sunday book review: the silent wife

I read The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison over the weekend. I read several articles that compared it to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn–some said it was even better than Gone Girl. I was intrigued.

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This book is about the troubled marriage between Jodi and Todd. Each chapter alternates telling their perspectives of life together–a “his and her” kind of thing. The book doesn’t have a remarkable plot, but the way it is told is chilling. I personally enjoyed reading Gone Girl more, but it was still a good read and a psychologically-thrilling experience. And I stayed up way too late finishing it.

Good night.

13 books to fall for

I’ve never been one to take Halloween too seriously. When I was 16, I dressed up as a monk for my church’s fall festival and told everyone “Happy Reformation Day!”

However, one of my very best friends is the Queen of Halloween. She’s a bona fide, pinterest-recipe maker, decorative Fall-banner-sewing, Halloween movie connoisseur.

She was my roommate my last year of college. When you’d enter our apartment on October 1, you’d enter a world of lighted owl figurines, glittery orange pumpkins, scary cobwebs in the ceiling, and a delicious fall scented candle burning.

Under her watch, I baked sugar cookies to look like pieces of candy corn, dressed up like Charlie Brown for the annual Famous Maroon Band Halloween Rehearsal, and indulged in candy corn frappes from StrangeBrew Coffee House while watching Hocus Pocus for the 10,000th time. (Let’s be honest, can you watch that movie too many times? I don’t think it’s possible.)

She even convinced me to watch Halloween with her in the dark one time.

Although I will never be up to her Halloween standard (though I did make a fall centerpiece for my dining room table this year), fall is, and has always been, my favorite time of year.

I love the cooler weather, leaves changing colors, and getting to wear a sweater. I love sweaters. Cardigans. Hoodies. Sweatshirts. Yes.

I love crock pots of chili cooking all day, baking scones, watching football, and feeling cozy under a blanket.

And I may be the only white American 20-something female who doesn’t like Pumpkin Spice Lattes (I like pumpkin and I like coffee, but the two flavors are way too strong together), but I always enjoy drinking coffee more when it’s cold outside.

My birthday is always around Thanksgiving, so usually my birthday cake consists of an entire Thanksgiving feast.

And all you fall-haters out there, did you forget you get an extra hour of sleep soon? Come on, people.

So what could you add to Fall to make it even better?

Books.

Here’s a list of 13 books for you to read during the Halloween/Thanksgiving season.

13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
If you haven’t read Harry Potter yet (watching the movies don’t count), Fall is the perfect time to start. You’ll be finishing the series around Christmastime, which is already the most magical time of year. You can buy the paperbacks at a really inexpensive price, or dust off your library card and get to work. You won’t regret it; the hype is real.

12. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know I’m shamelessly addicted to Gillian Flynn’s novels. Be warned: Dark Places is scary. And disturbing. And CRAZY GOOD. Dark Places lives up to its title, and it’s an excellent story to get sucked in during Halloween.

11. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
I wrote a review on this book in an earlier post. It’s about a horror-film maker and the mystery surrounding his family and his daughter’s death, and you’ll be up all night trying to finish it.

10. Carrie by Stephen King
If you’re excited to see the new remake of Carrie, I encourage you to read the book first. I read Carrie for the first time when I was in high school, and later fell captive to Stephen King’s books. Read the book and be creeped out before the movie.

9. Nancy Drew and The Password to Larkspur Lane by Carolyn Keene
Reading Nancy Drew as a child was a life-changing event for me. Why? Because Nancy Drew made me love books. These books were the first “real” books I ever read. I felt like I achieved a huge accomplishment when I finished them, and for a first/second grader, it was a huge accomplishment. Nancy Drew laid the foundation for my love of a good mystery. The Password to Larkspur Lane is my favorite, if I absolutely had to just pick one favorite. You can read it in a day.

8. Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
This is about a hidden pregnancy and murder among an Amish farm community. It’s like reading a novel-length episode of “Law and Order: SVU.”

7. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
I read this book in high school so I would understand all the brouhaha surrounding this book and Christianity. The book is fiction, as indicated on the cover. The conspiracy theories in the book are just that–conspiracy theories. As a Christian, I read this book and was not offended or upset…in fact, I loved it, and I’ve probably read it twice since. It’s a murder-mystery treasure hunt intertwined with history, religion, conspiracy theories, and a tiny shred of romance.

6. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Again, this would be a great book series to start during the fall (and in time for the spring movie). The third installment comes out next week, so get busy!

5. The Green Mile by Stephen King
This book is probably my favorite Stephen King novel. It’s one of the few books out there that made a movie adaptation equally as good. Even if you have seen the movie, I encourage you to experience this story the way it was intended.

4. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
My husband got me to read this book a few weeks ago, and I could kick myself for waiting this long to read it. If I were a teacher, this book would be required summer reading. It’s packed with literary elements and social commentary.

3. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
This is my favorite of Flynn’s novels, and probably in my top 5 favorite books of all time. This is a story about a journalist recovering from her addiction to cutting herself, investigating murders in her hometown, and facing her troubled past. I stayed up until four in the morning trying to process this book after I finished it.

2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
This book is brilliant. It’s fun, light-hearted, witty, and adventurous. I can’t say too much about it because I’m waiting on my husband to read it and I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say this: it’s like National Treasure meets The Social Network. Only better.

1. Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask by R. L. Stine
Does anyone else remember how CRAZY MESSED UP this story was? Especially for an 11-year-old! I remember vividly picking up this book at the library and finishing it so fast it made my head spin. This, like Nancy Drew, was foundational for me: it scared me, and I liked it. I like reading books that made my heart pound. So this fall, pick up a Goosebumps book for old time’s sake and re-live your fourth grade nightmares.

