Dark Places: Book Review

Dark Places book cover

Book: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Publisher/Year: Crown Publishing Group/2009

Genre: Mystery

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ½ – Good

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Charlize Theron (The Italian Job, Snow White and the HunstmanA Million Ways to Die in the West)
Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-AssCarrieIf I Stay)
Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First ClassWarm BodiesJack the Giant Slayer)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)

When can I watch it?
Sometime later this year.

What’s it about?
Libby Day was seven-years-old when her family was massacred in their home late one January night. Her apparently Satanic brother, fifteen-year-old Ben Day was convicted of the murders after Libby testified against him. 25 years later, Libby is running low on cash. Cue: Lyle. Lyle is a member of the Kill Club, a group of amateur investigators and real crime aficionados. Lyle and his comrades are particularly interested in the Day Massacre. Much to Libby’s surprise, they all fervently believe that Ben is innocent of the murders.

The Kill Club is willing to pay Libby for memorabilia from her family as well as to help them seek out more information about the case. Since Libby needs the money and the thought of her brother being innocent peeks her interest, she agrees to help them. Now the face and voice of the investigation, Libby is forced to confront people from her past she thought she would never have to see again, each giving her another clue about her brother’s involvement (or potentially lack thereof) in her family’s murders.

What did you think?
It was not as as gripping and plot twisty as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, but it’s still a good mystery. It started off a little slow and took a while for me to get into it, but once it got going it got good. Expectedly, Libby has psychological issues since her family’s massacre. Her lack of motivation for the investigation (and for life in general) gets frustrating but it’s reasonable and believable. But as she delves deeper into the case, her thirst for information grows and she becomes more motivated and therefore more tolerable to me.

Something that’s equally interesting and frustrating about Dark Places is that it alters perspective between present day Libby, day of murder Ben and day of murder Patty (their mother). The pattern is Libby, Ben, Libby, Patty, Libby, etc. I always find it interesting to see other character’s perspective and motivations. While some of my favorite (and the most revealing) parts were in Ben and Patty chapters, it was annoying to have to wait 3 chapters to get back to a Ben/Patty cliffhanger. But that’s one of the ways Gillian Flynn ensures that readers won’t be able to put the book down.

One thing I like about Dark Places more than Gone Girl is the ending. As I said in my Gone Girl book review, the ending was abysmal. So I don’t spoil anything (as we all know spoiling a book is punishable by death), I’ll just say that the ending is much more satisfying and complete than Gone Girl.

Should I read it?
Yeah, it’s not the best mystery I’ve ever read but still a solid read.

Insurgent: Book Review

Insurgent book coverBook: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Publisher/Year: HarperCollins/2012

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ – Above average

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now)
Theo James (Underworld: Awakening)
Miles Teller (That Awkward Moment and Whiplash)
Kate Winslet (Titanic and unfortunately Labor Day)
Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars)
Zoë Kravitz (Lenny’s daughter, X-Men: First Class)

When can I watch it?
March 20 at a theater near you!

Make sure you read Divergent first!

What’s it about?
In the sequel to Divergent the shit hath hittith the fan…ith. Since the Erudite (the intelligent faction) attack on Abnegation (the selfless faction) has the factions in chaos, Amity (the peaceful faction) has opened their doors to all refugees…as long as they reside in peace. Tris (Woodley), Four/Tobais/Tobae-is (James), Tris’ Erudite brother Caleb (Elgort), Peter (Teller), Christina (Kravitz) and Four’s abusive and manipulative father Marcus seek the safety in Amity. However, this predominantly Dauntless (the brave AKA completely reckless faction) group does not exactly mesh well with the Amity way of life. Shortly after their arrival, Erudite and Dauntless traitors come to Amity in search of Abnegation (Tris & Caleb’s original faction). Tris, Caleb and Tobae-is escape capture and find refuge among the factionless. Now they have to try to come up with a plan to return peace to the factions and overthrow Jeanine (Winslet), the leader of the Erudite.

