Welp, I could not pass up the opp to plug my novel Ghosted. It’s received some good feedback, so if you haven’t read it yet, please give it a try. It’s an atypical romance/mystery and you may be left wondering if our heroine did experience something supernatural or simply a series of coincidences. I like to leave that to the individual reader’s interpretation. I look forward to any comments and also will love you forever if you leave a review on Amazon. Click here to purchase. Thanks in advance!
Dear Mr. Smythe, I hope this finds you well and you’ve had a pleasant holiday. I don’t mean to disturb you unnecessarily, but the strangest thing has happened. Last night, I had trouble sleeping and heard scratching noises coming from the garden. I pulled back the draperies in the great room, and I swear to you that my mad cousin Edwin stared in at me. I nearly died of fright! Of course, I told myself not to be silly and it must have been a trick of light from the moon. But I can’t shake the feeling today that something is wrong. Would you be so kind as to ascertain that Edwin is still locked securely away in the asylum, under constant guard as the judge decreed? It would put my mind at ease if you would send me such a statement at your soonest convenience. Thanks ever so, Lady Jessica Tarleton
“I wish I had received this letter sooner,” Mr. Smythe said to his wife. “I certainly would have done as she had asked immediately. The poor woman.”
Mrs. Smythe shuddered. “Lucinda told me at tea that the maid was in hysterics and had to be sedated. I can’t even imagine finding a body in such a… state.”
Mr. Smythe reached for his brandy. “It is too horrific to be contemplated.”
“But they say…” Mrs. Smythe paused to take a deep breath. “That she had been partially… consumed? By her own cousin!”
“Yes.” Mr. Smythe confirmed. “Edwin somehow acquired the taste for human flesh. You know he traveled to odd corners of the world in his youth.”
“But where is he now?” Mrs. Smythe pulled the edges of her dressing gown closer together. “Why hasn’t he been captured?”
At first I didn’t remember why this image was in my media library when I searched for “ship,” but then I recalled the Roger Whittaker song “The Last Farewell,” which I featured in an SLS post. Yep, that’s where I used this pic. During my April 2021 blog refresh, I dumped tons of repetitive and/or unused images, and now I’m being much more careful to save space. Instead of grabbing a new pic every time I make a post, I try to reuse ones already in the library. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I have around 500 posts published and scheduled, yet I’ve used less than 10% of the media space allotted. At this rate, it will take decades to get close to the maximum and I’ll probably forget I even have a blog by then. Anyway, welcome to my quickie reviews of movies and/or books I’ve watched/read recently! I sometimes have spoilers, so read on at your own risk.
1. Life of Pi, 2012 adventure-drama based on the book by Yann Martel. I haven’t read the book, which may be a good thing, because I see on Wikipedia that it’s much more brutal and gross than the film. I saw the movie when it first came out, in 3D, which was an amazing experience. However, I think I was too focused on the beauty of the filmmaking itself and failed to pay close attention to the actual story. Recently, I watched it again at home with a couple friends, not in 3D, and it was more meaningful. Or maybe I’m just older and more philosophical, who knows. Well, I’m definitely older! Anyway, I highly recommend this film if you haven seen it yet. It’s about the art of telling a story, among other things, and how in the right hands an unreliable narrator can hold our attention like nothing else. My favorite stories are from unreliable narrators, but they have to be done well. This one is superb and I was left wondering wtf just happened, but in a good way. Oh, there’s a shipwreck in the story, which is why I used the pic.
2. Bayou Fire, 2017 romance novel by blogger Sharon E. Cathcart. This was different from the typical romance novel. Instead of the usual conflicts between hero and heroine, the romance between Amos and Diana proceeds smoothly with none of the clichéd misunderstandings and forced drama we so often find in these books. What the protags have to do however is figure out why they feel such an immediate and intense connection the first time they meet. Then the book dives into the supernatural, which isn’t always my cup of tea, but here it was “believable,” relatively speaking, and I was down with it. There was a chunk of narrative devoted to a flashback, but the story didn’t flip back in forth in time to an excessive degree. I really enjoyed all the local color of New Orleans and the tidbits of history Sharon included. She also gave us a taste of the dialect, which was interesting. Unfortunately, there were quite a few typos, which, as I’ve mentioned before, seem to be widely prevalent in self-published works. But overall, I enjoyed the story and gave it 4 stars.
