Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner: ARC Book Review

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Synopsis from GoodreadsLisa Gardner’s next thriller following her runaway New York Times bestseller Find Her takes her wildly popular brand of suspense to new heights.

Is he a hero?

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters.

Is he a killer?

Then the call comes in. A double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun.

All she knows for sure: He’s back.

As the clock winds down on a massive hunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie must answer two critical questions: Why after eight years has this young man started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once upon a time, Sharlah’s big brother saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.

Publisher: Dutton Books

Publication Date: January 31, 2017

Date Read: January 31, 2017

Pages: 421

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

REVIEW

 

A crime thriller with a HEART!

Thriller is another genre that I have barely scratched the surface of. I am not by any stretch of imagination a connoisseur in the subject, but that doesn’t necessarily make my opinion invalid right? I know a good book when I read one, at least I could take pride in that. Anyway, Dutton Books asked me if I would love to review Lisa Gardner’s new thriller. I have never read anything by her (I know! Have I been living under a rock?) and so when an opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it. Let’s just say, Lisa Gardner is now included in my Autobuy Authors List. 

Right Behind You took the words clever and gripping into a whole new level. I finished the book in two and half days, which seldom happens nowadays (insert life and work here), so I guess that must have at least amounted to something. Right Behind You is a satisfying and joyful thriller ride. You have to give it to Lisa Gardner to capture her readers’ attention and be able to sustain the momentum until the very last page. It was impossible to put down, I was reading through traffic, inside the elevator, whilst cooking, literally every chance I get. It was in the way the story was narrated that captivated me. It shifts to first person narration to third person without losing its magic, if for anything, it added to the texture and flavor of the book. And there is always beauty in anticipating the twist, in solving the puzzle along with the characters in the book. It is as if you are there with them. The characters are distinct. Especially Telly Ray Nash and Sharlah, these two though flawed had redeeming qualities of their own, they are enigmatic yet somehow you will be able to relate to them. Telly Ray Nash’s character was something consistent and not at the same time, I don’t know how to put it but when you are reading his character, you will develop some sense of faith in him. Even if the first chapters presented him in a bad light you just can’t help but to somehow root for him. The characters’ connection to each other made the story cohesive, not one character who is dispensable, every single one played an important role. And yes, even the dogs!! Ahhh I love love love how the dogs are incorporated in this book! Luka and MollyWog! Ahhh those two made this book even more enjoyable to read! Lisa Gardner’s writing was clean and polished, she was able to draw out the proper emotions and set the proper mood, and not many authors can do that. It is literally the book that will have you zoned out while reading it. Nothing matters in the world but the story in the book, and that is something truly noteworthy.

Right Behind You isn’t just about the revelation of who did what, it was more than what it conveys. It is a mystery thriller with a HEART. And I wouldn’t lie, I really teared up at some parts. I’m not even sure what really won me over, is it because of the depth of the story or the way it was cleverly written. All I know is, this definitely wouldn’t be the last Lisa Gardner book that I will read. It was well-thought out. It was about a book tackling abuse, violence and (gruesome) murders. Each chapter will leave you with immense need to know what’s going to unfold next, and as cliche as it may sound I had to hold my breath at some chapters, that’s how gripping and intense it was. The only thing that prevented me from giving it full five star rating was some parts have become repetitive to a fault, especially the one explaining about Telly Ray Nash’s condition or mental state also what happened eight years ago. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves crime thrillers.

 

Rating: rating_4stars

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: Book Review

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Synopsis from GoodreadsWhen four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Publisher: Doubleday

Date Published: March 10, 2015

Date Read: November 2016

No. of Pages: 720 pages

Setting: New York

REVIEW

 

A Little Life is a slow burn. It would consume you bit by bit until it becomes part of you. Until it inhabits your soul.

After much contemplation and deliberation on what would be the most eloquent and convincing words to put in this review, still I came up short. Well for starters, I honestly don’t think I can give this book the justice it deserves. But because I have a social responsibility (yes I do believe book bloggers/reviewers have a moral obligation/ social responsibility) to at least convince even a single soul to read this book, then I would have to do with whatever my mind could grasp and deliver in this review, however vague or however too all over the place it may sound. Just bear with me on this one.

