The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (UPDATED Book and Film Review)

The newest big film release on the block is The Girl on the Train. After successfully avoiding cinema dates to see Bridget Jones’ Baby, try as I might I just couldn’t get excited about it, my arm was successfully twisted into getting on board with this one. 

Having just finished the book I feel a bit frustrated and tricked. It’s a who-dun-it tale that keeps you reading. But when all is revealed it’s all a little bit too simple and neat to be truly satisfying.

 I quickly realised that a lot of the pace of the novel was invested in throwing the reader off the scent. Common for modern thrillers or mysteries. In my opinion a novel like Gone Girl uses this device to great effect. TGOTT seems a bit to pleased with itself and it’s abundance of red herrings that by the end of the drama I couldn’t help but say to myself “Is that it?” 

The final climax screeches into melodrama and personality traits of the main players veer dangerously into the unbelievable territory as they seem to bear little resemblance to the characters in the 300 previous pages. 

I’d be interested to see the film adaptation to see how the problems are solved cinematically. I have a feeling the story may work more in that format. 

Update – 19/10/16 So… I just got home from seeing the film. It was my first cinema trip in an age so I over indulged on the sweets as I settled down to watch the big screen adaptation. Then we had to move two rows back when a chattering group of four came in and decided to sit directly in front of us. Why do people do that in cinemas? I forgot how annoying that is. Anyway… ramble over. I liked it. For the most part. I felt the finale sequence worked a lot better cinematically than than the melodramatic scenes of the book. *Spoiler alert* I actually winced at the demise of some of the main players. The sound effects were more gruesome than I expected them to be. I think the amount of heads getting battered in this film could rival an episode of the walking dead. The sound effects made me feel a bit ill. Even when I knew what was about to happen. 

The good: Emily Blunt. She was excellent as she always is. I was sceptical as to whether she could pull off just-about-functioning alcoholic Rachel. She looks impossibly glamorous in the movie poster and nothing like I’d pictured Rachel in the book. But Blunt pretty much out performed everyone off the screen. 

The bad: What the F— did they do to Megan? In the book she felt a lot more like a human being. In the film she’s a sex obsessed, baby hating, harlot whose sole purpose is to in trap any man who crosses her path. She reminded me of Jessica Rabbit. A cartoon character. Her back story was hinted at but it said nothing of how she ended up with Scott in a life she is dissatisfied with. That was a disappointment. 

Overall. It’s not the greatest film you’ll ever seen but it’s a fun thriller with some gory bits thrown in to make it surprising suitable for a Halloween-ish release. 

Learning the Guitar: Hints and Tips for starting out

When I was a little girl my dad found an acoustic guitar at a bus stop and brought it home for me. Sorry to whoever lost their guitar that day. I was thrilled. 

I went to lessons at my junior school and showed a bit of early promise, smashing the back up parts to We Wish You a Merry Christmas at the School assembly. My teacher wanted to make me lead – I was that good- but the lead girl was having none of it. It was like the plot of Dreamgirls but with 9 year olds and acoustic guitars. A legend was born. In my own mind. 

Soon the found/ stolen guitar (depending on your point of view I suppose) was discarded in the corner of my bedroom and soon succumbed to the poor insulation of the walls and rotted through with damp. 

It’s something I’ve been annoyed with myself for ever since. If I had carried it on, got better, could life have been different? No. Probably not. But it would make me more interesting at parties. In all honesty isn’t that what we mortals strive for? 