What did you think?
Definitely not as good as Divergent, but still a decent read. It still is the most different among the YA post-apocalyptic series (trust me, there are a lot) which is refreshing; there’s no love triangle (praise!) and we don’t have to wait until the last book for the rebellion/action to take place. But I got really frustrated with almost every character and their choices. I understand that not every character in a book is going to do what I want, but it’s hard to really get into a book when all the characters are pissing you off.

Although I was annoyed most of the time, I was still attached to the story and read through it pretty fast. The poor choices led to an interesting plot that kept me on my toes — since the characters didn’t always do what I thought to be the sensible thing, I never knew what was going to happen. The twists and turns throughout kept me avidly turning the pages, desperate to find out what happened next.

Should I read it?
Sure, just remember that it’s not as good as the first one. You can buy Insurgent on Thriftbooks or Amazon.

You can watch the trailer here:

The Maze Runner: Book Review

The Maze Runner book cover artBook: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Publisher/Year: Delacorte/2009

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Outstanding

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Dylan O’Brien (the best friend in Teen Wolf)
Will Poulter (the “son” in We’re the MillersThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (the adorable love-struck child in Love Actually, the warg guy who gets seizures and hangs out with Bran in Game of Thrones, Ferb of Phineas and Ferb)

When can I watch it?
NOT UNTIL SEPTEMBER 19. UGH.

What’s it about?
Thomas (O’Brien) wakes up in what appears to be a large freight elevator and doesn’t remember anything about himself besides his name; he has no idea where he is, where he’s been, who is mother is or even how old he is. Eventually the elevator stops and the doors open from above him and he sees a group of teenage boys staring down at him. Once he’s out he finds out he’s in a place called the Glade — a huge piece of land with a few shacks were the boys live, a farm for food and a small area of trees. But the most intriguing part about the the Glade is that it is in the center of a giant unsolvable maze.

The boys (Gladers) have been there for two years with a new boy (a Greenie) coming up from the Box once a month. No one knows how or why they are there. Like Thomas, the only thing anyone can remember is his name. Then things get shaken up because the next day the Box opens again and there’s a girl inside. Game. Changer. No one knows what this means or what to think of the girl or the ominous note that came with her. All the Gladers know is that they have to keep trying to solve the Maze no matter how hopeless it may seem.

What did you think?
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. Yes, it’s another young adult post-apocalyptic trilogy…but it’s one of the best of it’s kind (second only to The Hunger Games). I’ve read it twice and I still couldn’t put it down the second time around even though I knew what was going to happen. It’s. So. Good.

Along with Thomas, I just had to find out who all these boys (and girl) were, who put them there and why. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to learn everything I could about the Glade and about the Maze from Alby, the apparent leader, and Newt (Brodie-Sangster), one of the older boys and seemingly second-in-command. Dashner achieved the perfect balance of information and suspense; he tells you enough so you feel like you’re starting to figure things out, but not enough that you can put it all together. He teases you with pieces of the puzzle to keep you hooked but doesn’t let you see the big picture until the end.

I also happen to be in love with all the characters. Okay, not all the characters, but enough of them so that it works. I love Thomas, I love Newt, I love Minho and I love this book. Minho is a Runner (someone who runs throughout the Maze looking for a way out) and he is my favorite. His sarcasm and sharp tongue are some of the highlights of The Maze Runner and makes me want to be his friend. Newt is just perfect. He’s a great leader, kind and wonderful. Although I did imagine him to be more strong country boy (think: Southern Zac Efron) and less like the adorable Thomas Brodie-Sangster, but we’ll see how it goes. And, of course, our lead Thomas is a dandy fellow too. He’s got a good heart and thick skull, so he may not be the most original hero but it doesn’t make him unlikable. I can’t wait to see him played by Dylan O’Brien, it seems like a perfect match.

Should I read it?
Definitely! You can buy it on Amazon or Thriftbooks.

