Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Published in: 2012
Pages: 415
Edition read: Paperback

Book description:
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

My review:
This book… bloody hell. It infuriated me so much, I read this weeks ago and it still angers me with the ending. So first part of the book, Nick’s the bad guy and we feel sorry for Amy. Second part of the book, Amy is a psycho manipulative bitch and we feel sorry for Nick, and at the end of it, I want them both to die because seriously, they suck. Mainly Amy sucks tho, there is something seriously wrong with this lady who manipulates the shit out of everyone around her because things aren’t going her way, she ruins multiple lives of people throughout her life including her own parents, and she also kills someone because it’s freaking convenient to the story she is weaving. Also, Amy is ‘perfect’ and the book keeps mentioning how ‘perfect’ she is to the point where she’s such an ugly character who is terrible to every single person she encounters that I am amazed she doesn’t shrivel up into a husk because clearly, there is not a single redeeming quality in this pretty perfect woman. Not a single one.

In short, this book made me super angry and boy, do I hates it. The fact that this book won so many awards and was the ‘it-book’ a few years back, and they made an actual movie out of it, actually baffles me. This book sucks. So much. I hated the characters, the story, the scenarios, the ending, every bloody thing. I rarely have felt this level of anger over a book before. On the plus side, it was a well-written book.

From reading other people’s reviews on this book, you either love this book and the mystery, or you hate it passionately and mock it because it’s just… yeah.

Final review:
Gone Girl rating:
3/10.
Would I re-read it? No. This level of anger cannot be good for me. And as I can’t actually leap into this book and strangle the Amy character, there’s no point in me re-reading this book!!
Who would I recommend it to? Boy. That’s tough. I guess if you saw the movie, then read the book.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19288043-gone-girl
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gone_Girl_(novel)

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Captive by Aimee Carter

Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #2)

Published in: 2014
Pages: 299
Edition read: E-book
Series: Book 2 in the Blackcoat Rebellion trilogy

Book description:
For the past two months, Kitty Doe’s life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister’s niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever.

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she’s accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she’ll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?

My review:
The rebellion amps up in this book, with Kitty finding damning evidence that Daxton has actually been masked like her, and is now an imposter; the fake-Daxton finding out that this info has been stolen by Kitty, and then sending her to Elsewhere, which is some kind of internment camp from hell where misbehaving prisoners are pitted against each other in an ‘only one will survive’ cage match, and the lucky ones who haven’t been caged-matched today get to go and harvest the organs of dead prisoners to be sent back to the real world, because one thing this book likes to do is find something terrible and then beat it with something even worse.

We also get to learn a bit more about who Kitty really is through this book, why she has the same eyes as the Harts and why she was selected to be masked as Lila. It was interesting to read, and you can tell the series is ramping up to the final book, which is going to be really good if it keeps on with this level of action.

Final review:
Captive rating:
7/10
Would I re-read it? Yes
Who would I recommend it to? For fans of the author’s work, or fans of dystopian ya fiction

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10944842-captive

Girl With A Pearly Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Published in: 1999
Pages: 233
Edition read: Paperback

Book description:
With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer’s extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age. His portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has exerted a particular fascination for centuries – and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier’s second novel of the same title.
Girl with a Pearl Earring centers on Vermeer’s prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel’s quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant–and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model.

My review:
I don’t know much about art, but I am fascinated by history and by the people who created things that live on now, like artists. Things like this painting are really interesting because it’s such a simple painting- it’s a girl wearing a big-assed earring, looking over her shoulder. But it’s something that called to this author so much, she decided to create a novel around it.

The novel is short but well-paced, interesting, and filled with fascinating details of the daily life of a 17th century dutch girl and this elusive painter. I had never heard of Vermeer before this book, but now I’ve seen most of his work as I’ve gone and googled it, thanks to this book. It mentions a lot of his more famous paintings, and they are fascinating to look at, and the detail included in the book such as the yellow mantel or the black and white pattern on the tiled floors. The level of detail makes this story as interesting as it is.

Final review:
Girl with a pearl earring rating:
7.5/10
Would I re-read it? Yes
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of classic art and artists, historical fiction, or anyone who has seen the movie version of this book.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2865.Girl_with_a_Pearl_Earring
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girl_with_a_Pearl_Earring_(novel)
Author’s website: http://www.tchevalier.com/gwape/

 

Messenger by Lois Lowry

Messenger (The Giver, #3)

Published in: 2004
Pages: 169
Edition read: E-book
Series: Book 3 in the Giver quartet

Book description:
Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight. Village once welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must risk everything to make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.

