I HATE being disappointed by books that start with a bang but end with a lifeless whimper. Bodice Rippers s***Placeholder for longer review to come***
I HATE being disappointed by books that start with a bang but end with a lifeless whimper. Bodice Rippers set in Russia are my siren song! This should have rocked!
Drusilla Campbell's "The Frost and the Flame" was everything this book should have been.
One woman, three men who love her, and this dumb twit, Kirsten, goes for the very old Russian general who she says treats her like a daughter even though he's terrible in bed, then brutally rapes and beats her and she forgives him because he's like her daddy?
Two great rivals for Kirsten's love who spend more time together and have more chemistry with EACH OTHER than the heroine has with either of them? Plus, she spends maybe 40-60 pages tops with both of them, while the rest of the book is marching into Russia or getting raped by "Daddy!"
And on the last page she reunites with her "true love" whom she met very briefly? If that's the kind of bodice ripper you're going to write, it has to be meaty and fun.
When the best thing I can say about a book is that at the very least I can say I've read it, that’s sort of like saying, “Oh, chicken pox, I had thatWhen the best thing I can say about a book is that at the very least I can say I've read it, that’s sort of like saying, “Oh, chicken pox, I had that once! Root canal with Novocain wearing off, yup, I know the feeling. ! Hemorrhoids, and explosive diarrhea, I hear you!”—well, you get my drift…
Writer James Sallis's novella, “Drive” reads like something that would be assigned in a freshman English college course: a terrible, post-modern action tale with tons of characters, ever-changing POVs and a time-line all skewed so that important events happen in the middle instead of at the end, therefore losing any impact on the reader, and you don't care when the story's over.
It’s also one of the most boring books I've read. Director Nicolas Winding Refn has directed THREE of the most boring movies I've seen: "Valhalla Rising," "Bronson" and “Only God Forgives.” So how did these two artists combine together to make a movie I LOVED?
The book and movie are so different; this is one of those rare cases where the movie excelled and the novella fell flat. Ryan Gosling played Driver as a man of few words who forms intense attachments to a select few. The Driver of this book is verbose and has lots of friends. It had to be the retro 80’s style and awesome soundtrack that fooled me into thinking the book would be just as slick and enjoyable as the film.
This book belongs in the ninth level of literary Hell, consigned to those who commit treachery, as I was duped into thinking this would be a masterpiece. I purchased this book thinking it was going to be an intense crime-noir; instead it just ended being a crime that made me snore.
I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in late July, 2013 which was a difficult time period for me.
I had orderedSometimes being disturbed is a good thing.
I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in late July, 2013 which was a difficult time period for me.
I had ordered the book for reading on a very rare family vacation to the Bahamas. I hadn’t been out of the country for 12 years and was looking forward to it. The book didn’t arrive in time, so I spent my time on the beach without anything to read. While the food, beaches and people of Nassau were wonderful, due to various reasons I came back from the trip in bad spirits. And waiting in my mailbox was Gone Girl, a book to befriend me in my times of trouble and self-pity. I was to find it a twisted friend, one that fed upon my sickness and ill feelings.
Spending so much time in that tropical sun was not the smartest thing to do for someone with lupus. I had a massive flare-up, with a fever registering at 105˚F. And much worse, despite the many visits to the vet, my sweet little bull terrier was dying of cancer, and I couldn’t even move out of bed to care for her properly. And there were family issues to deal with, realizations about both my extended and nuclear family that I wasn’t happy about. (In retrospect, those issues were trivial, but being sick with a beloved pet dying didn’t make for rational thoughts). I was angry at everything: my body, my family, and the vets. I couldn’t do anything but lie there a dizzying fog, where occasional moments of lucidity allowed me to flip the pages of a book and read.
Gone Girl fed that dark place inside me with even more darkness, although at the time, I was not in any state to process it in the right perspective.
