Tag Archives: 4/5 stars

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl (Verloren Vrouw)
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller – Mystery – Crime
Publisher: Boekerij
DOP: 2014 (originally published in 2012)
Pages: 444
Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 978-90-225-7204-7
Website: Gillian Flynn

Nick Dunne knows something’s wrong when his neighbour calls to tell his cat is outside and the front door stands wide open. The moment he arrives home, there’s evidence of a struggle in the living room, the kettle is boiling but he can’t find his wife ‘Amazing’ Amy. He immediately contacts the authorities but finds himself in the middle of evidence pointing directly at him. His wife is missing, he’s prime suspect and his marriage isn’t as perfect as he wants people to see. The public is against him and Nick is pushed into a corner but will do anything to find his Amy.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has received a lot of attention lately, having been winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2012 for Best Mystery and Thriller and being released in theatre October 2014. The mystery of Amy’s disappearance is slowly unravelled between alternating point of views: Nick Dunne’s and entries of his wife’s diary. Combined with the cliffhangers and the evidence that has been found, Flynn created one of the best thrillers I’ve recently read, with a psychopath that goes beyond my imagination. It was a story that kept me reading until the early hours of the night.

The story is written in three parts, with the first part beginning rather descriptively in a disgustingly way that immediately plants a seed of doubt of Nick’s true nature. His thoughts and actions make him suspicious and yet, as the plot thickens and we read his wife’s diary, beginning from the moment they met until right before she disappeared seven years later, there’s something that makes you doubt everything. Is Nick telling the truth? Is Amy telling the truth? It’s obvious that their love for each other and their relationship has changed towards the end, revealing cracks in a marriage that Nick is desperate to hide from the media.

These diary entries are cleverly put within the story, connecting seamlessly with the evidence the police find, only enforcing the seed of doubt. Nick’s behaviour while his wife is missing, raises even more questions about his motive and that combined with everything else you already know at that point, it starts messing with your head: is he guilty of murder? Or is something else going on?

Part two deals with the why. Why did Amy disappear? Nick tries everything to get his wife back and if you don’t want to get spoiled, I strongly recommend you skip the next part, pick up the book and read it first before you come back.

Jump towards the next part if you want to avoid spoilers!

MAJOR SPOILER PART. Do NOT READ when you haven’t read the book/seen the film.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!

In the second part of the story, everything starts to clear up. Amy’s voice changes, her character shows cracks. At first, I felt uncomfortable with the vulgar vocabulary but the more I became used to Amy’s change of character, the easier I accepted it. With Amy’s personality, that slowly becomes clearer during the story, it only feels natural that her way of thinking is different. If she had been any less vulgar or more cute and perfect, I would have found it hard to believe her as a character and the reason why she’s acted the way she did.

Amy is brilliant, always three steps ahead of everyone else but she’s also sick, obsessive and afraid of not being good enough. She wants and needs everyone to be obsessed about her and the moment she finds out Nick has an affair, is the moment she decides she’d make sure that Nick will pay for his mistake, coming up with the craziest set up I’ve read in a very long time.

Nick has many flaws, not only as a husband but his reactions to his wife’s disappearance are odd. Although he’s got the public against him, he holds it up and keeps strong, seeing through Amy’s actions. He knows she wants to punish him but he comes up with a plan to lure her back; his last hope she’ll buy his lies.

I liked Nick’s character the moment he decided to get back at Amy and tries to show the authorities how twisted she really is. He’s smart too, almost as brilliant as his wife and he continued to amaze me, right until the point when part three arrived.

At this point, Gone Girl changed from being a mystery where the wife disappeared, into an intelligent masterpiece in which husband and wife test each other’s capacities and show how well they know each other. Unfortunately, Amy’s always one step ahead and she tricks Nick into dropping everything he was trying to find to get his wife behind bars. This disappointed me.

Nick promised to become such a strong character but he stopped fighting when she turned out being one step too clever for him. There were people who believed in him, trying to find a way to arrest her and prove her guilt and he threw it all away.

End Spoilers.

Gone Girl was an interesting journey, changing from mystery to a psychological thriller. A husband struggles against the mainstream opinion that he’s always the prime suspect with a disappearance. Flynn created a story with plot twists, suspense and cliff hangers while one clue after the other is slowly revealed.

Although the ending left me disappointed and sad, because Nick turned out not to be the person I thought he was, this was a story that kept me awake during the night, still surprising me until the end. Sometimes, the overdose of cliff hangers caused my eyes to roll (how many can there be in one story??) but it didn’t stop me from reading.

