Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Movie Review)

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? CLICK ON THE VIDEO BELOW!

Title: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Director: David Leitch

Story By: Chris Morgan

Screenplay Writer: Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce

Based on Characters Created By: Gary Scott Thompson

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Idris Elba

Genre(s): Action | Adventure

Runtime: 2 hrs. 17 minutes

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW ★★★+ (3.66 Stars)
Writing/Story: ★★★     Cinematography:  ★★★★   Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★

IMDB STORY LINE:

Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity.

MY 2 CENTS:

Now, I am all about a good action film and I will admit, I have seen all of the Fast & Furious movies.

  • The Fast and The Furious (2001)
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  • The Fast and The Furious Tokyo Drift (2006)
  • Fast and Furious (2009)
  • Fast Five (2011)
  • Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
  • Furious 7 (2015)
  • The Fate of the Furious (2017)

This movie gives you exactly what you expect from the Fast & Furious franchise… fast paced action!

Writing/Story: ★★★

Honestly… the story isn’t all that great. In fact, there really isn’t a story. But, are you really expecting to see well thought out plots, twists, and drama? No. You’re going for the action, the car chases, and the gun fights and this movie gives you that in spades, with some minor “character” conversations sprinkled in for good measure.

If you’ve watched the previous Fast & Furious films, then you know what you’re getting into. The movie doesn’t make all that much sense, there really isn’t a point, but yet like the other films in this franchise, it managed to be entertaining which is why we continue to watch them. Plus, who doesn’t like watching Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in an action film? It is what they do best.

I was surprised to find how much comedy was actually in this film. How much I actually laughed. There is one scene, probably my favorite out of the entire movie, where Hobbs and Shaw are in these two parallel hallways with just a window between them. They each have to deal with their own sets of challenged or obstacles to get to the end of the hall at which time they need to open a door using an optical reader. The whole time Shaw is fighting off bad guys and Hobbs is doing what he is doing and still they are participating in their personal competition of who is better… tougher… stronger… whatever and having a very clear non-verbal conversation. It was awesome.

Cinematography ★★★★

I commend the camera man in this one. With all the fight scenes, car chases, helicopter scenes, and just the over all craziness… his job had to be difficult. With so much action going on at one time it would be really easy to mess up the shots and make it feel to boxed in or way to spacious, but it was beautifully filmed allowing the audience to feel like they were right there in the action but yet far enough out to see the full picture.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★

I’ll admit the acting isn’t that great but the fight scenes are pretty awesome and both The Rock and Jason Statham are 100% invested in their characters and you truly believe them in these roles. Maybe they are just like this in real life or maybe it comes from years and years playing roles very similar to these.

The best thing about this film, for me, is how well Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham work together. Their on-screen chemistry is fantastic. The entire film is basically them exchanging insults and trying to one up each other. It’s a long pissing contest and it works to keep the audience entertained in between and even during the incredibly unrealistic yet enjoyable fight sequences.

Idris Elba plays a great supervillain.

This movie contains a number of really great cameos… meant to complement the film. I wont give them all away, but you just might spot Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Hart, and Helen Mirren just to name a few. This film doesn’t take itself seriously and it doesn’t expect the views to either. It just wants to provide entertainment, keep you on the edge of your seat, and make you cheer. It does that!

FUN FACT:

During the London car chase, as Brixton’s motorcycle changes shape to slide under the oncoming truck, we can clearly hear the iconic sound effect that is used during the transformations from the Transformers cartoons and films. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, listen for it… you’ll recognize it. (You can see the clip in my video review below.)

TO SUM IT UP:

This movie was way longer than it needed to be, which made it drag for me, but I still left entertained and wondering what type of movie they would come up with next.

Have you seen Hobbs & Shaw yet? If you have, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If not, I recommend seeing it for yourself and forming your own opinion.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.


#WritingWednesday #WritingPrompt Challenge

Today is the 36th Edition of #WritingWednesday!!!

Remember, #WritingWednesday is an EASY, STRESS-FREE, weekly writing challenge.

  • Read the writing prompt below,
  • Spend 5 minutes writing (in your own voice or the voice of a character you’re writing) whatever comes to mind,
  • DON’T EDIT what you write! IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!

The goal is 5 minutes of creativity.

Today I am writing in the voice of Austin, the main character in my current work in progress, The Beast Within.

Today’s writing prompt:

Write a quick love story. The story must end badly.

