Something wicked this way comes…..

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Read it. Read it. Read it. Did I mention you should read it? It is fantastic. I don’t normally read psychological thriller/who done it books but there was a lot of buzz about this one. And I’m hoping to add to it. The final push to read it came from Hoda Kotb on The Today Show. She went on and on and on about it. Kind of like me.
So here’s the amazon synopsis……
On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick’s wife Amy disappears. There are signs of struggle in the house and Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect. It doesn’t help that Nick hasn’t been completely honest with the police and, as Amy’s case drags out for weeks, more and more vilifying evidence appears against him. Nick, however, maintains his innocence. Told from alternating points of view between Nick and Amy, Gillian Flynn creates an untrustworthy world that changes chapter-to-chapter. Calling Gone Girl a psychological thriller is an understatement. As revelation after revelation unfolds, it becomes clear that the truth does not exist in the middle of Nick and Amy’s points of view; in fact, the truth is far more dark, more twisted, and more creepy than you can imagine. Gone Girl is masterfully plotted from start to finish and the suspense doesn’t waver for one page. It’s one of those books you will feel the need to discuss immediately after finishing because the ending doesn’t just come; it punches you in the gut.
That really sums up the book well. It makes an episode of Criminal Minds look normal. My post title of ‘something wicked this way comes’ describes the two main characters. At first you feel so bad for Nick, then he is the devil, then he is the wronged, then he is the devil again, and the cycle continues. Same with the character of Amy, his wife. The book turns on a dime. I was reading the final paragraph and had no idea how the book would end. I’m not kidding. I was waiting for the big change up again in the last few lines. I won’t tell you if it came or not. Some of the things that happen in this book are just not expected. Some of the characters are just wicked in thought and deed. God help us all if we actually knew people like this. I can’t go into specifics without giving away the plot but rest assured these people are warped.
I also really like the format of the book. The alternating voices of Nick and Amy in each chapter was great. You sometimes got the same story from two different view points, sometimes they filled in details in each others chapters, and sometimes it was completely new material. Well done.
Very well written book. While the language is colloquial, the characters are very intelligent so the prose was a step up from most thrillers. The characters are both writers and involved in the world of publishing so they speak and think and devise at a higher level. I liked that. There is only one ‘ ditsy’ character in the book was she was needed and is well written.
So read it. Read it read it. Did I mention you should read it?

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Name that tune……

So I’m in Texas this week visiting my sister and her two kids. The oldest daughter is going to grade 5 in a couple of weeks. She just turned 10 years old. Quite a right of passage. She attends a very small, one stream school and her class was assigned a little reading over the summer. Who knew a summer reading book could cause such controversy? My sister has been receiving emails from other mom’s of children in the class complaining about the book for several reason. So you know me I picked up the book and didn’t but it down until I was finished just after lunch.

The book is Nothing But theTruth by Avi. It’s a Newberry Honor Book! How bad can it be??

Ok here’s a book synopsis stolen from Amazon:
Structured as a series of journal entries, memos, letters and dialogues, this highly original novel emerges as a witty satire of high school politics, revealing how truth can easily become distorted. Ninth grader Philip Malloy is a clownish, rather unmotivated freshman who finds himself unable to participate on the track team because of his failing grade in English. Convinced the teacher, Margaret Narwin, dislikes him, he concocts a scheme to get transferred from her homeroom: instead of standing “at respectful, silent attention” during the national anthem, Philip hums. Throughout the ensuing disciplinary problems at school, his parents take his side, ignore the fact that he is breaking a school rule, and concentrate on issues of patriotism. The conflict between Philip and his school escalates, and he quickly finds the situation out of his control; local community leaders, as well as the national news media, become involved. The incident become exaggerated until a minor school infraction turns into a national scandal. Philip’s parents, several reporters and a neighbor (who happens to be running for the school board) accuse the school of being unpatriotic. Philip gains fame as a martyr for freedom; his homeroom teacher, Miss Narwin, however, faces dismissal from her job as the school district needs a scapegoat. After gleaning the points of view of many characters, readers will side with Miss Narwin and will recognize the hollowness of Philip’s eventual victory. It is clear that Avi ( The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle ) is attuned to the modern high school scene. With frankness and remarkable insight, he conveys the flaws of the system while creating a story that is both entertaining and profound.

