Audiobook Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

22529254Title: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Genre:  Fiction – Thriller
Publisher: Penguin
Length: 10 hours 59 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Rating – 5/5, loved it!

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?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

images

Happy Wednesday everyone! I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to complete any books in these last few days of the month but I did! I’m actually hoping to complete one more but we will see how that goes. In the past I haven’t been a big fan of audiobooks, I was actually pretty against them in the past. I had tried them before but I just could never get into them. I would always feel like I was missing things or I would get annoyed by the narrators voices. I decided to give them another chance and bought The Girl on the Train on audiobook. I’m really glad I did because I ended up really loving this book.

My reading/listening experience of this book ended up being a pretty great one. I gave the book itself a 5 star rating because I thought it was fantastic. I’m normally not one to gravitate towards thrillers but when I read the summary for this book, it just struck me.

The Girl on the Train is told through the point of view of three different women whose lives overlap. Rachel is our main point of view and is an alcoholic divorcee struggling with a few issues like her alcoholism and getting over her ex husband. Anna is the current wife of Rachel’s Ex husband whom is struggling with motherhood and Rachel’s continued presence in her life. Megan is a young married woman living a few houses down from Anna with alot of external and internal struggles of her own. Megan’s disappearance on a fateful Saturday night throws each of their worlds into chaos.

As mentioned above, I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. It was beautiful written with haunting narrative and descriptions. I loved the air of melancholy throughout. I’ve heard that this is a book that you either hate or love and I just found this book to be so spellbinding. I was on the edge of my seat which was so surprising to me since I am not an audiobook fan. This just makes me want to rush out and buy the physical copy which I definitely will do in the future because I would reread this book.

Aside from my loving this book, there were actually a slew of characters that I did not like and that’s probably because every single character in this book is majorly, majorly flawed. They’re human! I’ve read a few reviews that stress the fact that this book is depressing but I just really think even if it is dark and troubling, it is also starkly realistic. I love how each character has their own conflict going on within themselves and their lives. It reminds me of the “grass is always greener on the other side” idiom. Each of these characters at one time in the novel has wondered what someone else’s life is like and gotten it grossly wrong, ultimately forgetting that the other person is just human. My favorite character starting out was Megan  but we learn things about her that made me not like her so much towards the end. Rachel at the beginning and the end was not my favorite but she definitely grew on me the deeper I got into the novel and I just straight up never liked Anna. These characters were ALL very complex characters and I applaud this book and author for that…there wasn’t one character that wasn’t well developed.

What a ride. This was a whirlwind of suspense for me. It had the feel of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl but altogether, different. I’m trying hard not to compare them though I actually think I may have enjoyed this book more. I highly recommend this book whether on physical copy or audiobook. I only really liked one narrators voice but I enjoyed listening to it nonetheless. I was so engrossed in it and found myself wanting to listen to it when I wasn’t. Also, I just heard this is being adapted to film…I will be there on release night. Yes!! I’ve also heard rumors that Emily Blunt may be on board to play Rachel…if this is true…yes, yes and yes!!!

Book Review: The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne

959745Title: The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Page count: 373
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: January 2008
Rating – 3/5 – liked it

She’s braved battlefields, stolen dispatches, played roles from worldly to naive, lady to boy. But Annique Villiers, elusive spy Fox Cub, is thrown in prison with British spymaster Robert Grey, ordered to enter France and bring her back. Their uneasy alliance holds, but passion builds as they flee.

images

The Spymaster’s Lady was the pick of the month for the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club read (you can click the name to be linked to the Goodreads forum). This book is a historical romance that takes place during the Napoleonic wars. Our main character Annique Villiers is a pretty badass spy for the the French Army who finds herself captured and sharing a cell with two male prisoners. Managing to escape with her cellmates she finds herself in their custody when she finds out that they are actually her enemies, English spies. She is pretty much a master at role playing and uses her skills to play a dangerous game with her captors until she begins to fall in love (and lust) with one of the most dangerous ones.

