Tag Archives: reading

Tracklist Tuesday: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

 

Photo credit: Goodreads
Photo credit: Goodreads

*Spoiler Alert!*

This mix highlights parts of Flynn’s novel Gone Girl, from the “twincest-y” relationship of Nick and Go to Amy’s vindictive and manipulative psychosis that eventually destroys her marriage.

Songs like Florence and the Machine’s “Kiss with a Fist,” “Desperate Measures” by Marianas Trench and “I Was a Fool” by Tegan and Sara explore the disintegrating and destructive relationship between Amy and Nick. While “Black Widow,” by Iggy Azalea, “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and “Decoy” by Paramore all detail Amy’s rich and enduring need to continue the life and lies she’s built herself on.

Later tracks like “Psychotic Girl” by The Black Keys and “Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t” by Brand New describe what’s left of Nick and Amy’s relationship after she’s forced to return to him and their forced relationship following her secret impregnation.

Overall, the music explores the intricacies of the story, leading the characters in the same circles they pursue in the text while highlighting the aspects that make Nick, Amy and Go so memorable.

Check out the full playlist here. 

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Motivation Monday: The Charge of the Light Brigade

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.

IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,

Noble six hundred!

Gaiman’s readers swim in masterful prose from newest publication

Photo credit: Goodreads
Photo credit: Goodreads

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

 5/5 stars

This masterful web of magic and mystery has to be one of my favorites by the famed fantasy author. Gaiman shocks and surprises once again with the 2013 publication showing readers that the child’s mind still remains the most viable and open to the unknown, even after aging long into adulthood.

The story follows a Sussex native returning to his childhood home after a funeral where he decides to visit former best friend, Lettie Hempstock. From there both he and the reader are fully immersed in flashbacks to a whirlwind battle between good, evil and the great beyond.

With a telling dedication, “For Amanda, who wanted to know,” Gaiman airs on the side of the clandestine, cloaking the novel’s overture in slowly-revealed secrets. The pacing keeps the reader engaged and entertained, making the text nearly impossible to put down.

This short story turned novel is filled with decadent description, charismatic characters and memorable quotations, an ocean for any rabid reader to devour. The work may be a quick read, but it’s one you’ll want to pick up again and again. I highly recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane to readers of all ages.

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.

The Maze Runner sends readers running in search of better writing

Photo credit: Goodreads

Photo credit: Goodreads

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

2.5/5 stars

The first of three books in James Dashner’s young-adult dystopian series, The Maze Runner follows a group of teenage boys confined to a world of gears, “grievers” and grief serum.

The concept was enticing—a post-apocalyptic future world where children are monitored in a giant, moving maze by unknown “Big Brother” figures—but dully executed. Unlike Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, the language was unimaginative, predictable and insipid.

The terrifying concepts of a self-shifting maze and “grievers,” giant, metallic worms that hunt through the maze at night for runners that haven’t made it back safely behind the walls, were diminished to a bland bedtime story with amorphous monsters. Description is clearly not Dashner’s strength.

In a last-stitch attempt to spike the plot, there appears a lone female, sent up in the metal elevator box used to send supplies to the boys once a week. However, she’s written with no personality except for the glaringly stereotypical infatuation with the main man, Thomas, and an impressively unimpressive amount of intellect.

The two can communicate telepathically as well—the origin of which Dashner hasn’t yet specified as a likely ploy to keep the reader pushing through the next few novels.

The pacing of the story flat-lined, making the only motivation to keep reading stem from an overwhelming desire to just finish the book and move on. The climax, when the characters venture into the “griever hole” at the center of the maze, was beyond predictable.

There are two other books in the Maze Runner series, however, if they’re anything like the first I have no desire to read them. Essentially, this series read like a cheap knock-off of Roth’s Divergent series or Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy.

Color me disappointed.

The Maze Runner movie, featuring Dylan O’Brien as protagonist Thomas, is scheduled to hit theaters in early September 2014. Perhaps the concept will do better on screen than it did in print.

In which mind is master

In the midst of a most-hindered sleep,

I lay unaided by my sheep.

Eyelids left to sentry eyes

Clamped shut, restless ‘neath dark’ning skies.

 

But lo, rare seconds beg the mind

To a wondrous place– and dream did I!

Down a rabbit’s hole, one could say

Where day was night and night was day.

 

Strange murmurings of tasks at hand,

In a queer and deconstructed land.

Militant were expectations,

Scorned and scathed were jubilations.

 

Into a second sleep fell I,

A dreamer’s dream in Mind’s third eye.

No guide except my instincts there,

As Alice with the Hatter’s hare.

 

Three consciousness danced ‘neath these tresses,

Confused and gambling in my wake,

Lessons learned, a sister spurned,

A dreamer fearful of mistake.

 

Hark! Too soon the bells did ring,

And unforgiving dawn did bring

The bitter scent of coffee ground,

As dreams they fled,

mind left unsound.

But Mom, I want a gold medal too!

The Olympics are the only sporting events that I truly enjoy watching.

Granted, I’ve taken in a few Buffalo Sabres games with my mother and some Sunday NASCAR races with my father, but sports only snare me once every four years.

However, with this global celebration of athleticism comes the imminent and overwhelming gloom of inadequacy.

Photo credit: Huffington Post
Photo credit: Huffington Post

Watching, slack-jawed, as 15-year-old Russian figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia dominated the women’s team short program, filled me with warring waves of awe and indignation.

I interrogated myself mercilessly, compiling my brief list of teenage accomplishments but discounting them quickly for one reason or another.  Somehow “Making high-honor roll every quarter” still doesn’t match up to the grandeur of “Winning top honors at the Olympics before I had my driver’s license.”

As I sat on my parent’s couch, cat in my lap and frown furrowing my expression, I realized something.

Accomplishment is relative.

Yes, Miss Lipni—too many consonants— may end up with this gold circle to love and cherish for the rest of her life. BUT, that achievement was most likely her only focus since she triple-axeled out of the womb.

For someone like me, a recent college graduate with a severe lack of job prospects, finally finding paid work was enough to throw a block party, ya know, if I wasn’t broke. For someone recovering from serious addiction, accomplishment could be waking up, showering and making it through the day without relapsing.

Photo credit: Creative Commons
Photo credit: Creative Commons

See what I mean? It’s all relative.

So, before you sit there berating yourself for your lack of pre-pubescent metallic medallions, remember that everything you do is important. Whether it’s mailing the bills on time, submitting the last draft of a dissertation, or finally proposing to your significant other—your efforts matter.

Keep pushing yourself. Find a goal, and motivate yourself to achieve it.

You’ve got this, so keep going.

Write on!