The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. 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 really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

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I have a weird OCD habit where I have to mark off where halfway is in the book I’m reading. I really don’t know why I’m so compelled. It usually doesn’t create an issue, except in this case where it revealed the fate of a character. And knowing the fate of that character without any context made me suspect all along that they were the one responsible for Megan’s disappearance. And sadly I was right. So most people talk about the big twist in this book, but for me, it wasn’t really a twist because I was already suspecting that.

Still, this was a great book. I read so much and so often that it really takes a lot for me to have that craving to finish a book. Because 99% of the time I read every night before bed even if it’s just a few pages. So since I know when I get to read the book next, the intervening time doesn’t bother me so much. But with this one it did. When I got to the middle of the book, I was irritated that I had to go to bed because I had work the next day. And then all day long I couldn’t wait to get home and read the rest of the book.

The concept of this thriller was unique in my opinion…Rachel, the narrator, riding the train back and forth to London and observing the people who live in this house. Until one day she sees something bad.

Rachel was a character I wanted to reach into the book and shake. An alcoholic and a person who has trouble leaving things alone, I constantly wanted to yell at her for being stupid. But she didn’t bother me all that much.

I liked that there were actually three narrators for this novel and all of them were women: Rachel, Megan, and Anna. And the three narratives work together to cast suspicion, remove suspicion, cast suspicion, and ultimately reveal the true suspect at the center of the investigation.

I’m planning to see the movie soon. I think Emily Blunt is a good choice for Rachel. Emily is pretty, but in a sort of unconventional way and she has a mournful face that is a good choice to play an alcoholic. I’m not familiar with the other actors and actresses, but am looking forward to seeing how this book was translated to film.

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Crimson Shore

By Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

A secret chamber.

A mysterious shipwreck.

A murder in the desolate salt marshes.

A seemingly straightforward private case turns out to be much more complicated-and sinister-than Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast ever could have anticipated.

Pendergast, together with his ward Constance Greene, travels to the quaint seaside village of Exmouth, Massachusetts, to investigate the theft of a priceless wine collection. But inside the wine cellar, they find something considerably more disturbing: a bricked-up niche that once held a crumbling skeleton.

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Pendergast is in as great of form as ever. Instead of the wide-spread cast of characters that can crop up in a Pendergast book, this book featured only Pendergast and Constance Greene.

Some reviewers mentioned that it felt like Preston & Child couldn’t decide which book to write, so they wrote both of them. Maybe there’s truth to that, but it was still a wildly thrilling wild filled with mystery, horror, new developments in Pendergast and Constance’s relationship, as well as the return of one character we all never wanted to see again, but secretly did…

I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next book!

Ochoco Reach

By Jim Stewart

Freelance investigator Mike Ironwood doesn’t hesitate for a moment when a lovely stranger asks him to help her get to the bottom of suspicious happenings on her family cattle ranch. The case is intriguing, and Willimina even more so. Six days in, the case has turned up two dead bodies, an alphabet soup of secretive federal investigators, and a client who just might be The One. That’s when things get complicated. When a greedy DEA agent and his complicated and deadly triggerman kidnap Willy, Mike enlists help from his brother and sets out to rescue her from a conflicted cartel jefe. The trail leads them deep into Mexico, but they come home with dangerous unfinished business. Ochoco Reach introduces Mike Ironwood, his special ops brother Daniel, and Bucket, a Catahoula leopard dog who is equally at home herding cattle and pinning bad guys to the floor. Together, they are formidable allies who also seem to attract trouble at every turn.

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When I was a kid, I love a series called Hank The Cowdog by John R. Erickson. This series was about a loveable cowdog named Hank who sees himself as Head of Ranch Security. The series follows Hank as he solves crime and catches bad guys all while getting himself in hot water over and over again, to hilarious results. This reminds me that I used to do series feature…I probably should do this one. It’s truly one of the greatest series for kids out there.

Mike Ironwood reminds me of a human adult version of Hank. Not because he’s in any way hapless, but his personality is very much like Hank.

I received this book in exchange for an honest and at first I wasn’t sure what to think, though I ended up really liking this book.

I initially picked it up because of its Western Overtures and because Mike’s dog is a Catahoula Leopard Dog. I have a Catahoula-Lab mix myself. Bucket was one of my favorite characters, too.

Ochoco Reach was fast-paced with tons of twists and turns. Mike Ironwood is an ex-solider and his brother Daniel, is Special Ops Native American. The bad guys were really no match for these two. In fact, all of the characters have great personalities!

I’ll definitely be looking for more Ironwood novels starring Mike, Willy, and Bucket!

Acceptance

By Jeff VanderMeer

It is winter in Area X, the mysterious wilderness that has defied explanation for thirty years, rebuffing expedition after expedition, refusing to reveal its secrets. As Area X expands, the agency tasked with investigating and overseeing it–the Southern Reach–has collapsed on itself in confusion. Now one last, desperate team crosses the border, determined to reach a remote island that may hold the answers they’ve been seeking. If they fail, the outer world is in peril.