Well I thought the book was brilliant. If you thought anything else you missed the whole point to the book! The book is a true satire of American school life: the student who is too cool for school, the parents who support him no matter what because the teacher must be wrong, the teacher who is a little over- dedicated to her job, the superintendent who only cares about getting his budget passed, a media that latches on to anything that could be a scandal, and a society that jumps to conclusions with not nearly enough information.

I found the book extremely well written and edited. I loved the format of the book. Its called a documentary novel. Its a collections of diary entry, conversations, letters, postcards, radio interviews, and newspaper articles. Very refreshing. It will definitely keep a young person interested as it is an unusual format.

The crux of these emails today was the language used in the book. The book is rated for children 11 years of age and older. I think the language is very appropriate to young adults over the age of 13. It’s a bit too mature for a 5th grader. At one point the main character, Phillip, is mad that his teacher has reprimanded him for not respectfully listening to the national anthem. In a conversation with his parents her calls the teacher a bitch. Ok that’s over the line. If a child/ niece/ nephew/ student ever called a teacher or another human being a bitch there would be war!!! Just not appropriate. I understand that the author is trying to make a point, and it is a realistic conversation, but it’s a bit over the top for a 10 year old. Again, geared toward an older child. I understand the emails my sister is getting but it is a term used in context and not without plot advancement. I wondering if they read the whole book or just that section. You need to have it in context.

The book is frustrating to read on some level. As the reader you have all sides of the story and can truly see how this small school infraction turns into a snowball rolling down a hill. If people would just listen to each other there would be no story. If people would just learn to admit a mistake there would be no story. You want to yell at the characters to do the right thing. The more things get out of hand the more frustrated you get. And how does a 14 year old kid stop the snowball running down the hill anyway? Once it’s going you have to have some strength of character to stop it.

I think it is a book that Canadians would find very interesting. Definitely a different perspective about school politics, patriotism, media, society, and education. Not that Canada is better, its just different. And I think its these interesting difference that make us two unique countries.

It’s a about a two hour read. I recommend it.

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The cupcakes made my hungry….

So those cupcakes made me hungry. And if Twilight gets a cupcake then, surely, Hunger Games should have one. But unfortunately, I think the cupcake would be a bit stale…. While the book had many redeeming features it is not my favorite.

I’m not a fan of fantasy but have been meaning to read this book since it came out. Sometimes I just like to read things to see what all the hype is about. Not necessarily a good way to pick a book but sometimes as good as any other method. (Don’t bother with Fifty Shades of Grey but we’ll leave that review for another time.) I promised my good friend Kellie that I would definitely read this book this summer. I have kept my word but she may not like my words about the book.

So here is a synopsis for those who haven’t read it. In a dystopian future, the totalitarian nation of Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games, a fight to the death. Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. (synopsis written by Suzanne Collins)

I think the book is well written, clean language, well edited, creative, imaginative, age appropriate (its a YA novel), original, but still not my cup of tea. I just can’t get into the futuristic dystopian genre. I find it hard to relate to it (obviously). I get more out of a book when I have something to bring to it. I didn’t have much to bring to all the fighting, violence, hardship, and the strange morphing of characters at the end of the book. All a little foreign to me.

So after that bum wrap, here’s what I do like about the book:
* I like the homage to Shakespeare at the end of the book. I think the Romeo and Juliet type plot twist was quite creative if not a little corny.
* I like the fact that the main character, Katniss, outsmarted most of the other ‘contestants’ in this fight to the death by using her brain and not her brawn.
* I like that she used old fashioned archery (physics and geometry at this best) to survive.
* I like that the hero is a girl. Yeah girlpower!!! I like that she retained her femininity thought the book while still being portrayed as an extremely strong character.

So did I like the book? Not really. Did I appreciate the book for what it is? Yes. Will I read books two and three of the trilogy? No. Would I recommend it? To the right reader, yes.

