2016 Book #38 – White Hot by Sandra Brown — PLUS Movie Review!!

51Gi0Iy4cvL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_Title: White Hot
Author: Sandra Brown
Date finished: 4/23/16
Genre: Fiction, romantic suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2004
Pages in book: 419
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Amazon – purchased

Blurb from the cover:

When she hears that her younger brother Danny has committed suicide, Sayre Lynch relents from a vow never to return to Destiny, her small Louisiana hometown. Planning to leave immediately after the funeral, Sayre instead finds herself drawn into the web cast by Huff Hoyle, her controlling and tyrannical father, who owns the town’s sole industry and, with her older brother, runs the lives of everyone who lives there. But underneath the Hoyles’ rigid control, trouble is brewing. Old hatreds foster plans for revenge, past crimes resurface, and a maverick deputy sheriff determines that Danny’s death was not suicide. Tensions mount, threatening to ignite a powder keg of long-held hostility.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my Book Riot 2016 Read Harder reading challenge, marking off the “read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie and debate which was better” since that is exactly what I did. So if you read my blog you know that overall I am definitely a fan of Sandra Brown. Her novels are always enthralling, drawing me in from the first page. I try to only read her books on my days off or vacation days because I know once I start reading it I won’t be able to put it down. So when I saw that one of her books was being made into a movie on the Hallmark channel, well my gosh I was ecstatic. Unfortunately I don’t get the specific channel on my house that it was being aired on, but luckily my mom does and was nice enough to tape it for me! I finished the book Saturday and then watched the movie. The book (and the movie) are about the Hoyle family and all their drama. The book is full of revenge, deception, murder, and ultimately some romance.
Overall I liked this book a lot. I don’t think it was one of my favorites of Brown’s but as always she crafts a masterful story. There aren’t many authors that I read where there are plot twists that I don’t see coming but Brown always seems to catch me unaware. While I really liked the book, the movie just did not hold up to what I expected after reading the book. There were so many plot points from the book that didn’t make it into the movie that it almost would have been better had I watched the movie without ever reading the book. It was pretty much 2 different stories. I was really disappointed how different Sayre was in the book and the movie. In the book she was portrayed as this bad-ass red head who had survived a lot to become the successful person she was today. But the Sayre from the movie pretty much just cried all the whole time, it was awful. I was so much looking forward to the movie version of a good book but I ended up just being disappointed.

The bottom line: This was a great read. There were definitely some plot twists I did not see coming and the ending was what I wanted though it was slightly abrupt. The movie honestly was such a let down. It was almost nothing like the book, while most of the words were similar they were told in a different location and in a different order and some of the plot points are just completely skewed and half of them are missing. I would recommend the book definitely but would probably say skip the movie.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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Gone Girl Movie!!

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So last week I went to see the Gone Girl movie that came out based on the book and I have to say, it was SUCH a great movie! Movies many time will miss parts of a book that readers find essential, mostly because it is just impossible to include everything from an almost 400 page book into a movie that’s approximately 2 hours. Luckily the magic movie makers for this film only left out really 2 non-essential plot items (the Desi’s mother gets involved at the end and that Tanner Bolt’s wife gets involved in prepping Nick for the interview) that I’m pretty sure they skipped only to avoid introducing more characters into an already full screenplay.

Other than that the movie followed the book almost to a T. I loved it. The whole movie I was sitting there thinking, this is exactly like the book, its just so perfect. And I have to say, I don’t think they could’ve picked a better actor for the role of Nick. Ben Affleck was just superb in the role of an arrogant and slightly creepy jerk. Really all the casting was so well done, Amy’s role was perfect and Margo’s was very good and Desi’s role was well cast too. I don’t think I could’ve asked for a more well-suited cast.

Anyone who read this book and at least somewhat liked it, I would definitely recommend seeing the movie! Just a warning though a few of the scenes are pretty graphic (sex and violence). Nothing too crazy, though I have to say the scene towards the end involves a lot of blood so if you’re squeamish I would close your eyes for that one. I thought it was a great movie though and a pretty much perfect adaptation of the book.

