The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager #BookReview

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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:

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The Outsider by Stephen King ~ Book Review

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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!


JOKER (2019) ~ Movie Review

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Comment below and tell me what you thought of Joaquin Phoenix as THE JOKER!!!


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


IMDB STORY LINE:

In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck embarks on a downward-spiral of social revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his infamous alter-ego: “The Joker”.

WARNER BROTHERS STORY LINE:

Joker centers around an origin of the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Todd Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.

MY 2 CENTS:

This film is fantastic. It probably isn’t for everyone. I know it received a lot of negative reviews and a bunch of criticism for the amount of violence. However, it I feel that it also deserved some praise – both for the writing and the acting. I think the risks taken by writers Todd Phillips and Scott Silver were great. Before seeing the film, I was a bit concerned. I had heard that there was talk about extreme unnecessary violence. I had no idea what to expect. However, after seeing the film, I can honestly say that wasn’t the case at all. After watching the John Wick movies, which are just riddled with violence to the point that it is hard to remember a scene without violence, this film is more drama than violence. In fact, the first time Arthur Fleck ever kills anyone, it is in self-defense. Sure, it is clear in that moment you can tell he is enjoying it… and that is where you start to see the typical evil of The Joker come through.  

Writing/Story: ★★★★★

WOW! The origin story for The Joker has always been a bit confusing for me. I never really understood it and it has always seemed a bit unrealistic and contrived. However, writers Todd Phillips and Scott Silver really developed a believable, heart wrenching backstory that allows the audience not only to understand why and how Arthur Fleck becomes The Joker, but to also sympathize with his situation and even root for him at times.

This film really forces the audience to think about mental illness, how we as a society often fail to give the appropriate care, attention, and medical treatment to those that really need it. Arthur Fleck is functioning in society, it’s a struggle but he is doing it. Then, when the funding for his state funded therapy is cancelled and he can no longer talk to his therapist and get his medications he spirals downhill.

Cinematography ★★★★★

The camera angles used during some of the scenes were truly beautiful and helped to pull the right emotional strings of the audience. One scene in particular was when Arthur was dancing down the steps and the camera is lower down, staring up at him. The joy he is portraying is both frightening and delightful at the same time.

Another case would be when Arthur has been beaten down and the camera is low on the ground with him. As an audience member, being down there on the ground with him, you feel his pain, his fear, his anger, and just a complete rush of helplessness.

The way this movie was filmed really made me feel like I was watching a Martin Scorsese film, such as Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, or even Raging Bull. After seeing the film, I read some reviews that said this same thing. However, were other people complained about this, I really liked it. I’ve always really liked Martin Scorsese’s film style.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

Joaquin Phoenix was brilliant in this film. I can’t think of another actor that could have played this role in quiet the same way or with the same amount of emotional connection. There are so many moments throughout the film where I was just swept away emotionally, and brought to tears even, because of what Arthur was going through. It isn’t because I agree with the violence and the killing, but its in the moments, such as the first time he attempts standup comedy, or when he is beaten down in the street (more than once) where as an audience member feel his fear, his pain, and his torment.

In an interview, Phoenix stated that perfecting the Joker’s laugh was the toughest part of playing the character and I can completely see why. Laughter is usually associated with joy and delight and comedy, however, when he laughs you see his struggle with pain, depression, and anxiety. It is in complete conflict with the act of laughing. He stated that he watched videos of people who suffered from pathological laughter in order to get it just right.

Joaquin Phoenix stated that he had been “interested in the light of Arthur for lack of a better word. It wasn’t just the torment, it was the joy, his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected. To have warmth and love. I don’t think of a character as tormented.” Ultimately, I feel that Phoenix was able to bring out all of Arthur’s deepest emotions and make him a character that audience members can both related to and sympathize with.

