Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – A book review

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – A book review

I had been putting aside Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, who is one of my favorite authors, for a while, even when I was almost sure that I will like it. I just wanted savor it but when the dreadful slump threatened, I had to bring in the big gun.

So did Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn work well for me? Was it worth the hype and will I be watching the Amy Adams starring HBO series? You will have to read my book review of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn to know more.

About Sharp Objects

Book Name: Sharp Objects

Author: Gillian Flynn

Genre: Fiction – Psychological Thriller

Characters: Camille Preaker, Amma, Adora, Alan and Marian Crellin, Chief Bill Vickery, Frank Curry, Richard Willis, Natalie and John Keene

Setting: Wind Gap, MissouriThe USA

Plot Summary of Sharp Objects

Camille Preaker has been offered a chance to redeem her career as a journalist and her position with her chief, who has been always by her side even during her recent stint at the psych ward.

All she has to do is return to her hometown and cover the unsolved murder of a pre-teen girl and the recent disappearance of another.

While Camille is no way ready for visiting her hometown, but she does it anyway. She hasn’t spoken to her obsessive mother (Adora) in years and barely knows her half sister Amma.

With an uncooperative local Sheriff and handsom Kansas City detective on tow, Camille finds herself not just covering the story but finding the murderer who removes the teeth from his victims.

Will Camille be able to dig through the mystery, without awakening her demons from the past? What’s the deal with her family and her past? Grab a copy of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and read it right away.

Book review of Sharp Objects

I should start with a huge disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Gillian Flynn and I have read all her books including her novella. She is one of those authors that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fast psychological thriller or a new reader.

And I am glad to announce that Flynn didn’t disappoint me at all with Sharp Objects. Yes, it is apparent that it is not as nuanced as her later works, but it is still as dark as her books are usually. Fans of dark pasts and dysfunctional families, you won’t be disappointed.

I guessed the killer at about 70% of the book but I think Sharp Objects was more than just finding the murderer. It has always been about the characters themselves for me, which were fully developed and intriguing in their own ways.

If you have read Gone girl and/or Dark places, you know what you are in for and you will love it.

What worked for me

  • No one writes dark and damaged characters like Flynn and I have come to expect them in all her novels.
  • I love how motherhood was a subtle theme all through the book. Even the last article that Camille was working on before returning home was about a mother who abandons her kids for some drugs to her own mother who hugged her “ferociously”.
  • Sharp Objects is set in a small town (I am a huge fan of those) that is creepy and closed in equal parts.

What may have been better

  • You may not like the protagonist at all. And Camille just makes it hard to root for her and her actions gets only desperate and irrational after a while. (I like such characters, but just a warning for those of you who don’t like books with unlikeable protagonists.)
  • The whodunnit part can be figured out or at least guessed before it happens. So if you are in just for the mystery part of it, Sharp Objects might seem predictable.

Content warningy

Self harm (cutting), parental neglect and abuse, mentions of underage sex and rape, recreational drugs.

Bottom line

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is an engrossing thriller that will stay with you for a long time if you like twisted and dark characters and dysfunctional families. Flynn doesn’t disappoint her fans with Sharp Objects at all.

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – A book review

The Guest List by Lucy Foley – A book review

It is not so common that a book that takes “a modern twist on Agatha Christie” gets rated so high and raved by bloggers I admire. So let’s review The Guest List by Lucy Foley, a book that has been on the Amazon best sellers for more than ten weeks now.

About the book

Guest List by Lucy Foley Book Cover

Book Name: The Guest List

Author: Lucy Foley

Genre: Fiction – Thriller

Characters: Will Slater, Julia Keegan, Hannah and Charlie, Olivia, Johnno, Aiofe and Freddy

Setting: Inis an Amplóra, or Cormorant Island, Ireland

Summary

In a secluded island in the coastal regions of Ireland, the modern day power couple Jules and Will Slater are tying their knots. A couple of close friends and the wedding party choose to stay in the island the night before the wedding. The weather is not helping and storm seems to be approaching as well.

But just as the celebrations begin, a distraught waitress stumbles in and announces that she saw a body. The ushers walk into the deadly night to check it and the cops from the mainland are called as well.

Will the ‘happily ever after’ and the ‘death do apart work’ for this couple? And who kills whom forms the rest of the story in The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

My initial thoughts

This closed room murder mystery follows the usual whodunnit pattern and it works well. Despite having multiple POVs (six of them), the narration is quite simple and doesn’t confuse much.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley has a number of suspects and motives, as any good murder mystery should.

In spite of all the numerous red herrings, I guessed the murder much earlier and I am sure so would other regular mystery lovers.