A Little Life will change you. I would have to start with that warning, or wisdom whichever way you want to look at it. It will change your perspective, may it be for the better or otherwise, it is all up to you on how you will take it. A Little Life isn’t for everyone, not for the faint-hearted, not for the impatient ones, not for the squeamish, not for the weak. I guess before diving into this book you have to prepare yourself and I don’t mean it in a shallow way. Prepare yourself to get hurt. Prepare yourself to shed tears and I mean lots of it. Prepare yourself to die a little inside, repeatedly. Prepare yourself to be shaken to the core. Prepare yourself to feel immense sadness. And even then, yes even with all the preparations you took, the precautionary measures you’ve set, you’re never ready for the inevitable impact. It will be something that will haunt you in your lifetime, I guarantee that. A Little Life needs your undivided attention, it needs your time and your whole heart. You don’t rush it, it is that kind of book you savour. I finished reading it in a month. I’m not a fast reader, on a monthly average I could do 5-7 books, and that’s not really a lot considering the work I have and other commitments, but I managed to finish this in a month which I can say as a pretty decent pace. I could have rushed it if I wanted to, but I have learned that this is the kind of book you don’t rush finishing. It is something you relish. You have to feel for the characters, you have to know them well, the ins and out of their lives just like how you treat a real friend. Because for a moment while you are immersed in their story, they are real too. You’ll appreciate how layered the story was and how rich the words used by the author. It was carefully crafted, the words were deliberately used to make a statement, to transcend outside the confines of the pages. It was lyrical as it is raw. There were too many wisdom from each page, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve ran out of tabs to use. And those are not just mere words jumbled to make a sentence, it was the affirmation of the life we are living, or the lives we never thought possible, or the lives we wish we had. It was all encompassing. Its beauty lies in the complexities and how all the lives of the characters intertwine making a beautiful tapestry.

New York as its setting added to the beauty of the book. How it was able to paint the city in such simple yet captivating light. The beauty of New York was not really the focus of the book, but it definitely set the mood of the entire story. There was a sense of tranquility and feeling of warmth that the book was trying to convey, while masking something so profound and larger than life. I could not quite fully explain it but the book had this pull on you, that once you started reading it wherever you maybe you’ll always go back to the story. It is as if it is summoning you to come back to it. The story will ricochet in your head every chance it gets. It is really something one could not easily forget. 

The characters are well thought-out, they are flawed yet had redeeming qualities you couldn’t miss. They have the power to make you feel as though you know them personally, they speak to you in a level of understanding that you didn’t even know is possible. I loved how the author was able to put history into different characters making them unique and truly realistic. It was complex and at the same time rich and colorful. A Little Life will show you two sides of a coin – the cruelty of human and the goodness in their hearts. And though it might not be something you are accustomed to reading, much like in my experience, it will give you the sense of realization that indeed life has many facets and faces and the beauty of it is coming to the conclusion that wherever it might lead us there’s always something to learn from it, one should just find the silver lining of it all.

Jude’s story had me bawling, there was this heavy weight on my chest that I just couldn’t lift off. His story was disturbing and yet I was so drawn to it that I had to know what happened in the end. Reading his story was an emotional torture  at best. And I didn’t know I had that strength to read through that. It was not only Jude’s story that struck me to my core. As I’ve said all these characters have rich history, they are beautiful in their own right. I loved Willem’s story as well and I think I cried for Willem just as much as I cried for Jude. And don’t get me started with Harold, that last part had me crying silent tears, my heart is breaking for him too!

You have to have the proper mindset before delving into the depths of this book. It has sensitive topics that are shocking to the conscience but at the same time needs to be addressed.It truly turned me into a different person. It felt like I had to look at the world in a maturer way, seeing the details with new eyes. There was something melancholic and page after page you will feel a sense of foreboding, something one could not simply ignore. Every torment, every tear shed, every emotional distress, they were all worth it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

RATING: rating_5stars

 

“Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified.”
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

 

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Nerdy Talks Top 16 Books of 2016

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Hey all! I’ve been quite busy the past weeks, and to be completely honest I was in a blogging and bookstagramming slump (yes there is such thing), I blame the holiday season. I know we all had that “moment” when all our creative juices seem to fly out of the window, I was having a serious case of it for quite a while, but hey I am back with a blog post! Of course I wouldn’t let the year pass without sharing with you guys my favourite reads of 2016. 2016 was a great reading year for me, I’ve discovered new favorite authors, enjoyed genres I didn’t know I would enjoy and met amazing “bookish” people. It was a year of saying yes to a whole lot of opportunities and discovering myself in the process. It is true what they say, books become part of who we are. And these books truly made a difference in me!

P.S. I did not include poetry books here since I will be making a separate post about it. You can check Top 16 Poetry Books of 2016 here.

Shall we begin?