My review:
This is probably my least favourite book of the series, it seems to be the weakest in story overall and the shortest. In saying that, it’s not bad or anything. Matty, who was a character from the second book, is now living in a different village, and he is the main character in this book. He has noticed that the village he now lives in has slowly become corrupted, and so has the forest that surrounds the village has become a sentient being that is intent on harming anyone who dares travel into it. Matty is able to traverse the forest unharmed, and he uses this skill to go back to his old village one last time, in order to bring his friend Kira to the new village.

The new village has some other familiar faces, the leader of the village is Jonah (from book 1) who is all grown up now, as well as Gabe, and Kira’s father. There is also the hint of romance between Kira and Jonah, which was unexpected but totally cool. I think this book was mainly a positioning book, setting everything up for the final book of the series and making sure all the key players are in the right place. I just don’t like how Matty fares in this book, I think he deserved better personally (even though he is the saviour of the village).

Final review:
Messenger rating:
6/10.
Would I re-read it? Maybe. If I was re-reading any of the books out of this series, I would chose to read the other books over this one
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of the series and the author, anyone who likes dystopian fiction.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12930.Messenger
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messenger_(novel)
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Messenger-Lois-Lowry/dp/0440239125

Can I Say by Travis Barker

Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums

Published in: 2014
Pages: 416
Edition read: E-book

Book description:
Travis Barker’s soul-baring memoir chronicles the highlights and lowlights of the renowned drummer’s art and his life, including the harrowing plane crash that nearly killed him and his traumatic road to recovery—a fascinating never-before-told-in-full story of personal reinvention grounded in musical salvation and fatherhood.

After breaking out as the acclaimed drummer of the multiplatinum punk band Blink-182, everything changed for Travis Barker. But the dark side of rock stardom took its toll: his marriage, chronicled for an MTV reality show, fell apart. Constant touring concealed a serious drug addiction. A reckoning did not truly come until he was forced to face mortality: His life nearly ended in a horrifying plane crash, and then his close friend, collaborator, and fellow crash survivor DJ AM died of an overdose.

In this blunt, driving memoir, Barker ruminates on rock stardom, fatherhood, death, loss, and redemption, sharing stories shaped by decades’ worth of hard-earned insights. His pulsating memoir is as energetic as his acclaimed beats. It brings to a close the first chapters of a well-lived life, inspiring readers to follow the rhythms of their own hearts and find meaning in their lives.

My review:
I thought this memoir had been released yonkers ago, but it’s as recent as 2014 so that was a nice surprise. I’ve been a fan of Blink for nearly 18 years now, but not a super-fan, I didn’t really know much about the band members other than the basics. This memoir was really great in that Travis tells you so much about his life, from the awkward early years, his close relationship with his mother and her sad death at a young age, right up through his marriages to the present day. It’s not the most eloquent of books, but as far as memoirs go, this was easy to read, easy to follow, and showed a really great guy who worked hard to get where he is now, although he is unfortunately a womaniser and easily addicted to mind-altering drugs.

That aside, I found some parts of this book really interesting- like I didn’t know he was in the Aquabats, and I had to go find on of his early shows on youtube to watch (it was awesome and kinda hilarious, this young baby Travis dressed in an Aquabats costume and drumming away); I also didn’t realise how much work Travis puts into his music and his other enterprises, notably his branding. This guy should write a book on marketing, because he has this natural talent to market himself and his brand to fantastic levels.

The memoir also goes through how much Travis has lost in his young life, and the terrible things he has lived through, most notably his fight against drugs that he once relied heavily on, and the plane crash that took the lives of his friends. That was hard to read about, this crash that shouldn’t have happened and how insane the rehab was, not to mention how devastating it was that he and DJ Am survived, only for Am to later take his own life due to a number of issues including survivor’s guilt.

All in all, this was a really interesting book to read and I learned a lot about this drummer that I never knew, and have a newfound appreciation for the level of dedication he has to his work and his music.

Final rating:
Can I Say rating:
8/10
Would I re-read it? Yeah I would, this was really great and had a lot of music tibits for bands I listen to
Who would I recommend it to?

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18505837-can-i-say
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Can-Say-Living-Large-Cheating/dp/0062319434

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Voyager (Outlander, #3)

Published in: 1993
Pages: 870
Edition read: Paperback
Series: Book 3 in the Outlander series

Book description:
Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.