I have to first mention that this book cover is legit romance lol. I have seen alot of people complaining about the cover and I’m normally not one to really care about what other people think of the books I’m reading (like if I’m reading in public) but even I was like…I’m keeping this in my purse and not taking it out until I get home or get a book cover. Plus, it literally had zero to do with the plot unless you picture Grey looking like that guy on the cover, which for me was not the case.

I struggled with whether to give this book a three star or a four star rating and finally settled on a three star rating. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, I thought it was super interesting and fast paced. It was awesome to see this really badass female spy as the lead in a romance. She was so powerful and skilled her job, she was literally among the best of the best…everyone seemed to know and fear her. Then it just lost me at the halfway point and I had to really work to get through it. It seemed to slow down a bit and start to lag but I’m a completionist so I held on and it started picking up again towards the end. Although I loved Annique’s character during the first half of the book, I was disappointed at what I would consider a devolution of her character towards the end of it.

There were a few twists in this book that were awesome, although the eyesight twist was far too convenient for my liking but I was glad that it did happen at some point even though I really liked the dynamic between Grey and Annique while she was blind a little more. I really liked the setting of this story…having the Napoleonic Wars and spymastery as a backdrop was SUPER interesting and I would definitely read more books that took place in this type of setting and that dealt with spies.This is a series and I don’t think I’ll be giving the second book a read but I’d recommend this particular book to people who love historical romances. I don’t read too many of them but I did like this one.

Review: Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice by Mike Maihack

18527488Title: Cleopatra In Space #1: Target Practice by Mike Maihack
Genre:  Graphic Novel – Children’s
Publisher: Scholastic
Page count: 167 pages
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: May 2014
Rating – 3/5 – liked it

When a young Cleopatra (yes, THAT Cleopatra) finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, REALLY far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octavian. She enrolls in Yasiro Academy, a high-tech school with classes like algebra, biology, and alien languages (which Cleo could do without), and combat training (which is more Cleo’s style). With help from her teacher Khensu, Cleo learns what it takes to be a great leader, while trying to figure out how she’s going to get her homework done, make friends, and avoid detention!

images

Hello everyone! I fell into sort of a reading slump this last two weeks and had been unable to get into a book that I am going to be reviewing after this one! I went to visit my niece over the weekend and she ever so kindly lent me this cute little graphic novel, Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice. My niece has previously had a hard time with reading so it’s awesome to see her finding a medium that she feels comfortable reading and is able to get into. I’m all for that so I think I’ll be looking into more graphic novel titles along the same vein as this to purchase for her so if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!

This graphic novel is about a young Cleopatra who is just days shy of celebrating her fifteenth birthday where she will take on more responsibility as the future ruler of Egypt. She is rambunctious and ballsy and into having fun and not taking life so seriously. During an afternoon at play with her best friend, she happens upon a tablet and relic that transport her into an Egypt of the future where it has been foretold that she will save her people from the Xerx, a brutal and tyrannical people who seek to take over and destroy a nation’s culture, history, etc. This first book is about her adapting to her new surroundings and struggling with taking on more responsibility, basically growing up.

I  liked this graphic novel, I thought it was really cute. I thought the story behind it was interesting and the characters were all really cute. I loved the illustrations and what little dialogue there was in this book was fun and cute. I recommend this for maybe ages 9-14. My niece falls within that range so I can definitely see how this story was super enjoyable for her.  I enjoyed reading this as an adult but I tried to read it as my eleven year old self would and I definitely think this is something I would have enjoyed reading. While I didn’t absolutely love this graphic novel, I would definitely continue reading it to see where the story goes. I have heard that the second one is progressively better which I think is understandable as this laid just a short, simple foundation for the story and what is going on the world. I want to see more detail though about the Xerx and the world.  I would like to see the ways in which Cleopatra grows, I think there is ALOT of room for her to grow within this series as she is very “I want to do my own thing and not listen to anyone else” in this book. That lands her in a bit of trouble sometimes so I think it’s good for kids to see that as well. I think she’s also a good character for young girls to read about because she is definitely strong, opinionated and independent which was really great to see in a young female character. I think she has so much potential, as does this series.

