Tag: 2015 release

“The sight of strangers safe at home…”: (Review) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

“The sight of strangers safe at home…”: (Review) The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Published by Penguin Group US on February 11th 2015
Genres: Adult, Mystery
Pages: 378
four-stars

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.

Spiritual Illuminations: [How this book made me think about spirituality.]

Three perspectives were featured in this story, and that made it extremely interesting. I’m drawn to books with multiple narrators (and if they are unreliable, even better!) because I appreciate getting more than one side to the story.

Here we have a mystery—Megan (second voice) has vanished and is nowhere to be found. Rachel (first voice), a thirty something recently divorced woman, has watched her on the train every day as she passes the back garden of Megan’s home. When she witnesses something that she thinks may be a clue as to Megan’s whereabouts, she gets involved in the investigation. And that complicates things a bit.

The third voice, Anna, is married to Rachel’s ex-husband, and they also become involved in the investigation, due to living on the same street as Megan and her husband. Needless to say, switching between each of these perspectives made the story race along for me. I couldn’t stop listening. (After all, I was “reading” the audiobook version of this during a cross country trip.) All three of these narrators seem unreliable in some way. Who can I believe? What really happened? What was only imagined? These kinds of questions popped up during the reading event, and kept me on my toes, so to speak, desperately trying to piece together what happened. Paying close attention to detail with this story is a must, if you want to have a chance at figuring this one out.

If this story had not been told through three perspectives, and through just one, for example, it wouldn’t have been as rich. Getting a story through three voices accomplishes something important—it communicates to the reader that there is more than one side to a story, and your side is going to inevitably affect the way you respond to others in the same situation. Whether you related to Rachel, Megan, or Anna, hearing all three of the voices at one point or another in the story gives readers a chance to develop empathy for more than one character.

This is the way it is in life, as well, and I appreciate getting this reminder. Sure, there are many books that do this—that employ the multiple voices in the story, but when it’s well-done (and from my perspective, it’s pretty good), I think it adds rich nuances and complexity to a narrative.

What I Liked About This Audiobook:

I really liked the first two voices on the audiobook but the voice of Anna was a bit annoying! Then again, I think the actress probably was playing her part well because I think Anna is meant to be annoying. I didn’t really like Anna for the entire book, until the end. At that point I saw a little more that I liked in her character. Hawkins, in my opinion, brought the three voices together in a clever way, and I would definitely listen to the audio version of the book again.

The setting! I so appreciated the way Hawkins builds London as the setting in the book. Having lived in London twice, and having been a regular train rider on London trains, I absolutely loved her realistic depiction of that travel. Whether it was mentioning specific parts of Central or Greater London in the story, or referring to details about what it’s like to be stopped on the train during a red signal, I liked this book even more because of the way I could relate to the movements of a Londoner. Even if you haven’t lived in London, though, I think you would appreciate those details.

If you’re an audiobook listener, I would recommend checking this title out!

Not all of my blogger friends liked this one, but I do think it’s a story that you either really enjoy or you just don’t get into. And that’s ok, but I still suggest, give this one a chance!

Quotes of Illumination:

“The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.”

“I am no longer just a girl on the train, going back and forth without point or purpose.”

“On the train, the tears come, and I don’t care if people are watching me; for all they know, my dog might have been run over.”

The Final Illumination:

The Girl on the Train featured flawed people dealing with the various joys and trials that life brings—and some people had lives that more difficult than others. However, as different as one character was from the other, you got the sense that there is always something that can connect us. Even though our lives might be vastly different, we can connect—though we have to be intentional about it.

Rachel, Megan, and Anna all lived terribly different lives, and they each had struggles and joys that were vastly different. But, I wonder how their stories would have turned out differently if they would have recognized the ways they were similar.

Finally, something I could completely relate to in the book: the way Rachel looked at strangers’ homes the train rolled past during her commute. She liked to imagine what kind of lives they lived, and who they were. This is something that I think a lot of Londoners do—and I think it’s brilliant to imagine what kind of lives these other people are living. I never get tired of that dimension of being in London!

