Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the TrainGoodreads Synopsis

THE RUNAWAY SUNDAY TIMES NO.1 BESTSELLER AND THRILLER OF THE YEAR

‘Really great suspense novel. Kept me up most of the night. The alcoholic narrator is dead perfect’ STEPHEN KING

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train… 


This book was all the rage a few years ago and even more so when the movie came out in 2016. I didn’t immediately jump on the band wagon but since this review exists, jump I did.

The Girl on the Train focuses on Rachel Watson and the lives of the people she observes through the train window. It sounds creepy and stalker-y and believe me, it is all that and more. There is always a danger about books that become so popular, they toe the line with being overhyped. This is one of those books. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just it didn’t do anything for me.

I feel like Rachel as a character was all over the place. Some of the things she did barely made sense. She was in need of some help and I didn’t fault the other characters for pushing her aside time after time. There was a point in the book where I wanted the story to continue but from someone else’s POV because Rachel felt a bit like an unreliable narrator…except that she wasn’t. But we were at a constant battle of whether or not to believe if she was telling the truth.

The writing was excellent and I enjoyed it very much. It was what made me want to continue the book after all. Did I hate this book? No, of course not. The story? Nope, it was rather interesting actually but I was promised a psychological thriller and it’s my opinion that I did not receive what was promised. There was not a thrill in sight.

This was my first book by Paula Hawkins and while this wasn’t the greatest first read by an author, I am in no way turned off from her other works. Into the Water is still very high on my To Read list at the moment.

I’m willing to give Hawkins another chance but maybe look only at the plot and the wiring and not focus on the genre so much. I don’t regret this read and I do recommend it to those looking for something interesting to pass the time.

 

Read: 10 February 2018
Rating: ★★★

Publication Date: 3 May 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Sarah J. Maas

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Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)Goodreads

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.


I almost started this book over because I wasn’t feeling that initial excitement anymore but I decided to push on and push through. It has seriously taken me over a year to finish this book. I’ve been so ridiculously busy since I got back to SA that I decided to pick the book up again during exam time. Such a smart idea.

This book started off great. We picked up where we left off in ACOMAF and the excitement kept building. I was eager to see where the road was going to take us and how much more heartbreak I could take. SJM still remains a queen and I think I can forgive her for breaking my heart yet again because her comebacks are always so perfectly executed.

One thing I must say is that popular opinion got to me. I bought this book the day it was released and started it immediately. I should have waited because I was only a few pages in before I decided to ‘put it on hold’. There were moments here and there that I felt I could do with some more excitement (and this was during the battles- I admit a skim read some paragraphs) but everything else was perfection. There was slightly too much focus on Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship which I thought was a bit much. We covered that in ACOMAF so I wasn’t expecting much more of it. It was a big book though (699 pages is quite a good amount) so there was enough time to touch on the familial bonds that were made, the other High Lords as well as the battle we were all waiting for.

I was really impressed at all the character development that took place; some later than others but it happened nonetheless. I’m really liking Nesta though. I didn’t pay much attention to her before because my OTP was being awesome at everything, but she was so amazing. I love her lack of…emotion. The fact that her expression is stone cold most of the time and that she always acts as protector. She had the most development in my opinion. She’s possibly my favourite character in this series at this point. Please see my post about the characters I dislike the most here to get a feel of how I feel about Tamlin.

I had many ups and downs with reading this book. There was a it of a slump in the middle before leading to the build-up before the climax. This is the end of the trilogy for me as I do not see myself reading A Court of Frost of Starlight (I’m still considering it). The lower rating for this book is that while I liked this book, I did not love it and I felt that even giving it 3.5 instead of a solid 3 stars was being generous.

Reviews of other books in this trilogy:

 

Read: 16 October 2018
Rating: ★★★.5

Publication Date: 2 May 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Sarah J. Maas

Book Review: Not A Fairytale by Shaida Kazie Ali

Not a FairytaleGoodreads Synopsis

Salena, the elder of two Cape sisters, is light-skinned and demure, an easy one to marry off to a husband of her parents’ choosing. Zuhra is dark and willful, refusing tradition and leaving the country in pursuit of her own destiny. The shoots of their lives grow apart and interlace again. Salena finds herself in a repressed marriage much like her mother’s. Zuhra comes to suspect grim undercurrents to both their lives, which she expresses by retelling familiar fairytales, often hilariously, in a Muslim framework. But this is not a fairytale. The dark forest is real, and so are its secrets.


