Monday, April 13, 2015

Julie's Review: All The Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Niven
Series: None
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 400
Obtained: via a friend
Genre:  Young Adult
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Heartbreaking, gut-wrenching and beautifully written
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Summary: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself — a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Review: All the Bright Places is one of those breathtaking novels that consumes you. Whether you are an adult that reads this or a teen, you will see bits of yourself, your friends and your family in these characters.Theo Finch is an outsider, Violet Markey is an insider in their world at Barlett High School. It is a fateful day that brings them together under some less than stellar circumstances. It is also when Finch decides to take things into his own hands and partner with Violet on a school project.

It's not that you can't see the writing on the wall. You know that a couple things are going to happen: 1) They will fall in love with each other, Finch quicker than Violet 2) One of them will end up more broken than the other one. I was quick to adore Finch. He's likable and self-effacing. Like all teenagers he doesn't know who he is. He keeps "trying on" new personalities, when really the best one is him just being himself, if he could figure out who that really is. He wants to think that he's letting Violet see the real him but I think he's being what he thinks Violet wants him to be. He never really lets her or anyone else in. No one really knows the struggles he has gone through.

Violet is wandering after the death of her sister, Eleanor. She feels survivors guilt and doesn't know how to move on. It isn't until Finch pairs up with her for a school project that she begins to live again. It opens up her eyes to the good around her.  I loved that Violet's outlet was writing and that while she couldn't do the same thing she did with her sister, she decided to something different. I also loved that she branched out and found like minded people.

Reading this as an adult and parent, I think it just highlights the troubles that teens can go through. I think that it's always hard to go through those years, everyone comes out scarred in some way, but teens these days have other factors we didn't have, like social media. I also realize that as a parent you have to let your teen experience things that perhaps you'd like to protect them from. It allows for growth. (P.S. remind me of this when mine are in their teens)

We are all broken in some way, it is up to us to figure out how to fix ourselves and perhaps see ourselves how other people see us because most of the time they see the better part of ourselves.

This story will make you feel hopeful, sad, happy and it will break your heart. These characters will stay with you long after you have closed the book.


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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Jenn's Review: All Fall Down

Author: Ally Carter
Series: Embassy Row #1
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 320
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  YA
Rating: 3.5
Bottom Line: An underwhelming start to a new series
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Blurb: This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay--in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

Review:  I adore Ally Carter's books and couldn't wait for this one to come out.  Both Heist Society and Gallagher Girls are series I love so much that I enjoy re-reading them.  I was desperate to love the Embassy Row series too, the setting is fascinating, the premise has promise, but so far I just don't.

From the blurb, you know going into this that Grace is not a reliable narrator.  That would be okay if there was an anchor provided by the other characters but her friends flitted in and out of the story too much, mostly because Grace was busy pushing them away.   I think I was most disappointed with the lack of character development for the surrounding cast --- Ally Carter always has such a fascinating array of supporting characters and I felt as if I barely got to know them, which is a shame because it would have helped the story immensely.

The pace of the book went from frenetic to stumbling.  Perhaps it was meant to portray Grace's state of mind but it only succeeded in frustrating me.  I felt for Grace but I can't say that I ever connected to her character.  I understand that Grace is suffering from post traumatic stress, along with a myriad of other things, but she is out of control and there isn't a single adult in her life that steps in to take care of her.  (In fact, her grandfather puts her in her dead mother's unchanged bedroom!  That's not just negligent, it's cruel.)  Yes, her family is grieving too and at least they got her therapy but that was obviously not enough.  Without giving away the plot twist I will say that keeping the truth from her was not the best policy.  Especially when, after more than a year, they can see that it's not only not working it's making things worse.

The plot twist at the end comes suddenly and unravels everything in a snap.  I was more than a little incredulous over where things ended.  It was the ending of the book that solidified my interest in the rest of the series.  But the fact that the hook came in the last chapter reinforced the pervasive feeling that this book was just plot exposition for the rest of the series.  In retrospect, I suppose the first book of the Gallagher Girls series could also be considered in the same manner, but that was a far more enjoyable read than All Fall Down.  If anyone can pull this series together it's Ally Carter, so I will still be pre-ordering my next Embassy Row installment, but overall, I was underwhelmed.