Did you read The Girl on the Train? What did you think about how the story ended? Be careful of spoilers for people that haven’t read. You can always tweet me though!

four-stars
What Katie Read

Honey (2015) by Sarah Weeks (Release Date: January 27th)

Honey (2015) by Sarah Weeks (Release Date: January 27th)Honey by Sarah Weeks
Published by Scholastic Inc. on January 27th 2015
Genres: Family, Friendship, Middle Grade, Realistic, Social Issues
Pages: 160
Goodreads
four-stars

For a girl like Melody and a dog like Mo, life can be both sticky and sweet. Melody has lived in Royal, Indiana, for as long as she can remember. It's been just her and her father, and she's been okay with that. But then she overhears him calling someone Honey -- and suddenly it feels like everyone in Royal has a secret. It's up to Melody and her best friend, Nick, to piece together the clues and discover why Honey is being hidden. Meanwhile, a dog named Mo is new to Royal. He doesn't remember much from when he was a puppy . . . but he keeps having dreams of a girl he is bound to meet someday. This girl, he's sure, will change everything. In HONEY, Sarah Weeks introduces two characters -- one a girl, one a dog-- who are reaching back further than their memories in order to figure out where they came from and where they're going. It's a total treat from beginning to end. (From GoodReads)

Suggested Age Range: 8 and up

Illuminations of Spirituality in Honey:

It can be tough living without a mother, even if Melody’s father is pretty cool and they get along just fine. But when Melody hears her dad call someone else “Honey,” she has to get to the bottom of the identity of this person.

I don’t blame Melody—especially when she is still struggling with the idea that she never knew her mother. That’s a space in her heart that can’t be filled by anyone else. This story explores that predicament, and it also highlights the importance of our relationships with others in the face of loss and misunderstanding. It also illuminates the significance of honesty and communication—a good reminder for both young AND old readers.

Can dogs dream? That question surfaces with Mo—the dog who is desperate to find the girl of his dreams and who just may very well lead him back to his original home. A home where he was loved and celebrated.

Melody’s perspective is interspersed with Mo’s throughout the story, and you might wonder how they are ever going to collide. Weeks weaves the two stories together magnificently, but I will say no more.

I have read so many middle grade books recently that highlight young characters in need of healing after losing a close family member or friend in their lives. The Secret Hum of a Daisy and Counting by 7s are two I can think of right off the top of my head. This seems to be a popular topic in children’s literature, because it’s something that young people, sadly, may be going through. These stories are important because they don’t sugarcoat the struggle to be happy after losing a parent or other loved one.

Creative Illuminations:

At 160 pages, Honey is delightfully short and sweet, but I actually would have welcomed more time with Skittle-loving Melody, Sweet Mo, and the Beauty Salon. It’s Bee-Bee, the Beauty Salon owner, who tells Melody a bit more about her mother. Readers who have lost friends or family might be reminded, through the story, that remembering and celebrating the memories of those we love is important. Whether it’s through writing about them, creating art, or just talking about them, this “remembering” is valuable.

The book ends with the 100 nail polish colors in Bee-Bee’s salon. Melody plays a role in creating many of these names, and young readers could even extend the list and create some of their own “shades.” I would definitely be interested in getting my hands on some of those polishes. These shades sound fantastic! If Sarah Weeks based the book on a real salon carrying the colors mentioned in the story, I think that salon might just receive some new patrons.

The Final Illumination:

This story might pull a few tears from readers, but though it has its sad parts, it ultimately ends on a sweet note, and many readers will be fondly thinking of the characters as they turn that last page and feast upon the names of those 100 bottles of nail polish Melody creates. I know I laughed and hoped for the best for Melody, her father, and Mo as I savored the book, and the community Weeks depicts in the story is a memorable one.

Melody names one of the nail polishes, “Silver Linings,” and Honey certainly shows how’s there a silver lining to any cloud—it’s just all in your perspective.

If you enjoyed, Pie, you should absolutely taste Honey! Of course I’m partial to any book with baking (and a pie shop, as in the case with Pie) but Honey is another delightful realistic narrative from a fantastic author.

Thank you Scholastic, for the e-ARC of Honey. This is in no way affected my honest review!

four-stars
What Katie Read
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