11/22/63 by Stephen King

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11.22.63

 

TITLE: 11/22/63
AUTHOR: Stephen King

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
One of the Ten Best Books of The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Now a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco

ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

Buy the book HERE

MY 2 CENTS:

WRITING: I love reading, and I’ll be the first to admit that if the story is good enough bad writing doesn’t necessarily ruin the experience for me. Because of this, some books may receive a higher rating from me simply because the story was fantastic… maybe as a reader you don’t agree with that method, but I feel that creativity in a story should outweigh the other flaws one might find. HOWEVER, this was not one of those books… This one topped the charts on writing, story development, character development, back story, flashbacks, structure, etc. etc. etc.

Stephen King is a master when it comes to creative writing. He develops characters that are more believable than the people you live next door to… but, with this story, he weaved together a fine thread of life. Creating fictional characters and weaving them into a reality with real life historical figures can’t be easy, yet King makes it seem seamless.

STORY: At first glance, looking at the cover, one might think this book focuses on the assassination of President J.F. Kennedy. In reality, this is a time-travel novel. Sure, it involves the Kennedy assassination, but that is not the primary focus. This book focuses on Jake Epping, a man of 2011 who travels back in time to 1958. We get to see how his actions in the past affect his life and the lives of others. It shows how the butterfly effect can have both positive and negative ramifications on the world and the course of history. It begs the reader to think about what he/she might do in a similar situation, or to think about the decisions you make in your every day life that seem mundane or harmless… How do those small decision affect the greater good?

CHARACTERS: As with all of King’s novels, I loved getting to know the characters. I enjoyed reading the details of Jake’s realization of what was happening and the weight of the responsibility that was placed on him. His journey takes him through struggles we can only imagine. He grows, learns, fails, succeeds, falls in love, and endures unmeasurable loss.

APPEARANCE: The cover is simply perfect.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
I’m an author, so of course I loved this one: “When all else fails, give up and go to the library.”

“Sometimes the things presented to use as choices aren’t choices at all.”

“When you put on a clown suit and a rubber nose, nobody has any idea what you look like inside.”

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

https://youtu.be/Xg3c7K5Tb88

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11.22.63 mini series

 

Did you know that Hulu turned 11/22/63 into a mini-series? It did… Want to know my thoughts about the mini-series? Check out my blog post HERE! Blog Review of the mini-series will be active on Sunday, April 14, 2019. 

 

You can also check out my YouTube review of the mini-series below (video review will be posted on Sunday, April 14, 2019:

 

Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard

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Finding GobiTITLE: Finding Gobi
AUTHOR: Dion Leonard

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Bring home the incredible true story of a friendship so strong that it crosses the globe! You will love the inspiring tale of Gobi, a lost dog who kept pace with an ultramarathon runner, Dion Leonard, across a vast desert. Follow their unlikely friendship through the challenges of an 80-mile race and Dion’s struggle to bring Gobi home for good.

Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey is the incredible true story of Dion Leonard, a New York Times bestselling author and athlete, who was befriended by a stray dog while running an ultramarathon through the Gobi Desert. Named for the desert in which he found her, Gobi became Dion’s closest companion for 77 miles of the 155-mile race across China. The scrappy little pup ran mile after mile alongside Dion, through treacherous conditions and across raging rivers. He let her sleep in his tent and share his food, and eventually, his focus shifted from winning to the newfound friendship he and Gobi shared.

They crossed the finish line together—not first, but together—and Dion decided to bring Gobi home to Scotland. Just before they were about to leave, however, Gobi disappeared, setting off a worldwide search for the stray. In a town of more than 3 million people, the search seemed hopeless, but this tale of friendship will surprise and delight you as you find out what happens!

Join the almost too-good-to-be-true story of hope, friendship, and beating incredible odds in Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey by Dion Leonard.

Buy the book HERE

The Critical Points:
Finding Gobi is the true story of one little dog’s big journey, written by Dion Leonard.

WRITING: I read this book with my 11-year-old son, as part of our mother/son book club. I had never heard about Gobi or the story that went global, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed the book. My son enjoyed the book as well. I love the fact that Dion Leonard not only wrote his story, he chose to write a children’s version too. I don’t think my son would have made it through the longer version, but the Young Reader’s Edition was perfect for him.

I highly recommend this book. The young readers’ edition is perfect for readers of all ages from children to those young-at-heart. The sections written in Gobi’s perspective are very endearing and sweet.

