Disney’s Land by Richard Snow

Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Publisher: Scribner
Rating: ★★★★

A propulsive history chronicling the conception and creation of Disneyland, the masterpiece California theme park, as told like never before by popular historian Richard Snow.

One day in the early 1950s, Walt Disney stood looking over 240 acres of farmland in Anaheim, California, and imagined building a park where people “could live among Mickey Mouse and Snow White in a world still powered by steam and fire for a day or a week or (if the visitor is slightly mad) forever.” Despite his wealth and fame, exactly no one wanted Disney to build such a park. Not his brother Roy, who ran the company’s finances; not the bankers; and not his wife, Lillian. Amusement parks at that time, such as Coney Island, were a generally despised business, sagging and sordid remnants of bygone days. Disney was told that he would only be heading toward financial ruin.

But Walt persevered, initially financing the park against his own life insurance policy and later with sponsorship from ABC and the sale of thousands and thousands of Davy Crockett coonskin caps. Disney assembled a talented team of engineers, architects, artists, animators, landscapers, and even a retired admiral to transform his ideas into a soaring yet soothing wonderland of a park. The catch was that they had only a year and a day in which to build it.

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its gates…and the first day was a disaster. Disney was nearly suicidal with grief that he had failed on a grand scale. But the curious masses kept coming, and the rest is entertainment history. Eight hundred million visitors have flocked to the park since then. In Disney’s Land, Richard Snow brilliantly presents the entire spectacular story, a wild ride from vision to realization, and an epic of innovation and error that reflects the uniqueness of the man determined to build “the happiest place on earth” with a watchmaker’s precision, an artist’s conviction, and the desperate, high-hearted recklessness of a riverboat gambler.

Review:

Thank you to Richard Snow, Scribner & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

“The Main Street lights coming on at dusk looked just as good to me in 2019 as they had in 1959, easing my gloomy wonder that sixty years had disappeared since Uncle Win and I had together watched them shine.” 

I had fun with this novel. I am a huge Disney fan and it was easy to see that I would enjoy this. Richard Snow really went in depth about the stories and information about Disney & Walt himself.

I am someone who has never to been to California, only to Florida. It was very interesting to learn about the history of Disneyland itself, not just Disneyworld. Every word was thought out and informational.

The only reason why I didn’t give this a five-star rating is because it could be a little dry at times. However, when giving off that much information and knowledge about a specific topic like Disney, it’s bound to happen at some point.

I’d recommend this to anyone who loves Disney and anyone who loves history. Learning about everything that happened with Walt and how certain characters came to light, etc., was very intriguing and I’m glad I picked this one up!

Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

At once a twisted psychological portrait of a woman crumbling under unimaginable pressure and a razor-sharp satire of the contemporary art scene, FAKE LIKE ME is a dark, glamorous, and addictive story of good intentions gone awry, from the critically acclaimed author of I’ll Eat When I’m Dead

What really happened to Carey Logan?

After a fire decimates her studio, including the seven billboard-size paintings for her next show, a young, no-name painter is left with an impossible task: recreate her art in three months-or ruin her fledgling career.

Homeless and desperate, she flees to an exclusive retreat in upstate New York famous for its outrageous revelries and glamorous artists. And notorious as the place where brilliant young artist Carey Logan-one of her idols-drowned in the lake.

But when she arrives, the retreat is a ghost of its former self. No one shares their work. No parties light up the deck. No one speaks of Carey, though her death haunts the cabins and the black lake, lurking beneath the surface like a shipwreck. As the young painter works obsessively in Carey’s former studio, uncovers strange secrets and starts to fall–hard and fast–for Carey’s mysterious boyfriend, it’s as if she’s taking her place.

But one thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?

Review:

I have to say, I don’t know much about modern art or the art world. There was something about this book that taught me quite a bit, but also left me feeling like I wanted to learn more. Even though I didn’t know much about what was happening surrounding the art world, it didn’t give me a sense of confusion. I feel like I personally enjoyed it more because I was learning and reading an interesting novel.

There were some turns in this novel and I think that they were all handled efficiently. The characters were a big part of the twists that you find. There’s a big sense of the narrator stepping into Carey Logan’s shoes, but what I appreciated was that they kept their own identities. I loved the fact that Carey Logan and the narrator were two separate people and that the art talked about in this book is kept apart and they are both equally important.

The thing that I liked the most about this book was that I pretty much knew what the major twist was going to be. Some might be upset or mad that they knew what was coming. However, I felt really satisfied when everything become upended and then came back down to be tied all together.

I originally classified this novel as a thriller as that’s what it was claimed to be. However, I think this has many different genres. Women’s fiction, mystery, contemporary, all wrapped into one novel. If you’re looking for a fast-paced mystery and looking to learn, I’d recommend this book!

Left to Chance by Amy Sue Nathan

Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: ★★★★

“No one knows why Teddi Lerner left her hometown, but everyone knows why she’s back.

Twelve-year-old Shayna― talented, persistent, and adorable―persuaded “Aunt Tee” to return to Chance, Ohio, to photograph her father’s wedding. Even though it’s been six years since Shay’s mother, Celia, died, Teddi can hardly bear the thought of her best friend’s husband marrying someone else. But Teddi’s bond with Shay is stronger than the hurt.

Teddi knows it’s time to face the consequences of her hasty retreat from family, friends, and, her old flame, but when she looks through her viewfinder, nothing in her small town looks the same. That’s when she truly sees the hurt she’s caused and―maybe―how to fix it.

After the man she once loved accuses Teddi of forgetting Celia, Teddi finally admits why she ran away, and the guilt she’s carried with her. As Teddi relinquishes the distance that kept her safe, she’ll discover surprising truths about the people she left behind, and herself. And she’ll finally see what she overlooked all along in Left to Chance by Amy Sue Nathan.”

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Amy Sue Nathan, and St. Martin’s Griffin for allowing me to read this book before the publication date in exchange for an honest review. 

Teddi Learner returns to Chance, Ohio after six years to photograph her best friend’s husband’s wedding. Miles is the groom and he’s getting remarried after his first wife, Celia, passed. Teddi is returning as a promise to Miles and Celia’s twelve-year old daughter, Shayna. Now that Teddi has returned, she sees everything that has changed and who she missed.

There were many things about this book that grabbed me right away and there were things that left me hanging. The synopsis intrigued me because I love the forbidden romance and the mystery of why a girl left her old town to find a new life. It was like a Lifetime series and I was very interested.

The characters were awesome. I absolutely adored Teddi and Shay. Shay was probably one of my favorite characters I’ve read. As someone who is extremely close to her mother, Shay’s character resonated with me in a sense of how I would be if I lost her. I could feel the connection and the heartbreak through Shay. Teddi had a lot of great moments too. Her dialogue was probably my favorite thing about this book.

One of my favorite narratives are the “small town” stories. I think the author did a phenomenal job when giving the reader a feel of just how small the town was. There were characters introduced like the childhood best friend and other family members. I felt like I was in the small town of Chance and I was meeting these individuals through the eyes of Teddi.

There were times that this book slowed down for me. I had to push through because I knew it would pick back up. I had to put it down sometimes, and do something else before picking it back up because it just got boring. However, when pushing through, it got much better and I had a good time reading this one. I am very interested in giving another book by Amy Sue Nathan a try.