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Hollywood Scent - Book Review

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by May Cross (subscribe)
I'm a writer, artist and keen photographer.
Published August 30th 2019
Update September 4th 2019
Hollywood Scent has made Avid Reader's bestselling list!

You'll be spellbound
Nick Winters is a man after my own heart as he likes movies, travel, music, coffee and pina coladas (and probably getting caught in the rain). He also loves Avid Reader Bookshop in Brisbane, like I do, which is where he chose to hold the launch of his first novel, Hollywood Scent. You can read about the event and a synopsis of the book in my article Hollywood Scent Launch.

hollywood scent, nick winters, book review, fantasy, witchcraft, tarantino
Hollywood Scent by Nick Winters (image by May Cross)


As research for Hollywood Scent, Nick soaked up Hollywood, where he now lives. He took many tours such as the Starline Tour, ghost tours and the Manson tour. I am so jealous just thinking about it. You may spot some of the thinly veiled celebrities in the book, but all their names are altered to protect the guilty, of course. But the locations are genuine, and you will recognise many (such as the Hollywood Hills, Sunset Strip and the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard) from films.

Hollywood scent, nick winters, book review, fantasy, witchcraft, tarantino
Teneille Douglas interviewing Nick Winters (image by May Cross)


Nick must be congratulated on his very timely publishing, as Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time in Hollywood has just been released. Some of the themes overlap very nicely, namely, a series of Hollywood murders, black magic rituals, and secret cults ala the Manson family. And coincidently, Pulp Fiction is my favourite Tarantino film.

hollywood scent, nick winters, book review, fantasy, witchcraft, tarantino
Book signing by Nick Winters (image by May Cross)


The main character, Lillian is lovely to look at but not very nice. Not nice at all. Think of a young Charlize Theron, but she's a few centimetres shorter than Lillian. Lillian is drop-dead gorgeous "towering blonde goddess" who wants to be the Queen of LA (like Marilyn Munro). In her Cinderella-like diamond stilettos, she is a princess treated like royalty in this modern fairy tale. It is like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with two personalities in one body. I was reminded of the popular body-swapping movies of the '80s and '90s such as All of Me, Face Off, 17 Again, Big and Turnabout (from 1940). The supernatural and magic are a key elements but the story also revolves around serious wealth and parties, romance, glamour and excitement.

hollywood scent, nick winters, book review, fantasy, witchcraft, tarantino
Book Launch at Avid Reader (Image by May Cross)


Helen is the aunty we all want (think Melissa McCarthy) or maybe she's just a mad cat woman. She lives in Beechwood Canyon a beautiful and real place, under the Hollywood sign high on Mount Lee that we are all familiar with. She collects vintage Hollywood memorabilia (as does the author). Her hopes and dreams are pivotal but be careful what you wish for. The Universe (or the Hollywood sign) may manifest your wishes (which is the secret of The Secret). The message is to be happy with what you've got as the grass is not always greener on the other side. The third major character is the Dick Tracy-like detective (think Hugh Jackman) who is a strong character but I wanted to read more about him

hollywood scent, nick winters, book review, fantasy, witchcraft, tarantino
image courtesy of publicist


The theme of happiness and beauty versus loneliness had me singing The Whitlams song: "there's no aphrodisiac like loneliness, truth, beauty and a picture of you". This is a fun but sinister romp which is very suitable for a movie. Escape with this book from your humdrum life as Helen did. Oh, what a night!

My only criticism is that the editing could be tighter to remove some minor inconsistencies and repetition. Nick, if you want an editor or Devil's Advocate for your next novel (a sequel perhaps?), I would be more than happy to read it.
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Why? good fun and a sinister romp
Your Comment
Nice article May, love the colour matching images!
by eddie (score: 1|63) 83 days ago
Well done May, I've just joined Cleveland Library so I may come across the book at sometime.
by Susan J Bowes (score: 3|1403) 82 days ago
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