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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Julie's Review: The Stranger

Author: Harlan Coben
Series: None
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 455
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Crime, Thriller
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A deeper, fascinating look into living the American dream at all costs
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Summary: The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world. Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life. Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne's deception, and realizes that if he doesn't make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy hes stumbled into will not only ruin lives—it will end them.

Review: The Stranger is exactly what I want and expect out of a Harlan Coben thriller. It's what he does so well: taking ordinary people and putting them in extraordinary situations to see how they react. It's a study of human psychology and resilience in unusual circumstances.

Adam Price is living the dream. He's got two great boys, a loving and beautiful wife. He also loves his wife. Unfortunately, things aren't  always as they appear. Corrine has been keeping a secret from Adam and his world falls apart when a complete stranger tells him the secret. As anyone would, Adam begins to investigate what the stranger told him. He quickly falls down the rabbit hole into a world where things quickly spiral out of control. It is pretty apparent that Adam is in over his head.

What Mr. Coben does so well is he keeps you guessing by throwing different issues or secrets into the mix. He likes to steer you in several directions and to keep you changing your theory. It really isn't until he starts to reveal the missing pieces of the puzzle that you say "AH HA".

There's a reason that Mr. Coben is one of the best thriller/mystery writers out there. He takes idealistic situations and turns them on their head. There's always some plausibility with his stories but he always ratchets it up a notch. I will say it's never unbelievable.

When reading his books you can always identify people you know in your neighborhood, school or heck even your friends. It's obvious he's a good at reading people and getting into their heads.

If you've never read him then The Stranger is a great one to start with or any of his other stand-alone novels. If you want to start a series then I definitely recommend his Myron Bolitor books.

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Julie's Review: The Good Girl

Author: Mary Kubica
Series: None
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 352
Obtained: via a friend
Genre:  Psychological Thriler
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Keeps you wanting more
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Summary: "I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will." One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life. When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter. An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.

Review: The Good Girl is a book that definitely has received a lot of buzz and it is well deserved. The novel is told from 3 different points of view: Eve, the mother; Gabe, the detective; and Colin, the captor. It is Colin's POV that I found the most interesting. For me, he was also the one who had the most character growth or change. It's not that he was a good man, he wasn't but he was also trying to do something good.

Eve wishes she would have been a better mother. She wishes that she would have stuck up for Mia when her dad, James, would be overbearing and rude towards their daughter. James was very much a man caught up in his own ego and stature. He wasn't going to let any daughter of his tarnish his good name. Gabe is a better detective than he gets credit for and it's his detective work that cracks the case wide-open.

Mia is the daughter that could do no right in her father's eyes. Mia was a free-spirit according to him. Mia wasn't trustworthy in his eyes. To say that her relationship with her parents was strained, would be too obvious. Mia wanted to live her own life and was doing just that when her world got turned upside down. I'm not really sure that she ever had Stockholm Syndrome but instead really was looking for someone to show her love. Even if it was in the strangest circumstance. Mia seemed like the simplest character but she truly was the most complex.

While I read the book, I felt that there was a big piece of the puzzle I was missing. Ms. Kubica does a great job of using this to her advantage. She keeps you turning the pages because you just want to know what it is you are missing. As a great author does, she leaves breadcrumbs for you to keep "eating" to the end. It isn't until the end when she drops her bombshell. In fact, I had to go back to read it again to make sure that I had read that correctly. It makes you look at each of the characters in a different light after the reveal.

If you are looking for a book that keeps you on your toes and keeps you turning the pages, then The Good Girl is up your alley!