FUN FACT:

Robert De Niro‘s role as Murray Franklin, the talk-show host who gives Arthur Fleck his big break, and even the name The Joker, is an ironic role reversal from De Niro’s role in The King of Comedy (1982). In that film, De Niro played Rupert Pupkin, an unsuccessful, mentally-unstable comedian who stalked and kidnapped his favorite talk-show host, Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis).

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

“I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a comedy.”

TO SUM IT UP:

This film is a dark, terrifying, gritty, raw, and often uncomfortable character study of a man who has been mistreated, abused (both emotionally and physically), and overlooked by everyone in his life. This film dives into how the circumstances of life and long-term abuse have affected Arthur Fleck physically, emotionally, and mentally. I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen so you can get the full effect of the amazing camera angles and larger than life closeups.

Have you seen JOKER? If not, you should. If you have, let me know your thoughts, in the comments below. As always, I recommend seeing this film 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.

JOKER (2019) Trailer:


Isn’t It Romantic (2019) ~ Movie Review

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SHOW RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★ (4.33)

Writing/Story: ★★★★
Cinematography: ★★★★ Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

IMDB STORY LINE:

A young woman disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy.

MY 2 CENTS:

I won’t lie, I love romantic comedies… they are my guilty pleasure! Plus, I am a huge fan of Rebel Wilson, her comedic timing is amazing. So, after watching the preview, I was all in!

Writing/Story: ★★★★

This movie was clever! Think of every romcom cliché you can… now, imagine them all in one movie… what you get is ‘Isn’t It Romantic’. The thing is, in this film, it works. It’s a parody on romantic comedies… The movie is making fun of all romantic comedies well being one of the funniest, wittiest, and most beguiling romantic comedies I’ve seen in a while.

This story could have gone south… and tanked, but writers Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox, and Katie Silberman obviously have a clear understanding of what works in a romantic comedy and what we all make fun of. They gave us a perfect balance of comedy and emotion.

Cinematography ★★★★

I have nothing bad to say about the cinematography in this film… nothing amazing either.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

Rebel Wilson was amazing, as she always is. Her comedic timing alone could have carried the film, if that had been necessary. However, with the cast line up this movie had, there was no question it would be fun to watch.

Having Adam Devine and Rebel Wilson playing off each other, yet again, seemed like one of the most natural things in the world. Their chemistry on film may have started in Pitch Perfect, but I have a feeling it will continue for years to come.

Liam Hemsworth, as Blake, did a great job playing the arrogant, good looking, rich guy… and a bit clueless too.

Betty Gilpin, as Whitney, was fantastic. The part is a bit underrated but Gilpin made the role something to remember. If you don’t know Gilpen, then you need to watch GLOW… she is brilliant!

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“My life’s become a mother-BEEPing romantic comedy and it’s PG-13.”

TO SUM IT UP:

If you like Romcoms… laughing… and just an all around feel good movie, then you should watch this one. Grab a cozy blanket, a bucket of popcorn, a couple glasses of wine (or your favorite beverage), your significant other, and settle in for a great date night in!

Have you seen ‘Isn’t It Romantic’ yet? Let me know your thoughts, in the comments below. Tell me what you thought of the movie. As always, I do recommend seeing this film 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.

Isn’t It Romantic (2019) Trailer:

IT Chapter Two (2019) ~ Movie Review

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SHOW RATING OVERVIEW ★★★.★★★ (3.75)
Writing/Story: ★★★★★ | Cinematography:  ★★★ | CGI: ★★ Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

IMDB STORY LINE:

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

MY 2 CENTS:

I have to say, seeing as Stephen King is my favorite author, this film is probably my most anticipated films of the year. I loved the book, thought the mini-series back in 1990 did an amazing job bringing the book to life, and really enjoyed the 2017 version of IT Chapter One. With the whole cast from the 2017 version coming back for Chapter Two plus the addition of Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and so many other awesome actors I can’t deny I was very excited going into the theatre.