If you liked Gone Girl, you might want to check out her other books too:

Sharp Objects //  Dark Places

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Review: About a Girl by Lindsey Kelk

Cover image from Goodreads

Title: About a Girl
Author: Lindsey Kelk
Genre: Chick-Lit
Series: #1 A Girl
Publisher: Harper
DOP: 2013
Pages: 402
Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 978-0-00-749800-0
Twitter: @LindseyKelk

Tess Brookes has her life planned out. She works a crazy amount of hours for her job to receive the promotion she’s been dreaming of and although her best friend of ten years Charlie hasn’t noticed her yet, she’s convinced she’ll end up marrying him and live the happily ever after. That is, until the plan falls dramatically apart. After answering a phone call meant for her annoyingly stupid and bitchy roommate Vanessa, Tess decides to take the job and become Vanessa, traveling across the world to Hawaii, leaving the plan behind. What she doesn’t know, is that she’ll find a new Tess in Hawaii, a Tess that might change her life forever.

About a Girl is Lindsey Kelk’s first book in a new series and with her international I Heart-series being a hit, she’s set the bar high; extremely high for herself. Kelk is my favourite Chick-Lit author and with Alex having been my book boyfriend for such a long time, I wondered if Kelk could add another book boyfriend to the list with this brand new series and bring back the humour and adventures I fell in love with in her other books.

Of course, having read Kelk’s other books, I couldn’t resist comparing them, especially when they are all written in the same genre that, like it or not, has a few elements that are bound to reappear. Just like the I heart-series, our protagonist has to deal with her life falling apart, forcing her to reassess previous goals. Instead of dealing with this in a more acceptable and convenient way, the protagonist runs off to a different continent (Angela ran to New York, Tess goes to Hawaii). And just like Angela in the I Heart-series, there’s not one man but two added to the whirlpool of figuring out what to do next in Tess’ life and making everything a tad more difficult.

But that’s where all comparison stops. Whereas Angela tries to forget about her cheating boyfriend and meets two different men in New York, Tess is not forgetting her best friend while she meets cocky but handsome journalist Nick who’s everything that Charlie isn’t. Unlike the I Heart-series where I instantaneously fell in love with Alex, I couldn’t make up my mind between bad boy Nick and cute and loyal Charlie. This time, Tess creates her own mess right from the start, waving a web of lies that she might regret in the end. She will have to face the consequences of her impulsive decisions and whatever may or may not happen, that’s entirely up to you to find out.

Naturally, this wouldn’t be a Kelk book without some added drama that includes “fairy godmuggers” and “cockwombles” and some disrespect to the iPhone industry. Truly inspirational, that Tess. She’s funny and impulsive and loses her train of thought on more than one occasion until Tess believes she can be a person she’s clearly not (e.g. Tess the cocktail drinker and then, expressively retching to show how she’s not a cocktail drinker and won’t become one in the near future). It’s Tess but so much like Kelk too and why I love her books so much.

Kelk combines humour with drama and a few male characters along the journey that, not unlike her other books, About a Girl is the perfect read when you need an escape from reality and want to cuddle on your sofa when it’s snowing outside and you need to remind yourself that there is a place where temperatures above freezing point are possible…and if you come across this series during the summer, take it along for a nice, relaxing beach read!

Once you’ve finished reading this book, you can continue Tess’ adventure in What a Girl Wants, where the story takes place in fashion city Milan.

Have you read this book? Are you team Nick or team Charlie? Who do you think Tess will end up with? Would you choose for a new exciting life or would you rather stick to what you know and feel comfortable with?

More from Lindsey Kelk:

I Heart Series

I Heart New York // I Heart Hollywood // I Heart Paris // I Heart Vegas // I Heart London // I Heart Christmas*

==> Spin-offs: Jenny Lopez Has a Bad Week // Jenny Lopez Saves Christmas

A Girl Series

What a Girl Wants

Standalone

The Single Girl’s To-Do List // Always the Bridesmaid

*book reviews

Review: Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

Image by GoodReads

Title: Rumble
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: McEldery Books
DOP: August 26, 2014
Pages: 546
Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 978-1-4424-8284-5
Twitter: @EllenHopkinsYA

After losing his brother, Matthew Turner spirals down into a darkness that he finds difficult to escape from. The world he has known changes around him and he blames everyone for what has happened to Luke. He clings to his Christian girlfriend Hayden, afraid of losing her too while he, as an atheist, deals with the crumbling world.

Written in a poetic format, Rumble by Ellen Hopkins, takes a while to get used to if you’re not familiar with her previous books. Apprehensive at first, I hesitated to start reading this book but once I got through the first few pages and realised that the title was the start of each sentence of the page, the book read like a train.