Book Review: The Violin of Auschwitz by Maria Angels Anglada

7662771Title: The Violin of Auschwitz by Maria Angels Anglada
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bantam Books
Page count: 109 pages
Format: Harcover
Publication Date: August 31, 2010
Rating – 4/5

An international sensation now available in English for the first time, The Violin of Auschwitz is the unforgettable story of one man’s refusal to surrender his dignity in the face of history’s greatest atrocity.

In the winter of 1991, at a concert in Krakow, an older woman with a marvelously pitched violin meets a fellow musician who is instantly captivated by her instrument. When he asks her how she obtained it, she reveals the remarkable story behind its origin… Imprisoned at Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp, Daniel feels his humanity slipping away. Treasured memories of the young woman he loved and the prayers that once lingered on his lips become hazier with each passing day. Then a visit from a mysterious stranger changes everything, as Daniel’s former identity as a crafter of fine violins is revealed to all. The camp’s two most dangerous men use this information to make a cruel wager: If Daniel can build a successful violin within a certain number of days, the Kommandant wins a case of the finest burgundy. If not, the camp doctor, a torturer, gets hold of Daniel. And so, battling exhaustion, Daniel tries to recapture his lost art, knowing all too well the likely cost of failure.

Written with lyrical simplicity and haunting beauty—and interspersed with chilling, actual Nazi documentation—The Violin of Auschwitz is more than just a novel: It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of beauty, art, and hope to triumph over the darkest adversity.

images

Good morning! The Violin of Auschwitz is a work of historical fiction in which our main character Daniel is trying to survive life in the deplorable conditions of Auschwitz. In his life before the war, he was a violin maker and had a passion and love for his work. When he gets to Auschwitz he lies and says he is a carpenter and is given odd jobs for the Commander until one of the commanders violins breaks during a party and Daniel steps up to fix it. It becomes a race for his life when he finds out that the commander and the doctor have bet a  case of wine and Daniel’s life on whether the violin will be quality and completed in a reasonable amount of time. There is also a larger story to which the history of Daniel’s violin connects and it also ends on a note of hope.

I have been wanting to read this book ever since I stumbled upon it while browsing through Listopia on Goodreads. I don’t know why I do this to myself but I love reading books that take place during this timeframe. I think they are vastly important works of literature and even though they make me incredibly sad I just think it’s really important to read books like this to remind ourselves of what humanity is capable both of, both good and the bad.

I gave this book four stars, I really was hoping that it would be a five star read and I think the blurbs on the jacket really hyped the book up for me to where it didn’t quite meet my expectations. This is a translation from Catalan so I’m thinking maybe some of the emotion was lost in translation. That’s not to say that there wasn’t emotion because there definitely was. It was heartbreaking in places and bittersweet in some. It also reminded me of the strength of the human spirit. Some of my favorite parts of this book were Daniel’s descriptions of when he is working on the violin which serves as a piece of a hope that he hangs onto.

At just 109 pages this book is a super light read. Because it is a heavier subject for me I didn’t read it in one sitting even though it is a really short book but it just took me a little longer to process my feelings, I liked it alot. If you are a historical fiction fan or want to read more literature about the Holocaust please check this book out and let me know what you think of it. I would love to read this book in it’s original language to compare the differences in the emotions it stirs and in the reading experiences.

Anyway, thank you for stopping by to read my review. I really appreciate it! I have a few more books that I am hoping to read this month so I can’t wait to share those with you as well. I have received a few eARCS and I want to do some more pleasure reading so stay tuned.

Happy Reading everyone!  (Well unless you’re reading a sad book like me)

Book Review – Ever After: Life Lessons Learned In My Castle of Chaos by Vicki Courtney

16072406Title: Ever After: Life Lessons Learned In My Castle of Chaos by Vicki Courtney
Genre:  Self Help – Christian Marriage
Publisher: B & H Publishing Group
Page count: 221 pages
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Rating – 5/5!

Most every woman dreams about having a family and a building a home. We grow up on a steady diet of fairytales and chick flicks that drive our dreams . . . and leave us with a sugarcoated version of reality. We want it all: the prince, the kiss, the proposal, the ring, the castle, and eventually, the kids in smocked rompers playing cheerfully on the perfectly manicured lawn. Our hopes and dreams are pinned on the world’s version of happily-ever-after.

The problem is, the fairytales and chick flicks end where real life begins. We never see that follow-up scene where the prince and princess argue at 3 a.m. over who will get up with the colicky newborn. Or the princess reluctantly returns to work to help pay the bills and feels the stress of juggling work and family. And you certainly won’t see that part where the princess moves her last child into the dorm and realizes the bulk of her identity has been based on being a mother.

The truth is, marriage and motherhood are hard. Few of us are prepared to handle the balancing act of being a good wife and a good mother, without one or the other getting the short end of the stick. No matter how much we give or how hard we try, we never quite feel like it’s enough. And heaven help us, we always imagine every one else is doing a much better job.

In Ever After, best-selling author Vicki Courtney addresses the realities of marriage and motherhood, the difficulties and the blessings. It offers women a behind the scenes glimpse of what a fairytale really looks like on the average day for the average wife and mom. Poignant, funny, and even cathartic, Vicki shares mistakes made, lessons learned, and memories to keep. Most of all, she reflects the hope and promise that God meets us in the middle wherever we are in the journey.

images

Hello everyone! I’m excited to share my thoughts on Ever After: Life Lessons Learned In My Castle of Chaos by Vicki Courtney. I ran across this book on the publishers website and was blessed to receive a copy from the publisher for review!

I really wanted to read this book because it was on the topic of marriage. I love being married and am continuously looking for ways to enhance my marriage and myself. This book looked especially interesting though because it is about what happens after your whirlwind fairy tale romance culminates in the big wedding every girl dreams about and real life starts. I was one of those little girls the author writes about that grew up on a large dose of fairy tale stories and Disney movies. Even now into my adulthood I love watching romantic comedy movies and reading romances that seem like retellings of the same story. I had been planning my wedding since I was a girl and my husband (bless his heart) for the most part let me plan it how I wanted…and you guessed it, my theme was Happily Ever After. So you can imagine that when I saw this book and what it was about, it just spoke to me and sounded like something I NEEDED to read.

I am giving this book a full five star rating. Not only does it have a BEAUTIFUL cover, it was just awesome. I could not put this book down. It was honest, funny, and inspirational. I finished it in one sitting and I just feel like it spoke to me in so many ways, especially as a Christian wife. I definitely feel like in having God play a central role in our marriage, my husband and I have started out on a really strong foundation but there are still little things I learned during our first years of marriage that were just confirmed/reflected in the narrative of this book. I wish I had read this book when I was newly married (I still feel like a newlywed sometimes). I have been married for five years and I don’t yet have any children so this book helped me to understand alot of things about juggling wifehood, personhood and motherhood. I’m grateful for having read this book at this time in my life as well, because I feel like I needed to learn alot of what is shared in this book for when I do have children. I think one of the most valuable lessons in this book has to do with appreciating what you have instead of always focusing on the what I need next aspect of life. I am a victim of castle envy and just recently my husband and I toured a home that I have dubbed “our next home” that is way out of our price range but that I just fell in love with. Reading this book helped me to understand that it’s just a house and my home now is precious to me and good enough.  As far as marriage goes, it reaffirmed something that I figured out early into my marriage and that we are faithful to which is to never stop dating your spouse.