There is a lot to love about this film… there are also a few things I didn’t really care for. Now, I’ve heard complaints about the movie’s length, at 2 hours and 49 minutes it is a very long movie, but you have to consider the length of the book… Like most Stephen King novels, it’s not short!

Writing/Story: ★★★★★

As I said before, this movie is based on the novel IT by Stephen King. When IT was originally adapted to live action, it was a mini-series on television. I remember eating it up. I had just finished reading the book and couldn’t wait to see it. With it being a mini-series, they were able to really get a lot of the details from the book into the show… something you can’t really do when it’s a movie on the big screen, you just don’t have the time to fit it all in.

Splitting the movie into two parts, Chapter One and Chapter Two, did allow for more detail, but I felt as an audience member that chopping it up so much really made certain aspects of the films uneven. Plus, when you really look at what the movie is about, an evil clown comes to town every 27 years and kills kids… it’s a little surprising how long the movie is. Both movies pretty much have the same plot – Pennywise is back, killing kids, and the members of the Loser Club have to fight and kill him.

I think one of the reasons I really liked the original mini-series and even why I liked the 2017 movie a little more than this one is because you really get to feel what they are going through from a kids perspective. Think about it, evil creepy clown running around town in the sews killing kids… as a kid, that is some seriously scary stuff. However, with these characters, they approach Pennywise in much the same way they did as children, they have all the same fears they did 27 years before. However, that isn’t really realistic, as we get older, we change, people evolve, what we are afraid of changes and we approach our fears in a different way.

Cinematography ★★★

I think there are some really great shots in in this movie. However, I also think that the way it was filmed gave away a little too much too quickly. Sure, as the audience, we already know who Pennywise is and what he looks like, but I just think with a scary movie there is something to say for keeping the monster hidden that amps up the suspense. It seemed that Pennywise got a lot of screen time in this film, which took the scare level down significantly for me.

Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI):  ★★

Fun fact about the young actors who played the Losers Club members in IT Chapter One: They grew tremendously in the 2 years following filming that they actually had to be digitally ‘de-aged’ in some scenes because they looked significantly older than before. For me, every time I noticed it – which was often throughout the film – it pulled me out of the moment. I get that there really wasn’t another way to do it, since the flashback scenes with the kids had to look like they were from the same time period as the 2017 film, but for me the technique just wasn’t executed that well.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

Let’s talk about Character(s) and acting… First off, there isn’t a whole lot of character building in this movie. I understand that we, as the audience, already know the characters from when they were children in the first movie, however this is 27 years later… people tend to change, a lot, in 27 years. The movie gives us only one scene for each of the main characters to show us what they are like now. It just feels really rushed as the movie pushes the characters together, trying to get them back to Derry. Then, once they are there the pace slows down considerably and it almost feels to slow with not enough action.

In terms of acting… WOW! Everyone is really strong. Both the adults playing the Loser Club as well as their child actor counterparts.

I think one of my favorite scenes is when they all first come together, at the restaurant. They haven’t seen each other is 27 years and yet there is an instant connection. You can see and feel the comradery as if they have remained close friends all their lives. They do a really good job of making it seem like these adults are the grown versions of the kids we saw jut two years ago in the 2017 movie. Mannerisms and speech patterns are all very similar and it helps to be able to connect each of the children actors to their adult counterparts.

Best actor award has to go to Bill Skarsgard who plays Pennywise. Pennywise is just a wonderful role for an actor. Tim Curry was amazing as Pennywise in the 1990 mini-series and Bill Skarsgard has done a wonderful job in both the 2017 and 2019 files. He is creepy – Defiantly the thing that nightmares are made of.  

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“See, the thing about being a loser, you don’t have anything to lose. So, be true. Be brave. Stand. Believe. And don’t ever forget, we’re losers, and we always will be.” ~ Losers Club (IT Chapter Two)

“Here’s Johnny” ~ Henry Bowers

  • The reason I like this one so much is because it’s a throwback to another Stephen King book, The Shining when Jack Torrance has gone crazy and is chopping down the bathroom door with an axe to kill his wife.