Meanwhile, Acceptance tunnels ever deeper into the circumstances surrounding the creation of Area X–what initiated this unnatural upheaval? Among the many who have tried, who has gotten close to understanding Area X–and who may have been corrupted by it?

In this last installment of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, the mysteries of Area X may be solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound–or terrifying.

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As I mentioned on my other two reviews, I’m so grateful that when I started to read this series all these books were out. I couldn’t have handled it if I had to wait months or years for the rest of the story.

Acceptance brings The Southern Reach trilogy to a close. Some answers are revealed, but in true VanderMeer form, we get more questions that don’t have ready answers.

The form of this book was quite a bit different than Annihilation and Authority. We jump from character to character as well as backwards and forwards in time. We hear from Control, Ghost Bird, the old Director of the Southern Reach, and Saul, the lighthouse keeper. So many different viewpoints means a lot of the questions and clues were either filled in completely or at least partly elucidated upon.

Finally, we begin to see inside the final days of the Coast and the birth of Area X. We learn a bit more about The Southern Reach and its shadowy controllers and employees. Control’s questions about the old Director get some explanation. And Control and Ghost Bird plunge into Area X, one final time.

I think this was my favorite of the three book. More answers, less secrets, but not all the answers. For those of you who remembered me being so scared while reading Annihilation, this book is not any creepier than that was.

Just go read it already. If you’ve come this far in the series, you might as well finish it!

Authority

By Jeff VanderMeer

After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X–a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization–has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray.

John Rodrigues (aka “Control”) is the Southern Reach’s newly appointed head. Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X. But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he’s pledged to serve.

In Authority, the second volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Area X’s most disturbing questions are answered . . . but the answers are far from reassuring.

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In many ways, I liked Authority better than Annihilation. One of the major reasons is that Authority is nowhere near as creepy as Annihilation. Rather than take place in the mysterious Area X, Authority deals with the Southern Reach, the government body in charge of Area X.

Van De Meer loves to give his main characters thought-provoking names. Ghost Bird in Annihilation. Control in Authority. I read the word “Control” so much it actually started to sound like a decent name. And of course there was a delightful little riff with CTRL and Control.

Authority goes a long way towards putting some explanation to Annihilation and the secrets of Area X. But of course, not everything is resolved and we get new questions with no answers. Some people found this book to be slow or even boring. While it’s true I didn’t gobble this book down in one sitting, my pulse wasn’t at an all-time high, either.

Oh and the ending of this one is a doozy. Be sure to have Acceptance standing by so you can start reading.

Heist Society

By Ally Carter

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

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From the author that brought the world, The Gallagher Girls, comes Heist Society, a young adult Ocean’s Eleven.

This book was a fun read. While I never felt very invested in Kat’s story, I sure did enjoy the plot. Quick moving and amusing at times, Heist Society is a book I wanted more of.

As Kat pieces together her “team”, I found all of the characters to be very unique, if not well utilized. The book as a whole felt a little superficial, never really diving deeply into Kat’s world. Except where Kat and Hale occupied the same room. I was never quite sure how Kat felt about Hale, but I really hope that if this is a series, that will be further explored.

So here’s hoping this is Ally Carter’s next series.

 

Blue Labyrinth

By Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

A long-buried family secret has come back to haunt Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast…

It begins with murder. One of Pendergast’s most implacable, most feared enemies is found on his doorstep, dead. Pendergast has no idea who is responsible for the killing, or why the body was brought to his home. The mystery has all the hallmarks of the perfect crime, save for an enigmatic clue: a piece of turquoise lodged in the stomach of the deceased.

The gem leads Pendergast to an abandoned mine on the shore of California’s Salton Sea, which in turn propels him on a journey of discovery deep into his own family’s sinister past.

But Pendergast learns there is more at work than a ghastly episode of family history: he is being stalked by a subtle killer bent on vengeance over an ancient transgression. And he soon becomes caught in a wickedly clever plot, which leaves him stricken in mind and body, and propels him toward a reckoning beyond anything he could ever have imagined…

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Another exciting Pendergast novel! After fourteen novels, you’d think Preston and Child would be running out of ideas, but apparently not.

 

SPOILERS

 

Okay this might be not that much of a spoiler since it happens in the first two chapters, but Preston and Child decided to kill off Pendergast’s son, Alban. Which I’m not sure was actually a good idea. They only really utilized Alban for one book and now….dead. Hmm.

Anyway, this book starts off in typical Pendergast fashion, following a few threads that seem like they have nothing to do with each other and then miraculously tying them up in a neat little box.

I don’t usually complain on implausibility in a book series that relies on more than a touch of the supernatural. But I must say the climax of this book was a bit implausible. Resurrecting an antidote that didn’t work and fixing it because one of the ingredients was improperly prepared? And then another ingredient having gone extinct, so they used something similar? Um, okay.

Still all in all another good entry in the series. Loved the Constance twist, too.

 

END SPOILERS