The Girl on the Train: Book Review

the_girl_on_the_train_us_cover_2015 Book: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Penguin Group

Year: 2015

Genre: Thriller

Pages: 336

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ – Very good

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Emily Blunt (Anne Hathaway’s fashion-obsessed co-worker in The Devil Wears Prada, John Krasinski’s wife)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho, Rachel Green’s Jennifer Aniston’s husband)
Haley Bennet (Cora from Music & Lyrics, the vengeful wife in The Magnificent Seven)
Allison Janney (Anna Farris’ MomJuno‘s mom)
Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay)

When can I watch?
Right now!

What’s it about?
The story is told from three women’s perspectives. The chapters alternate from Rachel’s narrative (~the girl on the train~), Anna’s narrative and Megan’s narrative.

Rachel is a bit of a big ol’ mess. Her ex-husband left her for another woman, she became an alcoholic, her alcoholism lost her her job, and when she blacks out (which is frequently) she calls/harasses her ex, Tom. Even after Rachel loses her job, she takes the same train to London every day to hide her unemployment from her roommate. She is obsessed by this one house on her route and makes up imaginary lives for the couple living there. Then one day Rachel sees something upsetting as she passes the house and chaos ensues.

Anna is Tom’s old mistress and new wife. She is young and beautiful (as mistresses/second wives tend to be) and a stay-at-home mother to Evie, her and Tom’s baby. Anna hates Rachel. She used to enjoy flaunting her relationship with Tom in front of Rachel, but is now annoyed and frightened by all of the harassing phone calls and visits from her.

Megan is missing. Hers is the only perspective told from the past. Rachel’s and Anna’s narratives start from just before Megan goes missing, while Megan’s narrative is leading up to her disappearance. Megan and her husband Scott are neighbors to Anna and Tom and she helps Anna care for Evie.

What did you think?
This is one of the many books I’ve read because it was marketed as “the next Gone Girl” and it was definitely the closest to reaching that standard. They both had alternating perspectives, a missing woman, page-turning suspense, “Girl” in the title, and a lackluster ending.

Overall I really liked The Girl on the Train. Even though I found Rachel to be extremely frustrating as an alcoholic who is frequently making poor choices, but books wouldn’t be very interesting if they were filled with characters who were great at making decisions all the time. But I liked Rachel for all of her issues. Well, I liked reading about Rachel– not sure I’d be her BFF, but her chapters were the most interesting to read. There’s also something to be said about the “at least I’m not that much of a mess” factor. Reading about Rachel makes you feel good about you. Or as the Germans say, schadenfreude.

The biggest pitfall to having altering narratives throughout the book is that if there’s one character/storyline you are not interested in then there’s a lot of boring chapters for you. While I didn’t feel that negatively about Anna’s chapters, seeing her name at the start of the chapter was slightly deflating. Granted, I still enjoyed reading them to figure more of the story and moving the plot along. But Anna was the most boring of the three women for me. I didn’t dislike her narrative, but I think just by having three different narrators my instinct is to rank them (1. Rachel, 2. Megan, 3. Anna).

Being mostly a really good read, my actual biggest problem was with the end. Without talking about what actually happens (no spoilers here) I’ll just say that it was disappointing. Not as disappointing as the Gone Girl ending, but it was no Fight Club.

Should I read it?
Yes! Especially if you like thrillers– and not to sound like everyone who’s trying to advertise any thriller right now…but if you liked Gone Girl, you’ll definitely like this. You can buy The Girl on the Train used on ThriftBooks.

Here’s the The Girl on the Train trailer (it shows a lot IMHO, watch at your own discretion):

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Heist Society: Book Review


Heist Society by Ally CarterBook:
 Heist Society by Ally Carter

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Year: 2010

Genre: YA, Mystery, Crime

Pages: 304

Rating: ☆☆☆ ½ – Good

Who’s going to be in the movie?
There might not even be a movie, right now it’s under option at Elizabeth Banks’ production company. But hopefully it does get made into a movie and I’m thinking it should star YA Queen Chloë Grace Moretz and late 90s Leonardo DiCaprio.

