Mar 29, 2015

The Sunday Salon: I'm Finally Doing it!

It's been a long time coming. Honestly, it's something I've been a little embarrassed about. OK, here it is: I'm finally reading ANNA KARININA by Leo Tolstoy for the very first time! There - I said it!

There are some books that, as an avid reader and lover of books, I feel that you just have to read. Especially the classics.  I've always felt a little strange having not read this beloved Russian tome.  Sometimes it seems everyone else has already read it and I'm the only one who hasn't! I've had it on my shelf for years but kept pushing it aside. Finally, I said No More! Its Time! And here I am at only 13% through at this time. (I'm reading it on my Kindle only because I can't see it well enough to read my print copy).

It may sound silly, but I guess you could say this book is at the top of my Book Bucket List. Books I must read before I die. I don't even know why I was so intimidated by this book because now that I'm into it, I am really enjoying it. The writing is lovely, even through the translation to English, and it is quickly becoming endearing to me. I'm barely even into it so I'm sure I'll have a whole range of emotions as I continue.

I'd love to know... Have you read ANNA KARININA? What did you think of it? And are there other classics that you haven't read that you feel like the only one left? Do you have a Book Bucket List? And if you do, what books are on it? This is what I'm thinking about today. I'd love to read your thoughts on this!

Mar 23, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Unabridged Audio Version)

***There are NO SPOILDERS in this review***

Every day Rachel takes the same train to London and back for work.  The train has become such a part of her life that during one of the its regular stops she watches and fantasizes about the people living in a particular house that sits close to the station.  It becomes such an unhealthy obsession that while Rachel waits for fellow passengers to load and unload at this stop, she has even given one couple names and conjures up stories of what she feels their lives must be like.  Rachel becomes so consumed that before long she is insinuating herself into their lives.  But Rachel is not a stranger to this row of houses along the track.  Her past is connected to it and before long Rachel's past and the present collide in a very disturbing and dangerous way.


... On The Story: There certainly has been a lot of talk about this debut novel set in and around London in 2013.  I almost didn't even pick it up because I had read  where many people thought it was very slow to start and a few had a hard time finishing it. It seemed everyone was reading this book, so I put it off but I kept coming back to it,  Since I was expecting it to be a slow starter, I decided I would listen to the audio version instead. I was thinking that maybe it wouldn't seem slow for me if I were to listen instead of read.  Personally, I think it was a great decision!

The story is a strange one and has a stalker feel to it but unlike many other readers, I didn't find the beginning slow at all.  Perhaps because I was listening? I don't really know. In those first chapters, little nuggets of Rachel's life were being dropped that caught my attention. There were many moments where I was surprised by a turn of events or a revelation that I didn't see soming. There were a lot of those later on in the book.  I would definitely call this book a thriller and a mystery that completely pulled me in. I've heard some say it has a Hitchcock feel to it and I would definitely agree with that. The characters were complex and not all of them were likable, which added even more suspicion on my part.  Rachel, as the main narrator, was not very reliable because of her issues so I learned to be wary of her.

This is a mind-bending story and I struggle to get my full thought across because I don't want to say too much for those of you who haven't read it yet. In fact, I think I've said enough and I will let you discover the rest on your own. I will say, however, that I believe this is a book worth reading with an unusual and interesting story.

...On the Audio Interpretation:

I do think it's quite possible that I enjoyed this book as much as I did because I chose the audio version.  I really enjoyed each of the narrators:  Rachel, Meghan, and Anna.  I was most taken with Rachel and Meghan, more so than with Anna mainly because Anna's voice had a shrillness to it that I didn't enjoy as much.  That said, they each had me sitting near the edge of my seat as the book went on. I picked up every little bit they dropped, so I guess I would even venture to say they had me captivated.

The bottom line is that, for me, I found this book to be totally entertaining from beginning to end and I would recommend it, especially the audio version. I can imagine it would be even more intriguing if you live in a large city where you actually take a train regularly. In my opinion, I think THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is a huge sucess as a debut novel and I will undoubtedly be looking forward to whatever new book Ms. Paula Hawkins comes out with next.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author:  Paula Hawkins
Narrators:  Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 01/13/2015
Length: 10 hrs 59 nubs
Source: Purchased with monthly credit from
Recommend? Absolutely Yes!

Mar 13, 2015

Mightier Than the Sword by Jeffrey Archer (Clifton Chronicles #5)

As these stories move into 1969- 70 the Clifton and Barrington families are fighting both old and new battles. After the thwarted effort by Don Pedro to blow up their luxury liner, the MV Buckingham, on its maiden voyage to New York City, Emma Clifton, the chairman of Barrington Shipping, struggles to keep the whole incident quiet for fear of a tremendous loss, both for the company, and herself. Her attentions are stretched, also by the lawsuit Lady Virginia has filed against her for libel. That suit has the potential to bring the company down, which Emma believes is the real purpose of the suit.

Harry has written the next book in his very successful Inspector William Warwick series and at the same time has taken up a cause he strongly believes in, even though it puts him in a direct line of fire from the Russians.

