Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Sunday Salon and Train Rides...

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Find yourself a comfy chair, grab a cup of joe and relax- it's that time of the week that we talk books! And what better to talk about then books that make you go "Ahhhhhhh". Those books that leave you so satisfied and happy. And isn't that the way we feel when we read a really good book? With all the books I read, there are always a few clunkers, but the last 3 books I read were so good it made reading all the more fun again. What were those books? I'm glad you asked... Let's take a ride on a train or two, because the first two books do just that- involve trains rides. The last book doesn't have anything to do with train, but will take you on a eerie ride none the less...

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins...  Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. 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. 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 offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

This was a book club reading selection, but I had heard such great things about this book that I would have read it anyway! The beginning of the story innocently nudges you along, until you just can't stop reading. Poor Rachel, our protagonist, how did her life spiral so out of control? So pathetic? And was she imagining things when she saw what she did that fateful day riding on the train? And if she wasn't, how is she going to convince anyone that she did see it and it wasn't the alcohol messing with her ability to make a judgement call? Yes, Paula Hawkins hit one out of the park with this book. The writing was great, and the story even better. The subtle twists and turns led me to the shocking, never saw it coming , ending that left me saying, "OMG". READ THIS BOOK if you haven't.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline... A captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask. Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse. Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance... The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life and discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.

This was another book club selection. One in which I was NOT looking forward to. This book had been plastered on all the book club reading selection sites, but I wasn't buying into any of it... Until I was forced to read it. And then, I was so wrapped up in it I couldn't put this book down either! My initial thoughts were "here we go again with a WWII story and the exploitation of innocent children and how it all works out in the end." How many similar stories does one really need to read? BUT, aside from the writing that was wonderful and would justify reading "another similar story", this story was nothing like I expected! The story flips back and forth between present day 2011 and 1929. In the present day, we follow Molly and 91-year-old Vivian. In 1929, we learn about the life growing up of Vivian, which is so interesting, sad and makes us see how Vivian and Molly are not so different even though they were born in different era's. The two stories are wonderful and as the stories merge, the ending has a great twist! The author really gets deep down with Molly and Vivian and as a result these characters come alive off the pages. How wrong I was about this book initially. Now, I'd have to say it's one of my favorite books of the year. I can't wait to talk about it with my reading group members, and I'll be reviewing this soon. If you haven't read this yet, DO IT!

The Night Sisters by Jennifer McMahon... Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper's kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel's past, something that ruined their friendship forever. Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock's next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.

I have read a few books by Jennifer McMahon and have never been disappointed. What's great about her books besides the wonderful writing, is the twist that always comes at the end. Both of the books I read left me with "OMG" at the end and this book was no different. It's fun, it's creepy, it's a heart pounder. The writing drew me in, but the mystery kept me reading. It has elements of coming-of-age, ghost stories and paranormal all wrapped together. The paranormal bend caught me a bit off guard, but fit the story. I had no idea until the very end how it was all was going to end. A good solid story. I would not say it was "The Best" mystery/ghost story I've read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What good books have you read lately?! And do you feel like you wasted part of your life reading a book that was just so-so? I enjoy reading, and for the most part, even when I read a book that didn't quite resonate with me, I have no regrets.
And the book I'm reading NOW is another winner in my opinion... Circling the Sun by Paula McLain! It's about famous aviator Beryl Markham and I am loving it! It vaguely reminds me of Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. But we'll talk about that book next week...

Happy reading... Suzanne


Molly Totoro said...

I have had Girl on the Train on my TBR list for quite some time, but this is the first I've heard of Orphan Train. It sounds fabulous! Thanks for the introduction :)

Vasilly said...

Isn't it a great feeling when the books you're reading are satisfying? :-)

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Molly!
Definitely get around to Girl on the Train when you can! It's all those positive things you heard about and then some. And Orphan Train was such a wonderful surprise to me. I would highly recommend it! Thanks for stopping by!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Vasilly!
I guess I was going thru a reading slump for a while with books that were so unsatisfying that when I finally read one that was good I was reinvigorated! It is a great feeling!

Thanks for dropping in!

Bryan G. Robinson said...

I enjoyed Girl on the Train but it wasn't a favorite. However, it wasn't one that I felt like I wasted my time on either. I was glad to have read it especially after hearing all the hype about it. I'll be honest that do regret having read some books, though, when I could have been reading something so much better. I think it's just that I don't like that blah feeling, not that every book has a "wow" feeling, but I want to feel something, I guess.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Bryan,
Yes, I agree, I hate that blah feeling from some books and I guess what I feel more of is relief than regret for finishing something that wasn't that great. I hate to do it, but I have learned to put some books down and never look back. Thanks for sharing!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I picked up Girl on a Train and Orphan Train with trepidation; I'm not one for bestsellers. But I, like you, was pleasantly surprised by both stories.

Here's my Sunday Post!

Hibernators Library said...

I've heard so many great things about both Girl on a Train and Orphan Train. Glad you enjoyed them.

Blogger said...

I must recommend reading the book The Girl on the Train: A Novel.
I just finished reading it today, and my conclusion is that its a very good book to read.

I brought mine off Amazon and they delivered it in just 2 days.
Here's a link for the book on Amazon:
The Girl on the Train: A Novel

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