Girls on Trains

imageThe reading of this book went a lot faster than the previous one I ploughed my way through, and when I finished it I gave it four out of five stars.  Then I read some reviews and was surprised to see so many negative ones.  The biggest complaint was its comparison to “Gone Girl” with reviewers saying it either didn’t live up to expectations or that they didn’t like either one since the characters in both  were unlikable dysfunctional idiots.

Well, it was full of those, but I liked it anyway.  The story is told in bits and pieces by three women.  Rachel is an alcoholic who has blackouts and often a less than firm grasp of reality.  She has lost her home, her husband and her job and spends most of her time feeling bad about her situation, telling lies and making excuses and riding on the train.  She wallows and is unable (or unwilling) to change.

Anna (married to Tom, Rachel’s ex) lives in Rachel’s old house with Tom and their new baby.  She is exasperated by Rachel’s inability to let Tom go, her drunken phone calls at all hours and her lurking about, and she fears for the safety of her child.

Megan lives a few doors away with her husband, does not have the idyllic life that Rachel imagines as she observes the couple each day from the train, and has her own set of issues and secrets to deal with. For a short time she helps Anna out when the baby is small.  And gets herself up to even more shenanigans, but we don’t learn about that until later.

When Megan disappears, everyone left is a suspect, including Megan’s therapist who was seen by Rachel (from the train)  kissing Megan on her deck the morning of the day she went missing.

I can’t count how many times I sighed and thought OMG Rachel, what kind of asinine thing are you going to do next?  But hey, it kept me interested and reading right up to the end.  There’s a real art to giving out just enough information to get readers headed in a certain direction and then having them find out some new thing that changes their minds.

I stand by my four stars.  Even if you figure out the mystery well before the end, it’s still an enjoyable journey getting there.

A Finished Book

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Look at me, all done reading a book!  And not knowing how to explain why it’s been so long since the last time I did that.

I remember reading Kate Morton’s other books…

  • The House at Riverton
  • The Secret Keeper
  • The Forgotten Garden
  • The Distant Hours

…so I didn’t think it would be a stretch to like The Lake House.  And I did like it.  I just didn’t love it.  There was way too much messing about getting to the point.  And far too many coincidences and characters and back stories and sub plots and descriptions and hopping around in time.  Just too many words.  I guess that’s why I could never write an entire novel, lacking the patience to expand everything to death without giving the ending away in the first chapter.

A child disappears and it takes seventy years to solve the mystery of what happened to him.  People with secrets!  You just want to give them a shake.  How’s that for a book review?

If the reading of this book hadn’t started well before Christmas and proceeded in fits and starts up until this afternoon I suppose I might have found it shorter.  Mostly I read in bed when I was already tired and rarely came across anything riveting enough to keep me awake.  Not even half way through I found myself no longer caring what really happened or why, but FINALLY the end arrived and it all came together in the neatest little package ever, tied with a bow.  I don’t know why that felt trite and disappointing, but it did.  Just too darned neat and tidy and resolved.

Anyway, it’s a story and it’s been told.  If you like Kate Morton you will enjoy this.  But I don’t think you will be blown away.

Deep Thoughts on a Shopping Bag

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It’s the attention to little details that make shopping at Chapters such a delight for people like me who love this kind of thing.  If there must be a shopping bag, why not make it say something wonderful?  I forgot to take a reusable bag with me and I was walking, so I reluctantly said yes to a bag, but happily this one will NOT go directly into the recycle bin along with my guilt about the environment.  I will use it again, because you don’t just recycle John Keats.

Not in any way trying to out-do Keats, and everything he mentions in this quote is lovely, but I would like to change the sentiment a little to reflect my own personal preferences.

Give me

a blank canvas, crispy bacon,

Argentinian Malbec wine

soft candle light

&

a little peace and quiet…..

Hmmm… are all these things meant to go together?  I’ve never had bacon with my wine.  Or painted by candlelight either.

