REVIEW: The Girl on the Train by, Paula Hawkins

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~ Synopsis ~

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than god?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

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REVIEW

I have been carrying this book around on my Kindle for over a year – I remember grabbing it sometime in 2015 when it hit $1.99 on Amazon …. I just never got around to reading it. But, of course, the second I watch the trailer? I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I got home and nearly devoured this story in one sitting.

Now this book has been compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn so much, and honestly that’s probably one of the reasons I never got around to reading it. Gone Girl was not one of my favorites – I liked it, it was an interesting story – but it just didn’t wow me. The Girl on the Train? I wouldn’t say it was a WOW but definitely a Whoa… (does that even make sense?)

The story hooked me in pretty much from the beginning – and I could not put it down. I was up until nearly 2 am trying to finish it, before I just passed out – dreamt about it and immediately picked it back up when I woke up.

Rachel is unbelievably vulnerable, and it was that vulnerability – regardless of the reasons why…. she hooked me. That character… she is so damaged, confused and still trying to deal with the after affects of her divorce…. and everything that entails. During her daily commute she’s almost haunted by her old life as the train passes her old neighborhood…. her old house…. a house that is now filled with a life she is no longer a part of. She becomes pre-occupied with a couple she see’s from the train. Their house, on the same street as her previous home. She even names them… she recreates what their day to day lives are like. She tries to imagine the passion they share – the love that the feel for one another. Perhaps imagining the love she and her husband once shared. It’s sad… it’s utterly depressing. But it was very real. The emotions that Rachel goes through, though her actions may not be the brightest… they’re still very real. She’s fragile in the most honest way.

But when the woman she’s been watching from the train disappears – the fantasy she’s been building in her mind of this woman, and her husband? Comes crashing down…. all around her and the fantasy doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.

Rachel dives in head first into this story – into these lives. At times you may even wonder if any of it was real or if it’s all in her head? There is nothing more curious than an unreliable narrator; and that is the purest definition of Rachel.

I went into this story with a very open mind – knowing it was a psychological thriller. What I wasn’t prepared for was the mind-fuck it would lead me through and now I can’t even explain it properly without ruining the entire story. Arg! Even my husband wouldn’t let me spoil it for him because he liked the looks of the trailer!

The Girl on the Train is a great suspenseful read – the perspectives it gives are eye opening and at times jaw dropping.

Check it out!

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About the Author, Paula Hawkins

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Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in London. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller. (via the author’s website)

REVIEW: Me Before You by, Jojo Moyes

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~ Synopsis ~

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

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REVIEW

I’ve been carrying this book around for nearly a year and a half in my Kindle, and like most books when I see the trailer for the movie coming out – I dive in (if it’s a goodie – and wow, wasn’t this one?)

I could tell enough from the synopsis that this was going to be a crier – I could tell from the trailer it was probably going to rip my heart out, stomp on it and then smile as if nothing happened. I was right, on so m any levels. But this book really grabbed me, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump the last couple of weeks, starting one book and quitting after a few chapters, starting another one and doing the same. But when I started Me Before You I was hooked and read it in one sitting. Louisa is probably the most adorable character I’ve read in months, and the relationship she cultivates with Will after becoming his caregiver was very different than what I imagined it would be. Louisa is lost – lost in her life and isn’t quite sure what she wants to do with herself, other than help support her family in a job that pays enough and doesn’t leave her with nightmares of chicken giblets. But when she takes a job as a caregiver for Will, a quadriplegic with a less than desirable attitude about his plight, she makes her mission to show him he’s got a lot of living left to do.

