Tag: Contemporary

#Diverseathon2021: Book Review and Movie Comparision: We Need to Talk about Kevin

Today I am giving my review for the February prompt for #Diverseathon2021: A main character with a mental illness. The book I am reviewing is We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver and I am also giving a movie comparison.  This month the host is Lee over at DarkestwingsRead. She is at YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram.

Her announcement post over on YouTube, and she is also hosting a GIVEAWAY!!!!  Be sure to click on that link for the giveaway information.

For full details on this year long readathon, please click here.
And don’t forget about the awesome GRAND PRIZE at the end of the year. Click the link here for that information.

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Author:
Lionel Shriver

Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Published: April 14, 2003
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 28-February 19, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Eva never really wanted to be a mother. And certainly not the mother of a boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much–adored teacher in a school shooting two days before his sixteenth birthday.

Neither nature nor nurture exclusively shapes a child’s character. But Eva was always uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood. Did her internalized dislike for her own son shape him into the killer he’s become? How much is her fault?

Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with Kevin’s horrific rampage, all in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin.

A piercing, unforgettable, and penetrating exploration of violence and responsibility, a book that the Boston Globe describes as “impossible to put down,” is a stunning examination of how tragedy affects a town, a marriage, and a family.

Jessica’s Review:

I had heard of We Need to Talk about Kevin years ago and its shocking ending.  I can say I finally read it as a part of #Diverseathon2021: February’s prompt was a character with a mental illness.   Well, I listened to the audiobook, and it was quite a challenge for several reasons.   It was 15 discs and the final disc was an author interview.  I have been listening to books through the Libby app on my phone, but this was only available as a cd, so I listened to it whenever I was in the car and it took a while to finish.

In addition to the length I had issues with the audiobook narrator’s voice. It was almost like nails on a chalk board for me. Also, Eva, our narrator and mother of Kevin is not likeable at all.  But I persevered and it ended up being worth it!

Eva speaks to the reader via letters to her husband Franklin.  Eva is very detailed, candid, graphic, and everything out there in her nearly daily letters written to Franklin.  Eva never wanted to be a mother, but Franklin longed to be a father, so Eva gave him the gift he wanted, and the result was Kevin.  Kevin was an issue with Eva from the second he was born. His birth was not an easy one and Eva felt nothing towards Kevin.  Some people should not become parents and Eva is one of them!  In some ways Eva is an unreliable narrator with her one-sidedness towards Kevin.

The novel is hard to digest and you can’t really read too much at one time, and it does tend to drag at least halfway through.  There are some shocking decisions that Eva makes that I could not believe as I read. And the Eva vs. Kevin relationship is just so messed up on so many levels. 

We Need to Talk About Kevin leaves you thinking about so many things long after you have read it.  Is it nature versus nurture?  Was Eva the cause of Kevin’s behavior with her lack of love for him?  Or was Kevin born to be a sadistic murderer?

We Need to Talk About Kevin is NOT for everyone.  It takes place just 12 days before Columbine, and the Columbine shooters and other school shooters are referenced  as well as the 2000 election.  Kevin is a very difficult read, but if you can persevere then the ending makes it worth it Kevin is a very difficult read, but if you can preserve then the ending makes it worth it.  And again, that ending I just did not see coming. Knowing the ending now, I should have seen the red herrings that were shown throughout!

I don’t think I will ever read this novel  again, given the extreme difficulty I had with it, but I am glad I accomplished it.  Many thanks to #Diverseathon2021 for ‘causing’ me to finally read this one.


Movie Comparison:Movie Trailer:

We Need to Talk about Kevin the film is very close to the novel.  It is not the format of letters, but the movie comes strictly from Eva’s perspective.  I did like how we got to see more of the aftermath of the shooting and how the town treated (or mistreated given your opinion) Eva. We get that more than we did in the novel. 

Eva does visit Kevin in prison more in the novel than the film, and there was one shocking part from the novel that did not make the film. I would have liked to have seen that particular scene. 