  1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858 A Little Life took the cake, this is without an iota of doubt my favorite read of 2016. I have not made a review of it, yes, why you ask? I’m afraid I won’t be able to give it the justice it truly deserves. Imagine yourself inside a house on fire, at first you’ll feel the heat, next moment you’re suffocating from the thick smoke, the next thing you know fire is already enveloping you. Pretty morbid comparison, but that’s how it feels to read A Little Life. It will not immediately hurt you, it will happen in such a gradual manner, an emotional torture, a relentless beating, it was such a slow  burn rendering you helpless and emotionally drained. Not that it was a dragging read, it wasn’t, it’s just that you have to feel all of it to fully appreciate the book. This book needs your undivided attention, it may look like it is a tedious job to finish it, but I tell you it is so rewarding you’ll be thanking yourself forever. After reading A Little Life, I feel like I am a different person, I came out maturer and wiser, dare I say. A Little Life is a book that needs to be read even once in a person’s lifetime. Jude’s story may have been hard to digest and at times too much to bear, but you will just automatically be drawn to him just like the proverbial moth to the flame. As Hanya Yanagihara puts it, “Jude’s character is deeply frustrating to read yet easy to write.” I was also happy to have met this amazing author, definitely a highlight of my 2016.

2. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
25883848Just by thinking of this book sends endorphins all over me. I am smiling like a lunatic just by the mention of the name Joshua Templeman. I am so in love with this book, it is already bordering obsession. You can check my full review of the book here.

Sally Thorne reminded me of Sophie Kinsella and Cora Carmack’s writing. She surely knows how to formulate the right words to make a funny, romantic and a total page turner story. I super loved Joshua and Lucy’s banters, and the palpable sexual tension. I loved that it wasn’t just a romantic comedy novel, but also it had depth. Everything was just well played out, it had the perfect amount of drama, romance and fun! I think it is my life mission to shove this book down every person’s throat. I feel sorry for those people who have not read this book yet, I mean guys, what is wrong with you? You’re missing half of your life. Like seriously, go and buy this book now!

3. The Radleys by Matt Haig

41pckvr7bql-_sx324_bo1204203200_The Radleys is a book that completely surprised me. It may have a low rating on Goodreads, but that didn’t stop me from reading this one. The Radleys is my first vampire read, yes you read that right. I was expecting something mediocre and something common, I didn’t expect it to offer something new in the table. But boy, this book surprised me. I may not be a wide vampire book reader, but I know good stuff when I read one, and this book did not disappoint. It was well thought out, the characters are engaging and unique. The back story had me hooked I was flying through the pages and finished it in a day. Matt Haig’s writing style is addictive. He sure as hell gained a fan in me. You can check my full review of the book here

4. The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

girlonthetrain Prepare to hold your breath the last 50 pages or so.  You are in for some mind blowing, heart racing and gasp inducing ride. This book had the perfect amount of suspense and drama. And though this book is constantly compared to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, this book is different and worthy of anyone’s time. It is beautiful and engaging in its own right, and quite frankly I liked this one more than Gone Girl. 

The Girl on The Train‘s twist is something I did not see coming. It was more like an unexpected smack in the face. Paula Hawkins’ talent on trickery and mind fckery is something you sure wouldn’t want to miss. I have not seen the movie but I heard Emily Blunt did a great job portraying the role of Rachel, I think I will watch that after writing this blog entry. You can check my full review of the book here. 

5. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Taylor Jenkins Reid is another new favorite author, and it only takes one book by her to convince me. Maybe In Another Life is a good take on the dilemmas of being an adult, on the struggle of being stuck in a limbo, of being lost in your life or confused as to what you wanted to be. Maybe In Another Life is an affirmation that though life may have played cruel jokes on you, you’ll still end up where you should be – and that you’ll find happiness in it, wherever it may be and whoever it be with. Maybe In Another Life is an unconventional style of story telling, it offers alternate endings, it is like reading two books in one. This is one of the main reasons why this book appealed to me so much. So much so that Taylor Jenkins Reid instantly became a favorite author. You can see my full review of the book here. 

6. The Forbidden by Tabitha Suzama

8349244Forbidden is an incest story, yes, you read that right and no I did not ruin it for you, it is included in the blurb. So don’t go hating on me. And while this book talks about a taboo, it is something so gripping and heartbreaking you couldn’t miss the way the author painted it in such a beautiful and haunting light. This book had me bawling at the wee hours of the night,  it is like my heart was barely surviving. That ending shook me to my core, it was bound to have a heart wrenching ending, but boy I was not prepared for it. Tabitha Suzama’s writing style is unflinchingly beautiful, lyrical and too raw. Maya and Logan’s story is something that would stay in my head for a long time, more like forever. I hope everyone would give this book a try. It was a gamble reading this one, but it was worth taking that risk. It challenged me as a reader and as a person, that at least counts for something. You can check the full review of the book here. 

7. Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

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Renee Carlino is yet another new found favorite author of 2016. I have read three books by her: Swear on This Life, Sweet Thing and Before We Were Strangers. Before We Were Strangers is my ultimate favorite so far. This book is my fantasy put into paper. It is  that one book that had me saying “Damn, I wish I wrote that.”. Before We Were Strangers is a story of missed connections, of second chances and forgiveness, of how great love always finds their way back despite the time and distance. The characters are as flawed and as human as they will ever be, I loved how it felt real. I appreciated that it wasn’t forced or just written for the sake of having a story to publish. The one that got away stories always have a special place in my heart. Gahhh it was just so beautiful. You can check my full review of it here. 

8. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

the_vegetarian_-_han_kangThis book will lure you into this pit of calmness and plunge you into this unsettling abyss that will stay in your head for days, yes days. It is a book you won’t easily forget. It will inhabit your mind like a guest who has overstayed their welcome. – An excerpt of my review that you can check out here.

The Vegetarian is another book that left me in such a daze. It was different from all I have read before. This book was a good take on the topic of mental illness. Lyrical and haunting. Han Kang’s writing style is on point yet had that power of plaguing your mind like it was an unresolved mystery. Fans of Haruki Murakami will surely enjoy Han Kang’s book. It gave off the same vibe as that of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood.

9. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

16122081While historical fiction isn’t my cup of tea, Burial Rites  made me want to try more books under this genre. I thought I would be struggling finishing this one but Hannah Kent’s writing style proved to be something so engaging and enthralling that I couldn’t help but devour the book in a much shorter span of time that what I have anticipated.

Burial Rites is a well researched masterpiece. You will appreciate the author’s hard work and effort in coming up with such brilliant narration of the life of woman accused of murder and her subsequent execution as well as the story that surrounded it. It was written in such a way that was powerful yet gentle. Agnes’ character will simply grow in you, and you’ll develop a sense of empathy. Reading this book will make you think that this isn’t the first book of the author, it was so beautifully written you could very well tell that the author had a long experience writing novels, but no, this book is Hannah Kent’s first novel and it was amazing. Nothing short of perfect to me. Imagine if she has more books under her belt, imagine how much beautiful her books could get. We are in for some huge treat! Hannah Kent sure is an author to watch out for. You can check my full review of the book here. 

10. Kyland by Mia Sheridan

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Mia Sheridan has been a household name when it comes to New Adult books. I have heard so many great things about her that it is just natural to read one of her works. And boy I was not disappointed. Now I know why Mia Sheridan is loved by many. Kyland has just solidified that. Kyland is not just a love story, it was so much more! It was about two people who tried to make ends meet despite the struggles they face day in and day out. It was about sacrifices and choosing the happiness of the other over yours. Kyland ripped my heart out, I think I have cried a week’s worth of tears over this book. I had to stop in between chapters since I literally can’t deal with all the pain I was feeling. To say this broke my heart into tiny million pieces would have been the understatement of the year. You can check my full review here. 

11. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

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This is now included in my favorite books of all time list! I swear Chuck Palahniuk is a genius for writing such ridiculously good novel. It was so twisted yet so profound at the same time. It is the kind of book that will have you pondering on life and the grandness of it all. It may be considered as something “too masculine” yet I am still enamored by how it was conjured, of how everything unfolded. That twist made my jaw drop! I have not watched the movie so I had zero idea of what’s to go down, and boy that was some serious stuff. It was so good I was left in awe. And while it may be short, it was definitely a book that packed a punch (haha pun intended). You can check my full review of the book here. 

12. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Should I even bother explain why this book made it to my list? This is a no-brainer. But let me state three reasons why I loved this book. First, it tackles something so profound, something larger than life. It was thought-provoking at best. Second, it wasn’t just a love story, it wasn’t just about two people falling helplessly in love with each other – it was unconventional, poignant yet still captivating. And lastly, it will rip your heart out, you’ll cry buckets, o boy yes you will, and as if your heart can’t take anymore beating it will happen all over again. It was the kind of cycle you’ll be willing to participate. And though there are some issues surrounding this book, I still think that it was well played out, it was written in a such a way that you would understand the choices that characters made. You can check my full review of the book here. 

13. Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

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Of course this blog entry wouldn’t be complete without this book. Finishing this book is an accomplishment! I think it is already an established fact that I am a huge fan of the TV Series, and because I wanted to understand it more, I have vowed to read all the books, and 2016 was the year I started. I may be taking a really long time to read all the books, but everything is worth it. It wasn’t called a hit for nothing, and I tell you the book is always better. George RR Martin’s writing prowess is quite like no other, how could such a man think of all these convoluted plot lines, only a genius could do that, and George RR Martin sure is one hell of a genius writer!

14. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 

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It was about damn time to read this book, and I did just that in 2016. I know I am late in the bandwagon, but still here I am. It is true that the word depressing doesn’t even begin to cover this book. It was a good take on the topic of depression. Esther’s character is relatable in more ways than one. You will feel her underneath your skin, it is as of you are the one experiencing everything that she has been going through. It was a perfect depiction of someone spiraling into the pits of depression, and while it is a sad read, it was also powerful and compelling. You can check my full review here.