While Louisa is trying to show Will adventures, they start to pick at one another, digging below the surface as their relationship blooms into more of a friendship, Lou generally cares for him and as they spend more time together we can see that she’s definitely having a positive affect on Will’s personality. He’s actually laughing – he lets her cut his hair, gives him a shave – his family agreeing he seems more like his old self, but underneath….. I’m not sure anyone has any idea of how frusterating and depressing his plight is. For a man like Will who was very adventurous, traveled, had numerous girlfriends – to be confined to a wheelchair and in almost constant nerve pain, has left him in a daily hell. He talks of the memories he has of his past, that you would think would give him some happiness, but truly they’re only a reminder of what he’s no longer able to do. He’ll never hike another mountain, he’ll probably never make love to a woman in the way he wants and as the story unfolds – there’s hope that Louisa may just be the person to change his mind and turn things around.

With her brightly colored clothing and sense of humor she seems to bring out the best him, even if it is just so he can poke fun at her shoes….. dress and general daily living. Because Will sees that she wants more, but for whatever reason isn’t able to do it. He pushes her to do things – read books, see films, he tells her of places he’s traveled and tries to push her to the realization that her life is better lived outside of their little English countryside – she’s too bold to waste away in this town not doing any of the things she wants too…. In a way they’re both lost in themselves, not sure how to get out of the slump they’ve both found themselves in. But in finding each other, perhaps they can figure it out.

There is so much more I could say – this story broke me in a lot of different ways. Louisa may just be my favorite character so far this year. I laughed – I cried – I fell in love with Will…. I was a complete mess off on through this whole book and it was beautiful….. it helped to remind me why I love reading so much – to get so sucked into a story that everything else around you fades away and you’re only left in their world with your roller coaster emotions.

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About the Author, Jojo Moyes

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and grew up in London. After a varied career including stints as a minicab controller, typer of braille statements for blind people for NatWest, and brochure writer for Club 18-30, she did a degree at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London University. In 1992, she won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University.

Jojo worked as a journalist for ten years, including a year at South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, and nine at The Independent where she worked variously as News Reporter, Assistant News Editor and Arts and Media Correspondent.

Jojo has been a full time novelist since 2002, when her first book, Sheltering Rain was published. Since then she has written a further eleven novels, all of which have been widely critically acclaimed.

Jojo has won the Romantic Novelist’s Award twice, and Me Before You has been nominated for Book of the Year at the UK Galaxy Book Awards. Me Before You has since gone on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide.

For more information about all of Jojo’s novels, please visit the books page here.

Jojo lives (and writes!) on a farm in Essex, England with her husband, journalist Charles Arthur, and their three children. (via the author’s website)

REVIEW: Silence of the Lambs by, Thomas Harris

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~ Synopsis ~

As part of the search for serial murderer nicknames “Buffalo Bill,” FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must visit a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane and interview him.

That man, Dr. Hannibal Lector, is a former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understand of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs – an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.

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REVIEW

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Excuse my sick sense of humor. Silence of the Lambs has been one of my all time favorite movies since it was released in 1991 when I was just 12 years old. I turned thirteen a few days after it’s release, I remember vividly buying a ticket to the Neverending Story 2 and sneaking in to watch Silence of the Lambs. I’d been somewhat obsessed with Anthony Hopkins since Magic – if you haven’t heard of that movie? Anthony Hopkins + Ventriloquist doll = the stuff of nightmares.

hqdefaultYeaaaaaah – that creepy.

Annnnnyways. I’ve had Silence of the Lambs sitting on my bookshelf for YEARS and for whatever reason I never actually picked it up and read it. I was going through all my books on my bookshelves and trying to sort them out between what I’ve read and haven’t – Silence of the Lambs shot to the top of the TBR list of these paperbacks and I’m still asking myself why the hell I didn’t read it sooner – I couldn’t put it down, even though I’ve seen the movie 1,000,000 times – no joke, and I knew just about everything that was going to happen (there were some slight differences from book to movie) I was still very much hooked.

Especially the last 100 pages of the book – it was non-stop action and I was reading as fast as I could to find out what would happen next. All the while, Anthony Hopkins dancing around in my imagination – screwing around with Clarice and generally making everyone’s lives a living hell – hoping they find Catherine before Buffalo Bill skins her. 

