REVIEW: THE BLONDE, BY ANNA GODBERSEN

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What if the Marilyn Monroe we all thought we knew had more layers than any of us realized? What if the ditzy blonde she often cultivated for her movies and her public was a careful cover for something much more?

In The Blonde, the author combines what we know, factually, with a fictionalized version of what was going on between Marilyn and JFK. We learn of a sinister agenda and the control that someone held over Marilyn. We also learn of her attempts to wrest that control away from her “handlers.”

A captivating story that takes us behind the scenes of the publicity machines, into the bedrooms, and into the heart and mind of a woman in love.

Other characters include an FBI agent named Douglass Walls, bent on proving that Marilyn is a Soviet spy…and the behind the scenes life of a man named Alexei, who is also much more than he seems.

We follow the characters beyond August 1962, to Dallas in November 1963. And then thirty-three years later, there is a postscript to the story.

A love story, a tale of obsession, and a thriller: I could not imagine some of the unexpected twists and turns, and the ending left me wanting more and imagining more. The details were rich, almost as if I, the reader, were in the middle of the action. I closed the last page wishing…Definitely a story that brings to life a period that many of us still ponder. 4.5 stars.

REVIEW: WISHIN’ & HOPIN’, BY WALLY LAMB

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In a delightful journey to the heart of the iconic 1960s, when innocence and naivete were still possible in young people, we follow the story of ten-year-old Felix Funnicello, a cousin of Annette’s, during one holiday season.

Wishin’ and Hopin’ is narrated by Felix, whose descriptions of the students (and teachers) in the Catholic school in Connecticut that he attends, allowed us to catch a glimpse of what life was like in small town New England in the era before computers, cell phones, and texting. As a result, we can definitely see the charm of the times.

A school play for the holiday season is the primary feature, and the reader has to laugh out loud at some of the amateurish moments, from the play itself—created by one of the students—to the costumes.

In the epilogue, we learn what happened to the teachers and students years afterwards. A story that reminds me of the TV movies made for the season. 3.5 stars.