The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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4/5 stars.
Read from June 16 to 25, 2015.
Paperback, 316 pages.

This is by far one of the most popular books published in the last year. With the insurgence and popularity of twisted thrillers and mysteries, like Gone Girl,  it’s no surprise that this novel has received a substantial amount of attention.

Rachel takes same train every morning and every evening. Wondering what goes on in the houses she passes everyday Rachel fixates on a couple that she often sees and envisions what their lives must be like, which is obviously much better than the life she is leading. The house she watches is right beside the home she use to live in where she was happily married. That is until she found out that her husband Tom was cheating on her with another woman. That woman, Anna, is now living in that same house with their new born baby. Rachel has not been able to move past the split and drinks heavily. Rachel’s drab life takes a curious turn when the couple she has been watching from the train suddenly becomes the focus of a police investigation as the woman has gone missing. Trying to piece together what may have happened, Rachel gets a bit too involved in the case and uncovers some horrifying truths.

Rachel’s life is unbearable and miserable and as a reader, you get to slowly unfold the events in her life that brought her to her current state. It’s tragic. You’ll also get frustrated with the poor choices that Rachel continues to make in her life. However, despite her sadness, her story is extremely compelling; the novel slowly releases set segments of Rachel’s life in which you are pressed to read on just to find out what happened to her and what goes on during the nights she has had too much to drink. In addition to Rachel’s problems, the additional driving forces of this book are the other characters. As you get to know Anna, Tom, and the couple, you are just as enthralled with their own unique lives and how they interact with Rachel.

This book really shows that not everything is as it seems. Especially with people. That appearances are deceiving and that even the most loving couple has their secrets and troubles.

The ending was one hell of a surprise and was successful in stumping me completely. All I will say about the ending is that it’s extremely satisfying and that readers will not be disappointed. In terms of recommendations, mystery lovers should definitely take a look at this book but I would also say that anyone who is a fan of Gillian Flynn and her books (Gone Girl, Dark Places, Sharp Objects) will definitely take pleasure in reading this novel as it has the same dark vibe and feel and her novels.

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Filed under 4 Star, Mystery, Read 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lees

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4/5 stars.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Read from June 08 to 16, 2015.

Since Go Set A Watchman, the prequel to this book, was just published and I am currently waiting on my copy from the library, I thought I would re-read To Kill A Mockingbird.  The last time I read this book I must have been about 15 years old, and while I remember enjoying the book I couldn’t have told you what it was about so a re-read was definitely in order. Reading through the book this time around was like reading the book for the very first time and it was extremely enjoyable.

“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit them, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel that is set in the Jim Crow era and the Great Depression. The book has been in publication since 1960 and is one of the most successful books still in print today. The book won a Pulitzer Prize 1961. The new book, Go Set A Watchman was, actually written first in 1957 but the publishers were more interested in the flashback scenes in the book and encouraged Harper Lee to write a story based on that, which is how To Kill a Mockingbird came to be. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the publication of Go Set A Watchman, especially about whether or not Harper Lee really wanted the book published or completely understood that it was going to be published.

Fun Fact: Harper Lee was close friends with Truman Capote.

Jean Louise, or Scout, as she is most often referred to is six years old and lives with her older brother Jem and their widowed father Atticus in Maycomb Alabama. The book takes place over a period of three years. Jem and Scout become friends with a boy named Dill, who visits Maycomb every summer. The three of them are fixated on a home where the elusive Arthur “Boo” Radley is rumored to never leave his home. No one knows why, but Boo has kept himself cooped up in his home for years and no one has seen or heard from him in long time. There are variety of nasty rumors that are spread around town as a result. Atticus is one of the county’s lawyers and he has been given one of the most controversial cases yet. He is defending a black man named Tom Robinison, who has been accused of raping a young white woman named Mayella Ewell. The Ewell’s are a disreputable family to begin with and many have already concluded that the claim itself is false but no one is willing to defend a black man, regardless of his innocence, and no one has ever won when defending a black person. Many people in town are skeptical, angry or offended with Atticus and his affinity for Tom and his willingness to defend him. The back lash comes to affect both Jem and Scout in different ways as the two of them grow.

The book is narrated from Scout’s perspective giving the reader the interesting insights of a curious but resilient young girl. I adore Scout. She is honest, keeps up with the boys and is reluctant to act like a lady. Scout’s perspective adds additional depth for the reader as Scout is experiencing a variety of adult scenarios and you get to perceive them as she does, through the eyes of a child..The book has a unique readability because of Scout’s perspective as well, especially in her regards to Boo Radley. The book is playful but smart as it engrosses some very serious issues of its day as well as some basic life lessons on how to treat people. The playfulness of Scout is balanced by Atticus’ wisdom.

Overall a very worth while and pleasant read. I’d recommend this book to anyone, young or old, as it’s a very accessible story thanks to Scout’s perspective. If Go Set A Watchman is anything like this book then I will be happy to read it despite its controversy.

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Filed under 4 Star, Classic, Re-read, Read 2015

Sum: 41 Tales of the Afterlife by David Eagleman

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4/5 stars.
Paperback, 128 pages.
Read June 12, 2015.

If you’re looking for a quick and inspiring read then you really should pick up this book. I guarantee you that you’ve never thought about the afterlife in this way regardless of what you believe. This book consists of 41 different short stories that detail different scenarios for the afterlife. Some are what you’d hope they’d be, while some detail a boring or intolerable afterlife or a God that has forgotten about his creations. All of which, make you consider the possibilities of what happens to us when we die.

The author David Eagleman is a bit of an overachiever. Not only is he an accomplished writer who is a New York times bestselling author whose books have been published into 23 different languages, he is also a neuroscientist. Yeah. This guys got it made. Though it’s no surprise that content of this book is so unique knowing that this man works on people’s brains on a daily basis and has probably witnessed his fair share of death in his profession.

This book has been the closest thing to a religious experience that I’ve ever encountered. As I am still somewhat young, the impeding death that affects us all isn’t the most prominent thing on my mind. It’s not that I haven’t experienced loss but in terms of myself, I’ve not yet given much thought to my own death or even what I think the afterlife might be. I believe that those that pass away have a way of being present in your life and that somehow they are always with us. An extremely agnostic approach to death but it’s the only way that feels comfortable for me. This book adds to my agnostic beliefs and comforts me further. Even with the most unpleasant depictions of that afterlife there is still something more tangible about the scenarios depicted in this book than the standard Christian one or even that of Atheist view. The book has a biblical feel in that it provided me some consolation or something more to consider in terms of the afterlife. Even if they are just stories. This is a book that is meant to be re-read. Many times. The beauty of this book is that the stories can be read in any order so you’re looking for something  to ponder on or perhaps for some inspiration after a particularly rough day, you can randomly select a story from this book to help to help you reflect

I would not recommend this book for anyone that is fundamentalist with their religion. There are many times in this book in which the concepts of God are played with, mocked and turned right on its head. The concepts in this book are meant to be questioned, pondered and considered so if you’re not up for doing that with your own religion then do not read this book. For everyone else, put this book on your to-read list as soon as possible. Better yet, go and buy a copy and keep it to be re-read whenever you need it.

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Filed under 4 Star, Read 2015, Short Stories