The story is a dramatic one – and so much pain-staking detail written to really give you the feel that you’re part of this investigation right along side Clarice – and it was SO much fun! (If you like chasing serial killers and talking to psychopaths.)

I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner. 

I read Red Dragon years ago, probably right after Silence of the Lambs came out in the theater – and I loved it, why this one escaped my clutches until now? BEYOND me. Because really, it’s a classic cat/mouse chase – just a little more disturbing circumstances than what might happen to the mouse if the cat got a hold of him. 

The one thing I wasn’t expecting was the relationship between Hannibal and Clarice – now, I’ve heard rumors of what happens in Hannibal – but I’ve never read it, so I won’t make assumptions. But honestly, it was as if Hannibal was almost flirting with her – more so than I thought Harris would illustrate. And it makes Hannibal that much more human – and why we fucking root for this mad man. Because under any normal circumstances we wouldn’t (would we?)

He’s killed numerous innocent people – some for no other reason than their mistakes made during a musical recital. Or that their therapy wasn’t going anywhere – boring Hannibal to the point of bashing their heads in and eating their kidneys. But the way Thomas Harris writes this character – we do root for him, for his revenge and the hopes that he’ll be able to escape the hands of Dr. Chilton. That’s just plain talent. 

If you’re in the mood for a fast-paced, action thriller (that you may or may not know the outcome of) you should check this out – it’s so worth it, even if you’ve seen the movie. It may be the best adaptation of a novel I’ve ever seen now comparing the two. 

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About the Author, Thomas Harris

Website * Goodreads

Thomas Harris began his writing career covering crime in the United States and Mexico, and was a reporter and editor for the Associated Press in New York City. His first novel, Black Sunday, was printed in 1975, followed by Red Dragon in 1981, The Silence of the Lambs in 1988, Hannibal in 1999, and Hannibal Rising in 2006. (via the author’s website)

REVIEW: Dark Places by, Gillian Flynn

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~ Synopsis~

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars. Since then she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is it Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back? She begins to realize that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find. Who did massacre the Day family?

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MOVIE TRAILER

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REVIEW

I’ve had this book in my Kindle for over a year, I bought it in a two-pack with Sharp Objects. I had a hard time stomaching Sharp Objects, and never got around to reading this until a few weeks ago. Like most, I saw the movie trailer and thought it didn’t look half bad. It’s a murder mystery and after the death of Ann Rule, I was on a kick for some macabre and gruesome reading. Well, I definitely wasn’t disappointed in that area – or any really. This book surprisingly sucked me in – I have a hard time with Gillian Flynn’s novels at times, they can be really long winded (in my opinion) and often times I get lost in the descriptions of places, loosing my feel for the characters. But Dark Places was very different – focusing mostly on the few days leading up to the murders of the Day family.

The narration not only switching in time – going back to the days leading up to the murders – than into the present, some 20+ years later, the only surviving family member Libby, still dealing with the horrible murder of her mother and two sisters, her only living sibling sitting in prison for the crime. Flynn writes Libby not as a victim of circumstances, but someone who’s also fallen into the pits because of it. Living off money that’s been collected for her since the murders – she’s never had to work and really never has. She hasn’t had a real committed relationship, she’s very much still that little girl that escaped that night – still escaping just 20 years later from anything and everything that tries to get close to her.

But when she realizes she’s finally running out of money – she has to figure out what to do next. When she’s approached by a group called the Kill Club – scores of people who enjoy discussing and trying to solve murders. They aren’t all crazy – some are retired police officers, others are just fascinated by the unsolved crimes, but in this case they’re also convinced that Libby’s brother Ben isn’t the killer he’s been convicted as. Libby hasn’t talked to Ben the entire time he’s been in prison, but as the group pushes her to confront him, speak to him and hopefully see the innocent man they all see – she’s forced to ask herself questions she’s been avoiding since the night her mother and sisters were murdered.