“It isn’t love,” I tell myself, mumbling as she walks away. “You don’t love her. Don’t follow her,” I say, as I stand and start toward the door she just disappeared through. “Wait, Sophie, please don’t go.”

I watched as her steps slowed and finally stopped, but she didn’t turn around.

“I… I can’t lose you too,” I said, instead of the words I knew she wanted—needed—to hear.

Her back stiffened. She rounded her shoulders and held her chin up high as she gripped her car keys in her fist. I could imagine the look on her face, strong yet sad—broken yet determined, but she never looked back.

The car beeped twice. She had unlocked the door.

I’m losing her, I thought. I reached out, started to call her again, but she didn’t give me a chance. She took the last few steps toward her car door and climbed in. The door slammed shut with a load echo that reverberated off the building behind me and a shutter shot through my body. I crumpled to my knees as I watched her car drive away.

“I love you.” It was only a whisper, one she would never hear, yet they were the truest words I’d ever spoken.

© 2019 Nina Soden


Alright, now it’s your turn. I’d love to see what today’s writing prompt inspires in you. So, if you are willing, go to the comment section below and start typing. Take 5 minutes and let’s see what you come up with! 

Write a quick love story. The story must end badly.


What books have made your November reading list? Comment below and let me know! Then, click on the links below to check out the December 2019 New York Times Top Ten Lists and see which books you’d like to add to your reading list!


Week 35 – #WritingWednesday Challenge

Today is the 35th Edition of #WritingWednesday!!!

Remember, #WritingWednesday is an EASY, STRESS-FREE, weekly writing challenge.

  • Read the writing prompt below,
  • Spend 5 minutes writing (in your own voice or the voice of a character you’re writing) whatever comes to mind,
  • DON’T EDIT what you write! IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!

The goal is 5 minutes of creativity.

Today I am writing in the voice of my turtle, Elle.

Today’s writing prompt:

Look around you and choose an object in the room. Now write something from the point of view of that object.

There she is, the one who feeds me. My human. I don’t know what to call her, she hasn’t told me her name yet, but she calls me Elle, or Elle-belly which I really like. Especially when she sings to me. I may not know her name, but I do know how to make her smile. She likes it when I swim laps. I start at the soft tentacle covered plant that sticks out of the side of my cozy little room. Then, I climb onto my sunbathing rock and run across it to dive into the water. From there, I spin around and shoot myself through the water, as fast as I can, until I end up back at the plant. I could do it over and over for hours and she would just giggle and smile the whole time. I like making her happy.

© 2019 Nina Soden


Alright, now it’s your turn. I’d love to see what today’s writing prompt inspires you. So, if you are willing, go to the comment section below and start typing. Take 5 minutes and let’s see what you come up with! 

Look around you and choose an object in the room. Now write something from the point of view of that object.


What books have made your November reading list? Comment below and let me know! Then, click on the links below to check out the November 2019 New York Times Top Ten Lists and see which books you’d like to add to your reading list!


The Shining (Movie Review)

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? Click on the video below!

I love receiving review requests. So, when a request to review The Shining came in, I jumped on it. Did I really need a reason to re-watch The Shining? No, but I’ll take it. 🙂

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★★ (5 Stars)
Writing/Story: ★★★★★ | Cinematography:  ★★★★★ Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

STORY LINE:

Jack Torrance, a writer and former teacher, signs a contract to spend the winter, with his family taking care of an old hotel with a violent past. Secluded in the Colorado mountains for 5 months, Jack, who is recently sober, slowly gets more violent and angry. His son, Danny, tries to use a special talent, the “Shining”, to inform the people outside about what is going on in the hotel.

MY 2 CENTS:

The Shining has always been one of my favorite horror films. It is perfect in just about every way. When The Shinning was first released, in 1980, it received mixed reviews. People didn’t really know what to make of it.

The fact that it was nominated for a Razzie award – honoring the worst of cinematic under-achievements – just blows me away. In my opinion, it is pretty perfect! Much like Citizen Kane or Schindler’s List, I can’t think of anything wrong with this film.

Sure, it’s metaphorical and it leaves the audience wondering what they just watched. What is wrong with that?  

