Monday, August 31, 2015

My take on: The Girl on The Train

Ok, this is take two for this review. Blogger was going through some growing pains last night. I worked on my post for more than an hour, saved several times, hit post.....only to lose everything I had written. I just didn't feel like starting from scratch last night. I'm giving it another go today.

Onto the business at hand!

I jumped on the bandwagon. I read another popular book that is setting the publishing world on fire. The last time I read a popular book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, I was deeply disappointed. I loved the movie adaptation of Gone Girl, but I hated the book. I thought the same thing would happen with The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. While the movie won't be out for at least another year, I was pleasantly surprised by the book.

After reading more than half of the book, I was debating giving up on it. Why? This is a book full of unreliable characters. But ..... as a whole this was a good book.

Rachel Watson is the girl on the train. Everyday Rachel rides the early morning train. Everyday she rides the train to escape from reality. Everyday she rides the train past her old neighborhood. Everyday she rides the train she is reminded of her failed marriage, and of her ex-husband's new life. But everyday she rides the train, Rachel gets a glimpse into the lives of a young couple. A young couple she doesn't know, but wishes she could. In her head, this young couple is happy. Their names are "Jess" and "Jason." Rachel lives vicariously through this young couple. But one day "Jess" shatters the fantasy. She has an affair. How can "Jess" do this to "Jason?" Weeks later things take a turn for the worse when "Jess" disappears. Did Jason have something to do with it? No, that can't be. The man "Jess" was having an affair with has to be at fault! Rachel has to go to the police. She has to tell the police what she saw. But will they believe her? Highly unlikely. Why? Rachel is a hopeless alcoholic.

When she's not riding the train, Rachel is drowning herself in alcohol. She's been fired from job. Her roommate/landlord is on the verge of evicting Rachel. Her ex-husband, Tom, and his new wife, Anna, think Rachel is a pathetic, drunk, stalker. When Rachel is coherent enough, she phones Tom constantly and shows up at his home, frightening Anna. The deck is stacked heavily against Rachel. Who would believe anything she says? I certainly didn't. I found Rachel to be extremely annoying and whiny. I wanted her to just grow a backbone. Every chapter was just more of the same. Every time I thought she got her act together, Rachel would just get drunk all over again.

Fortunately the book offers more than just Rachel's perspective. We also get to hear from Anna and Megan Hipwell a.k.a "Jess." Anna isn't the greatest character. She had an affair with a married man, leading to the end of Tom and Rachel's marriage. She's in constant fear of Rachel, but I didn't really care. Morally, Anna just didn't have a leg to stand on. Megan on the other hand, was a slightly interesting character. We learn that Megan and her husband, Scott a.k.a. "Jason," have a troubled marriage. Scott thinks therapy for Megan will save their marriage. It works and it doesn't work, if that makes sense. Megan was hiding big secrets, she lets some of those out. She feels better about herself but not her marriage. She doesn't know what to do with her life. When she disappears, suspicion falls on Scott. But reading the book, you know that's just too easy. 

Rachel alone almost made me give up on this book. But I kept going. I wanted to know what happened to Megan. There had to be more to the story. None of the characters has any redeeming qualities, but there was just enough to hold my attention. If you're struggling with this one, keep reading. The ending will be worth it. Hopefully, the movie will be even better!

Rating: As a whole, Superb! The first 60-70 percent, Meh.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mini review: The Nightingale

According to my Goodreads account, I started reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah on January 19 and finished on August 10. Seven months to finish a book? It shouldn't take that long. But I made the mistake of starting this book the week before my final semester of grad school. Once school started, reading for pleasure took a backseat.

Although.....I did manage to finish other books because of blog tours. I picked up The Nightingale, put it down, picked it up, put it down, picked up, put it down. It's not because I didn't like the book. From January until the end of April, my free time was scarce. After that, I was catching up on sleep and the mountain of shows on my DVR! But I was determined to finish this book. It takes place during World War II and I love historical fiction.

Two sisters, one conservative and controlled the other a free spirit who won't be contained. At the height of the war, both will be put the test, risking not just their freedom but their lives. Viann's husband, Antoine, is a soldier, fighting against the Germans trying to take over France. In Antoine's absence, Viann has to be both a mother and a father to their daughter, Sophie. She doesn't have time to deal with her wayward sister, Isabelle. The Nazi's are overtaking the small town of Carriveau. Food is scarce. The town is in shambles. Not a good time for Isabelle to get kicked out of yet another school, or to bring her ideas of a "Free France" to town.

Viann is forced to house a Nazi soldier in her home. It's the only way Viann can keep her home and her family safe. Isabelle disagrees. Isabelle wants to do more than just sit back and live according to the rules set by the Nazis. There has to be a way to fight back. But fighting back can put her life at risk. She has to leave Viann and Sophie. She has to help others. Neither sister believes in what the other is doing. Both sisters believe that the other is wrong. Neither sister wants to back down.

While this is a fictional story, The Nightingale is based in reality. It's well-researched. The book shows that Isabelle is more than just a wayward, fly-by-the-moment woman. She has a good heart. Viann is stronger than she realizes. She does whatever it takes to hold her family together. It's a story of love and family and the ties that hold us together. Definitely a book worth reading!

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (St. Martin's Press) in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mini hiatus!

I know.....I have not posted in a while. I was away on vacation. But I'm back now and will start posting reviews again this weekend.

What reviews are coming up?

Yes, I have jumped on the bandwagon. I'm reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Halfway through the book, this is falling in the Gone Girl category. What do I mean? I'm not liking the book. Rachel, the main narrator, is getting on my nerves. But....I hear this is going to be made into a movie. Like Gone Girl, I think this will make a better movie. I have a little more than 100 pages left. If the ending knocks my sock off, I might change my mind but I don't have high hopes.

I finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah two weeks ago. and it was great. But my review might be short. I started it in January....when I was still in grad school. So, I put it down, picked it up, put it down, picked it up, read other books. You get the picture. But I was determined to finished The Nightingale. My memory of the book from start to finish might be a little fuzzy, that's why my review will be short.

Time to step out of my comfort zone! I'm reading a graphic novel, Blankets by Craig Thompson. As an intern for a children's publisher, I did read a short one. But Blankets is the first graphic novel I'm reading on my own.

Stay tuned!