TO SUM IT UP:

Although I enjoyed this film, maybe not as much as the 2017 movie, I have to say it just doesn’t fully live up to the 1990’s mini-series. However, I do tend to lean toward originals more so then remakes and books rather than movies.

Have you seen IT Chapter Two yet? Did you see IT Chapter One, or better yet did you see the Original IT Mini Series? And, even more importantly, have you read the book? Let me know your answers, in the comments below. Tell me what you thought of the book, the mini-series, or the movies! I’d love to know. As always, I do recommend seeing this film 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.

Open the video and watch it on YouTube so you can subscribe to my channel and never miss a video!

IT Chapter Two (2019) Trailer:

IT Chapter One (2017) Trailer:

IT mini-series (1990) Trailer:


Bright Side by Kim Holden ~ Book Review

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RATING OVERVIEW 4.75 STARS

Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

Secrets.
Everyone has one.
Some are bigger than others.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.

They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.

And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

WOW… I ate this book up, binge reading it in just a couple of days. It is a super-fast read with so much amazing detail.

WRITING (★★★★★): Kim Holden draws you right in with her playful dialogue between life long friends Kate and Gus. Immediately we feel their connection and realize that these two friends have just been separated as Kate left for college and Gus is still home in southern California following his dream of being a Rockstar.

The way Kim tells the story, each chapter from one character’s perspective, really pulled me into the book. It makes you, as a reader, feel more involved and it gives the story an overarching personal feeling that telling it from third person just wouldn’t have accomplished.

STORY (★★★★): This story takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get pissed… but, if you’re like me, you’ll love every minute of it.

A little warning though, this one is for mature audiences. Topics covered in Bright Side include loss, disease, eating disorders, homosexuality, sex, drinking, and SO MUCH MORE!!!

CHARACTERS (★★★★★): As an author, Kim Holden understands character development. She has to be one of my top 5 authors for character development. She had me emotionally connected, not only to the main character Kate but also with Gus, Keller, and everyone else. Seriously, even Kate’s college roommate, who is kind of a jerk, is written in a way that makes her misunderstood… I found myself wanting to know more about her. Who knows, maybe Kim will write a book for her at some point too.

Kate, also known as Bright Side, is a beautiful person inside and out. She is optimistic in every sense of the word and sadly, life has just not been kind to her. She has been dealt a terrible hand, but she doesn’t let it get her down. With every line… even when she is saying Dude every other word, we get a sense of who she is. That is the magic of good character development.

APPEARANCE (★★★★★): Simple… Intriguing… and totally Bright Side! The cover made me smile even before I opened the pages to meet Bright Side!  

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Today, my life is awesome. I don’t want to think about tomorrow. Or the day after that. So I repeat to myself: Today, my life is awesome.”

“Don’t judge each other. We all have our own shit. Keep your eyes on yours and your nose out of everyone else’s unless you’re invited in. And when you get the invitation, help, don’t judge.”

“Imagine for a moment that you were free of all the expectations in your life. What would you do? How would you live your life with no one watching? What would your future look like?”

“Do Epic.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kim lives in what she calls the greatest city in the world: Denver, Colorado. Some of her favorite things: reading, writing, her husband and her son, her bicycle, Facebook, iced coffee, and music. She also loves dreaming. Her advice to anyone reading this, or any of her books… follow your dreams. It’s never too late. Get started today … heck get started RIGHT NOW! Make your dreams reality.
She loves to hear from fellow readers. So, if you want to reach out, find her on Goodreads at author/show/7445352.Kim_Holden

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

Also by Kim Holden

GUS (Bright Side Book 2)

This is the story of Gus.
Losing himself.
Finding himself.
And healing along the way.

“ … but the honest-to-God truth is I don’t even know how to function anymore. Bright Side wasn’t only my best friend; she was like my other half … the other half of my brain, the other half of my conscience, the other half of my sense of humor, the other half of my creativity, the other half of my heart. How do you go back to doing what you did before, when half of you is gone forever?”

