Sunday, December 14, 2014

ReView of DARK PLACES by Gillian Flynn


Libby Day lived through the moment that changed her existence for the rest of her life.  At seven years old, her fifteen year old brother, Ben, took an ax to her mother and two older sisters.  Twenty four years later, still "the Love Survivor of the Prairie Massacre," Libby Day begins to delve deeper into the past to re-examine more closely what truly happened.

I love Gillian Flynn for keeping true to the theme that nothing is ever as it appears from a distance.  Convicted for the murders of his family members and jailed for life, Ben happens to be misunderstood by his family, a willing victim to his sociopath vixen, and best of all braver than any of Day family members.  While this is Libby Day's journey to make sense of that day in the past, the novel is indirectly a journey of redemption for Ben.

Some people just come with a natural darkness within themselves, some resort to dark matters as a reaction of their circumstances, some resort to dark matters to be martyrs, and others just happen to be right dab in the middle of the former clashing together.  These are the dark places Gillian Flynn unravels slowly through the novel.

Gillian Flynn seems to have a flare for the darkness in communities, not just in individuals.  Deadening poverty.  Failed tourist town.  Self-deprecating lifestyles.  Fearful injustices.  Drugs. Animal sacrifices. Mindless hysteria. Characters in the novel have reactionary dysfunctions to their community dynamics, all of which leads the story to its tipping point.

What will shock you the most is when the novel reveals what truly happened that day when Libby lost her mother and siblings, and her brother Ben was jailed for it.  You come to learn and understand each and every one of the characters, their malfunctions, and their deepest reasons for all their actions.  At some point the novel even makes it possible to come to terms of their actions, only to find out the one character you learn least about influences the rest of the characters the most.

Something supposedly for the best intentions turns accidentally disastrous leaving only tragedy behind.


Thoroughly enjoyed it!

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audio
Length: 349 pages
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books
First Published: 2009

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writer/Author Feature: Boston Writer Lisa Sugarman, "Life: It is What it is"

Featuring writer and author Lisa Sugarman.  "Life is often messy, unpredictable, and sometimes downright mean.  But life is also joyous, fulfilling, and endlessly surprising."  We have all experienced this universal truth at some point or another in our life.  This is exactly why I wanted to feature Lisa Sugarman.  Her writing captures the essence of the statement above.  As readers we can all relate to that, but we may also be continuously curious on how this truth transforms our lives.  As writers, it's safe to say we are hit head on with this concept.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ReView of JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS LOVER by Lauren Leto

"For the Love of Print," "Fan Fictions," "How to Fake it," "Snark Bait," are just a few of the chapter titles from this book.  Initially, when I chose to read this book, I thought I was in for a real ride - something unique, out-of-the box, something that was going to make me laugh and at the same time maybe show me a different perspective on books.  The book fell short for me in some areas, but it did give some new perspectives.

"Want to impress the hot stranger at the bar who asks for your take onInfinite Jest? Dying to shut up the blowhard in front of you who’s pontificating on Cormac McCarthy’s “recurring road narratives”? Having difficulty keeping Francine Prose and Annie Proulx straight?

For all those overwhelmed readers who need to get a firm grip on the relentless onslaught of must-read books to stay on top of the inevitable conversations that swirl around them, Lauren Leto’s Judging a Book by Its Lover is manna from literary heaven! A hilarious send-up of—and inspired homage to—the passionate and peculiar world of book culture, this guide to literary debate leaves no reader or author unscathed, at once adoring and skewering everyone from Jonathan Franzen to Ayn Rand to Dostoyevsky and the people who read them." GoodReads

I love that Lauren Leto began the book with the story of her childhood experience when her teacher complimented her on being such a great reader that all she did thereafter as a result was read.  Her parents were painfully upset with the teacher, can you believe it?  I wonder if Lauren Leto is truthful in her story.  How can a parent be upset that their child is reading all the time? Go ahead, give your thoughts on that, I wonder how many of you are understanding with that concept :).

I began to understand the worry her parents had when I read the following confession from Lauren Leto: "I'm an anxious person.  My guess (gathered from an unscientific survey of fellow readers and the uneducated opinions of my family) is that this may be the result of years of overexposure to fictional worlds and underexposure to real-world activities such as recess, school dances, and cocktail parties.  I'm not very comfortable in settings and situations most people take for granted as part of the comings and goings of everyday life." How many of readers and writers can relate to such an anxious experience of life?  I know I have had my moments, whether it's a result of my exposure to so many fictional worlds or not may be up for discussion.  Maybe her parents had a legitimate reason to worry for her being with her head in books all the time? Maybe.  Maybe not. Sometimes the risk is more than worth it.

