Review: The Obsession – Nora Roberts

SYNOPSIS: Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.  – via Goodreads

Well, well, well. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and picked it up at random while in Isle of Man forever and six days ago – the book shop had it super cheap and I felt like something to read, and grabbed it. I didn’t expect much – Roberts churns out relatively standard books, but every now and then she gets one that really just works for me. This was one of those.

The book opens with a bang, and it is one intense read, little Naomi following her cuckoo dad, discovering horrors that nobody, let alone a child, should see, and having her life crumble. It was intense, then it skips on to present day. I was so afraid that this would take the route of The Witness – solid intro and then just down the drain, luckily for me, it did not.

I am maybe not the biggest fan of the romance here – because it is super rushed and awfully sudden, like absolutely no tension developed between Naomi and Xander. I also got irritated about “he took her mouth”. I swear, that phrase repeated consistently throughout the book, and gave me a frisson of irritation every time it happened. That being said, I found the story enjoyable and I was hooked. The book barrels along, too, so there is not a lot of filler jammed into it. I also liked the characters in this one, which is what kept me going. Especially Seth and Harry, what a lovely pair!

Now, this book certainly doesn’t reinvent the genre, and is predictable to boot in terms of the villain, but it is a great, fun, light read and that is exactly what I was looking for.

Review: The Woman In The Window – A.J. Finn

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems. – via Goodreads 

Uhm… I don’t really have an awful lot to say about this book. Not really much at all. It is not a bad read, at all. It is predictable – I mean we have all seen this plot in some book or some movie somewhere – someone housebound who sees something they should not and all the shenanigans that follow that.

The Woman In The Window had some interesting parts to it and some concepts that I enjoyed, and Anna’s situation is a quite fascinating – agoraphobic in the extreme, but a therapist helping others in a similar situation, and an alcoholic struggling to pull her life together. I thought at times this was overdone and other times it was underutilised. I feel that the only character that had any real depth is Anna, though that could truly be by design.

Anyway, the book is slightly longer than it strictly needs to be, though it is a pretty fast read. It’s decent but not fantastic, though I do think Finn writes quite well. I don’t really want to say too much because the book has some twists and turns, whether you expect them or not. I will certainly check out future works.

Review: Vanish – Tess Gerritsen

Rizzoli & Isles #5

SYNOPSIS: A nameless, beautiful woman appears to be just another corpse in the morgue. An apparent suicide, she lies on a gurney, awaiting the dissecting scalpel of medical examiner Maura Isles. But when Maura unzips the body bag and looks down at the body, she gets the fright of her life. The corpse opens its eyes.

Very much alive, the woman is rushed to the hospital, where with shockingly cool precision, she murders a security guard and seizes hostages . . . one of them a pregnant patient, Jane Rizzoli.

Who is this violent, desperate soul, and what does she want? As the tense hours tick by, Maura joins forces with Jane’s husband, FBI agent Gabriel Dean, to track down the mysterious killer’s identity. When federal agents suddenly appear on the scene, Maura and Gabriel realize that they are dealing with a case that goes far deeper than just an ordinary hostage crisis.

Only Jane, trapped with the armed madwoman, holds the key to the mystery. And only she can solve it–if she survives the night. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5I must admit, this was infinitely better than that melodramatic Body Double that I read last. I was no fan of that, and you always worry the events of that book would spill over and infect the next one. Luckily for me though, this was not the case. Jane and Gabriel are married, doing alright, and she is literally almost about to pop out her baby. You wonder how this is all going to come together, I mean she is about to have a baby, what kind of case will Gerritsen get to pull this together? But she does, and in an exceptionally entertaining fashion, too. The whole kidnapping/hostage thing gave rise to an interesting and very sad story, to look at how these poor girls got forced into a life they do not want. The story flips between Jane in hostage crisis to her friends and family in the outside, desperate to figure out what is going on, and then to the perspective of a young Russian girl who has been forced into prostitution in a foreign country. Gabriel is also a character that I thoroughly enjoy, so I was pleased as punch for him to feature more prominently in Vanish, anything to read more than a few stray lines about him, he is fascinating! The story is very engaging, and catches you quite early and reels you in. The characters are more entertaining, and there isn’t so much of that exceptional melodrama from the last one (thank goodness). I know I harp on that point, but sheesh. It was enough to put me off of reading more in this series. Vanish is a fast read, and Gerritsen explores a dark, nasty side of people and human trafficking, painting enough to horrify you, but not going that far into things to just be gratuitously disgusting, which is a good balance. I can’t say too much about this book, in fear of spoilers, but I can say that this book is well worth the read.

Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Vertigo (1958) – Silver Screen Serenade


I am so thrilled today to be hosting the wonderful and delightful Cara of Silver Screen Serenade as a part of the massive Alfred Hitchcock blogathon which I am hosting with Rob. If you aren’t already following Cara, hop of over there right now, change that, then come back and read what she has to say about Vertigo. When you’re done, you can always go back and have a look see at the Shenanigans she gets up to.

vertigo poster

“Oh, Scottie. I’m not mad. I’m not mad. I don’t want to die. There’s someone within me and she says I must die. Oh, Scottie, don’t let me go.” – Madeleine Elster

Number of Times Seen – 1 (23 July 2014)

Brief Synopsis – “A retired San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend’s wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.” (from IMDb)

My Take On It – Hitchcock Blogathon! Let’s DO this! I was so, so excited to hear that Rob and Zoë were doing this because I’ve only seen a couple of Hitchcock films (Psycho and North by Northwest), which is kind of unforgivable for a movie buff. Or at least I guess. I don’t know the rules. Haha. Whatever the case, it was high time I got around to one or two of his other films, and this was just the push I needed to do it. So thanks, Rob and Zoë, for a brilliant idea!

I have a confession to make: I’m kind of in love with Jimmy Stewart. I think I have been ever since I first saw The Philadelphia Story. Shortly after that, I watched It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time as well, and my love grew. Though his role in Vertigo is much darker than the aforementioned films, Stewart is equally fantastic in it. He has this undeniable likeability in just about anything he does—no exception here. As retired detective John a.k.a. Scottie (I’m still not sure why the latter is his nickname), Stewart is just so natural and believable. Once his obsession kicks in he’s a little lot creepy, but given the story behind that obsession, it’s kind of understandable.

As for the leading ladies, they certainly hold up, too. Right from the start, I adored the chemistry Stewart has with Barbara Bel Geddes, who plays Scottie’s good friend and one-time fiancée, Midge. I enjoyed their rapport so much that I was kind of hoping they’d end up together; in fact, I’m a little baffled as to why Midge called off their engagement all those years ago because they seem great together. But it’s pretty clear that Scottie only has eyes for Madeleine (Kim Novak), which is tricky territory since she is an old friend’s wife. Novak is fantastic as Madeleine—alluring and mysterious and vulnerable to perfection. The actress even has the challenge of playing dual roles…but that’s getting into spoiler territory, and I wouldn’t want to do that. 😉

vertigo 2

Here’s what I love about what I’ve seen of Hitchcock’s work: each film tells a gripping story. I don’t think his work will ever stop inspiring filmmakers. Vertigo is undoubtedly one of those inspiring films. The premise sounded intriguing to me, and it certainly delivered. Due credit to the writers for that. It’s as much a baffling mystery with a hint of the paranormal as it is a dramatic love story. It crescendos into powerful moments and then proceeds to outdo those moments with the next big twist. And can we talk about some of those twists?? Wait—nope. No, we can’t because that would be spoiling things! I’ll just say this: it reminds me of Psycho in that something huge happens somewhere in the middle of the film, which brings on what at first seems like an entirely new story. But it all comes full circle in the end with a shocking final punch. Seriously, I was left gaping at the screen saying, “Hitchcock! WOAH, dude!”

In addition to being a master storyteller, Hitchcock also has an excellent eye. The use of color and swirls in the opening credits is trippy but mesmerizing. I could say the same of a dream sequence Scottie has later in the film. And some of the shots! The ones in which Scottie suffers his bouts of vertigo are the best. Hitchcock stretches out the distant and makes you just as dizzy and nervous as the main character. The one at the beginning of the film is the best—Scottie hangs from a rooftop, watching in terror as a police officer who tried to help him plummets to his death. Simply put, it’s iconic. There are lots of moments like this throughout the film.

vertigo 1

If I have to pick on some things about Vertigo, I will say that it’s fairly slow-paced, but the payoff in the end is well worth it. Other than that, my only qualms involve Scottie’s relationships with the ladies. His relationship with Midge isn’t really addressed as much as I’d hoped it would be in the end; in fact, it pretty much fizzles out as soon as he meets Madeleine, and his relationship with her is a whirlwind. He later develops another relationship that’s strained to say the least—and that’s mostly his fault since he gets a little crazy. It takes away a smidge of his Stewart charm, though not enough to make you completely dislike him.

Bottom Line – Vertigo is considered one of Hitchcock’s best for good reason. It’s brilliantly woven and masterfully presented story that gets a reaction out of you. It’ll leave you guessing, and it’ll take you by surprise. Plus, Jimmy Stewart. ‘Nough said.

Rating – Oscar Worthy