Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins)

As new books go, the buzz surrounding Paula Hawkins’s debut novel The Girl on the Train was practically deafening.  I was unable to get a review copy since it’s a UK book, and there were hundreds of people ahead of me on the library’s waiting list.  But when my book club calls, I must read, and when it finally arrived, I excitedly sat down to begin…

And I must say, I’m not quite sure what all the buzz is about.  Hundreds of 5-star reviews can’t be wrong, but calling it the next Gone Girl is a bit of a stretch.  For one, I loved GG and was fully engrossed in Nick and Amy’s story.  While this one definitely had its share of suspense and I liked Hawkins’ writing style, I was slightly let down by the ending.

The Girl on the Train is about – wait for it – a girl on a train.  We’re speaking about Rachel, a woman who rides the commuter every day, passing the same houses and seeing the same people.  But Rachel is definitely not all she appears to be, and the reader is left disoriented throughout her story (which involves periods she can’t remember), as well as Megan’s, a woman who suddenly disappears. I really enjoyed the way Hawkins interwove each character, all while muddling the readers’ perceptions of each one. 

I rapidly raced to the finish, but this is another book that really didn’t surprise me.  Hawkins leaves plenty of clues about what really happened to Megan along the way, so by the time I got to the ending, it was predictable. However, that doesn’t mean that getting there wasn’t a lot of fun!

MY RATING – 3.5 (can’t quite reach a 4, but above average enough not to get a 3)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Yes Please (Amy Poehler)

Next to Tina Fey, Amy Poehler is quite possibly my favorite female comedian (it's probably no coincidence that they're great friends). Seeing them both on screen puts me in an instant good mood. I found Fey's Bossypants laugh-at-loud funny, but alas, my feelings for Poehler's Yes Please were definitely not quite as strong.

The first thing you have to get used to is that there is no rhyme or reason to this book. Each chapter is about what Amy wants it to be, and it's almost like a constant stream of consciousness, with no order to her essays. I found that a little jarring, and I actually skipped some pages that made no sense to me (a cardinal sin in my book). Readers going into it thinking it's a straight-up memoir will be sorely disappointed.

That being said, Yes Please is a great cure for a bad day. Poehler of course talks about her time at SNL, Parks and Recreation, and as part of the Chicago improv scene, but I love how she writes things that we're all thinking but would never say. Don't worry -- she'll do that for you. I'm not sure what genre I would classify Yes Please, but I'm sure Amy Poehler wouldn't want to be pigeonholed anyway.