This is the first book I’m reading by a South African author and the hype is way too real. From the beginning of the book already you get a sense of the culture and what it’s like to be a part of it. I must admit that a few things did come as a bit of a shock to me; like the father doling out slaps as if they’re Christmas gifts. I know this was how [our] parents were raised but these days thing like that don’t fly.

I finished Zuhra’s tale pretty quickly and I enjoyed it a lot. From a young age it was easy to see that she was quite the free spirit and wouldn’t allow anything or anyone else to choose her path for her. Her narrative style was very entertaining and I found myself getting lost in her words.

I definitely liked Salena’s part more than I did Zuhra’s. It also didn’t escape my notice that while Zuhra’s POV was told from the first person while Salena’s was in third person. I enjoyed that for the uniqueness it was.

The differences between the two sisters and how they were treated was made obvious from the very start and it’s only when we delve deeper into their respective POV’s that we realise just how different they actually were.

After finishing this book I can easily say that this was one of the best books I read in 2017. The way that Shaida drew me in, I’m in a state of shock over how amazed I am. There were little recipes spread throughout the book that I really enjoyed and I think that was a genius idea.

Here’s one of them: (just the ingredients) 

Potato Curry

2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
½ tsp tumeric
1 tsp powdered dhania
½ tsp crushed garlic
½ tsp crushed ginger
1 green chilli, chopped
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt to taste
1 cup water
finely chopped dhania leaves for garnish

As my first book by a South African author, I’m really glad this was it. It far exceeded my expectations. This has really motivated me to seek out more books by South African authors and also to further expand my knowledge on other cultures.

Read: 25 January 2018
Rating: ★★★★

Publication Date: 17 January 2018
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Robert Venditti
Illustrators: Danny Miki | Tony S. Daniel

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Wrap Up: January 2018 (and February TBR)

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Afflicted Damage (2017-) #1 Give Me Five (The Princess Diaries, #5) Percy Jackson and the Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan

Afflicted by Susanne Valenti

I took way to long to actually read this book but once I was in the zone, I was in. The. Zone! My rating for this isn’t very high but that doesn’t take away from the overall enjoyment. Looking forward to continuing this series. See review here.

Damage #1 by Robert Venditti

This issue gave enough information for me to be sure that I want to continue this series. I can’t wait to see how Ethan fights the monster he knows he’s not, but everyone thinks he is. Not to mention the actions that kind of proves it. Review to come soon.

Give Me Five by Meg Cabot

I really enjoyed this one! I hope I never get annoyed by this series and Mia’s tendency to obsess on one thing for almost 300 pages because I still have six more books to go so that would suck. Onward we go to Sixsational! Review to come soon.

Percy Jackson and the Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan

I LOVED this! After reading The Sword of Summer I was a bit reluctant to read another Rick Riordan book so soon (I know it’s been a year but come on) but I’m glad I decided to ignore that voice in my head and finished this book in a whopping 3 days. That hasn’t happened in a while. Percy is the man! Review to come soon.

Total Read: 4 Books


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The Girl on the Train The Graveyard Book Life of Pi Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) Me Before You  (Me Before You, #1)  Invader Zim Vol. 1 

ARCs

Sleight The Weight of a Wing (The Stolen Wings, #1) Heartborn Loving Ashe: Book 1 of the Celebrity Series Soothsayer: Magic Is All Around Us (Soothsayer Series #1) Ever Shade (A Dark Faerie Tale, #1) Unseen (Breaking Free Book 1)  Jaeth's Eye (The Agartes Epilogues, #1) Demolition Love The Labyrinth Eve The Soul Reaper The Tower's Alchemist (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #1) Can't Buy Forever

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Book Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)Goodreads Synopsis

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.


There might be spoilers for Lady Midnight for those who haven’t read it yet. You’ve been warned.

I got this book the day it came out and I started it not too long after and it took me quite a while to finish it. I wasn’t worried because while I find Cassandra Clare’s work addictive, I always seem to take years to finish one book. I also had to put the book aside for a while because of studies but once I picked it up again, I couldn’t put it down again nor did I want to.

