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Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark places

(From Goodreads)Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.
Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her borther’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?
She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.
Who did massacre the Day family?

Just as interesting and dark as the previous stories of Flynn’s her second novel takes matters of a crime in the past and present point of view. It’s a well-paced page-turner, beautifully wrought, that would leave you shocked, disturbed and intrigued at once. Flynn is excellent at creating unpleasant characters and disturbing situations, and Dark Places is full of them. If you plan to read at night, make sure you have the light on.



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Book Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (Book 2, The Bone Season)

mime order

(From Goodreads) Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London…
As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

Shannon jumps into the story with action, interest and questions of how Paige is going to survive that keeps the readers hooked. Paige’s new life is in Scion, as the secrets and darkness that surrounds her are revealed as Shannon’s characters shift, backstab and fall in ways that are as fascinating as the twists and turns of the plot.
The Mime Order is the second book in a new fantasy series.

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Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

sharp objects

(From Goodreads) WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart. Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg. Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.
With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable

Gillian Flynn has recently became a favourite author of mine, ever since I read her amazing Gone Girl. And so I’ve gone back to her first ever published book, and I am pleased to say it was a brilliant piece of work, dark, twisted and disturbing.
The book is engaging, as we follow Camille, through her move back home to her town, where she is to get the inside scoop on the murders of two preteen girls – both strangled and had their teeth removed. We follow Camille on her quest to obtain as much information as possible about the crimes – and we also learn much more than we bargained for. The town is filled with dark secrets and the least of all is the twisted dynamic of Camille’s own family.
If you like characters that unreliable, flawed and with dark and disturbing qualities then this is a book for you.

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Best and Worst Literary Couples

As today is Valentine’s day I thought I would write of some famous literary couples.
(*If you’ve not read these books then beware of spoilers.)

1. Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet
First known to the world in 1813, and since then the world has fallen in love with these two characters. Actually Jane Austen has personified two attributes of human nature, pride and prejudice in Darcy and Elizabeth. Darcy comes from a very high social hierarchy and Pemberley. He typifies the educated aristocracy while on the other hand; Elizabeth is the second daughter of a gentleman of modest means. The story follows Darcy and Elizabeth who don’t see eye to eye on many circumstances, and Elizabeth find’s him to be infuriating and prideful. Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth and with a disastrous proposal; Elizabeth rightfully rejects him, “Last man on earth I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.” But, do not let this fool you, as though they leave each other, both spoken clearly how they think of the other, Elizabeth slowly begins to see Darcy in another light, when she learns of the story of his sister, and his help in the runaway Lydia situation and realises that she can’t be without him. And so, thankfully they eventually find themselves married.

2. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester
In Charlotte Bronte’s famous tale, friendless characters find a cure for loneliness in each other’s company. Jane is an abused orphan employed as a governess to the charge of an abrasive, but very rich Edward Rochester. The improbable pair grow close as Rochester reveals a tender heart beneath his gruff exterior. However, on their wedding day, a horrified Jane discovers he is already married – the crazy wife lives in the attic. Heartbroken, Jane runs away, but later returns after a dreadful fire has destroyed Rochester’s mansion, killed his wife, and left him blind. The two reunite and live out their days in shared bliss.

3. Romeo and Juliet
I can’t write about famous literary couples without the mention of Shakespeare’s classic story of these two young teenagers from feuding families, and who fall in love at first sight, marry, become lovers and risk it all for their love. This is probably the most famous lovers ever. This couple has become a synonym for love itself. Their “untimely deaths” ultimately unite their feuding households.

4. Peeta and Katniss
Peeta and Katniss from Suzanne’s Collins’ The Hunger Games – I loved them in the first book, and even more in the second. Throughout the third book I was with my fingers crossed that they would get together, and thankfully they did. Drawn together by a dystopian gladiator-style tournament, we want them to succeed. But there are moments of humour, especially on Peeta’s part, that I think take them from good to great.

5. Heathcliff and Catherine
They are one of the best-loved literary couples, and one of the worst. Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship can only be described as mutually destructive and abusive. They spend most of their time trying to hurt the other in the most malevolent means possible. It’s the kind of obsessive love that prioritises control over a person and loses sight of the individual’s happiness.

6. Marianne and Willoughby
In Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility we watch as the second Dashwood daughter, flirts and begins a dazzling and romantic relationship with the young dashing Willoughby who woos and charms all the ladies in the family. If only they knew what he was like? Willoughby is a man who would marry only for money and we see just how much he means of that when he leaves poor Marianne broken hearted, for a woman who has a wealthy dowry. We later learn that Willoughby had a love affair with another poor young woman, leaving her with child. So he doesn’t seem all that great now. Marianne herself is so heartbroken that she goes on a walk to his home while a thunder storm is overhead – no consciousness to her health. Her heartbroken and wistfulness of Willoughby causes her to nearly die due to her becoming ill. But, thankfully Austen full believe of happy endings, gives Marianne the love she deserves in the man of Colonel Brandon.