I think this book is a treasure trove of advice and lessons for women. If someone had given this to me when I first got married I feel like it would have helped me SO much in times when things were less than perfect in my marriage. Don’t get me wrong, my marriage is amazing and wonderful but all marriages are imperfect and take work just like we do as individuals as well but I just feel like this book would have helped me through rough times. I feel like after having read it, I will treasure it for years to come. There were alot of things in this book that I felt relief at for not being alone in wondering this or thinking like that. I plan on recommending this book to other wives that I know and for giving this book to brides at bridal showers. I cannot stress enough how WONDERFUL this book is, not only through the perspective of a Christian wife but even just through the perspective of a wife. I am 100% sure that I will return to these pages time and again. I highly recommend this book to women (I even feel like men would find wisdom in it’s pages). Give this book a read and then come back and let me know your thoughts! I am planning on checking out other books by this author as I loved her writing style. It was so easy to read and get into that my reading experience of this book was fantastic and it just flew by.

Happy Reading everyone!!

And just a fun bonus, here’s a pic of me taking a selfie with this wonderful book! photo (2)

Blog Tour Book Review: Soul Retrievers by David Burton

SRTitle: Soul Retrievers by David Burton
Genre:  Fantasy – Horror
Publisher: Dark Serpent
Page count: 465 pages
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: July 10, 2015
Rating – 4/5

When an innocent soul is accidentally sent to Hell, loved ones can hire a certain specialist to return the soul to Heaven Gate. However, if the specialist dies in Hell proper, his soul is trapped there for eternity. These specialists who risk eternal damnation are known as Soul Retrievers.

Getter has begun an assignment he takes personally, perhaps too personally: retrieve the soul of a ten-year old girl, the same age his own daughter would have been had she lived. This time, however, a strange plot is brewing behind the normal dangers of Hell. Retrievers are disappearing, including Getter’s brother-in-law, and an army is forming in secret. Teamed with Sneaker, a female Soul Retriever dealing with her new “Life” as a vampire, and an odd collection of Retrievers and souls, Getter only wants to finish his mission. But whispers of prophecy have told of a war between Satan and Mephisto, the Helland Security Chief, and have named Getter as a man with a destiny he does not want.

images

Happy Friday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Soul Retrievers! I’d like to send a big thank you to the author David Burton and Ravenswood Publishing for giving me the chance to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

In Soul Retriever, we follow Getter who works in a secret and highly dangerous profession of soul retrieving in which he rescues innocent souls that have been sent to hell by mistake. Soul Retrievers work for hire and by contract with the lost souls family. Getter finds himself in hell once again, but this time to rescue the soul of a ten year old girl that reminds him of the daughter he lost in his past. He finds this particular job troubling and runs into far more danger than he anticipated in hell.

I really enjoyed this book. It was dark and gritty and altogether a different, interesting concept. I thought the story was so original, definitely not something I have encountered before although spending time with Getter’s character reminded me alot of how I felt when reading about other badass mercenary for hire type men like Dresden in the Dresden Files or even the Winchester brothers in Supernatural. Once I started reading this book and got that feeling, I knew I was going to enjoy reading this book. It was also almost like experiencing the hell of Dante’s inferno except I feel like the hell in this book is certainly more hellish (hopefully that makes sense!)

I found the concept of an ever changing hell to be super interesting and that added a really good, dangerous element to the story. Hell was literally just filled to the brim with all sorts of different creatures and dangers that I found SO interesting and horrifying. The soul retrievers seem to go through SO much at every single turn they take in hell, like the fact that they have any downtime down there (especially for sexy time) is pretty amazing in itself. The action scenes were great although slightly overwhelming because SO much happens in these action scenes. This book pretty much kept me on my toes from start to finish.  I found the book itself to be pretty fast paced which makes for a pretty light read because if you’re like me, you’ll get sucked right into the story.

