that is the difference.

I did also get a little confused in the story as you do with an escapism book, Lindy decided to make a different personality at one point showing a super bitch side to Alexa but even that didn't fit and fell through because she reverts back to the normal behaviour again quite quickly. All in all, very disappointing.
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VINE VOICEon 12 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I enjoyed this book on an off-the-shelf-in-a-supermarket kind of a way. The story carries you along nicely and you want to see if the baddie gets his comeuppance and if the romantic pair finally get together. It's a very daytime TV kind of book. There is a problem, though.

Primetime Princess suffers from some of the sexism portrayed in the book:

The heroine, Alexa, is shown to be insecure because of her gender, distracted by emotion and easily intimidated - all the weaknesses men pin onto women in business. Yet Lindy DeKove attempts to tell the reader she is a successful powerful woman. She turns her into a superbitch at one point to prove she can be that, too. Somehow neither personality really convinces.

The story needs the balance of ballsy independant ladies and it just doesn't have it. Every woman seems to be struggling in a mire of male inappropriate behaviour.

Alexa comes across as one very sweet, but sappy, lady and by two-thirds of the way through the book I was convinced that she was totally undeserving of the promotion she so badly wanted because of this.

What DO you want? I wanted to ask: work-life balance is not an option in the TV industry.

I know this may be how it really is, but as a buyer of escapist fiction, do I want to read that much detail?

The sudden turn-round of the women at the end provides a kind of satisfactory conclusion, but somehow the whole book feels based too much in reality, too factual. What it needs is a good dose of Jackie Collins-esque send up of the whole ridiculous reality. Here things are just a little too earnest.
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VINE VOICEon 18 November 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
But I did. First, the blurb -
"High heels, hijinks, and head honchos in Hollywood Chauvinism. Cutthroat competition. It's all in a day's work for Alexa Ross, vice president of comedy development at Hawkeye Broadcasting System. After years of fighting her way through the Hollywood boys club, Alexa thinks she's finally free of Jerry Kellner, her sleazy ex-boss until she learns that Jerry is her newest employee. Now it's all-out war at HBS, and Jerry is determined to destroy Alexa. Good thing Alexa has her charming boyfriend, Gordon, and her best girlfriends for emotional support. But the pressure in her life forces her to a breaking point, and she finds herself wondering what matters most and if she has the strength and the determination to finally shatter the glass ceiling without ruining the rest of her life."
From that I expected the book to turn out to be a typical Hollywood saga, but I was wrong. It appears the author has experience as a TV executive and I suspect that some of the story comes from real life. Told in the first person, Alexa travels a road that leads her to become the ruthless executive she once despised, where winning is all that matters. As you might expect this is also a tale of redemption and I finished the book thinking, "Whew! I'm glad that happened!"
Well drawn characters, a good storyline told at a fast pace, this book is likely to keep you reading past your bedtime. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 15 May 2015
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I won't hold back , considering the author is a wealthy and successful TV executive (had this been the debut by some innocent young flower trying her best to write her first chic-lit novel, I'd have been more kind.)

This is an interminably dull book. Considering it is fiction, the writer had an open canvas to pour out exciting and engaging happenings. But instead decided to stay safe and write generic diary events in the life of a person we have no reason to care about. It is reminiscent of all those cliché-filled TV drama series about people in media. Typical American bland office affairs and faux comedy that goes nowhere.

The writing style is poor. Crass language, and a plodding, slow and unexciting story. It reads like a court transcript rather than anything entertaining. "I had a coffee with x", "I sat at a table while he talked about something then went home"

Why bother writing fiction if you don't make stuff HAPPEN?
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VINE VOICEon 17 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I almost want to just post a link to Laura T's review and follow it up with "This."

There is a lot to like here. It's an interesting story - a female executive trying to make it in the male dominated entertainment industry, up against an ex-boss who exemplifies all the worst of it - and it serves as a fascinating behind the scenes look. It makes an good study of gender discrimination in a very macho environment without being preachy or bogging down the pace. Lindy DeKoven has a very easy, readable style and it was a very enjoyable book. It'd be a good holiday read.

However, I felt really let down by the ending which just seemed to reinforce the idea that women can't succeed in that kind of environment without supposedly becoming terrible people. I hardly think that working long hours is equivalent to turning into the kind of ruthless egomaniac that Jerry the ex-boss was supposed to be, but that's what was suggested in the book. A message which the lead character then accepts and everyone around her reinforces. I wound up feeling like a lot of the people in the character's life were just being unreasonable, yet it's presented as her learning some great life lesson.

It's not by any means a bad or unenjoyable book, I think it just lost its own message somewhere in the latter half.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was really interested in reading this book since I've always been interested in the television industry.

It's about a woman who has gone from secretary to a senior management position within a television company.

The characterisation is well developed and believable. It's a good summer read book in the 'woman against the male dominated industry', It's light, but thought provoking too.

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on 8 September 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thought I was going to enjoy this (by page 35 I actually wanted to punch Jerry!) but the whole book just doesn't sit well with me - e.g. the 2 steel balls sat on her desk ("Now you have 4" being the note from Alexa's friends)
I can see where the book is trying to go - showing an ambitious woman trying to overcome her equally ambitious but pig of an ex-boss who is trying to beat her to the top job, but there is just way too much detail in the book (perhaps some of it based on fact?) for it to be an enjoyable novel. Its almost as if the author was trying to write the screenplay to turn it into a film.
I don't read an awful lot of books nowadays but once I get into something I do tend to read way past my bedtime without noticing the time; however I found this very easy to put down and leave for hours - or even days.
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VINE VOICEon 26 May 2015
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a hilarious book charting the scheming, backstabbing and plainly jaw droppingly twists and turns in the US tv sector.

Typical main character with attitude and various excellently cringeworthy colleagues. There are some great descriptive lines, so full of emotion and so often interrupted by over bearing male tv executives.

A book that can be reminded of the devil wears prada, but on tv! Many of the observations are truly recognisable and so well written, it has the reader both gripped and almost cheering for the lead character.

If you want a soap opera in a book here it is, modern, full of twists and entirely primetime!
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