A few weeks ago I bought my very own guitar. After many years of thinking I could never afford a guitar, or lessons or the time it would take to be any good, I took the following course of action:

  1. I bought a guitar for £40 on Amazon It’s cheap and nasty and I’ve already had to have one of the tuners replaced. However, it’s a great starter guitar. If you are just starting out don’t be ashamed to go down this route. One day I intend to walk in to my nearest music store in the Laines and buy the most gorgeous guitar money can buy. Until then I’m finding my feet with this made in China cheap one. It does the job I need for now. 
  2. I’m (currently) teaching myself Thank f for the internet. In 1996 an hour a week was all the tuition I could get what with my humble working class background. I do remember having a teach-yourself-book but it might as well have been written in sandscript for the use it was. Now we live in the future. Where there are a million guitar tutorials available online. One of my favourites being Guitar Goddess who is sublime. (More about her in an upcoming post.) So you’re not stuck with the one guitar tutor in your small town who you find a bit weird. Any one in the world can teach you, in a style that suits you, through your iPhone. Thanks Steve Jobs 👍🏼
  3. I Make the Time Forgive a little tangent here but I’m a massive fan of Jen Kirkman’s podcast I Seem Fun one episode she talked about not having time to do things. To paraphrase horribly “It’s not that I don’t have the time. I just don’t make the time” I’ve adopted this subtle change of language and it’s had a huge impact on how I view my free time. Considering time was always one of my major reasons for not pursuing the guitar as a hobby I struggle to think what was keeping me so busy that I couldn’t at least try. Wait… I know what it was. Fear. Fear of being rubbish. Well that’s been well and truly knocked out of me. Time to riff.

That’s the absolute basics if you’re starting out. I’ll keep posting on how I’m doing as time goes on – chords, songs, things I’m struggling with-  a little diary of my progress if you will. 

Are you a beginner? Got any advice for me? Hints, tips, recommendations? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or tweet me @JesseTavistock

Friday Pick: The Chainsmokers

This week I’ve been mainly listening to a lot of commercial dance-pop-type-stuff while I’ve been pounding a treadmill at the gym. 

Yes, no one is more surprised than me that I joined a gym. I was always wary of them as places where people go to Instagram themselves with accompanying teeth grating hashtags #gymbunny #gymspiration. Turns out that gyms in the real world are filled with normal human beings of all shapes and sizes but most importantly no posers. Well there is the one guy who styles his hair to work out but it’s a fascinating work of art so I’ll forgive him that. 

Another reason for me joining the gym, which ties in nicely with Mental Health Awareness day having just been and gone, I calculated that a gym membership was a fraction of the cost of therapy. 

Whenever someone suggested excercise at my most depressed I could of slapped them. If I had any energy to do so obviously. Depression is a a life force sapping f*** of a condition that doesn’t leave you much inclination to tie your own shoe laces let alone run a 5k. 

At this moment in time I’m far enough down the recovery road to know that I am strong enough to tie those shoe laces and get the good brain chemicals flowing (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins in case you were wondering). I am not dissing therapy at all. If I had the funds I would go for a dual approach. Furthermore previous therapy courses (CBT, Integrative and mindfulness) have been fundamental to getting me to this point. Able to walk into a room full of strangers and not be so crippled with self doubt I run straight out the door to never return. So, if you’re suffering from a mental illness, please, don’t read this as “just get some exercise and you’ll be fine” blog post. Everything is a gradual process you’ll do it your way and you’ll rock it. 

Anyway, back to this weeks Friday Pick. There were about a million cardio dance tracks I could have chosen but I’ve plumped for this remix of The Chainsmokers recent hit Closer I normally find remixes of pop songs annoying in the extreme but I have fallen for the beat of this one. 

I’m fascinated by the line “the mattress that you stole from your roommate back in boulder” of all the items you could steal from your former housemate a mattress strikes me as the most ballsy and impressive. I can’t help but wonder if that’s a bit more effort than it’s worth. Surely the girl “…with the tattoo on [her] shoulder” would have had to hire a van to achieve such a heist. Thereby negating any monetary gain from stealing this used mattress as opposed to buying a new one from ikea. I’m waiting for a song about that because frankly I need more details. 

Starlings by Erinna Mettler

Recently I’ve found myself at the local authors section in Waterstones Brighton quite a bit. As a result I’ve got quite a few purchased, and sitting on my bookshelf, awaiting my attention.

I had one false start with a novel about a Brighton taxi driver (that I won’t name) that I couldn’t get on with despite a very good premise. I want to have another run at it if just to pinpoint why I found the protagonist so objectionable after 30 pages. So maybe I’ll blog about it soon. 

Anyway, back to the point, what an amazing blogger I am! After I admitted defeat with that one I picked up Starlings and was hooked in completely. 


Starlings is a daisy-chain novel set in Brighton. Each chapter tells the story of one of its varied inhabitants. Disparate lives collide in surprising ways, showing that destinies are often shaped by those we live beside. In a coastal tower block we meet Andy, a conflicted paedophile battling his urges. Next door is May, a desperately lonely old lady. Their lives are connected by the past and the future. In between are the stories of those they have touched – briefly or profoundly – Andy’s violent father, his mother and her transgender lover, May’s absent husband, the parents of abducted children, the drug dealer down the hall. Like the starlings swarming the skies above, these characters dance around each other until the final shattering climax when the destinies of Andy and May are revealed.

As a born and bred Brighton girl I’ve seen the city change a lot. For all the cliches and hipster takeover that’s occurred there is another side to this city that doesn’t get discussed as much. Mettler does a fantastic job of putting those forgotten residents of Brighton centre- stage over changing time periods and with interweaving stories that come together beautifully. I loved how the West Pier was a character in itself in the book. A structure battered and broken by circumstance just like the ensemble cast themselves. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 

If you have any Brighton authors to recommend or even books about Brighton then let me know in the comments. 

Friday Pick: Robbie Williams 

Hear me out. I’ve loved Robbie Williams my entire life. No exaggeration. I cried the day he left Take That. Worshipped him through the 00s solo megastardom era. Watched with pride as he reformed with Take That and bought several T Shirts along the way. It’s a strong level of fandom that won’t budge and bears little to no relation to the evolution of my music taste over the years. 

Is this song fantastic? Objectively probably not. But I love it. Who else would write a pop song like this? With it’s shades of political comment and great big dollops of humour? No one that’s who. That’s why we need Robbie. No apologies. 

A Weekend in Shoreditch 

A couple of weeks ago the other half and I had an impromptu weekend away in Shoreditch. Whenever we go to London we tend to stick to either Soho, Covent Garden or South Bank. I thought it would be a nice idea to try somewhere else. My suggestion of visiting Highgate cemetery was labelled “weird” so instead we decided to visit Hipster central Shoreditch. We booked a cosy room at the newly opened citizenM Shoreditch. To my relief the room was bright with a wall to wall window looking out over the overground railway. 

In all honesty I was tempted to stay in the room all night just chilling after a very long week. But there were places to see so we started off the night in the bar. 

image from Twitter
I had a chilli cocktail that just about blew my head off as I admired the super cool decor and wondered if I could steal one of the funky cushions. 

Then it was time for dinner. We headed down to Boxpark and were pretty overwhelmed with the choice of independent pop up restaurants and outdoor hot tub parties. Really. 

I’m incredibly socially awkward so finding myself in a shipping container with East London’s insanely good looking and fashionable artsy people was a self esteem shattering experience. Luckily I found that the further away I was from the vegan place with my face deep in pork ribs the better I felt about myself. Not for the first time I might add. 

BBQ food never instagrams well. But trust me this was goood.

Porky’s bbq is well worth a visit. It’s sticky, sweet and deliciously messy. 

After the ribs, there were fancy cocktails to be had at the cocktail trading co. on Bethnal Green Road. A cosy bar that felt like a place you could relax in, with a good mix of people, and an eclectic playlist. I had my world rocked by ‘Morning Glory’ a tasty combo of Gin, melon, mandarin, lemon juice and egg white. 

Next was ‘Bonsai Butterfly’ an artistic beauty of Gin, champagne, st germain and fig-like cordial. Divine. 