3. The Guest List, 2020 suspense novel by Lucy Foley. This is one of those “British” books I keep picking up lately ~ KU is loaded with them, as I’ve said. They are generally written in first-person, present tense (annoying) and narrated from multiple POVs (more annoying). They also tend to leap back and forth in time to an insane degree. This story, for example, could have simply been told straight up chronologically. There was simply no need for the dizzying switches from the day before the wedding to the wedding and afterparty. That was just weird. But to their credit, in these British mysteries, the plots are generally solid and hang together with an earned ending, and the protags are interestingly flawed. TGL is in this group as well and hooked me right in. I couldn’t predict what would happen and who the victim or murderer would ultimately be. Lots of people were pissed off at lots of other people for a variety of reasons, which was great fun. Oh, and one more thing ~ there were no typos in this book. None. And guess what? It was published by a house (HarperCollins). Even so, I gave it only 3 stars because of the annoyances mentioned.
Welcome to my quick reviews of books and/or movies, now accompanied by a random picture from my image library. Actually, my granddog Rory is relevant here because I’m reviewing another Rochester story, who is a golden retriever detective doggo. Please note that my reviews sometimes contain spoilers, so proceed at your own risk.
1. The Kingdom of Dog by Neil S. Plakcy. Last sesh, I reviewed the first Rochester novel In God We Trust, which I enjoyed immensely, so I immediately grabbed more stories from Kindle Unlimited about this doggo. TKOD is the second book in the series and I didn’t like it as much. First, I disliked the way the romance was handled. I don’t mind “fade to black” sometimes, but here it was simply too abrupt. In his Archy McNally books, Lawrence Sanders (RIP) does the fade too, but it’s funny and fine. In TKOD it was meh. Neil is funny and does wordplay ~ I wonder if he actually was inspired by Sanders because there are a lot of similarities, especially with the goofy names of side chars such as “Ike Arumba” – ay caramba! But this became distracting as I’d stop at each new one to see if their name translated into some phrase when said aloud. (Sanders’ names were weird too, but they didn’t translate into phrases.) Moving on. I felt the plot was farfetched with the motivation for murder too much of a stretch. There was also too much repetition of stuff from the first book. I did enjoy the growth of the protag Steve however. In book one, he mostly was angry and bitter toward his ex-wife, but in this book he’s learning to be at peace with the past. This book wasn’t as well-edited as the first doggo mystery though and had several annoying errors, the worst being the usage of “flaunt” when he meant “flout.” I gave TKOD three stars and will probably try the third one to see if things improve. Not saying this book was bad or anything, just not as good as the first one.
2. You, Me and Dupree, 2006 comedy starring Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon, Seth Rogen, and Michael Douglas. This movie is HILARIOUS and I totally recommend it to anyone with a sense of humor. I have loved every movie I’ve seen with Kate Hudson; either she only chooses great movies, or I’m in love with her, or something, idk what. But this film is no exception. The ending absolutely rocks (mocking all the self-help crap books out there). I watched it on Prime.
3. The Engagement Ring, 2005 romcom starring Patricia Heaton. This was a cute movie, better than I expected. Lainie Kazan, the mom in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, plays pretty much the same mom here as an Italian Catholic, and I’ve also seen her play the same role as a Jewish mom. Funny how that works ~ moms gotta mom. There was a lot of food and wine in this movie, which was fun. If you’re in the mood for a romantic comedy, check it out.
4. Vows of Deception, 1996 drama starring Cheryl Ladd. This was a solidly engaging film, with Cheryl playing a psycho who seems sweet as pie at first and gets darker as the movie progresses. Kept my attention.
5. Inconceivable, 2017 drama starring Nicolas Cage and Gina Gershon. What a weird film! Well, Nic Cage, amirite? Is he ever in anything not weird? I meant to have this on in the background while I did other stuff, but I found myself glued to the screen. It was really good and had shocking twists.
