Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
By Paula Hawkins
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594633669, January 2015, 336pp.)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

A nosy woman on the train witnesses something odd and decides to look into it further.

The Rest of It:

This book is a lot of fun. Lots of page turning, plenty of twists and a classic unreliable narrator. Good stuff.

Rachel is an alcoholic and has lost her job. She rides the train all day to keep her roommate from knowing that she’s now unemployed. Her train happens to pass by the house she once owned with her husband, Tom. Tom is now married to Anna and they live happily in what was once her home. Rachel’s train ride through London is often spent tipping a bottle back. Seeing her old home and sometimes even catching a glimpse of the other woman, is enough to make her drink and drink she does. So much so, that what she sees is often not remembered later.

That memory thing becomes a problem early on.

Yes. It. Does.

Rachel’s daily observances include a couple that she’s come to know as Jess and Jason, names she’s made up to give them substance. She watches them interacting on the balcony of their apartment, and she’s dreamed up a back story for them. But when Jess does something out of character for her, and then a crime is committed, Rachel takes it upon herself to investigate.

As you can imagine, things get out of hand. Rachel sticks her nose into their lives and in the process, ends up involving her ex-husband and his wife. Both, really want nothing to do with Rachel but out of obligation, aware of Rachel’s raging alcoholism, Tom tries to look out for her when he can, which infuriates Anna.

Tension mounts as the story unfolds and when you get to those last few chapters, you can’t help but turn the kids away, let your dinner burn, etc. The ending needs to be read uninterrupted. Don’t tell me that I didn’t warn you.

But, honestly, Rachel’s antics were a little tiring. Just when I started to grow bored with her, some critical piece of info would surface and then I’d be flipping pages again. I suppose that’s a sign of true suspense because there was no way I was going to put the book down. I knew that from the start. Does it deserve the hype? Yes, I think so. If you pick it up for pure fun, you will enjoy it quite a bit. If you pick it apart and compare it to other books, you might find fault with some of it but really, who has the time for that?

Read it, because it’s fun and it’s a great distraction from all the crap going on in the world today.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Her

HerHer
By Harriet Lane
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316369879, January 5, 2015, 272pp.)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

Two women at different stages in their lives, form an unlikely friendship that eventually leads to something darker.

The Rest of It:

Emma and Nina are close to one-another in age, but that is where the similarity stops. Nina is an accomplished artist with a teen-aged daughter while Emma is the mother of a toddler and a young baby. Nina is polished & sophisticated. Emma on the other hand, is riddled by the daily reminders of motherhood, the cluttered house, the unkempt hair, the dishes in the sink, and the boredom that fills her hours while other women are out having lunch with friends. The two women could not be more different, but when Nina recognizes Emma one day, she sets out to insert herself into Emma’s world and the two form an unlikely friendship with one another.

The story alternates between Emma and Nina and from the very first pages, I just knew that Nina was up to no good. That is actually made very clear from the start and that fact keeps the tension running high as you read about these women. And Emma, who is in awe of Nina and the sophistication she embodies is constantly trying to remember who she was before the kids. When Nina provides her with a much-needed break, Emma has this to say about herself:

I used to know this person, I used to understand her; maybe I’ll get to know her again.

Emma’s need to know Nina is tangible. She’s happily married, but trapped by the day-to-day routine and Nina’s friendship reminds her that there is a life outside of child rearing. But Nina’s motives aren’t entirely clear and so the reader is led along, knowing that something horrible is about to happen…or not.

Lane nails motherhood and that feeling you have when the baby spits up on your clean shirt and you decide to go to Target anyway. Some moms handle motherhood well and others do not. Emma falls between the two. She’s a good mom but tired and has let herself go. She misses her other self, the one that worked 9-5, had interesting conversations and could “do” lunch at a moment’s notice.

The last few pages of this book will make you angry. VERY angry. I won’t give it away but when I first read the ending, I wanted to hurl the book across the room. Now, after sitting on it for a day or two, I appreciate the ending a little more but I suspect that many of you will be angry with the book just because of the ending. Don’t ignore this book just because of the ending because it’s actually quite good and even, dare I say it, brilliant.

I don’t know what else Lane has written but I’d read her again.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review, Tour & Giveaway: A Matter of Mercy

A Matter of MercyA Matter of Mercy
By Lynne Hugo
(Blank Slate Press, Paperback, 9780985808617, 278pp.)