Happy reading, and Happy Fall, y’all.

MC

sunday book club: two books to make up for tardy posts

I realize this is my Sunday book review on a Tuesday, again, but I have a good reason this time.

My husband and I flew to my hometown of Somerville, Tennessee (metro Memphis area) for the weekend to hang out with my family and visit my alma mater for a football game down in Starkville. It was a lovely weekend and I really enjoyed getting to see my parents, my sister, my friends, and let’s be honest…the most important thing: my dog. Just kidding. Kind of. 

With all this traveling around, I got to finish Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl and also read Dare Me by Meagan Abbott. 

Of all the books I’ve read in the past few months, Special Topics in Calamity Physics is at the bottom of my list of favorites. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it–I did, and I think Pessl is a talented writer. I just had such a hard time getting used to how the story was told. It was so wordy and complicated. But if you enjoy complicated, you’ll like it. I liked it. I really did. It just didn’t blow me away like some of the other books I read. 

I picked up Dare Me for two reasons: 

1. I read an article about a list of books suggested by Gillian Flynn, and this was mentioned. I’m having severe Gillian Flynn withdrawals. Flynn’s quote about the book was on the front cover, and she described it as “Lord of the Flies set in a high school cheerleading squad.” Uh, heck yes. 

2. Said article described it as the “Pretty Little Liars” of the book world. And since I (now) shamelessly watch “Pretty Little Liars,” of course I had to get this book. 

Dare Me was crazy. I like crazy, so I definitely enjoyed this read. It sort had a “Great Gatsby” feel to it–the book is told from the perspective of a girl who isn’t directly involved in the major conflicts. Very Nick Carraway. 

The story is exactly what Gillian Flynn said it would be: Lord of the Flies in a high school cheerleading squad. It affirms my belief that there is nothing more mean, crazy, or dangerous than a teenage girl. 

 

sunday book club: night film by marisha pessl

This past week I read Night Film by Marisha Pessl. After reading Gillian Flynn’s novels and absolutely loving them, I decided to tackle Marisha Pessl next. Her first novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, is up next on my list. I just had to get my hands on Night Film once I heard about its plot.

The story is about a journalist named Scott McGrath who sets out to find out the truth behind the suicide/possible murder of Ashley Cordova, daughter of a legendary horror film director. It’s a hefty read–over 600 pages of twists and turns, and an ending you didn’t really see coming.

The thing I liked most about it was how Pessl addressed the battle of supernatural vs. fact-driven logic. It scared me at times. The characters, while not particularly likable, were very well developed. I enjoyed her writing style and I’m looking forward to reading her other book.

If you want a freaky read for the Halloween season, pick this one up.

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Happy reading!

MC

sunday book club

In an effort to keep up regular blog posts, as well as read frequently (after all, the best writers are readers), I’ve decided to have my own little book club of sorts. Every Sunday, I plan to discuss the book or books I read the previous week, offer suggestions, and hopefully engage in feedback from you all.

For a little over a month now, I’ve been on an extreme reading binge. My Uncle Buddy passed away on August 16 after suffering with heart and other health issues. This was a particularly difficult time for my family for many, many reasons. In fact, I’d be willing to say that this was the hardest things I’ll ever go through.

Grief is an odd thing. It takes the form of so many emotions: a burning ball of anger in your stomach, a lump of overwhelming sadness in your throat. How we handle grief is even more strange. Being in Atlanta and away from my hometown added another obstacle in dealing with the loss. For example, when I found out Uncle Buddy died, I cleaned our apartment for three hours (it was spotless to begin with) and spent the rest of the day wandering aimlessly and tearing up in Barnes & Noble. I picked up Divergent by Veronica Roth, and I really haven’t stopped reading since.

Since he passed away, I’ve escaped into amazing stories.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Paper Towns by John Green
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I’d give each one of these books at least 4/5 stars.

I discovered the genius that is Gillian Flynn. I haven’t enjoyed reading a writer’s voice this much since I read Harry Potter. Flynn tends to write about bad women: the women are the ones capable of some truly manipulative and heinous actions. Sharp Objects and Gone Girl left me jaw-dropped and speechless. Dark Places almost gave me nightmares.

Since it’s Emmy night, I’d like to take a moment to COMPLETELY FREAK OUT about the movie adaptations of Gillian Flynn’s novels.

“Gone Girl” will be directed by the same director of my favorite TV show at the moment, “House of Cards.”

“Dark Places” will feature Corey Stoll, who happens plays congressman Peter Russo in “House of Cards.”

I am so unbelievably excited about this.

However, I will be the first to say: READ THESE BOOKS. Most of them are in the process of becoming films/will have a film adaptation in the future. Don’t wait to see the movie. Read the book. Always, read the book. Always. And watch “House of Cards.”

Anyway.

If you want to read anything by John Green, especially The Fault in Our Stars, get ready to cry hard. This book will make you laugh out loud and sob louder. I didn’t enjoy Paper Towns as much as the other books, partly because I couldn’t relate to the characters. It’s still a great book, though.

Divergent and Insurgent are fun, fast-paced, exciting stories that are similar to the Hunger Games, but not really. The third book will be released on October 22, and I may have already pre-ordered it on my Kindle.

I finished Ender’s Game this afternoon. If I ever become an English teacher and have the power to control summer reading, I think I’d put Ender’s Game on the list. There’s a plethora of literary elements in that book…symbolism, foreshadowing, irony, etc. It’s definitely a science fiction novel, but I think anyone would enjoy it.

Happy Reading!