Book Review- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Why hello there!

I know it’s been awhile. And I know you all know why by now. I can only complain about my hectic schedule so many times, so just insert rant here.

School’s going well, and my classes are bomb.com this term. Anime Art History and The Literature of Mars. Yes please. I just finished reading H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, and Trevor and I watched the 2005 movie with Tom Cruise. I’d seen it before, but had forgotten just how intense it was! Definitely a nail-wrecker.

Anyway, book club met a couple weeks ago to discuss Gone Girl, and I’m finally here with a little time to give it a review. In general, the Book Club felt pretty much the same about Flynn’s uber-popular novel: Great book, but we have a strong hate/love relationship with it.
gonegirl

*Here come the spoilers*

The first half of the book is spent split between the two main characters, Amy and Nick. Nick’s point of view is in the book’s present, detailing life since the morning Amy went missing. Nick’s chapters are pretty condemning, and though I wanted to root for him (He quoted The Sure Thing the first time they met, he’s gotta be a good guy, right?), the evidence was impossible to ignore.

Especially since Amy’s chapters are all diary entries spanning their entire 5 year marriage. And as the chapters get closer and closer to the day Amy disappears, the chapters get darker and darker. The diary tells the sad tale of a marriage gone sour after years of miscommunications, negligence, and indifference. It broke my heart to read, and it also terrified me. Amy’s chapters showed just how easy it is to take your spouse for granted, and as someone just through with their first year of marriage, it was a cautionary tale.

And then I got to part two.

So, you see, Amy’s chapters? Yeah, they’re bullshit. Turns out, Amy is a complete psychopath. And I mean that in the clinical sense. She has an utter disregard for anything but her own goals. She feels no remorse for her actions, and has no qualms with fabricating her own murder and pinning it on her husband.
amazingamy

So then I cheered, because I’d been right, Nick was a good guy! His wife is just fucking crazy (excuse my French). And then you find out that Nick’s been cheating on Amy for over a year, and that’s why she’s doing all this.

Now, I don’t think that infidelity is grounds for putting a man in jail for life. Especially when the wife is as unfeeling and removed as Amy. It’s understandable that Nick would cheat, really. But that doesn’t make it right either.

As the story progresses, Flynn twists things so hard that the feelings you had toward Nick circa part one are gone, and replaced with an unruly mixture of shame, fear, and awe. Shame, that he cheated and he continues to make poor decisions in that regard. Fear, because you can’t see how he’s going to get out of the web of lies Amy has set up for him, and you really want him to. And awe, because this crazy bitch thought of everything.

Seriously, everything.

And all you want is for Nick to get away. Which was a nice touch. Usually in these kinds of stories, it’s the wife who needs to get away, but Flynn takes the trope and spins it in a new direction. Refreshing.

But, and I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s no happy ending here. By the end you’re left with a sour taste in your mouth, a simmering loathing in your gut, and a tingling in your brain, like a waking limb.

This book is complex, and distressing. Hell, it’s just plain stressing. It keeps you guessing and it keeps you reading. I couldn’t put it down.

But I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it.

This story is beyond memorable. The characters are vivid, and the stakes are high. Also, I read this book while I was taking my Noir Lit and Film class, and it was really neat to see conventions from the genre linger in Flynn’s writing, and equally nice to see he recognize them and then make them her own.

Gone Girl is an extremely well written story that took root in my imagination. And though the story left me uncomfortable, it’s a good thing. Because I think that’s exactly what Gillian Flynn was going for.

Achievement unlocked.

Next up for the Book Club, The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I look forward to a much lighter, humorous read after this story.

As always, thanks for getting this far. I’ll see you next time!

BZ

Ramping Up for Fall

The air is different now. Even though it’s hot, and the sun is shining, the air doesn’t feel like summer anymore. There’s a crispness to mornings, and chill to evenings now. And though we’re all clinging desperately to our summer tans and tank tops, there’s no denying that fall is at hand.

Also, my Starbucks has Pumpkin Spice behind the counter (not available for purchase yet; calm the eff down). Fall is here.

With fall comes school. This online program is rigorous. Summer term ended on the 11th, and Fall term begins tomorrow. I just got to the point where I could relax. I’d come to terms with my sudden lack of responsibility, and was even enjoying it a little. And now it’s all back.

And though both of my classes are very interesting to me, they’re going to require a lot of my time. But, it’ll make the time go by that much faster.