Note from the author: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is recommended for mature audiences.

FRANCO (Bright Side Book 3)

Franco Genovese is the drummer for world renowned American rock band, Rook. He’s got it all. A killer smile. Tattoos. Talent. Razor sharp wit and humor. And a heart as big, and generous, as they come.
Life is good. Steady. Uncomplicated. Just the way he likes things.
Until one night at an unassuming L.A. bar changes everything.
Enter Gemma Hendricks.
She’s a successful young architect from Northern England with an adorable smile, sarcasm for days, and an unparalleled trusting heart.
The attraction is instant.
So is their friendship.
It’s also temporary because they’ll both be heading home, thousands of miles apart from each other, in a few days.
Or is it?
There’s something Gemma wants more than anything else.
And when Franco propositions her to provide what she’s looking for, everything changes.
Will it transform friendship into love, or will it be their ruin?

THE OTHER SIDE

There are two sides to every story.
The surface reality that’s presented to the world…
And then there’s the other side.
The real one.
The one that matters.
Seventeen-year-old, self-proclaimed asshole, Toby Page, is alone.
No friends.
No family.
He trades maintenance work in exchange for room and board.
Every day he fights demons no one else can see.
Every day he wants to give up.
But he can’t.
Not yet.
When Alice Eliot moves in downstairs, she offers Toby some light in his dark world.
At a crossroads and barely hanging on, it’s hard to have perspective.
It’s difficult to see your own worth when you’re the villain in your story.
Luckily for Toby, Alice brings things out in him that no one else ever has.
As the two sides of Toby’s story are revealed, and the full reality comes into view, truth is gained, unlikely heroes emerge, and improbable alliances prove that kindness is fundamentally human.
The question is, Will it all be enough to save him?

ALL OF IT

Seventeen-year-old VERONICA SMITH has it all: a loving family, a funky car named Jezebel, and a plan to go to college after graduation. On the first day of senior year, she meets DIMITRI GLENN–a mysterious transfer student with gray eyes and a mischievous smile who seems determined to win her heart. But there’s something odd about Dimitri, leading Veronica to wonder if there’s more to him than meets the eye. Before long she finds herself in a whirlwind romance that seems too good to be true–until a series of devastating events leaves her questioning everything. It’s not until she chooses to think with her heart instead of her mind that she can rise from the ashes to learn the truth of their connection.

SO MUCH MORE

This is a glimpse into divorce: the lead-up, the aftermath, and the redemption that follows.
Love is strange. It comes out of nowhere. There’s no logic to it. It’s not methodical. It’s not scientific. It’s pure emotion and passion. And emotion and passion can be dangerous because they fuel love…and hate.
I’m now a reluctant connoisseur of both—an expert through immersion. I know them intimately.

When I fell in love with Miranda, it was swift and blind. She was the person I’d elevated to mythical status in my head, in my dreams.
Here’s the thing about dreams, they’re smoke.
They’re spun as thoughts until they become something we think we want. Something we think we need.

That was Miranda. She was smoke.

I thought I wanted her. I thought I needed her.

Over time reality crept in and slowly dissected and disemboweled my dreams like a predator, leaving behind a rotting carcass.

Reality can be a fierce bitch.
So can Miranda.

And I can be a fool…
who believes in dreams.

And people.


The Art of Racing in the Rain (Movie Review)

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

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW: ★★★.★ (3.33)
Writing/Story: ★★★ | Cinematography:  ★★★ | Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★

IMDB BLURB:

Through his bond with his owner, aspiring Formula One race car driver Denny, golden retriever Enzo learns that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life.

IMDB STORY LINE:

Dog lovers often believe their canine family members understand language, comprehend events, have opinions, and exude loyalty. In “The Art of Racing in The Rain”, wise old dog Enzo Swift shares thoughts about the life experiences which prepared him to protect his family in times of greatest need.