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Devouring a good book….

So this picture gives new meaning to ‘devouring a good book’. Some of my all time favorite books are in here…The Great Gatsby, The Eight, Anne of Green Gables, The Lovely Bones, and Doctor Zhivago. Find it interesting that Twilight and Breaking Dawn are in amongst these classics. No accounting for taste! Hee hee hee!!!

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This one’s for you, Tina Thoden: The Winter Palace

So I was going to review my favorite book as my first blog review but I can’t do it justice right now. So I’ll start with what is fresh in my mind. My friend, Tina, asked me last night if I had read The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak. She visited the Palace last summer (which now houses the Hermitage Museum) and was excited to know my impressions of the book. Fair to middling at best is my answer.

The Winter Palace

The book is deceptive in its title. You would think it’s about the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and Catherine the Great. Well it’s not really. The book is more about a young girl named Barbara. When her mother dies of cholera and her father, a Polish bookbinder in the Russian court, dies soon after of a broken heart, Barbara is left an orphan at the mercy of Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Soon she catches the eye of Alexi Bestuzhev-Rhumin, the Chancellor of Russia who trains her in the art of spying and helps her gain the confidence of the Empress. Eventually she is given a prominent position in the palace, high enough to begin a friendship with the young Princess Sophie who would eventually become Catherine the Great and marry Peter III of Russia. The book tells the story of Barbara’s life, marriage, children, and most importantly her life-long relationship with Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg of Prussia.

Sophie was summoned by Empress Elizabeth I of Russia as a suitable match for her nephew, Peter III of Russia. The books begin when Sophie is 14 and continues until she is about 33, just after she becomes ruler of Russia. The book deals with her courtship, marriage, children, affairs, and ultimate coup over her husband in 1762. Unfortunately, the author portrays Catherine the Great as not so great. She is written as a silly, weak, laudanum addicted wimp. The Winter Palace plays a minor role in that they visit it every year. The author writes about how dark and damp it is, perhaps symbolic of Barbara and Catherine’s life,  I guess.

The writing style is good, the editing is good, the plot is Ok. I just didn’t find the relationship between Barbara and Catherine believable. It was just too one dimensional. There was no true friendship. But, then again, maybe there can’t be if you are Catherine the Great.

I’ve certainly read better  Russian historical fiction. I would recommend The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnival or The Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay if you are in the mood for Russian.

Three stars out of Five ★★★

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/The-Winter-Palace-Eva-Stachniak/9780385666565-item.html?ikwid=winter+palace&ikwsec=Home

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Audible.com

So a few days ago I signed up for Audible.com. It’s an audiobook club. I have to walk the dog twice a day for 20 minutes (since his surgery), I drive 25 minutes to and from school everyday, and just generally spend time where my mind could be otherwise occupied. My friend Wanda has been listening to audiobooks for years so I thought I’d give it a go.
It’s brilliant!! Audible.com has an app on iTunes so I can listen directly from my iPhone. No fooling around downloading through iTunes. I bought “The Columbus Affair” by Steve Berry. Figured I should start with something I am familiar with. Yes I have read every Steve Berry book and loved them all ( except the Emperor’s Tomb…. Really bad book). I just walked the dog and listened to another twenty minutes of the book. Didn’t want to turn it off but I’ll listen again later when I go bask in the sun to try to turn my pathetically white body into something that looks half human.
I’m about 1/4 way through the book in a few days and haven’t exerted any effort or sacrificed other things to do it. It’s like free reading!! What a concept. I am totally amused at the voice in the book. He has a slight slight slight British accent but some of the character are Spanish and Jamaican ( its the Columbus affair remember). So he jumps from one accent to another. Takes a minute to get used to that but I got it now. Makes me smile. 🙂
Anyway just thought I’d share my new thing with you. Give it a try you might just like it. I did!

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Reading is….

A dear friend of mine send me this today for my new blog. Thanks Dawn.

I will have a book review for you all in a day or two. Going to start with my favorite book. A book that definitely made me smarter and gave me something to talk about later on. Stay tuned.

 

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