Link to trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi78622489/imdb/embed?autoplay=false&width=480

Link to my review for the Gone Girl book: https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/2014-book-78/

Link to Gone Girl movie IMDB site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2267998/

2014 – Book #85

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The eighty-fifth book I read in 2014 was Serena by Ron Rash. I finished this book on 9/19/14. I rated this book 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5. I decided to read this book because the movie adaptation is coming out at the end of this year (Nov 27) starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. I just love everything Jennifer Lawrence is in, she is an amazing actress and she plays her parts very well. She plays the crazy parts especially well, and I know she’s just going to do an amazing job with the role of Serena.

This book is about George and Serena Pemberton, a newlywed couple who plan to run a timber empire together in North Carolina. George was at the camp long enough before he met Serena to father an illegitimate child. Serena and George share an intense relationship that leaves no room for anyone else, and George, while acknowledging the child is his, does not do anything to care for the mother or the child, and in fact does the opposite in killing the mother’s father. When Serena loses her own baby and learns she will never again be able to bear children, she decides that she will kill the illegitimate child and the mother for being able to give her husband what she can not.

Serena appears to have been unraveling up to this point, but when she learns that George might be protecting his son and the boy’s mother, George and Serena’s intense and passionate marriage begins to crumble and becomes intensely deadly. This book is set in 1929 in the North Carolina mountains. The description of the work done by the timber company along with their day to day lives adds a sufficiently depressing backdrop to the dark place that is Serena’s mind. There is no room for any errors or doubt in her world, she lives in a universe of black and white, no grey area allowed.

Overall this was a very dark novel. There were parts I found depressing, and to be honest within the first 10 pages there’s a description of someone getting gutted in a knife fight that is just gruesome. Other than that though, it was an extremely interesting book and I can’t wait to see Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Serena. She plays such a great crazy person and as I was reading the novel I could just see her in the role. I also really enjoyed the discussion of life during the Depression and the timber worker’s point of view as well as Rachel’s (George’s illegitimate son’s mother). I would definitely recommend this novel to someone who is looking for a good Depression-era novel or to anyone who is planning to see the movie when it comes out!!

Link to movie’s IMDB website (trailer can be found here): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1247690/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Link to Wikipedia website on author: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Rash

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Serena-Novel-P-S-Ron-Rash/dp/0061470848/ref=sr_1_1?

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2014 – Book #33

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The thirty-third book I read in 2014 was The Giver by Lois Lowry. I finished this book on 4/30/14. I rated this book 4 stars out of a scale of 5. I didn’t know this before I went to the author’s website, but this is apparently the first in a 4 book series. This book is about a boy named Jonas who lives in a dystopian society. Jonas’ world is free from war, pain, or really any other kind of strong emotion. He lives in an extremely structured society where children are taught strict rules and are grouped by ages into groups (Ones, Twos, Threes, etc).

When the Elevens graduate into becoming Twelves however, they are assigned their jobs where they will work for the rest of their lives. When it comes to be Jonas’ turn though he is not assigned but selected. He is selected to be the next Receiver of Memories for his community. Apparently in this Society they select one person to hold the memories of the world so that those memories can assist the Elders in making tough decisions but the whole population will not be subjected to these memories. The worst part about this is that one person has to hold all the pain of the world but the Elders only ask him for advice every few years. And as Jonas learns, receiving these memories from the previous Receiver (now named The Giver as he is giving all his memories to Jonas) is extremely painful, especially when you have lived your whole life sheltered from any kind of pain. Jonas learns to truly feel things for the first time, not only pain but love, joy, and warmth. He learns about colors and begins seeing them in his daily life. This is a lonely task though as none of the other people in his life can feel anything.

This book is classified as a dystopian novel. Per Wikipedia, “a dystopia is a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dystopia) Other examples of recently popular dystopian novels include Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Ruth, and The Host by Stephanie Meyer, all of which have been made into movies in recent years as well. Dystopian novels normally portray some kind of futuristic society in which the hero/heroine is in danger because of that society. I find these books to be fascinating portrayals of what society could end up as in some future era.

