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Review & Tour: Searching for John Hughes

Searching for John Hughes

Searching for John Hughes
By Jason Diamond
William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062424839, November 29, 2016, 304 pp.

The Short of It:

Anyone growing up in the 80s is going to find this book to be a real treat but even if you didn’t grow up during the best decade ever, you’ll still find something to like.

The Rest of It:

When I was asked to do this tour and began to casually chat about the book, I was surprised by how many people I ran into who had absolutely no idea who John Hughes was. Really? My first reaction? What is wrong with you?

In 1984, the movie Sixteen Candles came out. I was a sophomore in high school. In my junior year, The Breakfast Club came out.  In my senior year, my most tumultuous year by far, Pretty in Pink debuted. ALL of these movies shaped me as a human being. So much so, that I introduced them to my kids as soon as they were old enough to understand all that teen angst. John Hughes wrote many movies and he directed some of them too but what he did best was really nail the teen experience.

Enter Jason Diamond. His infatuation with Hughes goes beyond my love of the man, in that he followed his work well into the 90s and filled notebook upon notebook with bits of knowledge about him. Searching for John Hughes IS about Diamond’s quest to write a book about Hughes but it’s about so much more.

Diamond’s childhood was troubled. Although he lived very close to some of the iconic Chicago movie locations seen in some of the films I mentioned, he dealt with physical abuse at his father’s hand, a mother who struggled to be the kind of mother she really wanted to be, and Diamond’s continued struggle to find himself.

As a teen, pretty much abandoned by his mother, he’s forced to move from couch to couch, living off the kindness of friends. School, often a challenge, provided some brief moments of clarity. Especially when one of his favorite teachers turns him on to good literature and gives him a place to stay.

This memoir has highs and lows, both good and bad. Diamond struggled with drugs and alcohol but his survival instinct always seemed to kick in when he needed it to. Moving from job to job, he began to think about writing as a career and that is when he decided to write a biography on the man himself, Hughes. A biography that never happened.

What struck me about this memoir is that Diamond is a really interesting guy on his own. His challenging childhood, his ability to always pull himself up by his bootstraps, was impressive and there was a lot that I could relate to. As much as I love Hughes, and as much as I enjoyed reading about Hughes, I almost wanted to read more about Diamond.

As some of you know, my mother passed away on November 15th. This was the first book I read after her passing and it gave me all the feels. It’s like I jumped into a time machine and went back to my senior year. Hughes knew so much about being young and wanting more. Like Andie in Pretty in Pink,  I came from the wrong side of the tracks and struggled through my high school years. I had a Duckie and a Blane and even a Steff. How could Hughes have known this? That was his appeal. Everyone viewing these movies can find someone to relate to. Rich, poor, popular or not. If you haven’t seen his movies, I implore you to do so.

Then? Read this book. It’s filled with lots of movie facts but Diamond also takes us to some of the iconic filming locations in and around the Chicago suburbs. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jason Diamond
Author: Jason Diamond
Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website, Instagram, and Twitter

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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains purchase and author links.

Review, Tour & Giveaway: Fractured


By Catherine McKenzie
Lake Union Publishing, Paperback, 9781503937826, October 4, 2016, 349pp.

The Short of It:

Say hello to crazy town.

The Rest of It:

Julie and Daniel  move to Cincinnati. Their house, somewhat charming but  mostly a copy of the other homes around them, provides the perfect view of the house across the street and that’s how the story opens.

I live in a city that is known as “Awesometown”. Yes. That is how it is advertised and it’s made the list of Top 25 Cities a few times. So when I picked up Fractured, I saw a lot of similarities to my own hometown. This grabbed my attention from page one.

So what’s the story about? Well, Julie is a well-known author. Her bestselling book, The Murder Game, put her name on the map and with it, came a stalker by the name of Heather. Heather and Julie knew each other in law school but when they lost a mutual friend, Heather became obsessed with Julie and with Julie’s recent fame, even a restraining order can’t keep Heather away, which is why Julie, her husband Daniel and their two kids move to Cincinnati.

But things are not good. Julie doesn’t fit in and the Pine Street Neighborhood Association head, Cindy, takes it upon herself to make sure Julie is miserable. Especially when it’s rumored that Julie has a thing for the married guy across the street, John.

John’s immediate attraction to Julie spells trouble. He’s happily married to Hanna (and knows it) but life in the ‘hood is drab if not boring without something or someone to look forward to and when things begin to happen to Julie, John is the run she runs to.

Have I piqued your interest?

This book is all kinds of crazy. I seriously questioned what was going on many, many times. The author plays with the timeline quite a bit and to be honest, this took a little bit of getting used to. The story is also told from John and Julie’s POV.  This also took a bit of getting used to because at the beginning, John and Julie are almost too similar. I had to keep reminding myself who was telling the story. But, by the half-way point, their characters were pretty distinct and I no longer had that issue.

Julie is a difficult character to like. She’s kind of annoying and does nothing to improve her situation. It seems as if she is always getting into trouble but man, witnessing her awkwardness makes for great entertainment.

This book is built on a big secret which the author manages to keep until the very end. Yes, you can speculate and try to guess what’s happened, because at the very beginning you know that something has happened, but you really can’t be sure until you read those final pages and it’s a fun ride, Full of interesting characters, ones you love to hate and plenty of drama to keep you engaged, Fractured is a real page-turner.

In case you missed the link above, the book featured in Fractured, The Murder Game is actually a real story and coming out in November!

If you’d like a chance to win your very own copy of Fractured, check out the giveaway details below.

Catherine McKenzie

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This giveaway is for one copy of Fractured and is open to the US and Canada. A winner will be chosen randomly by me. The book will come directly from the publisher. Only one entry per person. Giveaway closes on November 5 (pacific). I will contact the winner for his/her mailing address.