Friday Book Whimsy: I Found You

So many books these days purport to be the next great suspense novel, and Lisa Jewell’s I Found You was no exception.  If you like Paula Hawkins or Ruth Ware, then you will like……

Being a fan of suspense novels, I bit. And I’m so very glad I did.

Back in 2015 I read (and reviewed) The House We Grew Up In, and LOVED IT. However, for no particular reason, I never read another book by this author. But the plot of this novel caught my eye, and I gave it a go.

Single mom Alice Lake sees a stranger on the beach in front of her home in the English seaside village of Ridinghouse Bay. It is cold and raining, and though she tries to ignore him for a bit, she finally brings him a raincoat. She learns that he is suffering from memory loss. He doesn’t know who he is, where he’s from, or why he’s sitting on the beach in Ridinghouse Bay; what’s more, he has no identification. Against her better judgement, Alice brings him into her home.

Meanwhile, in London, Lily Monrose – a Ukrainian immigrant – becomes concerned when her husband of a very short time doesn’t come home from work. She is convinced that something is wrong because he has been a devoted and attentive husband. Being new to the country, she is frightened and confused. Initially, the police don’t seem particularly interested in helping her as they presume her husband Carl has just decided to leave her. However, when they finally begin investigating, they learn that there is no existing person with her husband’s name.

It seems obvious to the reader that Carl and the stranger, who Alice begins calling Frank, are one and the same.

But wait. Flash back to 23 years earlier, when teenagers Gray and Kirsty Ross travel with their parents to Ridinghouse Bay for vacation. It isn’t long before they meet charismatic Mark, who takes a liking to Kirsty, but who Gray immediately distrusts. It isn’t long before Kirsty is missing.

How are these storylines connected? I bet you can’t figure it out. At least I certainly couldn’t. There was one part of the book that caught me so off-guard that I feared I would have whiplash! The plot is suspenseful and unpredictable. The characters are flawed, but likeable, especially Alice. I remember thinking the same thing when I read The House We Grew Up In, so it must be the author’s strong point.

I really liked this book, and strongly recommend it for someone who enjoys suspense novels. This time I won’t wait so long to read another book by Lisa Jewell.

Here is a link to the book.

Friday Book Whimsy: Behind Her Eyes

In the past few years, I’ve become a fan of the so-called psychological thriller. Like the thousands and thousands of readers who, like me, got hooked on The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl, I’ve read a number of books of this genre, trying desperately to find a worthy follow-up. Unfortunately, I’ve mostly been disappointed. For example, Girl on the Train’s author Paula Hawkins’ second novel, Into the Water, was a great disappointment.

Still, I forged on, and found myself reading Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough. The book was described as an eerie thriller with an ending that would surprise and shock the reader. It seemed like a safe bet. I like a good ending. Gone Girl had a good ending. When I finished that novel, I literally through the book across the room in frustration. But it was a good frustration.

When I finished Behind Her Eyes, I didn’t throw the book across the room because these days I read on my iPad, but I wanted to. Unfortunately, not because of a good frustration, but because of my disappointment that I had spent so much time on the book and the ending was so incredibly STUPID.

Don’t get me wrong. I found much of the book to be a good yarn with thought-provoking characters. Sure, at times I had to suspend belief because of the unlikeliness of what was transpiring. But the characters, while not particularly likeable, were interesting.

Louise is a single mom, stuck in a boring office job. One night she goes out for a drink after work. She meets an good-looking man whom she finds interesting and easy to talk to. This leads to that, and they share a passionate kiss and he leaves. She expects to never see him again, but lo, and behold, it turns out that he is her new boss, something she learns the next day when she goes to work. Oh-oh.

Oh-oh, because he has photos of his gorgeous wife sitting on his desk. What’s more, he still can’t seem to keep his eyes off of Louise. Louise vows to herself to make certain nothing untoward happens, but accidentally befriends his wife. Belief-suspension kicked in, because this reader can’t even begin to understand how this happened, despite the author’s efforts to explain.

It isn’t long before Louise realizes that something is amiss in the marriage, but she can’t figure out who’s at fault. David (the boss) appears to be controlling and Adele (the wife) appears to be frightened of her husband. As for David, he continues to appear to be the kind of man who is sweet and loving. Louise spends most of the novel trying to figure out what’s happening.

It isn’t badly written. In fact, I enjoyed most of the novel. The conclusion, however, was so ridiculous (at least in this reader’s view) that I simply can’t recommend the book. It became clear as to why Behind Her Eyes got such mixed reviews from other readers.

So, read the book at your own risk!

Here is a link to the book.

 

Friday Book Whimsy-Thursday Edition: Favorite Books of 2015

I am often astounded at how many books some book bloggers read each year. Some post a book review almost every day. Of course, their blogs are devoted to book reviews, so it is incumbent upon them to read, read, read. I think that I read a lot, and yet I never seem to break the 100-books-in-a-year mark. This year my total was 93 books.

Oh well, I’m telling myself. I do have a life beyond books. Say, friends and family. Oh, and now crocheting.

