Murderous May: The Girl on the Train – BOOK REVIEW EXTRAVAGANZA!

22557272

Book Review
Book Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins

Introduction: I have had this book on my shelf for AGES. I had been dying to read it but I never had the time. And then, with a hint of luck, I had to go sit during a long appointment and I had all the time in the world to read this book! And I read about 85% of the book in one sitting and finished it one day later. I not only wanted to read it because of all the fantastic reviews I had read about it, but because I want to watch the film adaption as well. I always love reading the book before seeing the movie – hence why I haven’t watched many movies lately! So many are based on good books!

Review:

This book has been compared to Gone Girl since it hopped on the suspense/mystery novel scene – and while you can definitely say they are similar (because of, you know, murders and mystery) they are both fantastic in their own ways. They are two separate entities that shouldn’t be compared! Unless you are using them in a list of the best suspense books in the last decade, then list them together!

This book follows Rachel, a drunk, angry, depressed, bitter woman who has been divorced by Tom. Slowly throughout this book we are introduced to her back story – a glorious tale woven so beautifully by Paula Hawkins. Tom is now married to Anna, the other woman in his and Rachel’s relationship, and it all goes downhill from there. When a girl that Rachel has seen is missing, Rachel decides that she has to help this mystery.

Reading this book from Rachel’s, Anna and Meghan’s point of view is truly incredible. Rachel isn’t totally reliable because of her being an alcoholic, Anna sounds like the not-so-perfect housewife Tom probably desired at some point, and Meghan gives an inside view to the outside view Rachel has been watching. These three tales woven together are just so beautifully written that it’s hard not to want to tell everyone to read this book just to show them how three separate characters who barely interact can have  their lives so entwined with one enough.

So is all this hype worth it? I would say yes. Don’t put this book in some high and mighty place in your mind and then be disappointed. I decided I would read this to see the movie – all the comparisons to Gone Girl made me quite suspicious so I didn’t leave my standards high. But, surprisingly, this book was excellent. If I would have given it silly expectations, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.

If I could describe this book in a few words, I would give it – insanity, murder, and suspicion. Every time I thought I had an idea of where this book was going, Paula had to go and shake it up like a magic eight ball. Typically I can see the ending from a mile away, and this book was different. I did NOT expect the ending. Will the reader guess it? Potentially, but it’s not a dead giveaway – which is why I like this book! Paula didn’t make it obvious and made the reader work for it if they wanted to guess.

Overall – this fast-paced, mind-blowing novel is definitely what I needed in my life! It lived up to the hype, and I’m excited to watch the film now! The psychological, murderous novel full of absolute insanity is spectacular! I can’t wait to read more by Paula Hawkins! Her and Gillian Flynn need to write a book together…because the insanity between the two of them in one book? That’d be killer!

Five out of five stars.

Positives:
1. Fast-Paced
2. Unpredictable Twists and Turns
3. Unreliable Narrators
4. Well Developed Characters
5. Complex Plot with a Layered Storyline
6. Unique Concepts

Negatives:
1. Comparisons to Gone Girl
2. Over-Hyped? Maybe.

Positive & Negative All Wrapped Up In One:
1. Dual (3 to be exact) POVs
2. Stereotypical Relationships
3. Black-Out Drunk Moments

Advertisements

Author Interview: Mindy M. Shelton. Author of FROM FIRST VICTIM TO LAST: SERIAL MURDERERS

Today, I am featuring a debut author on my blog – Mindy M. Shelton! This interview will give a different perspective into the life of a non-fiction true crime author that has recently been featured on my blog!

mindy-m-shelton-author-photo

Mindy M. Shelton has written both non-fiction and fiction in her career including the Ready Research Series and All  Tucked Inn: An Elizabeth Burke Thriller. It is such an honor to be able to interview her and be able to feature her books on my blog! Thank you Mindy for such an incredible opportunity and thank you for all of your hard work!

Now onto the hard-hitting questions…

1. For an introduction, can you try to describe yourself in one sentence?

Just a hardworking mother and wife, who loves to spend her time putting ideas to paper (or computer screen!).

2. What got you interested in true crime?

My first short-stint in college was as a Criminal Justice student. My mother was a paralegal and my father a policeman in the Army, so it truly is in my blood. I would have become a CSI, which was known as an ID Tech back then, but my husband and I had twins at the very young age of 19, so I had to delay my college dreams for a few years. By the time I went back, business was a better fit for my lifestyle. But, now I do everything I can to read and write within my first love, criminal justice.