Here’s the trailer and it’s perfect.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: Book Review

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day book cover

Book: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Publisher/Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/1972

Genre: Children’s

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Outstanding

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Jennifer Garner (Alias, Daredevil — which doesn’t suck as much as everyone thinks it does, okay? and Dallas Buyer’s Club)
Steve Carrell (The OfficeThe 40-Year-Old Virgin)
Bella Thorne (Shake It Up!)
Dick Van Dyke (The Dick Van Dyke ShowMary Poppins)

When can I watch it?
The movie comes out October 10, 2014!

What’s it about?
A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Poor Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair and his day just continues to get worse as the day goes on.

What did you think?
This is one of my favorite books from my childhood. Probably because I related to Alexander; we’re both able to just go on rants and just wish we were in Australia.

I have no idea how the movie will be, other movies that have come out based on childhood classics like Where the Wild Things Are and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs were not very well received by those who cherished the books as children. Which makes sense; the books take 10 minutes read and are made into hour and half long movies, so there’s a going to be a lot of changes and additions. Even though my initial reaction to the movie was excitement, I’ve since had more concerns. Despite my love for Jennifer Garner (whose face is like sunshine) and Steve Carrell (who is hilarious in pretty much everything), I will be going to see the movie with low expectations. But I will definitely be going to see it.

Should I read it?
If you haven’t already then I’m sorry for your childhood. But you can buy a copy on Amazon or Thriftbooks. You can also watch a video of a random girl in a bookstore reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to you. Either way it takes 5 minutes or less so just read it and thank me later.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Book Review

The Wolf of Wall Street book coverBook: The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

Publisher/Year: Bantam Books/2008

Genre: Autobiography, Crime, Comedy

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – very good

Who’s in the movie?
LEO (You know who Leonardo DiCaprio is)
Jonah Hill (Superbad, 21 Jump Street)
Rob Reiner (Jess’ dad in New Girl, he also directed The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men)
Matthew McConaughey ( he says “alright, alright, alright…” he’s also in How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days and Dallas Buyers Club)
Kyle Chandler (Zero Dark Thirty and Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights)


When can I watch it?
When you buy the DVD.

What’s it about?
Scandal. There’s more crime, prostitutes and drugs than I ever thought there could be in a real person’s life. Jordan Belfort (Leo) was an infamous Wall Street stockbroker in the 1990s who literally was making thousands of dollars a minute in his financial prime. Was it legal? Absolutely not. He has more money than he knows what to do with and recklessly spends it on his wife, yachts, hotel rooms, cars and of course prostitutes and drugs.

What did you think?
It doesn’t sound like a funny story, but the way Belfort talks about his life is hilarious. Now that he’s done his time and reflected on his choices, he sees how absolutely insane his life was and you can see that in the way he writes. He’s very sarcastic and constantly making fun of his past self and past life. Even if Belfort’s writing didn’t have a mocking tone, some of the things that happened in his life are so utterly batshit crazy that you have to laugh at its absurdity. Little things like throwing midgets in Velcro suits at a Velcro target. Everything in his life is so over-the-top, from his fights with his wife to his to business lunches…it feels parodic. I sometimes forgot that it’s autobiographical and not a work of total fiction.

But no matter how much of a douche Belfort was, no one can deny that he was brilliant. He had the wit and the charm to talk his way and work his way out of almost any obstacle that he ran into. He constantly had two realities going on at once, he could be holding a conversation with someone or improvising a speech for his employees while in his head he would be planning his next big move or scheming to get out of jam (either with the law or his wife). I don’t understand how anyone can think that much all time; he always had an inner dialogue with himself no matter what he was doing. Not to mention that he knew and understood stocks and laws so well that he knew exactly what he needed to do to make the system work in his favor or what he had to do to get away with things that were not so legal.

Should I read it?
Yes, if you can handle all the debauchery in his life. It’s kind of graphic and extremely excessive. But if you can handle all that, then it’s a really good read. You can get a copy from Thriftbooks or Amazon. You can also get the Movie Tie-In Edition on Amazon if you like actors on books (*shivers in disgust*).