Ellen Hopkins wasn’t scared to touch subjects such as Christianity, homosexuality, bullying, alcoholism and suicide and when combined all together, Rumble becomes a dark story of a young man struggling with the aftermath of losing a brother, questioning God’s existence and the kindness of humans.

The story takes you on a realistic journey, slowly revealing the circumstances of Luke’s death. Although there were moments that brought me to tears, I was disappointed with the ending of this book. Matthew is searching for a way to move on and the way it was dealt with, felt empty. His growth starts (slowly) halfway through the story but is finished way too fast for me to accept as realistic. The catharsis felt incomplete and ruined some of the story (making this a four instead of a five). It felt unnecessary, just an easy and quick way to wrap things up.

I had hoped for a spiritual search (whether Matthew found God or not, I don’t care) but I was disappointed that the only Christians discussed in this book, were extreme in their views and were portrayed as doing anything good. No one is perfect but no one is all bad either and I feel, if there was someone in Matthew’s proximity who was Christian and didn’t have such extreme views, Ellen Hopkins could have used this to guide Matthew better and change his views (and if not change, then at least open his mind for other people’s religion), instead of using the epiphany coming from a certain event. I don’t believe this event can change someone’s view and feelings entirely and it would have pleased me more if we could have seen the change in Matthew afterwards and his growth from there.

However, the overall story was magnificent and carried me towards the ending in less than a day. I had a need to find out how some people would react when faced with some issues and I haven’t been disappointed.

I’d definitely recommend this book and when you’ve read it, I’d really like to know your opinion about the way Christianity was dealt with and how you think of the way this story was wrapped up.

Do you think Ellen Hopkins could have done more with the ending?

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Image by GoodReads

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Vintage
DOP: 2012 (originally published in 2010)
Pages: 490
Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 978-0-099-57029-5
Twitter: @erinmorgenstern

When Celia, Prospero the Enchanter’s daughter, shows up after her mum’s suicide, he quickly finds out that Celia is anything but ordinary. He dares the man in the grey suit for a game, already convinced of his victory. Both Celia and Marco are raised, trained for the day when the game begins and they have to compete against each other.

Erin Morgenstern created a mysterious and magical story that elevates you to the world of The Night Circus. Divided into five parts, each having different chapters written from different point of views, the enchantment starts straight from the beginning as it is written in second person singular, immediately dragging you in the story. That, combined with the beautiful cover and the way the parts are illustrated, finalises the magical feeling.

If I had to choose a favourite character, it would be Poppet and Widget. From the moment they were introduced, the story gained a new level. Their enthusiasm was catching and their talent interesting. Their input was playful and serious at the same time but they were open to accept someone from outside the circus, breaking through the boundary that is the night circus.

However, although I could appreciate the writing, I had a hard time finishing the book.

One of the issues I had, was the fact the story was slow paced. I know it never meant to be rushed, giving us the time to enjoy the details and mysteriousness of the night circus but at the same time, it created a wall for me to climb every time I had to pick up the book again. A lot of things happened but I had the idea of everything standing still and not moving forward.

Some actions and motives weren’t thoroughly explained either and although this adds to the mystery of the story, it had me confused at some moments too. What was the purpose of the game? What did Prospero and Alexander gain while holding it?

I loved the dynamic of the circus and how the individual tents were conjured. The descriptions of the magic were different, inventive and inspirational in The Night Circus. Morgenstern succeeded in creating such a special story that will be remembered and take you on a magical adventure the moment you turn that first page.

Review: You’re the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher

Cover by GoodReads

Title: You’re the One That I Want
Author: Giovanna Fletcher
Genre: Chick lit
Publisher: Penguin Books
DOP: May 22, 2014
Pages: 372
Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 978-1-405-90997-6
Twitter: @MrsGiFletcher

Maddy is minutes away from getting married to Rob, her childhood’s best friend, and she couldn’t have been happier. When her eyes stray to his best man Ben, her heart aches. If he’d give her one look, one signal, then she could be marrying him, her other best friend.

Compared to her debut novel, Billy and Me, this book was more emotionally developed, focusing on the characters’ growth whereas Billy and Me was more focused on the actual story.

You’re the One That I Want is one of those stories that take you on the life journey of three friends: Maddy, Ben and Rob. Since their first meeting, friendships develop and eventually blossom into love. Ben has been in love with Maddy since he first saw her but is too afraid that telling her will ruin the dynamics of their friendship. Maddy starts noticing Rob and Rob, well Rob is an enigma. He just happens to bounce along. But like any other love triangle story, something must go wrong.

