#ThrowbackThursday: The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins

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It’s Thursday once again and we’re back with my favorite book meme, #ThrowbackThursday created by Renee of It’s Book Talk (https://itsbooktalk.com/) as her way of sharing some of her favorite oldies but goodies books that were published more than a year ago. Check out her blog to see her TBT recommendations this week 🙂

Today, I’m featuring the mystery thriller, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins which was made into a movie a year ago. Take note, I haven’t seen the movie so this review is purely related to the book.

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Everyday, Rachel Watson rode the train, with alcohol in her hand, reliving the moments of her day, wove stories in her head and somehow still wished she was still married to her ex, Tom. She was an alcoholic and often had blackouts. Everyday, she passed by “Jess and Jason’s” house and imagined their perfect wonderful life. Until one day she saw something that shocked her and changed everything she knew about the people in her old neighborhood.

Megan and Scott didn’t exactly resemble the happy family that Rachel imagined them to be. Megan had issues with her neighbors, her job (or lack thereof), her husband. Megan’s disappearance in the story came as a shock and Scott’s abusive nature gripped my throat.

Anna Watson, Tom’s new wife and mother of their child, was something else. She’s unreliable, pretentious, insecure. I can’t say much about her because really, there was nothing likeable about her in my opinion. So there.

The characters were so unsettling that for the first time in my life, I didn’t favor any of them, wasn’t at all thrilled at anyone,  In my eyes, Rachel Watson was desperate, Anna Watson was unforthcoming, and Megan was erratic. Tom and Scott were both horrendous, that’s all I could say about them.

But darn it, I wasn’t expecting that ending! Sure I’ve had my fair share of mysteries and thrillers, I thought I have already mastered the art of eliminating the possible suspects and guessing whodunnit. But I was wrong. Once again, I was left with my mouth hanging open at the turn of events.

The Girl on the Train had been a great read, quite disturbing and somehow  I found the whole story gripping and madly disturbingly awesome.

 

Review: Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone
by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

This was devastatingly heart breaking and heart pounding. The kind of thriller and mystery and suspense that would grip your heart, make you sweat out of fear and tremble during sleepless nights, be shocked how something as trivial as missing kids could wreak havoc to your way of thinking. That was everything I felt while reading Here and Gone. I thought I wouldn’t wake up from a nightmare.

One moment I was here with my Kindle, sipping coffee and tipping my eyeglasses up on my nose and before I knew it, my mind had gone astray and my heart stopped for this woman who only wanted nothing more than finding her kids who were stolen from her after a car arrest.

The characters, distraught mother Audra Kinney who escaped New York with her children, Sean and Louise, had captivated my heart. They’d been tangled up in a web of conspiracy and sick people who would do unimaginable evil. When she was arrested for possible drug possession, her kids were taken away from her and were deemed missing the moment she was “jailed” by Officer Whiteside. And so began her long insufferable journey to finding Sean and Louise and proving to everybody that she was perfectly sane and harmless. Something that only Danny the Knife Boy believed.

The story had been a roller-coaster one, gripping, terrifying, eye-popping. I couldn’t stop until it was finished. And when I got hold of my sane self, I almost choked out of breath and never wished to experience those moments again. My eyes cried out for Audra and my heart bled for her kids. That’s how emotional and intense this story had been.

All hail Haylen Beck for a remarkable first novel! A definite heart-stopping one from beginning to end!

NOTE: I received this ARC courtesy of Crown Publishing through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review: BLOWN by Chuck Barrett


Title: BLOWN (Gregg Kaplan series- book 1)
Author: Chuck Barrett
Published May 19, 2015

Gregg Kaplan is not an ordinary man, but a man with special skills, courtesy of the United States Government.

His assignment is to stay off the grid when he innocently stumbles into a blown witness protection detail in Little Rock, Arkansas. He simply could not walk away from the impending mayhem.

After the dust settles, a mortally wounded Deputy U.S. Marshal makes him promise to personally deliver the witness to a U.S. Marshals Service safe site.

Not just a promise, an oath. A pledge between ex-Army Delta Force comrades.

A trust that could not be broken—Once in, never out.

Kaplan soon suspects the witness he vowed to protect has secrets of his own; secrets that go beyond his testimony for the U.S. government. When he discovers the witness is being tracked, Kaplan teams with a WitSec Deputy U.S. Marshal assigned to recover the witness, but soon realizes some merciless people are dead set on preventing the witness from reaching the safe site.

But the witness has a hidden agenda of his own—One that could cost Kaplan his life.

I was literally blown away!

After an unexpected gunfight, Gregg Kaplan gets involved with a witness from the Witness Security Program and from there, the action never stopped.

Greg Kaplan ain’t no ordinary guy. He’s a badass with a heart riding a Harley-Davidson Fat-Boy. The twist and turns will shock the readers in the most surprising way. Kaplan is the kind of man you would want to lead your security. Kaplan’s character is hardcore, powerful and a force to reckon with.

