Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Pages: 336
Genre: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Riverhead Books (Penguin Publishing Group)
Pub. Date: January 13, 2015

I'm of two thoughts about this book. In The Girl on the Train, Rachel rides the train every day past a group of houses where she often has observed a couple whom she has become invested in. She imagines who they are and their stories. So when she sees something strange one day, and then news about this couple becomes public, she can't quell her curiosity, poking her nose in where she shouldn't, and becomes overly involved. What follows is a thriller as we try to figure out what's really going on and who is telling the truth.

I rated this one 3 out of 5 stars. On the one hand, it was a thriller that kept me hooked and that I essentially finished in a weekend. As other bloggers have said, it is definitely a fun read. I would imagine most people will like it and will get caught up in all the unknowns in the story.

On the other hand, none of the characters were at all likeable and the main character is always drunk so she (and, thus, we) never really know what's going on!  That was annoying. In terms of the literary factors of the mystery, it sort of felt like the whole main character always blacking out thing was sort of a cheat, although I guess that was just part of the story. There were some twists as the story went on. This is NOT the next Gone Girl or even a good comparison. Overall, it was a a fun read but I am surprised at quite the amount of hype it has received.

Mini-mini Reviews #3

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I decided to go back and do a bunch of mini reviews for all the books I read but failed to review over the past two years. This will make me feel sort of caught up and refreshed and maybe will help me be motivated to keep up with reviewing what I've read this year! Some of these will be very mini since I can't remember them that well. This is batch #3.

Title: Jaws
Author: Peter Benchley
Pages: 352
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday (Random House)
Pub. Date: February 1, 1974
Audio Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Audio Time: 9 hours, 37 minutes
Audio Narrator: Erik Steele

I had this on my list ever since Ti read it a couple (few?) summers ago, so I finally got around to it this past summer. I listened to this on audio. Overall I enjoyed this book, but I did not find it scary, necessarily. It was comical to me how the city was run... the sheriff was in charge of dealing with the shark, etc. Not sure if that is a 1970's thing or just how this fictional (I'm assuming) town was written. Although I enjoyed the story, there was one part that I thought was so completely out of place that it sort of turned me off of this book (in the way that that one scene in Stephen King's It... those who read It probably know what I mean). In this one, two of the characters are sort of flirting with each other and they have this entire exchange where the one asks the other about her sexual fantasies and they go back and forth etc. and the issue I had was not with the content but with the fact that it added nothing, whatsoever, to the story and felt so completely out of place. I couldn't help but think the author was inserting his own fantasy for no reason at all. But otherwise good and I did follow this read up with a re-watch of the movie (which was not as great as I remembered, LOL).

Title: A Game of Thrones
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Author: George R. R. Martin
Pages: 807
Genre: Fantasy; Historical
Publisher: Bantam Books (Random House)
Pub. Date: August 28, 1996

My husband has read this one many times and has read many others in the series. I decided to give it a go before we started watching the show. It was outside my genre but I found it interesting and scandalous and surprisingly easy to read. I have chosen not to read the rest of the series because there is just too much and they're too long and I'd rather just watch the show, but if the show hadn't come out I would have considered more. (This opinion is not typical, but I think this is because it is so far out of my typical genre).

Title: Into the Abyss
Subtitle: An Extraordinary True Story
Author: Carol Shaben
Pages: 287
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)
Pub. Date: May 21, 2013

I asked for this non-fiction one for Christmas 2013. The story wasn't as crazy interesting as I thought it would be which I feel bad saying because these guys did survive a plane crash and were stranded for hours in the freezing cold before rescue. But that part of the book was fairly short and much of it focused on the lives of all the men. There was a lot I learned about planes and piloting and the dark side of the private airline industry (scary!) And the whole story regarding the prisoner's life was really sad. I found this book to be okay but did think it was a great way for the author to tell her father's story.

Title: Everybody's Got Something
Author: Robin Roberts with Veronica Chambers
Pages: 272
Genre: Non-fiction; Memoir
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)
Pub. Date: April 22, 2014
Audio Publisher: Hachette Audio
Audio Time: 7 hours, 18 minutes
Audio Narrator: Robin Roberts

I am a huge GMA fan (Good Morning America) and, therefore, also a big fan of Robin Roberts. (I even saw her and the GMA cast in person back in 2010 when we were in NYC. I was part of a small group that watched her interview with Steve Harvey which is funny because I recently was in the audience at his show. But anyway...) Fans of Robin Roberts have followed her journey as she first battled breast cancer and then later myelodysplastic syndrome which was a complication of her treatment from cancer and was also a life threatening illness. I listened to this one on audio, read by Robin herself, and easily got into her story. I do think that people who don't know her would enjoy this book as well, but fans of hers will definitely enjoy this. I always like hearing about the interactions of the GMA staff and how family like they really are, which she talked a lot about. And I was surprised how much she talked about her relationship with her partner as well and a nice glimpse into her life.

