Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Date Added: June 14, 2013
Date Started: September 8, 2018
Date Finished: October 3, 2018
Reading Duration: 25 days
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Drama, Crime Drama, Psychological Drama

Cover of Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnPages: 415
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Broadway Books
Media: Paperback


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 from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. 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?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.


Note: I’m going to split this into a Review section and an Analysis section.  The Analysis section will contain spoilers, and I’ll post another warning prior.


Review

I have to give Gillian Flynn props.

There is something…off about both Nick and Amy.  Flynn does an excellent job laying the groundwork for this paradigm, but not rushing the reveal.  It reaches the point where there’s no allegation too outlandish to consider, and that’s where the genius of Gone Girl lies.  I thought I had it all figured out, but all of my formulated theories were wrong.  The author is a master of the bait-and-switch misdirect, and I fell for all the red herrings.

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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Title:The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Author: Claire North
Date Added: September 15, 2017
Date Started: August 23, 2018
Date Finished: September 21, 2018
Reading Duration: 29 days
Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Mystery, Drama, Philosophical

Cover of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire NorthPages: 405
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Redhook
Media: eBook/Kindle


Some stories cannot be told in just one lifetime. Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message.” This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.


CW: Discussions of suicide, torture, and murder of sex workers.


We believed that we could change ourselves,
The past could be undone.
-Sarah McLachlan “Fallen”

When I was a child before any sort of indoctrination took hold, I believed dying was just a reset button, and I would start life over again right where I began.  Upon realizing this was the premise of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, it was like having a religious experience that was less ironic and more absolute.  I do not believe my child’s mind thought I’d retain all my prior life’s memories, but I am 100% certain I would suffer the same in my second life as the titular character and then spend the rest of them trying to do the impossible like Merida in Disney’s Brave and change fate.  This is protagonist’s goal on a grander scale in Claire North’s brilliant debut novel.

Harry August is a kalachakra, a person for whom death and life are an infinite loop.  At the cessation of the latter, they are reborn in the exact same place and time to relive their life anew with the knowledge that they’ve done all this before.  “Kalachakra” was not a term made up by North; it is rather a Buddhist concept that means “wheel of time” (hi Robert Jordan) or “time cycles” with the latter term putting me in the mind of Chrono Trigger, specifically the song “Time Circuits.”

With more insights garnered from video games, I discovered the meaning of “kalachakra” from a video about Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which is another narrative about time loops not only of the essence, but also necessary to forestall the end of the world.

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The State of the Gamer: 7/15/21

<–The State of the Gamer: 7/1/21           The State of the Gamer: 7/29/21–>

A weekly post updated every other Thursday detailing my current gaming projects.  I have an account at Grouvee, which is a site you can use to keep track of your backlog, so please feel free to friend me there!

What I Purchased

  • Sky: Children of the Light – $0.00 @ Nintendo eShop
  • Discolored – $9.99 @ Nintendo eShop

Total: $9.99


What I Finished

Title: Discolored
System: Nintendo Switch

Cover of DiscoloredDate Started: July 13, 2021
Date Finished: July 14, 2021

This was such a quick and fun play.  I wish it were a little bit longer, but I have a feeling they’re going to make more; the ending certainly teased it (a little too cruelly if you ask me).  I was a little worried it was going to be a scary game, and I’ll be honest, near the end it gets the slightest bit creepy, but that’s only because I’m a wuss puss who’s been watching too many horror LPs.  It only takes about two hours to complete, and there’s a robust hint system if you get lost.  I used it more than I wanted to, but that’s totally on me.  I’ll be looking for more items from Godbey Games.

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Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Title: Unraveling Oliver
Author: Liz Nugent
Date Added: August 26, 2017
Date Started: January 21, 2021
Date Finished: February 26, 2021
Reading Duration: 16 days
Genre: Fiction, Adult Contemporary, Drama, Mystery, Psychological Thriller

Cover of Unraveling Oliver by Liz NugentPages: 260
Publication Date: March 6, 2014
Publisher: Scout Press
Media: Hardback (Library)


Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbours, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.


A child that is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.

-African Proverb

If ever there was a story that exemplified the false dichotomy of “martyrs and monsters,” it would be Liz Nugent’s Unraveling Oliver.  Though I find it far easier to slide Oliver to the “monster” end of the spectrum, I would be disingenuous to deny him the same courtesy I so readily extend to (arguably) more malevolent actors, because another false dichotomy of “nature vs. nurture” still tells us monsters are not really born; they are made.

