Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Mystery, Suspense, Crime
From the Publisher:
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in ‘The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.’ As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.
The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club… and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.
As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.
As you’d expect of someone who’d gone through such a nightmarish ordeal, Libby is gloriously screwed up. She has no friends, no money, no job, no prospects. She’s thirty something now, and it still trying to live off sympathy. She’d do anything to not have to actually work with people for a living. Not only so, but she still has not really come to terms with what has happened to her. By not “dwelling” on her “dark places” she thinks she has moved on. But really, she is denial and refuses to acknowledge the truth–not only about what happened to her and her family, but also about her present circumstances. Through her journey with the Kill Club, she will unravel layers of her past that she has refused to see.
This was a superb mystery novel. All the necessary elements were there, and executed very well. Just as with Gone Girl, the plot twists were well done and unexpected. I enjoyed this novel and would have given it five stars if it weren’t for the substantial vulgarity (which I also found to be quite present in Gone Girl). It was very distracting, unnecessary, and unimaginative. It added absolutely nothing to the plot or the characters. If that is something that you can’t ignore, Gillian Flynn is not the author for you. But if it is something you can ignore or enjoy or are indifferent to, then you might want to give this book a go!
Dangit! Missed my supposed review day again. But at least I missed it only by one day this time?
Today is a snow day in the Maritimes. A really snowy snow day. I look out my window and all I see is white. The houses just across the way are totally obscured by torrents of whirling flakes. I can’t even imagine how bad the road conditions must be. Thankfully, I did not need to go in to work today. It seems everything is closing for this great springtime blizzard. To make the most of my impromptu day off, I’ve obviously not changed out of my PJs and am lounging around like a cat. I’m doing the usual–web surfing, coffee drinking, and book reading.
I’m reading Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon today. I started it a month ago (oi), but have taken a couple of breaks in between. It’s such a long book (947 pages!), and I’d only just finished the first in the series the week before I started this one (also quite a long title). First I felt the need for a little lighthearted fun, so a paused and read I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. I went back to Dragonfly again, but alas, soon enough needed another break. I then started Wuthering Heights. However, this time I did not read this next book in its entirety before returning to Dragonfly. I just felt like picking it up again.
What do you think about reading more than one book at a time? Do you do it? I’ve never done it before. I always felt it was like cheating or something. However, lately I have been having trouble finishing books. I’d want to read, but not the book I was in the middle of. So, I’d end up just not reading at all. Finally, I decided life is two short and just picked up another title. And you know what? It’s not really a big deal. If I need a break from one story, I just hop back to the other. I thought it would be weird, but it doesn’t feel weird. I must have just been over thinking it. I’ve turned over a new reading-leaf! I hope it does not get out of hand, though. Now I keep eyeing other books on my shelf, thinking I might crack open one of those, too. How many books is too many to read at once? I don’t want to end up giving up on any of them–I like to finish books I start even if they aren’t very good.
Send me your thoughts!
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
Paperback, 337 pages
Published 2007 by Mira
Purchase: [Amazon] [Book Depository]
From the Publisher:
When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn–shy, quiet Brynn–who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.
I picked up a copy of this book at Value Village. It sounded like the kind of book I would like–mystery, intrigue, crime, family… all that good stuff. And I did like it! Quite a lot, really. There were lots of twists and turns–none of which I expected!
Although in the end it did work for the book, I am not a huge fan of constantly shifting point of views when there are lots of characters. Every chapter in this book was from the view of a different character, bouncing back and forth between Claire, Charm, Allison, and Brynn. These four women are at first connected only by a very thin thread, but as the story goes on and secrets emerge, the thread thickens immensely. While it did work out in this book, it’s just not my favourite literary device.
Overall, this book was really good. The plot was strong and gripping. If you like mysteries, definitely give this one a go! It’s got more heart to it than your typical mystery. All in all, very good.
One week and already I failed at posting a new review on Friday. Oh well. Live and learn I guess. I’ll make a point of remembering this week!
I’m going to post a make up review for last week!
The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper
From the Publisher:
A STOLEN CHILD, AN ANCIENT EVIL, A FATHER’S DESCENT, AND THE LITERARY MASTERPIECE THAT HOLDS THE KEY TO HIS DAUGHTER’S SALVATION
Professor David Ullman is among the world’s leading authorities on demonic literature, specializing in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Not that David is a believer—he sees what he teaches as a branch of the imagination and nothing more. So when the mysterious Thin Woman arrives at his office and invites him to travel to Venice and witness a ‘phenomenon,’ David is hard-pressed to overcome his skepticism.
But there are forces at work beyond anything David can imagine, and they will stop at nothing to ensure that the professor does not escape their grasp. Against his better judgment, David, accompanied by his beloved daughter, Tess, finds himself traveling to Venice, where an unspeakable horror awaits.
Soon David is pulled into a journey that will redefine what he is willing to believe. Guided by symbols and riddles from the pages of Paradise Lost, David races to save his daughter. If he fails, he will lose Tess forever.