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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Julie's Review: Best Kept Secret

Author: Amy Hatvany
Series: None
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Pages: 352
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Heartbreaking and realistic
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Summary: Cadence didn’t sit down one night and decide that downing two bottles of wine was a brilliant idea. Her drinking snuck up on her - as a way to sleep, to help her relax after a long day, to relieve some of the stress of the painful divorce that’s left her struggling to make ends meet with her five-year old son, Charlie. It wasn’t always like this. Just a few years ago, Cadence seemed to have it all—a successful husband, an adorable son, and a promising career as a freelance journalist. But with the demise of her marriage, her carefully constructed life begins to spiral out of control. Suddenly she is all alone trying to juggle the demands of work and motherhood. Logically, Cadence knows that she is drinking too much, and every day begins with renewed promises to herself that she will stop. But within a few hours, driven by something she doesn’t understand, she is reaching for the bottle - even when it means not playing with her son because she is too tired, or dropping him off at preschool late, again. And even when one calamitous night it means leaving him alone to pick up more wine at the grocery store. It’s only when her ex-husband shows up at her door to take Charlie away that Cadence realizes her best kept secret has been discovered…. Heartbreaking, haunting, and ultimately life-affirming, Best Kept Secret is more than just the story of Cadence—it’s a story of how the secrets we hold closest are the ones that can most tear us apart.  

Review: After reading Amy Hatvany's Best Kept Secret, I have to wonder how many women are functioning alcoholics? It is definitely something that society isn't ready to acknowledge or confront but yet it's not helping families. As we meet Cadence she flashes back to the events that led up to her fight for custody of her son. Immediately you know that drinking for her isn't just to relax, that it's developed into a crutch, then into a habit and then into an addiction.

Cadence definitely has a wall up. It is one of the reasons that her marriage failed, well that and the fact that her ex-husband is a momma's boy. When she turns to wine to help her cope with her son during the day and at night, it is understandable. It is what helps her relax and de-stress but it then becomes the only thing she looks forward to. It interferes with her livelihood and her ability to make the right choices.

Ms. Hatvany does an excellent job of showing this reader what a slippery-slope drinking can be and how it is not easy to say you have a problem. How you really need to hit rock bottom to be able to admit a problem and even then it's not easy to grasp. I don't think it's something a reader can fully grasp just reading about it.

I also appreciated the ending of the book. I'm thankful that she didn't tie the story up with a neat bow but ended it realistically. I appreciate that Cadence's sobriety will be a life long struggle and that she will always be fighting for the things she loves.

I have several other books by Ms. Hatvany on my shelf and I am looking forward to seeing what other subject matters she writes about.


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Monday, March 30, 2015

Julie's Review: Rebel Queen

Author: Michelle Moran
Series: None
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 455
Obtained: via author
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Empowering, Inspiring and Riveting
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Summary: From the internationally bestselling author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter comes the breathtaking story of Queen Lakshmi—India’s Joan of Arc—who against all odds defied the mighty British invasion to defend her beloved kingdom. When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the mid-nineteenth century, it expects a quick and easy conquest. India is fractured and divided into kingdoms, each independent and wary of one another, seemingly no match for the might of the English. But when they arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, the British army is met with a surprising challenge. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male and one female—and rides into battle, determined to protect her country and her people. Although her soldiers may not appear at first to be formidable against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi refuses to back down from the empire determined to take away the land she loves. Told from the unexpected perspective of Sita—Queen Lakshmi’s most favored companion and most trusted soldier in the all-female army—Rebel Queen shines a light on a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction. In the tradition of her bestselling novel, Nefertiti, and through her strong, independent heroines fighting to make their way in a male dominated world, Michelle Moran brings nineteenth-century India to rich, vibrant life.  

Review: Rebel Queen  isn't the story of a war but a story of a Queen strong enough to try to fight the British to save her country. While we might all know how that ends for India, it is the story of Queen Lakshmi and her private all female guards. The story is told from one of her Durga Dal soldiers, Sita. This make the Queen seem that much more accessible when you see her from a close confidante's point of view. She is very much a Queen of the people of Jhansi.

