Trigger Warning

CJ Reviews Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

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Behind Closed DoorsTitle: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Format: Advanced Reading Copy
Rating: 2.5 stars

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie. (Goodreads)

I have to admit, I did not read this novel as thoroughly as I usually do. In fact, I seriously considered dumping it in my DNF pile and moving on, but I really wanted to know how it ended so I skimmed most of the book just to see what happened. Fortunately, I think the ending was possibly the best part of the novel.

My first problem with this novel was mostly personal taste – this novel was Dark. Extremely dark. While I do tend to read a lot of psychological thrillers and books that can get pretty dark, this one really bothered me almost from the beginning. It should really come with a trigger warning. The relationship in the novel was just so dark and disturbing that it really bothered me to read it, which was the entire reason I was skimming. But I just had to know if it had a satisfying ending.

My other problem was with how weak Grace is through most of the novel. Granted, it would have been difficult to fight back in that situation and she had her sister to think about as well, but I just found myself struggling to empathize with her sometimes, which bothered me given her situation. I was bothered by what was happening to her, but I didn’t really feel for her, if that makes any sense. She just didn’t seem to have any spark or spirit, even before she met her husband.

The most interesting characters in the novel are actually the smaller characters – Grace’s sister Millie and new friend Esther. Both these women are much more interesting and well-rounded than either of the main characters. Both of these characters are also much stronger than Grace had been.

Given Grace’s weakness through much of the novel, one could argues that the ending is actually implausible, but since I thought the end was better than the rest of the book I prefer to believe it’s the rest of the book that has a problem and the ending is the part that’s done well.

So, if you’re willing to suffer through a mediocre thriller delving into the darkness and evil of a sick, twisted mind and domestic violence in order to get to a satisfying conclusion then you may want to check this book out. Meanwhile, I am going to try to reading something much more lighthearted and fun while I try to scrub this darkness from my mind.

ARC August 2016
Behind Closed Doors was read as part of ARC August hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. You can find more on the books I read during ARC August here.

Bottom Shelf Reviews: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

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Notes from Bottom Shelf

I am kind of ashamed that this  book has sat on my shelf long enough that it qualifies as a Bottom Shelf review. I bought it the day it came out with every intention of reading it immediately, yet somehow a year has passed and I’m just now getting it read. Even more sad, the last book I reviewed under this category was also a Neil Gaiman book that took me much longer than it should have to read.

Trigger WarningTitle: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Rating 4 stars

In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection. …

A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day. (Goodreads)

I always struggle to review short story collections, since it’s multiple different stories instead of one cohesive narrative to critique, but I will do my best. I always enjoy Gaiman’s short story collections. As much as I love his novels, sometimes I think I almost enjoy his short stories more.

This collection had a wide variety of stories, most published before but it also included a brand new American Gods short story about what happens when Shadow heads to the UK after what happened in America.

This is a terrific collection of short stories, and I would say it may be my favorite except for the fact that it’s been a while since I read his first two collections, so I can’t be sure. However there were a lot of stories in this one that I loved – “Nothing O’clock” (a Doctor Who story), “Adventure Story,” “The Sleeper and the Spindle” (a Sleeping Beauty/Snow White mashup and retelling) and many others. I can’t really list them all here. I loved almost every story for one reason or another. Some where funny, some where dark, some creepy, and others charming. Gaiman has a wide range in his storytelling ability and it is wonderfully showcased in this collection.