From one great plot to another this thrilling story doesn’t seem to end. Chuck Barrett never ceases to impress me with all the action-adventure-thriller facets of the book. It’s been a while since I’ve read an action thriller from Barrett and the flow of his stories continue to intensify on every page.  I’ve read one of his other series, the Jake Pendleton political mysteries, and that kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning. With Gregg Kaplan series, I felt the same rush and adrenaline I experienced when perusing Pendleton.  Chuck Barrett is indeed someone to watch out for! Barrett proves again that he’s one of the best thriller writers in this generation!

 

Review: Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell

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Back Roads
by Tawni O’Dell

coffeesynopsisdHarley Altmyer should be in college drinking Rolling Rock and chasing girls. He should be freed from his closed-minded, stricken coal town, with its lack of jobs and no sense of humor. Instead, he’s constantly reminded of just how messed up his life is.

With his mother in jail for killing his abusive father, Harley is an orphan with the responsibilities of an adult and the fiery, aggressive libido of a teenager. Just nineteen years old, he’s marooned in the Pennsylvania backwoods caring for his three younger sisters, whose feelings about him range from stifling dependence to loathing. And once he develops an obsession with the sexy, melancholic mother of two living down the road, those Victoria’s Secret catalogs just won’t do the trick anymore. He wants Callie Mercer so badly he fears he will explode. But it’s the family secrets, the lies, and the unspoken truths that light the fuse and erupt into a series of staggering surprises, leaving what’s left of his family in tatters. Through every ordeal, the unforgettable Harley could never know that his endearing humor, his love for his sisters, and his bumbling heroics would redeem them all.

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His mom is in jail after she killed her husband. So Harley’s got full responsibility to his three sisters who are quite a handful. The eldest finds solace making out with boys in their living room couch.. The second one couldn’t be moved and the youngest is alarmingly as sweet as syrup. These girls need guidance from a woman, in my honest opinion, but all they got is Harley who isn’t particularly happy nor charmed with the setup. But he’s got no choice but to be the man in the family, and man, he needs all the boost he can get, especially with that lovely mother he’s recently got his eyes on.

Now if only he can give sympathy to his siblings without thinking of strangling them one by one. And if only his mother didn’t fired up that gun…..

I bought this book almost 10 years ago when I learned that this was part of Oprah’s Book Club. I thought, if Oprah liked it, I guess I would too. But as I read the pages one by one, I got this inexplicably sick feeling about Harley and the way he treated his sisters. I couldn’t point my finger on it, I just knew it was giving me the creeps. A week later, I realized I’ve been stuck at the same chapter for a couple of days and couldn’t bring myself to proceed. So I abandoned this book and left it on my box of DNFs. 😦

Now my sons found my old stash and I saw this book, like it’s begging me to read it. So I decided to reread it. Now I realize why I wasn’t able to finish this book before. It was about a dysfunctional family struggling with a series of unfortunate events that befell them. But this aint’ magical like the other book – no, Back Roads is gritty, dark, brutal, savage. My mind couldn’t handle it then, honestly, i still can’t, but I did it! I’d like to think that I am now more mature and open-minded and so I was relieved when I finally finished reading this book. My mind exploded into small pieces, you’d be picking my brains scattered on the floor.

This.Is.Mindfuck. Is it HEA? How I wish! Ugh. This is still giving me a headache. I wonder how Oprah managed to finish it.

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3cups

Review: In a Dark, Dark, Wood by Ruth Ware

In A DarkDark wood

In a Dark, Dark Wood
by Ruth Ware

 

coffeesynopsisdNora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room…

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

 

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Leonora Shaw, a crime-fiction writer who now preferred to be called Nora, received a Hen Party invitation from a friend she hadn’t been in contact with for the last 10 years. Nora had walked out of her friend’s life and never looked back, and had every intention of never going back. Until her s0-called friend’s new BFF insisted she come.

Flustered yet grateful that their other common friend Nina was going with her, Nora kept a lot of thoughts about Clare and her impending wedding. She kept on asking why.. Why did Clare want her at the hen party? Why reconnect with her after 10 long years? Who was Clare getting married to? Why is she even thinking of going to the party?

In a dark, dark wood, all her questions seemed to have doubled when she met the other people joining her and NIna. In a dark, dark wood, the past began to haunt her, grip her control, refresh her memory. In a dark, dark wood, a skeleton in the closet is revealed. And in a dark, dark wood, someone was going to die.

It is a gripping novel that kept me wondering about the main characters from start to finish. This is not a book you would want to read alone at night. This is not a story you would want to stop reading. I swear I’ve got goosebumps just by staring at the woods! Trust me, this had been a highly engaging and riveting murder mystery that would have you keep pushing the next button (on your Kindle) and have you guessing until the murderer was finally revealed. Nah, this isn’t a horror story, nothing grisly nor gruesome nor gory in the setting, but there’s a gun, a pool of blood and a number of deaths. Totally horrifying, nonetheless.

I believe this is Ruth Ware’s first book and I can tell that there’s a bright future ahead of her. Her writing kept me interested and the momentum she built didn’t falter. If she’s got another book after this, I am sure it’s going to be another must read.

