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Pearls, thrills and a career in Hollywood

Scrappy Little Nobody

by Anna Kendrick

The Plot An anti-celebrity memoir from a much-loved Hollywood celebrity, Anna Kendrick’s book is a loose collection of essays in which the Up In The Air and Pitch Perfect star observes her somewhat effortless career from middle-class upbringing to child star to Oscar-nominated actress with charm and left-field wit.

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

★ Unlike many celebrities who pen their memoirs, Kendrick really can write. She’s self-deprecating, funny and unimpressed with the whole fame thing. Random observation to a friend in an LA club: ‘Do they have to keep the music this loud because no one in Los Angeles has anything to say to each other?’

☆ Kendrick goes overtime on the ‘look how kooky and a bit weird and not very LA I am’. She keeps apologising for how lucky she has been. And beyond the anecdotes, there’s precious little insight.

Party Girls Die In Pearls

by Plum Sykes

The Plot Vogue contributing editor Plum Sykes dishes the dirt on upper-crust girls in this murder mystery comedy. Set in an Oxford college in 1985, it features the fragrantly named Ursula Flowerbutton, a fresher and aspiring journalist with a penchant for knee-length kilts. When Ursula discovers the body of a fellow student in full evening dress lying on her tutor’s chaise longue, she might just have the story she needs to break into the university newspaper — if she can only solve the mystery, that is.

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

★ Sykes has a ball recreating the strict hierarchy of social types — and the 1980s fashions — in this delightful, daft-as-a-brush caper as effervescent as the champagne everyone in the novel keeps necking.

☆Sykes is no Evelyn Waugh when it comes to truly skewering Oxford collegiate life. And you have to suspend an awful lot of disbelief to swallow its bonkers set-up.

Since We Fell

by Dennis Lehane

The Plot In the very first sentence of Dennis ‘Shutter Island’ Lehane’s latest crime thriller, Rachel, a TV reporter shoots dead her husband. The novel then spools backwards to reveal the before and after. We learn that Rachel became agoraphobic after breaking down on live TV while reporting from Haiti, before discovering her loving husband isn’t at all what he seems.

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

★ Lehane is a superior crime writer and this nuanced novel is both a gripping portrait of the psychological wounds we carry inside us and a stealthy, plot-twisting thriller steeped in darkness and violence as Rachel is forced to go on the run.

☆ The central plot deception is off-the-scale nuts. And having established such a thoughtful, insightful back story for Rachel, who has spent half her adult life searching for the father who left her, it’s a pity the second half descends into a succession of cheap thrills.

Get involved

Metro Book Chat is our online book club where we collate news and reviews and run a monthly competition. We want to hear from you: just read one or more of these titles and share your thoughts at facebook.com/metrobookchat. Everyone who gets in touch will be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Amazon.co.uk gift card.

(Amazon is not a sponsor of this promotion. For complete gift card terms and conditions, see www.amazon.co.uk/gc-legal)