One of my mini-goals for this year was to read a book from Goodread’s/Amazon’s “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” listing. This book was on that list as a “classic dystopia” novel. Here is a link to the listing: http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=bhp_brws_100bks?ie=UTF8&node=8192263011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-leftnav&pf_rd_r=15NGNHHEHC9AP9YBWM40&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1779646742&pf_rd_i=283155. This technically was a re-read for me since I read this book in middle school as part of a Mother-Daughter Book Club. With the movie coming out soon though (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435651/?ref_=nv_sr_1) I thought it was worth a re-read to make sure I am up to speed. I always think that reading the book before you see the movie is the better way to do it. Our minds are powerful things and can create magical worlds from the descriptions on a page, but the movies tell you what is and how it should look. I much prefer to imagine it myself.

This novel was utterly fascinating, I could not put the book down. And one of the things I love about dystopian novels is that they are so thought provoking. To think that society could someday end up like this, taking away all choices and feelings in order to protect people, is astounding. This is a great novel and honestly is a great read for young adults.

Link to author website: http://www.loislowry.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Giver-Lois-Lowry/dp/0385732554/ref=br_lf_m_1002140381_2_38_clkmr?ie=UTF8&s=books&pf_rd_p=1736476662&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_t=1401&pf_rd_i=1002140381&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=05YZJVS9F27YVSQF866H

2014 – Book #28

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The twenty-eighth book I read in 2014 was Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I finished this book on 4/21/14. This is the fourth (and last) book in the Beautiful Creatures series by these authors. The first three books in the series were discussed in my previous three blog posts. I rated this book 4 stars out of a scale of 5. This book picks up where the third left off, right after Ethan jumps off the water tower. As I said in the previous post, if you haven’t read the other books yet and you plan to, then I would avoid reading this review as some items mentioned might reveal plot twists from both the first three books in the series.

Unfortunately, Ethan sacrificed himself at the end of the third book so that a New Order could restore the Order that Lena broke when she claimed herself for both the Dark and the Light at the end of the second book. In the Otherworld he gets to see his mom which is sweet. His Aunt Prue though helps him figure out a way that he can get back to the land of the living. Turns out he was never supposed to die. One of the Keepers has been going rogue for hundreds of years and has apparently teamed up with Abraham Ravenwood to try and destroy all Mortals. Ethan was getting in his way so the Keeper got rid of him.

However, after Ethan finds out how he can get back to Lena he sets off on his journey to accomplish just that. Its a multi-step process that involves getting a lot of help from people along the way, including Lena, Amma, the Greats, his mom and friends he meets along the way. I thought it was interesting that this book had sections that were from Ethan’s point of view and then went to Lena’s and then back to Ethan’s. Especially with them at opposite ends of the universe it would have been hard to jump back and forth with every chapter so I liked that there were designated sections.

While I did like this book and I thought it was a great book to end the series, I did have some unanswered questions at the end of it and I hate having items that I can’t wrap up. For example, Ethan goes through this whole journey to come back to the land of the living. But the whole time he’s doing that, his human body is decaying in the ground. When he comes back to Lena’s world from the Otherworld, did he get a new body? Did his old body get magically fixed and transported? He jumps straight back to the water tower so did it just erase everything like his whole death never happened or did he come back after Lena had to live without him still for months? I just don’t fully follow how that whole thing went down and I feel like it could’ve been explained a little better. (I also wanted to know what happened to the whole business with Ethan’s fractured soul, did he get put back together?)

Other than a few open questions at the end of the story though, this book was quite fascinating. I loved the new world that Ethan got to experience as a dead guy, it was very interesting. Great read and what a great series. I would definitely recommend.

I’ve discovered by reviewing the author’s website too that there are 2 novellas connected with this series, one of which leads into the next series starter “Dangerous Creatures.” Stay tuned for reviews of these novellas, I’ll be reading those next!