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4cups


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.

AUTHOR LINKS:

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Review: A Diamond in the Rough by Elisa Marie Hopkins

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A Diamond in the Rough (Book 1)
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25-year-old model Sophia Cavall has a seemingly nice life walking the runway until she begins to receive death threats through social media and is almost kidnapped by a masked figure. She tries to fight off her assailant, but luckily the attempt ends in failure when mysterious business magnate Oliver Black intervenes.

Sophie doesn’t know it, but the stakes are high: her life and her heart. Desperately needing support, she turns to a few trusted people, and to Oliver most of all. But can he be trusted, who speaks the truth, and the question on everyone’s lips: who is the man in the mask?

Her checkered past returns to entangle her. She will come to realize that it is not dead after all…it is still very much alive.

A Diamond in the Rough is a love story, a thriller, funny in parts and moving in others. Most of all, it is a gripping debut novel that will have you guessing and turning pages until you reach the end.

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★★★★★: Awesome!!! I really loved this book! (Highly recommended)

Sophie Cavall is a model, but she doesn’t live the way the others do. She’s struggling to make ends meet, she’s got a lot in her hands. And she’s been getting death threats lately. All seems complicated ans Sophie can’t wait to escape it all.

A botched kidnapping attempt by a masked man led her to Oliver Black, and her need to trust someone became her weakness in the end. Of all the wonderful riches she has longed for, she becomes the diamond in the rough.

Soon she find herself tied up, left for dead and no future looming over her. Towards the end of the book, I thought everything will be solved. I was wrong. Because clearly, there’s more coming on. And I’m so stoked and excited to be part of it. What I most loved about A Diamond in the Rough is that, this is a story filled with great humor, harsh truths but beautiful life lessons.

Author Elisa Marie Hopkins’s writing is sharp, delicious and brilliant. She wrote a novel that made me sweat and cry for Sophie. Hopkins has a way of bringing characters to life, and makes it easy for me to get sucked into the story and all its many twists and turns. I found myself immersed in this book in the best possible way. Now I’m gearing up to read more of her future novels.

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Elisa Marie Hopkins was born in California, where she grew up, to Mexican parents. She is an avid reader, Netflix geek, dancing machine, and cat aficionado. Hopkins has a Computer Science Engineering degree, but doesn’t consider herself a software guru. What she wants most is to write and share stories that have the power to inspire and motivate, stories that will live in the hearts of readers forever.

Author Links:

Chat with Elisa on twitter.com/HopkinsElisa

Follow her on https://instagram.com/elisamhop

Or  get this party started at http://facebook.com/HopkinsElisa

A Diamond in the Rough news, updates, and random tidbits are also available on
https://www.pinterest.com/elisamhop/

Charlie, Presumed Dead

CharliePresumedDeadCharlie, Presumed Dead
by Anne Heltzel

In Paris, family and friends gather to mourn the tragic passing of Charlie Price—young, handsome, charming, a world-traveler—who is presumed dead after an explosion. Authorities find only a bloodied jacket, ID’d as Charlie’s. At the funeral, two teens who are perfect strangers, Lena Whitney and Aubrey Boroughs, make another shocking discovery: they have both been dating Charlie, both think Charlie loved them and them alone, and there is a lot they didn’t know about their boyfriend. Over the next week, a mind-bending trip unfolds: first in London—then in Mumbai, Kerala, and Bangkok, the girls go in search of Charlie. Is he still alive? What did their love for him even mean? The truth is out there, but soon it becomes clear that the girls are harboring secrets of their own.

No one knows whom to trust in this thrilling tale of suspense and deception.

TheReview

Charlie Price was one mysterious man. He seemed to have it all. Girlfriends, included. On the day of his funeral, we met two ladies, Lena and Aubrey, both claiming to be his girlfriend. The first one was known to his family, the other was the questionable invisible other woman.

The two girls got together, discovered the truth about their roles in Charlie’s life, one vowed to do her best to dig for more information, the other was trusting and decided to go wherever their feet took them. From London, to India, to Bangkok, Lena and Aubrey found out eerie and strange truths about Charlie. They relied on each other, they formed a bond, they became friends and plotted revenge against Charlie. But their plans turned to ashes when the truth about Charlie was revealed.

I got a little crazy and creeped out after reading this book. Told in different points of view, this isn’t your typical love-triangle thriller read. You will find yourself hurting, whining, crying and scheming, just like what the major characters did. Charlie, Presumed Dead, is a menagerie of surprises, twists, manipulation, betrayals, devious plans and death. The ever-unfolding puzzles kept me glued to my seat, and the sinister ending got me palpitating. Although I think this book is as a stand alone thriller, I am left wanting for more. Anne Heltzel is an imaginative and evocative writer who have hit the jackpot with Charlie!

TheAuthor

Anne Heltzel is a children’s book editor and author from New York City. She has also lived in Paris and India, both of which inspired scenes from her new novel, CHARLIE, PRESUMED DEAD (HMH/June 2, 2015).

Anne is also the author of THE RUINING, written under the pen name Anna Collomore.

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