Starlet’s Web by Carla J. Hanna

Starlet's Web by Carla J. Hanna(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

A-list actress, 17-year-old Liana Marie Michael struggles to find herself when Hollywood’s obsession with youth and power threatens to destroy her future.

Liana is dating Hollywood’s hottest heartthrob while filming her seventh motion picture with sexy co-star Byron. Surrounded by a culture of casual sex and adult responsibilities, Lia feels lost and confused. With her film soon to wrap, her acting contracts up for renewal, her high school graduation looming and growing tension between her and smart, religious jock, Manuel, life feels overwhelming. Will Lia find the courage to share her love for Manuel, a guy unimpressed with Hollywood? In the eternal quest for youth, what life-shattering secrets has Lia’s mom been keeping from her? Can Manuel accept Lia’s role in Hollywood’s web of lies?

STARLET’S WEB is not only a love story. With fast-paced narrative that reflects Hollywood’s hyper-drive lifestyle, Ms. Hanna transports the reader into an actor’s daily life and demonstrates how difficult it is for young adults to break free from a path created by someone else – even when it is a successful one.

[Full disclosure: Carla J. Hanna’s agent contacted me and gave me a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.]

This is not the sort of book I’d normally read, but I’m glad I did, even if it was a little rough around the edges.  What I mean by that is Starlet’s Web had great characters, a decent plot and a good message, but fell flat when it came to dialogue and having a believable ending.

Marie is a child actress who got her start at age 14 and is now 17 going on 18.  And although it looks like she has everything she could ever want, Marie is far from happy.  She’s in love with her best friend and thoroughly disgusted with the Hollywood lifestyle that promotes drinking, drugs and sex, even to minors.  In addition to her hectic filming and publicity schedule, she also attends high school, which just adds to the stress.  Some people might criticize Carla Hanna for making Marie drop dead gorgeous and being fully aware of it, but that’s not the most important part of her characterization.  I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that Marie, quite understandably, is not ‘whole’ in the beginning because of what she has gone through in Hollywood.

For a book with ‘spiritual elements’, Starlet’s Web never really degenerated into Preachy Mode.  Marie’s journey of self-actualization and recovery feels real and the conclusions she comes to make sense in the context of the story.  The only thing I really had a problem with was that this self-actualization was realized in the form of long speeches to other characters.  I don’t know about you, but most people aren’t Greek orators and don’t give page long speeches without using a single contraction or any slang at all.  There were times the dialogue was painful, but considering the rest of the story is very good, I suppose I can forgive Carla Hanna for that.

Near the end there’s a huge plot twist that actually explains a lot of Marie’s problems throughout the novel.  It’s terrifying and definitely adds a lot of drama, but you’ll enjoy it if you’re the sort of person that likes generally happy endings.  I felt that things were wrapped up a little too well considering the relatively dark tone of the novel, but that’s more of a personal preference than anything.  Overall, Starlet’s Web was a great book that had me cheering for Marie the whole way.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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4 comments

  1. Carla J. Hanna

    You are an awesome reviewing machine! Thank you for your review of my “happy ending” YA romance! I know you are so tired of happy endings and love triangles in YA. I noticed a thread on Goodreads recently that reflected your rant and think you are all right on. Perhaps you’ll get your realistic ending in YA but I’m not sure any writer would dare break that genre expectation for fear of disappointing the romance reader. I like happy endings, too, but also reflected the first two stages of grief in Starlet’s Web: denial and anger to leave it with that realistic negative tone mixed with hope. The second book, Starlet’s Run, goes through all 5 stages of grief and then some but hopefully also gives readers tools to stay positive and move on. Again, Carrie, thanks for taking the time to read and review. You rock!

  2. Carla J. Hanna

    Of course! I look forward to the interview! I talked about the screenwriter I used to meet when we walked our dogs. I didn’t name her since her son is an Alan. I’m sure you understand that I don’t want to be a name-dropper. Thanks.

  3. Pingback: Giveaway: Starlet’s Web & Starlet’s Run by Carla J. Hanna | The Mad Reviewer

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