It’s a psychological – suspenseful story about a woman/little girl that lost everything – when she didn’t have much to begin with. But a mother who loved her children, but wasn’t necessarily a very good mother. Libby is unapologetic about who she’s become and I really rather enjoyed that – she’s a hot mess and knows it, doesn’t necessarily like it, but admits it none-the-less. But as she keeps tracking down people from her past the questions are slowly answered – jumping from past/present – Libby and even to her mother’s narration of the events leading up to the night the Day’s were murdered.

Like with all Gillian Flynn novels – you have to pay attention, there are teeny tiny details littered throughout this book – most of which I completely over-read and ignored. The last 1/4 of the book I couldn’t put down, having to know RIGHT NOW what the hell  happened next.

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About the Author, Gillian Flynn

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Gillian Flynn was born in Kansas City, Missouri to two community-college professors – her mother taught reading; her father, film. Thus she spent an inordinate amount of her youth nosing through books and watching movies. She has happy memories of having A Wrinkle inTime pried form her hands at hte dinner table, and also of seeing Alien, Psycho and Bonnie and Clyde at a questionable age (like, seven). It was a good childhood.

In high-school, she worked strange jobs that required her to do things like wrap and unwrap hams, or dress up as a giant yogurt cone. A yogurt cone who wore a tuxedo. Why the tuxedo? It was a question that would haunt her for years.

For college, she headed to the University of Kansas (go Jayhawks!), where she received her undergraduate degree in English and journalism.

After a two-year stint writing about human resources for a trade magazine in California, Flynn moved to Chicago. There she earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and discovered that she was way too wimpy to make it as a crime reporter.

On the other hand, she was a movie geek with a journalism degree – so she moved to New York City and joined Entertainment Weekly magazine, where she wrote happily for ten years, visiting film sets around the world (to New Zealand for The Lord of the Rings, to Prague for The Brothers Grimm, to somewhere off the highway in Florida for Jackass: The Movie). During her last four years at EW, Flynn was the TV critic (all-time best TV show: The Wire).

Flynn’s 2006 debut novel, the literary mystery Sharp Objects, was an Edgar Award finalist and winner of two of Britain’s Dagger Awards – the first book ever to win multiple Daggers in one year. Movie rights have been sold.

Flynn’s work has been published in twenty-eight countries. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Brett Nolan, their son, and a giant black cat named Roy. In theory she is working on her next novel. In reality, she is possibly playing Ms. Pack-Man in her basement lair. (via the author’s website)

REVIEW: The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by, Kody Keplinger

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~ Synopsis ~

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “Duffy,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

REVIEW

I saw the trailer – it looked cute, and I’m a big fan of Mae Whitman, she was amazing in Perks of being a Wallflower, I’ve had this book in my TBR list forever – because well, I always considered myself The Duff in my gaggle of friends. But we didn’t really have a name for it – I was the loud one, the funny one – the one that wasn’t afraid to make fun of herself, the one that always had a lot of guy friends, but not a whole lotta’ boyfriends. I was the one that was sooooo easy to talk to, someone the guy I had a crush on that week could really be himself around.
If I had to hear, “You’re not like the other girls.” one more time I might cut someone.

But it was my lot in life – a lot that I clung too for way too long, I put myself there – and it wasn’t until my mid twenties that I quit thinking like that about myself and allowed myself to just be who am – if someone didn’t like it? They could piss off.

Bianca is angsty – and bored more than anything. Her home life isn’t the greatest – but it’s not the worst either as her parents are going through the ups and downs like every marriage has, but her mother isn’t around – she’s off teaching people about self esteem and lecturing about a book she wrote ages ago. Anything to escape the town, and maybe her husband. it isn’t until a night out with her friends at a club – a club for teenagers to go and drink soda and dance – that she’s constantly dragged to on the weekends, she sits at bar, cherry coke in hand and chats with the bartender trying to drown out the annoying techno music, when Wesley Rush, the all around womanizing sex on a stick approaches her in the hopes she can put a good word in to her friends for him.