My writing life has slowed, although I did get the opening paragraph of a new Caladria story down. I’m hoping to find time to finish it in the next couple weeks. But, I’m not going to beat myself up if it takes awhile.

I’m still reading, though starting A Game of Thrones right before school was probably a mistake. But, Trevor and I have been watching the show, and I couldn’t just stare at the books on my shelf anymore.

But, I’m here, plugging away. One more year of this, and I can finally devote substantial time to all the projects I want.

One more year…

It’s all worth it. Right?

BZ

The Comedown from the Perfect Trip

Blogland!

Vacation was quite possibly the best four days ever! We ate all the delicious food, drank a ton of beer, and spent nearly every waking moment outdoors, soaking in the unlikely sunshine and warm weather. We both rocked sunburns, though mine turned to tan well before Trevor’s. My Alaskan man is by far the whitest person I know.

whaleface

That look? I’d just spotted my first whale in the wild. A juvenile Gray Whale. I was completely mystified, and a tad emotional here.

As promised, have some pictures sprinkled throughout this post!

But now we’re back, and life is settling back into that all too familiar sprint. Work, eat + read, homework, sleep. Work, work, eat + read, homework, sleep. Somewhere in there I squeeze in a social life, but usually it’s just playing Magic The Gathering with our circle of friends. Or maybe staying up far too late to watch a couple episodes of Game of Thrones while we snuggle on the couch.

I like those nights.

lighthouse

Trevor caught this as we made our way down the 114 steps of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

I’m still reading, and a lot. Summer school has kept me dashing from novel to novel, and this Noir Literature and Film class has been awesome. Probably my favorite class so far at ASU, and I have this professor again in the fall, for a Science Fiction class. I’m excited.

I’m still reading for fun, though I’ve kept that to novellas and short fiction since I finished The Gentleman Bastards. And, of course, there’s Book Club. We’re meeting next week to discuss Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I started it tonight, and so far, I actually enjoy it. We’ll see what everyone has to say Wednesday night.

After this we’re reading The Princess Bride, which will be fun. And my next pleasure read? I want to do something brand new. Something I know nothing about. But, also something fairly manageable in size. I only have a week off from school before I’m write back at it.

The Rogue Brewery Tour Train! So much fun!

The Rogue Brewery Tour Train! So much fun!

Maybe something different. Like, I, Robot. Or Lord Valentine’s Castle. Or maybe the newest Veronica Mars book, because why not?

Who knows? Certainly not I.

And writing? How’s that going?

Well, it’s not. And it’s slowly eating away at me. But, edits for Vessels are coming along, with only three (?) more chapters before the changes can be made in the computer. That’s going to take forever, but it’ll be worth it to see just how drastic the change is.

Tidepools during low tide at Cobbles Beach at Yaquina Head.

Tidepools during low tide at Cobbles Beach at Yaquina Head.

Plus, round two edits will go much faster, since the first round deal with a lot of the cohesion problems. I’m looking forward to it, kind of.

I haven’t dug up Cards yet, true to my word. But, after a bit of silence, Mal poked his head in, wondering just when he’d get to tell the rest of his story. And of course, Whit, Cora, and Jacob had to chime in as well. So, looks like there will be a sequel! I always thought so, but it’s nice to know that almost a year later, those characters still waiting around.

And what of Jordinn and Ellesaire? Of Joanna and Troy? Well, they’re still there. But, they’ve waited a long time as it is. What’s another year of school? And that story is still very much alive in my mind. I’m eager to get back to it. I won’t start the Cards sequel until the first draft of Jordinn’s Story is finished.

So, tentative plan:

I’d like to have Vessels ready for round two edits before Christmas. I’d like to continue editing through numerous drafts until I’m done with school. Any writing on Jordinn’s Story, or various short pieces for Caladria in the meantime is great! Once school is done, I’ll go back to normal human work hours. And if I can swing it, maybe even a little less. Like 30-ish. From there it’ll be all about polishing Vessels and finishing the rough draft of Jordinn’s Story. Once that’s done, I’ll start editing Cards and begin writing its sequel.

Me after nearly falling face first into the fragile ecosystem, and slippery by nature areas known as tidepools.

Me after nearly falling face first into the fragile ecosystem, and slippery by nature areas known as tidepools.

And of course, I’ll be reading constantly throughout.

School and the second job definitely threw a wrench in my writing spokes, but I think the lessons in time management and prioritization are worth it. I have accomplished a lot with very limited time. So when life calms down, I’ll have room to work on all the projects I want, and the skills to prioritize them and actually finish them on a set schedule.

