The Lamplighter

This week I read The Lamplighter by Anthony O’Neill.  I was so excited because it sounded like a very intriguing mystery set in nineteenth century London. Unfortunately, I was SO disappointed with this entire book. Spoilers ahead.

It started off interestingly enough with the Prologue about our main character, Evelyn, and how she lived in an orphanage and got discharged to what turned out to be unsavory characters.  Then, things went really off the rails.  We met a whole mess of people in the first few chapters including McKnight the professor, Groves the Inspector put on the case for all the various murders happening in town and Caravan who is a graveyard watchmen and friends with McKnight. Maybe it’s because I just read It which was just an absolute pleasure to read, but O’Neill did an extremely mediocre job of setting up the worlds of all the various characters.  I felt like I just did not care about anything being said and it was almost like he was trying to be “deep” for the sake of it but nothing he wrote warranted that.

So much of the dialogue was also really weird. I’ve tried writing and will say that writing dialogue is tricky, but there were certain passages where I was like, even for nineteenth century England this is really strange and annoying.  Conversations would last so long for no reason other than to fill pages it seemed.  There was just so much extraneous dialogue that did not move the story forward or tell us anything about the character and I just did not understand why any of it was happening.  The book could have been 20% shorter without it.

Then we start blundering through trying to figure out Evelyn’s deal throughout the book. It seemed like everyone kept saying the exact same thing about her, that she seemed doe like and then was subject to outbursts from time to time.  So they all legit talked about that for probably 50 pages which did nothing but bore me to death and almost make me quit reading.

Finally toward the middle of the book things started to pick up and I thought this book was going to go somewhere.  We re-meet the man who took Evelyn from the orphanage and that story line was somewhat interesting until he died. Then it seemed as though we learned more about Evelyn potentially being this psycho killer. There were passages that were definitely too long about it but my interest was peaked at this point.

Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it becomes a book about philosophy? And Professor McKnight basically goes on this long tangent to Caravan about how Evelyn is imagining their entire city and her imagination is so powerful that she created this whole city with inhabitants and none of them were real supposedly?  That’s when I was like, what the fuck is happening. I honestly don’t even know if that was actually the case because in the epilogue all these characters continued existing except Caravan who might have died but it was unclear.  He toiled about being a martyr but when the time came I had no idea what was happening. He wasn’t in the epilogue so I assumed he died and for some reason we learned nothing about that even though there were pages of him agonizing over the fact. I just didn’t feel like this whole philosophical angle was earned and there was no solution to it either way.  We didn’t find out that it was in fact all in her imagination, which actually would have been a cool ending. So I just don’t understand why McKnight blabbered on about it for so long.  I mean, I guess that could be the point because philosophy is infuriating with all it’s weird open ended questions and it just seems to be a bunch of people sitting in a room talking in circles and coming to no solutions and that’s what this book kind of was for me. So, I guess if you are someone who’s into that sort of thing this book is awesome, but that whole thing was not my cup of tea in the least.  Now I feel like this book has rubbed off on me and I am just talking in circles in an endless void of tangents.

So after all this do we are don’t we exist nonsense we find out randomly that Evelyn is possessed by the devil and that’s why she was taken from this orphanage? So. Ok. Kind of random and weird but sure, sure. And I guess McKnight and Caravan have this weird encounter with the Devil who is described as being the most stereotypical type Devil you could imagine horns and all. It was a really random and weird conversation they have, and then the Devil just casually goes “Yeah, I’m gonna go inhabit another body now, but I’ll like stay close so I can keep an eye on Evelyn. Just want to make sure she’s ok.” I mean. What? What the fuck kind of Devil is this? And why is he talking so casually? And like for real, did Caravan die or something as a martyr? The whole exchange was so friggin bizarre.

Also. I don’t really understand why this book was called The Lamplighter. Or what the hell the lamplighter had to do with this whole thing.  I guess. When Evelyn was little she like noticed a random lamplighter outside the orphanage so drew a bunch of pictures of him and then that’s how the Devil came to see her? In the form of a lamplighter? But then it wasn’t really mentioned again for awhile and then it’s as if O’Neill was like, “Oh shit, I still need to tie in the whole lamplighter thing” and so randomly brought it up here and there but it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense and just seemed pointless and weird.

And my last complaint was that there were so many random characters and random little story lines that just did not get completed.  They would introduce someone who seemed like they were supposed to be important and then you just never found out what happened to them. Or something would happen to them but you wouldn’t really care. There were just no details and no follow through for so much of this.  And maybe the most infuriating instance of this was in the epilogue when a random man smiled at her and Evelyn was wondering about him and then that was the end of that.  Why did that happen. Was it supposed to be Caravan. I don’t understand why any of that existed.

I know I sound like a broken record about Caravan but it’s because he was the only character I remotely liked in this book.  Everyone seemed extremely one dimensional and dull but I wanted to know more about him.  He was someone who grew up poor and didn’t have all the means of a formal education but still tried to better himself and learn all he could. He also made a habit of giving what meager food he could give to the stray dogs on Sundays. So I had a soft spot for him. So when I got no real answers about his ending I was so upset!

