The Girl On The Train: An Audiobook Review

the girl on the train book cover

Unabridged (10 hours and 59 minutes)

Author: Paula Hawkins

Narration: Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Release Date: 1-13-15

Publisher: Penguin Audio

Rating: 3-Star

Listened: April, 2015

From Audible:Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

The Girl on The Train is Paula Hawkins’ debut novel, and it is told from the perspective of three different women. The book starts with the main character, Rachel, a lonely alcoholic divorcee who takes the train to London everyday in order to conceal from her roommate the fact she was fired months prior.

The book is also narrated by three actresses, which allowed for differentiation between the characters. This novel was the third audiobook that I felt compelled to write a review. I knew about the buzz surrounding the book, and purposefully avoided reading other reviews.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the narrative. I thought the story was suspenseful and interesting. None of the women in the book are particularly likable, but in this book, I took that to be a plus. None of the three characters were reliable witnesses, and you get the sense after a few chapters that their lives will intertwine somehow.

The narration of the book was a bit dull and monotone, but it worked! It captured the vibe of the story. The only reason I’m giving this book a 3-Star review is the fact that I had the plot figured out several chapters before the end of the book. I felt that Hawkins perhaps gave too many clues that easily led to the conclusion of the book. I definitely recommend this audiobook and I look forward to her next novels.

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3 star

The Creative Blogger Award

creative-blogger-awardWow! That’s twice in a week! I’m very happy to have received another award. Thank you Trifuioana from Reviews by Jo for the nomination.

Being nominated is always a pleasant experience, however, I will skip the part where I write 5 facts about myself. I have been recently nominated for the Liebster Award where I listed my 11 random facts.

There are many blogs I follow that I feel are great examples of what a creative blog should look like, and many already have this award. Please disregard if you’ve been previously nominated and thank you 🙂

Here is my selection:

Review: Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot

Book Cover

Title: Truly, Madly, Greekly

Author: Mandy Baggot

Pages: 331

Genre: Chick Lit/Romance

ISBN: 9781909490994

Publisher: Bookouture

Rating: 4-Star

Read: April 16,2015-April 18, 2015

Sun, sea and a sexy stranger – a whole lot of fun just got a lot more complicated…

Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart.

But letting go of her past is not going to be easy. With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist. But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Lacey is planning a wedding in the beautiful island of Corfu and brings her older sister Ellen along for the ride. The Blue Vue Hotel is an all-inclusive resort in the Greek Island of Corfu, in the Ionian Sea, surrounded by the Albanian Mountains. What the girls were not expecting was the other perks that came with the package. Yan and Sergei are two dazzling handsome and sexy guys who run the animation team of the hotel. Soon the sisters were carried away from their original plans to embark on an adventure that neither one was ever expecting.

This was my first book by author Mandy Baggot, and I have to say, WOW, I loved her style! This book is a great spring/summer read, with just the right amount of fun, romance and adventure. It was such a change of pace for me. After reading deeper and serious topics found on my other reviews: Ruby and I Am Forbidden; I truly, madly, loved this book. I’m looking forward to reading more books from this author.

I would like to thank Bookouture and Netgalley for allowing me to read an early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on May 22, 2015.

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5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Review: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ruby

Title: Ruby

Author: Cynthia Bond

Pages: 368

Genre: Fiction/Literary

ISBN: 978-0-8041-8824-1

Publisher: Hogarth

Rating: 2-Stars

Read: April 8, 2015 – April 16, 2015.

“Hell ain’t nothing strange when Colored go crazy. Strange is when we don’t.”

The debut novel by Cynthia Bond takes place in Liberty, Texas. It’s the story of Ruby Bell and Ephram Jennings, who has been in love with Ruby since they were children, and has never forgotten the girl with long braids running though the piney woods. “Ruby was the kind of pretty it hurt to look at, like candy on a sore tooth.” The book starts when Ruby returns to Liberty after having lived a few years in New York. Ruby has long been considered the town whore used by the town’s men and ignored and shunned by the town’s women. Kind-hearted Ephram never left liberty and lived all his life with his pious and controlling sister Celia. The book switches back and forth between when they were children and the haunting memories of that time, and the present and the chance of reacquainting with each other.

I have very mixed feelings about this novel, and I had a real hard time finishing this book. I’m writing a review because there were aspects of this book that I liked very much. Cynthia’s prose is poetic and lyrical. Her vernacular is vivid, bringing her characters to life.

“She felt a thousand lavender flowers erupting from the edges of her fingers. She felt them playing a delicious melody that scented the wind and called striped bees and hummingbirds…”

“…For the next weeks Ruby walked through the Big Thicket, becoming. The loose black clusters of muscadine grapes on the vine. The egg-shaped seeded maypop fruit. Pecan trees, horsemint, stones and mud puddles.”

But unfortunately, there were also many aspects I didn’t care about this book. The excessive accounts of violence, rape, pedophilia and sexual abuse against children (boys and girls) were very difficult and disturbing to read. I would not recommend this book to the more sensitive readers.

