The Girl On The Train Book Review

I’ve been in a writing slump, finding it hard to get in the “writing mood”, and so I’ve been reading as much as possible, carrying books in my purse every where I go, squeezing pages where I can, dissecting books as I go – in hopes that it will inspire my own writing. (and it is working!) The Girl On The Train to put it bluntly, wishes it could be Gone Girl. If I am going to read a Psychological Thriller, I want it to be creepy, I want it sneaky, I want it sharp, I want it to make my heart pound, and produce lack of sleep due to nightmares. All of which Gone Girl did for me. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, is the tamer version of Gone Girl.

girl on the train.jpg

Let me make a disclaimer here: I’m the person who usually figures out what’s going to happen in a show, movie, or book, well before the reveal. My husband lovingly calls me CSI Amanda. I had seen the Gone Girl movie before I read the book, so as I was reading it, I already knew what was going to happen, and yet I the reveal still made me gasp. The Girl on the Train is 316 pages long, and I figured out who did it and why they did it before the half-way point. So, needless to say, the “big reveal” wasn’t a reveal to me at all. I was hoping the author would twist the plot so I would be surprised but was disappointed. It was a “I knew it” moment, instead of an “Aha!” moment for me. If you are someone who doesn’t usually figure things out before the reveal, then I’m pretty sure you will enjoy this book, and you will be surprised.

The Girl on the Train, published in 2014, is a story that takes place in 2012-2013. It’s about a woman named Rachel who is a train wreck (pun intended). She travels on the same train, into London, passes the same houses around the same time every day, allowing her to have a glimpse into their lives. She is an alcoholic, having an extremely hard time moving on after her divorce from her cheating husband, Tom, who is now married to Anna, and they live a few houses down from Jess and Jason. Rachel likes to watch Jess and Jason from the train as she passes every day, imaging their perfect marriage, perfect jobs, perfect house, living the perfect life that she longs for. Then one day, Rachel sees something extremely peculiar happen at Jess’s house.

We find out that Jess is actually named Megan, her husband Jason is actually named Scott, and Megan has mysteriously gone missing, on the same night that Rachel found herself roaming the streets near Megan’s house, drunk, waking up the next day not remembering what happened.

The story is told from three perspectives: Rachel, Megan, and Anna. Rachel’s alcoholism allows for holes from her perspective, which provides the ability to create a mystery. If she could just remember what happened on that night she could figure it all out.

This is the first novel I have ever read in which I hated every single character! I could not relate to any one. I found them all incredibly annoying. I wanted to like Rachel, I really tried, but she kept making so many bad decisions. Cathy, Rachel’s roommate, was annoying as well. But I ended up liking her more than anyone else. Rachel’s cheating, lying ex-husband Tom, and his new wife Anna are disgusting and made me angry. I didn’t like Detective Inspector Gaskill, or Detective Sergeant Riley. I didn’t like Megan’s husband Scott, and I didn’t even like Megan! And she was the victim!

Good Stuff: It was a page-turner for me, I read it in a couple of days in a few sittings. I did have a hard time putting it down. I did like the story, plot, and themes. I give it 3 Stars.

If you’re looking for a less shocking version of Gone Girl, then I think you’ll enjoy The Girl on the Train. If you read it, let me know what you think 🙂

Happy reading!

 

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Gone Girl Book Review

Gone Girl written by Gillian Flynn, published in 2012, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, and also named one of the Best Books of the year by: San Francisco Chronicle, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, and Newsday.

This is my first time reading Gillian Flynn’s work, and I have to say she didn’t disappoint. Gone Girl is a sneaky, complex, terrifying, dark, thrilling, and strangely funny novel. I’m married, and after reading this story I found myself wondering if I really know the man sleeping next to me.

Nick’s wife, Amy, disappears on their 5th year Anniversary under strange, and possibly violent, circumstances. While under investigation Nick behaves completely in appropriately. For the first half of the book I absolutely hated the guy, and I was convinced he was a wife-killer. But, there are many strange twists, and other characters who might have done it.

The novel started on the day of Amy’s disappearance, uses Amy’s diary to give us Nick and Amy’s backstory, when they were once madly in love. His twin sister Go, on-the-other hand, never did like Amy. Amy’s parents have used Amy as inspiration for Amazing Amy books, using their daughter’s experiences, and mistakes, as learning lessons to portray what the “perfect Amazing Amy” does. Due to the success of “Amazing Amy”, Amy has people from her past who stalked her, and hurt her, including Desi, rich and obsessed with Amy.

If you haven’t read Gone Girl then you must get this and read it ASAP.

