As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:
- (★★★★★): Loved it
- (★★★★): Really liked it
- (★★★): Liked it enough
- (★★): Didn’t care for it
Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Genre: Mystery, crime, classics
GoodReads rating: 3.68 / 5 (32,000 ratings)
Medium used: Paperback (purchased from Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle, WA)
PopSugar prompt: A book that reminds you of your favorite person, place or thing.
Summary: A journalist Charles “Fred” Hale is murdered in the seaside town of Brighton and although the autopsy revealed he died of a heart attack, youthful gang leader Pinkie is the first suspect. To cover up, he must woo a waitress Rose who might have seen something. Ida, a brief acquaintance of “Fred”, is also hot on Pinkie’s trail and skeptical of his intentions with Rose. As gang tensions rise and violence breaks out, Ida gets closer to discovering the truth.
Warning: This book contains mention of violence.
Thoughts: “Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before…” But seriously, one of my new all-time favorite fiction books. I have such an emotional connection to Brighton as I lived there for two years and absolutely loved it so I must admit my five-star is a bit biased. Regardless, let’s start with the opening line: “Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton for three hours, that they meant to murder him.” Really sets the chilling tone for the rest of the book. I didn’t feel there were any superfluous parts and that the plot came together beautifully. Yes, Pinkie is evil to the core but so intriguing as you don’t know what he’ll do next. I also loved the way Ida was written even though it was by a man in the early 20th century, it was so foreword-thinking: she’s smart, shapely and assertive without apology. I already can’t wait to read this again.
Other adaptations: There is a 2011 movie that fared okay and a 1948 movie that fared slightly better.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
Genre: Non-fiction, history, crime, politics
GoodReads rating: 4.39 / 5 (66,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book and audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
PopSugar prompt: A book with an oxymoron in the title.
Summary: The Troubles in Northern Ireland were the explosive result of decades of conflict between Unionists (typically Protestant and wanted to remain in the UK) and Nationalists (typically Catholic and wanted a united Ireland). Kidnapping, murders, acts of terrorism and political games from both sides mirrored an all-out war.
Warning: This book contains mention of sexual abuse and animal abuse.
Thoughts: I think the whole quote would be a better title and oxymoron: “Whatever you say, say nothing.” Regardless, this book was a roller coaster. I didn’t know much about The Troubles so it was a great accessible way to learn something new, it unfolded like a drama. Also the audiobook narrator has the most lovely accent.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Genre: Fiction, thriller, mystery
GoodReads rating: 4.11 / 5 (734,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
Summary: Six years ago, Alicia shot her husband Gabriel in the face five times and has not uttered a single word since. Theo Farber thinks he can get through to her and is desperate to be her psychotherapist. “His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations, a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…”
Warning: This book contains mention of self-harm, suicide and abuse
Thoughts: I devoured this in less than a day. Like all thrillers, nothing about this book reinvented the wheel, but damn it was pretty exciting. I’d say the majority of these types of domestic thrillers are written by women, but this one was written by a man and you can tell. Theo is obsessed with “saving” Alicia and most of the guys in the book are attracted to her. I also hate how the narrator breaks the fourth wall occasionally with phrases like, “I’m getting ahead of myself,” it sounds like something you’d find in a story written by a middle schooler. The author really trauma-loaded the first twenty pages talking about murder, self-harm, suicide, child abuse, etc. so there was no way to really escalate from there. Did I predict the twist? No. Did it gag me? Also no. I felt nothing, if I don’t audibly gasp at the twist, it’s not good enough. This book is entertaining but not worth the hype.
Other adaptations: The rights have been bought and it sounds like it’s in the very early stages.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Genre: Fiction, chick lit, romance, humor
GoodReads rating: 3.79 / 5 (908,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
PopSugar prompt: A bestseller from the 1990’s.
Summary: Bridget Jones is a 30-something single woman (gasp) living in London. Her job is made complicated by her romantic involvement with her boss. Her family is always trying to hook her up with a man, particularly a family friend and famous lawyer Mark Darcy. Her friends are a colorful crowd that are always there for her. On her year-long journey to inner poise, weight loss and vice-quitting, Bridget documents it all in the diary.
Warning: This book contains themes of calorie restriction throughout.
Thoughts: First, I want to address the constant mention of weight loss, calorie intake, etc. This makes it very telling this book is from the late 90’s as we now recognize these behaviors as eating disorders. In the four-paragraph GoodReads summary, it mentions weight loss… four times. It is addressed briefly in the book telling Bridget something along the lines of “you need 1800 calories just to live, shape up” to which she intermittently gives up weighing herself and calorie counting. Regardless, I really love the diary format as it gives a recount of what just happened so we get some retrospection, but not too much. Is there anything more exciting than a text from your best friend saying, “Oh my God, you’ll never guess what just happened.” That’s what this book felt like sometimes. I also enjoyed the characterization of the mother (always calling Bridget to say, “Guess what, darling?”) and her boss in the entertainment industry (starting every idea with, “I’m thinking…”). It really dove home the point of who these characters are in a short number of pages. My only other complaint is why have separate characters named Daniel and Dan as well as a Becca and Rebecca? You couldn’t think of two more names?
Other adaptations: The 2001 movie fared quite well, it looks like a laugh. Also, I found it funny that Colin Firth and Hugh Grant were mentioned in the book and they were cast in the movie.
Have you read any of these?
Photo by Radu Marcusu.