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

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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

Book Review- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Hi Blogland!

I have some personal life anecdotes before we dig into the review, so bear with me.

I recently transferred from my Starbucks of three years, to the store further up the street. It’s where I’m sitting now, clacking away, listening to Soundgarden in my headphones. It’s odd.

The sounds are different, yet very familiar. Espresso grinding in hoppers. The screech as milk starts steaming, and then mellows out to a warm hiss. Blenders and the constant dance of water used to rinse everything. Timers beep from time to time, and I can hear the whir of machinery as it works to pump water through grinds to bring you that perfect cup.

I’ve spent a lot of time in coffee shops.

But, wait, there’s more!

I may be taking a career position at the library. There’s a 3/4 time position opening, and it was suggested that I apply for it. There are a lot of questions to ask, but I’m going to apply.

Which means I’ll be working 50 hour work weeks, and I’ll probably have to step down as a supervisor at Starbucks. And going to school. I mean, I’ve been doing that anyway. Currently I work anywhere from 42 to 52 hours. And I’ve had one day off this month.

My husband and I glorying in the frigid Oregon coast on Monday.
My husband and I glorying in the frigid Oregon coast on Monday.

So what’s a couple more hours?

…Right?

Anyway, on with the book review!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was a really fun book. It was Book Club newbie Marlene’s choice, and the first book of the Second List. It was a great intro into the new list, and everyone loved it.

So, the cover alone is pretty unsettling.
miss-peregrine

But the book is an interesting mixture of old, creepy photographs and storytelling. Supposedly all the photos are real, discovered by Ransom Riggs, and are what sparked the story. Which is pretty awesome.

So, we meet Jacob, who’s sixteen. He’s kind of a brat. He comes from money, and doesn’t want anything to do with it. But, he’s sassy, and I identified with him right away. His home life is a bit… nonexistent. His parents have more or less left him to his own devices, and that’s something I’m very familiar with. But, there’s one shining light in Jacob’s life.

His Grandpa. An old Polish Jew who fought in World War II. That fact alone makes the man a badass. But, he’s also an oddly whimsical grandfather, who raised Jacob on an unhealthy dose of imaginative tales of his youth. Of friends with bizarre abilities and of monsters that put the boogie man to shame.

But, one day, Jacob’s grandpa calls him at work, panicking. Jacob chalks it up to the man’s downward spiral into dementia, especially as he raves about the monsters from his stories coming for him. Jacob is saddened by his grandpa’s decline, and hurries over to soothe the man.

Instead, he finds him dead in the woods behind his house, and catches a glimpse of one of the monsters.
the hollows

The authorities claim the old man was killed by wild dogs, which have been prowling the area. But Jacob clings to what he saw, earning him months of torturous therapy. Jacob has nightmares of the night he found his grandpa, and the man’s last words haunt him.

But, by pure coincidence, Jacob’s aunt  gives him a book from his grandpa’s house for his birthday. And inside is the answer to the riddle that haunted him for nearly a year. It spurs him to beg to go to the Welsh island his grandpa lived on after he fled Poland. To visit the house he lived in with a Head Mistress called Miss Peregrine. After some serious convincing, his father decides to go with him.

Well, the house is nothing but a crumbling ruin. In fact, it’s been that way since World War II. And that’s just one of the things that just doesn’t stack up. No one seems to know anything about the children who lived there, or of Miss Peregrine.

But, Jacob’s snooping catches someone’s attention. And he finds himself dragged through an ancient cairn into another world. Or, more accurately, another time.
miss-peregrine

And there he learns that all his grandpa’s stories were true. All the photos of children with strange powers, of Miss Peregrine, and the stories of the monsters were all true.

And it seems like heaven. He spends his days with them, replaying the loop of September 3, 1940, and then returns at night to his father at the hotel.

But, things aren’t as perfect as they seem. The children have been in the loop for over 60 years. They can’t leave and join the present time, because their bodies will wither as if in a time lapse. And if they leave the loop in 1940, they’ll live through the worst of the War. And, they have no defense against the Hollows.

You see, Jacob’s grandpa had a rare and incredibly valuable ability. He could see the monsters, the Hollows, that hunt all Peculiars. And he left the loop, fought in the war, and spent his life blending in and going on “business trips” to hunt the Hollows.

Dude was a BAMF.

But, without him, the children of Miss Peregrine’s loop have been stuck. They can’t see the Hollows, and would be defenseless against them. Except now they have Jacob. Because he saw the monster that killed his grandpa, and only Peculiars can enter a loop.

And of course, he led the Hollows right to them.

So, they scramble and fight, and Jacob manages to kill one, but not before Miss Peregrine is badly injured. And for some reason, she can’t return to her human form. And since she’s out of commission, so is the loop she created. Time in 1940 progresses normally once more, and their home falls victim to a bomb.

