Awake and Awkward’s #CBR5 Review #4: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


“Da fuq did I just read?”

You too can have this reaction when you enjoy Gillian Flynn’s amazing noir novel Gone Girl for yourself! Not particularly a fan of Noir, a friend pointed out Gone Girl to me as a quick read when I found myself in a literary rut.  Quite the page turner and outcome guesser, this book never failed to disappoint, and while I found myself overly done with both sides of the story by end, I was totally and completely satisfied.

Gone Girl is a classic style murder mystery done in the style of Noir meets CSI meets Reality Show.  The story begins told from two different perspectives.  The first, that of Nick: The husband, and the accused. After recent double layoffs for him and his gorgeous wife Amy, Nick is informed of by his twin sister of his mother’s rapidly declining health issues back in his home town in Missouri.  He uproots both him and his wife, indicating that she was not the most willing of parties to this change from their Manhattan lifestyle, and that’s when things start to get weird.  After investing all that is left in his wife’s trust fund into opening a bar with his sister, the story begins to jump years and omit details as Nick deems important.  Constantly the pleaser, you can get the feeling that Nick is trying his hardest to make sure the reader likes him as well.

Then we have Amy: The wife, and the victim.  The pampered daughter of rich parents who made it big off of a series of books called “Amazing Amy” about a picture perfect little girl, where the moral of the story always ends up do as Amy does because Amy is perfect.  The real Amy is full of flaws and self-doubt, as any woman would be, despite being raised in the shadow of Amazing Amy.  Her narrative starts several years before the setting of Nick’s narrative, in diary format. It weaves the tale of falling in love with a man who starts out as one thing, and as relationships tend to do, it becomes something quite another.  Her narrative skips large amounts of time, and eventually catches up with Nick’s: The day of her fifth wedding anniversary, and the day of her bloody kidnap (or is it murder?).

The narratives are both refreshing breaks from the norm, the plot keeps twisting and turning to the point you may have literal motion sickness, and I loved it.  I diligently ignored both motherly and wifely duties for an entire day because it was physically impossible to put this book down.  And the ending! Do yourself a favor: Read this book with a group of friends, because you are going to want to talk about it, dissect it, and quite possibly read it again to find all the little things you missed the first time.

5 out of 5 stars, a knock out!  Highly recommended!

Awake and Awkwards #CBR5 Review #3: Chasing the Bard by Phiippa Ballantine


Self-contained fantasy novels that don’t span epic proportions are difficult to come by these days. Then you have those you find in the free section of the Kindle market and you figure what the hell and give it a shot.

In Chasing the Bard by Philippa Ballantine, we follow a fictionalized telling of one William Shakespeare and his journeys in and out of the fae realm with Goddess of Darkness and her fae/shape shifting/sprite/pixies/mythos creature lackeys.  A sickness has invaded the realm of the fae. A child is born en caul. Plot twist! It’s Shakespeare! And he is the key to saving the perfect immortal fae from eminent doom.  Enter the Goddess of Darkness Sive, about to married off to a man she hates and a completely ominous yet reeking of foreshadowing conversation with her aunt about how she will never understand the joys of being in love with a mortal.  You can see where I am going with this…

The clichés are rampant, the outcome predictable most of the time, the plot captivating enough to keep you engaged but not quite enough to keep me turning the pages.  I will admit, I was driving across the country and I saw this for free as a podcast so I gave it a listen while getting from point A to point B.  My advice to anyone: Do not read this book. LISTEN TO THE PODCAST!!!

While the overall book could have been better, the audio version is read by the author herself and it gets down to the core and emotion of the story that I believe may be missed in text form.  The voice actors were entertaining, and there were even (albeit cheesy) sound effects. At the risk of being chastise, I honestly found this audiobook to be more entertaining that Pride and Prejudice *Turns in literary nerd badge*.

I wish I could give this book more, I really do, but overall I only felt it to be 2 out of 5 stars.