The next morning we headed to Spitalfields market. We were unaware it was London Fashion Week and Topshop had annexed the centre of this huge space for a catwalk show. I feel it’s apt that while the great and glamorous were gathering for that I was 20 feet away having the. greatest. doughnut. of. my. life. 

Crosstown are changing the doughnut game by using sourdough for all their recepies. I adore sourdough bread but I was sceptical that it was really necessary for a doughnut. How wrong I was. It’s not a silly gimmick it’s the lightest most yummy doughnut I’ve ever had. It ruined all other doughnuts for me forever. The Husbo and I agreed that for all of Brighton’s extensive food scene the one thing we are missing is a really good doughnut place. Crosstown if you are reading this. You need to open one here. Get on that. Thanks! 

DAA Friday Pick: Rachel Bloom (again!)

The darkness expressed in last weeks post is beginning to dissipate and I’m starting to get back on an even keel again. Horrah! If I do have a little dip then I find myself watching a lot of Rachel Bloom YouTube videos because I am still deep in my fangirl honeymoon period with her. This one makes me laugh so hard I have watched it a hundred times. 

*Blog Update* I know I’ve been a bit quiet on here of late. I’ll be back in the swing of things soon and I’m buzzing with ideas. Exciting times ahead. Can’t wait. 👍🏼

DAA Friday Pick: Rachel Bloom

Depression has kicked my arse once again and I’m back in the spiral of self loathing that I’ve spent so long clawing my way out of. 

I know what your thinking “oh, a blogger with depression, what a rarity” and to that I say you are right I won’t bore you with the details here. 

What I will say is that Crazy Ex Girlfriend is one of the best depictions of anxiety and depression I’ve ever seen on television. It also has some killer musical numbers. Originally I avoided this show like the plague because the title seemed so off putting. But then I read loads of blogs telling me not to be. Bloggers with depression liked the show. My people! Therefore I thank the WordPress community for helping me find Rebecca Bunch/Rachel Bloom. She is just the person I need in my living room right now. I’m not talking to anyone else much. 

The song I’ve picked to post today is quite intense and probably won’t make sense out of context. But I love it because it sums up the thought processes of sadness so bloody well. 

As for me I’ll be absolutely fine. Have an amazing weekend y’all. I’ll be over here raising the roof. Whoop!!

We were liars by E. Lockhart

YA novels aren’t usually my go to when I’m in the market for a new read. This has meant that I’ve missed every literary blockbuster of the last decade. Twilight, Hunger Games and all their accompanying knock offs have completely passed me by.   Two years ago I accidentally stumbled into YA territory when I downloaded The Fault in our Stars by John Green. I read it during a fragile time so the book had me weeping by the end. I wondered, in true Carrie Bradshaw style, if YA was the route to go down for a fix of unashamed emotions and exploration of the human condition?  Then I forgot about it intil I watched a video where Zoella told me I should buy We were liars in WH Smith. I’m far too old to be taking advice from Zoella. I bought …Liars in Waterstones. Because I’m a contrarian. Sort of. 


A beautiful and distinguished family.

A private island.

A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.

A revolution. An accident. A secret.

Lies upon lies.

True love.

The truth.

It’s an whirlwind of a tale focused on the wealthy Sinclair family and their, quite frankly, unenviable family dis functions. The reader quickly gets to recognise that this idyllic private island, and it’s hugely privileged “all American” family that inhabits it, are struggling to keep up a centuries old façade of perfection. Cadence and her band of “liars” are all 15 years old and ready to right the many wrongs. Perhaps with devastating consequences. 

While I enjoyed the story I wouldn’t say I was gripped. The final section of the book didn’t pack the emotional punch I was after. I found myself trying to think back and “do the maths” as it were to see if the plot was tied up. Probably evidence enough I wasn’t overly engrossed. E. Lockhart has a huge back catalogue of work to discover but right now I think I’ll stick to John Green to serve my YA emotional needs.