Monthly Archives: September 2014

Book Review – Gone Girl

gonegirlTitle: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Release Date: 2012
Rating: 4/5

Gone Girl is the disturbing thriller that dives into the very twisted marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne. It is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary and Amy has disappeared without a trace. It does not take long until the search for Amy becomes a nation-wide spectacle, with all eyes on Nick. Nick’s bizarre behavior results in media outrage, with everyone insisting that Nick is Amy’s killer. However, Amy’s body has yet to be found. Nick begins his own search for his missing wife when he discovers a clue to the annual anniversary scavenger hunt that Amy left behind. As he makes his way through the scavenger hunt, he begins to uncover harrowing truths about his wife.

Gone Girl was an incredibly gripping novel and it was hard for me to put it down. I found myself quickly flipping through the pages and wildly anticipating what could happen next. I think that Flynn built an incredibly complex and layered mystery. There were several plot twists that I hadn’t expected and the beginning of Part Two really shocked me. Without spoiling the book, Part Two is when I really started to think differently of the main characters. I had sympathized with Amy in Part One but had lost all respect for her in Part Two and began to really dislike her.

Gone Girl is split into three different parts and in each part, the perspective of the story shifts. In Part One: Boy Loses Girl, the story is told from Nick’s perspective in real time and Amy’s perspective in a journal. Amy’s journal depicts the rise and fall of a troubled marriage and I thought that it was really interesting to see how Nick and Amy ended up so unhappy. However, the journal suggests that Amy’s perfectionist attitude and Nick’s go-with-the-flow attitude had been clashing for quite some time. In Part Two: Boy Meets Girl and Part Three: Boy Gets Girl Back, the journal entries stop and both Amy’s and Nick’s actions happen in real time.

The only reason why I did not give this book a 5/5 is simply because of the ending. I think that the ending was one of the most disappointing endings that I have ever read. After learning the truth about Amy, Nick almost gives in to their toxic relationship and alludes to a dependence on it. The ending made both Nick and Amy terribly unlikeable and I really would have preferred something different. I have heard that the film version may change the ending and I am really hoping that it does.

If you have read Gone Girl, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. To view Gone Girl on Amazon, please click here.

The film adaptation of Gone Girl will be released in theaters this Friday, October 3.

Universal Studios Partners with Penguin Random House

According to a recent survey conducted by Fandango, the two most highly anticipated films for the fall are The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Gone Girl. The two films are not really in the same genre of film, but they do have one very important thing in common:  they are both film adaptations of wildly popular novels.

Film adaptations of books is one of the ongoing trends in the film industry. Many blockbuster successes, such as this summer’s A Fault In Our Stars, have been based off of books. However, it looks like this trend is only going to grow. It was announced yesterday that Universal Pictures signed a two-year deal with Penguin Random House that will give the studio first-look privileges. This could give Penguin Random House the opportunity to see more of their literary works up on the big screen.

A partnership between a film studio and a publishing house isn’t anything new, but it is interesting. In 2005, Random House launched a co-venture with Focus Features and it definitely affected the type of films that were released. Since 2005, nearly a quarter of all of Focus Features films have been based off of books. Although not every book adapted for film was a Random House production, Random House did publish many of the books. Random House also sold screenplays of some of these films, such as Away We Go (2005).

Universal Studios is not a stranger to film adaptations of books and has released several adaptations in the past. Universal has turned classic novels such as Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Dracula into feature films. The partnership seems to have inspired Universal Studios to continue forward with film adaptations, as it already has adaptations of best-selling Penguin Random House books in production. Unbroken, being directed by Angelina Jolie, will be released in December 2014 and 50 Shades of Gray will be released in February 2015.

I think that the partnership is incredibly promising. I have always had the strong desire to “read the book before seeing the movie” and I think that this trend could increase the number of books that people read. Non-readers may have a stronger desire to pick up a book if they know that it’s about to become a movie. I also think that this could greatly benefit the film industry by supplying them with fresh, new ideas.

If you have any opinions on the Universal Studios and Penguin Random House partnership, I would love to hear about them!