Bianca is over it – and just when things can’t get any worse? Wesley coin’s a new phrase, one Bianca’s never heard before even if she’s felt it. He calls her The Duff; The Designated Ugly Fat Friend of their group. She’s shocked, hurt and throws a coke at him – and I applaud her, because in my moments of anger like this – not ever called a Duff but much worse, my hands suffered the consequences of where my punches landed. Wesley tries to explain to her she’s not necessarily fat – or even ugly, but that her friends are just hotter than she is, she’s the approachable one – the snarky one – the one that’s not afraid to be her self etc… etc… you see where I’m going with this.

But as these two are thrown into a school project together – and the struggles at home get to be too much for Bianca she uses Wesley as a way for escape – one that he jumps at and these two start a fling that gave me goose bumps and left me a little nostalgic for my teenage years. Wesley starts to show himself a little more as these two get to know one another, and deep down he’s not the pig I thought he was – he actually cares about Bianca and as things between her parents crumble, Wesley is there to help distract and protect her.

This book was hard for me to get into at first, the first 15% I had to shelf it for a bit – it was too much, but I think i was reading too many angsty YA/NA books that I just needed a break – because when I picked it back up last night just to read a few chapters – I stayed up until almost 1am to finish it. It sucked me in – hard this time – as the relationship between Bianca and Wesley builds it gave me goosebumps, I went from wanting to hate him – to rooting for him.

The movie didn’t do the story justice – I want to re-watch it now and realize the premise is there, but the importance of the novels plot was lost into a teenage movie about mean girls.

As always – the book was soooooooooooo much better.

50 Shades of Grey – A Movie Review

Never in me life have I ever been so excited to see a movie – not when they re-released Star Wars, not when The Avengers came out – nothing can compare to the all out excitement I had over this release. Because nearly three years ago when I downloaded Fifty Shades of Grey to my newly purchased Kindle. It was the second book I’d downloaded to this e-reader, an e-reader and a book that would change my life. I’ve been in love with books since I was born, my mother always tells the story that I started reading actual books when I was just four years old – obsessed, I’d make her read to me every night before bed. Going from Charlotte Web to Oliver Twist, when elementary school started I was obsessed with anything and everything The Brother’s Grimm, the Neverending Story, The Hobbit – All books a little dark, and a great adventure.

So when just about everyone I knew, including my mother was reading this series I thought ok, I’ll check it out. I’ve read a little smut in my time – The Story of O, and let’s not forget VC Andrews – probably the first dark romance novels I was introduced to at eleven years old. What I wasn’t prepared for was being so instantly drawn to the story, obsessed really – having to know ASAP what was going to happen next. I downloaded book two and three before I was even half way through the first book. There was something about Christian that I gravitated to. I do not consider him an abusive man, nor do I believe that what he and Anastasia shared in the series is domestic violence. Those that do? I firmly believe mock domestic violent victims at large. Because what we have is a consensual relationship between two adults – exploring their sexual desires and boundaries. I deal with domestic violence situations daily at my job – and this story is far from it. But, it is a piece of fiction that people will use as a platform for discussion and that’s the real point of any book isn’t it? To create a discussion. And this book, selling over one hundred million copies does just that.

I read the books during a moment in my life where I had just lost someone very close to me – someone who had been a strong presence my entire life – a father figure, a friend and someone who just understood me. These books helped me in a time in my life when I needed it most. I lost sleep, staying up until two in the morning to finish one book – and go on to the next and when I finished the trilogy I wasn’t ready to live outside of it yet – my mind wandering on a constant loop – I re-read them all again, in two days. Never in my life have I done that. But the story between Christian and Ana just struck a cord with me – so much that I created this blog. I went into abyss that is the internet and found a whole world of amazing independently published authors and never looked back. My Kindle got so much action in the months following that I had to upgrade to something with a back-light – and even created a reading nook in my back yard so I could sit underneath my walnut tree at night, chain smoking – and not keep my husband up any longer. This was my escape and I was so excited that my love of reading had come back – full throttle that I wanted to share these amazing books with anyone who would listen. So E.L. James, I thank you for this –

And now to the movie…..

