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)!┬áHawkins 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 ­čÖé

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Book Review #36: “The Lost Symbol”

The Lost Symbol

Image Credit: Target

If you’re curious about other books involving protagonist Robert Langdon, here are my previous Book Review posts:


Dan Brown has done it again!

Like Angels & Demons, this book was really long – Over 500 pages. However, I didn’t mind that it was so long. It was action-packed, and I learned so much about Washington, D.C.

However, I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying to read this book in one sitting. It’s so dense, I found myself taking multiple breaks, sometimes days at a time, in order to process all of the information. It wasn’t necessarily a turn-off, but it was a challenge. The longest stretch was a few nights ago, when I read Chapters 78 through 112. I needed a day-long break before starting again. Luckily, reading through Chapter 112 brought me closer to the end – I finally finished last night, around 10:30 p.m.

Langdon’s adventure this time is set primarily in Washington, D.C., with a few scenes in Maryland and northern Virginia. If you’ve ever been curious about the Masons and their history, this is a good book to learn about them!

For once, I greatly appreciated the lack of a romance aspect. This book appeared to focus on the various mysteries surrounding Langdon, especially since these 500 pages are set, for the most part, within just one night in the characters’ lives. I’d be happy to eventually see Langdon and Katherine end up together – I think they have a lot in common – but I was excited that the book primarily focused on solving the mysteries!

Again, like his other books, I really liked and appreciated Brown’s attention to detail and historical accuracy. It was incredible to see just how much history is jam-packed into Washington, D.C. Reading his books has taught me so much about our world’s various secret societies and great mysteries!

This book was a great mix of an intense thriller and historical novel. When I was able to wrap my mind around everything that was happening, I found myself flying through the pages. I think Brown is clever to mix up the length of his chapters – Some were long, some were a few pages, and a handful were either one page or a half-page. It’s a great way to keep the reader interested and wanting to read “just one more chapter” before turning out the lights.

Following the chronology of Robert Langdon’s character, I now need to find a copy of Inferno (2013).┬áHopefully, I can read that one right before Origin is released in early October!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ­čÖé

 

 

Book Review #31: “The Da Vinci Code”

davincicode

Image Credit: Wikipedia

In short, I liked this book MUCH better than Angels & Demons. It was significantly shorter in length, and I got through it much faster than the first one.

I actually finished the book at the end of April, but I dove head-first into my next book and basically forgot to write this review!

This installment involving Robert Langdon was centered in Paris, with London thrown in. It was another fascinating thriller. I liked Sophie better than Vittoria, and I wasn’t as turned off. The ending was more satisfying, too.

I felt I was more interested in this story and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to read at least one chapter every night. This book was also less graphic, and it had more adventure!

The Da Vinci Code focused on cryptology, another secret society, a heavier emphasis on religion, and so many fascinating facts. Brown does a good job of balancing facts with action. Having had the opportunity to visit The Louvre, I was thrilled to see it play a big role on paper.

I don’t have a lot of criticism for this book. After my frustration with Angels & Demons, I’ve experienced renewed excitement to see what happens to Robert next. I’m actually excited to pick up book three! I’m ready to dive into The Lost Symbol┬ávery soon.

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ­čÖé

Book Review #30: “Angels & Demons”

angels-and-demons

Image Credit: Amazon

I originally thought The Da Vinci Code was the first book to feature Robert Langdon, but I was proven wrong!

This was a HUGE book. I wanted to finish it last week, but it was so dense that it took me until 11:00 p.m. last night to finally finish. It’s 616 pages total!


To be blunt, I have several praises, as well as several criticisms.

I was instantly drawn into Robert Langdon’s world. Brown hooked me within the first few sentences. I was along Langdon’s side from Harvard, to Switzerland, to Vatican City, to Rome. It was a bit of a whirlwind at first, and then you get plunged into the worlds of CERN, ┬áVatican City, the Catholic Church, history, and┬ásymbolism.

Trying to figure out the puzzle that Brown laid out kept me interested. A scientist at CERN is brutally murdered, and he has connections to both the scientific and religious communities.