I post a book review every Friday, but I read many more books than those for which I post a review. For example, I generally don’t post books (almost always mysteries) that are part of a series unless I found the book particularly compelling or I’m begging you to read the series. And since I’ve already admitted that my reading motto is Life is too short to read a bad book, I start many books that I set aside because I simply didn’t like them. That is why most of my book reviews are positive. So, sue me.

Having said all of the meaningless babble above, here are my five favorite books I read in 2015 for which I posted a review.

5. The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
An unexpectedly upbeat and pleasing read about a quirky family with an unhappy past joined together simply because they love one another. An interesting element of this book is that the mother is a hoarder, which definitely defines the family members and impacts the plot of the book. It isn’t, however, what defines this interesting story. I was surprised at how much I loved this book, which I wouldn’t have picked up if someone hadn’t so highly recommended it to me.

4. Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon
Karon’s Mitford stories are like eating dessert first. They are simply delicious and not to be missed. The characters, the setting, the stories — all mix together to make for a wonderful read. Her latest novel involves the marriage of two favorite characters, and allows readers the opportunity to get to know better some who previously were only marginally present. Pour a cup of coffee or tea and settle down for a pleasant experience.

3. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
Talk about a book I can’t believe I liked so much! This story takes place in Cambodia, which is the only reason I read the book (a daughter-in-law is from Cambodia). Based on a true story, the family — mom, dad, and little boy — lives in a municipal waste dump in Cambodia and they survive on what they make from scavenging the dump each day and selling the wares. That’s the setting, but the story is about friendship and loyalty and what it means to love someone. It was a truly beautiful story that I highly recommend.

2. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
My heart broke year before last when one of my favorite authors — Kent Haruf — passed away. Our Souls at Night was his final gift to those of us who love his writing. The book is once again set in the fictional Colorado town of Holt. Septuagenarian Addie Moore, a widow for many years, marches over to her equally-aged neighbor Louis Waters’ house and suggests they, well, hook up. Sleep together. Just see how it works out. The result is a surprisingly beautiful story about love and friendship. I enjoyed Haruf’s stories for his characters, and while not as good as his first novel Plainsong (nothing could be), it was a wonderful book.

And my favorite book of 2015…..

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Dang, I hate being predictable. The Girl on the Train is likely to be the favorite read of 2015 of many book reviewers, but it’s for a good reason. I couldn’t put down this book. The author doled out the pieces of the mystery little by little, keeping the readers in constant suspense. The final pages were delicious. The characters were interesting, imperfect, multifaceted, and realistic. I can’t wait for Hawkins’ next effort. This one will be hard to beat.

I’m looking forward to many more good books in 2016. Maybe that will be the year that I finally beat that 100-book challenge.

This post linked to the GRAND Social 

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Friday Book Whimsy: The Girl on the Train

Nana’s Note: Nanas Whimsies is currently undergoing some site construction changes. As these changes are taking place, I have noticed that some “comments” are vanishing. I assume the Case of the Missing Comments will be solved once my construction is complete. In the meantime, rest assure that I am actually seeing the comments, though they sometimes disappear. More about my web site changes at a later date.

searchI was drawn to the premise of Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train even before it became apparent to me that it was going to be one of the Big Reads of 2015. Being a story teller at heart, it is not uncommon for me to observe someone in, say, the grocery checkout line, and create a story about him or her. The story becomes quite real to me, though I generally don’t see the person again and never find out whether or not my story is even remotely true.

The girl on the train is Rachel Watson, an unhappily divorced young woman who commutes daily on the same train to London. During her daily commute, the train passes a row of houses and Rachel observes two people living in one of the houses, an attractive couple she calls Jess and Jason. Rachel begins to invent a story about the two people she observes daily and their supposedly happy life.

Unfortunately, one day as she is passing by the house, she observes “Jess” kissing a strange man. The next day Rachel learns that “Jess” (whose real name, it turns out, is Megan) has gone missing. Thus, Rachel is drawn into the real-life story, as she feels compelled to make sure the police know about the stranger.

The Girl on the Train has a definite Gone Girl vibe to it. The story is narrated from three perspectives, giving the reader the opportunity to see what has happened from different viewpoints. We learn the depths of Rachel’s unhappiness, which lead her to severe alcoholism. (Or does her alcoholism lead her to unhappiness?) Her alcoholism becomes almost a character in the novel, often driving the story.

Megan and her husband (whose name isn’t Jason, but Scott) don’t have the wonderfully carefree life imagined by Rachel, and as the book progresses, we learn Megan’s disturbing story.

The final narrator is Anna, the wife of Rachel’s ex-husband, who seemingly wants nothing more than to have her husband Tom’s alcoholic ex-wife leave them alone with their baby and their life.

When Megan’s body is finally discovered, the story — as told from the different perspectives — unfolds. Creepy as it all was, I couldn’t put the book down.

Hawkins’ debut novel has the readability of that coming from a master storyteller, and I dare you to figure out the murderer very much in advance.

Comparisons to Gone Girl are inevitable, but the ending was more satisfying. I look forward to future books.

Buy The Girl on the Train from Amazon here.

Buy The Girl on the Train from Barnes and Noble here.

Buy The Girl on the Train from Tattered Cover here.

Buy The Girl on the Train from Changing Hands here.