7. Amy and Nick Dunne
If you’ve read Gone Girl, you can definitely see what I mean by the worst couple in literature. They’ve both lied about who they really are, as a way to make them seem more perfect in the eye of the other, but as the marriage has progressed, this lie has become difficult to preserve, and so they slowly reveal what they really are. Five years in on the marriage, where the story takes place, Amy and Nick are toxic to each other – but in a way also good for each other. Nick is cheating on Amy, and Amy takes this not very well, and fakes her death to blame it on Nick. However when Nick realises this is all of Amy’s doing, the investigation, the questions, Nick plays the game, as he during a broadcast interview pretends to be the apologetic husband who has cheated and who still loves his wife very much – adding in the watch that he hates, but Amy gave it to him, to give the overall picture of a dotting husband. Amy returns to him, wanting that real picture perfect of husband and wife that they had. In the end they are stuck together.

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Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

before i go to sleep

(From Goodreads) As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child, thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me…Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love–all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.
Welcome to Christine’s life.

THE MERMORY LOSS: It is quite a scary thing to imagine about waking up every morning and not remembering who you are. It is disturbing at some level, which just makes you so engrossed in the story of Christine’s life, a life that as a reader, you find difficult to actually consider how terrifying it would be to lose everything that makes you who you are, your memories that have been made, created your path for your life are all now lost. And in this book this is just all thrown up in wind, with Christine suffering through day in day out with realising that she is someone else, but is that someone real or just a lie.
HUSBAND AND WIFE RELATIONSHIP: At the core of the story is the relationship between Christine and her husband, Ben and how they both deal with her amnesia. This dramatic background in a normal suburban town is a view of this struggling family with secrets, deceit and half-truths as Christine writes in her dairy telling her thoughts and feelings about Ben. Can she trust him? Does she love him? You feel connected to Christine as you read her dairy that she keeps and struggle with her to learn what memories are true and if Ben is telling her the whole truth.
THE ENDING: The book wraps the story quickly in the end, a bit fast, but you are given the reveal of the main plot twist that you might’ve seen coming or not.

Overall, it was an interesting read and favourably enjoyable.

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Ideas where do they come from?

The Inspiration has hit.
We’ve all read those marvellous stories that keep us tightly gripped to the story right until the end, but how does the author come up with these wonderful ideas? What makes them think of these situations and how did they discover these creative thoughts. The following is of some famous authors, with their works and how they came up with the ideas and where they were when inspiration hit them.

J.R.R. Tolkien was grading college exam papers, and when he came across a blank sheet, he wrote down the first thing that randomly popped into his mind: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” He had no idea what a hobbit was or why it lived underground, and so he set out to solve the mystery. Thus began the creation of The Hobbit.

Leo Tolstoy was said to have had a vision of an elbow and the image expanded into a melancholy woman in a ball gown, one night after dinner. The woman was so intriguing and mysterious to him that he wrote her story. Thus began the creation of Anna Karenina.

In June of 2003, Stephenie Meyer woke up from an intense dream in which two young lovers were lying together in a meadow, discussing why their love could never work. And one of them, the boy, was a vampire. Thus began the creation of Twilight.

In the case of Misery a novel by Stephen King, King describes falling asleep on an airplane and having a dream about a fan kidnapping her favourite author and holding him hostage. When he awoke, King was so anxious to capture the story of his dream that he sat at the airport and frantically wrote the first 40-50 pages of the novel.

In 1816, Mary Shelley was just eighteen years old when she spent the summer with her lover (and future husband) Percy Shelley, at Lord Byron’s estate in Switzerland. One night, as they sat around the fire, the conversation turned to the subject of reanimating human bodies using electrical currents. Shelley went to bed that night with images of corpses coming back to life, and thus grew the creation of Frankenstein’s monster.

Suzanne Collins had said this on her idea for the Hunger Games series “One night, I was lying in bed and I was very tired, and I was just sort of channel surfing on television. And, I was going through, flipping through images of reality television where there were these young people competing for a million dollars or a bachelor or whatever. And then I was flipping and I was seeing footage from the Iraq War. And these two things began to sort of fuse together in a very unsettling way, and that is when I, really, I think was the moment where I really got the idea for Katniss’s story.”

J.K. Rowling had said that the creation for Harry Potter came to her one day when she was travelling on her own on a crowded train, and the idea of a boy who was a wizard simply fell into her head.

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My Five Favourite Australian Books

As today is Australia Day, I thought today’s topic should be on Australian books. Here are my top five favourites.

1.The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
the book thief
(From Goodreads) It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.
So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time

2.Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
tomorrow when the war began
(From Goodreads)When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong — their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision — run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.

3.Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
jasper jones
(From Goodreads) Late on a hot summer night in 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan.
Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress. Jasper takes him to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery.
With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.
And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse.
In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.

4.Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
big little lies
(From Goodreads) Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads: Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive

5.Cloud Street by Tim Winton
(From Goodreads) Hailed as a classic, Tim Winton’s masterful family saga is both a paean to working-class Australians and an unflinching examination of the human heart’s capacity for sorrow, joy, and endless gradations in between. An award-winning work, Cloudstreet exemplifies the brilliant ability of fiction to captivate and inspire.
Struggling to rebuild their lives after being touched by disaster, the Pickle family, who’ve inherited a big house called Cloudstreet in a suburb of Perth, take in the God-fearing Lambs as tenants. The Lambs have suffered their own catastrophes, and determined to survive, they open up a grocery on the ground floor. From 1944 to 1964, the shared experiences of the two overpopulated clans — running the gamut from drunkenness, adultery, and death to resurrection, marriage, and birth — bond them to each other and to the bustling, haunted house in ways no one could have anticipated.

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