I liked Vittoria Vetra almost immediately. She’s feisty, gorgeous, and a great addition to Langdon. Langdon is the main character, but there were times that Vittoria was faster, and took control, and I liked it! She’s a smart cookie, and I knew Robert would be attracted to her.

The menagerie of twists and turns made me feel like I was on a high-speed ride through Europe! It was exhilarating. There were several days where I flew through multiple chapters and dozens of pages.

I applaud Brown’s dedication and commitment to historical accuracy, and being totally up front about not fictionalizing any locations, historical figures, or places (There’s a disclaimer in the very beginning). It felt even more real!

However, I had several issues with this book. There were three particular instances where I feel Brown is almost too graphic in his writing. As an aspiring writer of fiction, I know that, at certain times, it’s necessary to be graphic to illustrate and illuminate, But, Brown’s style was too much for this reader. I almost gave up every time. I almost didn’t want to find out what happened next. Some of it almost made me sick.

But, I pressed on.

Toward the end, as the intensity was reaching its peak in Vatican City, where decisions needed to be made quickly – Brown inserted this multiple-page speech by the Camerlengo (papal chamberlain) that just dragged on and on. I got the significance – The man was addressing the cardinals at a critical point in the conclave – but it could have been much shorter! Maybe dedicate a page or two, but not five or six! I felt so impatient during that section. I wanted to skip the entire speech and get just back to┬áthe action!

Finally, I hated the ending. It felt abrupt, it felt weird, it left me hanging a bit. It wasn’t a cliffhanger, but I hated how nonchalant it felt. I won’t give it away, but I felt a bit empty when I closed the book.

My first thought was, “That’s it? That’s how you end this ridiculously long book? Wow…”

After sleeping on it, I realized this morning why he ended it the way he did, but I still wasn’t happy about it!

If you’re looking for a thriller that involves conspiracy, mystery, secret societies, art history, exploring historic sections of Europe, and learning a lot about the Catholic Church – This book is for you.

Overall, I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone for this one. I’d heard of the movies, but haven’t seen them. The first few pages of The Da Vinci Code I read about a month ago made me curious about who Robert Langdon is and how he got himself into such a twisted web of history, religion, and murder. It’s an exciting book, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him, and what happens next.

Despite my issues with Angels & Demons, I’m still motivated to read the other books with protagonist Robert Langdon – The Da Vinci Code┬á(2003), The Lost Symbol┬á(2009),┬áInferno┬á(2013), and Origin┬á(October 2017). Look for these reviews over the next few months.

3 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ­čÖé

Book Review #29: “The Whistler”

the-whistler

Image Credit: Amazon

This was another book that I picked up with the generous Barnes and Noble gift card from my parents. John Grisham has always been one of my favorite authors – I give partial credit to his writing for getting me interested in the legal field!

When I bought this book, this marked one of the first times I bought an author’s newest book within a few months of its release. With Grisham, I’ve typically found copies of his books at libraries and thrift stores. However, as I’m wrapping up my Paralegal Studies degree, I’m finding that I want to read as many new legal-themed books as I can get my hands on, even if it is fiction.

The Whistler is a powerful thriller, full of twists and turns. I liked the setup of the Board on Judicial Conduct (BJC) – Grisham followed a different angle of the legal profession with this one. 

I liked Lacy and Hugo working together. I’m partial to books set in Florida, too.

No spoilers – But there’s a big bombshell almost smack in the middle of the book that made me stop reading for almost a whole week. It was too painful!

To be honest, I almost gave up on the book altogether.

However, once I picked up the pieces from the bombshell and soldiered on, it got better. At the end, I felt it was a very long book. I thought it could have been about 100 pages shorter. There were several characters that weren’t crucial to the overall story, and they muddied the waters quite a bit. It got a bit confusing to keep up with, and that always bothers me with novels.

Despite a few pitfalls, I liked the structure of the book. When I got completely engrossed, it was really hard to put the book down. I found myself flying through 4-6 chapters for several nights in a row!

Grisham disappointed me a bit with this latest work, but The Whistler had enough drama, mystery, and intrigue to keep me interested!

3.5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ­čÖé