Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gone Girl

Author:  Gillian Flynn
Genre:  Mystery

One Star
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer? 

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Okay, I'll admit I started reading this book because of all the hype regarding it.  After the first few pages - where a creepy Nick is describing his wife's skull - I began to wonder why I was still reading it.  Yes, folks, it began to bore me.  Really, really, fast.
You see, Nick and Amy are a perfect couple.  A perfect, beautiful couple.  With money.  And parents who think she is absolutely wonderful, and nothing bad that happens could ever be her fault.  And when Amy mysteriously disappears on their fifth anniversary, it is her perfect husband Nick who is suspected of the crime - and although we all know that the husband is always the first suspect when a wife disappears - after Nick begins to read through Amy's diary you realize this isn't such a bad thing that she's gone.  Mainly because Amy is a psychopath. 
All you have to do is read her diary - which we do - to figure that out.  And her husband isn't as perfect as he's supposed to be.  Both of these people are hateful, nasty, and just unhappy human beings.  And they're about as toxic as you can get, which means together they're twice as toxic.
There are too many questions surrounding the pregnancy - and none of them make any sense.  But what is worse - and anyone who has read the book understands - is there is no resolution.  No good guy wins over bad. The book just ends.  (I don't feel this is a spoiler, because if you want to read the book, you will; if you have, you already know; if you're not interested, it really doesn't matter anyway).  Sorry, I can't recommend this book and doubt if I will read any more by this author.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Cuckoos of Batch Magna

Author: Peter Maughan
Genre:  Literature

Five Stars
When Sir Humphrey Strange, 8th baronet and squire of Batch Magna passes on, he leaves an entailed estate to his relative known as Humph, an amiable, overweight short-order cook from the Bronx.

Now known as Sir Humphrey Franklin T. Strange, 9th baronet and squire of Batch Magna, he is persuaded by his Uncle Frank to turn the property into a theme-park for people rich enough to afford it.  However, in doing so, he learns he will have to evict the tenants (pensioners) of the estate's houseboats to leave.  This is easier said than done once Humphrey actually meets them.
When I first started reading this book I wasn't sure what to expect.  I thought it started slow; but soon I realized that I was being given a look into the daily lives of the tenants of Batch Magna:  Phineas Cook, the Lt. Commander James Cunningham, Jasmine, Owain and others meet to discuss what to do about the new Sir Humphrey - deciding that they could find various ways to kill him - in order to stay in their beloved homes, the houseboats.
This book takes place over a very short period of time; time in which we get to know each person who lives on the boats and the people around them.  Time to learn how they view their lives, their relationships, their families, their friends.  It is a wonderful book, giving one the chance to see what life is like in a quaint English-Welsh border village with people you want to see the best for; and people you know deserve the worst.  I grew to like these people - Phineas and Sir Humphrey the most - and if this is what Wales is like, I must certainly add it to my places to visit someday.
It is a journey for Humphrey - a small-time cook who believes he has just hit the jackpot with his title, landing not only that but the hand of a Wall Street wizard, Sylvia, as his soon-to-be bride.  It is a journey that changes not only him, but the people around him.  For example, Phineas, not knowing who Humphrey is, takes him "on a spin" in his auto while Phineas is attempting to escape 'certain death' from a jealous boyfriend of a waitress he ill-advisedly slept with (you will have to read the book to find out the details, but it is quite humorous).  Throughout the course of the day, they have an adventure, spend an afternoon drinking with each other and come to like each other, even after he discovers Humphrey, wracked with guilt, tells him who he is.
Humphrey's journey to find himself and what he wants out of life takes him from the United States to Batch Magna, and it is indeed quite enchanting to travel with him as he makes his way from being unsure of what he wants to knowing what lies ahead. 
The author provided a copy of this book in return for an honest review, but this in no way affected the review.

Dance of the Scarecrows (A Jonathan Wilder Mystery #1)

Author:  Ray Sipherd Genre:   Mystery Hardcover; Paperback; ISBN #:  9780312143060; 9780373262878 Worldwide Mystery 252 Pages Various...