What’s it about?
Kat has to bid adieu to her family’s life of crime. All Kat’s known her whole life is theft and cons until she became a normal student at a normal prep school. But that life doesn’t suit Kat as well as she hoped and is quickly thrown back into the life of crime when her father is accused (and threatened by a powerful mobster) of a heist he didn’t commit. Kat is now back at her literal partner-in-crime’s side, heartthrob Hale, to find the missing paintings and prove her father’s innocence.

What did you think?
Obviously I loved it. It’s a YA book with heists and mobsters so there’s almost no way I wouldn’t like it. I read this one twice because I went to start the third book in the series only to realize that I had forgotten almost everything that happened all the way back at the start of series. I will say that I enjoyed the book more my first time through, but that’s true of most books. As I read the story started coming back to me, but it still kept me rapidly turning page after page.

One thing that I really like about Heist Society is that heist squad is all teenagers. I especially loved that aspect when I first read because I was a teen and felt like I could join the team…now I’m old and it makes me sad (and my crush on Hale much creepier). But it’s still the only heist story I know where young people are the cons/thieves. The other heist stories are about adults – which are still great, I just really like the new teen perspective.

The only negative thing I have to say about Heist Society is that the characters aren’t super original or particularly deep. It’s a little cookie cutter; there’s the main girl who is smart, brave, stubborn and doesn’t realize how people see her/her beauty, the hot guy best friend who is super suave, the really beautiful girly girl who knows how beautiful she is, the nerd, the brawny brothers… All the characters were fun and I liked them, I just felt like I had seen them before.

Should I read it?
Yes! It’s a really quick and fun read. You can buy Heist Society at Thriftbooks and at Amazon.

Paper Towns: Book Review

Paper Towns stamped Looking For Alaska 2?

paper towns book coverBook: Paper Towns by John Green

Publisher: Dutton Books

Year: 2008

Genre: YA, Mystery

Pages: 305

Rating: ☆☆☆ – Above average

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Nat Wolff (the blind kid in The Fault In Our Stars)
Cara Delevingne (model for Burberry, Mulberry, Dolce & Gabbana and Jason Wu, and Mother Chucker in Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”)

When can I watch?
July 24

What’s it about?
Quentin “Q” Jacobsen has been in love with his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, since their childhood. Margo is more beautiful, more carefree, more funny, more popular and just more than anyone else Q has ever met. But despite being next door neighbors, Q and Margo haven’t been friends since they were kids.

That is until one night Margo sneaks out and asks for Q’s help for a night of pranks, mayhem and revenge. Margo pushes Q way outside his comfort zone (and into a moat…). After their adventurous all-nighter Q goes to school wondering how that night might change his relationship with Margo. But much to his disappointment, Margo has run away (again). At first no one is concerned – it’s not the first time Margo has left town for a few days without telling anyone. But as the days go by Q’s concern grows and he begins to find clues Margo left for him.

With the help of his best friends, Ben and Radar, Q is on a mission to solve this riddle and starts looking for Alaska Margo.

What did you think?
Didn’t I already read Looking For Alaska? Q and Margo are pretty much the same as Miles AKA Pudge and Alaska. Margo/Alaska is the girl you want to be (although I personally don’t care to be either) and Q/Pudge is the boy you want to give a big bear hug to and feed cookies. Q/Pudge is the sweet, shy, thoughtful, lovable, wide-eyed boy that is hopelessly in love with beautiful, wild, charismatic, brilliant and unattainable Margo/Alaska. So since I’ve already read Looking for Alaska, a lot of it felt kind of repetitive. They’re good and interesting characters, but nothing felt new about Q or Margo. But I kind of hate Margo…this might be an unpopular opinion but I think she’s a b!tch.