Rating: 2/10-There was a brief moment where I was intrigued and that is why the rating is so high.

Would you recommend to a friend?-No, but maybe if you’re tripping on acid or something you might enjoy it.

Join me this week as I read The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens.  I got a really cool edition at Bart’s Books in Ojai and am so excited to read it!


I finally finished reading Stephen King’s It.  It took way longer than expected and I was a little sad when it was finished since it was such an epic book.  Spoilers ahead!

The story follows a group of seven friends and shifts from their experience with a monster who is haunting the town of Derry Maine when they were children to 27 years later when they are adults and the monster is back still haunting this town. The seven of them form a bond which can destroy It.

This book was just a really great read.  It took me longer than usual to read because of length and various things going on in my life but every time I picked up the book again I was instantly transported back into the world.  Even though it was over 1,000 pages it did not feel like it and I even found myself wanting there to be more.  I loved how deep we dived into all the characters and seeing where they came from and how that affected who they were present day. Everyone was so clearly defined and I loved being brought into everyone’s detailed and distinct worlds. I was so interested reading about the bully and real life antagonist Henry Bowers.  His world was so messed up and strange and it was so intriguing to see where he came from and how he became the way he was and the path he went on as a result.  It was interesting how his father’s negative influence shaped who he was as a person.  I could just clearly see that whole environment and the grittiness and layer of sadness on it all.

I also found Beverly’s home situation to be extremely sad to read about it.  She also lived in a somewhat depressing environment and had to walk on eggshells to avoid her father raging out on her.  Even when she was careful it sometimes didn’t work.  Putting myself in that place it would be so stressful to live in a home where you have no idea what someone is going to freak out about from one moment to the next. With both Beverly and Henry it was such a conflict because you are born to love and admire your parents but when you have parents like they did it causes such an inner turmoil because if it was anyone else doing those things to you, you probably wouldn’t think twice about hating them or retaliating, but when it’s someone you inherently love how to react gets tricky.

There were so many good scenes in this book it’s really hard to pick a few standouts. Everything was so intertwined and came together so nicely. I obviously loved the opening with Georgie preparing to go out in the rain with his paper boat and then being taken away by It. The phrase “You’ll float too” was introduced and is haunting. I also loved when Bill and Richie were in Bill’s room looking at the photo album and George’s photo moves in the book. It was  creepy and I loved how that theme continued throughout the book of the moving photos.

I liked the scene where Beverly comes back to Derry and decides to go and see her father and then finds out he died but gets invited into her old apartment but an older woman who ends up being It. The whole scene was really captivating and I didn’t see the fact that the old woman was It coming.  I thought it was just going to be closure for Beverly but it ended up being a nightmare come to life.

A final moment that really stuck out for me was when they were underground as adults and the sort of “zombie” Georgie comes out after Bill.  Even though it wasn’t really Georgie the agony of having to fight this thing that inhabited your younger brother’s body would have tortured me.

Overall I thought all the story lines were so well done and I could not get enough of this book. There were a couple things that I found a little off, though, and didn’t quite understand. One was when they were children, all the boys had sex with Beverly.  It was. Really strange. I didn’t quite understand the logic, and didn’t quite understand why Beverly even came up with it in the first place.  It honestly just seemed really out of left field and kind of made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Maybe I’m just not seeing the point of it because it was so jarring to me, but it was all in all not for me.

The other thing I didn’t really get and couldn’t really get behind was this random turtle that popped up at the end? They mentioned the turtle in the beginning and it was this big secret and then it didn’t really come up again until the end when they are fighting It as children and Bill is kind of in this other universe and comes face to face with this turtle.  And the turtle doesn’t really help, just kind of tells Bill that he stays out of these things and says to make sure they really kill It because it would be harder to do when they get older. Then when they came back as adults the turtle was dead or something? And that was kind of it with the turtle. It just seemed like this really weird pointless thing and it just had me thinking, what the hell is happening here. It Photo

It’s hard to choose a favorite character in this book.  I loved this group of friends as a whole all together. It made me envious of their closeness even though they had to fight a demon other worldly monster together.  It was really sweet how they all just helped each other and supported each other unconditionally and it breaks my heart that at the end of the book, when they finally defeat It, they all slowly begin to forget each other completely. It was beautiful and sad and depressing and it really made me just sit and take that in for awhile after I was done reading.

Rating: 9/10 Besides the weird child orgy scene and the random turtle the book was pretty much perfect.

Would you recommend to a friend?: Yes, with a nightlight!

Next week I’m going to read a book I got at Bart’s Books in Ojai last weekend! It’s The Lamplighter by Anthony O’Neill! As always I welcome your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!