3. How did you choose which murderers to feature in your books?

That’s a great question as I didn’t think at the time to really describe that in the books, but I chose them based on a couple of metrics. The first was that they had to be convicted, or had already pled guilty. I didn’t include anyone who was acquitted. For instance, Casey Anthony was not included in Mommies who Murder, no matter what my personal opinion of her case happens to be. The second metric I used was if there were any accomplices. I tried not to include a Bonnie and Clyde type situation, only because I didn’t want to include Bonnie if Clyde were the true murderer. And thinking on it now, I also tried to balance the well-known cases with the lesser-known, if that makes sense. In Serial Murderers, I made it a point to use a couple we all had heard of, like John Wayne Gacy and Gary Ridgway, but then I also included some I’d never heard of, like Wayne Williams and Robert Hansen. I learned a lot researching all of these books, so it was beneficial for me to include murderers I didn’t remember.

4. Out of all the murders you listed in the books, which were your favourite? Did any leave you speechless?

Many left me speechless! I seriously had nightmares when I was writing Serial Murderers. I think the ones that stick out in my memory though, were the children murderers. There was a case where the child (around 15-years-old, I believe) was being punished. Nothing severe, just a typical “go to your room and think about what you did” situation. Well, he got a gun and snuck up behind his parents, who were just innocently sitting on their couch watching TV, and he whispered, “Close your eyes, I have a surprise for you” and then shot them both in the head! I couldn’t believe it. And the only reason we know he said this was because the poor father lived to tell the tale. What makes a person think through this type of retribution and actually commit the act? It’s fascinating.

5. How long do you spend researching before you begin writing?

I spent a good couple of weeks researching before the writing began and then continued to research throughout the process. I tried to make a list of the people to include before beginning the book, but several times something caught my eye during research and the list changed.

6. What is one fact about yourself that you think might shock your readers?

Both times I’ve been pregnant has been with multiples! My doctor said I could have had a litter, but when it was all said and done, we were blessed with three healthy, wonderful children. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Oh, and thanks to being an odd child myself, I can say the alphabet backwards really fast. Not sure if any of this is shocking, but my husband uses it as my party trick.

7. Is there a genre of book you would like to write in the future?

I’m working on a fiction book right now that I’m extremely excited about. I’ll be sure to request your thoughts when it’s ready to be beta-tested, but all I can say right now is that it’s a YA thriller. Think FBI-meets-a-nonmagical-Harry Potter. LOL, actually it’s about ten teenagers, but I’ll leave it all that…

8. How do you get yourself inspired when going through writer’s block?

That’s such a depressing situation, but it happens to us all. Since I have a full time “non-writer” career, I travel a lot. Through those travels, I have found I do my best thinking while driving on a long trip. So, when things get stagnant, I hit the road and play an audiobook. It gets the brain going and the ideas flowing!

9. If you could collaborate with any professional (writer, actor, director, etc), who would you like to collaborate with?

The expected answer would be Ann Rule, and yes, I’d love to sit down with her, but if I could only pick one person it would be Nora Roberts. I’ve read, and loved, her novels since I was a teenager. I want to work with her and figure out how she can put out so many books in a year and if it really is ghost writers, how did she find so many that can duplicate her format. It’s impressive. No matter the book, or information in the book, I always love it. Not sure if I’ve ever read a Nora Roberts (or J.D. Robb) book I didn’t enjoy.

10. Finally, what question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

I guess I always expect to be ask why I write. It sounds so simple, but it’s not. I write because I have to. I write because I love it. No, sometimes I hate writing, but the outcome is what I crave. But, here’s a funny story. When I was a waitress, and said twins were about three-years-old, there was a Psychic Convention in the city. Not something I ever believed in, but I waited on a psychic who wanted to read my fortune to me. She used cards and as she flipped one over, I saw a single letter in the corner of the card. By the time she flipped five cards, those letters spelled out the word NOTES. She turned to me and said, “Oh, you’re going to be a writer.” I was shocked. Never even thought about writing. Then over the years, no matter my profession, I was always tagged with writing the documents everyone needed. I thought about that psychic and sat down to write a book. All Tucked Inn can be found on Amazon and is a fiction murder mystery. Isn’t it strange how one person can affect your life? I find it so very interesting. Was I destined to be a writer? Or did I become a writer because I was nudged? Fascinating, to say the least.

Oh, and I’ve always wanted to be asked about my least favorite part of the process. It’s definitely the editing, creating a book cover, and marketing. Every single part except writing. I’m not sure the average reader knows what is in involved in self-publishing. When I see a review on a new writer that gives him or her one star and mentions a couple typos, I cringe. It’s so easy to make an error and that poor writer probably didn’t know they’d have to be line editor, copy editor, cover designer, agent, publicist, etc. Just to get a book out there is an accomplishment, so I ask people to be nice if they are taking the time to review a book. Especially if it’s free or very inexpensive. Yes, it should be up to “James Patterson” standards, but he has teams of people telling him where the typos are J And that is why those ebooks are $13.99!