What worked for me

  • The closed space murder mystery stretched over a 48 hours is fast paced and entertaining.
  • The red herrings keep the reader focused on the wrong things and would work very well if you are not a regular mystery reader.
  • The reader is unaware of the murderer is as well as the victim until almost the end making it more fun.

What may have been better

  • Except for one or two, I found all the characters annoying and/or horrible. But I don’t think these characters slowed down the whodunnit part.
  • I would have loved a bit more loose/open ending. I guessed the murderer from miles away.

Bottom line

If you are an Agatha Christie fan, The Guest List by Lucy Foley is a good read for you. But be warned that this contemporary murder mystery might prove to be a bit easily solvable, if you read whodunnits regularly.

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – A book review

Sittaford Mystery, The: A book review

Do you read mystery thrillers? If you do, you will understand my frustrations about being able to guess the culprit in the first few chapters. But when you are reading a book by Christie, you don’t have to fear. So how did The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie fare on my scale?

About the book

Sittaford Mystery Cover

Book Name: The Sittaford Mystery

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Fiction – Thriller, Mystery,

Characters: Major Burnaby, the Willets, Captain Joe Trevelyan, Emily Trefusis, James Pearsons, Inspector Narracott

Setting: England, The UK

The plot

Major Burnaby visits his new neighbors, the Willets and finds himself participating in an Ouija board game (“tableturning”). The seemingly harmless game ends with the “spirits” announcing that Captain Trevelyan, his long time friend and landlord, is dead.

Burnaby gets restless and takes it upon himself to make sure the Captain is well, trudging through the thick snow. But as it turns out to be, the Captain is really dead and his nephew is arrested.

Emily Trefusis, the fiancée of the nephew takes it upon herself to acquit him and find the real culprit. Was it just coincidence that the séance pronounced the death? If so, who killed the Captain forms the rest of the story in The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie.

My initial thoughts

I am not even surprised anymore that I failed to solve an Agatha Christie’s murder mystery. While I had two or three lines of suspicions, I was not even close to the actual murderer. I bow down before the Queen of mystery, once again.

The set up of secluded Sittaford was a good choice and gave the perfect eeriness required for this whodunnit. And you all know how much I love small town/village set ups.

Emily Trefusis and Inspector Narracott worked well for me, and their styles never clashed with each other. No negativity, but I liked him more than some of Christie’s regulars themselves.

I loved the ensemble of colorful characters – puzzle loving Major Burnaby, the Willets who have made a bizarre decision to spend their winter in an isolated place in Dartmouth, absolutely unlikeable heirs of the Captain and the weak, naïve accused James Pearson and of course Emily Trefusis herself!

Emily was a welcome change. She spoke her mind, put on a bit of act and was earnest in freeing her fiancé, and had a great sense of humor. And Charles Enderby played the perfect sidekick. Well, how many times do we get the female to do the heavy lifting and the male being the humble sidekick!

What worked for me

  • I really liked Inspector Narracott and his working style as much as I enjoyed Emily’s.
  • I loved the snowy and secluded Sittaford background, perfect for my small town loving self.
  • The tableturning or Ouija board game was nice add in too. I confess it misled me a bit more than it should have.

What may have been better

  • I wish we heard more about the Captain Joe Trevelyan, the misogynistic, money loving victim. Literally that is all we hear about him.
  • I didn’t want to read the men fighting over Emily. I want mystery, murder, and mayhem and no romance please.

Bottom line

The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie is a perfect mystery thriller for the lovers of the whodunnit genre. If you like an ensemble mystery this one is for you and again you can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie.

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – A book review

Sadie by Courtney Summers- A book review

How do you choose between an engaging plot and a compelling writing, if you can have only one of them? Tough call, right? Welcome to my hell and with that thought in your mind let us review Sadie by Courtney Summers.

About the book

Cover Sadie by Courtney Summers

Book Name: Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers

Genre: Fiction – Thriller, Young Adult

Characters: Sadie and Mattie Hunter

Setting: ColoradoThe USA

The plot

Sadie and Mattie knew what it is to be left to fend for themselves, and as an elder sister Sadie had always been hard Mattie to protect her from the world as she knew it. But when Mattie is found dead and no one would help them, Sadie had to take things in her own hands in finding out who did that to her.

But then Sadie went missing too. The consensus was she went chasing her sister’s killer and no one knows anything about it.

Now, over a year after Mattie’s body was found, West McCray is hosting an investigative reporting podcast called The Girls and attempts to solve the case of Mattie’s death (and finding Sadie) by following Sadie’s journey.

Where does this investigation unearth? Did Sadie find the killer? Does it ends well for the team and Sadie? Well, you will have to read Sadie by Courtney Summers to know more.

My initial thoughts

The book Sadie follows two narratives – the podcast by West McCray in the present day (which hooked me in right from the minute go) and Sadie’s point of view, which didn’t work for me.