The Painted Girls

This week I read The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan.  The book centered around sisters Antoinette and Marie growing up in a poor area of Paris.  We open on their family including younger sister Charlotte and their mother begging their landlord for some more time to make rent.  Their father had recently passed and they are having trouble making ends meet.  So comes the decision to send Marie and Charlotte to the Opera where they will get paid to take dance lessons and hopefully make it on to the Opera stage. That is where Degas meets Marie and begins to paint her, earning her extra francs for rent.

All in all the book was really enjoyable. Degas is one of my favorite painters and I’ve always really loved his paintings of dancers so it was interesting reading about that world in more depth.  Degas wasn’t as big a part of the book as I thought he might be, but I suppose the focus was supposed to be on his subjects rather than him.

There were a few themes that struck me while reading this.  The first being how difficult it can be for people to rise above the social standing they are born into.  It often seems, even in present day, when people are born into wealthier families everything is easier for them.  They don’t have to worry about things like where their next meal is coming from, and they don’t suffer from the insecurity that they don’t deserve something better.  They expect to have a comfortable life and they expect good things to come to them because that is what they were born into and that is what they know.  However, the sisters in this book struggled to try and create a better life for themselves.  Marie, in particular, was such a hard worker and she had her end goal to make the second quadrille of the opera. So she modeled for Degas, woke early to knead bread in the bakery and went to class. Such a schedule was obviously not sustainable so she then  sought the help of an “abonne” which were basically rich men who “sponsored” the ballerinas and paid for things they needed so they would be able to focus solely on dancing.  In obtaining one of these men to help her out she was put into extremely precarious situations at the age of 15 which eventually led to her drinking more and more to be able to deal with her reality.  In the end it all got the best of her and she got kicked out of the Opera because she didn’t show up to a few rehearsals in a row.  It struck me as extremely tragic and unfair.  She proved to have more talent than most in her class, worked so hard, and because the amount she had to work could not possibly be kept up with the demands of her new job she had to turn to a strange older man for help who ended up taking advantage of her. I feel like at 15, or any age really, there is only so much one person can take and it’s no wonder her dreams were not able to be fully realized.  However, if she was born into a wealthier family, she would have a father who would pay for everything and she wouldn’t have to worry about working several random jobs, or being in the debt of someone with ill intentions.  She wouldn’t have a worry in the world and with the same talent she would have easily climbed the ranks and eventually become one of the “etoiles” or stars.

Another theme of the book was the justice system and the question of fairness within it.  Antoinette gets involved with a boy, Emile, who is charged with murdering a tavern owner along with a friend of his named Pierre. Throughout the entire trial people were saying that Emily was sure to have committed the murder because he had the look of a murderer, whereas Pierre looked like “an angel” with his blonde hair and blue eyes and so could never have committed the murder. Throughout the book Emile was a questionable character, without a doubt, but Pierre proved to be a completely heartless human being when he kicked a dog to death for no reason at all. Just based on looks they immediately thought Pierre innocent, when he was definitely not the angel people made him out to be.  It was interesting to see the parallel with present day.  Often people are treated unfairly in the justice system based on the way they look.

I also really loved how at the end of the book they flash forwarded several years so we could see the sisters and how they turned out.  Their mother left without a trace which was not surprising.  However, it was a nice ending to see that the sisters ended up doing well for themselves. It’s nice, in books about children and teenagers, to see how things turn out for them when they are all grown up.  I was also glad this was a happy(ish) ending with everything they had to endure.

Rating: 8/10

Would you recommend to a friend?: Absolutely!

Okay. Since it’s October I’m going to dedicate this month to scary books.  My next book, which I invite you to read along with, is Stephen King’s IT in honor of the movie that came out! Since it’s a HUGE book (like 1,000 pages) I’m actually going to take 2 weeks with it! As always I welcome your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section!



Hi guys!

Omigosh. So sorry for the late entry! My parents were in town and I was super busy visiting with them so I finished the book a little late! This week I picked a sort of short book to get us back on track!

This week I read California by Edan Lepucki.  It was basically about a future society where the world has fallen apart and feels a little post apocalyptic.  The story centers on Cal and Frida, a couple who has been making their way through this crazy time.  They find out Frida is pregnant in the beginning and so decide to head out to a sort of settlement nearby in the hopes of being a part of the community and getting help with the baby.  When they get there they discover the unofficial leader of this group is Frida’s younger brother who they had both thought dead. They come to find out that Frida’s brother, Micah, is not as innocent as they may have thought and has done unspeakable things since they had last seen him.