Ruby is a story about love, redemption, social issues and racism at its worst form.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

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2 star

The Liebster Award

liebster-award-logo

Oh, wow! I’m so honored to have been nominated for this award. I’ve just started my blog and I’m so excited to have been chosen by Plandy1980 from Honeybear books. Thank you so much for your kindness!

The Liebster award is a chain award that was created by bloggers and is a tradition to make new friends in the blogging community.

Here’s how it works:

– Link back to the person who nominated you
– Give 11 random facts about yourself
– Answer 11 questions from your nominator
– Nominate 11 new and obscure bloggers
– Come up with 11 questions for them to answer
– Inform your nominees

11 Random Facts:

  • I was born in South America
  • I’m actually a full-time nurse
  • I have 2 kids, 1 dog, and 1 cat
  • I love to travel as much as to read
  • I have a type A personality
  • I’m a Vegetarian Ⓥ
  • I speak 3 languages
  • I abhor doing laundry — No! Actually, I hate putting clothes away
  • I love to knit, paint and photograph
  • I’m a morning person
  • I don’t like to choose. I have a hard time choosing favorite food, favorite color, favorite author…

Questions from my nominator:

What book genre do you prefer above all others?

Fiction

What author would be your best friend?

I’m in love with with Liane Moriarty right now. Her sense of humor is fanstastic. She is witty and fun. I think she would be a great friend.

Physical book or Ereader?

I read both, as well as listen to audiobooks, but I’m a traditional type of gal and I love the smell of books.

A place you’d love to travel to?

Paris, in a heartbeat.

Your favorite vacation spot?

Majorca, Spain.

If you could have dinner with any author. Who would it be?

Stephen King.

Your favorite book character?

Ah, that’s a hard one! I love strong female characters. I have to say my very first heroine was Elizabeth Bennet.

Do you have any bookish habits?

  • I smell my books
  • I don’t dog ear
  • I read multiple books at a time
  • I don’t usually lend my books

Your favorite time of the day?

Sunrise.

Have you read anything recently by an author that’s new to you?

Plenty.

Why did you start a blog?

To share my reviews. To have an excuse to read even more books than I already do. 🙂

The blogs I nominate:

Questions for my nominees:

  • Have you read any books recently by an author whose new to you?
  • Is there a single item, a treasured possession that you never leave the house without?
  • The typical physical book vs ebook vs audio book debate, which do you prefer?
  • What is one place you’ve always wanted to travel to? (This can either be a fictional or non-fictional place)
  •  Favorite quote from a book you’ve read recently
  •  Which book genre do you prefer above all others?
  •  Which author would be your best friend?
  •  If you could pick an era to live in which one would you choose?
  •  Do you have any bookish habits?
  •  How do you organize your books?
  •  Who is your favorite book character and why?

I Am Forbidden: A Novel – An Audiobook Review

I Am Forbidden

 

 

Unabridged ( 7 hours and 17 minutes)

Author: Anouk Markovits

Narration: Rosalyn Landor

Release Date: 05-08-12

Publisher: Random House Audio

Rating: 3-stars

Listened: April 12, 2015- April 14, 2015

From Audible: Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them… As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters make force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.

The world of the Hasidic community is completely unknown to me. Yes, I have been to Israel, and yes, I have many Jewish friends, but when I came across this title I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn more about the exotic lives of those men and women.

I Am Forbidden is a cultural journey that follows three generations of a Hasidic Jewish family from Romania to the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg, NY. The novel focuses on the Satmar community, the most insular of the Hasidic sect and the lives of Joseph, a boy raised by a Catholic Romanian, Mila who is adopted by the family of the Rebbe Zalman Stern, and Atara–Mila’s adopted sister.

Atara and Mila form a close bond, but when Atara starts to question the laws of Hasidic Judaism, Mila is forced to distance herself from her. Mila and Joseph eventually marry and move to Williamsburg. Mila makes a decision that her community sees as a grave sin, and the consequences of her actions will follow generations to come.

The meaningful themes of this novel include the writing, which has moments of pure beauty, the cultural insights, and characters vividly portrayed. Although I am Forbidden is not an uplifting story, I would definitely recommend this book even if you are not interested in Hasidism simply for the beautiful love story filled with biblical imagery, and for the beautiful narration. Rosalyn Landor’s haunting voice gives this novel the perfect tone.

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3 star

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies Photo

Title: Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarty

Pages: 480

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

ISBN-13: 9780399167065

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Rating: 4-stars

Read: April, 2015 – I own a copy.

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . .  A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?”

Set in suburban Australia, Big Little Lies is the fifth book of bestseller author Liane Moriarty. It follows the lives of three women, their struggles, and events that lead to a death at Pirriwee Public School trivia night.

The book follows these three different women as they meet at a kindergarten orientation at school. Madeline, who’s just turned forty, and her daughter Chloe. The young and single mother Jane, who had recently moved to Pirriwee beach with her son Ziggy; and the beautiful Celeste with her twins Max and Josh.

When Jane’s five-year-old son Ziggy is accused of choking and bullying another child, some of the parents immediately take a stand against the boy triggering hysteria and a series of playground politics and drama.