STORY: You just can’t go wrong with a true story of a man and his dog. Much less one that carries the reader around the world on an epic adventure of friendship, heartache, and eventually a joyous reunion. Did I give away too much?

CHARACTERS: Gobi and Dion aren’t really characters… they are the real life dog and dog owner. So, I can’t judge the character development as everything that happens in Finding Gobi is true to life.

APPEARANCE: The cover shows a cute image of Gobi, trotting along across a map… showing, through the image, the journey she must have taken.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE:
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes almost half a planet to rescue a dog.”

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

https://youtu.be/Q6O2HcuYqw8

On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson

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Golden Pond

PLAY TITLE: On Golden Pond
AUTHOR: Ernest Thompson

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.75)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
A comedy for a cast of 3 men, 2 women, 1 boy. This is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the forty-eighth year. He is a retired professor, nearing eighty, with heart palpitations and a failing memory-but still as tart-tongued, observant and eager for life as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, and the perfect foil for Norman, delights in all the small things that have enriched and continue to enrich their long life together. They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her dentist fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. The boy quickly becomes the “grandchild” the elderly couple have longed for, and as Norman revels in taking his ward fishing and thrusting good books at him, he also learns some lessons about modern teenage awareness-and slang-in return. In the end, as the summer wanes, so does their brief idyll, and in the final, deeply moving moments of the play, Norman and Ethel are brought even closer together by the incidence of a mild heart attack. Time, they know, is now against them, but the years have been good and, perhaps, another summer on Golden Pond still awaits.

Buy the play HERE!

Buy the movie HERE!
MY 2 CENTS: 
On Golden Pond is a classic. The way that Thompson brings these characters to live is simply beautiful. It’s about life, relationships, and the heart.

I love when an author like Thompson can take a simple story, a retired couple spending the summer at their lake house, and turn it into so much more. By the end of the script, you’re emotionally attached to the characters, you care what happens to them, and you long to learn more about them.

The father/daughter relationship between Norman and Chelsea is heartbreaking. In just the few scenes in which they are together, it is obvious how much they love each other… how much they want to be close… and yet, they aren’t. It isn’t until Chelsea brings Billy, her boyfriend’s son, to visit her parents that Norman finally bonds with a child. It’s just said that it wasn’t his own child.

The husband/wife relationship between Norman and Ethel is exactly what I believe my grandparents had. They lived a similar life and were not only each other’s best friends, but they were soul mates. They were perfect together in every way. I believe that Thompson wrote their relationship to be perfect… almost to perfect, but not unbelievable in any way.

As an actress, reading this script has just added two characters to my list of dream roles I’d love to play. If I ever get the chance, in the next few years to audition for Chelsea, I will not let it pass me by, and of course… Ethel would be a dream role when I get older.

As a director, I have to be honest… I think it would be hard knowing how emotionally connected I am with the characters. I think I’d want to be on stage too much to do justice as a director.

APPEARANCE: Plain green cover with black text… Typical Dramatists Play Service cover. I feel like the plain cover allows the reader to use their imagination when envisioning the characters.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
“Sometimes you have to look hard at a person and remember he’s doing the best he can. He’s just trying to find his way, just like you.”

“Well, that’s what happens if you live long enough: You end up being old. it’s one of the disadvantages of a long life. I still prefer it to the alternative.” 

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

 

on golden pond movie posterMovie Title: On Golden Pond
Director: Mark Rydell
Stars: Katharine Hepburn (Ethel Thayer), Henry Fonda (Norman Thayer Jr.), and Jane Fonda (Chelsea Thayer Wayne)

STORYLINE: The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their daughter Chelsea — whom they haven’t seen for years — feels she must be there for Norman’s birthday. She and her fiancé are on their way to Europe the next day but will be back in a couple of weeks to pick up the fiancé’s son. When she returns Chelsea is married and her stepson has the relationship with her father that she always wanted. Will father and daughter be able to communicate at last? (IMDB.COM)

Watch the official movie trailers here:

https://youtu.be/l-lcl2j3yf0

https://youtu.be/Y85sfYVOS84

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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TITLE: Of Mice and Men
AUTHOR: John Steinbeck

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.33)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
A controversial tale of friendship and tragedy during the Great Depression.

They are an unlikely pair: George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a “family,” clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.

Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

“A thriller, a gripping tale . . . that you will not set down until it is finished. Steinbeck has touched the quick.” —The New York Times

Buy the book HERE!

