Review: The Girl On The Train

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Title: The Girl On The Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Rating: 4 and half

I don’t remember how I learned about The Girl On The Train. I don’t know if someone mentioned it to me, if I read about it somewhere (EW.com most likely), or I just happened to stumble upon its description on Amazon. I wasn’t active on GoodReads at the time so it wasn’t there. All I know is that I bought it and I loved it.

I remember hearing that it was being compared to Gone Girl but that didn’t mean much to me. Is it a story about dysfunctional people with sociopath tendencies? Yes. Is it a story with a less than likable female protagonist? Yes. Is the narrator unreliable? Yes. Are there twists and turns? Again yes. None of these are new, though. We’ve seen these elements time and again in movies, books, plays etc.

What makes The Girl On The Train interesting for me is the writing, and the characters. Rachel is poster child for everything you shouldn’t do with your life after a break up, but that makes her human. She is a loser but she is also lost. She had her self esteem destroyed. I got to understand and like the character, and I found myself rooting for her, cringing every time she took a misstep, hoping she’d find her way back before it was too late.

There are lies and deceit, there are characters being deluded by appearances. There are false leads and tricks. Most importantly, this is a helluva ride, fast paced, thrilling book.

It’s also being made into a movie. I confess Emily Blunt is as far from what I imagine Rachel as possible. I’d love to see Drew Barrymore playing Rachel. I think she’d be wonderful.

But that’s just my humble opinion.

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Review: The Silent Wife

silent wife

Title: The Silent Wife

Author: A.S.A. Harrison

Rating: 3 and half stars

I’ve read some comparisons to Gone Girl but I think Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch is a better fit.

This is a story told in two point of views: Jodi’s, the wife who believes she’s leading the perfect life and that she is a completely normal, balanced person; and Todd’s, the husband that is happy with the arrangement he has, but believes he will lead the same peaceful life with his mistress turned wife.

Both Jodi and Todd are in denial. This reality they created, their reality, works because they’re both playing roles, but once they’re apart, these roles stop working.

Jodi and Todd are not too complex, but they are fascinating. I can’t say much without spoiling it.

I wish there were a few chapters from Natasha’s (Todd’s new wife) point of view.

Highlight to read spoiler.
I’d love to know if she really changed over time or it was just Todd’s perception of her that changed, and I’d also love to know if she was as manipulative as it appeared to be, or if that was just Todd trying to avoid taking responsibility and unconsciously putting all the blame on her.

Like I said, a worth reading 3 and half star book. The only thing stopping me from giving it 4 stars was that I found the writing simplistic at times and the climax took too long to happen, that’s all.

This was sadly A.S.A. Harrison only novel, she passed away while working on her second book.

Oh, and apparently this book is being made into a movie and Nicole Kidman is set to play Jodi. I’m okay with this casting.

***

Review originally posted on GoodReads. Link here.

Review: Good Omens

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Source: Neil Gaiman

Title: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Author: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Rating: 4 and half stars

What can I say about Good Omens that hasn’t been said yet?
It’s not for everyone, nothing wrong there, but if you like crazy fun colorful imagery, well, there’s a big chance this book is for you.

I heard about Neil Gaiman and this book from a good friend of mine years ago (probably over a decade ago, when we first met). It took me this long to read it but I wasn’t in a hurry – I knew I would love it.

I’m the (weird) kind of person who doesn’t like audio books because my imagination provides me with different voices for each character and doesn’t like watching movies based on books I’ve already read, again, because I have everything clear in my mind, and it could be ruined by someone else’s vision, or someone else’s vision would pale in comparison to what I created.

This book is for people like me, people who can dream and see, feel and hear the words as if they’re happening right in front of you.

Good Omens is less about character development and more about character and life happening.

It’s sweet, it’s fun, it’s outrageous, it’s touching. It’s life.

***

Review originally posted on GoodReads. Link here.

Review: Sao Bernardo

sao bernardo

Title: Sao BernardoSao Bernardo

Author: Graciliano Ramos

Rating: 5 stars

 

I have an interesting story/relationship with this book. The first time I was supposed to read it, I was in 9th grade and I had to read it for the finals. It took me too long to get the book which left me with little time to read it. As a result, I read until the middle, then skipped to the last few pages. I got a grade good enough to pass the class, but that was it.

I found the book interesting, though, so much that I decided to read it on my own. To this day, it’s still one of the most fascinating and interesting novels I’ve ever read. The book is not long, but the characters are intense and rich. The atmosphere, scenarios and the culture are vivid and involves you so much it’s easy to picture in your mind, even if it describes a world completely different from the one you live in.

Paulo Honorio is as arid as the land he lives in and where he built his life. Madalena is like the world he tries and fails to understand. This is a story of love, misunderstandings, pain and regret, a story where characters and land are sometimes so much alike it’s hard to separate one from the other.

I cannot recommend it enough.

It was originally published in Portuguese, but I believe it was translated to many other languages.

If you want to experience the richness of Brazilian literature, this is a good place to start.

Review: Brief Encounters

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Title: Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments and Assorted Hijinks

Author: Dick Cavett

Rating: 4 stars

That was one of the most pleasant reading experiences I’ve ever had.

Dick Cavett is a magnificent storyteller. No wonder he’s been a successful writer, comedian and TV host for so many decades.

This book is a collection of articles Dick wrote for a newspaper and they have everything: tales of joy, sadness, confessions of teen stupidity and innocence, highs and lows. Dick talks about people he loves, some he does not (and who doesn’t fancy him either), people he lost and people the world lost.

He also talks about the beginning of his career, and when it finally found its footing.

This is a great book and I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of TV, comedy or life.

 

Review: Evil Games

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Title: Evil Games (D.I. Stone #2)

Author: Angela Marsons

Rating: 3.7 stars (almost 4!)

After reading Silent Scream, I couldn’t wait to read Angela Marson’s next book, Evil Games. Luckily, Malia Zaidi, my December buddy reader agreed that this would be our December read.

Kim Stone continues to evolve as a character, becoming more and more enjoyable, despite her cold exterior.

There are, like in Silent Scream, two cases to be investigated, but this time they are unrelated. They were both interesting and painful in their own ways.

I just found that there was something lacking, something I found in the first book and couldn’t find it here.

Evil Games is a great read, though, fast paced and inspired, definitely a must read.

***

My review of the first book of the series, Silent Scream, can be found here.

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Review originally posted on GoodReads. Link here.

Review: When You Reach Me

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Title: When You Reach Me

Author: Rebecca Stead

Rating: 5 stars

I joined the ranks of people who fell in love with this book.

Found it on a list of books on Pinterest, read a few reviews and decided to give it a try. Ended reading all in less than 8 hours, with pauses.

I guess I can consider myself lucky, every single book aimed at middle graders and up I’ve read recently have been great and deserved a 5 star rating.

When You Reach Me is sweet, fun, touching, engaging and with a great mystery in the form or little notes from some time traveler.

We see the main character, a young girl named Miranda, learning and maturing, making mistakes, living an adventure, finding new friends, expanding her horizon. We see Miranda growing up and it’s a nice thing to witness.

Even though its public is obviously preteen, I found it highly enjoyable.

This is a great read, no matter your age.

***

This review was also posted on GoodReads. Link here.

Review: The Westing Game

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Title: The Westing Game

Author: Ellen Raskin

Rating: 5 stars

From GoodReads:

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, one things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

This young adult mystery novel was one of the most fun experiences I’ve read reading.

This is a whodunnit with a twist, a puzzle within a puzzle.

The Westing Game was such a fun fast read I finished it in one day. With only 204 pages, it is the perfect companion for a lazy cold weekend.

One of the most wonderful things is that it’s such a feel good book! I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a feel good whodunnit mystery before.

Now run! Go read it! It’ll be fast, fun and it’ll put a smile on your face.

keep-calm-and-read-the-westing-game

***

This review was also posted on GoodReads. Link Here.

Review: Viral

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Title: Viral

Author: Helen Fitzgerald

Expected release date: February 2, 2016

Rating: 3 stars

This is a good book, a fast and easy read (I finished it in under 24 hours), the curiosity of what would happen, what the characters would do propelled me to keep going.

There’s a good amount of foul language and some explicit descriptions in the book, more than I’m used to, but way less than in a rap lyrics, for example.

The premise of Viral is an interesting and current one: what would you do if the most embarrassing/humiliating moment of your life was caught on camera, posted on Youtube and gone viral?

Su, the teenage ‘star’ or the viral video, did what I considered the most expected thing – she ran and hid. And that’s how the story starts.

I don’t know if the author did it on purpose or not, but almost all the characters seemed mercurial to me, and I reached the ending not really knowing who they were. The only exception was the father, Bernie. He was consistent throughout the story and very likable. Su, Ruth (the mother), and Leah (the sister) are still a mystery to me.

Plot wise, it was fun, although a little exaggerated. It reminded me of soap operas or Shonda Rhimes crazy Scandal plots.

***

I’d like to thank NetGalley, Faber and Faber Ltd and author Helen Fitzgerald for providing me with an ARC of Viral in exchange for an honest review.

***

Review originally posted on GoodReads. Link here.

Review: The Silent Children

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Title: The Silent Children

Author: Amna K. Boheim

Rating: 3.8 stars

3.8 stars (which is almost 4).

First of all, thank you to NetGalley, Troubador Publishing Ltd and author Amna K. Boheim for sending me the ebook in exchange for a honest review.

This is Ms. Boheim first novel and it’s a great one once it finds its rhythm.

The book took a little to find its footing, the first third drags a little, but once it did, it became a fast and very pleasant read. This is a horror storywhere some of the horrors are supernatural, others sadly all too real. The story is told through two timelines – one beginning in the 1930s and other in 2004. The first narrative is in the 3rd person while the second one is in 1st, which gives the book a good pace, for me at least.

The characters and relationships are interesting. I wish I had learned more about Vivienne and her relationship with Annabel, I was left with the impression that there was something more behind the surface of their friendship.

The one character I had trouble with was Max, the narrator of the 2004 part of the book. He was likable but I had a hard time picturing him the way the author intended – a thirty-something successful man. Try as I might, I kept picturing him as a young man, probably just out of his adolescence. I don’t know if it was his feelings towards his mother, or his relationship with Vivienne that clouded the image I made of him, but I couldn’t see him as mature as he was supposed to be. That didn’t spoiled my enjoyment, though. At some point I didn’t care about that anymore, I was too engrossed in the story.

The twists presented were not hard to guess, and nothing important was left unexplained.

This was an enjoyable read, more than I expected, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Boheim.

***

Review originally posted on GoodReads. Link here.