Awake and Awakward’s #CBR5 Review #2: People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead by Gary Leon Hill

ImageWhen exploring clever ideas for books to read, it seemed an obvious choice to pick Gary Leon Hill’s Sixth Sense-esquely titled People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead and give it a once over. I was particularly glad that I did. While I would not classify myself as a believer in afterlife, God, or ghosts, I don’t NOT believe in them. Mr.Hill, however, comes from a family chalk full of people that not only know ghosts exist, but make a living in telling said ghosts to move on to the next world. I expected to find a bullet pointed list of ways to get rid of wayward souls and elaborations on said bullet points. What I got instead was a bunch of family stories, a couple of transcripts from recorded possessions, and a look into a different perspective on the afterlife.  Not what I was expecting, though I am definitely not complaining.

Hill explores the notion that when a person is ready for death, the ease into the next stage of higher being is a smooth one.  Those who believe in a heaven end up in a heavenly environment. Those who believe in Hell can end up stuck in their mind’s perception of Hell and can be rescued from an outside party.  Those who believe in nothingness simply drift into a black sleep and never return.   Then, there are those who die in a sudden instance, or under stress. Car crashes, suicides, sudden heart attacks, etc. While these souls are occasionally aware that something has changed, when not ready to die they run a high risk of just continuing on in a life where everyone is constantly ignoring them and it is exceedingly difficult to pick things up due to hands and arms that just go through things.   These souls may then go and attach themselves, most of the time by mistake, to another living person and unbeknownst to both parties begin living with the living again.   This proves problematic for the host, issues like depression, fatigue, and confusion are common issues.  There also appears to be an issue with a suicidal soul latching onto a living person and continuing to be suicidal.  Hill’s family steps in at this point and has developed a system that includes scripted dialogues and pendulums to ask the soul to kindly step aside and leave the living alone, while stepping towards that light in the sky with all your friends and relatives who want to kick it.

While I can say that I have never had an issue with hitchhiking souls, after reading this book I am sure of several things: 1. I am fairly certain I am just as confused about what happens after death as I was before I picked this book up, 2. I would really like to invest in a pendulum, and 3. I am undoubtedly convinced my husband has a hitchhiker, if not MULTIPLE hitchhikers, and I would probably like them removed.

3 out of 4 stars, I would not recommend to anyone who isn’t willing to be open minded as it gets a little far out there at points.

Awake and Awkwards’s CBR5 Review #1: Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden by Cameron Pierce

What do sharks, Vatican robots, mannequins, cults, monoliths, dracula fish, time travel and a battle hungry vegan have in common?  The Garden of Eden, that’s what.  Leave logic behind you when you pick yourself up a copy of Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden by Cameron Pierce, and prepare to have your mind blown.

Shark Hunters tells the story of a group of religious pilgrims seeking out the Garden of Paradise after an invite from Adam and Eve. When they arrive, they find the garden full of sharks.  Are you still with me?

Delving into the genre of Bizarro Fiction is a task not be taken lightly. Understand before even opening a page you are about to read what is the equivalent of a B-Grade Horror movie. If you lack the ability to look outside of the box and take a book for what it is, you may find this is not your style of read. The pure randomness and vulgarity of the first paragraph left my mouth gaping, and my mind screaming at me to turn back now and start reading something that made a bit more sense.  For those that make it past the first few chapters that read like ideas drawn out of a hat at random, you are bound to find the deeper criticism of religion that lurks beneath the surface. At face value, you have an incredibly gory tale of people getting dismembered, rebuilt, occasionally turned into mannequins, and most excellently devoured by floating land sharks. What you find between the lines is a commentary about following your religion out to very end of the world, and how far you are willing to go or what you will give up in your quest for your salvation.  Perceptions of God run a muck in a projectile vomiting good time, and the ending leaves you with a feeling of “Oh, it did make sense, I think…”

Besides, even if it doesn’t, you still just read a book about floating land sharks.  I’ll high five to that. All in all, I give the book 3 out of 5 stars.