 

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker #Spookathon

dracula-bram-stoker

Dracula, originally titled The Un-Dead by Bram Stoker is a classic Horror Gothic novel about Count Dracula.This is a macabre tale of vampires, demons, death, friendship, love, loyalty, and courage. The story begins with Jonathan Harker traveling to Castle Dracula in Transylvania, after being summoned by Count Dracula to help him complete a property deal. Harker doesn’t realize that by doing so he will unleash a horrifying, yet charismatic, vampire stronger than twenty men, who can control the weather, and assume the form of any animal.

bram_stoker_1906 Bram Stoker

Professor Abraham Van Helsing (coincidentally same first name as the author), informed about vampire folklore, comes to Harker’s aid, putting together a monster-fighting team including Harker’s intelligent wife Mina, Dr John Seward, American Quincey Morris, and Arthur Holmwood. Over the next six months the squad face many challenges, and their first task is to save Arthur’s betrothed, Mina’s best friend, Lucy Westenra. Dr John Seward, the administrator of an insane asylum located near Dracula’s new home, has an intriguing patient named Renfield.

Dracula was first published in 1897 – I wonder how shocked Stoker would be to find out his novel is still incredibly popular, and argued one of the best horror novels of all time?The first movie adaptation was called Nosferatu released in 1922.

count-orlok Scene from Nosferatu

 

Dracula is an epistolary novel, in which Abraham “Bram” Stoker employed letters and diary entries written by multiple narrators to tell the same tale from their perspective. This technique sways the reader to believe the story – because we know that if many people tell the same story from their perspective then it must be true.The Collector’s Library edition that I read also includes an attached red ribbon bookmark, which produced the feeling that I was truly reading a diary.

count-orlok-2 Count Orlok, from movie adaptation, Nosferatu

The scientific method versus superstition is a common theme throughout Dracula. You may start the story as a non-believer of the un-dead, myths, vampire folklore, but I’m willing to bet you’ll end it wanting to purchase more garlic to keep around the house. 😉

It may seem like a long novel at 526 pages, and even though the font is small, the pages are half the size of a regular hard-cover novel. Definitely a suspenseful page-turner, with a great pace that keeps you reading. There isn’t a lot of gore, but it is scary, so I would recommend this for ages 16+, and I think even a non-horror fan would still enjoy the way Stoker has told this story.

 

 

A Clash of Kings: Book Two of A Song of Ice and Fire

A Clash of Kings, book two of George R. R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, is yet another epic fantasy novel where Martin hurls your mind into a land with amazing characters, fantastic descriptions of settings, clothing, and food. Martin focuses on many themes, such as warfare, society and class, family, manipulation, power, mortality, coming of age, gender, and duty. The characters are so well-written that I cannot choose a favourite. Daenerys is among the top five, because she is the mother of freaking DRAGONS. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid reading fantasy novels I always wanted to grow up to be a dragon-riding-wizard Queen.

Daenerys Targaryen is struggling to find a way back home to revenge her fathers death, and take her rightful place as Queen.We also have four kings fighting to claim the same kingdom: The King on the Iron Throne – Joffrey Baratheon, the King in the North – Robb Stark, the King in the Narrow Sea – Stannis Baratheon, and the King in Highgarden – Stannis’s brother, Renly Baratheon.

A red comet hangs in the sky for all to see. The Prologue introduces us to Maester Cressen at Dragonstone admiring the comet, wondering what it means. We know that Summer is over, a long, cold Winter is coming. We meet Ser Davos Shorthand, AKA Davos Seaworth, who had the fingertips on his left hand cut off by Lord Stannis. Despite this, Davos is extremely loyal to Stannis, yet is leary of the sorceress Melissandra. Maester Cressen agrees with Davos that Melissandra is dangerous, and attempts to poison her.

Arya Stark hears The Bull, a boy with shaggy black hair, call the comet the red sword. Under disguise of an orphan boy named Arry, she is traveling to The Wall with Yoren, and a group of boys and men, among them Lommy Greenhands and Hot Pie. She’s anxious to reach The Wall to be reunited with her half-brother, Jon Snow.

On King Joffrey’s name day Sansa Stark hears servants call the comet Dragon’s Tail. Those loyal to Joffrey call it King Joffrey’s Comet, proving he will triumph over his enemies. While watching a jousting match Tyrion Lannister, Joffrey’s Uncle, returns from battle. He is kind to Sansa, and she wishes she could trust him. “Once she had loved Prince Joffrey with all of her heart, and admired and trusted his mother, the queen. They had repaid that love and trust with her father’s head. Sansa would never make that mistake again.” p.52

Tyrion Lannister, dwarf brother of twins Cersei and Jaime Lannister, is sent to replace his father as Hand of the King, finds himself in love with Shae, an 18 year old whore he met on the battlefield. Varys tells Tyrion the comet is the Red Messenger. Tyrion is making clever plans to outwit those who underestimate him.

Osha tells Bran Stark the comet means “Blood and fire, boy, and nothing sweet”. Septon Chayle says the comet “is the sword that slays the season”. Old Nan tells Bran that the comet means Dragons. Bran continues to have wolf dreams, and starts to wonder if they are real, and what they mean.

