The Girl on the Train Book Review

If you haven’t heard about this book then I am not sure where you have been sleeping because it has certainly been the most hyped up book of the year. It has been cited as the next Gone Girl (which I loved) and is rated 3.9/5 on Good Reads. I bought into the hype expecting a riveting crime story but was sadly disappointed. The style and story is similar to Gone Girl in the sense that a woman is missing and we see the story through current time and flashbacks of the three main female characters.

Firstly, Rachel is an alcoholic who takes the exact same train in and out of London everyday. The train stops at a signal for just enough time to offer her a glimpse into a suburban couple’s life. She starts fantasizing about their lives, what they do and even gives them names. From her view point on the train their life seems perfect until she witnesses Meghan having an affair with an unknown man.

Meghan our second female lead in the book is an unhappy housewife who is cheating on her husband and visiting a psychologist to deal with issues that isn’t revealed to us just yet. 

img_3587

Lastly there is Anna who is married to Rachel’s ex husband. They had an affair before getting married and are now raising a child together. Her life isn’t happy as she has to live in the same house Rachel did, is constantly harassed by Rachel and fears for the safety of her child. Anna also lives a few doors down from Meghan who worked as her nanny for a brief period.

The day after Rachel witnessed Meghan kissing a man who wasn’t her husband, Meghan is reported missing. Rachel has vague memories of visiting her ex husband the same night Meghan went missing. She doesn’t remember if she saw Meghan as she blacked out from drinking and woke up with a cut on her head. Rachel is left with the predicament of whether she should go to the cops and let them know Meghan was having an affair. 

The real crux of the book is did she see Meghan and what might have happened to her or was she responsible for her disappearance or was it just a coincidence? All three characters were weak, annoying and whined. With so few characters and so little character development it was obvious to me from early on who the villain was. This book didn’t draw me in like a good book should, I didn’t like the style of writing and felt no need whatsoever to find out what happened to Meghan. It was mess of a book and certainly no Gone Girl.
Girls & Trains,
CG

2016 Reading Round Up

The year is not quite over yet but I thought I would update you guys on the 25 books I have read so far. I figure I still probably have another 200 to go in my collection.

Carrie. The name Stephen King brings the word classic to mind. Carrie is the first Stephen King book I have read. Carrie White is a social misfit at school as a result of her overbearing religiously frenetic mother. She gets invited to prom where a prank results in her unleashing her telekinetic powers on the town. This was a quick read that involved a lot of blood. Rating: 3/5

Shadow man. FBI agent Smokey Barrett is still recovering from the murder of her husband and daughter when she starts investigating a shocking crime. A little girl is found bound to her mother’s mutilated corpse. It might just be a coincidence but the dead woman is Smokey’s best friend. What makes this crime story intriguing, is that the killer thinks he cleaning up society as a descendent of Jack the Ripper. He targets loved ones close to the crime team in an effort to spur them on to crack the case. I really enjoyed this crime novel. Rating: 4.5/5.

A darkness more than night. Average crime story about an ex FBI profiler helping out on a case of a dead small time criminal. The technical detail was a bit overkill. There were a few interesting plot twists but I didn’t really like how the story tied up at the end. Rating: 3.5/5.

The Constant Princess. This book tells the Tudor story from the point of Katherine of Aragon. I liked that it focused on her childhood and marriage to Arthur. The constant use of her title and references to her childhood home was a bit monotonous and annoying. It was also a little too long for the amount of story being told. Rating: 3.5/5.

Run for your life. This book started out interesting enough but just became a bit silly. A guy calls himself the Teacher and wants to teach the people of New York a lesson. If this was the actual motive of the story it might have been better than ever finding out the real motive. Rating: 3/5.

Where rainbows end. I like chick lit but 600 pages is just a bit much. This was an annoying story telling mundane happenings of best friends over 40 years. They are in love but don’t know it due to a series of unfortunate circumstances. Overall I blame the guy as the girl kissed him, she didn’t remember and he decided not to mention it. Rating 3.5/5. 