I loved the part in the book when she talks about how the best books "expand and challenge the mind," and how the "easy books don't have images that come to you suddenly when you're alone on a street corner and a passing man's face suddenly strikes you, like the line in Jeffrey Eugenide's Middlesex, as 'rumpled like an unmade bed.'"  I have had many moments when at random a line in a great book will strike me just as she mentions here.  This is one of the most beautiful marks a book can leave on you.  

Suffice it to say the book starts out fairly strong.  It lost me in the middle at some point, and I found myself flipping through a chuncky portion. Towards the end of the book, though, there are a few chapters worthh slowing down for, particularly "Fan Letters," "Little-Known Treasures," and "What Your Child Will Grow Up to Be if You Read Them.."  All fairly awkward, funny, and absolutely uniquely opinionated.  When I am reading a book on books, it's almost a given that I expect an opinionated writer, and so I enjoyed her writing very much in these chapters.  

As for the chapter on "How to Fake it?"  Booksellers, this is your chapter.  If you want a cheat-sheet of what to briefly know about books and how to mention small bits about each book to your customers, go ahead and just read this chapter if the rest of the book does not interest you. 

Lastly, I want to say that I was so happy about how the book ends.  The last paragraph of the book is a great way to summarize the thoughts and ideas of books, in general.  

"The greatest arguments for the oneness of humanity is the recognition that we are all emotional beings, subject to the fantasies of a story.  We talk about this event we went through alone because it connects us together.  You're never more human than when you realize a sentence has the power to push and pull the emotions of millions."

It was alright, I liked it

Genre: Non-Fiction
Format: Paperback
Length: 269 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
First Published: 2012

Gone Bookserk Content Change

GoneBookserk initially began out of an incessant drive to read and review books.  While reading and reviewing books is the basic foundation of being bookserk and will remain so, this year the website will be transitioning into much more.

From a personal experience, books have been their own entity, separate from their authors.  I have read book after book and never once given the authors/writers any thought, for years. At some point in my bookserk journey, I have come to realize the importance of knowing the writers/authors, as a reader as well as an aspiring writer.

As a reader, after being entangled into different literary worlds and further delving into the lives of great writers, the realm of words and writing inevitably runs through my mind body and spirit.  As a writer, I know I have so much more to learn not only about authors/writers but also about process of writing.  As a book blogger, there is no greater pleasure than to delve into topics of books, discover those who like to do the same, and learn something new either from my own experience on writing about books or from others who write about them.

This is why I will be transitioning GoneBookserk into three main areas:

  • Reading & Reviewing Books will remain as the foundation of this website.  As many of you may already know, I no longer do any ReviewRequests, unfortunately, mainly because my time does not allow me to take on this challenging commitment. I will continue, though, to read and review books as diligently as before.  Please feel free to suggest or recommend any books you consider worth reading and/or knowing about.
  • Featuring Authors/Writers has always been something I have wanted to begin for a long while now.  This is a really important transition on GoneBookserk.  I, as many other readers and writers I am sure, would like to know as many new as well as established writers/authors, their works, and how to connect/link to them.  I want to feature Authors/Writers, not just for their works, but also for their backgrounds, to understand writers and know who writers are a little better.  Please feel free to approach me if you want to do an author/writer feature on GoneBookserk.  It will most often include a brief introduction/background, a short Q/A, the works by the author/writer and possibly even an excerpt from one of the works, and best of all how we can all find the books, get to know the author more, as well as how to connect/link to the author. Additionally, there may be some book giveaways and/or other resources, gadgets, or information which is up to the discretion of the author/writer.
  • Lastly, Topics of Writing will become a very common on GoneBookserk.  I will begin on writing more often and I would also like to begin writing some short stories, something I have been working on for a little while now.  Please feel free to do a approach me about doing a Guest Post on GoneBookserk if you have any ideas about writing, or would like to write a short story piece. 

If you have any additional ideas, feel free to make any suggestions! 

