Tag: 3.5 stars

A Simple Favor: Book Review and Movie Comparison

Author: Darcey Bell
Published: March 21, 2017
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 16-24, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.

A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

Jessica’s Review:

Unlikeable and flawed characters are in A Simple Favor, some you don’t like while some you just love to hate!  This was a good one and I listened to the audiobook. Though some parts of it were easy to figure out, I did not know how this one was ultimately going to end. There are three narrators and one is just like Amy Dunne from Gone Girl, you just want to hate her so much!  The three narrators bring us everything we need to know.

My main issue with the novel was a particular relationship that was constantly mentioned. It seemed like it was written to show the flaws of the character and also shock value from Bell. To me it was not needed and actually lessened my enjoyment of the novel. I even debated on DNF’ing (did not finish)  it due to the constant mentions of the relationship.  Another issue I had was that it comes off as a Gone Girl ‘lite’. I read Gone Girl when it first came out for a book club and absolutely loved it.  This was before the hype came out with it and now every other thriller has some form of ‘Girl’ in the title.

I know it is a movie which I watched and the movie comparison will follow. I actually pictured Anna Kendrick as Stephanie and Blake Lively as Emily as I listened to the novel. They seemed perfectly cast based off the audiobook. 


Movie Comparison:

Movie Trailer:

Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

This is a very rare case of the movie is better than the book! OMG, the movie was MUCH better!!  As with all movies, there are minor changes: Stephanie is a vlogger and not a blogger, Emily’s tattoo is different, and the police investigations are different…. But the huge difference is this: They changed the last reel of the film and really improved it from the last quarter of the book!! 

Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick were just perfect as Emily and Stephanie.  Blake captured the character of Emily to a ‘T’ and Anna Kendrick seamlessly played Stephanie’s character in all the ways she was supposed to, especially the annoyance factor of “Hi Moms” on her vlog. 

Yes, the particular relationship I mentioned in my book review is brought to life in the movie, but not the constant occurrences that the book had. We also meet other ‘moms’ in the movie that were not in the book. They brought about comic relief to the movie. 

This is a case where I say read the book first and then see the movie. They are the same story but with the diverging endings, you will have no idea what will happen in the movie.  I highly enjoyed the film.

Purchase Links:
Novel
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Film
Amazon US
Amazon UK

A Stranger in the House

Author: Shari Lapena
Published: August 15, 2017
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 8-19, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A domestic thriller packed full of secrets, and a twisty story that never stops—from the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say, Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, “Glad to be home.”

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Jessica’s Review:

I was getting nervous that I was in a ‘thriller slump’ as the last few I have read have been less than thrilling for me.  A Stranger in the House definitely had me wondering what was going on throughout.  Is Karen faking her amnesia or is it real? Is someone coming in the house? And if so, why

And what about the murder that happened close by to where Karen’s accident occurred?  The two stories intermingle with each other.  The police detectives involved seemed to be enjoying figuring out the mystery as they come to conclusions  along with the reader. 

Everything added up to where you knew what was going on in the second part of the novel, but were not sure how it was going to end.  It did become a bit too much  like a soap opera for me, but the last few pages wound up the book nicely and we FINALLY find out everything.  The ending had a bit of a mouth dropping moment for me. 

You never really know who the stranger in the house may be…..

The Stranger in the House is recommended.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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An Unwanted Guest

Author: Shari Lapena
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 29- June 7, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up. It’s winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell’s Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul. The power’s down but they’ve got candles, blankets, and wood–a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one.

They can’t leave, and with no cell service, there’s no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it’s their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there’s nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm.

Jessica’s Review:

I absolutely loved The Couple Next Door which was also written by Lapena. An Unwanted Guest had everything needed to pull me in: a very intriguing book description with a great location with complete isolation, and murder mysteries: “Help! There is a killer among us!” This was very much like Clue for me.

But that was where it stopped working for me.  Maybe there were too many characters for me to keep up with (I listened to the audiobook version) or maybe it was just too slow moving.  I am fine with character driven novels and the character development was superb, but this one just did not work for me.  I was not invested with any of the characters. I did choose to finish the novel as I wanted to know the outcome and I was glad I did continue it. That ending was unexpected!!  In a way that ending saved the novel for me as I would not have EVER seen that coming. 

I will definitely be listening to Lapena’s other novel A Stranger in the House soon.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK 

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