When I found out, about three days before the release that my local theater was playing it Thursday night at 8pm I was determined; I.Will.Be.There.

Thursday comes, and swiftly turns into the day from hell – leaving my lights on in my truck – the battery drained so I couldn’t get to the theater to per-purchase my ticket on my lunch break. I work 8am-8pm Mon-Thur, so I was convinced that the theater would be sold out. While at my other job, a friend/co-worker did me a solid and went to the theater to see if it was jam packed – luckily for me it wasn’t, and I broke several traffic laws getting to that theater in time to walk into that dimly lit room FULL of people as the credits started – I had a perma-grin across my face through the entire thing – because it was actually happening. It was surreal – truly to see this story that I’ve ran through my mind so many times, to see the scenes played out – even at times the dialog coming straight from the novel itself, it gave me goosebumps.

I went into the theater with an open mind – I didn’t pay much attention to the casting because when I read the novels I didn’t really picture a specific person playing them – when they first announced Charlie Hunnam was cast as Christian, I was floored – he was the last person I thought of – but I was hopeful, because everything I’ve ever seen him in is great – and I’m a sucker for Jax Teller. Dakota Johnson…. well I did not jump on the band wagon for this – at all. But still, I kept my mind open and hoped for the best. When Jamie Dornan was cast, I didn’t have the slightest clue who he was, other than he was on a BBC show called The Fall that my husband kept telling me to watch on Netflix. (You really should – it’s amazing.) But the second I saw his face, and re-read the novels for the sixth time in anticipation for this release – I couldn’t stop picturing him as Christian, and it left for some pretty steamy reading.

The film itself – I applaud everyone involved for taking a story that everyone has fluffed off as nothing but mommy porn – and turned it into a very strong film with witty and very funny dialog. Dakota Johnson OWNED that role, and for the life of me I can’t even remember why I was leery of her casting in the first place – she was made for this role. She was and is Anastasia.

Jamie Dornan….. good lord, Mr. Grey. Though I think in some ways he seemed stiff and not quite sure of himself, he gave a great performance that left me with the chills. There is something very unique in his gaze – the unsaid tension between these two characters, the looks they shared SCREAMED so much of what I felt when I read the books. The man has Christian’s smirk down to a T.

I was glad I watched it last night – even though the theater was packed and i wanted to throttle everyone around me that wouldn’t shut up or turn their damn cell phones off – even leaving the theater afterwards I knew I’d be seeing it again. I took the day off today, hoping to catch a matinee that would be a bit quieter – and it was. The second time seeing it was even better. I adored it that much more.

I do not envy Dakota and Jamie now that it’s released – and the toll it will take on their personal lives, but they deserve all the positive recognition that they get – fuck the haters, the nay sayers and everyone commenting on what a horrible story it is – without having even read one sentence of the story. They brought this story to life – breathed life into Ana and Christian and I hope they carry that chemistry on into the second and third installments.

REVIEW: True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa by, Michael Finkel

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~ Synopsis ~

In the haunting tradition of Joe McGinniss’s Fatal Vision and Mikal Gilmore’s Shot in the Heart, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa weaves a spellbinding tale of murder, love, and deceit with a deeply personal inquiry into the slippery nature of truth.

The story begins in February of 2002, when a reporter in Oregon contacts New York Times Magazine writer Michael Finkel with a startling piece of news. A young, highly intelligent man named Christian Longo, on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for killing his entire family, has recently been captured in Mexico, where he’d taken on a new identity — Michael Finkel of the New York Times.

The next day, on page A-3 of the Times, comes another bit of troubling news: a note, written by the paper’s editors, explaining that Finkel has falsified parts of an investigative article and has been fired. This unlikely confluence sets the stage for a bizarre and intense relationship. After Longo’s arrest, the only journalist the accused murderer will speak with is the real Michael Finkel. And as the months until Longo’s trial tick away, the two men talk for dozens of hours on the telephone, meet in the jailhouse visiting room, and exchange nearly a thousand pages of handwritten letters.