I get that some people run away or harm themselves or do a multitude of self destructing things as a cry for help, but that does not seem to be Margo’s MO. She just seems flaky, foolish and selfish. She doesn’t even make it clear as to whether Q will find her alive or dead at the end of her little game. Instead of leaving cryptic messages and clues for Q, she could have just left him a note explaining herself. But no, the world had to revolve around the mystery of Margo and she couldn’t make it easy for anyone. But if she did leave a note for Q that would make a very short and very boring book. So literarily, I know Margo has to leave clues for him. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I might have shot myself in the foot by reading The Fault In Our Stars before reading any other John Green books. So far I’ve red three of his books and TFIOS is by far the best one. I keep holding his other books to that standard and keep being disappointed. Not that I didn’t like Paper Towns, I actually really enjoyed it. It’s like wanting a home cooked meal but getting Chicken McNuggets; both are great and delicious, but Chicken McNuggets just weren’t what you were looking for.

Now that I’ve talked about what I didn’t like about Paper Towns I can start praising the good stuff. Yay! I can’t talk about a John Green book without applauding his writing. His writing is equally beautiful and witty. Even during parts when I wasn’t loving the story or characters I still loved reading Paper Towns simply because of the way John Green writes. I want to live in a world where people think and talk like John Green characters – that is, if there were more Qs, Radars, Bens, Pudges, Colonels, Hazels, Gus’s and Isaacs than there were Margos.

Another thing that I love about Paper Towns is the theme of perceptions and expectations vs. reality. There’s a reoccurring idea that people may not actually be how you see them to be, and about not holding who someone is against themselves. My favorite passage from Paper Towns is about that theme, my man Radar summed it up well:

“You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it’s going with my girlfriend – but I don’t give a shit, man, because you’re you… I’m too obsessed with a reference website to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That’s okay, too. That’s me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You’re funny, and you’re smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.”

Should I read it?
If you like John Green books then you’ll probably like this. If you haven’t read John Green then this isn’t a bad place to start. You can buy Paper Towns at Barnes & Noble for pretty cheap.

Here’s the Paper Towns trailer:

The Scorch Trials: Book Review

The Scorch Trials book cover

The Scorch Trials book coverBook: The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner, #2) by James Dashner

Publisher/Year: Delacorte Press/2010

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

Pages: 360

Rating: ☆☆☆ ½ – Good

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Dylan Bæ’Brien (the funny friend in Teen Wolf and the moody, sarcastic one in The Internship)
Ki Hong Lee (Dong from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (the adorable love-struck child in Love Actually)
Aidan Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish from Game of Thrones)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Dany’s interpreter and Grey Worm’s boo in Game of Thrones)

When can I watch?
September 18.

Make sure you read The Maze Runner book first!

What’s it about?
Thomas’ shitty life. There is so much more going on with WICKED than anyone thought; The Maze was only Phase I and the Gladers were only Group A, there’s a whole new Phase and a Group B they have yet to encounter. Thomas and the Gladers thought their troubles were finally over when they escaped The Maze, but that was only the beginning. In The Scorch Trials, the Gladers find themselves trapped in their dormitory with no food or water, until a WICKED representative (Gillen, maybe?) tells the boys about Phase II: The Scorch Trials.

When the Gladers hear about what is in store for them, they wonder if they were better off in the (relative) safety of The Maze.

What did you think?
I’ve read it twice and liked it better the first time around. There was a lot more time spent before the actual Scorch Trials began than I remembered, so it felt like it was dragging a little until it got to the “good” part. In my Maze Runner book review I mentioned how I couldn’t put the book down even though I read it twice…that was not the case with The Scorch Trials. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book, just not as much as I thought I did (or as much as The Maze Runner).

I still love Thomas, Minho and Newt just as much, although there’s less Minho and Newt than I like. But the introduction of Brenda helps lessen the blow of missing two of my favorite guys. When I first met Brenda I did not like her, but as the story progressed she really started to grow on me and she ended up being one of my favorites. But I think I liked her more the first time I read it…or maybe I didn’t start to really like her until the next book.

Another factor that affected my second reading of The Scorch Trials is that the first movie altered my opinion of some characters and the new characters had already been cast. After The Maze Runner movie I liked Teresea a lot more than I did in the book and that carried over into reading The Scorch Trials. Additionally, I really liked Brenda and imagined her to look like Shay Mitchell and not at all how they cast/styled her in the movie. So I was frustrated while reading scenes with Brenda because I knew she was going to be different in the movie.

