Mama Vicky reviews some books – The Good, the Bad, and the (Very) Ugly


Yes, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the title of a western starring Clint Eastwood. I am not referring to the movie today, though. I am referring to a couple of books I received for my recent birthday. Daphne, who is my daughter, GM, and gift giver all rolled into one, gave me these books knowing that I do love suspense thrillers. You already know that I am a Tess Gerritsen fan as I have reviewed books written by her before. Playing with Fire is her very latest book. Her book is the good part. Gone Girl is the bad and very ugly part.

Let’s start with the (very) good.



Playing with Fire
By Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen’s famous characters in many of her books are Jane Rizzoli, Boston PD, and Dr. Maura Isles, Medical Examiner. This book is not a Rizzoli and Isles title. This is a stand-alone book featuring Julia Ansdell, an accomplished violinist whose hobby is procuring old music. When in Italy after a concert, she comes across an antiquated curio shop in which she peruses an old book of Gypsy tunes. As she opens the volume a handwritten piece of music titled “Incendio” drops to the floor. She reads the music, and imagines in her head how it will sound. The piece is challenging, beautiful, passionate, and mournful. She immediately falls in love with it and intends to master the piece.The shop owner charges an exorbitant sum for the book and sheet music, but Julia has made up her mind that she has to buy it no matter the cost.

Back in the US she practices the piece with her daughter in hearing distance. The normally sweet and innocent child seems to be transformed into an evil monster when the music is played. The family cat is brutally murdered, and Julia is stabbed in the leg with a broken piece of glass. Julia’s life turns upside down. No one believes that the child is malevolent, especially because of a piece of music. Julia’s sanity is questioned and her husband makes her see a psychiatrist. The shrink determines Julia is not a fit mother and needs a psychiatric hospital stay.

Instead Julia flees to Italy to find the answer as to why this music has ruined her life. Searching for the identity to the music’s unknown author, L. Todesco, and the reason for writing the music are her goals. She is determined to prove she isn’t crazy and get her normal life back. Italy is not safe, however, as a friend betrays her and someone is feverishly hunting her down before she can find the answers. Somehow Fascist Italy and WW II have something to do with all of this.

I could not have guessed the outcome in my wildest imagination. A total twist occurs and somehow it all makes sense. I read this book in two days, using all the spare time that I had, which isn’t much. I didn’t want to put the book down and stayed up late on work nights to read it. Didn’t feel too rested in the morning, but the reading was well worth it. Anyway, I would recommend this book to others and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Now moving on to the the bad, and very ugly.



Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn

If you look at the back cover of the book, there are listed several comments about the book. “Spectacularly Sneaky.” “Mercilessly Entertaining.” “Razor-Sharp.” (That is accurate because “Gone Girl” does use a razor in the story.) “Menacing.” (True, Gone Girl is a psychopath.) “Superb.”

If my reviews were posted on the back instead of the ones above, they would be very different. “Evil.” “Co-dependent very flawed characters.” “Negative perception of life.” “No redeeming value.” “Vulgar, lewd, disgusting.” Also on the back of the book is the author’s picture. Looking at the photo she has a very sweet appearance. Looks are definitely deceiving. She had the worst “potty” mouth in the world. I wanted to grab a toilet brush and scrub her mouth out. Good books have and will continue to be written without vulgar expressions. In this book they were extensive.

This is the story of a marriage between 2 people who are actors and appear pretty and wonderful and perfectly matched, on the surface. As the marriage falls apart, Nick, the wretched husband, has an affair with a younger woman. Creepy, psycho wife finds out and the adage is true: Hell has no fury like a woman scorned. In the midst of this marriage, Amy goes missing; disappears without a trace. The front door of their home is wide open, the living room has been torn apart, and Nick doesn’t have an alibi. I knew right away that he didn’t do it. Everyone turns on Nick and believe he is like the infamous Scott Peterson who in real life murdered his pregnant wife. The husband is always guilty, right?

I may be giving away spoilers, but I am trying to encourage people to stay away from this novel. Save your mind and your time. Don’t read this book. You may be wondering why I finished it. (I am still having to scrub my mind out to get rid of the vulgar language and descriptions of anatomy.) One reason, is my daughter gave it to me. She now knows it is the worst book I have read in a long time, though I thanked her for the gift. The story line sounded interesting and she thought I would like it. You know, it is the thought that counts. The second reason is that I was really hoping justice would have been meted out to the crazy wench. Nope. The ending is equally co-dependent and disgusting.

I am not giving this book even 1 star. It was that bad in my opinion. And it is definitely not a keeper.

Playing with Fire is definitely a keeper and will find it’s niche on my overloaded book shelves. (I am trying to read the books and sort the true favorites from the good ones and then passing the good ones on to the library used bookstore. I’ll make a dent in those shelves one of these years. It would certainly help if I stopped buying books!)

Keep on reading. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

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