Anybody out there. Easy reading chick lit but also very long at 600 pages. The story follows Anna who is recovering at her parents home in Dublin from an accident. She desperately wants to get back to New York to her husband and her amazing job. The first third of the book dragged on until we find out what happened to her husband. I also liked the other characters in the book. Rating: 3.5/5

Eighty days amber. An erotica novel that’s written much better 50 Shades of Grey. It tells the story of a Russian dancer Luba who meets a handsome amber dealer. Obviously he is harbouring a dark secret which throws a spanner at their love story. The plot is not very logical or interesting but what erotica ever is. The book didn’t make me feel inclined to read the other books in the Eighty days series. Rating: 3/5

img_2226

Still life with elephants. Neelie, a veterinarian is still reeling after discovering not only did her husband have an affair, the woman is also pregnant. She has an opportunity to patch up her marriage by joining her husband on a trip to Africa to rescue a badly injured elephant. What I loved most about this book was the vivid descriptions of the elephants. I hated the cliché of a woman having a billionaire come to her rescue. Nellie’s quirk of mishearing words was also lost on me. Rating: 4/5.

Cougars. Catherine Walker has the perfect life until she finds out her husband is having an affair. The book tells the story of her divorce, running of her company, how she deals with being single and her attraction to a younger man. I found the constant brand dropping in the book annoying. It wasn’t as annoying as the unrelatable main character. She is rich, beautiful and nothing bad has happened for 75% of her life. Boo freaking hoo. Rating: 3.5/5.

Without a trace. This was my first Lesley Pearse novel that wasn’t part of the Belle series and I have to say it fell short. Molly Heywood lives with her abusive dad in a small town in England. Her best friend is found murdered and her daughter is believed to be missing. She decides to take matters into her own hands with just a letter as a clue. The story felt too forced with everything falling into place a little too easily for her to solve the murder. Molly was a one sided character who was just good, there was no other sides to her. There are plenty of comparisons of her to other weak women. The crime in the story is also more of an after thought. Rating: 3/5.

Pariah. NYPD detective Callum Doyle’s partner and replacement have both been murdered. Not only does the suspicion fall on him but he also starts receiving threats that anyone close to him will die. This was a great crime novel. Fast paced, interesting and no clues for you to guess who the criminal is. Rating: 4.5/5.

Pleasures of the night. Silly erotica novel combining reality with a dream world. The story is so stupid I am not going to even bother typing it out. Rating: 2.5/5

Love junkie. A memoir which goes on and on and never gets to the point. Rachel finds herself in the same situation constantly but never really changes. The basis of her story is her unhealthy relationships as well as an addiction to sex and love. Rating: 2.5/5.

Burning bright. This book is by the same author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring which I own but haven’t read yet. It is a story of the friendship between a small town boy who moves to London and a streetwise London girl in 1792. There is no real exciting plot. Nothing of significance happens in the book. I found it to be more about describing London at that time. Rating: 3/5.

The Touch. A nonsensical book. Frank Chapman weasles and manipulates his way into the lives of Donna who suffers from a painful spinal condition, her boyfriend and sister. The book left me confused because I wasn’t sure if it was about how one man changes the lives of others. I was left with questions regarding whether he was a killer, if he was religious, what did the religious mumbo jambo mean and the ending which didn’t make sense. Rating: 2/5.

img_2234

To love honour and betray. This book seriously reminded me of a Bridget Jones movie. A woman is ditched by her husband a month after moving to Australia with their family. She finds out that he has been sleeping with her best friend. The book had some clever humour telling her struggle as a single mother. It was unfortunate that this was yet another woman who was incapable of doing anything for herself and took a really long time to realize her husband was an ass. Rating: 3.5/5

The ruins of us. I liked that this novel was set in Saudi and it did a fairly decent job setting the scene of life there. This novel is about the ruin of family and explores different relationships. An American wife to a Saudi billionaire is confused about what to do when she discovers her husband has secretly taken a second wife. Rating: 3.5/5.

When she woke. An interesting novel set in a time where abortion is considered murder. Criminals also have their skin chemically altered depending on the nature of their crime and are released back into society instead of being jailed. Hannah Payne was caught aborting her baby conceived with a married church pastor. The book details her journey from trying to fit in society while treated as a criminal to her eventual escape to Canada. This was another novel where it takes the whole book for the woman to stand up for herself and realize that her lover didn’t actually care for her/it was a waste protecting him. I did like the interesting concept of criminals with genetically modified skin colour. Rating: 3/5.