Buy the play HERE

Buy the movie HERE

The Critical Points:
I picked up this book because of a recommendation by one of my youtube viewers. So, if you haven’t checked out my youtube reviews, make sure you check out the page HERE.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, was originally published in 1937. A lot has changed in literature and society since 1937…

With that said, let’s get into the guts of this story and my opinion of it. Just a warning… there will be spoilers in this review.

WRITING: Of Mice and Men is a classic, read in many high schools across the country, although I don’t believe I ever read it in school. Although I never read the novel, until now, I had read the play while studying theatre in college.

I can understand why the novel received the Nobel Prize in Literature, but I have to admit that it wasn’t my favorite of Steinbeck’s novels. The writing style, although probably a good example of the time period, was choppy and repetitive. I found the excessive foul language to be distracting and often unnecessary.

STORY: The story is beautiful. It is the relationship between two men, George and Lennie, an unlikely pair of friends. George takes care of Lennie, who is mentally challenged, as they travel the country looking for work on farms. Their goal… or rather, their dream, is to one day own some land of their own. However, Lennie is continually getting into trouble causing them to have to pick up and move at a moment’s notice, which in turn makes it difficult for them to save up the money for the land they hope to purchase.

CHARACTERS: George is a small, caring man, who looks after Lennie like he is more than just a friend, as if he is a brother. Lennie is a rather large and very strong, mentally challenged man who doesn’t know his own strength. He doesn’t know how to think for himself and as a result relies on George to tell him what to do and how to react to situations. When left to his own devices, Lennie reacts physically and is unable to control himself, hence killing the mice he keeps hidden in his pocket, or the puppy he so desperately wanted to pet. Although, it isn’t until he kills his boss’ wife that George realizes that he has to stop covering for Lennie and make the hard decision of letting him go.

The final scene of the book is heart wrenching, emotionally draining, and sad. It was also predictable, but that didn’t in any way dampen the emotional affect of the scene when reading it.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
“I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head.” ~ Of Mice and Men

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

https://youtu.be/bqh5T4fIBbg

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of mice

MOVIE DETAILS
Title: Of Mice and Men
Director: Gary Sinise
Screenplay Written by: Horton Foote
Stars: John Malkovich (Lennie) and Gary Sinise (George)

 

Check out the official movie trailer here:

https://youtu.be/BQtiStdDaYw

 

Final Girls by Riley Sager

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

TITLE: Final Girls
AUTHOR: Riley Sager

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls: Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second Final Girl, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life-like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

THE CRITICAL POINTS:
I don’t usually give a 5 out of 5 review, but this book was exceptional!!!

WARNING… SPOILER ALERT… WARNING… SPOILER ALERT… WARNING

WRITING: Final Girls is the first psychological thriller by Riley Sager, a pseudonym for an author who has previously published under another name. IF YOU KNOW HIS REAL NAME… PLEASE SHARE IT WITH ME!!! I’d love to check out some of his other novels.

Sager’s writing is detailed, descriptive, and draws you in while leaving you on the edge of your seat. Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading… this is one you are not going to want to put down!

STORY: WOW… It has been a very long time since I read a story that completely came full circle and left no plot holes, unanswered questions, or room to doubt the author’s choices. This was a beautifully constructed story with plot twists that leave you amazed.

The thing I loved best about this novel is that it is literally two stories in one… intertwined as if folded into each other. The numbered chapters are present day and the non-numbered chapters, marked with the time in which they related to ‘Pine Cottage’ a pivotal moment in our lead character’s life, are all past events. Sager beautifully merges these two-time periods to allow use to glimpse just enough of the past that we don’t figure out all the secrets the story has in store, until the perfect moment. There are hints and clues along with way, some leading you astray and others foreshadowing the future. I’m not going to lie, I had a ‘Sixth Sense’ moment there at the end wondering why I didn’t see it all along… the reason, because Sager is just that good!

CHARACTERS: Not only were our main characters Quincy, Sam, Coop, and Jeff flushed out to the point that we felt we knew them, even the side characters; Janelle, Craig, Betz, Amy, Rodney, and Lisa all had complete stories and character development.

APPEARANCE: The cover is simple, the back of a woman’s head – I assume it’s Quincy, our lead character, but it could just as easily be Lisa or Sam. The blood read lettering is perfect for the psychological thriller theme and the knife wounds that replace the I’s are perfect and well thought out. Congrats to the cover artist, who obviously understood the feel the author was going for.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
“You can’t change what’s happened. The only thing you can control is how you deal with it.”

“Final Girl is film-geek speak for the last woman standing at the end of a horror movie.”

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

https://youtu.be/1wCE8omnHAE