MY 2 CENTS:

So, 2019 seems to be the year of dog movies. Earlier this year we had A Dog’s Way Home and A Dog’s Journey. Now, The Art of Racing in the Rain. So, have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it? I need your comments down below.

Let’s jump right in and talk about the critical points…

Writing/Story: ★★★

The writing is good… average. I wish I had read the book, so I’d be able to compare it, but I didn’t. So, I will say this, there isn’t a whole lot of meaningful dialogue in this one. There are a lot of cute little one liners but not a lot of substantial dialogue where the characters are getting to know each other or connecting on a meaningful level. It has a strong made for TV feel about it.

The story is cute… who doesn’t like a movie centered around a cute dog. However, when this one takes a turn… leaving the dog story for a bit and focuses more on the human aspect of the film, that’s when we really get to see it for what it is… a Lifetime movie with a pretty common plot.

Sure, there are some emotional moments and some tragic things happen. Things that could happen to anyone… things that will break your heart if they happen in real life. However, it’s the way they go about it in this film that just didn’t hit the right emotional buttons with me.   

With that said, most dog movies are seen as family films, but this one does hit on topics that are a bit too depressing for kids to be entertained by.

Cinematography ★★★

Honestly, there just wasn’t anything sensationally about the cinematography in this film. Nothing to wright home about. There was one scene, when Denny is racing in the rain and

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★

I have to say the Best Actor award in this one has to go to the dog. Or rather, dogs, plural. There were multiple dogs that played Enzo, but seriously these dogs did an amazing job. Kudos to the trainers on set, they did a fantastic job getting the dogs to do exactly what was needed for this film. Plus, with Kevin Costner’s voice giving life to the dog how could the film really go wrong, right? His timing and delivery of Enzo’s lines was perfect.

Our other two main characters were Amanda Seyfried, who played Eve, and Milo Ventimiglia who played Denny Swift.

Amanda was great, she always is. She is a natural on screen and wow… I didn’t see that coming. This movie, as I’m sure the book did, took a major turn with her character. I won’t give it away, but I wasn’t expecting it. She did a beautiful job showing true emotion throughout her performance, I just wish we could have seen a bit more of it from the dog’s perspective.

Milo did a good job too; I’ve enjoyed his acting since his days on The Gilmore Girls. I think he felt a little stiff in this one, but over all not bad. He had some good emotion driven moments, but all in all his character was more one liners than deep, true, conversation. The movie is called The Art of Racing in the Rain, I really wish we could have seen him race a bit more. We saw him drive around the race track… mostly when there weren’t other drivers on the track with him. I felt a little gipped that we didn’t get to see a few good races.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.”

TO SUM IT UP:

The story as a whole, wasn’t bad. When the focus was on the dog… telling the story from the dog’s perspective, I was really into it. It was when it took a turn and focused more on the human aspects of the story instead of what it was… a story about a dog… that’s when it lost my focus a bit.

Listen, with that said, this movie is still really good. If you loved it, I’m glad. I enjoyed it too. I know I might not have the most popular opinion about this film, but my job here is as a critic… I look at all aspects of the film and tell you what I think. This one just didn’t move me in ways other dog movies have moved me other the years. Sure, I got teary eyed once… I didn’t cry, but I got a bit of blurry vision when the Enzo road in the race car, and sure there are some serious – SERIOUS – topics discussed and things happen… terrible – sad things that I did get emotional about. I knew nothing about the movie before seeing it, other than it was narrated by a dog… I don’t want to give away to much since I’m sure not everyone watching this video has seen the film.

Have you seen The Art of Racing in the Rain yet? Have you read the book? If you have let me know, in the comments below, what you thought of either the book or the movie! I’d love to know. I haven’t read the book, but I plan to and I do recommend seeing this film. Watch it yourself and see what you think.

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

View the Official Trailer Below!