So, Jacob decides to go with them. He couldn’t return to his normal life now at any rate. So the children leave the island, their leader stuck as a bird, and venture into the normal time stream again. But, the story’s not over. They have to find a way to fix Miss Peregrine, and free her sisters, other keepers of loops that have been abducted by the Hollows.
hollowcity_ransomriggs_1

And so Ransom Riggs sets up for his sequel, which I’m told is quite good.

What I really liked about this novel was the balance of creep-factor, humor, and romance. One moment you’re laughing at something Jacob says or thinks, or at the antics of some of the kids, and the next moment they’re all running for their lives. And of course, there’s a wonderfully awkward teenage romance. Oh, to be sixteen and in love.

I look forward to reading the sequel, and would recommend the first installment to anyone. It’s an incredibly fast read. Over three hundred pages, and I killed it in two days. And it’s not like I have a lot of free time.

The next book for Book Club is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s the largest book we’ve read, at 507 pages. I haven’t started it yet, since we’re not meeting until August 12th. And I’ve got enough reading going on. I’m reading The Maltese Falcon for school this week, and I’m still chipping away at The Republic of Thieves.

I really need to pace myself.

Anyway, thanks for getting this far. See you soon, Blogland!

BZ

Book Review- Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Summer is finally making its appearance here in Salem. It was a comfortable 80ish degrees today, with a smattering of clouds and a light, cool breeze. Pretty idyllic. I spent the vast majority of the day sipping beer on the patio of my favorite brewery in the company of good friends.

Days off don’t get much better than that.

Last week was the final meeting of the first round of books for my Booze & Books book club. That’s what we’re calling it these days. And Wednesday’s meeting lived up to its name.

I made a white sangria, with kiwis, raspberries, and nectarines. It was delicious, and I drank a large portion of it. Then I ate the fruit out of it. It was a dangerous thing. And Thursday morning’s hangover was the proof.
sangria

Anyway, we talked a bit about Stardust, and most everybody thoroughly enjoyed it. A couple people said that the language was initially a bit difficult to understand, which I don’t agree with, but I do read a lot more fantasy than most of the other members.

A couple members also mentioned that the movie was quite good as well. I’m terrible at watching movies, but I’ve still added it to my list of films I claim I’ll watch some day.

What I really loved about Stardust was the narration. Straightforward and simple, it felt like I was being told a fairytale, instead of just reading one. The foreshadowing is nicely done, subtle, but noticeable enough to keep your brain guessing.

I was surprised at how little world building there was. The world beyond the wall isn’t really described at all. Gaiman allows the reader’s previous knowledge of fairy tales and bedtime stories to fill in any gaps in the setting, but also uses that knowledge to develop characters very quickly.
Stardust

I would say that Stardust is a magical little book. It reads effortlessly, mainly because it doesn’t feel like reading, and the plot twists and turns in fresh, yet familiar ways. It’s a satisfying adventure filled with magic, mystery, and romance.

The story will stay with me, and when I recently considered trading the book in to make more space on my shelves, I was appalled at myself. It’s not that kind of book. Not the kind you can read once and be done with. It’s a read, time and again, book. And one I’m likely to share with my children as bedtime stories, should I ever have any.

I also want to point out that this was my first experience with Gaiman. I follow him on twitter, and I love how active he is, but I’d never read anything of his before. Now, I’m quite likely to read anything with his name printed on it.

I suggest you do the same.

I’m sorry for the short review. My brain is a bit mushy, and I have to be up early in the morning. So, just a few updates, and then it’s off to bed with me.

fabfables5
I finished the rough draft of my next Caladria story, Fight of the Best. That’s a working title, and knowing us, we’ll come up with something better in editing. If you haven’t been keeping track, issue #5 of Fab Fables released earlier this week! We’ve dropped the price to £1.25 for each issue, so now is the perfect time to get caught up!

My next story is slated for issue #7, which will also see me editing, so I’m looking forward to a busy couple of months!

I’m still reading The Republic of Thieves, and it’s really good so far. I think a like it better than Red Seas Under Red Skies so far, but I’ll know better when review time comes along.

Summer school was a mistake, but I’m not giving up now. It’s much too late for those kinds of thoughts. We’re reading The Old Man and the Sea this week, and though I hated it in high school, I think it deserves a second chance now that I’m older. Next week is Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, which I’ve been meaning to read for ages, ever since I attended a lecture of hers back in Community College. So I’m looking forward to that.

And of course, with the first round of books completed, that means book club has a new list! This time, we’ve got six titles, since we now have six members.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

We’re starting with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. A couple members began reading already, and the feedback is good so far. I’m hoping that this list will be more entertaining for everyone.

Anyway, bed is calling to me, and I am not one to keep it waiting. I’ll see you soon Blogland!

BZ

Quietly Reading My Life Away

My brain is feeling particularly gooey. Like… organic peanutbutter. Have you seen that stuff? It’s way runnier than your typical “Mom Approved” brand. That’s my grey matter right now.