Ya know… sometimes it’s a big chore to find a decent movie on Prime (I don’t tell you about the ones I abandon before the halfway point). Their categories are not helpful, and neither are their suggestions of things I might like. I propose new categories: Movies We Think You’ll Hate, Movies You’ll Dump in the First Five Minutes, Unfunny Comedies, Stupid Christmas Romances in Small Towns or Fake Kingdoms, Movies About Annoying Teenagers, Murder Mysteries Where You Hope Everyone Dies, Musicals You’ve Never Heard Of, Foreign Films that Make No Sense, etc.
Welcome to my quick reviews of books and/or movies! These posts are now accompanied by a random image from my media library that has nothing to do with the subject matter. I’m fond of this blurry sunset pic I took from my car ages ago with an inferior camera phone. It just speaks to me… the colors, the composition, even the blur. I’m trying to avoid uploading new images to WP whenever possible so I won’t have to purchase a more expensive plan. Anyway, I’m not too careful with spoilers, so be warned if you read on.
1. The Stepfather, a 2009 thriller on Prime with Penn Badgley, Dylan Walsh, Amber Heard, et al. I didn’t even realize this was the infamous Amber Heard until I read the credits. She’s very pretty and did a good job here. The plot was a bit predictable, but I mostly enjoyed it except for the ridiculously farfetched ending. The rest was solid though and kept me on the edge of my seat, to use a silly cliché. Actually, I was stretched out on the sofa because my back hurt, but I got a little jittery being alone in the house while watching a scary movie. The killer’s motivation remained a mystery throughout, which was a mistake, in my opinion. We don’t discover anything about his background or what started him down this murderous path of needing to create and then destroy a “perfect” family. Including this nugget of info would have made the film more interesting.
2. Sugar Daddies, 2014, another thriller on Prime, starring Taylor Black and Peter Strauss. I thought I might have to turn this one off when it began with preachy narration by the protagonist Kara, but that stopped soon enough and resumed only at the end. It was unnecessary altogether, as the movie speaks for itself regarding how we can get seduced down a bad path, thinking that the end justifies the means, only to discover that it does not. Not everyone feels this innately; some have to learn it in the real world. Others simply don’t. Once the plot took off, the movie was interesting.
Kara’s moral struggle is clearly portrayed. She’s conflicted the entire time she entertains her sugar daddy, unlike a couple of her friends who have no issues with prostitution, but Kara keeps judging them while behaving similarly. I guess it’s more acceptable if you angst over your actions. The writing isn’t that deep or complex though, and we know it won’t take long for Kara to come to her senses. Unfortunately, before that happens, someone is murdered. I didn’t see that coming and it was fun to be surprised.
3. In Dog We Trust, a 2010 mystery by Neil S. Plakcy. This is a fun read! There’s so much great doggie detective stuff, and Steve, the flawed hero/hacker is extremely likeable. Well, I thought so anyway. I enjoyed his snarky narrative voice and the side characters too. It was adorable how he morphed from being annoyed with Rochester, the golden retriever, to bonding with him and becoming a responsible pet owner.
Unfortunately, I did not think the killer was given enough motivation and one of his/her actions near the end of the story made no sense at all. That was disappointing and knocked a star off my rating. But other than that, I enjoyed this book immensely and have downloaded the next several in the series. There seem to be 12 books starring Rochester and I can’t wait to start the next one.
Note: it’s weird to remember a time before everyone was on Facebook and someone has to explain what it is. In the early 2000s, we were bopping around on Usenet, MySpace, Friendster (lol), blogs, and some other sites I’ve probably forgotten. Facebook though? That didn’t gobble up everyone until after 2010ish. Now of course it would be bizarre if someone hadn’t heard of it!