And that’s invaluable to a writer.

Anyway, I have to go watch a movie for my noir class. Then to bed, so I can start my final paper in the morning before work. And then Saturday morning, I’m off to pick up my childhood best friend from Portland! I can’t wait!

Trevor took this postcard worthy shot from the walking path up from the lighthouse. It was a perfect trip.

Trevor took this postcard worthy shot from the walking path up from the lighthouse. It was a perfect trip.

Have a great night Blogland, as ever, thanks for reading this far!

BZ

One More Day…

Hey! Listen!

(Please read that in your best Navi voice.)

(If you don’t know who Navi is, please disregard and continue reading.)

One more day, Blogland. One more day and Trevor and I will have been married for a whole year. We’ve got some fun things planned for the next few days, and I can’t wait to spend some quality time with my favorite human being.

Don’t you fret, there will be pictures.

In my writing life things have hit a lull. Mainly because my time is spent reading and working. It’s pretty much all I do. I work, read on my breaks, and then do homework with my spare time before sleep takes over.

I keep telling myself it’s worth it. Others keep telling me it’s worth it, too. And really, at this point, I’m way to close to give up. One more year, Blogland. One more year of 48+ hour work weeks and school full time.

I take a lot of deep breaths and tell myself I’m a badass a lot. Otherwise I would have curled into a sobbing bawl under my covers a long time ago.

So, besides our upcoming trip to the coast, my best friend is paying us a visit in a couple of weeks. I’m stoked, because she’s my second favorite human being. And, I actually managed to get the weekend off so we can actually have adventures while she’s here.

This summer has been good to me, even if I’m exhausted.

Now I’m looking towards fall, and all the awesome that is sure to come with it. I’m taking a couple interesting elective classes, one The Art of Anime, and the other The Art of the Comic.

What else?

Oh!

Hozier concert and MS MR concert are back to back, and we’re going. So that’ll be awesome! And then we’re going home for Christmas!

So let me revise my previous assessment. 2015 has been so good to me!

Anyway, you’ll see some updates to “What I’m Reading”. But other than that, you probably won’t hear from me until this time next week. If that, because by then my BFF will be in town, and I’ll be off having all the fun!

See you in a couple weeks, Blogland!

Sanderson Updates!

Is it October 6th yet?

Brandon Sanderson just posted a blog which included the prologue and the first two chapters from his forthcoming Shadows of Self. In case you don’t remember from my last rabid ranting, Shadows of Self is the sequel to The Alloy of Law, which is arguably one of my favorite books ever. Granted, I say that about a lot of books these days.

Anyway, it releases October 6th, and after reading these preview chapters, I cannot wait! I love these characters, and treat my time with them as if they were cherished friends come to visit. Especially Wayne. That guy just cracks me up. I’m in love with him, completely. Which is a dangerous thing, because Sanderson is likely to maim him, or even kill him by the time the series is through.

School’s going well. I’m keeping up with my assignments, and enjoying the readings so far. I’m still making time for my personal readings, and am bouncing between the Rogues anthology and Sanderson’s novella Perfect State.

I’m still not sure what novel I tear into next, especially since Amazon is touting a October 15th release date for the Thorn of Emberlain. There’s just so much good reading coming up!

Anyway, I’m off to spend time with the hubby, before I lose him to Destiny.

Book Review- The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Karthain

I did it! I finally finished this book! And now I am so sad, because I have to wait until September-ish to hear from Locke and Jean again.

Of course, if you follow me on Goodreads, you knew this already.

You may be wondering what in all hells I’m doing posting on a Friday night? Don’t I have homework? No? Well, then, surely I have friends to spend the evening with. You know, beer to drink, karaoke to sing, some sort of pass-time that doesn’t involve reading.

To you, dear reader, I laugh. Why should any of those things be mutually exclusive?

If I’m being perfectly honest, I thought I had homework due tonight, but it’s actually not due until next Friday, so my evening’s opened up considerably. So, what do I do with my freetime?

Book Review!

Please take this as warning of potential spoilers. Thank you.

So, The Republic of Thieves opens with Locke pretty much dying. Not even pretty much. The dude is bleeding from his damn fingernails thanks to the Archon’s clever latent poison. And no matter how many physickers, black alchemists, and dog-leeches Jean beats to a pulp, none of them can do a damn thing for Locke.

Until a mysterious woman flourishes into their meager room, and promises to expel the poison from Locke’s body. But, of course, there’s a catch. She has a Game for them. She calls it the Five Year Game, and it involves the politics of Karthain. And that means she’s a Bondsmage.

