Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I bought this book a while back but didn’t get the chance to read it until now and let me say that it was worth the wait.

This will be a spoiler-free review, as I don’t want to ruin it for those who have not read the book yet. Before reading this book I read somewhere, that The Girl on the Train was stated to be the next ‘Gone Girl’ in the thriller genre – this made me curious as I have only seen that movie and have not yet read the book.

The blurb goes like this: ‘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 Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a psychological thriller, which will lead you on a journey like no other and from the onset you will be unable to stop reading until you finish the book.


The story is based in London. The main character Rachel Watson is a 32-year-old alcoholic, she has lost her husband and recently lost her job. Despite being unemployed she commutes to the city under the pretense of going to work. Along the way, she sees a perfect couple who’s home backs the tracks and in her mind she creates a perfect story for them, even naming them. She yearns to be happy as them, if only she could be. Then something happens, from afar she sees something, it is only a minute but it changes everything. Nothing will ever be the same again.

I won’t reveal any more but the story is initially told from two characters points of view – one is Rachel and the other is Megan who is ‘Jess’ from Rachel’s story. I have to say the way Hawkins connects all the characters together is very cleverly done.


During the course of the reading the book I discovered that the film rights had been acquired by Dreamworks and Emily Blunt was in talks to play the character of Rachel Watson. So it was easy for me to imagine Blunt as Rachel and I think she would be perfect for the role. 🙂

I have to say that this book has reignited my interest in the thriller genre again and I definitely recommend all to read it. Let me tell you, your train journeys will never be the same again.

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Favourites of 2015 — Part One…

Hey hey 🙂

In the past six months that I have been away from the blogging world, a few things have occupied my time besides work. I have managed to get through a lot of books, so much that I surprised myself. This is a sort of favourites post where I will write about the books which I have loved and others not so much, I will also include shows that I have enjoyed amongst other things. So let’s start!

Books


— The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

1This book I borrowed from the library and it is a classic from the 1950s. When I began to read it, I got a déjà vu feeling as I felt it was going to be too similar to The Walking Dead show and I thought it would go down the same route but I am so glad it didn’t.

So the plot of the story is as follows: Bill Masen wakes up in hospital with bandages covering his injured eyes and he has missed the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. On removing his bandages the next morning, he discovers a plague of blindness has befallen the whole world. He has to leave the city because the place he knew twenty-four hours before is now gone forever. But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids. The Triffids are these strange plants that appeared years ago all over the world. They can grow to over seven feet tall, they can walk and kill with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. Now that the world is in a mess, the Triffids are taking this chance to prey on humankind.

All in all, Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids surprised me and it gave me lots of food for thought. I found it fascinating especially reading how the society went to shambles, not long post crisis which could very easily happen today.

Noughts & Crosses Series (#1) by Malorie Blackman

Noughts & Crosses I was supposed to read the other two books in the Noughts & Crosses series but got sidetracked by the other books. I don’t think it would be right for me to review this book on its own entity, so I will review the series one I have read all of them. The thing I liked most about this book was that however contemporaneous the issues were; I believe it is the way Blackman switched them over to give them a different perspective, was what made it really clever.

— Harry Potter Series by J K Rowling

Harry Potter Series I re-read the first three Harry Potter books in the Harry Potter series. They bring back so many childhood memories, especially when I used to think that Hogwarts actually existed. 😀

So in a way it is always great to go back and familiarise myself with the books again because they were loads of things I’d forgotten. My favourite book would always have to be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Paper Towns by John Green

PTAs the movie was releasing this summer I really wanted to read it before it released here in the UK. I had high hopes for this book as I absolutely loved John Green’s other work but I felt the story to be too similar to ‘Looking for Alaska’ so I didn’t enjoy it.

The other problem I had with this book was the character of Margo Roth Spiegelman, I couldn’t relate to her character at all. The ending also left much to be desired. I still think John Green is a great writer but this one wasn’t up to the mark for me.

But I liked to share the one quote I loved in this book:

“It’s so hard to leave-until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world…Leaving feels too good, once you leave.”

— Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & ParkI fell in love with this book instantly, it brought back happy childhood memories; the times when I used to listen to music on my Sony Walkman, ahh those were the days. You must be thinking why I am all of a sudden talking about my childhood, tapes and music. Well, all these play a big part in the love story between Eleanor and Park. I love their first meeting in the school bus, it is quite quaint and unique.

I also love the part music plays in the story. It shows how two strangers can connect and bond, how essentially a song a break can the ice between two people whereas nowadays we listen to music as a way to ignore or shut the world out.

So totally recommend this one!

— Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

ugly-loveAfter hearing numerous bloggers, youtubers, etc raving about this book on Twitter, so I just had to read it.

However it is full-on story about love, romance so don’t go in expecting anything else. But I have to say this; Colleen Hoover’s writing style is what sets this book apart from others. Like most authors this year, Hoover is another I have recently introduced to; so I think I’m breaking the mould a little now.

— The Mara Dyer Series by Michelle Hodkin

I could not manage to finish these series, I have to admit because the second and third books let me down majorly and I just couldn’t get back into it. Perhaps one day, when I am in the right mood I might go back and finish it. But the thing that drew me to these books originally were the unique covers, they are just AH-MAZING, beautifully done…I love them. Have a look at them below and let me know what you think?

mara-dyer-trilogy

Amazing covers!

I have to say I loved the first book, it had all the elements needed to make a story great but sad to say I was left disappointed with how bizarre the plot went and it was not believable.

— Perfect by Judith McNaught

PerfectThis is the first Judith McNaught book I have read, so I gave it a chance. I definitely felt it to be a bit of an outdated story, a little cheesy and long-winded in parts. The second half of the book particular irritated me, the story took on the typical misunderstandings plot twist and it became frustrating to read.

It could’ve been a good story; if the unnecessary dragging was cut down, the romance and cheesy lines was toned down a bit.

— Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New WorldThis book was strongly recommended to me by my good friend Ana and to be honest I was a bit skeptical about reading it. But I went along with it as she was quite persistent. I admit I found it difficult to get into this book, as the first few chapters were heavy going and made it boring to read. I stuck to it and…eventually the story got interesting. I don’t like giving up on a book, but all in all if the story had not picked up (which I think it was chapter three or four) I was going to call it a day.

There are only certain times when I found myself disengaged with a book and this could be because I don’t like the writing style or the plot has become incomprehensible or beyond ridiculous.

Movie


— Far From The Madding Crowd

Far From The Madding CrowdFar From The Madding Crowd is based on the novel by Thomas Hardy by the same name and it is a classic, written in 1874. I haven’t read many classics so I am hoping to change that.

I went to see this movie in the spur of the moment, so I knew absolutely nothing about the story. I remember watching a short trailer on TV but that’s about it. My first impressions were oh no it is going to a slow moving film but surprisingly I enjoyed it and I would love to watch it all over again.

Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts stood out for me, they played their characters very well, it also helped that Schoenaerts was really good looking. 🙂


End of June, Ramadan started so I completely cut down on reading for the whole month and during that time I stumbled upon Korean shows or specifically a Korean show called ‘Boys Over Flowers’, it may sound a little odd but I became hooked once I started. I was reading the English subtitles which felt a bit weird at first but soon got used to it.

That is all for now, but I will be reviewing ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins soon so keep an eye out for that.

Until next time…

Naj

Book Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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I used to be able to finish one to two books a day. Nowadays due to work and other responsibilities I’m not able to read as much as I would love to. So when I saw this book at the library, I just picked it up thinking it would be something different to what I usually go for. I had no idea who the author was, I just skimmed through the blurb and contemplated whether I really would be able to get into a typical dry love story like this.

The blurb went like this: ‘When the Countess Ellen Olenska returns from Europe, fleeing her brutish husband, her rebellious independence and passionate awareness of life stir the educated sensitivity of Newland Archer, already engaged to be married to the Countess’s cousin May Welland, “that terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything.” As the drama unfolds, Edith Wharton’s sharp ironic wit and Jamesian mastery of form create a disturbingly accurate picture of men and women caught in a society that denies humanity while desperately defending “civilisation”.’

