Book Review: Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Sharp. Edgy. Different. Gillian Flynn’s work has been described using these words, and many others. Her skill at piecing a story together, often using co-existing but not immediately evident threads, is unique and refreshing. It’s also not for everyone, as can be evidenced by the polarizing critical reviews. You either love her work, or hate it. I happen to love it.

My reviews of the individual titles are below.

Gone Girl

gone-girl-book-cover-medconveying it effectively to words. All writers aim to do this, but very few succeed in the way she did. She also adequately balanced significant detail in her characters, without feeling like they were being handed to us. Despite understanding who each character was, the story never became predictable.

The first half of the book was stunning. Building up to the second half, even though Nick is our narrator, we are still not sure what happened to Amy, and what his role in it was, or was not. That’s a difficult thing to sell, but it was done well.

The second half (which I won’t spoil) almost felt like a different book altogether. Where the setup of the book had a dark, but steady undertone, this felt more like a rollercoaster ride. I still don’t know how I feel about the big twist here, but I do understand why Flynn ended the book the way she did. While not exactly satisfying, it makes sense in that it was true to the nature of the characters.

Overall, this was a book that kept me reading, and guessing, until the end. For that, and the colorful writing, I would definitely recommend it to others. 4 stars.

Pick up a copy here.

Sharp Objects

71Gz4surBYL._SL1500_As with her other two books, Dark Places and Gone Girl, I’m struck with Flynn’s ability to create an utterly and completely engaging story, while presenting not a single sympathetic character. This makes it challenging to build the proper stakes (I didn’t care what did or did not happen to Camille, or how her coming home impacted her), however this was the first of Flynn’s books where I really felt like it didn’t take a lot away from the story.

Anyone who has ever lived/grown up in a small town can relate to Wind Gap. Flynn knows how to create the perfect small town, midwest backdrop, though her view on it is decidely and resoundly cynical at best. I’ve read in interviews that this is not what her own experiences have been, which surprises me, as she writes with the conviction of one who knows exactly the feelings she wants to emote.

The mystery that carries the story is well told, and despite figuring out early-on what at least part of the big reveal would be, it did not take away at all from the page-turning aspect of the book. And while her characters are not relatable, they are neverthless fully-fleshed and incredibly rich… so much so that I was invested in their futures, which I could not say about the characters in Dark Places or Gone Girl. Interesting to me that it is her first novel that hits on all the right points. 5 stars.

Pick up a copy here.

Dark Places

dark-places-cover-w352I first started reading Flynn with Gone Girl. It was not her characters that hooked me, but her turn-by-turn storytelling and her knack for understanding human behavior. I point this out because, much like Gone Girl, Dark Places stars a case of mostly unlikeable characters. This would not be a problem if they were relatable, or even sympathetic. Libby had few redeeming qualities (if any), and Ben, while I believe readers *should* feel some empathy for him given the situation he was put into for so many years, is equally hard to connect with. The secondary cast is similar, with the sole exception of Libby’s friend from the Kill Club. I normally never “root for” an unlikely romance like that, but I was hoping his influence might make her more sympathetic to readers, and this did not happen.

Having said that… I found that the story kept me fully engaged, start to finish. The flashback storytelling was done with expert finesse, and Flynn was able to keep both the past and present in perfect timing, revealing both at a good pace as we neared the climax. Although there are hints to the answer earlier in the book, I did not pick up on them at all, and so I was utterly shocked at the ending reveal… which is a testament to her storytelling. The other thing Flynn does exceptionally well is create a bleak but vivid backdrop for all her stories, and the depressive midwest in this one was a character unto itself.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, despite my lack of character connection. 4 stars.

Pick up a copy here.

Overall Collection Rating: 4.5 Stars

Book Review: Heart Shaped Box, 20th Century Ghosts, Horns, and N024A2 by Joe Hill

When I first heard the son of Stephen King was an author, I was skeptical. What are the odds there would be two masters of horror living under one roof? Curiosity got the best of me, and one thing led to another. And now Joe Hill is on the short list of authors I’ll one-click regardless of what he publishes. His talent and gift for language and storytelling is uniquely his.