Hello, have you read my book Ghosted? I worked hard on it and think it’s pretty good, so I hope you will give it a shot and also leave a review on Amazon. The first book I’m reviewing here is a bit like mine, with a possible ghost along with a hot love story as well as solving a mystery. Be warned though: my reviews sometimes contain spoilers. OK, here we go…
1. Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott is a 2021 “contemporary gothic” novel, and I loved it. The protagonist is likeable and relatable, and the hero moody and compelling. The side characters were all interesting in their own right, especially the “ghost” and her brother. Vivid description abounds ~ of characters and scenery ~ and the narration keeps the reader off-balance at all times. I particularly loved the passages about Mrs. Rochester’s insanity told in first person and weirdly believable. Is she dead or alive? What is going on here? Maybe our protag is cracking up. She does get migraines… Read it! I bet you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
2. The Hive by Gregg Olsen, 2021. This is one of those “unputdownable” mystery novels and kudos to Mr. Olsen for writing it properly in third-person alternating POVs instead of conforming to the ridiculous trend of multiple POVs in first person including DEAD PEOPLE’S. God, that’s annoying. Anyway, this is a wonderfully complex mystery, with one of the big clues right in front of us all along (actually more than one), and the reveal is so very satisfying. It’s one of the most perfect reveals I’ve read for a long time. A good writer will not have to fling in new info to make the plot work out ~ it should all be there for us to ponder along with the detective. What I’m saying is that if “the butler did it,” there needs to BE a butler present in the story, not shoveled in later to create a surprise ending. I read a book from Gregg last December and gave it 4 stars same as this one (great that I have a list otherwise I would have never remembered) and I’ll probably read more. Why am I not giving him 5 stars? Well… I find the narration a little dizzying. I wish there were fewer flipflops back and forth in time.
3. Invisible Child, 1999 made-for-TV movie. This film kept my interest for some strange reason, even though it was kind of dumb. The premise is that a mom goes nuts and believes she has a new baby when she doesn’t. Her older daughter and husband play along with the charade ~ the hubby fears his wife would be institutionalized if he sought treatment for her. She has a real new baby and the little boy grows up believing he has an invisible sister. The movie begins when the mom hires a nanny to help with her “three” children. The nanny tries to play along too but is concerned this life of pretend might harm the kids, so she goes to social services to ask about it. Naturally they show up at the door looking like ogres. The family ends up escaping any “penalty” for what they’ve done because the father, older daughter, and nanny conspire to tell the panel of experts that this isn’t really happening the way it seems… just an invisible friend like we all have. Then Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, etc. are brought up. Why are they OK, but not an invisible sister? Etc. It was oddly interesting. Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks’ wife) starred as the nutty mom, and she did a good job.
4. Wandering Eye, 2001 “thriller” movie on Prime. I was having a hard time finding a good movie to watch the other day. I kept starting them and stopping them because they were so dumb, and I didn’t have high hopes for this one, but it was good! I figured out who the killer was as soon as the character was introduced, not from clues, just a hunch, but that didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment of the film. The premise is that this Wandering Eye website will connect married peeps who desire a discreet romance, while preserving what they have at home. You know, like Ashley Madison ~ I assume everyone has heard of that site and their massive hack, though this movie was made prior to all that publicity. Anyway, SOMEONE doesn’t approve of cheating and begins murdering the couples. A cop figures out the connection to the website, and off we go. Really enjoyed both Amanda Righetti’s performance as a neglected wife of a doctor, and also Krista Bridges as the detective.
I grabbed these bookish questions from Kristian ~ anyone can play!
1. Ending: A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage or simply because the ending was crappy.
Gone Girl comes to mind, but I still respect the writing. Not crappy! Just argh!
2. Protagonist: A main character you dislike and drives you crazy.
Dunno. Compellingly terrible protags are a good thing. Like in GG. The Sopranos. Game of Thrones. Etc. When they’re boring or too “Mary Sue,” then, Houston, we have a problem.
3. Series: A series that turned out to be one huge pile of NOPE after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it, or a series you gave up on because it wasn’t worth it anymore.
I read the first four Game of Throne novels and the fourth was a hugely tedious slog. I’ve given up now and will just finish watching the wonderful show on HBO. Update: like everyone else, I was disappointed in the finale.