I really enjoyed this book for the most part. I thought the description and the visuals were amazing and I could very clearly see this whole world laid before me.  I also thought the story was very creepy because I could see something like this happening in the near future, especially with the current political climate. It’s a society where everyone is very much out for themselves and it’s scary to think about how similar that is to present day now. It definitely caused me a lot of stress when I was reading because I was just picturing myself in this world and what I would do.  Honestly, if my boyfriend and I were stuck in a field by ourselves with nothing else to do but survive and no one else to talk to I would probably go crazy after a day. I suppose if there is no other option you just adjust but I hate staying in one place for too long and, even though I love my boyfriend, I would go crazy without some friends or family to talk to everyday as well.  Also I have, like, no skills to speak of to survive in the wild. I can barely sew. With a sewing machine.  I don’t know how I would mend clothes so they could last for as long as possible. Or hunt. Or forage for berries.  If I had to look for berries that were not poisonous I am 106% sure I would fail and we would die. Now that I think about it I probably don’t have to worry about boredom or going crazy when I’m out there because I would, without a doubt, be one of the first waves of people dead.

Anyways, I digress. There were a lot of chilling scenes and images in this story as well that I loved.  In the beginning Cal and Frida knew another family that settled not too far from them. It was a husband and wife and they had two small children.  They didn’t see them often but they were their only friends in the world.  In the beginning of the book we find out that, as far as Cal and Frida could see at the time, they had poisoned themselves and Cal had to bury the bodies.  It left Frida wondering for weeks what made them suddenly decide to give up. I guess it was sort of relief when we found out that Micah made them take the poison. Well, not relief for Frida, but at least it didn’t seem like such an arbitrary choice they made.

Also the scene where they talked about giving away the children who were currently living in the settlement to a nearby “rich” community. I started crying hysterically at the thought. Especially for Anika.  She was on the older side and probably didn’t think she could get pregnant.  To just have to give up her son and to have no contact with him is just so depressing. I didn’t blame her for being kind of bitter over there.  It was gross how Micah kept acting like it was all for the betterment of everyone at the settlement but he really was just carrying out a huge master plan and playing the long game.  In the beginning of the book it seemed like Micah might have really wanted to help other people, but by the end it seemed as though he was out for himself, much like the people he was fighting against in the beginning.

Cal and Frida’s relationship was kind of weird for me. I feel like they were never on the same page. It was weird when she just shouted out that she was pregnant after the vote in the settlement. She knew that if people in the settlement knew she was pregnant it may sway their vote and make them not want them there but she just had to blurt it out without consulting Cal.  Also, Cal just kind of weirdly ignored Frida their first couple weeks at the settlement.  Like, your wife is pregnant and you guys are in a strange place.  Maybe get a grip and check in with her a bit.  And they both just kept flip flopping on what they wanted and were never on the same page at the same time.  They also just did not seem to like each other. When they first got to the settlement and Frida was shocked to see her brother who she thought was dead Cal got annoyed at her behavior. I’m sorry. Give her a friggin break Cal her brother basically came back from the dead. Then Frida would get annoyed at Cal when he kind of looked pathetic or wasn’t good at defending himself. If that bothered her so much why was she with him? It didn’t seem like he ever sold himself as a piece of muscle who would defend people. It was just strange. I honestly don’t know why they stayed together. They were interesting on their own but together they were kind of an annoying couple.

It was kind of difficult to find a favorite character in this book.  Everyone was definitely interesting and I enjoyed reading about them, but I realized at the end of it I didn’t really like anybody. I guess Sandy and Bo and their kids were the most pure.  They were just living off the land and doing their best. I also really felt bad for Anika.  She wasn’t nice or cuddly or anything, but I just felt like she was doing her best in a very difficult situation. She’d obviously been through a lot and was just a closed off person who was misunderstood.

One thing that sort of bothered me about this book is that there were a lot of open ended situations that would be half explained and then we wouldn’t get the full story.  For instance, Micah was supposedly trading with the pirates and Bo saw it and that’s why he forced Bo and his family to eat the poison. That was all that was said of it though. I was just curious as to whether he was friends with the pirates and whether they played into his grander scheme.  Also I wondered what was promised to the pirates to make them cooperate. There were also a few other instances or situation where something was vaguely brought up and then never really came to fruition.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book.  It flowed really well and I definitely found it easy to read.  Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section as well as suggestions for new books! This week I’m gonna read The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan.

Rating: 7/10

Would you recommend to a friend: Yes!

The Getaway

This week I read The Getaway by Jim Thompson and I have to say it was just eh for me.  The first couple chapters didn’t really grab me at all and it took me a few days to get back into it. Once I started reading again there were some developments that really brought the first couple chapters together for me and made the story a lot more interesting, but then the end left me feeling extremely deflated.

I think my biggest issue with this book is that huge things would happen but then just get brushed over. For instance, after the big bank robbery happened and got botched completely the main character, Doc McCoy, ended up killing his partner on the job, Rudy Torrento. However, he did not actually kill him and so throughout the book Rudy is trying to catch up to Doc while he’s on the run. First, I don’t get how this guy is legit a professional criminal and can’t seem to bother himself with making sure his mark is actually dead. It just seems like that would be a real pain if he wasn’t and it proved to be.  Then, while we follow along with Rudy and Doc throughout the story Rudy finally catches up to Doc and Doc kills him once and for all but it was so glazed over and was done with no other mention of it.  It just made me wonder why we were following Rudy’s side of the story so much when his death ended up being so anticlimactic.