Writing/Story: ★★★★★

I loved the novel. It was one of the first books I ever read that truly scared me. And the film, although very different than the novel, had the same effect. I have read that Stephen King hated the movie and recently read the following quote:

“The book is hot, and the movie is cold; the book ends in fire, and the movie in ice. In the book, there’s an actual arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to be good, and little by little he moves over to this place where he’s crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene. I had to keep my mouth shut at the time. It was a screening, and Nicholson was there. But I’m thinking to myself the minute he’s on the screen, ‘Oh, I know this guy. I’ve seen him in five motorcycle movies, where Jack Nicholson played the same part.’ And it’s so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag. But that’s just me, that’s the way I am.” ~ Stephen King, on The Shining

In my opinion, yes, the book and the film are very different. However, just because I love the book doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the movie for what it is. The Shining is a classic horror film that will, until I die, send chills up and down my spine and nightmares into my sleeping mind.

Cinematography ★★★★★

This film has some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen and to say that about a horror film is pretty amazing. Most horror films, especially these days, are all about the jump out at you scares, the blood and gore, and less about the visual aspects of the film.

The opening scene, where he is driving up the mountain, is stunning.

Fun fact… Although the inspiration for the fictional hotel came from Colorado’s Stanley Hotel, Kubrick ended up using Oregon’s Timberline Lodge for the exterior shots of The Shining’s Overlook Hotel and all of the interior scenes were filmed in England.

The entire film, from the opening until the closing credits, visually draws you in and leaves you on the edge of your seat in anticipation and fear.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

Jack Nicholson is absolutely fantastic in this film. When you first watch him, he is oddly and uncomfortably comical. His is so light hearted in some of the scenes, especially the terrifying ones. However, as you watch his insanity settle in, you realize it is a great performance. One of the scariest scenes is when Jack is stalking his wife up the stairs. He is telling her, with a crazy smile on his face, “Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in. …”

Shelley Duvall appears to be on edge and devastated throughout this entire film. I’ve heard that Stanley Kubrick treated Shelley very poorly throughout filming. Some people say he did it in order to get this devastated performance, and although I don’t agree with his methods, I have to admit it worked. Watching her, you truly do believe she is afraid… devastated… and just completely lost.

Danny Lloyd is amazing and, in my opinion, gives us one of the all-time best child actor performances. He is natural and completely believable. I find it hard to believe that his film credits pretty much start and end with this film. However, he does make an appearance in the film Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. But, I was disappointed to find out he is playing just a spectator and not reprising his role as Danny.

FUN FACT:

There is a photograph at the ends of the film, that shows Jack Torrancce, Jack Nicholson’s character, smiling at the 1921 July 4th Ball at the Overlook Hotel. It leaves the audience on edge, because it leaves you questioning reality. Has he been there the whole time? Was he there before? The worst part is that the questions are never answered.

When asked what the photograph means, Stanley Kubrick said, “The ballroom photograph at the very end suggests the reincarnation of Jack.” That would mean that Jack Torrance is the reincarnation of a guest or someone on staff at the Overlook in 1921.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Some places are like people: some shine and some don’t.”

“I like you, Lloyd. I always liked you. You were always the best of them. Best goddamned bartender from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine. Or Portland, Oregon, for that matter.”

This quote makes me wonder… ‘I always like you.’ Is he referring to the fact that he knew him before, from time spent at the hotel? Plus, the mention of Portland, Oregon… is that a nod to the fact that the exterior hotel shots were filmed in Oregon? Just food for thought.

TO SUM IT UP:

This film is a terrifying glimpse into the declining mental state of a man on the edge. It’s a horror film where the lead character – a drunk on the wagon – is an abusive husband and father. Sure, it is an extreme situation but the fact that this type of thing can, and has, happened makes it all the more disturbing.

This movie came out in 1980, so you’ve probably already seen it, but if not, I highly recommend it.  Especially if you plan to see Doctor Sleep while its still in the theatres… watch The Shining first, even if just to reacquaint yourself.

Have you seen The Shining? If you have, let me know your thoughts, in the comments below. If not, I recommend seeing it for yourself and forming your own opinion.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.


The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager #BookReview

Would you prefer to watch the video, instead of reading the review? CLICK HERE

TITLE:      The Last Time I Lied

Paperback Release Date: April 2, 2019

AUTHOR:               Riley Sager

GENRE:                 Thriller

PAGE COUNT:       370

RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★.75
Story: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★


AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

In this New York Times bestselling thriller from the author of Lock Every Door and Final Girls, a young woman returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years ago.

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.

Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera–the only one on the property–pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.

