Surznick Reads: October 2014 - The Surznick Common Room

Friday, October 31, 2014

Surznick Reads: October 2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEEEEN!!! Hope you guys are having a spooktacular day filled with lots of tricks and treats! ...was that candy corny enough for you? (.... I'm done now.)

I feel like we say this every month, but October seriously was SO busy! This month had it's tough moments for sure, but we spent a lot of time with family and friends, had our annual Fall Day, and just celebrated our 1 Year Blogiversary! (Psst... don't forget to enter our giveaway - it's open 'til Monday!)

We still cranked out a few books, so here they are!

Sarah's Reads!

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
From "After traveling through time in Shadow of Night... historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago ... Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close."

**Deep breaths** I'm finally done. The Book of Life is the third and final book of the All Souls Trilogy (here are my reviews for books 1 and 2) and I have to say I am glad to be done. As I've mentioned before, this book was the October selection for my book club, so over the past few months I've read books 1 and 2 in addition to 3. I really enjoyed the first book, but the second just dragged me down. I think this final book was defintely an improvement over the second, but it's hard to read 3 books of a series that you just don't really care about. The book is pretty slow in the first half, but towards the end it picks up and becomes very interesting as everything starts to tie together and resolve. Overall, this series wasn't terrible, but I probably wouldn't recommend it either. I'm glad to get back on track with my want-to-read list for the year... only two months to finish it up!

My Rating: 3 Stars

Nick's Reads!

Less Then Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
From "Set in Los Angeles in the early 1980's, this coolly mesmerizing novel is a raw, powerful portrait of a lost generation who have experienced sex, drugs, and disaffection at too early an age, in a world shaped by casual nihilism, passivity, and too much money a place devoid of feeling or hope. Clay comes home for Christmas vacation from his Eastern college and re-enters a landscape of limitless privilege and absolute moral entropy, where everyone drives Porches, dines at Spago, and snorts mountains of cocaine. He tries to renew feelings for his girlfriend, Blair, and for his best friend from high school, Julian, who is careering into hustling and heroin. Clay's holiday turns into a dizzying spiral of desperation that takes him through the relentless parties in glitzy mansions, seedy bars, and underground rock clubs and also into the seamy world of L.A. after dark."

I completely didn’t like this book. There is just no way around it. In my head, I really like Bret Easton Ellis. I loved American Psycho, and so I thought I’d give this one a try as well. Turns out his style just doesn’t sit well with  me. I guess I am a high maintenance reader. I need to be SUPER involved and intrigued in order to really get immersed into a book. The writing style, and plot (or lack-there-of, if you ask me) just wasn’t enough to keep me interested. I’d read pages at a time and realize I was completely zoned out for all of it. Oh well, you like some, you hate some. I don’t know if I’d say I hated it, but it’s definitely not in the “like” column. 

My Rating: 1 Star

Surznick's Reads! (Yep, both of us!)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
From "On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?"

So first of all, Nick and I read this book out loud to each other. Doing this was actually so awesome! I've been wanting to read Gone Girl for a couple years now, but just never got around to it. Now that the movie is out, I've been getting increasingly nervous that at any moment, I could read a tweet or Facebook status that will ruin it for me. So I bought the book, and since Nick wanted to read it as well, I decided that it would be fun for me to read it to him while we drove to and from Virginia last weekend for his cousin's wedding. Since we've been home, we've been taking turns reading chapters to each other (Nick reads the Nick chapters and I read the Amy chapters). It's been so much fun getting to read at the exact same time as him. I love seeing our reactions together, discussing the book each night before bed, and just spending time with him in general. Reading is typically such a solitary activity, so it's really been amazing to share this with him. I think we're definitely going to do it more in the future!

And now for our review... I'll say that we both really, really liked this book, but I wouldn't say either of us loved it. Mostly because of the end. The ending was less than stellar for me, and I just really hoped it would have turned out differently. But besides the ending, we thought Gone Girl was excellent. It was at times hilarious, at times sad, and at others hard for me to read. We loved getting the story from both (Diary) Amy and Nick's perspectives and seeing how they match up. It was fun trying to determine what was a lie and what was the truth and seeing how each character played into it. I'd definitely be interested in reading Flynn's other books in the future. And now we can finally see the movie!

Our Rating: 4 Stars

We hope that you all have a fun and safe Halloween! Eat lots of candy! Tomorrow is our Halloween party so we'll be back on Sunday to share our costumes with you!

Sarah & Nick


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