Monday, April 25, 2016

The Girl on the Train

516YNFvZnrL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (232×346) Title: The Girl on the Train

 Author: Paula Hawkins

Published: 2015 by Riverhead Books

Pages: 323

Genre: mystery, thriller

Obtained: library

Summary:  Rachel has hit rock bottom.  Her husband divorced her after he had an affair resulting in a pregnant lover.  Rachel had been trying to become pregnant, but was not successful.   Rachel is an alcoholic, and has recently lost her job.  She pretends to go to work each day so her flatmate won't know she is unemployed.  Each day, while looking out the window of the commuter train, she watches a couple who live in her old neighborhood, and makes up stories in her head portraying them as the perfect couple- the life she wished she had with her ex-husband.  She gets obsessed with them, even making up names and life stories for them.  One day she sees something which shows her that they aren't perfect.  The day after, Rachel finds out that the woman is missing.  Would telling the police what she has seen help in finding the missing woman?  She feels drawn to this mystery and to the people connected with it and gets involved way over her head.

Thoughts:  This book went back and forth between the point of view of three different women- Rachel (an alcoholic who has hit rock bottom), Anna (Rachel's ex-husbands wife), and Meghan (the woman Rachel sees everyday from the commuter train).   You learned each woman's story and find out how their lives are intertwined.  Each woman was troubled in some way- alcoholism, anxiety, bad relationships, and issues around children and spouses.  All of the characters in the book were well developed and had depth.  The little criticism that I have is that the characters did not have unique voices, but the way the author laid out the book made this of little significance.
     The setting was England, specifically the area around the train line from Ashbury to Euston.  The setting is a real place and the author did a great job of putting a picture in my head of a place that I've never been to.
    The plot was a good one, but what made the story suspenseful and a great book was the author's writing style.  It was clear writing, but written in a way to show that each woman saw things differently and had different world views.  Also, it was transparent that people in the story were not telling the truth at times.  It was a good mystery with many red herrings.
     This was a psychological thriller that was a page turner.  It was hard to put down.  It may be hard for some people to like these characters.  They were all definitely self-centered and their morals were not high.  To me a story can still be good with unlikable characters, as long as they are well developed and that the things they do stay within their characters.  I really enjoyed this book, particularly the author's writing style.  This is the author's first thriller.  I hope she writes another one!


Company: Art of Tea

Tea: Naked Pu-erh

Obtained: gift

     I received a pur-erh tea sampler from Art of Tea as a gift.  Art of Tea is a tea importer and wholesaler based in Los Angeles, California.  They create their own organic tea blends.  The sampler came with four different types of pu-erh teas.  This tea, Naked Pu-erh, is only the second pu-erh tea I have tried.  With a little research, I found that pu-erh tea is grown in the Yunnan province of southern China. Pu-erh teas are fermented, not just oxidized.  This is what gives them their unique flavor. Pu-erh tea is said to have many health benefits- some mentioned are lowering "bad" cholesterol, lowering blood sugar levels, and assisting in weight loss.
     The tea came in a small, good quality tin.  It appears that the company uses the same tins for all it's teas and just puts a sticker on the front with the tea's name and a very brief description of the tea.  This one stated "earthy, woodsy, bold".  The leaves were thin, brown, and about a quarter of an inch long.  The scent was earthy, similar to damp leaves.
     I put one tablespoon of tea in my tea ball and poured eight ounces of water over it as directed.  I brewed the tea for 3 minutes (3-5 is recommended).  The liquid was a dark red.  The scent was still earthy and made me have a picture of a barnyard in my head.  When I tasted the tea, I have to say I was reminded of spinach.  It was an odd taste, but pleasant.  This tea had body and depth, but very little astringency.
     I have found with the two pu-erh's I tried that the taste is not one of my favorites.  I enjoy one cup, but don't want another one.  In reading about pu-erh tea, many people have made the comment that they were trying to stop drinking coffee and replaced their coffee with this type of tea.  After tasting this tea, I see why.  It is almost an in between- not as light as many teas and not as bold or deep as coffee.  

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