Tag: fiction

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

MKA’s The High Tide Club

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Published: May 8, 2018
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 15 – August 7, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.

Jessica’s Review:

The High Tide Club features Brooke Trappnell who is introduced in Save the Date.  You do not need to have read Save the Date first, but I would recommend it as you will know Brooke’s backstory. Save the Date was the first Mary Kay Andrews’ (MKA) book I read and she has since become an author who I will read anything she writes!   The High Tide Club has become my favorite of MKA’s that I have read!

The High Tide Club has a little bit of everything that keeps you reading: A little romance, a murder mystery that spans decades, a group of girlfriends, secrets and lies, making amends, and  family: the biological one and the ones you choose.

There are two timelines that connect: One starts in the 1940s, and the other is in present day.  I never lost interest in both timeline stories and I never figured the twists out. Everything fits and  flows together well.  Though it is a fun and intriguing read, there are also some serious situations that occur in the novel including rape and abandoned babies.  MKA may be starting to turn a little ‘dark’ in her novels, but they are still enjoyable and definitely easy beach reads. 

The High Tide Club is a longer novel, coming in at 470 pages, but I couldn’t really see any of it being discarded. I do have the book, but listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Kathleen McInerney.  I have listened to most of MKA’s books on audiobook and McInerney narrates them all.  Both of those ladies just go together like peas and carrots! 

If you have not given MKA a try you really need to! 

~~~
My review for Save the Date is here.
Kim’s review of The High Tide Club (and more!) is here.
~~~
Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The First Lady


Authors: James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
Published: December 13, 2018
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 3-13, 2019
Jessica’s Rating:

Novel: 4 stars
Audiobook: 2.5 stars
Average: 3 stars

Book Description:

“Sir, the First Lady … has gone rogue.”

President Tucker is caught up in a media firestorm. The scandal of his affair has sent shockwaves through his re-election campaign, and threatens to derail everything he has worked for. To win the vote, he needs the First Lady to stand by his side.

But Grace Tucker has a mind of her own.

After years of compromise, unfulfilled promises, deception and betrayal, Grace refuses to give in to her husband’s demands. Escaping the city and her Secret Service agents, she is officially off the radar.

But did the First Lady run away? Or is she in far greater danger than anyone could have imagined?

Jessica’s Review:

The First Lady is collaboration between James Patterson and Brendan DuBois and it was well done!  Patterson’s collaborations can be hit or miss and other than multiple narrator pronunciation errors in the audiobook, this one was a hit for me.

Just weeks before the election, the president is caught in an affair, which could ruin his re-election.  And to make things worse: the first lady goes missing and keeping that quiet is easier said than done. 

We also meet Special Agent Sally Grissom who heads up the Presidential Protective Detail.  She is determined to find the first lady.  We also see into Grissom’s life with is far from perfect. 

I never lost interest in the story and I had no idea what was going to happen. There is a twist ending that I enjoyed. If you like political thrillers, then you should read this one, but stay away from the audiobook version. 

The audiobook is where the biggest negative is: Yes, I did like the narrator’s voice and narration but she continuously mispronounced multiple words every time the word was said. I wish I had kept track of all the errors. I remember at least four words being mispronounced.  The Potomac River was butchered, and the name of Button Gwinnett was ruined.  I am originally from Gwinnett County so that mispronunciation bothered me. I don’t know how these errors were not caught in the editing of the audiobook.  Maybe no one cared? Due to the extremity of errors I had to give the audiobook 2.5 stars.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel, but stay away from the audiobook! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US  
Amazon UK 

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