Now, here’s a quick refresher.

Bondsmagi are ridiculously powerful. If they were a boss in a video game, players would call them “broken”. They’re that overpowered compared to normal saps like Locke and Jean. If you’ll recall, they had a less than pleasant run-in with a Bondsmage in Camorr, one called the Falconer.

This is an actual costume designed by Kathryn Sutcliffe. She was so inspired by the novels that she created several costumes as if a film were being produced! How badass is that?

This is an actual costume designed by Kathryn Sutcliffe. She was so inspired by the novels that she created several costumes as if a film were being produced! How badass is that?

Yeah, Locke maimed him so bad that he went comatose, unable to handle the pain and the inability to wield his magic. Since then, Bondsmagi have been stalking the two remaining Gentlemen Bastards at every turn.

And this woman promising to deliver Locke from certain death? Well, she’s one of the leaders of the Bondsmagi, Archedama Patience.

Oh, and she’s the Falconer’s mother.

So, we know right away that Patience is not to be trusted. She’s got too many mixed emotions regarding Locke and Jean to be as cool and collected as she seems. Keep that thought tucked away.

So, mainly because they literally have no other options, Jean carries Locke to Patience’s ship, where she promptly performs an incredibly painful and dangerous magic on Locke, physically removing the poison from his flesh.

And, despite misgivings, he lives. Barely. As he recovers from the ordeal, Patience tells them about the Game. They will be given an exorbitant amount of money to help Patience’s chosen political faction in the upcoming election. They have six weeks to rally the Deep Roots faction, and win the election. Sounds easy enough.

Except that the opposition, the Black Iris party, has their own Gentleman Bastard. The long alluded to Sabetha.

She finally makes her appearance in the present, and I loved her. Although she was a bit mercurial for my tastes, she’s perfect for Locke, and he is utterly ruined by her. She’s indomitable. She’s all power and sexual intrigue, but with a pleasant mixture of romance and vulnerability where Locke is concerned. He’s been a sucker for her since he was a child, when he first met her in Shade’s Hill. One of his earliest memories is of her beautiful and vibrant red hair. She’s magnificent, and I loved every moment of her time in scene.
Sabetha

From here the novel becomes an intricate twist of politics and sabotage. The Gentleman Bastards compete with increasingly complicated tricks and ploys, the tension between Locke and Sabetha grows. Despite warnings from the Bondsmagi, neither of them can ignore the presence of the other, and soon their pranks and sleight of hand become a part of a teasing and competitive courtship.

And every moment of alone time between them is a triumph. As a reader you cheer when they sneak kisses, and plan clandestine rendezvous on the balconies of abandoned castles. Truly, their furtive romance is one of the more electrically charged I’ve read in a long time.

But, the Bondsmagi see all, and Patience cannot let them stray from their goals. So, she interrupts one such meeting, and drops a bombshell.

She tells a tale of a Bondsmage named Lamor Acanthus. Yes, Lamor. You see, this particular Bondsmage was obsessed with the study of transmuting life. He felt that, if he studied hard enough, he could discover a sort of immortality, by transporting his soul into another body. His studies we frowned upon in Karthain, and so he fled the nation. His last known whereabouts? Camorr, in the Catchfire district.

The same district that Locke Lamora, a child of unknown age, walked out of, the sole survivor of a violent plague.

According to Patience, Locke is the soul of Lamor Acanthus, transported to the nearest living body. He has no memories, and effectively trapped himself, because the child had no magical ability. Sabetha didn’t take it too well, since Locke lied to her about how he came by his name. He told her, as he did many others, that a friendly sailor named him. Which, after hearing Patience’s story, he admits is false. He doesn’t know how he got his name.

But, the name Lamor Acanthus means something to him. If you’ll recall, in Red Seas Under Red Skies, the crew of the Poison Orchid sail through a terrifying night, where the fog calls to the sailors in their minds. Locke tells Jean that the fog knows his name, his true name. And that takes the color from both of their faces.

This is the name Locke knows himself as, deep down. But, Patience tells him that that wasn’t Acanthus’s real name. No Bondsmage tells their true name, because true names carry power. Though Locke knows there’s a shadowy memory, a hint, he doesn’t know what that true name might be.

But, his doubt is enough for Sabetha to flee.

Yet another fantastic French cover!

Yet another fantastic French cover!

