Review: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

So – everyone in the blogosphere has read “Gone Girl”. Generally I stay away from books like that (Facebook friends know how I felt about “Shades of Grey”). However, several friends who typically love the books I do have LOVED this book, so I bought it from Amazon.

First I must say that every review on this book I’ve read has said things like: “I can’t really write about what happens in this book without giving it away”. I must say I had to wonder what the scoop was on this. Can’t write about the plot without spoilers? Can’t tell us what you liked or didn’t about the writing? What was this book anyway? I read in the synopsis that it was about a young wife who goes missing on her and her husband’s fifth wedding anniversary. I wasn’t sure if it was a mystery or something else.

(WARNING  – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS). I’d classify this book as a psychological thriller. First you’re in his head, then hers, and as the story progresses you aren’t sure who is truly in their right mind. Every time I thought I had this book figured out it twisted and changed. I was up late reading. I was up early reading. I’d wake up at 3 am (which I do sometimes) and start reading. I could not put this book down. In one way I loved it. I didn’t love the ending, though. In fact, I didn’t like the ending/last section of the book. Why? I just didn’t like how it turned out. But during most of my reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book and its characters. Gillian Flynn is quite brilliant at making characters come to life. These people were real.

Okay – so I didn’t spoil too much for you I hope. Are you still reading this? If so, you should be reading “Gone, Girl” instead!

Quick Review: “Frozen” by Mary Casanova (releasing 9.7.12)

This novel was a Net Galley ARC download for me, and considered YA but I think it’s good historical fiction for adults, too.

In “Frozen”, Mary Casanova writes an intriguing tale of Sadie Rose, a teenager in Minnesota in the 1920’s. She hasn’t spoken a word in many years, not since the night her mother (a young prostitute) was killed and Sadie was found frozen in a snow bank. Now Sadie is starting to speak, and as her personality blossoms so does her emotions and her feelings for a local young man. Add to this a dynamic,though mentally ill, new friend and the dredging up of Sadie’s mother’s murder – this time with some new information – and you have the makings of compelling and interesting historical fiction!

While I had never read Mary Casanova’s works before, she has written for American Girl. I enjoyed this story and Casanova’s writing, and I thank Net Galley and University of Minnesota Press for my copy.  I believe I read that this story is based on real events, and I’d be curious to find out what exactly the true story is!

“Meet the author” through this You Tube video:

What’s On My Nightstand…

I haven’t done a “what’s on my nightstand” post lately because, quite honestly, it’s been more “what’s in my kindle” or “what’d I find at the library”!

This past week,though, I grew nostalgic for the feel of a shiny new book in my hands. I had end-of-the-summer malaise and felt some shopping therapy was in order, hence a few new books (purchased through Amazon):

“Wild” by Cheryl Strayed – this was recommended by my friend Alison. Of course, since Oprah has graced it with her Midas touch I’m probably the last person on earth who hasnt’ read it yet. I love the whole “healing journey, exploring inner self, time of growth” theme and look forward to it!

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. Another book that everyone has read but me. It sounds so intriguing I just couldn’t wait for it from the library (where there were over 1,000 holds already placed on a hundred and some copies!!).

“Frommer’s Paris 2012” – yep – it’s time for a spontaneous 10th anniversary getaway – a.k.a. meeting up with my husband after a business trip – and boy am I’m glad his business trips are to places like Paris and London and not somewhere far less exciting like Omaha (no offense Omaha folks!).

“Cascade” by Maryanne O’Hara – I have a strange fascination with towns that are no longer towns because they’ve been flooded out to make way for reservoirs. This is a fictionalized story about a town in Massachusetts where this happened, focusing on a protagonist who is in a loveless marriage. Looks good and the author will be speaking at the Concord Bookshop so I will have her sign it!

What’s on your nightstand??

Quick Review: “Could I Vote for a Mormon for President?” by Ryan Cragun and Rick Phillips

I came across this easy-to-read book on Net Galley and downloaded it into my Adobe Digital Reader. With Mitt Romney’s face emblazoned on the cover, it is quite timely, however it is at heart a straightforward introduction to the tenets of Mormonism. Both authors were raised Mormon and both cheerily write that while his religion won’t make a difference to his job performance, they won’t be voting for Romney.

I have several friends who are LDS/Mormon, so I feel that I’m probably more familiar with Mormon beliefs and religious traditions than the average American. However, my background is Roman Catholic and I certainly am no expert on the Mormon faith. I found this book so interesting! It is set up as a series of questions relating to the doctrines of Mormonism, then tied into Mitt Romney’s role if he becomes President of the United States. It is easy to read and written in a slightly quirky and humorous style. It is short (less than 150 pages) and I read it in a sitting.

If you are considering Romney, or just wanting to understand more about the Mormon faith, I’d recommend this book! It’s subtitle is “An Election Year Guide to Mitt Romney’s Religion”.

Thanks for my copy, Net Galley and Strange Violin Press!

Quick YA Review: “It’s Not All Black and White – Multiracial Youth Speak Out” by St. Stephen’s Community House

I downloaded the electronic version of this book through Net Galley into my Adoble Digital reader.

This book is a compilation of short papers, poems, interviews, etc. of teenagers who are biracial or multiracial. They write of their experiences, their journeys to identity, their run-ins with ignorance and prejudice, and, basically, their innermost  feelings of who they are. This was a great read, in my opinion, and one which I think many young people (and adults for that matter) would find interesting and eye-opening.

FYI – St. Stephen’s Community House is located in Toronto.

Thanks, Net Galley and Annick Press, for my free copy!

Children’s Review: “The Great Big Scary Monster” by Saraya Evenson and Nicholas Adkins

A few weeks ago I received an email from Nicholas Adkins asking me if I’d be interested in reviewing a children’s book he had illustrated. Of course I said “sure!”, and Nicholas kindly sent me a copy of his book and some coloring pages for my children.

I sat down and read “The Great Big Scary Monster” with my kids (who are 7 and 8). They read along with me, taking turns on the pages. It is a cute story and quick to read. My kids loved it and loved the illustrations. I can see pre-readers wanting to hear it over and over so they can memorize it and read along. It’d be a great bedtime read, especially for the preschool set.

In the story, the “great big scary monster” is actually a little boy; and his mother loves him even when he’s “scary”. Sweet!

I loved the simple yet effective illustrations and I thank Nicholas for sending me a copy to review. I appreciate it!

Review: “One Good Deed” by Erin McHugh (releasing 9.1.12)

I recently downloaded “One Good Deed: 365 Days of Trying to Be Just a Little Bit Better” by Erin McHugh through Net Galley. This book, which stemmed from Erin’s “good deed blog”, chronicles her attempt to do one good deed each day for a year. I found it a fun, positive read: often light-hearted, sometimes heart-tugging.

Erin McHugh is the type of writer that you feel is your friend after you’ve read her. She is a New Yorker, an author, a bookseller, a former Catholic, a gay rights activist, and has a large host of family and friends whom she writes about. Following Erin through her days made me feel that I knew her. You could sense her passion for helping others, her love of books, her devotion to her family, and her true New Yorker spirit. I just loved to pick up this book every day or so and read a few entries. Erin was making her world a little bit better, and it was inspiring!

Thank you, Net Galley and Abrams Image, for my copy!

Review: “Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch” by Nancy Atherton

Unbeknownst to me when I chose it from Net Galley, this book is the seventeenth in a series featuring “Aunt Dimity”, a ghost detective in the Cotswolds of England. Lori Shepherd is a young mother of twins who lives with her husband in England. Her beloved “aunt”, Dimity, has passed away but still communicates with Lori through a notebook (mysterious writing appears from Dimity). Together they solve (cozy) mysteries.

In this installment, which I believe can be read out of line in the series (since I did it!), a new neighbor, Mrs. Amelia Thistle, has arrived in the small village of Finch. Lori realizes that Mrs. Thistle is really a famous artist (who has a rather crazed group of fans chasing her). Amelia has come to Finch to solve a mystery related to her ancestors, and Lori and a small group of entrusted friends join forces with her to solve the mystery of “Mistress Meg”.

This was a satisfying read and a fun cozy to figure out. It reminded me a bit of Agatha Raisin (probably the Cotswolds). I did wonder whether Aunt Dimity was actually necessary to the story as Lori seemed just capable of being an amateur detective on her own; however, given this is the seventeenth in a series, she apparently is integral to its success!

Thanks, Net Galley and Viking Adult Publishers, for my copy.

YA Review: “Beautiful Lies” by Jessica Warman (releasing 8/7/12)

Tomorrow “Beautiful Lies” comes out. I got this book as an ARC through Net Galley a few months ago. It is thrilling YA fare: identical twin sisters Alice and Rachel share everything (or do they??). When one twin goes missing, some think she’s run away, but her sister believes she’s in trouble, and she has the physical manifestations to prove it. This supernatural, creepy, at times disturbing and confusing book kept me guessing (and reading) to the last page.

I love a good YA read, and this was no exception. However (and this is a SPOILER ALERT), I was confused at times. The twins are switching identities, yet people are calling them by their other twin’s name, but not all people are; and then there is the whole what is real and what is imaginary and what are ghosts theme that was profoundly confusing at times. It’s the kind of book that I like to read twice so that I can go back and pick up clues the second time through.

All in all, a page-turner that I enjoyed!

And thanks, Net Galley and Walker Children’s Books, for my copy to review!