Link to author website: http://beautifulcreaturesauthors.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Redemption-Creatures-Kami-Garcia/dp/0316123536/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1398170512

2014 – Book #27

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The twenty-seventh book I read in 2014 was Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I finished this book on 4/19/14. This is the third book in the Beautiful Creatures series by these authors. The first two books in the series were discussed in my previous two blog posts. I rated this book 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This book picks up where the second left off, after Lena’s Seventeenth Moon. As I said in the previous post, if you haven’t read the first book yet and you plan to, then I would avoid reading this review as soon items mentioned might reveal plot twists from both the first and second book.

So in the end of the second book Macon is resurrected and Lena and Ethan get back together. But as the summer turns to fall, things are turning apocalyptic in the small town of Gatlin. Locusts, extreme heat, and Ethan starts dreaming about rivers of blood. Amma is meeting with a black magic voodoo man for some reason that Ethan can’t figure out, and even worse Ethan is slowly losing pieces of his memory. Things are falling apart in Gatlin because Lena broke The Order when she claimed herself for both the dark and the light during her Seventeenth Moon. And with a best friend who is now a quarter Incubus, a wanna-be Siren trying to start trouble and find a way to get her powers back, and a 500 year old evil Blood Incubus trying to wipe out all of humanity, the End seems unavoidable.

As Lena and Ethan struggle not only through their daily high school lives but also the impending doom that grows stronger with the day, they look for a solution to the visions they’re experiencing and a way to save mankind. Abraham tears apart the town looking for John Breed, his science experiment, and after Lena and Ethan find him they try to use him to figure out what Abraham’s plans are. There were so many interesting magical twists and turns in this book, and I actually liked how the ending just left it all open. Doom and The End are coming and then it all just fades to black and we never find out what really happened.

This book was a great addition to the series. It was a little dry towards the middle but wow what a great cliffhanger ending, I can’t wait to read the next book. Great story with lots of interesting additions to the overall story over the series of books.

Link to author website: http://beautifulcreaturesauthors.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Chaos-Creatures-Kami-Garcia/dp/031612351X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397933779&sr=8-1&keywords=beautiful+chaos

2014 – Book #26

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The twenty-sixth book I read in 2014 is Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I finished this book on 4/16/14. This is the second book in the Beautiful Creatures series, I discussed the first book in the previous blog post. I rated this book 4 stars out of a scale of 5. This book continues the story of Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes after Lena’s Sixteenth Moon (where the first book ends). By the way if you haven’t read the first book yet and you plan to, I would avoid reading this review. There will probably be items in here that reveal some of the plot twists in the end of the first book.

Lena can’t shake the guilt that its her fault Macon is dead. Every time she looks at Ethan she’s reminded that the spell she used to save Ethan’s life is the same spell that killed a man who was like a father to her for her whole life. Riddled with guilt, she is befriended by a Dark Caster who seems to understand what she’s going through. As she drifts closer to this Dark Caster, she grows farther and farther away from Ethan.

Ethan begins his new summer job at the library and meets Marian’s new assistant, Olivia. Cute and blond and Mortal, Ethan finds that he is comfortable with Olivia which only seems to make Lena turn more towards the Dark. But after Ethan finds out the John and Lena have run away to try and find some Great Barrier where there is no Dark and no Light, just pure magic. Ethan is having visions of Macon’s past and of Lena and John’s journey to the Great Barrier, and he starts out on his own journey to find Lena and try to save her. And after Ethan meets up with Ridley and finds out that Sarafine is calling the Claiming Moon, Lena’s Seventeenth Moon, to force Lena to claim the Dark, Ethan’s journey takes on a frantic pace.

Overall this book was great. I found myself slightly frustrated in certain parts, but there were so many great plot twists I was riveted through the whole story. Can’t wait to read the next book int he series!

Link to authors’ website: http://beautifulcreaturesauthors.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Darkness-Creatures-Kami-Garcia/dp/0316077046/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397690850&sr=8-1&keywords=beautiful+darkness