The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

After seeing all the buzz for this book and all the comparisons to Gone Girl, I decided I would give it a try. Then, I was on a hold list forever and that caused me to want to read it even more. Funny how that happens! Well, I finally read it and I’m not entirely sure what the big hubbub is all about. It wasn’t as crazy weird as Gone Girl, and I do believe this story would make a better movie than Gone Girl. There are three characters who are narrating the story, Rachel, Anna, and Megan. The chapters switch back and forth between the three women and also back and forth over the span of a few months. I wouldn’t advise trying to pay attention to the timeline while you read, because I tried and got too caught up in it and lost momentum for reading.

Rachel is an alcoholic, and therefore, a mostly unreliable narrator. Anna is Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, and she is not a fan of Rachel for various reasons which you will soon figure out by reading the beginning of the book. Megan is a neighbor down the street from Anna’s house (which is also Rachel’s old house). Rachel rides the train every day and becomes quite interested in watching Megan’s house, while trying to avoid looking at her old house. One day she sees something out of place, and her obsession builds from there. Meanwhile, Megan goes missing and the night it happens, Rachel is so drunk that she blacks out and has no memory of where she was, or why she came home battered and bloody. Could she have done something to Megan? Does she really know what happened? Did she see who took Megan? The story does move along rather quickly, and I’m glad I read it. But, I just didn’t have the feeling that I couldn’t put it down and I’m not in love with it. If you like psychological suspense and stories where all the characters are a bit off their rockers, this is the book for you.

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

This was a great book. It follows the lives of Bella, Sam (male), and Suzie from the time they are 15 until they have reached adulthood. The story switches back and forth between the characters, giving the reader glimpses of each as they grow older and experience love, loss, marriage, children, etc. The author does a nice job of keeping the interest level high, even though much of the plot consists of everyday life. The romance is sweet, and it’s not overdone. I would recommend this book as a quick read for those who like realistic fiction.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

wewereliarsI’ve heard a lot about this popular YA book and I’ve been meaning to read it for some time. This past week, one of my students checked it out from the public library and put it on my desk with a demand to “read it!” So, I did. And, I am pleased. It was a beautifully written story spanning 3 (what should have been) idyllic summers with the Sinclair family, as they spent time on their own private island, wanting of nothing. However, money doesn’t buy happiness, as they say. The book is surrounded by mystery as the reader follows the main character, Cadence or Cady, as she tries to remember what happened during the summer she was 15 that caused her to have such terrible migraine headaches. She remembers small details, but can’t quite put together the whole story, and no one will answer her questions or tell her what happened, because they don’t want to upset her. By the end the book, I was glad to finally figure out what happened, but it was definitely not what I expected. It’s a quick read, and I would recommend it to my HS kids. I’ve ordered a copy for our school library.

The First Wife by Erica Spindler

This was a good book. It isn’t one of my favorites, but it was a good “quick & dirty” suspense read. I use that phrase for books that you can easily get into and finish because the plot moves along fast and there isn’t too much fluff to cause the reader to get sidetracked or slow down the pace. I had never read a book by Erica Spindler prior to this one. The story follows young newlywed, Bailey, as she meets and then very quickly marries her “Prince Charming” Logan and then moves onto his horse farm and into his life without much thought about his past. She soon finds out that there are many secrets regarding the “disappearance” of his first wife, along with other young women from the area over a span of a few years, secrets which someone close to her is trying to keep hidden. Much of the story is predictable and the romance is a bit canned at times. However, it’s a good read for anyone who enjoys a little suspense.

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

Letters to the Lost will be published on May 26, 2015.

This is one of the best and most beautiful stories I have read in a while, which is saying a lot because I read so many different types of books. I’ve not read anything by this author previously, but I do hope she writes more! The book has two separate story lines going on, one in 1943 London during WWII with Stella and Dan and the other in present day London with Will and Jess. Stella is a young Vicar’s wife who married too soon and not for love. Dan is an American pilot stationed in London for a short time. On the flip side, Jess is a young woman on the run from an abusive boyfriend and Will is a young man living in the shadow of his extremely handsome, successful brother, and dealing with loneliness and general unhappiness. When the characters meet up both in the past and present story lines, it is breathtaking. I won’t give away too much of the plot because I don’t like to be a spoiler. However, I will say that I was absolutely captivated by this story. I couldn’t put the book down, and when I was forced to stop reading, I couldn’t wait to dive back in and find out what happened next. The romance between both character sets was just beautiful and heartbreaking in times. It reminded me a little of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and I enjoyed it just as much. Well done, Iona Grey. I’m a huge fan!!!

The Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I picked up this book because I’m giving my HS students an April Reading Challenge, and naturally, I’m taking it too. This book fits the category of “A book a friend recommended.” I’m really glad I decided to give it a try. It was a quirky, cute romantic comedy sort of book. At its center is Lincoln, a young man in his late 20’s who still lives with his mother and plays Dungeons & Dragons with friends occasionally. Otherwise, his social life is a bit dull. His “security” job in IT at a large newspaper forces him to read interoffice emails and items that are caught in web filters. While doing so, he catches some extremely personal back and forth emails between two women named Jennifer and Beth. He finds himself unable to turn them in or warn them of company policy of sending personal emails because he genuinely likes them. Instead he begins to look forward to their daily banter, no matter how personal, hilarious, or serious at times. He starts to wish he actually knew them, especially Beth, who is in a relationship, but seems to be very lonely like himself. Meanwhile, Beth & Jennifer start talking about a “very cute guy” at work and wishing they knew who he was, etc. Could it be Lincoln?

This is a light read, with not too much harsh language and the romance is very PG. I really enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s writing style. Thanks for recommending this one, Cameron. I’m glad to have read it!