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Bookserk by Author

Milan Kundera (4) Jane Austen (3) Stephenie Meyer (3) Suzanne Collins (3) Bernhard Schlink (2) F. Scott Fitzgerald (2) H.G. Wells (2) Herman Hesse (2) JRR Tolkien (2) Jules Verne (2) Khaled Hosseini (2) Paulo Coelho (2) Sam Kean (2) Stieg Larsson (2) Sylvia Day (2) A.G. Howard (1) Adam Johnson (1) Alafair Burke (1) Albert Einstein (1) Alexander Soderberg (1) Alicia Hendley (1) Amanda Hocking (1) Andre Dubus III (1) Ann Patchett (1) Aravind Adiga (1) Azar Nafisi (1) Barbara Kingsolver (1) Becky Aikman (1) Camilla Lackberg (1) Carl Sagan (1) Cat Hellisen (1) Charles Webb (1) Charlotte Bronte (1) Chinua Achebe (1) Chris Prentiss (1) Chrisanna Northrup (1) Christopher S. Stewart (1) Clare Clark (1) Clive Barker (1) Coltaire Rapaille (1) Dai Sijie (1) Daniel J. Levitin (1) Daniel Kahneman (1) Daniel Pink (1) David Foster Wallace (1) David Levithan (1) David Sedaris (1) Debra Driza (1) Domenica Ruta (1) Don Miguel Ruiz (1) Douglas Adams (1) Elie Weisel (1) Emily Bronte (1) Emlyn Chand (1) Enid Shomer (1) Epictetus (1) George Orwell (1) George R.R. Martin (1) Greg Graffin (1) Gretchen Rubin (1) Harper Lee (1) Haruki Murakami (1) Herman Koch (1) JR Moehringer (1) Jane Eyre (1) Jennifer Egan (1) Jodi Meadows (1) John Eldredge (1) John Englander (1) John Kenney (1) John Steinbeck (1) John T Cacioppo (1) Joyce Carol Oates (1) Judy Blume (1) Julia Glass (1) Karen Thompson Walker (1) Karol Jackowski (1) Kate Chopin (1) Kate Walbert (1) Katherine Boo (1) Lauren DeStefano (1) Lisa See (1) Lois Lowry (1) Lou Marinoff PhD (1) Madhulika Sikka (1) Maggie Stiefvater (1) Margot Livesey (1) Marissa Meyer (1) Martha Stout (1) Mary Roach (1) Mary Shelley (1) Meg Howrey (1) Megan Abbott (1) Natalie Babbitt (1) Nujood Ali (1) Oliver Harris (1) Paulo Giordano (1) Poet Charles Swain (1) Poet Margaret E. Sangster (1) Priscille Sibley (1) Ray Bradbury (1) Rebecca Dean (1) Richard Francis (1) Robert Louis Stevenson (1) Robert M. Pirsig (1) Rudyard Kipling (1) Sarah Gruen (1) Sharon Lebell (1) Shirley MacLaine (1) Stasi Eldredge (1) Stephen Chbosky (1) Sue Kidd Monk (1) Susan Cain (1) Susanna Calahan (1) Tara Conklin (1) Tea Obreht (1) Terri Giuliano Long (1) Thrity Umrigar (1) Victoria Hislop (1) Virginia Morell (1) Voltaire (1) Zora Neale Hurston (1)

Bookserk Globally

Bookserk by Publishing House

Harper Perennial Publishing (8) Random House Publishing (7) Crown Publishing (6) Little Brown and Company Publishing (6) Harper Publishing (4) Knopf Publishing (4) Scholastic Press Publishing (4) Vintage Publishing (4) W.W. Norton Company Publishing (4) Anchor Publishing (3) Atria Books Publishing (3) Free Press Publishing (3) HarperCollins Publishing (3) Penguin Books Publishing (3) Riverhead Books Publishing (3) Ballantine Books Publishing (2) Bantam Books Publishing (2) BarnesNoble Classics Publishing (2) Broadway Publishing (2) Harmony Publishing (2) Harper Paperback Publishing (2) Hyperion Publishing (2) Katherine Tegen Books Publishing (2) Simon and Schuster Publishing (2) William Morrow Publishing (2) Algonquin Books Publishing (1) Amber Allen Publishing (1) Amulet Books Publishing (1) Berkley Trade Publishing (1) Blue Crown Press Publishing (1) Createspace Publishing (1) Crown Business Publishing (1) Del Rey Publishing (1) Dover Publishing (1) Ember Publishing (1) Faber and Faber Publishing (1) Farrar Straus Giroux Publications (1) Feiwel Friends Publishing (1) Five Rivers Chapmanry Publishing (1) Gallery Books Publishing (1) Grand Central Publishing (1) HarperOne (1) Hill and Wang Publishing (1) Hogarth Publishing (1) It Books Publication (1) MJF Books Publishing (1) MTV books and Pocket Books Publishing (1) McGraw Hill Higher Education Publishing (1) Nelson Publishing (1) Pamela Dorman Books Publishing (1) Pantheon Publishing (1) Plaza Y Janes Publishing (1) Plume Publishing (1) Pocket Publishing (1) Puffin Publishing (1) Quill Publishing (1) Reagan Arthur Books Publishing (1) Science Bookshelf Publishing (1) Signet Classics Publishing (1) St. Martin's Press Publishing (1) Touchstone Publishing (1) Virago Publishing (1) Washington Square Press Publishing (1)