TBR Confessions: A Tattooed Hacker, Rabid Blonde Killers, and a Girl…on a Train

My TBR confessions include the world’s favorite tattooed Swedish hacker, disease-ridden murderous blonde women, and a drunken woman sitting on a locomotive.

CURRENTLY READING: The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

I was absolutely enthralled with the original Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson, so when I found out that David Lagcrantz had been assigned the task of picking up the misadventures of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, I was ready to see what he would do with such a strong and definitive cast of characters. And I plan to finish this book, but I’m not exactly impressed.

While David Lagercrantz seems to have done a perfectly adequate job of picking up where Stieg Larsson left off, the whole thing feels like imitation rather than what I hoped would be reinvention. The novel keeps the original trilogy’s structure in terms of story-telling and persistent onslaught of detail, but Lagercrantz seems to slip here and there. At some points the prose becomes somewhat disjointed and it takes a moment to get back on track. But the characters have the same personalities, which I found endearing. There’s a new conspiracy and Mikael and Lisbeth are back, so I’m here for it.

CURRENTLY READING: The Blondes by Emily Schultz

As a natural brunette and self-appointed red-head, a novel about the onslaught of a disease that turns blonde women into rabid killers was obviously going to make my TBR list. I am finding The Blondes to be very Margaret Atwood-esque (I recently finished The Handmaid’s Tale on audio) so if you enjoy anything by Margaret Atwood, I highly recommend Emily Schultz.

SEE ALSO: Read our exclusive excerpt of The Blondes!

Hazel Hayes is a graduate student in NYC and is working on her thesis on aesthetology which she defines as, “what women look like and what we think we look like.” You begin to see the irony that is being laid out here, yes? And what could be worse for a distraught grad student than finding out that she’s pregnant by her married former college professor just as a disease attacking blonde women turns them into unpredictable murderesses. It’s satirical and a bit literary; all in all, a fun read.

RECENTLY ABANDONED: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am very aware of how many people across the country have purchased and enjoyed this book. I also understand why it might have been so easily categorized as “the next Gone Girl” by anyone looking to describe it to prospective readers. But 45 pages in, I have abandoned the novel. I strongly dislike the character of Rachel and I don’t think I can continue. Unlike Gone Girl, which I really did enjoy, I find the plot of The Girl on the Train to be slightly tired and predictable. I think that my disappointment is due to how much hype had been around the novel before I picked it up. But I must admit that I can’t say for sure if my suspicions are correct, since I have avoided spoilers on the slight hope that I eventually feel like finishing. But generally, I find Rachel’s daily drunken train rides and Megan’s faux-perfect married life less than appealing.


The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod – A Victorian urban fantasy thriller in which a forensic psychic reader (whose name is Alex!) investigates a magically compromised murder.

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates – A psychological thriller that follows six students who start an elaborate game at Oxford University and are called together to finish it years later with tragic results.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – A psychological thriller about a reclusive crime writer who is invited to a cozy weekend in the English countryside that ends in injury, memory-loss, and the knowledge that someone has died.

Alex Calamela is an assistant working at Macmillan Audio. She currently lives in Staten Island, NY and can be followed on bookish Instagram and Twitter @alexandrapub.

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