November 23, 2010

January 2011: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson

Only now, with the publication of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the third novel in the late Stieg Larsson's immensely popular Millennium trilogy, can we fully appreciate the Swedish writer's achievement. The trilogy ranks among those novels that expand the horizons of popular fiction…the novel fully lives up to the excellence of the previous two and…brings the saga to a satisfactory conclusion. -- Patrick Anderson (The Washington Post)

Kerry: I enjoyed this series of books, but I found the last book in the trilogy to be the slowest. You have to read it to finish the trilogy but it plod along quite slowly and the ending was not as exciting as I had hoped.

Stephanie: So-so wrap up of the first two books in the series. A little tedious and not much new action.

Jen S.: Book 1 = great! Book 2 = good. Book 3 = fair. I'm glad I read it, but it definitely didn't have the same speed, interest or newness of the previous two books.

Aday: I'm going to wait for the movie.

October 22, 2010

November 2010: Loving Frank

"Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan

Kasey: I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. I didn't agree with her choices, but I was interested in the story.

The characters were frustrating in their selfishness, but it was a good book overall.

Jen S.: I thought it was really interesting. Parts of it moved me to tears while others repelled me.

Amanda: Loved it but the ending was VERY shocking!

Stephanie: A nice work of historical fiction but lacked the passion of a convincing love story!

Aday: I think I might enjoy this story more as a movie. I didn't feel the fire that Frank and Mamah supposedly felt for each other, and I found them both to be extremely selfish and for the the most part, unlikeable characters. The writing lacked a certain spark and was a bit tedious at times, but the unexpected and heartbreaking ending made it well worth the effort.

September 20, 2010

October 2010: The Bad Seed

"The Bad Seed" by William March

What happens to ordinary families into whose midst a child serial killer is born? This is the question at the center of William march's classic thriller. After its initial publication in 1954, the book went on to become a million–copy bestseller, a wildly successful Broadway show, and a Warner Brothers film. The spine–tingling tale of little Rhoda Penmark had a tremendous impact on the thriller genre and generated a whole perdurable crop of creepy kids. Today, The Bad Seed remains a masterpiece of suspense that's as chilling, intelligent, and timely as ever before. --From the Publisher

Holly: Good in an old-fashioned way. I hope my kids are good seeds.

Kasey: I thought it could've been better. I expected it to be scarier and it was hard to relate to any of the characters.

Aday: A quick, easy read, but not as scary as I hoped it would be.

Jen S.: I liked the 1956 movie ending better than the book ending.

Mary: I didn't read the book but the movie ending was fabulous!

September 1, 2010

September 2010: The Broken Shore

"The Broken Shore" by Peter Temple

In short, The Broken Shore offers both poetry and gore, and it's best if you have a taste for both. Having read the new novels of Michael Connelly and Martin Cruz Smith, I have to say that Temple belongs in their company. Australia is a long way off, but this bloke is world-class. -- The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson

Kasey: It started slow, but the ending was good.

Chari: Took some time getting used to the writing style but was ok by middle and couldn't put it down. Thought it was different and I'd read another with the Cashin character.

Holly: Only halfway, slugging through...

Aday: I stopped after Chapter One.

July 10, 2010

August 2010: The Girl Who Played with Fire

"The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played with Fire
confirms the impression left by Dragon Tattoo. Here is a writer with two skills useful in entertaining readers royally: creating characters who are complex, believable and appealing even when they act against their own best interest; and parceling out information in a consistently enthralling way. The sharp-eyed may catch Larsson leaning on coincidence a bit too often in the new book, but overall his storytelling is so assured that he can get away with these peccadilloes. -- The Washington Post - Dennis Drabelle

Stephanie: This book was entertaining and a good story. The author's style can be tiresome but overall it was an enjoyable read.

Aday: A little too much detail at times, but overall a fast, enjoyable read.

Kerry: The Girl who played with fire was a fast, exciting read. Lisbeth was a wonderfully complex character.

I liked it, but I had a hard time keeping up with all characters.

I liked this one even more than the first. Thought it was faster paced and had interesting characters.

The Girl who Played with Fire was better than the first book. I can't help liking Lisbeth. I wish it had a better ending--I needed more closure, but that's the genious of Larsson--he's forcing us to read the third! (Too bad he died b/c he supposedly had 10 books outlined so we will probably never know what the real ending would be...we'll see if the fourth incomplete book ever gets published...)

May 21, 2010

June 2010: In Defense of Food

"In Defense of Food" by Micheal Pollan

Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, the follow-up to his widely praised The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, should probably come with a warning: After reading this book, you may never shop, cook, or eat the same way again. -- Barnes & Noble

Holly: This book made me much more conscience of processed foods and thoughtful of what I eat. Now I feel guilty when I enjoy a Taco Bueno burrito.

Jen S.: I thought it was really interesting.I'm definitely thinking of food, food marketing and even food manufacturing differently now.

Chari: Thought he had lots of valid points and liked all the research and history of food.

Stephanie: I thought it was an interesting and briefly inspiring read (not long lasting enough for me to permanently change my eating habits!). A little dry in parts but overall I found it informative.

Kerry: Hold on... I have to go hide the GoGurt that is in my fridge. It has Shrek on it, how could I refuse the pleas from the kids? Anyway, before reading this book I was considering canceling our order at
because I don't know what to do with kale or turnips, but after reading "In Defense of Food," I decided I have to stick with it. Every time I go to the store I will now look for lamb's quarters and purslane, the healthiest plants (I have never seen them before!) This book totally freaked me out, but I think that is good. Anyone needing a motivator to change their food habits, needs to read this book.