Eva is perfectly played by Tilda Swinton who matches the description of Eva to a ‘T’ for me: Tilda Swinton has those angular features which Eva has described in the novel.  Ezra Miller plays 15 year old Kevin and he does a fabulous job. Even ‘young Kevin’ who was played by Jasper Newell did a very good job portraying Kevin. 

This will most likely be a film I will never watch again, as it is a one time watch film due to the nature of the film. It is one that also leaves you thinking.

I would say read the book first, as you get more of Eva’s personality/ experiences in the novel and then of course that ending is so much more effective than the movie.  The movie handles it well, but again the book is much better.  It’s hard to say more about the book and film with out giving spoilers, but I would love to discuss this book and movie with someone who has read and seen both!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US

Novel
Film (It is FREE to stream if you are an Amazon Prime member)

Amazon UK
Novel
Film

Blog Tour: Book Review: It Will Be Quick by Karl Drinkwater

Today I am sharing my review of It Will Be Quick by Karl Drinkwater: This book is made up of a variety of short stories.  There will be something for everyone here!

Book Description:

A single decision can save – or ruin – a life.

An opportunistic baby theft by a young woman in pain. Two strangers shipwrecked on a lifeless rock, unable to speak the same language. An isolated cycling holiday descends into terror. One woman seeks the courage to destroy her life. A miracle unites a community, and teenagers take a stand against hypocrisy.

Karl Drinkwater presents characters to root for – and characters to dread – in sixteen tales of humanity, endurance, and spirit.

It Will be Quick
Author: Karl Drinkwater
Published: November 1, 2020

280 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 6-14, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Jessica’s Review:

This collection of 16 short stories has something for everyone! All these tales center on a decision that is made and the story varies depending on that decision.  These stories will bring a variety of emotions to the reader, and each reader will have a favorite depending on how they feel at the time of reading It will be Quick.  My preferences are thriller focused, so my favorite story was FileKiller.  I was intently reading it and there was no way I could do what Trina did: I got anxiety just by reading this one!

The stories can range in length from a few pages to the longer ones.  Drinkwater also included notes at the end of the book on how and where each came from.  This adds to each of the stories and I enjoyed that.

Purchase Links:
All links here
Books 2 Read

About the Author:

Karl Drinkwater writes thrilling SF, suspenseful horror, and contemporary literary fiction. Whichever you pick you’ll find interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

Karl has lived in many places but now calls Scotland his home. He’s an ex-librarian with degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science. He also studied astrophysics for a year at university, surprising himself by winning a prize for “Outstanding Performance”. Karl is an active member of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), the Horror Writers Association (HWA), and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).

When he isn’t writing he loves guitars, exercise, computer and board games, nature, and vegan cake. Not necessarily in that order.

Contact Karl:
Website
Twitter @karldrinkwater
Instagram @authorkdrinkwater
Newsletter

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Book Review: Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X
Author: Alexis Schaitkin

Published: February 18, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 24- December 9, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men – employees at the resort – are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth – not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

Jessica’s Review:

I am not really sure what to think of this one. It was not really good, but also not really bad, so I put it in the middle and give it three stars.  Though taking place before Natalie Holloway’s disappearance in Aruba, it was reminiscent of that story even though we don’t and most likely never will have answers to that case. 

Saint X deals with the disappearance/murder of Alison Thomas at 18 years of age on the last night of her family’s Caribbean vacation which includes her younger sister Claire at age seven.  Two native islanders are accused of Alison’s murder, but things eventually amount to nothing.

We then come to present day and Claire is all grown up. She still deals with her sister’s death even to this day and encounters one of the men who was accused of killing her sister.  Then this leads to a story of obsession on Claire’s part and reflecting on who she is and who her sister might have been. 

Saint X focuses on three people telling their story: Alison, Claire and Clive Richardson.  The three stories are blended together to get a whole picture. We also have interviews, audio diaries (yes, Claire gets to hear her own sister’s voice) and autopsy reports. 

I think why I have some issues with this one is that I was not connected to the characters, but was involved enough in the story to keep listening.  It did help me that there was a cast narration.  There are many themes dealt with throughout the novel including class, race, and privilege. Saint X gives you enough to keep you thinking. 

This one seems to be an average novel that may or may not be for you.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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