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton is not your typical love triangle, so you will not enjoy it if you’re expecting a cute, happy story. I was pleasantly surprised and right from the onset I became engrossed, I just couldn’t put the book down.


Based in upper-class New York City in the 1870s, in a society where people “dreaded scandal more than disease.” In ways still relevant and relatable today. Before I go on, I have to mention that reading about New York City reminded me of Gossip Girl, it used to be my favourite show and this book was actually mentioned in the show. Back to the story, we are introduced into Newland Archer’s world, who is seemingly happily engaged to the traditional May Welland. But his world soon turns upside down, when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska (who is also May’s cousin) returns back to New York from Europe, after a unhappy marriage. Ellen is complete opposite to May; unconventional and emotional and Archer falls deeply in love with her. Yearning for the freedom to be with her makes him question the society they live in. Ultimately Archer has to make a decision that will fulfil his life or destroy it.


I have to applaud Wharton’s writing; she has perfectly portrayed Archer’s inner turmoil and struggles between his desire to be with Countess Ellen Olenska, which he can only dream of and his duty towards his wife. I actually began to empathise with his character, in some parts actively hoping/wishing he would leave May and go to Ellen. It made me think about the society we live in, where if there was someone stuck in the same position as Archer today; I don’t think he/she would think twice or make the sacrifice at all – he/she would leave the person and be with the one they love. I guess times have changed a lot!


During the course of reading the book, I discovered there was a film adaptation of the book made in 1993, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. I don’t know why I didn’t just google it at the beginning but good thing I didn’t, it is always best to read the book first. So I still need to watch it, which should be great!


This book had pretty much taken over my life for the last month, so finding another book just as good as this will not be easy. Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Age of Innocence, Wharton’s writing kept me gripped and interested all the way through. I would recommend anyone to give it a try and you’ll be surprised like I was.

Fifty Shades of Grey trailer

The much awaited full trailer of the bestselling book, that has become a global phenomenon is finally here. Is it hot or is it a big no no?

The first fully fledged trailer of Fifty Shades of Grey is here and YES, it is the official trailer. Due to the sexual content of the books, fans have been waiting to see how the movie will work, whether it will be similar to the book and if Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan can pull off Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey seamlessly.

At first glance you notice a timid, quiet Anastasia Steele who clearly looks out of place in Grey Enterprises; this scene has a little titbit similarity to the movie The Devil Wear Prada with Meryl Streep. Especially Dakota Johnson’s whole look which seems inspired by Anne Hathaway’s character of Andrea Sachs. Next we get a look at Christian Grey, who tries to look intimidating but fails miserably but hey, the interior of his office looks amazing. I want to have an office exactly like that.

The only plus side of the trailer, was Beyonce’s remix version of  ‘Crazy in Love’ which really stood out for me, it added that extra factor and made it worth watching.

All in all the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer did not do it for me. I didn’t see anything new or different however I’m reserving my full judgement for when the movie releases next year on Valentines Day.

Have a look and let me know what you think – did the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer do it for you?

Naj

The reality of the 10,000 words dissertation looms…

Hey hey!

As the title suggests this post is dedicated to the mammoth 10,000 word dissertation I have to do this semester; it’s based on victims from ‘troubled’ backgrounds who don’t seem to be have a voice in the media. So what led me to do my dissertation on this subject?

Well, it was the whole Jimmy Savile case that got me interested into finding out more. When I first heard about it in the news, it just riled me up. An individual who became so powerful that he/she could do anything and get away with it – like Savile who thought of himself as being ‘untouchable’ and he was able to prey on 450 victims. The victims being from ‘troubled’ backgrounds were not believed by the media or the police even though it was said to be an open secret.

However researching further into this subject I discovered several other cases such as the Rochdale abuse case and the Oxford child rape case, where the victims were runaways from care homes. So seeing all this, I believe there is an issue and decided to write about it.

The reading that will go into this dissertation will be humongous, including the surveys/questionnaires and the people I have to contact. So the next few months, I can say I won’t be having any sort of social life – just books and my laptop to keep me company. Reality has definitely set in for me!

Naj