Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Heather Blush Book Review - Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It!

Hi everyone!! Another book review has come back in. Heather Blush is a Calgary-based singer/songwriter. According to her website, "Heather Blush and The Uppercuts are a trio of rogue troubadours who knock the socks off every new audience they meet. Their sound can be described as somewhere between the "Adult Alternative" styles of Sarah Slean and Sarah Harmer, and old "Ella/Louis-style" vocal jazz/blues. Heather’s voice is often compared to Norah Jones and Maria Muldaur. With energetic, audience-engaging shows, she is quickly becoming known for songwriting that covers all bases between witty sarcasm and gutwrenching honesty. With "Captain" Steve Hazlett on drums and recently a rotating cast of stellar upright bass players, this trio packs a punch and leaves a lasting impression."

Heather has a fantastic voice and I highly recommend you checking her and her music out online.

Since Heather is a singer/songwriter, she was the perfect person to review "Tanned, Toned and Totally FakingIt". Here are her thoughts:

“Tanned, Toned, and Totally Faking It” is an enjoyable romp through the enviable life of a pop princess. Mikayla “Mickey” Rivers is your average 20-year-old girl, full of teenage angst, at the difficult balancing point between childhood and adulthood, with one added challenge: she has transformed from college student to superstar overnight. Written in the words of Mikayla herself, the book reads as if you are hearing the story first hand over a soda in a trendy California café. Boyd teases us with the naïve voice of the young starlet, encouraging the reader to alternate empathy with the kind of finger-wagging judgment we all like to dish out for the famous when their all-too-public lives are broadcast into our daily info stream.

At the start of the book, Rivers is navigating the choppy waters of newfound fame: adjusting to a regimented diet and exercise program, resisting pressure to undergo cosmetic surgery, dealing with a demanding and self-centered manager (and former peer). She finds comfort in her friendship with her personal trainer and new best friend, Kurt, as well as her sister back home in Alberta. Things start to heat up when Mikayla meets Jordan, a charming law student at UCLA with a disdain for celebrities. Drawn in by the fact that he doesn’t recognize her as the superstar she is, Rivers begins to weave a web of deception in order to keep her stardom a secret from Jordan.

Filled with star-studded cameo appearances (David Letterman, Taylor Swift, Nick Lachey, Lindsay Lohan…) Boyd’s debut novel accurately portrays the unquenchable appetite of today’s celebrity-obsessed public.

If you’ve ever wanted to slip into Jessica Simpson’s life vicariously, this is the book for you! Recommended usage: slip this rags-to-riches fairytale for grownups into your beach bag between your sunscreen and the latest issue of People, and head for sandy shores!"

Heather Blush, singer/songwriter, Calgary, Alberta
November 1, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book Review #2 - Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It!

Bryan Wright is a book reviewer with the blog "Reading 100 All TIME Novels". He previously was on the CBC Eyeopener in Calgary on AM1010 with a weekly program. I want to thank him for reading it, as this book was far out of his normal reading list, but I appreciate his comments immensely! For more information on Bryan Wright, or on his current mission to read the "100 All TIME Novels" from a list compiled by TIME magazine, check out

Here is Bryan's review of my novel:
"Mikayla Rivers is the newest sensation on the music scene; major celebrity, highly regarded, and wealthy. But she’s also twenty years old, recently dropped out of University, unsure of herself or her celebrity status, and she has a broken heart.

And so starts Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It by Calgary author Whitney Boyd. Far from my typical read, it offered me a chance to dip into a new genre, so to speak, and enter the world of ‘chick-lit.’

For the most part the story could be considered quite formulaic, following the boy-meets-girl, or rather the girl-meets-boy storyline, where they fall in love, then out of love, and then back into love. Of course most books from this genre probably follow that same line, so Boyd shouldn’t be faulted for it. What makes or breaks a book of this genre, is the details that make their meeting and falling in love, unique.

When Mikayla first meets Jordan Baker (who shares a name with Nick Carraway’s love interest in The Great Gatsby), she’s reluctant to tell him she’s a celebrity, fearing he would either be turned off by the fact, or intimidated by it. So instead of stumbling through a series of misadventures in their dates, the reader follows the inner monologue of Mikayla, as she struggles with her ‘truth avoidance’ with the boy she loves.

The story is basically a more modern Notting Hill, told from the celebrity’s point of view. Instead of following the struggles of the commoner, dating the celebrity, we follow the celebrity, worried about the commoner.

The book was written in present tense, which gave it a very voyeuristic appeal. Instead of hearing an account of the events, after the fact, it gives the sense that one is right there, watching, almost participating, like a live sporting event. That, in turn, adds to the intimacy one develops for the main characters.

In the end, it’s the intimacy that makes the book work, as Boyd really allows the reader to get to know Mikayla, and thus really connect with the character. And she’s difficult not to like, making it easy to cheer for her, and be happy when things work out in the end.

While there is no shortage of similar style books, it’s nice to see one from a Canadian author; and a Calgarian to boot. I enjoyed that Mikayla was from Calgary, went to the U of C, and visited local Calgary haunts. Too often I see Canadian authors, especially new authors, almost attempt to hide the fact they are Canadian by setting their novels in nameless American locales. Plus, I always like a book that mentions my beloved Calgary Flames in a favourable light."

- Bryan Wright