The plot appears simple. A wife goes missing. The clues left behind can mean only one thing: someone killed her, and the person most likely to have done it was the husband, Nick. A media firestorm ensues as the search for wife, Amy, leads to startling revelations about a seemingly perfect marriage.
Alternating with Nick’s narration are entries from the Amy’s diary, giving us an insight into the marriage before the disappearance. We are fed little bits of information, pieces at a time, which molds the reader's opinion like potter’s clay. Then events then take an odd turn and we see our perspective has been skewed all along. What we are told is not always true. Gillian Flynn created a warped, revolting world about two people so horrible that they destroyed everything in their path because they were selfish fucks who cared only about themselves.
Which horrible person do we root for? The side you pick may say something about you, something disturbing.
I’m ok with that. No doubt about it, I’m on Team Disturbed.
If you haven’t read the book, don’t read the spoilers!
(view spoiler)[ First of all I loved Amy. I know she is a horrible, horrible person and in real life I would run away from anyone who was 1/10th as crazy as she was. But as a character in a book, she had me rooting for her 100%. Oh yeah, she was evil, but so is Hannibal Lecter and readers, moviegoers and TV-watchers root for him. Why doesn’t Amy get any love? Those wheels in her mechanical brain were always turning and even when things didn’t work out as planned, she always kept rolling and going on to a new plan. What she did to Nick was a wicked thing, to set him up for her murder, hoping he’d get the death penalty. But it was she who drew me into the story, not Nick.
I am satisfied that at she got her “happy” ending, as messed up as it was. If you watched Breaking Bad and rooted for Walter White even at his most evil, then you might find Amy sympathetic. Then again, maybe not. One could argue Walter had legitimate reasons to down a dark path, even though it was his ego that kept him on it. Amy was always ego, a broken human being who wasn’t truly a person, just whatever persona she decided to put on. But God, I loved her character.
On the other hand, I hated the character Nick. I hated his fake good guy identity. He was a liar, a thief and a cheat. Amy was a sociopath; Nick was a narcissist. He walked through life with his good looks and expected women to take care of him. Unlike Amy he did become self-aware and own up to his flaws, but it wasn’t enough to turn him into a real good guy hero. He was perfectly content to have his sister pick up the slack at work, his wife pay for his bills and his mistress take care of his sexual and emotional needs.
(Angry woman rant ahead) When Nick constantly described how young, innocent and guileless his mistress was, I was expecting a young 18-, maybe 17-, year-old junior college student, fresh out of high school who didn’t know any better, not some 23-year-old shaking her boobs in front of her of married teacher. 23 is a young age and young people do stupid things, but that’s not a child and it’s well past the age of reason. You’re an adult and the decisions you make, you have to own. If I may be so self-righteously smug, at 23 I was already married, had 3-year-old child, a mortgage and full-time job. I was making all kinds of mistakes then (and even still today) but never did I excuse my mistakes due to age. Crazy as it sounds, Nick’s constant defense of his mistress as just an innocent victim irritated me more than anything else.
Screw morality, there are just some things you can’t do and still be called innocent. 23-year-olds who knowingly pursue and knowingly sleep with other women’s husbands have no right to been called innocent. Sorry for that rant, but that’s my line in the sand.
Nick takes his wife’s money to start his dream bar in his sleepy home town, far from their life in New York. He gets do what he wants and live his life while Amy sits home and waits for life to happen. Fuck that. He’s no hero.
Then again, Amy’s certainly no heroine.
On the scale of evil, she’s far worse than Nick. Amy is a liar, a psychopath, a killer, stalker; she frames innocent people for crimes and ruins peoples’ lives. She is messed up.
But you know what, she’s entertaining as hell and fun. She’s so crazy that even in my sick haze, I kept reading to see what she would do next. Her “Cool Girl” rant is one off the most brilliant things I’ve ever read in modern books and had me saying, “Hell yes!”