She won’t see him, although they exchange rather lovely letters, until the election. So, they meet up in a private box to watch the voting unfold. Though Sabetha is clever, and pretty cutthroat, Locke thwarts her. But, not with a victory for the Deep Roots. With a tie. Neither party wins, which has never happened before in Karthaini history. So, the three Gentleman Bastards make a quick exit, to Sabetha’s rented house outside town.

When Locke awakes, flush with the taste and smell of Sabetha, she’s gone. And Patience is waiting for him. She promises him none of the agreed upon money and safe travel. In fact, the Bondsmagi are leaving Karthain, and going to ground. They fear the fate of the Eldren, the mysterious race before history who left behind all the glass architecture. And this was their plan all along. The Five Year Game was a diversion. But, before she leaves, she gives Locke a gift.

A painting, by Lamor Acanthus, of himself and his wife. A beautiful redhead, who Lamor apparently worshiped. It wasn’t until after her death that he started his obsession with soul transportation.

And it wasn’t until she saw the painting that Sabetha decided to flee.

As the novel closes, Patience gives Locke a warning, a prophecy. “‘I shall give you a little prophecy, Locke Lamora, as best as I have seen it. Three things you must take up and three things you must lose before you die: a key, a crown, a child.’ Patience pushed her hood up over her head. ‘You will die when a silver rain falls.’”

So, Karthain is set up for failure, as the only government it’s known for centuries has fled in the night. And The Marrows have finally fallen into Civil War. Locke was briefly reunited with Sabetha, but now he and Jean are left penniless and alone, yet again.

Oh! And The Falconer, who’s been comatose for three years? Yeah, he woke up. And despite is crippling injuries, he can still wield impressive magic. He kills his mother à la Hitchcock, with a flock of crows bent to his will. And he’s hell bent on revenge.
ToECover

I feel I should mention that the Interludes are back in this novel. In that plot line, 16ish Lamora and company travel to Espara to take parts in a troupe of actors. They must overcome all kinds of trouble to get the play off without a hitch, working together after a stressful and overly competitive summer with Chains. It’s during this plot line that we see Locke and Sabetha’s relationship bloom, and it parallels their present day courtship brilliantly.  Also, Calo and Galdo are in fine form in these Interludes, and they made me laugh out loud, and then want to cry because I miss them so much.

Anyway, it’s the Interludes that gives the novel the title, since the troupe performs Lucarno’s The Republic of Thieves. And it’s the Interludes that bring much needed levity and life to the political intrigue of the main plot line.

As usual with my lengthier reviews, I loved this book. It was a much more psychologically interesting tale. Physical danger wasn’t as prevalent as in Red Seas Under Red Skies, but I enjoyed the change of pace. Sabetha really upped the ante for Locke, but I did feel like Jean sort of took a back burner to her. And I love Jean, and that’s just not fair.

Now I have to wait until the Thorn of Emberlain is released. Amazon is touting a mid-September release date, but other sources are saying December. Scott Lynch and his publisher have said nothing. Which makes me nervous. I NEED IT!

And either of those months are already so busy! September is the release of Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, and the week after that is Sanderson’s Shadows of Self. December is Christmas time, and then January is Sanderson’s Bands of Mourning. TOO MANY BOOKS!

I’m not sure I’ve ever said that before…

Anyway, 1700+ words is more than enough. I’ll see you around Blogland!

BZ

Feeling Chatty

Hello again, Blogland!

I find myself with spare time, and all I can think of is talking to you.

I’m finally getting my life back together. It was a much longer adjustment period than I anticipated, but it’s coming together.

The other day I actually edited two chapters of Vessels, meaning I only have five left before it’s in the Second Draft! Whaaaat? Is that a thing? It’ll still take a lot of time, because the edits are all physical. Nothing has been changed in the computer yet, which means there’s a lot of work to do yet. But, a milestone is in sight!

I’m keeping up on my Caladria responsibilities, which is good. There’s a lot of projects upcoming, but I’m feeling good about it.

I’ve read The Maltese Falcon and watched the film with Trevor last night, while we listened to fireworks outside. I liked the film, but the book was just so incredible. I’ve liked both my forays into the Noir genre, so now I’m really looking forward to the rest of this course.

What else?

I’ve only got 120 pages left of The Republic of Thieves, which has me happy. Especially since the fourth installment is set to release in September! And, I’ve got some books on hold at the Library ready to pick up, so that’s good timing.

Anyway, I should be winding down for bed. Tomorrow’s my first day running the show at the Library, so I need to be on my A game. Wish me luck!

See you all soon, Blogland!

BZ