When is it too much?

I’m having a conversation with some online book friends about graphic descriptions in books. Namely, sex and violence. American Psycho comes to mind. I remember vividly how viscerally I hated the book because it was so ridiculous and over the top in its descriptions. Bret Easton Ellis is a great writer, respected, had some big hits, etc. But man, that book was just too much! I liked the idea of the plot. The 80s yuppie time period with the double life which was his true self, but I ended up glossing over much of the horror for a couple reasons. 1. I got bored with it. Reading it didn’t give me any insight into the plot or character (once I understood who he was deep down). How many scenes of torture do we need to get how messed up this guy is? Only takes a couple, really. 2. The scenes went on and on and on in meticulous detail. Which really does show what a great writer BEE is, but I ended up skimming to get back to the plot, as minimal is it was.

I have never read the 50 Shades book and have zero desire to do so, mostly because of the same idea of “too much.” I’ve heard from those who have read it that they just ended up skimming most of the sex scenes because they were redundant. Granted, these books sold millions, so someone enjoys them, but I don’t get it at all.

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Sharp Objects

I’ve only read one of Gillian Flynn’s books, Gone Girl, and was blown away, like most. And I’ve been meaning to read her other works, but just kept putting it off. So my early New Year’s Resolution is to read books that I’ve been meaning to get to. Since I finished the 2015 book challenge, I figured I might as well get a head start on my 2016 list. And thanks to my library, I have access to them all!

Having read two of Flynn’s books, I’m sold. She’s got what it takes. I will read Dark Places when I get it from the library, and already can’t wait. I knew absolutely nothing about this book other than the title. I’m not even sure I had ever seen the cover. Sometimes this is the best way to enter a book- completely blind. The story follows Camille, a reporter, who is sent back to her small hometown in Missouri to investigate a missing girl.

This book is like an onion of reveal. First there’s a missing girl. Turns out there was another girl murdered a few months before. Camille has issues with her family, to put it mildly, and you are slowly brought into the world of crazy that is her family, former friends, police, and suspects. There are few red herrings, but all are plausible and aren’t distracting to the main plot of “who is behind all the crimes” that you are pulled into.

I really loved this book. Excellent thriller, but not in an overdone way. Camille is seriously flawed, but we understand why. She isn’t just some crazy woman for the sake of the story. There’s depth to her, which makes her even more fascinating. Highly recommend this one!

In a Handful of Dust completed

I put off reading this book for weeks. I just had no desire. But my renewal was up at the library, and I knew I could finish it quickly, so I took the plunge. I went into it with negative feelings. I thought the first book was pretty good. Wrapped up nicely in a reasonable manner. Then I discovered this sequel, which I thought was totally unnecessary. And guess what? I was right!

We visit Lynn and Lucy a number of years later. Lucy is 16, but is still called “little one” by everyone, even complete strangers who somehow catch onto this name magically. I realize it’s supposed to be a term of endearment, but it grated on my nerves. Lucy isn’t little, so it seemed more condescending than anything. The narrator is 3rd person limited from Lucy’s perspective, and while she struggles with how hard life can be, she is a strong girl with her own thoughts. To be referred to as little one was so jarring.

I’m not a big fan of road trip books. The Girl with All the Gifts comes to mind. Good beginning and great ending, but the middle was a lot of walking. A. Lot. And that just bogged down for me. Same with this book. The premise is fine. Polio sweeps the area. For reasons that will remain unidentified to avoid spoilers, Lynn and Lucy decide to walk all the way from Ohio to California. Just. So. Boring.

They meet some good people. They meet some bad people. Blah Blah. Blah. I just didn’t care. I gave it 3 stars, which was generous, honestly. The author should have stopped with the first book.

A Head Full of Ghosts completed

Confession that I didn’t know a single thing about this book when I bought it, other than it scared Stephen King. I assumed it was a horror book, but that was it. So I bought it because SK rules all.

Turns out this book is about demon possession and an exorcism. Sort of. Let me preface all this by saying that I hate the demon possession story line. It has been done over and over again with no new results. Either the possession is real or it isn’t. Either the demon is exorcised or it isn’t. There just isn’t a new or creative way of telling this story. And that holds true for this book.

That said, this book is very well written, but it didn’t scare me at all. I wanted to know what happened to the possessed girl and her family, but I won’t be having any nightmares over this one. Partly, because this type of story just isn’t scary to me. I don’t believe in demon possession, so it’s not something that I actually fear. If a person were afraid of this type of thing, I imagine this book would be quite terrifying. I did enjoy it, though. Mostly because the character, Merry, telling the story was such a fantastic unreliable narrator. She’s 8 and watching her family deal with her 14 year old sister’s possession and subsequent arrival of a slew of cameras and people who are filming this all for reality tv.

The delivery of the story was unique. Present day Merry telling a journalist the story of 8 year old Merry, combined with a blog poster who has watched the series dozens of times and is reviewing it and providing insights for her readers.

I recommend the book for the reasons above, namely the creative way the story is presented, although not for the simple demon possession plot. If that’s your thing, it’s worth reading because the possessed girl is sufficiently creepy.

A Head Full of Ghosts 40% done

What a creepy little story! The majority of it is told by 8 year old Merry, as she watches her older sister, Marjorie, fall into the grips of possession. Marjorie has always been Merry’s hero, so seeing the transformation is confusing and difficult for Merry. And let me tell ya, Marjorie says some really awful things to poor Merry. I won’t even begin to describe some of the things she witnesses, either.

Alternating chapters are from a blogger who comments on the tv series that the family had that documented Marjorie’s change. They needed the money, so they allowed cameras in to film their lives.

And then we have adult Merry speaking to a writer about her life as a child.

Between these three perspectives, we really get a good idea of what happened in the house and how the entire “demon possession” concept is perceived by people and media.

I’m hooked on this story!

A Head Full of Ghosts

Last night, I started A Head Full of Ghosts. One of the many things I love about Stephen King is that he recommends books constantly via media outlets. This particular book “scared the living hell” out of him. And when it went up on Amazon for $2 Kindle, I figured, why not? I don’t buy many Kindle books at full price (or any books for that matter), utilizing my local library, and Half Price Books usually. The rarities are ones that I already own hardback versions of from before I got my Kindle (like the Passage series) and now that I’ve started in hardback, I will continue to buy the rest of the series in that format. And I’m trying to build the entire SK collection in hardback, albeit used copies mostly.

I digress…. I’m very excited about this book. I read maybe 10% last night and am already hooked. It’s not ridiculously long, so I’ll get through it quickly, I think. And it seems to be in a couple formats: 1st person narrative spliced with a different character’s blog.

I like books that are terrifying in an understated way. I’m not a big fan of gross out horror, just because it’s so ridiculous. But I do love a good spooky or suspenseful story. Fingers crossed that this book is one of the latter.

 

 

Shatter Me series finished

I finished the final book in the Shatter Me series. I really liked the first book because of the language and the mystery surrounding the character and her circumstances. And Tahereh Mafi did a great job creating a slow burn of information reveal. And as much as I dislike love triangles, this one was resolved the way I had hoped. It had a very Joey-Pacey-Dawson feel to it, honestly.

I would recommend the series, but not wholeheartedly. It would depend on how involved someone was in the genre already. If one loves the genre, then yes, give it a go. But if one were just a dabbler in the genre, maybe select some others to read first.