Tag: fiction

Letters from the Looney Bin

Author: Thatcher C. Nalley
158 Pages
Published: June 11, 2014

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars

Description from Amazon:

LETTERS FROM THE LOONEY BIN is a #1 Amazon Bestseller! In the late 1970s the Emerson Rose Asylum became completely abandoned – all the patients, doctors, staff, vanished and were never seen again. The events circling this mass exodus have been one of the most baffling disappearances in history. Until now. A stack of bundled letters was found inside a tattered asylum mattress during the Emerson demolition. These letters, all addressed to the pseudonym Dr. Quill, were written by the patients as they documented the demise of the Emerson Rose Asylum. The patients innocently convey their dire pasts while the events occurring hint toward dark happenings outside their doors. Haunting, their words conjure feelings both grim and promising, as they secretly conjure a plan of mass exodus from the volatile institution. The names have been changed, but the stories have not. Though their identities are protected, the essence of these patients’ challenges, triumphs, corruptions, salvations, and most of all, their human spirit, remains untouched. Their journey will become your journey as the patients chronicle their final months in these, Letters from the Looney Bin.

Kim’s Review:

Here’s another one that I can’t tell if it’s real or not! I definitely seem to gravitate towards books like that! And this one is really good! Crazy people are so fascinating. Combine the insane with an insane asylum and a conspiracy, then you have Letters from the Looney Bin. I loved reading all about why each inmate has been committed. And then to see their discontent with their doctors. I know that this will probably show my ignorance, but dude, I’d love to go to an asylum! Who wants to come visit Emerson Rose Asylum with me? Ivan won’t come with me to any abandoned buildings . . . he doesn’t want to get arrested. Where’s the fun in that?? Well, I read this book in one sitting. I found it intriguing and mysterious and downright engrossing! I absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys psychiatric hospitals or mysteries or secret conspiracies! An awesome 5 star read!!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

A Double Review of My Best Friend’s Exorcism

Today is a double review!!! Kim and I both enjoy doing these. Everyone experiences life differently, and therefore has different reading experiences with books. That is why I enjoy reviewing so much: There are so many different opinions and with My Best Friend’s Exorcism we get that. Kim and I have totally different reviews and thoughts of the novel. We both listened to the audiobook and one of us enjoyed it and one of us not so much….

Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars
Jessica’s Rating: 3 Stars
Published: May 17, 2016
Audiobook

Description from Amazon:

A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession. The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The ExorcistMy Best Friend’s Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of ’80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller.


Kim’s Review: 

I listened to this book on audio, but I did read the physical book last year as well. This one is a bit more difficult to review because I’m kinda shallow when it comes to getting those subtle little things that songs and books try to convey. But after reading this book a second time, I do have a theory. I think this book is simply about the drama of high school. Yes, there is an actual exorcism and demon possession but I’m pretty sure it’s all supposed to be a metaphor. It’s hyperbole . . . boom, obscure literary term!

Abby and Gretchen have been friends forever. Inseparable since 4th grade and Abby’s birthday party where only Gretchen showed up. They had grown up together, at least as far as their sophomore year of high school. And then, everything changed. As one of the unpopular kids, I completely relate to a lot of the things happening in this story. To be on the fringes of high school hierarchy. At least, I never even entered the popular group, so I didn’t know what I was missing. But Abby and Gretchen were some of the most popular girls in their grade. I can only imagine the things that Abby feels when everything changes. A lot of it is typical high school girl stuff, but stretched to the fantastic and unbelievable. Anorexia, crushes on teachers, infidelity, friendship. All such big deals to teenagers and all dealt with here.

And though there is an exorcism of a demon, this wasn’t meant to be a Christian book and I don’t think Hendrix was trying to pass judgement on religion. Like I said, this is more metaphorical than realism. Aside from the language and soft sexual themes, I would actually recommend this to older teenagers. If nothing else, then to show that sometimes friendships last past high school, but most times they don’t, and that’s ok.