Giles and Sebastian continue with their respective careers in politics and banking while also striving to find love.  And though they both face difficult obstacles, they are determined to win the hearts they long for regardless of the sacrifices they may have to make.


I've said it before, but I don't ever mind saying it again. I absolutely love Jeffrey Archer's storytelling talent!  When I finish one chapter, I'm so anxious to get to the next to see where he is going to take me. His perfectly developed characters are seamlessly woven into multi-layered stories that have so many angles to them and I enjoy it so much. He is able to not only tell a great story of political intrigue or a business takeover and add his style of humor that make his books the complete full package. Totally entertaining on every aspect.

With that being said, I can't say this is my favorite installment of the series, especially since I loved book 4 (CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR) so much but I still liked it a whole lot! I always read Archer's books so fast because I get so involved in them but then there's the let down that I have to wait an entire year for the next one to come out! I've grown to love these characters and feel I know them pretty well and I always look forward to rejoining them every year. I can't even think about what I will do once the series is finished in a few years!

If you've never read this series I encourage you to give it a try. The books rely heavily on the characters' history, so I feel you must start at the beginning with book one to grasp the entire dynamic of the series.  The stories move along swiftly and are so interesting, partly because Archer weaves historical elements into them.  Another plus is that Archer jumps right from one book to the next, so the action starts on page one with each new installment. This time around I especially enjoyed Harry's storyline regarding a former language translator who was imprisoned after writing a book about his experience working at the Kremlin under Josef Stalin and the lengths Harry was willing to go to to help get him released.   And, as always Jeffrey Archer left readers with another jaw-dropping cliffhanger at the end to torture readers until next year!

Special thanks to Jessica and Brittani at St. Martin's Press for the advance copy they provided me and to the author for such a great reading experience.

MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD (Clifton Chronicles #5)
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: February 24, 2015
Length: 416pp
Source: Uncorrected Digital Galley from the publisher through NetGalley

Mar 3, 2015

Undone by Karin Slaughter (Will Trent #3) Unabridged Audio Version

In this third installment of the Will Trent Series, GBI Special Agents Will Trent and Faith Mitchell are tasked with finding a very dangerous man who is abducting, torchering and killing a certain type of woman.  His pattern seems to be women who don't have many friends, are not very nice people so that likely no one will be looking for them when they disappear.  Another odd similarity is that all the women are extremely thin,  possibly suffering from some sort of eating disorder.

Dr. Sara Linton is on duty in the ER the night one of the victims is brought in to Grady Hospital after being hit by a car out in the middle of nowhere, naked and obviously severely tortured and beaten. Using her skills as a former coroner, she tries to help Will and Faith uncover clues as much as she can, much to Faith's disapproval. When another woman is suspected of being abducted from a grocery store parking lot, the GBI special agents are up against the clock to find her before its too late. Hopefully she'll be found before her six year old son has to be put into the system and before any more women are abducted.

My Thoughts:

Though I can't say this book has the same intensity as the first book, TripTych, it does have compelling twists and turns that I've come to expect from Karin Slaughter's work.  Agents Trent and Mitchell have now been partners for about a hear now.  They haven't worked out all ot he their issues but they do make a good team and they have each others backs. The introduction of the Sara Linton character to this series adds another layer that I think will only make it more complex. Readers of Slaughter's Grant County Series know that Dr. Linton is that series' main character.  I, myself, have not read that series but the way in which she was brought in was seamless and fit the story well.  Unlike some of the already established characters, Dr. Linton is a likable character with a soft side that will round out the diverse cast.

The story, like the previous books, was brutal, so if you don't care for gory details, this series may not be for you. The crimes are disturbing and unthinkable but, for me, I'm not offended or freaked out by them. Its great crime fiction and suspense writing. Slaughter is very creative and its't afraid to push the envelope. I'm really glad I've made the time to read her books. It reminds me of how Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo's books had me on the edge of my seat. Its an adrenaline rush I didn't know I'd craved so much.

Audio Review:

This is the first time I've listened to one of Karin Slaughter's books and though I did enjoy it, I prefer reading her books as opposed to listening to them.  Maybe some of the intensity I was missing would've been there had I been reading it.  Not that the narrator, Natalie Ross, didn't do a good job. I just didn't love it. Since I'd read the first two books, I already had the tone of the characters in my mind and it was just different. I don't know if that makes sense or not but that's the only way I can explain it. It may just be the act of flipping pages to see what's happening next that I missed.

I'm very much looking forward to book four in the series, BROKEN and like I said, I'll be reading that one on my Kindle. These are great books that get right into the story from page one.  If you are a fan of Jo Nesbo, I think you'd like this series.  I still have to say though, that TripTych is still my favorite so far.

UNDONE by Karin Slaughter (Will Trent #3) Unabridged Audio Version
Author: Karin Slaughter
Narrator: Natalie Ross
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: July 2009
Length:  16 hrs 7 mins
Source: Audible

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