The Short of It:

Mistakes can destroy you or change you for the better, but the choice is yours.

The Rest of It:

One fateful night, while driving under the influence, Caroline Marcum crashes into another car, killing a special needs child. Sent to prison and filled with guilt, she serves her time quietly but once out, leaves her home of Wellfleet Harbor. Her marriage is over and all she can think of is leaving the past behind her. However, when her mother falls terminally ill, she is forced to return to the Cape to face all of the things she’s been avoiding for quite a long time.

This story will appeal to lots of readers for many reasons. The story is set in Cape Cod and centers not only around Caroline’s story but also the story of the local aquaculturists who make their living farming oysters. As Caroline tends to her mother, she is reacquainted with a friend from school, Ridley Neal who happens to be one of the oyster farmers farming the beach right below her mother’s home. There is a little bit of romance, a lot of strife, a touch of mystery and of course, the fascinating tidbits surrounding oyster farming and what it entails. I found these bits especially enjoyable.

What I noticed right away while reading, is how quickly I was pulled into the story. Knowing absolutely nothing about oyster farming, I had no problem picking up the terminology. However, there were two moments where I wasn’t sure which direction the author was going in. These two moments did take me out of the narrative a little, but not enough to make me like the book any less. One, involves a law suit against the aquaculturists (which happens to be inspired by a real-life lawsuit) and the other involves stalking and revenge. The latter seemed a little out-of-place to me.

Regardless, I was surprised at how absorbed I was while reading. I had a long stint over the holidays where I was unable to read anything and then here comes this book and I blow though it in just a couple of sittings. The main characters are riddled with flaws, which readers here know, makes my heart sing. The story wasn’t predictable, even though a couple of things seemed a little out-of-place and choosing to build a story around oyster farming…well, I’ve never read anything about oyster farming so that was very different and unique to me. I think I would have liked a little more redemption in the end but overall, I enjoyed the book quite a bit.

If you like a book to be a lot of things, A Matter of Mercy would be a good choice for you. Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have a copy to giveaway! See below for details.


GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

This giveaway is for one copy of A Matter of Mercy and is open to the US and Canada. A winner will be chosen randomly by me. The book will come directly from the publisher. Only one entry per person. Giveaway closes on Friday, January 23, 2015 (pacific). I will contact the winner for his/her mailing address. The winner will have 5 days to respond or another winner will be chosen.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! (now closed)

Lynne Hugo

Lynne Hugo

For more information on the author, click here or visit her Facebook page.

TLC Book Tours

Source: Review and giveaway copy provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Strange Library

The Strange Library

The Strange Library
By Haruki Murakami, Translater, Ted Goossen
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780385354301, 96pp.)

The Short of It:

An experience, more than anything else.

The Rest of It:

In 2014, Murakami fans were graced with not one new book, but two! The Strange Library is really a novella, but quite different from anything he’s done before as far as format. The story itself is strange, which is a word I use a lot when describing Murakami’s stories, but it’s strange and mysterious in a good way.

The story is about a boy, imprisoned in a library. Not a normal library. A (wait for it) STRANGE library. This one has winding corridors, hidden rooms and a really strange guy dressed up like a sheep. While reading this part, I could not help but be reminded of another book by Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase. Ah, such memories.

The book comes shrink-wrapped and once opened, you must fold out flaps to get to its contents. It’s a strange design but kind of neat at the same time. The book is short (96 pages) and contains a lot of graphics to support the story visually. The pages are thick, very substantial. While reading, you feel as if you are holding something really special. I’m not sure you’d have the same feeling while reading an ebook version or listening to it on audio. Chip Kidd designed the book. He’s done some work for Murakami before. I really like what he does. If you are at all interested in book design, check out his Ted Talk. He’s quite a character!

The Strange Library Sample Page

Back to the book.

As a Murakami, there are a lot of familiar elements. If you handed this story to me on plain paper and left the author’s name off of it, I’d still be able to tell who wrote it but it’s just a small taste of what he can do. I liked the story a lot but I wanted to spend more time with it. I ripped that puppy open and before I knew it, the story was over.

It. Was. Too. Brief.

That is my one criticism.

But, it looks lovely on my shelf. Just lovely. Have you read it or tried Murakami yet? Because I am going to keep asking until you do. You know that, right?

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Rosie Effect

The Rosie EffrectThe Rosie Effect
By Graeme Simsion
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781476767314, December 30, 2014, 352pp.)

