Review: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

The Perfect GirlfriendThe Perfect Girlfriend turns the “crazy ex” thriller on its head a bit by taking us inside the mind of one of the craziest ex’s you’ll ever meet.

Since Nate asked Juliette for some time and space, she’s been more than willing to give it to him. Eventually, he’ll realize what Juliette has known since they first met — they are meant for each other. In the meantime, Juliette still has Nate’s keys, his passwords, and multiple social media accounts to keep up with all his moves. She wants their paths crossing again to look completely natural and not planned down to the last detail.

Karen Hamilton’s debut novel puts us inside Juliette’s head, getting to know her motives and justifications in her lifestyle makeover and pursuit of Nate. Early on, Juliette hints there may be things from Juliette’s past in play that make the whole game to win Nate back a bit more twisted and devious than it might appear at first. Hamilton walks a fine line between creating sympathy for Juliette and readers being horrified at the lengths she will go to in order to win Nate back.

The first three-quarters of the novel unfolds with a growing sense of dread, tension, and growing horror at just how far Juliette is willing to go. But in the first quarter of the book, things begin to slowly break down as revelations surface and narrative threads come together. And it’s at this point that the book begins to lose a bit of its momentum and comes to a close that isn’t satisfying. The actual ending of the book is a bit abrupt and really left me wondering if there wasn’t an extra chapter or two somewhere on the cutting room floor.

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Top Ten Tuesday: The Movie is Better

 

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Time again for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week,  we have an adaptation from novel to screen freebie.  It’s easy to say the book is better and in many cases it is. But there are times when the screen adaptation ends up being more enjoyable than the source material.  Here are a few:

  1.  The Godfather by Mario Puzo.  Given the iconic status of the movie version, it’d be easy to assume the book is awesome too.  After all, Puzo did adapt his novel for the silver screen.  And yet, reading the book, I wasn’t overly impressed with it in quite the same way as I was with the movie.
  2. Jaws by Peter Benchley.  Another iconic film that you’d assume the source material is awesome.  The screen versions hones the book down to its essentials and it’s much better for it.  The book has so many unlikeable characters that by about halfway through it, I was rooting for the shark to just eat everyone already and be done with it.
  3. Forrest Gump by Winston Groom.  If you love the movie, avoid this book at all costs. Forrest goes to outer space, is lost on a deserted island, and becomes good friends with a space chimp.   Oh, and the reason Jenny loves him in the book has less to do with the size of his heart and more the size of something else…
  4. The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming.  Even Fleming knew this was a terrible book.  When he sold the screen rights to the Bond books, one of his demands was that while they could use the title from this book, the book itself couldn’t be adapted.  And it’s a good thing since this one is a first-person narrated story by a woman, trapped in a hotel with some killers until Bond shows up in the last few pages to save the day.
  5. Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle.  The movie takes the basic premise and runs with it in an entirely different direction. Thank heavens. This one tries hard to have a twist, but it’s so silly.
  6. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R..R. Tolkien.  Before Fellowship of the Ring hit theaters, I joined a Barnes and Nobel on-line read-a-long of the books, hoping this was the time I could slog through them all.  I left the group when some participants were posting long diatribes that the movies were leaving out small details from the books and, thus, ruining them.  Again, this was BEFORE the movies came out.  I’ve tried hard to enjoy the books but find them a bit of a slog.  The movies eliminate page upon page of walking around and simply get us there.

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Throwback Thursday: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Throwback Thursday is a weekly feature hosted by Tenacious Reader to highlight books from the past. It can honestly be anything as long as its not a book that is a current release. Maybe its a book that I read and reviewed and just want to highlight, maybe its a book I read before I started reviewing or maybe its a book that has a sequel coming out soon or maybe its a backlist book from my TBR that I just want to revisit and decide if I will make the time to read. Pretty much, anything goes. 

StephenKingPetSemataryI “discovered” Stephen King in my teens, starting with Firestarter. While that one didn’t do much for me, I quickly moved onto Cujo and that one scared the fool out of me.  From that point onward, I was hooked and I’ve been an avid fan of King ever since.

Somewhere along the way, I read Pet Sematary.  Like Cujo, it unnerved me while reading it and parts of it have stuck with me to this day.  I think King has never tapped into fear more than in the scene when Louis tries to keep his toddler son, Gage, from running into the road.  It unnerved me then and it unnerves me today.

I’m re-reading the book via audiobook and finding that it’s still as intense and riveting as when I first read it.  I just got to the sequence in question when Gage dies and it’s still unnerving as all get out.  And I’ll admit that part of me finds irony in the fact that a lot of my listening is during runs, pushing Shortcake in her stroller.  We run on the sidewalk on a busy road and I’m a bit worried at times when I can see the large percentage of people paying more attention to their cellular devices than watching the road.

In his new introduction to the book, King admits that this novel is one that scares even him and that he wasn’t planning to publish it.  But he had to fulfill a contract and so he took it out of his desk drawer and published it.