15. The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

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The Pirate’s Wish is definitely a great conclusion to this duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke. You can check my full review of Assassin’s Curse here.. While Assassin’s Curse  didn’t quite live up to my expectation, as I had a lot of issues surrounding the characters and the character build up, The Pirate’s Wish definitely made up for it. In the second book, everything became coherent, there was also a huge improvement on the characters. I devoured the pages like it is nobody’s business. I highly enjoyed the world building. Cassandra Rose Clarke is definitely someone to watch out for. Can’t wait to read more of her works. You can check my full review of the book here. 

16. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

27362503Last but definitely not the least, It Ends With Us. This book!!! I know not all people loved this book. It was the kind of story that people will either hate so profoundly or love it with all their heart, I am part of the latter. This book is the Colleen Hoover I fell in love with. Colleen Hoover was bold and brave in writing this story. There is something commendable on how the book turned out. When it comes to Colleen Hoover books, always expect the worst, wait for the other shoe to drop – but even then, even when you thought you are prepared for all the emotional beating it will still be a shocking and ultimately heartbreaking revelation. This book needs to be read because this book encapsulated something so precious and powerful you have to share it to the world. Just be warned though, I believe this caters more to adult readers as it talks about sensitive topics. You can check my full review here. 

So there you have it guys! Thank you for sticking around this 2016 and tolerating my sometimes lack of creativity and my incessant fangirling. Here’s to hoping 2017 will be kinder to all of us and to hoping we could take down our TBRs! Haha happy new year and have a blessed year ahead!

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Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads:  The compulsively readable #1 New York Times bestseller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

EVERY DAY THE SAME
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.
UNTIL TODAY
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 goes to the police. But is she as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangle not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

“Nothing is more addicting than The Girl on the Train.” —Vanity Fair.

“The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl… [It] is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership.” —The New York Times.

“Marries movie noir with novelistic trickery… Hang on tight. You’ll be surprised by what horrors lurk around the bend.” —USA Today.

PAULA HAWKINS worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in London. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.

Date Published: January 2015

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Date Read:

No. of Pages: 478

Edition: Mass Market PaperBack

Source: Fully Booked

Setting: Euston, London

 

REVIEW

THIS MAY SOUND A CLICHE BUT I SERIOUSLY HELD MY BREATH THE LAST 50 PAGES

I have a few experience with mystery/thriller so whenever I come across one, I don’t know if I was just being easy to please or the story was really good to warrant such reaction from me.  I know a lot of people has been saying that Girl On The Train is just another second rate version of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which I have read some three years ago. I was one of them, operative here word: was. I easily dismissed this book the first time it came out, Gone Girl has been a favorite book, and having heard of the premise of Girl on The Train made me a little unsure if I would read it or not. While it is true that there is the element of Gone Girl to it, with a girl missing and an unexpected twist, one cannot help to compare, it is inevitable.  But then Girl on The Train have proven itself to be worthy, it also had its own uniqueness, if only you detach yourself from Gone Girl and see Girl on the Train as it is – just what I did. It would be unfair to this book if we see it as just a second rate version of popular one right? I believe, each book has a right to be read once and not have preconceived notions about it. Read first and then judge, I think that’s how it is supposed to go. So my advice is, give this book a try, yes even if you loved Gone Girl with all your murder-mystery-thriller-loving heart.

 I am always drawn to books with unconventional and dysfunctional marriage as its plotline, it is not what we are accustomed to seeing, well at least on my part, maybe that’s why it appealed to me so much. I do understand, however, that this book isn’t exactly for everyone, either you hate it or you love it, there’s no exactly in between.Unreliable narrator is always a hit or miss for me. The Girl on The Train is hitting it where it should. I loved how Rachel’s character is portrayed, you somehow empathize with her and at the same time suspicious of her actions. You are blindsided and then bam! I loved how everything and everyone are connected paving a way into this complicated scenario that will grip you more than you can possibly allow it to. Girl on The Train had proven itself to be something engaging and beautiful on its own. Paula Hawkins had an incredible talent of trickery, toying people’s mind, shaping their heads to believe in something and then end up presenting something else entirely. I had my suspicion already, and I was 80% sure who it was, but then bam, just like a smack in the face, I didn’t see it coming! It was concocted in such a clever way, much like you didn’t know what hit you until it’s too late.