My review:
Ahhhhh!!! This series… I cannot handle it. It’s still just so damn good. I devoured the majority of this book one Saturday when I was stricken down with the plague, again (third damn time this year. For someone who has been sick twice in the last 5 years, to get three colds this year has just been bloody frustrating). Anyways, best way to spend a day in bed, with this giant book and living Jaime and Claire’s romance.

The first part of the book, Claire and Jaime are in their respective times and it’s heartbreaking, them being apart, not knowing if they will end up together. Can Claire even go back? Is Jaime even alive for her to go back to? We get a lot of scenes about what they got up to during the 20 years between Claire coming back to the present, and the current moment when she tries to go back. It’s interesting to see how they got on with their lives, Jaime trying to survive Scotland after the massacre at Culloden and the early years of the British rule; meanwhile Claire is in a loveless marriage in America with Frank and baby Briana, while trying to become a doctor.

These scenes are really interesting, but of course it gets better when we get the Jaime and Claire scenes together, as their love is what drives this story and it is just soooo good. Plus the change of scenery is quite fascinating, as well as the blasts-from-the-pasts (I cannot believe one of those blasts from the pasts was still alive. That was totally a surprise)

Best part is that the third season is now on TV, so now I can binge on that and see how they translated the book to the screen. This season is gonna be sooo good!

Finalreview:
Voyager rating:
10/10
Would I re-read it? YES
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of the series, anyone who watches the TV show, fans of timetravel romances.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10987.Voyager
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_(novel)
Author’s website: http://www.dianagabaldon.com/books/outlander-series/voyager/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com.au/Voyager-Outlander-3-Diana-Gabaldon-ebook/dp/B005H0CBZ0

 

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods

Published in: 2001
Pages: 635
Edition read: E-book
Series: American Gods book 1

Book description:
Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies…and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing – an epic war for the very soul of America – and that he is standing squarely in its path.

My review:
Damn this book was long. And really detailed. The gods were something else, I consider myself to be a bit knowledgeable about ancient gods and deity’s but I was stumped by a lot of the gods mentioned throughout this book (so apparently, not that knowledgeable at all). The thing was, although this book was long and detailed and somewhat confusing, it was good. The main story of Shadow is entertaining, he has no clue what is going on and is somewhat clueless, but overall he’s a likeable character and as he bumbles through each situation, you are right there bumbling with him and trying to work out what is happening (and I gotta say, it’s a beautiful mess, this story. I didn’t see it coming, the actual ending and what Mr Wednesday was trying to do).

In between the main story are tiny scenes, about various people and their gods, and how these gods came to be in America. Those were my favourite parts, if I have to be honest; the small stories about these people and how they came to America, bringing their beliefs with them.

And of course, there has now been a TV series spawned from this book, and it’s pretty awesome. Anyone who hasn’t read the book is bloody confused by the show (aka my co-workers, who had no clue what was going on) but those of us who read the books first, we know what’s going on and it’s beautiful. The first few episodes are really true to the book (always very important) but then it starts to deviate as we get other stories, mainly about Laura who we don’t get much info on in the book. It goes way off-track at the end of the season (Garden party does not equal the house on the rock with the carousel) but it’s still good. The other thing is that the series is slow- where the first season ends, is about 100 pages into the actual book, so we’ve got another two to three seasons to go (yay!)

Final review:
American Gods rating:
8/10
Would I re-read it? Yeah, in 10 years time I’d want to re-read it (but not right away, it was such an involved book that I need time to digest it before I had a go at reading it again!)
Who would I recommend it to? For fans of mythology, anyone who has seen the TV show, fans of unique stories with a real underdog main character.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30165203-american-gods
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Gods
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/American-Gods-Tenth-Anniversary-Novel/dp/0062472100

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue (The Giver, #2)

Published in: 2000
Pages: 240
Edition read: E-book
Series: Book 2 in the Giver Quartet

Book description:
It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.

My review:
I thought the second book in this series would be Jonas’ story part two, but instead it’s a completely different cast of characters, in a different setting, dealing with a completely different society, so it’s a bit of a stumble to get into the swing of the story, almost like starting another new series. Kira’s village is more rustic and rural than Jonas’ was, the people send the sick and weak to the dying fields to be carried away or eaten by wild animals, and this is where we find Kira, whose mother just died and who herself has a deformed leg. Technically she should be in that field herself, dead, but her mother fought to keep her alive and now that she’s gone, Kira has to defend herself.