April 28, 2010

May 2010: Hold Love Strong

"Hold Love Strong" by Matthew Aaron Goodman

Goodman delivers a commanding investigation of love, family and freedom set in a New York City housing project. Abraham Singelton, born in 1982 to a 13-year-old mother, comes of age in the Ever Park projects, watching The Cosby Show and dreaming about a future in Brooklyn as a Huxtable. The generous narrative features a cast of deftly drawn characters: Lyndon Gaines, a former boxer turned community activist who courts Abraham's grandmother with a cage full of lovebirds; Lindbergh, a damaged Vietnam vet, now turning trash into elaborate models of helicopters; and cousin Donnel, whose one constant is the pledge, made at Abraham's birth, to hold love strong. A keen observer and deeply empathetic young man, Abraham grapples with the inescapable truths of his childhood yet understands the promise contained in education, love and personal expression. Though the narrative features its share of urban fiction tropes (crack-addicted mother, an uncle with NBA potential doomed by the allure of quick money, a series of senseless deaths), Goodman manages to pull together a vibrant canvas of project life, perfectly capturing the pain and magic of living despite narrow opportunities. --Publisher's Weekly

Mary: I think this guy's editor should've reeled him in a bit. He was long-winded and the story was a little predictable. I also didn't think the main character's voice would've been so flowery. Other than that, it was mostly enjoyable and easy and I did kind of want to know what happened so I would say it was a 3-star read.

I would not recommend this book, I felt like the ending was manipulative and contrived and that the author was trying to make the book something that it wasn't.

Aday: I had high hopes for this book based on previous reviews, but it just didn't do it for me.

Jen S.: Did not attempt. Though it doesn't sound like I missed anything great.

Holly: Jennifer said not to read it, so I didn't.

March 24, 2010

April 2010: Crazy for the Storm

"Crazy for the Storm" by Norman Ollestad

In a spare, brisk prose, Ollestad tells the tragic story of the pivotal event of his life, an airplane crash into the side of a mountain that cost three lives, including his father's, in 1979. Only 11 years old at the time, he alone survived, using the athletic skills he learned in competitive downhill skiing, amid the twisted wreckage, the bodies and the bone-chilling cold of the blizzard atop the 8,600-foot mountain. Although the narrative core of the memoir remains the horrifying plane crackup into the San Gabriel Mountains, its warm, complex soul is conveyed by the loving relationship between the former FBI agent father and his son, affectionately called the Boy Wonder, during the golden childhood years spent in wild, freewheeling Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970s. Ollestad's unyielding concentration on the themes of courage, love and endurance seep into every character portrait, every scene, making this book an inspiring, fascinating read. --From Publishers Weekly

Jerilyn: Loved the book!! It was a fast read with a great life lesson around how the hard times of life can prepare you for challenges to come.

This book was a perfect blend for me--I enjoyed the suspense and detail of the trek down the mountain and I loved the background stories of the author's childhood even more. The thought of a 10-year-old surviving a plane crash on a mountain in a snowstorm is unbelieveable but his past was so wild and chaotic and explained how he could survive anything. The epilogue about the author going back to the scene years later and talking with another pilot about what went wrong was heartbreaking. All in all, I loved this book!!!

Becca: Crazy for the Storm was a quick, inspirational read. I loved reading about someone's childhood that was basically opposite of anything I had known.

Chari: Really enjoyed this book and thought relationship between father and son was interesting. I liked reading about life in late 70s in southern California.

Kerry: I enjoyed this book, I was amazed at Norman's strength and thought a lot about how to teach that strength to a child. I also liked the way the book was organized with one chapter in the past and one in the present.

Amanda: Great story! Wish the ending was better. :(

I wasn't crazy for it but I was entertained.

Aday: Tedious and filled with too many irrelevant details. It's more about his life growing up on the beach than a survival story from a plane crash. Ho-hum.

Holly: I had no idea ice could be described in so many ways.

Jen S.:
Best way to get through this memoir is to read every other chapter.

February 22, 2010

March 2010: 100 Years of Solitude

"100 Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

It is not easy to describe the techniques and themes of the book without making it sound absurdly complicated, labored and almost impossible to read. In fact, it is none of these things. Though concocted of quirks, ancient mysteries, family secrets and peculiar contradictions, it makes sense and gives pleasure in dozens of immediate ways.
Books of the Century, The New York Times review March, 1970

Kasey: I liked it. It took me a long time to finish, but it was an interesting story and ending. I was glad I finished it.

Amanda: I would retitle this book "100 Years of Reading". It would have been a much easier read if the author had not given the same dadgon name to each new kid!

Jerilyn: I tried and tried, but I didn’t get it.

Jen S.: It wasn't really a page turner for me. I just barely made it past page 75.

Stephanie: Can see why it's considered a great work of prose....however, makes it difficult to quickly read! Would like to try and read it someday when I have more time to focus on it.

Aday: Attempting to read (and finish) this book with pregnant brain was probably a bad idea. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn’t get past page 150.

Kerry: I didn't finish, I was so embarrassed! It was just wasn't my kind of book. Too much fantasy and the characters were so weird! It reminded me of books that I had to read in school and I could never finish them because someone had told me to read them and that made them seem less appealing. My husband totally shamed me though, he knows the first line of the book and has never read it! Apparently everyone knows it (but me).

Holly: Snooze alert.

Barb: Did not attempt due to anti-hype and self-awareness when it comes to long books.