Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


Rachel rides the train back and forth to the city every day, and particularly enjoys watching out the window at the world that passes her by. She becomes interested in a couple on their deck, giving them names, "Jess" and "Justin" and making up stories to herself about their lives. But then she sees something that upsets her and she is determined to figure out exactly what is happening with this couple that she thought was perfect.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a psychological thriller that has been hyped up quite a lot lately. It lived up to the hype, for the most part, but it's still one of those novels that is hard to review since I don't want to give away too much. All I knew going into this book is what I wrote above, and that made the story much more exciting and engaging.

Rachel is a complex character, and so is "Jess," who is really Megan. We get to hear from both of these women, as well as a third, throughout the novel. It was intriguing to get into their minds, but I must say that I didn't like any of them. They all had some serious issues, as did the men in the story. But the overall mystery of The Girl on the Train is excellent and kept me guessing straight to the end. The end does go a bit over the top, which some of the women in my book club did not like. I enjoyed the rest of the book enough that it didn't kill it for me.

If you're looking for a psychological thriller that will keep you guessing, definitely pick up The Girl on the Train. Unless you didn't like Gone Girl. We found that the women in our group who didn't like Gone Girl didn't like this either. You may still want to try it, but borrow it rather than buying it.

My rating: 4/5

Connect with the author on her website, Twitter and Facebook

This review was based on a copy of The Girl on the Train that I purchased. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Marie-Laure lives with her father who is the locksmith at the Paris Museum of Natural History. Despite her blindness, she spends her days exploring the museum and reading. Werner is an orphan boy in Germany with a passion for electronics and science. As teenagers, both are sent on unexpected paths when World War II takes over their lives. Their families, aspirations and futures change.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a beautiful narrative of a horrible time in history. The imagery and light that Doerr brings out in his writing offsets the destruction of both lives and cities during the war. The novel is really two parallel stories of a boy and a girl finding their way in a world that has been turned upside down. It is written in brief chapters, sometimes merely a page or two, and this style works wonderfully.

Marie-Laure and Werner have completely different experiences during the war, and their worlds don't converge until quite far along in the book, but the two stories weave together well and form a full view of the war's effect on young people on both sides. I personally didn't feel more engaged with either side of the story; they both kept my interest and I found that I cared about both of these young people whose lives were torn apart by the war.

If you're looking for a new take on the World War II story, a book that looks at both sides at the same time, I encourage you to read All the Light We Cannot See.

My Rating: 5/5

Connect with the author on his website or Facebook.

This review was based on a copy of All the Light We Cannot See that I purchased. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.

Monday, July 27, 2015

High Summer Read-a-Thon Recap


It's been a while since I gave a reading update and since I participated in the High Summer Read-a-Thon last week, I figured this would be a good time to do so. The read-a-thon lasted the full week, Monday through Sunday. I mostly read on Monday and Sunday and that was about it, nothing in between. I think we had activities or plans every night last week! It didn't leave much time to read.

On a good note, I accomplished my goal, which was to complete the two books I had been reading this month. I read 113 pages to finish The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi. I also read 175 pages to finish Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. A total of 288 pages in a week isn't anything too exciting for me but at least I completed two books!

I now have six books that I've read in 2015 and have not reviewed yet. I need to have a write-a-thon instead of a read-a-thon!! I'm determined to write reviews for a few of those books this week. Actually, I'm hoping to possibly have a review up each day this week. That means it will more likely be every other day!

Tonight, my book club is meeting to discuss The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I missed last month's discussion of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, so tonight's host said we may discuss that a little as well. I hope so! I need to write reviews of both of those books and I always find it easier after discussing them with someone.

What have you been reading lately?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Club Picks: Online Resources

Welcome to my weekly series: Book Club Picks. This week, I'm sharing some great online resources for book clubs. Whether you're looking for book lists, discussion questions or ideas to make your book club meeting more fun and interesting, there are online resources to help. I've put together a list of some of my go-to resources, but I'd love to hear about the blogs and websites you find helpful as well. Please leave a comment to let us know about any other resources you recommend. 


Book lists, discussion questions and more

Reading Group Choices has a great selection of themed book lists that can help book clubs choose their next book. From Bookish Books to Canine Companions, there's bound to be a list that's right for your group.

Goodreads has a Popular Book Club Books list that is a great resource for choosing books as well.

Book Movement has lists of popular book club selections as well as reading group guides, giveaways, reviews and more.

LitLovers provides many resources for book clubs, including a list of general questions for both fiction and nonfiction, but you can also search for discussion questions related to individual books.

Reading Group Guides is another online community for book clubs where you can find book lists and discussion questions.

Spicing up book club with food and drinks

The Book Club Cookbook is a fabulous resource for blending food and books. Get ideas about the best food and drinks to pair with the books you're reading and discussing. These Novel Noshes look great!

Food in Every Country has a great list that you can use to choose recipes based on the setting of the book you're reading.

What online resources does your book club use?


Next week, I'll be sharing reviews of some of the books my book club has recently read. Please let me know if you have suggestions for other topics to cover, or if you would like to write a guest post for my Book Club Picks series. I'd love to hear about your book club or your favorite books for discussion!

Don't miss out on another edition of Book Club Picks. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter.