Book Review #45: “The Girl on the Train”

The Girl on the Train

Image Credit: Barnes & Noble

This was another 49-cent birthday purchase from Best Thrift. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while!

I’ll try to make this review as spoiler-free as possible, if you haven’t read the book yet.


I’d heard mostly good things about this book, so I wanted to give it a shot.

Let’s just say that Hawkins does not disappoint!

I love that this book is set around London. It gave me a different perspective of how people in Britain work, live, and struggle.

I immediately noticed that each chapter was a different POV. Given my inherent struggle to read and finish books with multiple POVs, I was crossing my fingers, hoping and praying this was different.

It was. This book was a breath of fresh air!

Hawkins enveloped me into the train, the houses, and the characters. It was an amazing look into a group of people’s lives, and how dramatic things can be and become.

The book starts with Rachel, literally “the girl on the train.” Pardon my French, but this woman is fucked up from the get-go. She takes the train from the house she shares with Cathy, into London, every day. She’s an alcoholic, and we quickly learn that she was fired from her job, she single-handedly demolished her marriage, and she’s incredibly jealous of the woman that is now married to her ex-husband.

Along the way, we meet Tom, Anna, Cathy, and the man and woman Rachel refers to as “Jess” and “Jason.” She gives them these names because she sees them, and their house, from the train every day.

Little does Rachel know – Her life is about to be turned upside down. As her drinking increases, she struggles with multiple emotions and feelings. When one of the women suddenly disappears without a trace, Rachel believes she saw something, and inserts herself into the investigation.

What did Rachel supposedly see on the night this woman vanished?

Will her daily observations of “Jess” and “Jason” from the train be significant?

By inserting herself into the investigation, is she doing more harm than good?

Will her drinking help or hurt?

Hawkins crafts each chapter like a diary, where each character experiences something different. There are flashbacks, but Hawkins tries hard to keep the characters in the present, especially as they start to intertwine and get caught in different webs.

I actually appreciated the flashbacks, since it was made obvious with the headings, and I didn’t have to flip pages back and forth. Much better than other books (I’m looking at you, Allegiant)! Hawkins masterfully built the worlds around these characters, and was able to tell multiple stories in a clear, consistent way.

This book being classified as a “psychological thriller” was almost an understatement. The characters were quickly embedded in my brain, and I found myself thinking about the story during the work day, and on my way home from work.

I flew through this book, repeating, “One more chapter, one more chapter.” I looked forward to reading this book nearly every night. I stayed up way too late earlier this week, but I couldn’t put this down!

I’m definitely looking for more psychological thrillers to spice up my reading life, so any recommendations are appreciated!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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Awesome Authors #7: Veronica Roth

Veronica-Roth-Quotes

Image Credit: Logical Quotes

I first discovered Veronica Roth in 2011, when I heard the buzz about her debut novel, Divergent.

In my Book Review at the end of 2014, I liked Divergent, loved Insurgent, but Allegiant was disappointing, to say the least. It took me several months, from July through December, to finish the trilogy.


Veronica Roth was born on August 19, 1988. She was born in New York City, but raised in Barrington, Illinois, which is 32 miles northwest of Chicago. She has an older brother and sister. Her parents divorced around 1993, but her mother eventually remarried.

She graduated from Barrington High School. She initially studied at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. After one year, she transferred to Northwestern University to study creative writing. She graduated from Northwestern in 2010. She married Nelson Fitch, a photographer, in 2011.

Roth wrote Divergent while on winter break during her senior year at Northwestern.

She has received several awards. She received the Goodreads 2011 Choice Award. In 2012, she was recognized as the Best of 2012 in the category of Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction, as well as Best Goodreads Author.

The publishing rights for Divergent were sold before her college graduation. The film rights were sold before the novel’s printing in April 2011.

By fall 2013, Divergent and Insurgent had sold more than five million copies.


The film adaptation of Divergent was released in March 2014. The film adaptation of Insurgent was released on March 20, 2015.

Initially, the third book, Allegiant, was scheduled to be split into two films. The Divergent Series: Allegiant was released on March 18, 2016. The former Part 2, re-titled as The Divergent Series: Ascendant, was released on March 24, 2017.


The Divergent trilogy:

  • Divergent (2011)
  • Insurgent (2012)
  • Allegiant (2013)

Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

The cover art for these books is gorgeous. It’s one of the things that attracted me to the trilogy. As I mentioned in my 2014 book review, I loved the first two books, particularly Insurgent. However, Allegiant was a huge turn-off for me. In my opinion, Roth could have made both Divergent and Insurgent a little bit longer, and wrapped up the series with those two books.