I’ve seen the original movie version and, quite frankly, it didn’t bother me nearly as much as the novel did.  I’m intrigued to see the new movie, even though they made some changes, and see if it can capture the blood-chilling nature of the book.   I’ve seen articles that call the book unfilmable and I have to admit part of me thinks this may be true.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Inspiring Quotes

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Trying to get back into the swing of book blogging and I thought I’d participate in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s topic is inspiring quotes from books.  I may not get to to ten, but here are a few I like.

  1. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”  –Neil Gaiman, Coraline
  2. “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. — Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
  3. “IT IS IMPORTANT, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size.”  — Mark Lawrence, Red Sister
  4. “I’d far rather be happy than right any day.” — Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  5. “Only children tell the whole truth, you know. That’s what makes them children.” — Stephen King, Pet Sematary 
  6. “Believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon.”  — Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

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Reading With Shortcake

It’s been a while since I checked in on Reading with Shortcake.  But not for lack of reading to her.  If anything, we’ve read a lot of books together — most of them many times.   It’s to the point that she can recite some of them to us and even knows when to turn the pages (which I’ve got to get on video soon, I keep reminding myself).

Here’s some of what we’ve been reading:

Another Monster at the End of This BookAnother Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

After picking up a copy of the original Monster at the End of This Book for Shortcake, I was both excited and wary of this sequel.

We checked a copy out of our library and I’ve got to admit this one isn’t quite up to par with the original. The concept is the same — Grover is worried about a monster at the end of the book but instead of trying to keep the reader from turning pages, this time he’s trying to keep Elmo from proceeding to the final page with the promised monster.

This book confirms what many of have suspected for years — Elmo is a jerk. He knows Grover is worried about this monster but keeps tearing down every defense Grover throws up to get to the promised monster at the end of the book. All while claiming to be Grover’s friend.

We love the original. This one just isn’t quite as good. Continue reading

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Shelf Space

Author Fonda Lee took to Twitter recently, lamenting the lack of shelf space in her local Barnes and Nobel for new fantasy authors. In the post, Lee points out that J.R.R. Tolkien had “3.5 shelves worth of space” and Robert Jordan had “2.5 shelves.”

Putting aside that 2.5 shelves of space for Jordan probably adds up to a total of four books (cause man, that guy wrote some huge tomes!), I find Lee’s comments interesting.  I understand her point about new authors trying to find a way to break into the publishing ranks and even her point that it was difficult to find novels that had either been recently nominated for or won genre awards.

When Barnes and Nobel opened a store that was convenient to where I shopped and did my errands, I was excited.  I frequented the store regularly and enjoyed browsing the aisles to find something new that may not have necessarily been on my radar at the time.  These days, it’s been months since I darkened the door of that local Barnes and Nobel.   And a large part of it ties into Lee’s lament.

In the past five years, I’ve noticed that more of the floor space of Barnes and Nobel has been given over to items that may or may not necessarily be related to the reading experience.  Everything from toys and games to collectible figures to things associated with reading.  I’ve also noticed that the amount of room for actual books has decreased dramatically.  At first, it was a shrinking of the shelf-space for new releases, then slowly the aisles for each genre seemed to become smaller.  What was first two and a half aisles for sci-fi and fantasy has become one and a half.  Same thing for mystery novels.  And while we get a bit of space given over to new releases, I find that what whoever deems a book worthy of such a spotlight has very different tastes than I do.

Insert rant about how much shelf space in the SF/F aisle paranormal romance gets these days here.

I understand what Lee is saying about the limited shelf space being given to older books by authors who may or may not necessarily be still around.  And while I share her concerns, I feel certain if we asked the buyers at Barnes and Nobel why this was, it would go back to the old adage that things like Tolkien and Jordan move product.

Look, I’m all for the classics getting shelf space.  Certainly, they’ve a proven track record and that fact that they keep finding Tolkien to publish (I expect his grocery lists to be published at some point) means he and other authors are always going to take up some shelf space.  I just wish that the experience of going to Barnes and Nobel was closer to what it was when my local store first opened and not what it is today.  I feel like the stores have become more about book adjacent items and less about the books themselves.

And that’s a shame.

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TV Round-Up: The Orville: Identity, Parts 1 & 2

identity2For most of this season, I’ve felt like the better episodes of The Orville have come from everyone but Seth MacFarlane.  And then, he has to go and deliver what is probably the best episode of the series so far with “Identity, Part 2.”

This two-part installment felt like The Orville’s attempt at “Best of Both Worlds,” taking our characters to some dark, scary places all while facing the potential obliteration of humanity at the hands of robotic beings.  And while the cliffhanger here isn’t quite up to “Mr. Worf, fire!” (to be honest, few cliffhangers are), it was still enough that I was glad I’d let episodes build up on the DVR and didn’t have to wait a week to see how it all played out.

MacFarlane and his writing staff pull a lot of threads into focus here, from the romance of Doctor Finn and Issac to the on-going conflict with the Krill to the revelation of why Issac was really on the ship to begin with.  Watching as Issac and his robotic others revealed that Issac was there less to learn about becoming a member of the Union and more to probe for weaknesses and possible ways to destroy humanity really put the comment about his race being “incredibly racist” from the pilot into a completely different light. Continue reading

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