Some kind of peace. Excellent thriller novel about a psychotherapist who lives in a deserted area in Stolkholm and is being stalked. Siri was a character who for someone so smart was actually very stupid. If you live in the middle of nowhere alone and are being stalked, you move! The build up and suspense were great but the ending was a little weak. Rating:4/5.

Bridget Jones Mad About A Boy. Bridget finds herself as a single mom to two kids after Mark Darcy dies. She is the same bumbling fool as in the other two novels only this time it isn’t endearing. I mean, she doesn’t need to work and has full time help but still can’t pull it together. And obviously there is a love interest or  two. Rating: 3.5/5.

Her fearful symmetry. This is by the author of the Time Travellers Wife. That I loved. This I didn’t. American mirror twins travel to London after inheriting their aunt’s place there. The twist is the aunt’s spirit is still in the flat after she died. The characters in this book were absurd. The basis of the book is about a secret which isn’t really a secret but people still pretend it is. The twins have no ambition in life with one being so stupid as trying to fake her own death to escape the other twin. The novel falls short in fully explaining ghosts and the OCD neighbour adds nothing to the story. Concept of mirror twins was interesting as well as the notion that the twins can be happy only when there is one of them. Rating: 3/5.

Faking it. Faking identities, paintings, love and orgasms is this book in a nut shell. A frivolous fast paced read based in an ideal world where everything works out with smatterings of sex. It tells the story of the Goodnights who own an art gallery and their adventure in trying to steal back a forged painting they have sold accidentally. Rating: 3.5/5.

Attraction. A love story, a crime and breakdown of a marriage. Jack is in a hotel room in Paris guarded by police. He will be arrested in the morning so he has ten hours to explain what has happened. The story takes you back in time through his relationship history with his wife while slowly unravelling what crime has been committed. You are left wondering if he killed his wife or another third party. Interesting concept with poor execution. Rating: 3/5.

Alphabet. Simon has been sent to jail for life after being convicted for murdering his girlfriend. In prison he decides to learn how to read, write and correspond with women outside of prison. I was left deeply unsatisfied upon finishing this book. There is nothing worth mentioning. Rating: 2/5.

Books & Novels,
CG

Reading round up

I would like to think myself as a book collector but the reality is book hoarder is probably a much better reflection. I own 290 books and have read 51. Shocking right? This number is just novels and doesn’t even include cooking and travel books. I buy books faster than I attempt to read them. I have made by best effort to turn this around because not only am I running out of space but there might be gems out there waiting to be discovered and shared. 

The Hindi Bindi Club is the name given by three daughters to their band of mothers who left India for America. Each chapter in the book is told from either one of the mother’s or daughter’s point of view with a recipe to end it off. The story mainly focused on one character Kiran who is divorced and seeking help trying to find her next husband through an arranged marriage. It was interesting that all the daughters in the book married out of their race group  like the author. There are a few themes which I noticed: older generational friendships, forced friendships between the children, bringing children up in a different culture, arranged marriages and family values. I found the book had too many characters for any real story or theme development. The addition of the recipes was a bit pointless as I wanted to read a novel not a recipe book. This coupled with non-translated Hindi words resembled a forced attempt at Indianizing the story. If you don’t know anything about Indian culture this might provide you with a light understanding. What I enjoyed most about the book was that I learnt something new – the partition of India. Rating: 3/5

It’s very rare for me to buy a second book from an author. I loved Gone Girl so much that I ended up buying not only a second but a third as well. Dark Places tells the story of Libby Day, the only survivor of the Satan massacre on their family farm that claimed the lives of her two sisters and mother. Her brother Ben  was sent to prison for the murder after she testified against him. Twenty five years later the members of the Kill Club are willing to pay Libby for information that will free Ben. The story chops and changes between present day and a few days before the murder. This is no classic who done it. Could it be a Satan worshipping Ben? His crazy girlfriend? A drunk husband? It wouldn’t be a Gillian Flynn book without a twist – I didn’t see it coming. I enjoy her easy to read style of writing which is rather captivating. Rating: 4.5/5