4. Popular pairing: A Ship you don’t support.
I love naughty Archy McNally in the Lawrence Sanders mysteries but I don’t support Connie’s forgiveness of him every time he cheats on her (pretty much every book). I get that he’s irresistible, but I want her to grow a spine!
5. Plot Twist: A plot twist you didn’t see coming or didn’t like.
Can’t think of any except GG. If I didn’t see it coming, then that’s a good thing. Mostly in romance I see them, but that’s okay. They are popular because of the predictably happy endings, not in spite of them.
6. Protagonist action/decision that made you shake your head nope.
In The Dogs of Babel ~ why didn’t she just get an abortion? Loved the book, but I didn’t understand why she didn’t even consider a termination vs suicide. She wasn’t religious or anything.
7. Genre: A genre you will never read.
Never say never. Generally horror with the King exception. Religious stuff in general, unless it seems really interesting. I didn’t used to like science fiction or fantasy, but then dragons came along…
8. Book format: Book formatting you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.
I’m not a huge fan of the wholly epistolary style. Unless it’s written by an expert, it can get pretty tedious.
9. A trope that makes you go nope.
Twins mix-up. Getting back with an ex (even though I’ve written this myself). Shape shifters of any kind (also have written some). Motorcycle club love. Military love. Love in the winery. Pirate love. The sexy blonde and the Native American guy. A woman returning to a small town for whatever reason and falls for the guy from high school who’s now the sheriff or whatever. Nazis.
10. Recommendation: A book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you refuse to read.
Books by politicians and other celebs. These people don’t have enough money? Plus, they probably didn’t even write the books themselves.
11. Cliche/pet peeve: A cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.
Excessive commas. Excessive exclamation points. The “as you know, Bob” info dump. Info dumps right at the beginning when you haven’t begun to care about the protagonist yet.
12. Love interest: The love interest that’s not worthy of being one. A character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.
This image was my first post on this blog: March 24, 2011. I titled it “RV in Natural Habitat” or something like that. My coworker had bought us some treats from a food truck and I had to snap a pic before nomming. It was so good! Red velvet is one of my favorite flavors, especially when topped with a luscious swirl of cream cheese frosting. I don’t think I’ve had the occasion to repost this image, so I’m doing it now. When I refreshed my blog last April, I deleted hundreds of images (I had a lot of duplicates because WP doesn’t make it easy to search for things in your media library and it’s sometimes easier just to re-upload them), but all the cupcakes were saved. I’m not going to toss out cupcake photos!
Anyway, this is a review post, but I got tired of posting the same image with my reviews. This is why I’ll never be a rich and famous blogger. I keep wanting to shake things up, but success requires discipline, consistency, and reliability. Or something like that. Now everyone will be all confused by this cupcake image on a review post. Sorry. Remember that my reviews may contain spoilers, so read on at your own risk.
1. The Boyfriend by Daniel Hurst. This 2021 mystery novel was OK. I mean, I liked it and read it straight through, but there was nothing great about it. I disliked the protagonist Adele because she was such a drunken ninny. I wasn’t rooting for her fiancé either, since he was a big boring scold. So I didn’t really care what happened to them, but the mystery of who was murdering Adele’s exes was a solidly entertaining plot. One thing I enjoyed was the British writing style and I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s crisper, I guess. There seems to be a ton of novels from British writers available in the Kindle Unlimited program. Or should I say programme? Ooh, my spellcheck does not like that.
2. Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman. This 2009 novel was recommended to me because I read Lippman’s Sunburn and enjoyed it. I didn’t like BB as much as Sunburn. I found the protag Tess smart, funny, and likeable overall, but I just wasn’t that interested in the murder mystery or Tess’s angsting over her career. I’m not necessarily opposed to angst in general, but it simply didn’t grab me here. A review on Amazon called the side characters “cartoons” and that’s pretty accurate, especially regarding Aunt Kitty. But it wasn’t a bad book, and the descriptions of Baltimore were interesting. I would have liked it more if I’d read it first.