BOOK TRAILER:

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

You probably recognize the author’s name, Riley Sager. I recently reviewed his book Final Girls, which I loved. It was the first book in a while that I actually gave a 5 out of 5-star review. Well, he did it again with The Last Time I Lied. It was amazing.

STORY (★★★★★): This story follows Emma, who at the age of 13 goes to summer camp at Camp Nightingale and bunks with three other girls who end up going missing and the camp is shutdown. This book takes place 15 years after that event and Emma is now an accomplished artist in New York City who secretly paints the three missing girls into all of her paintings, hidden under layers of paint.  Basically, she suffers from anxiety because of this tragic event that happened during her childhood and she uses her art as a form of therapy.

During her art show, at the gallery, Franny the owner of the camp shows up and asks her to return to camp for the camps re-opening. She wants her to come and be an art instructor at the camp. Emma eventually decides to go hoping for closer, and also hoping to maybe do a little investigating and find out what happened to the three girls.

WRITING (★★★★★): The pace of this story is great. It’s a very fast read, I think I finished it in just a few days.

The structure is interesting, it jumps back and forth between the past and present a lot. This allows us to not under understand what Emma is going through today but also what she experienced 15 years prior and how that colored her world as she grew up.

This book was so much fun to read. Sager is great at putting suspicion on so many of the characters making it hard for the reader to trust anyone. Usually I can figure out ‘who done it’, but with this one I didn’t know the end until the twist happened and the answers are given.

I really like how Riley Sager writes and I love his vivid settings and descriptions. He uses a lot of similes in his comparisons that just paint a wonderful picture for the reader. I love his plot twists and the big reveals – like in Final Girls, the reveal in this one really surprised me.

I love how Riley Sager is able to tie up all the loose endings by the end of the book. It makes for a very clean story with no plot holes, which I like when it comes to single story books as opposed to series. In a series, I want to be left with a cliffhanger until the last book.

CHARACTERS (★★★★★): There are so many characters that I wanted to trust, but couldn’t. You even find out things about the lead character, Emma, that make you question whether or not she is the “good guy” or the “bad guy”.

Since this book is told from the perspective of a female character, there are a number of scenes where the author, being a man, could have really messed up. However, Sager is really good at writing from the female perspective and capturing the emotions that come along with the events that happen throughout the story both in the past as well as present day.

APPEARANCE (★★★★): The cover, designed by Alex Merto with photograph by Aaron Smith, is beautiful and haunting, although the photo doesn’t look like the character of Emma.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Sometimes the only way out is through.”

“My future is quite literally a blank canvas, waiting for me to fill it.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer. Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller and was called “the first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King. Translation rights have been sold in more than two dozen countries. His second book, THE LAST TIME I LIED, was a New York Times bestseller. His latest novel, LOCK EVERY DOOR, which is currently on my TO READ LIST, was an instant New York Times, Publishers Weekly and USA Today bestseller. A television adaptation is being developed by Paramount TV and Anonymous Content.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not working on his next novel, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

ALSO BY RILEY SAGER:

Disclosure: When you purchase a book using a link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, marketing, author events, etc.


The Outsider by Stephen King ~ Book Review

Would you prefer to watch the video, instead of reading the review? CLICK HERE

TITLE: The Outsider (June 4, 2019)

AUTHOR:     Stephen King

RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★.★ (4.5)
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

Soon to be an HBO limited series starring Ben Mendelsohn!

Evil has many faces…maybe even yours in this #1 New York Times bestseller from master storyteller Stephen King.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is discovered in a town park (WARNING – IT IS VERY GRAPHIC). Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens—Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon have DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems iron-clad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying details begin to emerge, King’s story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

* Disclosure: Some links within this post are affiliate links, which means I’ll get a small commission if you purchase. I only recommend products/books/tools I use and love!

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

There has been so much talk about and praise giving to this book that I just had to read it and see if it lived up to the hype. In my opinion, yes… YES it does. I’m a huge King fan, but I’ll be the first to admit that some of his recent work, I’m talking in the last few years, hasn’t really been my favorite. This one however, I really loved this book. It is a classic good vs. evil story and yet it is still completely original and has the natural clearly Stephen King feel.

WRITING (★★★★★): Stephen King can weave words together like a spider weaves a web. His words are beautiful, haunting, freakishly terrifying, and they trap the reader like an unsuspecting fly never letting go until the spider is done with him.