Once I got into it the book read pretty smoothly I just feel like more detail could have been made overall. The author seemed to touch on really huge aspects of the story but never delved deep into anything. Even the ending was so blah for me.  In the end Doc and his wife, Carol, end up escaping on this resort basically for criminals in Mexico. I guess resources are low, though, and however much money you have when you get there that’s all the money you get.  There’s no way to make more money for whatever reason. As a result a lot of couples end up turning against each other so they can get the full share of the funds. So in the end Carol and Doc both go to see a doctor on the island to see if he would perform surgery on the other and “accidently” kill them. The doctor reveals to Doc that Carol had just asked him the same thing and then Doc goes to see Carol and they just have a drink together and that was the end. Of the whole book. It was just so…I don’t know. I guess it would be obvious if one of them killed the other but the book just fell so flat for me. There was strife between them throughout the book so it would have made sense for one of them to kill the other. I guess I was just hoping for more.

I did really like the Carol character.  She was described as being a homely librarian before she met Doc and then he kind of opened the doors for her to a life of crime.  Her family and friends all turned their backs on her when she did it which made me sad and I just thought she was an interesting character because she was willing to give up so much for one person.  Even though a life of crime might not seem like the ideal route to go for someone it seemed as though Carol was going to live a dull and boring existence by herself if she hadn’t met Doc.  So even though it was probably not the most moral choice, it seemed as though she was able to live a much more full life as messed up as that sounds. She really came into her own in the crime world.

Overall rating: 5/10

Would you recommend to a friend?: Probably not.

Join me next week as I read California by Edan Lepucki! As always I recommend your thoughts in the comments as well as any suggestions for books to read in the future!



The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

This week I read The Life and Death of Sophie Stark and I LOVED it.  As soon as I picked it up I was hooked and finished it within a couple of days. The novel centers around a young filmmaker, Sophie Stark, and is told from different perspectives of the people in her life. Spoilers ahead!

Sophie is basically a bit of a misfit kid who gets teased and made fun of a lot. When she is in college she discovers film making and starts to make a film on a basketball star at their school, Daniel, who she is obsessed with/has a crush on. Even though this film is flawed, it is obvious she has a talent for film making so she goes on to make another film, Marianne, which is loosely based on the life of a girl she met, Alison. Alison and her begin dating during the making of her film but Sophie takes it too far by using trauma from Alison’s life to get a performance out of her, so Alison leaves.

Then Sophie gets asked to direct a music video and she becomes close with a member of the band, Jacob.  She learns about his past and his mother and they begin dating and she makes a movie about his mom. They get married very quickly, but when the movie comes out Jacob isn’t exactly thrilled at how Sophie depicted his mother. He thought she was going to make it a happier story but she had to make it the story it was, which is a lot more depressing. As a result their relationship goes on the rocks, but the film gets a lot of acclaim.

Then we meet George who is a producer of mostly C list type movies.  He has a project called Isabella that he really thinks could be great with the right director so he recruits Sophie.  Sophie reaches out again to Alison because she is having trouble making a movie with another person’s script and she thinks she’ll care more if Alison is in it. Alison is hesitant as she is happy and in a great relationship, but something about Sophie draws her in and she’s on board.  She doesn’t get the lead because the studio wanted a “name”, but Alison thinks she could play it better and so manipulates the lead to leave the movie and steps into the title role. As a result the film loses most of it’s funding so they have to do it on a shoestring budget . When it premieres most everyone bashes Sophie’s work but praises Alison as a breakout star.  This doesn’t sit well with Sophie so she kind of goes on a downward spiral and eventually kills herself.  She leaves a notebook called The Life and Death of Sophie Stark with the implication that everyone involved in her life create this film for her.

All in all I thought this whole story was riveting.  I LOVED getting the perspective of Sophie from different people in her life. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was, I obviously knew she was going to die because of the title, but when she did kill herself I didn’t really feel anything and I am someone who cries at the drop of a hat. Maybe this was the point of the whole book but I thought Sophie was a really selfish character, even though she was teased when she was younger I didn’t really feel bad for her over the course of the book.  It seems like she had so many people who really cared about her, probably more than she deserved, and she didn’t treat them well at all. Maybe it was all for her “art” or whatever and she was just super misunderstood, but when she died I was almost happy for everyone in her life that they didn’t have to deal with her and her abuse anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVED the story as a whole, I just wish there was something to make me relate more to Sophie to make me care more that she died.

I think my favorite character was Sophie’s brother, Robbie.  I felt for him the most because he was just trying so hard to connect with Sophie and to be there for her.  He was so pure and had no ulterior motives when it came to his sister and just wanted what was best for her.  I also really liked Alison.  I think she had a lot going on and was a little bit fucked up from it all but she was a very interesting character.  It also kind of inspired me as an actress the way she talked about getting into scenes. It was really instinctual and even though she had no formal training she just thought about what was going on in the scenes in such a basic way it gave a very real and exciting performance.  I feel like a lot of actors, myself included, really overthink things the more training we have and it was kind of interesting to read something like this from someone’s perspective with no training.

