Archive | April 2015

“The Life and Death of Sophie Stark” book review

I would like to thank Penguin’s First to Read for providing me with an arc of The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North. The Life and Death of Sophie Stark tells the story of Sophie Stark, the highly talented and socially awkward independent movie director who uses the life stories of those in her life to create her films. Sophie’s story is told not from her perspective but through those who were the closest to her in her short life: her girlfriend Allison who stars in two of her movies that cause their relationship to end each time, her brother Robbie who acts as the foil to his sister for he helps her to live in the world, her husband Jacob the musician who shares a heart wrenching story about how his mother became mean as her brain tumor took over, her college obsession Daniel who later in life becomes obsessed with Sophie, the Hollywood director and executive producer on Sophie’s last film George, and film critic Ben Martin who followed and was never afraid to call like he saw it when it came to her short lived career. Sophie recognizes that she is lacking when it comes to sharing her emotions and feelings, she is a woman who has never truly learned how to properly interact with other human beings or what it means to overstep ones place ad it is for these reasons that she enlists this small group of individuals who were a part of her life to tell her story in what could be viewed as her final documentary piece, a documentary about her.

One of the things that I loved the most about this book, aside from the fact that I was drawn in right from the start and my attention was maintained throughout, was the fact that Sophie’s story was being told by all these other characters. Reading this made me think of the small “Remembering…” clips that TCM plays in between airings of their films where people who knew a certain actor or director really well share with the audience lesser known information and their thoughts on that person who has since passed on. I found it poignant that the reason why all of these people were telling their stories about how they met Sophie and their relationship with her was all because even upon her death, Sophie was still a director who knew how to tell a story and she knew that this was a story that her fans would want to know. The fact that she left specific instructions, including not only who was to provide the stories but also how it was to be filmed with angles and lighting and the other directions one would expect to find in a script and from a director.

In the end, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is a story that I am sure will remain with me for Sophie is such a different type of character, one who doesn’t even try to conform to others expectations of her and who upon realizing that she will only ever continue to hurt those she loves by abusing their love through her films takes her life and allows for them to make her last film as a way to both remember her and receive a kind of catharsis following her death.

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“The Kind Worth Killing” Book Review

“Truthfully, I don’t think murder is necessarily as bad as people make it out to be. Everyone dies. What difference does it make if a few bad apples get pushed along a little sooner than God intended? And your wife, for example, seems like the kind worth killing.” It is with these words spoken by Lily Kintner to Ted Severson on a night flight from London to Boston that the reader becomes drawn into Peter Swanson’s newest book, “The Kind Worth Killing”. Coming to realize that Lily is right about his wife, Miranda, Ted begins to plot how best to kill his wife and her lover with input from Lily. This book has been described as a modern day “Strangers on a Train”; in a way, that comparison can rightfully be made for it does begin with two strangers meeting and discussing how to go about murdering the one characters wife, but that’s where the comparisons end for Lily does not make the proposal of a “criss-cross” to take care of one another’s undesirables in their lives by killing a person for the other. Peter Swanson has created a world in which an unwitting man is convinced to kill his wife by a strange young woman who has many dark secrets of her own, as well as her own reasons for wanting Ted’s wife removed from existence.

After reading Peter Swanson’s first book, “The Girl With a Clock for a Heart” and falling in love with both the story and his writing style, I was beyond excited when I learned that he had written a new mystery book. I was further excited when I was presented with an opportunity to read an advanced readers copy courtesy of Harper Collins, many thanks to Harper Collins for this opportunity as I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Luckily Peter Swanson has not suffered from the dreaded sophomore slump, if anything I feel that this book may even be better than his début novel. Afraid of giving away key pieces to the plot and storyline, I will just say that I loved this book and would recommend it to fans of Patricia Highsmith, “Gone Girl”, “The Girl on the Train”, and fans of his first book.

 

 

 

 

“The Girl on the Train” Book Review

Thanks to Penguin’s First to Read program for allowing me to read Paula Hawkins’s début novel, “The Girl on the Train”, a wonderful and fast paced read that follows the lives of three women: Rachel is a drunken divorcee who is having a hard time reconciling the end of her marriage with the fact that her husband has not only moved on with a new wife but with a small child while living in the house they once lived in together. As Rachel commutes to and from work in London she passes by not only he Thanks to Penguin’s First to Read program for allowing me to read Paula Hawkins’s début novel, “The Girl on the Train”, a wonderful and fast paced read that follows the lives of three women: Rachel is a drunken divorcee who is having a hard time reconciling the end of her marriage with the fact that her husband has not only moved on with a new wife but with a small child while living in the house they once lived in together. As Rachel commutes to and from work in London she passes by not only her former house but that of a young couple a couple doors down whom she has created a make believe world around in which they are happily married and named Jess and James; Megan is the woman who unbeknownst to her is referred to as Jess by Rachel from the train, although Megan loves her husband she is not content in her marriage and thus has entered into an affair prior to her mysterious disappearance; Anna is the woman who’s Rachel’s ex-husband left her for, a woman who is constantly haunted by Rachel who refuses to let them live in peace and who once hired Megan to be a nanny to her daughter.Although I enjoyed reading Ms. Hawkins’s book, for it was both well written as well as engaging from beginning to end, I found that I had a hard time liking any of the characters. At various points throughout I felt sorry for Rachel and the fact that she had not learned to cope with the end of her marriage and thus was trying to do so by drinking all the time; but, at the same time I also found Rachel to be both pathetic and overly needed. I hated how following the disappearance of Megan, Rachel made a point of inserting herself into the life of Megan’s husband all because she had seen Megan once kiss a man who was not her husband while riding the train. As the story continued though I returned to feeling sorry for Rachel for she was a woman who woke up one day to find her life ripped out from underneath her without completely understanding why, she was a woman who tried to do the right thing and only ended up being manipulated by those she thought she could trust.

The character of Megan was another tragic character for she also had experienced horrible things in her past which greatly impacted her in her current life. As Megan shared more of the tragedies in her past, I really felt sorry for her and became even more intrigued about why she disappeared, if she just ran away or was killed, and if she was killed who did it and why?

Anna, Rachel’s replacement, I just did not like one bit or feel sorry for like I did the other two women. I found Anna to be a conniving home wrecker with no sense of remorse or regret for the fact that she had happily ended a marriage. I felt that it was only fitting that Rachel was constantly around and in the picture ruining her perfect little life and family since she had ruined Rachel’s first. It wasn’t until the end of the book when Anna finally did, what in my opinion was the first good thing she did the entire story, that I stopped loathing Anna as a character.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and I understand why it has been referred to as a Hitchcockian thriller, for while reading it I couldn’t help but picture Rachel as a female version of Jimmy Stewart’s L. B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies from Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, only instead of being laid up in bed with a broken leg watching the neighbors from her apartment window, Rachel is a woman who passes by the same stretch of houses on a daily basis as she commutes to and from London. For fans of Hitchcock’s psychological thrillers this is a must read.