Category Archives: review

Audiobook Review: Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee

Rayne & Delilah's Midnite MatineeDelia’s dad vanished from her life just after her eighth birthday, leaving behind a love of b-grade horror movies and a plethora of nagging questions. He also left stacks of VHS tapes with the horror films.

With her best friend Josie, Delia shares the horror films on their hit public access show, Midnite Matinee using the alter egos Rayne Ravencroft and Deliah Darkwood.

As they graduate from high school, both girls face questions about their future. Josie wants to pursue a career in television but is juggling options from staying in Jackson to do the show with Delia and an internship with the Food Network while attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Josie’s also got a new romance with Lawson, a burgeoning MMA fighter who distressingly (to Josie) counts pancakes as his favorite food. Delia struggles with feelings that everyone she loves abandons her and with what to do with the information she’s paid a private investigator to track down about her father.

The solution to many of these problems could come at the annual Shudder-Con in Orlando, Florida if the two can find a way to attend. Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

The Rest of the StoryEmma Saylor expected the three weeks following her father’s wedding to be filled with lazy days by the pool with one of her best friends, Gretchen, trying to catch the eye of cute twin-brother lifeguards. But a health emergency in Gretchen’s family leaves Emma and her father scrambling to find somewhere she can stay (their new house is under constructions and her Nana’s apartment is being renovated).

The last place Emma Saylor expected to land was North Lake, the area her mother grew up. Divorced from her father a decade ago and then overdose five years later, Emma has always felt a bit of a hole in her life when it comes to knowing who her mother was and where she came from.

Could three weeks give her some answers or possibly begin to fill in The Rest of the Story? Continue reading

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Review: Camino Winds by John Grisham

Camino Winds (Camino Island #2)John Grisham rarely writes sequels or follow-up novels. But given how wacky 2020 has been so far, it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that Grisham is giving us not one but two sequels this year.

Camino Winds revisits the book-central world of Camino Island and bookstore owner Bruce Cable. As a hurricane bears down on the island, most of the residents flee but a few hearty souls stay on the island. Apparently, a hurricane is an ideal setting for a nearly perfect murder. That’s exactly what happens early on in the story and then things slowly begin to spiral out of control as Bruce attempts to solve the mystery.

As with all things Grisham, there is more going on here than meets the eye. There are a few twists and turns along the way, but I couldn’t help but feel as if Camino Winds existed on island time.

Nelson Kerr is one of the authors that regularly participates in Bruce’s writer dinners on the island. The author of four novels that sold well (this book, like <i>Camino Island</i> pulls back the curtain a bit on the writing industry), and he’s working on his fifth. His latest centers on nursing home fraud and how patients’ lives are possibly being extended for billions of dollars in federal government payments. Nelson’s fiction may have hit too close to home and he’s suddenly the target of several large corporations who want to keep this cash-cow going.

As with a lot of recent Grisham, you do have to wade through a few passages intended to sway you into thinking whatever social injustice is taking place is the worst thing ever and how we could or should be taking steps to fight against it. In a related note, I’m finding it easier to skim these to get back to why I’m here — to have some type of resolution to the central mystery.

If your usual expectation of Grisham is a pulse-pounding, page-turner, odds are you’re going to be disappointed by this one. If you’re looking for a laid back, summer mystery read that is character-driven and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, give this one a try.

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Review: The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

The DilemmaFor her fortieth birthday, Livia is throwing herself the party she never had on her wedding day. Hastily marrying Adam due to an unexpected pregnancy, Livia has been waiting for and anticipating this day for twenty-two years, putting aside money to pay for a lavish party with all her friends and family there.

All of her family except her daughter, Marnie. Marnie is studying abroad and can’t justify the expense or time-off from her studies to come home for the party.

Set the day of the party and unfolding hour-by-hour like an episode of 24, B.A. Paris’ The Dilemma finds storm clouds gathering on the horizon the day of Livia’s big party. Both Livia and Adam know a secret — a secret which could devastate the other if found out and would certainly taint the party and the long-anticipated celebration. But as the day unfolds, can Livia and Adam keep those secrets. And if they do, will keeping them hurt them more in the long run? Continue reading

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Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

The Wife Who Knew Too MuchConnor Ford is the one itch that Tabitha Girard has never been able to resist scratching. It begins during their teenage years when Connor and Tabitha have a summer romance while she works as his grandmother’s country club. Connor’s grandmother doesn’t approve of the pairing and soon finds a way to break the two up.

Years later, Connor wanders into the restaurant/bar where Tabitha is waitressing, and the two attempt to pick up where they left off. The only things standing in their way are Tabitha’s recently released from jail ex-husband and Connor’s wealthy wife, who are suspects that Connor is stepping out on her. Thanks to an iron-clad prenup, if Connor leaves his wife, he loses everything.

So, when Connor’s wife turns up drowned in her swimming pool after a summer party and Tabitha reveals she’s expecting Connor’s child, suspicions begin to mount. After quickly and quietly marrying Connor, Tabitha begins to suspect that her new husband may be keeping secrets from her — deadly secrets. Continue reading

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Movie Thoughts: The Invisible Man (2020), Scoob

The Invisible Man (2020)

The_Invisible_Man_(2020_film)_-_release_posterWatching Blumhouse’s latest take on The Invisible Man after watching the latest installment of HBO’s I’ll Be Gone in the Night probably wasn’t the best idea.

Or maybe it was because after seeing an hour focusing on the quest to find a real-life sociopath that (until recently) came up empty, spending two hours watching a fictional sociopath get caught in the end was a bit more satisfying.

The Invisible Man is a fascinating, suspenseful film that delights in making you pay close attention to every scene.  Every bit of apparently empty background could have the titular character hiding it, ready to spring out and terrify our heroine, Cecilia.   The movie even toys with the audience a bit, giving us long, lingering shots of empty rooms or hallways, almost as if daring you as a viewer to see if you can spot some clue that the Invisible Man is lurking there.

Escaping from her abusive and manipulative boyfriend, Cecilia is shocked when the boyfriend apparently kills himself and leaves behind a large sum of money to her.  However, before long, Cecilia begins to suspect that Adrian is still alive and trying to pull her strings in an attempt to either win her back or force her to return to him by cutting all her means of support.  Continue reading

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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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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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Audiobook Review: It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood

It Sounded Better in My HeadEighteen-year-old Natalie’s life is in a bit of turmoil. Waiting on her final exam scores that will determine her future collegiate and possibly professional choices, her parents pick Christmas Day to inform her they’re divorcing. Meanwhile, her best friends Zach and Lucy are dating and Natalie finds herself suddenly attracted to Zach’s “bad boy” older brother, Alex.

Natalie suffers from self-esteem issues from severe acne that has left scars — both physical and emotional.

But as she continues to be drawn to Alex, could it be that he’s drawn to her as well?

Nina Kenwood’s It Sounded Better in My Head is a refreshing entry in the young adult genre. As Natalie tries to come to terms with the vast changes taking place in her life, the first-person narration is always authentic. Natatlie’s confusion and concerns at this crossroads in her life ring true on each page (or in my case, in each minute of the audiobook). As Natalie struggles with her feelings about Alex and her changing world, I found myself rooting for her. And not necessarily for a perfect ending to everything, but one that rings true and works for Natalie.

It Sounded Better in My Head doesn’t find an insta-fix for all of Natalie’s concerns by the final pages. But it find a nice conclusion to the journey she takes over the course of this book. And while I was completely satisfied with where Natalie’s story ends in this novel, I wouldn’t be opposed to future books checking in on her and giving us a bit more of her journey.

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