The World of Divergent: The Path to Allegiant (2013)

The World of Divergent'

Image Credit: Amazon

Roth also published a companion book / guide to the Divergent trilogy, around the time that Allegiant was published. To be honest, I haven’t read this, and I’m not sure if I ever will.

Four: A Divergent Story Collection (2014)

Four_A_Divergent_Collection_cover

Image Credit: Wikipedia

In addition to the Divergent trilogy, Roth wrote four short stories from the point of view of Tobias Eaton.

  • The Transfer
  • The Initiate
  • The Son
  • The Traitor

The stories have been sold separately, but also packaged together.

 

We Can Be Mended (2017)

We Can

Image Credit: Goodreads

An epilogue to Divergent, titled We Can Be Mended, was announced in December 2016. I’m willing to give it a shot, although I immensely disliked Allegiant as a whole. Maybe Roth can redeem herself with this one.

Carve The Mark (2017)

Carve The Mark

Image Credit: Goodreads

Roth’s latest young adult book, titled Carve The Mark, was published on January 17, 2017. I actually didn’t realize she had written a new book until researching her for this specific post, so I plan to add this book to my TBR. It looks like a completely new, completely different story, and I’m excited to try it out. To the library!


I’ve really enjoyed following Roth’s journey into writing, so far.

As critical as I’ve been about Allegiant and the film adaptations, I plan to add Carve The Mark and We Can Be Mended to my TBR. We shall see!


What about you?

Have you read any of Veronica Roth’s works?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #76: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 38)

Week #38: Music You Love.

In addition to the songs I mentioned in my recent Getting Personal post, here’s a few more insights into my musical tastes.

Contemporary Christian Music

Country Music

Glee

  • I loved Glee from Day 1!
  • I have almost every CD that’s been released.
  • If I need a pick-me-up, one of these CDs usually does the trick.
  • There are waaaaay too many songs that I love from this show to list! I should make a separate post.

Soundtracks

  • A Chorus Line (1985)
  • Back to the Future (1985)
  • Batman (1989)
  • Chicago (2002)
  • Dirty Dancing (1987)
  • Enchanted (2007)
  • Flashdance (1983)
  • Footloose (1984)
  • Footloose (2011)
  • Forrest Gump (1994)
  • Ghost (1990)
  • Grease (1978)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1 & 2 (2014, 2017)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Mamma Mia! (2008)
  • Night at the Museum (2006)
  • Purple Rain (1984)
  • Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  • Shaft (1971)
  • Space Jam (1996)
  • The Bodyguard (1992)
  • The Guardian (2006)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  • Top Gun (1986)
  • Tron: Legacy (2010)
  • Wicked (2003)

Here are links to other blog posts I’ve written about music:


What about you? What are your tastes in music?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #85: 500 Followers!

Thank You - Pinterest

Image Credit: Pinterest

I learned early this morning that I now have 500 followers!

Thank you, everyone!

I’m so tickled that this little blog of mine continues to grow. I can’t believe I’ve gained 300 more followers in a little over a year (I wrote a similar post in mid-August 2016, when I reached 200 followers).

I’m astounded at how many people around the world follow my blog, as well as read, like and comment on my posts.

I appreciate every single one of you!

Cheers!

Here’s to more writing and blogging!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #29: “20 Questions Book Tag”

The lovely ladies at Thrice Read did another awesome book tag! It was created by someone on Goodreads.

Here’s the link to Thrice Read’s original post:


How many books is too many books in a book series?
Ooooh, good question. I love Harry Potter, so I’ve always thought that seven is enough.

How do you feel about cliffhangers?
Cliffhangers are decent, but a writer shouldn’t rely on them all the time.

Hard copy or paperback?
I hate it when the paperback spines crack, so I like hard copy.

Favorite book?
My all-time favorite is The Great Gatsby.

Least favorite book?
The Scarlet Letter.

Love triangles, yes or no?
Yes. It makes a book interesting.

The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?
Nothing comes to mind at the moment.

A book you’re currently reading?
The Girl on the Train.

Last book you recommended to someone?
I recommended The Unknown and the Impossible: How a research facility in Virginia mastered the air and conquered space.

Oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date)
Little Women.

Newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)
The Whistler.

Favorite author?
John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks, Jeanette Walls, John Green, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Buying books or borrowing books?
Can I say both? I’m trying to use my local library to borrow more, rather than buy.

A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?
I can’t put my finger on a single book.

Bookmarks or dog-ears?
Bookmarks, all the way.

A book you can always re-read?
Any of the American Girl books. Childhood nostalgia for the win!

Can you read while hearing music?
Not really.

One POV or multiple POVs? (POVs = Points of view)
I’ll stick with one POV. I hated the way Veronica Roth attempted to write Allegiant, and that’s left a sour taste in my mouth ever since.

Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
It would be so nice to read a book in one sitting. But, since my reading time is mostly limited to vacations, or before going to sleep, it usually takes me several days to finish a book.

Who do you tag? (You can invite them to the group to do the tag)
Anyone!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #44: “Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake”

Catch Me If You Can

Image Credit: Amazon.co.uk

I couldn’t pass up this book for 49 cents! I found it at Best Thrift in Norfolk on my birthday.

I’ve always loved the movie, and I knew it was based on a true story. I hadn’t read the book that inspired the movie. Until now!


For me, finishing this book was a struggle. I think this is one of the few times where seeing the movie affected my perception of the book.

Reading Abnagle’s story, overall, was very fascinating. Before he turned 19-years-old, Abnagle had successfully conned many companies and banks out of millions of dollars. He posed as a Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) pilot in the U.S. and in cities throughout the world, a doctor in Georgia, and a lawyer in Louisiana. After he was apprehended, the FBI came to him to help them catch other check forgers.

But, after Chapter 8, I stalled. It was tough to keep going. I almost gave up entirely.

At the same time, I hate not finishing books. So, I pressed on. It ended well, but I felt like I stuck in neutral for a while.

Initially, I wasn’t sure why I got stuck for several days. Then, I realized that I was playing the movie in my head, and I know that affected my reading.

If you’re looking for an interesting, true story, about one of the smartest, most cunning thieves that both the U.S. and the world has seen, I recommend this book.

3 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #84: Favorite Songs & Artists, 1950s-Present Day

Pinterest (2)

Image Credit: Pinterest

I was recently inspired to write this post, thanks to my friend Drew. He posted a Facebook status about his dislike for a particular song that’s been popular for several decades, and that sparked a conversation about the 1980s, and our favorite songs from that decade.

In addition, I saw this video from MetroLyrics on Facebook, and I loved how the creator(s) showcase(s) so many songs!

Now, I want to go decade by decade, and list a handful of my favorite songs and artists from each one!

Come along and enjoy!


1950s

“Rock Around The Clock” (Bill Haley & His Comets, 1952)

  • Automatic favorite!

“Sh-Boom” (The Chords, 1954)

  • My parents had a generic “Best of the 1950s” CD that I frequently borrowed after I received my first portable CD player – This was one of the songs listed!

“Earth Angel” (The Penguins, 1954)

  • I think this song was also on that CD!

“Heartbreak Hotel” (Elvis Presley, 1956)

  • It was hard to not list a ton of Elvis songs!

“Bye Bye Love” (The Everly Brothers, 1957)

  • This was another song that I grew up listening to!

“At the Hop” (Danny & The Juniors, 1958)

  • This song makes me think of sock hops, dancing, and excellent music!

“Beyond The Sea” (Bobby Darin, 1959)

  • This song has been in so many movies!
  • It reminds me of fancy clubs and restaurants – The old days.

1960s

“Unchained Melody” (The Righteous Brothers, 1965)

  • My parents played this on our stereo at home a lot. I remember my mom singing along.
  • Plus, Ghost (1990) is one of my favorite movies!

“Good Vibrations” (The Beach Boys, 1966)

  • The Beach Boys is one of my parents’ favorite bands!
  • If you haven’t seen Love & Mercy (2014), I highly recommend it – It’s an excellent movie. I gained a greater appreciation for Brian Wilson, and the band.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, 1967)

  • I grew up hearing this song, but I remember it most from Remember The Titans (2000).

“What A Wonderful World” (Louis Armstrong, 1967)

  • This song immediately lifts my spirits!

“Carolina In My Mind” (James Taylor, 1968)

  • My parents are also big James Taylor fans – They’ve seen him live several times.
  • However, this song is special – My dad played this song when he proposed to my mom. Then, in 2015, we surprised Mom by dancing to this song during our father-daughter dance at my wedding.