Sita is the heart of the story. It is her story to tell. We learn of her path to being a Durga Dal as she is later in life and reviewing her journals for an autobiography. We learn of her father's determination to make a life for her even though girls are seen as a burden instead of a joy. He makes sure that Sita has the training that she needs both mentally, emotionally, and physically so that when an opening makes itself available, she is ready. While Sita is all of these things when she is picked as the newest Durga Dal, it is the political webs that she will need to not get caught up in. She will need to learn friend from enemy and that it not always an easy task.

Must of the book focuses on the relationship between the rani and her staff. It isn't until the last quarter of the book that we get the feel for the Queen in battle. There is no doubt about her leadership ability and her passion for her people.

Ms. Moran always has a way of pulling her readers in immediately. I pretty much pre-order anytime she has a book out, even if I'm not sure or know nothing of her subject matter. She makes each of historical figures jump off the pages. Her lush descriptions in Rebel Queen of India and the palace are easy to create in your mind as you read.

It is always evident that Ms. Moran does her homework (aka research) when it comes to her subject matters. I love how she travels to the places that she is researching. She really throws herself into the research. If you want to see her travels through India then you need to check out her website, Michelle Moran, because her pictures are gorgeous. If this happens to be your first Michelle Moran book than you must immediately read her back-list. I swear you won't regret it.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Julie's Review: The Thirteenth Tale

Author: Diane Setterfield
Series: None
Publication Date: October 9, 2007
Publisher: Washington Street Press
Pages: 432
Obtained: borrowed from a friend
Genre:  Gothic
Rating: 3.5/5
Bottom Line: Underwhelming
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Summary: When Margaret Lea opened the door to the past, what she confronted was her destiny. All children mythologize their birth... So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist. The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission. As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves. The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.

Review: The Thirteenth Tale is a book that people seem to love but unfortunately I am not in that category. I was completely underwhelmed by the novel. I figured out aspects of the story early on and by the time she pulled out the big twist, I just didn't care.  It's not to say that Ms. Setterfield doesn't know how to set the tone and atmosphere of a novel because she certainly does. One of the things I enjoyed was her description of Angelfield both past and present. I felt like I could see the stately house both as it was when the twins were living there and now as a ruins.

I don't always feel like I have to connect  with the characters but I should either connect with them or be engrossed in their tale but I wasn't. I wasn't sure if Miss Winter was really going to be telling the truth to Margaret or if she was just going to lead her on a wild goose chase as well. Margaret was fighting her own demons as well. She has been keeping a secret from her parents and her parents have been keeping a secret from her. It would have all been easier for all of them if they would have just been honest.

My favorite character in the novel was Aurelius. Once introduced in the novel, I knew he would be an integral part of the story. I also feel like he was the one who got hurt the most and while he might have answers now, he'll never fully recover from the losses he has endured.

If you are into Gothic tales, then this one will definitely interest you but if I had to pick another Gothic tale to read again it would be Kate Morton's The Distant Hours.


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Friday, March 20, 2015

Julie's Review: Accidents of Marriage

Author: Randy Susan Meyers
Series: None
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 368
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line:An intriguing look at how one moment alters a family for good
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Summary: From the bestselling author of The Comfort of Lies, an engrossing look at the darker side of a marriage—and at how an ordinary family responds to an extraordinary crisis. Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids—which works to keep a fragile peace—until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life. Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness. 

Review: Accidents of Marriage explores the inner workings of one family and one marriage. This is another case of me saying "You never know what happens behind closed doors." You see Ben is a highly successful attorney in the DA's office and is always so poised, put together and in control. If his employees and co-workers saw how he acted at home, they'd be shocked. You see Ben often yells, screams and throws things. His is mad all the time. It is evident from the start he has some anger issues going on. These things make it very hard to like him. I feel sorry for him and pity him but definitely did not like him. He's very selfish and self-righteous and I never saw him change or understand that.

It's easy to like Maddy because we can all identify with her in some capacity. Working-mom, loyal friend, wife, frazzled by all the things she has to get done. It's also easy to criticize her; why doesn't she just leave? Can't she make him get help? You also understand why it may not be easy for her to address any of those questions. She loves him and sometimes loves makes us endure the things we know we shouldn't.