With Longo insisting he can prove his innocence, Finkel strives to uncover what really happened to Longo’s family, and his quest becomes less a reporting job than a psychological cat-and-mouse game — sometimes redemptively honest, other times slyly manipulative. Finkel’s pursuit pays off only at the end, when Longo, after a lifetime of deception, finally says what he wouldn’t even admit in court — the whole, true story. Or so it seems.

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REVIEW

Obviously, this isn’t the usual type of book I review on my blog – the closest thing being Gone Girl, but I’ve been wanting to read this for quite some time, so in between my smut books I decided to check it out – it had a short sale on Amazon and the e-book dropped to three bucks, I figured what the hell. This story had always kind of stuck with me, like most people that live in Oregon – it was a horrible tragedy, happening right after the horrors of September 11th – the story almost getting sucked into the abyss due to the terrorist attacks. The only thing that made the story bigger was that Christian Longo was placed on the FBI’S 10 most wanted list, right next to Osama Bin Laden.

This story hit home to me …. in more ways than one. Not only did he murder his entire family on our beloved Oregon Coast, in a town that I’m very familiar with – tossing his two oldest children off of a small bridge I cross every time going to visit my best friend in Waldport – but he was also raised in a Jehovah’s Witness family – like me.

This family photo of Christian with his wife, Mary Jane – and three children seems like the ideal family, little did Mary Jane know that his web of lies were spiraling out of control. He moved across the country to Oregon, hoping for a new start for his family – even though they were traveling in a stolen van he’d taken months before – with little money left, he took a job at Starbucks at the Fred Meyer in Newport Oregon. They bounced around from vacation rentals, to flea bag motels until they rented a beach front condo in Newport.

The details of what happened with his family that cold December night in 2001 are blurred – but after his arrest in Mexico a few weeks later, the web of deceit he’s woven crumbles, the only thing keeping Longo from snapping is a relationship he cultivates with a humiliated ex-New York Times reporter, Michael Finkel.

This book weaves two stories of lies – one of Longos, and the other of the author himself, Michael Finkel. Finkel was fired from the New York Times for lying about his sources in an article for their magazine – as he awaited the onslaught of humiliation of his retraction to be published, a reporter with The Oregonian News paper out of Portland calls him to ask him about the murders…. Finkel doesn’t have the slightest clue what he report is talking about – but realizes as the story unfolds, Christian Longo, the man who is suspected of murdering his whole family on the Oregon Coast was using Finkel’s name as an alias while he fled to Mexico.

Finkel is fascinated by this and tracks Longo down while he sits in an Lincoln County Jail cell awaiting his trial readiness. They begin a correspondence – and the book easily displays the back and forth relationship these two have. Finkel uses this as a way to delve a little deeper, admitting his short comings, and the fall out that left him unemployed. He uses this story as a way – as the title says as a Mea Culpa of sorts, airing his dirty laundry along with Longos. The problem is, you can easily tell that Finkel is telling the truth as he lays out the issues he had with his story – and the ramifications that followed. What you’re not sure of through most of the story is where does the truth lie with Longo.

Now, fourteen years later – after Christian Longo’s sentencing, he sits on death row in the Salem Oregon Penitentiary, where he will most likely spend the majority of his life in an 8×10 cell, only allowed out for one to two  hours a day – kept in segregation until he’s exhausted his appeals, and Oregon executes him. But now, a movie starring Jonah Hill, and James Franco as Christian Longo hits theaters – bringing the whole horrible story to the big screen.

In a Zodiacesque way – detailing the life, crimes and relationship Finkel had with Longo while he was on trial for the murders.

The book is detailed, written well and the story, though horrible and at times made me nausea, was definitely worth the read.

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Lint Slough Bridge – Walport Oregon, where Longo disposed of the bodies of his two eldest children.

Lint Slough

Christian Longo – at trial – Newport Oregon

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Michael Finkel & Christian Longo – Lincoln County Jail, Newport Oregon

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