School’s over, for the time being. I’m taking summer classes after all, just a lighter load. Doing half time instead, and only taking classes that actually interest me. “Major American Novels” and “Topic: Noir Fiction and Film”. The book lists are pretty exciting, at least to me. This summer I will read:

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Now, I’ve read The Old Man and the Sea and The Great Gatsby before, but the rest are new to me. I think the Noir titles will be the most interesting, since I read Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and loved it.

And somewhere in there I’ll still be reading for my own pleasure and for Book Club.

Speaking of which, I finally finished reading Red Seas Under Red Skies. I’m about 10 days behind schedule, but Stardust and The Republic of Thieves are both shorter than my usual reading. I expect them to go quickly.

I’m suffering from a book hangover. I loved the second Gentleman Bastard book, though not as much as the first installment, and I’m loathe to read something else. Even something as wonderful as Stardust. Other Book Clubbers are reading it and they love it so far.

I also have a tentative Book List written up, but I’m waiting to finalize until I get the newest member’s list. Currently I’m working on creating a Facebook group and Goodreads group, so we can chat easily and help each other out. So far, it’s looking good.

Anyway, it’s time I got ready for work. Keep an eye out for the Book Review of Red Seas Under Red Skies. It’ll probably come out on Wednesday.

BZ

Breakfast and Books

I’m taking this moment to appreciate the simple joy of watching/helping my husband cook us breakfast. Eating eggs and sausage/bacon every morning sure doesn’t feel like a diet. But, it’s calm moments before our day to enjoy each others company. I love it.

I’ve finished my responsibilities as Editor for this issue of Fab Fables. It’s surreal. I’m an Editor. And an Author. They’re small steps towards my end goal, but they’re undeniable.

In other news, I’ve received almost everyone’s book lists. Just waiting on one more participant, and then I can start building the next Book Club List.  I’m going to pick 6 titles, and do my best to get one from everyone. There’s a couple that overlap, appearing on multiple lists. They’re automatically on the final List.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Not bad. Safe choices for the book club. I’m curious to see what other titles make the cut.

In my reading life, I’m still plowing through The Lies of Locke Lamora. I love it. I can’t get enough of it. And every chapter ups the stakes even more. This book doesn’t stop, and there are layers of intrigue and drama, things the reader knows that Locke doesn’t, that are killing me.

Anyway, I don’t want to gush too much before the book review, but I’m comfortable saying that this is the best book I’ve read since The Name of the Wind.

After this I’m going to read a short novella, Purple and Black by K.J. Parker. Then I’ll dig into the second Gentlemen Bastards book, Red Seas Under Red Skies.

I look forward to it.

I’m off to get ready for my shift at the library. I’ll see you soon, Blogland!

Free Moment Over Laundry

You’re never going to believe this, but I actually have a free moment!

Well, I’m doing laundry, writing this post, and then going to finish up the formatting and final edits for the Caladria story I’m editing.

But, that pretty much counts in my world.

Trevor and I started a new diet. His coworkers are doing a high fat, low carb diet. He’s been doing it for nearly 2 weeks now, and has lost probably 10lbs. Since around Christmas, he’s lost 21lbs! I’m so proud of him!

I’ve been adhering to the diet since last Thursday, and I’ve lost 6lbs. Though 6lbs isn’t much, it’s still huge for me! I’ve maintained my weight for most of my adult life, despite various efforts at “getting fit” and “eating better”.

So, this is going well. Granted, I can’t eat bread, pasta, or potatoes, but I’m trying not to think about that. I can eat cheese, meat, and most green veggies. Certain fruits, like apples, bananas, and citrus, are off the table. But, pineapple and most berries are fair game.

I think I can live with that. Except tortillas. I miss tortillas something fierce…

Moving on!

Still in the middle of The Lies of Locke Lamora, and still loving it. If you haven’t followed me on Goodreads, you’re missing all my little asides and anecdotes as I read a long.

I haven’t worked on any new projects. I still have a couple Caladria stories, though one’s been put on pause. If the editing/formatting goes well today, I might get to write another few hundred words for Fight of the Best.

But, I also plan on going to Five Guys for a lettuce wrapped burger, and reading on the patio sounds divine. We’ll see how it goes.

The sun’s out today, and it’s actually warm against my back as I walk to the laundry room. That will never cease to make me smile.

Also, tomorrow is the book club’s meeting to FINALLY talk about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. We’re meeting at a local pub, which is going to be rough. Tater Tots, burgers, all kinds of sandwiches. It’s going to be a real test in self-control. Maybe I’ll eat a block of cheese before I go. The point is, we’re meeting, I’ll finally have everyone’s book lists, and we’ll start reading Stardust!

Well, after I finish Locke Lamora.

Anyway, I’m here. I’m working. And I’m kicking ass at school. Busy times, but I’m not feeling overwhelmed. At least, not anymore.

I’ll see you soon blogland!

BZ