Overall, this book was super fun to read, horror fans will definitely find something to love in this book, it’s a pretty wild, fun romp through hell that kept me up at night. I seem to be doing alot of my reading late at night in bed so if you do the same thing prepare to be a little freaked out! I’m hoping that this book get’s a sequel because I would love to revisit this world. I found the book cover to be really cool too! Four stars!

images

David BurtonAbout the Author

David Burton is an American writer living in sunny Southern California. After traveling by motorcycle through Mexico, US, Canada and Alaska; building and sailing his own boats to Mexico, Tahiti, Hawaii, and through the Panama Canal to Florida, he turned to writing. He mops floors and collects trash for money, writes for a living, and is an unrequited sailor.

FACEBOOK

WEBSITE

 

Currently Available at:

SOUL RETRIEVERS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

BARNES & NOBLE

KOBO

SMASHWORDS

GOOGLE PLAY

iBOOKS

Dark Serpent Imprint Logo

RWNEW

Book Review: Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts by Janet DeLee

25606375Title: Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts: A Novel  by Janet DeLee
Genre:  Fiction – Contemporary
Publisher: Self Published
Page count: 238 pages
Format: Ebook (kindle edition)
Publication Date: May 25, 2015
Rating – 4/5

Dreams aren’t just for the young, and Ginny Lawther is happy to prove that even at the age of fifty-eight she can still brave a leap of faith…she just needs a little prodding from like-minded individuals. Step one: place an ad in the local newspaper inviting other dreamers to form an Ideal Life Club. Step two: see if anyone shows up.

When Ginny meets four hopeful strangers at the first club meeting, she thinks they’re off to a great start.

Now it’s only a matter of time before the sixty-something widow Hilda turns her crafting into a full-time career; the twenty-something Jerry becomes a professional musician; and the thirty-something housewife Lydia publishes her cookbook. That is, until the rugged divorcé, Lee, sets a goal to solve his ghost problem—and upends all their lives!

Suddenly the support group isn’t just trying to navigate the ups and downs of pursuing their dreams; they’re also wrestling with a strange cast of spirits who keep interrupting their endeavors. What do these apparitions want? And why have they latched on to the Ideal Lifers?

Haunting, humorous, and hopeful, Taking Leaps and Finding Ghostssparks the imagination and breathes unexpected life into everyday reality.

images

Good morning! I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review!

In Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts we follow Ginny, an author whom is starting a club at her local library called “The Ideal Life Club”. She wants to start this club as a venue to help people pursue and achieve specific goals or dreams by using techniques like affirmations and visualization that she used in pursuing her lifelong dream to become a writer. The story takes us through the journeys of each of the four members of the club as they struggle through reaching their goals.

I really enjoyed reading this story, it’s definitely a good, light read. I found it to be pretty heartwarming and interesting. I loved Ginny as a character, especially as a main character and loved her outlook on life. I found this book to be very inspirational even with goals that I am working to complete myself which was really cool. I don’t think I’ve ever read a work of fiction that had the effect of a self help book on creativity so that was pretty interesting in itself. I liked seeing how the members of the club approached and conquered their fears in order to achieve their goals. The emphasis in this book on faith, fearlessness and even friendship was wonderful to read. I also liked the small paranormal aspects that were included throughout the book in both Lee and Ginny’s cases. I thought the twist regarding Ginny’s experiences in here home was really cool and something I didn’t expect! That was such an original idea in a story to me! I really wanted to learn more about Lee’s experiences too. I feel like out of everyone that participated in the Idea Life club he had one of the most interesting situations that I would have liked more detail and story about.

I was interested in the book right away  even though I thought that it was a little slower at the beginning.  Even through that, it never ceased to be an interesting story and I always wanted to find out what happened next with the characters. I really liked Ginny and Lee and for some reason, I was hoping that they would end up falling for each other by the end of the book. I really loved the ending of this book though as it is, it was very heartwarming and although I didn’t get my romance angle between Ginny and Lee, it did feel complete to me and I was satisfied with it. I really enjoyed this book and give it a 4 out of 5 star rating!