3. Footloose, 2011 remake. I know, I know, we all love the 1984 Footloose because of Kevin Bacon. No question that Bacon was incredible as Ren in the original musical. However! There are many things I prefer about the remake. First, the movie begins with the tragedy, which has a greater impact than finding out about it later. We get the immediate visceral punch of those 5 kids being killed in front of our face. This is important because it shows why the town’s parents are motivated to pass a series of draconian laws to try to protect the rest of the kids. Second, the story of Ren’s mom dying of leukemia is a more believable way for Ren to end up in Bomont with his uncle’s family than the original idea of Ren’s mom inexplicably deciding to move there. Third, Julianne Hough was a zillion times better as Ariel than Lori Singer. Fourth, Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell played Ariel’s parents with more depth than John Lithgow and that horribly annoying Dianne Wiest. Fourth, while no one can replace Bacon, Kenny Wormald does a fine job as Ren. Fifth, and most importantly, the remake contains zero Sara Jessica Parker.
OK, that’s it for now. I’ll have more reviews soon because I am constantly reading books and watching movies. I love writing blog posts, but I’m not so much into working on my “real” writing at the moment. I don’t even know why I call it “real” writing since my fiction and poetry right here have a much larger audience than the stuff I put up on Amazon, which is basically ignored by the entire world. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve lost interest in posting poetry on Twitter because that too is ignored even though I’ve put a fair effort into liking and retweeting other poets. Last year, during the lockdown lonelies, I returned to Facebook, but it’s been a huge disappointment. Well, of course! It hasn’t changed (except maybe for the worse), but I have. I can’t bear all the hostility and anger there. People are just looking for fights on the daily even when you freaking AGREE with them. No one is interested in WRITING, not even the so-called writers; they all just want to spout their opinions about current events, as if their words are somehow unique or will make a difference.
I am upset about it. I’ve lost friends, old and new, because I couldn’t bear the way they treated others or “trolled” for fun. Other people I can barely stand and have muted them so as not to see their nasty words. I’m reduced to making posts about songs and cats to avoid hosting ugly arguments and probably will stop interacting completely. FB’s only real usefulness is for coordinating events, if that ~ it appears we’re heading back toward doing nothing in person again, sadly. I was right to delete FB from my life for 2 years and shouldn’t have gone back. My daughters (along with many of you) are smarter and though they have FB accounts, they rarely say a word or interact with anyone. That is clearly the way to go.
Hopefully, my day will get better from here. Thank you all for making this blog community a nice place.
And we’re back to book reviews this time. I was considering dumping the Quickies because they don’t get many likes or comments compared to my other posts, but then I remembered idgaf about stats. I do care about writing stuff that people enjoy though, even if it’s only a few views at a time. So that’s all right. Besides, as you may remember, I have a goal of reading 100 books this year. I’m sort of on target at 60 right now, but that doesn’t give me much wiggle room ~ eight books per month for the rest of the year. Writing these mini reviews keeps me in reading mode. Oh, I almost forgot. I will include one movie! These three are all mysteries, of one kind or another…
1. The Influencer by Miranda Rijks. This 2021 novel has such a crazy mix of reviews on Amazon. But the most important review is right here, natch. I loved it. The story was jumpy and wacky, and I had no idea what was going to happen. Once again, we have to deal with the multiple first-person POV style, but I suppose I’m getting resigned to it. Loved the super-fast pace and unpredictable, fairly unlikeable characters, so I gave this novel 5 stars for holding my attention in a unique way. Every book doesn’t have to be bursting with lyrical prose and philosophical insights. This is simply a fun mystery. Well done.
2. The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner, 2021. This novel takes place around the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It’s told in first person by “Sophie,” an Irish immigrant who is living in squalor in NYC and answers an ad for a mail order bride in California. Sophie is a quick learner, both in managing a household and also in mothering her new stepdaughter. She cuts her new husband a lot of slack, both because she is so grateful to have a decent place to live, enough to eat, etc., and also because he is a recent widower. There’s something extra-strange about the guy though and it’s interesting to discover along with Sophie exactly what that is. Funny thing (to me) is while this book doesn’t seem at first glance anything like the previous one, they have one huge element in common. Of course, I’m not saying what it is, for that will spoil the mystery of both! I recommend this one too. Reading about old San Francisco was as interesting as following Sophie’s story.