When I read the synopsis for the book, I had to pick it up. It sounded really interesting, and, I must say, I find thriller/horror fiction involving demons hard to pass up. It started off okay, and, to be honest, I read through it quite fast, usually unable to put it down. That being said, I was pretty disappointed in this book. Not the writing, which was quite good, nor the character development, which was also quite good, but something about the plot didn’t satisfy me. I found the characterization of the demons a little off, and the lack of any sort of religious element strange considering the top. It was as if any information about demons drawn solely from Paradise Lost or myths. Almost nothing from actually Christianity. I find it difficult to find any sort of real scare from demons if there is no God element involved. I mean, how can demons be real in the story if God isn’t? I don’t see how the main character could defeat them any other way. If the ending had not been a happy one, I could be okay with the lack of God in the story. But, without God, I think demons would win. And they didn’t in this story. So, I was not scared, and the plot never felt real to me. And I think those two things are key in any good thriller/horror. Otherwise it’s just does not serve its purpose.
One other pet peeve–the author’s presentation of David’s theory of Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost is foolish. Not because it’s not a good idea, but because it’s not new and Pyper presented it as such. It’s not a new or fresh idea at all. Lots of people say that…
Overall, The Demonologist gets a C from me. While I did like it and enjoy it, the issues I had with it were distracting and stopped me from loving it.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears…
I have decided that in order to keep up my goal of posting reviews consistently I need to pick a day and put out a review weekly on that day! I’ve been trying to pick. It might seem like a pretty unimportant decision (any day would work!), but I want to make sure that I will have time every week on that day to hop onto my computer. I have tentatively chosen Friday. If that changes I will let you know! Hopefully today will be the first day of a longstanding weekly routine.
Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction
From the Publisher:
Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop. Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky. It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last. But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.
I know the saying–Don’t judge a book by its cover. But honestly, it was this book’s endearing cover that drew me in. The rich colours and the charm of the pictured storefront–I just had to flip it over and read the synopsis. I don’t know what it is about the South, but stories that revolve around that setting tend to entice me. In this case, I’m glad I judged this book by its cover because what I found underneath it certainly held up.
I enjoyed following Teddi’s life. It wasn’t always easy–her life, as many others, was plagued with family entanglements and issues that often barred the way for growth in those relationships. Sometimes, she had to make tough choices–be what my family wants me to be or be who I was made to be? In that instance, she chose to be herself. This, however, left a rift between her and her mother that may not be resolvable if both parties choose not to budge. However, it is this rift that, years later, brings Teddi home to her mother. She comes home to visit and bring her mother back to Charleston with her, but her mother gets sick. Teddi is forced to face the truth of her rushed departure as a teen and face the part she played in creating the rift with her mother. Not only so, but she learns that when it comes to her family, there is more than meets the eye. Only after her mother’s death does she learn who her mother truly was, that her father wasn’t perfect, and that her brother may still be alive.
I really did enjoy this book. I did find that some aspects of it, especially those that involved her brother, tended to be a bit unrealistic. I found that the resolution there was not what I was expecting, and I didn’t necessary see that as a positive surprise. I think that a different resolution would have added more the the complexities of Teddi’s life, and would have spoke more truth into it. However, the writing and, for the more part, the characters, were quite strong and definitely deserve a B+ in my books!
My lovely followers,
If ever I had any of you, you must all be gone by now. I haven’t posted a single thing since around Christmas! I’m quite sorry about that. I’m not sure why that is. It was my New Years resolution of 2013 to write book reviews and it seems that as soon as it switched to 2014, the book reviewing spirit was taken right out of me! However, I am going to do my best to revive it–for several reasons (in no particular order):
1. It quite enjoy looking at my library page and seeing all the books listed there (is that odd?)
2. I want to have something for my followers (if there are any) to actually read
3. It’s a nice discipline thing. I tend to not be very disciplined (I’m rather proud of myself that I kept it up for a whole year)
4. I quite enjoy contemplating books after I’ve read them and figuring out what I liked and didn’t like. It’s fun.
5. I like writing them! (So why on earth have I stopped? Well, because I’m a dingbat).
However, in case you were wondering, I have come up with another book related New Years Resolution (which perhaps I should amend to include book reviews again). I am again doing the reading challenge on Goodreads (once again it’s set to 50 books–I may have surpassed that last year, but I rightly or wrongly anticipated less free time this year [https://www.goodreads.com/challenges/1914-2014-reading-challenge]). I have also joined up on Savvy Reader for another 50 book pledge (http://www.50bookpledge.ca/user/32369940r), and am completing two Reading Bingos from Random House Canada (http://www.retreatbyrandomhouse.ca/2014/01/reading-bingo-challenge-2014/). I especially enjoy the Bingos. They are really neat! What a great idea. Kudos Random House!
I have read nine or ten books that I haven’t reviewed. And, to be honest, they may or may not end up getting reviewed. But from here on out at least, I will revive my reviews. Right now I am reading Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. You should see a review from that in 1-2 weeks (it’s a long one)!
Over and out
Live long and prosper
May the Force be with you