As an actress we are always told to create our own stuff.  I have on and off but reading this book really inspired me to start creating more.  I always get stalled with wanting to be perfect but Sophie’s films were not perfect and yet she still got her message across and people could still see her talent.

It’s really hard to choose a favorite part of this book.  There was a lot that stuck out for me and I truly enjoyed it.  The book just flowed effortlessly. There were a few moments that really stuck out that I enjoyed a lot.  One was when her brother, Robbie, was talking to a girl at their college. She was getting divorced and he was kind of her shoulder to cry on.  She was drunk and if he was like most drunk college guys he may have taken advantage of the situation but he didn’t, even though he really liked her.  I liked the scene a lot because I really felt like it showed what kind of person Robbie was so beautifully.  He’s so selfless and really wants the best for other people.

Another scene I really loved was when they were filming Isabella with Alison as the lead.  The scene where she makes love to Ferdinand and the actor she is playing opposite of is acting pissy because she took the other actress’s place.  Alison really took charge of the scene despite the other actor being uncooperative and gave an amazing performance and just really made the whole situation work for her.

A last scene that I will say stood out was the moment when the producer,George, realized that Sophie was sort of using him for his contacts in L.A. and had no intention of shooting it there or having him be a huge part of it. I thought it was so indicative of life in L.A. and gave a grasp of how dog eat dog it is. George was such a melancholy type of character and his life seemed so sad.  This project was the first thing to really get him excited in so long and then it just got out of his grasp.

Rating: 9/10

Would you recommend to a friend?: Yes!

Would love your thoughts on the book in the comments and would love suggestions for new books to read! Join me this week as I read The Getaway by Jim Thompson!


Tuck Everlasting

This week I decided to read Tuck Everlasting because it’s been on my bookshelf legit since high school.  I’ve always avoided it because I had a feeling it was going to make me cry hysterically and it did not disappoint. I found myself finishing it at Starbucks sobbing uncontrollably into my iced green tea.  Cue the awkward glances over to me. Spoilers ahead!

We meet the Tucks who we learn drank some spring water and have been cursed to live forever.  No matter what they do they cannot die. We also meet 11 year old Winnie Foster who has been feeling trapped in her stuffy home and is longing for an adventure somewhere.  She keeps thinking about running away but has yet to do it.

One day this sort of creepy older man in a yellow suit comes up to Winnie playing in her yard and starts to talk to her about the woods that Winnie’s family owns. Here we have our antagonist. We learn toward the end of the book that his grandmother had a friend who was apparently married to one of the Tuck’s sons and realized something was not right when no one in the family seemed to grow older and so left him and stayed with his grandmother for awhile.  Ever since he has been obsessed with this family who never grows older and who can never die and is determined to find them.  As he is talking to Winnie we hear a little bit of music coming from the woods. Winnie’s grandmother always says it’s elves playing their music but we learn that it is actually Mae Tuck (the mother) playing her music box. It’s a tune that the older gentleman remembered because his grandmother’s friend’s children would sing it so much that his grandmother remembered the tune and would sing it to him. Suffice it to say that when he heard this song he knew this mysterious family must be in the woods somewhere…That summary was definitely not as succinct as I would have liked.

The next day Winnie decides to go exploring in the woods.  She stumbles across a boy, Jesse Tuck, and starts to watch him.  He drinks from a spring of water and then discovers Winnie.  She insists upon drinking from the water because they are her woods.  This is obviously the spring water that stops you from aging and dying so Jesse does not want her to drink from it without knowing that.  The Tucks end up “kidnapping” Winnie so they can explain the whole situation. As they are taking her back to their cottage they pass the creepy older man from earlier who uses this to his advantage.  To them, it is very important that no one knows about this water because it would end up being disastrous if people could just go on living forever. Winnie ends up really loving the Tucks and their family, particularly Jesse.  Jesse is 17 and he suggests to Winnie that when she turns 17 she should drink some of the water too and then they could go on exploring the world together forever. Which sounds sort of romantic if you can get past the fact that he’s actually 104 at this point and Winnie is 11.

The creepy older man basically exploits the fact that the Tucks desperately want to find Winnie, and he tells them that he knows where she is and will go get her if they sell their woods to him.  That way he will have access to the spring of water and can sell it. He goes to retrieve Winnie with the constable but things do not go great and Mae Tuck ends up shooting him and killing him. She is thrown in jail and is going to be hanged which would then reveal their secret that none of them can die. They come up with a plan to switch Mae and Winnie in the jail cell so that the Tucks can run away. When they do this Jesse gives Winnie some of the water in a little vial telling her, if she wants, to drink it when she’s 17 and to come and find them.

