Friday, October 19, 2012

Always Blame the Husband..."Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

On their five year anniversary, Nick Dunne’s wife, Amy, goes missing. The police are phoned and Nick cooperates with them as much as he can, but his lack of emotion about his wife’s disappearance seems a bit fishy. Coinciding with Nick’s account of the disappearance, Amy’s diary tells the story of the couple’s meeting, engagement, and marriage. At the end, Amy does not paint a pretty picture of their marriage. What really comes into play is the reaction from the media and how quickly they blame Nick and jump on top of the coverage. This book tells the story of a couple who seemed so perfect for each other, but had lately fallen into dire straits and a husband who cannot seem to tell the truth and is suspected of his wife’s murder.

The chapters in Gone Girl alternate between narrating from Nick or Amy’s perspective, so the reader hears both sides of the story, but one must question if the narrator is a reliable source. Split into three sections, the book frustrated me in the first and densest section. Nick comes off as cold, unfeeling, and an ass. Amy seems intelligent and likeable if not a little stuck up. Their relationship was falling to pieces according to Nick’s discussion of it, and Amy’s diary paints a picture of Nick as miserly and threatening towards the end. This is a toxic relationship and it was difficult to read. I hated the first section because the way it depicted marriage made me question if anyone should get married. How well do you really know your partner anyway? Their marriage sucked the life out of me and I dragged my feet through section 1.

However, this book took a turn for me in sections 2 and three. They are shorter and read faster. A lot of action and incident happen within these parts instead of just interior dialogue and relationship building/deconstructing. These sections made the book click together and create a unique and interesting plot. The ending will leave you wondering what will happen in the future and perhaps with a bit of frustration.

This might be a love/hate book, but I didn’t love or hate it (except for the first section, which I did not like). Flynn writes her characters well. You feel what they feel and get frustrated over their actions. The intelligence of them rolls off the page and I enjoyed the level of language they used.

Although not going to become a literary classic, this is an extremely popular book at the moment and like other good books, it sticks with you after you’ve closed the back cover. I’d recommend this to people who enjoy a good suspense story

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


While perusing the children’s section a few weeks ago, up popped The Squampkin Patch by JT Petty with a Halloween sticker on the spine and a bunch of pumpkins on the cover. How can an autumn/Halloween lover resist? She can’t. That’s the surprising answer (I know, you’re shocked).  I took it home with me, let it sit around for a week, started reading and then trudged through.

The Squampkin Patch is the story of the Nasselrogt children whose parents go missing in a department store, so the two end up in an orphanage. As fictional orphanages go, this one is pretty typical, save for the fact that the head of the orphanage makes the children work in his zipper factory. Well, Milton and Chloe refuse to become zipper factory workers, so they run away and end up in a small town. There they discover the Argyle house and bakery which are now abandoned, and an extensive pumpkin patch. As Chole and Milton get acquainted with the house and the neighbors, they stumble upon the previous owner’s journal called “The Pumpkin/Chocolate Trials”. From reading, the children discover that the pumpkin patch is actually a squampkin patch, a hybrid pumpkin and squash variety. But the patch seems to purr, and move. There are strange events surrounding the patch. On Halloween night, the children discover that the patch is not only growing, but coming to life and after them.

The writing is indicative of Lemony Snicket’s writing in The Series of Unfortunate Events. The narrator is a bit pompous and, at the beginning, defines words for you. The writing has the stuck up air of Snicket’s works, and considering I’m not a fan of his series, I was not thrilled when I began reading JT Petty’s work. Although I must admit that the book is written well and I think it challenges kids. Milton and Chloe are children that you feel you could meet anywhere and they were easy to read about, but I was not attached to them. The story itself was multifaceted, but I was not compelled by it. My favorite part about the book was that at the bottom of each page was a drawing of a growing squampkin and it was a flip book, so that you could “watch” it grow.

The book was fine, but I almost just put it aside because I did not find the story intriguing and there was not enough mystery and superstition as what I anticipated. If you like The Series of Unfortunate Events, maybe JT Petty’s work will appeal to you, but for me, I’ll avoid it in the future. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wicked Witch and Cozy Mysteries

Happy October! O goody my favorite month of the year! Fall leaves, chilly weather, pumpkins, hearty soups, HALLOWEEN!! It’s such a lovely and homey time of year. This year I decided to create a reading project for myself. I will read books corresponding with different holidays and seasons. The project was inspired by another friend who is currently reading books about all different religions. I decided to read about how people celebrate the seasons and get myself revved up for the changes and festivities.

Well seeing as autumn and Halloween are two of my favorite seasons/celebrations, I was all too ready to jump into fall/Halloween themed books. The superstition and magic surrounding Halloween are what always make me feel like a kid again, so this holiday I am ready to keep the spirit alive and learn a little about Halloween and harvest.

Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier was my first seasonal read. Lucy Stone is a small town Maine newspaper reporter, mother, and small time sleuth. In this novel, Lucy must find a murderer, plan the Halloween party, and keep up with her reporting. Over the summer the town acquired a witch. Lucy first meets Diana, the Wiccan priestess, when she goes with some girlfriends to get their fortunes read. What Diana reads in the cards, Lucy blows off as mere superstition and guessing, but the cards never lie and soon, Lucy finds that Diana might have been onto something. A burnt body is found in the woods and nobody knows who the killer is, but Lucy’s neighbor, Ike, sure seems ready to blame Diana for all the trouble in town. In a time when we like to think of ourselves as civilized and above silly superstition and judgment, Lucy soon finds that the town may be on a witch hunt!

The “Lucy Stone Mysteries”, as Meier’s series is called is classified as gentle reads or, since this is a mystery, cozy mysteries. Think of it like “Murder She Wrote”, that great ‘90s TV show with Angela Lansbury. There’s a quaint small town with an adorable downtown area, friendly neighbors, and a main character that is affable and recognizable. Hey, she goes to farmers’ markets just like I do! Cozy mysteries involve some sort of a crime, an amateur crime solver, typically, and a charming location. Cozies don’t involve violence, or gore. They usually talk about home life and make you feel warm and fuzzy, making them perfect fall/winter reads.

Meier’s Wicked Witch Murder has all the elements of a cozy mystery. Lucy is easy for the reader to sympathize with. She holds down a job while being a mother and wife. The town is cute and picturesque. The mystery propels the story along and allows for other plots to be pursued. There was enough talk about magic and Wicca to make it a fall book, but if you are looking for something more focused on autumn and Halloween, this may be a bit off. I learned a few things about the Wiccan religion, but seeing as it's autumn, I wish it were set in fall instead of from summer into fall. 

All in all, the book is enjoyable for those looking for something light and easy. The mystery was not terribly intriguing or riveting, so if you are a true mystery lover, this might be too tame for you.

If you enjoy this book, another similar book also about a witch and Halloween, is Blackwork by Monica Ferris. If you like cozy mysteries, some popular authors are Rita Mae Brown, M.C. Beaton, and JoanneFluke.

Well onward and upward toward Halloween!