Review: The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Publication date: 15 January 2015
Publisher: Doubleday
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780857522313
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 5 Stars

You don’t know her. But she knows you.

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…

With its intriguing premise and Transworld’s reputation for publishing some of the best thrillers I’ve ever read, The Girl on the Train was one of my most anticipated novels of 2015 – and it completely blew me away. Hawkins’s debut took the blogosphere by storm and it has every right to be at the top of the charts. It’s so brilliantly written, so unpredictable and so full of twists and turns that I read the second half in one sitting and would willingly give it 6 stars if I could.

One of the (many) reasons why it stood out for me is its narration. Rachel, our main character and narrator, is alcoholic. She’s had drinking problems for quite a while and she even lost her job because of it. And why it’s interesting, as far as the story is concerned, is because she’s unreliable. She often drinks herself to a state where she completely blacks out and has no memory of what she’s done when she wakes up the next morning. Add this to a story where she is the only witness and you’ll have no idea what to believe.

All the characters are brilliantly – and very cleverly – written, in a way that makes it impossible for you to know who to trust or who to believe. Not just Rachel, but everyone has their own version of events and they are all acting suspiciously in one way or another. I love books with unreliable narrators and The Girl on the Train was no exception.

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Showcase Sunday #94

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone and happy Sunday! How are you all? How has your weekend been so far? I moved house yesterday (long story short, my flatmate moved back to London so I had to find a new place) , so I’m still exhausted – but I’m looking forward to a lazy Sunday in my new home!

Incoming

Normal by Graeme Cameron

The only physical copy I got this week was Normal by Graeme Cameron, which is going to be published in April. (Which makes me a tiny bit excited as I don’t usually get proofs so far in advance!) I absolutely fell in love with the story when I read the blurb and I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one.

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Review: The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes – Anna McPartlin

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin
Publication date: 1 January 2015
Publisher: Black Swan
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780552773744
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Contemporary
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 4 Stars

Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end…

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes was my last read of 2014 and I couldn’t have found a better book to end the year with. I laughed, I cried, and it completely broke my heart at times – but it’s one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read in a long time.

Anne McPartlin’s sixth novel tells the story of Rabbit, an Irish journalist and single mother to twelve-year-old Juliet, who is losing her fight against cancer. Through a series of flashback episodes we get to know Rabbit as a young girl and follow her journey throughout the years, from her early teens through adulthood. We get to know her family and friends, who have been with her every step of the way, and who are there in the hospice, holding her hand, when Rabbit’s journey comes to an end. We learn about her best friend, Marjorie, and her first – and only – love, Johnny Faye. We get a glimpse into the often chaotic, but always entertaining, days of the Hayes family and Rabbit’s relationship with her daughter.

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Showcase Sunday #93

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Showcase Sunday! How are we all? Did you have a nice week? Is there anyone who’s on their Christmas break already? We still have two and a half more days to go but I’m really looking forward to 8 days of reading and relaxing next week!

Incoming

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder | 365 Days of Wonder

I got two wonderful books this week (in fact, they arrived last week but I didn’t have the time to show you guys), both giveaway wins from Georgia at The Bibliomaniac. I’m already about halfway through Wonder and it’s absolutely beautiful. I love the characters and Palacio’s writing and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the second half of the book. 365 Days of Wonder is a collection of (inspirational) quotes from Wonder‘s English teacher, Mr. Browne. I love books like this so I can’t wait to pick it up!

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Catalogue Highlights: Transworld Books – Spring/Summer 2015

Transworld Books

Hello everyone! As we’re edging closer to the end of the year and we’re all starting to think about what bookish delights 2015 will have in store for us, it’s time to bring back one of my favourite blog features. Curling up in bed with my favourite publishers’ catalogues and jotting down the books I want to read next year has become almost like a Christmas tradition for me, and this year is no exception.

And, as always, I want to share the books with you. Just like last year, I’m starting with Transworld Books whose novels, as regular blog readers will know, never fail to amaze me. They’re usually my first stop when I’m looking for a good thriller or a new women’s fiction author and they rarely disappoint. So, here are my top 5 Transworld books I’m looking forward to reading in 2015!

 

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin
Publication date: 1 January 2015
Goodreads | Pre-order
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes,
life is coming to an end…

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the
extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly
family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK
with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a
handful of days left to make them happen.

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about
laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every
moment.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Publication date: 15 January 2015
Goodreads | Pre-order

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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…

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah
Publication date: 12 March 2015
Goodreads | Pre-order

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

I’m lying here in a bed, my head full of regret, with only a little bird flitting through a tree to comfort me.

