Tag Archives: book recommendations

Flynn’s Gone Girl fails to measure up to best-seller praise

Photo credit: Goodreads
Photo credit: Goodreads

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

 3/5 stars

With all the promises of “I just couldn’t put it down!” and “OMG, so addicting!!!” I ventured into this best-selling novel with high expectations. This dually narrated suspense story follows the lives of Nick and Amy Dunne, a married couple experiencing difficulties in their relationship.

How refreshing.

The story finally sparks interest with the sudden and unexplained disappearance of Amy on their fifth wedding anniversary. Flynn’s narrative segmentation between Nick’s real-time observations and Amy’s diary nearly forces the reader to keep reading by breaking off in the middle of providing vital information. It’s just as frustrating as it is tiresome.

Flynn also struggled with inequality in character development. Where Amy, self-professed genius and master of manipulation is fleshed out to the fullest, Nick remains the inept, bumbling husband regardless of climactic stimuli. Though it’s clear by the end that Amy is the unadulterated center of the story, it doesn’t change the supremely unbalanced points of view.

Is this a plot device? Maybe, but to the average reader it comes across as sloppy writing more than an extensively crafted linguistic choice.

Overall, Flynn’s writing is strong. Strong enough that after finishing this book I pursued another one of her works Dark Places. However, the ending and the self-indulgent-Amy-show narration made the book semi-predictable and, at times, uninteresting.

Though I wouldn’t extol this book’s praises as others have before me, I would still recommend it if you’re at all interested. You may end up enjoying Flynn’s work in ways I didn’t. Colorful supportive characters and an early plot twist redeem the aforementioned flaws, so it’s not an entirely hopeless pursuit.

Gone Girl is a well-written, well-paced suspense story, but it could have been better. Venture with an open mind and low expectations and you won’t be disappointed.

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See what your favorite celebs are reading and recommending on Twitter

BookVibe is a new website created by Parakweet that uses your Twitter handle to tell you what books the people you’re following are talking about.

Said to be “streets ahead of Amazon” by The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, this site processes the entirety of your Twitter feed into a singular list of reading recommendations.

The site offers a preview option, where you can insert your Twitter handle and see what your “Book Stream” would look like. By making an actual account, the user can create a reading list, explore what other celebrities and users are reading and see what’s trending.

BookVibe shows a general grade for each book out of five stars as well as the level of “social buzz,” or how much the book is being talked about. The trending option allows users to choose a week and see the top trending or top discussed books for that week.  The trending option also allows the user to narrow down the list by category, including genres like “Food & Wine,” “Romance” “Technology” and “Science Fiction.”

The site has great potential as long as its popularity continues to increase. The more celebrities that participate and add bookshelves, the more appeal the site will have. If people went crazy over celebrities with Twitter and Instagram, it’s fair to say BookVibe could have the same appeal.

You can like BookVibe on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

Give it a shot! Making an account is quick and takes very little commitment. It’s a small risk with a potentially large reward.

A modern take on Hemingway’s “list for a young writer”:

Hemingway's reading list  Photo credit: Open Culture
Hemingway’s reading list
Photo credit: Open Culture

Though I’m still very much a young reader and writer, this list was inspired by “Earnest Hemingway’s reading list for a young writer,” on Open Culture.

The list is rather indecipherable as Hemingway’s handwriting doesn’t exactly lend itself to the eyes of the reader, however, the author was kind enough to transcribe it, and I’ve posted it below.

  • “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane
  • “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Dubliners by James Joyce
  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal
  • Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
  • Hail and Farewell by George Moore
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Oxford Book of English Verse
  • The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson
  • The American by Henry James

Now, most of these are on Collegeboard’s recommended reading list for prospective college students and included on the Goodreads “English Major Reading List” shelf.

But, what if you’re not an English major, or you find literature boring and outdated– what should you be reading? Continue reading A modern take on Hemingway’s “list for a young writer”:

Holiday haters: 3 books to change your tune

The holidays can be a duplicitous bitch.

Either you’re adorning all your flat surfaces in twinkling lights and tinsel, or chugging down enough “adult beverages” to make all the family gatherings bearable.

Abhorring this ambivalence is totally natural, no worries.  We’ve all hated the holidays at some point.

So, next time you’re curled up with some Irish coffee, and attempting to avoid ABC family’s “25 days of Christmas” marathon, bury your nose in one of these books.

I’m not promising butterflies to warm your Grinchy soul, but these stories will remind you of something you’ve forgotten to be thankful for.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg 

Photo credit: Creative Commons

Awarded the Caldecott Medal for children’s literature in 1986, this wonderful picture book starts with the story of a boy losing faith in the meaning of Christmas.

Sound familiar?

So, Little Boy Blue is contemplating his existential Christmas crisis, and a magical, Hogwarts-style train shows up, complete with conductor.

The boy succumbs to the charms of the candy-filled train where he befriends other children his age and continues on a magical journey to meet Santa and watch the elves present the first gift of Christmas.

Photo credit: Creative Commons

Now, while the above summary sounds a lot like a “To Catch a Predator” plot line, the most important part of the book is the ending.

While our protagonist is visiting the North Pole, he asks for a single bell from a reindeer’s harness. And, on his way home, the bell mysteriously vanishes.

Will the bell return? Will the boy re-connect with his inner Christmas angel?

Check it out here on Amazon and Better World Books Continue reading Holiday haters: 3 books to change your tune