Falling in love with Ben and the story was the easiest thing to do. Before I realised it, I was investing all my spare time to read this page-turner as fast as I could, hoping, begging and crying for some kind of epiphany! When that moment finally came, my world exploded/collapsed. I knew something was bound to happen in order to mess up our main characters’ lives but I didn’t see it coming until it did and when it did, the story truly began. Suddenly, I was taken on a wild flight of emotions racketing from one page to the other. What will happen? What will she do? What will he do? How are they going to fix this? were questions roaming inside my head. Maddy’s indecisiveness left me in the dark until the very end. It was amazing.

While I enjoyed reading this, I couldn’t help but dislike Maddy however. Maddy didn’t love until she was nudged into the right direction, making me question the sincerity of her relationships. She claimed love, betrayal and jealousy while before that moment she never showed any hints of feeling more. It would have been easier to accept her feelings if they had grown towards the explosion and hadn’t come afterwards.

Something else I’ve been wondering about: why write the story in alternating point of views of Ben and Maddy and not include Rob’s? Was it done on purpose? Probably. Was it brilliant? Sure! And yet it annoyed me. It felt incomplete to not being able to read how Rob experienced falling in love. It was a sneaky way of unconsciously portraying Rob as inferior compared to Ben and by doing this, manipulating us to root for Ben (at least I’m 100% team Ben even if I could have whacked him on the head sometimes). Unlike with Rob, we were privileged to be part of Ben’s thoughts and were able to form a connection with him.

In hindsight, it was mean to be pushed into a certain feeling but I say this with the best of intentions because it was brilliant. The feeling afterwards though…well, I suppose you’ll have to read the story and find out yourselves!

Are you team Ben or team Rob? What do you think about Maddy? 

Review: Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger

Let the Storm Break cover by GoodReads

Title: Let the Storm Break
Author: Shannon Messenger
Genre: YA, fantasy
Series: #2 Sky Fall
Publisher: Simon Pulse
DOP: March 2014
Pages: 381
Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 978-1-4424-5044-8
Twitter: @SW_Messenger

#1 – Let the Sky Fall: read the review here.

Treacherous winds are trying to entice Vane in a nightmare that might be impossible to escape once he gives in. It doesn’t help his training and when the pull of their bond weakens as Audra’s running from a past she’d wish to forget, it isn’t helping him focus either. Questions are asked about her disappearance. The Gale force are rapidly losing in number after each new attack and the winds are shifting, a promise of another change. In the meantime, Audra discovers something about Raiden and his newest weapon that threatens to dissolve the power of four winds. Will she get back in time to warn Vane and the Gales?

The whirlwind story of Vane and Audra continues in the second Sky Fall book written by Shannon Messenger: Let the Storm Break. Despite the slow start from its precedent, Let the Sky Fall, this book makes up for it tremendously, immediately familiarising us again with Vane and his sarcasm. After a brief recap of what’s expected of him and what his goal is, we’re thrown into a new story that not only reads a lot quicker than the previous one, it’s a lot more interesting too.

During this book, Vane and Audra are separated for most of the time, giving us a break from the similarities of their point of views. They both experience different things and thankfully, so do we too, receiving a nicely balanced duality. It definitely speeds things up in a good way, switching from boring repetition to exciting new events with each new chapter.

The only problem I have left is with Audra. In all honesty, she’s a weak character pretending to be strong, cool and knowledgeable but as soon as she’s faced with temptation, she loses all control. Instead of facing her mistakes, she runs away until everyone’s too busy to realise what she’s done. She leaves Vane behind, the guy who’s head over heels in love with her and who knows little, if not nothing, about their world. He has to answer questions, has to lie in order to protect her, while she couldn’t care less, her own selfish behaviour coming first now. Her jealousy is ugly and uncalled. She left him. He should ditch her. There’s growth, I don’t deny this, but I really don’t like Audra and I wonder if Vane isn’t too blind to see that there might be others besides her. Someone who is kind, genuine and destined to be Vane’s future wife perhaps?

More characters are introduced to us, helping us remember that this isn’t solemnly about Vane and Audra but about the entire sylph species too; and it’s war. A lot of funny Vane-and-his-guard-slash-friend-Gus interactions keep the story upbeat in the otherwise dark and action filled plot.

The tension slowly builds towards a crescendo until it blows up and throws you miles away. Less predictable, although still predictable with some thought, a few twists will jolt you back into your earth elemental body. Leaving us with one frustrating cliffhanger, the anticipation of the next book release is so high that it’s dancing on the edge of being either unbearable or just comfortable enough to wait for an entire year (hopefully, since no release date has been mentioned yet).