The Outsider has an uneasy realness quality about it. It’s the same feeling you get when reading the Mr. Mercedes novels. Its less about the things that go bump in the night and more about the unexplainable murder mystery and wondering just how much of it could really happen. It isn’t until late in the novel that King introduces his signature supernatural twist. I won’t lie, I was waiting for it. I even predicted who the killer really was. I’ve read enough Stephen King to know there is always more to his stories than just the reality we live in and if you’re looking for them, he leaves breadcrumbs – or clues – along the way.

STORY (★★★★): The Outsider is a crime novel with a classic Stephen King supernatural twist. Because it comes in at just 560 pages, this one is rather easy, quick to read. It is well paced and definitely one I would recommend to anyone who loves crime thrillers.

Stephen King is great at making you relate to his stories. In The Outsider, he pulls you in right from the beginning with the introduction of a horrific crime that has been committed against an eleven year old boy. Immediately it activates the readers sense of sympathy and compassion for the family involved and the town in which the boy lived. It makes you biased against the man they have in custody before you even know if he is guilty or innocent. King makes you feel like the world he has created could be your own.

Like most King novels, there were no weak elements in this story.

CHARACTERS (★★★★★): King has put together a great cast of characters in this one. Like other books, many of his characters are just normal people experiencing the horrific crime that has taken place and King allows us to watch through their eyes. There is even a character from the Mr. Mercedes trilogy that makes an appearance, to help with the investigation. That was really cool. I love when he ties his novels together showing us exactly what world or King universe, they are playing in.   

APPEARANCE (★★★★): I love the cover! It is stunning.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“People had the mistaken idea that Poe wrote fantastic stories about the supernatural, when in fact he wrote realistic stories about abnormal psychology.”

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

“Dreams are the way we touch the unseen world, that’s what I believe. They are a special gift.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His first crime thriller featuring Bill Hodges, MR MERCEDES, won the Edgar Award for best novel and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award. Both MR MERCEDES and END OF WATCH received the Goodreads Choice Award for the Best Mystery and Thriller of 2014 and 2016 respectively.

King co-wrote the bestselling novel Sleeping Beauties with his son Owen King, and many of King’s books have been turned into celebrated films and television series including The Shawshank Redemption, Gerald’s Game The Shining, It, and the list goes on.

King was the recipient of America’s prestigious 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for distinguished contribution to American Letters. In 2007 he also won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He lives with his wife Tabitha King in Maine.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Also by Stephen King…

I can’t list them all, but below are a few of my favorites. Just click on the cover photo to read the description and order your copy!

Disclosure: Some links within this post are affiliate links, which means I’ll get a small commission if you purchase. I only recommend products/books/tools I use and love!


Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate ~ Book Review

Would you prefer to watch the video, instead of reading the review? CLICK HERE

  • Title: Before We Were Yours
  • Author: Lisa Wingate
  • Release Date: May 21, 2019

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★ (4 Stars)
Writing: ★★★★ | Story: ★★★★ | Characters: ★★★★ | Appearance: ★★★★

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT—Over two million copies sold! A New York TimesUSA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller

“Poignant, engrossing.”—People • “Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.”—Paula McLain


Memphis, 1939. 
Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Publishers Weekly’s #3 Longest-Running Bestseller of 2017  Winner of the Southern Book Prize  If All Arkansas Read the Same Book Selection

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.”Parade

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

I didn’t know anything about this book when I started reading it. It was a book club selection, so I didn’t need to read the back – I knew I was going to read it. I had a feeling it was going to be emotional, and it was. It isn’t the typical genre I like reading, but I am so glad I read it. It has opened my eyes to a piece of U.S. history that I never knew about. Not all history is good, in fact most isn’t, this included. Yet, not knowing, doesn’t make it any better. The families that supported and participated in this “legalized” child trading should be ashamed of themselves. It was disgusting and unforgivable. No child should have to suffer the way these kids did. No child should be ripped away from their family for no reason. There is a difference between children being put into the system when there is abuse, drug use, or the families are just unable to care for the children properly. But to have a child kidnapped off their front porch or sold into the system, its not right.

WRITING (★★★★):

Lisa Wingate’s writing style is simple and elegant storytelling. The pages are painted with descriptive text that make you feel like you’re there in the world she’s seeing in her mind. Talk of magnolias smelling like freedom, children wrapped in bedsheets like caterpillars, and the way the boat moans beneath their feet…all of it allows you to hear, smell, even taste exactly what the characters are experiencing.  