The Tucks get away and Winnie goes back home after being discovered in the cell.  She ends up using the water on this toad who has been hanging around throughout the whole book.  A dog was trying to hurt him and she puts the water on him so he’ll be safe forever thinking that there is a whole spring of water, and when she is 17 she can always go back there and drink some.

Cut to the epilogue and it is now 1950.  The Tucks finally decide they can return to the town because no one will recognize them at this point. They want to see if Winnie maybe is still alive having had the water, or if she decided to live out her life normally.  They go to the graveyard where they see that Winnie passed away two years prior having been a wife and mother.  Ok. Now I’m crying again writing this. Mr. Tuck is proud of her.  He does not see living forever as a blessing.  Mae Tuck is sad for her son Jesse, but they all sort of knew long ago that she probably did not drink the water and decided to live her life the normal way.

I avoided reading this book because I knew the question of mortality or living forever would just consume me for days. I wonder what I would do if I was 11 and this happened to me.  On the one hand it would be so awesome to have a life partner with just an unlimited amount of time to explore the whole world. The thought of people I love dying and not being able to see them again is always a constant worry in my head.  If we could all just drink some of this water and just live together forever then we’d never have to worry about leaving each other. But, I also understand where Mr. Tuck is coming from. It’s not natural for people to live forever. It does get to a certain point where it’s not a blessing anymore but a curse. The thought that you can literally never pass on and you are doomed to walk the earth forever. No matter what happens. Even if there is a huge apocalypse and everyone is destroyed and there is no clean water or food or shelter, what would happen then? Would you just suffer and go about the earth? I guess if an extreme situation like that happened I would maybe want to have the ability to die.  I think in the end, I would probably end up making the same decision as Winnie did.  She was 11 when this happened and then the Tucks had to get out of town.  A lot can happen in 6 years and by the time she was 17 it was already becoming a distant memory and the magic of it all was probably fading.  Also, there were really no real plans made.  It’s not like she could just text Jesse and be like “Oh hey, I’m 17 now so I’m gonna drink this water, just let me know where we’re gonna meet up!” I think I probably would have made the same decision…but I think I also would have been thinking about “what if” the rest of my life.  I wonder if Winnie did. I would have loved to read her thought process when she turned 17.

My favorite character was probably a toss-up between Winnie and Mr. Tuck. I could just see Mr. Tuck and his world weariness of having to live forever and not wanting anyone to find out about it.  He was so sweet when Winnie came to their home and was a little bit awkward trying to figure out how to act with a real child in their home after so many years.

I also really liked Winnie. I like how she decided to help the Tucks escape from jail.  Even though she was 11 and didn’t know the potential consequences for herself, she very easily could have been like “Well, it’s not really my problem anymore.” and just stayed in bed that night and let them figure it out. I also liked her affinity for animals and how she helped save the toad that had been hanging around.

My favorite scene was definitely the whole epilogue and the discovery of Winnie’s grave.  It was satisfying to see the Tuck’s reaction to Winnie making the choice to live a mortal life. It broke my heart so much and it was such a great ending.  I sort of wish Winnie would have gone on to live forever and live with the Tucks, but I also know that probably wasn’t the best choice for her and living her life the “normal” way was what most likely made her happiest.

Rating: 8/10

Would you recommend to a friend?: Yes, with a box of tissues.

Would love to get your thoughts in the comments and any suggestions for new books! Join me this week as I read The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North.


The Monster of Florence

I was really excited to start reading The Monster of Florence last week.  It’s a mystery novel and as usual I tried to guess who the “killer” was early on.  And…. I was wrong.  Which made me sad. However, what made me MORE sad was that there was no big reveal for who the killer was.  If you didn’t read along there are spoilers ahead…

The book centers around a serial killer who targets courting couples in their cars.  He watches them have sex and then proceeds to kill them and mutilate them. While there have been a lot of accusations thrown about, they had not yet captured the person.  A special force is put together and we have our protagonist, Marshal Guarnaccia, who normally deals with local police business in Florence such as helping tourists who lost their cameras etc. He is self described as a little slow on the uptake and it always takes him a little longer to process information than it takes other people.  I already love him. While the book was extremely so-so for me, what kept me reading and wanting to figure out what happened was Marshal.  His development of a character was by far the best part of the whole book.

What kind of threw me and left me extremely unsatisfied with this book was that it was going in so many different random directions…which is fine… but then nothing came together at the end. I understand trying to get the reader off the scent of who the real killer is but it was done in a really clunky, not entertaining way, and I was left wondering about all these other random plot points and how they were supposed to relate to the crime and what became of them? They were sort of wrapped up awkwardly and then forgotten about.  There was a whole B story about a young boy named Marco who Marshal had helped when he was younger, and he needed help with a painting he suspected was a forgery. It was extremely strange and random and I guess you need a B story but I was hoping it would somehow relate to the A story a little more.  Maybe I missed some sort of symbolism, and if I did I would love to know what it was.  But the whole story line left me feeling like it was a waste of time and then the resolution where he decided to sell this painting that may or may not have been a forgery just happened and then we hear nothing more about him. I didn’t learn enough about Marco to really care one way or the other.