Friends want to visit, but I refuse them. So my carer Sheila has given me a task to keep me occupied.

An A-Z list. Think of a part of my body for each letter. Tell a little tale about it.

When I reach H for Heart, what will I say?

How we loved to string crocheted hearts in trees? How our hearts steadily unravelled?

So I begin with A. Adam’s apple.

Will you be there to catch me when I fall?

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Review: Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Publication date: 23 April 2013
Publisher: Square Peg
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780224095372
Length: 369 pages
Genre: Humour
Age group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 5 Stars

Hyperbole and A Half is a blog written by a 20-something American girl called Allie Brosh. She tells fantastically funny, wise stories about the mishaps of her everyday life, with titles like ‘Why Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving’ and ‘The God of Cake’. She accompanies these with naive drawings using Paint on her PC. Brosh’s website receives millions of visitors a month and hundreds of thousands of per day.

Now her full-colour debut book chronicles the many “learning experiences” Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws. It includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a mentally challenged dog; and a moving and darkly comic account of her struggles with depression. Poignant and uproarious – think Cyanide and Happiness but with story-lines, cake and dogs.

Hyperbole and a Half has been on my wish list ever since I saw it on Ellie’s blog this time last year. Although I wasn’t familiar with the Hyperbole and a Half blog at the time, I love all types of humour, from books to TV comedies and everything in between, so I knew it would be right up my street. But for some reason, I never got around to buying a copy.

However, I went to Foyles a couple of weeks ago and saw the book near the counter. I picked it up and started reading the back cover. And I literally laughed out loud. Three sentences in, I knew I’d love it.

And I did.

It was just as funny as I expected it to be and it had me laughing all the way through the end. I don’t know what’s funnier, Brosh’s illustrations (drawn in Paint – which, for me, makes them even more hilarious) or her memoirs that accompany the images. The whole thing is just brilliant as it is.

Although I’m not a dog person (I’ve never been), her dog stories were definitely my favourite. This one in particular had me choking with laughter for days and it still makes me giggle if I look at it. It was a story about Helper Dog, a slightly neurotic German shepherd, who was nearly impossible to train. People suggested giving her a treat every time she does something they like or simply when she stops doing bad things. However, as Allie says, “the only thing they managed to accomplish was to teach the Helper Dog that if she starts doing something they hate, and then stops that thing very briefly, she can get a treat”. And then she went back to doing the thing again.

The Simple Dog - Hyperbole and a Half

Do you know that feeling when you’re literally crying with laughter and when, after ten minutes, you manage to stop and go ‘it’s not even that funny’ – and then it starts all over again? That’s pretty much what happened.

But Hyperbole and a Half is not just about dogs, cake and the author’s mischievous childhood. Her stories about depression and what she’s been through are just as brilliant as the funny bits, but in a completely different way. She describes the illness perfectly and without making it too depressing. She adds a bit of humour to the more serious topics as well, so they blend in with the rest of the book perfectly.

Whether you or your loved ones have been suffering from depression or you’re simply looking for an entertaining read, I simply cannot recommend this enough. Although it’s a relatively quick read due to all the drawings, I know it will stay with me for a long time and I will re-read it from time to time. It’s absolutely brilliant. 

Book & a Brew – A Monthly Mystery Box for Book Lovers

Book and a Brew

I’ve always enjoyed curling up in bed with a good book, a nice cup of tea and a warm blanket. For me, these three – or books and tea, at least – go hand in hand. A good book is not the same without a nice hot drink and vice versa. Although my tea supply is not nearly as big as my book collection (it’s quite impressive, mind you), I’m known for my obsession with both. If you can relate to anything I’ve said so far – or you simply enjoy reading – you will love today’s post.

Last month I discovered a website dedicated to book lovers, whether kids or adults, which is so brilliant I don’t even know why it hasn’t existed before. Book & a Brew is a monthly subscription service for book lovers and everyone who appreciates a nice brew. Basically, the aim of the website is to deliver a mystery box filled with a good book and healthy, delicious drinks straight to your door every month. As someone who loves both books and tea, I was literally jumping up and down with joy that someone finally made this happen.

As you can see, the books arrive in a simple yet elegant packaging with the Book & a Brew logo on them (which is incredibly cute). My November mystery box was hiding a hardback copy of Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls and a package of chocolate and mint tea.

Book and a Brew Package

Teapigs Chocolate and Mint

Boxes are always shipped from the 15th of each month and are always of a greater value than what you are paying. Each box contains a hardback book and either a box of tea or a package of ground coffee to go with it, but they do kids boxes for younger readers as well.

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