The Short of It:

A turbulent ride of ups and downs.

The Rest of It:

The Rosie Project was an adorable read. It really was.  It was smart and fun and I loved the characters and the unconventional romance aspect. That book was all about the pursuit of love and what it means to be the “other half” and it was delightfully awkward.

In The Rosie Effect, Don and Rosie are now married and their world is about to change in a huge way when Rosie announces that she is pregnant. This book has little to do with Rosie. It focuses on Don and the fact that he is just not prepared for fatherhood.

It’s  a tad tedious in the telling and to be honest, it took me a really long time to read it. Marriage problems abound and Don’s mannerisms are not nearly as charming as they were in the first book. In fact, he annoyed the hell out of me.

I have little patience for sequels that are just so-so and this one falls into that category.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: A Gathering of Old Men

A Gathering of Old MenA Gathering of Old Men
By Ernest J. Gaines
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679738909, June 1992, 224pp.)

The Short of It:

A short but powerful read.

The Rest of It:

Borrowed from Goodreads:

Set on a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s, A Gathering of Old Men is a powerful depiction of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer at the hands of a black man.

If you’ve been watching the news lately, racial tension is at an all-time high. How fitting that our book club chose A Gathering of Old Men for this month’s meeting. Of course, we picked the book back in January so we had no idea how it would mesh with current events but mesh, it certainly does.

The story is told very simply and perhaps that is what makes it so powerful. The book opens with the death of a Cajun farmer and in order to protect the person who did it, Candy, a white woman, confesses to the crime. Realizing that many will not believe her story, she gathers a group of elderly black men, all with shotguns, thinking that it will be impossible to investigate the crime if she and others come forward and take responsibility for what happened.

This story has many narrators, all of them distinct. With so many narrators, sometimes it’s hard to follow a story through but I enjoyed the different points of view. This is a book that you should take some time reading. It’s short but there is a lot to digest and think about. And when these men come together to stand-up for what they believe in, the outcome is somewhat unexpected.

My book club will be discussing this book during the holiday gathering that we have every year so I hope we actually get to discuss the book. I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Revival

RevivalRevival
By Stephen King
(Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781476770383, November 2014, 405pp.)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

A young, impressionable boy is taken with the local minister and his ability to make things magical, but when their faith is tested, both battle their own demons to survive.

The Rest of It:

Jamie Morton is only six-years old when Charles Jacobs comes to town. Jacobs, married with a young son of his own, quickly takes a liking to Jamie and his family. In fact, many of the folks in town begin to attend church again just to hear what the new minister has to say and when Jamie’s brother loses his voice in a freak accident, Charles Jacobs comes to his aid and heals him. Not with spiritual healing, but with electricity.

After a tragic accident, Jacobs faith in God disappears entirely and what he chooses to hold dear, are the electrical experiments he’s developed over the years. Traveling from town to town, he reinvents himself, peddling what is essentially lightning and a whole lot of fanfare. It’s at this point in his life, that he runs into Jamie again. This time Jamie is an adult, battling a wicked heroin addiction. Can Jamie be saved?

King has said in many interviews that Revival is his return to true horror. I believe his definition of horror and mine vary greatly these days. Perhaps writing about a heroin addiction IS horrific, given King’s personal battle with drug and alcohol addiction but the story itself is not scary in that “clowns in the sewer” way. Nope. It reminded me a lot of Frankenstein and the one Mary Shelley reference did not escape me. I hardly think it was a coincidence that he included it because just as I was thinking ‘Frankenstein’, the name dropped.

Without being specific, lots of terrible things happen and they are all devastating. Devastating enough to absolutely wreck a person and let me tell you, it tore me up. These characters are damaged and flawed and King does damaged and flawed so well.

But…

The story lagged for me and since I was expecting a real horror story, I was slightly disappointed with the direction that it took. It seemed too safe and yet, I still enjoyed it. What King nailed is childhood itself. Those moments where Jamie is young and all of the wonders that go along with childhood… King was spot-on with them. That sense of innocence lost? Heartbreaking.

ReviveMe 2014

A group of us read this together and I must say, it was pretty quiet on Twitter. Nearly everyone was curious as to where the story was going but there wasn’t a whole lot to discuss. Compared to his other novels, the ones he is known for (IT, The Shining, The Stand, Carrie), this one seems a little thin but if you dig deep, there is substance there and some well-developed characters to spend some time with.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 564 other followers