Sharp Objects is the first book penned by Gillian Flynn. I found the writing a bit different and more difficult to get into than the other two. Camille is a journalist researching a missing girl story in her home town of Wind Gap. Returning home to a neurotic mother she hasn’t seen in years and a step sister comes with its own set of new problems and resurfacing of old ones. What I found interesting is how we automatically assume some crimes are committed by men and secondly the concept of cutting words into your skin. I have only read about cutting lines and have never considered the possibility of people carving words into their skin. Overall I found the book slow paced, I hated all the characters but loved the plot twist. The entire story felt more of the same and left for the end where everything was revealed. Rating: 3.5/5

I have seen countless women on Twitter rave about Me Before You which is the reason I bought the book. It’s a long book and about 3/4 in I became a little bored. One thing is guaranteed, this book will make you cry. Louisa (Lou) Clark lives a mundane life, she isn’t sure she loves her boyfriend and has lost a job she really needs. Will Traynor has lost his desire to live after a motorcycle accident renders him unable to do anything for himself. Lou gets a job to take care of Will. You would be mistaken into thinking that this is simply a love story. It explores a very relevant and important theme of assisted suicide. When you are unable to do anything for yourself, being able to make this choice is about you empowering yourself. My issue with this book is that Louisa only changes her mind about experiencing new things when Will tells her to. She is too dull and stupid to think of anything herself. Taking care of a man in a wheelchair doesn’t make her want to live each day to the fullest until he tells her to. There is also an interesting discussion to be had about a guy being confined to a wheelchair, has wealth and someone who loves him but still considers life not living despite them highlighting to him how others who are disabled are managing to live their lives. Rating: 4.5/5

I watched the movie for The Book Thief before reading it even though I had a copy. This book was heart warmingly magical for me. The story is set in Germany during World War II and with “death” as the narrator. The story is about a young foster girl who steals books and learns to read with the help of her foster dad. There are touching moments where she reads to her neighbours while sheltered in a bomb shelter and to the Jewish man who is hiding in their basement. It’s a book about the holocaust which focuses on the lives of a few. By the end of the book even the characters you didn’t like at first will hold a special place in your heart. There is something special about the magic of words, books and relationships which this novel perfectly captures. Rating: 5/5

The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy is a quick frivolous read. It’s the story of a human plucked off planet earth by his alien friend seconds before the planets destruction and their resulting adventures in the Galaxy. For a book about a guide I didn’t find enough references to it or find it a key point of the story. I enjoyed the uniqueness and humour of this simple sci-fi story. This is the first in a series of five books with an abrupt ending that didn’t leave me particularly inclined to read the other four books. Rating: 3.5/5

IMG_5769

What it was, was boring and difficult to read. Set in Washington in the 1970s the story follows a detective solving a homicide case and a private investigator hunting down a ring last seen with the deceased. I didn’t like the slang or the car references which were lost on me. This book would appeal to those who are into old school crime novels. Rating: 1/5

Summer is the story of two orphaned kids who find themselves staying on a farm with their estranged grandfather over the Summer after their parents die. The book was a quick read but I found everything was overly described and hard to picture. It was unusual the kids referred to their grandfather as the old man and their parents by their first names. The story passes by as almost a hallucination of sorts. I didn’t get the point of the story at the end. It struck me as strange that the children could stay with the grandfather when there was no means for them to go to school. He is incapable of taking care of them so what follows is their boredom of deciding how to let the days pass. I was eager to finish this book just so that it could be done. Rating: 2.5/5

If you think Mad Women is the series Mad Men in a novel form like I did you would be wrong. The book is split into different chapter themes (sex in the office or a day on Madison avenue) written as an autobiographical tale. While the book contained a few interesting anecdotes and stories it failed to impress or captivate me. Rating: 3/5

A Dark Redemption is a really good crime story. Two detectives investigate the murder and rape of a Ugandan student. A found it a riveting read with only two faults. The authors love of describing everything as reeking of sweat and the ending which could have been more meatier in its explanation. Rating: 4.5/5

The Age of Miracles is truly an innovative story. The world is coming to an end slowly as each day and night grows longer when the earth starts spinning slower. How will this affect our 24hr cycle as well as what happens to the plants and animals poses for some interesting questions. The story is told through the life of a little girl who is still in school. There isn’t anything ground breaking in the book but I liked thinking about the scenario. I loved the notion of the end of the world being slow not an apocalyptic as we have all imagined it to be. The premise and idea for this book is fantastic but the story was average. Rating: 3/5

Books & Worms,
CG