Hello my loves,
Here’s March’s book reviews!
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
First of all, I’d just like to say that I think the title of this book is somewhat misleading, because it’s definitely not as deep as it sounds. Also, “you don’t know her, but she knows you” ?? It’s really just not that deep nor is it that scary. She’s literally just the girl on the train who watches people out the window. That’s literally it.
Anyway pedantic episode over, I really enjoyed this book. I read Gone Girl a couple of years back and loved it and I knew that this book was also up there with the really popular / overhyped psychological thriller / mysteries etc. / whatever you wanna call it (I’m too lazy to Google the actual genre). When it comes to books like this I feel like it’s 50/50 whether you get a good mystery or not and so I always like to start with the really popular / overhyped ones first (something I usually don’t do and stay away from) because at least then I know I’m going to get a good story, and I did.
This book follows Rachel, an alcoholic mess who catches the train every day to travel to a job she no longer has but pretends to because she’s too scared to tell her roommate she got fired and also because she just generally likes the routine of catching the train every morning and evening. She knows the journey like the back of her hand including the houses she passes along the way, and the people that happen to live there, as she sees them from the train window every day. Rachel is infatuated with a couple she often sees sunning it out on their terrace balcony every morning drinking coffee and she makes up names and lives for them as I guess it makes her feel happy and like she knows them, as she also wishes she could be them. One day, the woman who she has come to know and love from the window suddenly goes missing, and Rachel can’t keep herself away from getting involved and wrapped up in it all.
I like multiple POV novels, especially in this genre as we get to see things from everyone’s point of view. I liked the fact that this really was a mystery and even though I wasn’t that shocked when I found out the ending, I certainly didn’t call it myself. You’re constantly torn between wondering if Rachel is an unreliable narrator or not, one minute it feels like she definitely is and another you believe everything she says.
One thing I didn’t like about this book were the multiple pointless red herrings that were thrown in throughout it, I do understand that this is part of the point but there were so many leads that I wanted to result in something and they just never did. At the end I was left wondering well…what was the point of that then? Why did we get told about that if nothing was done with it? Why did Rachel notice this specific thing if in the end it wasn’t relevant? Lots of really good things that I wished were actually something just weren’t, and in the end that was a little disappointing for me because I feel like those things could’ve really added to the ending, which made me think I would’ve preferred to have not even read about them in the first place since they resulted in nothing and made me wish I hadn’t spent half of the book questioning what those certain things could be connected to because short answer – nothing.
Anyway, I did very much enjoy this book (but if you’re wondering, I liked Gone Girl just that little bit more).
Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
You know those books that you see and you just think…I’m going to love you. This was one of those books for me.
This book had been on my TBR for the longest time because as soon as I saw the cover I just fell in love, I just knew this was going to be one of my books, you know? Also, gothic in the title? I was sold.
It sat on my TBR for ages because the prices for the hardback were ridiculous as actual copies of it were so hard to find – I don’t know if they were out of print for a while or if they were just trying to promote the paperback at the time or…what. But I decided to wait until I wasn’t going to have to remortgage my house in order to buy it.
This story is set in 1950s Mexico (LOVE) and follows Noemi, whose beloved cousin Catalina has gone and married a fancy Englishman in a fancy house in the Mexican countryside and all seems well and good. One day however, Noemi’s father begins receiving letters from Catalina saying that she’s ill, there’s ghosts in the walls and she needs someone to come and save her from her impending doom. Noemi’s father tells Noemi she must go over there to investigate and help Catalina, and she agrees. What Noemi finds upon her arrival though is very strange, and she’s all too close to becoming a victim of Catalina’s “illness” herself.
This book. I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t put it down, it was just so good. I was actually quite apprehensive going into it as I’d been so highly anticipating it for the longest time, but everyone on Booktube seems to hate it ??? All of the Booktubers I watched who’d read this said they were super disappointed by it and so I was really sad because I was like…what if I also feel that way? Spoiler alert: definitely didn’t.