I do have some other weird habits though, one of which is reading labels and product descriptions and getting bamboozled into buying them simply because they sound peculiar and interesting.  I bought a hair product once because it promised to deconstruct my hair in to loose textured beach waves.  It contained black figs and sea salt.  Really.  Eventually I poured what remained of it down the sink because what it actually made my hair look like was a very structured haystack.

What is a beach wave anyway?  And why did I think I wanted some of those?  Hard to complain to the makers of a product when you don’t have a clue what they are promising you.

Great books are just the beginning.  Isn’t that an awesome little statement?  Even though it doesn’t specify whether it’s the beginning of something amazing or the beginning of something horrifying we still want to have those great books.  Because beginnings, right?

And we want those great books in great bags!

Thank you Indigo.  For your bags and your words and your little in-store coffee shop making all your books smell like Starbucks.  I will be back for more.  But you know that, don’t you?  Yes, you do.

Three Quotes: The Middle

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“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”
― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Three Quotes in Three Days  (see yesterdays post)

I nominate three people out there who would like to complete this challenge!  You know who you are, even if I don’t!  Yes, that was a very lazy way of getting out of actually naming people.  No pressure here.  But I do recommend this book.  It’s wonderful and weird.

Hope you’re having an extraordinary summertime Tuesday.

Word Brain

word brainI’m playing this word game (it’s an Apple app) because I like word games and because I want to keep my brain functioning.  I’m not sure if this is helping, or just adding to the general confusion.  The game starts off being really simple and easy (to get you hooked) and becomes more challenging as you progress.  All you have to do is find words by running your finger over the letters in the right order.  The above picture doesn’t make sense to me, because where is the word music in that block of letter blocks?  More puzzling than that, how in the world did this player get two hundred and fifty hints??  It must be a level way beyond the one I’m on.  And either this person is a genius who never uses hints, or there is some magic way to cheat to get them.  I’m going to google that later.

The puzzles I am solving now consist of two words.  If you don’t guess them in the right order, the second one could have its letters drop down too scrambled to solve.  So you have to hit the circling arrows and start again.  When I got to the two-word puzzles it took me – oh, I don’t know, maybe 6 or 10 puzzles – to figure out that the solutions are not words that go together to mean something.  You know, like ‘chair back’, ‘barn yard’ and ‘rock band’.

Here are some of the best ones I found which I think we should add to the English language as two-word phrases.  Just because.  They conjure up the best images.

1.  lemon face (give a baby something sour to see a really great one)

2.  fish shout (hey guys, boat bottom overhead!  go deep!)

3.  egg tennis (hardest serves to return ever)

4.  book elbow (you read way too much)

5.  snail skis (not the best choice for downhill racing)

6.  sock petal (this flower smells weird)

7.  melon well (fetch a pail of honey dews)

8.  sun waffle (for breakfast – moon waffles are for midnight snacks)

9.  skull tent (not proven to be a bear deterrent)

10.  spinach tv (the only reason you have it is because it’s part of a package)

This game really should give these kinds of hints, instead of merely showing you the first letter of one of the words.  If they did that, I would have gotten at lot more of them right, a lot faster.  If anyone from Apple would like to contact me for other advice about their apps, I’m not that busy.

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Sharing My World 13

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The names of my grandchildren in scrabble letters! The perfect gift from a gifted grand-daughter.

Share Your World 2014 Week 51

Would you prefer snowy winters, or not, and why?

You get what you get, depending on where you choose to live I suppose.  When we lived in the Arctic above the tree line, the winters were long and dark and frozen solid.  So living way down south in the middle of Alberta (which is way up north to many people) seems balmy in comparison.  I have never liked the snow and the cold, but a winter without any snow at all would probably seem weird.  So far this year we haven’t had too much of the white stuff, but now that I’ve said that we’ll get royally dumped on.  No worries, I don’t have to go out in it or shovel it or even look at it if I don’t want to.  That’s what spouses with snow blowers are for.  And snow always eventually goes away.  That’s the part about it I like the best.

So, you’re on your way out and it’s raining. Do you know where your umbrella is or do you frantically search for it all over your apartment/house?