Sure there were a lot of sad things happening and there are characters that are super interesting. But somehow I never felt engrossed in Sadie’s narrative nor it impacted me, as much as it should have.

Do not get me wrong, the plot itself was just interesting and predictable. And I am ok with that, but the point that the storyline was not engaging me emotionally was a huge let down for me.

But the author’s compelling writing style kept me involved until the end. Talking of the ending, it may not work for all, some may feel disappointed even, but for me worked so well.

What I loved the most about Sadie was the characters, that were well developed and had so much depth. Be it Sadie’s stuttering and her intense need to be protective of her sister, or Mattie’s naivete or hopefulness, made me root for their turbulent relationship.

Sadie deals with hard and intense subjects like sexual abuse, pedophilia and child pornography, abandonment and neglect by parents. But Ms Summers has done a great job in keeping it still appropriate for a young adult audience (well, the upper limits of YA/NA) as well as adults.

What worked for me

  • I loved Summers’ compelling and readable writing style.
  • The characters and their detailing were perfect. I loved the multi faceted characters.
  • One more round of applause for not making it gory with details about the rape/murder/pedophilia issues, given that its YA or NA audience.
  • Despite that it might have been hit or miss, I personally loved the ending. In fact, I would have been disappointed if it would have ended any other way, having read the current ending.

What may have been better

  • I wish the storyline was more engaging and emotionally involving me.

Bottom line

If you are looking a young/new adult thriller with an interesting premise, Sadie might be a good pick. Just heed to the warning about the subject matter, especially if you are younger by age and heart.

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – A book review

And Then There Were None: Book review

When I love a book, I give myself some time to let my thoughts brew and write my review in a day or two. Sometimes, that day comes never. That is what happens to my favorite books and I never get around to write those amazing 5 star reviews. But here I am, finally attempting to talk about one of such books – Agatha Christie’s And then there were none.

About And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None

Book Name: And then there were none

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Fiction – Thriller

Characters: Justice Lawrence John Wargrave, Vera Elizabeth Claythorne, Philip Lombard, General John Gordon Macarthur, Dr Edward George Armstrong, Anthony James Marston, William Henry Blore, Mr Thomas Rogers, Mrs Ethel Rogers, Emily Caroline Brent, Isaac Morris, Fred Narracott.

Setting: Devon, England, The UK

Plot summary of And then there were none

Eight strangers are invited to a private island near the coast of Devon, England by an eccentric millionaire, Mr Owen. The guests are welcomed by a cook and a butler. But their host is nowhere to be seen and they realize none of them know him well.

All they find is a framed copy of an old nursery rhyme with the tale of ten soldiers who one by one leave, disappear or die until none of them are alive. Everyone is intrigued to find ten figurines depicting the ten soldiers in their dining room.

At dinner, a voice booms that every one of them was guilty of murder and they will all be dead soon. Immediately one of them chokes on their drink and dies. And then they find that one of the figurine is broken. Soon one by one each of the guests begin dying, following theme of the childhood rhyme.

Each of them starts suspecting the other, as they are all stranded in secluded island. Who is the murderer and who survives their stay forms the rest of the book ‘And then there were none’ by Agatha Christie. 

And then there were none Book review

For me, And then there were none would be one of the best mystery ever written. I read this for the first time when I was around 13 years old and it was not a surprise that I was not able to solve the whodunnit.

Incidentally, I forgot about this book for about another five years until I gave it another read in my late teens. I still didn’t solve it but that’s when I realized how much I loved it. I keep reading it once in a while and it has never lost its charm on  me.

And to make matter worse (or better) it has become a sort of benchmark to compare the other mystery novels and ‘whodunnits‘. There have been numerous adaptations based on And then there were none by Agatha Christie, and frankly none of them are closer to the book.

Things that worked for me

  • There are so many mini plots within the story that makes it hard to guess the murderer. 
  • The murders get more and more exciting as it follows an old rhyme and everyone has a theory that someone else’s involved.
  • I liked the strong emphasis on ‘fair’ justice system, even if it meant eye for an eye. I understand it is a fantasy but it sounds so good. 

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I don’t think anyone could guess the murderer on their first read. I mean there are literally no clues, but many many red herrings, you have been warned!. 
  • There are so many characters that you stop feeling related to them, in a while. There are, more or less, no descriptions for any of the characters.
  • Unfortunately, there is a huge plot hole which is a part of the solution. But it is kinda easy to ignore it (at least it was for me).
  • The book obviously feels dated but the casual racism and sexism might should turn you off.

Content warning

Casual racism, Sexism.

Bottom-line

I consider And then there were none as a masterpiece and I am sure everyone would love it. I can’t recommend it enough. If you are going to read only one Christie’s in your life, choose And then there were none.

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