Until next week,

Debbie

A Breakdown of Book Subscription Services

There has been a trend developing in the last year or so in the book industry. A wave of online book subscription services has emerged into the marketplace. For a monthly fee, a reader can have unlimited access to all of the books that this service has in its library. Several websites have adopted this format and this summer, Amazon joined the trend by launching Kindle Unlimited.

With so many different options, it may seem difficult to settle on just one subscription book service. All of them promise hundreds of thousands of books, a number of classics, and thousands of best selling books. In an attempt to wade through the market, I decided to do a quick overview of the three most popular book subscription services: Kindle Unlimited, Scribd, and Oyster.

Kindle Unlimited

Kindle Unlimited seems to have the largest offering with over 600,000 books and thousands of audiobooks for a reader to access at any time. In terms of best sellers, Kindle Unlimited offers no books on the current New York Times Best Seller List in Fiction and only one book on the current New York Times Best Seller List in Non-Fiction. Although Kindle Unlimited doesn’t offer many current New York Times Best Sellers, it does offer incredibly popular best selling titles like the Harry Potter books and the Hunger Games trilogy.

Kindle Unlimited is currently offering a free 30 day trial period so that readers can test out the service. After your free 30 days, the service costs $9.99 per month.

Scribd

Scribd offers a selection of over 500,000 different books and documents for a reader to access at any time. Although Scribd has a smaller selection than Amazon, it offers more current best selling books as of right now. Scribd has one book that is currently on the New York Times Best Seller List in Fiction and three books that are on the New York Times Best Seller List in Non-Fiction. Some popular titles on Scribd include Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Alchemist.

Scribd is currently offering a free 30 day trial period so readers can test out the service. After your free 30 days, the service costs $8.99 per month.

Oyster

Oyster offers a selection of over 500,000 different books for a reader to access at any time. Oyster offers no books on the current New York Times Best Seller List in Fiction, but it offers two books on the current New York Times Best Selling List in Non Fiction. Some popular titles in Oyster include The Giver and The Hobbit.

Oyster is currently offering a free 14 day trial period so readers can test out their service. After your free 30 days, the service costs $9.95 per month.

Overall, I think every reader is different and there is no “right” book subscription service. If you are a reader who enjoys listening to audiobooks, Kindle Unlimited would be a great option, as it is the only service that offers audiobooks. If you are interested in documents as well as books, Scribd may be your preference. If you enjoy more books that are listed on the Oyster site, that may be the book subscription service for you. The pricing of these services may also factor into your decision, although they are all within a dollar of each other.

I would strongly recommend doing some research before committing to a service. All three websites have a free trial period of some sort and it would benefit any reader interested in a book subscription to test out all three. If you don’t want to sign up for three different trials, you can simply search for some books that you’ve been interested in lately. Non-members can still search the libraries of all three websites and you can decide on a service based on which website has the most books that you’re interested in.

If you’ve used any of these three book subscription services before, I would love to hear your feedback. If there is another book subscription service that I did not discuss that you find interesting, please let me know.

Until next week,

Debbie

Book Review: Where She Went

wherewentTitle: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Foreman
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Rating: 4.5/5

Where She Went is the much-anticipated sequel to Foreman’s best selling novel, If I StayWhere She Went picks up three years after its predecessor’s abrupt ending and is told from Adam’s perspective. Adam has been shoved into the public eye after his indie band, Shooting Star, hit super stardom after the release of the album Collateral Damage. Mia has attended Julliard and has become quite famous in the realm of classical music. The two haven’t seen or spoken to each other in three years, but a single day in New York City brings them back together. Adam goes to see Mia perform at Carnegie Hall and after the show, Mia requests that he meet with her in her dressing room. The rest of the book chronicles their night in New York City, catching up on the three years they had lost.

I really loved this book and one of the main reasons I did was because it was in Adam’s perspective. After Mia’s decision to leave Adam and his sudden shot to super stardom, Adam is a mess. He struggles with anxiety and seems depressed. He is no longer in love with music like he used to be. Although Adam is a negative character, I think he is is incredibly intriguing. I think the complexity of Adam’s character is what made this book hard to put down and Foreman made him incredibly human. I appreciated his nervous ticks, like reaching for a cigarette in a stressful situation, and the consistency of Adam’s anxieties really made him a believable character.

Foreman tells the story in present day as well as in flashbacks, much like in If I Stay. I know that flashbacks aren’t for everyone, but I really enjoyed them. Since the book picks up three years after the first one left off, the reader has obviously missed out on a lot. Instead of info-dumping three years of back story, I love how Foreman takes us back to the pinnacle events that changed Adam during this three year gap. We learn what made him change from the loving, caring boyfriend from If I Stay to the jaded, lovesick rock star he is in Where She Went. Another thing that I liked was the usage of Adam’s song lyrics at the beginning of every chapter. Since music is such a massive part of Adam’s life, I loved that we were able to see what Adam had written and each song seemed to match the theme of the chapter.

I thought that Foreman did a great job reuniting Adam and Mia. They didn’t seem forced together by an unrealistic coincidence. In If I Stay, Adam mentions that it is how Mia played the cello that made him interested in her. He went on to say that he wished that he could get into music as much as she could. So, knowing his love of her passion, it only seems right that Adam would go see Mia perform at Carnegie Hall. He does struggle with the decision, but I do think it happened naturally. I also thought that it was only fitting that Mia was the one still making the decisions. Mia made the choice to leave Adam, so it seems right that she would make the choice to reunite with him. I feel like throughout the book, her actions also showed her confidence and growth as a character.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would definitely read it again. The only complaint that I have is that I feel like the ending seemed very rushed. The book takes us through their night as Adam and Mia slowly get to know each other again. Then, in just a few short chapters, Adam breaks up with his celebrity girlfriend, Mia and Adam decide that they do love each other and want to be together, and then they begin to travel the world together, supporting each other on their respective tours. I would have liked to see this happen a little slower since I loved their relationship in the first novel and wanted to see more of it in this book. Either way, I am incredibly happy that they got back together in the end.

If you have read Where She Went, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. To view Where She Went on Amazon, please click here.

Amazon Introduces KDP Kids

In 2007, Amazon revolutionized publishing with the launch of Kindle Direct Publishing. This new platform gave authors an opportunity to self publish their own works on one of the Internet’s most popular sites, Amazon.com. Independent authors have been incredibly successful through the KDP program and a growing number of those authors are popping up on New York Time’s Best Seller lists.

Seven years and a countless number of self published books later, Amazon is changing the publishing industry again.

Last week, Amazon launched KDP Kids, a new platform for authors to self publish children’s books. According to Amazon, KDP Kids gives authors a new way to prepare and publish illustrated and chapter books for children. Utilizing the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator, authors can bring the pages of their books to life with special effects, such as floating text and pop ups. Authors will also be able to utilize age and grade tools to help parents select the perfect books for their child.

This change is absolutely incredible. Because of their elaborate illustrations, children’s e-books are a bit more complicated to self publish than an e-book with only words. By adding this Kindle Kid’s Book Creator, Amazon has made creating children’s e-books much more simple. It is a real possibility that the Kindle bookstore will be flooded with a wave of new children’s books because of the convenience of this book creator.

With the addition of KDP Kids, the sales of children’s e-books could possibly increase. As of now, the children’s e-book market is a relatively small one. Digital Book World reported that children’s e-book sales made up only 11% of all children’s book sales in 2013. If more books are self published and introduced to the market, there is a potential for more sales. However, if there is an increase, I don’t think it will be a exponential one.

My only concern with KDP Kids is the age and grade tools. I really hope that Amazon has a team that specializes in children’s books and can approve the age and grade selections made by the author. An author who has never worked with children may not know what content would be suitable for each reading level. If there is a flood of children’s books self published through KDP Kids, sorting them out into the appropriate reading levels should be a huge priority for Amazon.

Although I am a bit of a book traditionalist, especially with children’s books, I think that KDP Kids is a great idea. Children are gaining more and more access to technology and having a large variety of age-appropriate books is incredibly important. I think that it’s a real possibility that other independent publishing platforms, such as NOOK Press, could take on a similar idea in the future.

Until next week,

Debbie