What I absolutely loved about this book was how easily Moriarty weaved the lives of these complex characters and tackled hard topics such as murder, bullying, infidelity, domestic abuse, and violence against women in a humorous and fun way, but without ever losing the severity of these social issues. She managed to write an extremely well plotted and engrossing story. I simply could not put this book down. It kept me up till late hours of the night dying to get to the end of the book, not so much to find out who did it, but who dies?

I laughed; I cried; and now I’m very sad that it ended. Oh calamity…

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5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

On Reading the Tough Stuff

Brilliant and well written. Reflections On Reading the Tough Stuff.

Book Guy Reviews

There are two reasons we read: to entertain, and to educate. I understand the generalization, but most, if not all motivations behind reading can adequately be loped into one category or the other.

Let me just say that reading for pleasure is my bread and butter. I do it everyday. I love Dan Brown, and Harry Potter. I read Stephen King, not for its artistic merit or intellectual weight, but for its gruesome plot lines and staggeringly detailed worlds. It’s bloody and explosive and awesome, and I love it. I’ll say the same for Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and the smattering of other best-sellers I consume. They’re wonderful pieces of escapism, but just that–nothing more.

72_1By the same token, reading for inspiration and enlightenment is equally important in our quest for knowledge. We should try to read the histories, biographies, essays, and fictions of the thoughtful and profound, in attempt to intersperse escapism with…

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The Goldfinch-An Audiobook Review

goldfinch

Unabridged (32 hours and 29 min)

Author: Donna Tartt

Narrated by: David Pittu

Rating: 3-stars

Listened: April 1, 2015-April 7, 2015

About 3 months ago, a friend persuaded me to start listening to audiobooks. In all  fairness, in the beginning I was a bit reluctant. My experiences with audiobooks were lukewarm at best. I found that I would get distracted half-way through the narration and would end up having to go back and re-listen to an entire segment because I spaced out.

So when about a few weeks ago I started a membership with audible, The Goldfinch was one of the first titles to grab my attention. The Goldfinch had already been in my TBR list for quite sometime, and I had plans to read it, but since I was already reading another book, and I had a five-hour trip to California; I decided to give the audiobook version a try and here are my thoughts.

From audible: The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

I have to say that I was extremely excited about this book. There was so much buzz about it and the synopsis sounded very promising. This was my first audiobook and what I really enjoyed about this book was David Pittu’s narration. Pittu does a fantastic job narrating in different accents and voices ranging from teens to young adults. This was a very long book both to read as well as to listen. I’m more accustomed to reading seven hundred or so pages, versus listening to a thirty-two plus hour audiobook.

I would recommend this audiobook despite the fact that the book fell a bit short of my expectations. Especially after having read all the raving reviews, and indeed Donna’s prose is beautiful, but too wordy. You can easily fast-forward the last two hours of the book. The dialogue with Theo by himself in a room in Amsterdam felt interminable. The characters were rich and compelling, but Boris, the Russian friend, was a richer character than Theo–in my opinion.

I believe that this book could have removed a good two hundred pages and it would still have been an extremely compelling novel. As for the audiobook, thanks to the excellent narration by David Pittu my trip to California was an audible delight.

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3 star

Review: The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

The Daughter

Title: The Daughter

Author: Jane Shemilt

Pages: 352

Genre: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Rating: 3-Stars

Read: March 3, 2015-March 10, 2015 – I own a copy.

Jenny is a successful family doctor in England, who seems to have everything, a perfect job, perfect marriage, and the perfect family. When Jenny’s fifteen-year-old doesn’t return home after a school play, Jenny’s life starts to crumble. Naomi seems to have vanished, and the authorities have no clue how to find her. As the weeks and months after Naomi’s disappearance go by, Jenny starts to discover information that shows a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.

My thoughts: 

The Daughter is Jane Shemilt’s debut novel, and for a first novel it did not disappoint. While the book was a suspenseful page-turner that kept me up until late hours of the night, there were a few problems for me. The flow of the narrative was not continuous. Shemilt switched back and forth between the days/weeks leading up to the daughter’s disappearance to a year after her disappearance. My problem with that type of narrative structure was the fact that all the leads and suspects that you learned about in the days and weeks coming up to the disappearance, if they were still present in the novel a year later, then you knew they probably weren’t involved in the disappearance, so that broke the flow of suspense to me. Although I enjoyed the book, I did not really like any of the characters and could not truly sympathize with any of them. I couldn’t stand the mother’s naiveté about her children’s lives to the point of denial. The father’s cold and detached personality, and the twin brothers’ rich and spoiled behavior. As for Naomi, we only get to know her initially by Jenny’s eyes, and obviously the mother was oblivious to Naomi’s lifestyle and affairs. Naomi being such a central character was never truly developed, and her actions at the end of the book seemed random, leaving the reader begging for more explanations. The daughter is a novel that ponders on topics of betrayal, guilt, truth and family, and asks the question: “Can we have extremely busy careers and still be truly involved in our families’ lives?

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3 star