3. Pig, the 2021 film starring Nicolas Cage. Absolutely incredible movie. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Cage is fabulous as the strange recluse in the woods whose only companion ~ a truffle pig ~ is violently stolen. He revisits his past in Portland in order to investigate gourmet restaurants (they’re the ones serving frou-frou truffle dishes), and this journey brings him to terms with a tragedy that occurred there. We’re never sure exactly what it is, though we get a few clues. This is a hard movie to watch at times, with the main character always in a disheveled and beaten state, but it’s worth the discomfort. And it was great to return to the theater and view a movie on the big screen (I wore a mask). Looking forward to more!
Welcome to my quick reviews ~ a mix of short takes on some of the movies and books I’ve recently watched or read. Note that I don’t have a problem blabbing spoilers, so if that bothers you, skip this post.
1. Serious Moonlight. This is a 2009 romcom directed by Cheryl Hines (Larry David’s wife in Curb Your Enthusiasm). Wikipedia labels it a “black comedy,” but it seems like a standard kooky Meg Ryan romantic comedy to me. Meg plays workaholic attorney Louise whose husband Ian (Tim Hutton) has grown depressed with their life, cheats on her, and wants to split up. Louise isn’t having any of that ~ she literally ties him to a chair and forces him to remember their good times together. Complications ensue in the form of a lawn care dude (Justin Long) who opportunistically decides to rob their house while they’re fighting. He ties up Louise and dumps her in the bathroom with Ian, and he invites his friends over to party. It’s obvious that Ian still cares about Louise at this point. When Ian’s girlfriend shows up all pissed off because he didn’t meet her at the airport to fly to Paris as he had promised, she gets thrown in the bathroom too. But now Ian has decided that Louise is right and their marriage can be saved, they should try for a baby again, etc. During the ordeal, I wondered if Louise orchestrated the robbery, but then it seemed she didn’t. However… at the last scene, I wondered again. Hmm! Fun flick, though preposterous.
2. A Friend Like That by Marissa Finch. This 2021 novel literally kept me up all night. Well, that’s not really fair ~ I was simply having one of my bouts of insomnia and grew bored of playing Scrabble and solitaire on my phone so I began to read a book. I absolutely admire any mystery type novel that misdirects so skillfully that I incorrectly predict how it will end. That’s not easy to do! And I’m not talking about slapping on a random solve that has NOTHING to do with the preceding clues because that’s a hideous cheat and the writer should be dealt with a la Stephen King’s Misery. Finch wove a complex character-driven tale that kept me wondering while at the same time going deep into the mindset of the protagonist. I guessed right abut one of the revelations, but the big reveal was a complete shockaroo. It made total sense though, which is the most important thing. I went aha of course it would be like that… clues abounded. I enjoyed this book so much and highly recommend it.
3. Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult, 2005. Late to the game, I recently “discovered” Jodi, who has been popular for over a decade ~ and my own daughter has read tons of her books. I love Jodi’s writing! It’s so infused with meaning ~ this is what I try to do and generally fail because I’m too addicted to snappy dialogue that barrels along into clever wordplay. Jodi stops and ponders the implications of each thing, which makes the book almost like a philosophical treatise at times. The book is structured like so many lately ~ multiple POVs in first person, alternating between chapters. I have given up hating that because apparently this is how things are now, and it’s pointless to fight it. Hell, maybe I’ll join in and write a novel with this annoying structure just for laughs. And I’ll kill off people too! Remember how our English teachers told us never to write “And then I died?” Now we can, woohoo! Not that Jodi does, but some have and I’m just ranting. Vanishing Acts kept my attention from start to finish. It’s a “tight” book overall, focusing on the intricacies of one family’s dynamics, except for the prison scenes. I really enjoyed those and learned many random facts about prison gangs and drugs and such, none of which I’ll probably ever need for either bar trivia quizzes or my own poetry, but one never knows!