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The Last Thing You See by Marie Batiste (Rachel Dixon #1)

Title: The Last Thing You See
Series: Rachel Dixon
Author: Marie Batiste
Date Added: March 26, 2020
Date Started: June 23, 2020
Date Finished: July 9, 2020
Reading Duration: 16 days
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural/Paranormal, Horror, Mystery/Murder Mystery

Cover of The Last Thing You See by Marie BatistePages: 185
Publication Date: February 5, 2020
Publisher: Self
Media: eBook/Kindle


Riley Green’s parents came home one morning to find their daughter missing and human organs in their dining room.

Following a ten-month suspension, forced rehab and a tumultuous divorce, New Orleans Detective Rachel Dixon is finally stitching her life back together when she is called to a strange crime scene. Joined by her new partner, Elias Crowe an intuitive elf dealing with discrimination in the department, Rachel starts the search for Riley’s killer.

Soon the investigation leads them to a series of strange murders not just in the city but across the nation. Desperate to find the killer the detectives seek help from an undead blood analyst, a standoffish necromancer, a tree spirit, and a living sculpture. But when the killer seems to have set their eyes on Rachel all the help and magic in the world may not be enough to catch the elusive serial killer.

Join the detectives as they maneuver through a familiar world stitched together with magic, blood, and animosity.


Rachel Dixon is a flawed but intensely likable detective who is being overly punished for the mistakes she’s made in the past.  The world merged with a magical one around twenty years ago, and the oddness and curiosity around this event is maintained throughout the novel as even the inhabitants of it remain clueless to the entirety of the effects.  The characters treat the world like their world (as you do).  There’s no info dumping; you’re given enough to understand how things work, and that’s all it is.  It’s like if you lived in a reality where magic existed, you wouldn’t bat an eye at it when it manifests, because it would be as commonplace as a smartphone.

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Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files #2)

Title: Fool Moon
Series Title: The Dresden Files
Author: Jim Butcher
Date Added: January 17, 2013
Date Started: May 26, 2018
Date Finished: June 27, 2018
Reading Duration: 32 Days
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal/Supernatural, Mystery

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #2) coverPages: 401
Publication Date: January 1, 2001
Publisher: Roc
Media: Paperback


Harry Dresden–Wizard
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work–magical or mundane.

But just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.

A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses–and the first two don’t count…


Where do I even begin?  Not only is this book astoundingly predictable, but the main character’s overbearing White Knight complex is arguably the catalyst for a friend’s death and the start of everything.   Harry’s refusal to give her any information leads to her making a fatal error, and you can see it coming from a mile away.  It’s bad enough he does this to one of his student’s, but when Dresden does the same thing to Karen Murphy, the fucking police chief, it’s impossible not to call him out for his sexism.  Murphy is a police lieutenant with experience, and it’s goddamn patronizing, which is exactly what she tells him.  She’s not his daughter.  She’s not his student.  She’s a an experienced cop who has every right to take the risk.  If she has the information and knows something is dangerous, it’s her choice whether or not to follow through.  While I get Murphy might know all the ins and outs of magic, it’s still not Harry’s call, and the truth is his unwillingness to supply information is why his other friend wound up dead.

I said what I said gif - A Black woman with blonde hair gesticulating/pointing with her left hand

Then later, Murphy tells him not to keep secrets from her, and what does Harry do?  He doesn’t tell her about the car potentially tailing him, nor about the spell he could use to find the killer.  Then he has the fucking audacity to blame her for no longer considering him a friend, when he’s the one jeopardizing the friendship with his actions.  I can’t feel sorry for him for this or when Murphy arrests his ass.  All he had to do was let her know what was going on, and the only reason he didn’t was because of his ridiculous White Knight thing.

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Oxenfree: Review and Analysis

More video game reviews and analyses can be found here.

Note: Source for banner artwork can be found at this site discussing other potential media adaptations of the game.

Title: Oxenfree
Genre: 
Adventure/Exploration, Puzzle, Mystery, Horror
Developer: Night School Studio
Release Date: January 15, 2016

Oxenfree coverLet’s Player: ChristoperOdd
Date Started: 9/2/18
Date Finished: 9/5/18


A supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift.


With a heavy Stranger Things vibe and a female MC who’s a person of color, I couldn’t help but be drawn into this paranormal tale that starts out (like most) normally enough with a group of teenagers participating in a high school rite of passage that turns into a supernatural mystery involving secret subs, a lost crew, and a government cover up not dissimilar to The Philadelphia Experiment and Montauk.

