Scottsdale bibliophile Julie Carlson’s May Book Reviews

the-girl-on-the-trainTHE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

By Paula Hawkins

Are you a fan of thrillers like Gone Girl? If so, then you need to check out The Girl on the Train. Hawkins debut novel is filled with twists and turns that will have you riveted to your seat. The novel is told from the perspective of two women from the same London neighborhood. While riding the train every day to and from work, Rachel imagines the lives of the residents who live in the homes along the rail. She does so in order to escape from her alcoholic depression. Rachel is also obsessed with her ex-husband and why their marriage failed. This leads her to a new obsession with a couple she names “Jess and James,” who live on the same block as her former home. She sees the couple every day from her train seat, inventing a life for them. But soon, Rachel is plunged into the real life of the couple, and the picture-perfect marriage she envisions is anything but. The Girl on the Train is everything readers who fancy a good thriller are looking for. It sucks you into both women’s obsession and yearning for a different life––Rachel looking out the train windows and Megan looking in.

5 Stars



By D.M. Pulley

The Dead Key received the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in the mystery and thriller category, and it’s clear why. Debut author Pulley gives readers a fresh story about the mysteries contained in safety deposit boxes. The book is set in Cleveland and revolves around two stories from two different time periods––1998 and 1978. Irish Latch is an engineer and has just started working for a firm, but she craves getting away from the office and marking blueprints. When she’s given the opportunity to do some fieldwork at an abandoned bank, Iris soon finds herself intrigued by the stories left behind in the old offices, files, and eventually the safety deposit boxes. This leads her to discover the second narrator, Beatrice Baker, who worked as a secretary for the bank. What’s uncovered is a web of secrets, lies, and danger. The historical details of the ’70s are vividly brought to life amid the contrast of the late ’90s. Although at times the book can be slow moving, the dual story line and characters drive the plot and make it work as both characters become involved in the same mystery.

3 Stars



By Jodi Meadows

Known for her dystopian series, Incarnate, Meadows brings readers a new magical fantasy series. The Orphan Queen is set in an epic world with magic, lore, and a kick-ass heroine. The first novel introduces us to Wilhelmina (aka Wil), a mysterious character with many different sides and paths, but she’s mainly an orphaned princess trying to take back her kingdom, Indigo. Along with the help of her faithful friends and fellow spies, Wil sets out on her mission. She’s also hiding a deadly secret––she has a magical ability. Wil must protect her magic from the dangerous monsters called wraith that seek to destroy anyone with supernatural powers. Another person who stands in Wil’s way, but for more romantic reasons, is the legend known as the Black Knife, a sexy masked crusader similar to Robin Hood. Meadows does a fantastic job with her world building. Readers are immediately thrown into the beautiful yet dangerous world of the Indigo Kingdom. It’s a little slow and Wil and her crew’s mission is somewhat confusing at first, but the novel quickly picks up pace and becomes an adventurous journey for all. Add this one to your summer reading list!

4 Stars



Being Mortal

By Atul Gawande

The subject of a PBS documentary, Being Mortal explores how doctors fail patients at the end of life while offering recommendations for how the health-care system can better address this issue.


Around the World in 50 Years: My Adventure to Every Country on Earth

By Albert Podell

This is an inspirational story of a man who achieved two exceptional goals––setting a record for the longest automobile trip ever made around the world and going to every country on Earth. Readers will sit agape at what author Albert Podell experienced during his travels.


Data and Goliath

By Bruce Schneier

High-level security expert and writer Bruce Schneier teaches how to protect your privacy and offers suggestions for navigating government and corporate surveillance.



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