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: Website
Blog:  Expert of None Blog
Facebook:  Mindy M. Shelton Facebook
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mindy_shelton
Amazon Author Page:  Amazon: An Elizabeth Burke Thriller by Mindy M. Shelton
Goodreads: Mindy M. Shelton on Goodreads

Thank you so much to Mindy M. Shelton for such an in-depth and fantastic interview! It was a pleasure to be able to interview her and get an insight into her life (on and off the page!).

Interested in Mindy M. Shelton’s books? Here are the Goodreads Links and Photos:

30375247

 

 

 

Form Birth to Death: Mommies Who Murder (Ready Research #1)

30816310

 

\

From Cradle to Grave: Children Who Murder (Ready Research #2)

30969535

From First Victim to Last: Serial Murderers (Ready Research #3)

30969536

From Playground to Prison: Siblings Who Murder (Ready Research #4)

30969534From Wedding to Funeral: Spouses Who Murder (Ready Research #5)

26231952

All Tucked Inn: An Elizabeth Burke Thriller

Book Review: The Trap by Melanie Raabe

Book Review:
Title: The Trap – English Edition
Author: Melanie Raabe
Date Read: August 11th-September 1st, 2016
Date Reviewed: September 4th, 2016

30282261

Picture VIA Goodreads.

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. When I got the book, and read the back cover, I was more than impressed and pushed it to the front of my book review pile. While it took me a while to get to it, I wish I would have gotten to it sooner! This book is part of my top books, and I’m lending it out to my friends so they get introduced to this wonderful story by Melanie Raabe!

Quick Summary: Linda Conrads has been locked up in her house for 11 years. And not because she’s forced to, she wants to. She witnessed a horrible murder of her younger sister Anna many years ago, and she can’t bear to go out to the world anymore. Her small world suddenly turns upside down when she decides to write a novel about the murder and try to discover who the murderer is…

*SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT* You’ve been warned.

Evaluations: I LOVED this book. I was hooked at every word and it only took me so long to read it because I had exams and work. If I would have had it my way, I would have sat down one day and binge read it. I found myself doing that when I finally had the time! This book is totally worth it if you can get your hands on it. It’s a murder-mystery thriller that leaves you thinking the entire time. It’s not a fast moving novel, but if you look a good thriller, it’ll keep you hooked at every word.

Plot: Linda Conrads saw the murderer of her little sister Anna, and now she saw him again. After putting the pen to paper and writing another novel, since she is in fact an award winning novelist, she is determined to find him. When she gets an interview with this man, she learns that her view of the murder might be fiction…and she might be the murderer. This drives her mad, and she becomes even more determined to find out who murdered her sister, to finally put her theories to rest.

Characters: Linda Conrads is a bit of a shut in, and this makes her even more interesting. She’s been stuck in her house for 11 years, and might be a little bit crazy. She’s determined to find out what happened to her sister, and this seems to drive her mad. Her reliability is questioned many times during the novel, and it makes the reader really think about what could have happened. Is our narrator telling the truth? Or is she just to crazy to know the truth? She was well written, and I’m incredibly impressed with her.
The background characters are also fleshed out, even though they are present to a bare minimum. The story is focused on Linda, but these characters become important along the way. Paying attention to them is important! They all play a part.

Themes/Creativity: The theme of this story seemed to be fact vs fiction. Do we honestly remember everything perfectly? As a witness, are we reliable?
For Creativity – this book was on point! I thoroughly enjoyed this tale, since I have never read a book like this before. Even with all the mysteries and thrillers I have picked up, this story was in it’s own category. It has raised the stakes for other novels, and I loved every second of it!

Uniqueness: This book was in a club all on it’s own. While I’m sure there are other novels out there like this, I have yet to encounter something was wickedly thrilling as this novel. I would definitely pick this book up again to see if I missed anything along the way! It’s a unique view on the typical story – you don’t usually see the close relative trying to solve the murder, and they might be the possible suspect.

Strengths: The uniqueness of the novel and the situations, alongside the book inside the book, made this book terribly addicting on my end. I felt having Linda as an author, and explaining her view not only through her experiences but through her novel left me thinking and trying to pick apart the mystery even more. I enjoyed the unique take – Melanie Raabe has won me over with this book.

Weaknesses: The book is a slow building novel. I usually hate slow moving novels, but this novel is quite short and it unique. I would have loved this book not to drone on and on before the action starts, but the book was still great regardless!

Score: 5/5
This book is unique, and while it was slow I don’t think that should ruin the score. It gave all the information you needed to try to solve the mystery yourself. Everything seemed to have a purpose.

Recommendations: I would love Melanie Raabe to work on a faster pace. This book left me wishing it moved faster, since it was so incredibly great! I can see some people putting the book down because of how slow it moves, and I really hope that doesn’t happen! This translation is incredible, and deserves it’s glory!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.