My reviews of the individual titles are below, in the order I read them.

Heart Shaped Box

I’ll admit, I picked this up curious about what the son of Stephen King could do. About ten pages in I forgot that experiment, and instead was drawn in by the engaging writing.

Hill uses simple, clear language, but combines it in a way that is highly vivid and visceral. This is subtle horror, not “in your face,” and effect is powerful. On the outset, his characters have the potential to turn into tired cliches, but he never lets that happen. Every single character, even the passing ones, is clear and distinct, the sum of the parts being greater than the individual.

Also remarkable is how easily he takes the two main characters, Jude and Georgia, who are not immediately likable but at some point (and what that point is, I could not define) you begin to see them as people who you WANT to see succeed, to beat this thing. Not only as individuals, but as a team.

Original, fabulously written, and engaging til the last page.

It takes a lot to hold my interest nowadays, but I could not put this book down. Moving on to his other work now.

Pick up a copy here.

 

20th Century Ghosts

The title here may be misleading, depending on your interpretation of ghosts. Most of these stories were not spooky in a literal sense. However, each tale features characters who are haunted by something… whether that be something intrinsic or extrinsic.

I’m not usually a fan of short fiction, as I find myself just getting interest in a story by the time it ends. Hill, however, manages to create entire, fully-fleshed works of fiction so that you walk away from each story feeling satisfied (or at least, ready to move on). The best here was probably Pop Art, which in concept was completely off-the-wall but is presented so sympathetic and believable that you can’t help feeling a different person when you finish. Voluntary Committal was another that will stay with me.

Of all the stories, my favorite was My Father’s Mask, but with one caveat: while most of the stories in this collection were sufficient in length, this one really required an entire novel. Heck, maybe several novels. I sincerely hope he expands on his story later, because the potential here is both intriguing and endless.

Most of the stories here would fall into the categories of speculative or literary fiction. Definitely a collection to check out, and one I would recommend to anyone. There’s a story (or fifteen) here for every reader.

Pick up a copy here.

 

N0S4A2

download (1)Joe Hill is my new favorite name in horror. A phenomenal journey across a story so unique and engaging, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. The characters at the surface were not the type of people I would find engaging, but turned out to be individuals I cared a great deal about. Even the villain was dimensional enough as to be relatable. I can’t say enough good things about this book, which takes the award for the best horror novel I’ve read in the last decade. A+

Pick up a copy here.

 

Horns

I don’t know that any one genre can properly encapsulate Horns, which is one of the most rich and unexpectedly delightful books I’ve read in years. It takes an incredibly talented voice to mix murder mystery, romance, paranormal, and side-splitting humor in one story, weaving them all together seamlessly. While none of the characters were wholly lovable, they were all enough to carry the story forward, and to make you root for them. While some have complained of the pacing, it never slowed for me, each narrative thread pushing you toward the next action, the next twist. I couldn’t put it down.

My only piece of constructive feedback is that, even allowing for an unreliable narrator who is self-hating, I struggled to feel that Hill made Ig the person everyone else saw him as. We were told who Ig was, but often it was only through the eyes of others that he was ever really that person. But given the narrative voice, and Ig’s frame of mind, I can forgive this and it didn’t take away from my enjoyment.

Joe Hill is easily taking the place of others as my favorite author.

Pick up a copy here.

Overall Collection Rating: 5 Stars

A Completely Biased Review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

battleoffivearmies

 

I know my schtick is 10 Point Reviews, but guess what? I’m so obsessed with Tolkien that my husband vacillates between surprising me with Lord of the Rings swag and considering an intervention. I sometimes break into Elvish in business meetings, and I recently met the COO of one of our partners wearing a Prancing Pony tee. Also, I’m pretty sure my article on the Eagles of Middle Earth is still #4 on Google.

So I gave this review five extra points, because, love.

My review of An Unexpected Journey.

My review of The Desolation of Smaug.

We went to a show on the 16th (night before official release) and saw it in IMAX 3D HFR.