Lord of Shadows picks off roughly where Lady Midnight ended so we don’t miss anything. Major things happened in the first book and we were sent in blind, not knowing what awaited us around the corner. It’s like a jar tipped over and all its contents fell out and it made a mess of everything. That was Lady Midnight. Lord of Shadows focuses on putting everything back in but taking stock of each item as it’s returned. That doesn’t mean that it’s over though. It seems that we’ve barely scratched the surface and by the end of this book I was searching to see when The Queen of Air and Darkness is coming out. Thank goodness it’s been moved forward to 2018, so no more two year wait.

Once again I’m glad that Cassandra Clare doesn’t focus on the love aspect of the series too much because that does become distracting at times. Of course this all revolves around Emma and Julian’s feelings for each other since their love is forbidden and I am curious about why that’s the case. But, even though that is what the motivation is for some of these situations, there’s a bigger picture here that’s being painted and I’m eager to see what exactly that is.

“I want you to know what it’s like. To be tortured all the time, night and day, desperately wanting what you know you should never want, what doesn’t even want you back.”

Christopher ‘Kit’ Herondale has been added to the mix and we’re seeing the Blackthorn family from an ‘outsider’s’ POV. All this we’ve seen them through Julian and Emma’s view and there are so much that can be learnt. Kit blended in so easily with the crew, it’s as if he’s always been there. His constant battle of whether he wants to be a shadowhunter or not was…refreshing. With the characters in The Shadowhunter Chronicles, you either are or you aren’t. He could choose if this was the life he wanted and I think that’s a big deal because not everyone loves what they’re born into. *Note: we’re not looking at Simon here. He’s a special case.

There was so much action that went on in this book. I don’t remember where we had a moment of peace to just regroup before the next hunt was underway. I loved it though. As I mentioned before, I couldn’t put this book down. I was constantly at the edge of my seat anxious about what was about to happen next. From book one, there has definitely been some major character development and that’s always a good thing.

New enemies have been made and maybe they’ve been waiting in the shadows for a long time. Old enemies have come to the light and in short…a war is coming. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows were buildups to the climax that hasn’t happened yet. More is coming but my heart’s already been ripped out, sides have been chosen, I’ve cried and ached with these characters. I do know that even though I’m impatiently waiting for the next book, I am not ready.

“Break my heart. Break it in pieces. I give you permission.”

This quote can’t be more true. Cassandra Clare, there you have it. Do with my heart what you will because I’m here for all of this.

All the characters in this book are a team whether they’re aware of that fact or not. The good guys are at least. Bad guys are just the enemy. Cassie Clare has once again joined them and we know that it starts with a small few. I have to admit that each series within the Shadowhunter Chronicles have become a bit repetitive but they have their differences even if history does seem to be repeating itself over and over again.

I’ll be honest, I cried while reading this book. Of course it’s no secret that there are themes, some major, of LGBTQ in the Shadowhunter Chronicles and I’m all about any kind of positive representation. I felt so happy that the community is a part of this and I had to take a moment to compose myself.

Let’s talk about that ending though. Like, how dare you Cassandra Clare rip my heart out like that? It’s already been broken and stomped on. I did not need that extra punch to the gut. I want to know what that was all supposed to achieve. Oh well, I guess we’ll find out in the next book.

I did rate this book 5 stars yes, but I won’t gloss over the fact that there were a few things I disliked in and about the book. The constant POV changes…it made the book read like a movie and it got confusing at times. Just as the scene got really interesting, we’d jump over to someone else. So many POV’s. I understand that Clare wanted us to be in the loop about what was going on everywhere but at times it seemed like a bit too much.

I don’t want to end off this review on a bad note though. I definitely enjoyed LoS a lot more than I did Lady Midnight. I felt that there was a lot more action and plot to this book and I loved the constant need to know more. My curiosity was piqued and sated. Once again, Clare wrote an amazing book and I was hooked from page 1. I’ll go find a corner to sit in till the release day of The Queen of Air and Darkness.

 

Read: 12 September 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

Publication Date: 23 May 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Cassandra Clare

  • My review for Lady Midnight here.
  • My reviews for other books in the Shadowhunter Chronicles here.

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eARC Book Review: Free by Susanne Valenti

Free: Freedom comes at a price... (Cage of Lies Book 5)Goodreads Synopsis

Alone and surrounded by the enemy, Maya doesn’t know which way to turn. In a prison built of corruption and blind faith, does the truth even stand a chance? All paths lead to this and finding a way through will be the toughest test yet. The might of the city stands against her and she must remain defiant in the face of it. Presented with challenges she never thought possible and changes she couldn’t have imagined, she will need to be stronger than ever before. The fight of her life is coming to an end but will she survive to see her dreams become reality?