This book covered a lot of topics that are fully relatable – alcoholism, failed marriages, domestic abuse, a lost career and so on and so forth, though one may not have undergone same extent, but there was sense or element of reality to it that one could not simply miss. No wonder it easily made itself as a best-selling book in a short span of time after its release. Though the book, started off a little slow, the half part definitely made up for it. It was written in such a way that it was easy to grasp and easy to weave in and out of. It was the kind of book that will pull you in, as though time had little importance. It was worth losing sleep over. Once you’ve reached the last 100 pages or so, you have to finish it, no matter what the time was. 3 am? It’s nothing but a little sacrifice, finishing this book is rewarding and satisfying, you can’t just choose sleep forestalling the inevitable end. Nope, that’s not how it’s going to work with this book, it demands your time and you will gladly succumb. No questions asked. It has been a while since that happened to me, more often than not, I always choose sleep over anything else, yep even if I only have 50 pages left, sleep always wins. Well, this book was obviously an exception. And I have no regrets.

Writing this review is proven to be harder than I thought, I wanted to give it justice, but I feel like I am coming short. I just hope I could persuade even a single soul to read this book. And oh, just a tip, please don’t watch the trailer or the movie before reading this,  I think it goes without saying, but then there are people, (me, sometimes) who will go watch, at least the trailer first, before reading the book. For the love of everything that is holy, don’t do that or else you’ll spoil yourself big time!  I have read this one a few days before it hits movie theaters, and I was so great at stopping the urge to watch the trailer. Looking back, had I watched the trailer, I wouldn’t rate the book just the same.

 

Rating: rating_5stars

“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps”
Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

 

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Between Here and The Horizon by Callie Hart: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: “You think you know me. You think you want to know me. But trust me, Miss Lang. Pursuing me will be the worst mistake you ever make. I’m broken beyond repair…


…and I take great pleasure in breaking everyone else around me.”

Ophelia Lang needs money, and she needs it bad. Her parent’s restaurant is going under, and ever since she lost her job teaching third grade elementary, scraping enough cash together to pay the bills has proven almost impossible. Her parents are on the brink of losing their home. The vultures are circling overhead. So when Ophelia is offered an interview for a well-paid private tutoring gig in New York, how can she possibly say no?

Ronan Fletcher is far from the overweight, balding businessman Ophelia expected him to be. He’s young, handsome, and wealthy beyond all reason. He’s also perhaps the coldest, rudest person she’s ever met, and has a mean streak in him a mile and a half wide. A hundred grand is a lot of money, however, and if tolerating his frosty temperament, his erratic mood swings and whatever else he throws at her means she’ll get paid, then that is what Ophelia will do.

Her new boss is keeping secrets, though. Awful, terrible secrets.

The ghosts of Ronan Fletcher’s past are about to turn Ophelia’s future upside down, and she can’t even see it coming.

Note: Between Here and The Horizon is a brand new standalone contemporary romance novel from USA Today bestselling author, Callie Hart. Between Here and the Horizon does contain some scenes of violence and sexual content, and so is directed at audience 18+

Date Published: October 18, 2016

Date Read: October 23, 2016

Source: Kindle Edition

Setting: The Causeway, Maine

 

REVIEW

This book is anything but a typical romance novel. 

Who puts a shocking twist in the first 20% of a book? Apparently this author. To be completely honest I was about to DNF this one, it felt like I’m not going to enjoy it or I need to read other books that are more to my liking and more of something I was in the mood for. I was in the mood for romance novels, and upon seeing that this book fell under that category plus look at that gorgeous cover, I started it immediately. But as I’ve mentioned, the first few chapters proved to be hard to get into, I couldn’t see where the romance will come in or how it will play out, but then after that shocking twist, I knew I had to continue or it will forever haunt me. And so here I am, writing this review. The first tip is, be patient with this one, I swear it gets better. It just needs some getting used to, but once you’ve moved past the hard parts, it will be rewarding. Trust me on this.

The ghosts of Ronan Fletcher’s past are about to turn Ophelia’s future upside down, and she can’t even see it coming.

That part of the blurb, OH MY GOD, it foreshadowed what’s about to happen! And yep, no one saw that coming! I was at a public transportation when I reached that part and it was so hard to contain my shock. This is the internal struggle of a reader, everyone is going through the notions of their own lives and there I was battling with all the emotions I am struggling to contain inside me. And I tell you, it ain’t easy.

Writing this review is harder than I thought. I want to tell you about the goodness of this book but how can I when I can’t tell you who ends up with who and what happens to this and that. Okayyy. How do I go about this without spoiling something? I guess I would have to be as vague as possible. So please bear with me on this one. I just don’t like to kill the mood for you by accidentally revealing a major plot twist, I will do the best I can to give you a somewhat good review, despite me going around the bush.