Should I read it?
Yes, it’s worth a read. I don’t how you can read The Maze Runner and not want to find out what happens next/what happened before to get them to that point.

The trailer was released yesterday and it looks really good. From the trailer it looks like the movie is going to diverge even more from the book but I don’t hate it…if they can pull it off I might actually like it more than the book. *gasp*
For more thoughts check out The Scorch Trials Trailer Breakdown!

Dark Places: Book Review

Dark Places book cover

Book: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Publisher/Year: Crown Publishing Group/2009

Genre: Mystery

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ½ – Good

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Charlize Theron (The Italian Job, Snow White and the HunstmanA Million Ways to Die in the West)
Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-AssCarrieIf I Stay)
Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First ClassWarm BodiesJack the Giant Slayer)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)

When can I watch it?
Sometime later this year.

What’s it about?
Libby Day was seven-years-old when her family was massacred in their home late one January night. Her apparently Satanic brother, fifteen-year-old Ben Day was convicted of the murders after Libby testified against him. 25 years later, Libby is running low on cash. Cue: Lyle. Lyle is a member of the Kill Club, a group of amateur investigators and real crime aficionados. Lyle and his comrades are particularly interested in the Day Massacre. Much to Libby’s surprise, they all fervently believe that Ben is innocent of the murders.

The Kill Club is willing to pay Libby for memorabilia from her family as well as to help them seek out more information about the case. Since Libby needs the money and the thought of her brother being innocent peeks her interest, she agrees to help them. Now the face and voice of the investigation, Libby is forced to confront people from her past she thought she would never have to see again, each giving her another clue about her brother’s involvement (or potentially lack thereof) in her family’s murders.

What did you think?
It was not as as gripping and plot twisty as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, but it’s still a good mystery. It started off a little slow and took a while for me to get into it, but once it got going it got good. Expectedly, Libby has psychological issues since her family’s massacre. Her lack of motivation for the investigation (and for life in general) gets frustrating but it’s reasonable and believable. But as she delves deeper into the case, her thirst for information grows and she becomes more motivated and therefore more tolerable to me.

Something that’s equally interesting and frustrating about Dark Places is that it alters perspective between present day Libby, day of murder Ben and day of murder Patty (their mother). The pattern is Libby, Ben, Libby, Patty, Libby, etc. I always find it interesting to see other character’s perspective and motivations. While some of my favorite (and the most revealing) parts were in Ben and Patty chapters, it was annoying to have to wait 3 chapters to get back to a Ben/Patty cliffhanger. But that’s one of the ways Gillian Flynn ensures that readers won’t be able to put the book down.

One thing I like about Dark Places more than Gone Girl is the ending. As I said in my Gone Girl book review, the ending was abysmal. So I don’t spoil anything (as we all know spoiling a book is punishable by death), I’ll just say that the ending is much more satisfying and complete than Gone Girl.

Should I read it?
Yeah, it’s not the best mystery I’ve ever read but still a solid read.

Insurgent: Book Review

Insurgent book coverBook: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Publisher/Year: HarperCollins/2012

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ – Above average

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now)
Theo James (Underworld: Awakening)
Miles Teller (That Awkward Moment and Whiplash)
Kate Winslet (Titanic and unfortunately Labor Day)
Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars)
Zoë Kravitz (Lenny’s daughter, X-Men: First Class)

When can I watch it?
March 20 at a theater near you!

Make sure you read Divergent first!

What’s it about?
In the sequel to Divergent the shit hath hittith the fan…ith. Since the Erudite (the intelligent faction) attack on Abnegation (the selfless faction) has the factions in chaos, Amity (the peaceful faction) has opened their doors to all refugees…as long as they reside in peace. Tris (Woodley), Four/Tobais/Tobae-is (James), Tris’ Erudite brother Caleb (Elgort), Peter (Teller), Christina (Kravitz) and Four’s abusive and manipulative father Marcus seek the safety in Amity. However, this predominantly Dauntless (the brave AKA completely reckless faction) group does not exactly mesh well with the Amity way of life. Shortly after their arrival, Erudite and Dauntless traitors come to Amity in search of Abnegation (Tris & Caleb’s original faction). Tris, Caleb and Tobae-is escape capture and find refuge among the factionless. Now they have to try to come up with a plan to return peace to the factions and overthrow Jeanine (Winslet), the leader of the Erudite.