  1. Ahh, Middle-Earth. Whether you loved this adaptation or not, there is no disputing the beauty of New Zealand, and the magic of this powerful setting. I posted the hashtag #onelastime in complete earnest. I’m genuinely heartbroken this is our last foray into the setting. (For those who keep pointing out there’s plenty of material left… i.e. The Silmilarillion… the Tolkien Estate has stated unequivocally they will never sell those rights. LotR and Hobbit were sold in Tolkien’s lifetime, and that is the only reason they’ve been adapted to screen).
  2. I’ve seen some people question Galadriel’s power (as in, they think Gandalf should be more powerful than she is). Um, no. She is one of the oldest Noldor, born in freaking VALINOR, daughter of Finarfin. She is a third-gen Eldar. It would have been weirder if she hadn’t gone full badass. In fact, I daresay they toned it down.
  3. Speaking of this, I loved watching the White Council demonstrate their powers. The nerd in me also got uber excited that ALL THREE elven rings of power were present, just inches from Sauron. Galadriel was in possession of Nenya, Gandalf had Narya, and Elrond had Vilya. Boom, Sauron.
  4. Although not necessarily true to the book, I very much enjoyed the partnership of Bard and Bain as they took down Smaug. I normally find “plugged in” children as filler, but the addition of his kids here humanized him, and they were each given unique personalities that made them feel integral. I also appreciated Bard’s character development here, as in the book he is simply an instrument of the story. I can now visualize how someone like Bard could have stepped forward as the leader of these people.
  5. Benedict Cumberbatch was probably the best decision they made regarding this trilogy. I never get tired of watching him emote as Smaug. I was oddly sad when he died.
  6. The Woodland Elven Guard was a little too CGI for my taste, but, unlike Helm’s Deep, it was GOOD CGI. On the other hand, I very much enjoyed their battle formations, as well as Thranduil’s later grief over the sustained losses. I’m glad they paid some attention to this, because all I could think of was: these guys were immortal! And they gave that up for this battle. That has to mean something.
  7. I expected to be more torn up about the losses of Thorin, Fili, and Kili. I’ve grown way more attached to them on screen than I ever did in the book, and that’s thanks to PJ’s attention to giving them more dimensional personalities. But I found myself sadder at the idea of it (of the complete destruction of the heirs of Durin), than it actually happening. That said, I might be the one reviewer who had some genuine feels when Tauriel was grieving over Kili’s body. Such a huge departure from canon, but it was tragic nonetheless.
  8. A+ for Richard Armitage here. Give this man all the awards. He gave Thorin a dynamic and dimensional personality that was absent in the book (book Thorin was a cranky asshole who deserved no one’s help, at any point). We get to see Thorin being curmudgeonly, but decent. Focused, but with humanity. And so when he spirals into his dragon sickness, it’s that much more powerful. Equally so, when his inner will breaks through and he shrugs it off. Very well done.
  9. Shame on Peter Jackson for only giving Beorn a 15 second cameo! I assume the rest of his scenes will be in the EE, but come on.
  10. This film was filled with enjoyable “moments.” The familial concern and light touch of Eldrond as Galadriel spent her power; the shared glances between unlikely allies Bard and Thranduil. And I really about lost it for good when Bilbo invited what remained of the dwarven company to 4 PM tea at Bag End.
  11. I have mentioned many times that I am not put off by either Legolas or Tauriel being in this movie. For Legolas, it would have been silly NOT to include him, as he logically would have been in the Woodland realm at the time of this visit, as the son of the king. And Tauriel’s addition didn’t bother me because it’s a reasonable assumption that there would actually be, I don’t know, guards in the Elven Guard. And I really liked the humanistic touches of how Tauriel helped the dwarves and children escape during Smaug’s fiery carnage. Heck, I didn’t even mind the love story between Kili and Tauriel, as it was one of many ways Jackson attempted to give more personality to dwarves that had none in the books. My only complaint is the amount of screen time given. Bolg should not have been taken out by Legolas. Bloom and Lilly should not be top-billed on the posters (same beef I had with Liv Tyler being front and center at the LotR trilogy).
  12. Related: I may just rename this movie to Legolas Riding Things.
  13. Martin Freeman: I take back what I said about Cumberbatch. Freeman was hands down the best thing about this trilogy. He gave Bilbo heart and humility, and a personality that shined far more than any character in any of the Jackson movies. Every moment on the screen was an important one. He has a fan for life.
  14. Thranduil. Unf.
    hbt_32-trailer-breakdown-for-the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies
  15. Perfect ending: the fade from a younger (but much-changed) Bilbo, into the Bilbo we remember at the start of The Fellowship of the Ring. Book readers will know Bilbo embarked on many adventures during those years. My one gripe with the ending was that it didn’t neatly resolve what happens with Erebor for non-readers. And what happens in the years between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings to certain members of the company is truly tragic.