Movie Review: Jurassic World

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I was excited to see Jurassic World this past weekend, and it turns out everyone else was too! The theater was packed! (I also heard it had the highest opening weekend ever at over $500 million).

Jurassic World takes place 20+ years after the disaster of Jurassic Park. Despite that disaster that took place in the original, things resolved and time had been kind to the park. It had since turned into a super popular theme park. Unfortunately, revenue recently went down so Jurassic World has to come up with a new attraction... they genetically engineer a new dinosaur that's bigger and badder than the rest! But greed becomes problematic, as this new dinosaur causes chaos in the park.

Jurassic World was a super fun movie that I think everyone would love. There were moments during our showing where people clapped and laughed, and at the end there was all out applause. I really enjoyed the performance by Bryce Dallas Howard -- she played an uptight, Type A operations manager at Jurassic World. Her nephews come to visit the park and it's obvious she has not maintained a relationship with them or know anything about them. I guess her role was sort of stereotypical in a way, but she did a good job with it. One of the funny/unrealistic things about the movie was that she ran around in her high heels throughout all the action... LOL. I guess that's not any more unrealistic than live dinosaurs. Chris Pratt is obviously the other big star in the movie. I liked his character. He played sort of a "badass" and did a good job with it, but I don't have much else to say about his character except that I liked the interaction between him and Bryce Dallas Howard.

The action in the movie picked up from the beginning. The visuals were great. The park was huge and gorgeous. And I think the dinosaurs looked realistic. There was also the theme, similar to Jurassic Park, of the dangers of being greedy and making decisions that prioritized that.

Overall there was a lot of action, plenty of funny moments, and was a fun movie for adults and children alike. Would be a great movie to see as a family.

Review (And Movie Comparison): Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Monday, June 15, 2015

Title: Jurassic Park
Author: Michael Crichton
Pages: 448
Genre: Fiction; Science Fiction; Thriller
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday (Random House)
Pub. Date: November 28, 1990

I saw this movie when it first came out and I was 10 or 11-years-old. I loved it. But in recent years I had been interested in reading the book. My husband apparently did read te book back then even tough he was only about a year older than me. So, in anticipation of the new movie, Jurassic World, coming out, he and I decided to do our little read-a-long of Jurassic Park.

I'm sure when I saw the movie at 10ish, I didn't understand all the technical aspects of the movie (nor did the movie go into it as in depth as the book). The first half of the book focused on explaining how the concept and creation of Jurassic Park came along. It was fascinating and realistic enough that it made me think that it is something that is totally possible! This first half of the book, despite not really having any dinosaur appearances, had its own tension. The build up to the second half of the book was thrilling in its own right. There was also great use of foreshadowing.

Then the second half had tons of action, as things at the new park start breaking down just like the scientist said it would. Just when I thought it was done, there was more to be had. I really enjoyed this book and can see why it was chosen to become the blockbuster it did.

Jason and I recently re-watched the movie. Neither of us had seen it since the original release. We boy enjoyed it still all these years later. It followed the book pretty well, obviously having to leave some things out though. They also killed off/kept different people than the book, but it all worked!

Jason and I will be heading down to Universal/IOA in the near future for our "water ride day" which includes the Jurassic Park ride! There's new excitement for the ride since we read the book and re-watched the movie.

We also went this weekend and saw Jurassic World.. so stay tuned for my upcoming review of that!

The Sunday Salon: Plans Moving Forward

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I know it's like a broken record, but I really do want to get back into blogging regularly. I was looking at my blog archives and saw that even back in 2013 I only posted 12 times!So it's been quite a while that I've been essentially MIA.

I actually have drafted reviews that I never posted and have lots of others to write. Although I don't read nearly as often as I was used to, it's still one of my favorite activities. And even though it's a relaxing stress reliever, I often can't seem to relax enough to pick up a book in the first place! So that is an effort I'm going to try to work more toward.

Not much is new in my life, sadly. This past December, Jason and I wrapped up our second IVF attempt unsuccessfully. That's the end of our attempts. As it is we will be paying back the loan we took out for the IVFs until summer of 2019!

Since then (well, a few months later) I have taken up the hobby of running, and now I'm obsessed! I even started a running blog -- if you're interested it's at It's so weird starting out with that blog because the running blog community is huge and well established (like the book blogging community) and I'm trying to figure out how to join in and take part -- something I did with this blog several years ago now so I don't remember. It's like being the new girl at school, haha!

So tentative plans for now are to post a review at least once a week (starting tomorrow). At some point I also need to start replacing pictures on this blog... a while ago I deleted my google+ account and accidentally deleted all images associated with my google account, i.e., this blog! So I've slowly had to go back and add the images again, but I have many more to do.