...or why books and tv rank higher than sleep

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Larsson, Stieg. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Knopf Doubleday.ISBN 9780307454546. 2005

Mikael Blomkvist, a financial reporter, was convicted of libel against a top Swedish industrialist. He is hired by Henrik Vanger to write his family history and investigate the unsolved disappearance/murder of his niece Harriet decades earlier. If he solves the case, Henrik will give Mikael the ammunition he needs for revenge. To do so, he will need the help of Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant anti-social investigator.

This was a book that I kept picking up, and then putting back down practically every time I was at a bookstore. Something kept drawing me to it, but the plot seemed a bit too complicated to hold my interest. I finally read it because it was my May book club selection, and I am glad I did. This book was captivating and easily one of the best books I've read this year.

I was warned in advance that it takes about 60 pages to get into the book, because of the need to set up the plot. I was hooked from page one. The characters are well fleshed out and wonderfully flawed, the plot is gritty and suspenseful and surprisingly dark. I figured out what happened to Harriet right away, but I didn't care- the book kept me guessing and enthralled throughout the book. The subject matter was particularly graphic and disturbing in the second half of the book, dealing with violence against women, and not for the faint of heart. If I have any complaint about the book, it's the ending. What happens after the mystery is solved just doesn't mesh with what Mikael is portrayed to be. Rating: 9/10

This book was so good that the second book in the trilogy (The Girl who Played with Fire) has jumped up to the top of my to be read list.

Review: Changes (Dresden Files Book 12) by Jim Butcher

Butcher, Jim. Changes (Dresden Files Book 12), Penguin, New York. ISBN 9780451463173. April 2010

Synopsis: Harry Dresden receives a call from his old girlfriend Susan Rodriguez that their daughter has been kidnapped by Duchess Arianna Ortega of the Vampire Red Court. A daughter he never knew existed. Harry has to tap into his own darkness and call in favors he never wanted to, or expected to, need in order to save his daughter in the midst of the war between the white council and red court. Will he lose everything in order to save his daughter?

This series is the epitome of summer reading for me. A great mindless series filled with action, magic, humor, and darkness. I am still sad that the tv series was cancelled after just a couple of episodes. As the series progresses, the character gets more and more evolved and the tone of the books gets darker. This book is another great chapter in the saga of Harry Dresden, Wizard.

However, I thought the author indulged himself in a few too many cliches this time around. I can't get into specifics without spoiling the book, but the cliff hanger ending was particularly cliched. He also relegated too many old favorites to barely supporting status. I particularly missed Bob's humor in this book. the title is particularly apropos here, but I wonder if there are too many changes going on - how can Harry go on from here and be the character we know and love?

Despite my plot issues, this is a fast paced book that is an easy and thrilling read that certainly leaves the reader eagerly anticipating the next book. Fortunately for us left wondering what next, the upcoming book of short stories has an epilogue to Changes, so we don't have to wait until next April to find out what happened to Harry.

I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for light, fun, sci-fi books. While the author does spend some time recapping the basic premise of the character in each book, I wouldn't recommend starting later in the series. Start at the beginning with Storm Front Rating 7/10

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Series #1). Scholastic Inc. 2008

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

This book has been on my radar since ALA midwinter this past January. One of the freebies was the second book in the series (Catching Fire), which my friend Matt snatched up the last of after my friend Nicole mentioned how popular the series was with the YA crowd. I got my copy of The Hunger Games from the library in time for me to take it as plane reading for Nashville. I figured it would be pretty light reading. Holy cow the book was fantastically riveting. I was sucked in from the very beginning and lost a lot of sleep because I stayed up reading the book into the wee hours of the morning.
While elements of the book reminded me a lot of the movie Surving the Game , Collins did an amazing job crafting the world of Panem. It was so vivid that I was instantly transported as soon as I opened the book. The heroine Katniss is well written and complex, and Collins doesn't abandon the fleshing out of the supporting characters. I could feel for these characters and visualize each of them in their world.
This book is action packed and filled with twists, humor, and tears. It's also a great example of the excellent adult friendly teen lit out there that kids (probably grade 6 +) can share with their parents. Rating 9.5/10

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Plane Reading

I am leaving for Nashville tomorrow (YAY!!) at a very ungodly hour (boo). I haven't even packed yet, which is completely unheard of for me and shows just how hectic my week has been. I haven't even had much time to think about my plane reading.

I just finished Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (review forthcoming) and am trying to decide what I want to download next for nook reading. I really want to read the latest Matthew Reilly but it's pricey on e-book, and the latest Bernard Cornwell but I want to get that in hardcover to match the rest of the series.
I just received the Hunger Games from the library, which will definitely be brought along but I feel as though I need to load up Nooky as well. I guess I'll hit B&N on the way home to buy trashy magazines (a definite must for any traveling) and see what sales pop up on Nooky while I am there.

I'm always interested in what others choose to read on the plane, so I'm also looking forward to checking that out while on the plane.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

So Sheila over at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books hosts a weekly what are you reading discussion. She's got a pretty impressive list and group of followers, which I highly recommend checking out.

I just finished the latest Dresden Files book, Changes (review to come shortly) and I'm just starting Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I feel so late jumping on the bandwagon, but grad school and working full time isn't exactly conducive towards maintaining an active literary life. This is a book club book and I'm hoping it breaks a sad recent trend of books that have been highly recommended to me that I dislike. So far... so good.

Friday, May 7, 2010

My first book blogger hop!

Jennifer over at Crazy-for-Books is hosting a book blogger hop as a way for readers and bloggers to discover new blogs. It's a weekly event, but this is my first go at it. I'm very excited to meet new people in the blogosphere. All ready I've discovered some great sites like "Page Turners" http://pageturnersbooks.blogspot.com/

Here are the instructions:


ABOUT THE HOP The Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Crazy for Books. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all book bloggers and readers a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!

So, I created this weekly BOOK PARTY where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start PARTYING!!

If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!!

Review: A Reliable Wife

Goolrick, Robert. A Reliable Wife. 1 ed. New York: Algonquin Books, 2010. Print.

Summary: Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, Robert Goolrick's intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis. -- Algonquin Books

A Reliable Wife was last month's book club choice. I admit to looking forward to reading it based on the rave reviews and its place in the recommendation shelf at my local Barnes & Noble. Sadly, I was disappointed in the book.
Mr. Goolrick does have a talent for setting a scene. His description of the desolate Wisconsin winters and the loneliness of Ralph Truitt were deftly portrayed, but the story left a lot to be desired.
The characters weren't sufficiently sketched out. The plot was very similar to the movie Original Sin with Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie, and the dialog was very soap-opera like. There was nothing about this book that seemed fresh or original. Rating: 3/10

You can tell it's the end of the semester

I tend to go a bit book crazy with the end of the semester. It's been so long since I've been able to read books I want to read, unless book club books count. So I go a little nuts ordering books from the ILL catalog. right now I have The Hunger Games, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, and Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang on order. Granted I have at least a couple of dozen books at home in my to be read bookcase, but being a mood reader I am just not in the mood to read them yet.

I am so looking forward to opening a bottle of wine, cracking open a book, and enjoying the next 3 weeks without classes.