Jessica’s Review:
Dates Listened: October 26-November 3, 2017

I had wanted to read My Best Friend’s Exorcism for a little while and I got the chance to listen to the audiobook at Halloween time! For me that was perfect since it deals with an exorcism. It is labeled as horror, fiction, and young adult.  My Best Friend’s Exorcism is not really horror though there are some scenes that are not for the squeamish.  Technically also a YA novel as the main characters are teenagers, this book will not be for younger teens.  There are adult situations and the language was extreme for me. Language does not tend to bother me unless it is extreme, and I got tired of hearing the F-word. I don’t think I have read or watched anything with that much language since the movie Goodwill Hunting. I actually debated on stopping it because of the language, but the novel is well written and I wanted to get to the exorcism, so I continued on.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is all about Abby and Gretchen’s long term friendship.  They have been best friends since they were children and bonded over E.T.  I was born in 1980 and this story takes place in the 1980s so I really enjoyed the references to everything from the music to E.T., and even VHS tapes!  There are so many kids now that will not know what some of these various media and ‘relics from the past’ are!

Then one night something happens to Gretchen and she begins to change.  Everything changes for Abby as well.  A lot of what happens is cliquish in that high school way that things are.  I did like that the novels shows how relationships can last or fall apart after high school.  This is true on so many levels. I have one friend I still keep in touch with that I have known since sixth grade. She has become like another sister.  She has moved to another state due to her husband’s job and I miss her so much! She will be that lifelong friend that some of us are very lucky to have. I love you Jennie!

I was anticipating the exorcism and for the most part it delivered.  The narrator portrayed the demon’s voice very well. It actually got me in the mood to watch The Exorcist.  Or maybe I’ll listen to the audiobook… Or maybe I’ll do both… But will reading The Exorcist give me nightmares????

**SPOILER:The one thing with the exorcism that I don’t agree with was that the exorcist did not defeat the demon, Abby did.  For me that was saying that the girls’ friendship is stronger than God. I can’t agree with that. I did see the point that the author was making, which is the girl’s friendship, I just can’t agree with this direction.  END SPOILER**

Overall, I can’t recommend My Best Friend’s Exorcism as the language was too much for me. I gave it three stars since it was well written and again, I loved all the 80’s references.


For you ‘children of the 80’s,’ there is a second cover and I think you will like it!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Fight Club: Book Review and Movie Comparison

Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Audiobook
Published: August 16, 1996

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 9-18, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

The first rule about Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.

Every weekend, in the basements and parking lots of bars across the country, young men with white collar jobs and failed lives take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded just as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything. Fight Club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter, and dark, anarchic genius, and it’s only the beginning of his plans for violent revenge on an empty consumer-culture world.

Jessica’s Review:

Well… I’m breaking the first rule of Fight Club…Oops!!

It’s been many years since I have seen the movie, but I have never read the book. I was looking at my local library for my next audio book to listen to and came across Fight Club. It is a short novel with five discs at 5.5 hours, so I decided to check it out. I wanted to see how similar or different the movie was from the book, so I also decided to watch the movie again, which I will also review here.

Since I have seen the movie, I knew the twist but for me it came a little earlier than I expected.  Knowing this twist, you can see it coming as Chuck Palahniuk gives you those clues from the beginning. It was an “OMG, it’s right there!” feeling for me and I had a different perspective of the novel.

The basic premise is this: Our narrator meets Tyler Durden who comes up with the idea of Fight Club. This is where men come together to fight with certain rules; and if it is your first time at fight club then you WILL fight.  Our narrator also meets a woman named Marla at a testicular cancer support group… Wait… What? A woman is at a testicular cancer support group?  Marla also meets Tyler and in a different sort of way she becomes the center of a ‘triangle’ between her, Tyler, and our narrator.  You can’t say a love triangle as Fight Club is not the sort of novel that would really deal with love.  The fight club begins to gain notoriety and evolves into something more; something very dangerous.