I feel the most of the their oldest daughter, Emma. As Maddy tries to recover from the accident, Emma becomes a surrogate mother to the children. All while she is still a child herself. While I wasn't sure if Emma could rise to the occasion I was happy she was able to. Even those she rose to it, it was still way too much on her young shoulders, even with the help of her grandmother. I'm not surprised that she rebels as any teenager would.

Maddy will have her share of mountains to climb but I loved the ending of the book. There's a part in the end where Ben and her are talking about the state of their marriage, Maddy tells him that she needs to concentrate on her and getting better. There is so much emotion and history in that conversation that it summed up the book so well.

Ms. Meyers has a fantastic way of putting you in the novel as a "fly on the wall" instead of just a reader. Her books suck you in and you almost immediately care for the characters. She always has an interesting perspective given her career history and it definitely adds layers to her novels.

I can't recommend Accidents of Marriage enough and The Murderer's Daughters is fantastic as well.


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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jenn's Review: The Silkworm

Author: Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym), J.K. Rowling
Series: Cormoran Strike #2
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Pages: 455
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Crime, Mystert
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Captivating
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Blurb:  When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...

  Review:   Rowling as Galbraith is just as enthralling as Rowling as Rowling. There is something engaging about the worlds and characters she creates that makes them captivating. I’ve actually been saving this novel for a while because I knew I’d be disappointed to have to wait for the next installment… and I am.

Cormoron has been busy since the Landry case, although for once he’s not scrambling for cases, he’s scrambling to keep up with his caseload. Yet when Mrs. Quine walks into his office with an odd request that may or maynot recompense, Strike feels inclined to take on her case. From the beginning nothing plays quite right with the case and as the idiosyncrasies mount, Cormoran gets pulled further into the case.

Robin is frustrated at home and at work. Her fiancée continues to disparage her career choice and her association with Strike in general. Strike, sensing the tension, has been trying to shift investigative responsibilities away from Robin which is making her miserable as that’s the part of her job she enjoys most. When Strike is forced to rely on her, Robin does her best to prove her value but her extra efforts will not go unnoticed on the home front.

As per usual, I had no idea where the mystery was headed. The twists and turns had me completely flummoxed… and thoroughly intrigued. I had a difficult time putting it down. If you are looking for spellbinding contemporary crime novels with realistic characters the Cormoran Strike series is definitely for you.


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Julie's Review: The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins
Series: None
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Thriller
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Trippy
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives. Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.  

Review: The Girl on the Train is a trippy thriller with not a single likable character. I am of the thought though that you can still appreciate a book even if you can't like or identify with the characters. Rachel is a drunk. Megan has some mental issues. Anna is a narcissist veiled as a loving wife and mother. Don't even get me started on the men in the book. Pretty much all of the characters are pathetic. That doesn't mean you shouldn't read this book because you should if you like thrillers especially ones that have you turning the page wondering what the heck was going on.

The novel alternates views but for this reader the most interesting POV was Rachel's. Was she seeing things as they really were or was her alcohol swimming brain altering her view? I vacillated between feeling sorry for Rachel and finding her pathetic. In the end though, I felt sorry for her. She was emotionally abused and walked all over. These things take a toll on someone and can change a person and how they cope with life. Rachel needs to take control of her life and by the end of novel I had hope for her.

Unfortunately for most of the novel Rachel is desperate to have some normalcy in her life so she makes up lives for the people she sees out the window of her train. She's desperate to be involved in something that she really does pick the wrong situation to insert herself into.

I figured the mystery out about halfway through the novel but I wanted to see how Ms. Hawkins would reveal it to the characters. I kind of hate to admit this but in the end I feel like Anna got what was coming to her. In many ways she was no better or different than the men in the novel. She was a home-wrecker who chose to not see the signs that things weren't what they seemed.

I know this book is getting a lot of comparison to Gone Girl but other than the unreliable narrator I don't see the similarities. I thought the ending of Gone Girl was much more twisted than The Girl on the Train.

If you want to read a page-turner of a thriller, then you should definitely pick up The Girl on the Train.


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