No complaints at all about this book, I loved it so much. The glamour, the outfits, the house, the gothic setting, the freaky men you weren’t supposed to like but there was so much sexual tension it made you feel weird…it was great. I really loved Noemi too, she was so strong and powerful and just everything. I love it when strong females are written so well in books !! She was so capable, so intelligent, just perfect. I loved her and wanted to be her. One of my new favourite book characters. Cannot wait to read more from this author !! I just know this is going to be one of my favourite books of the year. CHEF’S KISS.
Bone Meal for Roses – Miranda Sherry
I bought this as part of a big book haul I did a few weeks ago (post incoming) and decided it’d be the first one I read out of the pile as the cover was just calling out to me because let’s be honest, it’s beautiful. The colours are stunning.
This book is set in South Africa and is about Poppy, who was taken away from her drug addict mother when she was six years old by her grandparents and ended up being raised by them in a beautiful farmhouse full of love, nurture and nature – something she had never known up until that point. Poppy changes her name to Sam and we follow her as she grows up trying to heal from the trauma she was subjected to as a little girl back when she still lived with her mother. She’s constantly plagued by the fear that her mother will come back for her
Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I read this because my friend and I have a little book club going on where we take it in turns to choose books that we both read together. It was his turn this time and so he chose this book and whilst it was good, it didn’t quite make it to 3 stars for me. I’ve never read Dostoyevsky before but I’m definitely intrigued to read more of his work after reading Notes from the Underground because I think his writing style is very humorous, there were definitely parts of this that I was laughing out loud at which doesn’t happen very often in books for me, so you know it was funny. The story is about “The rambling memoirs of a bitter, isolated, man who is a retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg.” It was all so silly and ridiculous and I very much enjoyed the protagonist who I think a lot of people could probably relate to, he was very funny. However, the actual parts of the story where there wasn’t much dialogue or action felt like quite a bit of monotonous droll to me and I was thinking oh my life can we hurry up and get back to the funny parts please. There was one section, the table scene, and it really had me laughing, I thought it was great.
The story is very short and the monotony of the in-between bits brought this down to a 2 star for me but as I said, I’m definitely interested in reading more of Dostoyevsky ’s work in the future. I think this was a nice little introduction.
Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
I never had any intention of reading Ninth House but after seeing it for 99p on Kindle I thought…why not. The concept seemed interesting to me and even though I have no interest in reading Leigh Bardugo or fantasy, as I knew this was an adult fantasy I thought I may as well see what the hype is about.
Ninth House is about Alex Stern, a school dropout who’s selected to attend Yale because she can see ghosts and all the secret societies are into magicky shit like that, basically. She manages to discover that all of the societies aren’t as clean as they look and that actually, there’s some shady stuff going on under the surface.
My favourite part about this book was Darlington…and he was barely even in it. I also quite liked Dawes. Not sure what that says about anything but there you go. There were so many names and places and other jargon in this book that at times it was very confusing to keep up with and at times I did read parts in reference to certain people and think “Eh???” because I’ll be honest I had no idea what their ‘status’ was or their job etc. but I was too lazy to trapse back through hundreds of pages to find out. I actually found the explanation of all the different houses and their roles and such quite boring, this book definitely got its rating from its action for me because reading all of the information we’re plied with in order to world build made me zone out quite a bit I can’t lie. It was very dense and quite slow paced and only got good around the 60% mark. It was also quite unrealistic, like Alex would be beaten to a pulp and on the brink of death multiple times yet she’d still always manage to walk home okay and all of these other things. I also couldn’t understand why the entire book was basically about solving the murder of a random girl Alex decides must be important but doesn’t actually have any evidence to support that theory. She’s just like, oh the wind changed direction when I found out this random girl I’ve never heard of before was murdered so I’m now going to risk my whole life and my entire education at all costs to find out what happened to her, even though nothing about it looked shady in the first place. ??????????? Maybe I just didn’t get the memo.