Oxenfree, developed by Night School Studio and the brainchild of former Telltale and Disney employees, was released on January 16, 2016 accompanied by developmental documentaries and an alternative reality game (ARG), which allows players to interact with it in the real world, lending a creepier air to an already eerie narrative.   The atmospheric music, composed by scntfc, adds the perfect accompaniment to Alex and company’s exploration of the abandoned Edwards Island.  Along with the music, Morse code serves an integral part to understanding what happened here, though, as usual, the internet provides for those of us not savvy enough to be knowledgeable.

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Restless Bones on Crystal Lake by B. Batiste (Moon Investigations #2)

Moon Investigations

<–Witch Hunt on Crystal Lake

Title: Restless Bones on Crystal Lake
Series Title: Moon Investigations
Author: B. Batiste
Date Added: March 26, 2018
Date Started: May 1, 2018
Date Finished: May 12, 2018
Reading Duration: 11 days
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Mystery

Restless Bones on Crystal Lake coverPages: 170
Publication Date: March 28, 2018
Publisher: Amazon
Media: eBook/Kindle


A soggy decrepit ghost visits Hazel. And with her new ghostly admirer comes a new case and a new hidden danger.

Lola is wanted for the murder of Royce Habernath, a pirate treasure hunter whom she has fought with many times over a treasure map. In their search for the truth, Hazel, Syn and Blossom struggle with the realization, Lola is the mistress of secrets and killing someone is definitely within her wheelhouse. But when it becomes clear that Lola was framed it becomes a race to find the real murderer before Lola is sent to a prison most don’t return from. At least not whole.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Hazel may have a hidden power a queen is searching for. Whether Hazel truly has it or not the Blood Queen and her minions now know she is on Crystal Lake. And if they find Hazel, her death is certain.


Lola is one of the most interesting characters in the Moon Investigation series.  Often side characters are just that: ones on the side, but Miss Batiste puts a great deal of effort into making all of hers intriguing.  Unsurprisingly, Lola didn’t become a bad ass on a whim.  She was forged in fire and pain with pirate ancestors who became embroiled in more than what they bargained for.

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Witch Hunt on Crystal Lake by B. Batiste (Moon Investigations Book 1)

Moon Investigations

Restless Bones on Crystal Lake–>

Title: Witch Hunt on Crystal Lake
Series Title: Moon Investigations
Author: B. Batiste
Date Started: December 23, 2017
Date Finished: January 6, 2018
Reading Duration: 14 days
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Mystery

Witch Hunt on Crystal Lake coverPages: 215
Publication Date: January 1, 2018
Publisher: Self
Media: Kindle


If you are a magical or mythical creature in your human form or other and need help the police can’t or won’t provide, come on down to Moon Investigations. Where help may be only a spell away. 

On the island of Crystal Lake where technology and magic are intertwined, magical gangs will rob and or curse you and dragons strut their stuff down the street, anything can happen. 

Private Investigator Hazel Moondance tries her best to help those in need. Family members of the missing, forgotten and runaways are her main clients. So, when a mother comes to her looking for her daughter Rose Stone, Hazel is determined to find her. With the help of a bounty hunter and a seasoned witch, Hazel must sort through the life and secrets of Rose. She finds a secret that leads to other unsolved cases and a ritual that could destroy the island. 

Now Hazel and her helpers must find Rose, the other missing girls and the person who took them before the night of the Emerald Stars or it will be too late.


This is an excellent witchy mystery that doesn’t rely on cliched tropes.  Of course there’s magic and mythical creatures, but it reads more like a “whodunnit?” with a variety of magical characters.

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Thimbleweed Park

More video game reviews can be found here.

Genre: Point & Click, Mystery, Adventure
Developer: Terrible Toybox
Release Date: March 30, 2017
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Thimbleweed Park coverStart Date: February 25, 2018
Finish Date: April 23, 2018
Playing Duration: 57 days


Thimbleweed Park is a point & click murder-mystery adventure that winds up being much more than just your run-of-the-mill “who done it?”  Two federal agents, Ray and Reyes are dispatched to the small, titular town to investigate the murder of a foreign businessman, but each of them has an ulterior motive for being there.  Ray, the senior agent, is snarky and sarcastic with no time for rookie Agent Reyes’ overly enthusiastic attitude.  She wants to get in and get out as quickly as possible, and it’s clear early on how much she hates both the town and its residents, especially the irritating and unhelpful sheriff/coroner.  The rest of the town’s residents vary in their degrees of helpfulness, and as everything comes together, more than a mystery will be cracked wide open.

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