Flynn excels at characterization. I once remarked that Flynn never writes about good people; her characters are all different levels of suck that whom you wouldn’t want anything to do with, and in Gone Girl all the characters are slimy, evil or vicious (save for Go, Nick’s sister, the only “sinless” character in this book, besides the baby, of course!)
Nick and Amy are both the protagonist and antagonist; both are villains in a story with no heroes. Many readers hated the ending thinking the bad guy got away with it all, but I liked it and believed it to be a perfectly perverse ending for a perverse romance. Although it was a bit rushed (all of Flynn’s endings are unfortunately). (hide spoiler)]
How people forge intimate bonds with media images of beautiful victims while demonizing the suspects is depicted here in perfect, sharp satire. Flynn’s books always deal with excellent and biting themes on what it means to be a “man” or “woman.” She is by far the most enlightening, insightful, entertaining and well-written author of the recent popular-phenom books I've read, blowing away those over-praised duds written by silly Dan Brown and humorless Stieg Larsson.
Of her three novels so far, Gone Girl is her best work, which is saying something, as her other two other books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places, were incredible and also very dark reads. I am anxiously awaiting Flynn’s next book, but in the meantime I’ll have to make due watching the film adaptation of Gone Girl. (Though I’m not looking forward to Ben Affleck as Nick).
I had originally given Gone Girl 4 ½ stars. Looking back more than a year after I first read it and then re-reading it, I wonder how could have ever dared to give this book anything less than the 5 huge stars it deserved.
**spoiler alert** Frozen Fire was one of the strangest HPs I've ever read. It's not Charlotte Lamb's worst, by any means; actually it's quite well-wri**spoiler alert** Frozen Fire was one of the strangest HPs I've ever read. It's not Charlotte Lamb's worst, by any means; actually it's quite well-written and if it was a two part story I would have loved it. But as it stands, the book focuses way too much on Helen's relationship with her husband and not with the hero.
Helen has been married to Paul for many years and he's cheated on her time and time again. They've had to move various times whenever his affairs caused too much trouble. So here they are again, in a new town with a new job for Paul, and Helen is sticking around but she she's not sleeping with her husband. Still, she's faithful to Paul even if he isn't, because she's the kind of person who keeps her vows even though her husband doesn't. Plus he's super, super hot. That's it. The man treats her like crap, but he's SO good looking she won't divorce him.
Enter Paul's boss, Mark. There is a strong attraction present, and when Mark realizes what's going on in Helen's marriage, he pursues her with a vengeance. Mark's a great character: a wonderful man who's dominant, but sensitive. But he's always on the fringes. Paul is the main guy in this story.
It was unsettling how Helen so was committed to her terrible marriage. She was the ultimate martyr and refused to divorce her adulterous, emotionally abusive husband. But it's the end that's REALLY bizarre.
***MAJOR ENDING SPOILERS*** * * * * * (view spoiler)[Helen falls in love with Mark and spends Christmas with his family. At last she realizes her marriage is over. But there's no major declaration of love, no final showdown between husband, wife and potential lover. What happens is this:
Helen and Mark walk home together on Boxing Day. Paul, in an angry fit, tries to run Mark over with his horse. The horse bolts and Paul is thrown and killed.
"Helen looked at Paul, her ears hearing nothing more. She put out a shaking hand to stroke back the smooth golden hair from his damp forehead. He lay so still and tranquil in the cold wintry light, all the glitter of sunlight in his hair as it gleamed. His face had smoothed out into beauty again, as it did when he slept. Paul was beautiful, Helen thought, gazing down at him. He would always be beautiful now. The slow stain which had begun to eat up that beauty had been halted forever. All that Paul could have been lay in that peaceful face. The ruin of his life was now behind him. Helen put her hands to her face and wept."(hide spoiler)]
That's the grand finale to Helen and Mark's love story? What an awful way to end a romance novel!
Nevertheless, the book did keep my interest and I rate it a tepid three stars because of the wonderful hero and the unusual circumstances surrounding the love story, even if it's not handled in the most creative manner.