All tagged Joe McCoy

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Horrible People Being Horrible - a review on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

You probably know by now that I love a good thriller, so I bought Gillian Flynn’s much-buzzed Gone Girl with high expectations.

It’s received high praise, been lauded as a frightening portrait of psychopathy that’s brilliantly-written with twists and turns to rival Alfred Hitchcock. Glowing reviews snagged my attention and I bought it despite Sarah’s warnings that it may not be my sort of thriller.

A seemingly perfect, beautiful wife who is well-known as the template for a series of children’s books titled “Amazing Amy” and a husband, Nick, who’s become disillusioned with his life and his wife give some backbone to the claim that this suspense thriller will chill and thrill its readers. Amy and Nick Dunn finds them living where neither wants to be with no income other than Amy’s money from her parents who are as wacky and unlikeable as all the other characters in Gone Girl. In a rented McMansion along the Mississippi River they bemoan their fall from a life of luxury in New York, loss of jobs and their loss of passion for one another. Into this mix comes Amy’s disappearance on what should have been a celebration of their anniversary. 

This bland, yet strangly intriguing, plot concept could be viable, but it fell apart for me thanks to Gone Girl’s wholly despicable characters.

Amy aka Amazing Amy made her parents a great deal of money. They patterned her actions, her relationships with her friends, even her appearance into a series of books that found their way into grade school classrooms, libraries, bestseller lists and finally into the hands of nearly every child in the U.S.  But shocking as it becomes for the country, Amy the icon disappeared leaving her husband as the  prime suspect for her disappearance. Suspicion of murder becomes stronger with each weird clue that surfaces.

The first section of Gone Girl centers around the investigation into Amy’s disapearance. We discover that Amy is a mean-spirited, manipulative creature whose sole purpose is to make others miserable, to condemn everyone she comes in contact with and to sharpen her killer instincts with each ugly action she takes. Amy has plans and wickedly ugly and cynical thoughts to condemn anyone unfortunate enough to fall under her spell.

Getting into the mind of a person with no redeeming qualities does not make for an enjoyable read. 

Review: Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

Despite that Colleen Hoover’s Slammed was a frustrating read, there was a part of me that found it strangely readable and enjoyable. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for its wholly unnecessary sequel, Point of Retreat.

Point of Retreat picks up where Slammed left off. Frankly, I was surprised to learn that there was a sequel, since the original novel ties up most of the loose ends and put the characters on a path toward happiness, despite the challenges they faced in the first novel. Despite my reservations about Slammed, I was intrigued about where Hoover would take these characters as they tackled their new independence, responsibilities and burgeoning relationship. 

In Point of Retreat, Will and Layken find themselves embroiled in even more drama, but the core of the story is two-fold:

  1. Will they ever actually have sex? *eye roll*
  2. Will Will’s evil ex-girlfriend destroy their happiness? *eye roll*

[Note: Please do not continue to read this review, should you plan on reading Slammed and want to remain unspoiled.]

[Seriously, if you don’t want to be spoiled for Slammed, don’t keep reading, okay?]

The first—no sex for a year—is absolutely absurd.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been as emotionally invested in a book as I was in Cara Chow’s Bitter Melon.

It’s a difficult story of a Chinese-American mother and daughter living in San Francisco, yet it could be about any family where the parents do not allow their children to fly free, to find a life that will give the child joy and satisfaction. It’s about caging the soul of a beautiful mind as a battle ensues to find the sweet taste of freedom.

There are jewels of truth, of humanity, of hope and of sorrow glittering throughout this lovely book. Regardless of what touches your heart when you read, it will be found in Bitter Melon, including a beautifully-crafted story, realistic characters, a plethora of emotions, finely-tuned language.

Fei Ting, the daughter, holds two names. Fei in Chinese means fly. Ting means stop. Fei Ting tinkered with the meaning of her name, its nuances.

In Chinese, she thought, if she should try to fly, she would be stopped.

Her English name Frances means freedom. Fei Ting wants freedom, wants to soar with nothing holding her back but is held in emotional bondage to her mother. Her mother’s controls were built methodically, mooring every move and choice Francis sought to her angry mother’s dream of wealth and success via her own daughter’s efforts to satisfy her insatiable mother.

You will makes lots of money and buy us a nice house so I can quit my job and tell your father’s family to go to hell.

Frances hears such phrases over and over from her mother’s harsh lips, as if she is being beaten into submission with the strength of words,

You will become a doctor. You will support me, care for me.

Francis has always been the obedient daughter, bending to her mother’s will, to her wishes.

Imagine living the first eighteen years of your life fed by a vitriolic and hateful analysis of your qualities by your own mother. You’re not smart enough. You’re not pretty. You’re too fat. You’re ungrateful.

This is the way Frances’ mother teaches her child to achieve.