What did you think?
Definitely not as good as Divergent, but still a decent read. It still is the most different among the YA post-apocalyptic series (trust me, there are a lot) which is refreshing; there’s no love triangle (praise!) and we don’t have to wait until the last book for the rebellion/action to take place. But I got really frustrated with almost every character and their choices. I understand that not every character in a book is going to do what I want, but it’s hard to really get into a book when all the characters are pissing you off.

Although I was annoyed most of the time, I was still attached to the story and read through it pretty fast. The poor choices led to an interesting plot that kept me on my toes — since the characters didn’t always do what I thought to be the sensible thing, I never knew what was going to happen. The twists and turns throughout kept me avidly turning the pages, desperate to find out what happened next.

Should I read it?
Sure, just remember that it’s not as good as the first one. You can buy Insurgent on Thriftbooks or Amazon.

You can watch the trailer here:

The Maze Runner: Book Review

The Maze Runner book cover artBook: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Publisher/Year: Delacorte/2009

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Outstanding

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Dylan O’Brien (the best friend in Teen Wolf)
Will Poulter (the “son” in We’re the MillersThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (the adorable love-struck child in Love Actually, the warg guy who gets seizures and hangs out with Bran in Game of Thrones, Ferb of Phineas and Ferb)

When can I watch it?
NOT UNTIL SEPTEMBER 19. UGH.

What’s it about?
Thomas (O’Brien) wakes up in what appears to be a large freight elevator and doesn’t remember anything about himself besides his name; he has no idea where he is, where he’s been, who is mother is or even how old he is. Eventually the elevator stops and the doors open from above him and he sees a group of teenage boys staring down at him. Once he’s out he finds out he’s in a place called the Glade — a huge piece of land with a few shacks were the boys live, a farm for food and a small area of trees. But the most intriguing part about the the Glade is that it is in the center of a giant unsolvable maze.

The boys (Gladers) have been there for two years with a new boy (a Greenie) coming up from the Box once a month. No one knows how or why they are there. Like Thomas, the only thing anyone can remember is his name. Then things get shaken up because the next day the Box opens again and there’s a girl inside. Game. Changer. No one knows what this means or what to think of the girl or the ominous note that came with her. All the Gladers know is that they have to keep trying to solve the Maze no matter how hopeless it may seem.

What did you think?
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. Yes, it’s another young adult post-apocalyptic trilogy…but it’s one of the best of it’s kind (second only to The Hunger Games). I’ve read it twice and I still couldn’t put it down the second time around even though I knew what was going to happen. It’s. So. Good.

Along with Thomas, I just had to find out who all these boys (and girl) were, who put them there and why. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to learn everything I could about the Glade and about the Maze from Alby, the apparent leader, and Newt (Brodie-Sangster), one of the older boys and seemingly second-in-command. Dashner achieved the perfect balance of information and suspense; he tells you enough so you feel like you’re starting to figure things out, but not enough that you can put it all together. He teases you with pieces of the puzzle to keep you hooked but doesn’t let you see the big picture until the end.

I also happen to be in love with all the characters. Okay, not all the characters, but enough of them so that it works. I love Thomas, I love Newt, I love Minho and I love this book. Minho is a Runner (someone who runs throughout the Maze looking for a way out) and he is my favorite. His sarcasm and sharp tongue are some of the highlights of The Maze Runner and makes me want to be his friend. Newt is just perfect. He’s a great leader, kind and wonderful. Although I did imagine him to be more strong country boy (think: Southern Zac Efron) and less like the adorable Thomas Brodie-Sangster, but we’ll see how it goes. And, of course, our lead Thomas is a dandy fellow too. He’s got a good heart and thick skull, so he may not be the most original hero but it doesn’t make him unlikable. I can’t wait to see him played by Dylan O’Brien, it seems like a perfect match.

Should I read it?
Definitely! You can buy it on Amazon or Thriftbooks.

Here’s the trailer and it’s perfect.