I am not the target demographic for Fight Club.  I would say I am the total opposite of it.  I enjoyed the movie in the past and I wanted to be able to compare the book to the movie. I have never read anything by Chuck Palahniuk before and his writing style takes some getting used to. He repeats sentences a lot throughout the novel.  I personally don’t think I really got used to it; those repeating sentences really stuck out for me.  As the novel progressed and changed its course I found myself losing interest in it and tuning out a few times. I wanted to finish it and I was glad I did.  I really liked the ending of the novel and it is very different from the movie. I prefer the novel ending to the movie ending.  It is left open for a sequel that Chuck Palahniuk finally released on June 28, 2016 in graphic novel format.

The narrator for Fight Club is Jim Colby. For me he was perfect for the narration. He had a snarky, “tell it like it is” attitude to the narration which was perfect for our protagonist.  He did a great job!

Fight Club is very graphic so it will not be a novel for everyone.  By the end of it you will think twice about using soap or eating soup in a restaurant. Also, do projectionists really get that bored, or are they perverted enough to splice risqué images into children’s movies?

In some ways, going into listening to Fight Club I wish I did not know what the twist was as I think my mind would have been blown when that reveal happened. I still enjoyed the novel.

 Fight Club is recommended.


Movie Comparison:

Here is the trailer for Fight Club

I have seen the movie several times, but it has been many years since I have seen it. I did not figure out the ending and my mind was blown by that twist. I borrowed the dvd from my local library to watch after I finished listening to the audiobook. My husband had never seen the movie, but he knew the twist and he was willing to watch it with me.

The book is a short one as the audiobook I listened to was five discs. The movie is not quite 2.5 hours long and it follows the book fairly close….until the ending. I will go into that without spoilers a little later on. If you know the twist, when you go to watch the film again you can see the clues from the beginning just as in the novel.

Our narrator is played by Edward Norton, Tyler Durden is played by Brad Pitt, Marla is played by Helena Bonham Carter. Jared Leto and Meatloaf are also in the film. Meatloaf plays a character named Bob that you can’t help but grow to like.

I must admit the reason I have watched the movie is Brad Pitt. He’s in his prime and is just really pretty to look at even though he plays a complete psychopath. Brad Pitt plays this character perfectly and he improves the Tyler Durden character from the book as he is much more charismatic. As we were watching my husband said, “This is the same character as his 12 Monkeys character!” And yes, thinking about it Tyler Durden and Jeffrey Goines are very similar characters: complete psychopaths with compatible goals.

The anti-consumerism is really built up in the film version of Fight Club. One of my favorite quotes comes from Tyler Durden: “The things you own end up owning you”. This is so true for so many people out there.

One negative in the film is that Marla is really an enigma. We learn about her character in the novel. I do see why it was cut out as there was not really room for her background. It doesn’t take away from the film. Helena Bonham Carter did a very good job portraying Marla. And once you know the twist when you go to watch the movie, you see her in a different way. The way they acquire soap ingredients differs from the book and this was because they took out so much of Marla’s character. I did actually prefer the film version of how they acquire those ingredients as it fits more with the anti-consumerism.

The Ending (spoiler-free):

I never had an issue with the film’s ending until I listened to the audiobook. And once I did my thoughts were, “Why did they go and do that!?!” It was as if the filmmakers tried to have as much of a ‘happy ending’ as possible for a film like this. I definitely prefer the book ending. It is far superior to the film. My husband told me that he had heard that is the biggest complaint about the film. If you have seen the film and not read the book, please read it so you can see what I am talking about.

My husband did like the film version. He did tell me if he had not known the twist that he would have figured it out and he let me know where that would have been. Watching the movie and knowing the ending, I can’t believe I did not figure it out! He said if he had seen it when he was younger he would have enjoyed it more. My husband is 40 and I would say the film’s target audience is young men in their early 20’s.

I would recommend the film despite the ending. It will not be for everyone with the graphic violence.

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