Jon Snow, is a bastard and brother of the Night’s Watch, while his half-brother Robb is King of the North. Jon will join his friend Samwell Tarly, and brothers of the watch to head North of the wall, searching for his missing Uncle, and find out what the army North of the wall are planning.

The Greatjon tells Catelyn Stark, widow of Ned Stark, that the comet is a red flag unfurled by the old gods symbolizing vengeance for her husband’s death. Catelyn thinks the comet warns of Lannister success, because red is a Lannister color. She is attempting to council her son, Robb, King of the North, to make a truce with the Lannisters. Robb, however, is a stubborn teenager, deciding his sisters lives, Sansa and Arya, are not worth letting Jaime Lannister go free.

“The Dothraki named the comet shierak qiya, the Bleeding Star”. Daenerys believes this burning star is showing her the way to go. She is now a widow, and mother to three dragons; Rhaegal, Viserion, and Drogon. She travels with a small Dothraki group with Ser Jorah by her side. After many days suffering with hardly any food or water, they take refuge in an abandoned city. Daenerys sends Aggo, Rakharo, and Jhogo in different directions to see where they should go. Jhogo returns from Qarth with Pyat Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and Quaithe.

Martin’s decision to use multiple viewing angles instead of a narrator enables him to tell this story through the minds of Arya, Sansa, Tyrion, Bran, Jon, Catelyn, Davos, Theon, and Daenerys. Each chapter shifts from one perspective to another, with no pattern, driving the plot forward. The disappearance of the author made me forget that I was reading a novel.

I recommend this book for anyone age 16 and up, who enjoys epic fantasy stories such as Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, or Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

harry_potter_and_the_goblet_of_fire

Interview with Lily-ann (9 years old) and Owen (7 years old)

Q: What do you think of the cover? Does the cover tell you what the book will be about?

Lily-ann: I like how the dragon is made. I like how it showed the golden egg. The cover does tell me what the book is about.

Owen: I like that Harry is flying away from the dragon, and that actually happened in the book.

Q: How is the readability? Do you like the choice of font size, chapter length? Was there a good amount of dialogue?

Lily-ann: The letters are not easy to read, they are too small. Chapter length was just right. Good amount of dialogue.

Owen: Owen agrees, except he thinks there was too much dialogue.

Q: What caught your attention? When were you bored? When was the book suspenseful?

Lily-ann: I was never bored. My favourite part was the first task. I like how the chapters ended with us wondering what was going to happen.

Owen: My favourite part of the book was when Harry was flying on his broom. I found it boring when they were just talking. This book was exciting.

Q: Who is your favourite character and why?

Lily-ann: Hermione because she goes through a lot of action, and she did what she wanted to do no matter what Harry and Ron thought. I also like that she is a bookworm, and I’m a bookworm too.

Owen: Harry because he is the main character. He faced the big dragon which means he faced the strongest dragon and that made him brave. He is also talented being brave and figuring out stuff.

Q: Which Harry Potter book has been your favourite so far?

Lily-ann: Chamber of Secrets

Owen: Chamber of Secrets

 

Amanda’s Review:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, published in 2000, is the fourth book of the Harry Potter series. The first three are: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

The book begins with Harry Potter struggling through the Summer holidays, anxious to get back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This coming year will be his fourth year at Hogwarts. His name is mysteriously entered into the Goblet of Fire, making him the fourth champion to take part in the Triwizard Tournament. Voldemort is regaining his strength. Harry and his friends, Ron, and Hermione, continue to face many challenges that threaten their lives. For the first time we get to meet students from two other schools, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. We also get to meet Mad Eye Moody. This book is lengthy at 636 pages, but well worth every page.

I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire aloud to my children, and find that reading a book aloud gives me the opportunity to truly pay attention to its readability, and writing style. I quite enjoy J.K. Rowling’s writing. The chapter length is long, or at least it felt that way to me. We read one chapter per evening – and each chapter took about thirty minutes. I do all of the voices, and make it quite theatrical, which I will admit does slow the pace. I never found myself bored, and love the amount dialogue. Each character has a clear voice – however I have seen all of the Harry Potter movies, which provided each voice for me. I’m curious to see if other people who read the book first felt the same way.

My favourite character is Dumbledore. I love his quiet strength, intelligence, and bravery. He is truly cunning, witty, and powerful.

There are many parts of the book that made us all laugh out loud, and parts that made us cry. There were times I had to take a moment to breathe before I could continue reading. Some parts, such as the three tasks, were quite intense, I had to change some wording so it wouldn’t be too scary for Owen.

There are some words and phrases that I did not read aloud because I felt they were not appropriate for children. One that I can think of off the top of my head is the word “stupid”. We don’t allow that word to be used in our household. Perhaps that is a cultural difference (we are Canadian).

I’m enjoying the series tremendously, and would have to agree with my children that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is my favourite book of the series so far.