Then the “red herring” was an older man who was their prime suspect.  He apparently killed in the past and went to jail for it. Then there was this random business about him raping his daughter.  The entire time they were trying to pin the crimes on him so they could wrap up the case nice and neatly.  They chose him because even if he wasn’t the serial killer, the public would have no sympathy for him because he raped his daughter and then they would have their case “solved”. I found the whole situation and story line to have a lot of potential and the author kept adding layers upon layers to it but then nothing felt realized in the end.

The last huge problem I had was the serial killer ended up being Silvano. The guy who they were basically accusing of being the serial killer the entire time.  From the beginning the book had “documents” of evidence that all pointed to him being the killer.  Then, in the end, Marshal realized Silvano was indeed the killer.  I guess. It’s fine. Maybe the story was more about how Marshal was really coming into his own and able to put the pieces together and get more concrete proof to make Silvano the serial killer. But, as a reader, I just LOVE it when the killer ends up being someone completely random and unsuspected but the clues were there the whole time and when you realize it it’s AMAZING. I was kind of hoping maybe the killer would be Marshal’s friend and partner on the case, Ferrini.  It was my stab in the dark and I would have loved to see a confrontation between the two.

In the end it was discovered that there was a bit of corruption among the Italian police departments and they had decided long ago that they were going to get the old man thrown into jail no matter what, even planting evidence to do so.  So, even though Marshal found the real killer, he was not named “The Monster”. I guess I like how the author thought outside the box with the ending and everything wasn’t tied up with a nice little bow, but it would have hit better if everything else came together a little nicer.

I have to say, even though much of the book left me unimpressed, there were a couple moments that affected me a lot and that I really loved. The first was when Marshal overheard his Captain saying that they only put idiot men on The Monster investigation (basically because they already rigged who was going to be pinned for the monster). It struck me and made me cry because Marshal was working so hard trying to go through the evidence, working out all the pieces and trying to put it all together. He knew he was a little slower with reading and trying to figure out things, but he still wanted to try his best and give it his best shot. When he overheard the Captain saying that, a man he trusted and respected, I could just picture his face and how devastating that must have been for him.  In the beginning when he first found out he was being put on this investigation, he even told his wife he wasn’t sure why they would have picked him and she said that the Captain really thinks a lot of him and respects him which made him probably feel special, and like he was really needed and wanted on this case. That whole scene just broke my heart.

The second scene was when Marshal goes to visit the parents of a young girl who was murdered by the Monster years ago. He came at a time in the day when the wife goes to visit her daughter’s grave so the husband walked Marshal there and he had a chat with the wife.  How the husband and wife were described, it was as if they were shells of their former selves. When Marshal went to ask the wife some questions and see if some personal affects they had in evidence were her daughters, the wife went on a bit of a tirade about when they found the body they didn’t want her to see it.  She couldn’t understand why they were trying to spare her because she was a woman. She went on to say that she needed to be the one to lift her daughter’s head up off the ground and clean off her face and fix her hair.  It killed her to see these random men handling her daughter after how she died.  I cried hysterically. It was a beautiful scene.  I wish there were more like that in this book.

Overall this book was extremely average for me. It kept me engaged enough where I wanted to know where they were going with it, but in the end I was extremely unsatisfied.

Overall Rating: 5/10

Would you Recommend to a friend?: No.

Join me this week as I embark on Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  I’ve had this book for the LONGEST time and as I was going through my bookshelf, I thought this would be a great time to read it! As always I welcome suggestions in the comments! Hope you read along!

My First Post!

Hey guys!

Thanks so much for reading my first blog post! My name is Nicole and I am an actress based in Los Angeles.  I decided to start a blog where I challenge myself to read a book a week and then write about it here! My whole life I have loved reading.  Even if things aren’t going amazing in your life at a certain moment in time you can always be taken away from it, at least for a little while, by a good book. I always feel so calm and centered perusing a bookstore.

Currently I have been super into reading thriller/mystery type books and also biographies.  I love reading thrillers because I am always super determined to solve the crime before the end of the book!  I love biographies because I find the life stories of people so fascinating.  Everyone has such a unique and interesting story to tell and I love to hear all the ins and outs of someone’s life!

In this blog I’m going to mainly talk about the book I read (and hopefully you read as well) for the week but also might get a little bit into my life as an actress here in L.A.! I’m sure the two worlds will intertwine a little bit.

The first book that I am starting with is a thriller/mystery book called The Monster of Florence by Magdalen Nabb.  I stumbled across it at the library and I guess it’s based on a true crime about a serial killer in Florence, Italy who targeted and killed unmarried couples in a popular tourist area. Hope you can read along this week with me! And I am also open to suggestions for my next book! Be sure to share in the comments!