There were also so many grammar mistakes in this book ??? The first half was full of them and I’ve said this before but it’s really off putting when I’m trying to read and I keep finding mistakes, it felt like no one actually proof read the first half of the book. That combined with the copious amounts of information and explanation about how all these ancient houses work made me zone out quite a few times at the beginning – even now I’ll admit I only understand the world system around 80%.
However, despite all of my (negative) comments one thing I will say is that even though I gave this 3 stars, I cannot stop thinking about it. I think about it at least once a day and I’m really itching for the second one to come out so, there you go!
The Water Cure – Sophie Mackintosh
This story is about 3 sisters who live on an essentially deserted island with their parents. Their dad is this great figure known as “King” and they essentially worship him, because he is apparently the answer and saviour to all women. He took his wife and his daughters to this island in order to protect them from all of the other men in the world and from being corrupted and contaminated by germs from the rest of civilisation, so as you can imagine, the girls’ lives are very different and extraordinary. The answer to contamination, germs, men etc. is known as the “water cure” – a method their parents have created to rid them of all of the sin and disease from encountering such things. The book begins by their dad disappearing and so the girls and their mother are left to their own devices, with the mother now taking the role of King. One day however, two men and a boy wash up on the shore looking for shelter, and the story continues as the girls experience the presence of men for the first time, and everything that happens afterwards…
I saw a review for this book and it said it was like The Virgin Suicides crossed with something else (I’ve read whatever it is but for the life of me can’t remember) and I’d definitely say it gave me Virgin Suicide vibes. Just like The Virgin Suicides, I thought this book was going to be 4 stars for me until we got progressively through the story and there wasn’t much of a climax but it was more just monologue and observation which dropped it down to 3 stars for me. I did very much enjoy this book however and thought it was really interesting, it was very mysterious and atmospheric and also quite claustrophobic at times – it made you feel very restricted as it was very emotive in terms of physical feelings. The writing was beautiful and very fluid. One of the things I love about books with a lot of ambiguity is the fact that after I’ve read them I can go and see what everyone else thinks and look at all the spoiler questions people have asked etc. which, I definitely did after I’d finished reading this. I was actually doing a water detox / cleanse at the time I read this as well (not deliberate, just coincidental) and so it made the book all that more real for me and really added to the experience.
One thing I will say is that this book can be interpreted as a feminist rant almost, because if you look at it in black and white terms it’s essentially saying “we hate men, all men are evil, men are dangerous, men are poisonous, women are pure and should not be touched, men are monsters” etc. and I’ve seen a good handful of reviews complaining about this kind of narrative. I’ve seen it described as a twisted fairy tale about toxic masculinity and whilst that’s partly true, I think it’s important not to go into this book with that kind of mindset because I actually don’t think this book is a bible bashing feminist man hating story at all, I think it’s literally just that – a story. A story where a mindset is present due to the characters being brainwashed, but I don’t believe the author is trying to brainwash the reader. Sophie Mackintosh herself isn’t a man hating ranting feminist trying to make you believe that all men are poisonous, she’s literally just written a book with an interesting storyline and that’s it. So I would not read this book in relation to feminism or with the mindset that it’s feminist / misogynist because in my opinion it’s neither. It’s just a good story. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
Fangs – Sarah Andersen
This book. Omg. I saw it in one of my favourite Booktuber’s videos where she was basically giving some previews of the pages and the second I saw the dialogue I was like…omg. This is me. This is a short little comic story about a vampire and a werewolf who fall in love and it’s just the best thing ever. The humour is so dry and just my kind of humour to a T and I just love this book so much. It’s a little clothbound number with the cutest illustrations and the best dialogue. Couldn’t fault it. I hope Sarah Andersen brings out something similar soon!!
And there we have it loves! Let me know if you’ve read any of these!
All my love,
Goodreads – ChloLuna