I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I first started this book I had forgotten so much from the previous books because the wait was definitely a long one but I didn’t need to worry because with each chapter I read, the memories started coming back.

The gang is now in The City and they’re working with their contacts within the wall to get the word out that the Outside isn’t as dangerous as they were led to believe. New characters are introduced and you’d think that that’d be weird and hard to get used to so late in the game but Valenti made them blend in so easily it was as if they’d always been around. One of the people introduced is Cutter. He’s a scary dude and you’d actually be smart to stay out of his way but I actually liked his character a lot. I like what he stood for. Family is everything to this guy and he protects his own.

Naturally there were a few…setbacks in the story that of course was supposed to help the plot but I don’t think that all of them made complete sense. I feel that the beginning of the book dragged mainly because it was mostly from Maya’s POV and I was starting to get a bit annoyed with her. I can’t place my finger on what exactly irked me about her but I didn’t mind her at all when she was surrounded by others.

I certainly hope that there’s another book coming because that ending left quite an opening. There’s basically a bridge between the Outside and The City so I hope the new ‘alliance’ between the two is looked at more closely. Certain things in this book did feel a bit rushed and I felt that too much time was spent on the planning and not enough on the action and that played a part in things going haywire.

There have been further developments in both the characters and the story which is always a good thing to see and I’m definitely glad that Susanne one again did not disappoint in that department. Out of all the books in this series, this doesn’t come close to how I feel about Broken and is not my favourite but I did like it a lot.. I can’t wait to see what new ideas Susanne can produce for us.

Read: 8 October 2017
Rating: ★★★.5

Publication Date: 16 July 2017
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Susanne Valenti

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RST: It’s Lord of Shadows Release Day!

Okay, so this RST is going to be slightly different from the others but not really. Who even cares, LORD OF SHADOWS COMES OUT TODAY!

Cassie Clare is my favourite author, this is no secret, and she could write a grocery list and I’d treat it like gold! I fell in love with TMI and TID from the moment I picked them up and my love for Cassie Clare as an author and a person has grown so much more over the years. She has written characters who have become a few of my favourite: Simon, Magnus, Alec and Isabelle and I cherish those moments I read about them.

When Lady Midnight came out last year I was there freaking out along with the rest of the fandom and it was a battle staying away from anything that could possibly be a spoiler to the book. Alas, I couldn’t read the book immediately because of my book buying ban and had to wait till the Shadowhunter Academy bind-up was released.

Fast forward a few months and I ended up buying both Lady Midnight and Shadowhunter Academy as Christmas gifts to myself. I waited until the new year to start them because of 2016 goals and whatnot.

Guys! I don’t even need to tell you because you already know, but the wait…omg the wait was frigging torture! Lady Midnight was so amazing and then I had to sit still and ‘patiently’ wait till LoS came out. Trust that I stayed away from those snippets Cassie Clare has been posting these last few weeks. I haven’t even read the first couple of chapters that she released a few days ago. I want to go into this book totally blind…except from what I know from Lady Midnight. I haven’t even read the synopsis.

A few weeks ago I got so pissed at the bookstore (not the people, at the actual bookstore) because ACOWAR wasn’t stocked the day it came out. As a joke, I decided to hop onto the bookstore’s website and lo and behold! There was LoS waiting to be added to my cart. I didn’t though because heaven knows how long delivery will take so I’m going to beg my dad to drive the half hour it will take to get me my precious.

I can’t even begin to express how excited I am. I’m literally putting all other books on hold (ahem, ACOWAR as well) so that I can start LoS the second I get it. I was in tears when I saw that it was after midnight and realised that today is the 23rd of May.

Speaking of, I was wondering what else happens today and in all my excitement for LoS, I totally forgot that today is my brother’s birthday. So uh, happy birthday, bro…but Lord of Shadows!

I’m trying to calm myself down because sleep must still happen but I honestly can’t. My eyes hurt so bad because I’ve been up all day but THE EXCITEMENT IS TOO REAL!

I’m going to leave now before this gets even crazier. The wait has been to d*mn long and I’ve only been waiting 5 months. I can’t.

Thanks for stopping by,
Caron xx

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