This book had the mystery/thriller element to it that made it different from a lot of romance novels out there. It wasn’t what you are expecting. It will continually surprise you until the very end. This is the reason why I enjoyed this book so much, there was the element of surprise, the readers are constantly guessing what will happen, conjuring up theories as to where will the story might lead, and then everything will not go the way they imagined it to. It was hard to pull off something like it but Callie Hart made it look effortless. This is the first book I have read by her, and to say that I am missing out would be an understatement. If all her books were as shocking and as unique as this, then count me in. And my favorite thing in the world, MILITARY men! Haha I don’t know what is it with stories about military men, but I love reading books about them!

So if you like:

Brooding and angsty male protagonist with a soft side deep down the recesses of his being

A strong female protagonist who takes no shit from anybody

Steamy steamy moments (Oh boy)

A shocking twist

Coherence of story from the prologue down to the last page

The search is over, you have found your match! This book is definitely for you!

I appreciated the coherence of the story, from the prologue, which had set the perfect mood but did not give anything away, down to the last chapter where everything made complete sense. It was the kind of book that will leave you in awe. The book was well thought-out, save for the few issues I have, all in all, it was an amazing read. I couldn’t wait to start yet another book by her and see where Callie Hart’s imagination will take me!

 

 

RATING: rating_4stars

“He was a man possessed. I was a woman lost. Together, we were two halves of something fragile and delicate, beautiful in its complexity.”

Callie Hart, Between Here and the Horizon

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Just A Kiss by Denise Hunter: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads:   Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.

Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.

But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.

Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.

As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

Publisher: Smith Publicity Inc.

Date Published: September 6, 2016

Date Read: October 13, 2016

Source: Advanced Reader Copy provided by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Setting: Summer Harbor, Maine

REVIEW

The publisher provided me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much, Smith Publicity Inc.

I think this is my first Christian Contemporary Romance, I’ve been raking my brains out to remember if I have read one before but came up empty. Maybe I have read some before, I just don’t remember them. It happens, right? Anyways, so yes I’m gonna claim this as my first Christian Contemporary Romance. Just A Kiss is the third book in the Summer Harbor Series, but it is a stand alone – which I appreciate a lot. I’m not a huge series fan lately for multitudes of reasons, the number one being: I just don’t have the time to invest in a series now. So when Smith Publicity Inc. contacted me and explained that Just A Kiss can be read on its own, I immediately agreed. But the main reason why I agreed to review a copy is because the male protagonist is a Marine. If you have known me for quite a while, you’ll understand my obsession about marines in books.I don’t really know what is it about marines that I love so much, but I immensely enjoy reading about them. Gahhhh it is so hard to explain. Maybe because they start off as brooding men but definitely has a soft side.

I love stories about best friends turning into lovers. There’s nothing more satisfying than that. I am always such a sucker for these kinds of books, so much so that I have drafted bazillion stories like it, in the hopes of having it published someday. That’s for another time, you are here for my review right? Haha I always get sidetracked. Okay, so on to Just A Kiss. Have you watched Hallmark movies? So for those who aren’t aware of Hallmark movies, these are cutesy, heartwarming, and just ohhh so good and decent if I may add, romance films.  Just A Kiss is a Hallmark movie in book form. Am I making any sense? It was cute, heartwarming, so so good and very decent. What more could one possibly ask for? Just A Kiss is the perfect mixture of self-discovery, resilience, regrets, tragedy, self-acceptance, second chances, love and all the emotional excitement that goes with it. I loved how the story was as real as it could get.

In Just A Kiss we follow the story of Riley and Paige, who are best friends. Riley has been harboring feelings for Paige for a long time.While Riley and Paige dance around, refusing to acknowledge what they feel for each other, it is kind of nice to look forward to how all will unfold and how both of them will find out their true feelings for each other, it is as if you feel for them, root for them to end up together once and for all. And when that moment finally arrived, it was nothing short of perfect. I loved how everything unfolded, how they ease into each other’s lives like they were born to do just that. But of course there had to be some setbacks, and I appreciate that it was well played out, there was just the right drama that surrounded it and the perfect resolution to the whole story. It was a feel good at best, and I have found a go-to author for whenever I want to read some heartwarming stories with a good lesson or two.

So if you are a new Denise Hunter fan just like me, or just looking for a good romance, then this book is the answer. I loved how it made me feel, like everything in the world is right again! Can’t wait to read more of her books!

Rating: rating_4stars

Maybe he’ll come around, and maybe he won’t. But if there’s anything I’ve learned  in all these years it’s that you can’t contol someone else. You can only control yourself – on a good day. You need to find something productive to keeo your mind busy. Focus on you. On being the best that you can be.

– Just A Kiss; Denise Hunter

 

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November 9 by Colleen Hoover: Book Review

Synopsis from GoodreadsBeloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist

Publisher:  Atria Books

Date Published: November 10, 2015

Date Read: October 19, 2016

Source/Format: Kindle edition

Setting: Los Angeles

REVIEW

NEVER HAVE I BEEN SO CONFLICTED OVER A BOOK UNTIL NOVEMBER 9.

