T is for (Books About) Twists #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

It’s a challenge to do a book with a good twist. The author has to insert clues into the story so that it’s not out of nowhere, but be cagey enough to fool most people so that when the twist comes, their minds are blown. Here are some books with twists I didn’t see coming.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (thriller): Show of hands, is there anyone who isn’t familiar with either the book or movie? Unreliable narrators have to be really well done for me to buy it, and with this one, I was fooled, in the best possible way. There were several twists in this book, and each one left me gasping. If you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend it. Even if you know what happens, seeing it unfold in the book is masterful.

The Woman In the Window, by AJ Finn (thriller): I usually HATE books with the drunk main character who can’t remember what she did unreliable narrator. I only read it because my friend, Ramona, recommended it to me, and she has the skill of knowing what other people will like. This book seemed like exactly that book for the first half, and I was losing faith. After the big twist comes, I could literally not put this book down. My adulting ended for the day.

My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult (contemporary): Anna has been a donor for her sister Kate her entire life. Kate is diagnosed with leukemia, and Anna is a perfect match. When Kate needs a kidney, Anna refuses and gets a lawyer to petition for medical emancipation so she can make her own decisions about her body. The book presents some interesting ethical dilemmas (which I always love) and presents a series of thought-provoking twists at the end. This is a great discussion book.

The Westing Game, by Ellen Rankin (YA): My teacher read this to our 6th grade class, and because the main character, Turtle Wexler, liked to kick boys, I somehow got the nickname “Turtle.” It didn’t stick, but it’s the reason I now collect turtles. It’s a mystery about Mr. Westing, a rich man who died and left his fortune to whoever can solve his riddle. I remember being shocked by the twist at the end.

What books with twists do you recommend?

20 Books of Summer Challenge

20-booksCathy, over at 746 Books, is a book addict, like many of us. She started a blog when she realized that she had 746 unread books on her shelves. (I haven’t counted mine… I’m scared.)

She created the 20 Books of Summer Challenge for herself, as a way to get through some of her book stack. But it’s become an event, and many of us have joined in. Though I confess, I only recently heard about it from While I Was Reading

The challenge is simple: Between June 1 and September 3, pull a stack of 20 books and read them. She also has alternate challenges if you want to join, but can only read 10 or 15.

Here are my stacks:

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Plus 5 alternates:

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So, here we go; these are the books I’m going to read between now and the end of summer. I’m sure they’re not the only books I’ll read. For me, the challenge isn’t the quantity, but actually reading what I’d planned to. I’m not good at that; I see new books and I want to read them. For me, going to a bookstore is like going to the animal shelter… I want them all! But like 746 Books, I need to cull my stacks.

Anyone want to join in? Have you read any of the ones I’m attempting? If so, what did you think?

T is for Twists

Puerto Rico; Photo credit: Doree Weller

Puerto Rico; Photo credit: Doree Weller

“I don’t really believe in ‘directions’ in art; the rope twists as you follow it, that’s all.”
Graham Nelson

When I was a teenager, writing horror, I LOVED writing twist endings.  I loved writing a story that was going along a certain way, and then BAM! hitting you in the face with something that seemed out of left field (but if you re-read the story, you could see it).  I kept that up for a little while, but then I started reading about writing.  Many authors warned that often times stories with twist endings are boring, just leading up to the super-clever twist.  Who cares about a great payoff if the story itself is boring?

I hang my head in shame, as this was the truth about many of my stories.  (I was a teenager; give me a break!)

Done well, twists can make for a memorable story.  M. Night Shymalan made three great movies with wonderful twists (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and The Village).  I remember reading Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks for the first time, and the end was sad and surprising.  (Of course now I know that every single Nicholas Sparks book ends the same way, so it’s no longer a twist.)

Other good books with twist endings:

Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane (also a good movie, but the book was better)

The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (this book is the origin of my nickname, Turtle)

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (a decent book; not my favorite, but a quality twist)

I think that twist endings, at their best, feel organic.  They don’t feel contrived or like a means to an end.  The twist happens as a way to imitate life, because life has a lot of twists to it.  It’s just the nature of it to be that way.  I haven’t written anything with a twist ending lately, but it could happen.  These days I mostly try to hang on as the story takes on a life of its own.  The characters whisper to me, and I go where they lead.  Some days it’s a bumpy ride!

“Life has got all those twists and turns. You’ve got to hold on tight and off you go.”
-Nicole Kidman

 

 

Gone Girl- A Review

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, is not a book I would have normally chosen to read.  Not that it wasn’t a book I would like, but if not for my book club, it never would have come up on my radar.

Nick’s wife, Amy, has disappeared from their home.  Nick has no idea why anyone would want to hurt Amy, but their house shows signs of a struggle.  The story of Amy’s disappearance is told from Nick’s point of view, offset by Amy’s diary entries from the time they met, up until the day of the disappearance.

For the first 100 pages, I couldn’t decide if I liked the book or not.  It definitely caught my interest, and compelled me to keep reading, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to go on the “like,” “dislike,” or “meh” mental shelf.

By the time I got to the end, I absolutely loved the book.  I liked the ending, I liked the suspense, and I liked that the book kept me in a constant state of tension.  I couldn’t wait to read the ending.

Now for the bad… So far I’m the ONLY person in my book club who liked the ending.  We haven’t discussed in any detail yet, as there are those who haven’t read it, but if it were majority rule, the ending would have to go.

Let me just say this: if you’re up for something a little different, that will keep you guessing until the end, give this book a try.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.