Overall Score: A-

____________________
 
I read. I watch original cable shows. I take in a movie from time to time. And most of what I absorb can be described in ten bullet points. Thus, Sarah’s 10 Point Reviews was born. You’ll find no rhyme or reason to what and when I review something. My motivations tend to as random as my reviews. You’re welcome to add your own ten bullets in the comments, if the mood strikes. Enjoy!

Falling into Place by Brandy L Rivers- Blog Tour & Review

Synopsis
18+ Adult themes 

Robert would have done anything for Liz, even let her go when she claimed she needed to be alone. With his life in shambles, he dove into his work as a Silver Council enforcer.

Liz never fit in, but to protect her first love, she walked away when a wild burst of magic nearly killed him. Tremaine found her, and helped her put her life back together.

The man who tore her world apart awakes from a 21 year slumber with revenge on his mind. Nothing will stop James from tearing the power from Liz’s body.

After learning James is alive, Robert rushes to Liz and bands together with Tremaine to keep her safe. Facing her worst fears Liz realizes she can only fall apart or fall into place.

** Spoiler/Fair Warning **
The romance winds up in a permanent threesome
 
Buy Links
 
Falling Into Place

Amazon http://myBook.to/FallingIntoPlace
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/1l1GY3R
Smashwords http://bit.ly/1c7OnOg
Kobo http://bit.ly/1dX4cpB
Diesel Ebooks http://bit.ly/1lRpmuM 
 
Others of Edenton – Box Set –
First 4 titles in one book for $5.99
 
Diesel Ebooks http://bit.ly/1ahW14E 


If you’re just looking for one title, you can find them here.

New Beginnings is currently Free. Download it now.

Amazon http://myBook.to/New_Beginnings
B&N Nook http://bit.ly/12VATgO
Sony Ebooks http://bit.ly/13k0N1A
Smashwords http://bit.ly/12VAP0k
iTunes http://bit.ly/1eFVcpsDiesel Ebboks http://bit.ly/1dI8XBI 

In Too Deep

Amazon Kindle http://myBook.to/In_Too_Deep
B&N Nook http://bit.ly/ZxpzeM
Kobo http://bit.ly/10MgXw7
Diesel Ebooks http://bit.ly/17C0kLy
Sony Ebooks http://bit.ly/14cWL7n
Smashwords http://bit.ly/11FtdmW
iTunes http://bit.ly/151897S
Available in paperback at Amazon http://amzn.to/18BdF6y

Shadows Fall
It’s a novelette and just 99 cents.

Amazon http://myBook.to/Shadows_Fall
Nook http://bit.ly/IfsCAX
Smashwords http://bit.ly/Il6ZPW
Diesel Ebook http://bit.ly/1exp8EU
Itunes http://bit.ly/1c6UGkQ

Shadows of the Past

Amazon http://myBook.to/Shadows_Of_The_Past
Smashwords http://bit.ly/1c6UZvK
Nook http://bit.ly/1bu9zev
Sony http://bit.ly/HoaF2K
Diesel ebook http://bit.ly/1bu9zev
iTunes http://bit.ly/1iPp8mC
Sarah’s Review
Rivers shines brightest when she weaves the past and present together. Falling into Place delivers what many books cannot: a glimpse into the full lifetime of love between three people. Love manifests in many ways, and Rivers shows us each of these, while also reinforcing effectively that you don’t always have to choose one.