Usually my umbrella is in a basket on the shelf above the coats.  If it’s not there, it’s in my car from the last time I used it and didn’t bring it back in to the house.  It used to get left at work all the time if it was raining when I left to go there and not raining at home time.  No matter where it might be, there will be no frantic searching.  Coats are made with hoods for a reason.  I like the rain.  It doesn’t rain enough here.

Do you prefer your food separated or mixed together?

I don’t really care.  Either way, it’s purpose is to satisfy hunger and supply nourishment.  Sometimes I feel like I’m living in the Hunger Games city of Panem where food is so plentiful we forget it’s not there purely for our entertainment.  We play with fashion and we play with food while there are people in the world who are going without proper clothes or food or shelter,  and who must look at us and question our priorities and our sanity in the grand scheme of things.  A starving child isn’t concerned about the presentation or the proper utensils.  Or what to do with the annoying cereal dust at the bottom of the Cheerios box.

What is set as the background on your computer?

Well, funny you should ask.  I just changed it yesterday.  I was tired of looking at this elephant.

The-beautiful-elephant-sunsetAnd now I am looking at this, where they should also have mentioned coffee and chocolate.

winter books

 

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for the best Christmas yet (every one is the best ever – funny how they just keep getting better…) with all the grandchildren and sons and daughters and dogs.  It was relaxing and delicious.  I shared a bedroom with W, so I had to either learn how to use ear plugs or live with sleep deprivation.  I chose the former.  When he snores, the walls go in and out, I swear, and you can’t hear planes flying overhead.  Now I know what to expect when what’s left of my hearing finally goes.  It was kind of nice in a way, getting up and wandering around and having no idea at all how much noise I might be making.

This week I’m looking forward to New Years Eve and maybe actually making it to midnight with my eyes open!  That seems like a reasonable goal and one that I won’t be too sorry about if (as usual) I don’t make it.

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Sharing My World 5

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Would you rather take pictures or be in pictures?

My dad used to say the only pictures people liked of themselves were the ones that didn’t look anything like them.  Maybe that’s why we can look back at photos from years ago and finally see them objectively because that’s not who we are anymore.  Hey, look at me, I was kind of cute back in the day, who knew?  In real time I have never considered myself photogenic so I’m the one snapping pictures and shying away from being in them.

What did you most enjoy doing this past week?

I most enjoyed being the recipient of attention and concern as to my well-being.  Who doesn’t enjoy that?  Best to milk it for all its worth when it happens, hey?  I have been filling my “healing time” with lots of reading, sleeping, coffee drinking, drawing, pencil sharpening, pill taking and movie watching.  Maybe I’ve died and gone to heaven.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I am always trying to curb my many excessive and unnecessary expenditures.  It’s hard to decide what exactly the greatest one might be.  You could sell me pretty much anything in a health food store, for instance, even though the same products might cost much less somewhere else.  I’m a sucker for skin care products.  Coffee is hugely important to me.    But for the sake of making myself sound slightly less self-indulgent, let’s say it’s books.  I would like to line every wall in my house with book shelves and fill them all up.  So far I’ve done only a wall and a half.  I could do another wall full if all my e-books were real.  I used to have a library card, but discovered that it was much too stressful having to give books back.  Now I buy them and keep them and cherish them.  I will never be rich as long as people keep writing books.

Which letter of the alphabet describes you best?

I don’t know – M?  It’s the thirteenth letter of the alphabet.  Thirteen has been a significant and even a lucky number in my life.  The top of a horned owls head looks like the letter M  and I like to think I’m at least as wise as some pointy headed bird.  I am a MOM.  I like M & M’s.  “Mmmmmm” is the noise I make when I can’t think of anything intelligent to say.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming?

I’m grateful for not having to make a Thanksgiving dinner.  Is that a selfish thing to be thankful for?  Probably.  I should have said my alphabet letter is Z because it figures prominently in the word LaZy and signifies sleep.   (zzzzzz…..)  I’m also grateful for four seasons of the 4400 on Netflix and a theme song that is now stuck in my head forever.

It drives me a bit crazy every time that bath tub overflows.

Next week I’m looking forward to sharing with you whatever happens next.

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Share Your World – 2014 Week 41