STORY (★★★★):

This book tells two stories, the first centers around Rill Foss and her siblings and the second centers around Avery Stafford a woman who comes from a well-known political family. The stories take place about 70 years apart, but are weaved into each other for the purposes of the novel. The first story, that of Rill Foss and her siblings, covers their time and experiences within the Tennessee Home for Children, and is both intriguing and devastating. The second story, that of Avery Stafford and the Stafford family as Avery is digging up her grandmother’s history and past secrets was a little less intriguing. In fact, at times, it was quite boring.

The Tennessee Home for Children portion of the story takes the unthinkable facts, based on the recounted stories told by children who survived the Tennessee Children’s Homes Society orphanage and who later were able to locate their lost family members after the documents were unsealed in 1995, 45 years after the home was closed. Lisa Wingate has created a family of believable siblings, using an all to likely storyline, caught up in this terrible scheme of child trafficking. It is heart-breaking and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. When you consider these things actually happened, and may still be happening in some areas of the world, it is sickening.

As a mother, this was a rather hard book to read. The subject matter is disturbing and unforgettable. I kept picturing my children going through what Rill and her siblings when through and it made me sick. Having a story like this be based on something that really happened makes it all the much worse. That being said, I felt like it was extremely well-written and hard to put down. I needed to get to the end. I needed to find out if everything worked out for them in the end, even though I knew that for many of the children in the care of the Tennessee Home for Children, things didn’t work out well.

CHARACTERS (★★★★):

Character development is one of Lisa Wingate’s strongest tools. She weaves two stories; then and now, into this book and the only thing holding them together is the strong characters she has created. Rill Foss (aka May Crandall) and her siblings has such a tight bond that the entire book your hoping and praying that there will be a happy ending and everyone will find each other again. Avery Stafford, the great granddaughter of Rill’s sister is a truly honorable woman, set on finding out the truth even if the buried secrets could hurt her family politically.

APPEARANCE (★★★★):

The cover is beautiful. It speaks to the heart without giving anything away.  

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“One of the best things a father can do for his daughter is let her know that she has met his expectations. My father did that for me, and no amount of effort on my part can fully repay the debt.”

“A woman’s past need not predict her future. She can dance to new music if she chooses. Her own music. To hear the tune, she must only stop talking. To herself, I mean. We’re always trying to persuade ourselves of things.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Selected among BOOKLIST’S Top 10 for two years running, Lisa Wingate writes novels that Publisher’s Weekly calls “Masterful” and ForeWord Magazine refers to as “Filled with lyrical prose, hope, and healing.” Lisa is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the author of a host of literary works. Her novels have garnered or been short-listed for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, the LORIES Best Fiction Award, The Carol Award, the Christy Award, Family Fiction’s Top 10, RT Booklover’s Reviewer’s Choice Award, and others. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with six others for the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who promote greater kindness and civility in American life. She’s been a writer since Mrs. Krackhardt’s first-grade class and still believes that stories have the power to change the world.

IN THE WRITER’S OWN WORDS: A special first grade teacher, Mrs. Krackhardt, made a writer out of me. That may sound unlikely, but it’s true. It’s possible to find a calling when you’re still in pigtails and Mary Jane shoes, and to know it’s your calling. I was halfway through the first grade when I landed in Mrs. Krackhardt’s classroom. I was fairly convinced there wasn’t anything all that special about me… and then, Mrs. Krackhardt stood over my desk and read a story I was writing. She said things like, “This is a great story! I wonder what happens next?”

It isn’t every day a shy new kid gets that kind of attention. I rushed to finish the story, and when I wrote the last word, the teacher took the pages, straightened them on the desk, looked at me over the top, and said, “You are a wonderful writer!”

A dream was born. Over the years, other dreams bloomed and died tragic, untimely deaths. I planned to become an Olympic gymnast or win the National Finals Rodeo, but there was this matter of back flips on the balance beam and these parents who stubbornly refused to buy me a pony. Yet the writer dream remained. I always believed I could do it because… well… my first grade teacher told me so, and first grade teachers don’t lie.

So, that is my story, and if you are a teacher, or know a teacher, or ever loved a special teacher, I salute you from afar and wish you days be filled with stories worth telling and stories worth reading.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Also by Lisa Wingate:

Click on the book cover images below to read the descriptions and order your copy! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.