Monthly Archives: July 2020

Review: Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

Follow MeAudrey Miller is the queen of social media, chronicling her life to millions of followers. Her carefully cultivated on-line person is finally opening doors in the real world, landing her a high-profile job at a Washington museum as the queen-bee of their social media presence.

But Audrey’s huge following and thousands of likes come with a downside — it’s left her vulnerable to an on-line admirer who is willing and ready to cross the line from fan to sinister stalker. Moving to D.C., Audrey finds herself in the orbit of her workaholic friend, Cat, and her ex-boyfriend who she keeps finding her way back into bed with.

Kathleen Barber’s Follow Me is a compulsively readable, grim reminder of just how much of our privacy we can willing give up these days in order to gain followers, likes, or comments. The first half of the book is page-turningly fascinating as we jump from chapters from Audrey, Cat, and the stalker’s perspective. There are times when the story reaches chilling heights and there are multiple suspects as to the real identity of the Audrey’s on-line stalker.

It’s once Follow Me reaches the final third and answers start to be revealed that the book goes a bit off the rails. For one thing, Audrey is so self-absorbed that it becomes harder and harder to feel sympathy for her. It also feels as if the final few pages of the novel try too hard to keep us in the dark as to who the stalker really is — and once we get the reveal, it’s not quite as satisfying as it could or should have been.

By the last third of the novel, the most interesting and honest character of Cat is relegated to the sidelines.

And yet, there is still something sinister in the warnings given here. It may make you re-examine just how much of yourself you’re posting in our new digital world.

As a summer read, this one is breezy and light. It feels a bit like the far better You, without necessarily making us root for the anti-hero stalker at its core.

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Movie Thoughts: Back to the Future, Part III, The Last Action Hero, City Slickers

Caught up on a couple of movies that I saw in theaters back upon their initial release over the past couple of days.  Some of them I’ve revisited since the theatrical screening, others I hadn’t.

Back to the Future, Part III

Back_to_the_Future_Part_IIIThe fact that the AFI Movie Club list never got around to including Back to the Future still sticks in my craw.  Back to the Future is a far more essential film than, let’s say, Dirty Dancing or Parenthood.  Nothing against either of those film, but they don’t quite entertain me in the same way that Back to the Future does.

Of course, I said the same thing after rewatching Taxi Driver last summer.  (Let’s face it, if you’re picking a movie for a rainy afternoon, it’s rarely going to be Taxi Driver).

All that brings us to Back to the Future, Part III, the final installment in the trilogy.  I’ll go ahead and say that I love Back to the Future, Part II.   The travels to three different time periods and the consequences of time travel are entertaining as all get out to me.  I know that I’m in the minority on this, but I don’t care.  I love the heck out of Part II and don’t care who knows. Continue reading

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20 Books of Summer (2020 Edition)

20-books

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer, 2020 Edition.

While I’m a bit late to the party, I am going to join retroactively.  Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: Anna K by Jenny Lee

Anna K: A Love Story (Anna K, #1)Literary confession: I’ve never read Anna Karenina. And, honestly, I’m not really tempted to pick it up any time soon.

So, the thought of reading a re-telling of the story with elite, privileged teenagers standing in for Russian nobles of the day seemed like a good way of getting a taste of the story without necessarily having to commit weeks of my life to actually reading it.

Jenny Lee’s Anna K is the potato chip version of reading classic literature — tastes great in the moment, but it doesn’t have any long term nutritional value. Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks by Eric Saward

Doctor Who: Revelation of the DaleksA dark, grim television story becomes even darker and grimmer on the printed page.

I’ve often felt like “Revelation of the Daleks” was Eric Saward’s attempt to one-up what Robert Holmes did the season before with “The Caves of Androzani.” Both stories are bleak at times but are visually stunning thanks to Graham Harper directing. And while Saward does his best to try and channel Holmes with witty dialogue and double-acts, he never does quite succeed in capture what made “Caves” so special.

“Revelation of the Daleks” suffers from a lot of the issues that plagued season 22 and the move to 45-minute episodes. Each story in the season suffers from long sections of the first installment keeping the Doctor and Peri from the central action unfolding in the story as characters, situations, and worlds are created. A better novel might have streamlined large sections of the Doctor and Peri walking into the trap laid by Davros, but instead, Saward follows the basic outline of the script and makes us take every step with them. Continue reading

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Movie Thoughts: Suspicion

Suspicion_(1941_poster)How can a movie as good as this one be so utterly undone by such a discordant ending?

Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion is an enjoyable, engaging movie until the last five minutes when studio interference makes it go completely off the rails.   According to the stories, RKO felt audiences wouldn’t accept that Cary Grant’s character was a murderer and instead of following the original ending of the novel upon which the movie is based, gave us a happy ending of sorts.  Or at least a half-hearted ending wherein Grant’s Johnnie doesn’t try to kill Lina, but instead saves her from hurtling out of the car due as they race along some cliffs.

Never mind that the movie has spent the previous ninety or so minutes setting up so that we, the audience, will doubt Johnnie’s word on everything, undermining his every good intention by revealing he’s a liar and hinting that he’s eliminated people in the past to get out of debt or for some kind of financial gain.  The film even shows us how he could and probably did off his old friend, Beaky, who has a severe allergic reaction if he drinks too much hard liquor.  Continue reading

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