It’s true, it was so hard to rate this one. It feels like I am still going to change my mind in the future, but for now, let’s settle with a 2- star rating. My mind and my heart are at war with each other right now, my feelings dictate to love this book despite its many flaws, but my mind knows logic. And this time I am choosing logic over feelings, because at this point I am after the substance of the book, rather than how it made me feel – this book made me feel plethora of emotions, alright, but I can’t go on basing my thoughts on feelings alone right? Past 50% of the book I was so sure to give it 5 stars, then came 75% and my excitement is waning down, then onto 82% and it lost me completely.

Let me first tell you what I loved about it, I don’t want this review to sound like a rant. There is definitely something I like about it, so let me discuss it before I go full rant mode. First, I loved the concept of Ben and Fallon meeting every November 9th. It was yes like One Day but as Ben puts it, theirs was unique one, and I have to give Colleen Hoover props for it. It was sure a great concept, I sure would love to read something more like this. And the writing style is good too, well I think that’s an established fact when it comes to Colleen Hoover books. She sure knows where to hit the right spot. Her writing style is addictive and many can attest to that, myself included. I always loved the concept of writers as characters in books, there’s always something comforting about it, and I sure as hell loved Ben The Writer the first half of the book, I mean what is not to love? He was funny, smart, adorable and just perfect. But I never learn with CoHo books.There is always a catch. Always.

This is the fourth book I have read by her. First was Hopeless, Maybe Someday, It Ends With Us and then November9. I’m not one to tell that this book was the least of what she has written, but it definitely didn’t quite match the three books I have read, I might be on the minority side on this one, but I’ll say my piece. What irked me was the fact that this book pushed it a little too far, so much so that it was almost cringe-worthy. I mean I know it is a work of fiction, but I longed for that modicum or element of reality in the books I read, something one could at least relate to. This book fell short in that category. If anything, reading November9 is like watching a daytime drama – yes it was that dramatic and too unrealistic, too over the top, but ultimately something people can’t get enough of. I guess it was trying to make an impact, that whoa factor, that gasp-inducing  moment, that smack-in-the-face-before-you-can-register-what-just-happened, it did. But it didn’t work for me, it was just too much. I fell in love hard and fast with the first few chapters and that same love was gone just as fast. Gone before I could acknowledge it, gone before I could savor it. It was easy to love this book, and I understand those who do, I really do, because at one point in this book I saw myself loving it too. Maybe if the book ended at 75% or without that terrible twist, I would have loved it. But no, there has to be this devastating twist, which ruined everything for me. The deception was painted in a romantic way, it is as if in doing so, it was justified. It was so wrong on so many levels. What Ben did, was just wrong and the explanation that came looked like a mere after-thought – again to justify the deception and manipulation (for lack of a better term). And how it was so easy for Fallon to just accept it, damn girl, your mother taught you better than that!

And did I mention how sooooo cheesy most of the parts were? If you know me long enough, you probably would know that I love cheesy and all that mushy things in a book, well November9 took it to the moon, like wayyyy up there, that it is not even sweet anymore it is bordering creepy and obsessive, which, no thanks, I’ll pass up. Plus this book was made for it to be liked by readers, you don’t get what I’m saying? Let me put it this way, Fallon is a wide romance-reader, which we all are here, if you have read Colleen Hoover books, then it is safe to assume you love the genre, right? Because what the hell are you doing here if you’re not into romance novels. Anyway, so she’s a sucker for romance novels, in romance novels, there are, book-boyfriends, book worthy kisses, angst, alpha-males, and all that jazz. This book tried to incorporate all these things here. It was trying to lure readers into liking it, at first it worked on me, but then it got old and nope, just stop it. I don’t know if I was able to explain that clearly, but I couldn’t give out spoilers okay. So I guess you have to see it for yourself.

So there, I have to stop now. If you want to give this book a try, go ahead, maybe you could appreciate it more than I did, and that’s really good. Maybe I missed out on the message the book was trying to send across, or maybe it was just a case of bad timing. I don’t know. I finished the book, so I think that’s good enough. Will this book tarnish the love I have for Colleen Hoover? Definitely not, we have our favorite authors, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that we have to love everything they have written. So which one should I read next?

Reviews are reviews, they are opinions of the readers, which more often than not are always at opposites with each other, I respect the ones who loved it, good for you. But also you have to respect those who didn’t. So let’s just enjoy reading and be nice to each other!

RATING: rating_2stars

“She “loved me” in quotations

She kissed me in bold

I TRIED TO KEEP HER in all caps

She left with an ellipsis . . .”
Colleen Hoover, November 9