Liz is, hands down, my favorite female lead of the series. She is tough, but flawed, and sensitive enough that many women will relate to her. The two men in her life, Robert and Tremaine, are equally unique, and both right for her, in very different ways. While I know many love the strong alpha males and the no-nonsense tough girls, I always prefer the more flawed, sensitive types. I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite character in this book, though, if I had to, it would be Tremaine.

Without spoiling the book, it is enough to say Rivers takes a very challenging message and sells it in beautiful, convincing spades.

Rivers continues to grow as her series moves forward. Each book is better than the last, and this one is no exception. One of the best reads of 2013.

 
About the Author
I’ve always loved books, especially about monsters and magic, so I started writing. I’m working on a prequel and the next few books in the Others of Edenton series, and I have a head full of stories to share.
I’m a stay at home mother with a wonderful husband who lets me write and write to my hearts content.
 
 
 
Giveaway
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Completely Biased Review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

images (1)Prepare yourself. You’re about to read my completely biased review of The Desolation of Smaug. Click here to see last year’s equally biased review of The Unexpected Journey. I recommend reading it, before reading further, as it addresses some of my high level thoughts on the decision to turn The Hobbit into three movies, and some of the choices made in doing so.

Continue reading

Beyond Dusk: Anne, a Crimson and Clover Novelette, Now Available!

My new Crimson and Clover novelette, Beyond Dusk: Anne, is now available on Amazon, for $.99. This will be the first of a series of companion novelettes, each giving glimpses into some of the secondary (but equally important) characters in the series.

So far the short is getting fantastic reviews, to my surprise and delight. One reviewer says it has “rich visual detail, naughty humor, agonizingly realistic characters, unexpected twists, and a generous dash of paranormal.”

Beyond Dusk is a fairly quick read, at just 10.5k words. Although it is a companion novelette to the larger novel, St. Charles at Dusk, it is not required that you have read anything else in the series to enjoy this. Several of the readers enjoying it now are coming into the series with this story as their entry point.

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00EUI53IC

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18337930-beyond-dusk

More Info on “Beyond Dusk: Anne”

BeyondDuskCover2

Following the death of her dominating mother, Anne Fontaine decides to leave the bayou to reconnect with her estranged half-sister, Adrienne Deschanel. Her hope is to forge a relationship with Adrienne that was not possible when her mother was alive. Secretly, she also hopes to find out if her extraordinary supernatural talents are shared by anyone else.

When Nicolas Deschanel gets wind of Anne’s presence, he suspects that she is one of many con artists after his sister’s money. Not knowing that her story is true, he engages in a game of cat-and-mouse with her, deciding to have a little fun.

Eventually, circumstances find both of them back at the Deschanel family seat, Ophélie, where secrets and stories come to life.

 

Reviewers Wanted for “Beyond Dusk: Anne,” a Crimson and Clover Novelette

My new Crimson and Clover novelette, Beyond Dusk: Anne, is coming out over the Labor Day weekend. I’m looking for people who are interested in reviewing the book within the first few days of launch.

Beyond Dusk is a fairly quick read, at just 10.5k words. It will be categorized as paranormal.

Although it is a companion novelette to the larger novel, St. Charles at Dusk, it is not required that you have read anything else in the series to enjoy this.

Interested in reviewing? Sign up below:

>>>>>Sign Up Here to Review<<<<<<

 

More Info on “Beyond Dusk: Anne”

BeyondDuskCover2

Following the death of her dominating mother, Anne Fontaine decides to leave the bayou to reconnect with her estranged half-sister, Adrienne Deschanel. Her hope is to forge a relationship with Adrienne that was not possible when her mother was alive. Secretly, she also hopes to find out if her extraordinary supernatural talents are shared by anyone else.

When Nicolas Deschanel gets wind of Anne’s presence, he suspects that she is one of many con artists after his sister’s money. Not knowing that her story is true, he engages in a game of cat-and-mouse with her, deciding to have a little fun.

Eventually, circumstances find both of them back at the Deschanel family seat, Ophélie, where secrets and stories come to life.

 

Beyond Dusk: Anne will be live on Amazon September 3rd, for $.99. You can add it to your Goodreads TBR here.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1GAc8nWl5GXiIzA0QUklBDjMvZU4XzD6mo5nhgsEo_T8/viewform