1970s

“Fire And Rain” (James Taylor, 1970)

  • I think this was the first James Taylor song I remember hearing!

“Baba O’Riley” (The Who, 1971)

  • I’ve always loved this song – The synthesizer always gives me goosebumps.
  • It’s also the theme song to CSI: NY, one of my favorite shows.

“Saturday in the Park” (Chicago, 1972)

  • This song always makes me dance and sing along.
  • I also had the opportunity to see Chicago live, in Portsmouth, in the early 2000s – I think I was either 13 or 14. I went with my parents, and their friends Phil and Diane. What an awesome memory!

“Hooked on a Feeling” (Blue Swede cover, 1974)

  • I heard this song here and there growing up, but absolutely fell in love with it when it was featured in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
  • Al and I entered our wedding reception to this!

“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” (Elton John, 1974)

  • I started listening to Elton John more in high school, while driving the 15 miles back and forth to school.

“Isn’t She Lovely” (Stevie Wonder, 1976)

  • My mom has loved Stevie Wonder for years. I think this one is my favorite.

“Don’t Stop” (Fleetwood Mac, 1977)

  • Fleetwood Mac was another favorite in my parents’ house. This one tops my list.
  • I also love the cover that the cast of Glee did in 2010.

“Old Time Rock n Roll” (Bob Seger, 1978)

  • I heard this song a lot growing up, but associate it now with Tom Cruise in Risky Business (1983).

1980s

“Come On Eileen” (Dexys Midnight Runners, 1982)

  • This song is awesome! It automatically makes me dance and sing!

“Eye of the Tiger” (Survivor, 1982)

  • This was the theme song of my high school football team. Go Tigers!

“Uptown Girl” (Billy Joel, 1983)

  • I remember borrowing Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Vols. 1 & 2 on CD from the local library, and then putting all of them on my iPod.
  • We’re hoping to see him live at Madison Square Garden next summer!

“Footloose” (Kenny Loggins, 1984)

  • Although I grew up listening (and dancing) to this song, I actually never saw the original movie until 2010!
  • I also enjoyed the movie re-boot – Footloose (2011) – Al was such a good sport and offered to take me to see it!

“Ghostbusters” (Ray Parker, Jr., 1984)

  • Automatic favorite. I also associate this song with Halloween. I love the Ghostbusters costume I bought several years ago!
  • Although I didn’t see the full movie until 2010, I’ve visited the firehouse in New York several times!

“You’re The Inspiration” (Chicago, 1984)

  • This was one of the first songs I loaded on my first iPod!

“The Power of Love” (Huey Lewis and the News, 1985)

  • Back to the Future (1985). Need I say more?

“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes, 1987)

  • Dirty Dancing (1987).
  • I’ve been to Mountain Lake three times, where they filmed part of the movie!

“Smooth Criminal” (Michael Jackson, 1987)

  • It was SO HARD to not pick a ton of Michael Jackson’s songs. I love this one.
  • This is another one that Glee covered that I adore!

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (Whitney Houston, 1987)

  • Same story with Whitney – So hard to not pick multiple songs.
  • Like the title, it makes me want to dance the whole time!

“Never Gonna Give You Up” (Rick Astley, 1987)

  • Yes, it’s cheesy and campy, but I will never stop loving it.

1990s

“Baby Got Back” (Sir Mix A Lot, 1992)

  • Whenever I hear this song, I’m immediately transported back to elementary school, and the Plaza Skating Center in Portsmouth. So many skating parties!

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” (Mariah Carey, 1994)

  • Yes, it’s cheesy, but this is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs. The local radio stations start way too early, but hearing this song always gets me in the mood for the holidays, and Christmas spirit.

“Wannabe” (Spice Girls, 1996)

  • I was introduced to the Spice Girls by my friends Karen and Michaela Leigh, who are sisters. We played this song a ton at their house in Norfolk. Karen also had the dolls!

“Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” (Shania Twain, 1997)

  • I don’t remember the first time I heard this song, but I instantly liked it! The music video is totally awesome, too.

“Tearin’ Up My Heart” (*NSYNC, 1997)

  • I think I fell in love with *NSYNC with this song. I’m definitely a ’90s child!

“…Baby One More Time” (Britney Spears, 1999)

  • I remember outright begging my parents for this CD. I was so excited when I got it, I nearly cried!