The title “gathering blue” refers to the fact that Kira is a weaver, someone who creates the coloured threads used in fabrics and weaves them into intricate designs. Her mother passed down the craft to Kira, but the one thing neither of them could manage was to make the colour blue. The process sounds really interesting, the gathering of different plants, roots, minerals etc to get the right shade of colour to dye a thread, and I would have liked it if that aspect was explored more (but then the book would be much longer and probably not as interesting to the young kids it’s aimed at).

It was an overall interesting story, really quick and easy to read, and it had a decent mystery about it that had me thinking long after finishing the story. There must be so many other villages out there in this world, each slightly different from the other, all existing in what appears to be a harsh landscape with corrupt officials running these places. I’m intrigued to see how the other two books fit into this world.

Final review:
Gathering blue rating:
7/10
Would I re-read it? Yes
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of dystopian fiction

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12936.Gathering_Blue
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gathering_Blue
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gathering-Blue-Giver-Quartet-Lowry/dp/0547904142

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (The Giver, #1) Published in: 1993
Pages: 208
Edition read: Paperback
Series: Book 1 in the Giver Quartet

Book description:
Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

My review:
This was a short, easy, quick read that was surprisingly addictive and totally disturbing and just really… wow. As it’s meant for children, it’s not gore and horror, but the way people act, the fact that you can quite easily see this becoming a reality in the near future, it’s what scares the adult reader.

The world that Jonas is born into is grey- everyone sees shades of grey and nothing else. Nobody sees colour, something the reader isn’t aware of until much later in the book. Everyone in the community it watched all day long and monitored, they are assigned jobs when they reach 12 and that is their job for the rest of their lives, until they are old. They are assigned a spouse, when they want children they are given one. They take pills to surpress their ‘urges’ so nobody is procreated the traditional way, and families are not linked by genetics but by assignment.

Jonas sees colour one day, another day he is given the job of being the memory of the community, learning everything that the population doesn’t know and is kept from them to keep them happy and complacent and untroubled. Including the fact that people are killed when they are no longer useful or comply to the standards put down by this society, including twin boys- there is no room for twins in this world, so one lives, and the other one is killed.

It’s… all so shockingly terrible and yet, I can see this happening. It’s a post-apocalyptic world, something catastrophic has happened and caused these communities to break off and form on their own, with their own way of doing things, and you think “oh my god how can people live like this? This is the worst thing ever” and then you read another book in the series and go “well that was just worse” and it’s… depressing. But really well written, really good to read, and really interesting.

Final review:
The Giver rating:
8/10.
Would I re-read it? Yes, it was a short and easy book to read, and it was really interesting.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, younger fans welcome- this is aimed at the 8-12 year olds and is written for them, but adults also can easily read this book and enjoy it too.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3636.The_Giver
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Giver
Author’s site: http://www.loislowry.com/index.php?option=com_djcatalog2&view=item&id=17:the-giver&cid=4:the-quartet&Itemid=185

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were NonePublished in: 1939
Pages: 264
Edition read: Paperback

Book description:
First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

My review:
Agatha Christie is a goddess of writing, the queen of drama and mystery. This was so damn good, I could barely put it down. 10 strangers are called to an island by a mysterious benefactor that they all think they know from their past, and then they all slowly die off, one by one. It’s a whodunnit of epic proportions, because at the end of the book, everyone on that island is dead. Nobody escaped. How the hell did everyone die, who was the mastermind behind it all?

I didn’t pick the murderer at all. I kept changing my mind over who was the culprit, I kept waiting for someone to slip up and reveal themselves, and so when whoever my current suspect was suddenly died, I had to pick a whole new one. When it was all revealed at the very end, it was brilliant.

This was a pretty short and easy read, I finished it one Sunday morning in mostly one sitting, and the mystery kept the pages turning and the reader interested. I will eventually read my way through all of Agatha’s extensive catalogue of works, and I am glad I’ve ticked this one off my list, as it was a really good enjoyable mystery to get me back into the swing of reading, after a few disappointing reads lately.

Final review:
And then there were none rating:
7/10.
Would I re-read it? Yes, it was such a good read! Such a good mystery, and so quick to read.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of mysteries, crime dramas, Agatha’s other work

Links
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16299.And_Then_There_Were_None
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_Then_There_Were_None

Just found out, there was a BBC miniseries back in 2015 based on this book. Sounds like I need to find that ASAP and watch the hell out of it!