“Larger than Life” (Backstreet Boys, 1999)

  • I definitely sang into my hairbrush, in front of my mirrored closet doors, to this song. Over and over and over!
  • I shameless danced when this song came on the radio in the car a few months ago. Al was driving, and he saw me freak out a little.

2000s

“Stronger” (Britney Spears, 2000)

  • I loved this song early on, but it took on a new meaning for me in college.

“Bye Bye Bye” (*NSYNC, 2000)

  • This song was on repeat for a while! I remember trying to learn the dance moves!

“Come Away with Me” (Norah Jones, 2002)

  • I associate coffee shops and dark jazz clubs with this song. It’s one of those that relaxes me and makes me feel good.

“Invisible” (Clay Aiken, 2003)

  • When Clay Aiken was runner-up on the second season of American Idol, I knew I wanted any and every CD that he released.
  • I remember many trips to Florida where this song, and the rest of Measure of a Man, was on repeat on my blue portable CD player.

“The Way” (Clay Aiken, 2003)

  • The first time I heard this song, I nearly cried. It’s so sweet and sentimental.
  • I remember watching the music video over and over on YouTube. And, occasionally, I play it again.

“Dancing Through Life” (Wicked soundtrack, 2003)

  • I love almost all of the songs on the Wicked soundtrack, but this one is my favorite. When I had the opportunity to see the show in Norfolk in 2009, I bought a red tank top with this printed on it, and I loved it. I’m sad that I grew out of it!

“Walk Away” (Kelly Clarkson, 2004)

  • I was a late-bloomer with Kelly Clarkson. But, I’ve loved this song from the beginning. It’s edgy, and I almost used the lyrics to tell off my ex-boyfriend when I broke up with him in 2010.

“I Gotta Feeling” (The Black Eyed Peas, 2009)

  • This is a quintessential dance / party song.

2010s (So far)

“Rolling in the Deep” (Adele, 2010)

  • When Al and I saw I Am Number Four (2011) in theaters, I heard this song for the first time. I immediately wanted more! Adele is now one of my all-time favorite artists!

“Mine” (Taylor Swift, 2010)

  • I felt an instant connection with this song. It felt like it was telling the story of Al and I.
  • I got up the courage to sing this song to Al at our rehearsal dinner. I practiced in the car, alone, every chance I got. My bridal party helped me make posters that read “You are the best thing that’s ever been mine,” and they held them up as I sang. My knees were shaking the entire time, and I know Al was embarrassed, but it was completely worth it.

“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” (Kelly Clarkson, 2011)

  • This was my anthem for a few years!
  • Kelly has such a powerful voice – I love it!

“Domino” (Jessie J, 2011)

  • I always feel sexy when I sing along to this song.

“Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen, 2012)

  • I love Carly Rae. This is one of those songs that instantly makes me dance and sing.
  • Also, I love the video that the cast of The Big Bang Theory did with this song!

“Who I Am with You” (Chris Young, 2013)

  • Like “Mine,” I felt an instant connection to this song. I first heard it on the radio in 2013, as I was driving back to my apartment one night. I pulled over in my neighborhood to listen to it, and immediately re-played it when I got home. It’s been one of my all-time favorite songs since then. We danced to this song for our first dance at our wedding.

“Word Crimes” (“Weird Al” Yankovic, 2014)

  • Al introduced me to “Weird Al” – I love his parodies!
  • This is one of my all-time favorites. If you’re a grammar nerd, like me, I think you’ll appreciate this one.

“Shake It Off” (Taylor Swift, 2014)

  • I love Taylor Swift. This song makes me dance, even if I’m sitting down. It’s so upbeat and catchy!

“Shatter Me” (Lindsey Stirling featuring Lzzy Hale, 2014)

  • I can’t remember when I first fell in love with Lindsey Stirling, but she’s amazing! We had the opportunity to see her live at The NorVA in 2015!

“Lips Are Movin” (Meghan Trainor, 2014)

  • Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I usually search for Meghan Trainor on YouTube – It never fails!
  • I adore her style, and her musical inspirations!

“Heartbeat Song” (Kelly Clarkson, 2015)

  • I cried when I first heard this song, and cried harder when I watched the music video. It’s an amazing song about love!

“One More Light” (Linkin Park, 2017)

  • The recent deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, both from suicide, makes this song even more poignant.

I hope you enjoyed this post! I had a lot of fun researching. I definitely listened to all of them, too!

What about you? What are your favorite artists / musicians? Do you have any favorite songs? I’d love to see your comments.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